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 (which now will go back five years maximum):


Sunday 7th July - Get In There Lewis!

I had planned to watch the British Grand Prix later today, especially as it's the only race on proper free to air telly, being shown on Channel 4 with all the practice and qualifying live too. Qualifying had already been exciting as well with a British 1-2-3 for the grid, with George Russell on pole, Sir Lewis Hamilton second and Lando Norris third. It was ace and the crowd loved it. I'd love it more later too I am sure, and after some breakfast and doing a shed load of ironing, it was time to head out for a bit, as I had planned a cycle ride to keep up the exercise.

So the plan was to head over to Battersea Park, and cycle around the main exterior road that was wide enough for all like walkers and joggers as well as cyclists to head safely around (and indeed cycles are prohibited from cycling the central paths) - and with docking stations for Santander Cycles nearby it made a lot of sense. It was rain and sun on the way, and that continued as I entered the park and undocked the first of two bikes. I wanted to do a lap first and re-dock to see how that'd work, and I would go in a clockwise direction (which was the opposite way to how Formula E went when they held their event there.)

It was nice to head past the likes of the adventure playgrounds and the crazy golf, the Oriental temple and the lake with the café as well as the athletics track as I made my way round - and it was around 1.9 miles in all. Docking the bike back in shows it had taken 13 minutes, so I reckoned I could do two laps and then re-dock the bike, which is what I ended up doing. In fact I took a call from The Love In My Heart on the way round the third one (I stopped of course) and spoke with The Cute Little One too who wanted to ask me if I had Monsters University so she could watch it, having seen Monsters Inc this weekend!

Anyway, with the three laps all done, it was time to head back home, and got off at West Croydon to stop off and get a birthday card and present on the way home, and then I could settle in and watch the British Grand Prix. All the excitement before the race was heightened by the trailer for the Brad Pitt F1 film complete with Queen's We Will Rock You playing (apt because Sir Brian May was doing the chequered flag honours too and so tune of the day right there.) With the time counting down and Hannah Waddingham no less singing the national anthem, all was good.

The race was exciting and far too many things happened to list here, but effectively the cut down version was that the two Mercedes stayed in front, Max Verstappen passed Lando Norris for third. Then the first bit of rain came down but wasn't enough to change tyres, and Norris passed Verstappen to retake third. This later became first as both Hamilton and Russell went wide at turn one allowing Norris to close and pass them both, with Oscar Piastri following suit. The rain relented for a bit and those who had switched to intermediates had made a massive error.

Then the rain came down properly and was time to switch, but Piastri was too close to Norris and maybe should have held back a bit to allow a double stack, so had to do another lap on slicks as the rain got worse. Mercedes got the double stack spot on, and were in better shape for it, with them now chasing Norris. Piastri ended up behind Carlos Sainz and wasn't happy, although later as the track dried and it was time to switch back tyres, he got the call spot on to go to mediums and would possibly have been much closer to winning the race had Mclaren not screwed up the pit stops.

In fact, at second stop time, Hamilton and Verstappen got the crossover right, going to soft and hard respectively, but best tyres for their setups. Norris came in a lap too late and his softs were not right: should have gone to mediums a la Piastri. Due to George Russell having to retire the car due to mechanical issues, it was Hamilton, Norris and Verstappen, with Piastri now taking fourth. However it was clear the softs were bobbins for Norris, and Verstappen passed him for second, and Piastri did close quite a bit.

In the end, Sir Lewis Hamilton won his ninth British Grand Prix, and after not winning a race since late 2021, he was emotional and rightly so. I had called it to The Love In My Heart last night that Lewis would win, and so was mega pleased he did it. I was pleased for Lando Norris to get third, but I suspect he will look at this as a race he could have won with better tactics and discipline. The crowd went mental for Lewis and it was great to see them giving him ultimate respect and showing just how still loved he is by the British crowd, and rightly so.

Saturday 6th July - Vanguard Way, Section 2

It was a case of mixed weather today, possibly being sunny, and possibly some rain too, but wanted to do the next section of the Vanguard Way, which was from Chelsham Common to Limpsfield Chart. It would be around eight miles in all and there would be some hilly sections, but the rain during the week might make some of the sections a little muddy. I did also work out it'd be better to get the bus from Warlingham to Chelsham Common as I could start earlier and give myself more time to arrive at Limpsfield Chart, where the buses are once every two hours (and only four during the day) and didn't fancy a long wait (although Plan B would be to get the bus the other way to Oxted and head home from there.)

So with the rain coming down, I headed on the 403 to Warlingham and waited for the 409 to Chelsham Common. All was good there, and so started the walk, past The Bull Inn and on to a path that would take me past what used to be a maize maze. Parts of this were muddy and once having crossed the B269 road (ironically the road that goes to Warlingham too) it was then on through woodland and then up Nore Hill, with the view from the top being majestic, and what goes up must come down, and a steepish slope at that with a bench half way down to admire said view.

Once at the bottom, it was another up and down hill to what was the end of the Graham Butler Mile, a section dedicated to one of the volunteers for the Vanguard Way who had passed away a few years back, and the kissing gates on this section were as a tribute. It was then up a pretty steep hill along to Greenhill Shaw, which was the highest point, and walking along the top ridges and then down slightly to Flint House was a relatively good feeling. It was then taking a path down to another steep hill, very steep indeed in fact.

This was Whistlers Steep and they weren't joking - anyone taking on this walk heading North would really not like this part at all! At the bottom it was left to follow the North Downs Way for a while alongside the Titsey Plantation and fields. Later there was supposed to be a plaque that markes the Greenwich Meridian but this was hidden away I think behind the bushes. After a right turn and down through a farm after a clay walk down, and crossing the River Eden, through the next field saw a path right alongside the M25 motorway, where traffic was at a standstill.

The guide (and its excellent app with photos depicting where you are and what to look out for - highly recommended) did mention the hawthorn tunnel, and they weren't joking. Lots of scratchy thorns to avoid here and not much room, and a quite muddy path in parts too before you clamber some steps to a bridge over the M25. From here with some woodlands on the left, you ascend to an old quarry workings, which looks majestic but one to keep well away on, and then crossing the A25, which means I'd be close to the final mile and a half or so, thankfully.

It was down a nice descent with some fields, and then up through Loampit Wood, and as I wound my way through I could see a marker post in the distance and also some National Trust signage which meant I was almost at Limpsfield Chart. I walked along the road and found the church at the end, and then could go back on myself a bit and turn right and head to the Carpenters Arms, which was a more than welcome sight as I was feeling a little bit tired after all those hills - but I had done it!

I had a well earned pint of the Titsey Brewery's Gresham Hopper (and excellent value too at £4.80 for the pint) and sat outside in their beer garden, taking a bench that had a tree overhanging. This was sensible as it was dry for a while and then it rained, but I kept reasonably dry under there. The beer was excellent too and well worth me having a visit there, and had a drink in honour of my good friend who passed away this day last year. I know he would have been watching the England game with me later if he was still around, of course, so was a good way to raise a glass.

I crossed over the road and noted that the side with the shelter wasn't the side the bus stopped at, it'd stop opposite, and managed to get the 594 bus back to Westerham (the £2 fare cap really helps in moments like this to be honest, long may it continue) and from Westerham I got the 246 bus back to Coney Hall, swapping for the 119 bus straight home, with the Hopper Fare kicking in. It had been a good long walk with the scenery I was able to see, a nice way to have some me time and think about my friend too, which was important for me to do today.

As for the football? Well it wouldn't be England unless there was some drama, with them going a goal behind only for Bukayo Saka to equalise with a superb finish. Extra time came and went, and superb from the German stadium PA, they whacked on Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie (tune of the day definitely there) to heighten the tension. England actually scored all of their penalties this time around, with Cole Palmer, Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Ivan Toney and Trent Alexander-Arnold all doing the business, and an earlier miss by Man City's Manuel Akanji had put the Swiss on the back foot, which they couldn't recover from..

Thursday 4th July - I Wanna Be Elected

As Alice Cooper once sang, "I Wanna Be Elected!" - and of course with it being the General Election here in the UK today, it was important for me to get out there and vote. Thankfully for me the local polling station isn't that far away, and the good thing is that I can be in and out of there within minutes. I had my photo ID with me (as you need it to vote these days) and so it was a nice, calm, stress-free visit to the polling station, put my X where I wanted it to go,and then put it into the ballot box ready for later. I did note that the roads near where that polling station is will close later, that's I think because the building is being used for various counts and so the council want to ensure safe arrival of all the ballots, fair dos.

I did have another mission of sorts today as I had got myself a new suitcase, and wanted to recycle or bin the ld one but do it responsibly. The nearest recycling centre that allows pedestrians and is reachable by public transport is the one at Fields Farm in New Addington, so from mine the easy way would be to get the 466 to Addington Village and change there for the tram, meaning less time to wheel the case around. That did work nicely and thankfully from the tram terminus at New Addington, it wasn't that far to walk to. In fact when I got there the member of staff said "that still looks okay to use, we can put it into our recycling shop if you want" - and that was fine. Simple, and responsible all round.

I got the tram back all the way to George Street and back home in good time for work, so all was well there to crack on with the working day. At lunch time, I did have a notification that I had a parcel to collect from Next, which was a Joules t-shirt that I had ordered. I picked it up later and it did look the part, and definitely well worth me getting that. I wasn't quite finished in Next though as I did note also a nice pair of jeans in my size, so was able to get those at the same time and save some potential hassles there later on. Win win situation of course, and definitely well worth the visit.

As I worked through the afternoon I did note that one of my favourite foriegn language artists, MC Solaar, has a new extended play mini album out tomorrow - his second of this year in fact. The lead off track, which is a duet with Marie-Flore, called Okay, is simply lovely - it's good such a good vibe to the sound and the video with a couple around Paris is seminal, starting at the Guy Moquet metro station as mentioned in the song lyrics - nice touch that. Because generally his albums are mainly available in France, finding a UK stockist is doable but not cheap. Shame I'm not heading to Nice soon so I could pop into FNAC and purchase both...

But as it's the day of the election, I definitely have had some more songs in the head, including Stuff The Tories by Kunt and the Gang, but most of all She Makes War's excellent I Want My Country Back (which is tune of the day) - with brilliant barbs at the Government for 2017 when it was released, and that people get their fake news from the Daily Hate at the same time. It's a real sounding call to arms, and I can recall singing that with gusto at one gig in Dalston a few years back. We'll see what happens overnight, but as I always say - no vote, no voice, so made mine count.

Tuesday 2nd July - Underneath the Arches

It was back off to the office in Hoxton today and under the railway arches. For health and safety reasons we have to have three people in there during the day, to ensure we're all good, and as our facilities head was there, whom I get on famously with, then it was a good time to head over, and also check any equipment and stock that we needed to. Ideally the plan was to effectively ensure that anything that needed a write off and ready for collection was done today and all annotated and noted, with the hard disks suitably wiped beforehand to be absolutely sure.

In fact, it proved a useful exercise anyway, as it turned out one of the laptops had a bad screen but did display okay when hooked up to a monitor via HDMI, so at least I was able to get that all sorted. The nice thing too is that I could also do some admin tasks at the same time, including a removal of some data from some systems that didn't need to be there, along with some documentation updates too. These are the sort of things where being able to concentrate and have fast networking really does work wonders to be honest.

I did head out at lunch and walked along Kingsland Road to a nifty little place that has a small outbuilding, where lunch is served and cooked to order. I did the lamb burger meal, which was awesome - properly nice meat, really good burger bun and some cheese and sauce too. The fries were good with paprika on and you got a nice cold Coke too, so what more could I want? Good value all round that and well worth the walk up the road for a change. It was a little drizzly so was good to get back to the arches and enjoy lunch before cracking on with the afternoon's work.

Afterwards it was time to go cycling again and this time around it was off from Hoxton, along Hackney Road and then turning right, following the B108 road through Whitechapel and down past Shadwell to Wapping. It's a good little cycle and a lot of the lights were on green too, so managed to beat my best time overall to get there. I defiinitely do feel the benefits of that and it's been nice to be able to get a good few miles in. I'll definitely be doing more at the weekend I reckon.

Later on I settled in for more of the football from the Euros and a dramatic game in the end between Tütkiye and Austria, with the Turks winning 2-1 with all three goals coming from set pieces and a superb save late on to prevent an equaliser. Surprisingly open too, and for me one of the most intriguing games of the tournament. I do think also that the Netherlands will have their work cut out come Saturday in that quarter final, so well worth a watch depending on what happens with England earlier. In the meantime, and as a tribute to Austria, Rock Me Amadeus by Falco is tune of the day - still an 80s classic that.