Dear Diary...

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Friday 3rd April - A Different Birthday

It was The Love In My Heart's birthday today, although we both knew it was going to be an unusual birthday to say the least. We could do one bit of exercise and walk out together later, but that'd be pretty much about it apart from some shopping for food. We woke up and Brian the cat was being all cute and wanting cuddles - it was almost as if he knew. We had a coffee and The Love opened her cards - a fair number had come in the post. My Mum very kindly had sent her one with a Next gift card, and most of her relatives had send one too. There were lots of nice cards from friends too, so that was nice.

I had bought her something from Joules that she was after - a nice french navy blazer jacket which looked smart and stylish, and she loved that. One of her relatives had also created a little box filled with some nice food to have for lunch or tea, along with chocolates and wine too, which was a very nice thing to do, all wrapped lovely. It was also good that one of her friends video messaged her with a birthday song and a nice little chat too which was lovely, that certainly brightened up the day nicely for her too. We knew it was going to be different but at least we both had the day off, which meant less stress and hassle.

After a relaxed morning, lunch was had and we used the food from the little food hamper as part of the present - so it had some lovely fresh pasta and sauce, along with some posh garlic ciabatta as well. It was really lovely and we both enjoyed that. The Love had also been to get her food shopping (obeying current guidelines of only one adult, so she went) and she also got herself a present of Downton Abbey on Blu-Ray which she would watch later on (she loves Downton as a TV series so a no-brainer to treat herself really.) We thought a walk and our once a day exercise would be sensible, so we headed off towards the local canal and followed the towpath.

The towpath takes a route that goes around the Sportcity complex, and then drops down to a basin, turns right under the Ardwick branch line and follows the line of former factories with Bradford Road in the distance on one side. It's then a case of it heading underneath road bridges and towards the city centre and the New Islington Basin, so gets more modern with flats as you walk further. We walked as far as Carruthers Street and took the exit there, then walked over the bridge, down to the road and at Holt Town tram stop we followed the walk back to Sportcity - heading around the Etihad Stadium, going over the footbridge to the Academy complex, then round to the bridge to the Velodrome and back to the canal. It was a nice walk and just nice to be together and get some fresh air.

Later on The Love settled in with Downton Abbey on Blu-Ray and of course that was lovely, the theme tune of which is tune of the day - I must admit I've watched the TV series in parts over the years and my favourite character is the maid Anna (excellently portrayed by Joanne Froggatt) who is also a good friend to Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) but also doesn't take any rubbish during the film and hatches a plan to ensure that the Downton staff are the ones making the meal for the Royal visit. Of course The Love enjoyed it, and rightfully so, and had a glass of wine to enjoy it with.

I had had a notification that one of the gigs we were going to go to had been postponed til next April, so I spent some time attempting to sort out possible rescheduling of hotel booking for that - when I had booked everything it was last November, way before any Covid-19, but the original dates would be too close to indicate if we would be able to go anyway, so having that rescheduled with original tickets still valid kind of made the decision for us. We shall see what happens, but good to get that initiated for The Love and hopefully means we can still enjoy that when it comes around in April 2021.

Even though it was a very different day overall, it was just nice for myself and The Love to spend some quality time together, and later on Brian the cat had a surprise too - a similar looking cat to him turned up in the late evening and was sat by The Love's car. In fact it was a younger version, and Brian was up on his hind legs by the window looking out and seeing the cat. It did look like it wanted to come and play but was also scared too, but he was being all cute too. We snuggled up later and it was nice that he was able to be part of The Love's day too, as was I. I am so lucky to have her and always remember this.

Thursday 2nd April - An almighty Matt Hancock-up

Normally, I wouldn't be so outspoken when it comes to political discourse, primarily because of the fact that I do vote, and that although it can be that what I voted for doesn't always happen in reality, then at least I've exercised my democratic rights correctly and I've been able to put forward a view. Plus if I do want to complain afterwards at least my vote means I can have a voice on this. No vote, no voice as I always say. No point complaining about anything if you didn't actually bother to make those feelings known at the ballot box. So it was with interest today I was watching the daily briefing.

And I was most surprised to see the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock back and giving the daily speech too. That was because he had been isolating since last Friday, so six days ago, as he had been tested positive for Covid-19. So isn't the guidance in those cases to self-isolate for two weeks, and therefore not be back in the public eye and working from home during that period? So that was alarming that he could be back and potentially still spreading the virus around, particularly as the Prime Minister is still in isolation himself. So that was an initial concern.

Then of course was the speech that was given. No apology for the lack of testing up to this point, but just excuses about how the country doesn't have X, doesn't have Y, and doesn't have all the testing and chemical facilities, and so on. I'm sure that we're all finding it shameful that celebrities can be tested just like that, but yet front line NHS workers, the very people who actually need tests, are not getting them and it was around 2,500 only at the time of his speech. Considering the NHS employment totals are at least 1.3 million if not greater, that really puts it into context.

Then to say that we'd get to 100,000 tests across five different sets of tests by the end of the month, and it was a goal only, really did kind of rankle. In fact, some of the press were quite on it asking some difficult questions, and so they should. Therefore it was shameful that the BBC decided, just as a difficult question was being asked, to cut off from that and head to the 6pm news - surely from a public interest perspective this was more important to see politicians being held to account, so you'd think anyway. But apparently not. Shameful behaviour by what's no more than a state broadacaster when it comes to news output.

Thankfully it was a much more relaxed evening with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat. Brian had decided he wanted to be all cutesy and play ball (which he loves me doing particularly) and we settled in with a beer - I had had a delivery from Shindigger in record time (same day if you are in Manchester folks) so that was nice, and we also watched the first episode of series 2 of Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix (the title theme of which is tune of the day - and great to see some of the behind the scenes footage as the 2018-19 season started off with a last gasp win against Charlton - the irony of which will come later.

Wednesday 1st April - No Fool

Didn't feel much of an April Fools' Day, for fairly obvious reasons. I think as well that with me still being at The Love In My Heart's place for the forseeable future and also not being able to head homeward and take advantage of potentially faster broadband when working from home, there's been some senisible options taken when working from home. So for any large downloads I need to do for packages etc, it's easier to actually log on to one of the servers remotely, and let that handle all the bandwidth as it would go from there directly out to the Internet at much quicker speed.

Admittedly though it was a good time to be able to road test a couple of things where I actually needed not to be connected to the work VPN in order to see if any downloads for updates were coming from Microsoft, but with metadata taken from MECM, and the answer was yes, again. So it was good to see that for clients as well that what I had put in place was a sensible option and something I know that can at least work correctly. I also was able to input some ideas into a couple of planned deployments as well, so definitely at least feeling more positive than recently.

It was also nice to see that Brian the cat is getting used to routine now, and he looked at me longingly around 5pm to ask me to feed him, so it was out with the tuna and prawn Sheba (his favourite by the way) and feed accordingly. He was a happy cat to say the least and later on when The Love was sorting out a gift bag or two for presents, Brian spotted one and decided to hide in it when it was laid on the bed. He loves hiding in cosy places for some reason but especially when he has a tight and cosy place to be - he just loves all that and the attention he gets too.

The Love In My Heart is still working very hard indeed it has to be said, and it's noticeable that management are looking after her and making sure she's okay, and that all the support that is needed can be provided. I think for me this is particularly important because I think we're all suffering a little from the lack of going out and what affect this may have on our mental health, so having that looking after is really good. Naturally I can be supportive too of course but it I am not an expert in what she does - and neither am she in what I do. Support is key though so at least it's good we have each other.

We also settled in to some telly later on and that included Location Location Location which showed just how expensive Leeds had become, even in areas a few miles out of the city centre. What it does show is that even with the current climate, the housing market is still expensive and it's a case of pricing people out of affordability. I could never buy a place in London for example and I'd have to even consider it if the two of us were together. That said, part of me in the future would love to head back to Manchester permanently and this is definitely on the thought process. In the meantime, Manchester by The Times is tune of the day as it reminds me of the late 1980s indie scene and how much it all centred around the city.