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 12th July - And Home For Me

It was nice being snuggled up to The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat last night. I had stayed up a little to see Manchester City give Brighton a thrashing 5-0 with the highlights on Match of the Day, and it really showed how well we had played tonight. I have to say though it was rather comedic and bizarre for Raheem Sterling's third goal and it did look like an own goal from the Brighton defender, but I am sure plenty of Fantasy League players are happy that wasn't the case somehow! In fact, Brian was purring all appreciative of his Mummy this morning and was loving the strokes and cuddles he was getting.

It was then on to the breakfast for us both, and I got myself all changed and ready to head back homeward myself. It was nice that Brian wanted one last play of ball where I bounce the ball to the pouffle and he paws it away, and The Love dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station to get the train back to Euston. It was nice just having a hug and kiss and I'll miss her massively of course, but despite yesterday's elongated journey we had had a lovely time and it was just really good to have a good break and in one of our favourite parts of the world too.

The train to Euston was busier than it had been coming up, but I was pleased that everyone was wearing a face covering (as they should) and that it was nice and calm and quiet. Due to not many trains going from St Pancras (one an hour or so) I had to take the Victoria Line tube to Victoria, which I didn't really want to do. It was okay but it did feel some people weren't taking distancing seriously. Thankfully the staff at Victoria were having none of that and were putting people in their place, and it was soon a head across to the platform to East Croydon for me, and then home.

The journey back gave me some time to reflect whilst listening to some fairly relaxed tunes too (make Swing Out Sister's Something Every Day tune of the day for that reason) and think about just how much of a lovely time we'd had, but also how plenty of places were doing their utmost to not only be safe in their operation but also to ensure that they provided quality food and drink. Generally it was nice supporting smaller businesses such as the Boscastle Farm Shop and the independent Mill House Inn too, where the friendly service was still also present too, and that really did make us both feel welcome.

I think also too though it has made me think that in the long term there may be a shift towards more holidays at home instead of abroad, and generally the demand might surge for cottage holidays such as the one we had. We loved our little place and it really was rather nice just to kick back and relax in the evening, head up to the pub and see the sunsets, and enjoy a much slower pace of life (no mobile signal so no annoying calls left right and centre either) and also meant that we could just switch off too - just what we needed. I did check and the place we stayed at is fully booked until mid-November 2020, and that says a lot!

Saturday 11th July - Home Via Unusual Routes

The Love In My Heart and I went down to the sea this morning to have one final look. It was all so lovely, even with the tide in and the waves crashing against the rocks, and we both agreed that coming down into the bay and seeing the sea from the car was a highlight every day we were out and about and coming back to the cottage. It was also special as we'd shared a hug with the sun setting last night and will bring back some fond memories whenever we think of this part of Cornwall. If we only we knew what was going to happen next.

So, we set off in The Love's car, and we passed the Tintagel Brewery, and the car was okay but seemingly not 100% for some reason. We went along the B3314 through Slaughter Bridge and barely made it uphill (and it's not that steep). The Love smelt burning and so pulled over, and when she tried to get going again, the accelerator pedal had zero response. It looked like the clutch had gone as no gear she went into did anything. We did at least manage to push the car to a little lay-by, and that meant it was out of harms' way, but knowing she was stressed and worried, I did my best to remain calm, kind and supportive. Not much we could do.

Good job then that The Love has AA membership, so she called them up. They sent out a local mechanic who arrived around an hour later. He checked it over and immediately said that the clutch had gone, and he rang the AA back to say we needed a recovery truck. Now, because of the current situation, we wouldn't be able to ride back with the truck, so they had to arrange the truck to come for the car, and a taxi to take us to the nearest Enterprise Car Rental place where they'd sort a car for us to carry on our journey. Only snag - the rental place shut at 12 noon. The clock was ticking.

As it transpired, the recovery truck arrived before the taxi did, so we didn't have to think about having to wait to give the truck driver the keys. He was really nice and friendly to be fair, so got The Love's car loaded up, and as he was finishing, the taxi driver arrived just before 11am. He knew all the back ways to Bodmin (nearest Enterprise place) and so took us on some back lanes through the delightful Hellandbridge with its old and narrow bridge and got us to Bodmin (some 15 miles away) around 11.30am - absolute star man. In fact it sounded like he does a lot of pickups for people from Bodmin Parkway station to North Cornwall generally as he had an official GWR taxi operator sign on his dash.

The Love sorted out the paperwork with Enterprise, and thankfully all was good there - and we had a blue Vauxhall Crosslander X to get us home safely. Of course being a different car, The Love was having to get used to it, and we stopped not far away at Bodmin Asda to get some cold drinks and indeed so she could work out what was what. We had been told it was petrol, but at the petrol station I noted the inside cap cover said B7, which was diesel, and the panel indicated that. I checked the DVLA website for the registration plate - and yes, it's diesel (in fact the Crosslanders 1.5 litres and above are diesel, below 1.5 are unleaded) - so thankfully the right fuel went in at the pay and pump, and off we went.

The Love was still feeling a bit stressed but at least on the A30 being dual carriageway and quieter than normal, that helped gain confidence, and when we got to Exeter Services on the M5, we had a Cornish pasty and some coffee (and wedges too) which wasn't too dear. I think having something to eat helped us both get some energy and felt better, so off we set on the M5, which was relatively trouble free - and we stopped again at Frankley where we've been before for a much needed Costa Coffee and some doughnuts from Greggs, because we can. In fact that sugar rush was useful and we both were just happy to at least know we'd be on the final leg homeward now.

The Love did really well coping with the different car, and we headed up the M6 fine and no delays on roadworks, and via the A556/M56 to Manchester, and arrived back at her place at 7pm on the dot. We had left around 7.30am in The Love's car, but considering we'd left Bodmin Asda around 12.30pm after fuelling and getting drinks etc, and with two long breaks, that was still good for time anyway. I was so proud of The Love for getting through the day, dealing with all the calls etc and being sensible, she really is a heroine. All I could do was just to be supportive and nice and hoped that was enough.

Of course Brian the cat was more than happy to see his Mummy, and after I'd headed to Asda to get a few bits we needed, it was then off to the local Chinese to have a well earned takeout which we both enjoyed whilst watching The Voice Kids, playing ball with Brian and fussing him up. He even allowed me to feed him the salmo sticks he likes, so clearly was feeling the love and adoration, aww. We ended up watching the Live Aid documentary later and reminding ourselves of Queen's awesome set that day, so have to make Radio Ga-Ga tune of the day - the whole audience applauding that was something else to behold. It was a long day but we were safe, and that was the important thing.

Friday 10th July - Beaches and Sunsets

It was a much sunnier day today and so with that in mind, it was off to the beach for a final day of the sun and some warmth. Although we could have stayed at the beach close to the cottage, the tide times in and out still meant that only a small part of beach was available, so we decided to head over to Polzeath, as we had done on Tuesday. It was more difficult to get a parking space this time but we used the one up the hill which overlooked the South West Coast path and did have some dramatic views, so that actually worked out for the best to be honest as the view was special in the blue skies and sunshine too.

We headed down the hill and across to the beach, and found a lovely little spot to rest at. It definitely was really nice to be relaxed by the sea, and the wind was a little lighter than the other day too with the sun out. The Love In My Heart had her book with her to read, and I had my iPod so I was able to have some tunes on as well including the epic 12 inch mix of I Want You by Cabaret Voltaire, and this is tune of the day and definitely was good to chill out to. I had some more sun cream on too to prevent the legs from burning, and it was all good to be relaxed there also.

I headed over to one of the shops to get some lunch later on, and after that The Love was sunning herself and I ventured over to the Coronation Gardens by the beach to have a go of the crazy golf, which was pretty good - nine holes only, but some difficult ones at that and some of which reminded me of the Fun Fun Minigolf game on the Wii. It was good fun and I headed back to The Love later who was all looking rather tanned and resplendent it has to be said, so that was good to see for definite. We both won today for sure!

Later on we left the lovely surroundings of Polzeath and then headed along the coast to Port Isaac. The main car park is a fair distance away and you have to walk along the main road and then downhill to the village. It was interesting to see the little shops and the harbour, and of course the house which became famous for the setting for the TV series Doc Martin - needless to say that it was of course full of people discovering the TV locations. We did like it although we both couldn't see ourselves spending a whole week there - and we then headed back to the cottage.

After we had got showered and changed, we headed off to the Port William pub, not very far from the cottage at all. We had reserved a table inside for our tea, and the staff as ever were lovely and friendly too. We had a prime spot by the window too so could see the sun slowly setting over the sea too. We both had the cod and chips which were lovely, and I also had the sticky toffee pudding for dessert which was really gorgeous. Add to that some Mena Dhu stout and some Korev lager, and it was a lovely meal all round and was the perfect last meal of the holiday.

As we stood outside the Port William later on as the sun slowly set over the sky with some dramatic redness, it was a real sense of just how beautiful the sunset was and how much we've loved seeing that during the week in bright and sunny weather as well. It's been good to be somewhere different and it really has been a voyage of new discoveries and places we've never been before, so it was a wonderful week all round. It went by far too quickly of course but was good to enjoy such a well earned break at any rate, and The Love deserves so much for making it happen too.

Thursday 9th July - Padstow

With the weather set less fair for today, The Love In My Heart and I felt it was probably more sensible to head over to Padstow and have a good look around its narrow streets around the harbour, lots of little shops as well as see how the whole Padstein influence from Rick Stein is still prevalent in the town. To be fair, we also hadn't been for ages so thought it would be a worthwhile place to go. So after breakfast we headed out along to Camelford and then down the A39 past Wadebridge and up the A389 to Padstow itself. The main difficulty was actually getting a parking space, but we got one at the top of the hill.

As we walked down into the centre of Padstow, we did note just how many shops were now open and it did feel somewhat more normal than some other places we had been to this week. Of course what was noticeable to me was the Padstow Brewing Company having their own little bar now, and we walked around to where the Rick Stein Cafe and shop were. The Love had a good look around the shop and we did manage to get some nice items in there which was good, and we headed past lots of lovely little places including Joules and Seasalt too before we then headed towards the harbour, which with its boats moored due to low tide seemed somewhat idyllic.

We decided and it was on Mum's recommendation that we went for The Shipwrights Inn at the far end of the harbour. As was the normal currently, we had our details taken and had a table upstairs which overlooked the harbour. They had Trelawny ale on so that was me sorted, and The Love had a lovely cheese burger and I had the fish and chips which was spot on too - lovely white fish at that. It was good to relax and later we walked towards the beach, spotting the low tide and how the ferry to Rock had to take people over to the sand only before dropping then off, and that was surreal (especially as there's not much at Rock.)

After a walk to the far end of the town, we walked back and along the harbour front, passing by some lovely shops. Of course one of The Love's favourite places in St Ives, Whistlefish, also had a place here so that was The Love nicely sorted as she shopped. I noted next door the little Roskillys ice cream stand and so got myself my favourite orange and mascarpone flavour ice cream too - it was gorgeous to say the least and really lovely to have. We did go to a small craft fair in the Memorial Hall and I even got a print of a photograph taken at Trebarwith Strand which looked very dramatic too, and the person who sold them made them so nice to give to someone local.

We walked back towards the harbour and had a nice drink in the Old Custom House too which was good, before then passing some more lovely shops where The Love got some fudge, and headed up to the car park. We stopped off at Wadebridge on the way back at Tesco for fuel but also for a few bits, and chilled out back at the cottage later with some nice tea and a good beer as the sun set as it came out making for a beautiful view. Even though it was raining, it was still a beautiful day, so the Levellers song of the same title is tune of the day.

Wednesday 8th July - Bude and Coastal Paths

With the weather not looking so good for today, we decided that it wouldn't stop us, but we would instead head out somewhere else for a change. And as I'd fancied heading to Bude, that was where we would go. We did have a cunning plan on the way though which was to have the breakfast at the Boscastle Farm Shop on the way, and we utilised their takeaway menu and had a lovely breakfast bap each - bacon for The Love In My Heart and sausage for me, and a cappucino and latte to go with it. The staff were lovely and it was good to enjoy a nice hearty breakfast to set us both off for the day.

We then headed along the A39 to Bude, and parked up on The Crescent and headed via the Castle Arts Centre (sadly closed) and then went across the bridge and to the town centre. The little shops were lovely, and The Love did get a nice plant from one flower shop ready for use at home, and we noted plenty of surf shops but also plenty selling walking gear and outdoor wear too. We did follow the road up hill and then headed to the spoof landmark that is the Bude Tunnel - which in effect is just the arched covered walkway between Sainsburys and its car park at the back (in case you wondered what it actually was.)

We did follow the path down to Summerleaze Downs and could see the beach huts and beach there, and also saw the sea pool round the corner, with swimmers in there practising - considering it was misty and a bit murky, fair dos to them for going in. We did then walk back towards the town centre and I had to (on recommendation) get a pasty from Tasty Pasties. And it was gorgeous it has to be said, spot on steak and fillings with the pastry. We did go in some more nice little shops before heading back to the car and after getting a few essentials from Sainsburys after a well earned drink in the pub (where Glen Campbell's Wichita Lineman was playing as background music, so tune of the day), it was time to head off.

It was back along the coast road towards Widemouth Bay, and I have to say with the mist coming over the coastline was dramatic, but not quite the weather we'd both want really. It however was good to see the coastline here and then back via the A39 and Slaughter Bridge to the cottage. We did walk down to the beach at Trebarwith Strand and did see the faithful dog companions of the life guards walking around which was rather nice - very loyal and on lookout for anyone surfing in an area which might not have been as safe as may have been before. It was still a little misty but nice nonetheless.

I did then take a walk along the coastal path going west, climbing the very steep hill out of Trebarwith Strand, following the path up and then back down to the next valley before going back up again, ending up along the tops and to Treligga Cliffs, which were dramatic to say the least. In fact I got as far as a turn off for a beach, followed that down but then followed the sign the wrong way back out and headed towards Treligga and doubled back then to Trebarwith village and followed the narrow road downhill to the junction near The Mill House and to turn left for Trebarwith Strand and back to see The Love.

It was time for tea so we decided to have a fish and chip takeout tonight, and we knew that one of the places was open. We went over to Delabole and to Smugglers Fish and Chips, and got cod and chips twice. They were very nice indeed and just meant that it was a beautifully cooked cod all white and clean and some nice chips too. The Love and I kicked back later on and snuggled on the sofa watching some telly including Location Location Location, and at least we had made the most out of a day with less than brilliant weather - and we both wanted it to clear more for the rest of the holiday.

Tuesday 7th July - Beach and The Mill House

It was a decision as to which beach to head to today. Even though we do have a beach close to the cottage, it can be quite tidal and also not the largest beach ever, and when we looked after having a walk down this morning, the tide was in, so that didn't make things easy. Instead, we loaded up the picnic basket with all the things we needed for lunch, and then headed off via Delabole and down the B3314, turning off for the road to Polzeath, which we had passed through many years ago but never stopped off at. I did recall it having a massive beach though.

And as we arrived into Polzeath, we could see the large beach and it was nice, and the car park was close by too. We got a space and carried all our things over to one of the spots on the beach close to some cliffs, and the soft sand was nice too. We put up the parasol although the wind was a little bit windy in parts, and it had clouded over a little but when the sun came through it was lovely and definitely felt nice to be by the sea. The Love had her book and I had the iPod, so had on some nice tunes including La Ti Da by The Icicles (make it tune of the day so that made things lovely too.

What was also lovely was when I walked over to the sea, and the Atlantic Ocean waves were a little cool but quite nice, and I walked back via a coffee van and was tempted, but was good, and when I got back to The Love we noted two wild rabbits in the sand dunes eating some of the plants and having their lunch (as we had had our picnic earlier). That was a lovely thing and The Love got a really nice shot of the rabbit too, so that was good to be able to see some nature whilst being on the beach and definitely was well worth it. I can recommend the beach to anyone who fancies a bit of sun and sand.

We headed back to the cottage and later on got ourselves showered and ready, and headed up the road a mere half mile to The Mill House, hidden in a little valley just off the road to Treknow. They had a one way system to the restaurant, and we followed that in. The staff were lovely, and were really proud to be back open. They also had all the Tintagel Brewery ales on, so the Harbour Special was mine to be had. The starter of the squid rings for me and the ham hock terrine for The Love were also excellent too, and that set us up nicely for the main meal which we both were looking forward to.

And wow, what a main they both were. I had the braised beef and ale pie, and it was absolutely choc full of the beef, and in a proper nice pastry, with some good vegetables and a side portion of chips. The Love had gone for the special of lamb steak with some new potatoes and vegetables, and that was also delicious too. In fact, we stayed and had another drink after the main because it was all so lovely, and I have to say it's the best meal I've had all year, no question. All safety in place, and people in all loving the food, so comes very highly recommended from us both. A lovely way to spend an evening.

Monday 6th July - Arthurian Adventures

It was looking to be a sunnier day today than yesterday and indeed with the wind easing, it would prove to be a nice warm Cornish day. We had had a good lie in, and had some nice breakfast, and then was heading off a few miles down the coast to Tintagel. We had booked the tickets for the castle (because it was adavance bookings only) and the last time we went was several years ago, so would be good to go back during warmer weather. We managed to get a good parking spot and it was a mere three pounds for the whole day, so not too bad.

We walked through the village and noted that several shops were open, but not all as yet, and most of the pubs and eateries seemed to be operating, albeit with revised measures of course. We passed the old Post Office along the way before stopping off at a nice little cafe for some coffee, which was spot on. It was soon time to head down to Tintgel Castle so we started the walk down the hill, with the English Heritage staff checking if you had booked tickets before you headed downhill, which made perfect sense. All the staff we encountered were lovely too.

We followed the path up to the entrance, and it was pretty much a one way system around the castle, but you went over the dramatic suspension bridge first, with the arch having slates slotted in as you walked across and really did feel like you were suspended in mid-air as you walked over. And there were plenty of wonderful views as we headed around the island and around the castle's upper sections (the lower ones were closed for safety reasons) and followed the path to the modern King Arthur statue, and past the tunnel and the old chapel.

It definitely was good to have a good look around and the castle felt historic even with its ruins, and we then headed down the steps via the old way into the castle and on to a bridge over a gap, before heading down stairs to the beach itself with its soft sand and its cave which you could walk into, and that was rather spectacular too. We felt all good as we then headed across past the shop (which had a big queue) and up the hill back towards Tintgel village, where a proper Cornish pasty was for me and The Love got a ham baguette (she doesn't do pasties to be fair.)

After that we went to one of the local pubs for a well earned drink - they had the outside seating area open and when you went to the bar you had to do the register thing and it was all correctly distanced inside at the bar too. I had a Proper Job and The Love had the Offshore Pilsner, both were spot on and we really did enjoy a nice pint sat outside in the sun. And the sun was pretty intense too it has to be said, which was surprisingly good and we didn't expect it to be so good, so that's a bonus for definite. And the nice moments didn't end there either.

We headed off to the Boscastle Farm Shop a mile uphill from Boscastle down the road, and the shop was brilliant - lots of rather good farm produce and gifts too. We also did head to the café at the back of the farm shop, and the cream tea we had was wonderful. Proper massive scones, jam, clotted cream and a pot of tea - and with a gorgeous view of the sea, and that was stunning. We loved that just admiring the view with the cream tea felt special - well worth a visit if you get the chance to be honest. Tune of the day is Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves, certainly felt that sort of happy day today for sure.

Sunday 5th July - Cornish Bosses

It was nice to have a bit of a lie in and indeed thanks to The Love In My Heart have a really nice breakfast, before we decided on a little sort of plan for the day, in that we would head along the coast and over to Boscastle, to see around the harbour and the river that leads to it. You may remember from many years ago that there was a flood there which carried cars all the way down to the sea, which is a fair way. We thought it'd be nice to explore, and so headed off with the weather being a tad on the windy side to say the least.

We followed the road through Tintagel and then past Bosinney and down and up hills towards the descent into Boscastle. We did find the car park and got the parking sorted, and followed the road back to the riverside, and took one side of the path alongside the National Trust centre and a few shops before heading across the bridge over the river and along the riverbank towards the harbour. The tide was out so a few boats were all moored up and people were all sat having their lunches. Beyond the harbour was the sea, but you had to head up to the rocks and look over, and the view was very dramatic.

It was nice to head off back to a few of the nice little shops, which The Love approved of, and it was good to see that they were open and had good social distancing in place, and correctly sanitised too. It was the same in the Cobweb Inn and they had temperature checks for everyone going in. We did have lunch in there and the fish and chips was spot on, as was the Harbour Special ale that I also had. Everything was well done, staff were all in visors, and correct measures all in place including contact details being taken. It was the first pub lunch we'd had out in months and it felt special because of that.

We headed back towards Tintagel and stopped off at Bossinney, as I'd spotted a crazy golf course there earlier but it also looked like a nice walk down to the sea too. The car park was a mere pound so all good, and we did the crazy golf first. It was really good actually, nine well made holes and everything spot on. I even got a hole in one and the staff were great too, disinfecting all the golf clubs and balls so they were ready to play. It was just nice to do and The Love was very good as well, so that was a nice detour and another step of normality.

We then followed one of the paths down to Bossinney Cove, which was rather gorgeous. The cove had a little beach hidden away although the tide definitely was coming in, and really seemed idyllic too. We headed back to the coastal path and I took a look at one of the views from a bridge, then we followed the coast path and back along another path up the hill back to Bossinney. It was a nice place to find and we really did enjoy that a lot - even if was pretty windy on top of the hills and towards the sea. It was a very enjoyable day and made even more so later.

It was off to Tintagel Brewery and I managed to get a nice few bottles of beer from there - and as I'd had the Harbour Special ale earlier I knew they were all good. We then got a drink and sat outside in the brewery garden and all was well - we did have some wind and rain to contend with so had to go back inside but nonetheless, quality drink all round. It was good to enjoy that and we definitely felt like we'd packed a fair bit into the day too which was very nice. It was back to the place and we rested well and had a drink together - it was all a lovely day (make said tune by Bill Withers tune of the day.

Saturday 4th July - Cornwall Here We Come

It was an early start for myself and The Love In My Heart today as we were heading off to Cornwall for a well earned week off, and thankfully one that we could actually have under the current revision of the relaxation of lockdown. To be honest, The Love In My Heart deserves the break far more than I do, only because of the job that she does, but having booked our place at the back end of last year, way before anything started, we were just pleased and relieved in equal measures that we were able to go. Everything was packed and all good, and we were ready to go.

We set off for the M6, and once on to the M5 it was a stop at Frankley Services for some breakfast. Interestingly Greggs had a little mobile counter so sausage bap and coffee for me, and bacon bap with coffee for The Love. It was good to rest and we were soon on the road again, with the rain making plenty of appearance as we headed past Bristol and towards Exeter on the M5. We did hit some traffic close to the end of the M5 due to one lane of the exit sliproad to the A30 being shut, but that was behind us eventually and we were on our way. Apparently the roads were mental later so glad we left early.

It was then off along the A30 for a while until we reached Launceston, and we stopped at a Costa there for take out lunch with coffee. Everything was done right, one way system in and out, and proper distancing. It was so nice to have something there before we then headed off to Tesco in Launceston to get some supplies - this worked well, and we also got some more petrol for the car whilst it was cheap - it made plenty of sense to do so and meant we could just relax then during the week which is what we both wanted too. It was then off on the A395 towards Davidstow with Summer by The Icicles being a contrast to the rain (make that tune of the day as it's so lovely.)

Once we got to the end of that road, it was a series of A and B roads to head through to Slaughter Bridge (great title eh?) and on through Camelford Station junction and towards Trebarwith Strand where our little hideaway was. It was a narrow road down but we got to the place fine and could even see the sea too, which was rather fierce with the tide coming in. Nonetheless, we got the parking space sorted for The Love's car, took all the stuff in and unpacked, and it was a pleasant surprise all round. The apartment on the top floor of a little cottage wasn't massive, but was more than enough for us.

In fact, pretty much all we needed was there - oven, hob, dishwasher, washing machine, microwave, big telly with Freesat, broadband and wireless, and a nice bathroom and bedroom too. It was as described and we were really pleased - as was The Love when she discovered that the bed was really comfy, so that would be good for some sleep. We had a quick walk out and to the Port William pub which overlooks the little coves, and this meant we could have a drink, in a pub. And they were all proper distanced, all rules being followed properly (so contact tracing details taken etc) and lovely staff.

Having a pint of Trelawny felt extra special to be honest, and we both looked out of the window at the sea lashing the rocks and was quite pretty, even if windy. Later on I'd walk up part of the coast path for even more dramatic views (and they were) and we had some posh tea later thanks to Tesco and chilled out, admiring the view of the sea from our bedroom window, and it was just a lovely start all round. Even better, it really did feel like a little hideaway for us and to get away from it all - no phone signal either which shows you how remote it is. And it just felt nice to be cuddled up on the sofa.

Friday 3rd July - Final Flourish

It was the last half day at work today before heading off for a well earned break away from work, and I managed to get plenty done in that time. I documented the process of adding some of the connectors for our inventory software as well as the gotchas to watch out for, and also managed to do some final checks for testing to make sure all was well there, sent all the stats off to the people that needed all the stats required, and indeed managed to also be pretty productive considering I had around four hours' worth of time in work.

One final thing I did was sort out an odd issue where a users' machine could not connect to the VPN, and having checked Device Manager, I had worked out why. The person assisting had removed and reinstalled the client software, but the driver appeared to be disabled, most likely if a restart didn't occur between the two due to the Kernel level driver which loaded. Ran Device Manager as an admin after checking that the service was correctly configured for the Kernel, did a re-enable, and all of a sudden connectivity worked as described. Nice, I know.

I also had a package arrive today, which was my little XUM1541 box (aka Zoom Floppy) which means I can hook up my Commodore 1541 disk drive (and disks) to the PC via USB. The driver installation itself was all good and I followed the OpenCBM instructions, all good there. It was then onwards with the software installation and using CBMXfer to to the job. Once configured, all hooked up and the drive read fine. In fact I was able to to transfer a few disks over and be able to see old content on the PC that I'd had on my Commodore 64 for years (and of course could still access.)

One thing I did see was that in the days when I contributed to magazines, I used to send all my listing POKE cheats on disk to avoid errors and to make sure they properly arrived soundly. I used to write a little introductory screen in machine code along with some extracted music from a game as a little extra, which was pretty nice, and good that I found two of them too along the way. I guess it was a time when I was really taking the initiative to learn more programming so definitely was good for me to do that no question.

With everywhere nice and tidied up in the flat, it was good to relax for a while and think that I'll soon be having a week off work, which will be good. I've been non-stop apart from the odd day off for birthdays, as has The Love In My Heart, and she more then me deserves a well earned break too. So I'm sure it'll all be lovely and the two of us will be able to make the most of our time. Tune of the day happens to be the ace "Social Vertigo" by 3 Daft Monkeys, which is a tune I still love bounding around to and reminds me of happy times when you could go to gigs. If only..

Thursday 2nd July - Playing Like Champions

So tonight was the first meeting in the Premier League between the former champions (that's us, Manchester City) and the newly crowned champions, Liverpool. After we had lost to Chelsea last Thursday it meant that mathematically, Liverpool were champions, and I have to say, deservedly so. They had been superb all season and in their demolition of Crystal Palace last week they really showed just why - with attack to be feared and defence with a mix of youth and experience that works really so well.

I was not surprised therefore that to be fair to us, we gave them a guard of honour before the game to respect their achievements. It did still of course feel weird with no fans in the stadium but that's how it goes at the moment, and better to be safe than sorry - but you can imagine how much I would have liked to have been there as some special guest of the club or something as an uber-prize to watch the game. So, what would happen, would they still have a hangover or could we be able to raise the game?

The truth is, after the first fifteen minutes, a bit of both. Liverpool had hit the post with Mo Salah and looked solid going forward but our attack certainly was eyeing their defence for any errors. And indeed as Raheem Sterling tussled with Joe Gomez, Sterling was pulled down and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Kevin de Bruyne to score and make it 1-0 and that alone was pretty good. What I didn't expect was a lovely move involving Gabriel Jesús, Phil Foden and then a ball from the Stockport Iniesta to Sterling, who turned the defence inside out with the first touch and slotted it in at the near post. 2-0. Now...

I was in dream land by half time though. A gorgeous flowing move involving Foden again saw him play a one two with de Bruyne that left Andy Robertson nowehere, and Foden's fourth league goal in four games saw him score well past Allison, right on half time. It was 3-0. Liverpool don't get beaten like that these days. In fact the last time they were heavily beaten was 5-0 to us in September 2017, when Sadio Mané was sent off early for them (which also shows how good they have been since). Could we possibly inflict such a defeat?

The game did peter off a bit second half as subs came on and changes made, but with added Riyad Mahrez, City wanted more, and after a shot from Sterling cannoned off the Liverpool defence and wide, the move with Mahrez and de Bruyne meant that Sterling's shot appeared to be just going wide, but instead was directed into his own net by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. 4-0 City, and could have been 5-0 right at the end had VAR not ruled out Mahrez's finish for a handball by Foden in the build up. It was just one of those great nights that City had and I know Liverpool maybe weren't at their best, but would I take a 4-0 win over them? Any day of the week. Tune of the day is the classic Boys In Blue Man City anthem from 1972, where they sang that "the boys in blue never give in." And we won't. We'll be back to push Liverpool for the league next season. Marker laid.

Wednesday 1st July - The Return of the Office

After a couple of pre-official visits to the office in terms of being able to orientate and sort a few things out that needed a physical network connection to the internal network, it was the first official day that one of our offices in central London was open. However, there was strict guidance to follow in that you had to book a space before you came, and indeed that you were also responsible for the upkeep of the space allocated ensuring it was clean and tidy throughout, and to follow all the signage and Health and Safety guidance of the staff where requested. All sensible really, and thought out.

So once I arrived, I noted the one way directional signage with floor markers and handy reminders to keep two metres apart. The desks were all labelled with ticks where you could sit (and indeed only these desks had monitors on etc) and any of the kitchen facilities such as the coffee machine were also out of action, so pretty handy that Pret a Manger was open close by for takeouts until 2.30pm. In effect, it was all done properly and I must admit not only did I feel very safe and secure today, but also it was nice to see some of my colleagues and chat to them (and because of the layout and allocations, not having to be too far apart either which was good)

In fact this gave me plenty of renewed confidence, and today saw me upgrading the Windows 10 Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for short on the MECM server. Normally it's a pre-requisite for future upgrades that you do so, and it does handily mean that once you've uninstalled the old version, installed the new one and performed a scheduled reboot of the server, you can then redistribute the boot images (used for PXE boot etc) with the new version of Windows PE from the ADK. Note though: you must install the extra Windows PE add-ons for the ADK after the main ADK install - so many people forget to do this!

With that done and the boot images updated (as well as the new versions of two pieces of software in the Windows 10 build) there was handily a laptop that needed a rebuild, so I effectively sorted that one out and gave it a good sort out. It worked perfectly as did all of the components, so felt pretty pleased all round that everything worked correctly and as designed, so that was excellent. I also then very kindly was passed on the reception laptop so I could upgrade the version of Windows 10 on that (it had 1709 on, so out of date) and got that sorted. I did feel very productive actually.

And that's the thing - I perform better when in an office I think. There's much more I can do, and I'm not limited by anything - and in addition it means that I can respond quicker and monitor more effectively. Working flexibly from home is also good of course and it has at least allowed me to keep on working and so on, but I think it proved also today that the friendliness and cameraderie of colleagues really helps. I like interacting with real people - it just felt so much better to be honest. And isn't that what it should be about?

I headed home later on and had the theme tune from the 1980s popular TV series Super Gran on - sung by no less than Billy Connolly (so make that tune of the day) - primarily because I can remember it being good fun, which the computer game version definitely was not. If you've ever had the misfortune to play that, you have my entire sympathy. But the telly series, just entertainment, and so many big names guest starring in it too. It had more bottle than United Dairies getting all of those in let me tell you.