Dear Diary... June 2022

Thursday 30th June - The Last Day Before The Break

It was the final day of being in work before taking a well earned break, and so I concentrated on getting everything tidied up. I did have some requests to deal with though, and one of them was to determine how many machines had a particular piece of software installed, so was able to use our inventory system to be able to determine what had been installed where - and because the computers and users report ties in some information also to be of use, this meant that we were able to get what was needed.

I arranged for it to be sent to some colleagues on a schedule and also did a bit of report sharing with a couple of colleagues so that they could access it too, which proved to be useful to say the least. I also wrote up a comprehensive summary of where I was at in order to make sure the whole team were kept in the loop before I headed off, and also spent some time in the team meeting later in the day discussing a few things, so all was well and that meant I knew I was able to sort things out.

I did have a delivery at lunch time - two of them actually. One of them was the Super Audio CD version of Paul Weller's Studio 150 album. It's an album The Love In My Heart really likes, and it's one I like too. As the new Blu-Ray player does the full SACD surround experience of course, it was nice to get it all in 5.1 loveliness, and it did sound majestic it has to be said. From that album of all cover versions, I do like the extended take on All Along The Watchtower, so that's tune of the day for me, no question.

As the day went on I also noted from the HR system that I had some feedback too, and it was part of the half year feedback. It was massively positive and I have to say that was a welcome surprise, but one that I knew that I had put some work into so was pleased that the time I put in really did work wonders, and that meant I could at least head off after today knowing that I had managed to achieve great things and be able to progress. It's always rather lovely to be appreciated.

And so, with all the bits I needed to be printed out or saved to the phone, it was time to kick back and relax and be able to look forward to a well earned break with The Love In My Heart. I know she and I have been looking forward to this fro some time, so no doubt we'll have a fab time. Brian the cat was happily sunbathing today with The Love (as she had the day off) and he was purring happily in appreciation, no doubt he'll have been getting some extra treats too!

Wednesday 29th June - The Haircut Strikes Back

I had a pretty productive day in the office today - mainly packaging some new versions of applications ready for when I return after leave. I was also able to update some documentation including the full details of the Windows 10 build task sequence, and some additions and removals needed to be done for that. The good thing is that keeping that up to date really does help out with the service teams to be able to get that done well. Also of course it's good to keep on the toes and get the documentation updated anyway.

I also spent a fair bit of time troubleshooting a Mac application for my colleagues over in China which is used to project a screen or via USB dongle to a presentation screen, and was attempting to work out what was going on when it ran. We did allow screen sharing for the users for the app so they could tick the box without the need to be an admin, and that worked. But the application was still wanting to be an administrator when the app ran itself, and so decided to delve a bit further into what was going on.

I eventually noted that the application was writing a log file in real time, and at the point of bringing up an admin prompt, it looked like it was attempting to add a virtual driver for the audio for screen sharing - which normally of course needs to be admin. So I thought: hmm... what if you send the command to run the app as the root user after the app itself has installed, would that work? And it ran, and then it got to the point where you could go to system preferences and allow the app to screen share, and it actually didn't gve me an admin prompt. I then exited and re-ran as the standard user, and boom! It worked. A little bit of a workaround maybe but it's probably the best I can do because the app itself is badly designed.

I headed off after work to the tube station close to the office, and a run on the District line via a change at Earls Court for Wimbledon Park to visit James Barbers and get the hair cut. It was good to chat to the staff in there and we had a good football related natter on possible signings for Arsenal (as one of the blokes there is a fan) and how the possibility of Gabriel Jesús leaving us for them might strengthen their line up. All was well and I managed to get the 156 bus to Wimbledon and one of the last trams back home due to the strike action that wa happening today.

Back at home, I did some preparation for the holiday by getting some clothes washed and ironed, and also had an arrival of a Fred Perry shirt I'd ordered last week, which looked the business. Hopefully another one I ordered will come tomorrow and I can then pack that along too and bring it with me - always nice to have new stuff to take with me, and blasted out the new Pop Will Eat Itself single The Poppies Strike Back and that's tune of the day - shame the t-shirt for that won't be out until after I head off, but the likes of my Indie Daze and Reclaim the Game t-shirts will be coming along!

Tuesday 28th June - Decisions and Doolittle

It was off to the office today and so an earlyish rise and getting myself up and ready for the X68 express bus from West Croydon to Aldwych. It's usually pretty nice to be able to relax on there and by the time the bus got to West Norwood for the final pick up, it was pretty full too. Thankfully at least going a lot of people had realised it wasn't going to stop along the way, and sped through Brixton and onwards to the centre of London. It was good to settle in at the desk and look at doing some clean up tasks in MECM, which long needed to be done to be honest and had the time to sort that out today.

I also made some decisions today, albeit consciously. Part of me was going to get a few things done anyway but I felt that over time some of the systems we have in place at work means too many different places to try and focus on, and it becomes cumbersome because of it. So one channel I had to look at managing some things I decided to retire, and instead I would go down the more formal (and also more official ) email route. Sometimes, less is more, and managed to summarise where things were at and pointed out why the switch was being made to try and take a different approach.

I think it's always the way these days - the new great "big idea" is something that people jump on to and effectively look at utilising, but what sometimes can happen is that after initial adoption, like it did with Zoom calls and the like for example, ends up becoming a fatiguing thing - hence the less is more argument. Sometimes, it is good to take a step back and I also made a decision to head to Costa and claim my free frappe after I got a coffee last week - and had the very nice ruby one with some cream. It was spot on and really did do the business!

Later on I headed back homeward on the X68 bus and clearly some hadn't boarded it or seen the very clear sign on the front which says "first stop - West Norwood" and were all trying to get off after Waterloo Station. The driver did stop along Kennington Lane, which she didn't have to do, but said basically get off now or never - spot on that. Anyway, got home pretty quickly and in time to see Rafael Nadal clinch his match at Wimbledon, so that's something.

I did road test some more Commodore 64 games I'd got recently, including Vampire by Codemasters. It's an okay platformer I guess despite its Spectrum-eseque graphics, but it is also very difficult too - you can't avoid some enemies at all and have to take a power hit, which to me seems daft. I did progress a bit further each go, more when you remember that down is for the small jump and up for large (Tom Thumb on the C16 has those control mechanics also) and that at least means you're not over jumping in certain parts of the game, which has to be something.

I ended up playing some surround audio tonight including Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album - of course The Chain on there got an airing and that outstanding John McVie bass that comes in still gives me the happy feeling reminding me of the BBC's F1 coverage of course. Then it was on with the Blu-Ray audio version of Pixies' iconic Doolittle album, and wow, this in 5.1, the mix is superb. Honestly. All of Dave Lovering's drums get a new lease of life, especially the cymbals during Tame for example. Still to this day though I absolutely adore Wave of Multilation so that's tune of the day.

Monday 27th June - To The Maxx

It was a good productive day for me today as I did a few monthly things that I normally process towards the end of the month - including of course getting an export arranged from our inventory system and transferring that into a format that can then be read by the HR system to add what's needed in there. It does work pretty well and I had documented the process some time ago after a new report was produced from the HR system which made things a tad easier. Always good to follow your own documentation when you do that of course.

I also spent some time this afternoon packaging up some applications - mainly updated versions of what we already have, but with a view to keeping things up to date and ensuring that the service teams have all the tools to hand. The work Mac came out as well for the same reasons in order to get some of the packages done cross-platform. Thankfully in some cases a fair bit of the work was already done, as node.js for example has a Mac PKG and Windows MSI installer, so easy in both cases to get sorted and tested.

In fact the one which I was glad I documented last time out was SQL Server Management Studio, as I noted a new version for that which I could then get tested. All proved well with it and because I'd made notes, it was easy to get the installation command with its switches done, and the uninstall command done the same way. It did need a start /wait, so you've got to wrap that into a command line batch file to do properly (or else the installer doesn't wait) but again, this is why you document stuff!

After work I decided that I'd head over to the local TKMaxx, which is near the big Sainsburys around a mile or so away. Primarily I wanted to see if they had anything I could use my gift cards on, for example a Summer shirt, but the shirt selection was lacking somewhat. The layout had changed since I was last there too - the upper floor used to be menswear but that's on the ground now and the HomeSense homeware part is on the upper. However, I did get myself some nice new boxer shorts as I needed a few new pairs for holiday, and also was tempted to get a case too, but they weren't quite what I was after.

Later on I made myself one of my favourite dishes: the chorizo pasta bake, which was all very nice and tasty, and had a good chatter with The Love In My Heart too. In fact, we were thinking about the next few days and worked out what we had in terms of things like sun cream and aftersun, so all appeared well there. I did blast out some CDs later and played the new Jethro Tull CD, so the title theme from The Zealot Gene is tune of the day - and I think some of my relations would like this!

Sunday 26th June - Up In The Park

After being up til past 1am this morning seeing Sir Paul McCartney and his extended Glastonbury set, The Love In My Heart and I had a deserved lie in followed by some breakfast. We did however know it was time to get changed and ready though even with the distraction of George Clarke's Old House New Home on More4, as we we were off to Heaton Park later so The Love could show her support for a work colleague who was taking part in a little festival there today. We had ourselves showered, changed and ready and it wasn't long before we were heading off in The Love's car.

We had perused where the event was taking place, effectively near the old farm and the stables, and I knew that was at the top of the park close to the hall, so we followed the roads along past Sheepfoot Lane and then Bury Old Road and turned right for St Margaret's Road, past the church there (which they often use for weddings in Coronation Street in case you didn't know) and then past the car park nearby and onwards to the one by the Dower House. It was pretty full but we got a space which was good.

It was nice to walk down past the massive slide in the play area and past the old stables, where The Love told me she had been horse riding back in the day. We did note that part of the stables these days is now a café and looked pretty busy too it has to be said. We did see around the side of there on what was one of the old terraces was the fair - Manchester Festival of Nature. This was a free event and families were very much invited along with lots of activities for children and to get them more involved with nature.

The Love's colleague is involved with a volunteer group called Wythenshawe Waste Warriors, and between the group they had collected over 10,000 bags full of discarded waste amongst the parks in their local area over the last year or so. On the one hand, that's excellent work and well done them, on the other I thought that so many people need to be more considerate and to take their litter home with them too. It was nice to see though that they encouraged children to learn more about the litter and also to hopefully teach the parents a thing or two - The Love approved but was proud to see her colleague doing well.

We did walk around the old farm animals section but didn't seem to be much there - a tortoise was the one gaining the most attention and a peacock too who was strutting their stuff at the top. We went back to all the nature stalls and noted that a lot of them were doing face painting and charging a very nominal amount for charity: and indeed a nature mask with all things fallen leaves and all sorts in the making. Liked the idea of that and it proved to be a very good thing all round, so well worth going next year if you get the chance and in Manchester. Tune of the day is unsurprisingly Go Tell The Bees by 3 Daft Monkeys.

Saturday 25th June - We Saw Him Standing There

Well after seeing what the state of play was, I did see that the train I was going to get last night was at least looking like it was running, so made the decision that I would be coming up to see The Love In My Heart. However, I did have an earlier train already booked for Sunday as even though there wouldn't be any more strikes after Saturday, it would take time for trains to return to some sort of normality and didn't want to leave it too late. As it was I got into Manchester pretty late last night so was good to snuggle up to The Love and Brian the cat of course.

As a result we all ended up having a lie in this morning (well apart from Brian doing his tippy tappy with his paws encouraging The Love to get up early) and then we had some breakfast and thought about what needed to be done. I had already set up my old Blu-Ray player in The Love's place and that was all working well (her current one had died completely so I said when I got a new one she could have my current one) and also thought it a good idea to head into the city centre and see what offers were on at both TK Maxx and Uniqlo too. Nothing floated the proverbial boat but was all good.

Once I got back from the city centre, we had a good chatter with The Love's sister and they were both buzzing because they had got tickets for Robbie Williams later in the year - not cheap either, but I know they'd enjoy it. I'd of course much rather let them do their thing there and for me to take The Love to a gig we both like, so epic win. It was also good to see that The Cute Little One's mum was posting pics of her with her nieces and being ever so cute and lovely as per normal so that was good.

Later on The Love and I headed out to West Didsbury as she wanted to check out one of the nice card and gift shops along Burton Road, and she managed to get a nice card for someone as well as a good gift too - and I got a card for something forthcoming so that was a bonus and a half. I also popped into the Epicurean along there and treated The Love to an Augustiner Helles and got myself a large can of Marble Mild, and it wasn't that dear either, so all was good.

After tea later we settled in and watched some Glastonbury on BBC Two and then BBC One, seeing Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds first of all which was surprisingly okay - and of course he was going to play the Oasis classics so the likes of Wonderwall and Don't Look Back In Anger got an airing, as well as Half A World Away as it was used for the TV series The Royle Family as well. Naturally of course it was a warm up (and even Noel said this) for the headline act, which we'd end up watching on BBC One - Sir Paul McCartney, no less. And to be fair, I have to say...

.. he was really good! A massive two hour forty minute set which had the schedule flipped up to say the least, and even though it was played "as live" but delayed on BBC One, nonetheless there were lots of highlights, from having a nice acoustic start and tribute to George Harrison on Something, and including a bit of John Lennon's isolated vocal on a couple of tracks also. Of course plenty of Beatles classics for everyone including the likes of Love Me Do, Lady Madonna, Get Back and For The Benefit of Mr Kite amongst all that. But the best was yet to come later in the set.

And what a surprise as he introduced no less than Dave Grohl on stage - it would be the first time Dave played anywhere since Taylor Hawkins passed away and I think it meant a lot for Dave to be playing with Paul. A superb rendition and duet on I Saw Her Standing There was superb - tune of the day for me, and a cracking version of Wings' Band on the Run followed that. Not just that, out came the boss himself Bruce Springsteen as he and Paul belted out Glory Days too - and it was just such a nice addition to what would have been a memorable experience for all who was there!

Friday 24th June - Blu Friday

So I had finally managed to use some vouchers I got from work ages ago on Wednesday evening, and ordered myself a new Blu-Ray player. Basically a number of us a while ago won a quarterly award for a piece of work we did, and you got vouchers to be used at The Lifestyle Voucher for a particular amount. The only thing was though that you could only use them at certain retailers which meant you needed to wait for said retailer to have what you wanted in stock. It turned out this week the one thing I was after was back in stock, said retailer price matched and allowed me to collect it at a local shop too, so all was well.

I got a confirmation at lunch time and so headed out and had a little walk over to said local shop, where the staff were lovely and the box was located for me, all wrapped well and in superb mint condition even with transit, so it was really good. I walked homewards and after unplugging the old player from my setup (which will be coming with me for The Love In My Heart later on) and then plugged everything in. It was all good and after the initial setup it was a case of then ensuring that the wireless was connected, and an available update was applied.

One main reason for getting this particular player was that it would also play DVD-Audio and SACD discs without any problem and so it proved: Queen's A Night At The Opera DVD-A got an airing and sounded utterly superb, especially the likes of Death on Two Legs and Seaside Rendezvous. I also then played Dream Theater's self titled album on DVD-A and The Enemy Inside was thunderously good, so tune of the day for me there, no problem.

It was on with the SACD discs next and that included Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, where Part 1 sounded lush, and Nine Inch Nails' Deluxe Edition of The Downward Spiral where the first disc is the album in full 5.1 surround goodness, and boy does it sound good. The likes of Closer and Ruiner really do get a sense of enhancement when listening to it this way and it was really well remastered to get every nuance of the sound right, and if only all things were like this.

I did finish off the session with a nice watch of Rush on Blu-Ray, a great film even today which told the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda and the epic 1976 World Championship. There is a bit of artistic licence taken in places but the ending with the focus on Lauda saying that Hunt was one of the few people he envied, with Lauda himself being poignant is particularly well done (and more poignant now of course Niki isn't with us either) so that has to be something good too. All in all, impressive stuff so far and definitely will have to enjoy all of this and then more!

Thursday 23rd June - Hunting In Tooting

After work I decided that it was time I paid another visit over to Crazy Thumbs in Tooting, which is a pretty good little games shop that stocks everything from games for the Atari 2600 console onwards,and does include the major 8-bit formats such as the Spectrum, Amstrad and Commodore 64. This definitely was part of my reasoning for going and so it was time to head over to the bus stop and get the 264 bus over there. It certainly felt busy anyway and I suspect more traffic because of the fact that the trains were on strike today - although that part of South London doesn't have that many trains.

I did get to Crazy Thumbs fine and there were plenty of games around. I did note on their new website that they had some Commodore 64 disk games at rather not cheap prices, and some of the ones in store proved to be the same as well - for example around £40 for the first They Sold A Million compilation and £50 for Spindizzy in a massive clam case on disk. I did though note that there were still some single and double cassette bargains to be had if you looked hard enough in the racks, but nothing as yet floated the boat there.

I did also spot some nice import games for some of the consoles, a Commodore 1531 cassette deck for the C16 and Plus/4, and the full width of the Amstrad CPC 464, which apparently came with the monitor as well. Good luck getting that one home in one piece safely methinks! I did also note a very nice Spectrum +2, C64 breadbin and an Atari 2600 Jr, as well as the 32x for the Sega Megadrive and all sorts, so that definitely was worth a mooch to see what they had anyway.

I headed on the 57 bus towards Wimbledon which picked up lots of passengers both at Colliers Wood and South Wimbledon stations, primarily because people had been taking the tube instead of train. It was easy to see why later when I got to Wimbledon: with the District Line branch not running at all (as some of the tracks are shared with Network Rail, on strike) there were only trams running to and from Croydon and back, handy for me and not so good for everyone else. I did see the umbrellas too around the Centre Court Shopping Centre, which of course were ready to welcome people because of the tennis next week!

And talking of which, it wouldn't seem right without humming to myslelf as I walked through the opening theme to the BBC coverage, namely Lighjt and Tuneful by Keith Mansfield - the proper theme and tune of the day. No doubt it'll be a bit of sadness and indeed end of an era as it will be the last Wimbledon Sue Barker ever does, but she can retire on a high knowing she's been so wonderful hosting the coverage and really understanding what it means to win (after all she did win the French Open in her playing days!)

Wednesday 22nd June - Off to the Office

It was a more normal day today with more trains and eventually more tubes running once they got going, so was time to head off back to the office again and also to get the general vibe of being back in the location I quite like - got a prime first floor seat in there with lovely aircon, which was needed due to the heat outside. It was pretty nice to be in and managed to get a couple of road tests done on the new build with the new WIM image I created yesterday, and that was a positive straight off.

I did venture out at lunch time as I needed to get a couple of cards and a couple of potential presents, so ended up walking by the back of the office and across to Long Acre, then turning right and towards Seven Dials and indeed to Fopp. I'd not been in a music shop for some time so was nice to go in and have a mooch, and I did get two albums as well, both of which were released this year no less: FTHC by Frank Turner, and the deluxe edition with extra tracks which only cost £1 more, and Jethro Tull's The Zealot Gene, so nice to get something different to be able to listen to as well. Tune of the day is from that album, namely the title tune which also has a good video to go with it too.

I must admit when I did get back to the office later the thought of the aircon was nice, and that really did get me through the afternoon. In fact I checked out a couple of old pieces of stock and road tested them and found that getting a Windows 10 build on those was still pretty quick despite their age, so I figured they must have a solid state drive of some description in there. Nonetheless it was good to be able to test out to make sure older kit can handle all that we need, definitely a positive.

I managed well on the way home to do the switcheroo from the X68 to the 468 (because Hopper Fare!) at the top of Crown Point near Beulah Hill, and did stop off in Sainsburys to get an One 4 All Gift Card. Except they didn't have one, and neither did the Tesco near me either. In the end I walked down towards the South End and the Co-Op there came up trumps with that and indeed with some first class stamps (which neither Tesco or Sainsburys had either for whatever reason) and all sorted.

I also spent some time attempting some price matching on something that I wanted to order (more on that when it arrives too). I knew that I could purchase it from one place but they were a little more expensive, and wondered if their price match stood up properly (unlike Currys, who when you ask them to do that and provide proof simply refuse to believe you.) Anyway, said retailer this time around were basically like "yes, we'll price match it no problem, and just order as normal, respond to our email when you have and we'll sort it" - easy peasy customer service. Why can't everyone be like that I wonder?

Tuesday 21st June - Striking Solstice

It was the Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year in terms of daylight for the year, and of course the train strikes (and tube strikes in London too) were on. To be honest, I suspected a lot of people would be working from home as you'd expect, but I knew I could get the X68 express bus into work (which is what I've been doing anyway, incidentally) and so I set off a little earlier to compensate the fact more people would be getting on, and so it proved, with the bus getting so full it actually had to drive past some pick up stops which you don't normally see happen.

You could tell though people were getting this bus and were not used to it, despite the fact it clearly says on thef front that the first set down stop is Waterloo Station. As the bus descended towards West Norwood, one person was pressing the bell but of course, no stopping bus. I had to politely inform him that it was an express bus and first stop was Waterloo, but fair play to the driver: at the final pick up stop (Norwood Road / Robson Road) she announced that this was an express bus so if you made a mistake get off now or stay on to Waterloo. A dozen or so got off which sort of proves the theory right really!

Anyway, got to the office fine and indeed was able to enjoy the lovely aircon inside (as it was getting warm today and didn't want to face all that) and managed quite a lot really - I got the Windows 10 WIM updated so it includes the June updates, with a view to including that in build over the next few days once I've got a change sorted for it. That way anything new will be immediately patched for the recent vulnerability and of course that does mean that it's less time setting up for the folks too - so another nice win there.

I also was able to put together some sound business cases for additional licencing and was able to finally sort out all the access for the JAMF customer portal which was long overdue - I didn't have the full admin access myself to sort it and in the end one of my top managers emailed the folks to say "make me and my manager the admins" which then happened. I was able to get some users removed who needed to go, and then added in a colleague as a fellow admin, so that was an exercise well worth doing to do the job well.

After work a couple of colleagues who had come across from cleaning out the old office decided it'd be nice for us to have a drink after work, so we headed off to a local pub where the staff were obviously Paul Weller fans, as his cover version of Wishing on a Star was played followed by Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea (make that one tune of the day) which was a nice backing to having a relaxing in the shade outside drink of some fine Brewdog beer, so a nice end to a nice day overall.

Monday 20th June - Tilting Testing

It was a good productive day back in work after having had the Friday off (well sort of seeing as I had to be called to get a few things sorted.) In fact, I managed to participate in a meeting with regards to plans for the data centre migrations, and what that would mean for systems I help look after. In fact, after the meeting I went back to the Microsoft documentation for one product, listed all the network ports that were needed, and translated that so that the information reflected our setup. That in effect meant that it would be a handy reference guide as needed.

After work it was out with the Commodore 64, and onwards with some game arrivals last week that I was going to road test in order to make sure that they all worked. I did briefly test out Parallax by Ocean to see if it did load, and it did, but wanted to play the game a bit more tonight as well as listen to the epic eleven minute title tune by Martin Galway (make that tune of the day) - which was good. I did have a blast of it and definitely still was as good as I remember it: definitely has that Sensible Software vibe of course, but you've really got to think on your feet as well, which is good.

Up next was Tilt by Codemasters, which is a really fun and addictive game. The cover has the character Roger Frames from Commodore Format: the reason being was that said magazine gave Tilt a massive 93% in its first issue. Although I wouldn't rate it that high, it's still impressive - the 3D effect when you tilt the board to keep the ball on track is superb, and speedy too. The response time is good too and certainly getting to the fourth screen really showed that with some patience and practice, you can get far, so that is nice.

I also over time have accumulated some duplicate games mainly because of the fact that if I've been getting bundles of games I sometimes have got multiple purchases, and sometimes two at once. As a result, it made sense to test out all the duplicates and if they loaded first go, I could sell them on for someone else to have them. In fact I've already got a taker for one of them - the Quattro Sports compilation which features BMX Simulator, Grand Prix Simulator, Pro Ski Simulator and Pro Snooker Simulator, and all four of the games on there worked first go, always a good thing.

As for the remaining three, I actually got further than I had done before on Tarzan Goes Ape, managing to get all the way to almost the end of the second level. I had to remember to collect the objects in order (which you can get badly wrong on level one!) and that worked a treat for me. It was then on with Frankenstein Jr, a re-release of the game Bride of Frankenstein technically with the same layout and difficulty, before finishing with a bit of the famous egg character on Fantasy World Dizzy and adventuring around. I'll probably put those on eBay at some point and get some money back on them hopefully!

Sunday 19th June - Diversions

After having some nice croissants with some orange juice for breakfast, and having checked the fact that the trains were on diversion to St Pancras because of engineering works happening near London Bridge, it was onwards to East Croydon where we'd be able to take the Thameslink train on its different route via Streatham Common, Tulse Hill and then Elephant and Castle. It meant I could explain some of the other sights as we went past including the rather odd three way junction just before Tulse Hill and the demolished shopping centre at Elephant and Castle.

The train pulled into London Blackfriars okay but it did seem like we weren't moving for a few minutes. Eventually the driver notified everyone that due to over-running engineering works the train was being terminated here and effectively would go back out to Brighton. This is where having alternative routes work and the tube from here via the Circle Line wouldn't have been useful as it takes too long to circle around (all the way towards Aldgate and back) but knew there'd be a bus to Kings Cross we could get, so left the station and I could spot a 63 heading to Blackfriars Bridge.

We made the bus easily, and clearly a fair number of us had the same idea as it took a minute or two to get us all on. The bus sped past my old stomping ground of Farringdon and then onwards to Kings Cross, and well on time for the train to be caught at 1230 too. Phew! One of the friends said to me that he wouldn't have had an idea if that had happened to him without me, so nice to know I do have the uses. We got them on the train and said our farewells before then heading off to Euston to drop off someone else, and I needed to then get the tube and train back home. It had been a lovely weekend all round though and defiinitely what I needed.

I did check in with work this afternoon just in case I was needed for anything to do with things happening this week, and that all seemed to be well, so that was a relief all round. I was of course making myself available anyway as I know it's a very busy time too, so that's all good. I also noted too that it was sensible to see what was lined up for next week and to possibly be able to work on some solutions for the future, which was all good to be able to do so.

I had a lovely chatter with The Love In My Heart as well, and she was all happy after having had a good weekend herself, and saw her friend yesterday for much conversation, some beers and a nice canalside walk as well which was pretty good. Of course I do miss her loads but at the same time it was good to be able to see how things were there, and that was a nice way to end the weekend on a positive note all round, and tune of the day has to be something I heard earlier on the way back homewards: Victoria by The Fall, albeit the version used for some bathroom manufacturer, but of course Mark E Smith wins!

Saturday 18th June - On Tap

So it was nice to be able to get up and make some breakfast for me and friends - nothing too majorly taxing but in effect some nice Lincolnshire sausages in the oven, let them cook and then have those in some Warburtons sliced bread rolls to make a simple and effective sausage sandwich, so everyone gets two and four sausages in all - that, some coffee and orange juice was really the perk we all needed after what was a difficult night's sleep due to the heat - even with the windows attempting to let some fresh air in.

I had booked a couple of things to be on the safe side today but the rest of the day was free and easy pretty much, so we decided to head off first of all towards a games shop near me. It was disappointing that a lot of the software titles were just in some crate like containers with them all over the place, not really well looked after at all to be honest, so not good. We headed onwards to the tram stop to take the tram over to Ampere Way - and no, we were not going to IKEA, but instead to the bowling alley at the far end of Valley Park which was pretty popular it seemed as we did well to book for the time we did.

Inside we had got there a little earlier so got a drink (and amazingly the the bar prices were very reasonable indeed, £4 to £4.50 a pint!) and soon our lane became available. It seemed all fine although the pins were on strings at the top, which meant they didn't react as hard if the ball slammed into them somewhat, so did wonder if that wasn't helping. I was going a bit left at times but once I got that sorted I did do two strikes on the bounce which made me happy, and managed to get a respectable score for the first game. Everyone did improve on their second game too and got spares and strikes along the way, so definitely a positive!

We then headed out and walked down towards Therapia Lane (the one tram stop trip wasn't worth it really) and soon approached the tap room for the Signal Brewery. As it was attempting to spit a little with rain, we did have an outside table with brolly, more to keep out the sun I guess. I had the Turbo Joost which was spot on, and we did stay for another where one of my friends discovered the Sticky Hoppy Pudding bottled ale, which he proclaimed to be absolutely superb, so that really did make my day!

The rain had eased off so we headed back to Therapia Lane tram stop and then off back towards the centre of Croydon, and headed over to the Green Dragon where it was the pizza and drink deal all round, and we all got the mighty meaty pizza because it is ace. I did try a very nice couple of beers in there too - the Southwark Red which was very red (as it says on the tin!) and also then a nice milder pale from the folks at Hammerton Brewery too, so again good to get some local ones down us.

It had seemed that the rain was being persistent though so the short walk down to Art and Craft was appreciated. In here I had the Anspach and Hobday Nitro Porter, which was pretty nice. There were also some rather good tunes being played in the background here too including the classic Pretty Vacant by Sex Pistols and also Beautiful Ones by Suede too, but best of all Ask by The Smiths, so that has to be tune of the day for me. Now if we could ask the rain to stop that'd be good, but it was still warm enough too without being too hot which was something.

After a nice beer in Art and Craft it was off to the rear beer garden in the Dog and Bull for the rest of the evening - they have covered little shelters and they have those heaters you press a button on if you need them, and timed it well to get a space for us. In fact the place had a nice deal with the Laine Brewery based in Brighton, so I did have one of their beers too - a mango one that remindeed me a little of Mango Unchained and called Mangolicious. I did also have the Surrey XPA from the Dorking Brewery - also very nice and light too which was good.

It was a final blowout at the local kebab shop later and avoiding the rain that fell, but did have the burger and chips in there which was decent, and overall the quality seemed good for most including cheesy chips, some kebabs and also a pretty nice set of mozzarella sticks too which were golden and crispy. I've always noted it busy at weekend nights more so than other takeaways and I can see why - it was decent food for not that much expense, so an epic win all round and a good way to end what had been a relaxed and chilled out day together.

Friday 17th June - Scorchio and Fixing

I unexpectedly had to be called in to do some work today, but thankfully I could do that from home. It seemed that for some reason, even though we had done a lot of road testing of some of the background stuff, the kiosks for the forthcoming event weren't doing what they should do with some of the tablets. Ironically, the touch screen desktop machines that we'd worked out a solution to were fine. Anyway, I did some investigation with a colleague and it transpired that a reg key is set when first going into tablet mode on the tablet, but wasn't always applying - the moment we did that, on screen keyboards were fine when needed.

Anyway, that did put me a little behind some sorting out I had to do before the visit of some friends later on. Thankfully I had at least sorted out the spare bedding and of course this time around I could use the sofa that converts into a bed, and ran a quick check to make sure the conversion side worked well (which it did actually!) so that was a definite positive all round. With that done, and with some of the trains seemingly being a bit icky, I decided to leave earlier and head off to East Croydon and onwards towards Central London.

It transpired that it was all not plain sailing on one part of the train network which delayed a friend a fair bit but at least when the train got towards Crewe (and was going via Birmingham for some bizarre reason) they allowed a switch of trains to the faster one, good job really as that train became the first one to encounter an incident which was a lineside fire. Good job also I'd also walked over from Kings Cross and were in an air conditioned pub inside Euston because the gates to the station were closed to not let anyone else in.

Thankfully, and eventually, the train did arrive around 5.20pm and we decided to all wind down with a drink in the pub inside Euston station so as not to get too warm too quickly and indeed to be able to relax for a bit too. Conversation and beer flowed, although it would have been nice to get the Oliver's Island ale admittedly, but no stock left of that. Getting out of Euston was slow because only one gate was open to let people out and of course people were crowding around to try and get in - a painful experience and glad I wasn't heading up to Manchester tonight!

Anyway, that done, we walked over to St Pancras and got the train to East Croydon, which was much less hassle all round really, and the air conditioning on the train was very welcome considering the scorchio heat outside, where's Poula Fisch when you need her? In any case the breeze out of East Croydon was welcome as we all headed back to my place, where I made a nice pasta bake with garlic bread for tea, and then had some tiramisu for dessert. As it was very warm in the flat as well as outside, I had a brainwave and went to the top floor of the flat to check something.

And yes, the roof garden was open, and on top of that all the planters had been cleared of weeds too, so it was actually nice and presentable with some astroturf also - could do with some benches but we could improvise there anyway. As it's also on the side of the building facing East, no sun and a nice gentle breeze, so we grabbed some cold beers and took them up with us, which proved to be a rather good move. We all loved the fact it was cooler and the view was pretty good.

I had some nice things planned if we were staying in, but similarly I had a nice quiz on the computer planned too so was able to get that set up and we could have beers and quiz on happily. A lot of it was themed so there was an 80s round of tunes to be named, and one that did stump them was Level 42's classic Running in the Family (make that tune of the day) - they knew the artist, not the song. That was good fun though and as darkness descended and with the lights and fireworks heading off nearby for whatever reason, it had been a nice time all round to relax, although sleeping may still be a little on the uncomfortable side later..

Thursday 16th June - Lionesses and Java

It was a day of working from home and being on hand to support the folks over in France that are setting up for a major event at the moment. They did ask me to add some more printers to the JAMF policy for the Macs so that they would have the printers too - there would be more so far but at the same time I thought it also best to document how they've been added (HP Socket method as all HP printers) so that was all done and easy to get sorted, so produced that so at least when I'm off tomorrow they can pick it up if they need to do so.

I also was able to sort out a query or two with regards to one use who wasn't able to get some of the finance stuff to work. A quick check showed that they didn't have the right version of Java to be able to run the finance stuff, so got that installed, and reminded them that as Internet Explorer will soon be out of support (as of this month's cumulative update in fact) that you need to instead be running Edge, and the site that they use has already been configured by us to run in IE mode (as the actual HTML engine is still there) so that is a definite workaround.

The good thing too is that I had a good discussion with the Cyber Security folks about a proposed piece of software and what we could do with it - in essence there's a couple of pre-requisites, but they're hidden behind a support portal that we have no access too. Ideally what we would need to happen is that we can package up the bits needed and get it distributed the right way so they can install as needed, and that'd work well. I guess too we just need to be sure that we can support it properly and make sure that there's no issues further down the line.

It was still pretty warm today but at least with a bit of breeze coming in when the sun came down, it was bearable to get some cleaning and sorting out done prior to having a nice long weekend from tomorrow. I had the Sainsburys food shopping arrive as well so that was good, and all the bits I needed were in stock, so epic win there too. In fact I'd already had my tea anyway and so it meant that I could effectively get it all put away, and as a result the fridge is nicely full for over the weekend. Winning. Tune of the day in fact reflects my mood at present - Friday I'm In Love by The Cure, because it is fab!

I did then watch the England women against Belgium in an international warm up game prior to Euro 2022 next month. I have to say that the first half was all about trying to find a way through but in the second half, and with a few changes, England upped the ante, and Chloe Kelly cut in from the right to score a thunderous strike for the opener, followed by some defensive ping-pong before Rachel Daly cleverly smashed home for 2-0, and with an own goal after a shot from Leah Williamson making it three, England did well - much better than the men had done at the same ground a couple of days earlier in fact!

Wednesday 15th June - Clearing Out

It was a busy day today at work and managed to package up some new versions of applications, along with sorting out a revised and updated package for the kiosk application that we're going to use next week. Effectively we were just waiting the revised binaries, which we got, and then I could bundle that as a Windows installer MSI, followed by amending the Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer project and making a brand new provisioning ppkg package.

My colleague over in France checked this over, and this now works perfectly without any issues. It's actually good to go on 82 devices, so that does mean that a lot of the prep work is ready and good to go prior to next week. It's good be ready well in advance as that means that everything can run smoothly without any problems, and of course we made sure that there'll be no updates to go out or anything like that during this period so everything works well.

I did decide also last night and today that it would be a sensible idea to clear out many books that I don't read any more, primarily because of the fact it's taking up room that I can use an IKEA Pallra little mini chest (which fits inside the BIlly bookcase) to store the increasing number of C64 and Plus/4 games instead. Anyway, I had saved the box that my dinner service came in, and so packed that full of mainly hardback books which I'd read and not read for years afterwards, slimming down the books to the ones I actually wanted to keep and read instead.

I knew also that locally there was Alice's Attic which supports the Princess Alice hospices locally, and though that was a good idea to go there and donate. The staff were lovely, and were really pleased to see all the books all in lovely condition and all fit for resale as well. Of course, I did check none of them were signed beforehand, as one of the books I treasure is a signed copy of Claudia Winkleman's Quite, which is pride of place in the bookshelf and going nowhere!

Later on I ventured out to Morrisons to get some beers for the weekend ahead, and they had a pretty good selection of all sorts. Interestingly they also had some of the small craft cans reduced to £1.25, and actuallty some I liked, so that was a definite win there for sure - and why not? I also went towards Sanderstead and to The Wine Cellar, which is the sister place to Freshfields near me. But oh boy, what a cracking selection they have here - all sorts of local ales, some really good guest cans, and hard to find stuff such as red Peroni (proper) and also Budvar too, but also even a lot of German beers. Seriously, spoilt for choice there!

And as an unexpected surprise, the concierge told me there had been a package for me which seemed to have only just surfaced - one that was sent a couple of months back and assumed lost in the post when sent out via a very reliable eBay seller. The good news was that one of the games of three in that package was Codemasters' rather good fun game Tilt, and so the title theme by Steve Barrett is tune of the day - it's really good fun even now even if it is a touch on the hard side!

Tuesday 14th June - Putney Perfection

It was good to be in the office today and get a feel for the surroundings of the second floor of the building we're now based in, instead of the first and ground I've usually been at when being in there. It does look very smart now with all the desks moved over, so all height adjustable, and all wired connections everywhere which pleases me immensely, as I can plug in and crack on without any hassle. Always better when you can do that and actually go full speed ahead on what you need to do with the job too.

So I road tested some build changes, mainly involving new versions of Chrome and Firefox, and all of those worked well without any issues. I also packaged up a new version of Google Drive with a view to getting that out there for those that needed it, and as well I'll be road testing tomorrow a new version of the community edition of Pycharm, released by JetBrains, so definitely something that we can also get prepared to use. It's good when you're on a roll like that and felt that way later as I headed on the tube from Temple and across via Earls' Court and over to East Putney.

I was meeting up with The Love's niece, who lives there now, and nephew, who was flying back to where he's doing his doctorate and lecturing work in Taiwan tomorrow. I suggested it'd be a good idea and at least have some company before he flies back, so that was a positive. In fact I was literally walking behind them both as we approached the Spotted Horse pub, where I'd booked us an outside table on the upstairs terrace, which is a little hidden gem around those parts if you know about it (which we did after we did lunch with The Love in there once too!)

Drinks and conversation flowed well, and it was nice to see that we were in some shade but had a lovely table with plants and a walled garden feel to the terrace. It definitely was lovely to be at during this evening and it felt all cosy and comfortable. I had the Young's Special ale which is always spot on, and ordered the food for the three of us - the niece and nephew both had the fish and chips, which was really good, and I had the chicken, ham hock and leek pie. It was a proper pie (oh yes!) and full of really nice meat, together with some Jersey royal potatoes and tenderstem broccoli - very nice indeed it has to be said.

We got another drink and had more chats on all sorts, including the impact of tube and train strikes next week, and also about the fact that exploring different parts of London really does work out well (definitely can recommend all the walks I've done) and it was a really lovely evening all told. Time flew by and before we knew it, it was 9.15pm and time to head off homewards. It was lovely to see them both and have some nice drinks and food, and used hopper fare to good effect to get the 93 bus then the tram homewards. As for tune of the day it has to be The Stone Roses' classic She Bangs The Drums which was on in the background as we had an evening drink in the sun.

Monday 13th June - Cat Chasing

I woke up after having had a good sleep overnight, only to see Brian the cat going slightly at a fast pace and doing his now infamous fast trot. Turned out that there was a different cat walking around the front and the car park - namely a pure black cat, not the black and white girl cat who often calls by. Needless to say Brian was on it and absolutely giving it the stare treatment out of the living room windows until the other cat had vanished. That was his main exercise for the day apart from him playing ball with me later on during the day (as you do) so that was something.

I spent some time as well being able to look at getting a few things sorted for the big events next week. We'd been sent over the new version of an application to be in use for a kiosk, so I had the main files sent over, with a view to a) packaging that as a MSI installer for reference if needed, and b) then including it as a Microsoft PPKG file for packaging as a standalone kiosk configuration installer. I was able to have the tools to hand but it did take some time due to the fact that the Internet connection wasn't the quickest, but got it all done nonetheless.

Brian the cat came out from his slumber mid afternoon and decided to sit on the pouffle facing outwards, and he was happy enough in his world too. I must admit it was good to be able to see how he was and he even had himself tucked up in the "tickle me please" position, but I wasn't going to risk being scratched - let him have those tickles from his Mummy later on. The day proved to be quite productive on the whole and was able to close things down in good time to get myself ready to be all packed and good to go later on.

The Love In My Heart gave me a lift to Piccadilly station after finishing work herself, and she was all good. It felt like the traffic was quieter and we had a little hug to say goodbye for a week and a half or so, and then I headed up to Piccadilly. The 1915 train was running but the first one for 40 minutes or so to Euston, so as a result it was pretty busy all round. I was glad to get my seat and have a drink and zone out with some tunes on the iPod, including KMFDM's ace Free Your Hate, so that has to be tune of the day.

The train got delayed at Milton Keynes for some reason and did crawl into Euston with around ten minutes' worth of delay. Thankfully I'd worked out I could still get the 2145 from St Pancras and onwards to home, so that's pretty much what I did to be honest. I was pleased that at least I could get an air conditioned train and then walk home with the cooler air being refreshing, much more so than what is planned later this week weather wise that's for sure!

Sunday 12th June - Sunday Sheeran

So later today, The Love In My Heart and I were off to the Etihad Stadium to see Ed Sheeran, not my first choice of gig. However, The Love had entered a draw as a local resident and had managed to win, and so had two tickets for tonight. Bearing in mind the cost plus booking fee per ticket comes to £82.50 each, that's not a small prize to win at all. So needless to say that was worth doing as a freebie to see what the hype is about, and of course to also see Maisie Peters as support too. My friend had gone earlier in the week and called her a bit twee, so we'll see how that pans out.

First off though it was into the centre of Manchester for Sunday roast. As a thank you to us both for looking after The Cute Little One last week, their parents very kindly gave us a £25 gift voucher for Elnecot in Ancoats, and we love the Sunday roast in there. Even better, they had a table free for us at 1.30pm today so The Love booked it yesterday and got it sorted. So with the weather being decent, we walked down the Ashton Canal, past the crowds going to the Etihad well too early, and then down past the old factories that are rehearsal rooms, and turning right by New Islington and the marina to Ancoats.

The staff were as lovely as ever in Elnecot and I had the Shindigger West Coast whilst The Love had the Shindigger Lager as they had a shortage of Camden Hells (where everyone seems to be doing so at present.) The Love had the roast pork which looked massive, and also melty too, and I had the shoulder of lamb which was fab too. Add to that massive Yorkshire puddings, proper gravy, some nice veg and roasties, and it was a very good way to spend the Sunday lunch together it has to be said.

We then headed over to Seven Bro7ers and I had the rather nice hazy ale they've started to do, and a pilsner for The Love, and was good to chill out there before popping into Cask on the way back to the canal towpath with a nice local Twisted Wheel pale session ale for me and a wine for The Love. We could people watch (and dog watch!) as everyone walked along the marina nearby and it did feel rather relaxing for a Sunday to say the least. We walked off the lunch and headed back to The Love's place, where she got changed and ready for the gig later on.

Using my knowledge of the stadium and having seen where the stage was, I knew blocks 104 and 105 in the first tier would be ideal (we had general admission, so standing or anywhere unreserved in level 1.) We made our way over, and managed to get two seats together in 104 near the top (so we could see) and had an excellent view of the stage in the middle, all the screens and pylons around it (which themselves had screens) and the small mini stages which we'd see in use later. I did go to the bar and it was an eyewatering £6.80 for beer, but did get The Love the Beavertown Bones Lager and me a nice pale ale, and there was no queue unlike the one for the crappy Budweiser, so epic win.

So on came Maisie Peters with her band, and she was pretty good actually. All her live band were on stage with her playing properly, and particularly notable was the keyboard player Tina Hizon - whether on standard keys or the keytar, she was absolutely rocking it, and with guest vocals too. A nice forty five minute set of some good catchy pop tunes including the title track of her album You Signed Up For This, Brooklyn, Cate's Brother and a rather powerful John Hughes Movie as well. Definitely worth checking out, someone who writes their own stuff should always be respected.

In between it was sensible to head to the loo and get another drink and be ready, with the centre stage screen down and showing a countdown clock before Ed Sheeran came on. And what I did notice with the first couple of songs was that those playing guitars, drums and keyboards with him were all relegated to these small tiny stages by the pillars, leaving Ed alone in the centre stage. I must admit I did think that was a bit off actually, surely if those band members are doing their job, they should rightfully be sharing the stage, but there you go. That did nark me the whole evening, it has to be said.

On the flip side, Ed Sheeran got the crowd going with plenty of the songs that the majority of people will know well, so I knew we'd get the likes of Thinking Out Loud, Sing, Shivers, The A-Team and so on. A lot of the time he was using the loop station and so building up the track as he'd do in the studio but of course getting that live. Some of the audience may have only seen one of these for the first time, but I've seen lots of people use this including She Makes War (now Penfriend) for example.

For Galway Girl, Tina Hizon came out and played the fiddle, showing her multitude of talents once again, and virtually ran around the rotating stage playing that. The rotating stage was a good idea so none of you were always facing the back of the artists, so that worked nicely. The likes of Photograph and Perfect had everyone singing along loudly and as it got dark, the mobile phone lights lit up the Etihad with Afterglow closing the main set and having the circular screen around the stage hide Ed for a few minutes before heading back out for the final encore.

Of course, two of the big hits came out as you'd expect, so that meant Bad Habits and Shape of You (complete with the contentious part he had settled in court recently and in his favour) - but perhaps a good way to close it was having an extended version of You Need Me, I Don't Need You and sounding a bit more folk but with plenty of passion at the same time. This actually worked well as it's an early single, so one for the real fans to enjoy, but some of the audience left to go to their cars, a bit disrespectful that. I actually thought it was a good move myself, and the fireworks set off at the end.

So all in all, a mixed bag. The Love did enjoy Ed Sheeran lots, and I have no qualms about the live performance, bar relegating the touring band members to be bit parts on little stages miles away from the centre. The sound engineer had the sound decent for a stadium gig and the view for us was good, but if you had a level 2 seat at one end of the ground you'd feel a tad cheesed off I think. Would I have paid the £82.50 for a ticket? No. No artist in my view would be worth that and I'd rather spend my money on four our five (possibly even six) smaller gigs discovering more indie artists for much less. Still, The Love loved it and if it made her happy sharing that with her, my job is done.

Saturday 11th June - Reunited

Due to the bunged up feeling I had, I had re-arranged some trains slightly to give me another almost full day of recovery, and waking up Saturday morning after a god night's sleep really did help things considerably. So, changing the train to be a 1420 departure to Manchester made sense, and it also allowed The Love In My Heart some quality time with The Cute Little One, who went to the local park and had a whale of a time on the swings, and was being super cute whilst at it, so that was good. What I didn't want to do was give her any remnants of any bug I might have, so I think that was appreciated.

I spent a fair bit of time tidying around the flat and in some cases this was some ideal preparation for next weekend, when I've got friends coming over, so more done now is less to do later next week, made sense to me at least. I did venture out briefly to empty the bins and recycling and also to ensure that I had enough cleaning essentials, which I did. It was also good to be able to organise the shelves a bit neater with a view to some ideas I had from IKEA, so that's going to be of interest when I get that done, methinks.

I left the flat and headed over to East Croydon and took the 1315 train to St Pancras, and walked across over to Euston and got a meal deal in Sainsburys for some lunch. The good news was that the train had come in at Euston, but they swapped a couple of sets over and thankfully got on first before all the confusion of the wrong reservations kicked in. It was a relatively calm journey overall with someone only sat next to me to Milton Keynes before getting off, so had the space to myself which I was pretty happy with.

The Love came to pick me up at Manchester Piccadilly and we avoided the Etihad Stadium concert traffic on the way back to her place. We were to have a nice evening in, and she had got all the ingredients for one of the nicest thing she makes - a chicken casserole. It's spot on and really did fill me up nicely with some vegetables, chicken and energy. She had also got me a nice can of the Salty Kiss beer as well, which as a gose beer is an acquired taste but I like it, so watched that whilst keeping an eye on the evening's entertainment on the telly.

In fact, I did catch up with last night's celebrity Gogglebox which I missed (too much fun playing games and that!) and then later we settled in to watch the Formula 1 qualifying from Baku. It was pretty intense for pole position but Charles Leclerc took it in the end. We did also watch the British Soap Awards on ITV, and The Love was mega pleased that Emmerdale won best soap (it's her fave) so said theme tune is tune of the day - and it amazed us both how many awards Doctors had been nominated for. Who watches it, I wonder, people working from home maybe?

Friday 10th June - Quattro Quandries

So I was able to sort out a few things today at work, and having worked from home all week I have to say that really did feel positive to collaborate with a few of the team and resolve one issue which had been a bit of a puzzle earlier in the week. It turned out that it was a simple case of re-applying a relevant key, and everything started working again. That definitely was a case of it being all in and having a thorough investigation, so definitely had to be worthwhile.

I did have a delivery in the post earlier today - no less than ten of the Codemasters Quattro compilations. Nine of them were from the lovely folks at The Retro Cavern (do go there for your 8-bit gaming needs, they're fab) and another I picked up cheap off eBay, with another two so far to come. There were fourteen such compilations released on a single cassette - each one having four games, hence the Quattro name. Of course I suspect it was spelt with two Ts to avoid it being named the same as the famous soft drink from the 1980s and those iconic adverts - you'll know which one I mean! Said advert music is tune of the day.

Anyway, onwards with a few of them loading up and being tested. Quattro Racers was a very long tape, primarily as they had standard and expert versions of both BMX Simulator 2 and Championship Jet Ski - although the latter is doable in standard, absolutely forget about getting anywhere in expert, it's just way too hard. For BMX Simulator 2, standard means you can't collide with other riders and in expert, well you can guess what happens. This also had ATV Simulator and BMX Freestyle, both of which I already owned individually, so nice to have a backup version on the compilation of course.

The other notable one for me was Quattro Arcade - this had two releases I don't have on single cassette. One of them - Poltergeist - I did own back in the day and actually reviewed it recently too. Still good fun, although the trio weapon, the first extra weapon, is by far the best one in the game, and the music by David Whittaker is decent. Also on here was Advanced Pinball Simulator, which was actually programmed on the 64 by Chris Shrigley (he did Bounder amongst others for Gremlin Graphics) and compared to say Soccer Pinball, still plays okay. I did have the original of this too back in the day - if only I knew then they'd be so hard to find...

This also had Fruit Machine Simulator on, and had to see if I could win enough money to get over £99. In fact, a couple of early £5 jackpots helped, and generally taking the win instead of gambling was a better option at all times. I'd often light up CASH-BASH and have extras, and I think once I had around £3.50 from the Skill Chance mode, so that was decent. So I got over £99, and it looped back to £0.00 again. Hmm.. so in effect there's no actual end. At least on say Vegas Jackpot back in the day you were able to get to a point where you'd get the tune playing when you won!

Still, the compilations were a good way to be able to get some games you might not have got as a single tape, so for example Quattro Adventure has Ghost Hunters and Dizzy on (both hard to find as singles) and Quattro Super Hits has Super Hero, also not so easy to locate. In fact, I've got the final compilation, Quattro Megastars, on its way which is not so easy to locate but does have CJ's Elephant Antics as its lead, which is superb. And Skyhigh Stuntman, hard to find as a single cassette, which is not so good. In a way you always took the chances back in the day with such a release - at least one or two out of the four games would be good so you didn't mind the price tag for a compilation to be honest.

Thursday 9th June - Published Showdown

It was nice to see today one of the fruits of my earlier labours a few weeks ago get released on Youtube today. So feel free to have a watch of Episode 4 of the Commodore 64 Budget Publisher Showdown, featuring myself and Rob Wilson (aka RWX Designs) as guests of Mat (witchfinder1976) - where we review four sets of budget games from the publishers Mastertronic, Firebird and Codemasters based on mainly 80s themes, so a round on BMX, a round on skateboarding, a round on ninjas and finally a Wild West themed round too. Lots of good games, and, it has to be said, lots of not so good games either.

I think the main thing for me at least, prior to recording this episode a few weeks back, was that I actually had the majority of the games featured in the reviews, so playing them on my own machine was a lot easier to do without having to use any other method (such as transferring a disk image back to a real C64 or writing a tape image with the relevant connectors and Audiotap) which meant I could load them up straight off and get playing on the real thing for that sort of experience that you'd like.

In fact, tonight, I went back to some of them to see if what I said in the video stands up - and you won't be surprised at all to learn that it does. So Pro Skateboard Simulator is still pretty difficult but I could still do well on it, but ideally a setting for difficulty (so easier = more time for example) would be helpful, and naturally BMX Simulator with it being the first ever Codemasters title still is just as good fun today as it was then, and I do have the original disk version as well, it was one of a few that they put out on budget disk packaging. Nice to have though for sure.

I did also of course have to play Ninja Master, urgh, which is pretty horrid. I actually did load up the Plus/4 and play that version and found it to be the same bobbins game, but on a system with less power (and fitted into 16K to be fully Commodore 16 compatible as was) you felt it made a better use of the hardware here - still the same rubbish animation et al, but perhaps more forgivable. The C64 version though is utterly awful, so definitely don't bother playing that one and avoid it if you can.

What I did go back to as well was BMX Kidz, and its rather excellent sample-laden title theme by Rob Hubbard (make that one tune of the day). There's some still valid criticisms of that but definitely well worth loading up if only for the music. The "go, go go go go" sound is Rob himself, and belts along at pace, shame that you couldn't have that as the tune in-game too, that would have been, as the game puts it, well rad! Still, goes to show that two quid went a fair way back in the day...

Wednesday 8th June - Slickly Done

I had three meetings to attend today, so was sort of glad I was at home and could readily get a coffee or any medicine I needed whilst attempting to dose up somewhat. One good thing was I had a Sainsburys food delivery this morning and despite it being the four hour slot between 7am and 11am, it came around 7.15am, so that meant I could get it all put away and all ready to go before then getting showered and changed to face the working day. I must admit the early start that way works well for me - meant I could have some breakfast and feel refreshed nicely to crack on.

The first meeting was to establish a method of removing certain parts of a set of programs that we're no longer going to be using - primarily because one of them failed to work as well as it should with our Apple Mac estate, and realistically that wouldn't do. From an endpoint perspective they had at least given us a script to do some of the removals, which did work well - but we did note that some of those users might already have one of the pre-requisite pieces of software, but not the OEM version. However, a bit of clever script checking later and I was able to include that and sure enough, that worked. Slick!

And talking of Slicks, I had a nice arrival today in the post courtesy of eBay, and for much less than it normally appears to sell for on said platform - the game Slicks by Codemasters for the Commodore 64. It's actually the very last single-format 8-bit release (catalogue number 1716) and because of that, and also because the game is very good, is highly sought after. So to get this for £5 instead of the usual £12-15 selling price that it normally goes for is a pretty good move all round really - and I probably did pay £3.99 for it back in the day when it was released.

One thing you may not be aware of - there's some cross-pollination of soundtracks too. So in the game Miami Chase, the Amiga soundtrack has lots of tunes, and one for each level. The one for the level Plant, by Jimmy Fredriksson (aka Firefox) is pretty ace, hence tune of the day and is actually covered on the C64 by Allister Brimble as the title theme for Slicks. If you've never heard the Amiga version in Miami Chase, now's your chance. It's a pretty rocking tune isn't it?

Anyway, one thing I do remember was once you mastered the controls of Slicks, it was immernsely playable and you could work your way through the championship and its six rounds to try and get a better car - by challenging the driver in a better car in the next race and beating them. If you can of course get into say a Brabham you've got a good chance of progressing nicely and winning too, so always sensible to get there at least and then take on the big boys (which at that time would have been Williams and McLaren, mirroring the status quo of F1 at the time.) Now for another go...

Tuesday 7th June - Poorly Cat And Poorly Me

With myself not feeling quite right and still bunged up, I felt that it would be sensible not to go into the office today and instead give up the desk reservation for anyone else that needed it. As it turned out of course, the tube was still recovering after yesterday's strike action anyway and as such that really did make the decision for me that it'd be too much hassle with too many people to be going. I must admit that it made sense to me and that of course meant more sleep and trying to ward off any bugs with decongestants and such like.

I also spent some time today looking at something which cropped up when doing some training yesterday with a couple of service desk colleagues, in that the machine I normally use wasn't reporting into the inventory system. A check of the log files soon revealed why: it wasn't able to see the server to report to on the port that it should be - and yet if connected to the Internet on my network at home (and not via the company VPN and thus internally network connected) it worked fine. I also as well will check once in the office if wired does the same but have flagged it anyway.

The Love In My Heart in the meantime ended up taking Brian the cat off to the vet after finishing work today. He had been a tad poorly all weekend mainly throwing up anything he had eaten or just some liquids if he was drinking water, which meant that his digestive system wasn't performing as it should. The vet did manage to give him an injection and then also prescribe some specialist food which he'll then need to have and hopefully get better - so fingers crossed he does!

I also was able later on to be able to have a coffee and plan the afternoon: and resolve a couple of issues as well. I managed to run some reports and could determine that one particular area seems to be not having some of the processes for HR performed correctly, so myself and our service team manager could do some liaison and be able to provide some fact.s That worked well and that was able to be sorted out for the rest of the week, and go from there. Tune of the day is Senses Working Overtime by XTC, as my senses almost as instinctive as Gene Hunt from Life on Mars were to trust my hunches, and they were right.

I did get a sneak preview today of something that I was involved in, and that came out well when I watched it after work. It was pretty nice to see all the comments that I added came across well, and that the general conversational vibe of how it was when I was recording it was preserved too. You will have to see later in the week but I must admit that it cheered me up massively on what had been a pretty miserable day weather wise - and I am genuinely worried about Brian the cat - I hope he is going to be okay. He is so adorable and did play ball with me over the weekend so thought he wasn't that bad really.

Monday 6th June - Bunged Up Bounder

I did feel bunged up somewhat this morning and this was despite me being able to have some paracetemol overnight and also use some vapour rub in a somewhat futile attempt to get some sleep as well. I did manage to have a few hours, and at least by being at home today I could get up a little later and also work on some tasks that needed to be performed. One of those happened to be the deployment of what we managed to agree last week to remediate a vulnerability, and it had been given the go ahead by both the management and our cyber security people.

In fact, I spent a chunk of time monitoring that and making sure that the deployment went well, which it did, and it basically allowed us to be able to back up any existing key (in case it needed bringing back) and then from there removing said key. It was effective, quick and I had at least half the machines done by the early afternoon, not bad considering that we have users in all time zones pretty much. It's good when things work and I definitely was able to contribute nicely to that.

In the evening, despite my bunged up ness, I decided to try out the game I'd got for myself over the weekend from Rewind Collectables in Ashton - namely Bounder by Gremlin Graphics. It even had Metabolis on the B-side as well as the original release did (this one was the Boots pack tie-in version but was still the same) so made a note to give that a go as well later on. I fired up the cassette and loaded the game in, and everything worked wonderfully well first go, with the title screen coming forth and the version of the Kajun Klog music transcribed here by Andrew Green (based on the original by Louis Ewens) so that's tune of the day for me.

Of course, controlling a tennis ball bouncing over landscapes might not necessarily seem a subject for a game, but it's done really well, with the grey areas safe to bounce on, with hazards and nasties to avoid, and also arrowed squares that let you bounce further, plus mystery bonus squares (which are always the same each time you play, so you can work out which ones are of most benefit). It's all good fun but it's just as difficult as I remember it back in the day - you really do have to keep your wits about you and know which squares to land on and where abouts is the best route also.

I did also watch the finale of Hunted, and have to say without giving too much away that one team's choice of where to go on the second to last day wasn't exactly ideal, but you'll have to watch and find out. I did suspect that the final extraction point location was somewhere a little bit more remote, and that proved to be a little bit of a set up cliff hanger of parts, but again, no spoilers here yet. I was a bit puzzled though why Channel 4 ran it over Sunday and Monday nights on three consecutive weeks instead of a regular time once a week!

Sunday 5th June - Escaping To Tap Rooms

It was the last day of the long weekend for myself and The Love In My Heart. We had had a good time overall and were meeting up with friends this afternoon. They had booked a table for the four of us at Escape to Freight Island at the former Mayfield station the other side of Piccadilly. The Love's family had been there and when the weather was good they had the conservatory, which is fully covered but looks out well and definitely feels much more of a good space to be at. Unfortunately, the weather this morning was chucking it down and potentially with thunderstorms, so inside bookings only we reckoned.

The Love and I set off for the tram and that got us to Piccadilly quickly, and we headed across and over to the entrance to Freight Island, and had my case checked to make sure it was just clothes inside (and fair enough they had to check it also) and that was all fine. We got shown to a table inside, and immediately, I took a dislike to the surroundings. It was far too noisy with a DJ playing all sorts of jazz far too loudly, and couldn't hear myself think either. We were hoping that would subside later and our friends arrived, and with us all having a drink we managed to move over to a booth table for four so that worked out better.

I have to say though that atmosphere wise, it just wasn't very good, and if you wanted somewhere quieter, this place was not it. Do the people who run the place not get that actually you might want conversation? Anyway, we did order some lunch from Burgerism, and I have to say the food was spot on from there - they really cooked everything spot on to order, from The Love's cheese burger to mine with masses of bacon, and even the vegan option for one of our friends also was very good. The fries were seasoned with paprika so they were a touch on the spicy side, so well worth being aware of really.

After the lunch, The Love suggested we head up to the Track and Cloudwater tap rooms to be a bit more chilled, and we all agreed. So it was through the back of Piccadilly station and onwards to Track, where the vibe was much better. I got myself a really nice Hell or High Hills beer, as did one of our friends, and the Arosa Helles for The Love and friend. All was good and we much more enjoyed the chilled vibe here, we could hear conversation properly and that definitely felt good. I did love the beer as per usual in here of course.

It was then over the road to Cloudwater, and again, some really nice choices, and for me another cask ale this time the Rock The Cask Bar (see what they did there) which reminded me of the Clash classic Rock The Casbah (had it in my head for the rest of the day so tune of the day) and very much more relaxing with more conversation. I also tried one of the pale cloudier ales later which was spot on, and The Love had their helles in there which was also decent too, and the four of us ended up having a really good time before then all heading to Manchester Piccadilly station to get our respective transport.

I did feel sad as I headed home on the train but did feel a little bunged up in places, so was making sure I dosed myself up a little bit. The train itself did get delayed a bit getting into Euston, but only by ten minutes or so - due to an earlier and sad fatality on the line. There were a lot at Euston attempting to head home, and I had to take the spiral stairs down to the Victoria line platform due to an escalator fault, and got to Victoria and then on to East Croydon, and homeward bound around 10.15pm, so not too bad considering, but still a late end to the long weekend.

Saturday 4th June - Bruntwood Park and Rocking Out

I woke up to find The Cute Little One in between myself and The Love In My Heart - she had woken up but didn't want to go back in her cot bed, so The Love placed her all snuggled up with us both. Of course she was full of the joys of Spring when I woke up, and gave me a big smile and said "Hi!" in the cutest possible voice. Awww. We did get up and have some breakfast, where The Cute Little One did have some porridge and also a banana, and enjoyed them both from the comfort of the high chair whilst The Love and I had a sausage sandwich and set ourselves up for the day.

Once the three of us had got showered and changed, we headed off to Bruntwood Park in Cheadle as we knew it had a good sized children's playground as well as a café for some lunch. In fact we took the pram with us and so once we arrived, we could place The Cute Little One in there as we walked around the park paths. We did though go to the playground first and she was enjoying her little self on the swings quite a bit, and I pushed her gently so she could enjoy going back and forth, and she had the giggles doing so, which was really lovely.

We did note a wedding was going on in the small hotel within the park, and we headed down a couple of paths and followed one path up through some trees, then left and slightly downhill and through some fields, which was nice. In fact we got to the bottom, over a little stream and then along a field back towards the car park, and also saw the pond with the ducks in, and they along with the Canadian geese and their babies were battling the local pigeons for the food that families had left for them - quite a sight to watch!

We went to the Vinery Café and sat outside, and fed The Cute Little one some packed lunch we'd prepared and also ordered a cheese and ham toastie for us both, along with some chips, and The Cute Little One's eyes lit up - needless to say she had some chips with us and was enjoying those, and some of our soft drink also. We did go back to the swings later and she was loving life on there, even more so when I got a small tub of ice cream from the kiosk and it ended up being one spoon for me, one for her, and she really liked that too. And being adorably cute at the same time.

We got home later and The Love with The Cute Little One went to pick up the parents at the train station later, and of course she was a little overwhelmed at first, but back at The Love's place she was soon happy, and gave me a kiss goodbye as she left for home (awww) which was nice. The Love then later made us some really nice steak with some vegetables and a gorgeous sauce for tea, and that set us up nicely for the evening where we were a little hesitant about the Jubilee concert at the Palace tonight, but we ended up watching the whole thing together.

Needless to say that The Queen's opening sketch with Paddington Bear was brilliant, and that really did set the scene well, especially them using the spoons on the cup and saucer in time for a famous opening drum beat, which was of course Queen doing their set. We Will Rock You was first, and that got everyone going, and nice to also have Don't Stop Me Now before a triumphant We Are The Champions, with Adam Lambert on mighty fine vocal form too - so tune of the day for me obviously, I do love that.

It was an intriguing mix of the old and the new, with the new being represented by Jax Jones, Mabel and also Mimi Webb with her House on Fire single. We did have Elbow doing, as I predicted, One Day Like This which sounded majestic, and a medley from Craig David. Diversity were always good, having a danced based on the eras of the music under the queen, with them having a rap about the eras also. Anthony Lloyd Webber came on to introduce songs from musicals including Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King and Six, so was mega happy to see the latter be part of this, and Jason Donovan doing Any Dream Will do, no less.

Some acts were more miss than hit though, especially Rod Stewart, who sounded out of tune and murdering Sweet Caroline (which apparently he didn't want to do). Diana Ross as the closer was disappointing: it was clear she was miming - hence the adjustment of the radio mic - watch it back and see, and a shame really because it just felt like you were cheated. Thankfully we also had Duran Duran with Nile Rodgers guesting absolutely smashing it, especially with Girls on Film, and surprisingly, The Love and I really enjoyed Alicia Keys - she was effortless on piano with Superwoman and Empire State of Mind particularly.

Celeste also guested with Hans Zimmer and an orchestra after the David Attenborough piece, with What A Wonderful World. The lighting with the projections and drones were also spot on, including the lights showing the queen's corgi's, the postage stamp with the head, and a dove circling for peace. It overall was a good effort of showcasing so much in two and a half hours or so, and of course for both me and The Love In My Heart we'd have felt it was better if we had Queen last and headlining at the end, and rightly so.

Friday 3rd June - Cherry Tree Chill Out

Today The Love In My Heart and I were having The Cute Little One for a couple of days, as her parents were off to Knebworth to see Liam Gallagher. They had already got tickets for that before the date at the Etihad Stadium was announced, or else of course they would have looked at going there instead. The weather at least looked good for them and they were heading on a cheaper train via Crewe primarily of course as everyone else was going to London as well for obvious reasons. They dropped off The Cute Little One and she was already being absolutely adorable, walking around everywhere.

We settled her in for the morning and soon had some of the toys and books out, one of which happened to be the tale of the Gingerbread Man, which I read out to her along with some voice characterisations as well, which she had a little giggle at. We figured it'd be better to put her in the nice dress she arrived in for later for when we were heading out, and so she could walk and crawl everywhere in the meantime and not get her best stuff mucky. We did feed her some lunch and she was happily sat in the high chair enjoying the view, as was Brian the cat, he knows that The Cute Little One can't get him whilst in there, so he could mooch over to the pouffle happily.

Later on the three of us were heading out to meet some of The Love's family for a mid afternoon lunch / early tea, and off to The Cherry Tree in Blackrod, the other side of Bolton. We had worked out it was up the M61 towards Bolton's ground, but to turn left at the junction and then right at the roundabout up the A6 and to the place. It did look very nice and we did arrive a little early, but The Love's sisters and nieces and nephews soon arrived, so we were shown to a very nice table, and they even had a nice guest cask ale on so that was me sorted.

In fact, all the food I had there was good too - the fish and chips for the main was a nice piece of haddock and some really good well seasoned chips, with some mushy peas. The Love had the chicken skewers with some salad, and all the while The Love's nephew and I were keeping The Cute Little One entertained - in fact she was trying everyone's food as we all gave her little bits. I do think she liked the dessert of mine most of all though - the baked bakewell tart complete with some nice clotted cream and cherry compote too - that went down a treat

The weather was nice and The Cherry Tree had some outside seating and sensibly some astroturf, so we headed out there for a drink after the meal, and the place had a band on playing some cover versions of songs. The Cute Little One decided to stand up and do some dancing and looked so lovely doing so, and being a happy little girl too which was adorable. I do recall some of the covers, and the band played them well but did make me yearn for the originals, especially Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (the original of which will be tune of the day as I love that song.)

We headed off later and The Cute Little One had a sleep in The Love's car on the way back, and in the evening we settled her in to the cot bed and off to sleep before having a well earned beer or wine and watching Gogglebox which effectively was highlights from the last series - some good clips there too including them commenting on Pam and Tommy, Starstruck, The Home Edit (where they basically re-arranged a garage into more storage boxes for the likes of Chris Pratt - hilarious!) and SAS Who Dares Wins also.

Thursday 2nd June - Platinum Escape

It was an early rise for me today as I was off to Manchester for the extended Bank Holiday weekend, and a perfect time to spend with The Love In My Heart. I was heading on the 0820 train from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, which thankfully was relatively quiet. There were a couple of families heading North to see loved ones but their children were occupied with drawing and also looking out of the window at the scenery, the latter something I definitely used to do on train journeys myself, so definitely a good relatable thing to be honest.

The Love came to collect me and we headed back to her place, and Brian the cat was being all a big softy and being adorable, responding well to a fuss as well as some Dreamies. The Love was watching the Trooping the Colour parade, which noticably didn't have the Queen featuring as much, probably to ensure that it wasn't too much for her. She did appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace later with most of the remainder of the Royal Family, and the aeroplanes flying past were pretty good, especially the Red Arrows of course.

In the meantime and to allow The Love more time to enjoy the Platinum Jubilee coverage, and checking they were open, I headed over to Ashton under Lyne and to Rewind Collectables, this time for some more classic computer games to be found. I had informed a friend who plays the Atari 8-bit systems of some of the games in there and he was after a couple, both of which were in stock, so picked those up along with a copy of the classic Commodore 64 game Bounder (complete with the fact it was part of a Boots pack with a Commodore 64 for cheap, so all well there.

In fact, I headed back on the tram and stopped off at Home Bargains, where the beer and ale selection was surprisingly good - I managed to get the Hawkshead Helles for 89p a can and two other Hawkshead beers for 99p each as well as this four pack of Camden Ales - the Canapé IPA - for a mere £2.99, so no arguing with that. In fact I did also note that the Robinsons Brewery based in Stockport did a deal so that the Queen's Tipple ale was there in Home Bargains also at a fair price, didn't get any but good to see a different deal to get beer stocked being done.

Once I got back and with most of the TV coverage done for the day, we headed off to the Gateway in East Didsbury for some food and drink, and as the weather was decent we could sit outside and relax as well which was pretty good. Lots of time for a good natter and it did feel nice not being in work and enjoying the most of the time we have together. We did later on feed Brian the cat his tea also, and the three of us snuggled on the sofa for some early evening telly - and tuned in for the platinum beacons being lit around the country later on too. Gregory Porter was on also singing a special song A Life Lived With Grace which was pretty good - so tune of the day there.

Wednesday 1st June - Forza Ukraine!

So I had a busy day of sorts today, primarily as I was having a good chatter with our Cyber Security team over one of the most recent security flaws found, and how effectively we can mitigate against that. In essence, the remediation seems to be to remove a registry key in full, and it was reasonably easy for me to get a Powershell script created which effectively checks for the existance of a registry path, and then if it does exist make sure you've got a backup of that key somewhere and then remove it accordingly.

It was good to see it all working and we've done some initial testing to see how that turns out, and again all was working fine. I'd always rather test things out properly first in order to be able to make sure that when any deployment goes out properly, it's going to be reliable and works well. In essence, we can get this out pretty quickly as we need to so that's a definite plus. And I completed the working day with a training session for some of our US colleagues on one piece of software too, so that definitely is a bit of a win all round.

Later on it was the World Cup European play-off, long delayed for obvious reasons, as Ukraine travelled to Scotland with an electric atmosphere at Hampden Park. It was all friendly before kick off though with solidarity being shown and it really did make you feel proud of how warm the Scottish welcomed their Ukrainian counterparts. Football will be the winner ultimately of course, but huge credit where it was due. I would be interested to see how this turned out as I don't mind Scotland getting through, but there's the thought of Ukraine doing the business and of course Oleksandr Zinchenko of Man City plays for them too (cue his rap single being tune of the day - watch it if you've not seen it.)

You did feel that the first goal would be crucial somehow and Ukraine really did settle well in the first half and were good on the break. In fact it was one such break that led to the opening goal. A through ball was well fed from Malinovskyi and that found Yarmolenko of West Ham, who expertly chipped the Scottish keeper Craig Gordon for 1-0 to Ukraine. That was how it was until half time and early in the second half, a header from Yaremchuk made its way into the net and it was 2-0. Zinchenko had been outstanding too, he was everywhere and demanding more from his team mates.

Scotland were getting back into it during the second half though and after a header from John McGinn which he'll have felt gutted not to convert, a cross came in and the Ukranian keeper flapped at it, only for Callum McGregor to attempt a lob, and the keepr got a touch but wasn't enough and the ball crossed the line - just - for 2-1, as the referee's watch clearly bleeped. Game very much on and it definitely felt as if Scotland could get the momentum to force an equaliser.

The temperature and the volume rose as one inside Hampden as Flower of Scotland was belted out by the fans, willing their team on. Ukraine still looked dangerous on the break and only a bad touch meant a missed chance. However, close to the end of stoppage time, Oleksandr Zinchenko took the ball in a tackle, and slotted it forward to Artem Dovbyk, and he passed the ball past Craig Gordon and it was 3-1 to Ukraine, virtually the last touch and game over as they deservedly won. I was so pleased for them, gutted for Scotland too, but it showed that the best team on the night. Forza Ukraine!