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.


Thursday 16th August - Suited and Booted

Well, the booted bit was done when I got the new shoes from Clarks last week, although I'm waiting to get them broken and stretched in nicely so I can not worry too much, and then there's the shirts I got from the Pretty Green sale so I can look stylish in the office, so all good there. The last part is going to be the trousers, and that's always something I'll need to get used to, primarily as in all the last jobs since 1997, I've not had to wear trousers for work - so definitely a contrast.

So it was off into the centre of Croydon, and first stop, as I had a gift card for there was Debenhams. In fact that proved to be useful because the area where the suits and trousers were was relatively quiet, so I could use the changing rooms and try a pair on to see how it'd be. In fact that proved to be a good move because as I suspected, trousers always seem to be a different size than jeans (boo) so it was a 36 regular instead of a 34 regular. In fact when I got home later I checked and the suit trousers I have were also 36, so it's pretty consistent across the board. The gift card meant I had to spend less, so epic win all round there.

I went to Next after that and was a little disappointed. Not in what they had trouser wise, all their stuff seemed very good as The Love In My Heart had mentioned it would be. But... nothing in the size I wanted. And I mean nothing. So it was a tad disappointing to have to head home later on with just one pair, but I know that I do have another pair or two here I could use, and I can always order the stuff off Next online and then do a collect in store, which might not be a bad idea to do actually. In fact that might work out well because I can then get what I need...

I did also note that Debenhams always have a sizeable clearance section in their stores so when I'm in Manchester this weekend I'll check it - I did see a few pairs in the Croydon one, none my size, but the reductions were good and the styles decent, so there's something. In fact it's very rare that I ever pay full price for anything in there anyway - there's always a sale on. In fact they survive better than House of Fraser are doing right now - the store near me resembled a ghost town earlier (cue Specials classic, and thus tune of the day because of it.)

So I went back later to playing Pixies' Doolittle again (in case you didn't know, my favourite album of all time) - and on Blu-Ray audio. The surround mix has been handled well, and I prefer the LPCM 5.1 mix (more like DVD-Audio is) than the DTS one, but either way it's not been done in surround for the sake of it, but well mixed to actually get that nice soundscape of being in the studio with the band as they'd recorded it. And it's one of those albums everyone should really have...

Wednesday 15th August - Writing The Notes

So tonight I've been mainly involved with writing some sleeve notes for a forthcoming CD. I can't say which one at this stage, but suffice to say that it was an honour to be able to contribute and do something useful with the time in the evening. Not only did this involve some extensive research and re-checking some information that I had gathered, but also wanted to add a little bit of trivia about each of the tracks there too, and what they relate to. Those might not feature, but sort of helped me with the creative process in order to find a deeper fact than what lies within.

It's also a good excuse to use the creative writing streak I have on occasion and be able to think of something which is not only something I'm passionate about, in terms of music, but also the fact that there's always a level of objectivity in terms of how you can't always appear biased and have to look at things from a reasonably neutral angle (something BBC News presenters, especially Laura Kuenssberg, would do well to remember on occasion.) Yes, I have definite favourites over time, but you can't always reflect that when you are looking at the audience who'll be reading what you write and think "how dare he say that!" or something similar. Fairness is often the way to go.

I think for me too that it was really good to not think about work and completing all the tasks I need to do in the next week or so, but instead look ahead somewhat as well. I do have a positive life on the whole these days, and I have a wonderfully beautiful and intelligent girlfriend, who really does bring out the best in me and gets me in the positive frame of mind, just by being herself. It's hard to describe sometimes the effect it has, but I know when I feel a little down, the thought of The Love In My Heart giving me a cuddle is more than enough to give me that glowing feeling inside.

What worried me a lot actually was that moving down South for the new job back in December 2015 may have affected our relationship, and part of me almost pulled out at the last minute because I wasn't so sure - even when I did start the job I was still questioning myself. However, the important thing for me is that she has been so supportive and encouraging - especially as the time has passed, and the weekends we've had together have been all the more special because of the fact that we make the most of them when we are together - and that's been important to me to say the least.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent classic from Pixies - "Debaser". I was playing the Doolittle album earlier (I have the Blu-Ray Audio disc of this now) and to hear that blasting from the speakers in such high resolution and in surround is an experience so different but yet so bloody good. You have obviously the opener as a classic as well as the likes of Monkey Gone To Heaven, Here Comes Your Man, I Bleed, and Gouge Away at the end, which part of me really wants to sing loud right now but it's 11pm as I'm typing this, so maybe not...

Tuesday 14th August - Puzzles and Mach 3

So it was a nice puzzle of sorts to test out and check with ServiceNow. So I had created all the necessary check boxes and values etc for the form which is going to be a record producer to create an incident, with all of the necessary values ticked and sorted. That part, all good. However, what seemed to be a sense of frustration was that despite all the relevant forms and check boxes appearing in the correct order and all playing ball, when the form information showed on the actual generated incident, the tick boxes were in no order at all.

I wanted to see if it was something that had been amended as part of an instance configuration, so to be on the safe side I fired up my developer instance (admittedly in the new London version). I set up a similar form and crucially with check boxes and labels. When that appeared in the incident view, it all showed correctly and without any issues either. Hmm. I spent some time poring over various configuration settings on both instances to see the difference but couldn't seem to find any, so will have another look and see what the state of play is.

I did however get a useful hint in terms of one of the catalog widget items. It transpired that some of the items appeared to show an Arial font, some didn't, but have worked out why this is - the widget itself will always use the CSS Bootstrap default unless you specify it somewhere else - so the catalog item has to have the description field set accordingly for this to work. For some reason, remnants created using the old UI11 appear to have stuck, but the moment these are changed or any new ones created, they default to the system level Bootstrap variation, so good to get that sorted.

After work I headed off to the large Sainsburys at Waddon Marsh, primarily to get some razor blades for the Mach 3 but also as I wanted those posh Compeed blister type plasters to put over the heel to give them a bit more of a quicker time to heal (and to feel more comfy.) In fact I got that and also got (as they were on offer) some Persil tablets which are actually dishwasher cleaner tablets instead, so no liquid needed. I suspected it probably needed a good deep clean inside so thought it best to give that a go and see how it all turns out.

However, the bargain was on the Mach 3. 4 blades for £8.50, not so cheap. But... get a pack of 13 in a larger box for £17 (they were £21) and all of a sudden that's a lot better, in fact if you bought 2 of the 4 packs, that'd be £17 in itself, and so effectively you get 13 for the price of 8. That's a good win, so went for it and did that, and that'll last me a lot longer too so less hassle all round there I reckon. It just reminds me of that 80s jingle that they used to have for Gilette back in the day - you know the one, you're looking good, you're looking sharp, you've come so far, yes that one.. make that tune of the day.

Monday 13th August - Healing

First things first - the feet are feeling a fair bit better and the heel not so bad after The Love In My Heart had some spare graze plasters (fairly large they are too) which she had spare. It has surgical tape on the outside and the plaster cushion on the inside is pretty soft, and has helped a spare bit get the foot to some sort of normality now. It'll still take some time to recover, so I decided that it would be worth me checking out some options to maybe give the new shoes a bit of a stretching just to get them that bit comfier before I put them on (and most likely armed with some plasters etc!)

Anyway, I did a bit of looking up, and most popular seemed to be a wooden shoe stretcher which has a metal screw, the idea being you effectively fit them in snugly inside and then leave them overnight to give that bit more room around the toe and the heel. I suspect that I didn't have the maximum room for one of the toes so this was then pressing back and rubbing the heel. The Love did suggest vaseline too to ease the friction but that's also going to be a bit messy I suspect in parts. Anyway, I'll get some spray to go with that later in the week (I ordered the stretcher online) and see how they measure up. The shoes are more than suitable for work, just want to make sure they don't kill me on the first week of the new job.

I also spent some time tonight catching up on the highlights and some of the post-match reaction following the Manchester City win at Arsenal yesterday. Suffice to say that the now rebranded AFTV (was Arsenal Fan TV) was going into meltdown with some negativity from the fans to say the least. To be fair to the presenter Robbie, he was saying "it's only the first game for the new manager, it's going to take time" but there's too much impatience from some people. The empty stadium near the end told its own story - too many glory hunters, not enough loyal fans. It annoys me when City fans leave 5 minutes plus early before the end of a game because they want to get to their cars etc, none of that for my friend and I - we've seen so much drama at the end of games.

Case in point actually - imagine if you had left the Etihad Stadium back in 2012 possibly before the start of injury time and thought "that's it, title over" - and not realising that City have come back from the dead before? Needless to say that moment with Edin Džeko equalising and then that goal from Sergio Agüero was utterly magical, perhaps the finest moment I've ever witnessed as a City fan (and there's been lots even before the recent times to be fair) - and my friend and I had none of this leave early rubbish. We stayed till the end, the reward was ours, and so was the title!

Anyway, I've been getting few ideas together for the next few weekends for The Love In My Heart and I, especially when she is coming to me. We did look at a few National Trust places (because we'd get in for free) that maybe were reachable by train, and one of which wasn't that far from East Grinstead, so that may be a contender (we can get the train there) - and it would also mean that we'd have a different day out. The other alternative is to hit the seaside at Brighton or indeed anywhere else along the coast too, so that may also be a possibility. In the meantime, tune of the day is the rather brilliant "Devastate Me" by She Makes War, which is fast becoming one of my singles of the year already. It's just so darned good!

Sunday 12th August - Buzzing

After a nice breakfast and being able to relax with a bit of the cycling in the background from the European Championship in Glasgow, it was good to fuss over Brian the cat as he lay on the bed, and he allowed me to give him a tummy tickle. I of course was being careful as I know he'd be likely to give me a little swipe with his paw, so carefulness assured. The Love In My Heart had some good graze plasters which were a perfect size for the heel to keep them away from infection, so put them on before the socks and that did feel at least less painful.

We then decided to head for the city centre and have a walk around, on the trail of the statues of bees in the city as the public art exhibition Bee in the City was taking place over the Summer. The Love parked up near Piccadilly station as we knew of a good car park that wasn't expensive, and then as we headed by the station we were able to tick off the first two there, and then see one by the bridge over London Road and in Piccadilly Place, so really nice to see the inspiration and the art behind each one.

We then walked into Piccadilly Gardens via the Manchester Visitors centre as we could pick up a trail map and guide (useful for me actually) and then see the bee by the gardens, which was of course very popular. From there we headed along to Stevenson Square, and there was a Sunday market on, which was very nice! We spent some time around there and had a good mooch around - lots of independent stalls, and lots of art and cards focussing on the bees too. There was another bee statue there so we got that and then moved through the Northern Quarter.

It was then by the Craft Centre, as there was a bee outside (my brother had told me that this was vandalised but had been repaired) and then towards Swan Street and to the Mackie Mayor. It was actually really nice inside there and we stopped for a drink, and from the balcony we could admire the view of all the food and drink stalls and all the food smells were rather nice - especially the pizza and the fish as well. We may have to head back one evening and have tea there.

From there it was off to the Co-Op building and then to Angel Meadow, and another two bees found there, before we then went towards Balloon Street and located one there and one by the Printworks, before heading down towards Victoria Station - it was packed as lots of people had seen a Paw Patrol event at the arena. Plenty of parents and children were all getting their pictures with the bees so wanted to wait till there were no people around (not so easy!) - and it was the same with the two in Exchange Square and two in St Ann's Square as well.

With time ticking too quickly we headed to The Bank on Mosley Street for a nice Sunday afternoon meal together. The Love had the Sunday roast chicken which looked really good, and I had the beef, ale and mushroom pie (and yes it was a proper pie!) All went down well there and we had a good natter with the view outside of the city centre. Time had gone by far too quickly though and we were walking back to Piccadilly station and for me to get my train later. I did feel sad actually and that reflected my thoughts on the train going home, but at the same time had had a lovely weekend. Tune of the day is the rather brilliant Manchester anthem "I Am The Resurrection" by The Stone Roses - some of the pieces of art in the market had lines from that song too..

Saturday 11th August - Reunions

It was nice for a change to head up to Manchester on a Saturday morning train, having been used to Friday nights for a fair while. And actually, it was lovely and quiet too. I got the train from East Croydon to Victoria, then on the tube to Euston, and was in good time to board the 0820 train to Machester. It was lovely and quiet, so much so that I'd booked a table seat but no one sat in the other three spaces all the way to Manchester, which was pretty good all round. I had the headphones on and some tunes so that was good, but did feel rather relaxed and happy, and especially as The Love In My Heart was there for me at Piccadilly.

We waited in and relaxed with Brian the cat being his usual self, wanting to run off outside and have a bit of a fuss. It was good though as The Love's sister was coming over and with her nephew, being over here for a few weeks in the midst of doing his PhD in Taiwan. It was nice to see him anyway and we all had a good natter for a while, and a catch up. In fact I was one of the last people he saw in the UK before he headed over, as we met for food when he was sorting one of his visas out in London, so was really good to see how he was doing and how much he was getting re-used to Mancunian weather.

Later on we all headed off and to meet some of The Love's family, this time at a Toby carvery which was not far from Oldham Athletic's ground. It was typical Toby fare, but with the sullenness of staff who really seemed happy to be working there (ahem, not.) A smile goes a long way, but I guess it depends on the clientele that they usually get as well. Still, the food itself was fine, I had the gammon and the pork along with a Yorkshire pud and plenty of vegetables, and that went down nicely with us all to be honest. They did have a refill machine for drinks but it was broken, but the bar staff sorted that out so all was good there.

Time had sped by before we all headed our own ways and we stopped off at my Mum's for a bit - we had spotted her on the way home with her shopping as it happened so gave her a lift back, and then had a nice cuppa in the back garden and chatted about her possible Cornwall adventure next year. It was good though to have a catch up as well and be able to just chill out in the afternoon and that felt pretty good. The Love did mention to my Mum that perhaps staying in one place that had nowhere to go in the evening might be a bit difficult, so Mum has taken that on board it seems.

The Love and I later headed off to West Didsbury and to Wine and Wallop. They had a guest ale on called Wallop which was rather nice an The Love had the rosé wine which was nice too. What I did see at the bar though was not just the ace beers, but a bloke in a hat and whom I recognised straight off as Bruce Mitchell from The Durutti Column. Of course I played it cool and left him to chattering with who he was with, but it was good to see that the great and the good of West Didsbury love this place like we do. In fact "Jacqueline" by The Durutti Column is tue of the day.

Friday 10th August - Pinching and Rubbing

So today I decided to wear one of the new pairs of shoes and try and at least get them a little bit more settled in before I start the new job. That all in all was a huge mistake, well at least without some form of protection for the heel anyway. Pretty much since I moved down, almost all the shoes I've ever got seem to always rub the back of the heel, normally in the middle but occasionally the sides, and even with socks on, the friction tends to rub quite a bit to the point of rubbing quite hard.

In fact when I got home from work later the first thing I did was take the shoes off, and I could see that the skin at the back on both heels had either come off or at least was rubbed to the next layer off. It was pretty painful and was so glad to remove them. Now I know I'd tried them on and they felt fine, and I know that they were my size as well. I can only think that due to the water hardness the skin on my feet generally hasn't been so good, and making it a bit more prone to rubbing and pinching like that. Of course any pair I've managed to at least wear in a bit appear to be fine, but it's just really awkward that there's so much that hurts.

On the other side of things, I did manage to progress a potential new form in ServiceNow nicely. It's in fact going to have a number of sections to it, so it will involve a use of some rules and UI actions to ensure only the correct parts appear as needed when filling it in. One thing I had to work out was that if you ticked a box and so a question appeared based on that tick, if you filled in the tick boxes below that but then unticked the main box, I wanted the other tick boxes to also disappear. I did get that worked out in the end so was a case of building up the necessary and getting on with it nicely.

I wasn't on a train to Manchester tonight so spent the evening instead being fairly relaxed at home and checking over a few things in the house (and also changing the bedding) whilst listening to some quality tunes, including the new Bodega album Endless Scroll. It's growing on me with every listen and I have to say that there's plenty of power pop short tunes but also does feel like an art rock statement also, with the likes of "I Am Not A Cinephile" being relentlessly short and sweet.

But best of all at the moment is the new She Makes War single "Devastate Me" (make that one tune of the day if you will) with lots of really good crunching guitars, a great verse chorus verse flow, and the middle section that just feels like it's going into a downer before the defiant final part and chorus. It shows great promise for the new album and I was massively pleased to hear it played on Steve Lamacq's show this week too, showing hopefully some more purchases of said single after listening to it. Here's hoping...

Thursday 9th August - Thunder Down The Elephant and Castle

It was incessant rain for most of the day today, and a lot cooler outside as well, which certainly was a marked difference from the weather for the last few weeks. To be honest it did need a downpour of rain to a degree to try and freshen up the skies. There was a threat of a thunder storm though and as I was watching the European Athletics Championships later on they kept looking up to the skies in case that hit Berlin - I wouldn't have fancied doing the steeplechase event in rain and thunder that's for sure, it's hard enough having that big water jump to clear (and I've seen on an athletics track close up how far that actually is!)

With the rain coming down, I spent the time today going through some training with one of our second line people, and it was really good to be able to see everyone take note and be able to follow up what I'd put into practice with documentation and be able to present well enough. It was actually nice to be out of the office and in a separate location for that as well. I also had worked on a change in ServiceNow so that everything looked really spot on for the Excel training courses accordingly.

On the way home I decided to head not just straight home but instead on the train down to Elephant and Castle, my old stomping ground where I used to work. I headed off the train, down the stairs and then on the path over the footbridge to the shopping centre, and nothing much has changed there. The plan was to go down to Clarks as they have an outlet store there and get some new work shoes for the new job. I did take a good look and actually they had plenty of pairs in my size - just a case of working out which ones were good enough.

In fact, they had an offer on some sets of pairs where when you bought one pair, you got the second pair for £10 extra (the cheaper of the two being the £10 pair.) I did see a smart pair for work, but also one I could wear for work and for going out too that were pretty stylish and smart. So, with that in mind, it was both pairs purchased for £45, so that worked out pretty well actually. It was good to walk back through the old shops again and remind myself of time spent working there before then avoiding the claps of thunder and heading on the train to Beckenham Junction to get the tram back - it was easier than waiting ages for the train to Mitcham Junction instead.

I spent the evening watching the thunder and lightning and watching the European Athletics again, with some good performances overall - KJT in the heptathlon takes the lead over Nafa Thiam on the 200 metres, with Nathaneel Mitchell-Blake coming through a very tight field to get a second and season's best in the men's 200 metre final, and a nice bronze for Holly Bradshaw in the pole vault behind a Greek one two. Good performances all round, although I do wish that the BBC would bring back the proper athletics theme - that is of course "World Series" by Keith Mansfield and tune of the day - the times I'd watch this on midweek night as Steve Cram would head to the likes of Oslo, Nice etc in the pursuit of breaking records. Those were the days!

Wednesday 8th August - The Cooldown Commences

Admittedly, it felt a bit fresher this morning as I woke, and for the first time in ages I felt like I had had a good sleep. It was admittedly quite a lengthy session of ironing later in the day as well, with five pairs of jeans and seven shirts from two wash loads to get ironed and sorted. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but had been putting some of that off until the weather had got a little cooler so I wasn't sweating like a proverbial pig in the apartment. I must admit that as nice as it all is with it being cosy, last Summer was pretty warm and this Summer has been rather a tad warmer. I suspect that it'd be good if they had fitted air conditioning throughout so I could have set the temperature as needed, but still.

It was also a busy day at the office today too, as I spent a fair bit of time looking at some development in ServiceNow. It was a case of being able to look at some new workflows, revising an existing one and being able to show the way that we'd be able to look at defined conditions so that depending on the options selected, an assignment would occur correctly at the right time. It was just a case of building the expression and making sure that it worked, and that was also a positive.

I had also worked on some SCCM based reporting and putting together a guide for how to look at checking software that had been run and by whom, and so put together a nice little report spreadsheet of certain ones which had been run which weren't allowed, and passed that to our IT security analyst for more info. He was pleased that the information was able to be gathered very well, but also that it showed where some of the software was being used. We both agreed that it needed a policy to enforce properly so that it would actually have some backbone, but what it did show was that we had detected items correctly.

It was also good later to get into the retro mood and play some of the older games again on the Commodore Plus/4 this time around. I had another blast of Video Meanies, and had to remember that some of the screens do actually have backgrounds which kill on impact, so you have to be pretty careful which way you go. I guess too it was handy that I still have a joystick adapter so I can use a proper Atari style joystick on the game instead of those horrid Commodore controllers with the odd DIN round input that it had. Still though it showed that I was able to play well enough.

Not just that either, but the other Plus/4 game I spent some time with was the version of Kikstart for the C16 and Plus/4. It's a markedly different game from the Commodore 64 version, as it's more of an arcade game sort of reminiscent a bit of Moon Patrol, with you speeding up or slowing down and pressing fire to jump over obstacles or land on springs to put you high in the air, avoiding thunder clouds and also spikes too. A nice version and playable and fun - and even a version of the TV series theme tune, which of course is actually "Be My Boogie Woogie Baby" by Mr. Walkie Talkie - I even wrote an article about that - and it's tune of the day.

Tuesday 7th August - Humid And Helpful

It was rather humid outside and still very very warm (another day of 32 degrees plus in the afternoon) so it was good to be able to be in an air conditioned office and to crack on with a few things. I actually introduced two positive changes into ServiceNow, with a nice change to first of all sort out a small issue where a person could pick themselves as a line manager, and I've managed to get that removed and sorted out. The other was to do with a form and to add a new option just to be sure that we would be able to cover all bases for any folder requests in future, so was quite good to get that one nailed really.

I also had some positive feedback from our training person on the proposed look and feel of the course booking form that I had looked at on Friday, so we would be able to have that implemented nicely with a planned change to make sure it all worked properly too. In fact I'll be raising another one tomorrow to be able to add some other course forms that are needed, so it's another thing crossed off the list to be able to sort out as well, and crossing them all off as viable options before I leave.

I also had some good news from the new job in that all the security clearance stuff and checks that have been needed to be made all came back and all sorted, so that's a positive - it means I can look forward to getting started now and to be able to adapt to a new job and surroundings. I know it's going to be a bigger change overall for a number of reasons but I also know that it's the right move to make at this time. It's definitely though a case of being brave this time around and heading into a different business and different territory entirely - at least the charity sector isn't that much apart from education in some ways..

It is supposedly the final day of the really hot weather but I must admit I do want the heat at night to drop too so I feel like I can actually get some sleep properly. For me it's been noticeable that when it does drop and there's some air around I do sleep well, but if not, it's a pain and I almost have to tire myself out to sleep by one way or another - either reading a fair bit or watching telly till I feel like the eyes are about to close with the focus for so long. It's not the easiest, and just be glad when it does get a bit cooler later on...

I've been playing the Bodega album "Endless Scroll" tonight. It's just as indie as arty as the live set was when I saw them back in May. The likes of the short and sharp "I Am Not A Cinephile" is the sort of statement that the album makes throughout, and I also really like "Jack In Titanic" too, so that's tune of the day. It's one of those that grows on you with each listen, although for some it may seem a little too short (but hey, Pixies songs were short, never did them any harm did it?) Buy, listen, enjoy.

Monday 6th August - Formby Fun

The Love In My Heart had had a relaxed day with Brian the cat yesterday whilst I was at Wembley, but what she had also done was bought lots of nice goodies for us for today in order to take a picnic out with us. She had suggested on Saturday that we head to Formby, as we hadn't been there for some time, and also that would mean we could look for red squirrels in the woods first and then have a relaxing afternoon sat on the beach with a picnic lunch. That sounded rather ace actually and so after getting up, having a shower and getting some breakfast, with the picnic all good, we were going to load the picnic basket.

That was of course until Brian had other ideas - he decided to sit on the picnic basket and look all cute and rest on there beforehand. He actually even posed for a picture, bless him! It was all cute but we wanted to get moving, so the lure of a few Dreamies later and we were all sorted. The good news was that the weather felt warm but also a bit cooler, so should mean we weren't going to bake in intense heat whilst being out, and so with the wind blowing a breeze nicely in The Love's car, we headed off towards the East Lancashire Road.

The journey was going well, passing Haydock, under the M6, and carrying on nicely towards Knowsley and the M57, heading there towards Aintree and at the end we noted a new road had been built linking the busy end of motorway trumpet junction (the M57 and the M58 end here and the A59 meets them both) - so we headed straight across onto the new A5758 which took us to the A565 road to Formby and Southport. The traffic was crawling there due to roadworks and only stopped once we turned left and headed on the road to Formby itself, where we passed through the town centre and on to the National Trust signs for Formby Point.

Being members, parking was free, and we ended up parking not far from the beach, although it was noticeable that part of it was closed off to flooding with a large pool of water at one end. We managed to get a good spot and walked back towards the woods and followed the Squirrel Path through the woods and trees, on the look out for any red squirrels but also noticing how many pine cones from the trees were there to lure the squirrels into having something to munch on. The Love admired the wooded setting, and we later followed the new Asparagus Path which took us a different way towards the beach and in fact the path ended up virtually next to the car. Bonus!

We then got the picnic basket out and headed along one of the sandy paths and over some dunes and down to the beach. It was warm and windy, and the sun wasn't fully out but still intense behind the clouds as well. The picnic was lovely, some nice Italian meats, bread, posh crisps, dip, and even some cake as well as some San Pellegrino cold drinks with the little ice cooler box to keep them cool in. It was just nice chatting and sitting on the picnic blanket on the beach, admiring the view, and a lovely way to wind down to be honest. I even headed for a walk around the dunes and The Love was happy taking in the sun, then we stayed for a lot longer and chatted some more. It felt lovely.

The time sped by and we noted a nice pub in the centre of Formby, so we stopped off there for a drink on the way back, and they had Pendle Witches Brew. Ooh yes, gorgeous and spot on, had to be done. It was nice there too and the time was speeding by too quickly, so it was back towards the M57 and the East Lancs, and had to go slow in parts due to peak time traffic, but got back to Manchester Piccadilly station later where hugs and kisses were mine before I headed off, with a sad farewell as I headed on the 1915 train back towards London Euston, with tune of the day being the rather good "Velvet Days" by Kristin Hersh, just that nice softness about it that reflects our lovely day together.

Sunday 5th August - Agüero 200

I got up at 6am this morning and after getting myself showered and ready and having my retro 1989 Manchester City home shirt on, it was time to meet my friend at the Blue Car Park for the Etihad Stadium, as we were off to Wembley for the season curtain raiser of football, the FA Community Shield. It's always sort of like the FA Super Cup if you will, with the league and FA Cup winners meeting, so that's us up against Chelsea today then. It was good that we all arrived on time and were soon boarding the coach which left at 7.30am, better of course be there at Wembley sooner instead of later.

It was really good to catch up with my friend, and have plenty of time to chatter about what'd been going on for us both as well as then be able to talk football (which I can't do so much with The Love In My Heart.) The time sped by and before we knew it we were at Corley services not far from the end of the M6. We went into Starbucks as there was no Costa, but this did mean we got a proper mug for the tea and coffee we had, and I spotted they had sausage barms to have for breakfast, so that was us well and truly sorted - and nice to have too, I must admit.

We got to Wembley around 12.30pm and once the coach was all sorted, we headed off towards the ramps of Wembley Way and I remembered the Sainsburys Local from last time to get lunch - but what was this next door? A branch of Warrens bakery all the way from Cornwall? Hell yeah. So got all the cold drinks in Sainsburys and then got the steak pasty for me and sausage roll for my friend in there, and happy days all round, and had a shaded spot under some trees to have lunch and chat. We did notice plenty of flats developments going up all around the stadium and close to the Outlet Village there - I have to admit that it was changing the landscape of the area somewhat and this also meant much less parking too!

We got into the ground, had a brew before kick off, and was glad that we were in the shaded part of the stadium as it looked very hot pitch side. The teams came out and the crowd roared in appreciation, although nowhere near full it has to be said. The official attendance was around 72,000 but I would have put it at a fair bit less than that to be honest. City though were in the mood right from the off, and it was good to see that the team were giving the likes of Phil Foden an opportunity to shine in the sunshine.

And shine he did too - every forward movement seemed to involve him and he wasn't afraid to run at players and give them a good question or two. One such move in the 13th minute saw him carry the ball forward and then lay a simple pass to Sergio Agüero, back for City after the World Cup and a knee injury before that. He went forward, pulled the trigger, and right into the bottom corner for the opening goal - and, at last, the 200th of his Manchester City career. The crowd went mental and it was so good to see him get it on such a big occasion and to set us on our way. Apart from the odd goalkeeping howler from Claudio Bravo, City were in control and all was good to see.

The second half carried on that trend, with Foden putting Agüero through on a 1 on 1 where he should have scored or passed to Ilkay Gundogan. That said, he did make up for it soon enough after John Stones cleared the ball out of defence classily, he found Gundogan and then Bernardo Silva, and a ball through to Agüero was finished superbly. 2-0, 201 up for the Argentinian, and absolutely class. The number of subs was large and heat breaks for drinks took place due to the intense heat, but we kept going, and Brahim Diaz also looked superb and willing to have a shot when he came on.

So we won 2-0, Supra's version of Blue Moon should have been belting out (make that tune of the day) but there was another version attempting to sound like them playing instead for some odd reason. The players lifted the shield and presented it to the fans, and we then headed back to the coach, and out of Wembley. This time it was off to the A40 and then the M40, and around Birmingham to the M6 before then stopping off at Hilton Park for a comfort break and a coffee, then off Northwards and back at the Etihad just before 10.30pm. A cracking day all round made better of course by us winning!

Saturday 4th August - Mission: Very Possible

The Love In My Heart and I headed out at around lunch time after we'd had breakfast and allowed Brian the cat a bit of a play out (where he kept sneaking off and then hissing at The Love when she wanted to get him back in.) We met up with some of The Love's family and later on headed back to The Love's place, where coffee and a gorgeous cake that she had made was served. It was nice to catch up and relax, particularly with her father, who appeared to be enjoying the racing from Goodwood this week especially. It was nice to see that he was up and about, although with the weather being still warm, a jacket definitely wasn't needed.

It was then later on off to the city centre for me and The Love, as she wanted to see Mission Impossible: Fallout at the cinema, and she had got a Vue gift card which meant that basically it'd be free to get in. Sadly, the posh Scene cinemas where you get food and drink and a posh seat wasn't on for the showings this weekend, so it was a normal seat (£4.99 each) for us both. We went to the Northern Quarter first though and had a well earned drink in 57 Thomas Street - lovely Manchester Marble bitter come to me. The atmosphere was relaxed and they had leaflets for Bee in the City so The Love snagged one.

It was then off to get the cinema ticket and up the escalators to screen 18 to see the film. I was glad I put the phone on silent as I saw it vibrate two times in the trailers with attempted phone calls from Mum, so politely texted I was in the cinema and would respond later, then switched the phone off to be double safe. Naturally we both wanted to enjoy it with no disturbances and as soon as the opening scenes kicked in, that was us pretty much glued to the big screen.

And I have to say: I really enjoyed it! I knew that The Love would enjoy that anyway, but for me it was a welcome addition to the series. Tom Cruise was being Tom as Ethan Hunt and doing all his stunts, certainly Simon Pegg as Benji has got better with each of the films and in this one he did have some comedic elements but also some serious moments of reflection too. And Ving Rhames as Luther is just über-cool of course, utterly loyal and after the team had got his back early on, he was the first to say "He'll do it!" come the end scenes. It was also good that they involved Sean Harris again as Solomon Lane, and being decidedly evil along the way - with Henry Cavill showing a darker side to his character also. Even though it only appeared in the trailer, "Friction" by Imagine Dragons is tune of the day - I had it in my head a lot during the film itself.

So with film very much enjoyed, we headed off through the Northern Quarter and stopped off at Rosylee for some tea - The Love had the steak frites, with a well done steak, and I had the meat feast pizza, which was rather gorgeous, and a pizza cutter that they provided was pretty handy all round too. We had a nice drink in there to go with it, and once done it was back on the tram to The Love's place (which was very busy) and we relaxed with Brian having another good play out.

We also watched the documentary on More4 that had been made a few years ago by Ron Howard which detailed The Beatles' career, with interviews, clips and footage all well put together. I'm not a big Beatles fan as such but it was good that it concentrated a lot on the touring years and how that took the toll on the band: with the last few albums having no tours at all and just one solitary performance on the top of Apple's HQ in 1969. It certainly showed some effort to get people to chatter about the band, with the likes of Eddie Izzard, Whoopi Goldberg etc talking about it, and poignant too in the fact that the Beatles insisted on segregation free gigs, which during the 1960s in America was a bold thing to do.

Friday 3rd August - Different Angle

So I had a puzzle on the hands in ServiceNow that I really wanted to get to the bottom of for my colleague who runs the training courses. She had mentioned to me that in fact the courses for Excel need to appear in the same order as they do on the internal form for adding a course, and indeed the service catalog form text shows them in the same order, but the actual drop down for the course selection didn't. It was a bit puzzling but I soon worked out why, but what took the time today was working out the answer to that.

So what I had been able to work out was that it sorted them by the value, which was the likes of excel_beginners, excel_finance2 etc, but because these were in a different order alphabetically, it would show that way. What I really wanted to do was effectively do them by order of sequence (the choices have a sequential order based on where they appear in the selections with the corresponding dependent value). I knew those were stored in the sys_choice table, with respective elements and sequences.

So, I suspected what the case was here was that because the it_training table didn't actually reference the sequence directly (because it's in another table) so is in effect using it as a lookup for the new course form. So, for the request form for the service catalog, it may only look at the actual table referenced in the Lookup Select Box to get its necessary values and reference, and of course that was referring to the training table instead. So, I had a think about this, and set to work.

I now referenced the sys_choice table with the value being the required lookup and the label being the name shown on the choices, but then got clever with the reference qualifier. So, the sequence needed to be in order, so ORDERBYsequence for that, and then with two additional qualifiers - the element was always part of the course field in the training table, so refer that (element=u_course) and then the dependent value because it needed one, so dependent_value=excel. Add that with a ^ between each statement in the development instance, save the form and see what happens.

And.. it appeared the right way! Nice. Even nicer was that it very much looked like once I added some course dates in for a few of them in Excel, the second field to lookup the time was correct because it was utilising what was selected in the first field still (the course in now sequence order). So that was quite good. I had stayed back till around 6.15pm to get to the bottom of it, but as my train wasn't till 8.40pm, I had plenty of time. I just need our training person to check that over to be sure it's okay, but feel pretty chuffed I've managed to work it out by myself really.

Later on then after a well earned drink of the gorgeous Jaw Brew Fathom it was time to head to Euston and to board the 2040 departure to Manchester Piccadilly, with the sun slowly setting over London and almost getting dark by Milton Keynes Central, with the likes of Nine Inch Nails' "God Break Down The Door" from the Bad Witch album (make that track tune of the day - very reminiscent in parts of late era Bowie) keeping me going for the journey ahead. It was so nice to see The Love In My Heart when I got to Piccadilly, and a nice hug ensued before heading back to her place, fussing over Brian the cat, and watching The Last Leg on Channel 4 Plus One before heading for a well earned sleep...

Thursday 2nd August - HTTP-Yes!

So after I wrote my diary entry yesterday I raised a support call with my hosting provider of my website. I knew that they did offer HTTPS certificates for one year as part of the packages that you get these days, but what wasn't clear on when you looked at upgrading would be if these would replace your current hosting package, or it was a cost on top (effectively paying double, which I didn't want to do of course). The good news was that they got back to me and confirmed that it would replace the current package and cost, and as this worked out a mere 50p more plus VAT per month, that seemed decent to me.

So I pressed the upgrade buttons, ran through the wizard, and let things complete and take their time. And yes, it was pretty seamless all round, and once done I added a bit of code to check for any needed redirection to https (easy to implement once you know how). And then off for the button press for the HTTPS certificate. I waited around half an hour for everything to settle, and yes, it's now all HTTPS all the way. I did have to tweak the homepage code a little bit just to make sure that some of the external sites referenced from the front page offered their content in HTTPS as well (they all did, so happy bunny) and job done.

So now in Firefox you'll see a nice green padlock icon, and latest versions of Chrome will flag as secure (version 68 has some checking now, so it will flag anything unsecure elsewhere such as the Daily Fail's website) so that was all good, and nice to get sorted. I also know that the date for renewal will stick in the diary nicely, so I can either see if extending the 12 months' worth will allow for another free cert, or if there's a small cost involved to keep that going. Either way, it's been very useful to do.

In the meantime, I've had my Mum thinking about planning some sort of adventure down to Cornwall next year with one of her friends. I can get why she'd want to do so although of course there's a fair number of caveats i that the month she plans to go is still the high season, so demand will pretty much be massive where possible, and of course on top of that you have the fact that you've got to think carefully about how you get to / walk between places, because it's not always a strictly "as the crow flies" sort of thing either..

Still, I've been having a few cold drinks to keep cool in the heat, and it's been nice to listen to some more new music, and She Makes War's new single "Devastate Me" is pretty excellent all round (so tune of the day) - I've been listening to the downloaded version at the moment (which I paid for) and eagerly awaiting the CD version so I can blast that out on the system with some gorgeous guitar coming forth from the speakers. It's a sure fire indicator of how good the new album is going to be, which you really should be buying!

Wednesday 1st August - The Heat Is (Back) On

After a few days of the nicer weather, still relatively good and warm but just not as hot, it looks like as from this morning the heat is back on again. Whilst, granted, it is nice that work does provide air conditioning and it does at least mean that I was able to get on with a few bits of stuff myself, it was also noticeable that the weather outside was getting that bit hotter. Mind you, if you're in parts of Spain or Portugal right now, the heatwave has hit there in a big way - try an afternoon temperature of 40 degrees centigrade (yes folks, that's over 100 farenheit, wowzers)

So it was a case of getting on with a fair bit of testing today, including version 68 of Google Chrome to determine it fit for purpose before looking at deployment. On a positive note, it looks like although it will flag something in the address bar if you do happen to browse a http only site, it does at least mean that it's not that obtrusive as yet and will at least let you carry on, but with a simple and sensible warning to you. I do think that as more of us need to go https as other browsers will follow suit I'm sure, maybe hosting providers might look at actually offering their hosting as https by default?

More to the point, this reminded me that I needed to have a chat with my hosting provider and see what they can do as well. A lot of their newer packages appear to have a year's SSL certificate included, all well and good, but I'd either have to change package to that (even though my current one does what I'd like it to do in the main) or purchase one with all the fun and games of having to attempt to generate a certificate request, more so when I don't actually have a dedicated server for it (as the provider has all that back end stuff.) I shall see what the response is, and take it from there.

In the meantime, I had a nice delivery earlier - my new watch! The old Ben Sherman one had finally given up the ghost with its battery, and with a new strap also needed, I figured it was actually going to be cheaper to actually order a new one instead of faffing around with getting all that replaced. I did see a nice one online in John Lewis, but a bit of shopping around and I found the very same one for around £10 less, and an independent jewellers' chain in Yorkshire at that. So I did the order over the weekend, and it all arrived safe and sound today.

And yes, all good, and all working. I did say to The Love In My Heart that I felt pretty odd without a watch on really, so was good to get it sorted. In case you wanted to order the same one, you can do so here. Note that the same site also has some pretty nice Hugo Boss watches for around £65, which considering how much they normally go for, it's a good place to shop. I'll definitely be using the same retailer again, spot on with service and delivery. So with that in mind, something Yorkshire is tune of the day and you can't get much more so than Sheffield's Heaven 17, with the classic "Temptation". Glenn, we've talked about this!