Dear Diary... March 2014

Monday 31st March - In A Spin

Another pretty hectic day at work, mainly because it transpired that there were lots of consumables for printers due for delivery, and they all came at once. I spent a fair bit of time sorting those out and making sure that where possible they were given out and put into the printers as soon as I could get people to do it. I think in terms of continuity it's important that where possible we keep things going as much as we can, which keeps everyone the right side of happy.

I headed home later on and after sorting out plenty of washing and ironing, it was time to kick back and play some tunes. In fact I felt like a bit of a 1980s synth moment so I put on Jean-Michel Jarre's seminal "Zoolook" album from 1984 - not played that for a while and it still has plenty of really good moments on it. Thankfully when I bought the digital remaster CD years later after owning the second issue on vinyl, the original track listing order has been restored: so the title track (tune of the day) is the start track of side two, as it should well be. It's actually been covered many times on a Commodore 64 too, fact of the day there.

I also have got back into Wii Sports Resort on the Wii as of late, I think primarily as I've always wanted to better some of the records on that and also just enjoy the spare time a little. It was good therefore to be able to relax and effectively do some tenpin bowling: namely the spin control. It's learning how to accurately spin the ball to hit the pins and go round any obstructions or moving targets along the way. It's good fun of course, it's just knowing what to do and how to do it.

I improved my best score to over 200 for the spin control which was good: but one thing still eludes me. It's the no pin standing stamp, where you've got to get at least a spare in every single end to make sure that there is no pin left after each. More often than not on the trickier ones I'll hit a nine in total and one will just not be hittable after the first attempt, so it's a case of get what I can to boost the score. If I could do it, it'd be pretty fab and I'd definitely be able to then claim more goals reached on the game itself.

It was also good though that most of the games are still as playable as they were when I first got that game (complete with Wii Motion Plus controller no less) and that I was able to make a good go of it all. Granted some of them may seem a little simplistic to get into, but therein also lies its beauty. No point having a game where you get put off because the controls are difficult, or that you can't straight away pick up and play. And kudos of course to Nintendo cos they released it mid-Summer, and gave gamers a good excuse to actually get a game to last them rather than wait for the Christmas release with everything else. Still a classic in my view anyway.

Sunday 30th March - Coats and Platters

I had remembered to set my alarm clock for the F1 on this morning, so remembering also that my phone would automatically set the clock forward, I set it for what would be the right time to be up, and I was up and about in good time, armed with a coffee, ready for the Malaysian Grand Prix whilst The Love In My Heart had a very well earned sleep. It wasn't that bad a race but most of the action was for the minor places as Lewis Hamilton controlled it from the front, Nico Rosberg second in the other Mercedes and Sebastian Vettel third. I felt gutted for Daniel Ricciardo though, he had a wheel nut come off in the pits and that effectively was his race ruined.

The Love In My Heart and I had some breakfast together, and then we were taking a look at an Excel spreadsheet or two that she was having an issue with. To be honest I can see why it was frustrating for her - it's a case of copying data in from one workbook to another and then interpreting that in a certain way. It's not exactly the most userfriendly thing ever. However I was able to give her some useful pointers and once she'd seen enough of that for a while, we decided to head out for a bit of shopping and retail therapy, more so on my part to be honest.

We first went into the large Tesco Extra in Stockport, and soon enough, hidden behind one of the racks of jackets that was there was the one I saw yesterday. The Love approved of it, and the only decision was which size would look better on me as well as then seeing if there was a double up promotion on via the Clubcard vouchers - there wasn't, but as I had £18 worth and the jacket was £28, it was still effectively only a tenner, so I thought "well I've not seen another nice one and it looks good for the summer, so.." and bought it. In and out in under ten minutes, happy days really.

It was then across to the Peel Centre and TK Maxx and didn't do too badly in there either. I was tempted by a few things and could have easily spent over £100 really, but in the end I decided that I'd go for a Pierre Cardin black and white gingham short sleeved shirt and a nice pair of dark blue / black Duck and Cover jeans, in my size, a nice fitting, and not bad for the price either. Win win all round there and it's certainly good to be able to freshen up the wardrobe a bit for not that much expense - always a good thing to do that.

We thought about heading out for a drink and was thinking it'd be full of people out for Mother's Day but even though the outside was busy due to the reasonable weather (that had admittedly turned windy!) we headed inside and found a nice comfy sofa in the Elizabethan. As we were both a bit peckish we thought for a little while and then decided to have the meat sharing platter together. This was a good move: you got lots of mini sausages, Southern fried chicken, Bury black pudding, onion rings, chips as well as the pulled barbecue beef mini flatbreads, and it was just gorgeous. That and a pint of Manchester Pale Ale? Oh yes baby.

We got back to mine and watched something The Love asked me to record yesterday - Fantasy Homes by the Sea on Really. It focussed on properties in Cornwall, two of which were in Looe (been there, rather nice) another was in Polruan, over the other side of the river from Fowey (not bad) and the final one up the river from Fowey in the village of Golant that used to be a church and Sunday school. Pretty intriguing inside too and I'm sure it'd be one to take the interest of someone one day.

Later on I sorted out a pile of washing ready for later in the week, and put on some tunes - and most notable of all was something that the folks in Pop Will Eat Itself recommended, and with good reason - it's "Whatever May Come" by Reabo. It's basically a supergroup of sorts mixing band members from grime, dub and metal, and putting them together to see what happened. What effectively happened folks is one kick ass tune which is out on 27th April, so it might be a necessary purchase on that date I think - tune of the day easily.

Saturday 29th March - Saturday Roast

I had a fairly relaxing sort of day today. I got up and the Malaysian Grand Prix qualifying was on. The sessions were delayed though because of the rain, and lots of it, and so there was lots of standing around under the brollies waiting for people to talk to, and eventually as the rain eased, it was effectively a wet session and a case of who could hold it together well in the very slippery conditions. Lewis Hamilton did really well to get pole with Sebastian Vettel just behind in second, but it was definitely a real test out there and one with less ride height than a road car, so more chance of aquaplaning off.

After that I headed out first off to Tesco Gorton. I was after a more late Spring/Summer jacket, and as I had some Clubcard vouchers, I thought I'd see what I could get there. One was pretty good but wasn't 100% sure and so needed a second opinion before purchasing. I then thought "hang on, I can head on the bus to Crown Point in Denton!" and that's what I did. The selection was actually worse in the Tesco Home Plus to be honest. I did also head to TK Maxx but nothing jumped out at me, and Marks and Spencer neither, so headed back homewards.

I spent most of the afternoon keeping an eye on the football scores, and also switching between that and playing Wii Sports Resort, where I got the nunchuck out and decided to have a go at the archery on there for the first time in ages, thinking that my score on the expert level needed attacking. Indeed I'd improved my personal best score on that from 81 to 82, so was pretty pleased on the whole that I was still managing to find some occasional improvements in my game, which is what it's about really.

I also spent some time whilst doing a mass of ironing to listen to the Durutti Column's "Circuses and Bread" album on CD, the original Factory Records release no less. Quite oddly, the track listing on the back cover misses off the fact that track two is the single "Tomorrow" which is one of my favourite songs by the band, so tune of the day for that definitely. In fact there's several really good tracks on there and the lengthy instrumental "Blind Elevator Girl" is also very worthy of mention indeed.

The Love In My Heart came over later and we had a chat and coffee before getting ourselves ready for the evening out. Mum had very nicely asked us both over to hers along with my brother and his girlfriend for a nice meal - a Sunday roast on a Saturday so to speak. It also meant I'd be seeing Mum for Mother's Day and so we had a card and present with us to give to her. Mum also had said to me that she could give The Love her present for her birthday next week too, so all good there. The weather was still nice and light so we walked it over to Mum's from mine.

It was a lovely meal all round:the roast beef with all the trimmings was very nice indeed, and the ale I brought with me went down very nicely with my brother and I (he tried the Dr Thirsty's No 4 blonde and approved, I had the Masham Glory which is obviously lovely) and the cheesecake for dessert was good too - maybe a bit too tall and heavy, but still pretty good all round really. I didn't finish the massive slice off though, just a bit too much, but still good. Plenty of chat and coffee ensued later on and it was good to chat with everyone.

Mum insisted on The Love opening her presents there and then beforehand, and they were very nice indeed: a really nice necklace and also a bracelet which had leather parts to it but also a silver heart in the middle, and although for the ankle or the wrist, I know that The Love prefers those things on the wrist and was really made up with how nice it was. We got a taxi back and ended up watching the remainder of the Top 50 children's TV shows on Channel 5. I'm biased but I'd have preferred Bagpuss being at number one, still can't have everything I guess. I set all the clocks forward in advance of them heading so at 1am tonight, and then settled to bed after a long but good day.

Friday 28th March - Bush Whacked

I was thinking this morning about getting tickets for Kate Bush's 22 date run in London later this year. I say thinking because I knew that the demand for tickets was going to be pretty mental, and on top of that, the lowest price was a mere £55 going up to the highest ticket of £135, so it wasn't going to be a cheap do either if I was lucky enough to get a ticket. I had to play "Wuthering Heights" as I got up this morning, so that's tune of the day and that set me off nicely before work.

I was in a workshop this morning learning more about the way that the project management is being handled for some major IT based projects, and what's more expected if you're working as part of a work package team, which makes a lot more sense to be able to do. I think it was good to be out of the office during that time so I could concentrate on all of that. When I got back, I already guessed that the tickets for Kate Bush would have sold out - and so it proved, they all went in fifteen minutes!

When I had look online during my lunch break, there were already certain people selling them via secondary ticketing websites for a vastly overinflated price - no less than four figures. All I can say that there's going to be problems for the touts: firstly, the lead booker has to produce photo ID to get into the venue (a policy the venue has done before) and on top of that, reselling to someone else means the lead person won't be there, so you won't be able to get in. However, Seatwave, hang your head in shame for positively encouraging massive touting and scalping.

The day went by pretty well and I was able to at least work out a couple of issues, and sort out all the wide format printers with a colleague and make sure they were all up and running and full of consumables for the rest of the day and the weekend, so all was good there. I even got out on time and got the earlier bus home, and so was spending a bit of time tonight working on sorting out some future plans. It was also good that the shopping came on time and I was able to then rock out with some Rock Band 3 on the Wii - not played that for a bit admittedly.

I'm also contemplating a couple of things too: I'm probably going to use the same week off that I had for going to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games to do something else and go elsewhere: the thing is, I can't really plan that unless I know that the web site is going to offer a proper resale service where you can effectively sell the tickets back to the organisers at face value, who'll then sell them on to people who want to go at face value (which is how it should work really for everything and be a much fairer system) as it'll possibly mean me losing out on the cost I paid for the tickets. I may have to bite the bullet for the loss yet, but let's see...

Thursday 27th March - Elizabethan Eating

It was a productive sort of day at work really, but I did have one major task during the morning that took me outside of the comfort zone of the buildings I work in. I headed over to New Century Hall, which was the former home of the Co-Op, and there some of the students were going to be showing off some work at the weekend. As they had used the trolley laptops for their course, they needed some configuration tweaks by me to make sure that everything worked correctly as intended, and thankfully that went off pretty well. I was able to get the work together, make sure that it would run on startup as required, and then check all the software that was needed to run - it worked well in the end.

After that it was a dash back into the city centre proper and then on the bus to work, grab the laptop and then straight out to a course committee meeting, my second in a matter of days really. I guess from my point of view it's good to keep a handle on things and make sure all is well, and it was good to be able to get the feedback from students and answer their questions and reassure them too. I think sometimes it's good to be able to make sure that you are prepared and that based on the experience I had yesterday, I could at least turn any negative into a positive. It's good.

I had some lunch and then straight into another issue I was sorting out for most of the afternoon where for some reason one of the group rooms' PCs wasn't connecting to the network. We checked the sockets: not live. I checked the switch and there only seemed to be one socket that could well be spare, so a quick repatch later and all appeared to be well. It's a case of thinking on my feet and keeping them firmly planted on the ground to keep myself going for the rest of the day.

Later on, The Love In My Heart came over and although the initial idea was that I was going to make something to eat for tea, we both thought that as she had arrived early we could head out for a drink first. I then thought "why not let's have a meal together?" and so we headed to the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor, which was a good move all round really. I had the Hoptimist ale and that was fairly light with a nice citrussy finish to it, certainly good for the Spring time anyway. It was raining outside but nice and cosy inside, so The Love and I settled in with a drink and then we ordered the food.

The menu had changed since we were last in there, but some of the classics remained: so I had the steak and ale pie which did not disappoint one bit (and yes folks, it's a proper pie, hurrah to that!) - The Love had one of the artisan selections, barbecued pulled brisket of beef inside this really nice bread complete with some nice seasoned chips. It looked very good indeed and The Love said it was spot on and that I'd like it too - so we both had had a lovely meal for tea and at a non expensive price - so we all win there I reckon!

Back at mine we had Top of the Pops from 1979 on and I noticed some of the chart entries that weren't played but should have been: we had Kate Bush, Skids, Squeeze, Thin Lizzy, Queen, Lene Lovich to name but a few. None of them were played though. If it were me, I'd have had "Wow" by Kate Bush on, as I love that song (in fact make that tune of the day) and then follow that with Lene Lovich's "Lucky Number" and just to add to the mix, Squeeze's seminal "Cool For Cats". Now that would have made the show well worth a watch!

The Love In My Heart and I ended up seeing most of last night's recording of First Dates on Channel 4. It was intriguing when the two gay twins were both on dates at the same time, and I think the people who they were dating were probably more interested in each other than the twins, which was quite funny. It was nice to see one of the couples really hitting it off together and it's nice now that you get to find out what happened afterwards and see if anything did become of it. - an epitaph if you will.

Wednesday 26th March - It's Oh So Quiet

I headed out of the house and to the bus stop to take me to work, and it did feel much emptier than normal. In fact when I got on the bus the traffic seemed relatively calm and quiet, and it was then that I remembered that a lot of the teachers were on strike. As such a lot of parents were taking the day off to look after their children and on top of that not having to partake in the school run. The run into work therefore was really easy and if only it could be this amount of minimal traffic every single day, I thought to myself.

No rest for the wicked when I got into work though, as there was plenty to do. In fact I was tracking down some printer issues and the one cartridge that I wanted to arrive did so this morning, and so that was a case of getting it all sorted and making sure that it played ball quite happily in the machine that needed it. It's a battle to keep everything running smoothly, but it was helped enormously by one of our engineers sorting out a weird time out issue with one of the printers, caused by an invalid firmware on the machine. Once that was sorted, everything worked properly and the staff close by were very happy people which was good.

I did have a course committee meeting this afternoon that I got called into relatively at short notice because one of my colleagues was at another meeting who was going to go, but in fact it worked out pretty well - coffee there for one, and on top of that, nice staff who I deal with regularly anyway, so of course this did mean that I was able to feel more relaxed and put things forward, and be constructive. Good when that happens really and the rest of the day positively flew by because of it, woohoo.

I arrived home via the city centre as I wanted to nip into a couple of shops first, and it was actually a good move. Not only did I get to the city centre quickly but I also got home quickly afterwards as well, and so it meant time well spent there. I made myself a pizza for tea and then did a shed load of ironing whilst listening to some Pop Will Eat Itself, namely their 1990 album "The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure For Sanity" - a monstrous epic of 17 tracks that I bought on the day if its release on CD in the day.

Listening to it now, there's still so many great tracks on there and for me the two non-single tracks that stand out are the likes of "1000 x No" and especially "Axe of Men". I can see why it had a remixed version as a single in 2010 purely because it has a driving hook line to draw you in, and some killer bass and drums to go with that, and some good vocals too of course. "It's only baloney!" would say Graham at the end as the track closed up, but it was more than that, it was a sign of them bloody rocking - tune of the day an easy choice then.

Tuesday 25th March - Three and Easy

I must admit the mind was thinking about tonight's Manchester derby at work today. I knew that for the first time in quite a while for a game at Old Trafford (aka The Swamp) that City were overwhelming favourites to do the business. Granted I know that United are still in a transitional period and that their once proud fortress at home just isn't the same anymore, but even so, you do wonder just how much the fans are realising now that like every other team in the country you can't win all the time. I can vividly recall the years when City weren't that good and yet we stuck by them, so for me the reward is seeing us play well now and actually win stuff.

One thing I was pleased with was that Vincent Kompany was back - for me, it was essential that he was playing because with him in the middle, it just made the defence seem that much more sound and unbreakable, and on top of that, the way that the other players really stepped up to the task after his sending off at Hull City the other week also showed the massive respect that all the other players have for him - and if you have someone leading by example, others follow. Pablo Zabaleta also is one that does the same sort of thing and it's not a surprise that many City fans adore him for his no frills get stuck in attitude.

The Love In My Heart was coming over for tea and I made us a rather nice chorizo pasta bake, one of my specialities that, and it was good to catch up and chat before the game. As I don't have Sky and where I live the pub is often full of Man U fans, so not particularly safe for me to watch it there either, I thought I'll keep updated via radio and/or Teletext and have a relaxing evening. Surprisingly I felt rather confident about it all to be honest and the last time I was like that, City won 6-1 there. So maybe that was a good vibe.

Of course that didn't mean that we'd surpass all that and score in under a minute! When I saw teletext show that Edin Džeko scored in the first minute, I was like "wow!" and indeed when I saw the goal later on both Silva and Nasri had ripped through the defence, and Nasri's shot came off the post and there was the Bosnian Diamond to finish home from close range. Granted it may have seemed an easy chance, but like all true goal poachers, right place right time and all that.

I kept an eye on the scores throughout and just before tonight's Great British Sewing Bee and my weekly fix of the rather lovely Claudia Winkleman on there, City had scored again - a corner from Samir Nasri and met on the volley by Džeko wonderfully well. 2-0 then, and some breathing space for the Blues. Amazingly the commentators said that Man U fans were already at this point starting to leave Old Trafford. What? Dear me, that shows how bad the fans must think it is but also shows the fickle nature of some of them as well to be honest. You wouldn't see that from us that's for sure.

We were also admiring the work that they were doing with an old school Singer machine, and I do mean old school. In fact I've seen a couple of those in our Fashion department at work, and the fact that they still work and are very durable shows that sometimes a classic stays that way. Hard to pick a favourite this week but I must admit I did agree with the judges' garment of the week: Lynda's coat was really good, and The Love reckoned that a lot of people would want to wear it. In fact just before that challenge started, I checked the scores and the 5 Live commentators were going mental - Yaya Toure buried a powerful shot home for 3-0, and that was it. Another win at Old Trafford for City and that's now five out of the last six derbies being won by City too. Ace or what eh?

The goals were shown twice on the news: firstly on the BBC News at Ten and then for good measure on North West Tonight as well straight after. I did manage to see some highlights online and it looked very much as if we wanted it massively, which was good, but also that the players were up for it. How Marouane Felliani didn't get sent off for his disgraceful elbow on Pablo Zabaleta was beyond me, but there you go. Tune of the day though is the City anthem "The Boys In Blue" - because it's true: they never give in, and so it proved tonight. Work is going to be fun tomorrow winding all the Man U lot up...

Monday 24th March - Men Down

It was a relatively less than full office when I got into work this morning. And with good reason. We were already at least one person down who's injured their collar bone, and we recently had someone poorly as well, and today one of our staff is now laid low with a bad back. Proverbially it pours instead of rains really, and so making the most of the people that we had in was something that was going to require careful consideration and planning to make sure that we could all do our bit as we needed.

I did have a fair few things to sort out today as well, so it was good to be able to concentrate a litle bit on those. One of my colleagues had updated the installation task sequence for 7-Zip, so instead of just installing the 32-bit Windows version, it would install the 32 or 64 bit MSI installer based on what version of Windows you had. This effectively works pretty well due to the way you can set a task sequence condition for each step that you wish to run and so meant I could try it out on two different machines. Unsurprisingly, both of them worked very well indeed, kudos where it is due I think.

I headed home later on and spent a fair bit of time sorting out numerous bits of washing, and it was good to be able to blitz them all and get everything sorted for the rest of the week. I also as well spent some time listening to the new Pop Will Eat Itself EP again. Seriously, it's rather good and if you've not already purchased it, you should. The title track is still getting a lot of rotation here simply because it really shows what the Mk2 version of the band are capable of, fuelled with anger and passion. What's not to like? Tune of the day obviously.

I also ordered a birthday present for The Love In My Heart for her birthday next week. I had a feeling that after she had mentioned something she'd like that I was able to track it down for not that much expense, and so it proved. I also at the same time though ordered myself a new phone cover for my mobile - the existing one I had was starting to show its age and was falling apart a smidge, and all the local shops didn't have any whatsoever. Didn't take me long to track one down on eBay anyway and that'll be in the post to me soon I have no doubt, so all good there.

Must admit though that you'd think with all the phone shops that are close to my house that I'd have been able to track down one of the five that I went in and locate myself a cover, but no. It's not even as if the phone I have is that rare (granted it's not an iPhone 4 or 5, but even so) so it does make you wonder sometimes if it's all about catering for what people think everyone has instead of what they actually have. Mind you, a lot of the phone shops near me double up as Internet cafés which does make financial sense still - and it was packed when I went in as well, amazing as that may sound.

Sunday 23rd March - Flickry Sunday Afternoon

It was very nice to be up and about and making some nice breakfast for The Love In My Heart and I on the Sunday morning, and also good that we'd both had a good night's sleep too. The Love's cats tend to miaow and wake her up at random times and for me it's nice not to have to think about work and just take it relatively easy on the whole. I did know that there was a Flickr meet on and as The Love wanted to do some stuff at home, she suggested that I go and head out there, which was fair enough really. She even gave me a lift into the city centre on her way home - just how lovely is she?

It wasn't long before I arrived at Font and a few of us were already there. In fact there were eight of us in the end, which was a nice number of people to jaunt around at leisure later on, and grabbed a nice coffee whilst I was in there chatting away to everyone. It'd been the first time since before Christmas we'd been out on a meet, but nonetheless it was also good that we had plenty to talk about as well. It's always good when you have a nice relaxing atmosphere to chat in, and that always is good. A bit too early for beer of course, but there was time for that yet (as is tradition!)

We then walked through the tunnel towards Whitworth Street West, and headed to the canal that would take us to Castlefield. It was good to take the stroll down the canal path and see various things along the way - including plenty of boats navigating the locks or deciding to moor themselves too. In fact at Dukes 92 we then headed over the bridges and along around the back under the railway arches before then heading back over other bridges and to the far end of the canals, before then following the start of the Manchester Ship canal back towards the junction of Deansgate.

From there it was along Little Peter Street and to First Street, where construction of the new buildings including the arts centre Home was gathering pace. In fact it was good to see that the space now had an idea and identity, and that you could tell what was going where, but still lots of construction cranes around and also the most awfully spelt sign to warn you off the building site, with the likes of "survelliance camera's" (I kid you not!) which were filming the site at all times. Makes you wonder which two bit company the security firm employed to be their sign writer!

We then headed along Whitworth Street West again and back towards Oxford Road station, and then along Oxford Street to St Peter's Square where the revamped Manchester Central Library looked rather proudly at us. The square itself is still in the midsts of redevelopment but you had an idea of how it was going to look, and before long we had crossed the square and into the Waterhouse pub, where we got a table for us all towards the back and then made our minds up as to what to have for a nice late lunch.

In the end I went for the gammon, and that was a good decision. The plate was massive with two pieces of gammon, chips, peas and eggs and a mushroom. That was gorgeous and in fact I didn't need to eat anything for the rest of the day after that. I had a choice of beer too and I went for the Kooky Gold from the Offbeat Brewery, which was nice and light, and "brewed by a chick" so it said, which made us all smile. We walked back to Piccadilly and the wheel was in full flow, and with sunshine too, so that was nice.

It was a good day all round and later on I reflected on that as I processed some of the images from the day, which worked pretty well. The light was pretty decent and the sun was out, even if it wasn't that warm. A really nice Sunday afternoon all round and certainly summed up by my tune of the day "Sunshine" by The Icicles, a really nice feel good tune which makes you just want to bound around the room with a grin on your face - it's that sort of song really, as The Love would put it, "happy songs!" Yaay indeed.

Saturday 22nd March - Cutting Edge

I got up reasonably early today and spent some time sorting the house out before heading into the city centre. I needed my hair cutting desperately and I knew it'd be good to get it done now so it was all going to be neat and tidy for The Love In My Heart's birthday (coming soon) and of course that I had the time to do it. It was the usual excellent service from the lovely ladies in The Northern Cutter, and I must admit I felt a lot better after it was done and that I could tell I felt neater and happier. It's the little things, you know?

Once I had that done and had a quick mooch around Fopp, it was time to head home and whack on the new Pop Will Eat Itself EP full blast. I had downloaded the high quality FLAC audio versions which I soon sorted out to burn to CD, and so playing it on my rig really did mean I'd get much more of an aural listen to crank it up some more. It really does sound rather good and I'm sure that till the World Cup unofficial single comes out later in the year this will tide me over very nicely indeed. I was hoping it'd get played by Mary Anne Hobbs on 6Music this morning, but alas no.

My friend came over and we headed to the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City's home game against Fulham, and on paper, seemingly a game we should win. As I was putting my friend's bet on for the full time score, I noted that Fulham were a massive 28-1 to win, if that gives you any indication as to how we were expected to do the business. My only concern was that the strikers weren't scoring that many at the moment and it was the midfield that were really doing the business at the moment. Iggy Pop's superb "The Passenger" played before kick off (make that tune of the day) and all was well.

The game started off and we were a bit edgy initially but soon took control of the game, and more so once we got in front. A James Milner pass to Álvaro Negredo saw The Beast fouled from behind, and the linesman flagged frantically to the referee to award the penalty, which Yaya Toure slotted home with ease. We had the odd scare but nothing too drastic, and at half time it was 1-0. Of course with Chelsea winning 6-0 over Arsenal earlier and Liverpool 2-2 at Cardiff at half time and looking likely to win that, we knew that keeping a winning run going was massively important.

The second half started off and we attacked well, and a few minutes in the game was effectively over. David Silva broke into the penalty area and was fouled, straight forward penalty and straight red card for the defender - the same one who had fouled The Beast. Toure stepped up again and it was 2-0 and that really was the nail in Fulham's coffin as City then ran riot, attacking with aplomb and looking every bit as confident as they were usually at home.

Yaya Toure completed a hat trick in style, and from a free kick he got the ball some 30 yards plus out and curled an absolute beauty around the defence and just inside the post. It was superb stuff and I was just in awe watching at how easy it seemed for him. He then was substituted to be rested for the Manchester derby on Tuesday (made perfect sense) and with the changes made we still were causing havoc in the box. I suspected that the people who were leaving with ten minutes to go might well be regretting their decision once they had heard the full time report.

And I was right too! From a City corner the ball went to Fernandinho who took on his nearest Fulham defender and then smacked a ball into the top corner for 4-0 and a really good finish at that. And with two minutes left a cross came over, the keeper saved and of all people, Martin Demechelis was there to slot home the rebound and make it 5-0, and his first goal for City. Fulham's fans sang "You're nothing special, we're s**t every week" and it really was quite an easy win in the end.

The Love In My Heart and I headed back to mine later on, where I did us some lovely food for tea. We had some butternut squash soup and some nice bread to start, followed then by some chicken with lemon, garlic and herbs, Cornish buttered mash and petits pois with leek and pancetta, followed by some trifle for afters. That all went down nicely and we watched The Voice followed by The Cube, which is always entertaining to see how they do or how some games really do freak them out and make them lose lots of lives. Ah, such is life I guess!

Friday 21st March - Watch The Bitch Blow

Another busy day today at work, which was also partly because of things going apparently wrong. I did have a scheduled change to make today involving some settings for Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, but hadn't started them when I had a call - it looked like people were having issues with PXE network boot. It would have been completely unrelated to any planned change, but it looked like others were also problematic. In the end it turned out that our SCCM 2012 server needed a reboot. It also turned out one of the fibres in our network router was faulty which was fixed, and on top of that LDAP synch had also gone mental, which was fixed. Something to definitely keep on top of!

I noticed at lunch time that on time and on schedule, the new Pop Will Eat Itself EP was due for download for those like me who had pledged to back the project (me to the tune of the physical EP and indeed a gig ticket for a forthcoming Sheffield gig) and so made a mental note to listen to that plenty tonight. I did download it and during my lunch break had some headphones in so I could listen to the title track "Watch The Bitch Blow". And yes, it was everything that I expected it to be, and possibly more. I'll need to listen to it a lot more tonight I think!

Back to the working day, and after sorting out one printer in an office, and then sorting out numerous emails, it was pretty good to be able to test a few things out and make sure that the policy settings changes actually worked properly as I wanted them to. One thing I always check carefully is that policy settings for registry and shortcuts can be item level targeted: this effectively means that icons will only show or settings apply normally if the executable exists on the machine (makes sense) and if the machine name is a certain naming convention. That way we make sure it works correctly.

I headed home via my auntie's place as I wanted to drop off a card for my cousin for his birthday tomorrow, and figured he was heading away for the day (which he was). It did mean I was able to chat to my auntie and her grandson, who was being all cute and lovely and happy, which was good. Nice to have a brew too and just generally catch up, before managing to avoid the rain and head home, and keep an eye on when the online food shopping would be delivered.

Getting home meant more chance to download the new Pop Will Eat Itself EP and have a good listen to it. One thing I will say after giving the title track repeated listens: "Watch The Bitch Blow" is mightily impressive, and I for one might have to bounce around to that come when they next play live. It has plenty of passion and anger contained in there and I for one can see the direction with this - all good. Definitely tune of the day and I can feel a review coming on!

Thursday 20th March - Beyond Breaking Point

It was a pretty manically busy day at work for some reason, but it also meant I could really get in the zone on a number of things and demonstrate some useful skills to help others as well in managing to sort a few things out. I think when you've acquired a skill it's all very well, but you don't also wish to be a single point of failure either so you would hope that by sharing information and getting on with things you'll be able to at least ease the burden on yourself.

It was just a case of keeping going and then heading home later on, and for once this week I left at a reasonable time, which was good. Also the buses and nightmare journey last night that I had to endure seemed to be just a one off thankfully - even with the temporary traffic lights on part of the journey home at least it meant I got home before it got dark. It then allowed me to sort out some ironing and washing and have that all done before The Love In My Heart came over for tea.

I made us some spaghetti with meatballs in a nice pasta sauce with mushrooms whilst she settled in to watch her Thursday evening fix of Emmerdale (meh). I was glad I was making the tea as I just can't abide the soaps these days - in fact the only one I really liked back in the day was Brookside, that had some proper edge to it and felt more real. We had that and it was rather lovely, and Top of the Pops 1979 was then on BBC Four, so I had that on whilst we were having the tea too. And yes, Lene Lovich - "Lucky Number"! what a tune that still is, so tune of the day was a very easy decision indeed.

After more Emmerdale (meh), it was then time to see most of last night's First Dates that we'd recorded. It's always interesting to see how people interact but I think as well that any first date is pretty nervous, and it's hard to sometimes tell from that just how you'll get on and what the future may or may not hold. I think on the whole like real life that you can't always force a connection - if it happens then it will, so it might be not a surprise that even if they did like each other, it didn't always work out post programme.

One thing I did insist we watch tonight was Davina: Beyond Breaking Point, showing Davina McCall's epic challenge of cycling, running and swimming over the length of Britain. The first day cycle in high winds and not finishing till gone midnight was hard enough, as was walking Scafell Pike on day two, but the swim in Lake Windermere really did feel somewhat emotionally draining, and that was just to watch. It was clear how much she'd given and getting her carefully back warm and avoiding hypothermia was testament to the team around her.

As she headed to the lovely village of Hayfield and around the peaks to Edale, the weather slowly got better though and it was so nice that in the latter few days many celebrities came out to cheer her on and support her: Mel Giedroyc with some blue topped biscuits reminding her of the swim was a funny moment, and then the lovely Claudia Winkleman (yaay Claudia!) being there too for moral support. Jo Brand on the final day was a hoot, and having so many with her on the final part of the run was a really lovely thing. It showed just how determined Davina was and the fact that she did it was a really good thing.

All what spurred her on especially was the quarry she had visited in Kenya, seeing a family work there to break rocks in order to sell them to get food to live. In fact the daughter wanted more than anything else to go to school, to learn, and to become a better person. When you saw the conditions, the risks involved and so on, it makes you realise how lucky we all are here and how much that made Davina want to do something. She's a very heartwarming and emotional person, and massive respect from me to her for really giving her all both emotionally and physically.

Wednesday 19th March - The Long Walk Home

It was a pretty busy and productive day (again!) at work, and I did feel like I was really on the ball. I did have to try and resolve a situation with a member of staff's email not firing up properly, and after doing a repair of the Outlook client, and then deleting and re-establishing an Outlook profile on the machine, it seemed to then work properly and as intended as well. I suspect that there might have been a corrupted profile on the go which even when you rebuilt the OST file wasn't playing. Sometimes it's just good to blow it away and start again.

One other thing I managed to get going this afternoon was our instance of WebJetAdmin on our big screen. Using this means I can keep an eye on the many printers we have and see if there's any one of them out there which falls below any trigger levels, thus being able to then react a bit better and see what we can to do keep them going all the time. I did spot a few which did need more toners because they'd gone below the ordering threshold levels, and so got that organised so could be ahead of the game a bit more.

I left work a little bit later than planned but still you'd think in good time to get home at a reasonable hour. Anyway there wasn't a bus home for around twenty minutes which wasn't a good sign, and all was going reasonably well as I headed past the roadworks near work and up to the A6 to get homewards. And there it all stopped. It just seemed to be crawling at a pace even a snail wouldn't have any difficulty in overtaking. I made the decision to get off the bus and walk the rest of the way home.

It proved to be an inspired decision. The walk is around a mile or so, which normally takes me some 15-20 minutes to do. In that time the traffic appeared to be almost stationary, and the fact that I passed not one, not two, not even three, but seven buses stuck in that traffic proved what I needed to know - that the right decision was made. In fact when I looked up the road the final bus I passed was at least two stops behind where I was, and so that said it all really. I just hope everyone got home okay to be honest.

I did some listening to the rather good Nitzer Ebb first album That Total Age tonight whilst doing a shed load of ironing and washing. For me some of their electronic dancier stuff really did set the tone for how good they were, and the likes of Join In The Chant are still songs I enjoy listening to today. However one track back then really set the tone for me - Murderous, no less. It's a really driving and simple electronic beat with some killer drums and some good vocals to keep you bouncing around - simple but good! Tune of the day an easy decision really.

Tuesday 18th March - Sew Far, Sew Good

It was another pretty busy day at work, but pretty good also to feel like I'm finally getting on top of some of the workload. One of the things I had to look at and try and sort out today involved a considerable amount of thought and processing in my head to see what I could do in terms of provide a solution. Sometimes it's better to think of an option to solve a problem before you actually make an attempt to do so, as it means you're more prepared to be able to get that done. Sometimes it just works that way!

I headed homewards via the local Tesco as I needed to get some bread to make up my lunches for the rest of the week, and also got The Love In My Heart some nice wine as she'd be over to see me later. It was pretty busy in there anyway, and I was a bit conscious that I wanted to get some housework done before The Love came over, so managed to get round pretty quick and then head homewards, and it was still light when I arrived back. I do like it when the days get longer it has to be said.

The Love arrived later on and I put the food on for the evening meal, some pork medallions in mediteranean sauce, complete with some buttery mash and some petits pois (which I thought would be nicer than the usual Tesco garden peas and so proved to be so - I think a permanent switch is going to happen) and that went down nicely. I even tried the new Wychwood Dr Thirsty's No. 4 blond ale, which was very nice (infact even The Love liked it a lot when she tried it) and that might be one I might get some more of.

So we settled in for The Great British Sewing Bee, which of course means my weekly fix of the rather lovely Claudia Winkleman, who looked as lovely as ever. It was quite a tough week for the contestants though as they had to work with nylon to make a raincoat, and then leather to help customise a plain top, and finally velvet to make their trousers to fit themselves. From the second challenge onwards I thought both Lynda and Chinelo looked pretty good to get through, but it was the final challenge that was the undoing of Jenni, and she left.

I do think Lynda is favourite to win for me though, she just really has a bright bubbly personality and you can tell that she adores her family along with it. She's also been really nice to everyone there too. David, the only bloke left in, has a really dry sense of wit and humour which I'm also getting along with as well. I think he secretly quite likes Claudia (if he does, he has good taste!) and I'm going to make the theme tune tune of the day - although if someone can add a "cha cha cha" at the end of it, that'd make it even nicer. So there.

We did watch the recording of First Dates from last Wednesday, having the opportunity to watch it for the first time since then. It's always interesting to see what happens when people meet in the restaurant and how they get on. I must admit I did think that the French bloke who was dating the Bristol divorcee was a real pain in the backside, slagging off the restuarant's food in French to impose some kind of superiority, and complaining at every opportunity instead of giving the woman some due attention. Sacre bloody bleu indeed.

Monday 17th March - Just Another Manic Monday

And yes, for the record, I do wish it was Sunday, as that's my fun day (etc). You get the idea. I think generally at the moment the time I've got to spend is divided up between co-ordinating jobs for the team, sorting out any potential application packaging issues, attending numerous meetings and also, just to add insult to injury for today, getting a brand new printer set up. And not just any printer either, a rather nice HP Officejet Pro with apparently some new colour flow (US spelling corrected there, color flow indeed, bah) system that's supposed to be good.

My colleague and I spent some time getting an iMac hooked up to the printer via USB, which wouldn't normally be a problem - the Mac would normally happily detect the driver and also then download and install it. Which it didn't. I thought that a bit odd and so made sure the latest complete HP driver package for Mac OS X was downloaded and installed. That done, still no joy. Bizarre. My colleague and I who both know our way a considerable amount around Macs, were both a bit perplexed.

A bit of research on the web revealed next to zero information about the printer model, which was odd. You'd think there'd be something out there, right? But no. In the end I spotted a similar model in the HP driver package and so installed it with that driver (HP Officejet Pro x576 series). It seemed to work and indeed I was able to print out some test documents from Word and Photoshop, so for the time being I left it at that but did raise the question to our printer supplier just why there wasn't any trace of drivers to be found, not even on HP's site.

An email back from them later in the day gave me the answer. Apparently the printer we have hasn't even been officially released by HP as yet, but we've been sent one by our supplier so we can evaluate and test it. It's a HP Officejet Enterprise Color Flow MFP x585, and by all accounts is due out soon. Of course because it's not to market as yet, there's therefore no drivers. Thankfully the supplier informed me that it shouldn't behave that differently to the x576, and so to use that driver instead. And guess what? I'd already done that. So at least I felt that I'd done something right.

I had a pretty quiet evening really, mainly doing a fruitless search for anything approaching reasonably priced hotel rooms in Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which have been the same rip off prices pretty much since the tickets went on sale. In truth, I'm going to give up the idea of going, even though I have tickets. There's hopefully going to be a ticket resale opening via the official site, and I'll definitely be offering my tickets to it for sure. What's the point of hosting a major event if there's no fair trading controls on the expensive prices to actually stay there? Granted London 2012 wasn't that great for prices, but in percentage increase comparison it was a lot less worse, and you had late trains so you could come back same night..

In the meantime tune of the day is the rather brilliant "Axe of Men 2010" by Pop Will Eat Itself. It had been the first proper PWEI product that had been released for some time at the time, a good rework of their song from their 1990 "The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure For Sanity" album no less. For me it has a bit more edge and really brings it bang up to date, and on top of that it really does get me in the mood for the new PWEI EP which should be hitting the post box later this week or early next week. Excited? You bet.

Sunday 16th March - Everywhere Is Closed And Full

We had a well earned lie in, The Love In My Heart and I, after the Saturday night extravaganza of a nice meal out and some good live music as well. It was good to rest up and after I got up and made us some breakfast, I settled in to watch some telly whilst The Love was getting herself ready, and we decided early on that we'd head out to Dunham Massey to see if we could head around the house there which is for the next two years going to be back as the Stamford Military Hospital, which it was during the First World War.

We headed through the countryside towards Dunham Massey and the car park did seem busy, but we knew that as National Trust members we'd be parking for free. However as we got close to the payment booth there was a notice which said that all the slots for going round the house were effectively gone for the day, but you could go round the gardens if you wanted to. We were gutted, but I suspect at weekends we'd have to get there really early and then be sure we could get an early timed ticket for the house.

We then headed out and followed the road around, spotting some nice pubs along the way (noted for the future) and then at the end of the road turned left and headed along the main road towards Lymm. We stopped there and had a nice little walk along the canal side and through the village. Not many of the shops were open but the nice little sweet shop was, and it was nice to see that they were keeping their independent spirit as well as really having nice boxes of sweets as a gift, and some lovely boxes at that. The Love did get some sweets in there anyway!

We headed back and noticed that there had been an artisan market there earlier in the day which we had also missed. Aaargh. Not good. We then headed back along through Altrincham and after heading via Timperley, we then were off to West Didsbury to the Greenfinch for Sunday lunch, except everywhere was full. Not going well this really. However I then thought that we could head to The Didsbury and so we went there instead and a table was available for us, so all good there.

I had the Sunday roast turkey and that was really nice, and got tons of meat too. The Love went for the steak and pulled pork gourmet burger which really did look nice, and she said it was gorgeous. Lots of meat inside the brioche bun, some chips and onion rings, and that really did hit the spot wonderfully well, as did a local ale Didsbury Dozen that I also had. It was just good to chat and be all leisurely, and later on when we got back we watched back something I'd recorded yesterday on Really where people were looking at a possible move to Nice and perusing apartments there. Of course, we recognised a lot of what was on that!

The Love went home later and I watched the recording of the F1 highlights from Australia so cue Fleetwood Mac "The Chain" theme tune (tune of the day) and with all the new regulations etc, it was a very different race. Nico Rosberg won pretty easily in the end, but after having a year with no podiums at all, McLaren get one with Kevin Magnussen in third behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo who finished second. However, drama much later on and obviously something which the highlights show got at the end too - the Red Bull car was deemed to have an illegal fuel flow rate and so was DQed, meaning Magnussen was second and Jenson Button third!

Saturday 15th March - Temptation in Academy 2

I headed into the city centre earlier in the morning and wanted to peruse some of the record shops in the Northern Quarter. Most of them weren't open till 11am anyway so it meant I was able to get up, do a few things I needed to do around the house and then leave for the city centre a bit later on. It was good to be able to peruse round them and I was tempted by a couple of 7" singles in Vinyl Revival, but a fair chunk of them were ones that I already had, so no need to buy them again. They did have a good Manchester based music selection, although the Man From Delmonte 12" I got yesterday was some £20 there. Thus one of my golden rules of record collecting: avoid getting collectables in the town that the band are based in: the demand is higher and so will be more to pay.

After browsing a few shops I then headed into Kro in Piccadilly as I fancied a coffee. Then I remembered their gorgeous cake and coffee deal and thought "well why not?" and so had their lovely St Clement's Cake with a large coffee. It meant I could watch the world go by and be relatively relaxed which simply had to be done. I think sometimes taking the pace a bit slower at the weekend is just the thing to do if need be, and it was good to do just that.

I got home later and settled in to watch Man City's away game at Hull City. It wasn't looking at all good after ten minutes when Vincent Kompany was rightfully sent off for hauling back Nikica Jelavic when he was through on goal, and yet our ten men still went for it. David Silva scored a peach of a curling shot a few minutes later to go 1-0 up and even though Hull pressed, the defence was organised and when we went forward on the break it was with some purpose and precision. Late on Silva put through Edin Džeko and he scored to make it 2-0, so happy bunny I was. More so later when I found out Chelski had lost 1-0 at Aston Villa.

The Love In My Heart came over later and we got ourselves ready to head out into the city centre for the evening. We were meeting up with one of our friends and the three of us were going to Academy 2 to see Heaven 17 play there with Blancmange supporting, so plenty of 80s music for us to get our teeth into. We first of all though went to Kro in Piccadilly and had a very nice meal in there together which meant we could also catch up and chat as well, so all was very well with the world. I had the fish and chips which was very lovely indeed.

It was then on to the bus to Academy 2, where there was a queue outside to get in, not normally like that it has to be said. We got into the queue which resolved itself pretty quickly, dropped off the coats at the cloakroom and then headed upstairs to the venue itself, which already was very busy. They now have a bar at the back of the venue but it's that busy that you'd really be silly to even attempt to get to the bar and back in between acts, it's hard to move in there as it is. I must admit I did like it when the bar was outside and you could go and come in there as you needed...

So on first came Blancmange, and they were better than I thought they'd be. I suspected though not everyone knew all of their songs which meant that people appreciated what they were doing but maybe weren't as excited for that reason. Of course they did the big hit, namely "Living on the Ceiling" which everyone did sing along to. I wasn't sure that the singer Neil Arthur needed his really daft tie on though, but that was his thing. They ended the set with a storming version of one of their other hits "Blind Vision" and that seemed to go down well with the crowd.

In between sets, the DJ was playing a mix of classic 1980s or synth based tunes, so we got the likes of Depeche Mode's "New Life", the excellent Gary Numan song "This Wreckage" (which I've seen him do live over the last few years and it is ace), the original 12" mix of New Order's "Temptation" and other lovely stuff. It got about half way through Devo's classic "Whip It" which I was happily singing along to, before the lights dimmed and the excitement built up nicely for Heaven 17 coming on.

Heaven 17 were pretty good all round it has to be said. Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory really knew what they were doing, and having two backing female singers in Billie Godfrey and Kelly Barnes meant that they could really give the songs some vocal depth. Also Berenice Scott on keyboards looked the epitomy of cool - just concentrating in the background and really playing well. Of course it was good to see that many of their classic singles were given little twists along the way as well.

Once "Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry" sprang into life early on in the set, the atmosphere was really good and everyone seemed to be getting into it. "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" was dedicated to the late Tony Benn, and everyone sang along to the chorus to "The Height of the Fighting" as well. One of my particular favourites of theirs "Penthouse and Pavement" got a really good working with Kelly and Billie giving the chorus some powerful vocals which really added to it nicely.

All was good, and in the middle there was a really nice and different version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" with Glenn and Martyn happily sharing the lead together, all cosy and happy. It was a lovely moment actually, and later on they also did a version of David Bowie's "Boys Keep Swinging", an unexpected but rather brilliant bonus. We also got "Come Live With Me" as well as "Let Me Go" too and the superb "Play To Win" which really did have everyone bounding around happily - tune of the day from me to be honest.

Of course, we had to get "Temptation" as well and that really was storming, with Billie in particular in fine vocal form on that one, with them really giving it their all. Yaay indeed. And i resisted going "Glenn! we've talked about this!" like it does in the PlusNet advert (Billie is vocalist on that too, by the way.) They came back on later with a nice little encore of "I'm Your Money", and that was a nice surprise to have an album track as one of their encore ones. They finished with another surprise, with a song from when Martyn was in The Human League. He did the music and Phil Oakey the vocals for "Being Boiled", so he's allowed to do it, and Glenn did a great vocal job. I knew they'd recorded it back in 2008 that way but to see and hear it live was just also really good.

We headed back on the bus into the city centre after the gig and had a couple of drinks and more chatter, which was really nice especially as Kro had quietened down so we could just chill out lots. It was gone midnight when we were saying our goodbyes to our friend, and The Love In My Heart and me headed on the night bus back to mine, and after seeing City on Match of the Day we headed to sleep around 1am. Can't remember the last time I had a Saturday night out going to bed that late, woohoo!

Friday 14th March - Going Postal

I had to head off to the local sorting office this morning, as I had a card through the door yesterday to say that there were some packages for me which wouldn't fit through the letterbox. I had a feeling that it might well be the 12" single of The Man From Delmonte's "Will Nobody Save Louise" which I had ordered and for a very good price too online - especially when I had seen it in Vinyl Exchange for £18 and I knew that I had paid a lot less than that for it, so all good there. I was awaiting two other packages but I thought both of them would have been able to fit through the letterbox, with them being 7" singles and indeed a CD, so my suspicions were more towards that.

Thankfully the sorting office is walking distance from my house, not everyone has that luxury. I got up and got myself ready and walked there. When I got there and showed my ID, there was a package alright, but not just one. Three of them. They'd all been bundled together which meant I could pick the lot up in one fell swoop, so I collected those and headed homewards. The folks in the local sorting office are always really helpful anyway and so just meant that I was safe in the knowledge that it'd all be there to be collected.

I got home and before heading to work opened the packages to check the contents. The large one was indeed the Man From Delmonte 12" which I played later in the evening and it was exactly how I remembered it, a cheery indie pop tune, so that's tune of the day. The cardboard package had two 7" singles in it, namely the green and orange vinyl versions of Pop Will Eat Itself's "Can U Dig It?" single to fill a collection gap, and the padded envelope had come all the way from the USA, and was a copy of Pop Will Eat Itself's "Amalgamation" CD EP from 1994. I did have a copy years ago but it went awol, so thought it best to get another. It does have a slightly different version of the classic "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" so worth it for that alone.

Continuing the postal theme, I'd packaged up the birthday card and present I was sending to one of my relations down South, and realistically wanted to make sure it got there in time for their birthday. With that in mind, I wanted to send the package off. As it transpires, the post office close to Piccadilly Plaza and bus station in the centre of Manchester opens at 8am, so it meant I could get the package sent off and then head to work without any problems. It's actually good to know because if I need to send anything in future, I can do the same plan and get it all sent off nice and early. Yaay indeed.

Work was busy but all reasonably good, and I've spent some time working on some future plans as well. The day pretty much sped by and I arrived home in pretty good spirits, playing all the new stuff I'd got and having a relaxing evening listening to that lot first. I also watched The Muppets on Blu-Ray and that was all good, not seen it for a while and thought it'd be good to re-acquaint myself before the new film comes out soon. Of course there's lots of bits I love, but most of all seeing them do their antics as they did do on the Muppet Show when raising money for the telethon was simply hilarious, and so good to see them almost pastiche themselves in a way. And simply, Kermit the Frog. Yaay.

Thursday 13th March - Giving It The Elbow (Grease)

Lots of stuff to do at work today, and it transpired that there was a printer where the toner cartridge hadn't been delivered, so I managed to speak to one of our central departments who did indeed have one to hand. This meant a bit of a walk over to another building to collect it, but for me it definitely was worth it, as I got some nice fresh air in the Spring sunshine. Mind you, carrying a box back that wasn't the lightest was also some decent weight training I suspect too.

I headed into the city centre as I needed to get a birthday present for one of my relations. It turned out that they're a City fan (yaay, obviously) and so headed to the City store in the Arndale Centre to locate something. It was a good move because plenty of offers were on which also meant that I was able to get more for less, always good when that happens. I was tempted to get myself a couple of things too but I relented. See? I can resist when I have to!

I did still have £5 left on my HMV gift card from Christmas and I knew a couple of albums were out this week which were tempting me. In fact I bought two CDs in the end, I got the new Elbow album "The Take Off and Landing of Everything" which I was mainly after, and I think it'll be interesting to see how they've progressed musically on this one, notably because lead man Guy Garvey had split up from his long term girlfriend during the recording of the album and there may well be some hints to that in at least one of the songs.

When I got to the counter several albums were £2.99 on CD with any purchase and one of them happened to be the soundtrack CD from the film The Muppets, which of course I adored at the cinema (and have it on Blu-Ray, as you do.) The soundtrack has little speech snippets from the film interspersed with the songs, which does sort of work in a way. The album does though have an Oscar winning song on there, "Man or Muppet?" as composed by Bret McKenzie and performed in the film by Jason Segel and Peter Linz, so tune of the day - it's still brilliant listening even now.

It was good therefore to spend some time later listening to the new Elbow album as well. It's going to take a few listens I think to really get into it, as their albums often do, but that's no bad thing. One thing is clear though: you can tell that there's some fine musicianship gone into this, and that they really do have an ear for a good song, although lengthy in parts as well. I'm going to keep some time for tomorrow night and really give it a couple of repeat plays I think.

Wednesday 12th March - Sew It Goes

It was a productive day and a half at work today, as my colleague and I had worked really well on getting an old piece of software to work that we'd tried to work on Windows 7 yesterday. It was clear that it wasn't going to cut the mustard, so we formulated a plan - create a virtual Windows XP machine, transfer all the database data to that machine, install the old software along with SQL 2000 and then see what happened. I followed all my original documentation which I created when I transferred the stuff from a Windows NT to a Windows XP box, and on the virtual XP box, it all worked. Hurrah to that!

I was amazed that my instructions after some four and a half years of writing them still were spot on and worked, and indeed that all the data was accessible and alterable without any issues. Granted it might mean something more radical moving forward, especially as XP is going to be end of life, but the thing is that there's still instances when older software needs to run and you need a platform to be able to do that with. Effectively though one thing I've noticed is that VMPlayer can use what it needs of the hard disks dynamically, and so is pretty flexible as to how it organises itself. This is a good thing.

For most of the afternoon I was on the hunt to locate why a wireless access point wasn't working. I located the point okay and indeed the lights were not on at all, so no signal. Because the socket was so high up, I couldn't see it, but thankfully our network contractors had written it on the underside of the access point so I could see it. Heading to the network cabinet, it was locked so couldn't get in, but I could see it wasn't patched in at the cabinet end, hence of course it wasn't going to work correctly.

It was pretty busy so was good to get home later, and indeed The Love In My Heart was coming over. We weren't stopping in though as it transpired that work had asked The Love to get a cheap pay as you go mobile to tide her over till her proper work one arrives, and then the one she gets can be used by the staff if out and about - so therefore still having a use for it later on. We decided a quick trip to Tesco was in order, and we located the phone section. Interestingly there was a Samsung E1200 there for a mere £9 on pay as you go, but no leaflets that you take to the counter, indicating sold out.

However, the same mobile was in the sim free section, but when I checked the back of the leaflets, they said "pay as you go". I then compared the barcodes under the prices of each one, and it was clear to me that the leaflets were in the wrong section! Good spot eh? The Love headed to the customer service desk and picked up the phone, and all was well. Great when things work and it made me wonder which person had not clearly read the manual in terms of organising the shelf properly.

I made The Love and I some chicken with a mushroom sauce and some rice, and after that we settled in on BBC iPlayer to watch last night's The Great British Sewing Bee. Of course this means more of the lovely Claudia Winkleman (no bad thing!) but the sewers had it all to do with various children's clothes. I was really pleased that Lynda won garment of the week for her prom dress for one of her relatives, it looked smart and fitted well. She's absolutely adorable, and on a week you'd think Cerina would have excelled, she struggled and so was off the programme.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the lovely "Civilised Debauchery" by 3 Daft Monkeys. I had a thought that maybe they should be the models in the later editions of Sewing Bee and that the sewers would have to make some cool costumes for them. It'd also be a good test as Athene has very different dresses which she wears when on tour especially, and you'd have to get both Tim and Lukas looking countrified cool, and for Richie, well anything goes. And of course it would be sort of debauchery to do it for fun for them!

Tuesday 11th March - They Say It's Your Birthday

I spent most of today trying my hardest to look at a very old piece of software which attaches itself to a very old SQL 2000 database, and with the mission impossible to get that to work correctly on Windows 7. The long and the short of it was that you can't really install any SQL version below SQL 2005 Service Pack 3 in Windows 7, and on top of that the software that is supposed to talk to the database doesn't allow you to authenticate, as the requirements are clearly Windows XP and below (which is why it previously worked on a XP build). I'm seriously thinking virtualisation might be the way forward here..

As a consequence I headed home later than normal, and then once I got home I picked up what I needed and took the walk to my Mum's place. It's not a short walk in the evening because the shorter way I take during the day goes under a tunnel, and it's a bit unsavoury at night, so the longer walk is via the main roads, which adds on some 5-10 minutes more of time. It was nice therefore to see Mum and my nephew when I got there and was able to have a cuppa and a chat with them.

My brother and his girlfriend arrived later on, having first been to Jamie's Italian in the centre of Manchester for their tea (and very nice too I have to say!) - and so it was good to see him. He was pretty pleased that I'd not only got him some real ales as I said I would for his birthday but also that they were all local ones. To me it made much more sense to be able to do that, and of course as I was heading into Carringtons on Saturday, I got him the beers as well as some for me then - one trip, job done effectively.

So what did I get him then? Well, all four ales were from local breweries close to Manchester, so there was the Dunham Massey "Deer Beer" for a start, and that saved me heading to the barn close to the National Trust Park which is their brewery (yes, seriously!) Then there was the Brightside Brewery's "Manchester Skyline" which is from Radcliffe near Bury, the First Chop Brewing Arm in Salford provided the rather lovely "Mia" which is a hoppy brunette ale, and lastly the Wilson Potter Brewery in Middleton's rather nice "Ruby Red" which is very red and ruby coloured indeed, does what it says on the tin etc!

I headed home later and saw the rest of Arsenal's game against Bayern Munich away in the Champions League. Bayern did score to go 3-0 up on aggregate before Arsenal scored almost straight afterwards, but it was clear that Bayern had more in the tank and had a penalty saved in the first minute of stoppage time as well. It was to be expected and it might be a sign of how hard we'll find it tomorrow evening when we play Barcelona away, which I've written off to be truthful. Still, it's a sign of how far we've come that we're playing them in the last sixteen!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent, if lengthy, "Octavarium" by Dream Theater. Sometimes a track is long and epic for a reason, and I think for me that I can just put it on, do what I need to do and have it in the background building up to the wonderful string-laden ending which really does set the tone perfectly. Kind of wish now I'd seen the band with the original line up when they toured just to hear how good this would have been live..

Monday 10th March - Non-Stop

It certainly felt like a non-stop day at work today, and even more so I think because of the fact that no matter what we do collectively to keep on top of the day to day stuff, more work appears to be heading our way. It's probably due to the time of year amongst other things, but you do have to wonder if there's ever a spare moment to think occasionally. I did have a ponder of that during the morning, not least when I found out a network cabinet upgrade over the weekend had left some people without being able to log on, which is not good.

I headed to the building in question and soon ascertained that there was a definite issue with one of the sockets, and with the help of our cabling contractors tracked this down to a cable termination problem. Once that was resolved I was then able to ensure that they were able to connect, and re-patched in another socket so that another user was also good to go. I did feel positive in the end as it meant that I was on hand and out there but it did mean that I had to miss a meeting because of it, which I also don't like doing either. Swings and proverbial roundabouts I suppose.

In the afternoon I mainly spent time with a laptop sorting out some software installations, one of which involved a USB dongle. As I wasn't sure which USB port that the staff member would use, I sensibly plugged the dongle in all three and allowed the driver to install each time it was connected to that different port, meaning hopefully much less pain further down the line. Not daft me you know. It also meant I could try and simultaneously work on some software testing along the line.

I stayed behind a bit to try and sort out a couple of things and then headed home, only to realise I'd ran out of wrapping paper and Sellotape, and with it being my brother's birthday tomorrow I figured it'd make sense to get all of that sorted now. I headed to the local Asda where I managed to get both items, and then was able to wrap everything up and have things ready for tomorrow. I also then spent a bit of time watching some telly and also testing out the brand new BBC iPlayer on my Humax Freeview HD box, the new look seems pretty good and if BBC Sport is coming as well, then wooo! World Snooker will be mine at the right time, oh yes.

Spent a bit of time late on listening to some of the alternative 7" and 12" mixes of Pop Will Eat Itself singles that I've acquired over the years, and there's plenty more to come. For me it was always a bit odd that there were various 12" and 7" house style mixes of "Can U Dig It?" mainly by Justin Strauss. The 12" house mix is pretty good and odd why it never got a proper UK release till the reissues of the albums, and so that's tune of the day. And yes, I do dig TV and remote control..

Sunday 9th March - Curling and Curses

I spent a bit of time this morning watching Great Britain's second match of the day (their third in all) of the wheelchair curling event. They had won the one earlier and so were now playing Korea. Despite not having the hammer they stole one point in each of the opening three ends before the Koreans hit back to make it 3-2 at the half time interval after the fourth. The Koreans then stole one each in the next two, so it was 4-3 to them but crucially Britain had the hammer in the seventh and penultimate end.

The way the end was going was nip and tuck although most of the British stones were in the circle with a couple of good guards. The final Korean stone hit one of the guards and knocked it in, making it five to us. Wisely the British skip sent the final stone way out of the way and meant that it was 8-4 going in to the final one, and once we'd knocked out the Korean stone with three left, and the house had two British ones in, the Koreans conceded and a good day's work for our team. Nice of Channel 4 to stay with it all day too it has to be said.

My friend came over later and we were off to the Etihad Stadium for the FA Cup sixth round clash against Wigan Athletic, now managed by former City player and legend Uwe Rösler. He knew they needed to get at us and not park the bus, and also that they had to be together as a team. I felt that with the team selection we'd underestimated them a bit and was particularly peeved that neither Kompany or Zabaleta were playing, as the unreliable Martin Demechelis was once again in central defence.

That misgiving was proved to be right midway through the first half. Marc-Antoine Fortuné was down the left hand side, running into the penalty area, and Demechelis trips him up and it was a definite penalty. No booking or sending off, as the keeper might have had the ball anyway, but a stupid penalty to give away really. Jordi Gomez made no mistake from the spot and so Wigan were 1-0 up. Every single ball they battled for and wanted it a lot more than we did, and it was clear to see we needed to make changes.

Sadly, they should have been made at half time. Some shocking defending from Demechelis, and then Gael Clichy allowed James Perch to nip in at the far post and put Wigan 2-0 up. Completely deserved though, again they wanted it more. City then threw on David Silva, Edin Džeko and James Milner and took off Álvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure (who was booked and was petulant when he went off - not very happy about that) and Jesús Navas. Milner showed his usual passion and power and gave us more of what we needed.

Midway through the second half a corner came over, it was half cleared and the ball passed to Samir Nasri who hit a beauty from 20 yards out low and hard into the bottom corner. Joleon Lescott did look offside maybe, but it was the goal we needed, and it was then a case of seeing if we could get an equaliser or not. Džeko had already hit the post but when a low cross came in from Milner, Emerson Boyce got in front of Džeko and cleared it away from danger in one of the best defensive stops you're likely to see all season. No, seriously. It was that good.

City surged forward more but Wigan put their bodies on the line for the manager and even Costel Pantillimon went up for the corner at end but to no avail, and City were out of the FA Cup, beaten again by Wigan after we'd beaten Chelsea in the previous round. Arsenal might be thinking they've won the cup now, but believe me: Wigan will give 100% and I know Uwe will be up for it. He didn't celebrate at the end out of respect for the City fans like me who idolised him when he played for us (total class from him that) but I was gutted, we didn't try hard enough and got what we deserved - nothing.

Tune of the day is another Morrissey song and quite apt for the feeling I have now: "Disappointed". That I am in a number of ways, and the song itself is a B-side that should have been an A-side, it just has this real feeling of conveying the whole disappointment angle to a tee. "See these lines?" quipped Morrissey, "I'm truly disappointed" and no more words could be truer right now as I try to dissect the pain that today's loss undoubtedly was.

Saturday 8th March - Carrot Cake on the Corner

I had a relatively calm and relaxing morning, sorting out the remainder of the housework, watching some of the Paralympic Games on Channel 4, and indeed being able to sort out a few other little bits, including seeing that I had won a mere £3 on the Euro Millions draw last night. That'll at least mean I can have a go at Tuesday's draw which has rolled over (so around £92 million it'll be) plus a Thunderball for tonight, what the hell, I may as well try and then not win I suppose.

I did head on the bus into Chorlton though as I fancied a mooch around On The Corner, the café cum record shop on Beech Road. I also knew there were some nice shops along there and wanted to get a birthday card, which I managed to do in Loop as well (which was a rather lovely one). I walked back down Beech Road and lots of space available in On The Corner. I was going to get a coffee at first but when I saw that their cakes were looking mightily lovely, I asked what they had and the lovely staff let me know what they were. They even had two different gluten free cakes, which was nice to see.

In the end I plumped for a carrot cake to go with the coffee, and I could read one of the music books whilst having coffee and cake and listening to The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" at the same time (tune of the day if only for the irony, I was actually very happy really). It was good to just have some lovely coffee, the cake was gorgeous and the right amount of moistness, and the atmosphere really good. I had a good look at the vinyl and CDs later before making my way back down Beech Road again.

I stopped off at Carringtons before heading on the bus back home, not least because their real ale selection is very good indeed. I was stuck deciding what to get in the end, but there's a couple of brewers whose ale I like which they have, so bought myself some. It would have been rude not to really, and certainly meant I could have a drink of something nice later on with the evening meal, so all the better for it. The staff member there even told me one of the bottles I got was being sold on cask at one of the bars just down the road, very handy to note that for future reference!

I spent a chunk of the afternoon watching the Arsenal v Everton FA Cup game followed then by some Channel 4 racing and also keeping an eye on the football scores during the afternoon as well, and it was good to take the time out to relax a bit. The Love In My Heart arrived later and after a bit of a chat we settled in, and I made us the tea - some mushroom soup with nice bread to start, chicken in a bacon and leek sauce together with Cornish mash and petits pois with pancetta for main, followed by a strawberry and prosecco trifle for dessert. It all went down nicely as The Love watched The Voice, followed by The Cube and then Jonathan Ross on ITV1, not a bad way to spend an evening really.

Friday 7th March - Busy Bunny

It was another busy day at work, and one where I was getting to the bottom of a few issues in the space of a few hours, so did feel like I was getting somewhere. Crucially I've made some progress in one issue I've been having with some power cables, and it looks like the ones I returned have gone back to where they are, and are then going to be sent off to the headquarters of the manufacturer to see what exactly is showing as a major failure. If it ends up being that and something else is done because of it, I do feel really pleased that I managed to at least have some initiative in the first place.

Some of the staff were also getting involved in the Fairtrade fortnight we have at work by making their own banana loaf cakes (with Fairtrade bananas of course) and hosting them in a tent outside (the weather did dry up thankfully) - you could have coffee and a piece of cake and vote for your favourite, so it was good to try one or two and one of which was a banana and walnut one, and that tasted really good - I'd have been tempted to have more pieces of that if I could to be honest.

I headed into the city centre after work as I fancied a quick look in Vinyl Exchange at the vinyl and CDs and see what they had. No CDs caught the eye but at the same time there were a few 12" singles by Mancunian band The Man From Delmonte, but they weren't cheap - we were talking around £15 for each one including the iconic "Water In My Eyes" and another song of theirs which I also loved "Will Nobody Save Louise". I can still remember singing and bounding around to that one on many an indie night, so that most definitely is tune of the day and for very good reason.

I then headed home and settled in for the evening, and after a nice chat with The Love In My Heart, I then spent a fair bit of time cleaning the bathroom to make it all lovely, and it did need doing to be honest. Doing the housework now meant more time for me on Saturday to do other things, so it was a good motivational reason to do that, and once the food shopping had arrived courtesy of Tesco, I was able to do the rest of the work around the house and then put my feet up in time for The Last Leg.

And my, what a great show it was, as ever. It was great to see Adam Hills' rant against Paddy Power bookmakers for a certain advertisement they'd placed this week, and he really did lay into them big time, and deservedly so too. It was good to see the boys try wheelchair curling, up against the likes of the lovely Hannah Cockroft and Paralympic legend Richard Whitehead (he's represented GBR in the Winter and Summer versions no less) - and it looked like a good sport to watch in the Paralympic Games - the same tactics as curling, but less brushing and more about the skill of the stone's weight and placement.

Thursday 6th March - Very Metal Noise Pollution

It was another busy day at work, mainly punctuated in the afternoon by a course committee meeting that I went to in place of my manager, who himself was in a meeting too. It was pretty productive but I think maybe needs a bit of pulling in terms of time spent on each agenda item. Rightly though it was good for the students to present their feedback as to what they saw were issues. The good thing too was that any they brought up were ones I could easily respond to and be able to provide sensible and methodical answers, which I think was appreciated on the whole.

When I got home later on, after going on a bit of a search for printer cartridges, I was able to see what the postman had delivered, and to my joy, a couple of things I'd ordered for not that much money. One of which was a compilation album that I actually had on tape back in 1989 - The Hits Album 10, only this time on double CD. Part of the reason of me being after it was apart from the likes of Fuzzbox's "Pink Sunshine" as well as "Me Myself and I" by De La Soul and indeed "Cuddly Toy" by Roachford, it also has the video/radio edit of Pop Will Eat Itself's "Wise Up! Sucker" which has a line changed form "cos my head's up my ass" to "cos my head's in a blast" and so for a completist, it was nice to have. I never realised that when I had the tape all those years ago either!

Also in a very well packaged carboard envelope with additional card inside to keep everything spot on was the two track promotional 7" single for Pop Will Eat Itself's "Very Metal Noise Pollution" EP. It features two of the tracks from the EP, namely "PWEI-Zation" and "Def Con One 1989AD", but the latter is of the most interest, as the line "Big Mac, fries to go" is changed to "Big shake, fries to go" as well as some of the ending being edited slightly too (that's tune of the day). Also of note: the labels and matrix numbers of both sides do match (POP4A on one side and POP4AA on the other) but the songs play the other way round. I need to check if it's a proper mispressing or if they were all like that, but still, well worthy of note anyway.

The Love In My Heart came over later and we had a good chat whilst I made the tea, and then it was a case of snuggling up on the sofa for the evening with some telly. First off was last night's First Dates which I'd recorded from Channel 4, but usually on too late for The Love to watch when it's on. It's quite intriguing how people react when on a date, and it must be nerve wracking to be on a date, never mind be in front of the cameras as well. It was really heart warming when the older couple at the end were really giggly and bubbly together, and you could tell their feelings were also genuine. Some of the younger generation should have taken note: it's not always about having to reveal everything on a date, but enough to give them some intrigue..

Then was The Hotel Inspector and a hotel in Nottingham where we both thought that Alex Polizzi was going to walk out on the owners, particularly the woman who co-ran the hotel, my she was a nightmare. And then she had to wonder why no business was coming her way? To me, it smacked of ignorance and not wanting to be told that you needed to improve, and that's why they called Alex in the first place, you think. Eventually sense was seen and the place did look a lot nicer, and just by making things more neutral it'd appeal to the masses. Sometimes as they say, less is most definitely more.

Wednesday 5th March - Dull As Dishwater

Sometimes you want to feel that going into any major tournament that your national team of that sport of choice are all geared up and ready to go, right? Certainly before the 2012 Olympics a lot of the athletes were in trials or UK based championships and all geared to peak at the right time for the games, and my did they ever. It meant too that you had the excitement there and you were all thinking "we might just win here" and so on. You probably get the idea where I am going here.

But do I get that with the England football team? The answer is a resounding no. For my sins, I made the decision to watch the England v Denmark friendly on ITV. This was a bad move for several reasons, some of which not to do with the football itself. First off, Adrian Chiles. Who on ITV thought having him as the main football presenter was a good move, just because he happens to support West Bromwich Albion? He really doesn't have the charisma, his voice grates annoyingly and he just seems to be far too deadpan to even be taken seriously. Granted, people have their reservations about Gary Lineker on the BBC, but he's been there at the highest level and does at least get passionate for the national team as well.

Then of course we move on to the commentary. Clive Tyldesley, fine, no problems there, he's pretty good. But Andy Townsend as the second commentator and pundit? No. Simply no. He just seems to have that dull as dishwater personality that properly reflects how the England team play at the moment to be honest, not getting passionate or excited about anything. Contrast that with the Carling Cup final on Sky and BBC on Sunday, Martin Tyler and Gary Neville - spot on on Sky, Guy Mowbray and Kevin Kilbane - also very good too. Kilbane actually seems to care about what he's seeing and was enthusing, which is a good thing.

The game itself, sadly, was massively forgettable. Whether it was because the systems tried out didn't work, or because of a lack of firepower up front compared to how some of the players are for their clubs, I don't know. It all seemed very going through the motions as if their plane tickets and places in the squad had already been decided, and that wasn't good to see. Things improved when the Southampton contigent came on: Luke Shaw looked very good at left back and surging forward and will prove to be very good backup for Leighton Baines I feel, and Adam Lallana looked lively, and set up a peach of a cross for Daniel Sturridge (who was tons better when playing in his proper position of up top and centre) to head home. So at least we won 1-0, but it was pulling teeth for a fair chunk of it, it has to be said.

Compare that if you will to the absolute joy that is listening to often forgotten late 1980s indie band The Man From Delmonte. I was looking at my Indie Top 20 compilation CDs for a possible future music article for the site, and volume 7 has their great song "My Love Is Like A Gift You Can't Return" (make that tune of the day) which of course is rather twee and lovely. One of their other singles was a favourite too, "Water In My Eyes" complete with baby on Southport beach and same baby pretending to be a harmonica expert. It reminded me of a time when really poppy indie bands weren't heard much of outside their native towns and when you discovered them you thought "wow, these are good!". Oh, I do hark for those days still...

Tuesday 4th March - Replacing

I had the day off work today, and with a good reason - I was having the gas meter replaced, as part of a rolling programme to change them over. The good thing was it was actually going to be done for free as part of a safety replacement scheme, and on top of that this also meant that when I eventually am moved over to the lovely people at Ovo Energy, it'll pretty much be on a clean slate with a new meter. I had managed to get an appointment booked for the afternoon and so spent most of the morning relaxing with a couple of sport related DVDs and cleaning up where I could.

I also moved the TV unit in the front room as well as the right front tower speaker, and cleaned all round there, which meant that the fitter would have enough room to move and get it all sorted. He arrived just after 1pm and was efficient, removing the old one easily enough and then sorting out all the pipes etc ready for the new one going in. It went in and all was very well indeed with it, and allowed a bit of testing with the gas cooker to make sure all the air had gone through (as often happens when the gas is turned off then back on) and all was working as I wanted it to be.

It also meant that I had time during the morning to look at possible accommodation routes again for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, after SACO apartments had got back to me last night and said that all their Glasgow apartments had been block booked for long stay periods, meaning none available. They did say they'd inform me early March, so was hoping that their prices would have been cheaper than the rip off hotel prices, but no good if there's nothing available. Two hotels I looked at which had rooms had at least a cost of four times their normal price, and for one hotel a massive 6.37 times their normal amount. The word scandalous doesn't even come close.

Part of me is seriously thinking that if the ticket resale opportunity arises (which has been mentioned on the Glasgow 2014 site) then I might be taking that up to be honest. With the London 2012 Olympics, whilst the accommodation suffered some price hikes too, what did happen was that trains ran till much later, meaning if I wanted to go for the day I could take trains there and back, and then not have to worry about staying over. A lot of people did that (I did a 2330 journey back from Euston on a couple of occasions which was actually quietly lovely) and it meant that I could spend the days in London and head back, such as the first Saturday for the beach volleyball for example.

There's been nothing similar for Glasgow 2014, so of course I couldn't say take the train to Glasgow during the morning and come back late evening, not least as the athletics finishes around 10.30pm, and you have to get to Glasgow city centre from there first before heading on the train. Realistically stopping over is the option, but definitely not enough hotel rooms, and even on the cities and towns on the outskirts and beyond, the prices are on the whole the same - really expensive. When Premier Inns and Travelodges are charging £180 plus per night you get the idea of the expense, and it's been like that since it was announced I had tickets back in late September 2013.

On a happier note, I had an email from the folks at Ovo Energy informing me of the direct debit dates, meaning that pretty much the switch looked to be almost complete. I did notice that the date was the 12th which meant it was before pay day, and where possible I like to have them debited around pay day (15th) so I know how much I have left at the end of the month. One quick call later and it was all sorted, and the very lovely woman who answered the phone was polite, professional and all round very helpful. If that's the start of my experience with them I have to ask myself why the hell I didn't do it earlier. I'll keep you posteed via the diary, but if it keeps going like this I'm going to have to get some serious switching recommendations out there.

Tune of the day in the meantime is "Newborn" by Elbow, as I spent a bit of time listening to their debut album "Asleep in the Back" earlier on today whilst waiting for the gas meter engineer to turn up. For me although their recent stuff has won them plaudits, it's worth remembering that their first album is way up there with everything else, and for me shows a maturity in their songwriting even then. Newborn is particularly epic in this regard as is the album opener "Any Day Now" as well. Just goes to show that the seeds of foundation of how big they'd become were sown a hell of a long time ago.

Monday 3rd March - Testing, One, Two, Three

It was a more productive day at work than I've had for some time, and not only have I been able to find some time to test things thoroughly, but also to put some recommendations forward as well. I think sometimes when you test, it's good to know what test results you'd expect one way or the other and see how you would move forward from that situation. It's also good if you are able to accurately note down what testing you are doing too, as that then means you're not having to furiously remember what you did previously.

One thing I did have to carefully note was the fact that for one of the corporate applications, it requires a particular version of Java. I must admit I'm not that happy about it because in effect it's a version which isn't the most up to date, and needless to say that brings up some potential security risks and issues. In my view if a piece of software isn't coded in a way to be fully compliant with all releases of Java, then in my mind it's something at the coding end which probably needs to be changed, rather than us having to try and accomodate their particular flavour.

It also irks me when there's applications out there, particularly web based ones, that only will work on Internet Explorer for Windows, and a certain version of IE at that. You feel like personally telling the software companies that this is the 21st century, there's mobiles and tablets as well as Mac, Linux and other desktop and laptop based OSes which all have browsers, and where possible anything web-based should be properly standards compliant so it happily works on everything (or even code a mobile app if you feel the need to) - and then everyone goes home reasonably happy.

Thankfully one main piece of testing this afternoon was one I could do on Windows and Mac, and indeed using all three of our core web browsers (IE, Firefox and Chrome on Windows, and Safari, Firefox and Chrome on MacOS) which all yielded the same results across the board, and indeed had no compatibility issues either. Those sorts of things are nice to report because you know they've been tested, and because there's been no frustrations at attempting to find a workaround, then it's also quicker in terms of time as well (just a thought!)

I headed home later and sorted out a few things around the house before settling in for tea, and then spent some time catching up on telly I'd missed whilst being at The Love's place over the weekend. Friday's episode of The Last Leg was one I had to see, and it was great seeing Adam, Josh and Alex cast their eyes over the week. Amazingly of all, James Corden wasn't as annoying as he usually is and it was good banter with him and Alex, so that was fun. Best bit though was Lizzy Yarnold's dad having his moustache painted gold, kudos to him and Lizzy really for indulging in some fun there.

I gave the AV rig a bit of a workout in terms of listening to some music later on and put on the Pop Will Eat Itself Cure for Sanity CD. I have the original 1990 release and have fond memories of buying it the first day of release and then later that night seeing them live at the now defunct Manchester International II (walking distance from my Mum's) and had a great time. For me, there's various tracks which stand out, but one "Axe of Men" really does, notably because of the 2010 reissue single with some good mixes of the track - so tune of the day was actually easy to pick.

Sunday 2nd March - Capital One City

I would have been setting off to Wembley this morning with my friend to see Manchester City take on Sunderland in the Capital One Cup final. However, with him still recovering from a recent damaged retina operation, we thought it best to make sure that nothing happned during the day which might affect things, plus as well he couldn't see out of one eye at the time the tickets were going on sale, and so didn't want to risk spending lots of money and not going. I could see the coaches leaving from The Love's place and of course wanted to be on one of them, but of course believe me I would be watching it and cheering them on!

Overnight too the bridge had been put in place which crosses a major junction near the Etihad Stadium and links the ground with the football academy on the site opposite. Eventually it'll link the two together nicely and of course be a perfect way of bringing the first, youth and women's team all together, and when the stadium is built opposite the women's team will be playing there, perfect for them and be good to see them during the Summer if we can.

The Love and I had a very nice breakfast with the two cats for company (not least Jo, who I think fancied some bacon himself!) and then The Love dropped me off homeward. I had craftily (I thought) kept the NowTV passes for Sky Sports I had left (one of them) but must have deleted the emails with the codes in. However, what I did find was that Capital One were giving away one day passes for Sky Sports via NowTV, so managed to get all that up and running, and with the PC connected to the telly, watching the game in the front room was mine - for free. Now that's what I was talking about.

I must admit at half time I did wonder if I made the right decision. Sunderland caught City on the break and Fabio Borini skinned Vincent Kompany before putting a low finish past Costel Pantillimon. Some of the pundits were attempting to blame Martin Demechelis for this but it wasn't his fault to be honest. Kompany made amends though with a superb tackle which prevented Borini from scoring a second before half time, and City didn't look at it. Sunderland were playing well with a high tempo and were going for it in every way, and they deservedly were 1-0 up at half time.

The second half started and I was getting a bit worried as Sunderland were still making chances and we were slowly getting going again. All of that though changed in two magic minutes. First off, Yaya Toure had a one two with Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya got the ball back, took a stride and then unleashed a curling shot right into the top corner from thirty yards plus out. It was a stunning finish worthy to grace any final, and so with the score at 1-1 it was game on and I felt much better for that.

But wait - City are breaking, Sergio Agüero has the ball and it's down the left side, he sees Aleksandar Kolarov, who whips in a cross from the left, it comes across the box, and then Samir Nasri hits it with the outside of the boot to curl into the bottom left corner. A great goal and inside two minutes City were 2-1 up. I went mental as you can imagine and certainly making a coffee at half time to keep me going was a wise move, I think! City were then going for it, but to be fair so were Sunderland who wanted to try and get an equaliser and Steven Fletcher will rue the chance he had close to ninety minutes.

Late on Fernandinho broke up a Sunderland attack and City piled forward, and the ball went to Yaya Toure, he had options with five against two and went right to Jesús Navas who finished it well and that was 3-1 and pretty much it. City had won the first silverware of the season and it meant that for the third time in four seasons, we had a trophy to celebrate which was pretty good too. Although gutted not to be there, it was still great to see the boys do the business and I'm sure if all goes according to plan it might not be the only trip to Wembley that we have this season.. tune of the day is obviously "Blue Moon" by Supra - because it sums up how mental I was going when that song gets everyone in the mood to watch City. Oh yes.

Saturday 1st March - Fixing Up

It was nice to have a well earned sleep, and both The Love In My Heart and I appreciated the long sleep together, all nice and warm inside too which was a positive thing. When we did get up and have the cats for company they wanted us to give them lots of fuss and attention as well as them run around the front room as well, which is what they wanted to do as we had some bacon on toast for breakfast together. We even saw some of Saturday Kitchen which shows you the sort of laid back morning that it was.

In the afternoon we headed over to The Love's mum and dad's place as she usually heads there anyway, and it meant that I could try and sort out his PC as The Love had asked me to have a good look at it. For some reason his DVD drive wasn't being detected, but I soon found that the power cable to the drive had worked its way loose, and once I reseated that correctly, it all appeared to be working fine. It still appeared to be really slow starting up though so I found out what was going on and set to work.

First thing first was that there were plenty of spyware gremlins lurking, it looked like by accident he'd clicked on a link for the likes of a free video converter (or it claimed to be) and instead it installed some rather horrible search bars and what have you - and on top of that they'd also killed the antivirus software running on the machine as well. I got that reinstalled, sorted out all the spyware issues and also made sure that things that didn't need to run on startup didn't do so. The result was a much quicker PC at the end of it, although the scan for spyware did take a considerable amount of time.

It was good though to get it sorted so he could happily be surfing the web, and indeed be the go to person it seems for people he knows at the likes of the bowling club etc if they have anything that needs doing. It did take time of course but that meant that The Love could have a chat with her mum and sister, so all good there anyway. We then headed off in the direction of Tesco to get something nice for the evening meal together, and that proved to be pretty fruitful in our search. We did also notice just how many people were in at that time - and it made me realise just why I prefer doing the grocery shopping online these days.

Back at The Love's place she and I spent a relaxing evening in front of the telly, and we had some nice tea together, some little nibbles with dips, and also a couple of stuffed mushrooms to start things off, followed by some chicken in a cream and leek sauce together with some roasted potatoes and carrots, which were gorgeous, and then to finish off a really nice trifle too, all thanks mainly to the Tesco Finest meal deal for two deal. Indeed The Love had the wine and I had a nice pint of real ale as we settled in and watched most of The Voice on BBC One, with I have to say Kylie Minogue looking rather lovely. For me though the song of the night was two of Ricky Wilson's team battling through Frankie Goes To Hollywood's classic "The Power of Love" (make that tune of the day) and doing it justice. Respect to them both really.

We'd timed it so after us seeing us not win on the lottery draw, it was time for The Cube on ITV+1. The two conestants did pretty okay but both of them got stuck on one game each. I quite liked some of the new games though, such as placing the small cubes in the squares on the floor, and also where you had to throw the balls into the cylinders inside a pretty tight time limit. That both pushed them each to the final life, so really was a bit on the tense side either way. I wonder if anyone will be ever able to match Mo Farah and beat The Cube though?