Dear Diary...

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.


Tuesday 13th March - Crunching Krypton Factors

I did some number crunching at work today, primarily because one of our team wanted a report on what software shows installed in Add/Remove programs, and they pretty much wanted everything possible - and thankfully this sort of stuff is what SCCM is pretty good at collecting. One report ran, output to Excel and so could be used accordingly, job done, and even pointed out what the standard ones are so that we didn't have to think about those to a degree either, which made perfect sense really.

In fact it was then getting together some nice scripting so that I could output the AD groups' names for installation groups for pieces of software so that I could get that sorted too - it worked really nicely overall and that meant I could output those into a nice CSV for ease of use and reference. Certainly use of the pipe to split commands but also concentrate on the results and further filter them was a bonus, especially the Export-CSV command to do your magic and get all of that sorted. It's good when it all works!

In fact, when I got home later, I decided to also celebrate a little by revisiting more 80s classics that I still adore, and so on went the classic "Who's Afraid of The Art of Noise?" by The Art of Noise - experimental and of course pretty ahead of their time. The likes of "Moments in Love" are pretty classic, but perhaps the one track everyone remembers is "Close (To The Edit)" which really did put all their best bits together - lots of "doish!" drum samples, found sounds and a real sense of experimenting with synths and other instruments. Interestingly, the "Hey" voice, which belongs to Camilla Pilkington-Smyth, was of course later sampled by The Prodigy for "Firestarter" so that alone makes the AoN classic tune of the day.

Effectively a number of earlier tracks were built around a central track "Beatbox" of which the "Diversion 1" version is on the album, and the single version, effectively "Diversion 10" was another. The band of course then became in demand, and wrote the ironic late 1980s theme tune to the brilliant TV show The Krypton Factor, with Gordon Burns (but of course) hosting it. It was a really good memory of growing up, and the "Influence" compilation has it, instrumental, and in its full fifty odd seconds, minus Burns and the audience but plus all the magnificent synth and "doish!" bits perfectly intact.

When they did a relaunch of said show a few years ago with Ben Shephard hosting it, The Love In My Heart and I went along to an audience recording of one of the episodes. I was massively disappointed. Ben compared to Gordon Burns was nowhere near as good, they tried to go a little OTT with the green everywhere, and the theme tune was pretty awful, nowhere near The Art of Noise's classic. And it wasn't even a proper assault course, not like the one in Holcombe Moor near Bury that was used for the original. Noooo.

But anyway, number crunching, one final thing I guess. I also looked back at previous years' gigs to see what gigs that I had been to, and I reckon that my most number of gigs in one year was most likely 2008. I managed a total number of 39 in that year, and all over the place too, Leeds, Glasgow, Halifax, London and Manchester. For the most in one month, I harked back to 2009, where in May of that year I ended up doing 9 in all, the last six of which were in an eight day period from 22nd to 29th May, and four in four consecutive days. Wowzers!

Monday 12th March - Twenty Five And Counting

I've had Blancmange songs in my head after Friday night's gig at Under The Bridge, and so I had "Blind Vision" in my head as I was off to work on a rather warm train to say the least", so that song is tune of the day. It's been perhaps noticeable that for me that the start of the working week is a real chance to get things sorted, and certainly for me today I managed to get on top of the way that we would be able to look at collecting information on ActiveX usage for SCCM. In fact, I got it doing exactly what I wanted it to do, so here's in effect what it needed to do.

First of all, it was a case of setting the Group Policy setting for the user, so that the ActiveX logging was enabled. For Windows, it places a csv file in one of the Local Appdata folders as the information is logged. However there's additional information that can also be recorded to WMI, provided you've then run a Powershell script accordingly to enable the WMI class and set that up, which can then be utilised and added to the SCCM hardware inventory to collect the information required. And it's all neat when it works and provides all the information that our Network security person needs.

I was flushed with that but more so with some updating of things later that I realised a couple of facts about gig going - for years I've kept a diary of which gigs I went to and when in terms of looking back at what ace times I've had. I also devised a spreadsheet of all the venues I've been to as well, primarily just for my own interest but also helps if you know you've been somewhere before in terms of what facilities they have, access and also the prices of ale and whether you're better off near the venue taking it all in a pub first - the answer is often with one key exception being the brilliant Holmfirth Picturedrome!

Anyway, Friday night's gig actually became my 25th different gig venue in London overall. For the purpose of clarity, I only count a venue as being in London if it's within Zones 1 and 2 - anything beyond that really belongs more to the place where the venue is, so for example I've seen gigs in three different Croydon venues but they don't count towards that total. It's quite a feat, more so as I'd say around half of those was actually before I moved down South and would come to the capital occasionally for weekends away and take in gigs during that time.

In fact, another stat for you: my 24th different venue in London (Servant Jazz Quarters in Dalston where I saw the brilliant She Makes War) was also my 100th different gig venue overall, and I'm now at 102 in total, with Leeds First Direct Arena a few weeks back seeing Morrissey another new one. I further delved into the stats and I've visited 25 different towns and cities along the way, with Falmouth being the furthest South and Glasgow being the furthest North. I'd have quite liked to have done a gig in Inverness when I was up there a few years back but nothing doing - or indeed to do one abroad for the whole experience. Mind you, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lille are all doable by Eurostar now, so who knows?

Sunday 11th March - Stats on Sunday

I did venture out during today to the centre of Croydon, primarily to get a birthday present to one of my relations, and of course did ensure that I wished Mum a happy Mother's Day - and she liked the card and gift I had got for her, so that was nice. In fact the shops were busier than I thought, you'd think it would have been the restaurants busier with people taking their mothers out for lunch I guess. I'll be doing the same with Mum next weekend which will be nice, and in a way it'll be a bit less busier and more about an everyday normal menu instead of a special and often overpriced menu - not daft sometimes you know.

I also was able to have the food shopping delivered earlier - I had taken advantage of a discount from Tesco and had booked a four hour slot for this morning, and was advised it'd be between 10am to 11am, so no complaints there. In fact everything did arrive spot on, and I'd realised that I'd ordered a fair bit of stuff, but this is to keep me going for the next few weeks, so getting those essentials in and getting one larger shop to get them done wasn't necessarily a bad thing either.

I thought of some stats following my exploration of Ramsgate and taking the train journeys there and back yesterday. I do have a spreadsheet which has the ORR station usage, but it's also a useful thing for me to tick off which stations that I've stopped at in my time (sort of like All The Stations, but not doing so in an intense time either) and see where I've been to on my travels. Of course yesterday did mean several new stations I'd never stopped at before (some of which were more lovely than others) and that upped the count somewhat.

The way there had 12 new stops (the only one I'd been to before was Ashford International a few months back) and on the way back had 7, so that was 19 in all. That now brings my round total of stations to 690, and bearing in mind there are currently 2,563 stations with another one opening, still a lot of travelling to do and plenty to tick off all over the place, although I could if I wanted do lots of suburban lines out of London I don't normally travel on in a blast of raising the numbers up. With that in mind, the theme to "All The Stations" is tune of the day.

I do at least have a shorter week next week due to me being off on Friday (heading out for a meal with The Love In My Heart and one of her relations for a birthday) so I'll do my utmost to compress five days' worth of work into four where possible. It's worked out well in terms of most of the time when I'm off it's been on early shift, so not had to inconvenience anyone too much, positive that. And I guess now I've got to think about where the next train journey will take me...

Saturday 10th March - Raining in Ramsgate

As I had a weekend where I wasn't heading up North, and having sent my Mother's Day card and gift to Mum in good time, it was good to be able to head out for the day and go exploring. Originally I had a few ideas but as I didn't know what the weather was going to do, and when I compared prices the two advance tickets weren't that much cheaper, plus I'd be restricted to certain times of train, it was a sensible move just to get a Super Off Peak Day Return on the day from central London to my destination.

I'd decided to go and head off to Ramsgate and explore the harbour and the beach and that part of the Thanet coastline in Kent. There was the 1020 train from London Bridge, so went to East Croydon and got the train to London Bridge, then got my ticket and headed off to Platform 7 for the departure via Pret a Manger for my coffee - due to the escalator works, Costa inside the station was closed for the weekend, otherwise of course I'd have headed there as was my choice.

The journey on the way down meant I took in new routes and stations, so it headed via Sevenoaks and Tonbridge towards Ashford International, then veered off left to the lovely Wye station (small platforms and rather nice), then Canterbury West and on to Ramsgate itself. It's worth noting, having checked it on the map, that the town centre and seafront is around a mile walk from the station, made easier on the way down at least by most of it being downhill through the High Street, passing churches and the Micro Museum, which was shut until Easter or else I'd have gone in there for definite.

I got to the harbour and seafront and by this time it had decided to rain, and continued to do so for a bit. I was undeterred and made my way up and along the West Cliff, seeing the harbour from above, and also the old and restored Victorian shelters you could sit in and admire the sun (or of course stary dry too.) I then headed down a long set of stairs and walked along the harbour, with arches built into the cliffs and road above that had various shops, cafés and restaurants, all pretty nice that.

Once alongside the harbour I spotted the local maritine museum and next to that a building very much like a Victorian pavilion - which is now a Wetherspoons pub. Inside though the decor and restoration has been done well, and lots of pictures of how it was as the Royal Victoria Pavilion, with the look and feel being a concert and music hall as well as a large open space, with the balcony upstairs and large windows affording a rather nice sea view all round. I did have lunch and a drink in there and saw the rain get a little worse and then ease off which meant I could head onwards.

It was then off East and along the seafront, with part of the space behind boarded up, which appeared to be marked for redevelopment of some sort. There were some small amusement arcades and of course the 2p falls plus grabbing machines. I walked along the front and towards the East Cliff, with its murals decorating the shelters to keep you dry from the rain. It was a nice view of the beach and the sea from them and later on I walked up a set of steps which had shelters built into the cliffs to have a nice view, which was a good little surprise as I passed the old and vandalised sun shelter and walked back along the road at the top, reaching the bandstand later on.

It was then down the hill along Madeira Walk, passing the old cliff lift, the gardens with waterfall and back to the Royal Harbour, where I walked along the other side and towards the West Pier, with its historic Grade II listed lighthouse at the end of it. It was rather nice actually, and over the other side on the East Pier is a former old building and now a posh brasserie with views over the sea - even though it clearly didn't look much from the outside it has to be said.

The rain had eased off a while back so was nice to see the Royal Harbour with dry weather and indeed a little sun peeking through. It was a nice walk through some of the pedestrianised shopping streets and followed a different route (mainly one for cycles) which took you uphill, via a different way into Ellington Park and through there to the road to the train station, and timed it well to get the train to London Victoria which started here. This took an anti-clockwise route up to Broadstairs and Margate before heading west to Herne Bay and Whitstable (where The Love In My Heart and I had a lovely time last year) and then Rochester to Victoria.

I arrived home later on and it had been a really nice day despite some of the weather not being good. I do wish to head back to the Micro Museum when it opens for the Summer, and I also would like to head over to Margate as the pinball museum, which was in the centre of Ramsgate, has moved there to be a part of Dreamland, so will be fascinating to see what the state of play is there. In the meantime, "Getting Away With It" by Electronic is tune of the day with its classic opening line of "I've been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose" and although maybe not intentionally, there was a certain appeal of taking some photographs of the harbour with the rain coming down a little.

Friday 9th March - Up The Bloody Tree Under The Bridge

It was a good positive day at work, and got plenty of investigation done into something I'd been thinking of for some time - being able to capture the Internet Explorer ActiveX usage information. Microsoft had two different articles, both of which effectively utilise the unused IETelemetry class. As an added bonus, Windows 10 by default can collate that information into WMI, very useful for particularly SCCM as you can easily extend the hardware inventory to collate that class - epic win. Or so I thought..

As it transpired, everything was added correctly, the class was added to a test machine, that class could then be imported into the SCCM hardware inventory, but nothing appeared to be collected, despite setting all the recommended settings to on. I had a further look into this, but didn't as yet get any further, unless you particularly have to use the Enterprise collection method instead (more data, and potentially more overhead for users which is what we don't really want..)

It was positive though, and I was also feeling uplifted as I was heading off to a gig later, so off on the tube via Edgware Road to the District Line to Wimbledon (you get a seat that way at peak time!) and then off down past High Street Kensington and Earls Court and down to Fulham Broadway. I've been here before as The Love In My Heart and I stayed at a Travelodge not far away, and of course it's round the corner from Chelski FC's ground Stamford Bridge, which I was heading to later, their Under The Bridge venue which is literally under the ground!

First off out of the station and into the shopping centre, and off to the Wetherspoons inside. They didn't have the order and pay app available for that pub, but I was able to order food and a pint and manage to keep a table. It was the fish Friday thing, so of course that had to be done, and the fish was pretty nice all round. That and the pint for £7.25, can't argue really. I also went for a coffee later because you can how have any coffee and refill for free with their posh new machines, and it's Lavazza coffee too, so decent stuff all round.

It was then the short walk to the ground and to the Under The Bridge venue. Once inside, I fell in love with the place. Really well shot photographs of musicians, all well framed, adorn the outside walls, and I spent a fair bit of time looking at them and spotting the likes of Paul Weller, Mark E Smith, Robert Smith, New Order, Siouxsie Sioux, Ozzy Osbourne and many many more. They even had the Meantime London Pale Ale on, so decent enough beer, but £5.50 a pint across the board, the only negative really - and that's just a little bit too much to be honest.

The support act Bernholz was effectively one man with a keyboard, other mixing devices and two microphones with all sorts of effects going through them. One song went into another and to be honest, it just felt a little bit dull. I suspect it probably works a lot better listening to that more experimental stuff on CD than it does hearing it live. Only the appearance of Neil Arthur from Blancmange to join in for the final song was a good thing, and that at least lifted the set a little.

I had a beer, got a good spot where I could see the stage, and on came Blancmange, and I have to say it was rather excellent all round. A good mix of the old and new, the new being tracks from their 2017 album Unfurnished Rooms which on the whole were really well played out, and with live guitar too. Neil Arthur's voice was on fine form and in between songs his broad Lancashire accent came out, which as a Northerner I wholeheartedly approve of, of course! The band also opened with the epic "The Fall" from the Semi Detached album, which Neil devoted as a tribute to Mark E Smith, much appreciated from those in the know.

The new album tracks were good as I mentioned: "Anna Dine" and "Gratitude" being particularly good, and on top of that "What's The Time?" certainly keeping that electronic feel as well. Also excellent was "Last Night (I Dreamt I Had A Job)" from the Commuter 17 album too. Of course the old stuff went down nicely, not just the hits but also the likes of "Running Thin" and a really pulsating version of "I Can't Explain" too, and that got the crowd going nicely indeed.

Of course, as soon as the opening bars of "Living on the Ceiling" started, everyone had a massive smile on their face and were singing along, notably of course the "up the bloody tree" line, and that for me is tune of the day - it still sounds excellent. Having that, "Feel Me" and then a storming version of "Blind Vision" which really did hit well, notably the guitar accompanying the synth superbly, really did get the masses dancing as well. Great stuff, and that was much appreciated too. I am sure one of my friends will have wanted to be there as he quite likes the band himself.

After a short pause the band came back on for the encore: initially the keyboard player and Neil to do their version of ABBA's "The Day Before You Came" which with just piano sound and vocal was wonderfully nice, and then of course to send everyone home on a high, a storming rendition of "Don't Tell Me" which was a perfect end to a great gig. Nice venue, excellent main act, good (although not cheap) beer, and 80s haircuts everywhere, simply ace. I was humming a certain song most of the way home, and the tube to train swap at West Brompton worked perfectly and meant I took just 27 minutes from Fulham Broadway via West Brompton and Clapham Junction to East Croydon. Win!

Thursday 8th March - Bargains and Bad Sequences

So I had given up any hope of possibly getting a cheap ticket for Morrissey at the London Palladium on Saturday night (I was thinking the upper circle might have been cheaper, but I wasn't paying £95 a ticket for the stalls or royal circle, not a chance) and so decided to go with my original plan to see Blancmange at Under The Bridge tomorrow night. I knew the tickets were around £25 so it was a case of seeing who'd charge the least booking fee. I headed to See Tickets and - what's this - Early Bird tickets still on sale, and for £15? Yes indeed. I sorted that, purchased ticket, and felt rather chuffed all round.

Of course that meant that I was having some of their songs in my head during the day at work as I had something nice to look forward to tomorrow, so make "Blind Vision" tune of the day while I'm at it. In fact the day proved to be a mixed bag, but one thing I had worked out was that for some reason one of the task sequences experienced corruption. It wasn't installing applications and investigating further seemed to be that it wasn't allowing the new additions to inherit the task sequence policy correctly - a sure fire sign of a bad object. Duplicating it and running it appeared to work first go, so there you go.

In fact I also worked on a few other bits and was on hand as two of the staff were in our Manchester office - they needed to reimage a laptop, and that went well, and then renamed a badly named machine and had to wait a little bit for it to get back into AD. It also experienced some weirdness with the wireless card, but a simple netsh interface ip reset all and restart cured that one nicely, so that's always handy to do if it gets itself into a bit of a tizzy. I know that the stuff I do is appreciated, which is a good thing.

I headed back to Sports Direct after work, as I'd purchased a pair of shoes for work a week or so back, but to be honest after wearing them for a day or so, they scraped the right heel badly and tore the skin off, so something definitely up there. To be on the safe side I swapped for a different pair in my size, and when I got home and tried them on, it all felt a lot better and more comfortable so I knew that I had made the right decision. Of course no refund was possible, so exchange worked the best way anyway..

And with that, it was then settling in and watching the telly for a bit, seeing some Masterchef and generally relaxing a bit, having a good chatter with The Love In My Heart and discussing the next planned weekend, and it was nice to hear her voice actually. I do miss her lots and when we do have a weekend when we do our own thing, as it will be this weekend, we do appreciate the time we have but also this does mean when we go get together, it's quality time and that's pretty important to be honest.

Wednesday 7th March - The Chiptune Story

Some of you may have noted that several months ago (last May, in fact) I headed off to the place of a fellow Commodore 64 enthusiast (Mat) in Cheam so that a documentary film maker could head over and have us both chat about said machine. Some of that footage, I know, is in the main feature documentary The Commodore Story, which I've watched the preview of and will be out in Blu-Ray over the next couple of months. For those who backed it, there was also the promise of an additional disc, called The Chiptune Story, with focus on the SID chip and how that inspired many people, myself included of course.

So it was good tonight to see that I'd had an email last night from the producers letting me know that it was available online for Kickstarter backers only to be able to view. What I didn't expect was the footage of myself to actually feature, never mind a fair number of minutes between either myself or myself and Mat chatting about all sorts. It definitely was a nice surprise, and always a bit uncomfortable I suspect watching yourself back on the big screen too. I'm glad I was watching that alone to be honest!

One thing though that came across, and not just from me either I should add, was the clear enthusiasm people had for that special SID chip and its very special sound, from fellow fans and also the heroes of the time, the composers, with the likes of Rob Hubbard, Ben Daglish, Chris Hülsbeck and Matt Gray in particular. To many of us growing up in the 80s these guys were household names, and often people would actually buy the game not because the game was necessarily any good, but because the soundtrack was by one of their heroes. It'd be like me watching a film now knowing that Clint Mansell had involvement in the soundtrack to be honest.

It was definitely a very welcome surprise, and I hope that those watching will understand the pure love that there was at the time for how that particular analogue sound entranced a whole generation of us all, who realised that it was not just about the mechanical sound but also the emotion that it carried, with the vibratos, arpeggios and other square, sawtooth and triangular waveforms expertly crafted together. Tune of the day is the rather epic "Thalamusik" by Rob Hubbard, the loading theme to the game Sanxion, and perhaps the finest of all his soundtracks (and there's a very impressive list to pick from believe me!)

So that was the shining light of the day, and definitely a nice surprise for me. I know that I can be quite shy at times so being able to do this and speak about something I enjoy rather than be all behind the scenes took a lot of doing to be perfectly honest. I'm not one for going on about myself either primarily because I prefer others to do that if they feel that what I've done has been useful for them - it's just the humble way I am. Hope everyone who gets to see it enjoys it.

Tuesday 6th March - The Clearout Continues

It was nice to see in the evening tonight that I'd had some more bids placed on some of the DVDs that I'd put up for sale on eBay, and that a number of those were going to sell, admittedly not always for massive amounts, but it does mean that, over time, any stuff I don't need anymore is going to someone else who would like it, and that's always a good thing. In fact the final band t-shirt (for now) that I've sold was posted off this morning, so it definitely feels like the chest of drawers and the wardrobe has plenty more space for clothes, and keeping it to a lesser amount is probably more useful to get wear out of what I have in the long term.

On a positive note too, I did spot that a couple of the PC games I have worked on my Windows 7 box, so was good to be able to note that when listing them on eBay this evening - at least it means that the potential buyers know that it's been tested and known to work correctly, and buyers can be more reassured by that. Obviously most Windows games in DirectX mode should work, but always good to be able to confirm. In fact, it was half tempting to play them a bit more, but resisted.

I know when I've had previous moves, from Mum's to my house in Manchester, then from Manchester to here in Croydon, being able to clear out stuff has been a positive thing. In fact due to the house sale in Manchester it was a case of getting shut of all the things I didn't need anymore, so the likes of the fridge freezer, dining table and chairs, futon sofa bed, all that sort of stuff, and that helped me get over the first few months of living down South and commuting to work etc, and keeping things ticking over nicely. I'm now in a reasonably comfortable state as I was in Manchester, and hard to believe that in a couple of months time it's been two and a half years down here.

But there's probably still more to clear out over time too, so I had a good think about some of the small things in storage in the flat and wondering if it's actually worth also getting rid of that as well, so don't be surprised if I decide to have another blitz of stuff on eBay. I also thought positively that any money I do make can go towards spending money for the holiday, and doing a bit more of seeing nice places and doing nice things, so there's also a good thing to look forward to as well.

I guess too that when you're able to get things sold off, it does mean that I keep things more minimal and that if I did ever decide to move onwards, I know I won't have as much stuff to get shifted, it'd mainly be clothes, the hi-fi and AV stuff, CDs, the Commodore 64 and Atari 2600, and all that, so definitely less to take. Maybe in the future if I am still here I might look at somewhere else in terms of location but it'd have to be nicer than the flat I'm in and for less rental, so probably asking a lot to be fair.

In the meantime, tune of the day is "The Desperate Kingdom of Love" by PJ Harvey. There's something beautiful about this song which I adore, the slight sparseness with just Polly and a guitar, and her voice being soft and lilting throughout, much more of a calm feel than her more sometimes on edge pieces. It's one of the songs that I turned to when I had my recovery period between 2006 and 2008, and just told me that the world wasn't as bad as I thought after all.

Monday 5th March - Lack of Crew

It was back off to work today and with the weather back to some form of normality, it was rather packed on the train again to get to work. That's the only downside with doing the later of the two shifts really, the trains in are just overflowing and it's pretty much impossible to get a seat to be honest. It was good to get off and head to the office, where all seemed all good thus far and I had some time set aside to do a batch of testing in order to see how a new feature I'd enabled in SCCM would work.

I must admit though that it seemed like the day did drag somewhat, even with me spending plenty of time getting things done and keeping a keen eye on some of the deployments to ensure it all worked. I did spend some time late in the day with one of the new colleagues as one of the antivirus installations was failing. I'd worked out that this was because the old installation was registered to the old server, and kept looking to that one for its configuration, and soon managed to get that sorted so most pleased to end the day well.

It was also noted that on the train home, the train took what will be its eventual route from Blackfriars via London Bridge and onwards to East Croydon. However, what wasn't good was that the accessible toilet had a door fault which meant the door wouldn't open or close and therefore be unusable for anyone who needed it. I did report it of course to their Twitter team (no guards on board Thameslink) and so that would have to be fixed. What I didn't expect though was a horde of displays at East Croydon showing trains not running due to lack of train crew, yet again. There are no strikes. Seriously, what the hell?

It does make me wonder where this supposed "largest driver recruitment drive" went, and how still over-reliant they are on the overtime goodwill of the existing drivers, largely gone to a degree due to protracted disputes and the way that some staff have felt treated too. All people of course want to do is get from A to B and be able to commute, but at the same time it would be nice if you could actually rely on there being a driver to drive the train in the first place...

It was good to get plenty of stuff done at home including sort out a few eBay sales and sending them off, and that's more clutter cleared out nicely. There's another batch of stuff I am going to add though as it's good to be able to make some more room and feel like I've got less to carry around and more space in my flat really. It's good to periodically do this and for me it's been really good to get that done. So tune of the day is the excellent "eBay" by Weird Al Yankovic, describing all sorts that he had bought from the auction site - goes to show too that your clutter might be someone else's treasure..

Sunday 4th March - Chelski Conquered

It was off to the Etihad Stadium with my friend to see Manchester City's game against Chelsea in the Premier League. Having been to the Emirates on Thursday night and seeing us give Arsenal a good panning (which would have been more had we not held off second half) it would be interesting to see if Chelsea were going to go for it or if they decided instead just to be a bit more defensive and try and hit us on the break. Either way, another win here would really put pressure on Manchester United's game at Crystal Palace tomorrow night, so definitely well worth us doing the business.

It had been raining on and off most of the day but had stopped when we were heading to the ground, with the snow notably melting away a fair bit too, and my friend had said it was the first time he'd headed out with all the snow so was good to be out for a bit. We had our now customary pre-match brew, and all was well as we noted that Arsenal had lost again, this time 2-1 at Brighton and the fans were clearly not happy with plenty of Wenger Out banners in the stands. It'll be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks there, that's for sure.

The game kicked off and it was all City heading forward, with Oleksandr Zinchenko being pretty good on the left hand side - maybe over enthusiastic for one tackle and getting booked, but on the whole a positive player and one that really did allow Leroy Sané to run down the left and scare the Chelsea defenders a bit. It was also noticeable that Chelsea were not playing any strikers but basically having Eden Hazard furthest forward, what that said about their strike force said a lot.

Out came the teams for the second half and those late back from their beer and pie would have been gutted. City went down the left and David Silva put a cross in across the six yard box, met at the far post by Bernardo Silva whose shot bounced over the diving Thiabult Courtois for the opening goal, and 1-0, a mere thirty four seconds into the start of the half. Good stuff from City, and that was to be the only goal of the game as it turned out. We went for more but the Chelsea defence were firm and clearly were just going for damage limitation, only going for it at the end bringing Olivier Giroud on as a token effort.

So, 1-0 it finished, and City stand proudly a massive eighteen points clear of Liverpool in second, with United to play on Monday night, and with nine games to go. We're getting there, and not the best performance maybe on balance but the job was done patiently and professionally, and I'd take 1-0 wins all the way to the end of the season to be honest. I certainly was pleased as I headed back to The Love's place, where she had made us both a gorgeous chicken casserole for tea, delicious it was.

I fussed bit more with Brian the cat, and eventually it was time for me to head to Manchester Piccadilly and head on the 2021 train back to London Euston, later than I normally get but this allowed me to be travel quieter, and as First Class was only three quid or so dearer than standard when I booked, it was a no brainer, with a snack box, coffee and water to accompany me on the journey down, and having the rather nice "The Boys in Blue" by Manchester City in my head (make that tune of the day) as the boys in blue, as ever, will never give in!

Saturday 3rd March - Cosy on Platform 5

It was nice to have a relaxing lie in, and Brian the cat was being his usual cute self, although he had spotted another cat outside and was insistent on Mummy waking up and letting him outside to have a bit of a nosey around. He did eventually settle and resumed his usual spot at the end of the bed though so that was good, and we snuggled up together and had a bit more of a rest before getting up, and getting ready to head out for the afternoon. I knew Mum was out with friends as she'd asked me about what bus to get to certain places, otherwise we may have popped in.

It was off to The Love In My Heart's father's place, where the Burnley v Everton game was on. He was off with one of The Love's relations away for a few days on Monday so The Love was sorting his case out and clothes to pack, and I was also checking over the PC out and making sure that it was connecting online, apparently it hadn't been when Sky were doing some upgrades the other day but seemed fine now. In addition, his Kindle hadn't talked to email for some time but I suggested to The Love's sister it probably needed the password re-entering correctly. That done, all emails coming in, so that was nice and simple.

It was then off in The Love's car and off to John Lewis in Cheadle for a mooch around. We thought it'd be good to go there and it was relatively busy in the afternoon it has to be said. We did though manage to see some ideas for forthcoming possible presents, and if money was no object, there was a gorgeous Ted Baker dark blue leather jacket which she would have looked gorgeous in, and I would have happily purchased it. It was not particularly cheap mind you, hence the money no object comment..

We decided that a nice late afternoon early tea was on the cards, and so it was to Platform 5 in Cheadle Hulme, where the trains whizz by the station close by, and the ambience is always nice, especially with some good food on offer too. They even had the Chorlton Pale Ale, so had some of that, and The Love had the burger with bacon and cheese, it looked good, and I had the fish and chips, even with a little side portion of scraps too which was much appreciated. I also had a coffee and a sticky toffee pudding for dessert, well it was rude not to, to be honest!

Later on we snuggled on the sofa and it was good to relax and chill out. We decided to go old school and put on a classic film on DVD - namely Top Gun. The Love of course would be happy as that was classic early era Tom Cruise, and for me, it's just a good 80s film and of course a good soundtrack - let's make "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins tune of the day - simply because it really does set the scene well for the action to come during the film. It's aged pretty well actually, still some good action scenes there and of course the classic romantic bit with Kelly McGillis in there. And for those Pointless fans, well worth noting that Meg Ryan is in this film as is Val Kilmer, may be worth remembering for those final rounds.

We also booked some tickets for a theatre show too, which will be nice for when The Love next comes down to see me. I'd fancied going to a show and we noted that the drama Frozen was on at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, with Suranne Jones formerly from Coronation Street and most recently excellent in Doctor Foster. We'd been to that theatre before so we thought it'd be good to go, and got some decent seats for £25 for the Saturday night performance, didn't want to pay a massive £95 in the Royal Circle show. The price disparity between levels is just scary really..

Friday 2nd March – Battling Through The Snow

It was a good job I'd got up earlier, and also left the flat a little earlier in terms of walking to the train station and to get the train to work. The wind was still howling a lot and around the platforms staff were huddling around anything other than the already packed waiting room in order to avoid the cold. Still, the train was much emptier as I suspect that people hadn't been able to get to the station in the first place, with the icy wind really blowing the snow across the tracks also. Was pleased to get into the office and to be in a relatively warm place.

My colleague and I were checking the trains on a regular basis to make sure that all appeared to be running well, as much as it could be. In a lot of the South East though all wasn't well, Southern were cancelling trains left right and centre, SouthEastern effectively told passengers not to travel whatsoever, and South Western were cancelling trains with a maximum 8pm finish. Our management were checking up and requesting that if any of us needed to leave any earlier, we could do.

I had actually got a lot done today, processing five planned changes, the main one getting one of our Azure AD directories all synchronised with the portal to connect to our help desk software, so spent time with my colleague in our Server Team getting this all done. It worked flawlessly, and the Service Delivery Manager was mightily pleased in order to be able to have that all up and running. It's always a positive when we're able to get things done and have stuff sorted out, and for me particularly it's been a good one to get the teeth into.

Our management came around to see a lot of us early afternoon and said to us that if we needed to leave earlier, we could do. I checked with Virgin Trains and they had relaxed the ticket restrictions and so I could use my advance ticket for the 1820 train on an earlier one. As we'd left around 3pm (only an hour off my finish time, and had put a fairly long shift in anyway) it was off to Euston with my colleague and she could get her train and I could see about getting one myself.

As it happened, the 1520 train was delayed and was in the station and so I was keeping an eye on the platforms, and managed to get to the right one sharpish, straight to Coach C, and got a seat on the train. I had a coffee on board and relaxed with some tunes as the snow was sweeping past everywhere only seemingly less so when the train reached Stoke-on-Trent. It did arrive in Manchester Piccadilly around half an hour late at around 1800 but that worked out fine as I could have a quick coffee in Pret a Manger, then when The Love In My Heart had let me know she was on her way home from work, I headed on the tram to her place, with hugs for her and Brian the cat.

It was good to be in the cosy and warm and as an unexpected bonus this meant that we had a bit longer together tonight, and that was much appreciated also. It was also good to feel that warmth as the cold all day was definitely one to battle through, with “Sno Cat” by Kristin Hersh being tune of the day, especially as Brian the cat had been out in the snow earlier in the week and deciding that he didn't really want to be out and making paw prints in the white stuff, so definitely one to note...

Thursday 1st March – Repeat Performance

I was working from home today and was pretty pleased to be doing so – the weather was rather windy and snowing outside and so to be honest it was good to be in the warm, have a coffee from the Tassimo whenever I wanted to, and also be able to get plenty done without too much bother. Of course, I was also keeping an eye on how the weather was progressing, as I was heading off to the Emirates Stadium later to see Arsenal play Manchester City, and obviously didn't want to set off if it was abandoned.

The game was still on, and so it was off to East Croydon station to get the train to Victoria. I would have got the Overground from West Croydon to Highbury and Islington, but the Overground was severely delayed, so off to Victoria, going mainly against the raft of passengers and then on to the tube to Highbury and Islington. I had got there around 6pm and knew it was going to be busier later so it was off to the local Wetherspoons for the Thursday curry deal, which meant curry and a pint for a mere £7.10, can't complain at all really.

It was then the walk along the Holloway Road and off to the ground, where the snow was all around the outside. In a way it was probably good that it was left so I could crunch the feet through the snow instead of slipping on the ice. I got inside, had a coffee and then made my way to the seat, which was third row from the front and with a decent view of the goal too. It was noticeable that the City end was completely full by kick off, but the Arsenal contigent was missing, especially in the top tier. I'd say there were around 25,000 to 30,000 there, so when the attendance was read out as around 58,000, that was a case of disbelief to say the least.

City kicked off towards the other end and all seemed to be good, with nice flowing passes and runs down the side. One of those was from the impressive Leroy Sané, who took on several players, cut inside and then passed the ball across the box to Bernardo Silva who curled home an absolute beauty into the top corner. 1-0 and happy bunny. Even more so when City surged forward again and some neat movement between David Silva and Sergio Aguero meant that David had passed three defenders and lifted it over Petr Cech into the top corner for 2-0. Awesomeness.

And if that wasn't enough, a move down the right involving Bernardo Silva and Kyle Walker passed the ball into the six yard box and Leroy Sané was there to glide it home in the bottom corner, almost in slow motion for 3-0. It was awesome. City fans started singing the chant to “Gold” by Spandau Ballet (make that tune of the day) with the impressive lines of “Who needs gold, gold, we've got two Silvas you know, David and Bernardo, we're indestructable, we've got Agueroooooo” - ooh yes. And in addition with ultimate irony singing “There's only one Arséne Wenger” to the Arsenal fans, who are cheesed off with his management at the moment.

The second half petered out as City took their foot off the accelerator, not needing to do much more to be honest. Arsenal did get a penalty but that was well saved by Ederson, who is fast gaining a reputation for saving spot kicks, and that was pretty much that as the game fizzled out, the City fans in good voice and being about the only people in the ground at the final whistle. City hadn't won at Arsenal in the league since 1978, and although I'd seen two draws there the last couple of times I'd been to the ground, to see that win was pretty excellent all round.

I headed along back to the tube station and it was nowhere near as busy as I thought it was going to be, with everyone seemingly leaving early. I checked at the station and the Overground was still up the creek, and so took the tube to Victoria, and there it seemed to be carnage as the trains were a bit bobbins with Southern staff directing people to a platform with the train leaving already – duh. Still, I managed to be able to get the next train to East Croydon and battled through the windy conditions to head homewards. Needless to say that Arsenal Fan TV was highly amusing to watch their reactions to the “performance” as I headed off to bed...