Dear Diary... October 2015

Saturday 31st October - Halloween Heroism

I was up relatively early (well for a Saturday anyway) as I was heading off to see someone I know to try and get their laptop all sorted for them. They had fired it up one day and it looked like it had blue screened, so I got them to power it down and I was going to take a look at it. In fact it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, the blue screen was caused by some piece of malware attempting to install (but fail) and so once I booted up, I had a full Malwarebytes Anti-Malware scan running and that eliminated a shed load of stuff. I then did a few other tests, and made sure all was well, so felt like one good deed for the day had been done.

I got back home in good time to have a bit of lunch, and then my friend came over to take us both to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City against Norwich City. In the past, we've tended to beat them well, but knowing how inconsistent the whole league has been this season, I was taking nothing for granted. A win would see us remain top, anything less and Arsenal, West Ham or Man U could take the top spot into the next month. We had our customary cuppa before kick off and then took to the seats with hope and expectation.

Norwich to be fair were defending pretty well, and it was mainly down to them sticking numbers behind the ball and attempting to hit us on the break if they could. Wilfried Bony was guilty of not hitting a couple of chances on target at least, and that wasn't good, and it was a case of seeing how from corners if we could get headers on target - Vincent Kompany was unlucky with one opportunity to be able to score, but as the half drew on the less likely I thought we'd break them down.

The second half started and it was still frustrating stuff, and City plugged on. We got a corner mid way through the second half, and Kevin de Bruyne took it, and it was met perfectly by the head of Nicolás Otamendi, and the header went into the top corner giving John Ruddy no chance. 1-0 to City, and relief all round to be honest. We kept going but we both felt that City needed a second goal to see Norwich off, and with ten minutes left several people around us decided to leave early - makes me wonder why they bother coming if they're not going to stay till the end.. this is City after all!

And so it proved. A hopeful cross was attempted to be caught by Joe Hart, but he spilled it, and the ball fell straight to Cameron Jerome who couldn't miss for the equaliser and made it 1-1. However City pressed on and Ruddy for some reason came out of the box to challenge for the ball, it went past him and Raheem Sterling shot - and clearly a Norwich defender handled it. Instant red card and Yaya Touré scored to lead 2-1. Even then it wasn't over, a wicked deflected shot brought out the best of Joe Hart with a cracking save, and we got a penalty at the death after Sterling was fouled, but Kolarov missed the penalty (Touré had been subbed already).

Still, a good 2-1 win that kept us top, and once again it proved you need to stay till the end really. Later on I headed over to see The Love In My Heart, and we had some very nice chicken stuffed with cream cheese and mushrooms along with some carrots, peas and potatoes for tea, and that went down nicely. We also watched Strictly Come Dancing and I must admit I was pretty pleased to see the likes of Alice Cooper's "School's Out" get a version playing during one dance. Love the original, so tune of the day there really. However, can the voting public please actually get rid of the celebrities who cannot dance?

Friday 30th October - Friday Funky

At least it's pay day today, so hurrah to that to be quite honest. And definitely for me, a good day to be paid as the overtime I had worked last month also came to the fore, so was able to at least think about using that money towards Christmas presents and the like. I also had plenty to do today, and one key thing I made sure I did was set off the final batch of laptops for the trolley with the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite before I left, with the idea being that they'd be done over the weekend and so I could get them all in situ on Monday. I do like to see things through to their conclusion.

I also had to contribute a fair bit to the team meeting today too, including an update on some print statistics and provide some useful pointers on a few things going on, which was good to be able to do. It's important to contribute but also contribute well, and it's definitely been the case this week with not so many staff in and we're still attempting to run a similar level of service too. I suppose that's one thing when you work in a decent sized team: holidays are absolutely part and parcel of the balance in numbers.

I went round to my uncle's place later on as it was one of my relations' birthdays today, and they had already given me an idea of what they would like, so it was good to head over and be able to give them their present. It was the 3CD compilation set "Rapper's Delight" which features both old and new school rap and hip-hop songs on there. Naturally of course the Sugarhill Gang's classic with said title is on there, albeit the 7" edit instead of the full fifteen minutes or so, and "Let's Get Dirty" by Redman which many people who've played Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 will also know.

Granted, there were some real duffers in there in my view, but when you consider the likes of "I Wish" by Skee-Lo, and the 90s indie night favourites of "Insane In The Brain" by Cypress Hill and "Jump Around" by House of Pain (make that tune of the day folks - it is a proper tune and all.) The only thing I wish that the compilation makers would have included is something from the Judgement Night soundtrack - for example the title track by Biohazard and Onyx would have been pretty cool.

I got back home later on and after seeing Gogglebox, I turned over to BBC Four for their documentary "Girl In A Band" which detailed how some women in rock took their role to the next level, and how they often faced the likes of sexism and having to prove themselves even more in some of their roles. It was fascinating to hear Tina Weymouth talk about her time in Talking Heads, and how that bass line to the classic "Psycho Killer" came around, and also Viv Albertine from the Slits describing how violent parts of the punk scene were and how it was a battle just to stay alive, never mind play gigs and all.

In fact I really also enjoyed having Kelley Deal and Josephine Wiggs talking about The Breeders (cue obvious but well mentioned "Cannonball", still a classic) and also Miki Berenyi of Lush as well, and how photographers wanted her and Emma Anderson to try and get into more provocative poses, missing the point of them actually being a bloody ace band. I still to this day adore their early EPs and notably the track "Sweetness and Light" which for various reasons has a rather beautiful ethereal and emotional quality to it. In fact Kate Mossman was a good presenter and the whole documentary is well worth a watch if you missed it on BBC iPlayer.

Thursday 29th October - All Change Over Coffee

Nice to have a day off work, actually, and to be honest, I think I've needed it for a while. It's been that intense over the last few months that we've really been at work full throttle, so it's good to be able to slow things down a little as of late, due to the madness of the first few weeks of term being over with. I think for me too it's another chance to evaluate where I am now and what will happen in future, and over a few cups of coffee this afternoon, I've been having a stop and think sort of day.

I must admit that seeing other people get interviews for management positions that they've applied for does make me feel good for them, because I know they work hard, but it also makes me wonder just what I need to do next to try and bridge that gap. I did incidentally apply for a similar management position a while back, but unfortunately I was told it was down to a lack of management experience. I get that, but at the same time it's a double edged sword: how are you supposed to be able to gain the experience if no one is also willing to give you a go?

I also was paid a nice compliment by one of my colleagues, who stated that technically he knows he can approach me to try and get an answer, and usually it'll be one that is sensible. An example of this was yesterday actually where he wanted to try and deploy a piece of software silently, but it needed a paramater filling in during the install. I was able to read up on that, put a suggestion forward, and voila, all worked spot on, so that was pretty good really. Maybe this is something that I could also do: although I suspect again that advancing might be a new challenge.

I also am of the view that no job will come to me, I have to work bloody hard to get it. I know when I applied for the position I was in now, initially it was an assistant job at Grade 4, and I've worked hard to progress through and have interviews and proof that I can advance up to the grade I am at now. I know too that this means a lot to me: I've proven people wrong in the past and shown that given the opportunity, I will be able to prosper. A lot of that admittedly was down to my former line manager who believed in me and believed in the work I did, but also the way I approached things differently. I've a lot to thank him for really.

It's difficult to put into words as such, and I know that there are a fair number of people who do value the work that I do, but I am not getting any younger, and I also importantly know that I have the full support of The Love In My Heart, who has been encouraging and lovely in all of this. She's actually said to me that even if any new job is a fair distance away, we're going to be together no matter what, and that's been one of my concerns to be honest - she's far too lovely not to be able to be with.

Anyway, plenty to think on, and indeed I decided to let off some steam by playing plenty of Slayer on the CD player tonight, namely their new album "Repentless". I actually like the fact that they re-recorded "Implode" that they released as a single last year, and it does seem to have a bit more punch and energy in there, with a lower octave to Tom Araya's vocal in parts but still kicking backside - tune of the day definitely. The words also resonate with me massively in there too, so there you go.

Wednesday 28th October - We Love A Five One, We Do

After another productive day at work, it was off to the Etihad Stadium with my friend to see Manchester City up against Crystal Palace in the Capital One Cup. Unusually the powers that be had decided that both City and United could play at home on the same night, and the kick off time fifteen minutes apart. I thought that wouldn't be really helpful for anyone getting home from work etc in the traffic, and certainly for me it did delay me getting home slightly anyway.

However, it was plenty of time for me to have something to eat for tea, and then head off, and the traffic actually wasn't as bad as we thought, and arrived in good time. All appeared to be fine although we had heard that one of the routes into Manchester had been blocked, so they'd closed the pre-match stuff in City Square early so that those there would go into the ground and not delay those arriving late. We knew that the top tier of the Colin Bell Stand was closed, and we thought the South Stand too, but the middle block of the third tier was open.

It ended up being around 40,000 there, which wasn't bad - obviously not full, but still decent for the League Cup. I do think that the cheaper prices, plus the kids for a quid in the family stand helped a bit of course. City then were up against a decent Palace side - for City, no Sterling or Hart, but Kelechi Iheanacho but was up front with Wilfried Bony and a midfield of Kevin de Bruyne, Jesús Navas, Fernando and Yaya Touré, so no slouches really. Palace also to be fair put out an almost full strength side, so good on both teams for giving the competition respect and indeed to Palace for turning up in their masses too.

The game kicked off and the early worry was a clash of heads between Yannick Bolasie and Pablo Zabaleta, and both of them needed attention. Zaba was soon up with headband on though, which he then took off later in the half as he didn't need it (this is Zabman we're talking about - and for good reason!) - and City looked threatening going forward. From an Aleksandar Kolarov corner, Bony met it with his head and it was 1-0 to City, and from that moment the boys in blue (make the old classic song tune of the day - so glad they play it before the home games now..) were going for it.

Just before half time, the ball went to Iheanacho on the right hand side, and he took the ball towards goal, but was very intelligent and looked up to see Kevin de Bruyne free on the left, and passed across goal for the Belgian to finish from close range - he couldn't miss. Both my friend and I were impressed with that - the right attitude but the right intelligence too. De Bruyne in the second half returned the favour, passing the ball to Iheanacho and he controlled and finished well to go 3-0 up.

Plenty left to see too as Eliaquim Mangala was fouled in the area and Yaya Touré stepped up to make it 4-0, Delaney got a good header back for Palace as the fans had already left in their droves. More fool them because the last goal was a special one indeed - the ball went to Iheanacho down the left and he spotted the sub Manu Garcia down the right, weighted a lovely pass, and Garcia did really well with the finish as well to make it 5-1, a scoreline I've loved over the years ever since a certain derby day win back in 1989 in fact.

Tuesday 27th October - Glory and Dating

Another decent day of sorts really, and one where I've really got the hammer down nicely. I had been waiting for one new potential room to have the power and data sockets in there, and the tables were also in place, so I was able to get four PCs to that room and start deploying the operating system image to them. In fact, with that done, the standard apps task sequence done, and then the main art apps done, it was worth staying behind for a little while so I could set off the Autodesk Building Design Suite as well tonight, so that should hopefully finish by the morning and mean that we'll all be good to go. Hurrah to that.

It also meant I could work on the remaining laptops for the trolley too, and get them all sorted. Due to the fact that it sounded like Maya Service Pack 4 was potentially going to fix some issues, I included that and the one for Mental Ray as the two final steps for Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate, and that worked really well on the whole. It will also mean that if the trolley is used for teaching as the animation suite which has also been patched, all should work well and without issues, so that should be pretty good all round really.

I got home later on and The Love In My Heart came over for tea, and as ever it was lovely to see her. I indulged her with a bit of Emmerdale as I set about making something nice - some Hunter's chicken along with some large flat mushrooms filled with cheese, and some little mini roasties to go with it all. It went down nicely and all ready just in time for the next instalment of Eternal Glory, which I must admit I've been addicted to watching the last few weeks or so.

This time it was a stamina and endurance test early on, run in and out of the sea and touch the bar before the time ran out, and it was a huge battle between Shane Williams and James Cracknell, which was epic. They then had the best advantage on the next game, where you kept the balloon above your head so as not to burst it on some nails placed not too far away. The third game was catching balls coming in at pace, and despite having the advantage of choosing first, Cracknell lost to Gail Emms and Matt Le Tissier won an epic against Shane Williams (Christian Malcolm was already in the night duel) and then Williams beat Cracknell. In the night duel, Cracknell won mainly because Christian Malcolm threw the ball over the wall but hit the wall, and so the ball smashed, and he was out. The word gutted doesn't come close to be honest.

The Love and I then watched First Dates from last Thursday, as for one reason or another we both hadn't seen it yet. We did feel sorry for the lass from Newcastle who had been stood up, and I thought that she might have hit it off with the other bloke waiting for his date (his date didn't work out in the end) - I have a feeling that they might get together on Thursday's episode coming up as it has all the hallmarks of a "what if..." scenario if they didn't. We did like the Welsh couple getting together (and visiting his Nan!) - they seemed well suited actually. And not much of Cici the waitress this week, much to my disappointment (her wit and humour brightens up the restaurant!)

Time went too quickly and it was a massive hug before The Love headed homewards and I settled in to listen to some music before bed, this time playing the 2:54 album that I still adore from a couple of years back (it was my album of the year in fact) - it just seemed right for the evening to be honest. The excellent bass driven track "Sugar" was my favourite off it then and still is now (tune of the day it definitely is) and so that was just the right mood for me to try and get some sleep..

Monday 26th October - Manic Monday (ish)

Another Monday, but thankfully some of the schools' half terms have kicked in, so the traffic was much much lighter on the way into work this morning. I could certainly reap the benefits, as it was much easier to get in, and quicker too. This allowed me to sort out the next batch of laptops to have all the specialised software on and ready for deployment - and set them off doing Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite 2016, complete with service pack 4 for Maya bolted on to the end of the installation, as you do.

I also headed over to one of our specialised suites, and I had already done a test install of Service Pack 4 for Maya on Friday on one machine, so did the rest early on so all was working correctly. I also spotted that the preferences were saved in the My Documents area (directed to H:\Documents) and so was able to spot that once the preference was set, the next time the user launched Maya on any PC (not just the one that they were using) it'd retain their choice of renderer. Neat that.

I spent a bit of time this afternoon giving a quick presentation and answering some questions for students on our new wide format provision for one of the courses, and it was good that there were plenty for me to answer (which I was able to) and also demonstrate some of the options and some of the troubleshooting that you could do as well. In fact they were a very attentive bunch and fitted into their base room nicely, showing some well planned activity along the way.

I headed home and the trip home was pretty good too, so was able to spend some time watching The Edge on BBC iPlayer. I'm still not convinced fully by the change of format, but the fact that the contestants still roll over the edge under pressure does make for some viewing. I do think though that it does miss Mark Benton as the host, who effectively coined all the catch phrases for the show - such as at the end: "Why? Because that's how we roll!" for example.

I did watch Only Connect of course, and that was good fun. Not least the music connections round in the first round, which I pretty much had sussed straight away in terms of the connection, but the sequences round in round two was any band with two members in - so Chas and Dave would have been a good shout. Not sure about the contestants saying Renee and Renato though - complete with rendition of their "hit" (ahem) single as well. Oh well, only on certain quiz shows do you get that happening.

Mind you in the first round we did get to hear a bit of Metallica's cover version of "Whiskey In The Jar" so no complaints there really. In fact I had a bit of a play of Guitar Hero Metallica earlier and went back to play that a bit more, and realised some of the guitar tracks are pretty hard, namely "War Ensemble" by Slayer and best of all "War Inside My Head" by Suicidal Tendencies (of course the current Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo used to be in ST, so makes sense to have it) - and so tune of the day there.

Sunday 25th October - Speke Hall and Settling The Title

It was a nicer day than yesterday weather wise, and having been out last night, it was nice to see The Love In My Heart and spend some quality time with her. I must admit that although it was obviously ace being out seeing Gary Numan, I do also really like the Saturday nights that The Love and I have together too. Therefore it was best to try and make the most of the day together, and so The Love mentioned that we hadn't been to Speke Hall in a while, so why didn't we go there? Why not indeed.

So soon The Love and I were heading along the M602 and then the M62, passing the likes of IKEA Warrington and then getting off at junction 6 down the Knowsley Expressway and passing the Land Rover plant at Halewood before following the signs for Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and then taking a straight on instead of left and following the country lane down a really nice tree lined avenue, heading for Speke Hall. It was actually pretty busy in the car park but The Love spotted a space, and we were soon walking towards the entrance and got our admission to the hall as well as the gardens.

We had a nice walk towards the hall and spotted the new vegetable kitchen garden taking shape, with a lovely greenhouse, some bee hives for pollenation, and lots of growing vegetables and plots to develop over the next few years. Indeed the stable next door now has a small café, and then we followed the entrance towards the North Lawn and the hall itself, having a really nice look around there. I must admit I did fancy a go on the billiards table with the balls set up but then so did everyone else, so I had to pass on that.

We did the walk around the house, followed the South Lawn for a while and got a different view, and spotted the volunteers in full Tudor era costume giving the special "tudor tours" that you could do. We walked back towards the garden and the maze, having already navigated around that - but at least the conifers are now growing so it's a bit more difficult to work your way around. We then followed one of two paths, but this took us around the perimeter of the grounds and towards the old former airfield runway, which is fenced off from the airport. We walked along this for a while and followed the path back along to the older over the hill paths, and then to the lake and some pine trees (cones a plenty for The Love there!)

It was a really nice afternoon all told, and we stopped off at the pub on the way back for a Sunday roast, which I have to say was lovely, notably the lamb I had which was tender, seasoned with some black pepper, and spot on in terms of taste. I had a really nice pint of ale too which had a little bit of a spicy kick, and the two went well together. We'd had a really nice day having a bit of a walk around and also catching up, and after relaxing a bit at mine with the telly on, The Love headed home to watch X Factor (rather her than me!) leaving me to watch the F1 later on.

And wow, what a race that was! It was damp at the start so intermediates was the choice, but it was then when you went on to slicks and if you got that right, and Jenson Button as ever did the job there rather well, having a purple lap to be the fastest at one point. In fact he and Fernando Alonso did pretty well in the rubbish McLaren, and before the final safety car they were decently placed. An engine issue put paid to Alonso finishing in the points, but Button battled well and ended up a creditable 6th place.

However up front was where the action was, and Lewis Hamilton was determined as ever, almost forcing off Nico Rosberg at the first corner before eventually being behind him for most of the race. However as the pressure told Rosberg made a mistake, Hamilton stormed into the lead and it was one he would keep for the rest of the race, and with Sebastian Vettel only being able to get third, it meant that Lewis had sealed his third world title with three races to go, and the first British driver to win titles back to back, so well done him, and only fair that "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac as tune of the day blasts in the background as he surged to victory. It is the proper F1 theme after all.

Saturday 24th October - Nuuuuuman!

It was a quiet day of sorts for me today. I spent most of the day sorting out a shed load of washing, and also catching up on some of the telly I'd missed last night and early this morning. Obviously that meant a good watch of Gogglebox and I was pleased to see that they'd had comments on the shocking episode of Downton Abbey, and also looks at Great Continental Railway Journeys, Eternal Glory and also the excellent The Gift of Life documentary on Channel 5 too, which had everyone in tears of joy.

I then watched the Formula E first round on ITV Player, as the race was in China and so was shown really early in the morning. It was a decent race too, with Sebastien Buemi making the most of the Renault electric engine in his e.dams car, and winning pretty well. It could have been a 1-3 for the team only for Nicolas Prost to have a bit of a shunt with the rear wing and have a mechanical black flag, but all down the field there were some close battles and some serious energy conservation in parts. It's fascinating stuff actually and a really enjoyable first round.

Later on my friend came over, and we were off to Manchester Academy 1 to see Gary Numan. He had just played three nights in London playing a different early album in full each night plus selected other tracks, and this gig was part of the Academy's 25th anniversary celebrations. It made sense as Numan had played the Academy 1 on his 50th birthday, and he always liked the venue too. We got our wristbands sorted to head up to the balcony and was able to have a bit of a catch up - and the DJ was playing some decent tunes too, the likes of "Du Hast" by Rammstein and "The Hearts Filthy Lesson" by David Bowie to name but two.

On came the support act Outfit, and they weren't too bad actually. They had a good drummer especially, and the lead singer also played keyboards and guitar. Their tunes were well constructed and you could tell that they'd played together and rehearsed properly too. I quite liked them on the whole, and a couple of songs you could see as potential singles as well, especially "New Air" which sounded particularly epic too. That set the tone nicely and they were so pleased to be opening for Numan too.

I went and got us both a drink and the DJ continued playing some cracking songs, more in the Industrial vein, the likes of "Rock Is Dead" by Marilyn Manson, and then later on "Stigmata" by Ministry and "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. Happy bunny with those two, and the atmosphere built as the time approached 9.15pm, and the lights went out, with an almost football crowd sized chant en masse of "Nuuuuuman! Nuuuuuuman" from everyone as it all built with the lights and displays coming on.

So on came Gary Numan, and it was a very impressive gig indeed. It was notable that the whole set was effectively his early era stuff, and so no Industrial sounding songs from the recent era, and indeed none of the old stuff made to sound Industrial with added guitars etc either. This of course appealed to my friend greatly as it was the classic Numan he adored back in the day when he became a fan, so all was good there. And for me, a chance to imagine what it would have been like seeing him in the early 1980s.

A quality set list then, and one with so many highlights. For example: "Metal" on second track, and really full of synth and bass, driven pretty hard along the way. "M.E." was also particularly good too with the ending having lots of synth bite in there. I also really enjoyed hearing "I Dream of Wires" from the Telekon album, and "Films" from the Pleasure Principle album too. In fact the singles from that era were also very strong, so naturally there were huge cheers and full on "whooooaaaa" bits for "Are 'Friends' Electric" as you can well imagine.

Needless to say that meant we also got "Down In The Park" (without longer intro of late) and a very synth driven more like the original version of "Cars". I must admit I do like the Fear Factory version and the Numan live versions with crunching guitars too, but in a way, good to see it stripped back also. "We Are Glass" and especially "I Die You Die" benefitted massively from this too, and another really cracking surprise was the excellent "Everyday I Die" from the Tubeway Army album also.

The time sped by, and it was a chance at the end to really pull out something different, an so on to a gorgeous acoustic rendition, as per the original, of "Jo The Waiter" from the Tubeway Army album (in fact make this tune of the day). It sounded really nice all round, and the fans sang along in their droves, and you could see the happy faces thinking "I didn't expect this on the set list". It was the last song, and a really good way to finish everything nicely as the 11pm curfew approached for us all to head out into the rain, maybe a little wet, but also rather happy all round. Nuuuuuuuuman!

Friday 23rd October - Maya and Meal

It was a pretty productive sort of day, although it ended up being a later than planned finish. I had had some feedback from one course and one particular PC room where they have been using Autodesk Maya 2016, and there had been some occasional issues with crashing. What I planned to was to get the service pack for Maya (in fact 2016 SP4!) and then apply both that and the Mental Ray add on service pack to the Maya installation. They were also MSP patch files, so even better really, a nice straightforward way to get them applied via SCCM.

What I hadn't accounted for was that the installation of the main Maya MSP would take so long. When I did the install on one test machine via SCCM I could see the task sequence progress appearing, but nothing seemingly happening apart from the download of the service pack to the machine. However, I know how long these things take to install, notably as Maya is a large product to install anyway, and sure enough after around twenty five minutes or so everything went into play and the task sequence moved on nicely. Hurrah! I can then roll that out on Monday to the remaining PCs which should help enormously.

I headed home and got showered and changed as I was off out into the city centre to meet up with The Love In My Heart and some friends for a meal. We'd booked Ask Italian as it was fairly central in the city, and we all quite liked the menu to a degree. The bus into the city was delayed due to the traffic around the Apollo, and The Love had also got on the tram with a delay, but she had managed to get there a couple of minutes before me - and looked gorgeous in her blue dress and pashmina as well. How lucky am I? Very, actually.

Our friends arrived and we had a table in Ask close to the window and indeed where the former restaurant seating would have been when the bar was Kro Piccadilly. I do miss Kro a lot, and the main reason it had closed was due to the landlords deciding to bump up the rent massively, despite it being a popular and very successful bar that I spent many a happy time in (and indeed it was the first place The Love and I went for a drink many years ago.) It was good to catch up, and we found out about their recent holiday in Lisbon and how much they enjoyed it (as we had done earlier in the year) and chat was the order of the day.

The food was lovely in Ask actually: I had the starter of calamari, and the main of the very nice linguni carbonara, with no skimping on the meat either, always a good thing. The Love had the bruschetta to start, which to be fair was huge, and then a main of the chicken milanese, which did look gorgeous too (I had a little bit myself, and that was nice.) I even had a really nice tiramisu for dessert, so all good there really. It did feel a little odd though thinking what might have been here...

We then headed off to The Bank on Mosley Street for more chat and indeed some real ale for me too, notably the Nicholson's Pale Ale brewed by the St Austell Brewery (yaay, it's Cornish) and had a really nice time in there overall. The time went by quickly and before we knew it, it had gone 11pm and time to head homeward. Well, The Love would have headed home quick but the tram line at Piccadilly Gardens was closed, so we walked to the train station so she could get a tram there and I took the bus home. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Crystals" by Of Monsters and Men, a really nice start to the weekend that.

Thursday 22nd October - Crewe Change

It was a different day for me at work today, as I was heading down to our site in Crewe, as I'd been requested to deliver some sessions on one of my points of expertise: SCCM 2012. Some of the line managers had been approached last week and it was all set for me to head down there today - and my train ticket was also paid for, which was a rather nice thing - I'd have happily done that myself, but there you go. In fact it meant leaving the house a little bit earlier, but no bad thing.

I was soon on the train to Stockport and then change there and get the fast Arriva Trains Wales service to Wilmslow and Crewe, which was relatively busy but not that bad. I soon arrived and got myself a coffee and went to the building my colleagues at the site were based in to meet up with them. It's actually a reasonably nice office, with a good view over from where they are, and lots of light too. In fact I'd argue it's got a much better view than the one I am in now.

Everything during the day went really well, the morning session was about getting some people up to speed with the admin console, where everything is, what things do etc. I also gave an overview of the main OS Deployment task sequences and why some steps do what they do accordingly, which should be a good logical thought process. So if you have 20 different driver packages, you only want to install one, so as long as each of them is WMI queried correctly, only one will actually install, which is what you want - and indeed a catch all for everything else.

After lunch and in the afternoon I spent some time with some of the staff looking at some more advanced features and troubleshooting, such as where to find the task sequence logs, and how to also check if the content is on the distribution point that is required. Another key thing well worth checking are some of the reports, and went through how to create some queries and modify an existing one to get the information you needed, which was also productive.

As I headed back to the station and got the 1650 train back, which directly went to my stop too (result) it was good to have done something different and I certainly thought that this sort of task would put me in good stead for the future. I also was able to get a different insight into how another site works and be able to re-acquaint myself with there too. I do feel positive with these sort of things, as it demonstrates a lot of qualities I hope people want to find in me: flexibility, a can-do attitude and so on.

The Love In My Heart came over later and after having some gammon and chips for tea, she settled in and insisted on seeing the Emmerdale rewind episode to see who did shoot Robert. What I didn't expect was to see Nicola Stephenson in that episode, playing a woman who was out with her friend (who was trying to pull Marlon) and then her character meeting Paddy, and the two of them hitting it off in the back of her car. I still think of her as Margaret in Brookside of course!

Later on I put on one of my Amazon arrivals - the new Slayer album, and belted some of that out at full pelt. I know the reviews have been mixed on this one, but actually it's an album of transition: of course Jeff Hannemann has gone (one of his tracks "Piano Wire" is on the album) but Paul Bostaph on drums and Gary Holt on guitars really give it plenty and there seems to be no loss in quality to me - I'd even say that the album version of "Implode" (make that tune of the day) is a more controlled version of the single..

Wednesday 21st October - Fight Till The End (As Long As You Don't Leave Early)

I managed to get to the bottom of a task I thought that I was able to do, but needed some quality time to get it all done, and that day was today. I had a feeling that I was able to get some tracking statistical data from the print system, and once I could output a certain amount's worth as an Excel CSV file, I could open each file in turn, import the columns I actually wanted, and then filter for the actual devices that were required. Once that was done for each one and outputted into one Excel sheet for the devices needed, it was then a case of getting some pivot tables all sorted.

In fact that worked rather well all told - it meant I could show a lot of different data and be able to add columns to the pivot table, which showed subtotals etc easily and without issues. Isn't Excel great at times like this? I certainly think it is, and really takes a lot of the donkey work out. Even better was that my line manager was pretty impressed with it all and it did seem pretty good to be able to show the time saved against the amount of time this morning it took to get to that stage.

Later on in the evening my friend and I were off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City up against Sevilla in the Champions League. A win tonight would really help our chances nicely, and also mean that we go into the Manchester derby on Sunday with the right result. We still had no David Silva or Sergio Agüero, so it was again Wilfried Bony up front with Raheem Sterling just behind, and with Kevin de Bruyne roaming around the midfield with Yaya Touré it looked a promising line up of sorts.

The Champions League anthem came on to which the City fans as per usual booed. This is more aimed at UEFA and the way that they've treated the likes of City and Paris Saint-Germain, and UEFA's attempts to protect the so-called "big clubs" by trying to impose Financial Fair Play, hit the likes of City with sanctions etc, and indeed the inherent corruption within UEFA. Want further proof? Try asking how the referee and the goal line fifth official managed to miss Martin Demechelis' equaliser against Borussia Monchengladbach with the ball way over the line. Imagine if Nicolas Otamendi hadn't scored the rebound and the result been different because of that shocking decision?

Anyway, on with the game. Sevilla were playing well and City were struggling a little to get into it, with the Spanish side hitting the post from a well taken free kick. At the half hour mark, a move down the right resulted in a pull back, and with the three defenders heading back towards goal, no one picked up Yevhen Konoplyanka and he buried it - argubaly with one his team mates offside standing right in front of Joe Hart. 1-0 and not good, and it had been coming.

City though did bounce back and it was testament to the never say die attitude we've inherited over time especially. The ball was worked well down the right byline by Yaya Touré and pulled back for Sterling to shoot, the shot was saved and the ball went to Wilfried Bony and his shot took a deflection off Adil Rami, and past his own keeper for the equaliser. 1-1 and so to half time, where we noticed a few of the other highlights but with the video playing as if it was connected to a 33.6k modem. Bit of an own goal there.

I said to my friend I'd take a 2-1 win and as time ticked away, it seemed less likely as Sevilla were good going forward, we had de Bruyne drag a shot wide, Touré hit over, and nothing was going on. We put Fernando on for Bony so de Bruyne could head up front, and when we did break anything might happen. Ten minutes left and fans all around us started to leave. It made me wonder how many don't realise the song of "We're Man City, we fight till the end" and how it often reigns true - such as Agüero's injury time winner over Valencia a few seasons ago, and indeed a last gasp winner over Bayern Munich last season, and his penalty last time out at Borussia Monchengladbach.

So into the four minutes of stoppage time, and a minute in City broke and the ball went from Touré to de Bruyne, who cut inside and unleashed a low left foot shot into the bottom corner. Yes! Get in there! Excellent strike all round, and the City fans sung to "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes (make that tune of the day) with "Oooohhh, Kevin de Bruyyyyyyy-ne" and loudly too. It made me and my friend smile thinking of those idiots that had left the game early - will they ever learn? Obviously not..

Tuesday 20th October - By The Sea

Another good day going forward, even if I spent two hours in a meeting this morning and realised when I left that for some reason the printing system had gone a tad on the AWOL side. This was mainly down to a server related issue which was fixed pretty quick, so all good there, but I took a bit of initaitive and spotted that some customers had logged calls, so as an update was available, and although an email did go to them too, I gave them a courtesy call to be sure they were given some updated information directly (and primarily in case they were drowning in email at the time.)

I motored on with more of the laptops for the trolleys. In fact I was at the point tonight of getting the Autodesk suite deployed to the final five of the first batch, so always good to be able to plan overnight and let the five hour plus deployment take place that way. For me, it's just a sensible move knowing how time can be utilised the right way and then gained back with being able to do other things. This time around before the deployment I also did the graphics driver update first, so that should also eliminate any possible errors that might have occurred otherwise.

I headed home later, and the traffic was really bad. It was a case of crawling through and not arriving back till around 6pm, which was rather poor. I did have enough time to get things sorted before The Love In My Heart arrived, and then made us some steak with diane sauce, chips and peas for tea, and indulged her with some Emmerdale, all apparently building up to some rewind episode that's supposed to be happening over the next few days. Joy. Not.

Anyway, later on we saw Homes By The Sea on More4, which has been a really good watch over the last few weeks. This time around it focussed on some really lovely towns and villages around Dumfries and Galloway just over the border into Scotland, and facing the Solway Firth. I have to admit I didn't know too much about this part of the country but both myself and The Love were really impressed with the variety of properties and indeed the views, which were lovely. I suspect that might be worth a further explore in future to see what it's like!

We also had watched the rather good Eternal Glory earlier, where one by one the contestants were being eliminated. This week the tasks included a team task of getting over high and low obstacles as a team, and Liz McColgan picked Gail Emms and James Cracknell. The problem was that the two girls couldn't get James over the high obstacles, where Matt Le Tissier, Shane Williams and Christian Malcolm, who had it sussed and worked together well. In the end Liz and Gail faced the night duel, wich Gail won, and the only woman left in it now.

I had ordered my albums from Amazon last night and two of them were available for download via the AutoRip service at Amazon (but not the Slayer album, odd!) and so spent some time listening to one of the purchases, Jesse Malin's second album release of 2015, this time "Outsiders". An initial listen was rather fruitful, and the title track is tune of the day - it has such a nice catchy hook line and a really bluesy guitar to give it some edge also. Right up there with some of his best singles in my view, and definitely an album I'm going to play a good few times to be honest!

Monday 19th October - Repentless

Another busy day at work today, and one definitely which meant I was keeping myself really active and getting things done. As ever there's usually a Monday meeting for us as incident co-ordinators, and it certainly was one where plenty was discussed and lots of suggestions were put forward, so pretty productive on the whole really. I also was able to monitor a few things and also work on a possible idea for some reporting wizardry in Excel, more on that later in the week if I am able to pull that one off.

I also spent time with the laptops I've been imaging and getting the extra software on to, the new HP Elitebook 850 G2s for the trolleys. On the whole they're gorgeous pieces of kit, and really powerful. In fact, I had managed to deploy everything including Autodesk Building Design Suite 2016 (the standalone release at that) to them all. I ran AutoCAD 2016 in order that it would do the activation (and do the suite accordingly) which worked fine, but then noticed that for some reason it crashed out.

I did some research, and even though it has an onboard Intel HD 5500 graphics card, what makes the Elitebook decent is that it has an add-on high end AMD Radeon accelerator. All good, and the driver for that was installed and in hybrid mode. However, AMD themselves had released an updated driver, and it was also available on the HP site for the laptop in question. I tried to do one of them and update it, the installer worked, asked for a restart, and then started AutoCAD. Hurrah! It all worked. I suspect it might have been something that worked fine with AutoCAD 2015 (which it did during older testing) but 2016 needed some more oomph in the driver department. Not a biggie to update them as I go along, but something to note obviously.

I decided tonight to order some new albums as I hadn't done so for a bit, and wanted to treat myself a little bit. I had already decided on Slayer's new "Repentless" album as I had heard both "Implode" and the title track and liked what I heard. The video to the title track is pretty gory though, only watch if you're not of a nervous disposition and all. Mind you, it belts along at a furious pace with Tom Araya sounding angrier than ever, so tune of the day it most definitely is. And yes, I did order that plus two other albums so they should be coming later this week.

It was then time for Only Connect, and the music question made me giggle in the sequences round. I got the connection straight away with wedding anniversaries, so good to hear Kaiser Chiefs' "Ruby" as one of them. They correctly got that the last clue was gold, and so quoted the Spandau Ballet classic "Gold" as an example. What I didn't expect though was to be able to hear one of the contestants sing the opening lines all the way up to the chorus and then belt it out, much to Victoria Coren Mitchell's approval. Strange on such a highbrow quiz show, but also strangely good too.

Sunday 18th October - Walking Off The Cold

The Love In My Heart was coughing a lot this morning, so thought it best to let her have a lie in and just take it easy, and I headed up and watched the final part of the Story of Indie, concentrating on the 1990s, how major record labels decided to take some of the indie labels under their own wing, how the supposed "Britpop" movement spawed so many bands, and then how the new directions went thereafter. Again, some really nice observations on the whole, although I'd have definitely given some screen time to some more bands where possible.

I made breakfast for The Love and myself, and I had also been watching the Great Birmingham Run on Channel 5, where some of the streets were very familiar to us both from having visited there a fair few times, especially Broad Street where the finish line was, and the athletes having to run under the underpass at Five Ways roundabout, meaning a little hill climb out of there towards the finishing straight. Chris Thompson of Great Britain won too with a well timed burst at the end, and it seemed a decent half marathon challenge, especially the hills close to Edgbaston close to the end.

The Love and I thought that fresh air would do us both good, so with a stop off at the local shops to get some cough medicine for The Love, it was then off through Stockport and onwards to Marple, where we did a nice little walk: following Brabyns Park through to the path up the slope, over the railway and to the canal locks, joining at lock seven and going downhill to lock one, and then over the aqueduct. We then followed the new path down to see the arches of the aqueduct in more detail and under there there's a path around a farm and onwards, but not being sure where that might take us, we decided to admire the view and then head back.

It was nice to see so many people out and about though, and we both admired the views from the canal and indeed from the aqueduct too. We then walked back on the road along the other side of the canal towpath and crossed back over the canal and followed the path down to Brabyns Park and to Marple Bridge, and all was well with the world. We even stopped off back at the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor for a spot of late Sunday lunch: The Love had the roast, I had the fish and chips. Both were gorgeous.

Later on I watched Countryfile as The Love had headed home to get dosed up and get some sleep, and was pretty surprised to hear classical renditions of Kraftwerk songs as they showed off this über machine to sort out all the apples that were in harvest from one farmer. In fact I recognised them as versions I'd heard before, namely both "The Model" and "The Robots" from the Balanescu Quartet. Well worth tracking down the album with them both on, and the latter of the two tracks is tune of the day.

Saturday 17th October - The Power of Five

I had a bit of a lie in this morning, primarily as I was still a bit bunged up and fearful that the full on cold would come back to haunt me somewhat. In fact knowing how much The Love In My Heart was under the weather, it was probably with good reason, but also some of my work colleagues have lapsed back into a cold after thinking that they had got rid of it, so we shall see what happens. I thought the best mode of action was to stay in this morning, get the house sorted and also watch some stuff from BBC Four last night.

In fact I wanted to watch the first two parts of The Story of Indie, which I'd not seen in previous weeks, and thanks to BBC iPlayer, that was doable. Both parts were fascinating insights into how the indie movement kick started during the late 1970s, with one important early indie single being the Buzzcocks' "Spiral Scratch" EP, with many people adoring the track "Boredom" including me, so make that tune of the day. It proved you could do it as could anyone, and the first part detailed the likes of how labels such as Factory tried to do things differently (although you could argue Factory was an enigma in itself.)

The second part was all about the 1980s and how the success of The Smiths, with their diehard cult of fans buying the singles in the first week of release to get it into the mainstream charts, really helped spread the word somewhat that indie labels were doing very well for itself. It was also notable how Mark Radcliffe used parts of Manchester's Northern Quarter as a backdrop, with several parts of narration being inside the legendary store that is Vinyl Exchange.

Later on my friend came over and it was off to the Etihad for us, with me wrapped up warm, to see if Manchester City could carry on the good form prior to the international break and overcome AFC Bournemouth in the Premier League. A win would keep us top, and any slip up would either allow Manchester United or Arsenal to do the business. We knew too that with Sergio Agüero and David Silva injured, it might be a case of seeing who would step up to the plate today.

It didn't take us long to find out actually. Seven minutes gone and City broke down the left, and some neat work from Fernandinho put a cross in which Pablo Zabaleta headed back towards the six yard box, Wilfried Bony had a half chance and the ball fell to Raheem Sterling who tucked it away from close range for 1-0. A few minutes later and a cross from Bacary Sagna down the left resulted in the goalkeeper spilling it, and Bony was on hand to poke it home for 2-0, and a mere twelve minutes gone. Things were looking pretty good.

Bournemouth to be fair were going for it and playing some good stuff, and a passing move resulted in Glenn Murray driving home a shot deflected off Eliaquim Mangala for 2-1. They did look good going forward and to be fair they didn't just shut up shop and put ten behind the ball - even at 0-0 they'd had a couple of chances. On the half hour, the ball broke forward and down the left went Sterling, who cut inside, foxed two players and then slotted it under the keeper for 3-1 and parity was restored rather nicely.

Almost on half time, Bournemouth had attacked and Joe Hart gathered the ball. His long kick was missed by the defender and Jesús Navas stole in front of the keeper, and yet didn't shoot with an open goal there. Instead he faffed around, put a shot in that was saved, and thankfully Sterling was there to spare his blushes and score the fourth of the day and his own third, and a second City hat trick in as many games, impressive stuff. Bony scored his second late on as the second half was in cruise control and a 5-1 win was mighty fine all round, and certainly the perfect start to a weekend.

The Love In My Heart came over later and we had a quiet night in, both dosing ourselves up, and watching Strictly Come Dancing (Helen George was rather naughty and cheeky in that outfit wasn't she?) and then seeing First Dates and Gogglebox on All 4. We'd both missed Gogglebox so was good to catch up, and I think for me it's always interesting to see what their comments are. The Love really likes Jenny and Lee from Hull, they seem to make her smile a lot, and for me the Siddiquis are clever and very dry and funny too. It's also highly amusing with the banter with Scarlett Moffatt and her Mum at times too!

Friday 16th October - A Very Special Duke Special

It was good to get on with things at work today, and for our team meeting one of our team had decided to cook some bacon overnight, bring in some bread rolls, get the bacon warmed in the microwave, and we had bacon sarnies for breakfast during the meeting. That was a really nice bit of team bonding actually, and I think for me it was a positive. In fact we had to really get through a lot today and it was just good that everyone was pulling together and getting on with it, always good to see.

It was off home and wait in for the Tesco shopping delivery, and get that all put away as I was then heading out into the city centre and to the Band on the Wall to see Duke Special. I hadn't seen a gig there for a bit but tonight I was meeting up with a colleague from work who is also a massive fan, and we were going to see the gig. In fact we both were excited due to the fact that the percussionist and all round top bloke (Temperance Society) Chip Bailey was doing his thing. When he plays with Duke it's normally pretty special so wanted to enjoy that hugely. And Band on the Wall has real ale at a fair price too, double win there.

We headed up there and for a drink, and took a spot close to the stage with all of Chip's kit, with not just drums and cymbals, but the cheese grater and whisk, various wooden objects including a block and a frog, lots of bells and little star cymbals, all meticulously organised. In fact the support act's own kit had then pretty much filled the stage and it was a real case of feeling that close and intimate atmosphere. We were both thinking it was going to be good and chatted to a couple at the front who were also really big fans and lovely people too.

The support act were Sea and Air, a somewhat unlikely duo, one from Greece and one from Germany, who yet seemed to make some rather different tunes together. I warmed to them as their set went on, and "Do Animals Cry" was a really nice piece, as was the closer "The Heart of the Rainbow" where a little rainbow scarf came out of the hand, which was good fun. In fact they had good banter with the audience and really seemed to be enjoying themselves too. In fact the bloke would sing with Duke Special later.

So, on came Duke Special, and my, it was a rather intimate and lovely gig all round. He played the first two songs on piano which were really nice anyway, but then as the start of the beautiful "Freewheel" kicked in, on came Chip, and really just added some lovely percussion before building to the chorus and helping make the whole thing sound bloody epic. They were both on form and it was such a wonderful moment only three songs in. Tune of the day? You bloody betcha.

The set list was just a lot of fans' wish lists put together I suspect, with an epic "Wake Up Scarlett", a full on with powerful drums and over the top ending version of "Salvation Tambourine" with Chip really going for it towards the end, along with "These Proverbs We Made In The Winter Must End" and a superb version of "Diggin' An Early Grave" complete with "mwwwwaaaahahaha" from Chip too. It just added something to the whole thing, even though I'd also happily listen to just Duke and the piano on his own.

In fact some of the slower more mellow tracks were lovely too: a really good version of The Magnetic Fields' "Andrew In Drag" as well as a Harry Nilsson cover which had Randy Newman on it. Duke said "he went on to greater things" to which I replied "Toy Story!" (yes, the same Randy Newman folks) which had Duke have a big grin on his face and two ladies behind me and my work colleague say "Can't argue, we love it too." He also played some more of the classic songs such as "Last Night I Nearly Died" (which had the audience sing along to the chorus)

During the encore he asked for people's suggestions and my colleague wanted "Low" but understood it might have been difficult to do, but several people wanted "Wanda, Darling of the Jockey Club" from the "Silent World of Hector Mann" album, which we also both like too, so no complaints there. In fact before the encore Duke had headed to the loo so Chip decided on a stumpf fiddle little solo track which was ace. I just wanted the cheese grater and whisk to feature, but you can't have everything I suppose.

Still, a rather excellent gig all round, and it shows that no matter what size the audience (and the Band on the Wall was pretty full) there's something rather magical about seeing Duke Special live, as you can tell he really goes for it. Having Chip there as well was a massive bonus and really gave lots of life to some of the songs, especially the first two studio album ones. One happy little bunny I was, and I can't stop smiling even once I'd got home, thinking how lucky and priveleged I was to see that tonight. It's going to be up there in my gigs of the year for sure.

Thursday 15th October - Cacti Clean

Another busy day at work, but this time I had now got the content for the Autodesk suite up to the distribution point, and had the mammoth task sequence ready to deploy. Except it wasn't deploying. I soon found out why. In order for SCCM 2012 to be able to run command lines from a distribution point that refer to the package, the package must have the whole package share folder on the distribution point too as well as the package content on the DP's normal area. When I looked at that, the share folder was still populating with the files, so left it for a while and set it off later on, and that worked a treat. Patience reaps its own rewards.

I did also start off imaging the HP Elitebook 850 G2 laptops we've got for the specialist trolley laptops for teaching, which have a separate AMD Radeon graphics adapter for high end performance for graphics intensive programs, and a 1TB hard drive as well as a Core i7 processor. Shame that the cost of a 1TB solid state drive would have really bumped up the cost too much, but even so, if I wanted a laptop, this would be close to the top of the list, with 8GB RAM too. The only thing I had to do was to fit the battery to them all as they came in the box as something I needed to do, and also change the BIOS settings too. Once done, all good to go.

The Love In My Heart was supposed to be coming over for tea, but she has been poorly as of late and so didn't want her to feel the need to come over and make herself worse, so I suggested she stay at home. She still had been going to work though so hit on a brainwave idea for something earlier in the day and dropped her a message, which she was more than happy to go along with. So we've got a nice little break booked and we'll be heading back to the French Riviera in time for The Love's birthday. And not just that: a hotel room with a sea view and breakfast too. Kind of looking forward to that already actually.

I ended up watching The Apprentice on BBC1 again as it was the second episode, and it was boys v girls in an attempt to come up with and market a new shampoo, with the key ingredient being cactus oil. Both teams took a different approach: the men went for the sleek black and silver lines and a little cactus in their brand, and the women went with a green bottle and the cactus flower as part of the branding. Neither campaign in my view was that good, but at least the blokes understood the brief, despite their billboard just having a bloke shampooing hair and attempting to look good.

I suspected as the women got further away from the brand, and some loathed it, their passion had gone and it showed in their pretty poor pitch. Needless to say that was picked up upon, as well as some of the team's rather ageist comment that "women over 45 don't want to experiment with new ideas". Massively insulting, and not the right comment to make with Baroness Karren Brady around (who is 46) and she picked up on that in the boardroom with eyes of fire. Don't mess with her, she knows what she's doing.

So it was disappointing that only one person left: in my view it should have been at least two: the project manager Aisha that went, although the way that Natalie was so bolshoi in my view might have rubbed up Karren the wrong way and got herself kicked off too. I suspect too that yes you do have to have some streak in business to be successful, but as proved in previous years, you've got to work with people and show you can - look at Ricky Martin for example.

I also watched the final episode of Hunted on Channel 4 +1, with four fugitives still on the run. Two of them as one team had taken to cycling down the canals of Britain, thus avoiding CCTV and avoiding capture. To a degree that worked for them pretty well, but once some wanted posters were out, and their bank accounts had been craftily frozen, they had to really think more on their feet. They had at least been able to use a VPN network to be undetected and to be able to keep in touch with people which was crafty.

The other two had gone their own ways in the second week but were still around hitch hiking, gaining places to stay, and befriending people to hide them. Unconvential but it did work, and at the end when the two of them reunited before hitting the etxraction point was pretty good - and the two blokes came soon after, the plane took off, and they had beaten the hunters. Well done them really, shows that even in this day and age, if you're clever and smart enough, you can at least go undetected for a fair amount of time.

Tune of the day in the meantime is a throwback to when I used to love all sorts of 1980s indie bands when they were out first time (and still love lots of them now in fact) and they brought out some rather catchy tunes. To this extent, Indie Top 20 CD88 was a really good compilation CD, and on it was the superb Danielle Dax with "Cat-House", which if you released it today would still be as darned catchy as it was back then. Ace stuff, and one day everyone will recognise her ace tunes.

Wednesday 14th October - £1.87 Profit

It was a decently productive day at work, as I had worked out a plan of action for the next few days, which including imaging the new trolley laptops. I did however need to do a piece of work related to that which was to go back and package Autodesk Building Design Suite 2016, but for standalone instead of network licences. This was so the laptop wouldn't need to be connected wirelessly to use a licence, it would activate on first run when we set them up without a need to go again and connect to a server.

I did of course recall back in the day of packaging this in that I found that the transforms for both AutoCAD 2016 and AutoCAD Architecture generated by the deployment install were corrupted, and I had to use a deployment install of both products using the same serial number to overwrite the MST transform files. This had worked well, so once I spent the four hours or so generating the deployment install, I had already done the standalone deployments a while back, so overwrote the files and then was ready, last thing tonight, to upload to the distribution point and see what would happen.

Later on tonight I was enjoying a nice quiet night in at home, and I realised that the new series of The Apprentice was on. I do quite like this only because it shows up plenty of business people as absolute arrogant idiots of the highest order, so it'd be good to see what the challenge was - and it was a beauty. Head to Billingsgate Fish Market in the morning, stock up on two types of fish, and then make a lunch with them that will appeal to people to buy the lunch from you, and see what profit you can make. The teams were mixed for the first time in the first task which I think may have made a subtle but well worthwhile difference.

One team were on it, had worked out that cod was too expensive and went for coley (often a good substitute) for their fish fingers, and they had also got down the price of squid too, although the quality was lacking. The other team bought the first cod they saw and then went for tuna for a posh nicoise salad which they were going to attempt to sell for.. wait for it.. £9. Not a cat in hell's chance of that working out. Also, they wanted to make cod fishcakes but were spending so long faffing around that they were really out of their depth.

The first team to be selling at lunch had a massive advantage, and the fish finger butties and some of the squid were doing well. In fact the other team were reduced to selling their fishcakes for a mere £1, which clearly wasn't the intention at all. No surprise then when the profits were announced that a £200 profit was reasonable and more than enough to beat a total profit of.. £1.87. Yeah, that'll work won't it? Needless to say there were plenty of unimpressed people and Claude Littner (he's taken over from Nick Hewer this year) gave the contestants the Claude look of death.

Dan was the first to go, and for me the right move. Even if you're not the best salesperson, don't faff around for fifteen minutes or so in Euston looking for a coat in the back of a car - knuckle down, get on with it, speak to people, warm up that way. It wasn't a surprise really, but even so it showed that it had to be a case of get rid of the dead wood early on. I did think more than one might have left as the project manager was pretty bobbins as well. Tune of the day in the meantime is the theme tune from said show, as it really does get you in the mood for the whole thing, and you can't always say that about TV themes either.

Tuesday 13th October - Celebrity First Dates

Another busy day at work, and one where I had the opportunity to get constructive and put a fair few things together in order to assist others. In fact, I was working on a plan to test some software deployments as well as be able to make sure that I could possibly organise a training session, and indeed be able to work out whne and where for that. And on top of all that, working out a timeline of when I had reported imaging issues to ensure that there was a level of consistency in how I'd reported them but also should be helpful to work out a plan moving forward too.

It was good also to be able to head out for lunch and have a good chat with one of my colleagues and a catch up. For us both I think that we've realised that we need to have that quality time away from the office so as to get a proper break - working through it all sometimes just not the right answer. I had noticed actually though that since the 5p carrier bag charge was introduced, how many people are now bringing their own or just paying the 5p as needed - so it does appear to be working.

The Love In My Heart came over later and after me making us both some tea and indulging her with some Emmerdale first off, we watched not only First Dates from last Thursday with normal couples in, but also a celebrity edition from Friday night's Stand Up To Cancer evening on Channel 4. It featured everyday singletons, some of which would be paired up with celebrities who themselves were also looking for some love and romance. I was unsure how it'd pan out and who the celebrities would be, but it actually proved to be good. Tune of the day in fact is the theme that plays at the end of the show, it's quite sweet actually.

Alexandra Burke was up first, and her date was a really nice model, Louis, and they soon found out they shared a similar church and religion as well as a sense of humour together. We both commented that they looked a nice couple and he played it really cool: seeing just the person and interacting. Jorgie Porter, the Hollyoaks actress, hit it off so well with her date Craig that they're actually a proper item and everything, taking him to the Inside Soap Awards a few weeks back.

The Love wasn't too keen on Anthea Turner and he was dating the bloke who in a previous episode kept looking at his phone: always a bad move. In fact they shared a similarish background but his dislike of brown sauce nailed it - and finally there was some bloke from Made in Chelsea and a really nice Swiss girl who had a thing for astrophysics but also looked really pretty too. The two of them seemed to be quite well matched, despite the attentions of one dater who clearly was trying too hard to impress the "celebs" and sort of ignoring his own date. Ooops indeed.

Monday 12th October - Ten Out Of Ten

Another Monday, another week at work, and indeed another time to be able to get on top of things and progress everything nicely. In fact I ended up chairing one meeting as one of the colleagues on another site wasn't able to make it: so I took a bit of initiative and took the lead on it. Actually I was really pleased with what I had managed to do, and that might stand me in good stead for the future too. I also was able today to be able to get on with testing a few things out and progressing along nicely.

Later on when I got home I had a quick dilemma to ponder: do I watch the England football team away to Lithuania and see if they can make it ten wins out of ten in the qualifiers for Euro 2016, or do I watch Only Connect on BBC Two? Actually, it was an easy decision in the end: I watched the England game to half time, saw us go 2-0 up with two well taken finishes (even if the second one went back off the post and in off the goalkeeper) and cruising to the win, and then saw the first 15-20 minutes of Only Connect before watching the football, then watching the final parts of Only Connect on BBC iPlayer. Aha!

In fact England did play pretty well, and after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain smashed a shot home for 3-0, it was time to the the foot off the proverbial pedal and relax somewhat. In fact considering that many other European nations had been struggling a tad to qualify, we were the only side to go with a 100% record and win all ten games, which is impressive stuff. I can only hope that when the tournament starts proper in June next year that we do reasonably well, and use that as a springboard for the qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. We shall see I am sure.

I also spent some time looking at a PC for a friend of my uncle's, and it looked like the hard drive had actually died. I could certainly ascertain a smell coming from the motherboard and at first I had a feeling it may have been that. I disconnected one component in turn, and once I removed the hard drive, I could see a boot attempt taking place. In fact using a spare hard drive the PC did boot fine, so clearly the hard drive was goosed. In fact you could tell as well that the small of burning had originated from there, so the control board was fried.

In the meantime I also went through some of Vonda Shepard's back catalogue following the really nice gig that The Love In My Heart and I went to on Friday. I played her "The Radical Light" album not least for the original version of "Searchin' My Soul" (ie: the Ally McBeal theme later on) but also there's one rather superb track on there which I wish had been played last Friday if I was a perfectionist and wanted my perfect setlist: "100 Tears Away" (and thus tune of the day) - the piano parts are rather wonderful, and it's the words that really resonate with me. So there you go.

Sunday 11th October - Sunday Walk and Sunday Motorsport

I had a very nice sleep at The Love In My Heart's place. In fact it was probably too good a sleep to be honest as she had mentioned she was up before me and seeing to the two cats Jô and Brian along the way. She also made me some lovely breakfast too and got herself ready whilst I watched the build up to the Russian Grand Prix. The article where Jenson Button and David Coulthard went to do rallycross at Lydden was really good: it evoked memories for Jenson of his father, who was pretty good at it, and you could tell it was a really special moment to emulate that.

We decided to head out for a walk in Fletcher Moss in Didsbury, and soon we were walking along the path past the old grass tennis courts and along to Stenner Woods, facing the wooden path through the trees, and along to the paths facing Millgate Fields, and from there a right turn towards the banks of the River Mersey, following as far as the bridge over to the golf courses, before turning along the path to Ford Lane and back past the poplar trees and to the rockery. We would have headed through the front entrance but for some reason the gates were shut - bit odd why they were shut really.

It was nice to take a stroll and chat together, and I think sometimes it's the little things such as a romantic stroll that I really love lots about the relationship that we have: it's a real feeling of togetherness, and one that I never thought I'd still have the same feeling for after being together over seven years now, by far the longest relationship I've had. It also made me realise too that I am very lucky to have fallen in love with such a beautifully inspiring woman, and that means a lot too.

We headed to the Fiveways in Hazel Grove for lunch, taking a route from Didsbury via the back of Handforth Dean and Woodford before cutting round Poynton to get there. The Sunday roast was spot on, and it was a little on the warm side inside, but always good when you have good company and lovely food, just right for what we both needed really. We headed back to mine and watched the F1 together, and it was a nice surprise to see Jenson Button get 9th and another rather good win for Lewis Hamilton also. I felt sad when The Love went home, but the time spent is always really cherished.

I did have a very enjoyable evening though as I had recorded overnight on Motors TV the whole of the Bathurst 1000 race from Australia - one of the premier endurance races in all motorsport and one that's had a special place in me for many a year. The 2015 running had had the top 10 shootout of qualifying in the rain which shook the grid up a bit, and the race proved to be just as intriguing as the last few years had been. Once things started to settle and a few crashes resulted in safety cars, good tactics and fast driving were the key to getting to the top.

Despite the low qualifying positions, three drivers who are at the top of the V8 Supercars in terms of status were battling it out at the end: Craig Lowndes (Steven Richards as co-driver), Garth Tander (Warren Luff as co-driver) and Mark Winterbottom (Steve Owen as co-driver). Lowndes' Red Bull Australia team-mate Jamie Whincup (co-driver Paul Dumbrell) were in the running until the final safety car, where the refusal to double stack and passing of the safety car at the wrong time meant a penalty which effectively ruined the chances. For Whincup, after ignoring the team's fuel warnings in the last few laps of the race and losing out to Chas Mostert on the final lap, a stark reminder of how you have to keep your head for all of the 161 laps.

I have to say it was a decent finish, and was very pleased that Lowndes got his sixth Bathurst victory (Richards' fourth too) which puts him alongside the likes of Mark Skaife and Larry Perkins as six time winners. It also meant a 13th podium for Lowndes, which took him above the legendary Peter Brock in terms of podium finishes too (six wins, five seconds, two thirds.) Tune of the day in fact is from one of the introductory pieces to a previous year's race, the epic "The Legends of Bathurst" intro from 2012 - the music from that, film orchestral like, is bloody stirring stuff.

Saturday 10th October - The Rugby Codes In Union

I had a relatively calm day, mainly dosing myself up and attempting to get rid of the cold and flu bug that I had been suffering with all week. In addition, I thought it was a good idea to get lots of chores around the house done, have the grocery shopping delivered at 9am, and then be able to do a fair bit of watching of sport - including the F1 qualifying from Sochi, Russia, followed by some classic F1 moments of brilliance as presented by the lovely Suzi Perry and the legend that is Murray Walker - and it was his birthday too!

I didn't need an excuse to see the Spanish Grand Prix of 1981 from Jarama again - excellent skill from Gilles Villeneuve, using the power of Ferrari to stay enough ahead at the end of the straights to hold off the better handling cars in the corners, and beat home four class drivers in Jacques Laffite, Carlos Reutermann, John Watson and Elio de Angelis with a gap of just 1.2 seconds separating first and fifth. Pretty hard to imagine that happening in today's F1 sadly.

Later on I was off to see The Love In My Heart and stay over at her place, as the Rugby World Cup was on and I was going to see England v Uruguay at the Etihad (none of this "Manchester City Stadium" rubbish for me, it's the Etihad) and across town plenty of rugby league fans were seeing the Grand Final between Leeds and Wigan in what was going to be a titanic scrap. Having both events at the same time proved to be logistically challenging with transport etc, but actually a good test to see how we'd cope with similar in future if it ever happened.

I made it to The Love's place, and we were then having some lovely tea which she had done, a chicken tikka massala with mushooms, some white rice and some very nice little naan breads as well - just the thing to stave a cold off and also to keep me warm for the evening when I ventured out later. I did see some of Strictly Come Dancing before I left and as it was a movie special, a good move to have a Charleston to John Williams' "Cantina Band" from Return of the Jedi (make that tune of the day) with Kellie Bright passing off reasonably well with her Princess Leia inspired hairdo. And I got to see Helen George doing some lovely moves too, as well as of course the lovely Claudia Winkelman hosting.

I then headed over to the Etihad, and was surprised that despite England already being out that the stadium was pretty full - not 100% full due to some sections being blanked off for camera positions etc, but still very good - over 50,000 in all out of around a 53,000 crowd (there were tickets available on the day due to some disloyal fans returning tickets.) The announcer inside was attempting to ramp up the atmosphere by having everyone sing "Wonderwall" by Oasis, making a mass assumption we all like them up here - despite the fact we don't and that plenty of fans would have seen them on stage live in this very stadium.

The match itself was a good game in terms of scoring plenty of tries, even if we conceded a penalty early on for Uruguay to go 3-0 up, once we got a couple of tries all was well, and 21-3 at half time was a decent scoreline. I was right in the corner in block 132 so was hoping when England attacked this way second half we'd see some tries in the corrner - and I did - two in two minutes in fact! As Uruguay tired, it was a fair number of tries being scored, and the only thing missing was the conversions afterwards which went wide on occasion. Still at the last minute a penalty try was scored and England won 60-3, which ironically, had we took the penalty and drawn against Wales, would have been enough to see us through on bonus points scored.

The atmosphere despite it being a "nothing" game was decent, plenty of fans belting out Swing Low Sweet Chariot (although other occasional chants might not be a bad thing) and certainly the fans were cheering on in volume when England did score, so that was good. It was also noticeable that fans were allowed to bring beer from the concourse to their seats (none of that in football!) and people were then getting beer on regular occasions, although this did mean me having to get up and out of my seat several times during a half, which was a bit bobbins. It was worth it for the experience and notably man of the match and three try scorer Nick Easter said the England team maybe need to play more outside London to develop the fan base - very well said.

Friday 9th October - Searching My Soul in Bury

So after a day of getting through work complete with coughing and cold still not brilliant, but with me doing what I can to dose myself up and be able to get through the day relatively unscathed, it was off on a short walk to Piccadilly Station and then on the tram up to The Love In My Heart's place, as we were both heading out tonight to see Vonda Shepard at Bury Met. I'd not seen her live in ages, since she played the Royal Northern College of Music back in 2009 (which The Love came to with me, so that was lovely) - and with the Met being a nice small and intimate venue, it'd hopefully make a good night.

After the usual fussing over of the two cats Jô and Brian, we headed off and The Love used all her skills of navigation to avoid a fair chunk of the North Manchester traffic commuting out, and once we were on the main road towards Bury, the traffic was at least a bit more reasonable, arriving in Bury with plenty of time to spare, which meant we could go off to a pub, have a drink and have some fish and chips for tea, with it being Friday and all. We even had a drink in the downstairs Malt bar within the Met itself - had I not been so cold feeling, I'd have probably had an ale there but an orange juice was a nice Vitamin C booster before the gig itself.

We had good seats within the Met, and the small size (around 200 seats) means it's a nice comfortable venue, and the aisles aren't massively wide either which means that you don't have to repeatedly stand up and sit down to allow people past. I took in a bottle of water with me to make sure I stayed hydrated and avoided coughing, and noted the times for each act - with Vonda on around 8.45pm, so hopefully won't be too late a night overall - that's the plan I guess.

So on came Blackheart as support, and they divided opinion between me and The Love, I quite liked them, she wasn't so keen. Singer Chrissy Mostyn has a distinct voice, and her and Rick Pilkington played a variety of instruments including acoustic guitar with effects, keyboards, and some very old snythesizers for effects too, and came across pretty well overall. Despite them claiming not to write love songs as such "Wednesday Afternoon" was quoted as one, and was rather uplifting, and the opening lengthy "Hypnotize" also got good attention. The closer called "Closer" had a neat idea, both of them playing the same keyboard together for the parts and that alone felt intimate too.

Then it was time for Vonda Shepard, and it was a really enjoyable show. Not only did we get tracks off the new album "Rookie" including the title track with Vonda bounding around with tambourine as if she was playing basketball (she explained the analogy due to her son before the song), but also a good cross section of her catalogue. For me it was nice for some of the "From The Sun" album tracks to get an airing, such as "I Know Better" which sounded gorgeous more stripped down, with Vonda on keyboards, and her two long time band members James Ralston on guitar and Jim Hanson on bass providing just enough groove to give it a warm glow across the room.

We also got "Another January" with Vonda's voice in fine form, and "Roll In The Dirt" which really was gorgeous too. What was the highlight for me was a track from one of her early albums "It's Good Eve", which was "The Wildest Times of the World" (make that tune of the day) and that sounded simply beautiful with the ending really being lovely too. What also pleased me too was hearing her lovely version of "You Belong To Me" (that song has a special place in my heart anyway), and "Maryland" with just her on keys, sounding spot on.

Naturally as the singer from the TV series Ally McBeal, it'd be wrong for her not to play "Searchin' My Soul" of course, and it was the last song of the main set, with women everywhere around us getting up with "woooooo!" moments. I do prefer her original 1992 album version on "The Radical Light" album (it was re-recorded for the TV series btw) as it's more gutsy, but it was certainly uplifting tonight and got everyone in happy mode. She came back on for an encore with "Tell Him" and "Hooked on a Feeling" to keep the crowd all up, and it made for a lovely evening overall.

Thursday 8th October - Dosing and Doggies

I've been dosing myself up with as much decongestant and indeed some pine and honey balsam in a two pronged attack to try and get rid of the cold bug as much as I can - the decongestant to allow me to breathe a little more easily, and the balsam to settle the throat and chest and aid in breaking down the ugly horrid phlegm inside me which really needs to come out (and strangely I always feel better when it does, sort of the whole thing shifting nicely out of the way)

It is also of course National Poetry today today, so as a one off little different thing I decided to write a poem into the entry for today's diary (as well as the usual five per month which you should go and peruse at, dear reader.) With the headline news being about the corruption going on at FIFA right now, it didn't take me long to think of a haiku (which I've tweeted) but then a longer version which pretty much does what the likes of Pop Will Eat Itself's excellent "Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)" - make that tune of the day - already set out to do rather well it has to be said. So here goes:

The Game Is Being Reclaimed

There's finally a sanction
That feels like it's taking action
When the IOC says you're corrupt
It is time to wake up and see the reaction
The man has clung on too long
And now it's time for him to go
Give the beautiful game its fresh start
That's been so needed long ago
It should be the spirit of fair play
The organisation promoting decency
Not million pound plus payments
To the former French legend Platini
FIFA needs to be disbanded
And started again from scratch
With governance from proper people
And not just those after the cash.

Think that worked anyway! And definitely quite a challenge to think of one on the spot so to speak, but still. I then watched the Watchdog Rogue Traders feature about a couple who were clearly selling dogs who were not looked after properly, had already developed ill conditions or were in such a state that they weren't interacting with humans at all. It made me not only sad but also very angry as well to be honest. I may not be the biggest dog fan ever, due to a biting incident years ago, but I also respect the fact that lots of people find them good companions to be with and a friend when a friend is needed in later years.

What I don't respect are people who think that they can breed dogs for the hell of it, put them in foul smelling cages where clearly they're sleeping in their own urine (would they do that to themselves or their kids I wonder?) and then pass them on as pedigree dogs where they've had a stable environment. It knocks me sick. I was just pleased that one which the researchers bought actually ended up making a full recovery with guidance, and also kudos to the RSPCA for raiding the premises and saving more dogs too - a really good and positive move all round.

It was then to the next episode of Hunted, and I have to say that the way that one couple of runaways were found in a caravan park when they were actually not the two being hunted there made me smile - by running off and acting weird, what are you going to do? Attract attention of course. Suffice to say it was one of the quickest catches of the series. Plus the bloke and his French wife decided that heading back to London after camping in Yorkshire and Wales was going to make them evade capture. Err... not a chance. I have a feeling either Lauren or Emily might just get to the 28 days and evade full stop in the final episode next week, we shall see!

Wednesday 7th October - Dramatic Finales

Tonight was all about watching BBC One and two dramatic conclusions to programmes I've been watching week in week out. We'd get to see the next winner of the Great British Bake Off and then the conclusion of Doctor Foster, which to be honest has been the best drama on telly in ages, and a real shot in the arm showing how darned good Suranne Jones is, a long way from being Steve McDonald's wife Karen in Coronation Street too (and yes I still do remember her from back then!)

Bake Off was starting with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins in top form and with the three finalists Nadiya, Tamal and Ian all set to really go for it. The first challenge of the iced buns with different fillings proved to be more difficult - one of Ian's set had some ingredients in which meant that baking took too long and didn't seem just right, Nadiya went for a clean cut instead of a tear but presented them well, and Tamal's were in between: a little messy but full of flavour.

Unsurprisingly as pastry had been a weak point for all three, the challenge of a mille feuille in the technical was a good move all round. Tamal didn't follow the instructions for the rough puff pastry which was why his didn't work out as well, and none of them really worked out that well that the sugar syrup was to hold the icing to the top of the structure. Some nice laid out raspberries and piping mind you, and they all looked rather tempting if I was in the tent!

The final showstopper was a traditional classic cake, but in several tiers, and with the emphasis on consistency of bake and flavour as well as presentation. As they'd say in Manchester, Ian went "too extra" and did five of them, which was a rather nice carrot cake in each with the icing having a carrot run down the staircase effect of the layers. Tamal went for sticky toffee pudding in a cake and actually made it work surprisingly well, complete with gothic inspired spun sugar work to get the three different layers to work. Nadiya went for a lemon drizzle, and the style she would have wanted on her wedding day (cakes weren't allowed apparently) - and that really showed emotion and heart in the baking as well as taste.

It was very very close to call and any one of them could have won it, but if you wanted consistency across all the challenges and a real journey in terms of improvement and personal development, as well as some stunning bakes in the final few weeks, then the judges, rightly in my view, gave it to Nadiya. It was more than that though: it was a true celebration of someone being able to regain their confidence by doing something they love and with a passion, and that really filled everyone up emotionally, even Mary Berry to be fair. Ace stuff.

So on with Doctor Foster and the dramatic final episode. And wasn't it just? The dinner party at the start was where I knew the sparks were going to fly, and didn't they ever. In fact I was expecting things to be hit or people to be hit in fits of rage, but at the same time also good to not have that and gradually build it up later on as the knife of revenge was being twisted in the husband's back. It was notable when Gemma left Tom by the house that Simon and Kate were at (and yes, in bed together) and so the look of shock on his face was unsurprising in a way but also one of anger too.

The confrontation towards the end between Tom and Simon was also one of the best moments: the question of "why" and then Simon smacking Gemma against the patio door and the confession of "I hit her". In that moment he also knew that he had lost everything, and Tom's determination to see Mum and what had happened was also beautifully played out. Explosive, dramatic and emotional. Gorgeous piece of music for the closing part as well at the end, which was "For You" by Rae Morris, so tune of the day there.

Tuesday 6th October - Pop Up

It was down for me to do a full day at the pop up helpdesk, and at least this time around it was in the building that I am now based in, so that made it a lot easier. My colleague and I headed down to get everything set up with one of our senior managers, and once we'd worked out how the display stand with all its magnetic pieces and the actual boards worked out, it did look pretty neat - and we had a big purple tablecloth for the table and so make it all look good and shiny and welcoming.

In fact it was a good cross section of people we got to deal with today: mature students who had been struggling to get online with their Mac wirelessly - and I'd discovered that for some reason their DNS settings were set manually. Set them to auto and badabing, all working. All good there. We had another student in their electric scooter wheelchair who mentioned to us, as a few students did today, that one of the mobile apps doesn't appear to have a Windows phone version. And it's true - it doesn't.

We also were seeing how many people would follow our Twitter account and be able to claim a little power bar - basically a large battery which you can use to charge your mobile phone on the go. I've got a Sennheiser one from an event I went to, and they are really good things to have in times of need. The incentives to give away free stuff certainly inspired some to come and see us, although a few people did note that they didn't have a Twitter account - only a Facebook one. I guess something else to note too in our review of these things as well.

Later on I headed home, which took absolutely ages. The bus I get was stuck in traffic, and took literally forty minutes to get down a one mile stretch of road, and would have been quicker to walk. As a result, I got home almost forty five minutes later than I would normally do. Not sure if that's a knock on effect of the Conservative Party conference and road closures, but it was pretty bad to be honest. I was just glad to be home at a reasonable time so I could make the tea for myself and The Love In My Heart.

With that done, we watched the first episode of a new game show, Eternal Glory, where eight sporting legends would be up against each other in challenges not just about speed or skill, but endurance, controlling heartrate (the heart rate hurdles was killer, who knew Matt Le Tissier would have won his heat so well?) and also reactions, with deflecting tennis balls being fired at net from various speeds and angles and multiple cannons too. Again, Le Tissier was awesome at that.

It was down to the two losers of the last two events, Fatima Whitbread and Liz McColgan, to take part in a night duel where five glass rods in a row are lit up for a random amount of time. When the lights go out and only one is lit, you pick it up to win, and Liz did so 2-1. It was absolutely chucking it down with rain though, you would have thought that the event may have been indoors to avoid anyone catching a cold, but no. Still, intriguing to see what happens in the next few weeks I reckon.

We also watched the Fantasy Homes By The Sea on More 4, this time based around North Yorkshire, so as well as the host visiting Whitby (he needed to go to Graveley's for the fish and chips mind you) it was also some really nice visits to the likes of Sandsend, Staithes and Robin Hood's Bay, where the house literally perched on the cliffs and with a balcony view over the North Sea was rather noteworthy really. Tune of the day is something that just sounds right to listen to by the sea: "Holiday" by Pullover with its ace line of "I want to find out who I am.. in a caravan". See? Classic.

Monday 5th October - Spluttering

I did seem to have the start of a cold coming yesterday and by the time I'd got to sleep last night I was just feeling a little spluttery, not as much necessarily as coughing but just generally not quite right about myself really. I did eventually get some sleep but just felt a tad bunged up, and what didn't help either was the fact that it looked a bit miserable outside. I decided that some decongestants for now was the way to go and I'd see how things progressed during the working day.

It all wasn't so bad, but one meeting ended up going on for an hour and a half and that really did make me feel a little hoarse by the end of it all, and so had to cough a little afterwards. I did at least manage to get some tablets down me over lunch along with some blueberry drink with added vitamin C, thought it best to try and pep me up a little. As it turned out I was mainly looking at sorting a fair bit out during the afternoon, and concentrating on getting that all done.

I had also worked out a couple of settings that needed to be launched correctly for Acrobat Pro DC so that it had some customised setting for some of the larger printers, and that worked out well in that I was able to add the settings in as registry keys, then put them in one of our current Group Policies so that if the executable was present on the machine, the keys would merge and be enabled with the settings we wanted. Quite neat really, just a sense of knowing how to do it all.

I did pop over to drop a birthday present off for one of my relations before then heading homeward and looking at the pictures I took yesterday. A fair number of them were quite pleasing on the eye to see and the blue sky in some of them, notably the building used by the Royal Exchange for their costume shop, worked out really well. It's always good when you're able to really have some shots which you do have a sense of achivement in, and there's a couple I really like as well which I'll be uploading later this week I think.

In the meantime tune of the day simply has to be "Visions In My Head" by Obituary - certainly was what I was thinking last night as I attempted to sleep. I just kept trying to get back to sleep but kept thinking too much and had visions of what was happening around me. And the track itself is killer - it belts along at a good pace, full of crunching riffs and really shows a maturity of how one of the finest thrash / death metal bands around really make a good melodic pounding racket. Oh yes.

Sunday 4th October - Photo Tootling

It was nice to be out in the city centre today - not to join the masses of people who were marching into the city centre on their anti-austerity march (as noble a cause as that may have been) but instead be out and about with some of my fellow folks from the Flickr Manchester group. We hadn't had a meet up in absolutely ages, and so it was a good idea to have a walk more around the Northern Quarter and the north west of the city centre, thus avoiding the marching going on (although some people were going to head to that later as well).

The planned meeting place of Home Sweet Home was packed to the rafters and so some of the folks who had got there early had moved to Common next door, and so it was good to see plenty of faces and catch up and have a good natter in there over coffee, and work out a plan of action. Although it made more sense to stay that side of the city, we were pretty shocked by the slowness of service in the place, and made me wonder whether I'd have been better off just waiting at the bar for a coffee instead of someone bring it over. Still, we were all sorted with the traffic delaying a few people getting in.

All was well as we mooched up High Street and past the new apartments with their shiny yellow exteriors and past the costume hire building that the Royal Exchange Theatre use, and then down Miller Street towards the NOMA development - various new shiny offices on reclaimed land, including the iconic One Angel Square building that's the home of the Co-Operative these days. The roof looks very much like you could put a rollercoaster on it, and it stood out with the blue sky and sunshine in the early afternoon.

It was nice too to take a walk around the Angel Meadow and see the old bridges over Dantzic Street that carry the railway and Metrolink trams, and also how the meadow had a tree with ribbons tied around it for some reason - and even a stone marked "make a wish" was there too. Rather different that. In fact the meadow was well used by people having a walk around which was good to see, and you couldn't help but notice too the solitary tree on the other side of One Angel Square from here.

We walked to Victoria Station, with its new roof that certainly divides opinion architecturally. I think it's much better than what was there before and really gives a sense of being a bit more modern, and reminds me a little of the biomes in the Eden Project, same sort of material I think. Of course one of the good things is that they restored the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway map at one part of the station, based on its black and white brick tiling, and really does keep the past alive along with the present but in a positive way.

It was then a jaunt down past the Cheetham's School of Music and down to Greengate where the new square and fountain looked rather lovely, and walked back over the bridge to the Cathedral, even seeing Dave Myers of the Hairy Bikers making his way in there. It was then a walk back though Shudehill and to the Northern Quarter and the starting point, and all round a rather lovely afternoon spent with good company. Let's hope it's not so long before the next jaunt I think!

I even had some time to pop over and see The Love In My Heart and fuss over the two cats Jô and Brian, who were cute and adorable as ever, before heading to the Academy Stadium with Joy Division's "Transmission" belting out over the tannoy (make that tune of the day) to see the Manchester City Women in their final game of the season against Notts County Ladies. City had to win and hoped Chelsea drew or lost to snatch the WSL1 league title, but a win would also guarantee Women's Champions League football for 2016-17 (the English WSL season finishes after this season's Champions League has started, hence it's next year!)

City came out and meant business against a well disciplined County side. Early in the first half and a lovely move involving Jill Scott and Natasha Harding saw the ball pulled back for Nikita Parris, who lobbed the keeper Carly Telford delightfully for 1-0. County did look dangerous going forward and Lucy Bronze cleared off the line a few minutes after we'd scored. Indeed I suspected a goal would come and then Rachel Williams headed home from a corner I wasn't that surprised. Chelsea Ladies were winning 1-0 so they were doing all they could to ensure their title.

However, City got back in front almost right on half time, with another neat move and pull back resulting in a piledriver of a shot from Isobel Christiansen, and it rifled its way in for 2-1. And despite chances each end in the second half, that's how it stayed, and it went a bit flat once we'd heard that Chelsea were 3-0 up (they won 4-0 in the end, well done them) but we had at least broken the WSL attendance record with 3,180 fans at the Academy Stadium. Chelsea themselves had over 2,700 there at their place too so kudos for the fans turning up in their droves. All should bode well for next season..

Saturday 3rd October - The Joy of Six, The Despair of Rugby

I headed first of all out to the local dry cleaners as I needed to drop off one of my suits to be dry cleaned - I'm going to need it all nice and tidy for a few things happening in the next few months so thought it'd be a perfect opportunity to get that in today and have it all ready. I also then headed into the city centre as I wanted to get the hair cut, it was getting far too long and it definitely needed doing, and felt much happier and neater after getting all of that sorted.

I then headed to Debenhams to pick up something I'd ordered, and I got a voucher for £5 off in store for the next month or so as I had used their click and collect service. That's actually really neat of them, and once I had the parcel collected I also had a quick look around a few of the shops before then heading homewards and in good time for a bit of rocking, so with the sporting events being in mind at the moment, it made sense for my Guitar Hero track of choice to be the excellent "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes as tune of the day, as the City fans now sing to the chorus of that: "Oooohhhhh, Ke-vin de Bruy-ne!"

My friend then came over over to collect me as we were heading off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City up against Newcastle United. City's record against them was good, but the recent form of City had been anything but. We got our now almost regular pre-match brew and had a chat, and generally all was good there as we were warmed nicely by a cup of tea and ready for the action to begin. City had Yaya Touré injured so in came Fernando, and Pablo Zabaleta was back at right back after injury. Newcastle had played well to get a 2-2 draw against Chelsea last time out so I knew that they were no pushovers, despite the fact we'd gone 15 league games unbeaten against Newcastle as of late.

The first half started and like the other night, City were a bit hapless defensively at first. In fact Joe Hart had already pulled off a couple of saves before a move down the left saw Mitrovic head past Hart for 1-0 to them, and not happy about the lack of defending there. City struggled going forward too, with Raheem Sterling looking out of sorts. Half an hour in I said to my friend that we needed to take him off and put Jesús Navas on to change things a bit (note what I said here folks.)

Just before half time a well worked move following a corner saw David Silva cross to the far post, a header came back across from Fernandinho and Sergio Agüero scored with a header to equalise. I had said on Wednesday that Agüero's penalty against Borussia Mönchengladbach might just be a turning point for his confidence, and sure enough the way he took the header was enough proof of that. So 1-1 at half time, and sure enough Navas came on for Sterling at the start of the second half.

That change paid off - it meant De Bruyne was down the left wing, Navas teaming well with Zabaleta down the right and David Silva roaming in a role which he seems to love. It didn't take long for a Newcastle mistake to let De Bruyne find Silva, he found Agüero and although the ball was deflected, it did go in and City were in front, 2-1. A mere minute or so later and a gorgeously waited pass found Agüero putting a little dink over Tim Krul in the Newcastle goal and he'd got his hat trick in around ten minutes and City were 3-1 to the good.

He wasn't finished there, and from a ball on the right from Navas, De Bruyne delicately chipped Krul for City to go 4-1 up before the pick of the goals for me - Agüero came in from the left side, twisted the defender and curled a beauty to the bottom corner for 5-1, and a superb strike. De Bruyne got the ball on the left and slotted a low cross for Agüero to score his fifth and make it 6-1 to City with a good twenty five minutes left. In fact he had scored his five goals in twenty two minutes, a record for the Premier League, and joined an elite band of four other strikers who have scored five in one match - the others being Alan Shearer, Jermain Defoe, Dimitar Berbatov and Andy Cole.

Awesome stuff, and when I got home later it was time to tune in to England v Australia for the Rugby World Cup. England needed to win to have any chance of qualifying for the quarter finals but Australia looked decent in the games thus far, and England's wheels falling off against Wales when leading was a cause for concern to say the least. Could England do it, I wondered, as I settled in front of ITV1 HD with a coffee and a fair amount of passion in the belly.

Unfortunately, the answer was a very clear no. In fact Australia were much better. England were outplayed, outclassed and out of discipline, giving away too many penalties and not keeping their shape or formation properly. Indeed when Australia scored a second try before half time to go 17-3 up at the break the writing was already on the wall, and even though England finally got a try themselves, it was only a consolation at 20-13 down. Australia kicked two penalties, England lost a player to the sin bin through a bad tackle and then conceded a try at the end to really seal the death knell on the World Cup.

I was disgusted - the first time a host nation hasn't got out of its own group stage, and we pretty much had home advantage at Twickenham. It'll be interesting to see what the attendance is for effectively a dead game at the Etihad next Saturday when they play Uruguay, and how many tickets may get returned for it too. For me, it's fairly obvious what would happen if this was football - the England coach Stuart Lancaster would be sacked. Too many key decisions wrongly made, trust in players who maybe shouldn't have been trusted, and a mood to go way too defensive.

Friday 2nd October - Thank Heavens It's Friday

It was a day where on reflection I was glad it was the end of the week - it had been busy, and due to some other project work going on, I had managed to do a shift swap with one of my colleagues and so I was going to be doing their stint on the pop up Helpdesk we had set up this afternoon. It was actually good to get that done anyway, as it meant being able to assist lots of people with some queries such as getting online wirelessly and indeed setting up their email, and then being able to make sure all was well.

It also made the day go by nicely, and I felt a bit more positive afterwards, and managed to head out for a drink with The Love In My Heart after work too, which was nice. It was good just to relax on the former bus style seats in Sandbar with the Clwyd Gold pint going down rather nicely it has to be said. It meant we could catch up and at least have some time together, and The Love very kindly dropped me off near home before heading off to do her food shopping for the weekend.

Unfortunately when I got home I had to do a bit of cleaning to the front window. It seemed that someone had decided it was a good idea to throw a couple of eggs at the window, and according to a neighbour, various egg shells had been seen in other streets so it looked like some people being idiots. It had dried on a bit though so had to get a bucket of soapy water and at least get most of it off first that way, and then get the remainder sorted with some glass cleaner and make it all much tidier, which did the job in the end.

I settled in for some more Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock for a bit, nailing quite nicely the likes of "Ties That Bind" by Alter Bridge as well as the excellent "Tick Tick Boom" by The Hives (make that one tune of the day) and then also managing to get through some parts of Rush's "2112 with a slightly better score than last time too. I knew that'd pass the time nicely before the shopping arrived, and then I started to make some tea whilst watching Doctor Foster on BBC iPlayer from the other night, which I'd missed when watching City's Champions League game.

I was glad I did watch it then as once that had finished it was on with Channel Four and Gogglebox, which was really good as usual. I'm sort of warming to the two sisters Ellie and Izzi a bit, although their insistence on wearing pyjamas a fair bit of the time might not always go down so well. Still though it was good to see their reaction to Doctor Foster and the moment that the doctor discovered that her husband was still cheating, and how she would work out a plan to get her own back. Should be intriguing...

Thursday 1st October - All Change

It was a relatively productive day at work, and I had managed to get quite a bit done. In fact it did feel like I was able to make some inroads into some of the backlog that everyone appears to have right now, and sort out overall a few related issues with some printing as well. I think on the whole that at times it's difficult to see beyond the amount of work coming in currently but also a cool head can sometimes be the most effective way forward so as not to panic either. It's a real sense of a feeling of a change too at the moment with so many of us having to multi-task.

But what was good was that I was able to spend some time with The Love In My Heart later on, as she came over for tea despite the traffic not exactly being very good close to mine. I made us some spaghetti and meatballs with some garlic bread to go with it as well, and I had tried to time that so it didn't interfere too much with the double episode of Emmerdale that no doubt she was glued to, as is her wont when it appears on the telly at the moment. Sometimes you just have to indulge don't you?

We did see later a programme about the history of underground railways, focussing on the likes of The Tube in London, the New York Subway, the Paris Metro etc and explaining how each of them were involved in key steps in making that form of transport not only cleaner but also safer and more efficient. What fascinated me was the way that the engineers in Paris worked out a way to safely build some of the stations and also how to cross the Seine in an ingenious form of "cut and cover" but with sumberging trickery. Very neat and clever considering the challenges of the early 20th Century era.

After that we both also settled in to watch something else too that we've both been enjoying as of late: Hunted on Channel 4. This week focussed on two friends in the Midlands who were effectively trying to avoid capture from the hunters by using the paths by the canals and cycling along a fair number of them, thus where possible avoiding CCTV footage. However, their insistence on trying to fool the hunters with ways of using proxies to get online and have Skype chats proved to be somewhat of a downfall for them, and they even risked going to the family caravan when they should have known this might have been one of the possible places that would have been watched hugely.

Another of the hunted was attempting to go across and up and down the country, but then ended up on a coach from Edinburgh, and after a possible attempt of capture at a service station, finally had to give up the ghost when arriving in Birmingham and the masses of hunters were waiting. It's been a good series so far and fascinating to see how they've all dealt with being the people on the run - the theme tune of said programme is definitely tune of the day for me - very brooding and very definitely dark!