Dear Diary... June 2021

Wednesday 30th June - Office Overload

It was nice to be back to the office today, and I must admit I've felt a lot better since I've been going in on a regular basis twice a week. I had similar in the Autumn when things weren't as bad, and I have to say that it was definitely a positive then too. In fact most of the Service Team were in, so all was well there and it was a case of being able to assist them with anything during the day as well as then getting involved with some heavy duty testing, including a couple of in-place upgrades from Windows 10 1909 to Windows 10 21H1.

In fact, I decided to go one step further in the testing. I knew that having Google Drive installed and running seemed to be affecting things, but wondered if the way that the 21H1 update would work it would be any different through MECM. The answer was no. However, I had one of my Gene Hunt hunch moments and had a thought: we map Google Drive to a low available drive letter, normally A (after all who does use floppies these days, right?) because the normal G it would use was taken up by existing network shares and so on. So, I thought, what if I change the mapping to Z, reboot, and see what happens?

Well, would you believe it? I did one where I changed it from the user interface (so it wrote an entry in the user registry) and for the other one, changed it in machine registry as no drive letter for the user set, and then rebooted. In both cases, starting the update off via Software Centre in MECM worked. Interesting. So whether or not that's a bug in the MECM client, that's interesting, especially as normal monthly updates work without any issue. I'll look at proposing a change in drive mapping but also be worth raising that one with Microsoft to see if it's something known there.

I did stay late a bit primarily because of the fact that I was helping out a user sort a few things out, which was fine, and we ended up talking about Katrina and the Waves, primarily because of her singing Walking on Sunshine (to be fair, bit of a tune that, and so tune of the day.) Also interestingly, that band were the last entry for the United Kingdom to win Eurovision, back in 1997, and we've not won it since. We did manage to recall all the other UK winners though (Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Brotherhood of Man and Bucks Fizz) so did well to remember. In fact of course who doesn't remember the skirt routine from Bucks Fizz?

It was good to head home later and of course Wimbledon was on the telly, with Andy Murray on centre court having to battle through a five set epic to win his match against the German player Oscar Otte. The roof and its floodlights had to come on during the fourth set due to darkness, and then they played on until around 10.30pm and got the match completed. It was tension all the way but for those lucky fans there, a real late night treat for them. He couldn't possibly win it, could he??

Tuesday 29th June - Where Were The Germans? But Frankly, Who Cares?

Obviously it was a case of being as busy as I could be today to make the day go quicker, and actually spent a fair bit of time sorting out my half year review and getting that submitted well on time. I thought it'd make sense to write up all the possible and potential achievements before the end of the first half of the year and also before holiday, so made perfect sense to me to be able to get that done. I have to say that I do get into a groove when writing too, so has to be a positive when you get on that roll.

I had headed out at lunch time to get a few bits for the holiday as well, mainly the likes of shaving gel, shower gel and some hand wash for the bathroom in the flat, as I was running low on that. It was of course also a good opportunity to get some snacks and a pizza for later on, and we had been allowed to finish a little early from work if working from home in order to be able to watch the game, which was very good really. The other games are all 8pm kick offs at least so that does mean much less hassle to watch them, and so once work was done I settled in front of the telly and ready for England versus Germany at Euro 2020.

As I expected, it was very much cat and mouse throughout the first half and because of that, not the most exciting game ever either. However England did have a couple of chances: Raheem Sterling crashed a shot towards the corner which Manuel Neuer saved well, and near half time the ball went to Harry Kane in the box, and his touch was too heavy even though it took the ball past Neuer. At the other end Jordan Pickford saved well from Timo Werner, so 0-0 at half time and all to play for.

It was more of the same tension second half - it really did seem like it was fizzling out a bit and lost some life. However, on came Jack Grealish for Buyako Saka, and things just seemed to change the right way. Raheem Sterling ran down the middle, put the ball towards Grealish, and then to Luke Shaw, and he put in a superb low cross across the six yard line for Raheem Sterling to finish and slot home. Get in there! We were in front against Germany! The only question now is could we hold it together, and perhaps go for the kill somewhat? We could only see.

And indeed as the ball was given away by Sterling, forward went Thomas Müller, and he was one on one with Pickford, but thankfully shot the ball just wide - a massive let off and you could tell by Sterling's reaction he was relieved. England kept going and with a few minutes left the ball went forward by Shaw, and he found Grealish, and a perfect cross was met by the head of Harry Kane to score, and 2-0! And Sterling was behind just in case, but where were the Germans, as Barry Davies once commentated, but frankly, who cares?

We saw the game out, and it was an impressive 2-0 win for England, not necessarily the best performance quality wise, but getting the job done at tournament level is a good thing to have, and we managed the game pretty well. And still not conceded a goal in four games either, which says something about how well Shaw, John Stones, Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire as well as Kieran Trippier at wing back played - a solid unit that didn't want to concede anything with a real togetherness, which was great to see. And the local Boxpark near me had actual John Barnes doing the actual rap from World in Motion, so got to be tune of the day.

Monday 28th June - Mizzle To The Office

It was definitely a mix of mist and drizzle this morning after some heavy rain last night (mizzle as they would say in Cornwall) and that certainly felt the case as I got up, had some breakfast and then left the flat towards East Croydon station, doing the usual switcheroo at London Bridge and then onwards to Charing Cross to get to do my walk to the office. I must admit that I do feel a lot better for being able to incorporate more walking into the working day as well as this does keep me a little fitter, and of course carrying the rucksack with me means more weight to carry too, definitely a positive.

I got to the office and it was surprisingly empty, even with a few people in I do know well. The good thing is that we've now got a desk booking system in place for online booking, and effectively this does mean that you book the desk and then scan the QR code to check in on the day, and that all worked well for me without issue. In a good way it does mean that they do know that those that have booked have turned up, which is good. I do think as well it might mean that some people will think twice about booking, sort of what we want. I did have a whole bank of desks to myself which was nice!

I also built a nice fresh Windows 10 21H1 WIM image today, and tested that out in a build task sequence. As expected, it worked nicely, primarily because the code base is the same as 2004 and 20H2, so all the things that you would expect work the same sort of way. And as an added bonus the initial ISO image I downloaded from Microsoft already had the June updates included, but also means that you don't have to apply the May update then the June one (as a pre-req) so a good bonus there for sure.

I spent some time to head over to Uniqlo at lunch time and that was rather good to have a mooch round, and had a good walk along Regent Street towards Oxford Street, it did seem somewhat quieter but in a good way. I didn't see anything on offer but it was good to see that the staff were all ensuring everyone followed the right precautions too, so that was all good. I think for me that it may well be that there's going to be enough places that will still decide, post 19th July, to take things steadily and be cautious anyway, and that might not be a bad thing to be honest.

Later at home it was a bit of a goal fest at Euro 2020 for sure - Spain came back from 1-0 down against Croatia, and then turned on the gas to go 3-1 up with a goal from Ferran Torres of Manchester City amongst them. Croatia weren't done though, scored in 90+2 to force extra time, and then after an excellent save Spain went on to win 5-3 after extra time. The sort of game you don't normally get in tournament football so well done them to be honest. Tune of the day thought still has to be the Croatia song Vatreno Ludilo by Rawbau, with Slaven Bilic on guitar no less, still ace.

Sunday 27th June - A Sunday of Sport

The weather looked like it could be hit and miss today, so even though I was debating a day trip over to Brighton and then along the East of the city towards Kemptown and towards the seafront crazy golf, I thought better of it just in case the trains were also going to be busy, and if it did rain. So I thought instead after having a bit of a lie in, it would make sense to have a full day of sport on the telly whilst at the same time being able to get a few things sorted before the holiday coming up. It was admittedly nice to have a sleep after having a late night last night chatting with some friends online, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

First up for the day was the Formula 1 Stryian Grand Prix from the A1 ring, the same place for the Austrian Grand Prix next week - the distinction is that Styria is the area of Austria that the track is in, and so to make them different but basically the same. It was a decent race all told and Max Verstappen did the business up front, with Lewis Hamilton unable to match the pace and going on a set of tyres late on just to make sure of the extra point for the fastest lap. Sergio Pérez almost managed to catch up Valtteri Bottas for third but not quite, with Lando Norris a very good fifth, the best of the rest once again.

Once that was done, it was over to ITV4 for the Tour de France coverage. It was definitely an exciting stage and having the last 2 kilometres uphill was a nice little sting in the tail and a test for all the riders. It ended up being two attacks on the bounce, the second proving conclusive and with a gap and a time bonus, the maillot jaune was claimed by Mathieu van der Poel, and in superb fashion as well. I think there needs to be more stages with a smaller sting in the tail like that instead of a long drawn out climb, I can remember the Cote de Jenkin Road on the approach into Meadowhall for Stage 2 back in 2014 in Sheffield, that was the start of Vincenzo Nibali leading and eventually winning. Kraftwerk's iconic Tour de France was in my head all day, so tune of the day for me.

It was then the football for the next few hours with the next two last 16 games of Euro 2020 back to back, first of all a bit of a shock result but thoroughly deserved as the Czech Republic dumped out the Netherlands 2-0, and the game was evenly matched until there was a deserved red card (even though it did take a VAR decision to do so) and from there, it was only one winner. To be fair, the Czechs were much more together and wanted it more too, and it showed, massively. Netherlands were poor and Nigel de Jong quite rightly had a go for the lack of effort and mentality shown - he wouldn't have done that if he played for them, of that I can assure you.

Later on it was a bit of a dull game, despite the hype, between Belgium and Portugal. Belgium went ahead through Thorgan Hazard, and whatever was said at half time, the game improved massively. Both sides went for it and as Portugal were chasing the game, they had to go for an equaliser and Belgium were holding out a bit. Sadly for them injuries to the likes of Kevin de Bruyne might be costly for later in the tournament, but Belgium deservedly won 1-0 in the end.

Saturday 26th June - No Crazy Golf

I headed out relatively early this morning as I was heading via Wimbledon to Wimbledon Park, and to get my hair cut. It needed doing really as it was growing long and thought it would make more sense to be able to do so before the holiday as well. I had booked the appointment in for 9.10am so gave me the chance to have some breakfast and then set off in the direction of the tram, and with a change for a bus at Wimbledon, I was soon on Arthur Road and heading towards the barbers to have my hair cut. All was well there and the usual excellent job was done, so no complaints from me there, definitely felt better.

I headed into Wimbledon Park itself and noticed plenty of tennis lessons for children going on, and a decent queue at the kiosk in the middle of the park for coffee and cold drinks. I got myself a coffee and had this on the waterfall close to the lake, and all nicely shaded. Of course I knew that they had crazy golf here, but wondered if it was going to be open. I headed over to the kiosk - and nothing doing, and noticably the gate for entry on to the course itself didn't look very open either. Not good.

I headed into Wimbledon, had a good mooch around Uniqlo (nothing I wanted there sadly) and then after a quick check in a few shops, it was off to the tram and to take the tram home. I did however stop off in Argos on the way back as my duvet when changing the bedding this morning noticably had a few holes in, so time to get rid and replace. I actually got a Slumberdown one that felt pretty soft and looked the part, it was 25% off and I could use my Nectar points to pay for almost all of it if I ordered on the Argos website. Winning all round, and got that sorted and got the bed all sorted too.

After some lunch it was back for more fun fun fun on the Croydon tram tram tram (said song by Eccentronic is tune of the day) and over to Beckenham Junction, changing there for the 162 bus to the Chinese Garage stop and to Kelsey Park. I knew they had crazy golf, the website appeared to indicate it was open... and it wasn't. Denied. The gates were locked as was the kiosk too. A real shame as I've played that course before and it's very good indeed and good value, so gutted really. I did however turn the negative into a positive back at Beckenham and got four nice Badger beers for £6 in Waitrose, including the new Fropical Ferret, very nice!

I then watched the Wales v Denmark game at the European Championship. It wasn't the game for Wales sadly, as once the first ten minutes or so were over, Denmark dominated possession - and that was an understatement. They went a goal ahead before half time, and then early in the second half after what possibly was a foul on Keiffer Moore, Denmark went forward and scored a second. Wales lost their discipline and organisation, and Denmark scored a third, Wales had a player sent off, and it became four with a goal in stoppage time.

Friday 25th June - Fog On The Tyne Is All Mine

It was up relatively early today to make sure I got a couple of things booked for the forthcoming holiday. One of them happened to be the National Trust property that is Lindisfarne Castle, on Holy Island. We're planning to head there over the causeway to explore (as we've both wanted to do that) and of course it's the case that you have to note the tide times, so when we can cross the causeway safely, and when you're then able to spend time on the island and be safe to head back. It was pretty good to be able to get that sorted, and booked a time so that when we get over there, we can walk around the village a bit and have a nice meal in a pub before we head over to the castle itself, so a sensible move all round. Of course, as Lindisfarne did have a hit with Fog on the Tyne (even before they re-did it with Paul Gascoigne) that's tune of the day.

I then looked at booking another castle too, and one that The Love In My Heart wanted to go to, primarily for its connection with Downton Abbey (she loves that) as well as Harry Potter, and knew that'd be popular too. The Love confirmed the time she'd like and I was able to book that. As it turned out due to the castle being privately owned, it's a case of also being able to go back any time within the 12 months from the date of your ticket provided that you quote the original booking reference too. That would be nice to do, so definitely was able to get all of that sorted nicely.

I spent some time too today working on a few things, including sorting out a number of write offs for a set of machines that belonged to one part of the business, and it's now been sold on, and also means that they were completely rebuilt and imaged by a company handling the migration. The good thing was that I was able to do a clean removal from all the management systems, knowing they won't ever connect, and informed all the relevant teams that this was done, so all good there for me it has to be said. It might help with a few things over time, but we shall see.

It was also off to Next at lunch time and to collect a nice pair of jeans I had ordered, and all good there with the lovely staff, and then over to Lidl to get a few bits of food shopping for next week, so managed to get some lunch things, and also some pizzas, scampi bites for tea tonight, and also some drinks including a nice looking porter ale too so that'll be good to enjoy over the weekend. It was nice to go in there for a change and it was generally a good experience as it usually is. I might nip into Marks and Spencer whilst in Wimbledon tomorrow too but we shall see.

I also was able to get some sorting out of holiday clothes as well so that was a positive for me, and I reckon I've got all I need - and if I spot anything extra in Uniqlo tomorrow I might as well snap something up as well. It's all looking positive and I have to say that after months of ploughing through work it'll be nice to have some time off and be able to relax, and be with The Love In My Heart and to be able to chill out too. So for me it's definitely a way to get myself all ready and have a weekend of fairly relaxed tone too, all good.

Thursday 24th June - Herding Home

It was nice to be heading off to the office today, with all the building work going on near me, which meant that it would be a much quieter and generally nicer experience. It's good to be able to get a nice comfortable desk and have a window close by so it did feel nice and light and airy too, definitely a positive for me to be honest. I think too that it's also been much better for me to be able to change the scenery a bit and generally press on with the jobs in hand too - so here's hoping really.

I was able to check over some more items for the troubleshooting call I've logged with one piece of software - and delved a bit deeper into the way that the nightly data update job runs. I think I have actually found the root cause - there should be an update of one of the tables with the data from a registry value that has the correct Lenovo model number, and I can see it in the back end DB fine, but doesn't seem to fully translate to the front end as it should. Those that do are actually fully processed by the custom procedure to translate it all, so I suspect it's actually an earlier process which is causing the problem, so hopefully that will help.

I did venture out after work today and headed close by to Uniqlo, as I wanted to see if there were any bargains to be had. Actually, there were, and I did manage to get a nice pair of woven boxer shorts reduced to £2.90 in my size, so no arguments there. It makes me wonder just how the till manages to scan anything you put into the box that you put the items in, it's a really clever thing. I got all that sorted and thought as the weather was half decent, it was going to be a good opportunity to take the walk to London Victoria station, as there was something that I wanted to see in Green Park.

And see it I did - a herd of elephants no less. No, not real ones, but really good almost life-sized replicas, carved in wood and placed in herds alongside the paths and on the grass in the park itself, making it seem as if they were in the wild roaming along. This was getting a lot of interest in general and plenty of people were heading to take pictures. I was more than happy to admire them from afar to be honest, but was good to be able to see them all and definitely for me was a positive to have something in the parks to admire as a good view.

I headed home and after a good chat with The Love In My Heart, it was on with the T20 cricket on BBC Two as England faced Sri Lanka. It was good to see cricket on proper telly, and with the likes of James Anderson, Michael Vaughan and Phil Tufnell on commentary, it definitely was good to see. England played pretty well to limit the Sri Lanka total before losing wickets early on. It chucked it down and England had to go off, with the strains of the Travis classic Why Does It Always Rain On Me playing (make it tune of the day) but it was still decent all round, more so as the game continued later with an England win.

Wednesday 23rd June - Next Up

It was back to working from home today, and got the Macbook Pro out for some Mac testing to evaluate something with our AV solution to see if it was behaving as expected. Short answer: yes it was. I was also able to road test one of the installers and make sure it was doing the job it was meant to do, and that seemed to be working fine. It was also notable that when I looked into the policies a bit more in depth one of the older policies in JAMF still needed to be active, when it didn't need to be, so will need to make sure that is disabled and that we will be able to sort that.

I also as well needed to head out at lunch time and off to the local Next store near me in order to be able to collect an item that I'd ordered from Next online in their clearance section - it was a pair of slim fit black jeans in my size for a mere £8.50, so couldn't argue with that. In fact this time rather than wait in the really long queue in the women's wear tills, I went to the home tills, as the stock room is in the middle between both tills that the staff has to go to anyway, and the staff there were lovely and got everything all sorted pretty quickly. Not having to wait in a long queue - win!

I made sure I tried them on when I got back, and all seemed well - a little bit wider at the bottom of the leg but that might not be a bad thing if you want to not be too hot and have them too close to you. They feel quality too which has to be something - so much so that when I looked later and saw a dark blue slim tapered leg pair for cheap, I've ordered them as well. Admittedly this is primarily for the holiday a little bit, I admit, but it's always good to refresh the wardrobe at a sensible price, and if need be, look at recycling anything older in the textiles recycling, which I tend to do so I know it'll get re-used into something rather than be thrown away.

I did later on watch the Slovakia versus Spain game at Euro 2020, and wow, did not expect that from the Spanish team. Admittedly helped initially by an absolute howler from Martin Dubravka, it was nonethless interesting that two Manchester City players scored during the course of the game - a well flighted header from Aymeric Laporte just before half time and then straight after coming on, a flick from the near post from Ferran Torres for the fourth Spanish goal. They were annihilating an admittedly very poor Slovakian opposition, but you can only beat what's in front of you after all.

Of course this is when picture in picture on the telly comes in handy, in conjunction with my Freeview recorder box. So I set my TV to that with the source on, and then can select picture in picture and pick the other match - so the Freeview recorder having BBC2 on for Hungary v Germany and the Freeview on the telly having BBC1 for Portugal v France, and all nicely output to be visible too. It's going to be an exciting climax in the group of death (or Circus of Death by The Human League, that simply has to be tune of the day too.)

Tuesday 22nd June - Off To The Office

It was off to the office for me today, and it was nice that actually there appeared some signs of normality in that the train was a little busier. Admittedly I had got a little bit later train but when doing the switcheroo at London Bridge there definitely was a sense of there being a lot getting off and then me getting on for Charing Cross, so of course that really works well, and I can then walk from there to the office. In fact, it actually does mean I'm walking more as I do the walk from the flat to East Croydon as well, so do feel more active by doing that as well, so it's a double benefit.

I spent some time today road testing the new Windows 10 20H2 WIM image I'd created, but also in the build task sequence to be able to add the latest version of Adobe Reader DC to the mix, which all worked really well. That meant I could then raise a change to be done later in the week to make this go live, and that at least means I can crack on. I also looked at some other investigations on behalf of one team who were reporting some shared drive issues, but I think the sensible recommendation to not have all cloud based sync clients running at the same time for obvious reasons.

I did also head out to Tesco for the Meal Deal lunch and that seemed about normal for the time, a fair few people getting lunch but never seemed over busy. I think certainly the changing face of the workplace (phrase copyright me 2021) is really having something to do with that - most of us who are going back to the office will be doing 2 or 3 days in, the others at home, but to be honest, I'd still rather do a full week in the office on occasion - but we shall see.

I headed home later on and got back in good time to nip into the local Sainsburys and get some snacks and then settle in for the big game tonight on ITV1 - England against the Czech Republic. The maths were simple - if we won, we would top the group, no matter what Scotland or Croatia did in the other game. I did of course want Scotland to win too and make it three home nations in the last 16, and so was keeping an eye on that too. England at least started off well and a great cross from Jack Grealish was met on the head by Raheem Sterling and it was 1-0 England. Despite a few scares it stayed that way and did fizzle out somewhat in the second half - but top of the group, no goals conceded and tournament football instead of fantasy football. We shall see.

Over on ITV4 Scotland had gone behind against Croatia but did equalise with an excellent goal from Callum McGregor and a great low drive before half time. Unfortunately, as hard as they tried and had a good chance via John McGinn, Croatia were driven on by the excellent Luka Modrić, and indeed it was he who scored an excellent drive with the outside of the foot for 2-1. The next goal from Ivan Perišić was also crucial too - it did mean that based on head to head record, they and the Czechs were equal (due to the draw) and the same goal difference, but Croatia had scored more goals and finished second in the group. Heartbreak for Scotland of course, but Croatia could celebrate and blast out the superb Vatreno Ludilo by Rawbau (which, fact fans, has Slaven Bilić on guitar - and therefore tune of the day.)

Monday 21st June - Midsummer Mizzle

It was certainly a day for plenty of rain today, or that light drizzly rain known often as mizzle in Cornwall. It definitely felt like that and for me today it was good to be indoors, although I did need to nip outside during my lunch break to get some bits of food for during the week. In fact, it was a quick walk over to the local Tesco to get some lunch items for today, Wednesday and Friday along with some milk and a couple of other bits. That all worked out well and it wasn't too wet thankfully as I was able to head there and back relatively quickly at least, which was good to know.

I was also able to produce some statistics today for my manager in terms of numbers of licencing for products and how many we're actually using at present - it certainly was good to get all the facts compiled and present it in a nice simple to understand format as well, so definitely worth the effort of doing so. In fact I was also able to compile some additional information as backup, so really did show that I took some scenarios into consideration along the way, so definitely well worth it.

I did have to head out after work, one to post a card for a relation's birthday and make sure that got there in good time, and then also to Savers, as I had ran out of AAA batteries and that's what my TV remote has in the back. It appeared not to be responding at all earlier in the day and a quick check showed that the batteries were dead. They do an 8 pack of Duracell for £2.99 in Savers, so that was an easy purchase and meant that I was able to get that sorted and the television watching all well and good for the Euro 2020 fixtures this evening - and pretty sure they would all be tense affairs.

I also spent some time checking out some places for the holiday too and it looked pretty much to me that we'd have to book some places but for others it would be a case of being able to turn up on the day. I know some places would be more popular than others, so we would have to be on the case booking them (The Love knows this too) and as much as we'd prefer to be spontaneous, it's the nature of how it all is at present. That said though, there seems to be some nice places to eat near where we're staying plus an excellent looking fish and chip takeaway as well as a Chinese, so definitely well worth that.

It was good too at least that we do have something to look forward to as well. I think to be honest more so for The Love In My Heart than myself, especially as I know that she's had a tougher time of things due to the nature of her job. That also said, we'll make the most of it, as we did last year when we did have a week's break in Cornwall together which was lovely, so can't argue with that. Therefore, tune of the day is something Cornish, namely from 3 Daft Monkeys and The Lovers of Porthgwarra Cove. We actually went to the cove one year after me falling in love with that song, and we weren't disappointed.

Sunday 20th June - Stout in Salford

Myself and The Love In My Heart had had a good night's sleep, as had Brian the cat, who had placed himself across the bed when he and The Love went to bed last night whilst I was watching the Formula E race on the red button which did prove to be pretty good overall. Once we got up, The Love made a lovely breakfast for us both and Brian was happy to sit by the bedroom window or on the pouffle and watch the world go by, because he can. And to be fair, I think I'd be doing the same if I was him too. He did allow for fussing and cuddles though so was being all soft and cute.

We were heading off to Salford Quays and MediaCity today as we had booked lunch at Prezzo for the two of us, and in fact I had taken up an offer which meant a bottle of prosecco to share for us both for free as we had the meal together. Of course that'd prove to be nice and we hadn't eaten at a Prezzo in ages so thought it would be nice to book there - we had done so a while back because we knew today was Father's Day and so would be busy. In fact, we knew also that it'd be a good way to wind down the weekend together.

Once changed and ready, with The Love looking lovely in her maroon top, we headed off to the tram stop and off on the tram to MediaCityUK. The tram seemed to be going really really slowly on the way to Cornbrook and beyond for some odd reason - can't think why to be honest. In any case, we eventually arrived and after a quick look at the Blue Peter Garden and the wildflower meadow nearby for The Love to get some ideas for work, we decided that it was off to Prezzo. The staff were lovely, and did ask how I got the voucher, which I explained was for signing up, and so a nice chilled bottle of prosecco headed our way.

All the food was rather lovely, The Love had the hummus to start with some nice crispy flatbreads, and for the main a nice chicken main with a good sauce, mushrooms and spinach and some fries on the side - which was very filling. I had the meatballs to start which were very good, and then the salmon penne for main, with a little bit of a spicy sauce too. It was all good and we both felt full so no dessert for me, probably not a bad thing to be honest. It was all good, the staff were nice and it was just nice to have a good meal together and be fairly relaxed on the Sunday afternoon.

I had noted that the Seven Bro7ers Brewing place had opened a new little bar not far away, and we spotted and got an outside table. The Love very kindly ordered drinks after I'd paid for the lunch and she got herself the Shindigger Lager (a solid choice) and for me it was an easy win - the chocolate stout which used upcycled Kellogg's Coco Pops in its recipe, and called Sling It Out Stout. It was gorgeous and made me think of the advert jingle for said cereal (tune of the day in fact) and really felt relaxed as we chatted and drank together, safely. I have to admit that being with The Love like this is my favourite thing of all.

We then headed to the tram stop so I could get the tram to Piccadilly station and take the trains home, whilst The Love could stay on the tram and head home which meant lots of fussing for Brian the cat (but of course!) - and I then headed from Manchester to Doncaster, followed by a quick change over for the Kings Cross train. In fact, I thought it was going to be an older Mk3 train, but it was actually two 5 car Azumas back to back, so actually got the seat I had reserved anyway and was near the front as I headed back to Kings Cross, in good time for the train home. I'd had a lovely weekend thanks to The Love, and just felt so wonderful to share.

Saturday 19th June - Our Ever Changing Moods

It was nice to have Brian the cat wanting a fuss and a love a we both got up, and Brian was all being cute and having plenty of tummy tickles from Mummy - but he knew if it was me stroking him and would look at me like "oh okay you can give me a fuss for now.." but with some watchful eyes. He is very protective of Mummy to be honest. The Love In My Heart and I had some nice breakfast, and I'd got myself showered and changed to head into the city centre shopping as The Love was having some relations over, including the cutest new addition to the family who is just adorable, as I'd of course see later on.

It was primarily to head into Uniqlo in Manchester to see what clothes were on offer but also to head to either HMV or Fopp and use the HMV gift card Mum got me for my birthday. I still had some balance left on another one from Christmas too so wanted to treat myself to some new albums. With the knowledge that actually the gift card can be used in Fopp, I thought to go there first, and so got myself a weekend tram ticket and headed towards Manchester city centre ready to rock with some shopping.

Uniqlo was all good but nothing took the proverbial fancy there, so instead it was along to Fopp, where it was nice and relaxed and a good atmosphere in there as some quality tunes were being played too. I have to say that it felt nice to be able to mooch around and that it was quiet too, so lots of distancing and keeping safe whilst browsing. In the end, I didn't realise I had £8 on the other gift card, so had £28 to spend, and only needed to put a couple of quid to to end up with the limited 3-CD box set of Paul Weller's Fat Pop Volume 1 album, the new James album All The Colours of You, and the self-titled album from The Lottery Winners. Nice.

Once there I did have a walk around some other shops and was going to get some birthday cards from Paperchase.. except it was closed. So I went into Oliver Bonas next door and sorted that out, and all was well with the world there. I was also then able to get a nice smoothie from Pret as my subscription was still active, and then walked over to St Peter's Square to head back on the tram to The Love's place, where the bundle of cuteness was waiting and as The Love had these cute finger puppets, I decided to keep the little one entertained with the finger puppets. The Love did tell me later she still has a Sooty hand puppet which would have been pretty ace to use!

Later on after everyone had headed off, we went over to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a couple of drinks - they had a really nice stout on and so of course that had to be tried out, and the First Chop Jam mango pale later on too, so that was me happy and The Love had the Camden Hells, so she was also happy too. We chatted about all sorts sat in the booth together which was lovely, and it just felt nice doing pretty normal things overall to be honest - and stopped off on the way home via our local Chinese for tea, so crispy shredded beef in sweet and sour along with chicken and mushrooms were ours!

We saw The Hit List which was all good and after some royal programmes on Channel 5, we settled in to BBC Two for the Paul Weller live gig with orchestra from the Barbican. We both really enjoyed that and it was nice having the likes of Celeste and Boy George on guest vocals for some of the tracks too, but it was noticeable how much effort had been put into the arrangements, even with the new album stuff which was good to see. I have to say though that for me my particular favourite was the Style Council track My Ever Changing Moods, which I know The Love also likes a lot - I'm not even a fan of that Weller era, but the arrangement worked superbly, so tune of the day for me.

Friday 18th June - Bore Draw

It was off to the office today and then up to see The Love In My Heart for a nice weekend together - and we'd had such a good time last weekend that it did feel like we were getting more into the groove of being out and having nice (and safe) times. I should add that before I go into the office now, I always do a lateral flow test and all of those have come back negative, which is a good thing. I'll need to head to the pharmacy near me during the week to get some more supplies, but all should be sorted once that's done. The good thing for me at least is that we're able to spend the quality time together and feel safer now we've both had both vaccine doses.

Of course as you can imagine, working near the office when there's an England - Scotland game on at Wembley, even with a reduced crowds, meant lots of Scottish fans everywhere. I did see a few around Piccadilly Circus but knew that Leicester Square was going to be carnage, with no distancing or anything like that, so stayed well clear in order to protect myself and be sure I was all good to go. In fact, it worked out pretty well that I was able to get some lunch and head back to the office and avoid the rain, with some aircon to match as the day progressed.

I was able to do some road testing during the afternoon and make sure that the new Windows 10 WIM image with the June 2021 updates applied correctly to the machine I was testing on, and also packaged a newer version of Adobe Reader DC ready for testing on Tuesday so I'll be able to get all that sorted out nicely. That's the plan at least and means I can spend Monday on some maintenance tasks whilst at home, and it's a case of balancing the in-office and the home work nicely now as well.

It was then off on the bus to Euston and there were some football fans at the station, some of which were waiting for the London Overground trains to Wembley Central and singing Baccara's Yes Sir I Can Boogie (make that tune of the day) as I then headed along to Platform 4 to get my train up to Manchester Piccadilly to see The Love. Of course, with the incessant rain, there had been some localised flooding between Milton Keynes and Watford Junction so that meant a go slow, and so the train ended up in Manchester some 20 minutes delay, and for the second time in a week, another Delay Repay claim to Avanti West Coast - seems a more regular occurrence.

The Love and I headed back to her place and Brian the cat was happily playing ball with me, bouncing it with his paw and being super cute. However, the England - Scotland game was a massive disappointment if you were English. The players looked like they had no ideas and were well contained by Scotland, who were the better side. It wasn't even exciting to watch to be honest as both sides had somewhat cancelled each other out, and apart from the odd chance here and there it seemed turgid. No wonder the England players were booed off at the final whistle - it was really really bad. One to be honest I'm glad I wasn't watching in person at Wembley that is for sure.

Thursday 17th June - Click and Collect

It was off to the local Next Clearance store at lunchtime to collect an order I'd made the other night: a nice pair of slim leg Next jeans in my size for the bargain price of £11, which can't be bad really. And of course it meant it wouldn't have to trawl through the store to locate that - it'd be there for me to collect all nicely wrapped and secure. I must admit though that it is handy having the clearance store closer to where I live: as the main branch is at the other end of the main shopping street.

The rain in the morning had helped a little to make it less humid but still felt really sticky as I left the flat and off towards the North End for the Next clearance. They don't have one of the collection machines as they do in the normal one, it was just a case of taking the barcode from the email or the number in the text to a till and the staff would do the rest for you, and to be fair, they did, the staff were lovely and helpful. I got back and tried the new pair on, and were all good and comfortable. Shame now I didn't order two pairs for that price, but worth a go to check out how efficient the process was anyway and I got a good bargain.

It still did feel humid in the afternoon but after work I did tune in to watch the Denmark v Belgium game. After all that happened to Christian Eriksen last time out, 10 minutes came and the referee made sure he stopped the game and so the crowd and players (and the ref to be fair) all applauded for Christian, which was a lovely thing. Denmark had already gone in front in just the second minute, and Belgium did look poor in the first half and really needed a boost to try and turn this one around.

Unsurprisingly, this came at half time when Kevin de Bruyne came on for his first game since being injured in the Champions League final. He soon was dominating the midfield and had laid on the equaliser already before receiving the ball on the left side and smashing it into the bottom corner. He refused to celebrate though which I think was the right thing to do given the situation a few days back in the same stadium, and Belgium held on to win and to qualify for the next round.

It was a case of then later getting things ready to be able to pack the case and as I'm in the office tomorrow, it's on the way to head to see The Love In My Heart. My lateral flow test was negative (I'm still doing them to be sure that all is safe and well for trips to the office) and so that's always a good sign - and yes whilst I've had both vaccine doses now it needs time to kick in properly, so still being uber careful to be on the safe side. I did also listen to the Gary Numan Intruder album tonight and it is very good - in fact The Chosen is tune of the day as that could have come out of games like Quake quite easily!

Wednesday 16th June - Northern Soul Sweat

It was so humid today and the sweat was pouring off me during the day despite me doing all I could to keep the flat as cool as I could - it's a case of it all being well insulated which is great in Winter of course, but it would be nice if the place had aircon to keep things relatively cooler in the Summer - and even with the windows open it's just really really warm and sticky. More so today I think because I knew that there was going to be some potential thunder and showers later which might just make things even worse - but we shall see.

I did spend most of the morning and afternoon packaging and testing out an application, primarily because of a few things I noticed with it: first of all the fact that the small installer over the web just downloads the file as it goes, rather than be a full installer. However, running the executable with the /layout switch allowed for a fuller install to be downloaded, noting not just the main MSI installer but also a pre-requisite which was needed as well - but only if it's out of date as it was a recent 2019 Visual C++ library stack (and I always include them in our Windows builds for obvious reasons.)

I also noted too that it seemed to want to then update some more again when first run, so when attempting to run, I noted it downloaded an updated installer but the same style as the original, allowing me to get that new version all layout packaged and ready in the same way. Why the vendor just didn't make that version available in the first place, heaven only knows, but still, I know what to do for future reference which is at least something of note at any rate.

Also a nice 2-CD set arrived in the post this afternoon - the André Brassur Top 40 compilation, featuring 40 of his best tracks over a long spanning career. This does of course include the rather excellent Waiting For You (and the proper instrumental version at that) which is the theme tune of 70s classic The Indoor League with Fred Trueman saying "na'then" and "I'll si'thee" quite a bit. But there's many other good reasons for this, and considering how hot and sweaty it'd get inside Northern Soul clubs back in the day, it was a positive thing to note that two tracks well known to those are on here.

Yes, so you get both The Kid and Holiday here - which was a double A side single albeit with the labels mispressed as well (nice one CBS!) - but if you listen to both, they are both excellent. For me, the drums and the organ rhythm make Holiday perhaps the best of the two and therefore tune of the day but you'll love them both - and also other gems such as Mad Train, Early Bird, and the slower funk sounds of The Duck to name but a few. Well worth scouting out I reckon!

Tuesday 15th June - Upgrading Some Snow

And no, not snowing in June (way too hot and humid for that it has to be said.) No, it was off to the office today and indeed getting plenty done. It was nice to be able to be in the air conditioned office and actually be at a different desk but still have wired network connectivity so I can get all the things done that I wanted to do that I can't do at home off-premise, so can't complain at all really. In fact it was nice seeing some people from other teams and we were able to chat about the football and Euro 2020, and how for me Italy are definitely contenders (because obvious Roberto Mancini reasoning...)

So it was on with upgrading Snow Inventory after checking out potential paths to doing so and having had our custom report checked over to make sure all was well. In fact, I have to say that it went pretty well all round to be honest - and first of all did the Licence Manager part of the upgrade, allowing that to be able to get up to the version that our support partners are also running. Following that, it was then a case of upgrading the Inventory back end side to the newer version as well, and that appeared to go pretty well overall, with a case of it being able to do the upgrades sequentially and all pretty nicely.

I have to say that once all of that was done, and me re-disabling the Active Directory discovery (as we don't do that for either the users or the computers because it could potentially locate objects in different OUs that are normally excluded, and would rather focus on machines only with clients as well as those users) and then checking over to make sure that the daily update job did what it was supposed to do, and get everything front end wise all ship shape. That worked, so that pleased me immensely.

I also spent some time later in the day being able to work on some documentation and also help formulate a plan of action all around some licencing things,so definitely for me one that I wanted to get sorted somewhat. It's always good to be able to concentrate and crack on of course, but you know how it is when you really are able to perform to the best. In fact, you may even remember the old late 1980s Gilette advert with the power ballad style, and that was The Best by John Parr (who also sang the iconic St Elmo's Fire film theme) so definitely for me tune of the day that one.

Later on it was onwards to the train home via Charing Cross to London Bridge and it did seem a little quieter on the commute which was something. I think with the nice weather people are electing to work from home so potentially they could be outside but to be honest I prefer the aircon and being able to get things done from an office environment - have to see how that all changes when we get the new booking system in place and make sure it all works really well, and for me so far it's all been good.

Monday 14th June - Humid Work

Working from home today was certainly a challenge. The air certainly seemed not as warm due to the lower cloud but what was apparent was the humidity around - more so later in the day as the cloud lowered and although there was some breeze, it really did feel a tad sticky. Later in the week should be fresher which will be nice of course, but definitely for me it's going to be of a massive benefit to be in the office and enjoy the aircon as well as getting plenty of things done as well.

Today was mainly about getting the June updates out to machines that needed them but also of course the first wave of major version updates, with those not having certain applications able to be done directly and those with Google Drive having a specific set of instructions and a task sequence to run (as if Drive is running it seems to stop in place Windows upgrades, rather annoyingly.) In any case all was well and it was looking like it was going well.

After work I did see some extended highlights of the Scotland game against the Czech Republic. I have to say that Scotland were a little unlucky in parts but the lack of finishing cost them ultimately - the Czechs were more clinical and they were able to put together a quality header followed by an audacious lob over the Scottish keeper David Marshall with both of their goals being scored by the excellent Patrick Schick. It does set up things for a Friday night showdown between England and Scotland though so definitely will be one to take note of!

Of course, and especially as it had been leaked to the media anyway, it was expected for England to remain at step three for the foreseeable future, the next four weeks at least. I wasn't surprised and to be honest it doesn't affect things massively for me - realistically, I know I can still go on holiday within the UK, and both The Love In My Heart and myself, as our support bubble, can see each other and do the things we need to do together as the one household, which really does make a lot of sense. Of course staying at that step does mean my Mum's holiday is all good to go too, so she was pleased at least.

It was a still humid evening tonight but did settle in for more of the Euro 2020 tournament with Spain against Sweden tonight. I have to say that it looked pretty hot in Seville and I'm sure that it was the conditions that would affect players more - but I do like the Swedish national anthem - Du Gamla, Du Fria, so that's tune of the day for me. Obviously with the likes of Rodri and Ferran Torres of Manchester City in the Spanish side, I did have some bias and interest!

Sunday 13th June - Vaccination's Coming Home

Of course today would be the England v Croatia match at Wembley, and due to myself and The Love In My Heart being out for lunch in the afternoon and travelling to central London and so on, I had set the game to record from BBC One so I could watch the game later on when I got home - and of course I could avoid the scoreline as the pub we had booked at for lunch had outside seating and so meant there were no televisions to be tempted to look at (although inevitably we'd probably know the score anyway, but such is how things happen!)

After The Love and I had breakfast and with the weather getting warmer by the minute, we got ourselves showered and changed, ready to have a quick walk around the local shops. The Love wanted to go in Flying Tiger and have a mooch around, and the reasonably sized USB desk fans were tempted to be able to plug in whilst working from home - although I am in the office twice this week which will be something to consider to be perfectly honest. Of course that means aircon, so obviously yaay. It was nice to walk around although it was pretty hot and sticky.

We got ourselves sorted later and headed off for East Croydon station, getting the train to Victoria with aircon (yaay) and then the Victoria line to Warren Street (ugh, hot and horrid) and then from there the walk over to the Crown and Anchor near Euston, one of our favourite places. An outside table had been reserved for us, the staff were as lovely as ever, and I soon had a St Austell Tribute to enjoy with The Love having the Camden Hells. I'd also had a text from the vaccination centre asking if I could get there any earlier, and so The Love suggested once we got to Euston to head straight on the tube and train to get to the centre earlier, which was very selfless.

Lunch was of course lovely - I had the steak and ale pie which was gorgeous, and that came with mash and some broccoli and peas in a nice buttery way, and The Love had the half roast chicken which was ace. In fact, we heard a loud noise inside the pub and that was of course England scoring, but it was relatively calm and chilled inside too and the aircon was on, so good to know really. In fact, we both had a Camden Hells later and it was just nice to be together and to be happy.

We walked back towards Euston and I gave The Love a big hug and said our goodbyes and headed on the tube and train towards East Croydon, getting to the vaccination centre around 5.40pm (my appointment was for 6.30pm but I think they were looking at closing early) and the staff in there were lovely and friendly. In fact, one of the staff was from Manchester originally and recognised my accent, so that was a positive really. I have to say that it did feel good getting the second vaccination done, my card is updated, and it's all good from now on. I have to be pleased!

I headed home and then on with the recording of the England game to watch. England did play pretty well and it has to be said that Kalvin Phillips was our best player, enforcing the midfield well and putting some good passes together and the through ball to Raheem Sterling for the goal was perfect, and was so pleased for Raheem to get it at a place close to his original home too - it meant a lot to him and the fans. Of course the fans were in full Three Lions voice throughout, and whilst it is too early to say that it could potentially come home, you do have to remember Croatia knocked us out of the World Cup semi finals in 2019, so no slouches, so the Baddiel / Skinner / Lightning Seeds classic is tune of the day for me.

Saturday 12th June - A Dress Fit For A Princess

It was getting the final bits done around the flat this morning - mainly changing the bedding and then having some toast for breakfast. The Love In My Heart was on her way down to see me for the weekend on the train, and it had been the first time for her to come to see me in months, primarily due to the current situation but also to be sure that it was easier for her to keep Brian the cat happy. Safe in the knowledge that she was on her way down on the train, I got the last bits all sorted and I left for East Croydon station to head up to Euston and meet her there - primarily as I wanted to show her the route I take to St Pancras to get the train to East Croydon if she ever needed to in the future.

We headed back to my place and it was admittedly quite warm on the way back, so we did freshen up and before heading back into Central London, it was round the corner to the Green Dragon pub to have some nice lunch together. They always have some decent cask ales on and so I had a nice dark mild along with a meaty pizza, with The Love having the fish and chips and a glass of wine. With the windows open and fresh air coming in as well as the aircon, it was nice, and the staff were as lovely as ever in there, so really did make me feel quite relaxed.

We had booked tickets for Kensington Palace, primarily to see the Royal Style exhibition which has the wedding dress of Diana, Princess of Wales, so I knew that The Love wanted to see that, and would be a good way to spend the Saturday afternoon. We headed off on the train from East Croydon to London Victoria, and then changed there for the circle line (thankfully with aircon!) to High Street Kensington. From there it was a short walk over to the park entrance and heading across diagonally towards the entrance to Kensington Palace, and was in a queue ready for the 3.30pm admission.

The queue didn't take long to sort itself out, and we effectively checked in, and with masks on, we headed first around the exhibition which dealt with Queen Victoria as a youngster, which we had seen before in the previous visit but it was nice to head round thee again, and the same with the King and Queen's chambers. This time around when you went downstairs after seeing the Queen Anne Apartments, you were directed to an outside path which took you towards the orangery where the Royal Style exhibition was. It was a very nice open space inside there, and the wedding dress on display was simply stunning, and iconic. The Love was very pleased to see it and plenty of people were of course taking pictures (allowed as long as flash was off) and I must admit I did admire the fashion design behind that and other outfits.

Once we'd seen everything, we headed out of the Palace and had a nice sit down on the grass in the park with a nice cool drink from the ice cream van that was close by - not cheap I should add, but it was nice to be able to effectively relax together. We did also then head off down Kensington High Street, had a good mooch in HEMA and The Love bought a few items, and then also a good look in Oliver Bonas and also a really nice children's shop called Trotters - where The Love was tempted to get things for her ever so small relations. It was absolutely lovely!

After having some tea back at mine later on, we settled in and watched the Blu-ray of the film The Keeper - based on the true story of Bert Trautmann and how he became to be the goalkeeper at Manchester City following World War II. It was really good to watch and some excellent performances from both David Kross and Freya Mavor, but also John Henshaw as the coach of St Helens Town who definitely brought all the Northern side to the film - and with Dervla Kirwan as his wife in an understated but nonetheless really well acted role. I loved the football scenes of course but it was more about the love story too, so good to watch and enjoy. Freya sings the version of Abide With Me at the end of the film that is beautifully minimal, so tune of the day for me for that one.

Friday 11th June - Forza Roberto and Forza Vaccination

It was the opening game of the delayed Euro 2020 tournament tonight as Turkey would take on Italy in Rome. Of course as a Manchester City fan, and because of what he did at the club, and now he's Italian manager, naturally I would love Roberto Mancini to do well - I always thought that the City board were a little too hasty in sacking him, and the way he's rebuilt the Italian team to become contenders really does show a sign that he's lost none of his management skills either.

In other positive news today, I was looking to see if I could bring my second Covid vaccination appointment forward in any way - primarily because of the fact that when I booked both, the second one was at least 11 weeks later and a day not far off going on holiday. I'd much rather be going away knowing the second jab's had some time to work, and so I checked the NHS vaccination website, and it seemed that when doing a manage appointment it wasn't allowing me to put in the appointment number for rebooking, meh.

I did ring the NHS 119 number, and someone had said that it looked like my GP practice hadn't had the information from the vaccination centre, which did seem a bit odd at the GP practice are normally very good. I logged on to the Patient Access thing I have, and that showed the first jab all present and correct, so rang the GP reception to be sure. The staff were lovely and helpful and friendly, and they explained that they'd had a few similar instances. Interestingly she also told me that sometimes the NHS sites can be a little odd behaving during the day Friday so might be worth me trying later in the day.

The GP staff's hunch was spot on! I logged on around 6pm, and this time it asked me to put in the booking reference. Going through earlier in the day I knew there were appointments for Sunday, and so I had to cancel the one I had first, then rebook. I did that, entered the rebooking screen, and sure enough, Sunday evening at 6.30pm was doable, so got it booked. Happy days. That will mean of course I'll have some time before holidays to let it settle in, and on top of that the good thing is that I'll be fully protected as much as I can. Granted, both The Love In My Heart and I will still need to be careful of course, but both of us double jabbed will mean much less risk for us.

Back to the football tonight, and before the game started and the opening ceremony was in full swing, Andrea Bocelli comes on to the pitch and belts out a cracking version of the classic Nessun Dorma (make that tune of the day) - and memories of Italia '90 came flooding back - the days when England had a battling side that had Gary Lineker up front and the late Sir Bobby Robson as manager too. It certainly did show the passion when the Italian national anthem was sung too, with it being positively belted out by the players - spot on. Why can't England do more of that I wonder?

Thursday 10th June - Not News, Not Interested

It was back to the office today and indeed a nice albeit cloudy day outside, so the air conditioning in the office to avoid the muggy weather conditions was more than welcome to be quite honest. I made the usual switcheroo at London Bridge, and once at Charing Cross it was a nice little walk around Leicester Square and then onwards to the Pret near the office to get a coffee and a breakfast roll too - a good way to start the day. Must give a shout out to the lovely staff at the Pret near the office who are always friendly and are kind, and that really does get the day started well with some nice people. Kudos to them all.

It was a busy day of sorts today, primarily building a revised Windows 10 20H2 WIM with the June updates included. However, Microsoft's guidance for this update insists that you have to have the May update installed first as a pre-requisite, and during testing with MDT, this was exactly the case - if you just added the June update, it didn't apply, and further, you needed to include the May update, invoke a restart and then do the June update, and then it all worked perfectly with no issues.

I had also noted a rather not so nice thing with the June update anyway - the horrible News and Interests thing in the taskbar. It truly is awful. Why, Microsoft, just why? Thankfully I've raised a change which means in the corporate environment we can make sure that isn't enabled via Group Policy, and I've applied the relevant registry fix on my home machine to ensure it doesn't appear, but why not have it disabled by default with an option to opt in, rather than it take up screen estate every time you hover over the taskbar? Absolutely poor from Microsoft, that.

Anyway, I was able to sort out a few issues today as well on behalf of our Service Desk Team, so was good to be on hand to assist and also to work out what was happening with a few things across the board. I did also work out a plan of action for the June updates, and to slightly delay the mass rollout due to a massive event we have on shortly - so don't want to be doing anything to disturb that whatsoever, and everyone agreed it was a sensible plan from me, so can't argue with that really.

I also had a nice trip via the Pret near Charing Cross on the way home and treated myself to the mango and pineapple smoothie, which is part of the subscription I have, so a nice cool freebie to have on the train homeward. I must admit too it was nice to get home and sort out a few things - so all the new CDs all nicely sorted into alphabetical order in the CD racks, as well as sorting out the bookshelf to get rid of any clutter as well - just had to really be a little bit ruthless. As for tune of the day I had some classic Juliana Hatfield on whilst cleaning up so the excellent Universal Heartbeat is a winner - after all a heart that hurts is a heart that works.

Wednesday 9th June - Smelling of Roses

So it turned out that the concierge of the apartment block we're in was on the case today, and with a very good reason (I like him, he's ace.) Near where I live there's actually a building being constructed, ironically on behalf of the local council's flat and house building scheme, which being a not very well run council, effectively they've subcontracted out to the nth degree. This will have a number of flats and towers above the block I am in - however, thankfully it's not in the way of the view of the windows from the front room or bedroom, which is something at least.

However, I had noted that at occasional times at night during the last week or so, there's been people from Thames Water heading out to look at a drain not far from the flats, and indeed spend a fair bit of time there. At the same time coming down the lifts towards the ground floor, there did appear to be a not so pretty smell, which possilbly could be drainage but also sewage too. It wasn't nice - and can't smell it from the flat thankfully as it's high up enough and I have the windows open anyway to let fresh air in (as after all you're supposed to these days, right?) I suspect the drains run under ground but clearly have got into the lift shafts in some way too - so not too good really.

Anyway, the concierge was on the case, and informed the residents mid afternoon that the lifts were being shut off whilst some contractors were on site to look at pumping out the sewage water from the blockage, and also jet washing the whole thing as well to hopefully eliminate the smell. I did respond to ask what had gone on, and the concierge told me that the new building constructors had blocked all of the local drainage, which is why Thames Water had been around recently. It all makes sense now - it's only been in the last week or two as the building has got gradually larger that things have gone a bit awry. So, usual subscontracting to idiots who don't know what they're doing, and it's our block that gets affected by their incompetence.

In all seriousness, I'm seriously thinking of forging a complaint to the council. Thankfully for me I'm able to head down the lifts and out of there without too much affect, but if you say lived on the first or second floor, you'd be more likely to be affected by that and do start to worry about if it was something you had done in the flat. It also shows that if you do subcontract to the nth degree you get people who don't know what they're doing (similar to the Serco and Deloitte test and trace scandal) - so it's a case of making sure that it doesn't happen again now - but the good thing is the concierge has been proactive - and it's one reason I've been happy to stay where I am to be honest.

I also attended a mandatory little training session with our Cyber Security folks today. I did suspect a few weeks ago that they had sent out a mock phishing email and I had reported it to them knowing it was odd - the good thing was I wasn't the only one, and they showed that a significant number had done the same. They went through some useful reminders for tell tale signs of phishing attempts in email, and a useful acronym to remember for anyone, FLAG - which each part stood for the likes of something in one of those emails - so fake sender, links, attachments and grammar for example. Makes perfect sense to be honest.

And after work, a perfect time to wind down with some classic The Wonder Stuff and the Hup album. It was actually one of the first albums on CD I purchased in late 1989 as I really liked the singles up til then (which I'd track down courtesy of Vinyl Exchage over time) and from there it was a case of listening to this a fair bit on what was then my new Sharp little system of top loading CD, twin tape deck and radio, which saw me well for many years. The whole album is pretty ace, but the opener 30 Years in the Bathroom really set the scene well, and matched by the closer Room 410 too - that is tune of the day, but I have the promo CD for the album with the extended version of that, which has plenty of samples which weren't cleared in time for the record release - and it was fab!

Tuesday 8th June - Off to the Office Bar Billiards

It was off to the office today and it was actually going to be pretty warm all round, so definitely good to have all the lovely aircon around for sure. I set off from East Croydon and did the usual switcheroo at London Bridge for Charing Cross, and soon had the nice walk uphill towards the office. In a good way though at least it does mean a downhill walk for heading home later on. I also managed to get a nice coffee from the local Pret on the way in, so that was me all sorted for a busy day ahead to be honest.

In fact, I spent some time today sorting out a revised driver package for one of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon models, after it transpired that one of the attempted builds failed due to the fact a hash value returned incorrect. Normally it's either a case of resending content, but if that fails either remove and then send, or in my case (as there were some updated drivers anyway) create a new package, which will send over to the distribution points overnight and so be then able to crack on with getting that replaced in the build task sequence.

I had actually been testing the build anyway after I'd raised a change to add the new versions of both Adobe Reader and Firefox, and all appeared to be well there without any issues, so definitely a positive on that score. In fact the Service Team staff needed some help with me being in the office, so I was able to sort out a few things for them in person and so be on hand. I also had to wait for a contractor in the afternoon who was working out a plan for a uninterrupted power supply for our video team folks. I went down at the time - no one there.

It was at this point I did a Gene Hunt and trusted my hunches - what if he had gone to the other building at the side and tried to go into the reception there? Sure enough he had, so was able to get him and head him to our floor and then from there he was all good for anything needed. I suspect too if it's somewhere you've not been to a lot it can get confusing if the sat nav or Google Maps tells you one thing when in fact it's most likely going to be another, such as it is.

After work I decided to head to one of the pubs close to the office, as rumour had it they had a bar billiards table. They do, but unfortunately it couldn't be played according to the landlord because of the current situation, but the table looked to be in good nick so will have to channel the inner Taffy John when able to. I did have a very nice pint of stout in there though and so thought about the whole Indoor League theme and wondered if Fred Trueman would turn up with his "na' then!" catchphrase (and of course make the André Brasseur theme tune Waiting For You tune of the say again.)

Monday 7th June - Planning and Waiting For You

It was a fairly good productive day of working from home today, although the temperature did creep up during the day so my cunning plan of having the blinds half open to keep the sun out but allow the windows to be open and let fresh air in did work pretty well, it has to be said. I actually was spending time today on some cleaning up of resources where possible and also raising a planned change for tomorrow so I would be able to add some updated applications to the Windows 10 build task sequence.

One thing I did spot was that there were still some PCs with a piece of security software on which we decommissioned some time ago - I suspect they were offline during the deployment period, but may also have had the old tamper protection password as this was changed along the line. I did already have a task sequence in place to remove if the old password was set, so checked on some machines I'd add to the collection, and they all came back with a nice result today - I think there's only around 6-7 machines left now so it was a worthwhile exercise to be able to get things sorted there.

I also managed to spend a bit of time on working out some issues where for some reason one system wasn't talking to another, perhaps because of some manual alterations on one side, and raised that with my manager so he could take a look. In another positive move of sorts, I also had raised further the need to increase some licencing and it looked like it was being taken seriously, so movement on there too. I do like it when plans come together, it has to be said.

A clip of Indoor League that I watched online over lunch reminded me of the theme tune: which is Waiting For You by André Brasseur (and therefore tune of the day - it is somewhat iconic). Interestingly, the single version has vocals as performed by André - and there's a live performance of it online to see as well - but the instrumental version appears to be on the album and I'll have to try and get a copy of that at some point so I can own the proper theme. I have to say that it was enjoyable to be able to play that and then sing along a la Frank Skinner doing the Indoor League theme too!

I must admit though that it goes to show that sometimes there's different inspiration for instrumental tracks to be used as television series themes - depending on what library music you had or indeed the eclectic taste of television producers. After all, considering André is Belgian, and the likes of The Kid and Holiday were semi-well known on the Northern Soul scene, picking out such a track as Waiting For You wasn't perhaps the most obvious choice, and yet it really does suit it all well. Go figure!

Sunday 6th June - Sporting Sunday

After all the South Coast touring yesterday (and it was rather hot on the UV scale) I thought it'd be sensible to stay in and relax somewhat, complete with a day of sport planned on the telly. In fact my Sainsburys delivery came around 8.30am this morning, after I'd had a text to say I was in the 8-9am slot for the saver delivery. In fact that was good because it meant I had the likes of crumpets and some butter, both of which I needed, so I could have some breakfast along the way. And well, why not?

So after spending some time in the morning watching the F1 qualifying from Azerbaijan, so I was up to speed with how things were going, it was on with the actual race itself. And it was pretty dramatic all told. The usual first lap of intense overtaking attempts of course, but even after that, both Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez got past Charles Leclerc, and started putting pressure on Lewis Hamilton in front. A lot of teams went for tyre changes to the hard tyre, and with Red Bull going early they managed to get both Verstappen and Pérez in front of Hamilton, which was pretty handy.

The race though did turn on two crashes, both caused by tyre failures that weren't easy to explain: Lance Stroll careered off down the high speed straight in the Aston Martin, which brought out the safety car and some good battles on the restart, with Sebastian Vettel in the sister Aston heading up to fourth place. Then another tyre failure but this time a much more dramatic one for the championship: Max Verstappen on the same straight. The race organisers red flagged and went for a restart that way, so that teams could change tyres to be safe - a point suggested by Red Bull so all teams had an equal chance to do so and not risk any issues.

With that done, Hamilton attempted to brake late on the restart to get ahead of Pérez, but went straight on, and that was drama, and he ended up 15th overall. Pérez stayed ahead but the battles were all behind, with Vettel claiming second and Pierre Gasly's stock increasing once more as he battled with Leclerc and got the final podium position, superb stuff from him. Sticking at Alpha Tauri at a team he's happy at works wonders - and it'll only be a matter of time before he gets another win. Lando Norris was a good 5th for McLaren which wasn't enough for him to keep 3rd in the drivers' championship (Pérez's win saw to that) but still a good recovery effort. Some race that was!

Another race of a different kind later was over on BBC2, with Louise Minchin presenting the Triathlon World Series event from Roundhay Park in Leeds. For more safety reasons, the park was the main venue for all three parts, and after the swim and some disqualifications for missing the buoy, it was a cycle race with a couple of hills and Sam Dickinson of Great Britain went ahead so he was first at the transition stage prior to the run. But the run belonged to Alex Yee of Great Britain - he had finished fourth in Yokohama, and his form continued here with a superb run to destroy the field and claim his first World Series win - and massively deserved. If I was the Olympic selectors, it'd be him and Jonny Brownlee on the way to Tokyo.

The England football match against Romania wasn't great to be honest - it was pretty dull and actually kept switching over to Channel 4 for the F1 highlights because Mark Webber and Billy Monger are always good - and they both really did have a go about the tyres too, quite right as well. Marcus Rashford scored from the spot for the only goal of the game, and could have been 2-0 had Jordan Henderson not decided to take a penalty himself and miss - not a good look that insisting on taking it when other players had a chance instead. But still, it was a relaxing day of sport, and I do wish Channel 4 would be able to bring The Chain by Fleetwood Mac back - it is the proper F1 theme and tune of the day.

Saturday 5th June - South Coast Crazy Golf Tour

I had got my Southern Daysave ticket the other day with today in mind, and so would be able to travel across the whole of the Southern rail network for £21. It is of course an offpeak ticket which means that you're able to use it all day on the Saturday and so not be time limited as you would be in the week, where travelling to and from central London and East Croydon doesn't work. A Saturday or Sunday does at least also allow for an earlier start before 10am too, so if you were heading on a longer journey, you can set off earlier and go from there, and so had a sort of route planned.

First off then, it was off to East Croydon and nipped into Pret for a coffee and a bacon and egg roll - the coffee of course free with the subscription, so there's something. Once done, it was on to the first train of the day - the 0903 to Hove. In fact it was a pleasant and quiet journey and the train was soon curving right from Preston Park and on to the South Coast line, and arrived at Hove. The walk through the centre and down to the seafront was very nice actually, and showed what a nice place it is. And at the seafront, plenty of people taking a jog along the promenade and heading towards Brighton down the road.

It was also for me the first crazy golf course of the day - and a relatively new one, Jurassic Beach. 18 holes which the owner explained he built himself, and it looked in pristine condition and played really well - the turf was right, the obstacles were fair, and I got a respectable total score of 43 for the 18 holes - well worth the £7 price to be fair. In fact he said I'd gone round pretty quickly (I was on my own) so he allowed me to go round again - this time I got 39 for the 18 holes and a hole in one as well to boot, so pretty happy with that all told. It was really good and a nice course to explore - if you're anywhere in Brighton or Hove, do check it out. It is good.

I had a nice walk down the seafront then it was back to Hove station via the very nice shops on George Street (nice record shop too even if it was all classical music in there) and then on the next train to Littlehampton. It's quite a nice seaside town with a harbour too (the River Arun divides the beaches into East and West) and I knew there were two crazy golf courses there - so got towards the seafront promenade and walked down there towards the first one - the Buccaneer Bay Adventure Golf. There's 9 very long holes for the £5, but they are pretty good and popular with families too. In fact I did get a hole in one on the 7th hole as well which pleased me immensely!

Once done, it was along the seafront, queuing for some chips for lunch (the fish and chips places were generally pretty busy due to the nice weather and very bright sunshine out) and so then on to part of the Harbour Park amusement complex - the Sharksville Adventure Golf. It's £3 for the 9 holes and if you have a wristband for the whole park, it's included too. The holes were nicely built with some good obstacles to get past and even a nice water feature in the middle of the course which the holes wind their way around. It certainly felt warm here with the elevated position, so back out with the sun cream of course!

With all that done, it was back along the harbour front and past the lifeboat station to Littlehampton station, and managed to head on the direct train to Bognor Regis - in effect a shuttle service via Ford and Barnham. In fact, it's one direct service an hour, otherwise you change at Ford or Barnham to get there. It was one of those small class 313 coastliners with no aircon though, so did feel pretty hot on there as the train headed around and wound its way down from Barnham over to Bognor Regis with the end platform 3 at Barnham resplendent in the sunshine too.

It was a walk through the shops and down to the seafront at Bognor Regis, walking along the promenade towards the small pier and then opposite the fourth and last crazy golf course of the day - at Waterloo Square. It was £5 for the 18 holes and included the likes of a windmill, helter skelter and all the more traditional features. It played fairly too - I was close to a hole in one on a few occasions but didn't manage it, in the end having eight 2s on the bounce and scoring a decent 43 for the 18 holes, so no bad thing really. The final hole to hit an inside ramp then seeing the ball come down the helter skelter was fab! Definitely for me one I'd go back to and play a number of times.

With my crazy golf odyssey done, and some lovely ice cream from Pinks ice cream parlour with lovely friendly staff and rather wonderful cherry and raspberry ripple ice cream, it was time to head back to the station and took the first train up to Barnham, which allowed me time to then get the train to Portsmouth Harbour. A bit of retail therapy was in the offing for later in the day and so headed from the station (where you can see a large boat moored too) and then on to Gunwharf Quays outlet village, and this was actually pretty nice. It had plenty of outlet designer shops along with some more household names, and lots of eateries by the harbour, all of which were pretty busy.

Whilst I was tempted by a couple of items, one of which was in the Fred Perry outlet, I was also noticing the large queues, even at 5pm, to get in some of the shops and the restaurants were all busy, so thought it better to have tea at home and so headed on the 1811 train back from Portsmouth Harbour which was pretty quick and from Barnham went all the way direct to Horsham, where it coupled with another train and sped onwards via Crawley and Gatwick Airport to East Croydon, arriving just before 8pm.

I'd got my money's worth on the train, but definitely was glad of the after-sun when I got back as the arms appeared to have caught the sun a fair bit, despite the sun cream at factor 50! Tune of the day is the excellent Everything Looks Normal in the Sunshine by Penfriend, as it did appear people were enjoying the weather, and socially distancing, so masks on in arcade, waiting turns for crazy golf and so on. It did please me to be out for the day although I suspect in the morning the arms might be bit redder than I'd want and they won't thank me for a long day in the sun!

Friday 4th June - Back To The 90s

I had spent a bit of time Wednesday night sorting out the end of the week quiz for the team and colleagues, and didn't mind doing another one back to back from previous. It's always been a good way to end the week for all of us and does at least mean that we are able to wind down nicely before the weekend, plus it does keep us all motivated too as something to look forward to doing once all our work is done, which does make a lot of sense of course. With that in mind I had some ideas planned and so cracked on with the thoughts and questions the other night.

I did also have plenty to test today, and managed to work out a sensible way to get an offiline installation package sorted out for our antivirus solution. I noted from their documentation that you could actually run an install and use an option for a localinstallsource, and if you ran that with the folder empty that you specify for that source, it populates during installation. So that then means when you're effectively going to run that on another machine, that source of cached files is already there, minimising the amount of time you spend downloading from the cloud sources of said product (and with good reason).

I ran a road test on that, and that seemed to work pretty well, so I'm going to look at introducing that for one of our sites, because then content can download from their local distribution point via MECM and hopefully make for a more reliable install full stop for them. I can then update the source periodically (there's a way I can do this) which should at least mean that in future there's a positive way forward, that's at least the plan anyway but I'll see how that works for them. Our information security folks were also onboard with that and really appreciated the explanation of how it was done too.

So on with the quiz then, and it worked out pretty well really - I had three rounds, with the first being themes from computer and video games on the 1990s, and some classics in there to boot. I have to say that I was surprised people did well even if it was familiar titles. I did film quotes for the second round and then for the final one, introductions to songs from that era. One of my colleagues is a big Oasis fan so was mega surprised they didn't get the intro to Cigarettes and Alcohol (even though he got Oasis of course) and had a mental block, which to be fair does happen in quizzes. It was all good though and our colleague from Salt Lake City won, and won pretty well too.

Later on I had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart and I spent some time watching the likes of Celebrity Gogglebox, which this time around happened to have Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards! As you can imagine, Micah's laugh was pretty infectious all round, and also intriguingly was Anne-Marie with Sir Tom Jones (both judges on The Voice, so probably know each other well now.) Also Shaun Ryder and Bez from Happy Mondays (make their version of Step On tune of the day) were on, although you have to say that Shaun doesn't really look good these days!

Thursday 3rd June - That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles

It was off to the office today, so the usual London Bridge switcheroo on the way to Charing Cross. I must admit it did seem a lot quieter in the morning heading in (although later it would be busier but that may be because I left a little earlier) and of course the nice walk around Leicester Square and onwards to the office always feels a fair bit nicer with less people around. I think it definitely shows who is heading into work at that time - and I did feel pretty confident that it wasn't just me who felt more confident about being safe in there.

As it turned out, the office was supposed to be full today, and certainly all the desks around me were very busy, but it was also the case that a few didn't turn up and cancelled their booking - but a bit late to cancel on the day if someone geniunely had a reason for wanting to go in. Officially, that's a bit meh, but there you go. In the meantime I had managed to look at getting a few things sorted with some of the laptops that were needing an updated MECM client amongst other things, and also was looking at packaging a piece of software that our service team had alerted me to.

My colleague was also in the office today so we headed out round the corner to the local Pret, so got my coffee and one of the very lovely staff there asked if I'd like a cookie, and politely declined, but then was offered it on the house! I didn't expect that and it was a really nice thing - the staff are nice and I'm always nice back to them because it's the right thing to do. But I do that because they are keeping everyone going despite them having to be out every day managing their own risks too - which I respect a lot. It made my day.

Later on also I headed towards Charing Cross and used the subscription app to get a smoothie, the berry blast one at that, which was lovely. Even just as lovely was popping into Ludoquist on the way home, as they also sell some nice beer to take away (cans and bottles, natch.) The member of staff knew their beer and dug out some nice dark porters and stouts for me and we even chatted about the Westerham beer which you can't seem to get right now, and he explained it tends to be seasonal so is more likely to be available in the Autumn. I know they'll get it back in so will have to pop by when it happens, but such lovely service here too - keeping it local is the future!

I also sorted out the pictures from the Edinburgh visit, so they're now up on Flickr if you want to take a peek - and it reminded me of the last time The Love In My Heart and I visited there back in 2009, as well as a brief day jaunt in 2015 when I did a number of acts in the Edinburgh Fringe in a single day before getting the train back home later on, such as it was. From that day, I remember seeing She Makes War (as was, now Penfriend) doing a show with the song Delete being the highlight so tune of the day for me most definitely. It brought back some happy memories too.

Wednesday 2nd June - Muggy As A Muggle

It was sticky and muggy today and a day I could have been in the office, but am attempting to balance the days in the office with the days at home so it's around a 50/50 split. To be honest, I'd much rather do all five days now but have to think about giving other people the chance to go in if they wish to (only fair) and with tomorrow pretty much full to capacity at the moment, it was only right that I tried to do one day in, one day at home to have a sensible balance between the two. I must admit the air con would have been nice to have today though!

I did though book something for the weekend - a ticket you have to book 3 days in advance, so needed to do it today. It's the Southern DaySave, which allows for unlimited off peak travel on the Southern network for the pretty decent price of £21.00. Bear in mind I could go as far as Southampton Central or Portsmouth and back all the way up to Milton Keynes if I wanted, and it's not that bad. In fact, there might be some South Coast hopping on as there looks to be some nice crazy golf courses in Littlehampton, Bognor Regis and Hove. I might travel light sans camera though.

I had a walk over to East Croydon in the lunch break primarily to get some fresh air (not that it was, pretty muggy to be honest) but also to collect the ticket from the ticket machine, and so I could just turn up and be ready on Saturday. Some website literature said you only had to order 3 days before to collect from a Southern station, some other parts said you had to collect as well, so thought it to be the better option. I must admit though it was a nice little walk anyway and around a mile or so both ways, so that's something. It did feel pretty sticky!

In the afternoon I spent some time writing up some documentation but also I had volunteered once again to do the quiz for the Friday afternoon, so thought of some ideas to do with that and after work I was able to think of how I'd structure it. On the whole it appears to be going well and it'll be ready for Friday for some pretty good quizzing. I must admit that people do like the ones I do, so it does give me a nice sense of wellbeing and being part of the team as well so a definite plus for me that.

I also spent some time tonight sorting out a food shoppinh order for the weekend (cheers Sainsburys) and it's always good to be able to see what you can get. In fact a nice freebie was a 750ml carton of the Innocent smoothies, and thought it worth trying out. I did that the other week with the Elmlea vegan cream which actually wasn't too bad, so worth always giving things a go and seeing how they work out for you. I also spent some time tonight listening to the rather good Penfriend album Exotic Monsters, so Seventeen, complete with its rousing choruses, is tune of the day.

Tuesday 1st June - In The Air Today (and Tonight)

Even though I had got back quite late last night, it was good to be able to be up and early and ready for the day ahead in the office. With the weather forecast to be pretty warm too, it was good to be there because the office has air conditioning and really does feel a lot better being in there than being at home in a sticky spot that does tend to get a lot warmer in the afternoon when the sun comes round. Of course, leaving reasonably early does of course mean that you tend to avoid the direct sunlight until later in the day - well that is the theory anyway.

In fact, I had noted a gradual returning of staff to the offices as well - most of the service team colleagues were in today and nearby so they could bounce ideas off me if they needed to which worked well, especially when later on we found that a Google Chrome extension was in fact the cause of why someone's saving of their passwords was failing miserably. Odd, that. Still it did mean I was able to be on hand which did make life a lot easier than working remotely too, so was definitely something that was good to see.

One main thing I did get sorted today was not only to parse the output from JAMF of the way that the extension attribute collects Google Chrome extensions, but then I documented how to process the CSV via Excel so the PowerQuery and PowerPivot tools can be used to actually transform the data in the way that you want. It works well and does at least mean I was able to get those output as well as a representative sample for the Windows machines that were online, and produce some useful info for our security teams. Definitely felt positive.

I headed out at lunch time and it was pretty warm, so it was out for the meal deal and back in again to the lovely fresh aircon, oh it was so nice. I didn't want to leave later to be honest, but did have a gentle walk around the back of Trafalgar Square and down to Charing Cross, where I diverted via McDonalds to get a little wrap of the day for tea - something simple and not having to think too much about either. Later on it was a case of doing the switcheroo on the train at London Bridge, and thankfully a nice air conditioned train this time around as well - also a bonus.

Later on I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart, and she had said it had been warm and muggy in Manchester too, so that made two of us in heat, although the office definitely was the nicer place to be, it has to be said. I do like the fact that I have the option now and am of course really careful to distance etc because that's the right thing to do. Tune of the day in the meantime is the old Don Henley classic The Heat Is On, because it was on, and on the street too!