Dear Diary... August 2017

Thursday 31st August - Voodoo Thursday

Another day where things went pretty well actually. In fact first thing when I got in this morning one of my colleagues had spotted an issue where a user wasn't able to open some email attachments that appeared to be inline as part of a rich text message. Doing a bit of research on this and it transpired that Microsoft had borked it as part of the updates for Office 2010 that were released in June, and that there was a further patch out which then fixed that issue. With that in mind I thought it best to try it out with this user, and see what happened. It all worked, and she was particularly happy that all was working again - which is the rewarding part of the job for me, getting things done.

It was also a positive in many ways as I found out also that there was an Adobe Acrobat Reader DC patch released which fixed a specific issue with PDF forms which some of the staff use from external websites, and the form buttons weren't behaving as designed. Once I'd installed it on test machine, I had the particular PDF form and input XML files that the button's supposed to do from another user, gave it a go, and it worked where it had previously crashed. So one bit of packaging later and it was all ready to roll out which was a positive really.

The time was speeding by but managed to get a fair bit done which was pleasing. In fact I got out pretty much on time tonight and got the 1813 train home, which was pretty busy and although I got a seat, I gave it up at Blackfriars to someone needing it more than me, and once off at East Croydon I nipped into both Tesco and Poundland to get some bits before heading home. I was relatively pleased with the way that I got all things sorted in quick time and was able to get some ironing and cleaning done at home.

So on with the oven, and sure enough, around 10 minutes in, the oven went off and the lights went out, and it did feel very hot. So it's clear to me that the thermostat has indeed gone, and although it didn't look too difficult to replace online provided you have the proper part, of course as I rent the place and all the fitted kitchen was part of the fully furnished thing, I'll hopefully have the landlords get someone out to sort it, which is a big relief (I know how much these repair bills can be.) In effect the temperature doesn't appear to go by what I set the knob to, but instead goes to max and just then overheats and cuts out accordingly. Officially meh.

In the meantime I've been playing more of the Haçienda Classical CD and so tune of the day is another track from that, namely the excellent "Voodoo Ray", originally by A Guy Called Gerald. Crucially it keeps the instruments that would have featured in the original and have them up front, along with some of the AMC choir doing the vocal thing well - even to the authenticity of having someone randomly shout out "Major!" as the original did. Ace, I tell you.

Wednesday 30th August - Haçienda Da Cooker?

A mixed bag of a day really, but on the whole pretty productive stuff. I did manage to get to the bottom of a few things and finalised a Firefox update rollout for later this week, as well as being able to also investigate further into some of the issues that are affecting Word 2016, more so on laptops. I did discover that for some reason it seems better to have the option set to download files locally and re-upload on saving if opened from a web or network location, and in effect that can be set in Group Policy, so off for desktops, on for laptops, which is pretty easy to achieve with the way the policies are set up, so will look at doing that tomorrow late on.

I did a bit of testing as well with our anti virus solution and the way it's configured on some laptops. The older version setup uses a built in configuration file which lists the exceptions and some rules etc, and by all accounts it was a pain to setup because you had to set it all manually and then save out the config file. Looks like the new release allows you to load in the config file, do all your settings and then export it back out again, and using that into the new setup appears to be playing ball on initial testing. I probably need to double check a few things tomorrow, but looking promising I hope.

The trains were a little delayed and so didn't get back from work till a bit later than planned, and after ironing some stuff and speaking with The Love In My Heart, I decided to make some tea. Unfortunately just about as it was finishing off, the oven appeared to switch off and there was no sign of life from it, how odd. I decided to power it off at the wall and leave it off for a bit, and later on the power came back on and had to reset the timer again. It may have been a minor glitch with the electrics, but will see tomorrow when I attempt to make something just in case the thermostat has decided to die a slow and painful death (which does happen by all accounts apparently - a capillary tube breakage as part of that can be problematic too.)

I spent the rest of the evening listening to the Haçienda Classical album I got on CD over the weekend, and pretty good it is too. In many ways it's different from the Pete Tong one which I bought for The Love In My Heart a while back, as it features more of the tunes that particularly The Love would have heard down the classic Manchester night club back in the day. Of course for me that means plenty of reworkings of late 1980s classics with Peter Hook, Mike Pickering, Graeme Park and the Manchester Camerata doing things well, so you have the classic "Voodoo Ray" being belted out with some string backing. Nice.

In fact there's very much more a Northern feel to the CD as you'd expect, no bad thing naturally. There's two tracks called "Move Your Body" but there's a reason for this - one is the 90s dance choon by Xpansions (remember that one hit wonder track?) and the other is the absolute classic forerunner of house music by Marshall Jefferson in 1986, and made its way to Manchester from Chicago and was played a lot down the Haç too. That is tune of the day and the classical backed rework does its job pretty well. Tune!

Tuesday 29th August - The (Not So) Great British Bake Off

So I must admit I did have some trepidation when it was on to Channel 4 at around 8pm for the first of the new series of The Great British Bake Off. Of course, a lot has happened since the last final was shown on BBC1 over a year ago with the lovely Candice winning, and the big announcement that Love Productions was jumping ship and leaving the Beeb with Channel 4 getting the rights. As part of that, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins haven't moved over, and neither did Mary Berry - only Paul Hollywood has stayed with the format. So with new hosts and a new judge, what would happen?

Well, it was still in essence the same twee loveable show that gets people into all sorts of conversations such as "Stop checking the oven every ten minutes!" or "You're really going to use that ingredient in there?" - you know, such as one who thought having a particular vegetable in a cake for the first challenge would work (I'll give you a clue - it really didn't) and the challenges are still the same, so the signature, technical and show stopper are in there still, the same twee music and all. But...

And there's several buts. The first is that the presenters don't gel in the same way that Mel and Sue did wonderfully. I suspect though that it's an odd couple in Noel Fielding and Sandi Toksvig. I quite liked Noel - he seemed to be quite relaxed and at ease and charming, but Sandi I just can't take to - she's much better on comedy improv shows and even when she was host of Fifteen To One, I thought it was a tad misplaced. As such copying Mel and Sue's "On your marks, get sake, BAAAAAKE!" proved not to be so good a move really.

I can't take to Prue Leith either, a little too much of a schoolmistress being a tad patronising on occasion too. I think the key thing with Mary Berry was that she'd try and find a positive amongst any negatives of a bad bake to let the contestant down gently, but it's bit more abrupt with Prue. It might mellow over time but just not quite sure it was the same really. I think too that for me the judging should enhance the show and not detract from it - way too many Paul Hollywood handshakes for a first episode, almost as if he was trying a little too hard.

The adverts may have been for some the opportunity to go and get a coffee or tea (and a cake!) during the breaks, but it spoiled the flow of the programme for me. It also meant that it was a near pointless final part where all they were doing was announcing the star baker and who was leaving, and seemed a bit over the top Americanised to me that. If Channel 4 can show live F1 without commercials, then why not Bake Off, and keep the full hour slot rather than make a mass out of advertising eBay and other things?

So I'm massively disappointed - some of the newcomers didn't work, and the flow is spoiled somewhat. And with the ace Doctor Foster starting next week at 9 on BBC1, I'd be missing the end of Bake Off for that - but easy solution, not to watch it. It's a shame really but as it was a case of taking the money and running, Love Productions need to look at the comments and have a bit of a rethink really. Tune of the day is "Ruiner" by Nine Inch Nails, somewhat of an apt title considering what I just watched!

Monday 28th August - Walking and Homeward

The Love In My Heart had a good lie in, with Brian the cat for company on the end of the bed all snuggled up next to her. It was a really nice thing, and I know that they've been special to her for ages really. In the meantime I'd got up and had a coffee and had Jô snuggled up on the pouffle for company, and he was all restful too - so we had a cat each to look after and fuss over. I headed out to Asda a little later and managed to pick up the cat litter for The Love that she uses - it had run out of stock on Saturday so good to be able to get some more and know that they could do their doings if they wanted to.

We decided that a walk would be a nice idea and so we headed off to Didsbury and headed towards Fletcher Moss. We first went around Parsonage Gardens and that was all lovely, especially the little stone tribute to the two former dogs of Fletcher Moss himself who were buried together in the gardens. The house there was housing a local photography exhibitions and the alpine house greenhouse was open one day a week so you could see all the work going on with growing plants, a nice touch that actually.

We walked along the willow lined path and towards the River Mersey through the park, and then followed the river towards the path of Millgate Fields and turned left, following the path to take us around some more fields and towards part of the Mersey Flood Basin that's in place if the rains get really bad. In fact one of the paths just off there is one we use to take us through Stenner Woods and back towards the rockery and Alpine Tea Room, and we noted the whole path, mainly on stilts over marshlands and with decking, had been completely relaid with new wooden decking and looked really smart - a job very well done.

We wandered round the rockery and past the all new tennis courts with a court guarded by PIN entry: you only get the PIN active when you book for a certain time on one of the courts which was a really good idea - keeps the idiots out and the ones who want to play in, and it was a facility that no less than Judy Murray opened too. It was then a case of following the route back to the car, and we then headed slightly up the road and found a spot close to Didsbury Park.

Admittedly, this park isn't huge, but it's a nice open space with a very well used playground that even has a zip wire little ride for the children to go on, and traditional swings and slides. The café also looked well used and the bowling green was immaculate. It also goes to show that some of the houses close by, especially the terraced streets that back on to the park - one of them up for sale is a mere £330,000 which shows how mad the housing market is to be able to live there as well!

We had some late lunch later at The Gateway with the rather nice Freshers ale being just that - fresh and really golden, before I was at Piccadilly station saying my goodbyes and having a last kiss before heading on the 1715 train back to London Euston. I had some tunes on whilst on the way down, including the rather good "Moonlight Shadow" by Mike Oldfield off said Crises album I got at the weekend, and so that set me off well for the journey home, especially the very hot and sweaty train from Victoria to East Croydon...

Sunday 27th August - It's A Hard Nut Lunch For Us

It was a reasonable lie in for myself and The Love In My Heart, and we got ourselves up and had a little breakfast, and made sure that Jô and Brian were all sorted including me feeding them some Dreamies (they lapped it up) before then getting ourselves ready and changed for heading out later. One of our friends was having a birthday next Saturday and they were heading off to Bordeaux in France to celebrate with friends (nice, eh?) - and so we'd arranged to head out for lunch today.

The venue was somewhere we hadn't been before: Annies, close to St Anne's Square and not far from the Royal Exchange Theatre either. It was on two levels, with the tea room upstairs and the restaurant downstairs, which looked quite cosy, with a piano on one side too. Our friends were there and we then headed to the table and the good news was that Black Sheep was available and so I had to have that of course. The menu was very much traditional classic English stuff, and served properly on proper plates (none of this plank of wood or bed of slate rubbish here.) The staff were really friendly too, and nearby we had a table booked with a baby shower for one of the women in that group.

The Sunday lunch menu was also on which meant two courses for £15.95 and a dessert for £3 if you wanted to. Most of us chose from that and so I had the wild mushroom soup to start: that was lovely and earthy, and The Love had the paté - which looked gorgeous too. Most of us had the Sunday roast: our friend's partner had the chicken, The Love had the ham and I had the roast beef, and they all came with a massive Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, stuffing, carrots, broccoli, green beans and cauliflower cheese. I gave our friend the latter and all the rest was really nice - and the gravy proper classic thick and gorgeous, which we all approved of massively.

I was the only one to venture into dessert territory but I did have the rather classic jam roly poly with custard (see what I mean about traditional?) and that was gorgeous, it really was. I liked the fact it was traditional stuff, and it had a really nice ambience about the place too. Interestingly, it's owned by Jennie McAlpine (Fiz from Coronation Street) and her husband, and you can tell it's the sort of place that just feels right and comfortable and the sort of place you could relax (as they would do) and feel the vibes. The Love reckoned it used to be a nightclub back in the day (need to do some research on that!)

We then headed off towards Albert Square and stopped off at Bøck, which was a Belgian beer house and restaurant. We only wanted the beer and so we sat outside in one of their tables as it was quite warm inside, and the beer was decent enough (they had Shed Head which I've had before) but I couldn't help think that some of the beers were obviously priced because they'd been imported, and as such commanded pretty large prices to go with it. I must admit I do get tired of establishments thinking they can get away with charging London style prices just to look trendy though...

It was then onwards to The Waterhouse, and the guest ale on there happened to the Thornbridge Brock ale, a nice dark stout. Of course that appealed to me immediately and I had that, and the four of us all managed to get a decent selection: The Love and our friend some wine, and our friend's partner also the Mashed ale, which was dark and stronger than the Brock - although he said that the Brock tasted nicer in his view as it was a bit smoother. I wasn't complaining as I know that Thornbridge ales are always decent too.

In fact before we knew it, it had gone 7pm and we were all heading off homewards, not least as Victoria was on later which The Love particularly wanted to watch, but it had been an excellent day. We all got the tram from St Peter's Square to our relevant destinations homewards, and after The Love had seen to the cats, it was then a settle down and watch of Victoria. In fact, I enjoyed it more than the bits I had seen of the first series: Jenna Coleman's certainly got the title character being more feisty, and she plays it well, and having Peter Bowles as one of the commander soldiers and advisors adds a touch of class to it too. The theme tune is tune of the day as it really does evoke classical costume drama...

Saturday 26th August - Records and Birthdays

It was a nice warm day and with The Love having a well earned lie in before her father arrived later, I decided to make the most of my weekend tram ticket and so wanted to head off and do some record shopping. First off, it was off to the local tram stop, heading off to Deansgate-Castlefield and changing there for the Manchester Airport service and heading off to Chorlton, where it was off to the ever popular Kingbee Records and to peruse what was left of their annual sale that they have.

I say what was left, as the vinyl 12" singles and albums had had their sale ended due to the stock going pretty well down, and so there were still some boxes of 7" singles which were half price, but nothing took the fancy there really. However, I did note that several of the boxes normally on the floor which were vinyl albums for a mere £1, were instead on the racks and making them a bit easier to see overall. It was a good move, and so I had a good look at them for some time.

In fact I ended up spending a mere fiver and getting five different albums of various styles: "War Child" by Jethro Tull, "If You Leave Me Now" by Chicago, "Crises" by Mike Oldfield, "Love Over Gold" by Dire Straits and finally, the 2-LP set of "The Concerts in China" by Jean-Michel Jarre. There's reasons for getting each of them to be honest, two of them have links to family relations and so felt they needed to be purchased, and as a bit of a Tull fan generally it was nice to get an album missing from the early years I didn't have (I have Aqualung and Stand Up on vinyl for example.) So "Bungle in the Jungle" is tune of the day.

Anyway, with that all sorted it was back on the tram to the city centre and off to Fopp, where many cheap CDs were also tempting me to be purchased. I must admit I had seen one CD the other day that I was after and so thought it good to get that and something else, so I ended up getting the Hacienda Classical album and also Elbow's 2017 release "Little Fictions", and both of them were a mere £3 each, so can't complain about that really, bargains to be had when you know where to look of course.

The Love In My Heart and I had her father and sister round at hers for a cuppa and some cake over lunch which was nice, and I kept one eye on the football score, and the initial disappointment of having a mere 1-1 draw away at Bournemouth turned to joy when I noted the 97th minute winner by Raheem Sterling. Ooh yes. We also went to see my Mum later as well and had a coffee and chatter there - she was excited about her forthcoming holiday but was also thinking about Cornwall next year, and we put a useful suggestion into her head especially as she had stayed at this place before and loved it, so that's food for thought.

It was then getting changed and ready and off out later to Cheadle and to the Ashlea for a nice evening meal wiht my friend and his wife for my friend's birthday. We'd brought the card and presents, and in fact we had a nice large circular table so we could have a good natter. And Black Sheep was on cask, so that was me well and truly sorted on that front. The food was as good as ever, and I had the stilton and peppercorn mushrooms to start plus the chicken and pancetta pie for the main. My friend had the lasagne and couldn't resist the apple pie for dessert, and I had the sticky toffee pudding which just had to be done really.

My friend liked his presents: I got him two David Bowie CDs that he was after: one which was the VH1 Storytellers concert and the other being a show from 1980, both of which were legal releases too (I'd seen them in Fopp as well as online) and the other he was most chuffed with, a Gary Numan live DVD from Liverpool Olympia from last year (and ordered from the Numan website) which was the whole gig, and especially the old stuff played as part of that too. All in all, that worked out well and we had a good night before heading off home, and back in time for Match of the Day to relive City's epic last gasp winner..

Friday 25th August - First Class Friday

It was a day and a half really, as several of us headed out to lunch as one of the colleagues in our team was leaving today - it was her final day and she at least had a week's holiday lined up and was flying from Heathrow later that evening, which was at least a nice way to have a break between things (sometimes I wish I had done that between jobs myself). So it was good to be in one of the local bars close to work where the Whitstable Bay ale was in bottled form and still tasting rather nicely, and there was also a nice selection of food including some nachos for me, which went down well too.

It was a good day in terms of productivity and I managed to get several things sorted out overall for people, and it was good to see that I could be positive on several counts. My line manager ws back after two weeks away on holiday so he was catching up a fair bit, so I handled what I could in terms of everything else giving my colleague the time to get all the final things sorted and to be all finished off. I must admit that was one thing that my line manager did in one of my previous jobs - was able to get all the things I needed done and the time to get what I could all sorted, so felt like it was a positive thing overall to do.

I had stayed behind a little bit as I wanted to be able to get a few things sorted for the Bank Holiday weekend, and so with that in view it was then off on the Metropolitan Line tube to Euston Square and off to Euston station. I headed up to the First Class lounge as I was going first class tonight: it was only a little bit dearer than standard due to everyone piling on a train before Euston was shut on Saturday and Sunday, so made sense. In fact I spotted a woman who looked like a news reporter with a camera crew by the entrance.

In the lounge all was good, and I got a coffee and a cold drink and sat and chilled out nicely. The BBC News at Six came on, and sure enough there was the same reporter who I'd spotted earlier, doing a piece live from the station. People going past on the escalator going down weren't quite realising they were on the telly till someone did and ended up with a massive wave as he went past. I was tempting to do the same later on myself as I headed to the concourse but decided to take the lift down and avoid all that shenanigans. Standards, you know!

So it was on the 1840 and in first class, and it was lovely. The salmon linguine was gorgeous, especially with a whole big piece of salmon, and well seasoned too, and had a lemon posset for afters. In fact they also had the Wreckless Ale on and so that was me well and truly sorted in the ale department, and so had a good drink of that and relaxed as the train sped up North, with people heading off to to go Pride, and some others seeing their loved ones for the weekend. Tune of the day is "Hit The North" by The Fall, which is pretty much in my head each time I leave Euston these days for various reasons.

I got to Piccadilly and got the weekend tram ticket, as The Love hadn't been home from work and shopping long, so wanted to have a bit of down time, and so the tram didn't take too long and before I knew it I'd arrived at The Love's place where the two cats Jô and Brian were all cosy, and in fact Brian let me tickle his tummy for an age before he then headed out into the fresh air, so that was nice. We watched a bit of telly before we all headed for a snuggle off to bed. Aww...

Thursday 24th August - Internationally Intended

After I had got out of work a little later than planned, I took a little diversion. Rather than wait ages at Farringdon station for the train to East Croydon, I instead headed on the 63 bus to Kings Cross and from there then headed to St Pancras International Station (as you do) as the plan was to pick up a birthday present from a shop in there and one that The Love In My Heart had seen and would like me to get - as said shop isn't that convenient to get to up North, you see. I thought it was easier to do so tonight rather than necessarily rush around tomorrow before getting the train, so there you go.

In fact it's always rather grand on the ground floor of St Pancras International anyway as many little shops and High Street brand names at that all have a gorgeous glass fronted line of retail close to where the departures and check ins are for Eurostar itself, with the arrivals nicely blended in too so you face all that when you get here. I must admit though that the massive clock in the arches and the statues around really do give it a sense of being a hugely impressive station.

I managed to get what I needed and it was then back to the lower levels of the station for Platform A (the Thameslink platforms are A and B, a legacy from when the station was further down the road at Kings Cross Thameslink and so called to avoid confusion with Kings Cross itself. It's one of three stations in London to use lettered platforms (the other two being Waterloo East and New Cross, again to avoid clashes with Waterloo and New Cross Gate respectively) and so is an artefact of those times. In fact four different operators use St Pancras International: Thameslink A and B, East Midlands Trains 1-4, Eurostar 5-10 and Southeastern (the High Speed Javelin trains) on 11-13. Neat and tidy nonetheless.

Boarding the 1708 showed why I'm glad I don't have to travel at the 5pm peak most of the time. I managed to get a seat because I was on at St Pancras, but by City Thameslink it was standing room only and Blackfriars was carnage. I can only imagine how much worse it'll be when they resume the route via London Bridge in 2018 - faster it might be, but there will be more people attempting to board the same train. And I can't see the proposed 24 trains per hour through the so-called Thameslink Core being a reality - not least when there's way too many breakdowns at City Thameslink due to the inefficiencies of GTR (note: the train failures are their fault, so they can't blame Network Rail for this one..)

Listening to some music tonight I discovered a nice new lovely cover version on no less than the official Soundcloud page of Vonda Shepard. She's only gone and taken on one of Salford's finest singers in Elkie Brooks and attempted the classic "Pearl's a Singer". I did appreciate Vonda's version and it was well sung and with suitable gusto, although naturally I have a very soft spot for the original, which is tune of the day. Still, good effort though and always good when someone gives it a good go rather then either makes a horrible unnecessary dance mix of it, or just tries too hard to be John Lewis advert twee...

Wednesday 23rd August - Glad I'm Back

Well, not me necessarily to be glad to be back at work, as the two days I had off were rather nice and good to have some down time for me, but it was perhaps noticeable that the team leader of our second line team, and indeed some of our second line staff, were amongst those to say to me that they were glad that I was back and that they could feel that they could get on with things, ask me questions, get some progression and things moving, and generally be of assistance where possible.

On my side, it was good to be able to get things sorted, and worked with one of my server team colleagues in order to ensure that the new updated licence for the antivirus software we use was updated on existing machines, and I tested out the revised client package with the new key for the next twelve months - and so once I'd created a package I did a road test with a SCCM task sequence, a test one with the new install included as part of the steps. And it all appeared to work nicely, know about the new key and be able to work the correct way, so was pretty pleased with myself generally.

Because of the fact we're down on staff at the moment, I do feel that I'm having less time to do the day to day stuff that I would need to do as well in terms of other development work I'd really like to do, but at the same time I know business as usual (or as they always tend to say BAU) does come first. Of course there's lots of things I'd love to devote more time to, but there really isn't the power to do that as yet, and it's a case of constant getting the current stuff all sorted. And I can imagine it'll be a little worse next week too but we'll see how that all progresses.

I did manage to head home on the train and ended up chatting to two people who worked at the same company - the woman lived in Brighton and explained it was a different commute for her due to an new job and enquired about the train's slowness between Blackfriars and East Croydon, so was able to give her the info on that which she appreciated. The bloke was down there for a wedding reception later (in all seriousness, who does get married midweek!) and was having to take work calls, so warned of the tunnels on the way down. It actually made a change to actually have a conversation with people on the train!

Anyway, the red sky that descended over Croydon in the sunset tonight was simply gorgeous, and so managed to get a nice shot of it a little earlier. It really did set in the West rather nicely and the view from the apartment window really did help considerably. Ironically I was listening to the excellent "Red Sun" by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie from their album, and so that happens to be tune of the day as well - and well worth getting that album too!

Tuesday 22nd August - Home and Hot

It was good to be up and about for breakfast with The Love In My Heart, and we had some croissants and coffee together before she was heading off for work. We had a hug and kiss goodbye and the two cats Jô and Brian were all chilled out, so left them to relax whilst watching the rest of BBC Breakfast. And at around 0855, the people from All The Stations were on, having made their way back from Wick where they completed their epic journey on Saturday, having visited all 2,563 train stations in the UK in just under fifteen weeks. Impressive stuff, it has to be said.

I pottered around for a bit, and showered and packed the case, and then gave the cats some little treats. We managed to get some more of the urinary treats over the weekend so that we can give them occasionally so that their urinary tract is all good and that they'll be able to have a wee as they need to. It should also mean that Jô especially will be a bit more comfortable and be less prone to being possessive where Mummy is concerned, although he does of course love Mummy most of all!

I headed off for the tram at around 11am and off to Piccadilly for the 1215 departure to London Euston. There were various people giving away free small sampler cans of Lucozade so I managed to get an orange and a normal one from there, and in Sainsburys I picked up a sausage barm for lunch and that had also been reduced too. Excellent really, all sorted for not much dosh, that's what I'm talking about. And the train journey was quiet, so it meant that the iPod was on with tunes, no one sat next to me, and could see the countryside whizz past as I headed down South.

The humidity that had been present this morning in Manchester really did hit in Euston, and of course even more so when on the Victoria Line tube heading to Victoria. I managed to walk down to Platform 17 and just about get the Tonbridge train which does stop at East Croydon, so that was literally a walk on the train and see it set off around thirty seconds later. This did mean I got home earlier than planned, which was nice, and meant I could play the new Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie album that I'd got over the weekend for some more relaxation time.

And what do I think? Actually, pretty decent. Of course Christine' voice is never in doubt as being lovely, and it's on fine form here, especially on "Feel About You" which has a more huskier feel in parts too. Definitely a grower and one which stood out for critics too (and for me) and so tune of the day it is. It does have some pop sensibilities in parts of the album, no doubt aided by Mitchell Froom's hand in it, who did a lot of producting and writing stuff with Vonda Shepard (prior to him being her husband!) - and an enjoyable listen. And yes folks, Christine sang the proper original version of "Songbird" that lots of people have covered famously since, so always worth checking the proper one sometime too.

Monday 21st August - Ten Man Tussle

I was off work today and tomorrow, and gave The Love In My Heart a kiss before she headed off to work. I had her spare set of keys, so once I had fussed over the cats Jô and Brian for a bit, and made sure they had some cat treats as well, I headed off into the city centre. I hadn't done any record shopping for a while so I thought it'd be good to head into the shops, and so ventured in Fopp for a while. I must admit I was mega tempted to get lots of stuff especially at low down prices, but one particular compilation (not cheap) stood out, which I may need to investigate further...

I also then headed to the Virgin Money Lounge, and had a well earned coffee in there. I still have my valid membership and is often useful when I want to relax with coffee, enjoy the peace and quiet of the city and be able to also use one of the iMacs to browse the Internet as well. It was good because it was quiet, and indeed I found that the coffee machine had been changed, so a nice good cup of latte was mine to be had at the same time. Now that is what I call a result.

I then headed to Piccadilly and it was a trip on the 173 bus which takes me to where my friend now lives. In fact it's a route I've never used before and it goes round to Piccadilly Station, Grosvenor Street and then down Plymouth Grove to Longsight before heading down Stanley Grove and Mount Road. It was a short walk to my friend's place and had a good catch up and chatter in the afternoon with him and his wife about all sorts, including my holiday in Cornwall, what they had been up to, and naturally lots of football related chat with us both heading off to the City game later against Everton.

Part of my friend and I's plan was that we would go to Pizza Hut for tea and then off to the game, something which he was happy to do (we'd not been for ages) and it also meant that his wife could have some quiet relaxing time too, so all good there. My friend went around the back way via Windmill Lane to Denton, then across Corporation Road towards Guide Bridge and to the Snipe Retail Park where Pizza Hut was, saved using the M60 and effectively getting stuck on roundabouts, always a good thing in my view. Pizza Hut was all good, we had the refill drinks station and whilst he had a margherita, I went a bit more adventurous and went for the BBQ Americano, which had chicken, sweetcorn and bacon with barbecue sauce. And very nice it was too!

Once all done, it was off to the Etihad Stadium. In fact we'd all been sent an email warning us about the fact that there would be extra searches tonight, and sure enough that was the case tonight, with me getting the full wand treatment and my friend getting his bag searched. We had got there early enough not to miss the kick off, and had our customary cuppa before kick off, which warmed us both up nicely. City had a nice new video with narration from David Threlfall to gee the crowd up, and fireworks were all coming out as the teams came out (although the smoke from them meant visibility wasn't as good for the first few minutes, not good really.)

The first half was a tussle of sorts, with City looking to break down methodically and almost walk the ball in at times instead of shooting, and when David Silva hit the post I thought it might not be the day for us. In fact shortly afterwards the ball went down the right and a cross went in for Wayne Rooney (who else?) to score the opener and indeed his 200th Premier League goal. And you just knew that it would be against us I suspect. Worse was to come when Kyle Walker got his second yellow and was sent off, and by the sound of what most pundits said, it was a little harsh. Unfortunately when you go sliding in there's always a risk, and so the second half with ten men was going to be difficult.

It changed after half time as Raheem Sterling came on for Gabriel Jesús, and the flow was much better, even withn a man down. City made some good chances and it was only for the lack of finishing at the end was there not a goal going in. I have to say we were both getting tense and agreed we'd take 1-1 if it came. And after a defensive mix-up the ball fell to Sterling who rifled it low and hard into the bottom corner for the equaliser. And nothing more than all the comeback play had deserved, as Bernardo Silva had come on too and had also looked pretty useful on home debut.

Try as we might, a winner wasn't forthcoming but a couple of close calls near the end and as we headed out of the ground it was a case of thinking what might have been in terms of victory. Still, the season had started here and the next home game for us was a mere 12.30 kick off against Liverpool in a couple of weeks' time. Tune of the day is the City classic "The Boys In Blue" and the line from that is that the boys in blue never give in, and they clearly don't either. It was good to see that they had been determined to come back from a goal down which was a positive from the night. Just don't mention the bobbins referee...

Sunday 20th August – Slightly Sunny Southport

As I didn't have to head back for a train today, it meant that The Love In My Heart and I could have a longer day out together, which was nice, and so once we got ourselves up, fussed over the cats Jô and Brian a fair bit (Brian wanted his tummmy tickling a lot, so he was more than happy once we did so) and it was then having some nice breakfast together, and being chilled out for the day ahead. We'd thought about things last night and thought that a trip to Southport was a nice idea, not been there in ages really.

Once all good to go, we headed out to the A580 and then the M61 to junction 8, and skirting round Astley Village and on to the A581, taking us through Euxton and then on to the rather lovely village of Croston, before then getting on to the A59 and A565. At the roundabout we avoided the road directly into the town centre but instead went along the Marine Drive, seeing the RSPB bird and wildlife sanctuary and also the marshes on the beach before spotting the pier in the distance, and managed to get a parking space quite close to there and the pub, so all good.

It was warm and a little muggy, so we didn't need the coats, so instead took a walk along the pier all the way to the end (it is a fairly long walk) and we noted that the former tram that took us along the pier was now a road train instead, using the same sort of tracks as a guide to head along. It wasn't cheap though. We also saw at the end of the pier the building with the old penny arcade, where you used old pennies to play a lot of the likes of fruit machines, penny falls et al. It was entertaining, but I spotted four pinball machines and thought “Oooh, good!” - except the flippers didn't work on two that I tried. Meh.

We walked back down the whole length of the pier, so over the Marine Drive, and then over the marine lake and past the lake railway, and to the end facing the lake promenade. It was busy and there were two karaoke singers who were basically ruining classic songs and it was painful on the ears. On the good side though, the Masters crazy golf was still there close to the lake and it simply had to be done – especially as the course was well maintained and a mere £3 for a full 18 hole round, which was a bargain really.

And I am pleased to report that it was still enjoyable even today. The course was as good as I remembered it, and on the sixth hole, where you hit the ball up a slope into a small hole like a clown's mouth, hitting it in there may get a hole in one when the ball comes out at the bottom. The Love managed it and did a hole in one, and so did I on my shot – which was a nice high five moment! In fact the family in front were also playing well and we'd congratulate them if one of them got a hole in one too.

I'd have to say that the outward nine was more difficult than the inward nine, primarily I think because of the number of people it was a little stop start in places, and the holes appeared to be ridged with a slight uphill way into them instead of being flat. The second nine though played smoother, and that was shown in our scores. In fact The Love got a hole in one on the 15th (the lighthouse hole) and I got two, on the 10th where I avoided the traps and the ball rebounded off the back and in, and the 12th, playing off the side and avoiding the hazards. We rule!

It was then off to the arcade in the front of the pier, and spotted a couple of good machines, but no pinball (meh) and too many grabber machines. We did then walk down to Lord Street and peruse the nice Victorian arcades there which were still lovely. In fact at at the Atkinson Centre there was a display with putters and golf balls, and I managed to get a shot without any people. We also spotted the lovely architecture of the obelisk and the squares with their tiling, all lovely. We did also then walk back towards the front and to the Southport Theatre which looked to have lots of good shows on, and then off down the pier again and stopped off at the pub close to the seaside, and had a nice drink in there with a view over to the sea and the pier. All good.

The traffic was a little busy heading out along the Marine Drive, mainly because of a set of lights where the A565 meets the A59 with one way to Liverpool, one way to Preston, but we decided that we'd stop off in Croston on the way back for some tea. There were lots of nice pubs but we stopped off in The Grapes, and that was a wise move. Three good cask ales on and the waitress knew what they were (ace) and the food was simply stunning. I had the lamb and mint pie, and it was a proper pie, melt in the mouth and with some chips and peas, and nice gravy. In fact move over the beef and amber ale pie at the Crown and Anchor, I've found my number 1 pie! The Love had the Sunday roast lamb and she loved that too, and that was gorgeous. It was also nice that the background music was that, and that they did play Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (tune of the day) and so all was well there.

It was a good day out overall, and we headed back to The Love's place and snuggled up on the sofa watching some evening telly including the new series on BBC2 where they needed to find an astronaut, and the tests were pretty brutal. You didn't want to mess with the astronaut Chris Hadfield though, he knew what it needed to take and didn't take any slackers on. The tests were difficult though especially the being enclosed in a pod for twenty minutes and having to try and leave at the exact time, and the running one to the beeps, insane stuff it was.

Saturday 19th August – Child Geniuses with Wine and Wallop

The Love In My Heart and I were all feeling good after a nice night's sleep, and also the two cats Jô and Brian were also all good – they just wanted lots of love and attention (and Dreamies!) and were pretty relaxed as we both had a nice breakfast together, and they were sniffing around the bacon as they do like the occasional bit of raw meat – especially for some reason chicken or turkey! We got everything sorted and headed out later to see The Love's father.

The journey took lots later than planned though. The main road near The Love's place was closed for resurfacing works, but what this meant was that traffic from the local Asda was being diverted around the back roads, and with it being a Saturday, you can tell how much the traffic had built. So what's normally a two or three minute journey out to where the other main road is which we take, it was nearly half an hour – as traffic needed to turn right onto the second road and as traffic was coming down that road, not everyone could turn. Maybe a temporary set of signals may have helped somewhat? Thankfully the road was open later which was helpful on the way back.

We spent some time with The Love's father and sister and had a good catch up, and in fact the Man U game at Swansea was on. The three goals in quick succession didn't go down well with me, or even The Love's father, who had bet on a 2-0 win to Man U. Although being a fan of said team, he was also happy that they had their second 4-0 win on the bounce, so that had to be something. We also had a really good natter about all sorts, and The Love's sister was looking forward to her holiday away too – especially the rather warm weather when there!

Later on we headed off and was going to pop over to see my Mum, but she was out for the day, and so instead we headed off to John Lewis in Cheadle, as The Love needed to get a present for a new baby. In fact the sales were on and so we got something nice and soft in there which was good, and we noted in Sainsburys it was 25% off the clothing in there. I was checking over jeans for me, but none in my size (typical) and we spotted a gorgeous little top in the design of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. It simply had to be done, and we picked up the Lindsey Buckingham – Christine McVie album at the same time. Thought it'd be a good listen especially as I remember the Buckingham – Nicks album from the 1970s too!

It was then off to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a drink, as we love that place and it always has a nice vibe to it. In fact the ale I had was simply gorgeous, called Marmalade Cat, which was a nice orange coloured ale with a bit of a burnt citrus taste to it, marmalade style. I have to say it was lovely being upstairs and chilled out and The Love had a rosé wine for a change, which she really liked. I like the vibe, but sometimes I do wish that the ale was cheaper - £4 a pint is close to London prices, and I have to remind myself “but we're not in London!!”

The road had re-opened near The Love's place later so we got back fine, and settled in for the evening, with some gorgeous beef bourbignon for the main course and a lovely lemon cheesecake for dessert. We then watched the final of Child Genius with the excellent Richard Osman as the host. It was a tense first round with a specialist subject at degree level having to be known and revised and then having some difficult questions. In fact one of them was on a Chinese dynasty and the academic there stepped in after the round and stated that in fact three of the answers were correct – as alternative names and acronyms were allowed in terms of language translation. That still didn't help Dylan, and he was out as was Alliyah and surprisingly Joshua.

So it was a case of Ronan against Rahul in the final with a general knowledge, spelling and maths quick fire round on the buzzer. Rahul kept getting the buzz in first and was able to get the answers right, and despite a spirited effort from Ronan, Rahul won 10-4. I must admit I didn't want him to win, neither did The Love, he and his parents were a bit up their own backside, Rahul didn't speak to any other contestants most of the time whilst the others were really encouraging each other, and it just left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth for me personally.

I did see a bit of Match of the Day (the theme tune is tune of the day) as the Premier League has started in earnest. In fact I'm off the first two days of next week primarily so I can see the Man City v Everton game on the Monday night (no thanks to Sly Sports for their planning of this one and inconveniencing the fans massively) but it was good to see the likes of Gary Lineker having a good analysis especially of the Southampton v West Ham game and how the indiscipline of West Ham cost them. Makes me wonder if Zabaleta and Hart made the right decsions to go there...

Friday 18th August – It's Back Up North

It was a busy and productive day today, and stayed back a little later than planned in order to be able to get some of the work done with the ServiceNow instances, with help from one of our external suppliers. Effectively our Service Delivery Manager wanted to have a working backup of the production environment in our development one, so any changes needed would then be correctly tested in the development system before going live – makes a lot of sense to me that.

It was good to go through the process, and surprisingly, it was relatively simple. The important thing was that the backup would always be scheduled a few hours after request, so it would be an overnight request anyway – not a bad thing as it would mean that no one would in theory be using the system (our service desk closes at 6pm) and of course mean it'd all be done over the weekend and in a good way. With that all sorted out, it was then time to head off and to the train back home first.

I did manage to have some time to have some tea at home first, having already packed the case last night as well. I was able to make sure I took some extra clothes with me ready for the fact I'm in Manchester for a lot longer than I am normally, as I've got the Monday and Tuesday off work. The Love In My Heart wasn't able to get that time off, but it does mean we can have a longer Sunday out together and not have to worry too much about being back at a certain time to get the train either..

It was back to East Croydon later and off on the train to London Victoria – which didn't stop at Clapham Junction. It was pretty good that, and it meant that the train was relatively quiet too. I had a surprise when I did get to Victoria – no less than a Mercedes Formula 1 car, which used to be driven by no less than Lewis Hamilton, with a number 44 on it. Nice. Everyone was of course stopping to take pictures and it would have been rude for me not to either, so pleased to have the Digital SLR with me this weekend and to be able to do that. In view of this, “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac, the proper F1 theme is tune of the day. It just had to be done.

I got to Euston and all was good for the 2040 train to Manchester, with its usual stop at Crewe along the way. It was a really good journey, nice and quiet, and had a woman sat next to me with headphones in (I had mine too) so all chilled out and listening to the Paul Weller album I got recently as well as a random selection of other stuff. I got to Piccadilly on time and The Love In My Heart was waiting for me with a big hug, which is always good. We got back to her place and watched a bit of telly before we snuggled up with the two cats in tow and all felt rather lovely.

Thursday 17th August - Barcelona

I was going to get on with the normal and mundane stuff that I'd normally write about, however all that went out of the window today and I was shocked to hear on the way home from work that another terrorist attack had taken place, this time in the centre of Barcelona on Las Ramblas, a pedestrianised street popular with tourists in the centre of this vibrant and cultural city. At the time of writing there's a fair number of people who have been killed and many injured, which reminds me of similar incidents that have happened in Nice and London especially over the last year or so.

It's really hard to comprehend just how much there's a case of frustration and anger as well as thinking of those who were caught up in the incident, being at the wrong place in the wrong time and having to endure such scenes of panic and chaos - scenes I should add which really shouldn't be broadcast on the news - it only strives to give terrorists more publicity and think that their notoriety alone would hit the news channels, causing pain. But I also think that there's a sense of knowing that as well as being able to target lots of ordinary innocent people in one hit, it's the whole being known for it which sickens me to the core.

I'm from Manchester, itself a place hit by an atrocious terror attack a few months ago, and one which the city has bounced back from in a way that I know Mancunians would do - with pride, togetherness and a sense of defiance as one. That's the city I know and the city I love, and I'm sure that those in Barcelona will undoubtedly have that same level. Even more so, there's a real sense of feeling that if the police have managed to arrest those responsible that they be brought to justice as soon as possible to send out the message that infringement of everyday rights of everyday citizens will not and will never be tolerated.

It just makes me feel really sad that we live in such a world too - a world where instead of actually acknowledging and accepting the fact we are all individual and different but all people ultimately, there's some who are clearly misled by something, whether religion, being brainwashed, or whatever, that just have an agenda of their own. It should be a fair and equal world where everyone is respected, but that's a utopia that sadly isn't ever going to happen in my lifetime.

Tune of the day is from the Spanish tenor José Carreras, and comes from one of the albums of The Three Tenors (with fellow Spaniard Plácido Domingo and Italian Luciano Pavarotti - you all remember Nessun Dorma from the 1990 World Cup) and it's "With A Song In My Heart" from the musical Spring Is Here. There's something touching about that which reaches out as I reach out to Barcelona, with a song in my heart thinking of those who are there, and those who aren't now here, and perhaps a small way to show some togetherness with what's going on.

Wednesday 16th August - Cracked It!

I had several of those "yaay" moments today, and the first one was getting to the bottom of why things werent working yesterday with OSDBackground. So, there's a folder with your background images, all good, but what was happening was that the system thumbs.db file was being generated for image thumbnails in the folder with the images in. As it transpired when this was attempted to be copied to the distribution point, it would fail and then retry, then fail. Although I did manage success yesterday, I suspect something went AWOL in the copy operation, so did a remove from DP, sorted out removing the thumbs.db file, uploaded it, and ... it worked!

Well, I still need to add back in the step to do the system time synch from the management point but apart from that I've run through a whole deployment of an OS and it actually does really well, showing off all its good features and looks quite nice and corporate along the way. So far so good, but to be honest I probably need to look at getting the WinPE image updated before it all going to production. Nonetheless, now I've had a little bit of time to look at this in more detail, it's all good to see really.

So what next? Ah yes, sorting out a licencing issue. It looked like for some reason some of our licences had used enough activations, so spent a bit of time working on that and getting that all resolved before then looking into why the Office 2016 recent documents list wasn't necessarily synchronising. And,as I guessed, it's profile related. Office stores the FileMRU and the PlacesMRU for folders and files visited in the user's registry, and more so, because it's using the 365 licencing, it does so with a long name ADAL_<insert long hexadecimal string here> which is unique to each ID. Nice.

Anyway, if you clear that out, most of the recent files list goes (apart from the URL based ones which are associated to the 365 account's recent list, not the local user account.) However, what this also showed is that if your profile isn't downloading from the roaming profile location and being able to be synchronised, then there's clearly no way that the recent file list shows either correctly, so it's worth noting. Mind you, plenty of other people don't use roaming profiles and don't see this as an issue, so it's a case of managing expectations or finding another way to get that all sorted.

Tune of the day is the rather gorgeous "The Band of Gold" by Seth Lakeman from the original release of the Freedom Fields album. I must admit this makes me think of Cornwall, but also of The Love In My Heart, as it's one of her favourite songs of Seth's as well. It's a song that makes us both feel happy together, so with me missing her quite a bit, it's one of the songs that I turn to for a bit of inspiration. And yes, that's soft, but hey, if it helps, you know?

Tuesday 15th August - Not A Child, But Genius

Well I wish I had been a genius at work today but there were a few things which were preventing me from claiming that. I've been testing out a little add-on for SCCM which allows you to display all sorts of nice information as you're running a OS deployment task sequence, including the stage that you're at, along with even having some extra info such as network adapter information, PC name and serial number etc, and it's the very nice OSDBackground that allows it all to happen.

So in effect once I'd got the package, it was a case of creating a SCCM package as per instructions, then adding my own background image (our work's branding team sorted one out for me, hurrah) and also customising the configuration file so it comes up with information we need. Once that was done, it was then adding the relevant steps into a test task sequence (always use a test one, you can at least then know it works before adding more steps to the live one) and see what happens.

And admittedly, I did hit a hiccup, although this was suggested it may be the version of WinPE used for the boot image. As the application needs .NET Framework and Powershell in the boot image (they were already in anyway) one of the Powershell scripts sets up the system time to match the management point and thereby be able to show a progress timer. But the script exited all the time with errors, so quit that idea, but then the first time the OSDBackground would then run it errored out with a similar error I'd seen before, so certainly when I am going to update the WinPE version, I'll need to see how this performs anyway. However I also think there's a related problem to do with a file not copying correctly, so I'll work on that in the morning.

Later on tonight I watched the second episode of Child Genius with Richard Osman hosting. I have to say that the challenges were tough, but I do take issue with some of the parents though. One such parent came from Manchester and was home schooling her children, and then had the audacity to slag off one of the tests (effectively a memory and skills test) because she claimed it was too much of what happens in school and why she took her son out - effectively saying she knew better. Meh.

Anyway, the challenge concerned was that of one of London's Bus Spider maps, namely the one for Charing Cross (PDF available on TfL's website) - as such you had to remember the bus numbers, start and end destinations, the stops, lots of things. I was quite surprised that a number of them did really well, and I must admit I was playing along at home and got loads of them right. It's primarily because, even before I moved down, a) I used to visit London a lot and take the bus a lot of the time and b) Since, I've travelled on a lot of those buses to various destinations over time.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good and excellent Paul Weller song "Woo Sé Mama" from the new album "A Kind Revolution" which has been getting some play in the Towers over the last couple of days. It's got a really nice groove to it and really sets off the album well as an opener. Having the likes of PP Arnold singing along as backing really gives it a more bluesy feel too, which I really like. Sometimes, it's the little things which add up to a lot and this is one of them.

Monday 14th August - External

So back at work after two days off, and with a fair few staff on leave it did feel a little quieter today. I did note that I'd had two changes approved when I was off, so set about the deployments for those (one today and one tomorrow) and so far today's one has gone pretty well overall. I also had to spend some time sorting out a couple of issues with some specialist applications used by our Facilities staff, and once that was all good, it was good to rack my brains on another issue.

So, we have our DirectAccess working all well, and we can do plenty of things well with it, so software deployment via SCCM - works well, as does the likes of being able to see the event viewer, registry, take remote control etc. One thing that one of my colleagues noted was that for some reason we weren't able to see if the Bitlocker recovery key had changed - and as per the MBAM group policies, that should be escrowing a new recovery key every 90 minutes.

Anyway, when connected wired, I could see the key being escrowed fine, but when on a wireless network where DirectAccess would kick in, it wouldn't play ball, causing an error. So I entered the MBAM CoreService URL into a web browser with both type of connections: on wired, it displayed what I expected, but under DirectAccess, it was coming up with the two factor authentication screen with SecurEnvoy that's used. Hmm.. but surely DirectAccess should be showing that page as an internal web page not an external one, right?

One of our network team made a good suggestion and once my colleague implemented that I checked again, still the same issue. I have a feeling that for some reason the server isn't recognising connections over DirectAccess correctly with its external facing URL (the server is also placed in the DMZ so it can be seen externally) so I am wondering if there's a way that we need to do some configuration on that side. I'll liaise tomorrow and see what can be worked on from there.

I arrived home later and sorted out the pictures from Saturday's visits to Herne Bay and Whitstable, so clicking on those place names will take you to my Flickr set from each. I must admit I did like both for different reasons, although The Love and I agreed that being at Whitstable was lovely and we could easily go there again in the future, maybe this time find the elusive Squeeze Gut Alley and take a trip out to the black post windmill that we spotted from the station. Tune of the day is the lovely "Waiting For A Train" by Flash and the Pan, classic 80s and sums up the day!

Sunday 13th August - Slow Down Sunday

After the last three days of being out and about, The Love In My Heart and I thought it was a good idea to have some rest and relaxation time, and The Love had a good long lie in whilst I watched the 50km walks from The Mall on the BBC Red Button and sorted out the pictures that I'd taken yesterday with a view to uploading both sets from Herne Bay and Whitstable to Flickr at some point in the future. It was good to be able to make a nice full cooked breakfast for us both and be able to relax having that, with the telly on and the mood in full chilled out mode.

The weather was pretty nice outside and so we both had an idea: head up to the roof terrace garden on the top of the block of flats and have a game of Scrabble up there, and take a drink up with us along with the beach towel to sit down on. In fact this worked out really well, especially as the sun came out and was pretty hot, making the astroturf also hot to sit on, so beach towel did the trick nicely, and the cool lemonade for me was just the thing too and some fresh air as well.

It was a good game of Scrabble overall and The Love played some good moves: I did also do the classic pairing of AX and XI with the X on a triple letter score, so instant 50 points there of course. It was nice though to just chatter and play and also be able to look out over the Croydon skyline as we got on with things, so felt rather pleased with myself overall. It was good to do that and we both felt it was a nice thing - and as we headed down, got the case for The Love and headed to East Croydon station later, we wanted more of the same lovely weekends too.

In fact we got to Victoria and then Warren Street and it was off to one of our favourite haunts, the Crown and Anchor, for late lunch. They had the beef and amber ale pie on, which is a proper pie and rather gorgeous, so had that with the chips and some nice gravy, whilst The Love had the Sunday roast pork which looked really good, and a shed load of vegetables go with it. I also had the Comfortably Numb ale (make the Pink Floyd classic song tune of the day) which was gorgeous.

It did feel sad having The Love leave later from Euston, especially as due to an earlier incident some of the trains were delayed, but thankfully hers left a mere four minutes behind schedule and made up the time. It was a wonderful weekend and I just feel really sad that it's all over, and that we're going to have a week at work till we see each other again. It made me just feel so lucky to be hers and that I'm the one she wants to be with - and when we have such great times, it just makes me want to have more really.

Saturday 12th August - Have An Adventure

Inspired by an idea set by the folks from All The Stations, I thought it'd be good for The Love In My Heart and I to set off for our own little adventure, as we had a full Saturday to ourselves. I also thought it'd be good to go somewhere different, so when Southeastern were doing £10 day returns as a special offer to parts of their lines, and knowing that I'd spoken to MJ Hibbett's partner Charlotte about it (she had enthused massively how good it all was) then The Love and I had worked out where we'd wanted to go and so had booked our tickets, including the PlusBus tickets to take a bus trip out when we'd get there, and so after breakfast it was off from East Croydon to St Pancras International first.

Once there, we had some time before our train, so we were able to have some nice coffee and also make sure we had any other essentials we needed, before heading to platform 11 and on to the nice shiny Javelin trains that are the Southeastern High Speed ones, and one of those trains was going to our destination of choice - Whitstable. The train would speed to Stratford International, where lots got off for the athletics, and Ebbsfleet International, before then heading off the high speed and onto normal lines to go through the likes of Gravesend and Rainham (both having the elusive Platform zero as well) and on to Strood and Rochester, over the very lovely bridge over the River Medway too.

We also headed past Sittingbourne (where you change for the Isle of Sheppey and Sheerness-on-Sea on there) and then to Faversham, where a Javelin was sited ready for another journey and those going to Canterbury needed to change trains. We stayed on and caught some lovely views of the sea before arriving at Whitstable, a couple of minutes late due to awaiting a signal at Gillingham. However, we did notice that part of the station building next to Platform 2 where we'd got off was now a nursery called ChooChoos (hoho!) and that the rooms were named after platforms for each age group - again a really nice touch that.

We walked along a couple of roads and ended up at the high street, and passed a rather gorgeous art deco former cinema (now a Wetherspoons) but also a gorgeous local theatre, part of the historic alleyways where smugglers would escape, and lots of The Love's favourite "little shops", independent places that sell lovely things, and plenty of them too. In fact it was noticeable how non-corporate a lot of the shops were, and a farmers' market inside the Umbrella Centre as well as the lovely historic Harbour Street with plenty of shops and a good record shop at that (of course I had to browse in there as you do!)

It was then on to the sea front and plenty of sailing boats moored on the beach, a lot of really nice breakwaters and pebbles, and plenty of places to have oysters, notable perhaps due to its history of the town and association with such delicacies. In fact I noted the oyster huts, some of which were now holiday lets facing the sea, and later on we had some lovely fish and chips in the Duke of Cumberland pub, which also had the Whitstable Bay pale ale, just had to be done and all that. The pub also had some lovely old items such as old record players and radios in the windows, and retro posters inside. Very nice that.

We walked back to the seafront and on to the harbour, and that had a market in the huts, and boats that would be heading out to sea to do the fishing. That was lovely, but also what was lovely was that the sun had come out and shone on the waters, and the atmosphere was really nice and relaxed. We walked along a bit to the castle, and the gardens were simply gorgeous, the orangery of the castle had a café which also looked good, and we also noted that the castle itself had a private function on, but they did have tours on certain days which would be a good place to visit too. The rose garden and fountain at the back of the gardens also explained it was a former tennis court and outdoor dance floor for socialising back in the day.

There was a bus stop close by so we utilised our PlusBus ticket. In certain towns you can add on this ticket with your train ticket, and it gives you unlimited travel on local buses for a price. In fact, it would have been £3 for the Whitstable one, but using the Two Together Railcard we have, that became £2 each instead (top tip that.) And I'd seen how much the normal tickets were, so had to be a good thing really. And the local bus route was called Triangle, as it did a route between Whitstable, Herne Bay, Canterbury and then back to Whitstable in a near triangular loop. It got us to Herne Bay, and we went exploring.

Herne Bay was very much in the style of a traditional seaside town, lots of arcades, a pier, plenty of guest houses and on top of that, lots of families out en masse. In fact you could tell it was popular with day trippers from London (as would be Margate, I reckon) and lots of those accents were being heard as we walked up and down the front. The pier had been suitably yarnbombed with plenty of knitted creations, and we could actually see way out to sea where the end of the pier used to be. There was also a nice little real ale bar in one of the huts with pints for £3, very reasonable and definitely a positive!

We walked back West along the front, and spotted something I wanted to do - crazy golf! The Love indulged me and although not the cheapest at £4.50 a go, it was well maintained with good quality astroturf surfaces, some good obstacles to work around, and a nice flow to the course too. In fact lots of families playing, so a positive there, and The Love hit some good shots with lots of 2s on both our scorecards. The 18th hole was a four attempts to hit it up the ramp and in a hole with a gap in between, The Love did it on her fourth go, and I got the only hole in one on that and smacked it in. Excellent eh!

We walked back down the front, up to the clock tower, and saw another arcade which looked a little less inviting. Actually, I had spotted that there were supposed to be two pinball machines here, and there were, but they weren't switched on, and hadn't been for some time. The word "denied!" sprung to mind, and so it was back along the front for a bit, and then went into the bandstand and checked out the craft stalls before then heading on the bus and back towards Whitstable.

Once we'd got off at Harbour Street it was then walking along the Island Wall street, and spotting some of the historic alleyways used by smugglers. I didn't locate Squeeze Gut Alley but I did see the boat Favourite, one of the last original oyster yawls and preserved here next to one of the alleys. We walked back along the sea wall, past the tennis courts and spotted the Old Neptune pub, literally almost on the beach, with plenty of people having a drink and doing so outside too. We also spotted the Cushing's Walk, named after Peter Cushing as well.

In fact we headed back to the art deco feel of the Peter Cushing pub, and inside, wow! It was like an old cinema would have been, and the entrance had history of the man along with some stills from the films he was in, and the ceiling had the art deco styled lights from them, spot on. I had the gorgeous local Whitstable Porter ale and that was nice and dark and lovely, and so good. In fact the whole place was grand, and we both felt sad to leave, and spotted yarn bombed bench on the way back to the station. Tune of the day incidentally is the theme tune to Hammer House of Horror, of which Cushing starred several times in those productions.

We got back to the station, noted the book loan scheme in one of the ticket offices, a nice touch at that, and then headed off on the 1828 departure, this time back to London Victoria. We sped through in comfy seats and once over the bridge at Rochester, we turned left instead of right to Strood, and went through the likes of Meopham and Longfield before arriving at Bromley South, where a hen party got on, and I had to take a picture of said party with their Fujifilm Instax camera, but they all looked to be on a good night out and were good natured, so that was perfectly fine.

The Love and I took the train back to East Croydon and made us some well earned tea as we watched the remainder of the athletics and saw the GBR women get silver in the 4x100m relay, before the men completely smashed it and beat the Americans to take the world title, a superb result and one which Michael Johnson fairly said "that was won fair and square, and a superb effort." - and he knows a thing or two about this lark. It was an excellent day and one we both enjoyed - a lot. And yes, we did have an adventure!

Friday 11th August - World Athletics Part III

It was a very early start for The Love In My Heart and I, about as early as I'd want to have on a day off, but we knew that we were going to head off to the London Stadium again for more athletics, as we were to see the morning session this time around, and the first three events of the decathlon at that which were going to be good to watch. We had some croissants for breakfast, then headed off to West Croydon station, got the Overground to Canada Water, and although we had to stand on a packed Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf, it was at least then very quiet and it wasn't a problem getting seat all the way to Stratford.

It was off to the stadium again and we arrived in good time, and as it was morning decided to get a coffee, and shock horror, the £2.50 for a coffee (and Azera at that which The Love is fond of) wasn't too bad at all, and to be honest you'd pay that in other places too, so can't argue really. It was about the only sensibly priced item in the stadium, but there you go. We had a packed morning ahead of us and the sun was beating down rather nicely, so The Love looked all good in her shades and was all cool.

The 100 metres of the decathlon had the four heats and some impressive running under 11 seconds, and some of them really did push for a personal best in the first of ten events, impressive stuff. We also had then the long jump on the far side of the stadium. As we were on the lower tier, we had a cracking view of the high jump qualifying, but the long jump pits were on the back straight so could see, but not as well as last night. That said the decathletes did really well, with a number getting past 7.50m, and it was a great effort there.

The men's high jump qualifying we had a great view of, and both pools were going for the height they needed. The Italian Gamberi really did interact well with the crowd (and with Hero the Hedgehog, up to his cheeky mischief again) and he was unlucky not to clear 2.29m in the end. The good news was that as the heights went up, some good performances came around. The Mexican athlete Riveira broke his personal best and ran round the track going mental, and Robbie Grabarz cleared the qualifying height of 2.31m on final attempt and so was one of only a few who did so, but good to set a marker overall.

We also saw the first round heats of the 100 metres hurdles with the likes of Sally Pearson of Australia along with Kendra Harrison of the USA qualifying easily. We both did feel a lot for Deborah John of Trinidad and Tobago, who tripped over a hurdle, then her own feet, and crashing head first into the next hurdle and had to be stretchered off. It showed the fine line between success and failure, and how close that line is. The session went down all well and the high jump had us both clapping along as each athlete took their attempts, and all good stuff.

After the athletics we headed back to Stratford station but walked along one of the roads to a nearby pub to get some lunch, and some fish and chips at that which was gorgeous - and in fact we were joined on an outside table by a couple who were off to the athletics later. They were nice and chatty actually and we all were remembering the moments we'd seen so far and those yet to come, and with the ale being on good form too, it was a good way to wind down the early afternoon.

We then headed off and took the Central line to Liverpool Street and changed there for the Circle line to Great Portland Street, and walked towards Regent's Park to see the sculpture exhibition in the park, which was really good. In fact we saw a sculpture we'd seen at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and one that we'd seen previously at Chatsworth - the wheelbarrow in line drawing form, that was by the cascade! In fact, lots of different types of sculpture there including a totem pole of 22 footballs stacked on top of each other too. Cracking stuff all round, and so nice to walk around in the sunshine.

We also went around to the rather gorgeous other parts of the park too and had a cold drink in one of the cafés not far from the open air theatre, where we could hear a production of Jesus Christ Superstar being rehearsed before it was opening night tonight (and in fact it sounded pretty good!). Once that was done it was on the Jubilee Line at Baker Street which was horribly hot and cramped to London Bridge, and having avoided the chaos at Victoria due to the trespass incident at Norbury, we managed to get straight onto a train to East Croydon and be back in pretty good time overall!

Once back at mine, we relaxed for the evening and I made us some lovely tea, with some beef in chianti, dauphinoise potatoes and some peas to go with that, which went down well, and I indulged The Love with plenty of the soaps to catch up on and watch, which pleased her no end. Later on we also watched more of the athletics from the evening session, and perhaps noticeable that the BBC have been using parts of Jean-Michel Jarre's classic "Equinoxe V" (so tune of the day there) when introducing certain events...

Thursday 10th August - World Athletics Part II

So it was nice to be off work today and tomorrow, and even more so as The Love In My Heart was also coming down for the weekend and off with me to the World Athletics Championships both tonight and tomorrow morning. I spent some time in the morning sorting out the flat, making sure it was all neat and tidy, and getting everything all sorted for the next few days to come. It was a really nice morning overall after the incessant rain of last night and the sun was out as I headed off to East Croydon station to meet up with The Love, and that was all good.

We arrived back at my flat, and after some unpacking and having a coffee, we had a nice relaxing early afternoon game of Scrabble. It was nice also to add Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album in the background as we played, with the likes of the excellent "Dreams" being tune of the day (especially as I'd commented to The Love that the Corrs had in effect done a cover version that I didn't approve of, as it had lost the feeling) and once done we set off with tickets in hand for tonight.

It was off to the Green Dragon pub for a well earned late lunch together first off, and they had a good offer on where you could have certain lunches and a drink for a price, which was pretty good. I went for the scampi and that was all very good, and The Love had a steak ciabatta with chips and that looked good too. They also had Tribute ale (yes) and the Titanic Cherry Dark (also yes) so definitely good on the ale front too, and that was rather lovely overall, and once done, it was off on the Overground from West Croydon and then the Jubilee Line from Canada Water to Stratford.

We had some time before going in for the events, so we had a wander around the Hero Village. There were lots to see but plenty of queues, but I did get into the TDK marquee where they had a challenge - you had two sensors strapped to the ankles and then had to run on the spot as fast as you could and go as far as you could in 9.58 seconds. Most people were doing 40-70 metres or so when they had a go, and I thought "go for it" and managed to get 84 metres, so felt pretty pleased overall to say the least.

Once we'd done that and I'd spotted the mascot Hero the Hedgehog being all lovely with everyone beforehand, we made our way over the bridge, through the security and off to the stadium. The many bars weren't cheap as were the food outlets, which was expected, but £3.50 for a bottle of still water? Really? Absolute rip off in my view. The pints were £5.80 but at least they did have a real ale on, but still pretty expensive, even Camden prices aren't quite that bad. We did end up getting a pint each and so we could sit in the stadium with it and see all the action.

And how the action did unfold during the evening. Once the medal ceremonies had been done from the previous evening, it was on with the first event, the 5000 metre heats. Eilish McColgan did really well to qualify as of right, and due to her heat being slower, Laura Muir from the previous heat had also made it through, so two Brits through there. The javelin qualifying saw some monster throws including one over 90 metres, impressive stuff. And the women's high jump qualifying also meant that we saw both Morgan Lake and KJT also qualify for the final with them both being clear and not needing the next height up.

As it was with the women's triple jump on Monday, the men's triple jump was a quality battle, and a battle for gold between the Americans Christian Taylor and Will Claye. They kept swapping the lead, and in the end, it was a really good third round with them both jumping their best, and Taylor winning a mere 5 centimetres above Will Claye. Third was Nelson Évora of Portugal, who was 3 centimetres above a three way tie for fourth place, separated only on countback! Christian Nápoles had two jumps at 17.16m, Alexis Copello had a 17.16m and a 17.06m, and Chris Bernard had a 17.16m and a 16.94m. Pretty awesome stuff.

We also saw the women's 400 metres hurdles final, and unfortunately Eilidh Doyle wasn't able to get a medal for Britain, but it was a pretty good scrap with Kori Carter beating her American team mate Dailiah Muhammad, despite being on lane 9, and the final event was the 200 metres men's final - and although I was thinking Wayde van Niekerk would win, he didn't look too good in the semis, and the crowd quite would have liked Isaac Makwala of Botswana to win. But no, the Turkish athlete Ramil Guliyev won with a really well judged race.

There were other highlights too such as the likes of Hero the Hedgehog joining in with the Scottish guards band before the start of the fanfare for the triple jump final and doing the final drum sound on his toy drum, and then marching with the band following them off, all good stuff. And it was good to see so many people there watching and taking it all in, plenty of families with children being inspired, and it was a long walk back to the tube station later, but not too bad a queue, and off on the Jubilee line to London Bridge and train to East Croydon to avoid all the works going on, and got back pretty late but all good having seen a good night at the stadium.

Wednesday 9th August - Wet and Windy

My, it's rather a wet and windy day today that's for sure. I was pleased to be able to get into work before it started lashing it down, and of course having a local Sainsburys close by to get some lunch was always a good thing, so didn't get too wet there. I must admit that I was pretty pleased that I wasn't taking the train to Stratford and off to the Olympic Stadium for tonight's athletics, although I'd have been undercover, the running track would have been pretty sodden.

And so it was when I was watching it on the telly later. In fact they had a one off 200 metre heat at around 1840 under special circumstances. The athlete Isaac Makwala had been excluded from the heats and controversially the 400m final due to a norovirus bug, but the 48 hour period had expired earlier. So some sort of ruling exists that allows a chance for those to compete, and as there was still time before the 200m semi finals, Makwala ran a one off, got inside the qualifying time, and because the track has nine lanes, he could therefore be in lane one for one of the semis.

I must admit it was good to see that, and in addition him having to run in the wet weather must have been a real sense of thinking "I need to nail this" as well. He did win his semi too and got to the final, and the favourite Wayde van Niekerk only scraped through as a fastest loser, so it was definitely going to be game on tomorrow night which The Love In My Heart and I will be going to - looking forward to that nicely it has to be said. And the rain still chucked it down massively.

Which made the women's 3000m steeplechase a real test. Unfortunately for one of the British women, an awkward two footed landing from the water jump and then falling over one of the barriers had put paid to her chances, but I was also pleased to see Genevieve Lacaze, the Australian, get through to the final. She was team captain for the special games that Usain Bolt put on down under and really got behind everyone, and an animated figure was an understatement, but a good middle distance runner too. She made sure of automatic qualification even though a fastest loser would have been fine in the end.

Mo Farah did his thing in the 5000m heats getting through to the final as did Andrew Butchart in the other semi, and as the time was faster overall most of the fastest losers came through from that. It'll be interesting Saturday evening to see what happens there for sure, and if Mo can do the double again and bow out on the track with a really good thing of yet again doubling up. I also particularly enjoyed the fact that the conditions really sorted out those who could adjust, and kudos to Lorraine Ugen in the long jump for qualifying in third and doing well, nailing an excellent banker jump first go.

I've now got some time off work, so always good to be able to rest and relax, and once the Tesco food shopping had arrived later on tonight, I put on some music and chilled out nicely, including the Depeche Mode album "Spirit". I must admit I still adore "Where's The Revolution?" the opening single, as it's real sense of defiance especially in the chorus, and best thing they've done in ages, so tune of the day there for sure. I'm looking forward to so much as well with The Love, especially as we head out on Saturday to have an adventure a la All The Stations..

Tuesday 8th August - Solving Stuff

It's been a good productive week at work so far and always good to get my teeth into solving problems and being able to come up with some suitable workarounds or suggestions to make life easier for everyone. In fact one of our colleagues praised me for sticking at a long ongoing problem and getting to the bottom of it all, and showing that in fact it was a case of persevering with various options and presenting what will be the best one. In fact I continued something I'd spotted yesterday.

It turns out that although a recent Office 365 update actually means that some functionality is improved, Microsoft very kindly broke the MAPI integration with third party applications (and even some of their own) that uses MAPI to mail. So for example if you're in Adobe Reader and do an "attach to email" from the file menu to attach the PDF you have open, the moment you exit the reader, it shows up the 32bit MAPIBroker error. And here's the thing: if you use the snipping tool and want to send the snip as an attachment, a FixMAPI error comes up as well. Annoying.

I did a bit of testing yesterday and some further today, and it turned out that it version 16.0.8201.2102 it was all working fine, but we applied a later update around a month ago, and that made it fail. Even worse was that Microsoft haven't fixed it in any of the recent updates for Office either (which I applied as a test) so was good to acknowledge that, but also note that actually just using the standard attachment option in Outlook works perfectly well anyway, so there's always an option for attaching PDFs that way and it works, so all good.

I've also been researching a few things prior to me starting a couple of important pieces of work that I'd like to hopefully have done before the end of the year, and that should at least stand me in good stead for the end of year review. I do think that it would be good to at least know I am meeting expectations and that I'll be able to develop myself nicely, and it's always difficult when you're not quite sure just what some people may or may not think of you. I'm still proving myself to a degree though and that's something I've noted nicely..

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Raining Blood" by Slayer. After enjoying Body Count's recent cover version, it was good to be able to listen to the original again and check how intense it all is, especially the ending which just gets faster and faster, really kicking it some too. I think as well that the fact the band still plays it shows the real test of time has been passed, and then some. Oh how I am enjoying listening to metal classics more and more as I get older!

Monday 7th August - World Athletics Wonderment

It was off after work tonight and to East London, and the World Athletics Championships at the London Stadium (still prefer to call it the Olympic Stadium myself) at Stratford. In fact this would mean that I'd complete a treble this year, having watched Manchester City tonk West Ham United in the FA Cup in January, and then saw Depeche Mode with one of my friends in June there, so football, music and athletics in the space of seven months. Pretty good. And what it did mean was that I knew the drill in terms of getting in and leaving later on, so gave myself plenty of time, as well as enough time to stop off at a pub in Stepney Green on the way and have some tea (bound to be cheaper than the venue, and was proven correct!)

So it was from Stratford station, out along the outside of Westfield, and then onwards towards the walkway to take me over the bridge over the River Lea, with the East Beach and funfair being here again (they had a viewing park for the Olympics last year which The Love In My Heart and I enjoyed massively) and then to the bridges and the security checks. I noted that large DSLRs were on the restricted items list (under large cameras) so even though they had been allowed for the Olympics, they weren't here for the athletics, so good job I didn't take mine really, and something to note for the rest of the week when I go later on.

Once past security, lots of stalls outside the stands, but the prices were, unfortunately, a massive rip off, just as much as they were for the football. We're talking £5.80 for a pint, and all press a button bobbins, a mere £6 for a pasty (which can't call itself Cornish cos it's not made in Cornwall, the slackers!) and the other hot food suitably overpriced. Of course you're there and so you'll possibly indulge, but nonetheless, meh. I made my way to the seat and had a surprisingly good view, almost the centre of the back straight and a great view of the triple jump below, which proved to be a good move.

The evening started off with three medal ceremonies, and that was good, especially as the women's 100 metres was one of them. The stadium had Iwan Thomas as announcer (he knows a bit about this athletics lark!) and they even had Martin Lewis, that money saving expert, as an analyst of the numbers involved in some of the field events such as the women's hammer and triple jump finals. Quite interesting actually to see how he did with that one, and the mascot Hero the Hedgehog getting up to a little bit of mischief with the band of guards who played before the finals of the field events.

I had a view unfolding of the women's hammer final where I hoped Sophie Hitchon could match her amazing bronze at the Olympics in Rio. She had started well earlier on and indeed was in the top three or four earlier, but other throwers pulled it out of the bag a fair bit. At half way she was 7th and so had a further three throws, and even the 9th place athlete had thrown 70 metres, so quality all the way. Sophie was unable to improve and was understandably gutted, in a way good to see cos it showed she cared, and Anita Wlodarczyk showed how awesome she was with a brilliant throw of 77+ metres to win her third world title.

The women's triple jump final happened after the men had had their qualifying competition, and soon it became a two woman battle between Caterine Ibargüen and Yulimar Rojas. As each of them did a jump they were constantly improving, and Ibargüen was a few centimetres ahead at 14.89m, with Rojas having jumped 14.82m in the second round. However, Rojas then managed to pull one out of the fire in the fifth round and landed 14.91m to snatch the lead, and on the final jump Ibargüen was close, but got 14.88, and so a mere two centimetres separated the top two. An epic contest and for me the best of the night.

There was also plenty of qualifying going on too including the women's 400m hurdles with Eilidh Doyle doing well, the 200m first round where Wayde van Niekerk cruised through along with Danny Talbot, who broke his personal best in the process and was easing down. There was also the the women's 400m semi finals and the men's 400m hurdles semi finals, so lots going on track. A couple of the men had crashing falls down the back straight as they clattered the hurdles which I had a good view of, but of course hoped someone would help them out a bit quicker.

The final two events on track were the men's 110m hurdles, where Sergey Shubenkov almost defended his title, and would have done so as an Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) - where certain Russian athletes who weren't part of the state sponsored doping scandal and can prove it are allowed to compete. Shubenkov was one of those and was just run out by Omar McLeod of Jamaica, who did really well. Aries Merritt was disappointing, I was expecting him to do better and get at least a medal.

Then the 1500m women's final, with the two British Lauras (Muir and Weightman) competing. It was a tough final with the pace going all over the place, but both of them were in contention with a lap to go. It was a case of being in the right place and Laura Muir went for it chasing after Faith Kipyegon and had left it all on the track, causing the fast finshing Jennifer Simpson and Caster Semenya to get past her almost on the line, and Muir finished fourth. Laura Weightman surged forward near the end and finished 6th, and stated she could have gone better with a longer fast run to the line. I was gutted for no British medals, but some quality athletics all the same.

I had the proper BBC athletics theme tune (World Series by Keith Mansfield, tune of the day) in my head all evening, and I got the Jubilee Line tube fine, but then realised at Canada Water that the Overground wasn't running to West Croydon due to engineering works after 10pm (noted for later this week) so instead got off at New Cross Gate and waited for a train there instead, which took some time, but at least I got to East Croydon and managed to get home not too late. What I'll probably do next time is go to London Bridge if need be, but good to know there's other options.

Sunday 6th August - Marple Magic

After a lie in this morning, The Love In My Heart and I headed up and out of bed, fussed over the two cats Jô and Brian, and then had some breakfast together. In fact it was good to be watching the World Athletics Championship again with the fifth and sixth events of the heptathlon, and Katarina Johnson-Thompson having had a mare in the high jump yesterday meant she really had to produce massively today. She did reasonably well on the long jump, but so did others around her, and the javelin was decent but yet way off some of the other athletes - one of whom threw sixteen metres further, that's a lot of points.

We headed off later and originally were thinking of going to Lyme Park but we remembered the A6 roadworks being pretty awful, so we instead decided to head to Marple for a nice walk along the canal locks. We went along the A626 from Heaton Chapel, skirted around the Peel Centre and up the hill, and then along the road just past Offerton, we were stuck for a while by temporary traffic lights as repairs were being done to parts of the road. We noted not to come back this way!

Once we got into Marple we managed to get a space at the usual spot, and walked through Brabyns Park and up the hill towards the canal towpath. On the way we spotted a horse and rider coming down the path and they had been taking part in a local dressage competition, and appeared to have done well there too. It was good that the Canal and River Trust was promoting themselves alongside one of the canal locks to promote their work and to donate, although attempting to sign people up on a Sunday afternoon must have been difficult!

We walked down the hill all the way to the final lock and to the gorgeous Aqueduct House, and then over the viaduct with the dramatic view down below and the railway viaduct above on one side, showing the incredible feats of engineering that were done in the day. We did walk down a bit further along and found a small arched bridge that I could reach via a stile to walk over the top, and then walked back but on the other side of the locks where a road would take us up a different way back to the main road.

Once done, we headed via Romiley and Bredbury and cut through to Heaton Moor and off to the Elizabethan pub, where the Sunday Roast beef was had by The Love, and the gorgeous chicken and button mushroom pie was had by me (and yes folks, it is a proper pie as well!) and it was a nice relaxed atmosphere in there. I didn't want to head off on the train later but The Love will be with me later this week and I'm looking forward to that a lot. In the meantime, "The Walk" by The Cure is tune of the day.

Saturday 5th August - Wedded Bliss

The Love In My Heart and I woke up fairly early, and sorted out the two cats Jô and Brian before getting ourselves ready. I had already brought my suit and had a nice shirt, and The Love In My Heart had a gorgeous white dress with little black shrug to go with it, and some gorgeous heels too. We both looked the part as we got ready, and The Love's sister picked us up later on and off we headed in the direction of Stockport, avoiding the road works on the main bridge that carries the A6 through the town centre, and heading off to the Town Hall, finding the location without any issues.

Gradually, a number of the family all arrived, and we then took a minute or two to find the location and entrance for the Sir Thomas Bramwell room, where later on today my auntie would be getting married. Because other weddings were going on, the staff there ushered us to a waiting room, and later on to to the actual waiting room. The invites all said 1.30pm but the wedding service wasn't due to start till 2pm, and it was a case of being here on time so that we could arrive before the bride did, so that kind of made some sense really.

We entered the actual room and it all looked nice, two sides of chairs all laid out well in a light and airy room, it wasn't massive but enough to hold everyone comfortably. I noted a singer at the front - and it turned out to be a teenage girl that used to be in a school bus that my auntie used to help run to get some of the children to school who had some difficulties at the time. In fact it was a really nice thing - as she had a cracking voice and belted out Adele's version of "Make You Feel My Love" (originally by Bob Dylan, I'll make that tune of the day) as the bridesmaids and then my auntie as the bride entered, and she did look lovely in her dress.

The registrars of the Stockport register office did their service and the "I dos" were said, the rings exchanged, and all done and sorted. They also ensured that my auntie and her new husband were all sorted with signing the book, and with the formalities done, it was outside on the hill for the obligatory photographs and shots being taken, and once the guests had their bits done, we could head on off to the venue, and one of Mum's old friends kindly gave us both a lift - it was lovely to see them as I hadn't done so in a long while, and they both made The Love feel very welcome, which we both appreciated.

I had my directions spot on which everyone appreciated and we were amongst one of the first to arrive at the reception venue in Audenshaw. It was nice to have a little glass of prosecco on arrival, and the table layouts were spotted, with all the table names being based on Cornish places, that met with my seal of approval later and I showed Mum the same - she also approved of course. In fact the seating plan worked fine as The Love and I were with my brothers, my youngest sister and her friend (who is ace!) and had a good set of people around, and we had a bit of a good giggle over the food too.

In fact the wedding breakfast was fish and chips in a little basket, which actually was really nice, and then a mousse for dessert that looked perfectly cubed and classy too, and that went down well - there was also coffee and tea available, and the bar prices weren't expensive either so definitely felt positive about that one. Once we'd eaten we all moved as the tables were cleared to make room for a dancefloor later, with more tables and chairs available for us to sit and relax at.

Later on an ice cream van turned up and parked in the space outside the venue (I knew about this!) so had an ice cream and sat outside, and also then later on we had a couple of more drinks as the dance floor played a mix of 60s and 70s tunes, and Mum asked The Love to join her on the dancefloor for a bit. I caught up with my brothers, and some of the family and friends, and it was actually a better venue than I thought and a decent enough atmosphere too, with a nice evening buffet later on with some hot food as part of that.

We said our goodbyes later on and made sure my auntie got a massive hug, she looked lovely and happy and I was just really pleased for her that the big day had gone so well, and The Love also had enjoyed it all too. We got a taxi back to The Love's place which wasn't too expensive, and we both reflected on what was a good day all round and certainly one which will be looked back on as a happy day, with certainly nice to see for me that lots of smiles were had, along with myself too.

Friday 4th August - Go Mo!

It was a good productive day at work, and I managed to be able to sort out quite a few things and make good progress on some tools, as well as test out fully all the steps for the additional developer applications required. From their point of view it all works well now, and I did a rebuild for one of the developers today having arranged a suitable time with him. That works really well and they were all pleased that the hard work I've put in has reaped some rewards. I'll see how things go next week but at least I'm only in for three days.

That's because I'm off to the World Athletics Championship at the London Stadium with The Love In My Heart (I'm going on my own on Monday as well) and it'll be good to watch some excellent athletics action overall. I must admit though I'm gutted that Usain Bolt isn't doing the 100m and 200m, as one of our tickets is for the men's 200m final which he would have been in - but as Wayde van Niekerk is doubling up, that's going to be an interesting prospect ahead for sure.

After work I headed off to the Crown and Anchor near Euston and had a well earned drink - no less than the really nice Lighthouse ale, which was light and flavoursome really. That meant I could relax for a while before then heading off to the station, where I picked up a sandwich from Boots cheap and that meant a case of having something on the train, and it was relatively less busy than it normally was, so on the 1840 it was and it was speeding through the countryside with some Body Count on the iPod (make the ace "Black Hoodie" tune of the day as it rocks big time.)

I nipped into Sainsburys in Piccadilly station on the way to meet The Love In My Heart, as she had asked me to get a bottle of wine for her, and once done it was back to her place and to relax and chill out together, with the two cats Jô and Brian being all rather lovely and cuddly. We did have a drink each (I had one of the Butcombe ales which was brewed in conjunction with Adam Henson of Countryfile fame) and that was all good and we settled in for the World Athletics men's 10,000m final.

And what a final it was, we were both glued to the telly, and as the race developed, we knew it was going to be a hard race all round, and with several laps to go any one of a number of people could have won it. However, as the last few laps counted down Mo Farah was in the right position at the right time, and then with the final lap coming, he was keeping in front and did his customary sprint at the end and gained another world title, and an excellent performance all round. He really did show some grit and determination there, and admitted afterwards it was his hardest race and I think the fact the pundits all agreed showed just how good he was tonight.

Thursday 3rd August - Getting On With It

Another day, another set of getting on with things, and I was doing a fair bit of testing with the scripting we had in place and looking how I could add the use of the delprof2 executable with it. In effect, it wasn't too bad, it was just a case of calling it once you know which workstation you want to run it remotely on and which user you're going to delete, and to do so silently. However, as Powershell doesn't always like certain characters when called in a script, set them as a variable and call the executable with the variables. And that, thankfully, did work rather nicely all round.

I did later on watch the England women against the Netherlands in the Euro 2017 semi finals. I had been of course watching the women throughout, from their 6-0 win over Scotland in the opening group game, and a determined battle against France to beat them 1-0 and for the first time in some forty three years, so that was an achievement to be proud of if nothing else. Of course, playing the host nation in their own backyard was going to be difficult.

I was thinking back to the World Cup in 2015 in Canada, when England played Canada and won, and the crucial thing was that we'd scored the first goal and then a second in quick succession to silence the crowd. I did think we'd need to possibly score the first goal and it would be difficult if a stadium in Enschede full of the Dutch fans were even more vocal if they scored first. And sadly, that's exactly what happened, with a good header into the bottom corner and a 1-0 lead for the Netherlands at half time.

It was still all to play for at 1-0 and even though it wasn't looking all so good from England, it was at least battling, although the Netherlands were by far the better side, and a defensive howler let in an easy chance for 2-0 to them. Admittedly I did think it was game over at this stage and even when there was a couple of England chances, it didn't seem to happen for some reason. I must admit that it was going to be difficult, but an unfortunate own goal right at the end made it 3-0 and maybe a heavier defeat than England deserved.

It may be a sign that other nations are catching up somewhat, although I suspect that the Netherlands may go on and beat Denmark in the final, they seem like they've taken to the women's game and the crowds show that too. That is a positive, as is the way England did at least perform well to get here, and with an excellent TV audience as well, shows that we're all taking more interest, and that has to be a good thing. Tune of the day is the excellent "Proud" by Heather Small (from M People) as that's what we should all be of the women's team after performing pretty well and just coming up short.

Wednesday 2nd August - Wimbledon Wetness

It was a positive day at work all round. Not only did I manage to resolve a fair number of issues, but also was able to work with some of my colleagues to get on with lots - and work on a way to be able to safely remove stale user profiles, using the excellent delprof2 executable to do so. It worked pretty well but am going to look at a way of utilising that with our existing script which checks powered on machines for where user profiles remain behind for a particular user, then doing what we can to clean those as we need to. Should be a good thing and I'm going to check over the code at some point.

Anyway, what was also very good was that I was working with a colleague on packaging some new bits for the call centre. The good news was that what I was able to test did work really nicely, and I let him check and test using the two test machines I use, and he seemed happy that all was working exactly as we needed to get it all configured, so a definite plus point all round there. And even more so, we're getting things all good and sorted for the next phase, which will most likely mean a Group Policy tweak for the user settings.

It's good when you feel positive, and needed to get my hair cut, and so with the rain hammering it down, it was off on the tube via Edgware Road and then the District line to Wimbledon, and headed off at Wimbledon Park for my usual barbers. They're ace because they're really nice friendly people, and they do a proper cut for a cracking price, so all good. And I must admit I felt a lot better with the hair all cut nicely and me feeling nice and neat again, always good to have that.

It was a little busy and still very wet in Wimbledon itself, with plenty of notices about the forthcoming work at Waterloo and how that will affect services in Wimbledon, with a queuing system in place and a potential long time to board a train. Even those arriving by tram will have to leave the station and queue for a train (although if you're getting on a Thameslink service at Platform 9, next to 10 where the trams are, not sure how that's going to be policed, we shall see...)

It's definitely noticeable that a number of stations are pre-warning of this work, with Clapham Junction also having queueing going on and less trains running (primarily also because they're not stopping some Southern services there to avoid changing carnage, understandable really) so you can't really say you weren't warned either. I'm just hoping that it'll then mean improvements, and if they've reclaimed the old Eurostar platforms back to train ones again, so Waterloo gets a full 24 platforms back, and added to longer platforms being built duirng this work, it should be better once done, we hope.

In the meantime I spent some time tonight after seeing Watchdog on BBC1 listening to the new Gary Numan single, "My Name Is Ruin", definitely tune of the day. More so that his daughter Persia also is in the video and sings too, so good to see a nice family connection in the tune, and some kick backside Industrial and dark synth sounds emnant throughout. If the rest of the album is as good, we're in for a treat when it gets released, and I'll be hearing that live in October with my friend. Nuuuuuuuuuuuuman!

Tuesday 1st August - Train Fail

Had a pretty busy day at work, primarily to troubleshoot a couple of issues with one particular laptop model, but managed to get to the bottom of that. In a positive way, I was able to take a different approach and come to a sensible solution, but also observe a few things too. I also noted at the same time that one particular new piece of software we were deploying was failing on a few PCs, but they all seemed to be based at the same place. I've got a theory about this, but am going to do some more investigative work and see what becomes of it.

As a result I did stay back later than normal and so ended up on the 1733 train home instead of my normal 1615 or 1629 (to put that time spent into context.) And my, would I hate to do a 9-5 shift in London now. I got a seat, only because I get on where I do, but by the time it left a couple of stations later it was standing room only, and due to an earlier train breakdown at one station, it was playing catch up with services, so the train was short formed, and this meant even more cramming on. And it arrived ten minutes late into East Croydon, just short of the minimum 15 to be eligible for Delay Repay (which I'm amazed at people still do not claim from when they are entitled.)

What I noted at the outside departure boards at East Croydon was a ton of delays and cancellations, and here's the thing: as part of the whole London Bridge / Thameslink improvement programme for 2018, they want to be able to run 24 trains an hour through the Thameslink "Core" - ie: London St Pancras International, Farringdon, City Thameslink and London Blackfriars with a chunk of trains then to London Bridge, others via Elephant and Castle. But that core is just a mere two tracks, and with the new Class 700 trains breaking down at City Thameslink all too regularly (it's often where Northbound the pantograph is raised for the overhead wires and change to third rail Southbound) there's no room for error, and the knock on effects even now with 12 per hour is disastrous, so what will be it be like for 24? I dread to think.

Anyway, had a relaxing evening at home after all that and thought that some Rock Band 3 was on the cards, especially some more vocals to sing along to. For a change I thought I'd go with a song that I've not done on vocals for a bit, and managed to do pretty well on Nine Inch Nails' "Terrible Lie" which was good to see I still had it - so tune of the day there for sure. In fact later on I belted out Devo's awesome "Whip It" and will have to revisit the Judas Priest classic "Breaking The Law" at some point, although I can sing that without the game anyway - it is an 80s classic track regardless anyway!

I must admit I did try out the new fabric conditioner with the washing tonight, it's this new Comfort thing where it's the sensations type and had the Sunburst one. I have to say that everything smelt really nice when it came out of the washing machine, and ironed the shirts whilst damp so easier to iron. And once dry later, it felt quite nice when entering the bedroom and seeing the freshness from the airer. A little thing I know, but sometimes it's just nice to experience a positive change, you know!