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:

2019
Dec
Nov
Oct
Sep
Aug
Jul
Jun
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003


Thursday 20th June - Packing It All In

I spent a bit of time today working with one of my Service Team colleagues on looking at getting Visio Professional 2019 packaged and downloaded ready for install. A number of people in one department have purchased a licence, but the way that the licence works, it is available in a different Microsoft section, not the VLSC place. We were able to trace that for the product key - perhaps notable it was a MAK volume licence key instead of individual licences, but there you go. In any case I had the info I needed and so would be able to create an installer either using the Office Deployment Tool or using the SCCM method to do so.

In either case, an attempt to install Visio Professional on top of the existing Office 365 click to run install (even though it was the correct Semi Annual Channel 1808 release) didn't work, claiming that you had to uninstall 365 first. The 2019 releases are only available as click to run versions, no matter what, and so no MSI is available. It transpires of course that for most people, when the 2019 installer for Visio is created, normally it is set to be a Perpetual Volume Licence and has the licence model 2019PerpetualVL in the XML configuration file.

After noting lots of other complaints online, I found the answer. Effectively you have to modify the XML that you've used for the Office Deployment Tool - once you've downloaded the volume licence installer, change the XML so that the update channel is the same channel you're using elsewhere (normally Semi-Annual in our case) and then badabing, running the setup with the /configure command and your XML all works. What the hell was that all about eh? Absolute rubbish from Microsoft to be honest, not documented anywhere and shows why a lot of us IT Administrators loathe their awful click to run model.

Later on when I got home and had my tea, it was time to get some packing sorted for the holiday. I had ironed all the clothes I needed, and was just a case of working out which was the best way to put everything in. In the end I managed pretty well, primarily because I had folded things neatly and was able to put lots of things together well, including t-shirts, shorts, socks, trainers, and also some shirts and jeans as well as some new underwear, all the stuff for bath and shower, sun cream, sunglasses and hat. In fact I packed all the clean socks into the hat itself so that it'd keep shape but also mean that it was a sensible use of packing the case, not daft me you know!

I also saw some dramatic Women's World Cup games tonight, not least because of Cameroon against New Zealand. It was 1-1 and either side needed a 2-1 win to go through as one of the best third placed sides. Cameroon went forward and their star player who had already scored one goal turned the defence inside out and shot into the goal with a beautiful finish a mere 10 seconds from the end of stoppage time - the last kick of the match in fact, and a real moment of glory. The reward is now England on Sunday, which I might have to be in a bar to watch I reckon. In the meantime tune of the day is the impressive Chilean national anthem sung proudly by the fab Christiane Endler as she led her side almost fo qualification, coming up short despite beating Thailand 2-0. Francisca Lara's penalty miss near the end proved very costly, indeed!

Wednesday 19th June - Tooting Tootle

After work I was going to head home, but realised that the other branch of my hairdressers is based in Tooting, within the market. I noted that because Tooting Broadway station was close by on the Northern Line, it would make sense if the tube I got on at Tottenham Court Road was a direct one to Morden (instead of changing at Kennington and attempting to get on a packed Bank branch train) - and as timing would have it, one to Morden was coming along, so instead of heading to Wimbledon Park tomorrow, I thought "well why not?" and managed to get a seat after I got on.

The tube went along to Kennington then joined the other branch line towards Oval and onwards past Stockwell, all the Claphams and Balham and soon I arrived at Tooting Broadway. The centre of Tooting looked busy enough and it was a short walk along the high street and to locate the market - and walking through, lots of nice food and beer stalls and even a branch of Franco Manca pizza as well, good to know. The market had a very nice urban vibe inside and certainly felt rather good to be honest, so will have to know that for reference. I located the hairdressers and didn't have long to wait before the lovely staff in there did the business, all nicely cut short and the eyebrows done as well (they do get annoying) so all sorted.

I walked back through the market and although some of it was closing at 7pm, it certainly felt like a real vibe in there. I walked back to the tube station and could have got the tube back to Balham and the train to East Croydon, but the thing was that in the early evening that might have taken time, so instead noted that the 264 bus to Croydon wasn't long, so headed on that and had a relaxing journey past Tooting rail station, into Mitcham and through Mitcham Common before passing the A23 and my local Matalan before heading into Croydon centre and in good time home for the England v Japan Women's World Cup game.

England played pretty well overall although did look tired in the second half. Ellen White scored first with a lovely ball through from her Manchester City team mate Georgia Stanway, and Stanway came close with a shot, as did Jill Scott also. England looked decent and Karen Bardsley had to be alert to save a Japanese free kick onto the bar. England struggled but two massively important Steph Houghton tackles were key to the clean sheet, and then with some subs on, one of them, Karen Carney, used her experience to control the midfield and control a lovely ball to Ellen White, and she didn't miss - took her chance well. 2-0 England, nine points out of nine, happy days.

Unhappy days for Scotland though against Argentina. Having seen the retaken French penalty last night due to the new rule of goalkeepers not standing on the line, every coach should have drilled that into their keepers, hopefully. Indeed for Scotland it all started well, with an opening goal in the first half from Kim Little meaning that half time was 1-0. That became 2-0 with Jennifer Beattie's excellent header and a short range finish on the rebound from Erin Cuthbert. Scotland were 3-0 up with twenty minutes to go, and dreamland at that point for their team.

And then, the team switched off, and it all went wrong. When England were holding things tight against Scotland, Phil Neville as manager used experience and game management to see the game out. Shelley Kerr needed to do that for Scotland, but nope. The defenders stood off and allowed the chance of a low shot from Milagros Menendez to pull what I thought was a consolation back. But again, more sloppy defending and four minutes later a long range effort from Florencia Bonsegundo was only parried by Lee Alexander onto the bar, back off the back of her hand and just over the line. 3-2.

And then.. more drama. Argentina went forward whilst Scotland had just brought their subs on, and one of them, Sophie Howard just was beaten to the ball by Aldana Cometti. The referee had a very long look at VAR and gave the penalty. But not the end of it. Lee Alexander saved the penalty but had moved way off her line, and the referee checked that with VAR and ordered a retake. I suspected it'd happen and a shame for Lee as the penalty save itself and follow up was excellent. Sadly for Scotland, Bonsegundo made no mistake and it was 3-3, no good really for either side.

The officials gave five minutes of stoppage time but there must have been nine or ten plus for VAR, so when she blew the final whilstle almost after the restart, it was a look of shock on both sides, awful really. Heartbreak for Scotland but better game management wouldn't have allowed Argentina back in the game whatsoever, and compare that to the control England had even when defending stoutly at 1-0 up, and that's the level Scotland need to aim for. I hope they do and get better, but in the meantime "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benetar is tune of the day - seems somewhat apt..

Tuesday 18th June - Testing Times

A lot of testing by me today, as there's a fair bit of deployment that I can't do at the moment - a number of proposed changes are on freeze and hold due to a big event being on this week, so it's a case of not sending anything out which could potentially stuff up a machine when it's being used. I've therefore planned my week to do a lot of the background work and testing needed so that when things are ready to go, I know that my test plan has been pretty good all round, which has to be a positive.

One thing I did want to do is to roadtest one of the new updated versions of one of our security programs, as it was a case of it being allowed to be installed over the top of the previous version, but also that we wanted to be sure that it could still prompt the user for a restart. Indeed with the new client settings that we have now because of SCCM 1902, we can show a full window wanting a restart, so that definitely is a plus point. In fact, it shows that we were able to do a successful deployment.

I also wanted to road test it with a Windows 10 1903 WIM image recently created as well, and that meant I could double check that it was able to be applied to the operating system without causing any issues. I knew the new version was okay prior to upgrade and after upgrade, but applying the OS separately was defnitely a good scenario to sort out. In fact, it went pretty well, and all worked without a single problem. In fact this meant I could also roadtest the revised uninstall command to be sure that it would be a case of checking that works without any issues. Good when stuff works.

Even more so when I was able to do a bit of offline servicing using SCCM. I had the Windows 10 WIM and the May cumulatives applied, so I was able to bring down the two 1903 updates for June, and then use those as an available update to service the WIM with. It was all relatively good to do and in fact it also meant that you could see the log files and watch the progress as it applied. It did take some time and of course if you choose to push this to the distribution points straight away, that might be something to take into consideration if people are building a machine and using a task sequence with the image referenced.

I headed homewards through the rain later and it did feel rather clammy to be honest as the rain set in. I did have the likes of Italy against Brazil in the Women's World Cup in the background, so it was good to allow the weather to cool off a bit before doing some ironing. In the meantime and as Metallica are playing the Etihad tonight, I thought a blast of the classic Black Album was in order, and the excellent "The Unforgiven" is a perfect bit of background to rock out to, and tune of the day.

Monday 17th June - Selling Out to VAR

It was nice to be able to complete a couple of auctions on eBay tonight, primarily for parts from the old PC which were still working well but needed to go because they were incompatible with the new PC base unit and motherboard that I had upgraded to - even though I was able to test them in other kit and know they were working happily. I had put them up for sale a few days ago, and knew that the RAM was going to sell, and sure enough I also had a bid on the graphics card as well - it did need a meaty PSU to be honest and I have a nVidia Quadro 600 now which is a lot less power hungry but does the job for what I need.

So it was good to see them rising slightly in price before the end of the auction and indeed the fact that they were both paid pretty promptly on the same night is testament to those that bid, so well done them. In fact, I was able to get them both packaged and all ready to send in the post tomorrow - I had plenty of packing material which is always good, but especially when it's the perfect size to send stuff over in the post as well, and keep things well secured along the way.

Later on I settled in to watch the Women's World Cup final games in Group A, mainly France against Nigeria. The Nigerians knew that a draw would potentially get them four points and be able to get through as one of the best third place teams, and possibly even hit France on the break, depending on the way the game went. I have to say that it was all France for the first half but Nigeria were defending pretty stoutly, and dared to go on a counter on occasion too, so definitely going to plan.

However that all changed midway through the second half. France brought on the likes of Eugenie Le Sommer, and it was a case of them going forward and putting pressure on. That pressure led to a tackle from behind in the penalty area - on first glance it looked okay but you could see the leg being taken. The referee checked VAR for agea and awarded a penalty, and a red card for the Nigerian defender. That wasn't the end of things though, oh no..

Up stepped Wendie Renard to score, but missed the goal. However, the referee had checked the rulebook and noted the Nigeria keeper had moved off the line before the ball was struck, so VAR confirmed it had to be taken again. Renard scored this time and all was well with the French in Rennes, although you have to say that Nigeria were hard done by and now need other results to go their way to go through the group stage, so we'll see how it pans out. Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Ignore-Moi" by the very lovely Mélanie Pain, which I played after the final whistle in a nice little bit of French connection - because I can.

Sunday 16th June - Heading Home

My friends and I all woke up in the Ibis, and all was good as the power shower was just that, very powerful, and this meant that we were all able to get ourselves up and refreshed, before then heading over to the Wetherspoons for some breakfast. I did have the sausage barm but as I refilled the coffee, I also found the time to have some porridge with blueberries as well, which actually set me up nicely for the day, and the refill coffee was of course appreciated.

We headed back to the room for a bit and had some mindless telly on including old school Wheel of Fortune with a very young Bradley Walsh attempting to look like a mod with blonde hair, and the ever lovely Jenny Powell. We kept an eye on the news and stuff before we then checked out of the Ibis, and said goodbye to a few people who were around in the bar area who was at the gig last night. It was then a relatively short walk to the train station and to grab a coffee from Costa along the way to keep us occupied.

The train had come in and was ready on Platform 7, the time to depart passed and no one was being allowed on. Eventually the guard turned up and we were all good, so was able to get ourselves on and got a table for four, with a journey being catch up and despite being nine minutes late out of Hull, we did arrive in Doncaster only a couple of minutes behind schedule. My train to London was around half an hour or so, so said my goodbyes to friends at the station and felt rather sad heading to Platform 1 to take the train home, only buoyed by the fact it was a shiny new Azuma train!

Indeed it was, and pretty nice onboard too - the seat reservations are nice and clear to read, and also use a traffic light system, so green means available and easy to spot for those walking down the carriage, and luggage racks above the seats seem to be spacious too. The seats seem a little too thin and upright though, but seemed okay. The journey did take a delay at Grantham due to the emergency alarm being pressed, but I suspect this may have been by accident by someone who didn't understand the new trains and pressed something unintentionally.

I got back to Kings Cross, walked over to St Pancras, and got the train home, and it was a diversionary route through Herne Hill and Streatham, but get home I did, and settled in to watch the USA against Chile in the Women's World Cup. The Chileans belted out their anthem with passion (tune of the day for me that) and although the USA went 3-0 up by half time with two goals from Carli Lloyd, the score was being kept down by Christiane Endler, the Chilean keeper. She pulled off some unbelievable saves in the second half including possibly save of the tournament stretching to claw a goalbound header from Christen Press.

Saturday 15th June - 8-Bit Symphony

On to the second half of a good weekend with myself and my friends, and we were heading over from Doncaster to Hull to see the 8-Bit Symphony concert at Hull City Hall - which would be orchestral renditions of classic computer game themes complete with the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra doing them justice, and a full compliment of 60-70 of them at that. We had got tickets a while ago, and I'd booked the Ibis hotel close by as well as being able to sort out some advance train tickets between Doncaster and Hull, therefore keeping the costs down for us all as much as possible.

We got up in Doncaster and had some really nice sausage barms for breakfast, much appreciated and perfect to set us on our way. We also watched a bit of football and the news before later sorting out a taxi to pick us up and take us to Doncaster station. In fact we arrived earlier than expected so headed to a nearby pub for a drink before we set off, and there was one very large hen party all meeting there. As it turned out they ended up on the same platform as us later but not on the same train, which was a good thing. Our train turned up and it looked like it was an ex-Scotrail train, a three car 170 Turbostar with nice comfy seats, and space for luggage and a table for four together, all sorted.

We arrived in Hull on time and made the relatively short walk from the station to the Ibis Hotel, and all sorted on that side. In fact it was a nice easy check in and we had two twin rooms on the third floor, so should be relatively quiet at that end to be honest. We headed back downstairs to the reception and bar and spotted a few people we knew from the retro scene, so was good to have a lengthy chat to them as well, and was all good there. A number of people had tickets for a VIP event and were heading there, but not us, it was down the pub and to the local Wetherspoons where we had lunch in there and spotted a number of people as well so was good to chatter to all sorts.

We were sat in an upstairs part with an outside garden but we were under cover, but the heavens opened and the rain came whilstling down the wind towards us all so we sought shelter downstairs and was able to find a space downstairs, and saw an absolute downpour for around forty minutes. We then saw a small break in the showers, although still raining a smidge, and headed along Carr Lane and towards Hull City Hall. I had the tickets on the phone so was easier to be able to show all those at the door rather than print out the paper copies which may have gone wet. We saw plenty of people we knew inside, and I also bumped into MJ Hibbett and his lovely girlfriend Charlotte as well on the way to the seats, so definitely all good there.

The concert got underway with an introduction to what the night was about, and one of the staff of Hull College explained why they supported it financially (Rob Hubbard, legendary C64 composer, is from Hull, so makes perfect sense) before starting off proceedings. Nice to start off with "Imagine Ocean" which had a set of the Ocean Loader themes, the opening theme from Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and a bit of Comic Bakery. The orchestra were on good form and this continued into the likes of "Kentilla" and also "Forbidden Forest and beyond" with both of those games given a real cinematic spooky treatment, and really did convey that atmosphere. We had "W.A.R" too although the middle section was cut out, but what was there was still decent enough. Time sped by to the interval and bumped into more people I knew.

The second half had "International Karate", for me and friends, the weakest rendition of the night, it just didn't work. However, much better was to come, especially "Trap" which really did capture the epic feel of the original spot on, and all nine plus minutes or so gorgeously orchestrated, and tune of the day for me. "Firelord" was also really good, and the nod of both the Wastelands loading and main theme from "The Last Ninja" with a tribute to the late Ben Daglish was good to listen to, although it would have been nice to mention the co-composer for that game, the late Anthony Lees, as well. There was also a storming film score version of "Aztec Challenge" too which was really good.

There was a fast version of "Monty on the Run", maybe going a little free range on the middle part but then coming back for that fast ending and being storming in the end. It was also nice to end proceedings with Jon Hare having a nice tribute to Richard Joseph before then the orchestra doing a nice happy rendition of "Stifflip and Co" which got people into the right mood to end the night on a high. On reflection, the gig was a success. One or two tracks maybe didn't work the way that they should, but considering full orchestration had never been tried with them before, it was understandable, and I'm sure for all of us there it was a groundbreaking event to have been at.

My friends and I chatted to more people on the way out of the venue, in the square in front, and then in one of the pubs close by before then heading back to the Wetherspoons, seeing more people and then heading to the local takeaway for food. I got myself a pizza which actually was pretty nice, and two of the friends had kebab, and one went for chicken. It was a late finish of sorts and was around 12.45am by the time we settled back in the hotel room for some sleep, but it had been a good night all round and was a different thing to do on one of our weekends together, for sure!

Friday 14th June - Doncaster Day

I had a half day in work today, and so spent some time checking over the Mac JAMF stuff. As it turned out, not all of the hardware inventory was being pulled over and I did some other checks and test to see what was happening. I've also kept those in the loop who needs to know so that they were aware, and also ensured that the update packages for both Windows 7 and Windows 10 were downloaded, and so once we are able to get the go ahead to go to UAT, we can then get all that sorted and release them accordingly. It works well to get stuff prepared as that's less hassle later on.

I then headed on the 390 bus from work, just as it was absolutely start to throw it down, and off to Kings Cross station. The bus took a little time getting up Tottenham Court Road, primarily due to some delivery vehicles slowing the road down (the two way thing is not quite as yet working as it should) and then along past the closed Euston bus station and down to Kings Cross. One Boots Meal Deal later purchased, and it was off to the platforms to get the 1348 Hull Trains service to Doncaster.

Interestingly, they replaced their normal train with a High Speed Train (HST) which had effectively been handed from GWR (also a First company as Hull Trains are) and no disguising what it was. Even the wi-fi on board was GWR branded, and the seating arrangement was a case of taping over the seat numbers above the seats with black insulating tape, and having to read the tickets on the seat heads to see which was which, so my former 08F facing seat by the window was now an aisle seat with no window view. Confusion reigned for some as they attempted to locate their seats.

Anyhow, the train got to Doncaster on time, and I walked next door to the bus station and got the 54 bus to my friend's place. My other two friends were already there, so it was good to catch up and have a coffee before later having some beers and all chilled out, watching the likes of the Angry Video Game Nerd Pepsiman episode, the theme tune of which was in our heads all weekend. In fact one of my friends mentioned a review of the Thomas the Tank Engine game, so much so that he actually ended up singing renditions of it (make the original TV theme tune of the day) and that was good fun.

We had some food later on and headed to the local Spar for some snacks, being back in time for the England v Argentina Women's World Cup game. We had that on in the background as we chatted about all sorts and caught up, and it was good for me that England did the business, with a well taken move being finished by Jodie Taylor and that proved to be decisive. We then later headed to the local Chinese takeaway for some late night food, and the crispy shredded chicken in a spicy sauce and with rice was gorgeous, well worth it. We watched some other stuff online and before we knew it, it had gone midnight, the time went too fast and I was heading for bed, it was going to be a long day tomorrow.

Thursday 13th June - Mac By Proxy

I had late yesterday finally managed to get a long outstanding issue sorted with an idea one of my colleagues in the team wanted to do, and that was to get the JAMF Pro SCCM plugin running. In effect this retrieves the data from your JAMF Pro instance (for Macs) and sends the hardware inventory over, does some translation and then via proxy and via a certificate you installed into your SCCM system, pushes it into your hardware inventory and database in SCCM, so you can see at a glance hardware configurations, including Macs, for inventory and other purposes.

The main stumbling block had been that it uses an ISV Proxy certificate, and although we had obtained a suitable one from our certificate authority, it had refused to import into SCCM - that was till late yesterday, when I made the breakthrough. It turned another older ISV certificate which had expired was from the old certificate authority that no longer exists, so even though it was blocked, it was blocking the JAMF Proxy certificate we'd generated from being imported - because the subject name of the server was the same in both cases. I had to do a bit of SQL wizardry thanks to an online blog post which gave me the correct guidance to get it sorted.

However, although the service is now running, and indeed the data is at least being pulled from the JAMF server into a series of XML files, processing some of these does not push into the hardware inventory in SCCM - and checking the log files, it's pretty random - some of them do no problem, others just come up with a red error message and fail, even if it's the same hardware and revisions. I have a feeling that actually it might be the way that the plugin is attempting to process the data, but also another factor: one of the plugin DLL files is based on an older SCCM SDK (the 1706 one to be precise) and as such as we're now on 1902, that might not help matters. We shall see.

On another positive note though, I've also been able to put through a change to decommission the application catalog role in SCCM. It's soon going to be removed entirely anyway, and Microsoft are already recommending you remove this. In fact, as I had rebranded Software Centre some time back, this meant it was an easier transition to make - effectively we're already using the new version, so not the old one, so users could not click links anyway, so it was a case of removing any catalog URLs from the client settings, then removing both the application website and catalog roles. Done. Easy.

In fact Microsoft's documentation tells you what to look out for in the client log files, and I could see that as I had some available deployments to my user account - and lo and behold, exactly what I needed to see was in the logs. Sorted. One thing Microsoft have got right over the last couple of years is that they've really improved their online documentation hugely, and for us SCCM admins, it's a good reference point now to say "look, this is the official guidance, let's follow that" and especially where I last worked where some people thought they knew best and would block ports for the hell of it, ignoring Microsoft best practice, and then wondered why my manager and I would be annoyed when stuff didn't work...

Anyway, it's almost the end of the week and tomorrow it's a half day as I'll be heading up North to see some friends for the weekend - that's going to be good, and I'm sure it'll be nice and chilled out as it's the week before I have some lovely times with The Love In My Heart too, so it works out pretty well on the whole actually. In the meantime I've been listening to some classic game tunes in preparation, and none more so than the classic Rob Hubbard Skate or Die title theme. Sampled electric guitars and rocking out? Bring it on, and tune of the day for sure.

Wednesday 12th June - Very Abject Refereeing

Dear me, when VAR was introduced in the men's World Cup last year, it was flawed in so many ways. Delays to make a decisions, softer than soft penalties being given, and a real sense of not letting the fans know what the hell was going on. You'd think a year later that FIFA would have actually spent some time getting things right, but no. Tonight was another nail in the VAR coffin, especially considering the context of the match and indeed the fact that there were other factors to take into play which were ignored.

But let's start at the beginning. It's France v Norway in the Allianz Riviera (none of this Stade de Nice effort) and the crowd understandably are well behind the host nation, with a pretty full stadium and the fans and players belting out Le Marsellaise before the start of play (make that tune of the day) and it was a tense first half overall. France were on top but Norway were holding pretty firm defensively, and they even counter attacked a couple of times and sent some murmurs into French hearts. 0-0 at half time but I suspected that France would score at some point.

And score they did, with good work down the left from Amel Majri and a nice little dummy from Gaetane Thiney meant that the ball went to the recalled Valerie Gauvin who slotted low and hard and home for the opener, inside a minute of the restart. France went mental and the atmosphere was rocking. That however became very flat a few minutes later as a cross from the Norwegian left was inexplicably intercepted and slotted into the bottom corner of her own net by the usually reliable Wendie Renard. She couldn't quite believe it, nor could the crowd, and the next twenty minutes or so were pretty tense.

France headed forward once more and the ball broke loose on the right of the penalty area. In went Marion Torrent, and Ingrid Engen went to clear the ball away, and the follow through landed on Torrent's knee. It looked worse than it was and Engen had played the ball. The referee went to VAR and in the video's mind, it looked like Engen had kicked Torrent, ignoring completely the fact that Torrent had gone in two footed for the challenge and could have easily been red carded for dangerous play. The referee gave the penalty, wrong decision in my book.

Under extreme pressure, Eugenie Le Sommer scored the penalty into the bottom corner, and France did enough for the rest of the game to see it out and get two wins out of two, although I have to say that they might have scored anyway, the fact that it was a really bad VAR decision that was the difference (as was England's opener against Scotland to be fair, something I'd said at the time) and that did leave a sour taste in the mouth. I bet though Nice is rocking tonight!

Tuesday 11th June - Raining Goals

From the American team! More on that later in this diary entry, but first of all, I spent a fair bit of today getting to work and having to take routes to avoid the rain. Some trains were busier than usual because other passengers were on diversions, due to closed lines. And closed for good reason too - the rain had flooded some of the lines and in fact you could not even see the electric third rail in a lot of cases, so running with that on at full power is naturally quite a risky thing you would not want to do. And indeed there was more rain later on tonight which really did hammer it down big time.

Of course that did mean that it was good to be inside and spending a chunk of time today writing up some documentation and a proposal to possibly look at using a cloud management gateway for SCCM for external clients that don't connect to the network and VPN. It's one potential option (another being DirectAccess of course so that any Internet connection will directly connect with the internal network anyway) but it has to be said that there are costs involved for the Azure virtual machines, the amount of data transferred and indeed transfer between worldwide zones depending on where the virtual machine was stored.

I had also nipped into Matalan at lunch time as I was after a hat for holiday, but they didn't have one I was after, but it was 20% off in their sale, so I ordered it online and then I could collect that later this week or early next week to be sure. For me, I know last time out I had a straw based hat which just itched like hell and by the time I headed off to Sorrento I gave up using it because it was just too uncomfortable, so a cotton based one should be better and comfier, reminded me of the one I first got in Asda when I went to Lisbon back in 2015.

After a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, I settled in for the evening to watch the USA women against Thailand in the Women's World Cup. Naturally I expected the USA to win and even after a disallowed goal it didn't take long for Alex Morgan to open the scoring, and the Thai keeper was doing all she could to keep the score down. She maybe should have dealt with the shot from Rose Lavelle better though which squirmed under her for 2-0, and even a close range finish from Lindsey Horan to make it 3-0 seemed like they were only in second gear all the way through. Impressive.

Impressive became brutal with four goals in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second half. Samantha Mewis scored two of them, the first a powerful deflected finish, Alex Morgan got her second and Rose Lavelle placed a second in herself with a well taken goal. 3-0 had become 7-0 and as Thailand tired, my pre-match prediction of 9-0 looked under threat. Alex Morgan completed her hat trick with a well taken goal for 8-0 and captain Megan Rapinoe slotted home well, and with eleven minutes left, it was already nine. Thailand looked shattered and any attack could produce a goal.

And produce, it did. From the edge of the box Alex Morgan hit a powerful shot home, possibly the best goal of the night and 10-0, double figures now. Germany's record 11-0 win in a World Cup finals was under threat. Mallory Pugh rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home beautifully to equal things, and a powerful shot into the roof of the net from Morgan meant her fifth goal (the golden boot is already looking close to being sealed) - and still time in stoppage time for Carli Lloyd to place one in the bottom corner. A mere 13-0 at the finish, and a huge result to send out a statement of intent for the United States. Not quite raining blood, but said Slayer track is tune of the day as I yelled out "Raining goooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaals!" to that instead. You get the idea.

Monday 10th June - Tipping It Down

It was battling through the rain and off to work this morning. I had actually got on a train to London Bridge, so thought I'd try a different route, switching trains and getting off at Cannon Street. There were queues to get through the barriers there, then across the road and into the new entrance to Bank station. The problem is to get to the Central Line, you've got to walk through numerous underground corridors and then up and down stairs to finally get to where you want to go - not really so good to be honest. And of course that line was pretty busy to say the least, so once tried, then sacked off big time.

It was good to spend some time today monitoring the client deployment of the new SCCM client, and also write up some documentation in terms of what to check, what remediation can be done, and how you're able to spot where there's issues or failures. On a positive note, the majority of times that there was an occasional fail was down to a lack of disk space, so nothing necessarily client related and relatively easy to fix and sort. In fact, the figure looked quite nice by the end of the day.

I did brave the rain at lunchtime and headed up to Uniqlo to pick up an order I'd placed at the back end of last week - another pair of shorts for holiday for a mere £5.90 a pair, so definitely good to have all round really. I must also admit that it's good to at least get plenty sorted for going away and feel like I've got some new parts to the wardrobe as well, which will be all good when I look cool on the beach (well, that's the theory of course, let's see how long that lasts!)

In fact, provided the weather is dry one day this week, I do need to head into Matalan and get a hat as well, primarily because I know that the sun will be warm and I'll want to keep the head nicely protected from the sun, and also with glasses on attempt to look cool (well, sort of really). I did see one the other week so need to get it, but obviously didn't want to get one whilst it was raining heavily - which it was on the way home and I was glad to be in the dry and warm!

I ended up watching the Canada v Cameroon Women's World Cup match later on. To be honest Canada weren't that impressive apart from Janine Beckie, who put a number of good crosses in and went forward whenever she could. Of course the onus was on Christine Sinclair to score, but it was almost as if there were attempts too much to get her involved. It was a 1-0 win but a struggle and Cameroon were unlucky not to draw really. It was a good game and all set for the next day with the Americans on, and with all the French chic around the place tune of the day is the ace "Ignore-Moi" by Mélanie Pain. I love it!

Sunday 9th June - Kitted Out For Summer

The Love In My Heart and I had a relaxed morning, effectively snuggling up to Brian the cat, and as soon as I had got up and been in the front room making a coffee, Brian of course was on the case, instantly snuggling up to his Mummy on the other end of the bed - and on the pyjamas that were nice and soft for him as well. He does like soft but not furry (hence the other side of the blanket is his favourite) and he was more than happy to take that place on the bed - because that's what he does!

After breakfast and getting ready later on, we were going to head through the city centre to the Universities and possibly check out the degree shows, but the rain was lashing it down and it wouldn't have been so nice walking through art exhibits sopping wet, and as we got off at Piccadilly Gardens, plenty of people were heading to Parklife with wellies on looking already muddy and soaked even before they got there. We did decided to head indoors as soon as possible, which did mean The Love heading into Primark - definitely not my thing at all! Still, she did get a nice little Summer dress for herself for around a tenner or so.

After that we went into Uniqlo, as I knew that each store had different items in store discounted, and always good to check what they had. I did manage to pick up some nice boxer shorts for £2.90 each as opposed the normal £5.90 or two for £9.90, and in my size too, so that was good. The Love was impressed with the really light and compact rain macs which could fit into a pocket sized pouch so perfect for the days when you need to travel light but also be waterproof, so a definite plus.

We then went into TK Maxx and I did see a few nice shirts - and as The Love did point out, two of them were ones we saw the other week but was not decided. I did get this nice one for £14.99 and in fact my other All4One voucher was for £15, so that worked out perfectly - getting free stuff and something to show for in terms of my present is a definite plus point too, so well worth it. We went into the Virgin Money Lounge for a well earned coffee and chatter before deciding lunch was in order.

It was onwards to The Bank, and to get some lovely Sunday lunch. I had a voucher for 25% off the food too, so I had the rather nice Hogshead lighter ale Little Swine (a mere 2.8%!) and for lunch I had the chicken and mushroom pie which was fab, and The Love had the Sunday Roast pork. It was all lovely and we then braved the rain as we headed back to the tram stop, and walking back from the tram stop to The Love's place I bumped into my sister and her boyfriend, so that was all good.

We did get back so I could watch the England v Scotland Women's World Cup game. The Love served me cake and coffee and also was sorting out some stuff on the laptop whilst I was seeing England play decent in the first half - a VAR penalty that to be honest shouldn't have been, but Nikita Parris slotted it home well. Later in the first half after much pressure the chance fell to Ellen White who hit home for 2-0, and ironically a disallowed goal in the second half spurred Scotland on (could have been 3-0 otherwise) and late on they scored through Claire Emslie and forced a grandstand finish. England won 2-1 but Scotland played well too - and tune of the day is the theme tune BBC are using for their Women's World Cup coverage: "Remember The Name" by Fort Minor, updated with lyrics from London rapper Ms Banks. Nicely done.

Saturday 8th June - Soaking in Salford

I headed out of the flat this morning, and got to East Croydon station, nicely on time, and after heading to Victoria and then on the tube to Euston, it was off on the 0820 train to Manchester Piccadilly. I did note earlier trains had been delayed due to the rain, but this was delayed a little bit out of Milton Keynes Central due to the number of people getting on, but then at Stoke-on-Trent staying there for ages due to a train fault that needed repairing. Sadly, the train arrived in Manchester Piccadilly 28 minutes behind schedule, which wasn't enough for Delay Repay to be active but definitely an inconvenience. Meh.

The Love In My Heart was waiting to collect me and so we headed back to her place first, where Brian the cat was being his usual cute self and would have probably wanted to play out more had it not been absolutely hammering it down with rain. Boo. The Love got herself sorted and even started baking a gorgeous Victoria Sponge cake for later, although she did say that it might not be her best one, still looked gorgeous enough for me though! We headed off later to see The Love's father, and despite the rain, The Love and her sister under brolly cover sorted out the pot plants.

Indeed, The Love's father also asked me to sort a couple of things on the PC for him - he'd had an email with an image attachment and for some reason it wasn't printing out. I got that sorted, and also made sure that at the same time all was good on there for him, so was well worth devoting some time to getting that sorted out. We then braved the rain, spotted all the buses taking people to a rain-sodden Heaton Park and the Parklife festival (rather them than me to be honest) and then onwards round the back of Salford University and on to the Lowry Outlet Mall.

I had some All4One gift cards for my birthday and knew I could spend them in Gap and Gap Outlet. In fact when we got there it was a happy hour of an extra 20% off, so it worked out that with the 30% off full price, the pair of jeans I was after was around £22 instead of £45, so used the £20 card I had and put the rest to - although the till was playing silly so and sos at first with the card. I was just glad it was all sorted and that meant purchase was made happily. We spent some time mooching round the other shops and felt the need to head across to the Dockyard for a well earned drink - I had this gorgeous peach based ale from the Seven Brothers Brewery which was lovely.

Later on we headed back to The Love In My Heart's place, and we settled in for the evening with Brian the cat all being chilled out on his pouffle. We ended up having some lovely steak for tea, and the sponge cake afterwards for dessert, which was rather lovely all round. We did end up seeing The Voice Kids for a while and there were some good singers on there, and they had a repeat of the Hunt v Lauda documentary, but the edited version minus music clearance, so no Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" as there was in the original (make that tune of the day) - but all in all a good day.

Friday 7th June - Bienvenue a Paris

I got home from work tonight, had my tea, and settled in front of the telly ready for the opening game of the Women's World Cup 2019. Over here in the UK we're very lucky, in that the BBC has been a good supporter of women's football for a number of years, and they've gradually increased the coverage and awareness of how much better the game is these days, and also the impact it can have on youngsters wanting inspiration and having people that they can look up and want to be. Certainly the last few years the Women's Super League has had better attendances, better football and a real sense of coming togther even more for the England team.

I must admit I was pleased that BBC got Alex Scott involved as she knows her stuff and has been excellent as a football pundit full stop, but for them to also get the former USA keeper and World Cup Winner Hope Solo was brilliant - she's really spoken out about wanting more equality and she was not messing around when it came to the initial discussion about players and the state of the game. And for us, Jonathan Pearce and Sue Smith on commentary has long been the best partnership commentating on women's football, so all set, the French anthem of La Marsellaise belted out (make that tune of the day) and on we go!

The French were up against South Korea, and from early on it was pretty clear that the traffic was going to be one way. It was no surprise that Eugenie Le Sommer got on the end of a quality ball in and smashed it into the roof of the net for close range for 1-0. There was still time though for a goal to be disallowed and a VAR decision on what took absolutely ages to resolve, and that really didn't help the flow of the game and the boos were understandable, it didn't actually seem offside either to me.

France weren't dwelling on that too much though. My favourite French player Gaetane Thiney, playing the attacking midfield role in a way I'd have loved to have played as well, put a quality outswinging corner in, perfectly on the head of Wendie Renard, and her height and quality heading told, and it was a well taken finish. 2-0 France. That became 3-0 on the stroke of half time as another outswinging corner, this time from Amel Majri, and Renard was there again, unchallenged.

France understandably were still going forward but were taking things a lot easier and more calm in the second half, knowing that the game was pretty much done. It was probably sensible to save themselves for their next game against Norway in Nice, and they seemed to have that air of authority, and you could understand why they were tipped as favourites in their home country to go all the way. Still time for Amandine Henry to put a gorgeous curling shot home late on for a fourth goal, mind you, and a perfect way for the captain to cap a performance.

Thursday 6th June - D-Day

I took a bit of time today to pause and have a thought about events of 75 years ago, and as such, no tune of the day today. I wanted to take some time out to pause. It was perhaps one of the most important few days of modern history, and one which changed the course in favour of liberation and freedom in the Second World War. The D-Day landings, meticulously planned and executed, were ones which stand out in a vast array of heroic acts as the soliders landed on to the French Northern front, and were able to start the long and painful campaign.

Every single one of those who were there that day, and gave their lives on the line. Some are still alive today and to see them commemorate solemnly their moment with dignity and class shows how much we owe them all today for all the freedoms we have. It's very easy to perhaps underestimate what we do have when there's so much negativity, so much bitterness, and so much hatred in the world today, but none of the democracy, none of the freedom of expression, and none of the world where travelling and finding new exciting places became such a lovely privelege to have, would be present without what had happened.

I did also note that there was one touching moment where the great grandson of one of the soldiers represented the family, wearing the medals, and having a beautiful moment with one of the surviving soliders, embracing together and bridging the divide. It is those moments which should define us, not divide us, and for me really gave me a reality check. I'm definitely of the view that we need to think more about our history, where we came from, and how much we absoutely owe all of those so much gratitude, respect and honour.

It was also perhaps somewhat poignant that I felt the need to head out of wherever I was around 6pm, and have a moment or two to pause and reflect. There's so much I could feel emotionally about what it meant, not least as my Grandad served for a time in the Second World War and that connects me to the sense of occasion that today was. I also think that I know how lucky I am too, and that does not go by unnoticed on a regular occasion as I appreciate all I have.

With that done, it was time later to sort out a few things at home, and as the sun set with a beautiful red sky, I thought of the overnight landings on the beach, the running into small towns and cities, and gradually, very gradually, getting all of that freedom back on successive warm days and successive sunsets. One day, the newer generations will appreciate just how much this means to us who understand. In the meantime, all we can do is educate and allow those who wish to learn to do so.

Wednesday 5th June - Recycling

After a busy day at work, I headed off to TK Maxx on Charing Cross Road to collect a parcel that I'd had sent there via their click and collect service online. Effectively, it was for a nice French Connection shirt that I had ordered which The Love In My Heart and I had seen, and I liked, but wanted to order online so it was all new and unopened. They'd got large back in, so ordered it and used my gift card to pay for most of it, and all was well there. In fact it was in a quite small packet when I collected it so it fitted into the work rucksack and was able to travel home relativlely lightly.

I had been sorting out a few fair pieces of clothing which were either old or had shrunk and didn't fit me anymore (and in some cases worn beyond use as well, such as one shirt where the collar had virtually collapsed after a wash and clean). It made sense to get them all folded neatly, bagged in a black bag and then that fitted into a large recyclable shopping bag, and I could use that to get some shopping at the same time afterwards. It did feel like a good purge actually and meant that my wardrobe certainly felt much more flowing nicely. So, all sorted, time to head to Sainsburys.

It was on the 412 bus from mine, passing along the twin railway lines and diving under bridges where it could, before heading uphill for some time with Croham Hurst on the left, before then reaching the centre of Selsdon and Sainsburys. They still had the clothes recycling green bins for Oxfam (two of them actually) and so I deposited the black bag of clothing into there, so they'll be put to good use elsewhere. I'd much rather them at least be ethically reused and it feels the right thing to do - I couldn't be one selling on eBay to be honest, not really worth it in my view.

With that done, I had a good chance to get a few bits from Sainsburys itself so I had some nice stuff in for tea for the next week or so, and as it was relatively quiet, I could get what I needed, nip into the quick pay tills and be out in good time for the 412 bus coming back (only every half hour in the evening, so timing has to be good). It was a lot quicker going downhill on the way back, and passing the many restaurants of Croydon's South End as well along the way (a couple of them I noted were also having refurbishment work done at the moment) and so not that long to head back home either.

It had been a good day really, The Love In My Heart had had a good day, I spoke to Mum earlier who's in Cornwall with one of her friends, and all seems well with the world there, and that was nice to see she's having a bit of an adventure with it too. It also reminded me to sort a few things for my own adventure in a few weeks time, so spent some time getting all that done. I feel organised now, so for me, tune of the day is the ace "Rules and Regulations" by Fuzzbox - after all, there must be more to life than rules and regulations to command and obey, right?

Tuesday 4th June - Upgrading

Today was the day that I had set aside to do the SCCM upgrade at work, effectively moving it to the current branch release of 1902 (we were on 1810). On the whole, I was well prepared, having documented the pre-requisite check and performing that yesterday just to be sure all was good. In fact, the very nice folks in our infrastructure team had scheduled a backup of the SQL databases and a snapshot of both of the main servers, so all was good and working well on that side. It is always sensible to be prepared and have a fallback plan just in case of course.

Naturally, it was good to get cracking, and once the initial checks had been done, it did its usual waiting for the update inbox to be updated, with a 10 minute wait. Lesser admins will assume it's stopped and attempt to cancel it, but no - it's by design folks. Always take note of various people like System Center Dudes who note that as an important one, and one I went through with my colleague at one of my last jobs because it means that she was aware of it. Once you know, you know, and it's often a good time to lock the workstation and make a coffee so it'll be all good when you get back.

With that done, the server did its upgrade of the database, installed the files, and then did all the role upgrades. Of course that always takes a little time as it has to stop one of the main SMS Executive services, install that new version first, and as a lot of the other roles are threads of that process, they're then added on accordingly. The thing which always takes additional time is the management point setup - the log files for sitecomp and indeed the MPSetup are always worth a watch for that so you know there is actually something being done!

All was well by lunchtime, including the secondary site server having its own upgrade, which hadn't been done by the previous admin in almost two years. That might have said it might have been planned for a decommission or not, but thought it best for consistency to get it all done. It worked well, I tested out deployment of the new client, and indeed some task sequences and builds, and all working fine as expected. It was good to be able to document it all (it needed doing) and that just adds more strings to the armoury too, so mighty pleased.

It was wet but yet humid on the way home, which wasn't so nice to be honest, and I was glad to be able to head homewards and at least have the windows open and cool off a bit too. I did have a good listen to some old school Juliana Hatfield, especially some of the singles which I have on vinyl. I still adore "Girl In Old Blue Volvo Disowns Self" from the Universal Heartbeat single, and that's tune of the day. There's just a real sense of feeling of driving down the coast with that one for some reason..

Monday 3rd June - To Cut A Long Order Short

I had decided a few weeks ago, and having tried on some of my existing pairs, some of which didn't fit so well having shrunk in the wash, that I needed some new shorts for holiday, as the weather looks like it is going to be pretty good all round. With that in mind I had been in Uniqlo Manchester with The Love In My Heart, and she had suggested a pair in there she liked, and thought I'd look good in. Having checked their sizing, they're on the small side so I'd need a large in whatever pair(s) I was going to order.

I'd had a look on the website on Sunday night and they had the red striped pair in to order, but looking at the sale stuff, they also had a few of the other pairs reduced too - a nice olive green plain pair and a blue check pair too. Needless to say for the price, and in my size, it was worth doing, so I ordered all three pairs, and they did offer for free click and collect at their stores - one of which is just down the road from the office. So it was nice and easy to walk up there in the lunch break, and the click and collect point was located in the basement. A very nice and friendly member of staff sorted me out, and she was lovely, and I soon had them all to take home later.

I did try them on when I got home, and all was good, they were comfortable and nice to wear, had good sized pockets which is always handy, and just felt nice on too. I must admit that I'm thinking of getting other stuff front there knowing what fits well, and it seemed reasonably priced too for what it was. I wasn't near approaching the £60 spend for £10 off, but good to know that all was good. I must admit that for me it's not always something I wear, as I'm not a big fan of my legs, but at least I've now got something to feel more comfortable in too. Here's hoping!

I also spent some time tonight sorting out a shed load of washing and ironing, and working on what clothes I could potentially clear out and donate to charity. For me, there's a couple of Sainsburys close by which have the clothes and textiles recyling, and that works out nicely for those that need it. Plus it just feels the right thing to do and have a good clearout at the same time, so possibly might be making a trip there later in the week and sorting some donations out.

I had a relaxed evening mainly transferring over the pictures from the weekend and sorting out which ones I am going to upload later this week. Shame then that with all the changes to Flickr as of late, the classic Uploadr app just fails due to some API related issues. I might have some workarounds, but still. In the meantime, tune of the day is the rather lovely "Pink Sunshine" by Fuzzbox, and with the nice weather today it certainly reminds me that Summer is approaching!

Sunday 2nd June - Wonderful Winterbourne

It was nice to be all snuggled up together in the hotel, and The Love In My Heart and I headed down for breakfast once we were all ready to go. The breakfast area seemed like it had more tables laid out, possibly because of more people staying on Saturday night, so all the likes of the pastries, cereal and so on was in the bar area. In fact I got some of the red berry fruit and added some natural yoghurt, and that worked nicely. We had coffee, toast and a full English breakfast again, and that certainly went down very nicely indeed.

We had packed everything and checked out of the hotel, and asked if they could store our luggage to collect later, which they were happy to do. I had thought of some ideas to spend some time during the day, and noted Winterbourne House near the University of Birmingham, and so were going to check that out. So we headed across to New Street station, and got the tickets sorted (Two Together Railcard discount too) which was from New Street to University station. In fact the train we got out to there was a fast one to Worcester, so missed Five Ways and went straight to University. Excellent! That was good.

We left the station and passed the queues of people waiting to get a ticket, and followed the paths through the main university square and then past the King Edward Schools, and there was a little bit of rain coming down as we took the right turn and down the hill to Winterbourne House and Gardens. As it was raining, we decided to do the house first then the gardens afterwards. The house was very much inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, which was a good thing to see, with wide corridors and lovely well decorated rooms, especially the nursery complete with old teddy bears and the office room.

The rain had stopped so we headed outside, checking out the old kitchen and scullery of the house first, then heading towards the little bookshop and art gallery which had a set of art pieces which were nicely illustrated and available in the shop. We then saw the lovely vegetable garden with all sorts of root vegetables growing well, and followed the path around the garden down towards the children's area with willow tunnels and the nut walk. That was nice, but even nicer was to come later.

And as we walked further down the gardens, the rockery gave way to a woodland walk path, and when you followed that you headed to a small pond with a lovely little bridge over it, and that certainly felt rather lovely. The Love stated that the gardens were even nicer than Quarry Bank Mill too, and so that was good. Certainly we both enjoyed them, and all the nice flowers and plants and little walkways to different sections of the gardens, including the likes of oranges and lemons growing, was lovely to see. What wasn't so lovely was the rain coming down as we headed back to University station, not so good!

We got back to New Street and I had dried off a little by that point, and we headed across to Bacchus Bar for some lunch. I had the steak and ale pie and it was a proper pie too, and The Love had the Sunday Roast pork belly which looked gorgeous too. We chatted about all sorts and headed back to the hotel to get our cases before then being back at New Street, and I walked down with her to the platform for her train, and gave her a massive hug and kiss. It had been a lovely weekend and we had both made the most of it, and thought of her a lot as I headed on my train back to London Euston. Tune of the day is the epic "Weekender" by Flowered Up, a classic of its time and was us, going out, having a good good time!

Saturday 1st June - Canals and Custard

It was really nice to get ourselves up, have a shower and head down to the first floor breakfast room at the Burlington Hotel, where myself and The Love In My Heart are staying for the weekend. In fact, we remembered that we had sat at the same table for breakfast when we last stayed here, so was good to be able to look out of the window and watch the world go by in the morning. We both went for the cooked breakfast which meant that The Love of course handed me her black pudding in trade for the grilled tomato - this way we get more of what we'd like and can sack off what we don't. In fact it was pretty nice overall, complete with toast, coffee, pastries and fruit too.

Once all sorted, we headed to get ourselves ready for heading out, and then followed the road out of New Street and towards the Mailbox complex. We noted that Heal's now had a store in here as well as Made.com too, so had a nice mooch around there before then heading out of the Mailbox and following the canal towards Gas Street Basin, and heading under Broad Street towards the canalside restaurants and the International Convention Centre. In fact it was nice to see that a number of the canal barges were all moored ready for a trip out, and it was something I fancied doing as we'd never done that before.

We plumped for the Bosworth Cruises boat, as it seemed to be leaving shortly, and had some of the windows open so you could see out without any perspex in the way. This proved to be a good move because the woman who was our guide was giving us plenty of information about the industrial areas by the canals, how the city had developed, along with maps and information to guide everyone. The sun was coming out too, and as we headed out of the city centre alongside the railway, we were told to watch out for a family of ducks - and the parents and small ducklings all swam past and were amazingly cute.

The canal barge had done a u-turn at Gas Street Basin, heading back up past the National Indoor Arena and along towards Sherborne Wharf, then followed the railway, then did a left close to the duck family towards Icknield Port and you could see the large hill towards Edgbaston Reservoir, then it showed the new housing developments before then heading back towards the city centre, taking a left turn past the Roundhouse, being restored by the National Trust at the moment, then doing a right past the National Indoor Arena and to where were came. An hour or so's cruising, lots of good information, and £8 for that seemed pretty good value to me to be honest.

After that we walked down Broad Street, past the Library of Birmingham which had the top floor viewing gallery closed to a function, and then over the old roundabouts and flyovers and over to the Museum and Art Gallery. We stopped off here and headed into the Edwardian Tea Room, still as lovely as ever of course, and had to have some carrot cake and a coffee in there. With us refreshed, we then headed to Grand Central and the Bullring and had a good look in the shops. I didn't see anything I fancied as such to spend some vouchers with, and as it was getting warm we decided to head for some fresh air.

As we exited close to the Bull Ring market, a proper old school market, I had an idea, and so we followed the road out down Digbeth and towards High Street Deritend, and then turned left for the Custard Factory, an arts complex that was once the factory where Bird's Custard was made (and it was an egg-free custard by the way) - hence the replica mugs in the Museum and the display in one of the shops and bars in the complex. We stopped off here with the sun coming down nicely and some hip hop being performed, and headed in the Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen. I had the very nice Clwb Tropicana ale from Tiny Rebel, and their own lager was decent too according to The Love. We both had the buttermilk chicken which was nicely spiced with some chips - awesome stuff.

We also followed the urban art, headed under the arches and followed the road along to Lower Trinity Street, which had a complex of bars and urban street food eateries there, and a record shop. It was £1 to get in, but the vibe was really nice and we enjoyed mooching round the shops and the record shop was fab. We went into the Café Colette and that was really nice, their own lager for around £4 a pint was good, and the DJ was playing some proper tunes too. Lots of nice urban art around here too which was good to see. We enjoyed the whole vibe of the area, and walked back to the shops later feeling rather happy all round.

We did then head back into the Bull Ring, and indeed then via a couple of the shops and to Oasis, where The Love got some new shoes for the summer, and then we headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit. We ended up seeing the final of Ninja Warrior, and that was awesome, especially Tim Champion being the first person ever to complete Stage 3, and then clock the final climb with one second left, it was epic stuff! We got ourselves changed and ready and out for the evening.

First off was Ask Italian, and it was nice to just have a relaxed seat by the window and just natter together and have some lovely food. The Love had the brushcetta, I had the calamari for starter, and then for the main The Love had the chicken Milanese, and I went for the carbonara, which was pretty good, but needed more sauce in my view. We then headed back to Bacchus Bar and I had the coffee porter which was stunningly nice, and The Love and I had a nice chat and were all relaxed together. The music selection was awesome including The Cure's In Between Days, so tune of the day for me. It was a nice way to end a lovely day and we both were really tired after a long day, but it had been worth it!