Dear Diary... March 2015

Tuesday 31st March - All Seasons In One Day

It was bad enough that a lack of sleep was not going to be helpful for today. However it really did feel like I felt rather cosy in the bed and it was so tempting to stay in there and not move - not that it would have done me any good really. I decided to get up, get myself ready and do what I could to brave the weather where possible. I think for me that it was essential that I got in, and got cracking with what I needed to do as well. And even on the journey to work I experienced some rain and then some dry spells.

In fact that theme continued onwards for the remainder of the day, and it was a mixture of some bright sunshine, then some rapid showers, and even hail stones at least two points during the day as it really did feel like all the four seasons in one rather mad day. One of my colleagues was telling me that they'd had a considerable amount of wind and rain near them and that in places they'd seen neon signs fall off the front of shops, rather mental that - and with 70mph winds for part of the North West of England, it was going to be rather a manic day.

In the day though I had several meetings to go to and I also worked a bit more on sorting out how the Adobe Creative Cloud packager was going to work. Thankfully now it has an option for a serialised installation, which the enterprise version is, and that means you can put everything together, get it all working the way that you'd like, include all the updates you want, and all be good to go. For me it worked rather nicely, not least because you can then use the command lines for the pre- and post- main installation steps (Acrobat Pro is the main pre, with Lightroom one of the posts) and take it from there.

I headed home later and settled in to watch The Edge, which was as good as it normally was. In fact it was good to see that all three contestants in the second round were going for a good total, even if that meant risking going over the edge. In the end one contestant decided to use two balls for a total of around £1075, and managed it on their first attempt to get the win, so well done them. I do like Mark Benton as a host though: it really does work well with him, and I hope that the BBC give it another run, maybe at peak time?

The Love In My Heart came over later and we had some hunter's chicken together with some potatoes, carrots and petits pois which went down very nicely indeed. We then settled in to watch another programme about hunters, namely the Hunters Brewery in Devon which was part of Alex Polizzi's The Fixer series. They needed to really turn things around and I think that the owner was really surprised when the head brewer at Sharps in Cornwall said that the best of the Hunters ones was the Royal Hunt, and this was backed up by beer drinkers in Alex's local in London!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather powerful "War Ensemble" by Slayer. I guess for me having rocked out to this on numerous occasions on Guitar Hero Metallica but also having played it numerous times on CD, it just seems a perfect song to get some of the frustrations of work out at the moment, and to see if I can re-focus on something else. Here's hoping as I wave goodbye to a rather different month and hope that the next one is a bit more stable..

Monday 30th March - Stormy Weather

Nothing could disguise the incessant rain and rather stronger than normal winds this morning as I left for work. I even left early in the hope that I'd try to get to the office pretty quickly and avoid some of the issues with the weather where possible. To a degree that did work as there was a very brief dry spell coupled with the clouds lifting slightly. If only of course I realised that it was a pretty false dawn to say the least and that in fact it'd be awful weather for the remainder of the day..

I did however have plenty to do and one of the things that was on was to effectively deliver a bit of a refresher course for a few of our staff into the SCCM admin console and how to effectively get the best out of it. I think for them it was good that they had identified it as a training need but also for me to be able to pass on some of that knowledge onto others as well. For me it's showed that the way forward is sharing information where possible so that the load is less of a burden, and it works really well on the whole.

In the afternoon I was then able to spend some time attempting to package up a piece of software on multiple DVD discs. Thankfully each disc was a separate installation and indeed it could be installed with the silent switch /S and that was good. However, when running the executable, because they're not digitally signed and therefore going to not play too well with Windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit, there may be trouble ahead - certainly it wouldn't run for any non-administrative users anyway.

I also looked at a possible repackage of Adobe Creative Cloud to include all relevant updates, but also because the licencing now includes a couple of additional products, to include those too. On the whole it does work pretty well but it's nice to really start afresh and be able to get on with things nicely. I also was road testing something else too, so was really getting a hold on lots of things that I haven't been able to do during the term time, so positive feelings sort of there really.

The weather took hold once more once I got home, and all I heard for most of the evening was the pattering of rain and wind against the windows coupled with a whistling of that same wind. Oh yes, and the wheelie bins thankfully staying upright but blowing against the alley gate as the night progressed. Somehow the Pixies' "Stormy Weather" from their Bossanova album seemed seriously apt for the occasion, as I couldn't sleep too well during that late evening - tune of the day is an obvious one really.

Sunday 29th March - Sunday Lunch and More Rain

The rain was hammering it down as I woke up this morning, and I had remembered that the clocks had gone forward as well. I was up early though as the Malaysian Grand Prix was on BBC 1 with an 8am race start, and that proved to be somewhat of a surprise. The Mercedes cars went off on their own initially, with Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari sandwiched between the two of them. However the safety car was called early on as Marcus Ericsson had beached the Sauber, and whilst most of the drivers went in for a tyre change, Vettel stayed out.

This proved to be an inspired move, as it meant he needed to make only two stops and the Mercedes drivers there, and at the end of all the pit stops, along with some stunning driving, Vettel stayed ahead and won pretty comfortably on the whole with Lewis Hamilton second and Nico Rosberg third. Both drivers blamed bad Mercedes strategy and management with Hamilton being particularly critical of other voices being heard via the team radio and indeed putting him off taking a corner as well. The World Championship could well hot up yet, we shall wait and see!

The Love headed up later and we had a relatively early breakfast before settling in for the morning to see some old repeats of The Hotel Inspector, notably one where Alex Polizzi decided to head to the Wye Valley to see a B&B run in a most haphazard way by a New Zealand hippie, who had got luxuty teepees and camping alongside rooms, but with the most filthy toilet block you are ever likely to see on the telly - ever. Honestly I was glad that we had both already eaten by this point in time..

We got ourselves showered and changed and were off later to The Sheldon Arms close to Ashton-under-Lyne as we were meeting up with The Love's family for Sunday lunch. It was good to see everyone and almost all of us opted for the carvery, a very sensible option with four different meats available and a good selection of veg on the whole (although some carrots and peas would have been nice!) - and that was pretty good. I had a dessert too, a rather gorgeous raspberry ripple cake that really did look stunning - and a coffee to go with that too. Well why not?

Later on we headed back via The Love's place to see to the two cats, and they were most happy to get some little Asda Tiger treats as well as generally be fussed over before The Love headed back to mine as I saw the remainder of the World Triathlon Series from Auckland, and then The Love headed home. I spent a fair amount of time in the evening working on a few things and listening to the John Carpenter Lost Themes album, from which the superb "Domain" is tune of the day.

Saturday 28th March - Shopping in the Rain

It was nice to wake up snuggled up with The Love In My Heart of course, but maybe even more so as the two cats were by the end of the bed all curled up and rather contented with their little selves. We were both heading up early ish for different reasons though, and mine was to head off to the city centre on the way home as there was some shopping which needed to be done. I left The Love having a bit more of a lie in before she was heading off out herself, and as the rain was attempting to come down, I soon arrived at the bus stop (sheltered thankfully, hurrah) and then headed off into Piccadilly.

I knew there was some form of protest by a group of people called "White Pride" whom as it turned out were neo-Nazi racists, and as I didn't really want to be around town with them around, I thought it best to get all of what I needed to and then get out of there - notably as my walk to the bus stop would go right past their planned congregation. I went to one shop I needed to go to and to collect an item I'd ordered, and they had the order ready, so that was all good, as was a visit to one of the card shops as well, so two for two in not much time at all.

I did however have some spare time to head off to Fopp as well, and it was good to have a mooch around there and see what new albums were out (or coming out soon) and so also see what offers were on - and the two T-shirts for a fiver might have been worth taking on if there were some decent T-shirts to be purchased. The two books for a fiver was also interesting, be good to note how many copies of The Casual Vacancy now shift after people seeing the TV series based on the same book.

I got home later and spent most of the afternoon seeing the qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, with the McLaren Honda team having another poor effort, but with the rain also lashing down into a storm and effectively meaning everyone had to be out as soon as possible and get the one flying lap in before it was clearly going to massively throw it down. And once the rain comes down there, it comes down - massively, and hammers it down with a huge amount of rain.

The Love In My Heart came later on and we settled in and saw the remainder of Pointless Celebrities with a Eurovision slant, and perhaps fitting, Ireland won with Dana and Johnny Logan! I then made the mushroom soup to start followed by a nice main of some pork belly with mash and carrots, and that went down nicely. We did see a bit of The Voice as well and I have to say I wasn't that impressed: the duets with the judges didn't quite do enough to showcase some of the supposed talents in there.

We did later on though watch the film Gone Girl, which I'd wanted to see for some time. It proved to be a good move, despite its two and a half hour length. It was gripping drama and really well acted by both Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, who really did the psychotic parts really well. It was also good to note the ace soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, which I already had on CD. From that I adore the track "Technically, Missing" which really gives it that slightly sinister feel - so tune of the day for me there.

Friday 27th March - Chair and Pie

It was a busy day at work today as per usual, however I also had the added responsibility of taking my turn in chairing the weekly team meeting. Thankfully it wasn't too bad and I was able to at least feed back on some of the issues raised and try and offer a fair perspective all round. Even better was that it lasted under the hour we normally allot for it, so I think on the whole it went okay. I guess too that for me it's something else that I've needed to kind of learn on the hoof so to speak, so always good to do that.

We've also had a raft of deadlines for hand ins today, so I made sure I utilised what resources we had to keep an eye on printing in crucial areas and make sure all was good there. It worked pretty well as we were able to respond quickly and be able to get on with numerous things at the same time, and thus keep things going nicely. It was good though that it had settled down somewhat by the end of the day and I think for me the Easter break is going to be time spent trying to catch up and work out a plan of action for the next few months.

I headed not homewards but instead through the city centre and on to The Love In My Heart's place, where she herself hadn't been home that long. I also had the two cats Jô and Brian for company, and they were happily sniffing around and generally being playful. The Love got herself showered and ready, as did I, as we were going off to see one of our friends later - they were very kindly cooking a meal for the four of us (our friend and partner and the two of us).

Out friend very kindly also came to collect us, and we were having a good chat about our holiday later in the year in the car. The music was a good selection too, including some 80s classics such as Haircut One Hundred's "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" which has to be tune of the day - it's a proper tune and all that. We arrived later and I know the real ale was appreciated I'd brought with us (including King Goblin, yaay) and so settled in with a drink whilst the main course was cooking nicely.

And a very nice three courses it was too - first off some nice paté with some crackers to start, which went down well and complimented the Sharps Atlantic IPA I was drinking. The main course was very nice, a chicken and leek pie with lots of really flavoursome chicken, a good sauce and not overdoing it with the leek, and that came with some potatoes and green vegetables including broccoli, more than enough for me to be more than wonderfully full with. We had a nice little cheese board with coffee afterwards and that was very civilised and lovely it has to be said.

The time went by far too quickly, there were lots of laughs and giggles throughout and before we knew it, it was getting late and we were off in a taxi back to The Love's place, where thanks to the beauty of the way Channel 4 do their channels, we were able to see tonight's episode of Gogglebox on 4Seven. It was notable how many of them were really scared witless when watching the classic thriller that is Cape Fear, and rightly so too. Some of them were absolutely loving it as well though - notably Sandy and Sandra!

Thursday 26th March - Size Is Everything, Apparently

So, back to the normal grind of work today, and plenty to do. I did manage to take some initiative and locate a mounting stand for one of the ultra slim desk top PCs, so that it could be mounted on to the back of a VESA monitor mount. It meant that not only was I able to save some money by not needing to order another one, but also meant that once it was all set up in the office that was requested to set it in, it all seemed a much better experience for them - we shall see. It was nonetheless a positive to carry out though.

I also had a look at Autodesk Education Master Suite today too, just to see what it contained say compared to the Building Design Suite that we normally tend to use. I was gutted that it wasn't just one master suite that would say include Maya and Mudbox as well as the AutoCAD stuff, but it did seem to have every single flavour of AutoCAD on there (and there are loads). The scary thing was though if I added everything to the installation it would take up 68GB on disk in all. Indeed because the installer has 32 and 64 bit flavours of a lot of the software, we were talking 25GB of compressed files decompressing into a massive 110GB of install files. Ouch. Very ouch.

It makes me wonder if software writers are just getting to the point of making massive installations just to add lots of features because they can, or because they feel that they need more processing power all the time to disguise the fact that in a lot of cases, code isn't optimised as well as maybe it could be. When you look at what is being still squeezed out of a Commodore 64 for example over thirty years on, with demos that amaze and astound from a single side of 170kb disk, it does really put things into perspective somewhat.

And maybe it's with this in mind I decided to blast out K-Pist's excellent "Voltage Controlled" album which has a great mix of electronic sounds, spoken rap rock style and a very leaning nod towards the retro games consoles' sound of old. I really enjoy it, and the superb "Firecracker" segued straight after "Uncle Sam" really makes a superb effort, so tune of the day it most certainly is. Definitely worth checking out if you can do so, as it also includes the really good "Helicopter" as well.

And on a happy note, I found out today that Vonda Shepard is finally touring the UK again, and so it happens, at Bury Met. Naturally I wanted to get a ticket but wanted someone to come along with me, and mentioned that to The Love In My Heart who was up for that, so tickets were purchased. I like the small intimate theatre setting of the theatre upstairs in The Met, and that'll be a rather nice gig because of it (and seated, so The Love is happy) - I do like my small intimage gigs and we're in there seeing Duke Special next month, woohoo!

Wednesday 25th March - Interviews and I

I spent most of today in a room with some of my colleagues. Maybe not unusual, you might say, after all I work in an office during the day, right? However, this was different. I was interviewing and so made the effort to look smarter than I normally do and so be professional. We were recruiting for some assistants to help our team out over a busy next few months, and with this in mind, we were looking at some people who had already been a student IT Rover for us and wanted to maybe have a job with us for a while. We weren't short of applicants either, which said a lot I guess.

So it was a case of us being in a place where we'd have ourselves as an interview panel, asking them ten questions and assessing their answers to that, and generally getting an idea of what they could bring to the table for us. Being on the other side of course, I know that interviews are nervous situations and sometimes it's a case of knowing how to overcome those as well as being able to give clear and concise answers to the questions in point.

Obviously, I can't say too much at the moment about how it all went in terms of who did well etc, but what did surprise me was that how nervous some people did get. I mean, my colleague and I would like to think that generally we're nice and approachable people and we're able to not be too scary, but I suppose being at the other end of a table and taking some notes to answers on a laptop whilst getting the answers may have been somewhat nerve wracking.

With that day done, it was off home and first stop online - Tesco, to do the food shopping order. The Ocado three month free delivery pass has almost expired now, so I'll have to see if they maybe re-offer me another one if I stop using them for a while. The advantage though with doing the order now is I can pick a delivery time tomorrow night for £1 (rather than say £6 on a Saturday morning) - and maybe further onwards I could look at their delivery passes to see what the crack might be. So job done.

Later on I headed out to the city centre and to meet up with one of my fellow (and former Manchester) Flickrites, who was up from Oxford for a day or two. It was really nice actually as we both headed to the Port Street Beer House, which of course meant lovely beer also. I was sticking with a really nice session ale that they had, which was rather gorgeous. Lots of different dark ales though too including the Buxton Brewery's rather dark Rednik Stout as well and it was not massively packed so we could have plenty of conversation and generally chill out.

Lots of to talk about too, plenty of music related stuff of course with us both being music fans, and a great general catch up. We were both looking at Indie Daze in October for different reasons, but mainly because the line up is decent and unlike the second Gigantic in Manchester, it's in one venue (Kentish Town Forum). Of course Pop Will Eat Itself are on the Indie Daze list, so might be worth going just for them - tune of the day in fact is their classic "Def Con One" which I had in my head on the way home later.

Tuesday 24th March - Kew The Rain

Another really busy day, which I seem to be getting a lot more of at the moment. I think the time is really speeding by at the moment, and I had to spend a fair bit of it today assessing where I was at and what needs to be done for the rest of the week. Of course tomorrow was going to be a write off of sorts due to the fact I was spending the day out of the office, so was trying where possible so see how I could plot out the rest of the week. That was not an easy task, let me tell you.

I got home later and settled in to watch today's episode of The Edge on iPlayer. I have to say I'm quite enjoying the show a lot, from the catchphrases from host Mark Benton ("Where players need brains.. and balls" and "We'll have more players going to the edge. Why? Cos that's how we roll!") and indeed the concept works really well. It's notably tempting for players to go for the edge, and someone did do that today when it was a £2,000 edge too, impressive stuff.

The Love In My Heart came over later for tea, which I'd already made a sort of start in the oven: chicken and mushrooms with a sauce and some parmentier potatoes together with some carrots and peas. It went down pretty nicely on the whole and it was just nice to be able to relax too. I had been to Asda and got some real ales on the way home - four for a fiver including the awesome King Goblin no less - and she would take those back with her so when we see her friend on Friday night we can take them with us. Not daft me you know!

We then decided to watch on iPlayer Kew on a Plate from the previous night, which was impressive as the Summer hit and the garden was taking shape with lots of tempting dishes made with the fresh ingredients. Not one to have ever tried gooseberry, but the cheesecake that Raymond Blanc was making looked pretty good, and used that vanilla mixture from last week to help make it really have a nice texture - and the fresh berries as a coulis was also a good idea. Didn't know you could get red gooseberries though - I always thought that they were green to be honest.

It was pretty nice too to think that Kew does occasionally look sunny - when we went last June it absolutely hammered it down, which was a shame as it was a really nice place and I know that the two of us would have really liked it in the sunshine especially. In fact the only dry parts of the day were when we were in the pub, such as the wonderful Tap on the Line at Kew Gardens station. I can only imagine how ace it would be if Raymond had turned up there for example and started cooking things as a one off for the regulars!

As for tune on the day somehow a song involving rain would be right, and one of the ones that always springs to mind when it does chuck it down is Travis' classic "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" which even now has a wonderful indie pop sensibility about it - asking in the next line "Is it because I lied when I was seventeen?" as a rhetoric. If you've not got that song, then the whole of their album The Man Who is a must purchase (as it also has some of their other ace songs on it) and something to definitely enjoy.

Monday 23rd March - Getting There

So back to work then, and because of a few people being off on Friday (not least one of them being me) it was a case of having some of the meeting that we were due then today instead, so our team meeting took place, and it was me having to take notes and record minutes. I guess for me it just prepared me a little for having to chair the meeting on Friday and being able to see how it was done by someone else as well. It was also good because it meant I had to try and type stuff on the laptop and simultaneously listen out, quite a tricky task actually.

And in another meeting I was able to road test the beta Skype for Business client that is soon to replace Microsoft Lync for enterprise customers of Office 2013. Normally the meeting's held in Lync, but found that not only was I able to connect to everyone else and interact, but also that the camera also went widescreen on display for everyone too, a nice touch that. It worked pretty well and it looks a lot more stable, and with the functionality people are used to. I'll have to keep an eye out for when this officially launches and see what happens with it I think.

I also managed to finally sort out an issue with one of the staff accounts that for some reason wasn't connecting via their Mac to the student records system: in that their account, despite supposedly being enabled for access, wasn't. Once I knew that was done I'd visited the member of staff concerned, and we tested everything, and it all worked. I must admit it's often good when you get to the bottom of everything and find that it all plays ball rather well.

I had to head off to Trafford Park after work, not the most exciting place to go, but mainly because I needed to visit the Interlink Express depot to pick up a parcel. For some reason they wouldn't allow me via the website to have the parcel redelivered to the work address (which would have been good) but I worked out where it was and soon I was on the 250 bus heading towards the Trafford Centre, but getting off before EventCity and then heading to the depot, getting the parcel, and then managing to get the express X50 back to the city centre before getting the bus home. Didn't do that bad for time either it has to be said! Mind you, it wasn't Yodel, that also has to be said.

I then watched the most recent episode of CSI that Channel 5 showed on Saturday evening. To give the American viewers an idea of where we're at, it was episode 9 of series 15, "Let's Make A Deal". Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie I have to say as the sherriff was kicking backside with the FBI bloke in this episode: the FBI bloke refused to co-operate with LVPD, and when the CSIs discover the potential bad cop and get to him first, the same FBI bloke is narked, and then tries to (as Conrad had requested earlier) share info, and Conrad just basically and firmly told him where to go. Ace. And I think we got the first signs of George Eads' character Nick Stokes thinking of leaving..

As for tune of the day well I have to admit that I was talking to a couple of colleagues the other day at work about the ace film that is Enter The Dragon, and so as I own the soundtrack CD that got a bit of a blasting on the hi-fi tonight. The title theme by Lalo Schifrin is just brilliant, sets the scene perfectly for what's to follow, and really does give you that mix of Oriental feel with 1970s style wacka wacka wow wow style too. If you don't own the CD, you should. And if you've never seen the film, you really really should. Now.

Sunday 22nd March - Walking In The Sun

It was quite nice weather wise today, the sun had came out and it seemed warmer than it was, but at least it was dry and bright. The Love In My Heart and I were going to head out later once she came over, so I spent some time this morning deciding to have a bit of a drum fest on Rock Band 3. It made a lot of sense to work up some exercise in the arms and legs first off and then have a shower, and decided to try and achieve some of the career goals at the same time, so played three back to back to do this, including the rather nifty "Dead End Friends" by Them Crooked Vultures - tune of the day for me, it's rather nifty that.

So once all showered and changed, and with The Love at mine, we pondered briefly over where to go and we decided to head off to the Cheshire countryside a tad, going through Stockport and onwards towards Marple, where we'd end up at Marple Bridge. We then walked through Brabyns Park and followed the path uphill to the canal towpath, arriving at lock seven on the Marple Locks and then going downhill to the end of the flight, and then following the path to see the restoration work being carried out on the Aqueduct.

Intriguingly, where there were once trees by the side of the aqueduct, these have all been cut back and a path now leads down so you can walk under the bridge, with the eventual plan to see the former remains of Mellor Mill which are also being excavated at the same time. It's very exciting times ahead for that, and it's great to see local history restored and also the view of the bridge to be able to be enjoyed from down below too, I'm sure it'll be impressive when all done and it looked pretty good then to be honest.

We headed back up the locks, and then down via the back of the park, tennis club and train station and down the hill, and it'd have been rude not to go into the Midland at Marple Bridge for a drink wouldn't it? So that's exactly what we ended up doing. It was good to be able to relax in there with some Doom Bar ale to boot, and The Love and I always enjoy the cosy surroundings in there also. I think for us that we were able to just chat and take things relatively easy. I even tried a half of the St Austell Korev lager, and that I have to say was really nice too. Yaay.

We got back to mine later on and I did us some nice little Pizza Express bits that I'd got from my Ocado shop, some lovely little garlic breads to start and then sharing the La Reine pizza (ham, mushrooms and black olives, rather nice!) as we were relaxed watching telly. The Love was telling me about a restaurant she was going to with work and in the rankings on Trip Advisor it was really rather high, so all looked good. What we didn't expect to see was a little Italian place close to The Love's place that was also really high up too, so we looked into that further. And it really did seem like it was a good place to go, so we might have to check that out.

In fact The Love rang me later when she got home and said that when she went past the place, it was full. On a Sunday night. That said it all for us both. I then settled in to watch the final session of the World Grand Prix snooker from Llandudno, and I have to say after the way that Ronnie O'Sullivan was thinking he was being put off by the presence of respected World Snooker photographer Monique Limbos, I was thinking "what a nonce!" and therefore was rooting for Judd Trump to win from that moment onwards. And at 7-4 down he had a lot to do.

But he did it. And well too. He smashed in a total clearance of 142 to make it 7-7 and the highest break of the tournament was his (he already had made 140 earlier in the tournament which was the highest break before tonight) - edged in front at 8-7 and then with the four colours left, a big decision. A brown to the top left pocket, but the cut obscured by the blue, with only just enough of a gap to hit it, it had to be a massively accurate long pot. And the shot he played was brilliant, well deserving of winning the frame, and the next was won to clinch it 10-7, six frames on the bounce. Very well played indeed.

Saturday 21st March - Lunchtime Confusion

I spent a fair bit of time this morning sorting out the house, and shredding lots of paper and post that I no longer need to have. It's always good to get it all shredded to bits and it also meant that I was tidying up a fair few of the cupboards and shelves at the same time, and also cleaned up everywhere I needed to do. It was also good because this meant that I was able to then get all the blank waste paper, envelopes etc into the paper recycling bin at the same time, doing my bit for the environment as ever. The Ocado delivery even came early too so that was all my food shopping sorted too.

My friend came to collect me and we were off to the Etihad Stadium for the lunch time kick off between Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion. City needed a win badly and that was just to keep ahead of what could be a manic last few games for the top four finishing places in the Premier League. It was good to see the West Brom player (and former City defender of course) Joleon Lescott back here, and the crowd did give him a huge cheer when his name was read out for the team sheets - a really nice touch that. And with sunshine gracing the stadium it looked like all was set fair.

That was until a minute and a half in to the game. Wilfried Bony stole the ball and was bundled over, and it was the last man. I'd thought it was Craig Dawson who had done it (and it was, as proved later) and I was thinking "fantasy league points down the drain here" but inexplicably the referee decided that he would instead send off Gareth McAuley, who was also close to the ball. Not the right decision in terms the wrong player, but it was a definite goalscoring opportunity and red, that was for sure.

It did take City some time to break down the dogged West Brom defending though, and it was a case of getting past a nine man wall at times. Jesús Navas rifled a curling shot in which West Brom keeper Boaz Myhill saved superbly, and a shot from David Silva was well palmed away also. Eventually though the pressure did tell, and the ball was hooked into the six yard box by Fernando, it broke for Bony to twist with the ball, and then half volley it into the top corner for his first City goal and the opening goal of the game - 1-0 it was.

City kept at it and the possession was 80-20% at times, that's how dominant it was. City kept at it and before half time a corner was met with a volley from Eliaquim Mangala, the West Brom defence were in a muddle and Fernando pounced to score from close range. It was also City's 1000th goal in the Premier League and the perfect tonic before half time to be able to go in 2-0 up as well. I think it had been a little tough at times to break down some dogged defending, but we were at least getting there.

During the second half the City pressed some more, Sergio Agüero hit the post, and from the follow up Bony hit the bar, and Navas also went close, Agüero met a cross from Navas that was saved by Myhill, and chances were coming thick and fast. It was one of the substitutes Stefan Jovetic whose shot was diverted in with a neat flick by David Silva for 3-0, and it was about time really. City went for more but West Brom could have scored themselves as they made one determined push to at least give their fans some sense of pride. But 3-0 was how it ended and that was a good result for us.

Once I'd got home later I whacked on some Pop Will Eat Itself with the rather good 2010 version of "Axe of Men" being played a fair bit (make that tune of the day) and I was keeping an eye on the other Premier League games as well as the World Grand Prix Snooker. I think it must have been gutting for Martin Gould though as in shades of his 2010 World Championship 2nd round defeat by Neil Robertson, Gould let a big lead slip, and was 5-1 up against Judd Trump before losing 6-5. Ouch, that has to hurt!

Friday 20th March - Snooker Loopy in Llandudno

So it was off work today and off to Llandudno to watch the World Grand Prix snooker quarter finals at Venue Cymru, which is right on the seafront no less. I had of course visited Llandudno many times during my younger years (a lot of the holidays in North Wales usually involved a visit there) and so it was on sort of familiar territory really along the seafront. Of course I'd booked the train in advance, although Arriva Trains Wales' double stacked train between Manchester to Chester, splitting there, means that you have to be at the rear for Llandudno, and the front for Bangor and Holyhead. I made sure when I got on at Manchester Piccadilly I was in the right portion.

The train seemed to amble quite a bit between Earlestown and Runcorn East - primarily because of some signalling but also because I think the driver wanted to stop and look at the supposed solar eclipse happening around 0930. It did get a little darker and people were rather stupidly looking directly at the sun (doh!) and all that, but for me it was a non-event to be honest. I could understand it more if it went completely dark as a total eclipse (hence people jetting off to remote parts of Iceland) and that would be good, but seemed a tad pointless if you were here in the UK at least.

The train was delayed uncoupling at Chester and although attempting to make a bit of time up as it sped along the Dee Estuary with the fog over the water, and then again as it headed towards the seafront at Towyn, Abergele and Pensarn etc, but then the driver mentioned that due to some damaged track close to Deganwy, it meant that it was a rail replacement bus between Llandudno Junction and Llandudno itself. Not a massive biggie because I'd allotted some time for that, but still annoying. I did get in around twenty minutes late, not enough for delay repay though!

I did head quickly along the shops and then had a good walk down the seafront as the rain started to fall, with seagulls being really loud and thankfully no one had any food for them to take, so all was good as I saw the Venue Cymru approaching. Seemed to be a really nice venue, right on the seafront, and inside the layout appeared to be well organised with lots of practice tables for the players, and inside the arena reconfigured so that one table was there (meaning the side seats could be brought closer in - which does take some time to reconfigure, they were doing that most of yesterday)

I was sat on the right side seats as you looked at the table on ITV4's coverage, close to the aisle and almost level with the black spot. I had a great view (often because people sat in front had gone for a beer and missed a frame), and for £10 a ticket for the two quarter finals, no complaints whatsoever. The ITV4 studio looked out on to the table but interestingly during play Jill Douglas and whoever wasn't commentating (Foulds or McManus) would be still sat in studio mode, seeing coverage as needed on a screen in front instead of turning round and watching it. Found that a bit odd considering the studio is close to the action, it'd make a perfect vantage point.

First up: Stuart Bingham v Mark Davis. A key moment was the very final black in the first frame, Davis had a relatively easy chance to clinch it - just simply drop it in dead weight. Instead he missed and left the black over the pocket for Bingham to pinch the frame. Already for me that was a turning point. In the second, Bingham had hit 7 reds and 7 blacks and with the balls reasonably well positioned, I kept thinking "please get a 147" but the break broke down. However, with that and also a really good winning clearance in the fourth frame, a 4-0 scoreline was maybe a bit hard on Davis but it did show that you really have to take the chances at this top level.

Peter Ebdon v Martin Gould was a much closer affair, although I have to say that Gould looked very solid when in the balls and was potting with accuracy and at some shot speed as well. He was definitely deserving of taking three frames on the bounce to go 3-1 up before Ebdon needed a few chances to get over the line to pull one back to 3-2. In the sixth and what turned out to be last frame, Gould's second break had a brown early on that was a cracking shot: stunned it in and came across the left cushion to be perfect on the red. It was mainly because he was slightly hampered by the green when taking the shot, cue ball control spot on. When he missed the red close to a yellow I thought Ebdon might just clear up for 3-3, but inexplicably hit a red way too hard when trying to force an easy red in. Gould did what he had to do, 4-2 and a good win.

I have to say also that the crowd were also knowledgeable, and kept quiet when players were taking their shots (the only noise was the aircon). Sensibly too the venue staff stopped people from wandering in once a frame had commenced and they had to stand and wait near one of the exits (they could still see part of the table) - and this really helped make it a proper event, so kudos to them for that. With the event for me seeming to be a success all round, I headed back along the seafront into the town centre.

I did have some time spare, so it was to one of the pubs in the town, and the pub I went in used to be a former theatre by the look of it, complete with balcony. It had been looked after nicely though and I did have some rather nice fish and chips with a pint of the Caledonian Brewery's "Merman" ale, which was rather good too. This sorted me nicely for the evening and I walked back along the front to the dulcet tones of some of the amusement arcades incessantly playing the sounds from their grabber machine and before I knew it, it was on the 1844 train back to Manchester.

I was glad I'd stopped at Costa before the station and got a coffee, as no catering was on the train (typical Arriva Trains Wales to be honest) and it meant I could relax and see the night lights of the promenades at Colwyn Bay and Llandullas as the train sped onwards. It was busier than I thought by the time the train had got to Rhyl, and then plenty of stops to Chester were commuting stops for people on their way home from work, even at this time. I had the tune "Trans Europe Express" by Kraftwerk in my head as the train was departing Chester, and so tune of the day it is. I got back on time and home to watch Gogglebox, so not too bad all round really - a good day out!

Thursday 19th March - Dating Disaster

It was a busy day at work (yet again) and I had plenty to try and sort out, and not least because I at least had the day off tomorrow too. I did manage to get to the bottom of a couple of issues with regards to an Outlook mailbox failing to synchronise, and also to see what I could do with regards to a programme commitee meeting - where, rather nicely and unusually, lunch was also provided, which worked rather well to get everyone attending. Maybe there should be some more of that, I thought to myself.

Later on I headed homewards and had a little bit to do before tomorrow's jaunt away for the day, and so made sure that was all sorted around the house. I also put the train tickets and the ticket for the snooker in the wallet ready so that I knew once I was up in the morning, I could just head out and be ready to rock and roll. I then decided to get a few things ordered that I needed to sort out, and was all good to go by the time that The Love In My Heart came over for tea.

I made sure that it was ready in between episodes of Emmerdale (two tonight, so had to time it well) and we had some posh chicken kievs with some mash and peas, and that did the job really well. I then was able to see most of the Top of The Pops from 1980 on BBC Four, with some rather odd selections being played, such as "Dance Yourself Dizzy" by Liquid Gold (cheese alert) and then the number one, where sanity was restored, Blondie's ace single "Atomic" (make that tune of the day) and that set the tone nicely.

After indulging The Love in more Emmerdale, I put on what I'd recorded from the previous night - First Dates. We were both wanting to watch it but I knew I'd be keeping an eye on the football last night and sometimes it's on a little too late in the week for The Love - so this way we can snuggle up and watch it together - no bad thing that if you ask me. I still am not sure if having the likes of Fred Sierix as a maitre'd along with some staff who are regulars there such as the waitress Cici add to it, almost like it a feels little too "set up" if you know what I mean.

I have to say though that one of the dates stood out somewhat, and for all the wrong reasons: the woman didn't realise you could actually be an Egyptian from Egypt, and then was slagging off her date in the toilet because he didn't happen to be wearing a certain brand of expensive watch. The mind, as they say, truly boggles. Mind you, it was a good job that they didn't really get on hugely anyway and the date was a bit of a disaster. On the other end of it the really nervous bloke had a good time with his date and I think the whole thing gave him a little bit of confidence, which you have to say is a positive too.

Wednesday 18th March - One Man Defence

It was another set of meetings to go to today, and even though one of the programme committee meetings that I was going to head to was cancelled, it transpired that we needed someone to go to another one, so a simple swap later and that meant that I was in another building and making sure that any concerns that were raised were either addressed there and then or noted accordingly. I think for me it's a positive thing to be present and actually do what we can to assist - so even though it's time taken out of the day it is for a good reason.

I also was investigating for a fair part of the day a strange issue where for some reason some of our loan laptop stock wasn't connecting to the wireless network like it should, and by the end of the day I did manage to have a possible reason why. It'd just then be a case of looking into it and seeing with our network folks what exactly the issue could well be, so fingers crossed there. I also as well managed to get to the bottom of an odd activation issue with Office 365 (2011) for Mac, and I know the particular person I helped would have been much appreciative.

I went straight from work and on a different bus than normal - as that bus would take me close to my friend's house. I was heading over there as he wanted me to see if I could set up XBMC/Kodi to be able to access web streams as well as make sure all was working, and then watch the Man City game at Barcelona in the Champions League. I soon was checking over Kodi, and it looked like a custom installer had been used, which may not work well with the addons, so I got all that sorted, put a clean install on, added the add-on required, and badabing, all working correctly.

It was good to have a good natter and his wife very kindly made us some meat and potato pie and chips for tea, which went down a treat, just the thing after a hard day at work. And with a coffee in tow as well, all set fair for the evening's football. Could Manchester City pull back a 2-1 defecit against Barcelona? Could the team actually perform much better than the defeat at Burnley on Saturday? Or would it be a case of being outclassed in their own back yard by Messi and company?

Unsurprisingly perhaps, it was the latter - and then some. It was a master class from Lionel Messi as he ran the show and simply was too good for all involved. The number of chances created in the first half was scary, and how we didn't concede for the first half hour or so was nothing short of a miracle, with the post being hit twice, and the defence looking rather ragged. In fact when City did get forward all that did happen was a break the other way, Messi picked out Ivan Rakitic with a gorgeous pass and he lobbed it expertly past Joe Hart for 1-0. How it stayed 1-0 was mainly down to Joe Hart it has to be said.

Samir Nasri was lucky to stay on the pitch for kicking out at Neymar, and if the referee had seen it correctly, red card no question. Even from the word go his impudent attitude was completely wrong, and it was the right decision to take him off at half time. Even now writing this I'm still completely narked at the way he seemed to behave. We did at least play better second half and made some chances even if that meant opening the floodgates for a host of Barcelona chances, where Joe Hart was in unbelievable form, stopping so many one on ones I lost count.

City did get a penalty later in the game as Sergio Agüero was fouled in the box by Javier Mascherano, but the penalty was awful and was easily saved. It may have given us hope but it would have been false hope to be perfectly honest, and that still gave Hart numerous saves to make towards the end - to be brutally honest it could have been 5 or 6 nil at the very least without him. In fact most of the Barcelona players at the end were the first to shake his hand to say well played, said it all for me that. Tune of the day in the meantime was the rather true "Age of Panic" by Senser, kind of represented the Man City defence at times..

Tuesday 17th March - Booked It!

Another busy day at work then, and certainly for me a lot to get done. Meetings galore too - including one this morning that I needed to have a fair amount of input into as what might end up being my own work package to do as part of the project might end up starting a pace. The good thing is though that from my initial findings it looks very much like it may well be something that could be delivered via Windows Update - and there's many positives for that as well. Not least as said update could be around a 300MB download so it might be best to install on shutdown.

It was also then a case of working through the day and getting as much as I could done at the same time as well - and certainly from my point of view that was good to try and balance the time that I had spent. For me, I know that there's a certain level of quality I like to put into the work and I don't like letting my own standards slip - and if I can instil that into a few others, then good. I also had our printer engineer coming out to sort the wide format printer, and it ended up being two imaging device print head replacements as well as a hopper which is where the toner pearl cartridges are housed - and so glad therefore that it was on a maintenance contract!

I got home and put the final piece of the jigsaw together for the Summer holiday booking for myself and The Love In My Heart - I had already booked the flights at a really good rate, and it was then a case of getting a nice hotel sorted, and I did. Not least because of good old Top Cashback giving me a sizeable percentage of cashback when I booked it, and I also worked out the premise that I'd be getting some loyalty points into the bargain via the hotel chain I booked with. And it's a nice place in a nice place, if you know what I mean.

The Love In My Heart came later and so I was able to confirm everything was sorted, and we'd already booked the time off as leave so I knew we were all good. I set about making the steak with peppercorn sauce with some chips as The Love settled in to watch Emmerdale, and after tea we didn't see much that was happening on the telly and so instead we saw what was on BBC iPlayer - and no less than something we missed last night whilst we were out - Kew on a Plate.

The programme was ace - it followed the Kew gardeners turning a hidden part of the large Gardens into a kitchen garden, growing all sorts during the seasons, and then when ready to cook, having no less than Raymond Blanc cook what seemed like some rather nice dishes - even if I may not have agreed with all the ingedients in there. All good to watch though - and tune of the day in the meantime is the somewhat apt "Garden of Grace" by Seth Lakeman - made me think of it when seeing all the gardening going on.

Monday 16th March - Wonderful Worsley Wares

It was straight from work and over to see The Love In My Heart tonight, as the two of us were off out later in the evening. It was her niece's 18th birthday today and The Love's sister had arranged a really nice meal for us at Albert's Worsley, just off the East Lancashire Road. The table had been booked for a time later than we'd normally have, but I suspected that was because of the fact that it may have been pretty busy already in terms of bookings - and that's probably a good sign in terms of the food being decent.

We spent a bit of time at The Love's place just relaxing, and having a good fuss of the cats Jô and Brian, who were more than happy to spend some time sleeping in their favourite places, or just curled up wanting to be gently stroked and generally being the centre of attention. They're so lovely in a way but they also had their mad half hour of running around after each other and causing chaos - both sides of them shown within an hour. I got myself showered and changed, and we were all good to go.

We got to Albert's earlier than everyone which meant we could sit by the bar and have a nice drink together. They even had two real ales (woohoo!) which meant I was able to have a rather nice Brightside Best Bitter at that, which is always a good pint. Soon after The Love's sister arrived with birthday niece, her boyfriend and two of her friends, and we were then just chatting and waiting for the remainder of The Love's family to arrive, and they did in good time for us to be taken to our table.

The food, I have to say, was gorgeous, it really was. It was nice enough that they had ale, but the wild rabbit gnocchi I had to start was very flavoursome and moreish, and that could have easily sufficed as a main course if there was a bigger portion to choose from. The Love had the mushrooms on toast and that looked rather gorgeous (and seemed to taste so too) and if that was the starter, then I hoped that the main course would be just as good for us both.

And it was. The Love and I (and several others) went for the fish and chips, and I have to say it was rather lovely. A nice large portion of fish in a really light batter, with some massively chunky chips, some mushy peas and a little ramekin jar which had the home made tartare sauce in as well - and a big wedge of lemon to season the fish if you wished to as well. It was stunningly nice and I did feel pretty full afterwards, but when the food is so nice, you don't mind.

I still made sure I had room for dessert though, the sticky toffee pudding was everything that I thought it was going to be - lush. It was a really nice night all round, and it was so nice to see everyone anyway. The Love and I headed back homewards later and I think we were both really pleased - even more so as The Love had got her niece the present that she really wanted too - so happiness all round. Tune of the day in the meantime is a song guaranteed to make everyone smile - "La Ti Da" by The Icicles, it's in a way the perfect sort of tune for feeling all celebratory. So there you go.

Sunday 15th March - The Winning Present Formula

After having a rather nice breakfast courtesy of The Love In My Heart, complete with bacon, sausages and some nice fried egg to boot, it was a bit of time for me to fuss over the two cats (who were also stalking each other all around the apartment, quite amusing to watch actually) and whilst The Love was getting herself ready, seeing an old episode of The Hotel Inspector where Alex Polizzi went around a hotel in the centre of Bakewell with the owner not sure if he wanted to run the hotel very strictly to his rules or if he just fancied Alex (oh dear...)

Anyway, The Love soon were on the tram and heading to the city centre, and were glad to get off before the hordes of fans were heading off to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Tottenham - and with Manchester City losing at Burnley yesterday (deservedly so it has to be said - we were not at it whatsoever) I'm sure several of their fans were upbeat before the game (United would go on to win 3-0 in a convincing performance as well)

We were present hunting though and I managed to find a present I was after for one of my relations, so all good there and it was a fairly easy find to be able to do. On the other hand the present that The Love was after wasn't in stock where she needed to get it from, so it was either going to be a case of ordering it online, or possibly trying another store when she is off work tomorrow. We did however go in a few other shops and she did remark how noisy parts of the city were, notably with the many buskers on Market Street (I have to agree - a right racket there!)

We then decided after a fair bit of shopping that the best escape would be the pub - and so off to The Bank for a well earned drink. It meant I could have the Nicholson's Pale Ale (brewed in Cornwall by the St Austell Brewery too!) and that was rather good to have, watching the world go by and chatting to The Love as we spotted people returning home from watching the St Patrick's Day parade in the city centre (I know, the day itself is Tuesday, but generally the nearest Sunday to the actual day is when the parade is you see) - and lots of people with flags and all sorts walking past.

I headed home later as did The Love, and this meant I could settle in and watch the Australian Grand Prix on BBC iPlayer. As expected it was a win for Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes with Nico Rosberg second, but the other highlight was both Sauber drivers in the points with some good drives, notably Felipe Nasr on his F1 debut. It was a depressing sight though seeing how awful the McLaren Honda was, and Jenson Button did all he could but was 11th and a mere two laps down. There's got to be some serious head scratching there I suspect with the strains of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" blasting out as ever (tune of the day obviously).

I also got to see the FIA Formula E latest round from Miami courtesy of ITV Player. It looked to be a pretty good race overall but I suspect Sam Bird would have been gutted not to go into the pits at the right time and lose out when he completely ran out of power and had to limp back to change cars half way through. It was a deserved win though for Nicolas Prost, timing his overtakes well and holding off the fast charging Scott Speed at the end. I'm sorely tempted to go to the final rounds in Battersea Park now!

Saturday 14th March - Lemon Drizzle Loveliness

It was a bit of a lie in for me this morning - I felt really tired last night and went to bed early, and then seemed to wake up a bit later than planned. I still knew I had plenty to do though so did a fair bit of sorting out around the house, and then made sure that I'd wrapped up the present, written out the card and headed to my Mum's for a while. I know it's Mother's Day tomorrow, but I thought it'd make more sense to head over today and hand the present over, plus be able to have a nice chat and a brew as well.

And that's pretty much how it was. It was made even nicer by the fact that there was some lemon drizzle cake to go with the coffee as well and we sat in the front room and chatted for a while. My brother and his girlfriend were heading off to Cornwall for a week away and so my Mum was having updates from them in terms of how far they'd got, and I knew that they'd headed off the M5 and on to the A30, so on to the last leg of the journey somewhat. I'm sure they'll have a lovely time, and certainly as Mum and I chatted the lemon cake was gorgeous too - perfect accompaniment really.

Later on I headed on the bus to Chorlton, primarily as I'd not been in Kingbee Records for a while and wanted to peruse some of the vinyl and CDs there. Lots of nice vinyl for £1, but a lot of which I owned already on vinyl or CD, but I'm sure if you were a fan of the 1980s music you could happily stock up lots for not that much money either - always good to do that. In fact had I seen more than one indie 7" single for 50p that I fancied, I'd have probably bought a few (I couldn't just spend 50p in a record shop - that would be remiss of me)

I then headed to a couple of the shops in the centre, and one of which had some real ale for not that much dosh, so it had to be done really - especially as three of the bottles were just a pound each and the other a mere £1.39. Can't argue with that to be honest. I then headed home and in perfect time to get some stuff sorted around the house and get an overnight bag packed as I was heading off to see The Love In My Heart later for the evening.

It was a quick journey into the city centre, get a lottery ticket for The Love, and then back out of the city and to her place. The two cats were as ever being all snuggled and cute, although this is when I suspect they sleep a bit and then wake in the middle of the night to run around. The Love had some nice crisps with a sour cream and chive dip to start, and then made some nice chicken with a ham and cheese crust on top, lots of nice vegetables, and a cheese sauce. It was rather gorgeous it has to be said!

We settled in to watch the knockout stages on The Voice - and to be honest, I can understand why some of the singers went a bit more extreme with their versions of songs. However it also detracted from the original somewhat and in some cases made me hanker for those originals - such as the original of Stevie Wonder's "As" which is a great track in its own right (make that tune of the day) - along with someone else deciding to put a load of rap all over their version of Idina Menzel's "Let It Go" (from Frozen of course) - not a great move as the children watching would have probably gone "Mummy, that's not how it sounds!" or words to that effect anyway.

Friday 13th March - Retro Footy

It was a bit of a busy day but in terms of being able to get a lot done, I did manage it really. I had managed to resolve several issues that were pressing within the first part of the morning, did the team meeting, and then headed off to another couple of jobs and got things up and running there too. I did have to try and get some time to write some emails but also compose some useful statistics which proved to be pretty handy in working out where we have perhaps our most busy devices, notably printers for example.

I headed home and went via the local Tesco as I wanted to get some wrapping paper. I know before they did a recent refurb they used to have it next to the greetings cards, but now.. they don't. Seemed a bit daft to me that in that they didn't have anything whatsoever, and so I'm sure that there'll be others who would be as frustrated. Thankfully the pound shop nearby came to the rescue with a good roll of the stuff and it was argubaly less cost as well, so all good there I think.

I settled in for the evening but before the evening would have the likes of The Million Pound Drop and Gogglebox, I put on ITV Player thinking that I might have missed the second part of the series on how we're obsessed by bargains and the like. It wasn't there so I assumed hadn't been shown as yet, but what I did notice was old showings of The Big Match - called The Big Match Revisited. A couple of them had Manchester City on so I thought it'd be good to go old school and watch them.

What I didn't expect was one of the Manchester City home games to actually be a Granada production, and so instead of being the title sequence to The Big Match was actually The Kick Off Match instead - complete with rather ace Francis Monkman title theme (make that tune of the day) and old school 1979 pitches too. In fact Maine Road had a coating of snow on but the ground staff had made it playable and had dug out all where the lines where so that the pitch markings were visible in some way - rather a neat idea.

City ended up losing 3-2 at home to Chelsea, who themselves hadn't won for ages either (City's last win was in October 1978 and in another episode I saw later I noted that there was a really good 3-0 away win at Tottenham) - and with the likes of Kaziu Deyna, the Futcher brothers, Paul Power making it into the team as a left back, Big Joe Corrigan in net, and Mike Channon up front. A proper old school side, shame about having Elton Welsby (aka Everton Wellbiased) presenting the programme though..

Thursday 12th March - Sew Who's Won?

It was another pretty busy day at work (as they all are currently) as I spent a fair bit of time working on a few issues that needed resolving. The one thing that took a fair amount of time today was that a spoof email had come to certain members of staff, and it looked like they had a voicemail attachment. However it wasn't that, it was a nasty piece of malware disguised as the attachment. Thankully this is where not giving people admin rights to machines really pays off - it couldn't do any damage as it had a user account control prompt asking for an admin password to try and do its stuff (which we of course had said no to).

One scan with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware later and the nasty piece of work had been completely gone - there were traces of batch files in the user's account as well as some other randomly named files in the ProgramData folder, which were of course eliminated also. It just goes to show that you can't be too careful when it comes to security and if ever there was an example just why you don't hand out top level rights willy nilly to users, there's your answer. Must admit that saved me even more time later on.

The Love In My Heart came over for tea later and the two of us were all snuggled up and ready to watch the final of The Great British Sewing Bee. It was hard to pick a winner but I suspected if he kept his consistency Neil might be hard to beat, but he had gone off the rails a tad in the semi final, almost as if he was trying a little too hard really. So it would be interesting to see what happened in the final, and with the gorgeous Claudia Winkleman hosting, all was set for a good final.

And indeed so it proved: having a pattern for a Japanese inspired garment, with only one piece of fabric to cut, proved to be trickier than it seemed. Matt and Neil both very kindly helped Lorna out when she was in an fluster, and that was really nice, and all three garments looked pretty good, with an asymmetrical line too. The next was the alteration, taking a dress with distinct pleats in and making something different with it. This for me was where Neil lost it and made something odd - with a skirt and then an ankle part joined by boned fabric in between. Somehow I don't think that the skanklet will catch on - fashion disaster more like.

The final challenge had them doing the made to measure, but for their close ones this time - Matt and Neil had their wives and Lorna had one of her daughters, to make a more avant-garde dress. Neil was going to go too far with the fabrics and it didn't seem right: Lorna's was a little too safe and I was thankful she ditched the fairy lights or it would have been even worse. Matt though got it right: a distinct shape with nice bodice, fitted his wife perfectly, and it really did seem a little Vivienne Westwood-esque, but with class too. I'm sure his wife inspired him massively there.

I suspected, as did The Love, that he might have just won it with that outfit, and as Claudia announced the winner, it was true - Matt had won, so well done him really. It was the right decision and I'm sure that it was a popular one too. Tune of the day is the rather nice theme from said programme - although I still think it needs to have a "cha cha cha!" at the end of it to make it a bit more chic and a little less twee in parts. Still, classic series again and I'm sure it'll prove inspirational to many.

Wednesday 11th March - Washing and Ironing By Committee

It was another busy day, with plenty to get sorted out. I did have the time to spend with a member of staff this morning and was able to show them with their new Macbook Pro that they could still connect their older hard drives, as they had the correct cabling. Their shiny new Mac of course doesn't have any form of firewire connectivity anymore, dropped for Thunderbolt, but thankfully the member of staff had the correct Thunderbolt to Firewire 800 adapter, and then the correct Firewire cables (both 800 to 800 and 800 to 400) so all was very good there.

It was also good that the one programme committee I had to attend this afternoon was one where it was relatively painless and in fact the input that we were able to provide was also having a knock on effect also in the positive side of things. I think it's often too easy to be able to take criticism but if it's also constructive it's often helpful: I'd much rather work with the people and try and be a friendly approachable face, and I know that the staff appreciate that (and it works both ways with them too, so all good there).

I did unfortunately know I had a shed load of washing and ironing to do tonight, and I also knew that it wasn't going to sort itself out either, so once I got home I put the first load in, and then also made sure that I got the first lot that had dried (jeans mainly) ironed, so that as the rest of the stuff was drying off nicely I was then able to get things ironed and all sorted there too - a definite positive in my view. It just means less hassle later in the week and I can just get on with things nicely - as you do of course.

I made the chicken and mushroom udon chow mein stir fry for tea and settled in later on to watch The People's Strictly, as six everyday inspirational people along with their professional dance partners took to the floor. I have to say that the public people were actually pretty good all round, having so much enthusiasm and verve. Who couldn't have a big smile on their face seeing Anna Kennedy do the charleston with Robin Windsor with a huge smile on her face and so much joy being given back? I think Robin also said it all in that it was time for her to have a little bit of fun in her life, and he was actually crying with pride at giving her that moment. Really nice to see, that. I'd also have to say if I look as good as Anna does at her age, I'd also be very happy!

It was good to get everything all sorted tonight, and that meant I was able to kick back and listen to some music but also have an eye on the Chelsea game against Paris St Germain, which the French side won after extra time on the away goals rule, with a great headed goal by Thiago Silva from a corner (I hope the Man City training staff were watching that corner.) So it was on with some classic Cabaret Voltaire, namely the 12" of their "Yashar" single from 1982, and released on Factory Records no less (I have the original of that, FAC 82) - both versions are really good on it, the longer one being my weapon of choice - tune of the day easily.

Tuesday 10th March - Snuggled and Shocked

It was another productive and busy day and the highlight of which most likely was the one to one meeting I had with my manager. I think this was primarily because I was expecting that in terms of matching what I could have scored against the current role profile, I'd have probably marked myself a little on the harsh side. What I didn't expect completely was a real endorsement of the job I'm doing and really making me feel valued instead. I was pleasantly shocked but that kind of made me think "well maybe I am doing okay after all!" - not one to be complacent I guess.

With that all in mind though, it did also make me think that as I've landed several interviews for jobs in the last few months, that I've worked a lot on getting the application process correct and being able to use my knowledge and experience to correctly satisfy any criteria set for selection in a high majority of cases. For me, this is good practice in any case (because if I ever needed to assess anyone's application myself then I know what needs to be looked for) but also so I can hone and perfect the way that these come across to the masses.

It was also rather lovely to see The Love In My Heart later on, and I set about making the rather nice chicken forestiere and hasselback potatoes, with some nice baby carrots to go with it. It went down nicely, and it was also good that we were able to chat about our respective days and get a few things out into the open and chat about them together. I know that there are times when we both need to support each other and it's good to know that she is consummately professional like me, and there's a way that you perform and act in the role that you do, so when you see people not doing that, it can be a source of frustration naturally.

We did watch an old episode of Don't Tell The Bride which I knew I'd seen before, as the groom decided to get wed on the island that him and his wife to be were stranded on and had to be rescued - so much so that the rescue boat and the crew actually were the ones taking the bride back to the island to be wedded. The first selection of bridesmaids' dresses were a total disaster though (think black and cherry striped numbers, awful) but then got the second ones so amazingly spot on. Makes you wonder what they were thinking initially mind you..

We did then watch the opening episode of the new series of MasterChef, and I have to say it looked pretty tough from the outset: especially in the final challenge of the day where the contestants were cooking for three former winners of the competition as well. I'm sure that they had had some good food in there though: the panna cotta with the coulis and the oats etc was a total winner, and if I'd have been served that I'd have been asking for another one on top of the one served because it looked so gorgeously yummy.

I did have time as well tonight to reminisce about some old tunes and look back at the back catalogue: so it was therefore rather good to be able to play The Pop Will Eat Itself Cure For Sanity (25 years old this October in fact) and think about how much I'd bounce around to plenty of the tunes on there when I saw them live. I still thoroughly enjoy "Dance of the Mad B*****s" even now, notably the 12" version of it (called The Feet On Heat Mix) which really shows how the band were way on top of the whole crossover genre years ahead of their time - even having the guitar riff from one of their previous hits, Can U Dig It? hidden in there. Tune of the day - all the way hyped!

Monday 9th March - Just Another Manic Monday

And yes, for the record, I do wish it was Sunday (etc) courtesy of the classic Bangles single back in the day. It certainly felt rather busy all round and I for one wanted to try and get on with a lot, and had plenty of meetings during the day to attend to as well. As useful as most of them are, it's definitely a case of being able to balance doing those and getting on with the day to day stuff too. And there was plenty of that also to be managing pretty nicely as well.

I did however decide to head out for lunch and to one of the local takeaways, which me and one of my friends used to frequent when he was studying at the University of Salford way back when. I still go in there from time to time, and I saw something by the counter: the chicken strip meal - four really nice boneless strips of chicken, chips and a drink for £3.50. Wasn't arguing with that and it was rather lovely all round too - kudos to them for introducing that and making such a good job of it. Sometimes it's the little things that make a difference, you know?

We'd also spotted a potential issue with accessing a particular network drive and was doing what I could to try and assist the folks centrally in order to resolve it. By the sound of it, and from what I tested, it looked like that one of the server's DNS names fell over, and so wasn't able to resolve correctly for when people wanted to access it. Annoying really, but at least that helped get to the bottom of things and be able to work on a solution which worked best for everyone as well, so that was a positive to be taken in the end.

I got home later on and decided that it would be a good time to catch up and watch the episode of CSI that I'd recorded from Saturday. It was pretty good overall, with a fine line in working out which of the people at a rehab centre could have had it in for one of their fellow residents who was encouraging them to go back off the rails and into alcohol again, along with the various lines of investigation that the team had to do. We're still just under half way through Series 15 and I've had to avoid all the American sites and fan sites so as not to find out how the series ends, keeping the suspense fresh.

I have also booked the first ticket for this year's World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (aka The Home of Snooker) - as I saw some tickets go back on sale. So I've got row E for the Saturday morning 25th April, Table Two as well. It should be a thoroughly enjoyable visit, and I've booked the train going to Sheffield. I've not booked the one going back as yet because there may be an opportunity for me getting an afternoon session ticket for the same day - if I do I can then book a later train back you see.

I do have to admit that it's always good to be able to escape to Sheffield and have that enjoyable time watching the finest in the world battle it out on the finest stage that there is. I've always loved it since 2008 and it's now almost become an annual fixture in my calendar to make at least a couple of visits there - and it's under 50 minutes from central Manchester on the train so pretty easy to get to as well. With all that in mind tune of the day is "The Len Ganley Stance" by Half Man Half Biscuit, with the immortal line of "Shine your shoes and head for the Crucible" - and why not?

Sunday 8th March - Birthdays and Browsing

Last night The Love In My Heart and I headed over to my Mum's place as we were having a get together at hers for my brother's forthcoming 40th, which is in a few days time. As him and his girlfriend are heading off to Cornwall for a week away as of next Saturday (which I gave her a couple of pointers to book) then what would have been a do next week was brought forward, and thankfully everyone could still make it which was good. I had some wine and some ale to bring along with us too.

I said to my brother to open the card (which he loved, courtesy of the fab people at Brick Creations) which had some money in it (he asked for money which he's either going to put towards a new lathe, or he could now use it to enjoy his break away) and we'd also picked up a Top 10 Devon and Cornwall guide book, complete with map, and that'll come very handy for them both. I'd brought around some Bath Ales beer and highly recommended he try the Ginger Hare, which went down very nicely indeed.

Mum had made a hotpot, and that with some crusty bread went down a treat, so that was also good too, nice and warming for the evening. It was good to be able to relax and chatter to lots of people, and my niece was getting interested in science so I suggested that she and her Dad do the experiment with Diet Coke and Menthos mints (but let her Dad do the last bit and then peg it back out of the way in the back garden!) and also reminded my sister's boyfriend of the final of Let's Play Darts For Comic Relief too as he was gutted he'd missed some of that.

We had a welcome lie in this morning after all the fun last night and after breakfast we decided to head off to John Lewis, as I wanted to get a Mother's Day card but also thought it'd be worth a look possibly to get some present ideas for The Love as well. It was nice to just browse around, and we even saw a few things that we would both like, but ultimately it was a case of "ooh, it's nice, but.." as some of the designer wear prices were a tad on the expensive side. Still, nothing a nice lottery win or two wouldn't fix eh?

We then headed to The Gateway to have a nice Sunday lunch together. In fact there were several nice real ales to choose from too, and I ended up having the Mobberley Fine Ales' "WhirlyBird" which was flavoursome and a nice colour as well. That and plenty of roast beef, roasties, nice gravy, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, peas and broccoli. I would seriously consider that a result. It was good just to chatter and to relax and I think it was a nice way to spend a fair bit of Sunday afternoon.

Moving onwards, me and three of my friends had noted that a live event in June that we all pledged to go to via Kickstarter had been successfully funded. I'd already suggested a hotel to book for us all so I made sure now I knew it was going ahead that we'd booked there, and once the trains go on sale I'll sort that. The four of us are heading from mine on Saturday morning (they're all staying at mine on the Friday night) and it just keeps the cost down doing that for us all, so makes perfect sense really. Should be good hopefully.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good and classic song at that "Rules and Regulations" by We've Got A Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It (or Fuzzbox if you prefer). Vix in her latest venture Vix and her MsChiefs decided to play it live in Nottingham last night as part of their set, and a completely different more string led version ensued, which actually took it down a notch but was still cool. Thoroughly ace, and made me want to play the original - very loudly!

Saturday 7th March - Sunny Saturday

Hard to believe, but the sun was out for most of the day and the weather was also rather nice, maybe not so warm but it was still a dry and bright day on the horizon, which after the cold wind and rain of late can't be argued with really. I had already ear marked a visit to Levenshulme Market on the agenda for today as it was the first one since the break over the Winter, and maybe a visit into Stockport to do some shopping too. For obvious reasons I was avoiding the city centre with the potential issues that a march by the EDL could be causing - never one for violence and anger at the best of times to be honest.

So on to Levenshulme Market then, and in the dry weather it certainly makes a difference when perusing the stalls and seeing what lovely wares a lot of them have. As you can well imagine, any vinyl and CD stall was immediately going to have me spending time there checking it out, and that wasn't a difficult thing to do - lots of vinyl for £2 or the more collectors' stuff for a higher price, and CDs for £3 or two for a fiver too. A really good selection overall and the only reason I didn't purchase anything from there because the vinyl that I would have bought, I already had.

I did also see the wonderful cards at Brick Creations, and did purchase one for a forthcoming birthday. The stallholder actually remembered me buying one back in August last year, and her cards were still really cool and funky, especially with the lego figures. Every one of them was indeed awesome (in fact I'd better make "Everything Is Awesome" by Tegan and Sara a listen to later) and it showed a really nice creative touch. Still quite like the frames too, maybe I need to save up and see if I can get one of those in future.

After that and dropping off my purchase later back at home, it was then off to Stockport, where I wanted to browse the travel guides section in Waterstones to see if they had some guides for potential destinations that we might be going away to. The good news was that they had, and so I made a note of which ones were usually pretty good and The Love In My Heart did note to me that often the ones with the map in the back were always pretty useful to have around, and so it proved for us. In fact I'm sure I've got one of Nice somewhere that I bought for when we visited there for the first time too..

I also nipped into Poundland as the one in Manchester city centre didn't have any 35mm film for my film camera, and thought I'd check to see if they had here. The answer was a resounding yes, so I picked up two rolls of the Afga Vista Plus 200, 24 exposures, for a mere £1 each. I've used those before and they've given decent results, and it just means that when I want to use my film camera, I can really do so at minimal cost initially. The use by date is around 2017, so should be able to have some time to shoot film as an alternative and be able to have some good fun with that.

Later on at home I kept an eye on the Davis Cup tennis between Great Britain and the USA. The doubles match I thought was going to be an easy win for the Bryan brothers as they raced into a two set lead, but Dominic Inglot and Jamie Murray thought otherwise, and fought back to win the third and then clinch the fourth in a tiebreak, with a massively partisan crowd cheering on every single winning point. And in between during the breaks, some cracking tunes including Blur's "Song 2" as well, with the crowd belting out "woo hoo!" along the way - tune of the day it most definitely is.

Friday 6th March - Fixing and Farewells

It was a mixed bag of a day today with two meetings first off this morning, then heading over to one of the buildings where our wide format printer engineer was on site. He was already getting underway with one of the wide format colour printers and had managed to suss out the problem - thankfully the error code we'd provided was a huge help. It turned out that the cleaning kit, used to clean the carriage when it moves across and deposits its toner onto the printer, wasn't functioning right, so the sensor in the carriage was dirty - and not being detected.

Once that was done he headed to the large scanner where we'd had reports (and confirmed when I tested it) of lines going down the scan, despite cleaning the glass. It transpired that some paper had got in to the scanner's mirror via the feed rollers, and then the sensor itself had a fair bit of dust on in places (those of you who have digital SLR cameras will know dust on sensor = nightmare) so once that was all removed carefully and I did some test scans in the afternoon, all appeared to be rather well with the world to say the least. Hurrah for good things.

It was also a slightly sad day too in that one of our staff team was retiring after recently reaching a milestone birthday. I know it's been coming for a little while, but I also know at the end of the day there's probably more important things for this person to do, and that he can now focus on that as well. A fair few of us had takeout pizza, chicken etc and had a bit of a get together in the office. Overall it was nice and I think a good way to not do too much fuss but show our togetherness as a team generally.

I then had some time too to work on a couple of other things: one of which was investigating a piece of software that was a request to be installed. It was relatively tiny and a chunk of the instructions seemed to be manual for it, but when I looked into it I thought "well all the files are in one folder, surely I could create an MSI with just the files in the folder" (it didn't use any registry keys or other files) and once that was done, it appeared to work pretty well. Sometimes it's good that you can make things considerably easier for yourself with less hassle now and time well spent.

The traffic on the way home was really bad for some reason and it was only when getting off the bus a little later that I realised why - the police had cordoned off two streets not too far away for some reason. I didn't want to stand there and be nosey and find out, but it appeared to have been some sort of incident. I am sure it's being dealt with but it did concern me that something was going on, and that whatever it was involved several police vehicles and officers, more than you would normally expect.

I also spent some time tonight listening to a track which the rather lovely Donna-Marie sent along to me for a listen to - the rather nice "Breathe". That in turn made me want to dig out the excellent "Paint The Sky" EP from a few years back, and that soon had me in rather relaxed mode too. To this day I still absolutely adore "Make You Mine" - it works wonderfully well as an acoustic love song with feeling, passion and a real sense of emotion all wrapped up in one - tune of the day was a very easy decision tonight it has to be said.

Thursday 5th March - Sew Near, Yet Sew Far

It was a busy day again at work today with two more meetings to go to, and in between all that, having to try and form a contingency plan when I found out one of the rooms concerned wasn't playing ball correctly. Although I knew that there was a possibility of the issue being fixed in there, I thought it best to see if anyone planned to be in there could be rescheduled elsewhere and make the most usage of the space in the meantime, which worked better all round. Sometimes it's also how you mitigate the circumstances for best effect and I think that managed okay in the end.

I also had spent some time later on working on a few things including some statistics for the number of calls we'd dealt with over the week and how that translated compared to previous weeks etc. It worked out pretty well in the end and I think it showed that with a bit of legwork I can get things done. I also had to offer some support to a situation where a laptop was supposed to have a piece of software installed but didn't, and then worked out what to do from there and help a colleague out. Always good to do that really.

Later on it was off homewards and sorted out a mass of ironing that I needed to do, primarily of the t-shirt and shirts variety, and wanted to be sure that that was all good before The Love In My Heart came over for tea. She was supposed to have been on an evening seminar tonight but it was cancelled, so it was perhaps of use that I had some food in ready, and we had a really nice chicken kiev with some parmentier potatoes as well - rather gorgeous all round it has to be said.

On later went The Great British Sewing Bee, and of course I was cheering on Deborah, as she lives in the same city as I do (only fair really). It looked like a difficult week with all sorts of fabric, and making a pencil skirt with a lace outer looked like rather difficult work indeed. I think it was just a case of knowing what to do and executing it, and they all didn't do that badly with it. The second alteration was changing a neoprene wet suit into something more wearable, and the way that Deborah did the fabric combinations to get a dress out of it with some nice detailing was rather funky. Good for her I thought.

The final challenge was to make a leather jacket and fit it to their model in a seven hour or so timespan. It did look pretty difficult and of course they had to make sure that they got it right as once stitched in leather, you take the stitches out, holes everywhere. It was going well for Deborah until she tried the zip on the jacket and on the model, but unfortunately there was nothing to stop the zip coming out completely (which it did.) I could tell she was gutted and felt genuinely sorry for her, as when something like that happens and there's not much you can do to change that, nightmare.

In the end the leather jackets did look wearable and it was perhaps fitting that Neil's one was rather good and stylish with the little extra popper on top to create a very 80s style, and he was through. We both thought Lorna was also good to be through too, so in the end Paul went first and then sadly Deborah, but good on her for getting so far and making a good effort all round. I do like the twee theme tune even though I insist it still should have a "cha cha cha!" at the end, and so that's tune of the day all round.

Wednesday 4th March - Meeting Mania and Leciester Later

It seems that a chunk of my working life at the moment is swallowed up to some degree by meetings, and had another one today - the latest in a round of programme committee meetings. It is I feel important that we have our presence felt and I took a colleague along with me who wanted to know what went on and how they roll, and I knew that the staff in this one were generally a nice bunch and so it would be a gentle and fair introduction to how they are. And so it proved too - so very useful all round I think and proved good for us both.

I think generally it's good to see that those who want to make the effort are supported and if that means I can make the time to give them some support and encouragement then so be it. I'd rather empower people and make them into better people than not, and I think for me it also gives me immense satisfaction too. I guess that it means it also takes any pressure off me because I then know that I've given others a level that they can attempt to aspire to themselves, as you do.

Later on it was off to the Etihad Stadium with my friend to see Manchester City up against Leicester City. The visitors were bottom of the Premier League and for me anything less than the maximum three points was a disaster, as we needed to win to keep the gap to Chelsea to as it was before the start of play - as we knew they faced a tricky trip to West Ham away from home. It did feel muted though as we arrived and entered the stadium, almost somewhat deflated after the Liverpool defeat on Sunday.

Leicester could have felt hard done by and should have had a penalty when Wilfried Bony hauled back one of their strikers, and from where I could see it, a clear penalty. Lucky to get away with that really. City did rally later on and as their goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer was time wasting close to the end of the first half, with the time the referee added on this allowed a cross coming in from the left and David Silva to poke home from close range for the opening goal - right on half time too.

City carried on attacking in the second half but the second goal didn't come. Leciester could have had another penalty when a clumsy Fernando challenge on Kramaric was only given as a free kick, and at the other end Sergio Agüero volleyed over from a superlative David Silva ball. We knew Chelsea had gone in front at West Ham so knew a win was needed, and on came the substitutes to try and close the game out. With two minutes left a Jesús Navas cross found James Milner, and in it went for 2-0. Job done.

It was a satisfactory result if not spectacular, but it was what we needed. After I'd got back home later I watched the latest instalment of Let's Play Darts for Comic Relief, with Bob Mortimer and Roisin Conarty teaming up with Andy Fordham and Richie George respectively. Bob Mortimer decided his nickname was "Carpets" and so decided to come out with a roll of carpet to be carried, and a very The Man With The Stick-like mask on the face made of carpet, with Oasis' "Roll With It" playing as his walk on music (also played at the Etihad earlier, tune of the day) and so that was rather odd. I was expecting him to be asked what was on the end of the stick and all that, hehe..

Tuesday 3rd March - It's Great When It Works

Another long day in work really, primarily because of the fact that it was a case of working on a few things simultaneously in an attempt so save time. What I was able to look at briefly was seeing if Adobe Digital Editions 4.0 could be packaged up for SCCM 2012, so that anyone who required it to read e-books with any form of DRM protection could do so and authorise their PC or laptop accordingly. I suspect that it wasn't going to be too hard, and the fact it had a /S switch due to it being packaged with Nullsoft Scriptable Installer made it a fairly simple job. Isn't it good when that works?

I also managed to get some time booked off for the end of May, so I was then able to book a ticket and a hotel at a relatively not that expensive rate, and will do the trains once they go on sale. So I'm going to head off to Leicester Soundhouse to see Pop Will Eat Itself. Now I know what you're thinking: but you could see them at the Gigantic 2 gig at Manchester Academy the day after! Well, I could. However, this year said gig is across three Academy venues, with no pass-outs to the other venues after 7pm (ie: once you're in after that time, that's it).

This would scupper me somewhat as PWEI and Mark Morriss acoustic from The Bluetones would be on at the same time at different venues, and then later on Echo and the Bunnymen highlight Academy 1 (cool) but then I'd really love to see Echobelly acoustic who are on at the very same time at Academy 3. There's also another clash earlier in the day as well and I know that I'd be pretty gutted whichever way I decided to try and see bands - so having thought about it, I know I would like to see the incredible PWEI most of all, and as the gig in Leicester is a small intimate gig, epic win. It also mirrors seeing them at the same time last year in Sheffield.

I also had to ring Accorhotels up earlier in the day (before I'd booked the Ibis in Leicester incidentally). It transpired that I'd got an email stating I'd used up some of my points for Cathay Pacific air miles. Which of course is a complete fallacy as a) I've never ever travelled with said airline or don't plan to and b) the email claiming I'd redeemed the points was at around 4.30am, which I know full well I'd have been asleep on by then. By the sounds of it when I called them it did sound like it was a system glitch which hopefully they'll resolve and place the points back where they should be..

The Love In My Heart came over for tea later in the evening, having had to rush to somewhere else on the way to mine first, and we settled in with a nice tea of spaghetti with lamb meatballs and a Jamie Oliver tomato and basil sauce (the pasta sauce was actually cheaper than the Waitrose own branded one, so epic win thanks to the lovely Ocado people) and once that was all happily consumed I indulged The Love with a bit of Don't Tell The Bride, where the groom had been all the way to Thailand, picked the dress from there and it arrived all damaged, with the most horrid shoes imaginable to say the least.

We snuggled in and then later on we saw the Comic Relief Let's Play Darts show on BBC Two. It was Tim "The Punaway Train" Vine and Darryl Fitton up against Sean Lock and Ted Hankey. To be fair Tim Vine was actually pretty good, hitting 140s and tons as well as some decent finishing. Who can't enjoy the walk on for The Dazzler though, as Darryl Fitton stepped out as he always does to the Madness classic One Step Beyond, minus the shades but with all the swagger instead. Ace stuff, tune of the day all round really.

Monday 2nd March - Back to the Beat

Back to work today then, and the start of a new month. Although in essence a little bit quieter after the busy deadlines from last week, still plenty to be getting on with and indeed a lot to try and sort out. I also knew that I had several meetings this week so was attempting where possible to try and plan my time effectively in order to be able to get the right time spent in the right place - always the key that is. It was also good to put forward some ideas in a couple of meetings today and see how things were progressing there. Happiness abound, I think!

Anyway, I decided when I got home that a bit of rocking out on Rock Band 3 was required on the trusty Wii. Of course, the online play via the Rock Central servers doesn't work anymore (primarily due to Nintendo themselves shutting down a few services but also EA/Harmonix not allowing Wii users via their servers either) but the shop still works, and indeed you could still buy anything from the existing catalogue. As the old stuff was a mere 100 points I plumped for Judas Priest's live version of Breaking The Law and Juliana Hatfield's seminal Nirvana track off her album Hey Babe. Two great little rock numbers for sure.

I did try them both on vocals first off and did okay on Breaking The Law, but for Nirvana, they decided to do the note tracking more for the backing vocal instead of the lead in parts, and by the time I'd recognised that - err... tune over. Still, I wasn't to be deterred and so instead decided to get the Rock Band drum kit out and spend some time with that doing some drumming. I'd not done so for a while and once I'd got it set up and was comfortable in the position, it was time to get rocking.

And rock I most certainly did. It was on with a cracking selection of modern rock and old classics, and really wanted to get those drums playing well to get me in the mood. I did have a good blast of Slayer's "South of Heaven" and did okay on that, and then did the Juliana Hatfield track above, which played pretty well on the whole. I also then thought "right, ramp it up" and went for a really nice rendition of Breaking The Law, and the tricky parts near the end worked quite well. I had to of course go for a bit of the vocal rendition during the chorus when drumming - kind of rude not to really.

Finally it was time to see if I could do some songs I hadn't drummed before and increase the star count overall, so it was a definite plus to try and learn stuff on first attempt (even if the scores now don't upload!) - so I had a good effort at the likes of Shooting Star by Bad Company and an even better attempt at White Zombie's classic More Human Than Human (in fact make that tune of the day whilst we're at it). Shame that the new songs released recently for the game aren't available for the trusty Wii, but there's still lots out there to play so I can't complain too much really..

Sunday 1st March - Spring It Is Not

I must admit the last week or two has been fairly tiring at work, and with all sorts going on for The Love In My Heart and myself, it was good to be able to have a rest and lie in. I must admit even though I'd mildly awoken at around 9am, I headed back to lie down, and that was it - me gone for the next hour or two. It would have definitely been needed and I think it was just the right time for us both. Besides, I don't care what anyone says: when you're snuggled up with someone you love, it just feels that much nicer doesn't it?

Anyway, I got up and got myself ready and made The Love In My Heart and I some cooked breakfast, and I pretty much went the Full English this time around with bacon, sausages, fried mushrooms (organic ones at that) and also some scrambled egg - which I have to confess was the first time that I had ever made the stuff myself. The Love gave me a couple of useful pointers and I was pleased that I had managed to do it all myself, and with some toast on the side, it proved to be rather nice all round. The Love was also most pleased I'd got free range eggs as well.

The weather was horrible outside, and constantly raining, so we both thought that staying in and being relatively chilled out was the way to go. So on went some Ocean Colour Scene (I'll make "The Circle" tune of the day as it's a pretty great tune all round) and then out with the Scrabble for a while. I hadn't played for a bit, neither had The Love, and so it was good to get the brain in gear and make some good words. I think my favourite was in the second game (we'd also switched CDs to Swing Out Sister by this point) and I made EXHUME for a double word, and then later added a D to the end and made another word to go on to triple letter. Hehe, not daft me.

I did keep an eye earlier on the football match at Anfield as Liverpool beat Manchester City 2-1 and effectively killed the title hopes that we had. By all accounts we didn't play as well as we'd like and tactically again got it wrong. At 1-1 at half time you'd expect to kick on, but no - just wasn't good enough on the day. It's all very well talking about how these are the sort of places you need to win at, but actually doing it on the day seems to be for whatever reason beyond what we can do.

That said though: no time to panic either. Whilst we might not win a trophy this year, we do have to remember that we did win two last year, including the first League Cup win for thirty eight years at that, so we were a tad spoiled really. All we can do now is make sure that we win as many games as we can, get a top two finish (or at worst top four) and at least qualify for the Champions League next season, and kick on from there. It's also too early to judge any new signings based on substitute appearances too, so let's not do that as yet.