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:


Monday 21st October - Swap and Save

It was back to work this morning, although not without more train dramas. I had been held up at Victoria last night due to supposed animals on the railway earlier in the day, but now it appeared that some signalling work had over-ran causing lots of delays. I did at least manage to get the train and get a seat, and it was a little quieter today due to the fact that some of the London boroughs had half term holidays, so definitely was nice to be able to get a seat in all instances and get to work and get cracking.

Today was the day I normally release the Windows updates, but also we'd had some communications sent out to some of the user base, as we're going to update their Windows 10 version later on, but needed to patch their version with the October patch first of all so at least we knew they were protected, and to expect a restart when prompted. Forewarned is forearmed because I could see that users were indeed clicking to restart straight away instead of a longer wait that we'd had put in place - so definitely was a bonus to see that.

I also was monitoring a few of the other applications to be tested and had a conversation with one of our staff members at another site who use a specific mapping application complete with serial number and appropriate CD key, so we were able to look at populating that within the Windows Installer MSI, and also having the properties set, with the pre-requisite needed installed first. I managed to get that working, and that was all good, and let my colleague know so that they could also give it a go - we'll see how that works.

I had a nice surprise when I got home in that it was a parcel, not least from the folks at Everything5pounds. I'd noted last week that they had some indigo jeans on, in a nice dark blue, for a mere £5 (clue is in the name folks) and I'd had a message from the concierge to let me know it had arrived. And so I got home and opened the parcel. The quality looked good but wasn't sure of the brand until I checked the buttons of the jeans - they were actually man's range, normally way more than a fiver. Excellent.

In case you wondered, a lot of the clothes sold via Everything5pounds are often ex-store stock that would be thrown out or thrown to landfill, but if it's able to be sold on cheaply it at least means less manufacturing later on, but also more that can in the long term be recycled. My view is that if you've not spent lots, the cost per wear is less but also you're preventing waste too, so a swap and save tactic all round. And why not? Been impressed with my two purchases so far to be honest, so well worth considering yourself. In the meantime, tune of the day is the excellent "You Against You" by Slayer - just a good way of winding down and rocking hard after a day at work!

Sunday 20th October - Mancunian Munching

It was nice to head up this morning, and sort out the air bed and pack that along with the air pump and all be good to go. A well earned coffee was much welcome as were some more sausage sarnies too, and the Wales v France Rugby World Cup quarter final was pretty interesting, not least because the game changed on one of the French players elbowing and pretty badly too - and a deserved red card. TMO showing up VAR for the rubbish that it is, and Wales getting a victory late on, so pretty dramatic all round really.

It was soon time to be heading off unfortunately, so we said our goodbyes to one friend as he headed off back towards Doncaster, and the other two headed with me to UIverston station where there were a fair few people waiting for the same train as me - the 1106 back to Manchester Piccadilly. It was a sad farewell but we'll know that we can get together as well some time next year early on, which works well for us all and the weekend was just what we all needed for a number of reasons too. The train was at least a shiny new Class 195 again and was packed at Preston, full of Man U fans heading their game against Liverpool.

At Manchester Piccadilly, I met up with The Love In My Heart, so that was of course lovely, and had a nice hug before then heading off to The Bank pub first of all, and I had a nice coffee and a good catch up and chatter, and was a fairly relaxed atmosphere due to the place banning large crowds of football fans due to incidents in previous matches (ie: idiots). The positive though was that it also felt safe, and we soon walked off towards the far end of Peter Street to meet up with our friends in Albert's Schloss.

With it being a Sunday, the Sunday roast was on of course but also they had live music on, and later on the AMC Gospel choir of Manchester who did a nice medley of Amazing Grace mixed with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (make that tune of the day) as well as there being some lovely food too. The meatballs I had to start were lovely and the French onion soup The Love had was good - and my main of the proscuitto pizza with field mushrooms was bang on, so was the roast pork that The Love had too - in fact everything was good really and was good to catch up too.

We later headed to The Bank and the Flanker and Firkin ale from St Austell was mine to be had of course, and we chatted for a while before then deciding that there was plenty of time for more chatter - and I had a coffee this time to keep me going throughout the rest of the day. The time went by far too quickly to be honest and it was soon a case of saying our goodbyes and then heading off to Manchester Piccadilly station, where the train was busy with Man U fans and got delayed heading home due to the packed nature. It was of course lovely to see The Love, and gave her a massive hug as I left for home, and felt rather happy to have spent time with her all round. I love her to bits.

Saturday 19th October - Lakes Weekender, Day 2

I had a good sleep on the air bed that I'd brought with me, and the morning had a special guest come along - namely my friend's dog Toby. Normally because there's strangers in the house, he tends to get a little excitable of course, but the way it worked out his parents couldn't have Toby the whole weekend, so we had him during the early part of today. He was being well behaved with me, maybe he had a scent of Brian the cat that he could detect? Either way, we had some really nice sausage sarnies for breakfast, so all was good, and saw England absolutely demolish Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter final - unexpected perhaps, but very welcome indeed!

It was then off around lunch time to head out, and the way that our friend directed us took us past some former pubs which have now closed before heading along the A5087 back to the main road, and across to The Swain Inn, a proper old school pub, where dogs are allowed with their owners, and we were able to have a fuss over quite a few of them whilst having a quality selection of beers in there. Once done, we walked past what was the former Hartley's brewery, closed down when Robinsons took them over, and then onwards towards the town centre.

It was first off up the hill to the Old Friends pub, they make their own ale too and the Best Friends was a gorgeous amber ale, possibly the best one I had of the day. The pub had a resident cat (woohoo) and also the atmos was really nice too - and we got to see the second half of the Everton v West Ham game with the game settled from a really good strike right at the end too. We then headed back down hill to the Kings Arms, where a piano was there not in use, but two guitarists were playing folk songs including Streets of London. Was tempted to have the Old Tom ale, but too strong for this time of day!

After a quick half in the Rose and Crown we headed over to the Chippy Bank for a later afternoon bit of food - I had the steak pie and chips which was spot on and we all either had a bap, some battered sausage or a pie with some chips. It did fill the hole nicely and certainly kept us going as we headed onwards later to the Hope and Anchor, where there was some lively discussion on politics but also a nice couple chatted to us who were here for a gig and who had stayed all week too.

We then headed off to my friend's favourite haunt, the Kings Head, and with good reason. The ale was good and this included Hobgoblin on cask, and it was under £3 per pint too. We got a table for four by the window and after a while the jukebox was on free play, so that of course meant that lots of quality tunes including New Order, Depeche Mode (make "Personal Jesus" tune of the day because it is a proper tune) and also the likes of Mike Oldfield, Gary Numan, Joy Division and so on. One couple around our age were happily dancing around and loving life, good for them we thought!

After a few well earned drinks and some quality tunes at that, we then headed to the local Chinese takeaway where they had crispy shredded chilli chicken, and so that was me sorted whilst some of the others had some special fried rice type dishes. We settled in with the Chinese meal, watched some of Match of the Day including Manchester City's excellent win at Crystal Palace, and before we knew it the evening had drawn to a close and it was time to head for some well earned sleep - but a great day all round.

Friday 18th October - Lakes Weekender, Day 1

It was nice to have the day off work, but even nicer to be able to head off up to Ulverston in the Lake District and spend some time with some friends - it's our get together to talk about all things retro gaming, footy, music and generally have some beers and chill out. I think one of the things I treasure is the times we have, because they're always full of fun moments but also just a really nice enjoyable weekend. I look forward to them a lot, and today was no exception as I left for the train to St Pancras and the short walk over to London Euston station.

I'd worked out a cheaper way this time around: go on Virgin Trains to Manchester Piccadilly, and have some time to grab lunch before changing for the Northern service to Ulverston, which I managed to get for £9 each way with an advance fare - absolute bargain, although a shame that the 10p fare Northern had a while ago didn't extend into October really because that was ace. Still, I got to Manchester Piccadilly well on time, nipped into Sainsburys for a meal deal, and Costa for a coffee, then over to Platform 14 for the train to Ulverston - and it was a nice new Class 195 train - quite comfy all round, good window seats too and they just felt a good experience.

It was good to sit on the left and past Lancaster see the coast close by to Carnforth, then at Arnside head over the crossing towards Grange-over-Sands, and again over another water crossing from Cark towards Ulverston, where my friend and host was waiting. It was good to see him as ever and we swiftly headed back to his place, where one of the friends had literally just turned up, so good timing. With our other friend from South Shields coming not long after, we'd all timed it pretty well and were all set for a good time all round, and had a bit of telly on in the background as we had a good natter and catch up - and good to hear about my friend's current new job which should hopefully turn into something good, fingers crossed on that one.

With Pointless due on, we had a local pizza place to order some delivery of pizza and it was pretty good all round - the pizza was very nice, and we'd ordered more than enough to get some garlic bread with cheese on the side to go with it too. It was good to enjoy that and see the contestants get two answers of 1 in the final round (ouch!) before then settling in with a couple of beers and sitting back all relaxed. We were able to effectively see what was going on, put some videos on Youtube via the Amazon fire stick, all was good.

It was also nice to head over later to the Stan Laurel pub for a well earned couple of beers. Their selection was always very good to be honest and some quality ales were ours to be had for a while, and the pool table even got used as well whilst we had a natter. In fact the time sped by and it was starting to rain a little bit, which meant an excuse to stay down the pub. We later on then headed to a local takeaway and it wasn't a kebab for me, but a chicken burger, which was good, and we got back to our friend's place to be able to relax a bit more, drink some more beer, and also watch some classic Commodore 64 stuff on using one of the special attachments to read disk images that he had.

This included a number of demo programs which for their time were pretty excellent, including the rather intense Mathematica from the group Reflex, with an excellent soundtrack provided by Kai Walter (aka PVCF) which is tune of the day. It was good to see the likes of that, another classic demo in Unsound Minds, and plenty more besides which really did show the boundaries being pushed for what they were at the time - especially so with the superb Edge of Disgrace demo as well. If you're into that sort of thing, it is massively well worth checking out.

Thursday 17th October - Up and Down

It's been a right up and down day, but to be honest I wanted to concentrate on the ups, because there were several of them that happened today. The first of them was a positive one to one meeting with my manager where we were able to work out a plan of action for several decisions to go forward with, and from there also have a good discussion about what else would be on the horizon. I also spent some time with a colleague checking over what we would need to do for the likes of the application used on some of the iPads for room bookings, and have some good suggestions to move on with.

Another up was that I'd managed to sort out all the tickets, flights and hotels for a trip in November that I'm going do to - solo as well. I've always wanted to see Manchester City away from home, and in Europe, and as our game at Atalanta is being played in the San Siro Stadium in Milan, a double win - a ground I've wanted to go to for a long time, and one that may be demolished in years to come, so definitely wanted to see it whilst I had the chance to. The match ticket wasn't too bad, around £40, which was sort of expected.

I then went on to sort the flights and hotel - direct flights to Milan Malpensa with Easyjet, and I'd only be carrying hand luggage on anyway, so that worked out around £95, and due to us having the advanced Tastecard option at work including hotel discounts, I was able to get a Best Western hotel close to the centre of Milan and close to a metro station, for around £50 including breakfast - online, the same hotel via their official website is around €220 for the same night! So I definitely had a massive win there, that's for sure.

The other major up was when I got home, and there was a lovely card from The Love In My Heart, which had a cute cat on the front, very similar in look to Brian the cat. In fact it was one that moved when you held the card, in two different images, but was nice. The words inside were lovely and it was nice to be appreciated for sorting out everything for such a nice holiday and break away that we had just had together. I think for different reasons we both needed it, but definitely such a good time to have.

The final up too is that tomorrow I'll be heading off to Ulverston in the Lake District to meet up with three of my friends for a weekend that will no doubt involve some beer, and some retro gaming, but also lots to catch up and chatter about as well. I always look forward to our get togethers, which we've been doing regularly since 2007, and it makes me feel happy when we have such a good time and a perfect break away in contrast too. Tune of the day is the iconic theme to the C64 game Arcade Classics by Rob Hubbard, full of sampled guitars and sounding so metal and rock too - one of my friends loves this tune, as do I.

Wednesday 16th October - Turtle-y Terrible

Oh dear me. With each week I watch The Apprentice, I have to despair at the contestants and how not very intelligent and argumentative they seem to be. This week's task was to design a toy for six to eight year olds, and one team decided that they would make a toy turtle which would be a friend and companion. Naturally of course in terms of the design and being the sales person, Thomas was really passionate about the product, but not being the PM - of which the PM this week, Riyonn, should have pulled him in earlier to say "hang on a second, haven't we got it wrong here?"

I think as well that it was a case of having an understanding of the brief, but also being able to sell the product, take on board the feedback, and actually push forward the product overall. Too much negativity in a lot of the team and that really did impact, so the advert wasn't great, and neither were the pitches. Not being able to have any sales whatsoever during the pitch is somewhat rubbish, and it the only surprise to me was that Solomon had left, and none of the remainder went either. I have to say though that if this is the standard of the modern business person, then we're really screwed as a nation..

It had been a busy day as well for me as I was catching up with the last few days' worth. On one positive note, I was able to assist with one of our security folks as they wanted to get an idea of one piece of software installed across the business, as there was a potential vulnerability on that. Naturally of course I was able to pull some data off and also see that the installer was a Windows installer MSI, so would be able to at least have the option to do a removal using the product codes I'd managed to see. Nice, hopefully.

I also had had a conference call with one of our application vendors about the way that their application is packaged - and what was pretty clear was that it wasn't fully documented correctly as to which way around the application should be deployed, and by which method. Of course if people see an MSI, they're going to take that option, but when you delve deeper and find out what it does, you can see actually the way that it gets deployed is different, so in actual fact what we discussed worked, and I'll do some further checks and plans over time to make sure it behaves as I want to during further testing.

Had a bit of a blast of some punk tunes tonight, because I could. This included a "best of" compilation from Sham 69 that I'd got a while ago and of course enjoyed. In fact Jimmy Pursey's vocal cleartly was the inspiration for Thomas from the Apprentice, that sort of passion really. Naturally of course the iconic Hurry Up Harry is blasted out as well as The Kids Are United, but often overlooked and under-rated for me is the great Borstal Breakout, so that's tune of the day.

Tuesday 15th October - Sorting Out

It was a sort out of all sorts today, and had the day off work to be able to do so. I had transferred all the pictures from the digital camera memory card over to the PC last night, and had at least processed some of them in terms of monochrome processing, but also wanted to check the colour where possible and make sure that they were set right. Once done, it was a case of uploading them to Flickr during the day in batches - I'd much rather still use the Flickr Uploadr tool but that's not possible, so was able to work out using the inbuilt tool using the website and that's been fine thus far.

I was also getting all the washing done (lots of that) and some ironing too. Because I took a shirt for the daytime as well as the night, it meant at least six of those to wash (and then iron, meh!) as well as the likes of jeans and other items. In fact I'd had some clothes from before I went away but also the duvet cover, pillow cases and so on that I'd changed before The Love In My Heart stayed over. There's definitely a case of one thing at a time, and rotating between that and the picture sorting.

Once I'd managed to upload the pictures and get that all sorted, I was then able to place them on the map (I always geotag to get a sense of where they all are) but was also able to see where we'd been because of that, and actually did a lot in the time that we had when we think about it. I also know there's lots more that we would like to do as well, such as being able to see the palace, although that is only open during the Summer, so might have to make an excuse to head back there!

I also spent some time watching catch up television as well that I'd missed whilst I was away including Celebrity Hunted. I had to smile when I noted some of them making some errors that you wouldn't want to do - such as paying with your own credit card and not realising that would be tracked, and also heading to major train stations that you might just be able to have a number of cameras spot you, so a fair number of rules broken all round. Definitely stay away from transport hubs is one of them I reckon!

I finally managed also to be able to see some highlights of the Bathurst 1000 race from the weekend as well, and it seemed that there was some controversy around the safety car, team orders and what have you, so the result is still provisional and a hearing will follow. It certainly did seem exciting all round though and plenty of action to see, so all good there. Tune of the day is the ace Foo Fighters' "The Pretender" which has a powerful chorus and suits the action well too.

Monday 14th October - Speeding Homeward

The Love In My Heart and I got ourselves up and ready, and packed up the cases ready for departure later. Whilst The Love was getting herself ready after her shower, I headed up to the Carrefour for some croissants, and we had them with a coffee. We'd got some Nespresso compatible pods from HEMA before we went away and this really did make sense - as we could have a coffee when we felt like it. It was a dry but somewhat colder day and once we'd settled the room tax on checkout (it wasn't much but knew it had to be paid - and didn't mind sorting that out) it was time for us to head onwards, stopping off at Leonidas to get some chocolate based things for The Love.

We got on the metro at Louise, and the 24 hour ticket was exactly that from yesterday - so we were able to use that to get to Brussels Midi. In the station we saw that there was a Nespresso Virtuo stall and they were giving away free coffee made with the machine - so we both got a large sized one and had that to drink in the station. Bonus. It was nice to wander around a few of the station shops before then heading to check-in via the Channel Terminal for Platforms 1 and 2 in the station. That was painless and we waited in the departure lounge - admittedly this was small and only had one café, so again worth noting.

It was soon time to board the train and we followed the escalator up to Platform 2, then turned right to our carriage. We again had a window seat and the between seat arches were perfect for our luggage also, so all sorted. We also took advantage of the lunch meal deal on board and so had a sandwich, crisps and a drink for a set price, so that did the job well. The Eurostar sped through back to France and then through the Channel Tunnel onwards to Ebbsfleet and arrived at London St Pancras International on time. We made our way through the arrival escalators and out.

It was then a short walk up to Euston, and we had a drink in the Signal Box bar upstairs before we then headed down to the concourse for The Love In My Heart to head on the train back to Manchester. We felt quite sad really but gave each other a massive hug as we both appreciated the quality time we'd had and what a lovely weekend it all was. I headed on the tube and train and arrived home late afternoon and The Love had a nice empty train to ride on to Manchester, where she arrived home and Brian the cat was all good and couldn't wait for cuddles from his Mummy.

I later on had some food for tea and settled in to watch the Bulgaria v England match on the telly. It wasn't a comfortable watch, primarily due to the disgusting racist chanting that could be heard directed at the England players. Thankfully some of the new UEFA protocol kicked in, and there were announcements to be made to abandon the game if there wasn't action taken. A group of around 50 fans were thrown out, but I suspect they may have been waiting to cause trouble later. The only good thing really was that England were doing the business on the pitch, being 4-0 up at half time and then 6-0 at full time.

It shouldn't really need to be said to be honest, but it's not on that racism still exists and really shows a lot of people out there, including some in this country as well, need to get themselves educated and actually wise up to the fact that it's not big, it's not clever and it's not wanted, in any shape or form. We will only defeat racism by sticking together as one and calling it out for what it is. Much like Pop Will Eat Itself did back in 1994, and 25 years on, although it shouldn't be, Ich Bin Ein Auslander is even more relevant today than it was then - tune of the day. Listen to the words, understand the message, and realise how ahead of the game they were, and still are.

Sunday 13th October - Mini-Europe and Atomium

After some croissants and coffee for breakfast, The Love In My Heart and I checked the weather forecast, and, wow, it was going to be 23 degrees and sunny today too. That made us both happy as we knew that we'd be outside for most of the day and that it also meant that we could travel lighter, as we did yesterday. We got ourselves ready and all good to go, and we were soon walking down the Avenue Louise to the metro stop. As we had planned a few trips on trams and metro today, we got the 24 hour ticket for €7.50 - and managed to converse good French with the ticket kiosk office to get that sorted, felt pleased I could do that. It's a proper 24 hours too, so this ticket would potentially see us good to get to the train station tomorrow.

We took the metro line 6, back via the train station and then onwards past Gare D'Ouest (the west station) and following to the North West of the city through the suburbs and on to Heysel, of course where the old stadium used to be which is now redeveloped as the King Badouin Stadium. The district of course is a more leisure-based district now, mainly because of it being the original site of the 1958 Brussels Expo. This led to the creation of the Atomium, which we'd explore later, and a number of sites around that, and hence the large parking spaces not just for the stadium either.

Also close to the metro station is Mini-Europe, and that's where we would go first. It was literally main attractions of Europe - in miniature, with a railway heading around with various branded trains (Thalys, Renfe, ICE, SNCF etc) and also superb scale model reproductions of a number of sights for each country - and not just the major European countries either - the likes of Malta, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovakia is all represented too, and the scale is 1:25, so as a result, the Eiffel Tower is still very tall, and Big Ben does tower over the rest of the Houses of Parliament.

What we also both liked was the fact that a lot of it was interactive - you could press a button to set off a dancing trio in a square, a car going round delivering Coca-Cola to one town, or Big Ben's bongs, or a Spanish castle with a medieval joust and a dragon breathing smoke to those who dare attack it. You could also shout "olé!" into the bullring microphone and have the crowd all yelling it inside that too, which was good. So many different great sights to see, and we were both really impressed with it - can highly recommend it especially if the day was nice and dry and sunny as we had it.

We had some lunch in Mini-Europe before crossing back over the Bruparck bridge and down the hill to the Atomium. Because we'd bought a combined ticket for both, we didn't have to queue for a ticket (which looked a long queue) and could go straight in. We were guided up the exhibitions, some of which were inside the bottom spheres, and that took us up a long escalator inside one of the connecting tubes to an upper level where an exhibition of art from Pieter Bruegel was in place - as the artist dies 450 years ago, and that was really well done. We then followed the escalator down and it was all very sci-fi, and as The Love said, like we'd been in a Doctor Who episode!

It was into the queue for the lift up to the top of the Atomium for the view, and the lift was very quick to say the least. The view from the top was excellent, the sun was out and the views of the city, the stadium and Mini-Europe from up above, the palace at Laeken, and all sorts, was really nice to see. The restaurant just up from the observation deck looked good, but it was very warm up there so I can only imagine it'd be hot. We headed back down the lift, admired the Smurfs stuff in the shop (the Smurfs and the Atomium were created in the same year, 1958, and both celebrated their 60th anniversary last year.)

We also then had a walk around ADAM - the Art and Design Museum - which was included with the combined ticket as well. Housed in part of a former large car showroom, it has two distinct sections - one that celebrated interior design with all sorts of chairs, tables and other furniture given centre stage as part of the heritage of how the design changed over time. The second was all to do with the use of plastic, not just in objects such as record players and food mixers, but also in furniture design and the utilitarian spaces of the house that you could have moulded objects in. We liked this and it resembled going round a specialist interior design show but with a ton of history and culture. If you get a ticket for the Atomium only, this is also included too - and a combined one does all three as we did.

We later headed back to Heysel station, but as The Love suggested, the tram might be nicer - we can see more from up above ground, and we could do a route to be closer to the hotel. I worked it out from the tram and metro map, get the number 7 from Heysel, round some nice parkland and past the Docks Bruxsel complex on to Princess Elizabeth - where we'd change for the number 92 tram. This took us through some suburbs and then past the Jardin Botanique, then past the Parc de Brussels, the Royal Palace and onwards towards Place Poelaert and then Stéphanie, which is a closer stop to where the hotel is. It was a nice trip all round and definitely the trams are different - they're not as wide as other trams, so the seating is different - if you get two opposite facing each other it's quite a nice moment, as we did.

It was forecast for some rain later, but also on a Sunday not everywhere is open (worth noting folks!) - so with a lot of the shops shut, some restaurants were shut too. I checked online and so we decided to head back on the 93 tram from Stéphanie to Grand Sablon, and at the bottom of the square there we had spotted a brasserie yesterday, and it was open. We went in, and the beer selection was very good so had the Leffe Brune which was gorgeous. We also went traditional tonight for our meal, so this time I had the carbonnade flammande beef which was spot on and with some fries, and The Love went for the waterzooi, which is chicken in a cream sauce with potatoes and carrots - it looked pretty good all round actually.

We got back to the tram stop and it started to rain, so was glad not to wait long for the 93 tram back to the hotel - and we used both of the €5 credits (you get a little coin for each) based on our green choices, and so used it in the hotel bar to have a drink. The Love had wine, I had the Thon Hotels special brewed beer - the Thonn'eke, which was triple brewed - it was strong but it was gorgeous, and with some chilled out music playing in the background too which was nice - and definitely that overall vibe was tune of the day, contributing to both of us feeling like we'd had a wonderful chilled out weekend.

Saturday 12th October - Waffling On In Brussels

It was nice to wake up in such a comfortable bed in the hotel, and The Love In My Heart agreed. Actually, we did notice a little something pop underneath the door of our hotel room: and a nice and welcome surprise. Thon Hotels do a scheme where if you're happy to keep the room tidy, and don't need the sheets changing or new towels etc, they give you a token for €5 - which you can then use as part payment in the hotel bar or restaurant, or donate it to environmentally friendly charities of their choice. It may not seem a massive amount, but it hopefully would encourage people to be greener. In fact on our floor it wasn't just us doing so either - quite a few had the same door hanger outside, so good to see a simple effective scheme working.

Once we'd had some coffee and a croissant, we headed out for the day to explore the centre of Brussels in more detail. We walked down the Avenue Louise and crossed over to the Place Poelaert. The Palais de Justice is being refurbished and full of scaffolding, the dome did look lovely. As there's a view over the old city from here, the lift down is appreciated by locals, and also a perfect place to put a big wheel up, which you could admire the view even further. Sensible really, and actually did enhance the feel of the square with the trams turning right through the centre too.

We followed the Rue de la Régence onwards to the Grand Sablon square - which is full of chocolatiers, jewellers (posh ones at that) and also the antiques market was on as well today, so gave the place a really nice market town feel. We also went inside the Notre-Dame du Sablon church which was very nice inside - well worth a look in if you are around there. The square really did feel lively, with bars and more chocolate shops in the streets facing, and definitely felt quite exquisite all round really. We carried on downhill along the Rue Lebeau, heading under the road by the national library and onwards to the Place Saint-Jean.

We then followed the narrow streets to the Grand Place - and that was impressive to say the least. It had the Town Hall, which was having a marriage ceremony on, and the museum of the city as well. It also seemed to have a massive number of people admiring the square as well, with a number of connected streets from there. We did walk down one and stopped off for a Belgian speciality - waffles! I had one with cream, and The Love went for cream and sugar. The whipped cream amount was massive, and the strawberries were fresh too, but was a huge amount to munch and manage.

We carried on walking and soon came across the Manneken Pis - and yes, it is exactly that, a small statue of a man having a wee. As we visited it, it was dressed in an outfit although normally it's naked, and it's only around 18 inches high in all. I did note a good record shop, Arlequin, round the corner too so had a good look in that, which was impressive all round. We also walked down another street and found the excellent Veals and Geeks record shop also, and that was good to be able to mooch round also. It was nice to pause by the Eglise Notre-Dame du Bon Secours church, before then following the Rue de Midi along to the Bourse.

And lunch. Not just any lunch though. Fries from the well known Fritland at that! I had them just as they were but The Love had them with ketchup, and they were pretty much doused in tomato ketchup as well. They were fried so well though and the fries were simply gorgeous, and plentiful too for the price. The fact that there was a queue that we had to wait in to be served told us both all we needed to know about its reputation too - so that was definitely a bonus. We also then walked up past a few more chocolate shops before then heading off back towards the Grand Place - and for a good reason.

The Love's manager had told her about an unusual bar with the tables made of coffins - called Le Cercueil. It has skull cups for pint glasses if you so desired, and also played some rock and metal, so we had the likes of the classic Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine - definitely tune of the day. I had some lovely beer in there as did The Love, and we just admired the atmosphere, it was small but really nice and definitely going for it on the skeletons and coffins stakes to feel quite a dark place, but yet comfortable. Definitely a highlight of the day for me.

We walked back along and crossed the Boulevard Anspach and onwards to the Place Sainte-Catherine, and into the church there which was also a rather beautiful church too. There were also the ruins of the ancient church just opposite which was interesting, and we walked back via the Bourse square and towards the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert - two long shopping arcades with an arch of glass over the top. It was a majestic piece of architecture with some lovely shops (lots of chocolate especially) and The Love and I admired the view and the feel of the place rather wonderfully well. It was just so nice to see.

At the end of the shopping centre we followed the road uphill and towards the Cathedral, which stood on a hill and really did look imposing, with a view over the city from the top of its stairs towards the entrance. We climbed further uphill back to the Parc de Bruxelles and walked through the park - its tree lined avenues were gorgeous. We did spot a protest on, and so decided to take a peek towards the Royal Palace, which was guarded heavily by police. We learned later that the road was normally open for people to walk and view the palace, but for security had been closed off. We did stop off in the bar in the park and had a drink there - which was lovely.

Due to the protest blocking the Place Royale, we had to divert around via the Museum de Beaux-Arts and then round the courtyard to the Rue de Namur, following that uphill to the Porte de Namur roundabout, and then walking along the Avenue de la Toison d'Or with its many very good shops, and fronted the Galerie shopping centre there. The Love managed to pick up some good items from both Flying Tiger and HEMA whilst there, and this HEMA even sold wine so she got a bottle for later on, before we then arrived back at the Avenue Louise and off to the hotel. It had been a fair amount of walking from us both, but we were able to see a considerable amount of the city because of it.

In the evening we headed out and to one of the pedestrianised streets, the Rue Jourdane off the Avenue Louise. We went Italian tonight at La Fringale, which was a family run business I reckoned. We had a seat close to their brick pizza ovens so was cosy and warm inside too, and the staff were friendly and a real team. I had their ham and mushroom pizza, and you could tell the oven baked it as it was delightfully crispy. The Love had the spaghetti bolognaise, again spot on, and they served a half litre carafe of wine which I had some of and that tasted lovely too. We went next door to the Bar Louise, and had a pint each - I went for the Grimberger Brune, and that was lovely, and really dark - definitely well worth it.

We got back to the hotel and snuggled up with the remainder of Strictly Come Dancing and reflected back on a day that was long but well spent, and how much we had both enjoyed the whole day. The nice thing was that we were both able to get a lot out of the day, and we felt really content inside too. I think also that having some beer and wine back at the hotel was sensible so we could wind down nicely - taking full advantage of the fridge that was in the room to store the beer and wine. The weather even looked possibly better for tomorrow instead of the rain that was forecast too!

Friday 11th October - Brussels Beauty

It was a nice early start for myself and The Love In My Heart, and we both got ourselves up and ready and had all our cases for the weekend packed and sorted. We also had the passports at the ready and we had the electronic tickets for the trains all sorted on the smart phones, and a printed copy sorted, so was off to Brussels today for a long weekend together. We had of course booked this a while ago and so was looking forward to a great time. We walked to East Croydon station and took the direct train to St Pancras - admittedly the one we got was a late running one but this actually meant we still got to St Pancras well on time, so happy about that.

Once we were allowed to check in, we scanned the tickets in, sorted, and then went through both the security and passport checks, again a breeze really. On the other side whilst waiting for the platform, you had a few cafés and a duty free shop. We managed to get a bacon roll and a coffee each for breakfast, and I also noted that once the Paris train passengers had left, the departure lounge was a lot quieter, all in good time for us to head up the travelators and board the 0855 departure to Brussels Midi. We were both impressed with the Eurostar e320 trains - spotlessly clean, comfortable and exactly what I asked for a - a nice window seat for The Love and sat together happily. We put the luggage in the rack, and sat back to enjoy the journey.

The journey went well apart from having to slow just before the Channel Tunnel and head through that slower than normal which meant we were delayed by just over 15 minutes at Calais-Fréthun, and at Lille Europe before then going across the border into Belgium and arriving at Brussels Midi with the same sort of delay. A number of passengers were getting the ICE express train as a connection, which had been held for them, so we allowed those who needed to to get across, and we sauntered off casually, ending up in the Brasserie de la Gare opposite the station having a well earned lunch.

We then got on the Brussels Metro, worked out the ticket machine easy enough, and got the number 6 Metro to the Louise stop, and exited and walked down the Avenue Louise with its lovely shops and walked down to the hotel we were staying at - the Thon Hotel Bristol Stéphanie. We checked in, went to our room on the fifth floor - and, wow. It was gorgeous. Massive bed, telly with all sorts of European channels (including BBC1 and ITV!) - a separate bath and shower with two sinks in the bathroom, nice mini fridge, Nespresso machine, iron and ironing board, even an umbrella if you needed it to keep the rain off. Words alone can't do it justice - possibly the second nicest hotel I've stayed at behind the Sofitel Liberdade in Lisbon. Seriously.

In fact, the Avenue Louise had some parallels with the Liberdade, with the main central road having quieter side roads running alongside. It didn't have the green space for any cafés but did have trams running down as well, which was interesting to note - and regular too. We unpacked, and then crossed over the Avenue and followed a series of streets which would take us to the Place du Luxembourg, and a square dominated by the buildings of the European Parliament, which The Love wanted to see as did I. It was fascinating stuff, and we went round to the Parliamentarium building which was free to get in and tour around.

That building was much better than I thought: it gave a concise history to how the European Parliament works, the founding history of the EU itself and how it started, and how it grew, along with a chance to see all the MEPs in a really well put together interactive feature, showing what alliances exist (Greens for me was good to see for example) and how that all works. In fact, plenty of interactivity throughout including a chance to have a picture taken with a suitable slogan that you wanted too. We both really enjoyed all that and soon headed down the road towards the European Commission building, stopping off after that to have a well earned drink in a pub close by, wiht media reporters assembled accordingly.

Later we followed the road from the European Commission and onwards towards a rather outstanding piece of architecture, the Arcade du Cinquantenaire. It sits on top of a hill and has three arches, and commemorates the 75th anniversary of Belgian independence when it was built in 1905. Many of the buildings attached are museums or monuments too, such as the Autoworld museum for example. We walked over the other side of the square and took the Metro from Merode station via Arts-Loi and changed there for the metro back to Louise, and back to the hotel. It had been an enjoyable afternoon all round.

In the evening we decided to stay local to the area, and we walked down some of the nice side streets from the Avenue Louise, where plenty of restaurants were to be found. We liked the look of one and they had outside heaters, so we took a table outside. The drinks menu was extensive but also featured a local independent brewery, so I tried the Hoppy Madame ale - which was lovely. We both went traditional for the main course: The Love went for the classic Carbonnades Flamades - chunks of beef in a sauce soaked in beer, and she had that with some rice, which worked well. I also went for the meatballs from Liege - they were massive, and in a sauce that has sultanas in. I went for the more traditional frites with mine, but both were lovely.

It had been a lovely day and we reflected on the nice day it had been back at the hotel, with me having got a nice trappiste ale from the local Carrefour Express earlier, and The Love had some wine. It was so good to wind down and we both were able to relax on the massive bed and just feel happy and content together. It had been windy today and we were glad to have our coats on but the weather was set fair for the rest of the weekend, so all looked good, we hoped. Tune of the day by the way is the classic SNCF jingle, which we heard as we went to Lille Europe as the TGV had turned up - and I'd had a text at virtually the same time so almost had the jingle in stereo!

Thursday 10th October - Tea on Thursday

I managed to get through the working day well: got plenty of things all sorted for next week and also got to the bottom of a weird issue for one of my colleagues in another site, so was glad to have that one off the proverbial chest before I was off for a few days on leave. I also ensured I had a good catch up with members of the team, ensured that the updates went out to our user acceptance group for a good period of time, and on top of that was able to write up some documentation, so managed to get plenty sorted. I was also leaving a little earlier to be able to walk up to Euston.

And for a very good reason: The Love In My Heart was heading down from Manchester to London to meet up with me and we'd be later off for the weekend on the Friday morning. It was nice to be able to have her come down early and we'd also be able to have a well earned evening meal together at one of our favourite places, the Crown and Anchor near to Euston. It was busy so was pretty pleased we had reserved a table for the two of us, and the beer selection was also decent, so had to be happy with that.

Conversation flowed well and we were soon to have our tea: The Love went for the burger which looked very nice indeed, and I went for the rather nice fish and chips, which was just the thing after a day at work. It was also really good because we had some good tunes on in the background as well, which just added to the ambience very nicely as well. The Love and I was able to enjoy the time we had, have a good meal and a couple of drinks, and see the commuter traffic die down as the evening wore on.

We timed our walk back to Euston Square well and it was much less busy than an hour or so before, and so got the tube over to Farringdon followed by the train over to East Croydon. Of course it was a pretty busy time all round for people going to Gatwick Airport, but we'd got a seat on the train by the time it hit London Bridge and became pretty busy, so all good there. We headed back to my place and it was nice just to be able to sit back and relax with a coffee (or a wine in The Love's case!) and chatter for a while too.

We ended up having a nice chilled out remainder of the evening, with of course heading to bed earlier than normal due to an early start tomorrow. We did though watch Watchdog and that was quite intriguing, especially the well dodgy bloke selling what he called premium turf but had the likes of weeds, sheep poo and other stuff in it. Of couse Matt Allwright was on the case, as ever, and it was notable that the music used included the Tom Jones classic "The Green Green Grass of Home" - and so tune of the day of course. Made me wonder just how some of these rogue traders keep going to be honest..

Wednesday 9th October - Ice Cream Man

It was another pretty busy day today, and first off was to check over all the Windows updates that were released as of yesterday. In fact it transpired that a number of them replaced an update which only came out last week - but to be honest, these are the proper monthly ones now and as they include everything else, it does make a lot of sense to have them included. There were some other updates too and so it was a case of getting all the content together, ensuring that it distributes the content correctly, and then be ready to go to testing accordingly.

I also was able to check over a number of old applications and realise that they were no longer needed, and after checking with my line manager and being sure, it was a case of putting them into retirement and then ultimately to be deleted. What it does mean that we were able to remove the content from the distribution points and so claim some disk space back, which made sense to me. I think too that keeping things neat and tidy, something I discussed with my colleague in another office, also should be easier to manage.

In the afternoon, I spent some time to re-test a way of deploying updates for one version of Windows where we could use dism to patch in the content as needed. As this was working correctly, and we would be able to look at deploying that at a similar time, I made sure all the necessary screen shots were sorted so that some communications could go out to those users - and I used the Active Directory PowerQuery in Excel to pull in the email addresses, match those to the user name and so my colleague could sort a mailing list out. Nice work all round.

I headed home later and made sure all was pretty much packed and good to go all for the weekend away that The Love In My Heart and I will soon be having. I was able to actually use all the stuff I'd washed and ironed and that was a positive, so definitely was able to utilise the case to its potential. The good thing was that because I'd got all the toiletries on the way home last night I was able to pack all those complete with the likes of a bath sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste, and be able to be ready to go.

I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart and then settled in to watch The Apprentice. Oh dear. Making ice lollies for corporate clients should not mean them looking aesthetically like something purchased from the Ann Summers shop, and just as fleshy coloured at that. The project manager was just focussed on the money side and not realising that quality would in turn gain sales and deservedly be fired for it, especially as his core business was ice cream. Oops indeed. Jonathan Richman's ace "Ice Cream Man" seemed appropriate somehow and so is tune of the day.

Tuesday 8th October - Mission Accomplished

It was good to arrange some time this afternoon to put forward an idea I had yesterday with regards to the application issue I'd been working with some people on, and they liked my idea and said "let's arrange a time and see what we can do". So this afternoon I had some time where I knew no one was using the application in question and the database table where I think the access is held, and would be able to add me in and see what would happen. Naturally of course your major key here is backup, before you do anything, so was able to get that all sorted and make a backup of all what was needed before I started. I'll say it again: back up anything before you do any changes.

So with that done, I looked up the table in question, did a brief edit and added my account to it, then exited the management studio and then on my machine with the application installed attempted to launch the app in question. And.. it worked, straight in, no error messages, no issues whatsoever. This really did please me and I had a quick look at what it did without making any changes, but wanted to see that all was doing what it should. That was a positive, so I added the person I'd been dealing with who needed access, and got him to try it too. And badabing! He was all in and sorted too, so definitely a positive. I've got some writing up tomorrow in an email, but the good thing is that I can see a sensible way forward.

I had my one to one with my manager today, and I think he's pretty pleased on the whole that I've got plans going forward with a few things on the go, and there's already a case of how much we can see improvements being made, and co-operation with others. It's always good to have a good natter to him anyway and I think for me it's a case of knowing that any steps made should be in a sensible direction overall, and he gets it too, so big plus for me.

It's also been interesting that in the last two days I've had a number of emails from recruiters who are attempting to get people on board for Windows 7 to Windows 10 migration projects, even at this late stage. I'm saying late stage because of course there'll be no support for Windows 7 in three months' time, and that'll leave insecure holes in the desktop estates of many companies, unless they plan to pay Microsoft a shed load for extended support. Clearly you could effectively step in if need be, and save a lot of companies' time and money out, so if anyone does want to take that on, I'm more than happy to pass details on. Naturally of course I'm happy in my job and don't need anything at all at the moment.

I spent some time tonight also watching old school Top of the Pops from 1988 based on some BBC Four showings last weekend. Interestingly one of them had the excellent "Peek-a-Boo" from Siouxsie and the Banshees (make that tune of the day) along with the excellent All About Eve single Martha's Harbour too. Naturally of course this was before the band appeared on said show and had all sorts of issues with the sound and not knowing when to start "playing" in sync with the backing track, such were the rules at TOTP towers back in the day...

Monday 7th October - Bitness

So I wanted to try something out today and actually my own laptop could be a good guinea pig for this at work. A while ago, to be able to change your Office installation from 32 bit to 64 bit was a total pain in the backside, it meant an uninstall of the old one, and then instaling the new. That of course wasn't always the most suitable, and as such meant that if you wanted to consolidate your Office bitness accordingly (primarily because in our case we don't use many add-ons, and the ones we do are all 64 bit compatible) it was painful.

But, and a good but, Microsoft introduced a new configuration file paramater that's in effect allowed if you have version 1902 or later, and that is to effectively allow for the MigrateArch paramater, that allows it all to happen seamlessly. And it did work in my case, I ran the setup with the configuration file, and that did all the niceties, and before I knew it, a few minutes later, 64-bit Office 365 semi-annual was mine. It worked nicely, and also means that I can effectively always road-test it by deliberately adding 32-bit to a test machine, then running that step. We shall see how that goes with further checks.

I also spent some time this afternoon sorting out some revised and updated application packages for both Chrome and Firefox for our updated Windows 10 build, but at the same time I went back to the application issue last week and something one of my colleagues said got me thinking: is there a database table which has the access list? I had a look and checked some of the tables with SQL Server Management Studio, and sure enough, managed to locate a handy table, and have put a plan of action forward.

The rain was hammering it down later on, so was able to at least stay reasonably dry on the tube and train on the way home, although of course the thing was that the tube was rammed due to the Northern Line having issues at Colindale. I managed to then relax and have some tea and have a good natter to The Love In My Heart, and have most things in place and sorted for our forthcoming weekend away. The good thing was that most of it is either electronically based or stuff I can print out on the printer, and so all good there.

And indeed, the switch over of the broadband and phone was all good this morning too, so "Switch" by Senser has to be tune of the day. It was a doddle really, so took advantage of a good offer, and am getting the same speed broadband and phone with evening and weekend calls for around £25 a month cheaper than my previous provider, who despite the fact should know that their constant spam and mail correspondence drove me to move, still wanted to email me to say "come back.." - the answer to that one is no.

Sunday 6th October - Wolves At The Door

It was a nice breakfast to be had by myself and The Love In My Heart, and we settled in with Brian the cat being all cute as ever. I did give him some fussing and a love but he did turn round and miaow at me to say "no, only Mummy gives me cuddles!" so left him to it and for his Mummy to be all soft with him. Sometimes it's knowing when to step away, and we whiled down breakfast whilst keeping an eye on the Cardiff Half Marathon on BBC2, with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson on commentary, and Jamie Baulch (remember him folks?) doing the interviews with the runners down at Cardiff Bay.

I went to meet my friend later and it was off to the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City's home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers. With Liverpool winning in the last minute yesterday, the pressure was on City to get a win and keep the gap at the top down to five points. Wolves had been buoyed by a last minute win in the Europa League on Thursday night which will have done wonders for their confidence. I'd said at work that I wasn't fully confident about today's game as Wolves normally do well against us - and in fact I'd backed Burnley in the Last Man Standing game I'm in (they won, so still in!)

Somehow I suspected something wasn't right from the start and my friend felt the same. It somehow felt lethargic and City didn't get out of first gear whatsoever. I think too that it was almost too defensive minded with both Rodri and Gundogan in there, not allowing the other players the room and freedom they needed. We were caught in possession way too often and the defending was last ditch, and we had Fernandinho to thank for us not being 2-0 down before half time.

Even a half time pie wasn't enough to lift the gloom over the stadium and not just in the clouds either. City pressed as much as they could and bringing on Bernardo Silva helped as we had some chances but couldn't take them, and even though David Silva had hit the bar, it wasn't happening. Wolves broke forward and deservedly with ten minutes left took the lead as the defence was cut open and it was left to Adama Traoré to bury it home. 1-0 to Wolves. That became 2-0 after Wolves headed forward following a close chance for City, and they broke us open, Traoré again. We deserved nothing, and to be fair, Wolves deserved the win.

Later on The Love In My Heart made us some lovely tea - it was some pork in a nice creamy sauce with potatoes and vegetables, and that went down a treat with the Ginger Tom ale I managed to get yesterday, and that was nice to wind down and chatter for a while. The rain started to come down again and it was a case of heading off to the train station later for the train. I felt sad and gave The Love hugs, and to make things worse, the train was delayed arriving in Manchester Piccadilly and stayed late throughout meaning I got home much later than planned. Tune of the day is "Disappointed" by Morrissey, sums up the football and the train travel shenanigans I tell you..

Saturday 5th October - Parental and Prawn Crackers

It was nice to have a snuggle with The Love In My Heart, and Brian the cat of course wanted attention. In fact he had a play out earlier and then wanted to sit outside. As it turned out when he was inside later the young tabby cat walked past and Brian was of course on it, doing his fast trot to the bedroom and being able to look out of the window to see what tabby was up to. It definitely made him feel more awake and alert, and in the meantime we had a lovely breakfast as well which got us set up for the day.

Later on it was over to see The Love's father, and he seemed in pretty good spirits all round, and had the Fulham v Charlton game on which was proving to be pretty exciting too - it was end to end stuff and how that match only ended up 2-2 I have no idea, seriously. I definitely felt that her father seemed a lot more content, and was getting The Love's sister to sort his bets out as well, so was all how it was normally. We also were able to sort out a few things round the house, all was fine.

We then headed off to see my Mum, and I had a welcome surprise - my brother was back from Japan. I knew he was coming back and had landed earlier in the week, but to see him there was great and we had a good catch up and chatter as well, which was really good. In fact, it was nice to see some of the design work he'd been up to and how he's managing to mix some work and life balance as well whilst he's here, so that'll be good. It was nice to have a cuppa and a natter.

We stopped off at B and M Bargains later and they had some ace beer in cheap, including the Moorhouse's "Scaredy Cat" ale which clearly was with Halloween in mind - although all their names usually are about witches and Pendle anyway. Interestingly, you can't seem to get Black Cat anywhere at the moment, a real shame as that's utterly fab. A quick check of the Moorhouses site reveals why - it's gone back to being cask only. I did note though that there's going to be the Black Cat special reserve back out for a bit... just hope I can find it!

We then headed for a well earned drink at the Elizabethan before then heading back to The Love's place to give Brian the cat some well earned tuna and Dreamies, and then once that was sorted, we went to the local Chinese to get take out for tea. Of course I had the delicious crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce. The sauce seemed stronger this time and you appeared to get more beef, which hopefully compensates for the price increases the takeaway put on recently.

We settled in with Brian the cat later and watched Strictly Come Dancing, with a focus on the films and movies week. It was nice to see the actress who plays Mrs Hughes from Downton Abbey come along to give Viscountess Emma Weymouth some moral support as her and Aljaz Skorjanec were dancing to the theme tune. Perhaps best of all in terms of coolness of soundtracks was Liza Minelli's Cabaret theme, performed excellently by Dave Arch and orchestra, definitely tune of the day that. And all the confusion over whether those teeth of Anton du Beke's were real after the Austin Powers inspired performance with Emma Barton (who really did suit the 60s outfits!) was surreal really..

Friday 4th October - Train Pain Again

It was a nice productive day for me in the office today, not least because I'd worked out why the test rollout I was doing to my test bed of machines to get the Office 365 semi-annual channel upate didn't play ball. It transpired that a group policy for machines in certain OUs gets to override the setting that is normally in place for the update channel, and changes that to be a monthly one instead. So of course if you're only deploying a semi-annual update and you are on monthly, then correctly it's not going to play ball. In a good way that's a positive as the detection of the update channel is correct and sound.

I did a machine move to an OU, gave it a power off and then a restart and once it had got its revised Group Policy sorted out, badabing. The update showed correctly and I was able to run through a test case scenario of installing the update and then seeing it all work smoothly. Nice. And of course there's suitable warnings to tell you to quit any Office applications in use beforehand, or it'll close them itself, so at least you do have that to hand. Now, there's something else interesting I'm going to try out on Monday.

It was nice to have some drinks after work as part of a monthly get together our teams have, and we use the space on the fifth floor of our building. There was a good selection of decent ales thanks to our decision to get them in ready for that time and that meant we could all chill out and natter. In fact we'd had some 80s tunes on during the afternoon which made work more pleasurable including the Human League classic "Don't You Want Me?" so that was definitely tune of the day.

Later on I headed off to Euston via the local chicken shop not far from the Crown and Anchor pub for some sustinence - the food was decent and that kept me nicely filled. However, Euston was rammed and this was because of the fact that a lot of trains were arriving late and so departing late. Sadly, mine was one of them but I suspected which platform it would be so waited at the top,and sure enough, I was right. It did mean leaving Euston 10 minutes late and stayed that way all the way to Manchester Piccadilly.

I'd kept The Love In My Heart in the loop and she had arrived to meet me, and we soon headed back to her place where both she and Brian the cat had cuddles, was only right really. In fact Brian was in a relaxed mood and just sat on the pouffle preening himself whilst The Love and I caught up with Gogglebox on Channel 4 +1. It was good to see some of their verdicts on the telly but was surprised no Strictly - although there was an Antiques Roadshow moment which made them all gasp just a tad!

Thursday 3rd October - Discovery and Doha

It was a chance to be at another site for part of the day today and to meet up with a couple of members of staff, as they wanted me and a colleague to assist them with an issue they had. The good news was that we were able to discover that actually we could replicate a number of issues and prove that it was the way that the application was configured in terms of allowing user accounts. So if a user who was able to access said system used the application on my laptop, it worked fine for them (which also made them pleased as we then were able to install it on the new laptop and get it working, result).

However, if I logged in on to another laptop that has the application working, and tried it, it failed. This proved it was nothing to do with a system configuration or an application setting at our side, but whoever developed the application must have put some form of restriction in terms of user accounts somewhere. A check of our Active Directory and groups pretty much proved that it didn't look like it was controlled by an AD group, or else we'd have been able to sort that quickly.

Based on a colleague's recommendation I was able to install Visual Studio Community. What I might do is see if I can find the source code which compiled the executable on that, and then be able to see if there's anything there which would indicate where any user based configuration might be - if it is as we think in the application itself, then we definitely can at least say it's a developer issue and they'll need their developers to sort it at their end but we're all good.

Later on at home, after diverting yet again because of trains, I settled in to watch the World Athletics Championships from Doha. All week it's been an empty stadium and a shame not more were in attendance to see great athletics, especially when I compare it to being in London for the 2017 Worlds and really enjoying the time that we both had there and made the most of it all. Naturally of course it was superb to see Dina Asher-Smith totally smash it in the 200 metres and get a thoroughly deserved gold medal, and shows the way that being professional is the way to go.

Tonight was Katarina Johnson-Thompson's turn to finally nail the heptathlon. And nail it she did, with several personal bests, and totally smashing it in the 800 metres final event, winning it in style and also nailing the gold medal, breaking the British record of Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, and getting pretty close to 7000 points into the bargain. Well played Kat and a deserved gold medal, and shows what you can do with hard work and passion. Tune of the day is "Bugler's Dream" by Leo Arnaud, as used in the Olympics of times gone by and in the likes of Summer Games on the Commodore 64 as well.

Wednesday 2nd October - Chaos and Mayhem

It was another day of travel chaos, it really was. I checked the local travel news and it was a case of seeing that there were no trains between London Bridge and London St Pancras due to rail and wire damage between the two stations - so no trains running through the Thameslink core whatsoever, leading to mass chaos in terms of people travelling. I had got to East Croydon and of course people were looking around asking for which platform to Blackfriars, and erm, yeah, none really.

In fact I had let a train to Victoria go past because it was just too busy and didn't want to squeeze on, and there was one scheduled in four minutes afterwards. In fact it was a Gatwick Express service which didn't normally stop here, but it was able to do so to relieve the stress on the service a little bit. I got a seat too, so bonus, obviously. It was then a case of getting across from Victoria to the office and managed to get in on time without any issues either, which was at least some relief.

The trains were still pretty bad later on and so had a brainwave. I managed to get on the Northern Line train southbound which was empty from Tottenham Court Road, and was heading towards Morden too, so then stayed on that to Balham, and headed up out of the tube and to the train, where a stopper back to East Croydon was due in a few minutes. I got home fine in the end, and around ten minutes or so later than normal, but at least that wasn't too bad in the end.

Chaos indeed, and mayhem would ensue also in the first episode of The Apprentice tonight. Going to Cape Town and being able to sell either a safari or wine tour would of course be a good idea, if only the contestants were actually not up their own backsides being instantly annoying, arguing a toss with each other in front of customers and indeed showing up all their worst sides. And confusing an elephant for a rhino, really? Dear me, the mind does boggle.

It wasn't a surprise to see one of them go but to be honest I'd have been more brutal and sack two of them minimum off, showing I wasn't to be messed with. The immaturity of being shouty and arguing should have been a firing moment right there too - would you be like that ever in your professional life? The short answer is no, or you wouldn't survive five minutes to be honest. In the meantime tune of the day is from the wonderful Direction of Travel by She Makes War, namely " Please Don't" - it's an emotional rollercoaster of a song which I love to bits.

Tuesday 1st October - Raining Goals

Lots of rain today. And I mean lots. The wind had been howling pretty badly overnight, as it had been on the Sunday night, although at least this morning the trains were appearing to run reasonably okay, so was able to go my usual route via Blackfriars and Embankment to get to Tottenham Court Road and to the office. It was good to be able to get in on time and monitor deployment of the VPN client update and see how that was going - in a good way it was nice to see that things were going well, and it was a positive all round.

I must admit too that it wasn't too nice to head out at lunch time but the rain relented enough for me to head to Sainsburys not far from the office, and this time with good reason. Not least of course because it had a Costa Express machine, and because Costa were doing a deal for free coffee from said machine today, it had to be done, and a vanilla latte was mine. Incidentally it also was the case that if you scanned your Costa loyalty app on the code, you'd be entered into a draw for a load of free coffee, so wasn't saying no to that!

It was raining heavily as I left the office, and so with the trains still not fully functional, I took the option of the bus to Victoria, and it was hammering it down too. I got to Victoria and the trains weren't too bad thankfully and did get a seat as it headed along to Clapham Junction and East Croydon before getting home and being able to have some stir fry noodles with chicken and mushroom for tea, which was nice. I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart too and then settled in for the evening's football, having the red button on for BBC 5 Live.

On my side, Manchester City were doing everything that they could do to score but were being held off by Dinamo Zagreb at the Etihad. Thankfully, Raheem Sterling came off the bench and managed to get on the end of a Riyad Mahrez cross for the opener. Also, as well, it was then a case of him being provider late on as Phil Foden also came off the bench, met the Sterling cross and finished with aplomb for 2-0. It was a nice easy win in the end and that was a good case of six points out of six.

However, the radio was concentrating on the Tottenham Hotspur versus Bayern Munich game and with good reason. They were 2-1 down at half time but then Bayern scored two in two minutes from a former Arsenal player, and although Harry Kane pulled it back with a penalty, it was then more late on as Lewandowski and Gnabry tore open the Tottenham defence again and again and it ended up being a 7-2 defeat for Tottenham - the heaviest home defeat by any English team ever. Surreal, it really was. Tune of the day is the excellent "Weak" by Skunk Anansie, much better than Tottenham's weak defence, hehe!