Dear Diary... September 2013

Monday 30th September - Back To The Grind

After a week on the course, it was good to get back to the office but also it was really back in the swing of things, with this time of year especially busy, and for a good reason. Everyone is around, everyone wants to be somewhere and everyone wants to do something. It's often a hive of activity and a hubbub of people and it's trying where possible to stay focussed and be able to do the job that you know that you can do. I for one see it as a challenging time and one that doesn't really get any easier.

With that in mind I kept the brain occupied and the mind on doing various tasks in hand, including sorting out quite a few issues with network connectivity and also sorting out an issue for a student where they weren't able to connect wirelessly - turned out after a fair bit of research that the network card driver was the cause of the problem - updated that for the wireless adapter and everything sprung into life as intended. It's sometimes good when you're able to sort these things out!

After a long day it was good to get home and just relax and not really do that much to be honest - I sorted out a few things around the house and when the time was right, it was time to put on BBC Four and watch Only Connect. I must admit it's been quite a small gap between the last series and this one, and both in the same format where only two losses will eliminate you. In theory it means you at least get a second chance, but I guess it also battle hardens some of the teams as well.

One of the teams by their own admission were a little bit geeky with their focus on board games, but they did actually know their stuff pretty well and even though they struggled on the connecting wall, the missing vowels round was where they came back with a vengeance, a classic moment really. I almost did as well as them with the missing vowels though, maybe it was down to the choice of subjects that I actually know well, but maybe also that I'm well trained watching the show!

Tune of the day though is when I decided to rock out later on in Rock Band 3 - I thought it best to try and get some serious drumming done, and quite successfully managed White Zombie's classic "More Human Than Human". There were lots of bass kicks in there even on medium so I did feel quite pleased to get everything done and get a high score for a change. I was tempted to do vocals and drums at the same time but that might have proved difficult!

Sunday 29th September - Marple, Marple, Marple!

After a relaxing and long sleep The Love In My Heart and I headed up, had some nice breakfast and pottered around the house for a little while with a well earned coffee. I think the late night and being at the wedding reception, plus the week we'd had, meant that a rest was more than worthwhile for us both and definitely needed before we headed out. The first stop was to be my sister's place, as it was my nephew's third birthday today and so we'd got him a nice little shirt from Debenhams as clothes were the better option for him we reckoned.

It was good to see some of the family there and there was even a bouncy castle, which my sister insisted that I have a go of, so I joined my nephew for a bit and we were both bouncing around there happily and even using a big ball to bounce that around as well. He seemed really happy and didn't need to open his presents to be honest, he was just much more occupied with the way that he'd just bounce without a care in the world. See, the little things keep the little ones happy most of the time.

We left mid-afternoon and with the weather still rather nice, we headed to Marple and to head for a lovely walk together. As The Love drove past Marple station on the way to Brabyns Brow car park, she mentioned that the infamous episode of Four in a Bed where one of the guest houses was in Marple and that one of the fellow B&B owners had mentioned the way the owners went on: "Marple, Marple, Marple!" which made us both giggle. However a good walk around here would be rather lovely, so off we went.

We did a lengthyish loop where we started off in Brabyns Park and headed up past and around The Bungalow and up to the path which joined the canal towpath just past lock two of the Marple Locks. We followed the canal past the rather gorgeous Aqueduct House (we both would love to live there) and then to the aqueduct over the River Goyt way down below it, before heading back up the locks towards lock seven, and then turned off to a path which headed just above where the railway station is, and then from there along and back down the Midland at Marple Bridge.

We'd not been in there for a while and took a seat in the bar area by the window overlooking the river. I got us both a drink and we thought a nice meal would be good, so in the end The Love went for the sticky chicken and I had the beer battered haddock, which was stunningly lovely - gorgeous fish, tartare sauce, fresh chunky chips with fluffy potato insides, and some gorgeous minted mushy peas. Overall a lovely meal for me and certainly kept us going nicely, and lots of chatter as we were sat there together.

We headed back to mine and after a while The Love headed home to sort out her washing and ironing for work next week, and I watched the American Football from Wembley on Channel 4 (and later More 4). It wasn't that bad a game actually and Minnesota Vikings deservedly took their first win of the season as they beat Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27. One touchdown was a sixty odd yard run in the second quarter and that certainly proved to be one which kept Minnesota ahead, and they'd never be caught from that position.

Interestingly Channel 4 went back to using Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes" which they used to use when I watched the coverage of the sport back in the mid 1980s, the days of William "The Fridge" Perry and how the Chicago Bears won the Superbowl as well. They did that for the results and scores back then but used it for the theme tonight and it worked massively, so kudos to them for that and tune of the day for it being such a classic.

Saturday 28th September - Back For Wedding Good

It was a fairly busy day today for various reasons. As I knew that The Love In My Heart would be staying over tonight, I wanted to make sure that all the house was nice and clean and that everything possible could be done to make sure the place looked good. I also spent some time sorting out all the washing and ironing, and then remembering to make sure that I had a nice shirt ready to go with my suit for later tonight, as The Love and I had a wedding reception to go to.

First off though, it was over to Mum's. She wanted to look at changing her buildings and contents insurance as her current provider was too expensive, and so I said I'd head over and we'd work out who to go with and if they could pay less. As it turned out, we managed to find a decent deal all round and one that certainly meant some money saved, as well as covering exactly the same as she had now. It did intrigue me when I tried a certain comparison site and most of the cheaper providers were names that most people wouldn't have heard of - and ironically the deal that we went for directly via the provider was more expensive on the comparison site. Hmmmm.

With that done and indeed with a few other things Mum wanted me to check over and help her sort out, it was time to head back home and get a few things sorted before The Love would come over later, and that done, it was a pleasure to see The Love - I had missed her a bit actually and it was just nice to be together. With suit ready and shirt decided on, we headed first of all via the local recycling tip so I could get rid of some stuff, and then on to Stockport as I needed to get a couple of birthday presents - it was a simple case of go in, get what I needed to get, and then head for home again. It wasn't too bad apart from the fact that none of the pay and display stations seemed to want to work on the Merseyway car park!

With all that shopping done it was over to The Love's place, where we had some very posh burgers before we got showered, changed and ready. The Love looked gorgeous in her gold Matthew Williamson dress and I had my suit on with the Autograph shirt that went well with it (we thought so anyway) and so it was off to the wedding reception, which was in Swinton Golf Club no less, just off the East Lancashire Road and as such pretty easy to locate and get to.

Some of her relations had been invited to the whole day of the wedding, and ourselves in the evening. The bride and groom greeted us both and indeed the bride looked rather lovely it has to be said, really gorgeous dress that just looked right, so we soon located a table and space to chat to. In fact The Love had seen some people and relations she hadn't seen for some time, so it was good for her to chat, catch up and introduce me. Most people seemed really nice and I think it goes to show that people see us as a nice couple (I hope so!)

I looked where we were sat and saw one of the back doors open and a group of blokes in military jackets enter in just as the first dance was about to get underway. It turns out that the bride had planned it for a surprise, and it was a tribute band called Simply Take That - you can guess who they were a tribute to - and they played a one hour set including "Rule The World" for the opening dance song. A lot of the stuff they played everyone knew, even the blokes, so the likes of "Back for Good", "Pray" and so on all got an airing. The Love seemed to be very happy with them and I suspect many of the ladies were there enjoying themselves!

We left late on and headed back homewards, where we'd stay up a little later than planned to watch some telly that we'd recorded whilst we were out. One thing I did put on though was Top of the Pops from Thursday night which I'd missed when we were at the Buy Art Fair, and amongst the songs played were The Jam's classic "Down In The Tube Station At Midnight" which of course had the rather iconic Paul Weller giving it some - and we both noticed Bruce Foxton singing along to the second and third verse, without mic too. Tune of the day for me as it was and still is a classic.

Friday 27th September - Ignore Moi

Well the final day dawned of the SCCM 2012 course and thankfully all the operating system images that we had set to create and build worked, and this morning we were able to deploy them down and they all worked. All good. In fact we had a good look at compliance and what that can do - in terms of making sure that configurations and settings for machines would be the same. Ideally of course you'd be doing a chunk of this in Group Policy, but it's nice to have the option and indeed the way you can remediate any poor registry entries certainly makes for good experimenting to be done.

We also tested out power management (again, if you're using Group Policy, best to probably avoid this) and the fact you could do peak and off peak differences was quite good, and remote control was improved too so you could effectively now disable the use of the end user's keyboard and mouse when operating remote control, in essence that's sometimes useful. We finished on time and in fact a little earlier than planned due to a later finish last night, so with the sun out it meant I could get lots of things done before tonight.

I headed out later after doing my shopping as I was off to see a gig tonight - the first one I've been to in ages in fact - Mélanie Pain at the Deaf Institute. With her second solo album "Bye Bye Manchester" finally getting a UK release next Monday, it made sense to head along and see her perform, and I was secretly hoping for "Ignore Moi" as I love that song and it's just a great piece of pop, regardless if it's sung in French or not to be honest. I also thought that it'd be interesting to see how many people come along with it being only the very start of the student academic year.

I got a good position on the balcony (same place as last time out, I do these things well don't I?) and although a little behind schedule, the support act Lucy and the Caterpillar came on. Lucy herself runs a clothes shop in Hebden Bridge, and her songs were short but sweet in the main, assisted by one her band playing violin and the occasional wooden box which he'd hit with the hands to make the drum sounds. Her set was enjoyable with cute litte songs such as "Beans on Toast" which certainly made for a good listen and a perfect warm up. She also had a wine spillage that she had to cope with as well, and knowing the drinks prices in Deaf Institute, that wasn't cheap.

Later on then on came Mélanie Pain and her set was just as good as last time out. She played "7 Ou 8 Fois" early on and that set the tone for the evening's catchiness, as well as "Just A Girl" with its singalong chorus. The title track "Bye Bye Manchester" really did sound lovely and almost esteoric in a lovely way, and it was clear that her and the band were having a great time. "Black Widow" where she duetted with Guillame from the band was also really nice too with the two of them on chorus duetting well. We also had "Je Laisse Tomber" and "How Bad Can It Be" which really did sound cool.

However the best bits were nearer the end of the set, with a blisteringly fab version of "Ignore Moi" and I swear as she was singing the chorus (as was I!) she looked up and smiled. It felt a nice moment and it was good that she was loving every minute of it - tune of the day for obvious reasons. The encore also saw her perform "Bruises" and with the long microphone lead she headed into the audience and they made a space for her to perform in with the audience either side, and that was really cool too. "Miami" ended proceedings, I ended up buying the new album (which Mélanie signed for me, merci beacoup!) and got the Lucy and the Caterpillar mini album too. Happy day all round!

Thursday 26th September - Art Temptation

Day four of the SCCM 2012 course delved deeper into application deployment and what it could effectively do well - so for example if a new version comes out, you could easily supercede the old one, and any machine or user that has it would get an upgrade. Applications could also be retired so that they aren't sent out randomly (or at all) and on top of that there is a much more streamlined way of checking things actually work as well. Pretty impressive stuff, and by the end of the day we were deploying an operating system machine to a test box, which isn't that different to what it is now.

Later on I met up with The Love In My Heart, as we were heading to Spinningfields to see the opening launch night of the Buy Art Fair, which has modern and contemporary artists selling their works via a variety of art dealers, and also being on hand themselves to actually explain more about their work. We went there last year and it was a good turnout for the preview, plus of course a chance to mooch around before the public do at the weekend. Of course the chance of some drinks during the evening, gratis, did kind of swing it a little bit as well, but I don't mind good art so a chance for us both to explore around.

We headed around the outside stalls of the marquee first followed by the inside, and the way it was laid out this year meant it made much more sense and you didn't miss anything. The artists also had enough space to show their stuff off (felt a bit crammed in last year) and there were some jazz people on hand from Matt and Phred's to give a laid back vibe. It worked a lot better for being in the space it was in, and in one stall I spotted a rather lovely print of Frank Sidebottom with Little Frank peeping from behind one of the structures in the print. £195 (or £245 framed) said no, but believe me, it looked ace and it was tempting.

The Love In My Heart was doing plenty of schmoozing and one of the art dealers even gave her an art book of some paintings by a French artist David Jamin which had some good work in - in fact one of the pieces exhibited by one dealer had a family setting off on holiday with happy faces, their small car laden with cases and it just struck me as a really good piece. A couple of similarish family ones really did exude quality, but so did the price - £1300 plus. Okay then, maybe not a purchase right now.

There were a few famous people I could spot milling around, amongst them Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays with his partner. It seemed quite surreal but yet he seemed to know what he was talking about (that actually when I think about it makes it even more surreal). One of the actors from Coronation Street was also there with his girlfriend having a mooch around, and it felt much more relaxed and enjoyable. We even headed to pub for tea afterwards and had a nice little meal together, so all good.

When I got home later I decided to get a bit of rocking done with Rock Band 3 on the Wii, and so tried to sing some songs on vocals to achieve some of the career mode unlocks and all that. I did struggle on a couple primarily because I didn't know the song fully, but then went into Jimi Hendrix's classic "Crosstown Traffic" which I did manage 98% on expert on, pretty pleased with that. It reminded me of an art piece of the man at the Buy Art Fair made of broken vinyl records, so two reasons why it's tune of the day for today.

Wednesday 25th September - Man, Myth, and Manchester

It was day three of the SCCM 2012 course, and more to learn with reports and how they worked. In essence you can have a different server acting as the reporting server role, however that has to have the same version of SQL installed as your main site server database (so they can talk to each other) and in essence, the number of reports requested against the time taken to set up the replacement server is one of those that you'd have to weigh up carefully as you might expect.

However, what really got me excited was the modules with regards to packages and then applications, the new way of doing things in SCCM. A few things have changed too: advertisements don't exist, they're called deployments now across the board, and on top of that, although packages are still well supported, the push is towards applications, where you can even using a web interface present to the end user a choice of software which they can either click to install or have to request approval before they continue (thus also having an audit trail of who approved what and when!)

I picked up a fair bit of things along the way which will prove useful even now in our 2007 setup: for example if your package install needs to map a drive, it has to be run from the distribution point or else it won't work, and the fact that Software Center (American spelling again, ugh!) basically shows a nicer interface than the old Run Advertised Programs used to. I did though also note that grouping distribution points works effectively, so if you are going to distribute a package or application to a distribution point, one go and all the points at once get populated at the same time. Happy days indeed.

Applications, the new way of doing things in terms of software, replaces packages, although it seems to mainly want to be supported only by Microsoft Installer (MSI) technology. If you've got anything that you silent install with the likes of InstallShield, NullSoft Scriptable Installer etc, they can be done, but it's a lot trickier and to be honest you may even be best sticking with a package. It's all good stuff and tomorrow I'll be learning more on deployments and application controls, including criteria and restrictions, so that might be pretty clever overall.

I arrived home and the new Roy Harper CD "Man and Myth" had arrived on the doorstep. As you can imagine, with me being a fan and all, and Roy's first album in many years, I was pretty excited to see what it would sound like. And you know what? It was worth the wait. His voice still sounds spine tingling, and the lyrical wordplay is all present and correct too. It's hard to pick out a favourite track early on, but I must admit that "Time Is Temporary" somehow seems to invoke feelings in me, so that's tune of the day.

Continuing the folk theme I also ordered the new Pete Green album "The Glass Delusion" which you can order for yourselves if you so wish. At the time of ordering the CD I also got a download as well (nice touch that) so it saves me a job when the CD arrives. Thankfully the catchy and funny "Let It Go By" is on there, a perfect song if you've ever been at a football match and your team is bobbins and you just want to leave. And believe me, we've all been there.

Tuesday 24th September - Revenge Is Five

It was the second day of the SCCM 2012 course today and still plenty more to learn. Today was mainly about learning how to do more with the console. So, for example, there's a client health check which basically checks to see if your clients are working and if not, attempt to fix them in the meantime (quite nifty). A lot of time too was spent on inventory and reporting, and how in fact you can use the inventory to your advantage to get the likes of software and hardware information from a PC, make sure it's only running what you need to, and even showing what was recently run.

One interesting other factor to bear in mind as well is that for the likes of software metering, it doesn't do live metering on the fly - it basically checks periodically over a seven day period what has been run. Of course for proper metering you need another solution which can check in real time instead for you - a much better way of doing things in my view. I quite liked used sub select values in queries though: effectively here's a query, and use another query but exclude the results of the first one. So if you definitely wanted to know which PCs didn't have Word, you'd do a query as to which ones have it, and then another query where the first one is sub-selected, so it's any machine not equal to those found in the first query. Pretty cool.

I headed into the city centre after the course because I was close by, and because I'd noticed on CEX's web site this morning that they had a Rock Band drum kit for the Wii for £15. My Guitar Hero drum set lasted me well but effectively the cymbal pedals are knackered, so they don't register hits correctly. It's also a little bit flimsy now especially the kick pedal, and so I went there, checked everything was there, and indeed it was, all in one big box. I got it home fine though, and then set it up. It's actually a wired drum set, but no bad thing, as that means it'll work happily (and it did)

Just to test it before I headed to the football, I put on a couple of songs that I know well and attempted to drum them on medium difficulty to start with. I wasn't expecting to do so well but on Morrissey's "Irish Blood English Heart" I did get 100% so was pretty pleased with that to be honest - tune of the day for that reason. I also attempted the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Hong Kong Garden" as well as the rather difficult "Panic Attack" by Dream Theater. It all worked fine, and so that was a good thing to do before heading with my friend over to the Etihad Stadium.

It was the Capital One Cup third round and I didn't expect it to be full, and it wasn't. Around 25,000 in all and we only just about got there before the start of the match due to the fact that one of the access lifts was broken, so we had to get to another lift, go to the top tier, go along the top and down through the other exit down the ramp to the second tier. Not good really, especially for my friend and especially considering that the club have had since the first day of the season to fix the lifts too.

Thankfully on the pitch City made up for it and indeed got some revenge over Wigan for beating us in the FA Cup final in May. Once Edin Džeko had put us 1-0 in front with a neat volley after a chipped ball through from Fernandinho, all was well. Yaya Toure came on for him in the second half, and rifled home a great free kick to make it his fourth goal in four home games (and three of them were free kicks too) to score the third of the night. In between that Stevan Jovetić had scored a bit of a lucky rebound for the second goal, and then got in between some poor defending to hit home from close range for number four.

With a few minutes left Jesus Navas also bombed down the right and shot low and hard on goal and that was that - 5-0 to City. If it wasn't for some heroic goalkeeper from the Wigan goalie making his debut tonight, it could have been a lot more, and it showed just how much confidence in games can bring you. Only a couple of the side played on Sunday, but those that came in did a solid job - Joleon Lescott at the back and James Milner in midfield particularly. The future is thankfully still blue and it'll be a case to see who we get in the next round...

Monday 23rd September - SCCM 2012 Is Go!

It was the first day of a five day course all about System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012 and what it can do and how we could use it for deployment once we migrate and upgrade from the 2007 setup that we're currently running at work. To be honest I do feel quite lucky to have got on to this course, and the timing also is pretty good: it's actually the first week of term so I do miss some of the fun and games there. No doubt there will be of course, but I guess it was a case of get us on there as soon as possible and make sure we know as much as possible to pass on to the masses.

One thing that strikes you straight away about 2012 is the completely different look and feel from 2007. Yes, there's even an Office-like ribbon, I kid you not. But also, there's plenty under the hood, for example how the main actions are now split into four panes on the left hand side which are selectable, assets and compliance, software library, monitoring and administration. The idea I guess is to make sure that only the bits that you need to use are there in the right panes, and indeed that there's a more logical structure to everything. It does take some getting used to, but I guess like everything practice is the key right now.

It's also interesting to see just what the differences are in terms of day to day stuff, so for example the client itself on the PC side has just one control panel applet for Configuration Manager, and indeed one separate program for Software Center (darn these Americanised spellings) which means that the likes of Run Advertised Programs does not exist either. That in itself takes some getting used to. One key thing I did note from today though is that you can't access anything on SCCM 2012 with a 2007 client - it won't go. So as part of any migration it's also the last step to push out the 2012 client to all machines that you need to. I can see that being some fun.

Being in the city centre though does have its advantages - it means I can leave home a little earlier to get there well on time, and indeed it also means that there's plenty of places to go for lunch and not pay lots - for example there's two branches of Tesco Express and a branch of Boots well within walking distance of the training centre, and on top of that, lots of other fast food places. It's a case though of making sure it's something that keeps you going, and you do indeed get some free coffee from a machine to keep you going. Granted, it isn't brilliant, but it is free!

I arrived back home in the evening and after writing myself some notes with regards to the course, I decided that the best course of action would be to spend some time with Rock Band 3 on the Wii and that worked out well. I decided to go for it on vocals on a few songs including "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell, where even though I did everything right the game only gave me 99% on expert. Eh? I wondered to myself. Still, it meant that I improved my score and topped 100K on that, so pretty decent.

However the crowning glory was yet to come. After a practice the other night I was ready to take on White Zombie's brilliant "More Human Than Human" and with good reason - I loved the song back in the day when I used to mosh out, and it's still a metal classic now. I worked out where to best make the use of overdrive, and then managed a score of 261,256, making me number 1 on vocals. Woohoo! And I even recorded it with the camera for posterity as well, as proof. Tune of the day for obvious reasons.

Sunday 22nd September - Demolition Derby

So, the big one of the season at home then - and early on in the season too. Ironically it was almost the same day (23rd September) that I saw my first Manchester derby back in 1989, when as a seventeen year old youngster on the Kippax, I saw the likes of Paul Lake, David Oldfield, Andy Hinchcliffe and David White combine to really give Manchester United a panning - commonly known to all City fans simply as "the 5-1". When you see the footage of Andy Hinchcliffe with the five gesture to the loyal City faithful, you knew that it was a special moment and one I will always treasure.

So almost twenty four years on, and in recent times the Manchester derby has had City on top for the most part, with of course "the 6-1" at Old Trafford, an immense game close to the end of the 2011-12 season with Vincent Kompany scoring the winner, and indeed the 2011 FA Cup semi final with Yaya Toure's goal getting City on the road to Wembley to win the FA Cup that year. But the way that we'd started the season not that impressively I was still feeling nervous.

The Love In My Heart and I had headed back to hers, and we fussed over the kittens for a bit as the weather gradually got nicer and nicer, with it being fairly warm by the time my friend arrived, and after a cuppa it was time to head over to the Etihad Stadium and see what would happen. I would be happy with a 1-0 win for City as long as we played well and showed some pride and passion. I sincerely hoped that Vincent Kompany being back was the difference between the two sides, as he seems to galvanise the City defence a lot more when he is playing.

The teams were announced, and a lot of us were buoyed by the news that Robin van Persie was out with a groin strain, granted that was still Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck up front, but still you would think he'd have been a starter otherwise. City went for Sergio Agüero and Alvaro Negredo up front, and that looked quite a decent combination. David Silva wasn't still fully fit so Samir Nasri took his place, which did have us both concerned considering his chickening out of stopping van Persie's free kick winner last season.

The atmosphere was electric as City got underway, with the fans in good voice, reminding United of the 6-1 and how it should have been ten etc. Nasri was looking industrious and his moves down the left were giving United problems, so when he released Aleksandar Kolarov on the quarter hour mark, the cross came in and a rather deft finish from Sergio Agüero made it 1-0. We all went mental as we knew that getting the opener was such a big boost in a game like this and nothing more than we deserved really based on the balance of play at that time.

The first half flowed well and the longer it went on the more I felt comfortable. Wayne Rooney semeed to be the only United player that actually seemed to care for the result, and he was getting stuck in, although one challenge too many on Kompany meant a booking for Rooney, which had the City fans cheering in unison. As the game got towards half time I thought "a second goal now would be nice" and right on the stroke of half time a corner came over, Negredo headed it on, it hit Yaya Toure's knee and went in for 2-0. Get in! That certainly made things feel a lot better.

So half time felt good, but none of us expected what would happen at the start of the second half. United had an attack, it was cleared by the defence and a useful move involving Agüero and Kolarov sendt Negredo down the left, he skinned the United defender, found Agüero in the middle of the box unmarked with a delightful cross and that was it - 3-0 to City and the fans were doing the Poznan en masse now with the celebration. United looked spent and almost stunned into silence, surely that was going to be game over?

And if it wasn't then, it was a couple of minutes later. City broke down the right and Jesus Navas did his best to get towards the byline, and as Negredo and Agüero peeled to the centre of the box, Samir Nasri stayed at the back stick, and as the ball came over, Navas had spotted him and Nasri blasted low and hard a volley into the net for 4-0. And only fifty minutes gone. Wow! This was truly impressive stuff and I'm sure that lots of the City fans watching the game on telly were going as mental.

City took their foot off the gas a bit after that and we could have gone for more, but substitutions meant that the team lost a bit of sparkle, although Edin Džeko went close twice. United got a free kick late on and Wayne Rooney to be fair curled a beauty past Joe Hart for 4-1, but that was a mere consolation. It felt so good to have won this game and indeed won it with some style and class. It made me wonder just how much United really wanted to win it as well (Rooney apart) because their attitude wasn't one you'd expect from a United side. I had a feeling that if the likes of Scholes and Giggs were still around then some of the United midfield (especially Marouane Felliani, who looked a panic buy even more so here) would have been given a right roasting.

Still, no complaints from me. 4-1 and bragging rights for City for some time yet. Crucially we're now three points ahead of United and with the best goal difference in the whole of the Premier League, and we're third behind Tottenham and Arsenal who both also won today. As the final whistle went, "The Boys in Blue" the 1970s Man City anthem played, and I sang along to it all and cheered the boys off the pitch - seemed quite right somehow and tune of the day. Well played City!

Saturday 21st September - The Calm After The Storm

I felt today was an opportunity to relax and somewhat chill out a bit after a hard week at work, so it was a case of getting up, getting a shed load of ironing done that needed doing (there was lots of it) and then once that was done, getting changed and ready to head out. I needed my hair cutting desperately and so it was to The Northern Cutter where I had a bit of pre-derby banter with the staff in there, as you do. It was then from there off to Tesco to do some food shopping, mainly for tonight's rather nice meal which I had planned for myself and The Love In My Heart.

When I got back a nice surprise was waiting for me - the delivery of the Pop Will Eat Itself reissue of "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos" on CD. It was a 2-CD set but the second CD was the reason most of the fans would have ordered the set - a completely unreleased 1996 album "A Lick of the Old Cassette Box" which featured twelve tracks recorded just before the band's original split back then. Listening to it proved to be a fascinating insight into where the band was at the time, with the rather impressive "Talent Plus Attitude Equals Dollars" being the highlight so far, that's tune of the day for me to be honest. I think that it also proves how much of a shame it was that PWEI did split to be honest.

The Love came over later and we had a rather relaxed time of things, as we just spent time chatting and generally making the most of the time we had together. I had got us some nice food, so it was butternut squash soup to start with walnut bread, and then for the main, some rather nice chicken with petis pois with leek and pancetta, and some diced potatoes with herbs and garlic, and it all came together pretty well. I indulged The Love somewhat on the X Factor though because it had been a hard week for her too.

As there wasn't much on telly I put on the recording of the Lauda vs Hunt documentary that was on BBC Two a few weeks back (it's repeated tomorrow night as well) and that was a great insight into the 1976 F1 season and for those who've been to see Rush (or are going to see it) it provides a real proper back story to the film, with great insights from Alistair Caldwell at McLaren and Daniele Audetto at Ferrari in particular. The Love remarked on how well that they got Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth to look like Lauda and Hunt in the film, and even Alexandra Maria Laria who played Marlene was also pretty spot on - she said that you could tell Ron Howard had done his research properly.

It was a rather mental week for us both for various reasons so I must admit it was good just to have an early night and snuggle together. I think that sometimes the little things like that mean a lot and for The Love's point of view, having someone there means a lot as it does me. I just hope that it'll continue for a long time to come, the last five years plus have gone by remarkably quickly and I think that shows a lot about how much we care for each other that it has!

Friday 20th September - Fifteen To One

It was a long and tough day at work, but I did feel eventually better for managing to get on top of things and ensuring that when I am going on the course next week that we're at a position that everything works correctly. All the software deployments to the new student PC areas that we were looking after were going well but they stopped at a point of actviating one piece of software. When I tried to run the step manually it turned out that it had run out of activations, so a quick call to the vendor, message left, and then they rang me back to confirm that they had upped it for me. Tried one, it worked, so managed to restart all the rest adding the software.

This then worked so I was able to finalise the other problem I had from the previous evening - and worked out what that was. It turned out that restoring the registry made Windows think that it was actually trying to circumvent the licencing - hence the message. I was however able to run some commands in the command prompt that removed the licence key, and I was then able to re-add it and everything worked. Hurrah for that or what eh?

It was a long day so I was pleased to head home and make myself some tea, and I had some rather nice scampi it has to be said. I was also looking forward to the 1980s themed night on Channel 4, and this was going to start with a resurrection of the classic game show Fifteen To One - granted it didn't have William G Stewart but it did have Adam Hills presenting it. Before the show itself there was a little sketch of Adam remembering the show as was, him playing the iconic theme tune on a keyboard (that is tune of the day) and then his Mum (aka Madge off Neighbours!) came in..

The show itself though was spot on, and just like it was back in the day. The second round where they can nominate who to answer the next question to knock people out really did sort out the losers from the winners, and it was a case of dog eat dog out there a lot of the time. It was soon down to the final three of Adam's co-presenter on The Last Leg, Alex Brooker, along with Jo Brand and Fern Britton. I know Jo is actually very clever so I wasn't surprised when she won and raised a sizeable amount for her charity as well, but it was good to see it all happening!

Thursday 19th September - Thursday Night Riviera

It was another tough and long day at work, and I was by the end of it getting rather genuinely worried that things weren't going to be ready on time. I knew though that I was able to sort one thing out to make sure that everything worked, because for some reason the installer for Corel Draw X5 used to like the /qb switch, but for some reason that isn't playing as intended, but using /qn worked a treat. I changed that in the application package and then made sure that the task sequences were re-advertised to see if that worked, fingers crossed it will for the morning.

I did have a tricky mission to resolve which I got partly to the bottom of in the evening as well. A member of staff had their PC not starting up, just showing a black screen with the mouse pointer and nothing else. Rather worrying as you can imagine. I eventually found out that this was often due to a corrupted registry, and thankfully Windows 7 at least keeps backups of these things in its Regback folder, so I launched startup repair and headed to the command prompt, and copied the files in the Regback folder to the current registry locations. Once that was done and the machine restarted, it fired up - albeit complaining about a lack of licence!

The Love In My Heart headed to mine and I started to make a chicken tikka massala for us both. As I'd had zero time to get anything else (I was going to add some mushrooms as well) it was a case of cooking what I had, but it worked out well in the end. I did have a nice strong massala sauce, and had got some naan bread too. I also had the mixed mini poppadums which worked out so much better along with the mixed dips I had, so that was good to cosy up with before the main meal and all that.

Later on The Railway: First Great Western was on Channel 5 and this focussed on what happens to the railway at night. What it did feature was the Night Riviera, one of only two sleeper services left running in the country, and it wends its way through from London Paddington to Penzance each night (and obviously back again in the opposite direction.) The lovely South African lady who was the hostess caught the eye as she was being especially friendly and helpful, and as the train was heading to Cornwall in the early morning you can imagine the feeling of seeing the county as you wake up - must be rather nice to do that.

I did tell The Love that one day I'd like to do that for myself and wake up in Cornwall all refreshed and feeling good - maybe something for the future though because a lot of hotels wouldn't let you check in till later, thus making the journey needing a suitable reason. It made me giggle as well that the night revellers at Reading wanted to get a later train on the same return ticket. Not happening, folks. Actually the new look station did look pretty good it has to be said.

Top of the Pops was also on BBC Four tonight and so Sham 69 were on it as well with one of my favourite punk songs ever "Hurry Up Harry". I know my friend likes this as well and it's a case of the chorus of "We're going down the pub" being almost an anthem of its time to many a punk and writer of the era. Even now I can imagine hearing that I'd still be wanting to sing the chorus at full whack, simply because I can. Tune of the day therefore was a very easy decision indeed.

Wednesday 18th September - I Wanna Take You To The Sandbar, Sandbar, Sandbar

For various reasons this week both The Love In My Heart and myself have had a rather busy and stressful week at work. I would have seen The Love yesterday but because I was heading to the football we decided to wait until later in the week to see each other. I was missing her a lot at work today though so when I received a message at lunch time that she was thinking about me and was on a late finish, I thought "well if I work till late, I can meet for a drink", so a couple of messages later and we were all good to meet up later on.

I headed to Sandbar, as primarily it's near where I work, it's not that far from where The Love works, and also because they do rather nice beer and don't charge massively expensive prices for it either, which is what it's all about really. It was getting a bit busier now that the start of the academic year was almost upon us and so they even opened up the annexe part which is usually closed during the summer. Either way though, there was a pint of the rather nice Little Rascal ale with my name on it.

We caught up about The Great British Bake Off last night, which I watched when I got home from the Champions League football. I thought that one or two could have gone out last night and that both Kimberley and Ruby can consider themselves pretty lucky to stay in. Glenn seems to be a bit of a dark horse though: he was consistently good throughout and probably made the second best showstopper behind star baker Christine: I think he's actually keeping calm(ish) under the pressure and that's what's meaning no mistakes. All good fun though and of course there is Mel Giedroyc to keep me happy, oh yes.

We chatted about all sorts and the time flew by, we weren't going to be out too late as we both wanted to spend some time at home with the busy week on, but it was good to see each other and have a few hugs as well, and that's especially nice. I think that when you're having a tough time of it being able to see someone who can bring a smile to your face is important, and we're both keeping each other going at the moment for that reason - so all good there.

Later on I decided to do a bit of rocking on Rock Band 3 and ended up doing "Gay Bar" by Electric Six amongst the songs, on guitar first and then on vocals, which to be honest is easy to get 100% on but it's all about where you unleash the overdrive to get the most power out of. It's one that my friend and I often play as a two player band (him on vocals and me on guitar) and brings back good memories of us rocking my place on a Friday night, so tune of the day was a pretty easy decision really.

Tuesday 17th September - Champions League Time

And so it was tonight that Manchester City's first Champions League game of the season was to be played - a trip to the Czech Republic to face Viktoria Plzen, who are based at the home of pilsner lager no less. I can highly imagine that having a well earned drink in the afternoon might have been quite nice this time of year as the fans were getting together ready for the game. Not for me though - far too much work to do and the focus now is doing as much as we can to ensure everything is ready for next week.

I did get home a little later than planned, but made sure I had time to have my evening meal before heading around to my uncle's place, as he has Sky Sports and it's walking distance from my house, so pretty good all round. He'd invited me around there and it was good to have a well earned cuppa and join my brother in law as well as my two cousins, and so the five of us would be glued to the telly for the next couple of hours. As you can well imagine a win was required to get the boys off to a good start and because the next game was Bayern Munich at home, which in any context is pretty massive to say the least!

The first half was pretty lacklustre to be honest, and City didn't seem to get going. Sergio Agüero had one or two chances, one of which hit the post, and Plzen looked like they wanted to knock it around well. I was just pleased that Vincent Kompany was back and captaining the side leading by example, putting in some good tackles in. It was 0-0 at half time and we were all concerned that this was a game that we should really win to set some form of marker down for qualification for the next phase.

Whatever the half time team talk was I'd have liked to have been privy to it, as City came out in the second half almost a completely different side it has to be said. They looked sharper and wanted to go for it, and go for it they did. Sergio Agüero ran down the left, held off the challenges for the defenders and picked out Edin Džeko with a simple pass. The Bosnian diamond had all the time in the world to slot it low and hard past the keeper and we all felt a bit happier as we were 1-0 up.

More was to come though and a few minutes later City surged down the left, and Yaya Toure had the ball. I yelled out "hit it" just before he unleashed a thirty yard curling shot which dipped over the keeper's head and in the back of the net. It was a rather brilliant goal all round and 2-0. That became 3-0 a few minutes later as some good work down the right resulted in a turn and shot from Agüero which was hit low and hard to the keeper's left. In fact late on both Agüero and Alvaro Negredo could have made the margin even greater, but no complaints from me really.

Tune of the day though is "Mrs Robinson" from Simon and Garfunkel. In case you are wondering why, the City fans (and indeed the Belgian national fans) have adopted a new song for Vincent Kompany, which uses the chorus of the said song, sort of "Here's to you Vincent Kompany, City loves you more than you will know, whoooaaah" (obviously substitute City for Belgium as needed). It's pretty catchy and so I'm sure it might be heard a few more times come the Manchester derby on Sunday.

Monday 16th September - Ready For Anything?

It was another fairly manic Monday of sorts to be honest as we had the final batch of staff moving in to the new building, and to be honest, I still felt that with a considerable number of workmen on site, that it wasn't quite in the state that it needed to be for people to move in and settle down. However, the staff that I did bump into just wanted to make sure that everything was up and good to go, and myself and some colleagues ensured that as much as we could we'd be able to get things in place and ready, even with a lack of power and data in some places.

Back at base, I'd been given the go-ahead for the USB dongle device for the new licence server, and as part of that the aim was to transfer over Solidworks first, as I wasn't sure if the dongle we used to use was needed and whether in fact the 2013-14 required it. I had to get to the original server, and in effect deactivate the licences off that by doing a licence transfer. Once this was carried out, I was then able to install the server licencing software on the new server and see if it played ball activating the licences. It did, however I then would have to make sure that the client was packaged up.

That side of it took some time as you had to specify in the installer if you were going to use the licence server along with its IP address or hostname. It wasn't too bad in the end really but it wouldn't talk whatsoever to the licence server, and that worried me somewhat. However, it turned out that the Windows Firewall on the server was blocking the port 25734 which is needed to communicate with the licence requests, and once that was enabled, it seemed to work. There might be a smarter way of doing this which I can investigate at some point early tomorrow, but we shall see.

It ended up being fairly late when I headed home, but I think that the time spent meant I was able to at least get a few things done and be able to carry on as much as I could without feeling too snowed under. Realistically I know full well that the start of the year presents its own issues and it's always a case of too much to do in too little time no matter how well you plan, and the extra building work going on has meant that that's added to the list. I can't say that there's nothing to do right now because there is pretty much everything to do!

I was glad though that at least it meant that I felt like I'd done what I could and that I was able to get things done, but still: I had a feeling that it wasn't enough, and so I spent some time this evening rocking out listening to some classics, notably Skunk Anansie's debut album "Paranoid and Sunburnt". Even after all these years it's still a classic and one that I really enjoy. The second single "I Can Dream" really does get me fired up like no other, so it's tune of the day right there.

Sunday 15th September - Rainy Heritage

It was a nice lie in, albeit interrupted by Jo and Brian the kittens as they wanted more fuss and attention, and The Love made a rather wonderful breakfast which really did make me feel rather special and happy. She's really good at making a top notch bacon, eggs, sausages and mushrooms that really filled the hole nicely, and once we'd had breakfast I sorted out the booking of the tickets for the Jack Vettriano exhibition in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the trains too. In fact it didn't work out too bad as the trains were £16 each way, so £32 return each, not that bad really.

That done, and with the kittens fussed over and calmed down, we decided to head out as part of the Heritage Weekend, so first stop, and not that far away, was Gorton Monastery. I'd not been in since the building was partly restored and mainly now used as a conference and events centre as well as for weddings, and the building really did feel inspiring. The main altar with its rather high ceiling and exposed brick work showed some of the damage of neglect but still the inner beauty of the painted walls, the stained glass et al. I did feel inspired and was so tempted to have a cuppa in the rather nice café there.

We then headed towards Stockport, as when we were sat having a coffee at the café in Clayton Hall, the ladies next to us were telling us of Staircase House in Stockport, so we thought we'd go along. The rain was tipping it down as we approached the town centre and soon found its location next to the main indoor markets. It was £4.45 to get in, but seemed quite worth it, as the audio guide was very useful - it informed you about the rooms and gave you directions to the next room. Some of them even had some acted out scenes in audio which explained more about the rooms.

It was good to see some of the old wattle and daub walls kept well restored, and indeed the 16th Century Counting House was just that, a place to do the accounting and generally write and count as well. It was amazing to still see it up and running and the sloped floors and walls along with the exit to one of the rooms really did feel of the era. In fact one of the later rooms had a massive slope on and you could see it when you were sat comfortable on the sofa in the Victorian themed room. Overall we both enjoyed that and I'd definitely recommend it if you get time.

We stopped off on the way back via the Elizabethan pub in Heaton Moor, where a pint of Cora was mine for the taking, and I really did enjoy it too - rather light and refreshing for the harvest. We did admittely look at the Christmas Menu and that was rather good - the festive menu especially. I have a feeling we might be going there ourselves at some point. The rain was hammering it down so was glad to be in shelter and timed our escape back to The Love's place once the rain stopped.

With me fussing over the kittens, The Love made a very nice meal which we were going to have on Saturday but for us heading for the evening do yesterday, so we had it tonight instead, with a gorgeous mushroom soup to start, and some chicken in white wine in bacon sauce along with some fresh vegetables and wedges, and I even had a passion fruit and orange tart for dessert too. It was just nice to enjoy together and we both were feeling rather full but in a good way after that. It felt hard to leave after such a wonderful time but we both agreed that the weekend was what we both needed and I felt so close to The Love all weekend. In fact tune of the day is "Close To You", as covered by Paul Weller on his Studio 150 album. I played it when I got home and all seemed to make sense why.

Saturday 14th September - Clayton Hall and Blue Bells

It was nice to relax with a bit of a lie in, but by all accounts Jo and Brian the kittens had kept The Love In My Heart awake part of the night as they miaowed and were attempting to get in The Love's bedroom door but were scratching to try and get the attention. They do seem night cats and sleep during parts of the day when you'd rather that they didn't. But hey ho. We had some nice sausage muffins for breakfast and had Jo's attention as he was looking at me with those "please, can I have some" eyes.

We decided on the way to The Love's parents that we'd pop over to Clayton Hall, which was open as part of the Heritage Weekend. It was actually really good to go round, an old medieval hall set with a a former old moat (not filled with water anymore, a real shame that) and the hall inside was rather good to explore, with lots of historical articles and artefacts for you to see, and it looked rather well preserved, even down to its uneven floors. We even had a coffee and cake in the café in the side annexe, which was rather cheap and gorgeous all round to say the least, hurrah for that.

At The Love's parents, I spent some time with her father sorting his PC out, and it turned out that a full malware scan showed that there were plenty of rather dodgy search engines and toolbars that seemed to have got in there, so I removed all of those and restarted the PC, and it seemed a fair bit quicker. I also checked out his Kindle and it seemed that automatic rotation had been turned off, as well as the fact that it was connecting to the wrong wireless network at home, so I soon sorted that too, which proved to be a worthwhile exercise.

We headed back to The Love's place and we relaxed in the afternoon, she caught up with the soaps and I had both Jo and Brian watching Gillette Soccer Saturday, as you do. It proved not to be worthwhile in the end as City drew 0-0 at Stoke City and to be truthful we were lucky to be able to get a draw there, should have lost really. That might prove to be a point well earned at the end of the season but you never know really. I just don't feel as impressed with the team so far this season, maybe the Champions League game at Tuesday might change that! Still, I had MJ Hibbett's ace "Gilette Soccer Saturday" song in my head, so tune of the day was an easy decision really.

Later on we stopped off at mine to change the overnight bag, and then headed down the road to the Blue Bell Inn, where my uncle was having a small get together for him and his wife's 25th wedding anniversary. A few folks from his local allotment were there too, and it was generally a good night. The pub being a Sam Smith's inn had relatively cheap beer, it was around £1.90 for the cask bitter, which wasn't bad at all. Even the soft drinks were cheap too and we soon spotted my brother and his girlfriend and had a good natter with them. Mum had done some food and it was gorgeous.

It was good to relax there for a while and indeed good to see a lot of the family, but we headed off a little earlier so we could get back to the kittens, and with good reason, they were being rather hyper and so a bit of fussing over them calmed them down as The Love watched the recording of The X Factor from earlier. How I laugh at some of the deluded types who think they can sing: I'll give you a clue: "no you can't!". I must admit though that it makes me realise just why I like some of the music I do - no one will attempt to even try it on such a show like that!

Friday 13th September - Friday's Rush to Relax

One more lengthy day at work ensued to end the week, and I think overall that it went pretty well. I spent a fair bit of time trying to catch up with a few things and I even made sure that some of the orders that needed placing were done, including one for a multi-port USB dongle for our licence server, which had to be done rather quickly and rather well. I just hope now that once it gets approval that I'll be able to smoothly transfer the stuff from the older licence server that we have and get it running on fully supported kit.

With that hopefully bearing fruition next week, it was time for me to head via the city centre and onwards to The Love In My Heart's place, with the rain clouds darkening as I headed towards her place. I got changed and showered at hers and had Jo and Brian the kittens almost watching my every move as I came in and then walked into the living room once I got ready, it was quite surreal really. We knew that they'd been fed and watered and were able to rest and relax whilst we were out, so it was then to head for the city centre.

We got the tram into Piccadilly and headed to The Bank for a drink, and I was spoilt for choice with the real ales, not least as the Nicholsons Pale Ale is by the St Austell Brewery (woohoo) and they always have Pendle Witches Brew as well, which I wouldn't be saying no to either. However they had a light one with a hint of citrus and lemon grass, it was called Lemon Grass, and it proved to be rather refreshing. It was good to chat and catch up in there and see everyone else have their post-work drink but with their work outfits on.

It was then on to Byron to have some of their rather gorgeous burgers. We got a nice seat by the window to watch the world go by, and The Love had the Byron, with cheese, bacon and a nice sauce, and I went for the Cheese, but with extra mushroom on top. I had to remind the waitress for The Love that she preferred hers well done (they do medium by default) but for me that was fine. Both burgers were fine and I even had the Eton Mess dessert which was rather gorgeous as well - that with a coffee was just brilliant to end the meal. We both were relaxed and The Love was gorgeous in her top too.

It was then a quick pop into the Sainsburys Local to get a bottle of sparkling water each (so much cheaper than the expensive soft drinks in the cinema itself) and then into the queue at AMC Cinemas. We both get staff discount there so get in at student rate, which is £4.80, so not that bad to see a film really. Not that many were after tickets for Rush, and we were able to get ours easily and head to Screen 2, where even when it got to the start of the film, wasn't too packed.

And what did I think? In two words: see it. Honestly. It was brilliant, and even though it did play some artistic licence with a couple of the facts here and there, on the whole it was massively rewarding. In Daniel Brühl and Chris Hemsworth they found two perfect people to play Niki Lauda and James Hunt, and they really did come across like they would have done back then. What was good too was the way that the characters really shone, the way Niki would meticulously set up the car, where James would drive fast and act loose with the ladies. Too many good bits to mention but I have to say that for me seeing the racing with the cars hired from private collections really did seem real, full kudos to all the drivers for that.

Hard to find fault whatsoever and I do think that for me that although I'd have preferred a bit more back story as well, the two hours of the film sped by in a rush (ho ho) and it was very enjoyable. Even The Love, not herself a real fan of Formula One, really did enjoy it massively and that for me said actually more than it did for me. The excellent soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (make the opening titles theme tune of the day) really also felt inspiring and that alone really made you absorbed into the whole thing. Will I be getting this on Blu-Ray when it comes out? Will I ever!

Thursday 12th September - Packing and Washing

A fairly quiet night for me tonight, it had to be said, but with pretty good reason. I'm heading to see The Love In My Heart for the weekend at her place, as we're mainly going to be kitten sitting two kittens, namely Jo and Brian (named after a former City player and the current City first team back room staffer) - who generally are cute but also somewhat mischievous when they get together. As she didn't want to leave them on their own for too long at a time she felt it better I stayed there with her.

With that in mind it was a case of packing up a bag to take with me to work tomorrow with a change of clothes in - we have to pass by mine Saturday night before heading out to a do near me, so I can re-pack then and that would mean things are simple enough. What I didn't realise though is how many pairs of jeans and how many shirts I had to iron - it wasn't a simple amount and I spent a fair bit of time doing that and making sure that I had truly caught up with all the household chores I needed to. From there, packing the overnight bag was relatively straightforward and I did that with minimal fuss.

With some of that done but still some washing to do, I kicked back and watched Wednesday night's recording of The Last Leg, which was pretty hilarious. I guess that the three of them as hosts really do bounce off each other with some crazy ideas, but yet work, and of course having someone like Jack Whitehall as a guest who himself is known to have a bit of a go but in a way some people find funny, the banter between the four of them was pretty good. Always a real joy to watch and still one of my favourite shows on currently - just a shame then that the last one is next week. Boo.

I did also though have a little bit of time left to try out some rocking on Rock Band 3 on the Wii, which worked out to be pretty good. I was mainly attempting some vocals again because I'd gotten out of it somewhat until recently and felt the need to test myself somewhat. I did however nail "De-Luxe" by Lush which I imported from Rock Band 2, and that made me feel pretty good. It does obviously help that I like the song anyway, but still it was good to get the inner Miki Berenyi out somehow. Tune of the day.

The film Rush is out tomrorow and I'm definitely going to see it, and I've been rather excited this week. I think after the hard weeks at work recently it'll do me good to actually take some time to relax and enjoy something that I really have been looking forward to a heck of a lot. I just hope that it plays true as it can to the story of the 1976 F1 season, which to be honest if you had scripted before it actually happened, people would have laughed you out of the place!

Wednesday 11th September - Justice (or lack of)

The journey home from work today took rather longer than planned. And all because of some road works that in my view have gone on way too long. Just close to Manchester Royal Infirmary, one of the roads there has been reduced to one lane in part due to some resurfacing work after relaying some pipes. Now, all the work men had gone home but left the temporary traffic lights on some form of temporal shift that te Daleks would have been rather proud of.

So this effectively meant traffic both ways trying to fit into one lane that was far too narrow, and being stuck there for almost twenty minutes. Eventually myself and a few other people on the bus decided walking looked a better option, the driver let us off, and we walked. Then we noticed as we headed on to Plymouth Grove that in fact the traffic had moved because someone sensibly had moved the bollards so two way traffic could flow well, and that sorted that lot out, so got back on the bus at the next stop along. Surreal, but hey ho, it worked. Tune of the day for that reason is "Directing Traffic" by Inspiral Carpets, seemed right somehow!

I got home and straight away saw the news that there had been a press conference in Liverpool with some of the families' representatives of those who died in the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy. It had only come to light today almost a year after the verdict finally proved what we as true football fans all knew (that there was a police cover up to mask their responsibility) that the police at the time had effectively changed some of the eye witness accounts from the fans. It didn't surprise me, but what surprised me was that considering the track record of the police forces involved in the covering up of other evidence, it wasn't called into question earlier.

I do feel strongly that the most important thing is to ensure that justice is adeuqately served and is done so fairly, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) taking a year just to work that out is money sort of wasted really. Now what needs to happen is to make sure that no stone is left unturned, as much evidence as possible can be brought to light and that if those responsible for the massive miscarriage of justice be held to account, a) for their actions which meant that too many fans were in parts of the ground and thus risking severe crushing and b) for the later cover up and feeding the media with rubbish stories that was then printed as the supposed truth, when the actual real truth was a lot different.

For me, what happened that day could easily have happened at any football ground anywhere in the country, and having experienced terraces holding far too many fans, with aggressive police assuming that every single football fan was nothing but a hooligan and treating them like such, it made for an uncomfortable atmosphere when to be honest all you wanted to do was support your team, get behind the lads and be their 12th man at the away game, avoiding any trouble and just enjoying the occasion. It has thankfully mellowed out a lot more and with safer but seated stadia along the way, but it's hard to imagine just how different it was back then.

Later on, my friend and I were at one of the Manchester City supporters' meetings and the journalist who attended was attempting to explain just what does go on when a story is covered, and how most of them are actually football fans themselves and some of their writing is inspired by their own passion for the sport that they love. Even though he was actually a long suffering Newcastle United fan, he made some very good points in that maybe City shouldn't have sacked Roberto Mancini (that got several cheers let me tell you) and that in fact the media often got a kicking from Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tuesday 10th September - Bake Off or Boredom?

After a long day at work, it was good to get home and get the washing all done and sorted, and be able to kick back a bit before The Love In My Heart arrived for the evening. I thought that putting on some Rock Band 3 and being able to belt out some vocal performances would be a good way to soothe the mood for the evening. As such this meant that I was able to call on some of the imported stuff from Rock Band 2, including Jethro Tull's rather epic classic "Aqualung" (make that tune of the day really)

The Love In My Heart came over, and I set about making the tea - free range chicken kiev with some mash and peas, simple but effective. I had got The Love some of the Jamie Oliver Italian white wine that Tesco have started stocking recently, and that worked out rather nicely as she could have a glass whilst watching the evening's telly peruse. At first I was going to insist on watching the England game in full, but the first ten or fifteen minutes were rather dull beyond belief and so I thought "nah, Great British Bake Off wins" and it did.

In fact it was a wise move - every time I flicked back it just seemed rather mundane in Kiev with the football. In the Bake Off though, drama all the way through - first of all the making of twelve custard tarts suddenly seemed the most difficult thing in the world with lots of mistakes being made and no one really getting that consistency that was required. The initial pie was tough enough as the fruit would cause the inevitable soggy bottom, but then having to do the showstopper bake with all sorts of different pie ideas was pretty tricky.

I was glad Kimblerley got star baker though - she really was concentrating on all three tasks and her showstopper looked gorgeous. The fact that Paul Hollywood wanted to keep a piece of her fruit pie for himself and scoff it later on told you all you needed to know. She's also quite humble and generally a nice person, so it'd be good for her to win it, with maybe the likes of Ruby as a dark horse - she lacks in confidence at times but yet manages to pull off some rather lovely bakes herself.

Later on it was Don't Tell The Bride, and I had a feeling that it potentially could have been the first wedding that might not have happened, judging by the disastrous hen party and the fact that there could have been all sorts of scrapping going on. Mind you, the choice of venue was rather different, getting a former warehouse to look like something from an Ibiza beach party to inspire where the couple first fell in love for a long hot Summer of DJing and passion. In the end it worked and to be fair, the first pick dress was one that hit emotionally all the right buttons, so maybe there is something about buying by impulse?

I did see the England highlights later, and to be honest that whole highlights programme could have been condensed into a few minutes. It wasn't inspiring stuff, but on the positive side, if you'd have been offered a draw in Ukraine to keep the team on track to qualify for the World Cup and keep qualification in our own hands, you'd have bitten their hands off quite frankly. I'm sure we'll see all sorts of negativity tomorrow in the press, but sometimes you have to be realistic, and this is one them.

Monday 9th September - Just Another Manic Monday

And I wish it was Sunday.. etc. Seriously. What was supposed to happen today was that the final set of staff were ready to move into the new building that had been refurbished and planned out ready, and that we'd spend lots of time and effort getting them to be all set up, ready to go, and basically in and sorted. That clearly didn't happen, primarily due to the fact that it's the same building contractors who were months behind in effectively getting one of the new buildings up and ready that we also look after. You'd think lessons had been learned, but not.

Anyway, what this meant was that certain rooms were impossible to get into without being fully kitted out in hard hat and all the other PPE equipment, and so that effectively meant in a nutshell that quite a number of the plans had changed during the day. In one way, it did allow us to get the people we could in, and then head back to the ranch and do some other forms of support and get the work done that we needed to do. Mind you, even that was effectively gearing up nicely as lots of stuff was being planned ahead for the next few weeks.

I guess that as schedules have moved, you have to be flexible with the time you have and focus the energy on other things and so make the most of what we've got. It did also mean that we have to try and therefore get other things done, no bad thing to be honest. I do think too though that it's at times like this when you see who is able to survive as the fittest and able to get on top of things and keep going. I just think "right, this is what I'm paid to do, so get on with it and do what you can to the best of your ability."

I was pleased to get home and spend some time just taking it easy, taking in ITV4's coverage of the Silverstone Classic, a festival of classic and historic motor racing that featured everything from 1950s Formula 2 right through to the Porsche 911s and some legendary 1970s and early 1980s Formula 1 cars in their full livery. Seeing some of them positively peg it through the Maggots and Becketts complex of corners was poetry in motion, and it made me wonder if I should make the effort of going there next year and sampling what it's like. After all I enjoyed the Oulton Park Gold Cup I went to recently.

Finally as well my copy of the new Nine Inch Nails album "Hesitation Marks" arrived from Amazon, and it was the deluxe edition at that. Much happiness abound as I played the album in full, and it certainly has proved to be worth the wait. Granted, I had access to the MP3 versions from Amazon whilst waiting for the CD, but I wanted to play the CD properly on my rig and give it a blast how I'd like to hear it. Indeed, "Copy of A" sounds wonderfully electronic and yet wholly listenable all at the same time, so for that reason alone tune of the day simply has to be done.

Sunday 8th September - Lazy Sunday Afternoon

After the busy week at work and indeed the day out yesterday, I freely admit that I did feel a little on the tired side overnight and did sleep rather well all round, most likely due to the fact that a lot of walking took place yesterday and also it was a late night in the end with the Mission Impossible film being watched. I did take some time this morning to upload some fo the pictures from the Whitworth Park Weekender from last Sunday, as The Love mentioned she really loved the umbrellas in the trees and thought that would make for a lovely image to view, and she was right!

I headed downstairs and put on BBC One HD for the Italian Grand Prix from Monza whilst The Love had a well earned lie in. I made some sausages on toast for a late breakfast stroke brunch with a coffee, and delivered that to The Love before the race started, and then concentrated on the event in hand. In truth all the action was going on for the places behind the eventual winner Sebastian Vettel - there were some close battles, dicing into the first chicane particularly as the cars jostled for position.

I did feel gutted for Lewis Hamilton that he had a slow puncture and that he had to make an earlier pit stop than planned, turning it into a two stop race instead of one. This meant he had to surge through the field once before stopping for the final time and then overtake the McLaren duo of Sergio Pérez and Jenson Button with not long left. He could have possibly got Romain Grosjean on the final lap but overcooked it into one of the chicanes, you definitely couldn't accuse him of trying though, that's for sure.

The podium presentation took place and the Italians have it massively right here - the podium is almost on top of the finish line but overlooks the start finish straight and the main grandstands, meaning that when the tifosi invade the track at the end, they get a cracking view all round really. It was also good to see Fernando Alonso grab his iPhone and get a shot of him in front of the crowds below and that really did look rather special - the fans cheered madly (Alonso of course drives a Ferrari, so they do kind of love him here as you'd well imagine!) - and it was good too to see just how much it meant to Mark Webber to grab a podium in his final European F1 race.

Later on we indulged in a game of Scrabble whilst keeping an eye on the Burleigh Horse Trials, where BBC2 was showing some extended highlights of the cross country phase (which, let's be honest, is the best bit of the lot) and later on the show jumping. The Love and I did pretty well overall in the game, with The Love making JOB in the bottom left corner (blank used as O) for 33, and I ended up doing QI both ways and ID on the triple word, thus scoring 53 (the I was on the triple word score itself) and so that worked out nicely overall.

The Love headed home later but admittedly it was nice to relax and take things easy. We will be out next weekend though as there's a certain film that I do want to watch and we'll also be spending the whole weekend together as well which will be rather lovely overall I reckon. I'm just pleased though that we were able to spend time together this weekend and that's always lovely to do I think. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather lovely "Sunday Kind of Love" as performed by Beth Rowley - somehow sums up the mood wonderfully well really.

Saturday 7th September - Nantwich Niceness

It was a planned day out today as myself and three others from the Manchester UK Flickr group were heading out to Cheshire. The plan was to head to Nantwich on the train, take the bus out to Snugburys to have the gorgeous ice cream and to see the straw dalek, and then head back to Nantwich and have a good look around the food and drink festival as well as taking in some possible nice real ales along the way, just had to be done really. So it was up and out and to be at Piccadilly station for 10am, to give us time to get tickets and coffee before heading on the train out of Manchester.

We all headed there dead on 10am, so it was to the ticket office. I'd already worked out that the Duo ticket would work out cheaper, as it meant that the second person's ticket would be half price, and so £19.20 for two (£9.60 each therefore instead of £12.80 each for the return). With those purchased it was off to Costa for a well earned coffee, and then on to the 1030 train which would eventually go to Milford Haven, but of course we only needed to head to Crewe on that. Once at Crewe off platform 6, it was literally walk down to platform 7 and on the small single carriage train to Nantwich (the local stopper to Shrewsbury as it turned out).

It was a nice walk through Nantwich town centre and we could see plenty of the stalls for the food and drink festival being pretty busy already, so it was off to the bus station. The bus out of Nantwich was delayed as plenty of people from Crewe were getting on for the food and drink festival, but we were soon heading out of the town centre and towards Hurleston, where Snugburys is. The bus driver even dropped us off at the entrance instead of the bus stop another 100 metres up the road, which was very good of him.

We admired the large and rather cute kunekune pigs before heading along the field to meet Dalick, the straw dalek sculpture. Even on a cloudy Saturday afternoon there were families galore coming along to admire, and lots of them getting slightly scared when the head moved and "Exterminate!" was blasted out from the sound system inside. We must have taken plenty of good shots before heading back to the ice cream shop and each of us having two scoops in a cone of their gorgeous ice cream. This time I went for the Strawberries and Pimm's along with the créme brulee - and they were both fab. Everyone indeed enjoyed their cones, so happy days all round.

We headed back to the bus stop and got the bus into Nantwich, and were soon heading to the historic Crown Hotel which dates back from the 16th Century, and you could tell as well - all the stairs sloped, the floor sloped unevenly and the building just felt beautifully historic in a good way. There were plenty of real ales on and the only difficulty was choosing one to be honest. In the end I went for a Cornish beer from the Coastal brewery based in Redruth - no less than the Hop Monster, which was rather light, refreshing, and as the name suggests, a little on the hoppy side, but nice nonetheless.

We then checked out the many stalls of the Food and Drink Festival, and the main site with the Mornflake Tents around the back of St Mary's Church were very busy indeed - lots of people trying to get to the counters to sample wares, and we felt a little relieved to get to the other side and in the nice garden outside where there were lots of rather nice food stalls and a perfect opportunity for a bite to eat for lunch. I went for the venison burger and that was rather gorgeous I have to admit, and it was good to take in the atmosphere and indeed the rather nice weather.

It was then around some more lovely stalls, seeing the smallest steam railway ever by the Methodist Church before heading back through the town centre, getting a few more shots of the rather nice architecture and the stalls of the food and drink festivel before heading to another pub, the White Horse. They too had a beer festival on with several real ales and were using their beer garden space at the back to have a bouncy castle and big inflatable slide, as well as little crazy golf for the kids, and lots of lovely ale. I had the Ginger Tosser from the Skinners Brewery in Truro (two Cornish ales in one day - get in) and it was nice to sit and relax and admire the nice weather.

It was then back to the train station, wait for the 1705 back to Crewe (again, single carriage job which was packed with people heading back from the festival) and then from there it was platform 7 to 6 again for the return journey back to Piccadilly. It was good to relax and take things easy and we all agreed it had been a different and excellent day out, and I think at times it's nice not to rest on the laurels too much and actually head out of the city.

Even nicer was that The Love In My Heart was picking me up at Piccadilly station, so we headed back to mine and after a well earned coffee, it was time for me to make the tea with the Tesco Finest Meal Deal, so we had the rather gorgeous chicken and ham hock pies with mash and petits pois with leek and pancetta, which was spot on. I had the orange and passionfruit tart for dessert but The Love declined, but I did at least have the Jamie Oliver white wine for her so that was rather good all round.

We did see most of the opener of Strictly Come Dancing, and I think an early favourite of mine is going to be Sophie Ellis-Bextor. She looked rather demure and classy in her outfit and even had her hair up in a very Audrey Hepburn styled look - and that would do me nicely. It's difficult to know who might be able to dance a bit, but actress Natalie Gumede (from Coronation Street till recently) might be able to do well. I do think though in some cases it's getting more difficult to find people to take part, with it now being in its eleventh series. Wonder if Sophie will commit "Murder on the Dancefloor" like her song? That's tune of the day in any case.

We finished the evening by watching Mission Impossible III on Film 4. I'd never seen it (I know!) and so settled in to watch that. What I didn't realise was that it was obvious from Simon Pegg's role in this one that it'd be expanded nicely in Ghost Protocol later, and that of course Philip Seymour Hoffman was rather excellent as the bad guy all round. It worked well I thought and of course The Love being a Tom Cruise fan was in her element. How time flies when you're having fun!

Friday 6th September - She Sells Friday Night Sanctuary

After a long and epic day at work, I'd planned a good way to wind down - watch the England v Moldova game and indulge in a bit of Rock Band 3 with guitars and vocals planned. And my friend was coming over as well, so I'd ordered some food in for tea as part of my weekly shop at Tesco, so all would be well with the world (hopefully). Tesco delivered on time and everything I ordered was there, so I put everything away and awaited the arrival of my friend, who was in good spirits.

As I had Rock Band 3 on already we warmed up a bit before the England game with some vocal performances, us both having a go at Queen's legendary Bohemian Rhapsody, him on medium and he did well, and me on expert, and still did well but found it impossibly hard. The fact I didn't get five stars says pretty much all you need to know really. Still, we also had to just blast out for the fun of it the classic that is The Human League's "Don't You Want Me" where my friend said I even sounded like Phil Oakey in parts - high praise indeed.

On with ITV HD then and I whacked some pizzas in the oven for us both, and we settled in to watch the game. England did pretty okay to start with and as the ball came back to Steven Gerrard, he unleashed a powerful shot that went right in the bottom corner, and 1-0 up. As the game went on we noticed that the Moldova keeper wasn't the best and any shot hit with venom he was struggling with. After a bit of a scramble in the box from their defence, the ball went to Theo Walcott, he hit it hard the keeper saved, but only right to the head of Rickie Lambert who made it two England goals in two games for 2-0. I was pleased for him as was my friend because he doesn't play for a so-called "big four" club but showed so much pride and passion when he scored.

England surged on and Danny Welbeck was booked for kicking the ball away, but why? It was literally as the referee blew that he shot towards goal, it wasn't a loss of temper or anything like that. It means he's out of the tricky game away at Ukraine which isn't good. That said he took out his anger on a brilliant ball from Lambert who released him to pass the keeper and score for 3-0 just before half time - the perfect riposte really. I was very pleased that England were being methodical, and Welbeck scored with another ball from Lambert early in the second half for 4-0. And that's how it stayed.

So it was back on the Wii and back rocking, with this time me on guitar or bass and my friend on vocals. For a laugh we tried "Llama" by Phish and realised just why it's five red devil difficulty on everything - it is proper difficult, with no real structure of any instrument, almost a seemingly random jam. Even the vocals are bloody hard which meant even at medium it was quite tough to leep the song going. We went back to normality though with the likes of "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi and "Hong Kong Garden" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, which we did well on.

We also then turned the attention to another classic "She Sells Sanctuary" by The Cult. It's actually much more difficult than you think on vocals and my friend did struggle because it's not what you expect. In fact I tried it myself and had to agree - there's a few phrases where it rises or falls where you don't expect. I did do a good score on expert bass though so felt rather good about that it has to be said. Of course really to listen to it you need to be in a car headbanging away as you head along a country road, but hey, a classic nonetheless and tune of the day for that reason.

After my friend had headed home I chucked on BBC iPlayer and put on Celebrity Masterchef, and I have to say I was pretty pleased with the way it turned out. All three celebrities did themselves justice with their meals, but when I saw Ade Edmondson's handiwork I thought "that's going to win" and it did. I was massively pleased really because in this he's come across as quite a humble but still funny bloke, retaining his dry wit and humour that he's had, but a lot more laid back with it.

Thursday 5th September - Cornish Rangers

I had a very peaceful and relaxing evening with The Love In My Heart tonight, and that certainly proved to be a good move, especially after the day I had which seemed to comprise of more meetings whilst simultaneously trying to keep a hold of any outstanding calls coming in, so I was juggling tasks. Maybe not always the thing to do, but right now I do need to keep on top of things and be able to try and at least sort whatever comes in out, keeping the big stuff till the move finally happens next week.

I headed to the local Tesco to get The Love some wine, and found that they were stocking some wine courtesy of Jamie's Italian, their bianco wine no less. It was on offer, so I thought "why not?" and purchased it. It's apparently quite nice, but if it's the same stuff that they sell in their restaurants it's a doubly cunning ploy - either you go to the restaurant first, drink the wine and think "I'd like that at home" and buy it, or in reverse where you try it and think "a meal there would be nice". The Love approved massively anyway so that was good.

I made us some spaghetti with meatballs for tea which went down pretty well. I used the Tesco meatballs pack of 12 as they're pretty big and beefy, and just seem to have the right amount to share for two when cooking a meal together. It was good to enjoy that and relax somewhat before realising that it was time to curl up, cuddle up and enjoy an evening of telly together, so Channel 5 and BBC1 would be the channels of choice to watch, and with good reason.

First up was The Railway: First Great Western on Channel 5. I watched this last week and we liked it, a behind the scenes look at the train company. It showed just how busy Castle Cary gets when the Glastonbury Festival is on, and what methods that they have of controlling the station and ensuring everyone gets there and gets home. The station the rest of the year seems pretty calm and serene, maybe a nice place to live as well by the look of it. It was quite intriguing how calm it got to when it was back to normal after the Glastonbury mad rush, that's for sure.

Of course anything featuring Cornwall though and we're there, and it had mention of the Queen's visit to Cornwall, where the Royal Train stopped at St Erth and Her Majesty headed on the normal branch line train to head into St Ives (and with good reason, it's the easiest way!) Having of course done this journey before with The Love in June when we headed to Carbis Bay, it was pretty good to be able to see the views from the train the same way. I do hope she sat on the right hand side to see out of the window to the sea. As it headed towards Carbis Bay we were both thinking that we do want to go back (as if you couldn't guess!)

Then it was on with Celebrity Masterchef, and a big task for them all as they entered the world of fine dining and had to cook for four top chefs, and they were at Roux at Parliament Square with Steve Groves as head chef, himself a winner of Masterchef: The Professionals, so he knew his stuff. The menu he made looked brilliant and I only hoped the celebrities could do it. Ade Edmondson had the starter spot on and I said to The Love "that's going to help him win!" whilst the main from the annoying as hell Janet Street-Porter was way behind schedule and Les Dennis had a bit of a disaster in the dessert department.

For slightly selfish reasons, I'd like Ade to win - his "Ade in Britain" series has been brilliant, he's a musician in The Bad Shepherds these days, and of course he's still Vyvyan in the Young Ones to many of us. In fact tune of the day is The Bad Shepherds' "Ramones Medley" which features lots of Ramones classics but done with the likes of a bouzouki, bagpipes et al, but all with tender loving care, notably when Ade belts out the opening to "Blitzkrieg Bop" as part of that medley. Epic.

Wednesday 4th September - Unbelievable

It was another busy day of sorts today (sort of the norm now really) but I did have a couple of things to sort out. One was a Mac which just didn't want to play ball with certain folders on the disk. Booting up to an external hard drive showed the reason why - I did a volume check and it was one folder that seemed to be there, but wasn't. Eh? Bit odd that but Disk Utility seemed to have sorted it, I tested it and booted it a whole lot quicker, so that was at least a relief for the time being.

I also worked on a couple of other minor issues but the main concern I had at the moment was the time - or seemingly lack of it. I just have the feeling that I'm just not ready for the start of term like we usually are, and whether that's due to a building move happening behind schedule, or the fact we now have a shed load more PCs to deploy, or even other stuff, I'm not sure. Either way it does seem that collectively it's getting harder to try and plan some time now, but I guess that'll be a challenge to meet pretty much head on (as you do of course).

Heading back home later on I decided that the best course of therapy was a bit of gaming and a bit of rocking, so on went Rock Band 3 on the Wii. I've got back into it recently primarily because I've not been 100% over the summer and wanted to give the vocals and guitar a good going over. Thankfully the vocals are still up to scratch, and I improved my score on Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science". Still not 100% on expert yet but seeing as there's only one person who's done that on the Wii, I'd be in esteemed company if that was the case, so I'll keep pushing.

One thing I did make time for was The Last Leg of course. It's been a brilliant series as per usual, and I think the fact that they did almost get the Brian May and Weebl combo of "Save The Badger Badger Badger" in the charts was pretty good fun. This week Boris Johnson was on and actually was more funny than you'd think, but on a serious note he also did at least mention about the forthcoming Paralympic Day in London and how everyone should support it. It's a good reminder that the whole reason The Last Leg came into being was to discuss how the day went at the Paralympics and the good rapport, banter and humour was more than enough to make for a proper show (and rightly so too).

Oh, and I don't know if you've seen it as yet, but the trailer for Strictly Come Dancing came on whilst I had BBC One on earlier, and literally, I was like "what the ****?". The trailer seems to use a song which effectively is the classic that is EMF's "Unbelievable" but with different vocals, a jazz style trombone over the top etc. I kept thinking like the original, with its constant "what the ....?" sample and wondering just what the guys in the band would have thought. Only one thing to do - transport myself back to indie dance clubs around 1990/1991, and whack on the CD single at full blast - tune of the day for that reason.

Tuesday 3rd September - Purple People

I was heading over to the same building as yesterday with my colleague, and we set to work again. In a good way it meant that we could keep things going nicely and get the majority of everything done and sorted in good time of course. One thing we didn't contend with was the heat. No, not the warm weather outside (although that was quite warm) - the heating on the inside. It looked like all the radiators were on full blast, apparently to make sure that the central heating system was on. In truth, it actually didn't need to be on - it was impossibly warm!

No wonder I felt massively hot and sweaty afterwards - and of course as we were all in our corporate purple polo shirts that we use for events and building moves, it did mean that even looking corporate meant it was also looking hot - and not by the way that people describe attractive these days either. We did however manage to get plenty done in one day and that was a relief, and we can pretty much sort out the last set of stuff tomorrow - so progress really.

I headed home later on but via the local Asda to get a couple of cards, and when The Love In My Heart headed around later on, we then headed around to my uncle's, as it was his and my auntie's 25th wedding anniversary today. To be fair my uncle had pulled out a few lovely stops and had even had a gorgeous bunch of flowers delivered to her works, which did look rather beautiful. We had good chat with them both and with my other auntie over a coffee, and it was just really nice to think back to all that time ago when they got married.

We headed back to mine, I made the tea and it was on with the Great British Bake Off. I was pretty pleased to see that they were doing little petits fours as one of the challenges, and that really did separate those who could and those who couldn't. I suspected that there might have been two going this week, and in all honesty, the right two went. It was just a case of that they weren't that good on any of the challenges, and Beca really did pull it round in the final challenge to stay in the game. It's still wide open to see who might win though!

Later on was Don't Tell The Bride, and I think if The Live was the bride in question she would have pulled out of the wedding big style with all the alien themed wedding, having a service in an old hidden air bunker, and the reception at a former aircraft hangar with all sorts of weird alien things going on. Just a bit too odd and surely you'd think that you wouldn't want your wedding like that. Still, the programme makers did at least use some Metronomy - namely the rather good "The Bay" in one part, so tune of the day was an easy decision. One of the other tracks from the same album was also used later on too I think!

Monday 2nd September - Weird Imaging Science

It was over to one of the refurbished buildings today, as all the student kit had arrived, and so we had to unpack some of them, put them on desks, get them imaged and then put them back in the boxes, put the next batch in, and so on. Of course I don't mind if there's a task which involves a lot of shifting around and a fair amount of repetition thrown in, I just plough on with it and the day goes by relatively quickly without issues. Of course that's the plan, but whether or not it comes off is another matter.

Well, it sort of did. After we'd imaged the first batch we realised that for some reason the driver package for the 8300 series PCs we have didn't include the specialist graphics driver (ATI Radeon HD7650A) or the sound driver. I managed to snag them and install them but had to do that manually on 20+ machines. I then set the next lot off with the drivers added, and they worked, but the sound weirdly didn't. I soon found out why - for some reason the inbuilt IDT Audio driver has to use the installer only, but at least you can install it silently. So I packaged it up, added that to a task sequence, and badabing! Everything else worked from hereon in. Phew.

I headed into the city centre after work as I needed to head into Poundland. The camera card reader had died the other night and so I knew that they did ones for a mere pound. In fact the one I ended up getting supported SD, SDHC, Micro SD (handy to read the card in my phone I guess) and also Sony Memory Stick as well, which wasn't to be sniffed at. I also noticed that they had some Agfa Colour 200 film (24 exposures) as well back in, and they were also a pound each too, so I picked up a couple for my film SLR. Happy days indeed.

I then headed homewards and made myself some lovely jumbo king prawns for tea - I effectively fried them till they were the right side of pink and rather gorgeous, and had some lemon and rosemary rice to go with it, which worked well with the fish. Thankfully the prawns had already been peeled prior to purchase, so much less hassle really and in fact worked out pretty well - just meant that I could get on with making and eating tea at a nice pace. It also meant I could sort out some of the pictures I took yesterday.

I saw the Goodwood Festival of Speed 20 years show on ITV4 later which was pretty good. It showed a very young Nick Heidfeld in the McLaren setting a time for the hill climb course which still hasn't been beaten, and the likes of Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and so on all having a good go at that and generally being available at the festival to talk to people, which was pretty good. It was also brilliant to see older footage of Martin Brundle in a McLaren, and the programme makers interviewed him about that - and sensibly also had a certain Murray Walker as an interviewee. It just had to be done really.

I then put on Rock Band 3 for the Wii and decided to try my hand at some vocals on the downloaded content that I've built up over time. I had a blast at a couple of Pixies songs before really trying a difficult one - Oingo Boingo's "Weird Science" which is the theme tune to the film of the same name. In case you're wondering, the band features a certain Danny Elfman, he of film scores and all that. The album version is also featured which means it's over six minutes long, and the vocals are notoriously difficult to get right, so getting 94% on expert was a decent effort I thought - tune of the day simply because of that.

Sunday 1st September - V and W

It was nice to have a lie in this morning and catch up on some well earned sleep, before getting ourselves up and having some gorgeous Cumberland sausages on toast for breakfast. Just enough for what we needed along with a nice coffee to go with it, and we were all good to go for the day. And we had a good day planned - with two places to visit, both pretty close to each other, and it should therefore be a pretty good way to spend most of the afternoon together.

We set off for Victoria Baths - and for good reason. Not only was it the open day today of couse, but it was the run up to the Baths' 10th anniversary celebrations of winning BBC2's "Restoration" programme back in 2003. Therefore the main first class males (or gala) pool had actually been filled with water, ready for a celebration later in the week where a synchonised swimming team called Aquabatix will be doing a show in the pool. As you can well imagine, for the likes of me who used to go there when I was younger, seeing it back as it was intended was rather special.

I felt a little emotional seeing the pool and with all its rather lovely water in, and felt very calm and peaceful to be honest. It was also good to see that in some of the cubicles in the same pool you could see some new stained glass windows, with lilies on, that really did add a feeling of being in a lovely place to get changed in to go swimming. A bit of a shame then that you couldn't go in yourselves for an extra fee (just an idea!) but still, it did feel rather good to see it all full and looking very resplendent.

We had a good walk around the history fair that was on as well, lots of nice people basically preserving places that mean something to them, such as the bunch who were doing all they could to keep the Ancoats Hospital old building from being demolished, and instead using it as community and art spaces, keeping the Grade II listed building intact. It was good to see too something close to The Love In My Heart as well - Clayton Hall. We've made a mental note to head there when the Heritage Open Days are on in a couple of weeks' time.

It was just generally lovely to head around there, and I felt a great sense of pride walking around thinking that this was part of my childhood, part of my growing up, and other people who love it with a passion have done so much to get the building back the way it currently is, and soon eventually I hope to even have one pool properly open for swimming in. That would be brilliant, although the fact that the restoration has taken so long so far, it'll be a long term aim and realistically I know that. Got to love that aeratone as well, although some people still think it's a torture chamber..

After that it was a short way to Whitworth Park, where as part of the Whitworth Art Gallery's final week of opening before closing for a refurbishment, there was the Whitworth Weekender, with various stalls and activities for the family in the park itself, including a relaxing room to sit in and watch performances, lots of sensory play areas for the children and even the appearance of the allotment shed that the Manchester School of Art have been exhibiting as well.

We did go inside the art gallery and that was pretty good as well with lots of classic textiles, different styles of wallpaper from over the years and how the designs have changed over time, and even some more modern pieces thrown in. The more modern building at the back contrasts with the beautiful brick builidng at the front, and having never been in before (I know, shame on me!) it was actually pretty nice to have a walk around. It looks good now so hopefully when it reopens it'll be even better as well.

It was then across the road to the pub to have a nice Sunday lunch, and I had the roast beef, which was thick and plentiful, with all the veg and gravy plus Yorkshire pud and potatoes I needed, plus a nice pint of Pendle Witches' Brew. What more could I ask for really? Nothing to be honest. It was just good to chat with The Love and the pub actually was very nice and cosy - we both felt rather relaxed and on a late Sunday afternoon that's pretty much how it should be.

We headed back to mine and a game of Scrabble was on the cards as I put on Barenaked Ladies' "All In Good Time" album. The Love hadn't heard their stuff before so I thought this may be a good album to start with - in the view of trying to get her to come with me to see them live at the Academy in November. She pretty much liked it on the whole so felt rather justified in my decision making. Out of that album to this day I still love the opener "You Run Away" which tells much more than the words alone could possibly do. Tune of the day was therefore an easy decision!