Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives:

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2003


Sunday 15th May - Wembley Woe

After making myself a full cooked breakfast this morning, as I had got all the ingredients in Lidl yesterday, I settled in for a bit to watch some of the Historic Monaco Grand Prix on Youtube, as some channels were streaming the whole thing live. I did get to see some 1970s F1 cars including the old Hesketh from 1974, the Lotuses from the same era as well as the Yardley sponsored McLaren back in the day as well. It was impressive seeing them go round the streets with such accuracy and poise, much harder to do so in the old cars to be fair.

I was off to Wembley later as I had a ticket to see Manchester City's women's side take on Chelsea in the Women's FA Cup Final. I had got a ticket for the designated end for the Manchester City fans, and it was good that tickets were £20 for adults and a mere £2.50 for kids, a great incentive to take the family for a day out to watch the football too. In fact, as I got off the Overground at West Hampstead and took the Jubilee Line to Wembley Park, it was good to see different fans coming along to watch the game and a very family friendly atmosphere too.

I walked out of Wembley Park and along Olympic Way (its official name, everyone does call it Wembley Way) and I did notice, as this was my first time here since the 2019 FA Cup Final, that the famous ramps which used to take you up to the stadium concourse had gone! Instead you got across a roadway which was closed for the event and then walked up stairs to the concourse. Not very accessible for everyone though, either. I got to the yellow section (the stadium has coloured sections too) and got through the turnstiles and to my seat, and had a cracking view of the action also.

Pre-match we had some DJ mixed tunes and then also the singer Raye, who had a three song set and actually sounded pretty decent all round. She had split with her record label as they kept putting off the release of her debut full album and only a mini album was released: but clearly has some promise. She also sang the national anthem too later as the teams came out, and so with the atmosphere nicely set, we were ready to go and see what would happen.

I was keeping an eye on the Man City men's away game at West Ham as were several others, and being 2-0 down there at half time wasn't good - pulling it back to 2-2 was at least something. Meanwhile at Wembley, Chelsea moved down the right and a cross from Millie Bright wasn't met correctly by City keeper Ellie Roebuck and Sam Kerr headed on the line to make it 1-0 to Chelsea. City did hit back before half time though as a move down the left involved Lauren Hemp cutting inside Millie Bright and hitting into the top corner for 1-1 at half time - it was well deserved.

The second half had a nunber of chances for each side and they definitely wanted to up the game. Chelsea attacked down the left and the ball was played to Erin Cuthbert in the middle. The City fans were right behind the shot from the other end and saw it sail into the top corner. It was a superb goal all round and that was excellent to be fair. City made a number of changes and as the ball was played down the right in the 89th minute, the ball went to Hayley Raso, who took on the Chelsea defender and toe poked the ball home on the volley for 2-2, an excellent goal and in front of the City fans too!

Extra time loomed and during that period Sam Kerr ran down the right for Chelsea and was unchallenged in the area - and her low shot cannoned off the City defence and into the net for 3-2. This proved to be the winning goal and I did feel gutted City couldn't get another and force penalties, but it was a really entertaining game, and as I made my way home on the Overground, I have to reflect and think that being as part of a 49,000 or so record crowd for a women's cup final, and a great atmosphere too, was pretty good all round, even if the result didn't go my way - tune of the day is Madness' One Step Beyond, which played as Chelsea celebrated, and as Suggs is a Chelsea fan, that made sense.

Saturday 14th May - Eurovision Shocks

I had an early rise this morning as I wanted to check out one of the local larger car boot sales. This one was close to St Helier hospital in Sutton, and was reachable easily enough by me on the 157 bus. The journey took me through Wallington centre and then from there down to Carshalton and the ponds, headed up by Wrythe Green and then to the hospital. In fact the large open space opposite was the venue for the car boot - it was pretty large, lots of different sellers around, and I have to say a decent array of all sorts. I didn't get anything but it looked like plenty of people did!

I headed back on the 157 and stopped off at Lidl to get some food and some supplies for the next week or so before then settling in for an afternoon of Commodore 64 gaming, football and Eurovision. I played the four games that had arrived earlier in the week and to mainly test they all worked: all four loaded first go, which is what you want really. SAS Combat Simulator I had played recently for the Commodore 64 Budget Publisher Showdown series, but was good to have the original tape anyway. All the things I said in the review still stand: the overhead Commando/Ikari Warriors sections are fine, but the Green Beret rip off is just not that fair.

I also played Super Seymour Saves the Planet, a sort of Bomb Jack clone of sorts with the added need to remove all the aliens from each level by jumping on them and then hitting them again for a final blow, or using your special weaponry to shoot them. It actually worked out to be decent and similar to how I remember it being played back in 1992. It was then on with Terra Cognita, an overhead shooter which I've got on the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 series also. This version was fine, but did spot a fatal flaw in the game design which allowed me to pick up points time and time again.

It then finally was on with Pro Powerboat Simulator, a game that wasn't sure what to call itself - indeed on the side of the inlay it says Powerboat, as does the cassette, and the Pro part of the game's front cover isn't even on the title screen, so that's pretty confusing. It's an overhead racer that recycles the Red Max music too. Not sure really why they'd do that but it doesn't suit the game at all, even down to the sampled engne revving when your man is ready to start the game in the power boat. It's okay but not brilliant.

I watched the FA Cup Final later and as 0-0 draws go, it was very entertaining - chance after chance at each end and none of them scored, I just don't know how. On a good day it could have been 3-3 easily, but as the game wore on I suspected extra time and penalties would loom, with Liverpool deservedly winning the shoot out after Mason Mount had missed his penalty for Chelsea and substitute defender Kostas Tsimikas scoring his, to make it a 6-5 shoot out win overall. Both domestic cup tournaments had gone the way of Merseyside.

Eurovision time then, and I did suspect Ukraine would win out with the public especially, but what did surprise me this year was how many dull ballads there were - surely anything a bit more uptempo would get the public happy. I did like Moldova's entry even if they clearly were inspired by Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones (no bad thing mind you) and also Ukraine's entry, a mix of folk and hip hop, really did go down well and seemed to be pretty well made (more so when you translate the lyrics and see where they are coming from.)

What The Love In My Heart, who was watching it at home, and I didn't expect was that the United Kingdom entry from Sam Ryder was actually really good. Spaceman had catchy hooks, some falsetto vocals and a really positive vibe about it - tune of the day for sure. He really did feel positive about the experience and said the right thing in the green room too. Now last year the UK got zero points overall, so when the judges started to give us some points we were both at least happy with that. However as the judging went on, we were getting constant 8, 10 and 12 points from the juries.

This was unbelieveable really considering where the UK had been last year, and showed that all we needed was a good song and not just someone wanting to up their career in any way, but someone who had love for Eurovision and showed the love back. Amazingly, after the jury vote, the UK was top of the leader board. That was surreal and we both had to keep watching to see what would happen. Ukraine though did get an amazing 439 points from the televotes, which considering you can only get 468 maximum (that's if all 39 nations give you 12 points) it was pretty much nailed on they would win, and was pleased that they did. But second for the UK? Well happy with that, and happy to finish second to Ukraine too (whose jury gave the UK 12 points too...)

Friday 13th May - The Games Concludes

All week on ITV has been The Games, a multi event series with six male and six female celebrities battling it out to become champion over multiple different sports and events. Sounds familiar? Well, effectively, I could imagine this being a celebrity edition of legendary show The Superstars, but with more faffing and build up and less about the events themselves. That said, to see some of them really push themselves has been good to see and the final night was at Crystal Palace athletics stadium, home of course to the UK finals of The Superstars in 1973 and 1974, when the version was calling Sporting Superstars. Of course The Games itself had been revived after being on Channel 4 for four years between 2003-2006.

In fact, looking back at the 1974 edition with the late Colin Bell of Manchester City, the Jubilee Stand (where we'd be sat for The Games tonight) wasn't even built then - they still did motor racing around the other side. But most of the far stand (then the main stand) was still as is, as were the stands on the bend and the walkway towards the swimming pool. And of course, a different theme tune - not the legendary Heavy Action by Johnny Pearson, but instead Keith Mansfield's rather good Documentary Department - so tune of the day there.

I had got free audience tickets for The Games for tonight, so that did mean me heading off after work and taking the train from West Croydon to Penge West (as it's cheaper!) - and then walked through the main path in the centre of Crystal Palace Park, with the athletics stadium in the distance. I was able to head around and up to the upper path, and then take the path down to the stadium. There was already a sizeable queue of people and so had to walk past the whole Jubilee Stand and to Maxim Rise, and as time spanned on the queue got even longer and went pretty much up the hill from there!

Anyway, eventually the queue started to be admitted into the stadium and we were guided by the stewards into rows in the Jubilee Stand. I was around half way down the home straight and close to the podium where the medals would be awarded later. Of course the transmission wasn't starting til 9pm - we were all inside but the family and friends of the contestants had reserved seats in the stand and were faffing around taking their time. Andrew Flintoff and Holly Willoughby as hosts wandered down the track to say hello and were ready for the opener, as was Alex Scott trackside - she looked as lovely as ever.

So tonight we had the speed climbing finals for both the men and women, and both were very close indeed. Phoenix Gulzar-Brown was up against Chelcee Grimes, and as they both neared the top of the climb it was who would press the button first: in the end, Pheonix just snatched it. In the men's event, Wes Nelson was the heavy favourite and so it proved, although both he and Josh Herdman beat their best times and really showed an impressive turn of speed: and they showed a clip of Wes actually beating the instructor in training, which was impressive stuff.

The 100 metres final for the women and then the men was the final blue riband event, and places were still up for grabs to determine the winner. The women's event was won by Chelcee Grimes and she won overall pretty comfortably - however Rebecca Sarker finished high enough to pip Lucrezia Milliarini for third place, with Pheonix Gulzar-Brown second overall. The men's was more clean cut and Wes Nelson made it two wins out of two and a win overall - and was the highest scorer across the men and the women.

It was all good with warm up people in the breaks giving away t-shirts for those who had shown some good dance moves or singing in the crowd, and as night fell on Crystal Palace, it was the walk up Maxim Rise towards Crystal Palace station and I went to the bus stop near by to get the 157 bus homewards. I was pleased it didn't take too long and was soon home to relax and then head off to bed. It had been a long evening but thoroughly worthwhile and especially good to see some decent quality events. I was thinking of course about the iconic Superstars though!

Thursday 12th May - Back To Work

The only thing about being off work for a few days is that, inevitably, you have to go back into work sometime, and that time was today. I have to say that it does now feel much more like it used to be in terms of going in to the office, trains are much busier as are buses and tube generally. I have managed to work out a route which appears to be less busy at most times and does mean I have a little walk from Charing Cross to the office, which is really useful to keep me having some exercise too.

It was also time to get all the May updates set for download next week to the first batch of machines, and there were three this time: the cumulative, but also .NET and servicing stack also. I was also able to add all those into my MDT task sequence for Windows 10 WIM creation, and that worked perfectly well, so I've got a new WIM image at the ready and including the updates for May for this year. I also wanted to get some starting points into some of the stuff we've got to do for one of the big events next month, so had a meeting on that also.

I was also able to put some thoughts together and present them to one of our software vendors, who was going through a session with us and our Cyber Security team. On the whole, what they may deem sometimes as unexpected behaviour seems to be more expected because of the things we know about the business, but it was good that they had flagged it anyway because it shows that the intelligence gathered to a degree is working pretty well. I've got another meeting tomorrow to raise some points over the deployment mechanisms.

Later on our head of service desk was heading out for a post work drink with a couple of our folks from our procurement team, who are all lovely. One of them had newly started in January but hadn't been to the office often, so was nice to see her in person (as had seen her in meetings and she was lovely) and chat a fair bit to get to know her better too. In fact the pub we usually go to was rammed outside so went to the one next door, but in a way that was good because it meant I could have a proper pint of Landlord as well (and why not to be honest!)

I took the train home later and had a good natter with The Love In My Heart, and also was able to play some of the new CDs that I had received as presents. I must admit I am getting more into film soundtracks and scores, and two of the CDs were film scores: one was Danny Elfman's score to The Girl on the Train. It's very piano led in parts and beautifully dark as he would do. Something's Not Right somehow sets the scene perfectly and so has to be tune of the day - I can imagine playing that on a train journey and relaxing to it too.

Wednesday 11th May - Out To Lunch

The Love In My Heart and I had a well deserved lie in this morning - well apart from Brian the cat doing his usual tippy tappy with his paws towards Mummy to get her up so he could have his tuna and Dreamies, but with him fed, it was back to bed and it was very nice to be able to rest up and indeed to make the most of the time we had off work. Brian seemed happy enough to want to play out later but it was attempting to rain a fair bit, which did mean he came back in feeling rather gutted that he couldn't stay out. Hopefully later on he would be dry enough.

We did head off in the early afternoon and off to my Mum's. We had suggested heading out to lunch together as a little way of celebrating the birthday. I didn't want any fuss or a party or anything, so it was a nice idea for the three of us to go somewhere. Mum had booked one of her favourite places, The Cheshire Line, on the way to Cheadle, and we picked Mum up along the way and headed there, nicely on time and indeed the staff had laid on some extra tablecloths on the table to make it a bit nicer, and we were sat right by the old railway line (still occasionally used by freight!)

It was a nice afternoon having a good catch up but also some good food, it has to be said. The Love had one of the specials which was a smothered chicken, with plenty of salad and vegetables to go with it. The chicken tasted really nice. I was going to go for a pie, but alas, no proper pies (boo!!) so instead went for the gammon, which had an egg and a pineapple ring for the toppings, and some really nice chips. Mum went for the rump steak done medium well as she wanted it, and it looked spot on to be fair. We both commented that the menu seemed to have improved since we last came, and everything had been cooked to order - you could tell.

I had to indulge in some dessert and went for the honecomb sundae with ice cream and honeycomb pieces, which was rather lovely. Mum had the chocolate fudge cake and the slice she had with ice cream was massive, we were impressed by the size. We had coffee with dessert too and it was a nice way to wind down the lunch. Mum had got me a gift card for TK Maxx as I asked, and a nice mug also which will be at The Love's place for my brews. My brother had got me an old school LCD golf game as well as a Commodore 64 synth music program also, proper classic that. My sisters had got me some gift cards too which was lovely of them both to do, so all was well with the world.

After dropping Mum back home, The Love and I relaxed at home for a while and we reflected on a lovely few days before we headed off to Manchester Piccadilly to drop me off for the 1915 train home. I did feel very sad about this, but The Love gave me a huge hug and kiss which was so nice, so that stays with me til next weekend. I did decide that a Seatfrog upgrade to first class would be nice, and so I managed to get it for the lowest bid possible. And was it worth it? Hell yes, it was.

The staff were lovely and friendly, and I got myself a Camden Pale Ale to drink (and some coffee later) along with a really nice pumpkin and ricotta ravioli in a lovely sauce which was cooked fresh and really tasted delicious, as did the clementine tart I had for afters as well. It was nice to relax and watch the world go by as I headed homewards, and I definitely felt the part to be able to relax. I kept an eye on the Manchester City score at Wolves of course, and Kevin de Bruyne getting four was mental in that 5-1 win, so a nice present to me too. Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes has to be tune of the day so I can sing along to it and go "Ohhhhh Kevin de Bruyne..." as many City fans do, and rightfully so!

Tuesday 10th May - Lancastrian Birthday

It was wonderful to wake up in the Stirk House Hotel with The Love In My Heart after such a cosy night's sleep, all cuddled up and with the lambs outside all having their morning graze all contented. It somehow just felt right and for us to be together like this was just rather special to be honest. We had brought presents with us from family and friends, so The Love's sisters had got us a voucher towards dining at a posh restaurant in Manchester, and admission to the Silverstone Experience museum for all things F1, so that was good. My friends had got me numerous CDs too by the likes of Rammstein, Dream Theater and some film soundtracks by Danny Elfman and Clint Mansell and a couple of nice short sleeved shirts.

The Love had also been very kind too and got me this rather lovely soft chambray shirt from Joules which will look good all year round in blue and felt very classy, as well as the Dream Theater Master of Puppets CD (where they play Metallica's classic album live) and also Johnny Marr's Fever Dreams Parts 1 to 4. Naturally I did have Altered Images' seminal Happy Birthday in my head so that's tune of the day incidentally. It was so nice and I had more to open later in the week when I got home too, so that was also something to look forward to also.

We headed down for breakfast, and yet again the staff were lovely. They brought over our toast and some coffee, and directed us to where the hot breakfast items were - all on hot plates and you could pick what you wanted. I had sausages, bacon, poached egg, mushrooms and a hash brown, along with some black pudding - all very well cooked and very tasty. It was a relaxed atmosphere and a great way to start the day. In fact we didn't want to leave the hotel at all and felt sad on check out, but everyone was lovely and we'll definitely be going back there - even if for example it's just for Sunday roast!

It was then into Clitheroe, and the difference was night and day in terms of being busy. We managed to get a good parking spot and headed up towards the castle - which was up several steps and slopes to the keep at the top, but what a wonderful view it was when you got there. We definitely enjoyed that and the walk down to the Pinnacle, part of the original exterior to the Houses of Parliament and donated to the town, and it was good to enjoy the green space and fresh air here and then stopped off for a coffee at a local independent coffee shop. The coffee was lovely and as it was warm, we sat outside and took our time.

We did peruse many of The Love's sort of shops (little shops) around the town, and also the market was on where The Love did manage to get something useful - and not the big knickers and tat she sometimes would associate with a market. We did then walk around a bit more and then headed over to Holmes Mill which had a very nice deli and food court, an Everyman Cinema and best of all, the Bowland Brewery Beer Hall. There were over 30 different beers on at any one time, and the staff did tell me that a number of them were on limited run and so were half price today (to make sure the casks were used). So two pints of proper beer, a Vienna lager for The Love and a Saltaire Blonde for me, for a mere £4 total? Yes please!

We did also venture into Booths (because there's not one in Manchester anymore as the Media City one had closed down) and as usual, the experience of food in there was different. They also had a superb beer selection and got myself the Ilkley Brewery's 0.5% low alcohol stout, called Nowt Mary, which I'd have later (and was utterly fab!) - and The Love also got a posh biscuit for The Cute Little One to have when she stays over later this week. All in all, we were both pleasantly surprised that everything was all really nice - and with more to come!

We noted that Whalley wasn't that far away and managed to get a spot on the road close to the Abbey and the Abbey Gatehouse, which is close to an impressive railway viaduct which carries the trains towards Clitheroe. The abbey grounds were also open as well to the public today so that was also a very nice place to walk around too - the ruins were fascinating and also so close to the river with a nice riverside walkway as part of the view around the grounds. That was a surprise but in a really good way and we both enjoyed that a lot to be perfectly honest.

After a nice little mooch around the little shops of Whalley, The Love did have one final little nice surprise too - we headed off to the Clog and Billycock over in Pleasington, the other side of Blackburn, for a well earned meal together. She had been recommended the place by her sister and I knew it was part of the same small chain of pubs that include a lovely one by Chester racecourse. The drinks were all good and the food was spot on - I had the steak pudding which was moresome and gorgeous, especially with the mash and vegetables. The Love's fish and chips also looked good too, and I even had a mini sticky toffee pudding for afters (the coffee that came with it was for The Love) - and all was very well with the world too.

As we headed back along the road via Haslingden and back towards The Love's place, where Brian the cat was waiting for us and wanting his tuna and Dreamies as well as cuddles, we settled in for the evening and had a drink together, all snuggled up and happy that we'd had such a wonderful time together. I feel so lucky that The Love had made everything so nice and that my birthday felt very special indeed - and that is something I'll treasure for a very long time to come. I am so honoured that she did all this for me, and that does mean a lot. I love her so much.

Monday 9th May - Soujourn to Stirk House

The Love In My Heart and I were off today - and with good reason. It is my birthday tomorrow, and The Love had planned something nice for the two of us for the next two days. We would be heading over to Stirk House Hotel, a few miles from Clitheroe and close to Gisburn, where rest and relaxation were in order as well as some nice scenery and a wonderful time together. The Love did tell me on the Saturday but was keeping it a surprise til then as she had booked it all with us both in mind, which was so lovely of her. I know she has excellent taste so was definitely going to be a good time.

We headed off in the car first to Heaton Park Sainsburys to get some petrol and indeed to put some air in the tyres. The air machine though was contactless only and 30p for 3 minutes, which seemed a tad pointless consdering the card charges for the machine owners, but there you go. That all done, it was along the M66 and then A56 towards Burnley, and carrying on along the A671 towards Clitheroe. We did stop there for a little while and although not everywhere was open (because it was a Monday) we settled for a very nice spot of lunch in the Emporium, they did nice sandwiches and coffee and it was a very nice homewares shop as well as the bar and café to relax in.

It was then back in the car and out of Clitheroe following the A59 towards Gisburn, and a mile or so before there we spotted the turn off for Stirk House Hotel. As we headed up the driveway and The Love parked up, we admired the beauty of the house from the outside - it was idyllic, a lovely old property full of character and yet on the inside so well maintained and looked after with gorgeous decor. The Love checked in and paid the remaining balance (she insisted!) and the lovely woman on reception happened to live not far from where The Love used to live, so that was nice that they could chatter for a while. In fact, all of the staff were lovely.

We got to the room, and it was utterly lovely. She had gone for the middle priced room and it was huge, big enough for a two seater sofa and telly on the wall, tea and coffee, a massive bed and lots of drawers and space, and a huge bathroom with bath and separate shower. In fact the only thing I could fault it was that more hangers for clothes would have been nice, but everything else totally spot on. In fact, the view from our bedroom window was over the local farm with some sheep grazing away contentedly, so spot on and really beautiful.

The rate The Love got included an afternoon cream tea, so you presented the token at the bar, and we took a seat inside the nice gallery hallway with comfy chairs facing the outside, and was beautiful and comfy to sit at. Again the staff were lovely and we had nice warmed scones with jam and cream, and a cafitiere of coffee as well as a glass of prosecco each. It was lovely and we both enjoyed those hugely before then deciding to follow one of the walks within the grounds and gardens of the hotel itself.

They had a nature trail and it was pretty good: you did a circular walk of around a mile around fields, trees and landscapes. The Love did spot two geese with their babies walking by and being utterly cute and adorable, so that was nice. We did also see the tree by the scenery and hills which would be perfect with its decking platform for wedding pictures (they do a lot of weddings here and it's easy to see why!) and it was nice to have a walk around and in relatively nice dry weather too, so all good all told really.

Later on we got ourselves showered and ready to head down to the restaurant for the evening meal. The Love looked gorgeous in her dress, tights and boots and I had a nice shirt on and looked the part too. We had a fair amount each towards the meal as part of the stay deal, so was actually good that we could head down and have a nice intimate meal together. In fact, the staff were again absolutely lovely, and we had a nice starter each - the little goats cheese bon bons The Love had was fab, as was her main of the duo of lamb with lovely potatoes and veg. The fish and chips I had was massive and really filling.

As we later relaxed in the bar area with a real fire burning nicely, it just felt all so wonderfully nice, and The Love really had done superbly well. They even had real ale too - the Bowland's Hen Harrier ale which was a solid and very drinkable beer, so happy times for me too. It was such a wonderfully nice relaxed day and I have to say that it just felt like a time away well spent too. Tune of the day simply has to be the really calm and relaxed Beestung by Kristin Hersh, I had the strings from that in my head during the evening as I just felt so happy and so lucky that The Love In My Heart would spoil me so much.

Sunday 8th May - Geordie Jumpers

After a nice breakfast and a relaxing time with The Love In My Heart, I settled in to watch the last game of the women's WSL league football season. BBC Two had West Ham at home to Arsenal. If Arsenal won and Chelsea didn't, the title would go to North London. Even though Arsenal were drawing 0-0 at half time, Chelsea were losing 2-1 at home to Manchester United, so would have been Arsenal's on goal difference. However, things turned round second half - Chelsea won 4-2 and so won the title, and Arsenal's 2-0 win was in vain. Manchester City won 4-0 at Reading to clinch third and Champions League football.

Later on I went over to meet my friend and we were heading back to The Love's place for a brew before today's game with Newcastle United. He had brought over some presents too, and as you can't take bags into the ground, it made more sense to do a drop off and have a well earned tea and coffee respectively. All seemed well with my friend's world, so that was good, and we were soon making our way over to the Etihad Stadium in good time for the kick off. I have to say that it was pretty good to relax and take it all in. With Liverpool drawing at home to Tottenham the night before, a win for City would take us three points clear.

Newcastle were in decent form themselves though and I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we both were hopeful that City would get going and get an early goal. And that we did. Some nice build up play on the right hand side saw a cross headed on by Joao Cancelo and finished by Raheem Sterling, which was good, 1-0 to City. Newcastle did have the ball in the net but were thankfully offside from a corner. A well worked corner fell to Ilkay Gundogan, who shot hard and low, the shot was fumbled by the Newcastle keeper Dubravka and it eventually fell to Aymeric Laporte who shot low from close range to make it 2-0. We were both happy and had a cold drink at half time.

City pressed on in the second half knowing that we were now ahead of Liverpool on goal difference, so any extra goals would count nicely. They continued to press and after some good work City got a corner. The ball was crossed in from Kevin de Bruyne and Rodri met it superbly at the near post and it was 3-0. All was good there and we'd have happily have taken 3-0, especially after Callum Wilson for Newcastle had a low shot well saved from Ederson, but yet more was to come from City.

Right on the 90 minute mark, City broke forward and the ball was crossed in by Oleksandr Zinchenko, and it was met sweetly by Phil Foden to hit home for 4-0. City pressed again and in the final minute of stoppage time, a sweeping move involving Foden and Jack Grealish saw a pass to Raheem Sterling to shoot home for 5-0 and really emphasise the goal difference lead also. We were both very happy and as we headed back homewards later, City had given me an early present of three points and top of the league, with Supra's Blue Moon (make that tune of the day) ringing out loud and proud too. Well done Blues!

Saturday 7th May - Down to Downton

It was an early start for me today as I was heading off to Manchester to be with The Love In My Heart for a lovely few days together, and this did mean a longer than planned journey this morning as it was going from London Kings Cross via Doncaster and Sheffield over to Manchester. It was on the 0730 which got busier at Peterborough, and at Doncaster plenty of Fulham fans were waiting to head to Sheffield to see their final game of the season at Sheffield United - if only they knew the scoreline to come, they may not have been so enthusiastic I guess.

Anyway, once on at Doncaster and via Sheffield it was a relatively quiet journey over to Manchester Piccadilly, where The Love In My Heart was picking me up. We headed back to her place and it was a nice and chilled time with some coffee before The Love's relations came over to hand over some little cards and gifts for later i the week, and The Cute Little One was also there. She wasn't 100 percent but when some small cakes came out she was on it and happily scoffed one with chocolate from the cake all over her mouth, but she loved it and was being admirably super cute as per usual.

Once everyone had had a good natter and headed off for the afternoon, The Love and I got the tram into the city centre and decided to walk over to The Bank on Mosley Street so we could have a late lunch / early tea. I settled for the pie in the end which was rather lovely, and The Love had the garlic chicken schnitzel, which really did taste rather good and definitely was moreish too. I was planning on the chicken and chorizo, but that was out of stock. I did though have some nice beer in there and indeed we went to Beermoth later where The Love could have the Augustiner Helles and me a nice stout, so epic win all round.

We got ourselves a soft drink on the way to the Printworks and headed to the Vue cinema in there, as we'd got tickets to see Downton Abbey: A New Era there. It was definitely in the middle of a refurbishment so all the ticket offices were closed (so good job we got an e-ticket in advance) and had booked the nicer VIP seats so were leather backed and a bit more legroom too so definitely comfortable. The trailers finished, the opening credits played and the iconic theme tune (make that tune of the day) played, and The Love was all set for the next two hours or so.

And actually, I have to say, it wasn't that bad - and probably better than the first film. It definitely had two main plots going along nicely and the characters certainly came more into their own to a degree - Molesley got more of a role and it was nice to see his hidden talent being allowed to shine, for example. I did like the fact that the likes of Daisy and Anna got good starring roles too (probably two of my favourite characters) and the ending wasn't what either of us expected - you'll find out if you watch it for yourself. The Love enjoyed it and it was all a nice way to start an extended few days together.

Friday 6th May - Back Up And Running

It was a day of investigation today, as it appeared that a job that was supposed to be running in terms of a MECM site backup job seemed to be attempting to place files on a drive on the server that it wasn't supposed to. However, I suspect this was probably at some point set by the previous admin, and never documented. So of course because we had seen the log file grow exponentially, this meant that although the DB itself was fine, the transaction log wasn't being necessarily committed - but that part we've sorted some shrinkage out now.

Anyway, we set a different UNC path, but even though setting the system account of the server should have rights to the UNC share, it didn't and flagged an error. In the end, we checked and we were able to use the network access account to run the service as, and then once that was all good, it was allowed to create the job and run accordingly, backing up what was needed to. The test showed it was all working well too so was pretty pleased with how it all went, so happy times really.

I spent some time in the afternoon finalising the new OpenJDK and OpenJRE versions from Adoptium and the MSIs provided worked nicely and so gave you some good options to be able to have that installed and working alongside older versions too - and those in the know can choose what binary to use too, so definitely a sensible thing all round. I answered a few queries and then it was very nice to put on the out of office notification, as I've got a few days off work which will be lovely, I have to admit.

I headed out to Savers a little later on to primarily get a few toiletries and things, but also managed to get some more razor blades for the Mach3 as well - they do a pack of 12 for around £20, which is way cheaper than everywhere else which charges around £9 for just four, so that definitely is a positive. It also means I can leave a pack at The Love In My Heart's place, so all good there. I did manage to get the smaller Mach 3 shaving gel as well which fits into the wash bag nicely for the next few days too, so another good win there. I reminded me of the advert music being a version of The Best by John Parr (the bloke who did the St Elmo's Fire theme) so definitely tune of the day.

I did have two more game arrivals today, which was nice, and two very different games. Frankenstein Jr was the first of five games in the Codemasters Cartoon Time series, but it's actually a re-release of Bride of Frankenstein by Ariolasoft. It does have some difficulty though as you need to avoid the ghosts and skeletons to stop losing energy and lower the heart rate, and then build up the parts of Frankenstein for the father. There's also Captain Dynamo as well which I played, but my is this a difficult game - the first part of the first level takes some getting used to, and it's not that easy believe me!

Thursday 5th May - Another Day In The Office

It was back off to the office today, primarily so I could undertake some testing on a couple of things on both Mac and Windows, but also road test the Windows 10 build with some new versions of both Firefox (now at version 100) as well as a new version of the Slack deployment installer as well. It was therefore handy to be in the office so I could do a test from start to finish, as well as look at an updated version of the Google Drive installer amongst other things, so that was good. I think as well it was just good to be able to get all of that sorted whilst I had some time to do so.

The other nice thing today was that I was also able to carry out some additional tests for one piece of software that I've been working on testing along with our Cyber Security team - we also had a meeting with the vendor too where it was quite useful to see the back end and to see how the reporting side would work for us in terms of what information it can provide. Actually what did prove interesting was that some activity detected was actualy sort of expected, due to our knowledge of the user base, but nonetheless it was good to confirm being on the same page and all that.

The journey home tonight was a bit of a nightmare though. I got to London Bridge fine enough, and a train was leaving from Platform 10 to East Croydon. Oh no. They changed the platform as the train was heading in over to Platform 13, and then gave everyone a little time to head across over to the other platform, with a mass queue. Then it was slow all the way because of some signalling issues further down the line (at Selhurst too, so not good) which meant that a normal 15 minute train from there took over 35 minutes. Ouch.

With that in mind, I was pleased that on the way to the office this morning I had headed over to the local polling station to cast my vote for the local councillors. It was going to be interesting to see what happened due to some local issues but we were also voting for a local mayor as well as the same time, so there were two ballot papers to fill out and put into the boxes. I voted with my head as well as the heart and made sure I filled it all in correctly, and that was definitely a case of me thinking "Well if I don't vote, no point me complaining afterwards if I don't get what I'd like to see happen."

I also had a game arrival tonight so gave that a blast - Murray Mouse Supercop from Codemasters. It's an arcade adventure, but did I hear someone at the back say Spectrum port? Yep, seems that way, with not that much effort to make it nicer, even down to the reduced size screen display. The Allister Brimble music (and therefore tune of the day) is nice enough, and it is at least playable, but you'd think a better effort would have been made with it. And interestingly, no Codemasters logo on the side spine but the catalogue number is there. Intriguing stuff.

Wednesday 4th May - Going To Google

It was a different sort of work day for a lot of us today. After all the fun and games of yesterday, which was finally confirmed by the data centre host that they had resolved all the power issues in the morning (and thankfully will be giving us plenty of credit etc as compensation) it at least meant that I wasn't necessarily going to be needed in the office - otherwise I'd have happily gone in later today and opted out of an afternoon and early evening that we'd had arranged for us by the folks at Google, as we use some of their products. Effectively it was a day at one of their London offices close to St Pancras, in Pancras Square.

I got the train from mine straight to St Pancras and once at the square, it wasn't difficult to find the offices. I got myself checked in and our hosts waited for a number of us to arrive before we headed up to the 8th floor, where the staff were there to greet us. Effectively, it was a mixture of seminars and other activities (which were pretty ace - get to those later). The seminars gave us an overview of some of the other things Google can offer, more so in the cloud presence with extra services and options available. Whilst some of it admittedly felt like a sales pitch of sorts, it was at least aimed at a technical audience too.

We were heading off for a coffee break mid afternoon but not any break, oh no. We went to the 5th floor, past the cute as anything cat wall where staff pictures of their cats are displayed (and so cute) before being shown by a top barista how to effectively press the right amount of coffee in the posh machine, and then froth up the milk to be velvety smooth and pour it in to make your favourite capuccino or latte. It ended up being pretty nice all round when I had mine, so was nice to do that for a different change.

We then had a couple of other seminars including a different look about being the more human and forward facing side of technology, and not necessarily about all the tech either - which definitely resonated with me a fair bit, and how the cycle of fear needs to be broken. That was a good session, and after that another seminar of how their support structures are, who our named contacts and specialists can do, and give us an overview of the other services too. That was good to know, and we had a small little tour of parts of the building before then heading to the 11th floor - and an excellent view from the terrace (although it was raining, so we couldn't go outside).

The last part of the day and early evening was doing a little cookery class, hosted by a chef who had worked under Jamie Oliver but now does classes for Google staff so they can be more sustainable in their cooking and also not resort to microwave meals etc when at home. We had all the ingredients for a Thai green curry, so as teams of two one chopped, the other used the pestle and mortar to get all the ingredients ground down for a nice paste, and once that was done, we had the other stuff prepped to put the chicken in on heat, add the vegetables, the coconut milk and the paste, and then the mushrooms last, with the egg fried rice also being cooked. A couple of colleagues said ours looked really good, and it definitely tasted good too, so pretty happy with all that.

I headed home later on the train and was keeping an ear to the Champions League tie at Real Madrid, with Man City 4-3 up from the first leg. City scored through Riyad Mahrez, only then for Real Madrid to score two goals late on from Rodrygo to force extra time. We didn't see it out and had two golden chances to score another goal beforehand, but missed out. Karim Benzema scored a penalty in extra time, and we didn't get another chance after that really and so lost 6-5 on aggregate. Sickening really, but I did say to some of my colleagues I thought we would lose on aggegate, so no surprise really. Disappointed by Morrissey seems apt, so tune of the day there - the day had been great at Google and City let me down...

Tuesday 3rd May - Fire Fighting and Fixing

It was one of those days today where actually being in the office proved to be really productive and useful as well as being able to sort out some issues there live rather than try and do it all remotely - which with physical stuff you can't really do. I got to the office and it seemed that for some reason both wired and wireless networking were being icky. I checked my messages and it turned out that the data centre (which includes the domain controller amongst other things) had had some sort of power failure - even though there's backup power which supposedly kicked in.

I was at least able to tether the phone to the laptop and connect that way in order to try and assist on the ground, and did some floor walking to let everyone know what was happening. I did offer to go to the data centre myself but as one of the managers told me you need X amounts of security clearance, but appreciated the offer nonetheless. In the end one of the team who had the necessary clearance went there, and in conjunction with the provider there located the power issue, and managed to get at least one circuit back up so at least everything did have power.

That was all well and things were starting to head back to normal - although I did need the MECM server to be able to increase one of the drives with more space because the SQL transaction log was filling it - and there's a way to stop that happening too, so I've put some recommendations forward in order to do that (which should make things a lot better in the longer term) so that was that. However, mid afternoon myself and one of our service team leads noted that for some reason websites were loading really slowly..

As that transpired, and it was only limited to the office we were in, it seems that the firewall appliance and the two connections to the outside, one to each ISP WAN link, weren't doing what they should do for one of the links. So normally, they'd load balance, but for whatever reason, going switcheroo from one link to another caused the appliance to decide to stop for whatever reason. I was guided to which bit of kit it was in the room and did a physical reboot out of hours which then seemed to get things back up and running, so see how the land lies tomorrow morning I guess.

Still it was a long day and grabbed something to eat for tea on the way home before having a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart about all sorts. It was nice to hear her voice (I do miss her) and indeed Brian the cat was being all cuddly next to her too which was good - I can't wait to see them both this weekend. Nonetheless she had had a busy day too, so was good to compare notes and then be able to relax for the rest of the evening. As for me, tune of the day is Stay (I Missed You) by Lisa Loeb. I've had it in my head all day and it was such a good song back then (and still is I should add.)

Monday 2nd May - Crucible Classic

I had a nice lie in this morning, which was much appreciated. I didn't get that much sleep over the last couple of nights for whatever reason so it was good to be able to get some tonight, and that helped massively and I did feel refreshed when I did wake up. I was debating a walk today but decided instead to stay in, as I'd be out a fair bit next weekend and with some days off, so wanted to be able to have the energy and money for that instead. I did though do a bit of cleaning and tidying as well as get some washing done for later in the week.

It was good also to be able to settle in and watch the afternoon session of the World Snooker Championship and I was also pleased that Judd Trump was staging a comeback. It was 12-5 at the start of the session which became 13-8 at the mid session interval, and with some continued quality snooker as well including a really useful fluke on the opening red of a century break in the 25th frame (and the last one of the session) it then meant it was 14-11 at the close of the session, so a 6-2 session win for Judd and the only session of the tournament Ronnie O'Sullivan had lost during the whole tournament.

As the afternoon session finished early, I spent some time sorting out a few more things for next week, but also was able to peruse some online shopping and be able to see what was out there in terms of new albums, some of which I may end up getting soon as some presents for my birthday - we shall see. I must admit that I've also been able to get a few things booked and sorted for the holiday also, so we're for example going to somewhere that The Love In My Heart has always fancied to go, and indeed something we've both wanted to do we'll also be doing, so that will be nice.

Later on after tea it was back on with BBC Two and the final frames of the World Snooker Championship - and to be honest once Ronnie O'Sullivan took the first frame of the session, I could only see one winner. However at least Judd Trump did get at least one back and took the final into the final part of the final session, and made a century break after the interval to make it 109 centuries - a new Crucible record surpassing the 108 last year, which was pretty impressive.

Ronnie O'Sullivan then won the final frame to win 18-13, and had a lengthy embrace with Judd Trump afterwards - it looked quite emotional. Seven world titles now for Ronnie, equalling Stephen Hendry's modern day record, and fifteen centuries in this tournament (Mark Williams got sixteen and equalled Hendry's record also) so definitely a tournament of records. Well done Ronnie, and who's to say he won't get en eighth one? In the meantime tune of the day is the walk on music he currently uses: Drops of Jupiter by Train, which he's used for a good few years now.

Sunday 1st May - Sporting Sunday

After a lovely jaunt around the South Coast and seeing Susie Dent in Worthing last night, I wasn't planning to have a massive lie in. I knew that I'd signed up for the advance purchase of the tickets for next year's World Snooker Championship and knew that the demand would be there. As it proved when I signed on at around 9am - there were already 3,000 or so in the queue which meant that tickets would be in short supply (half on sale today for advance, half tomorrow on general sale) - and sure enough, the final had already gone, as had most of the semi final. And the tickets were at least £40 for each session of the first round, and got more expensive too, so decided against it.

As I had missed some sporting action yesterday, first up was Match of the Day on BBC iPlayer as I was able to see both Liverpool and my beloved Manchester City get vital away wins. As it turned out, City's 4-0 win at Leeds United also closed the goal difference between ourselves and Liverpool to 1, which may count come the end of the season, so being able to claw back another three goals difference there was hugely important. It was good to see as well Fernandinho score a long range effort and enjoy that massively - he still can prove to be an important player for us as ever.

I did then watch the Formula E race from Monaco yesterday as The Love In My Heart had told me that it was on. It was a decent race, somewhat though tempered by the fact that a couple of safety car incidents had neutralised some of the attack modes on offer, although at least these days they do race the full circuit which is much better. Stoffel Vandoorne made the most of the opportunities present and took a well earned win with Mitch Evans second and Jean-Eric Vergne third - two former F1 drivers in the top three too, which shows they've still pretty much got it.

Of course seeing Monaco so nice and warm made me think of the historic Monaco Grand Prix in a couple of weeks time and how nice it would be to go to that, or indeed the actual race at the end of this month. I must admit I do love that race a lot and it's always really special to be able to see the cars that close up passing below you as you watch from the vantage point. To see that ten years ago was special and a moment that both myself and The Love In My Heart will always treasure - special times for special moments and all.

I did then watch the first of the four sessions of the World Snooker Championship final - of course having the proper version of Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band would always be nice, and tune of the day for that reason. It was looking pretty close and in the fourth frame, Judd Trump missed a red, Ronnie O'Sullivan forced a respotted black and won it with a cocked had double to go 3-1, and then later on 5-1 up. Judd though did ever so well to get the last two frames, especially the last where it looked like Ronnie was having verbals with the referee Olivier Marteel. 5-3 it finshed and all to play for with three sessions left.