Dear Diary... November 2021

Tuesday 30th November - Changes

David Bowie's Changes has been in my head all day (make that one tune of the day) and for a very good reason. In fact, I knew some changes would be afoot anyway, as in England due to the current situation, it's gone back to wearing a face covering on public transport and in shops. No different for me, because I've been doing that anyway - but was pleased to see that on the trains to and from work at least, people were generally being sensible and following the current guidance. And indeed, we had an announcement in the office of some changes, including getting regular testing (which again, I've been doing anyway, and had ordered some new test kits yesterday.)

One notable thing was that even though I know there's a get together for drinks on Thursday this week and indeed a potential Christmas get together nearer the festive period, management have quite rightly said to make sure that you get tested 24 hours before and 24 hours after any event, just to be absolutely sure that everything is done properly. The only quandry I have is that one of those get togethers is the 17th December, so say I tested positive on the 16th before it or the 18th after it - that means 10 days isolation and I would miss Christmas Day with The Love In My Heart. I might, just might, have to give that a potential miss.

It's a tough one to call and I know life does have to go on, but the priority simply has to be The Love at those points - we've kept each other going more than we both realise and in fact we were both working together during lockdowns - me working from home at her place and she being out at work, so at least in the evenings we could sound off each other. I think it's been good for us both to be able to do that plus I do want to be able to have lots of nice moments with her, Brian the cat and the younger relations in the family too. Not being able to have that would be pretty not good.

I got home from work later, turned on the telly and for the next couple of hours watched what I can only describe as a total demolition job by the England women's football team, the Lionesses. They were playing against Latvia in a World Cup qualifier, and to say it was a one sided match was an understatement. England were in total control and Ellen White broke the all time England women's goalscorer record - and with a hat trick to boot. In fact England were 8-0 up at half time which said something about the gulf in class.

Of course, to excite the fans at the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster, England went for the kill and looked like they could score with every attack and with Latvia tiring, it wasn't a case of if England would score, it'd be when. It ended up being a 20-0 win, the second highest ever win in women's international football and of course an England record for a women's or men's competitive international. Four hat tricks too - Ellen White, Lauren Hemp who got four, Beth Mead and Alessia Russo getting in on the act, ten different scorers and six assists for Georgia Stanway as well as her goal. Epic!

Monday 29th November - Manchester Snow

Not often the snow stays around in Manchester, but stay it did for today. I was working from home at The Love In My Heart's place and would have left to go to the train station by the time she returned from work herself, so a nice hug and a kiss before she left was massively appreciated. One good thing is at least I'm not having to face the train on a Sunday night which has to be a bonus of course, and an extra night of snuggles with Brian the cat too (who pretty much stayed on the bed all day today, because he can!)

I spent some more time today diagnosing the faulty application and it was mentioned one of the staff members was able to use it a couple of weeks back but that's when it last worked. I figured the event log for applications would be useful so asked them to get that for us and send it over so I could check what was happening there. I'll check that over and see what the state of play is, I suspect that in fact it may give me some clues as to what went on and what may have happened somewhere in the back end somehow.

It was also good to see gradually the snow melting away during the day and be replaced by rain as the afternoon wore on. I did of course break for lunch and that meant some Dreamies for Brian the cat as well and he was more than happy to be able to scoff those before reassuming the position somewhat. I do like the fact that he always seems relaxed in his own space and even reached out for a little kiss after I'd fed him. Awww. Lovable, so lovable.

The day went by and everything was all good, and once completed I settled in to watch Pointless and when the winning team went for a countries type final round question, I thought they were going to smash it but went for one category with just too many options to get wrong - and they did. The selection I went for in countries bigger than Austria and smaller than Australia included the likes of Azerbaijan and Central African Republic (the old Pointless favourite) and both of those were indeed pointless answers. Darn, I wouldn't have minded the £9k on offer with that!

I later headed to Piccadilly and once I'd got a meal deal sorted for the train, it was on the 1915 back towards London Euston with the excellent new album from Grace Petrie keeping me company including We've Got An Office In Hackney, definitely tune of the day there for me. Once I got to Euston, albeit delayed, I did get straight on a tube to Victoria and straight on the fast train to East Croydon (no stopping at Clapham Junction!) and so from landing at Euston to home took me 46 minutes, a new record!

Sunday 28th November - Snowy Stadium

The Love In My Heart and I looked out of the window mid-morning, and we again had the little one to mind whilst the rest of the boxes were being unpacked in the new house for her relations. Of course this meant plenty of cute adorable smiles and me pulling little silly faces to keep her happy and occupied. We did see it snowing and at first it was only light, but we did wonder whether it was going to stick or not, and if it got heavier, it would do so. In fact later on Brian the cat went outside for a play and the little paw prints in the snow were visible with the little one watching from inside The Love's place.

I headed out later to meet my friend and be off to the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City's game against West Ham United in the Premier League. The snow kept coming down and we were glad to be inside the ground, have a well earned brew and have a good catch up chat. It was a case of being warm with gloves and hat on, and then venturing out to our seats - and we noted that the snow clearly was showing some form of layer of white on the pitch. The ground staff did their bit and the game could kick off.

It was mainly all City during the first half although West Ham looked dangerous when they got forward with the likes of Michal Antonio making some chances and the rest of the team doing their bit going forward too. The snow got gradually worse and it felt blizzard like conditions getting towards half time. City headed forward and a neat move with Joao Cancelo ball to the right and Riyad Mahrez cutting in meant a nice cross across the box for Ilkay Gundogan to bury home from close range for 1-0.

As half time went, the ground staff got out their implements and tried their best to clear the pitch. The referee came out and checked what was happening and we were concerned that the game could be called off, but the ground staff headed by Lee Jackson were superb - we had a longer delay a little bit, but the snow stopped and the pitch was very playable indeed, so all good. It took time for City to get into groove after that, but eventually after a couple of changes Fernandinho scored from the edge of the box off the bench to make it 2-0, and good job he did because Manuel Lanzini scored a superb consolation goal for West Ham right at the end!

It was a little bit icy heading back but at least the snow had stopped, and we had a well earned brew back at The Love's place and warmed up nicely, so all was well with the world there. In fact, it was good to relax and then be able to see the relations pick up the little one, and be all chatty and happy which was good. The cold weather meant it took my friend longer to get home safely, but safe he was which was positive. The Love and I ended the evening with Brian the cat snuggled up watching Strictly Come Dancing's result (gutted for Tilly to be honest) with Years and Years' excellent Sweet Talker on with Karen and Jowita dancing to it - tune of the day for me that.

Saturday 27th November - Night Buses And Dunham Massey

I got up at 0400 this morning, had a shower and change and made sure that the case was good to go for the weekend. My original plan was to get the 0510 train from East Croydon to St Pancras and walk from there to Euston, but the 0510 was cancelled, and the 0540, if delayed, would be too tight for time especially if it was late. So I invoked the other option I'd researched - basically take one of the night buses from Croydon towards Central London, then change for another bus towards Euston (or if I took the N109, tube from Brixton) - and it did feel odd leaving the flat and having people coming out of clubs going home the other way!

Anyway, in the end it all worked out well to get the N68 from right near me - and I could have stayed on all the way to Tottenham Court Road, but hopper fare idea kicked in and so got off at my old haunt of Elephant and Castle to change for the 68, 168 or 188 (the latter to Russell Square, a short walk to Euston from there.) I must admit the night bus was pretty busy with early shift workers and shows if you have a service running, people will use it. I got the 188 to Russell Square and got to Euston just before 0600, so all good and in good time for the 0632 train to Manchester, which was delayed due to the snowy conditions in Staffordshire - so delay repay will kick in for that one.

I headed on the tram over to The Love In My Heart's place. She already had the youngest relation of the family and was babysitting for the day whilst some of the family were moving house - and with unpacking of boxes and a removal van etc, it'd be easier to crack on and that did mean The Love gets some quality time with the little one as well. When I arrived and unpacked, it was time to get into cute smiley mode and was rewarded with so many little giggles and laughs that it cheered me up no end after the epic journey earlier.

It was off to Dunham Massey later, and in a change to the way that National Trust do the admission, the car park charge is now per person, not per car. Thankfully we both had our membership cards with us so no charge at all, and once parked up we walked to the garden and around the paths which would later on be the Christmas lights display. It all looked lovely and the snowflake display reflected even during the day so the little one was being super cute staring at them all with her big blue eyes, it was adorable and lovely.

We also went into the café and had some light lunch - I had the potato wedges with cheese and bacon and once it had cooled down, the little one had a bit and she liked it - she likes potato anyway! The Love had a nice sandwich and the little one her lunch sat in the high chair and giving me big smiles whilst lunching, so that was good. We spent the rest of the afternoon back at The Love's place and then once we got the call headed off towards North Manchester where the new house was being moved into and settled in.

I have to say it looked lovely from the outside and nicer in - three floors in all as the loft had been converted into a spare bedroom - and also a massive cellar underneath too. It used to be a local corner shop back in the day and still had a picture in the front room showing when it was that, so nice to keep that one and be able to show it as a sign of how it was. It all felt lovely and I'm sure when it's unboxed a bit more it'll really feel like home for them all. I'm really pleased for all concerned and it's really been positive for me to have lots of support where I can for them.

We headed back to The Love's place via the local Chinese takeaway and got some king prawn and mushrooms, and settled in for the evening with another good episode of The Hit List, with some cracking tunes being played all with a dance theme in some rounds due to it being a Strictly Come Dancing special (makes sense, right?) and for me tune of the day was the excellent Praise You by Fatboy Slim, and in the end Ore Oduba and Joanne Clifton ended up winning a very good amount for charity. Joanne was absolutely buzzing to say the least!

Friday 26th November - Arwen And All

So I knew that Storm Arwen was coming, but initial reports suggested it was going to be the far North East that effectively would be taking the brunt of the bad wind and weather. I had my diversionary train up to Doncaster and across to Manchester, so in hope instead of expectation, I did take my weekend case with me as I was heading up tonight to see The Love In My Heart for the weekend. Realistically, Plan B may need to be sorted so I was sort of thinking that I'd play it by ear during the day, check the trains and see what the state of play would be.

I did have a pretty good and productive day today, with more testing in place for Windows 10 21H2. In fact I wanted to check whether one of our cloud drive solutions, if the drive letter assignment was moved, would then mean upgrades would work without having to kill the cloud drive software first. Unsurprisingly, it did do what it was supposed to do and I actually upgraded a test machine from Windows 10 1909 all the way to 21H2, with the 4GB downloadable upgrader, and worked without issue. That at least was positive and I did feel pretty good about that.

Friday is normally nice and quiet in the office and so it does mean I can get plenty done, get a lot of testing sorted and indeed be able to make sure that any reporting I needed to do was done. I was also further investigating why a custom piece of software refused to play ball now, and I have an inkling it's down to a particular file or service not functioning. Either way, it was good to make some inroads and be able to crack on as much as I possibly could.

However, what wasn't such good news was that when I checked the LNER website this afternoon, their effective advice, across the whole of their network, and in big capital letters everywhere, was basically, do not travel. I thought realistically that it would be too risky with the weather being so bad and so put in an application for the ticket to be refunded, and then checked what other options there were for tomorrow with Avanti West Coast direct. Huzzah, a train at 0632 for not much more than what the train refund will be for this train, so booked that and then headed home later.

It did feel somewhat surreal having to lug the case all the way back home after bringing it into the office, but those are the breaks I guess. I did decide to treat myself to some Domino's Pizza for tea and then had a good natter with The Love In My Heart before realising that actually I'd need to get to bed early and potentially be up around 0400 to give myself enough time to get to Euston for the train, going to be a long day (and Long Time by Paul Weller needs to be tune of the day for that reason alone.)

Thursday 25th November - The Gloves Are On

When I headed up to Manchester a few weeks ago I did note that I had my woolly hat, but only one of the two gloves with me, which wasn't much good. So I thought that I'd need to get a pair with the Winter fast drawing in sharpish and of course being at the Etihad on Sunday would likely be a tad on the cold side. As I was heading to Wimbledon to get my hair cut later after work, that gave me a good opportunity to go and see what the state of play was if I needed, so it was on with work and getting plenty done during the day.

In fact, I managed to pull off some additional reports today and also road test why a specialist application, which had been running perfectly fine until last week or so, appeared to fail with a .NET type error being the root cause. I suspect that whatever it did inside the executable made some Visual C or .NET calls that were now deemed to be unsafe and potentially blocked by more recent updates - in fact I had gone back and reverted the last two or three of them and still saw the same issue (and just to be sure, I'll road test on an older version of Windows 10 tomorrow to see what the state of play is.)

I did venture out into the centre of Croydon at lunch time but it seemed that the Next Outlet had much less in the men's department and Sports Direct's shelves for the hats and gloves looked pretty bare. Bah. I did have the likes of Uniqlo later, so headed back home and managed to get myself some milk for next week when I am back after the weekend (saves a mad rush at other times too so a definite bonus) and cracked on with work during the afternoon, and was able to road test a couple of packages as well as get to the bottom of a printer fail issue (and the fix I have worked for my service team colleague - she was happy!)

It was off to Wimbledon later and to Wimbledon Park for the usual brilliant hair cut at James Barbers, where as one of the staff is a Manchester United fan, we discussed about the managerial situation and how that would turn out over the course of this season and next. It was a good job all round and felt much happier once I'd been cut, so all pleased. In fact it was also good too that I was able to head down to the road nearby, get the 156 into Wimbledon so I could invoke the hopper fare later on, and then have a mooch in the shops. I did remember they had a Mountain Warehouse close to the station...

So I went in, and not long afterwards, gloves on and purchased! In fact these are a nice charcoal pair that are fleece lined inside and I have to say on the tram on the way back home it did feel rather nice and snuggly in the hands and I felt warm too, so a positive for the football ahead. I'll take them up with me this weekend and of course give them a good go all round. It was a nice easy win, they're also comfy and stylish - so what's not to like really? Happy days, a bit like the theme tune (and make that tune of the day because why not?)

Wednesday 24th November - Blue Moon Rising Again

It was back to work today but at least I could be working from home, which meant not venturing out in the cold but also being able to have a bit more sleep before I would then get myself up and ready to face the day. Inevitably of course there's some catching up to do in the morning to see what might have happened in the two days I was on leave: nothing much per se, so that was a definite positive for me to say the least. In fact, I had scheduled the November Windows 10 updates to go out and that all seemed to be running smoothly without any hitches whatsoever, so that's good.

I had also noted that one of our software vendors had come back to me with a possible explanation for the query I had about one of the updates to our inventory software, and so with the now correct guidance in place, and indeed with me having raised a change planned for today anyway, it was good to be able to get on with things and re-apply the last update to the inventory software. Sure enough, when I then tried to do an update to users using the web console, this now worked (I had another way of doing so as backup, but even so...) and that was all good. Just need to check the overnight run job just to be sure of course.

I was also able today to be able to process a few more bits as well including being able to run some reports and cross check them to be sure that if certain machines were seemingly not in use, we would potentially know why. In fact, in a few cases, this tied in with a report that showed some staff on leave (so obviously, off and not using machine) - and that worked well. It's good when actual data all comes together and makes sense in the context of the piece of work you're doing.

I was keeping an ear out on BBC Radio 5 Live via the BBC red button later on as Manchester City faced Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. A win for City would mean winning the group no matter what happened in the other game, and as it transpired, RB Leipzig were thrashing Bruges in the other game, and that also meant that both teams in our game would qualify no matter what. That said, winning the group meant a potentially less tricky match next time, so City really went for it first half but no goals at the end of it, with PSG only showing flashes of brilliance now and then.

At the start of the second half, the ball from Lionel Messi found Kylian Mbappe and it was 1-0 to PSG, against the run of the play but it shows what happens if you don't take chances. City though responded superbly, played as a team together, and a great move down the right involving Kyle Walker had the ball come across the box and neatly finished by Raheem Sterling for 1-1. And if that wasn't enough, it was then a superlative move with Bernardo Silva being at the heart of it, and his pull back for Gabriel Jesús made it 2-1 and a deserved win. If only they still played Supra's superb version of Blue Moon at the ground (make that tune of the day) and it'd sound even better over the speakers at the end. I said, Blue Moon!

Tuesday 23rd November – Get Your Retro

The Love In My Heart was back in work today and so was up early, and of course was having Brian the cat follow her everywhere and want his little shower too – he always steps in after The Love has had her shower and so wants to have a few splashes of water which he'll either attempt to drink or just enjoy the fresh water. With us both having some toast for breakfast, and The Love then ready to head to work, it was a sad goodbye for her to me but I knew that she would be getting back into the swing of things after such a good night last night.

I had some plans of my own for today and headed over to the tram stop and got myself an off peak train and tram ticket, which you can get from a train station or Metrolink ticket machine for £9.30, which wasn't too bad – not when you consider the train fares around Greater Manchester or indeed the fact a GM Rail Ranger for offpeak is £7.20, so adding tram on top made sense for me. I got to Manchester Piccadilly and walked over to Platform 14 for the train to Southport, which would call at Wigan Wallgate along the way, which is where I'd want to be. And on a tri-mode Class 769 at that, repurposed from the old Thameslink 319 trains.

Once I got there it was a walk up the main street and then through Makinson Arcade to the newer shopping arcades that were around the back of there – all brick built and dating from 1980 or so. Although a few units had closed down the ones I wanted to visit, Games and More, was open. It was a very intriguing mix of console games, some computer games, DVDs, LPs and CDs as well – with a shed load of CD singles from 29p if there was something you really wanted to get. It was effectively a good mix of all sorts – not much 8-bit titles really though and of those I did see it was mainly Amstrad CPC titles with a few Spectrum and C64 titles there thrown in. Nothing caught the eye per se, but plenty to check over for all consoles as well and even some Atari 2600 and 7800 titles.

I checked the train times and the next train back towards Manchester was from Wigan North Western station, which is literally next door across the road from Wigan Wallgate. And even better, I was going to head to Burnage to Sifters Records, but this train was direct so didn't have to change at Piccadilly. It was a nicer new 195 train too, so after the left turn towards Newton-le-Willows, speeding towards Manchester city centre and out again – much quieter after Piccadilly, and off at Burnage and heading down towards Fog Lane and into Sifters too.

In fact, I was glad that I had gone there later in the day instead of earlier in the morning. The revised opening hours were effectively 1pm to 5pm with it closed on a Wednesday, so of course by the time I had got there it was open, so all good there. I had a good look around at the CDs and LPs and although nothing floated the boat per se, only because I had a number of what they had in stock anyway, if I didn't have them I could have stocked up with five or six CDs that would have been welcome additions to the collection. I did notice plenty of albums from Metallica too, and made me think of blasting out plenty of their tunes, so the excellent The Unforgiven is tune of the day – certainly the weather was at least unforgiving to say the least.

I noted in fact Burnage station had plenty of salt grit sprayed on the platforms to keep the ice off, and its elevated position without much cover did lend itself to feeling cold. I got back to Manchester Piccadilly and off on the tram back to The Love's place, knowing full well I had a very good day all round – even if I didn't buy anything it was nice just to be able to get around and see some shops and be able to effectively see what they had when I shopped around. I spent the afternoon fussing over Brian the cat and he was very happy to have some Dreamies and tuna before heading off on the train home later.

Monday 22nd November – White Christmas in November

It was a relatively calm morning and early afternoon for both myself and The Love In My Heart today. The Love did have a medical appointment in the morning, but this was first thing so she was able to relax and get that out of the way before we both ended up giving Brian the cat lots of cuddles and fussing before we got ourselves showered and ready for later today. The Love's sister had managed to get tickets for the opening night of a production of White Christmas at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, and as one of the relations couldn't make it, there was a seat which The Love offered to me to take up, and as I was able to re-arrange the train for Tuesday evening, it made more sense to do that.

The Love's sister arrived, and we were meeting the other sister and niece in the city centre later on, and so for us it was off to the tram stop and into the city centre on the tram. We did walk down Market Street and stopped off at the market stalls along there as part of the Christmas Markets. It did feel busy even for a Monday but was nice to be able to see what it was like. We also had a nice mooch in Sostrene Greene in the Royal Exchange shopping centre which had plenty of nice gifts and bits, and I also noted some very nice potential purchases in London Camera Exchange. I might have to come back for a Nikon D7100 body at some point, methinks!

We headed over to Annie's where the other relations had just got there. The staff in there were as lovely as ever, and so we had a nice table to have a drink at too. I had the Herefordshire Pale Ale which was rather nice (the Thomos Watkins ale was out of stock) and after some thought, I went for the fish and chips for the main, which was gorgeous. Both the fish and chips were well cooked and crispy, and the tartare sauce with it was just right too. The Love had the chicken supreme which also looked very nice, and her sisters had the cottage pie and the lamb hotpots, both pot pies (no proper pies sadly so not good for me of course) – and naturally I had to have the sticky toffee pudding afterwards, it was rude not to!

We then walked across St Peter's Square, spotting where this year's Santa was (and it wasn't Zippy Santa, boo hiss!) and then down Oxford Street to the Palace Theatre. We did notice the bar to the left was being used for those with special tickets as it was the gala opening night performance tonight! We also noted too that the entry procedure was pretty swift – you had to show the Covid Pass on the phone and then once done, have the ticket scanned and be in. We made our way up to the circle and the bar there – not a great beer selection to be honest, and not cheap either it has to be said. One of the bars was also out of action due to it being used for the gala performance VIPs. And we had fake snow outside too!

We took our seats and were in Row R at the back row – we could see the stage, just not the very top, and the leg room was very tight, something that wouldn't work so well for tall people. For the £13 per ticket, it was pretty cheap though so no complaints really. We did notice that the show wasn't a complete sell out, there were VIP spaces for the gala at the front of the circle, but near us there were rows of empty seats – whether or not that's due to people either not feeling safe enough or not wanting to show their status I'm nos sure,but it was noted at the end of the performance that two of the main actors did ask to spread the word and to get people to come.

White Christmas itself was a very good musical version of the film, according to The Love, and she should know. Having never seen the film in full, I went into it a little more neutral, and I have to say that the cast were spot on, with excellent voices for the songs, and also dancing to a very high standard including ballroom and tap as well. I have to say for me the outstanding acting and singing performance was that from Jessica Daley as Betty Haynes, she really nailed it. Lots of great songs of course and for me it was really good that the festive feeling was left til the end with a nice version of White Christmas, but for me tune of the day for me was the excellent performance from Jessica Daley with Emily Langham of Sisters – quite apt considering The Love and her sisters were there tonight!

Sunday 21st November – Three And Easy

It was a double day of fun today for me, first of all the youngest relation in The Love In My Heart's family was coming over and we were effectively babysitting for the day whilst their parents were packing for their forthcoming house move. I have to admit that the youngster, being a mere nine months old and absolutely adorable and cute, has a massive smile that just makes you fall in love. She was dropped off this morning and I kept her occupied with some toys and some giggles whilst The Love got a quick breakfast on for the two of us to enjoy. The little one's look over to us of “hey, where's mine?” was just adorable.

Later on we decided that it was time for a walk, and so with pram at ready, we headed over to the local park and did a lap round including a bit of pausing at the duck pond to see the ducks. In fact the local squirrels were out and ready to get some nuts, and as some people were feeding nuts to them, they were all happy with that. The pigeons were attempting to dive down to get the nuts though and so the rather good ones were flying low – and so we were avoiding those on a couple of occasions. Little one did decide to have a little cry and then fall asleep in the pram before we had a nice mooch in Asda and got some bits of shopping.

My friend came over later for the football and we were off to the Etihad Stadium for this afternoon's game against Everton. It was early afternoon so we were early to the ground, but that meant getting in easier and getting a warming cuppa and a sit down, and a good catch up chat as well, so was able to mention the trip to Cornwall that I had. He all seemed well too and I think being out for the football was some welcome light relief too. Of course Everton were a bit of a hit and miss team coming to our place, and we had beaten them 5-0 last time (which was the game last season I went to when Aguero scored his final two goals for City.)

The game kicked off and City were in good form. Everton really wanted to push forward and attack and did have some pace, but the stout defending of John Stones and Aymeric Laporte were really doing a decent job. City pressed forward and although chances were being made, nothing was taken. Bernardo Silva was unlucky to have a one on one chance saved, and from the rebounded headed from Ilkay Gundogan off the bar, it was positive. City thought they had a penalty from a foul on Raheem Sterling, but VAR was sitting for some time and the longer it went on I knew it wasn't a penalty, and so it proved – eventually it had to be said, the correct decision.

This didn't detract City thankfully and later on a gorgeous ball from Joao Cancelo found Raheem Sterling running on to the ball and slotting it past Jordan Pickford for 1-0 to City, pretty much right on half time. That was a definite positive so definitely felt happier once that went in. In the second half it meant that City could press forward more, and from a ball attempted to be cleared, Rodri smashed in an absolute piledriver from thirty yards out. It was an incredible finish and one he even watched back himself on the big screen as I don't think he believed how good it was himself. It looked even better on Match of the Day later on.

City kept going and although Everton brought on some subs to try and get at City a bit, with a couple of half chances, as time ticked down a nice move involving Ilkay Gundogan resulted in a ball to the impressive Cole Palmer, and his shot was blocked but straight into the path of Bernardo Silva, who slotted it under Pickford and for 3-0. That's how it stayed and was a good result for City, back to second in the table. My friend got to meet the youngest relation for the first time and he did admit to me that she was adorable and cute, which was good to see. The Love then later on had some more quality time before the little one was collected later, all happy and content and full of smiles. Awwww.

Later on The Love and myself settled in for some lovely chicken wrappeed in pancetta with some vegetables for tea, and once we'd had that it was nice to settle in and watch the results show from Strictly Come Dancing. I had a feeling that Tom and Amy would be in the dance off, and so it proved, and up against Rhys and Nancy. It was a quality dance off with Tom and Amy's piece from Les Miserables being quite emotional too, but in the end the right decision to save Rhys and Nancy in my view – as much as I do love Amy's choreography as well, and she is lovely. Tune of the day is Give It Up by KC and the Sunshine band, with the “baby, give it up” line rephrased by the City fans earlier to “Ole's on the dole, on the dole, Ole's on the dole” after the sacking of Man United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer earlier today.

Saturday 20th November – Taproom Time

The Love In My Heart and I had a really lovely relaxing lie in this morning, although we did have to get up relatively early, primarily because we were going to head off out later on – myself into the city centre to do some record shopping, and also for her to visit the cemetery with a few of the relations of her family, so we soon had ourselves up and about, and with a nice breakfast to be had too. I knew that I would be able to get some record shopping too and The Love was also baking some scones for later today as well which would be going down very well with a brew as well, something to look forward to!

I got myself to the tram station and on to the tram into Manchester city centre, getting off at Piccadilly Gardens and noticing all the Christmas markets on including all the beer and drinks stalls close by. I suspected that it would be getting a lot busier later, and so that for me was something to note too. It was up along Oldham Street and after a quick peek around Afflecks Palace, and noticing that Vinyl Resting Place hadn't opened as yet, I headed back downstairs and across the road into my old favourite place, Vinyl Exchange, and was straight away having a lovely mooch around.

I have to say it was really good to be able to just leisurely look around both the vinyl and CDs and see all the marvellous albums that I could have, and for not that much expense either. I did have the albums I'd put on my Christmas wish lists with me as a list so as not to get them myself in the meantime, but also was good to make sure I could keep things in check – as there's always so much temptation. In the end I did pick up two brand new CDs for not that much expense – the new albums from both They Might Be Giants and Manic Street Preachers, so that made me pretty happy all round.

I headed across over to Piccadilly Records as well and it was always good to have a look around there too, and that for me was nice to see that there were some rather good new releases on LP and CD that I could have too. In fact, I did notice two more albums that I also wanted, so felt like it was a good thing to be able to treat myself and get some new CDs, so got the new albums from both The Wedding Present and Grace Petrie, so all in all four of them across the two shops. I did feel like it was nice supporting independent shops too so that for me was rather good and it meant that I also was going to enjoy some listening to all of those albums once I got home too, so definitely well worth it.

I got back to The Love's place and once the relations were all back, we had a coffee and a very nice scone with jam and clotted cream, all very Cornish style and all very nice. That was good to enjoy and was tempted to have another one but was good, primarily because of the fact that we'd be heading out later. The Love and I got the tram out to New Islington, and from there walked across to the Travis Street industrial area and to two brewery taprooms literally across the road from each other – Track on one side, and Cloudwater on the other.

We went into Track first and the selection of beer was very nice indeed. In fact they had the Sonoma on cask which was great for me, and on the keg selection there was a nice Helles style beer for The Love, so she was really happy with that. We did love the décor inside, it was really nicely done up and felt more like a nice bar than a tap room, so all very good. Across the road in Cloudwater, once you went upstairs and to the bar, that also felt very cosy and I picked the Squawk Aix porter from the selection, which was gorgeous, and The Love had the pilsner beer from Cloudwater themselves – it was nice, but she said the helles was better (no surprise really as she loves Augustiner Helles and Camden Hells for example) and all round it was nice to be able to enjoy both of those.

Later on it was Musicals week in Strictly Come Dancing and we were both very happy to see some great performances there all round – and from musicals that we liked or have seen too. Of course having anyone dance to a song from Frozen would appeal to the kids, to Rose and Giovanni's quick step nailed that nicely. I also enjoyed the very gentle waltz to Edelweiss from The Sound of Music by AJ and Kai. For me, my favourite was probably the jive to Footloose by Kenny Loggins (make that tune of the day) as danced by Rhys and Nancy. Maybe a bit too over-enthusiastic, but so 80s and had to be enjoyed. We both were also super surprised at how good Dan Walker was in his Charleston to Good Morning, with Nadiya even being surprised by him too.

Friday 19th November – Testing Testing 21H2

It was off to the office today and another relatively busy day at work, but all the more positive for it. Because I had access to all the bits I needed today in order to do some road testing with physical hardware, this meant I could see how an upgrade to Windows 10 21H2 would work from both 20H2 and 1909 (say for example if you needed the full 5GB or so upgrade) – and also at the same time get a Windows 10 21H2 Windows WIM image built and tested in a build task sequence. I thought it would make plenty of sense considering that then if the options are all explored and tested, we know what the plan would be going forward in January 2022.

So first of all, it was a case of getting hold of any 21H2 updates, and although not officially published, the November 21H2 update on top of the ISO image (which includes up to October 2021 updates) means that you'd then have an up to date WIM. I imported the set of files from the ISO into the MDT instance, then once that was done, and the task sequence in MDT had been readied, I made sure that was up to date and then from there got everything all nicely set. I booted my virtual machine into MDT and off it went running the task sequence, and when all done, it meant I had a nice clean efficient WIM all readied, complete with the very nice additions of the Visual C++ libraries, and all the excess apps you don't need such as the Xbox ones removed.

With the WIM created and distributed to the relevant points needed, I could then test out the MECM Windows 10 21H2 task sequence. In effect, I'd just duplicated the 20H2 one, but added the new WIM and a couple of changes I set in a change this morning to add two new versions of the core applications we use. So it was a sensible road test to see what would happen when I did a build, and everything worked first go, so was able to see that everything installed correctly, and all the steps that were to be run did so as well. In addition, because of an old system being phased out and not needing Java anymore, it made sense to be able to have a selectable option if you wanted the old Java version or not (default to no).

I felt like I'd had a really good day all round and so felt positive when I headed towards the tube station and off to Kings Cross station. I was back on the alternative route via Doncaster as it proved to be the cheaper option when booking, and it does mean I get to have a quick pause at the Draughtsman pub in Doncaster station. In fact, the train had a little delay getting into Doncaster itself so it basically meant getting a take out beer, but this did mean I could treat myself to the rather nice Moonshine ale from the Abbeydale Brewery, and had enough change to pay for the can in cash and have that on the train between Doncaster and Manchester Piccadilly, with the excellent The Root Of All Evil by Dream Theater blasting out in the iPod (make that tune of the day) – and arriving in on time.

The Love In My Heart came to collect me from the station and I was so glad to see her – I'd missed her last weekend and of course it was nice just to be able to relax and chill out together watching The Last Leg. She got me some lovely beers I liked as well including the Siren Broken Dream stout and also the Brewdog Jet Black Heart nitro stout as well, so that would see me well over the weekend. In fact I had one of the Brixton Brewery beers that she had got me, and with Brian the cat wanting to have a play with the ball and hiding behind the wrapping paper he seems to like at present, all was well with the world.

Thursday 18th November - Mixed Bag

It was a mixed bag of things today. First things first was that after I'd worked out a plan of action to get more machines Windows 10 upgraded to the version most of the business are running, I was able to demonstrate that there's a good way of being able to detect what application might use a particular drive letter assignment, and if they're not using a letter lower than C for whatever reason, in theory nothing should actually stop upgrades from happening - and indeed after I had performed lots of extensive testing it worked really well and was good to go - so the upshot was some more machnes successful, so that made me happy.

I also wrote a document which explains how we'd be getting the business to run Windows 10 21H2 in a couple f months time. In effect because the upgrade is a relatively small one (as long as you're running 2004 or above) and because of the fact that Windows 11, without Internet Explorer, would effectively bork applications that need it for whatever reason - although we're aware that IE11 will be going out of Windows 10 next year anyway, and because you don't want to adopt something entirely new straight away and give it time to settle.

The other thing I wrote about in the document was that in effect, it'd be a double launch: in that any new Windows 10 builds at that point would in effect be with 21H2 (and so will be spending the last few weeks of this year building and road testing) and that would mean in-place upgrades to go live at same time, so over time this will mean that we get everyone along. It'll also mean a good level of support for a while and we know it'll be stable - in fact I'm typing today's entry on my home machine having upgraded that - and because the upgrade is a switch over tiny one, so far so good.

So with all that all nicely written, it was good to kick back this evening and to spend time listening to some music, which to be honest I don't always do enough of because of work and other commitments. So I decided that it'd be good to put a few CDs on and play stuff, so started off with the new Dream Theater album A View From The Top of the World. The title track is an epic twenty minutes (as is often their wont) but I found some of the shorter ones, notably the build up to a rocking mighty anthem that is Invisible Monster, so that for me is tune of the day - once it grabs you it doesn't let go.

I also played the final standard Cabaret Voltaire album which was Shadow of Fear (Dekadrone and BN9Drone released this year are single tracks of epic weirdness) - which has the impressive Vasto on there, absolute classic CV with its beat driven Industrial sound and really dark moody undertones too. That and The Power (Of Their Knowledge) with the brooding sounds in the background and speech really does add to the feeling of being comfortable in the uncomfortable!

Wednesday 17th November - Plus Fours Of Goodness

Last night and again tonight out came the Commodore Plus/4, and it was time to play some games which I had managed to get as a decent bundle off eBay a week or two ago. It had been a busy day sorting work stuff out and it was nice to be able to take things relatively easy and unwind, especially as of course I was able to test things out to make sure the games all loaded, but also to see what games I remember (and some I didn't have back in the day) as to what was good. Because of its native compatibility with the little brother Commodore 16, most games were written to fit inside the 16K of that machine - it was rare for games then to have a dedicated Plus/4 only release, but I do have a few in my collection. In fact the 16K reminded me of that MJ HIbbett and the Validators' classic Hey Hey 16K, so that's tune of the day.

So first of all some space shooting with Galaxions from Solar Software, a husband and wife team based in Bury no less. It wasn't too bad a shooter as it goes and certainly seemed pretty playable for what it was. Solar did release a number of games, some direct VIC 20 ports due to some cross assembly (but also ultimately not very good, Cruncher which I tried later on was one of those.) I did get a half decent score on Galaxions, before then switching over to Skyhawk, released by Bug Byte. In all intents and purposes, this was the C16 version of the classic Falcon Patrol - same enemy movements of planes, take off and landing for fuel, that sort of thing. Not too bad all told.

Cops and Robbers from Atlantis was next, and on the C64 this wasn't too good and got a really low magazine review rating. On the C16 and Plus/4 though it actually plays reasonably well and was a fair challenge. Still not brilliant but actually did seem to be relatively playable and all. Up next was another Solar Software title: Winnie Witch's Superbroom. The game seems hard to find so was glad to get it in this bundle, but. oh dear me. It's effectively a re-skin of their own game Monkey Magic, the unofficial tie-in to the Monkey TV series that they released first. Just a graphics change here and there, and even the opening spiel from the Monkey character on the title screen left in the game code too. Opportuinist to say the least.

Monkey Magic itself also was on the Gremlin Graphics compilation C16 Classics II which I was also playing all four games on too - so it was pretty much playing the same game twice, albeit with the title screen having a depiction of Monkey and the way the mouth moves with the text symbolic of the bad dubbing into English from the TV series - they got that right at least. Next up was Alligata's platformer Blagger. This was rock hard on the C64 and it was just the case on this format too - the collision detection wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be, and I got through a few levels, but it was a classic case of pixel perfect jumping.

On the other cassette was a Gremlin Graphics game, Xargon's Revenge, the sequel to Xargon Wars. It was okay but the attack patterns didn't really mean that you could get that far. There's supposed to be 80 levels, I got to level 5 once, so hardly made an impact. The attack waves have a level of being somewhat random as well which doesn't really bode well for you getting that far. But then.. onto Timeslip. I remember playing this at a friend's place back in the day and liked it then. And now, is it still as good as ever? The answer is a huge and massive yes.

Effectively this game was released for the C16 and Plus/4 first, with the Atari version later on (and by the same programmer too.) The screen is split into three scrolling levels, each of which you have to collect twelve orbs and you have to allow the "zero time" counter to count down to zero. Do that on all three levels within the time allocated, you win. But.. hit anything, lose time. Hit anything five times, and a timeslip occurs, randomly setting the zero time counters across all three levels. It's really well thought out, the design is spot on, it's very playable indeed with masses of colour and a good range of enemies to shoot, and just so much fun. It's not easy even on novice level, but the high score and one more go factor is massive. An absolute must play!

Tuesday 16th November - Office Space

It was off to the office today, and I have to say, what a difference a week makes. It's clear that things are a lot better in terms of organisation and indeed layout. So the spaces that are more distanced shall remain so, and in fact the extra chairs and tables around have been marked as not in use, so only the desks available should be taken up - and there's a friendly note to be kind and respectful of others when using the space so that those who choose to work there can do so. I have to say it's above and beyond what I thought would happen, and shows that being constructive in dialogue is always the way to go - apparently others had also raised similar concerns too so it's been important to be listened to.

And that also says a lot about the place I work for generally to be honest. Listening is a key thing that everyone claims to do, but not everyone acts upon. Ultimately they know that staff who are happier are also staff who are more motivated to do well and will really work hard to put the effort in. That of course reaps its own rewards financially in the long term too, and so much so that we've been given Christmas Eve off as an extra day's leave as reward for the hard work during the year. I don't expect things like that but it's nice to know that when everyone pulls together and works hard, the effort is clearly noticed.

I also sorted out a few things today, so updated my MDT task sequence to include the November Windows 10 updates and rebuilt the WIM Windows image as needed for the MECM build task sequence: and tested that out to make sure it worked well. My colleague also had the latest version of the telephony application we use too, so got that all packaged up nicely and tested at the same time to make sure that was working well as well, so a definite plus all round methinks.

I got to the bottom of a workaround way that I could have the login stuff to run the Powershell script, but without using Powershell. I looked at a module I used a while ago called PS2EXE which does what it says on the tin - it takes your Powershell script and compiles it into an executable to run instead (and it passed our antivirus checks too) and so then I just amended the GPO to say "run this executable on user login" and told it where to find the executable and run it. And, boom! It worked first go for me and my colleague who had been road testing a possible solution, so were both really pleased about that.

It was a productive day and nice to be able to head home relatively flushed with success, so that's nice. In the meantime I was recalling some gig moments earlier and reminded myself of when my friend and I saw Nouvelle Vague at Manchester Academy 3, and they put out a lovely acoustic version of Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen, and of course when it got to the "no future" bit, everyone sang punk style and Mélanie Pain went "Okay, we're in Manchester!" and joined in punk style too. Excellent, and tune of the day because of that.

Monday 15th November - Remember When England Scored Ten?

It was nice to be able to get back gradually into the swing of things with work today, and working from home certainly helped things out nicely. I had of course got some catching up to do after a couple of days off last week, but at least that meant that it was a good thing to be able to work through any backlog of emails and messages to see what the state of play was. One message did please me though immensely from the safety team and it pretty much answered the concerns I had last week, and then some. I was pleased - it's good to be listened to, but as The Love In My Heart said, why they weren't on site to see for themselves the state of play was something they need to ask.

Anyway, I spent some time today with a couple of colleagues seeing what could be done around the certain group of users that use our terminal services servers but still need some of the cloud based stuff working for them on there. I did come to some sort of plan last week which did work to a degree, but now the Powershell script that I had running on logon now fails and doesn't run - this is probably because the machine we're using has now inherited all the policies for the servers which means no Powershell. I might have a different way of sorting this, so need to have a think about it and go from there.

Later after tea it was time to settle in and watch the England game at San Marino on ITV. It does sadly mean that their football coverage is nowhere near as good as BBC, so instantly knew it wasn't going to be a quality production, but hey ho, if it means seeing England qualify for the 2022 World Cup on proper telly (and we only needed a draw, can't see that being too hard can we?) so be it. The game kicked off and it didn't take long for a Phil Foden corner to be met by the head of Harry Maguire and boom - 1-0. I did get annoyed with Lee Dixon thoguh saying that after a quarter of an hour Foden had done nothing. Hmm.. I thought he was supposed to be a City fan but every time Foden plays for England he seems to find an excuse to slag him off. What a nonce.

England were taking no prisoners tonight though, and a deflected shot from Bukayo Saka made it 2-0 before it then became the Harry Kane show. A dubious handball for a penalty after a shot from Phil Foden and Kane smashes it. 3-0. He then gets on the end of a cross and somewhat scuffs it home, but in it goes - 4-0. Another handball means another penalty and Kane smashes it into the top corner. 5-0. And to complete the first half, a nice little shimmying run and a slotted drive into the bottom corner - 6-0. Four goals in not very long, and the first England player for ages to get a back to back hat trick, and the first to get four since Ian Wright against (you guessed it) San Marino in 1993.

So all was well at half time and the second half, despite changes, was of the same vein. A lovely flowing move and Emile Smith Rowe, the Croydon de Bryune apparently, scores a majestic finish for 7-0. Then Trent Alexander-Arnold decides quality crosses are in order all the way onwards, and his free kick was headed in by Tyrone Mings for 8-0, and the ball into Tammy Abraham results in the Roma striker swivelling and shooting low in the corner for 9-0. The England fans sang we want ten, and didn't have to wait too long as another quality cross was met by Saka for the tenth goal. 10-0! Yes, I know it's San Marino and all, but it's England's largest ever competitive fixture win (there's been higher, but only in friendlies).

And yes, I know, the opposition were awful and down to 10 men. But you can only beat what's in front of you. And beat them they did, with some flowing football, well taken goals and a real team ethic to work for Gareth Southgate. You can't argue with that really and it shows that under him England are a much better side - won the group by 6 points in the end, goal difference of +36, scored 39 and conceded 3 with 26 points out of a possible 30. I'll take that (and party) thank you very much. Tune of the day has to be from the album Ten by Pearl Jam, namely the awesome Alive. That is what England were tonight!

Sunday 14th November - Sunday Stroll

After checking the train times last night, I realised that the planned trains to take me to the start of my planned walk today weren't running, so after I'd got myself showered and changed and also did some ironing too, I checked out what I could do instead, and found an alternative route which meant I could still do my walk today, so onwards with the next part of the Thames Path walk. I left home for East Croydon and got the train to Clapham Junction, changing there for the train to Shepherd's Bush, and once there, right outside the station was the bus stop so I could get the 237 bus to Kew Bridge.

Once there, it was on to the Thames Path and to follow the North Bank heading in a general East direction, including some rather nice houses at the Strand on the Green, which all had flood barriers in place by the doors as apparently the high tide can sometimes flood the footpath itself - not today as it happened, but good to know. I did then follow the path back to a road and then after this turned right to the river bank, and noted so many four person rowing boats out today, seemingly doing their own boat race. I did some research and it was actually the veteran fours head race, which uses the same course as the University Boat Race (Mortlake to Putney) but with lots of boats entering in a sort of time trial.

It all made sense particularly on the curve from Chisiwck Bridge to Barnes Bridge, and had to divert under the railway close to Barnes Bridge but then that did mean the rather nice Dukes Meadows to walk through once I'd passed Barnes Bridge itself. That proved to be pretty good, as did the boats moored at Chiswick Pier, with plenty of people on the river side shouting support for the veteran rowing teams as they were heading on the curve towards Hammersmith Bridge.

As the path took you along the riverside and Chiswick Mall, I did pass the Fuller's main Griffin Brewery where the likes of London Pride is made, and the houses were very nice along here too. After a quick diversion around a couple of houses, it was on a path by the river again heading to Hammersmith Bridge (closed to traffic now so only pedestrians and cyclists can cross) and underneath that towards the Riverside Studios and a quite nice riverside walk to some new apartments.

The walk came to an end at the Crabtree pub in Fulham, just after some more nice apartments, and as it was a good time for Sunday lunch, I was able to get an outside covered table and with a patio heater, and ordered myself the roast chicken plus a pint of the Southwark Brewery's Routemaster red ale. Both were absolutely lovely and the chicken was well seasoned, had plenty of the chicken on there (it was pretty much half a chicken!) and all the vegetables were lovely - a really nice end to a lovely weekend all round, and so tune of the day has to be the really good Joy by The Sundays - had it in my head as I was sat outside having lunch.

Saturday 13th November - Strictly Silence

It was nice to have a relaxing lie in this morning after being on the road and rail for the last few days of travelling. I did want to head out for a walk this weekend but that would be tomorrow, most likely, as I knew I could do the next leg of the Thames Path North Bank and be able to achieve another goal that way. Instead I spent some time this morning sorting out all the pictures I had taken with the camera when I did my Cornwall trip, and it was quite interesting to see that I'd managed to get some new places ticked off but also some of the pictures worked nicely too, so was quite pleased about that to be honest.

I did need to head out in the afternoon for some shopping - first of all into the centre of Croydon to get a birthday card and present for one of my relations. It was nice to be able to actually head into a shop and get everything I wanted first go without the need for any click and collect shenanigans, or anything like that. It was just a really good feeling to be able to get it all sorted and after I got home, I wrapped the gift and card ready to send off in the post for early next week, so that was good.

I then headed over to Lidl to get some food shopping sorted for during the week, and that was all good. It was a little busy in there admittedly, but it was good to be able to get what I needed, all at a very reasonable price too and then head homewards with all the shopping sorted, so I could put my feet up and watch some feel good telly, not least of course The Hit List, with plenty of quality tunes being played and lots of potential "shouting out the answers at the telly", as presenter Rochelle Humes would say. That was all good, and on then to Strictly Come Dancing.

I have to admit that there were some quality performances this week, but the big shock was that AJ and Kai's paso doble wasn't that good and did feel a bt of a let down. On the other hand, Dan and Nadiya's American Smooth was good enough, but Craig downmarking to a 4 was just a bit off to be honest. Good job Brendan Cole isn't around as a dancer or there might have been words said. I loved Rhys and Nancy's charleston, it was so joyous, and credit to Nancy for having to battle through some ankle strapping for all those moves too. In addition John and Johannes' Samba was also excellent and well deserving of a high mark.

But what did steal the show was the routine from Rose and Giovanni, their couples choice dance. It was very contemporary with them both barefoot and having plenty of fluid movement with Clean Bandit's Symphony as the song (make that tune of the day - it's the words especially.) However, in the middle, the music went off and it was just silence with the two of them dancing before the song came back in. It was a really emotional and yet beautiful moment - bringing us into Rose's world as a deaf person and how it is for her - and also showing that the power of dance is such that music isn't always needed. I did cry a little bit because it's this sort of positive thing that we need more of, and it was lovely what Motsi said in her comments too, which I know was appreciated. A Strictly moment none of us watching it will ever forget.

Friday 12th November - Seatfrog Success

So it was a nice wake up this morning and had a very comfortable night's sleep at the Longboat Inn, it has to be said. I really felt refreshed especially after a nice shower and all, so was good to be able to get myself ready and head downstairs for the full Cornish breakfast that the place provided. It was pretty good too - two sausages, two rounds of bacon, a fried egg, mushrooms, hash browns and toast along with some nice coffee.You could have a tomato and beans too but I declined those, so as not to waste food, made sense. It was nice to see that the weather looked at least dry for the morning, so with check out not till 11am, I decided to take a walk.

I walked past the sailing club to the end of one part of the harbour, before then walking along the coast path for a while until I got to the railway bridge crossing near the big Sainsbury's, then walked alongside the main road and took a diversion up the rather steep Britons Hill to admire the view down to the sea, and following Lescudjack Road back into Penzance town centre, and after a look in a few more shops, I walked to the Morrab Gardens - first time I'd been in there too and definitely not the last as it was rather gorgeous all round, with many tropical plants and the bandstand making it a calm peaceful place to be nonetheless.

I got back to the Longboat and checked out with no problems, and then walked up to Costa Coffee in Penzance centre - I had to use some of my free coffees I had on their loyalty scheme before too long and thought a nice latte to pass the time and relax (and it was now raining) would work wonders. I was also keeping an eye on the Seatfrog auction to see if I could upgrade my ticket to first class for the way back - especially as I had an aisle seat on the train in standard which wasn't my preference. Anyway, sure enough, bid with a couple of minutes to go and managed to get the upgrade for £15, which considering the five hour plus journey was going to be worth it for definite!

I boarded the train and my first clas seat was comfy and had my own table and a window view too, so all good. The staff were really good and once out of St Erth came round with a coffee and a biscuit so that was a good start, then a sandwich for lunch as well which was really appreciated as the Cornish countryside and the Albert Bridge loomed large in the distance. The train got a little busier at Plymouth and more so at Exeter St David's, but was refreshed with coffee, flapjacks, Coca-Cola and water too so definitely well fed and watered for the trip and a much more comfy seat too.

All was going well until Reading where it seemed all trains stood still. Sadly it was a signalling issue to the platform that had a train opposite us suddenly emptied and everyone was on our train instead, so a bit uncomfortable as it eventually headed out and towards Paddington - which was busy due to the England game later tonight. I avoided the crowds by taking the District Line to Wimbledon and then the tram home, so all good there. And I could settle in later and see England absolutely thrash Albania with all the work done in the first half for a superb 5-0 win and virtually guarantee World Cup qualification - with tune of the day being The Verve's Bittersweet Symphony of course..

Thursday 11th November - Cornwall Explorer

I had a pretty good sleep on the Night Riviera train, better than I thought, and did note from tracking the train that there was a delay at Newton Abbot due to signalling issues, which meant after Plymouth the train was doing catch up. I did open the window in time to see the train head over the Royal Albert Bridge into Cornwall though, so that was rather nice, and got my breakfast call later for a nice bacon roll and a coffee to go with that - all really nicely presented and served by one of the staff. I did also head to the lounge car later for a cup of tea and a nice look out of the window at the Cornish countryside heading past as the train sped along to Penzance, only five minutes behind in the end.

I headed over to the Longboat Inn where I was staying overnight, and if you're a guest there, you can drop your bag off early before check in (but note, only if you are, they used to do a left luggage service but they don't do that any more because of the situation at present) - and so with bag dropped off, I thought of some options. Then I noted the bus times and the way I could use the Transport for Cornwall's Go Cornwall buses and get a mobile ticket for the day for £9, so that was an easy option. Before long, I was off on the 2 bus to Marazion and to admire the views of St Michael's Mount.

No crossing over to the mount today for me unless I fancied swimming or taking the boat though, as the tide was very much in and crashing across the rocks, but a nice coffee and croissant in the Godolphin Hotel was always well worth doing with the sea view, and timed it well to be able to head back to Penzance on the bus later on too. With that done, I had a quick mooch around an antiques shop that also sold records in Penzance itself before then getting the 16 bus to St Ives, via Nancledra. It was an interesting journey through the countryside and just before 11am at Hellesvor Church the bus stopped, and we observed the two minute silence for Armistice Day, quite a nice touch that and allowed me a moment of reflection.

The bus arrived in St Ives and all was well, and I was soon heading along the lovely shops in Fore Street before making my way to the seafront by the harbour and Smeaton's Pier, and walking down Wharf Road to the amusement arcade in there. To my delight, there was a fairly new looking pinball machine that I had to have a go of, and it was pretty good fun I have to say. I had some loose change too so the likes of the 2p falls just had to had a go of, and also the skeeball as well, and why not? I then headed across over to Porthmeor Beach where the Tate Gallery is and admired the view over the beach to the Atlantic Ocean.

It was then a nice walk around The Island, following the path on the headland and stopping off by the watch house for the boats at the head itself, then downhill and following a path down to Porthmeor beach with its little chalet huts and coloured window sills, and the small but lovely beach with people walking their dogs (it is out of season after all) and that was nice to see. It was then back along to the harbourside and time for a nice drink of Korev in the Lifeboat Inn before heading back towards the classic old cinema and to get the 16A bus back to Penzance, this time via Zennor and Gurnard's Head, so quite a scenic route really.

I was able to check into the Longboat Inn and had the key for my room - and the room was a nice single room o the second floor, with a separate en-suite shower in the bathroom, and a nice wardrobe space, and a comfortable single bed plus television, hair dryer and so on. I had paid to have breakfast too so all in all £55 for the night with that was looking pretty good to be honest. I unpacked all I needed and it was off for a little stroll around the shops in Penzance, and taking in the Causewayhead shops too. I also walked down Morrab Road to Penlee Park and the house there before following the road out of the park and down Alexandra Road to the seafront.

It was a nice walk along the promenade to be honest, and it's been done up really well with the street names close by showing as you walk down, with plenty of benches to sit at and admire the view. I headed back uphill along Queen Street and past the Admiral Benbow pub and the Egyptian House, pausing to pass the rather impressive Acorn Theatre too so that was all good. In fact, I was able to then see a couple of more nice new little shops and as I had some time on my side, consulting with the bus timetables, I took the number 5 bus out of Penzance, past Newlyn and Gwavas and off to the village of Paul.

From there it was a half mile or so walk downhill all the way into Mousehole and that was nice to see the sea from the hill walking down, and in Mousehole I noted that the harbour lights were being readied and as usual the little shops were very nice. I could have walked up the hill to get the next number 5 back but instead decided to stay in the Ship Inn for a well earned pint, and once that was had, it was then a short wait for the M6 Mousehole bus (albeit a First bus so had to pay separately) back to Penzance all in good time for me to have a chat with The Love In My Heart and get myself ready for the evening.

It was off to the Dolphin Tavern later as the food and drink's always good in there, and so it proved tonight, the staff were lovely as usual and I had a pint of Cornish Best whilst checking the menu out. The fish and chips were also really good that I had, and was close to the jukebox so I put on some tunes of my own including Renegade Soundwave's classic Probably A Robbery, so tune of the day because you don't often get that. But oh my. The sticky toffee pudding. With clotted cream. Simply the best sticky toffee pudding I have ever had (and believe me, I've eaten a lot of them!) and it was just so indulgent but so nice. I actually was tempted to order a second one but that would be too greedy. It was lovely though and really nice to take things easy and relax for the evening - retiring back to my room later and satisfied with a busy but productive day.

Wednesday 10th November - On The Night Riviera

Tonight I was going to achieve a life long ambition, especially where trains were concerned. I'd already gone to the Southern and Westerly most station (Penzance) and clocked in over 800 stations on my travels, but there's other things I would love to do. I've always fancied taking a sleeper train of which there are only two that run in the UK - the Caledonian Sleeper up to Scotland from London Euston, and the Night Riviera, which takes you from London Paddington down to Cornwall, terminating in Penzance. I have to admit that as the latter would also mean a short break in one of my favourite parts of the world, it was a no-brainer and booked the ticket a couple of months ago once I knew I could have the time off work.

So with some excitement but also a little trepidation after I'd had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, it was off to East Croydon to first get the train to London Victoria, and as the Circle Line can be a long wait at times, it was easier to be outside the station get the 36 bus up to Paddington that way, heading along to Hyde Park Corner and up Edgware Road before then passing Sussex Gardens and dropping me off right outside the station so wasn't long before I got to Platform 1 where the Night Riviera departs from, and the Paddington Bear statue and bench were all there along with the new Crossrail purple train entrances too. Purple!

As I had a sleeper berth for the night, this meant being able to go into the first class lounge at Paddington as well, so that was an added bonus. I got myself a nice coffee and was able to relax in the former waiting room of Queen Victoria no less, so that was good. It felt very nice and palatial in there and certainly a different feel of this lounge compared to other stations, and much better for it. After a coffee and a cold drink, and a couple who were nice to chat to about their plans for heading down to Cornwall, it was then ready to board the train and be shown to my sleeper.

The staff were lovely and took my breakfast order as well as the time I'd like it, and it was then no queue for me as I was in carriage F (D and E had a queue!) and so straight to the room for the night. All compact but all there, and plenty of space to store things and a mini wardrobe to hang up my clothes for tomorrow (which I did do of course) and it was then off to the lounge car and bar for a well earned pint of Tribute, because why not, after all I am off to Cornwall? The bar was pretty busy but nice to see people having a relaxing drink before turning in for some well earned sleep, so there's something to note.

I did get myself a coffee and biscuits later to take back to the room and it was nice to see the darkness outside as the train sped along (albeit at a safe maximum of 75 miles an hour not to be too bumpy a ride) and as I tucked myself in the bedding and settled in for the night, I was thinking how nice it all was and how much I was enjoying myself - I will miss The Love of course, but you can't win them all. Nonetheless, it was nice and relaxed here and tune of the day for me is the excellent Sleep by Marion, the sort of rousing tune to get me up tomorrow morning but also an under-rated 1990s indie classic in my view.

Tuesday 9th November - Inconsiderate Idiots

If there's one thing that really gets my goat, it's people who are inconsiderate to others. See the world's fossil fuel companies at what should be called COP Out 26 attempting to court favour, and all the supposed targets to be aimed at won't get us anywhere near a maximum of 1.5 degrees centigrade increase, but a lot worse. It's a classic example of derailing and not being kind, but there's plenty more examples that I could muster, such as the Prime Minister not wearing a face mask in a hospital yesterday. I mean, seriously? What happened to leading by example rather than being a complete nonce?

Anyway, today was a classic case, and sadly to report, in the workplace, where I really had to bite the proverbial tongue and not say anything, but went through the right channels. So, in the office I'm in, there's a part of the office which is still distanced and effectively more secure for those that need it, and for those who want to remain distanced for various health or safety reasons, so every other desk is unavailable for use and clearly marked as such - and also not bookable on the desk booking system we have. And as I'm a little bit more concerned about being in a closed space that doesn't have any windows to open, I go there.

So I go to grab a coffee just before my one to one meeting with my manager, and lo and behold what do I see on the bank of desks not far from me? Every single desk being taken by certain invididuals, despite the fact it's clearly marked as not bookable and also clearly signed as a more distanced space. I didn't want to say anything untoward but I thought to myself "what a poor attitude to have" - which is something that I've noted with certain individuals more than others, it has to be said. All I had in my head as I was leaving the office later was the song Happiness by Lisa Germano (make that tune of the day) which was the immortal line of "inconsiderate bitch" quite a bit, and quite apt too.

I decided after a quick message to my manager that I'd head over to another office that we still have available - and although there'd hardly be anyone in there, I would definitely feel safer. And I did. All afternoon. It was lots better to be honest. I got lots done too. I also ended up having a chat with one of the health and safety heads, and they did say to me that what had happened was out of order (and it was) and it doesn't cost anything to be kind and considerate. Exactly that.

But to be honest, I do feel as if there's too many inconsiderate idiots generally - from those not bothering to wear a face covering on a busy train (where it's highly recommended you do) to those who think that the world belongs to them, it's just annoying to be perfectly honest. I'll be glad when I get the chance over Christmas to have an extended break with both The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, and I'll evaluate what I might need to do next year - potentially I could work from home anywhere, and so options are mooted on that as to whether I could make it work in any space say further North. We shall see.

Monday 8th November – Excelling At Resolutions

I must admit it was nice to be working from home at The Love In My Heart’s place today, and also at the same time this meant quality time with Brian the cat as The Love was on her early shift and being able to set off early and less traffic was also good for her too. I got myself up and made some coffee, and Brian the cat was being all lovely but seemingly by the window all day – not sure if he spotted something earlier in the day but he was not for moving, that was for sure.

I spent a fair bit of time today diagnosing, and eventually resolving, an issue for a member of our finance team, who to be fair has been absolutely lovely and helpful whilst we’ve been investigating an issue. So the shared sheet she attempts to open in Excel often fails with a message for recovery, and I knew that this was partially down to a bad sheet and indeed the way that the formula names related to linked sheets that don’t exist all over the place, so regardless of that, it’d need cleaning up anyway.

Today I tested a what if scenario where logging in to Excel as me meant that I could open the same file and it would work (which it did) so I suspected something user profile related. So what I then did was ensure all Office apps were closed, browsed to the user’s AppData/Roaming and AppData/Local folders, then Microsoft folder within, and renamed the Excel and Office folders in each. The user then relaunched Excel, attempted to open the file – and it worked, and much quicker too than previously. It did make me wonder whether the file had been flagged somewhere and a preference set, but still, got it to work, so mega happy.

Later on The Love arrived home and we had a good natter after I had finished work, and she had got these really nice Gino D’Campo meatballs in sauce, along with some fresh pasta and garlic bread, for tea. That went down really nicely and was just the thing to keep me going before saying a very sad farewell as I wouldn’t be seeing her and Brian for over a week and a half, and she very kindly had dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station in good time for the 1915 train back to London Euston.

It was on with the iPod for the journey down and it thankfully seemed speedy through the night sky as I headed down South, with the excellent Chvrches album to keep me going, especially the excellent He Said She Said track, which is tune of the day. In fact I got to Euston on time, got the tube and train to East Croydon and was home in a relatively painless time of sorts, so definitely for me something to take into consideration for future Mondays doing the same thing. It was good to be back and even better to be all snuggled up (albeit without The Love and Brian the cat) as something exciting will be happening later this week…

Sunday 7th November – Christmas In November

It was a nice leisurely wake up with breakfast, and then it was off to Pets at Home at the local retail park. The Love In My Heart wanted to get the tuna and prawn Sheba for Brian the cat (seeing as Asda don’t seem to stock it these days) and also some other bits for him too which would be worthwhile doing so in one visit. As expected the retail park was busy and I noted that B&Q were already going all out for the festive season with an aisle dedicated to trees, decorations and all of that. I mean, it’s the first week of November you know, cut us some slack here!

Anyway, Pets at Home didn’t have the tuna, but they did have the two for one on the hairball treats we get him (so he doesn’t get hair ball sick all the time) and the tablets used to sort any fleas out, they get disguised in the food so he eats it, but stops any fleas in their tracks and means that he is much less prone to licking his bits and being all itchy scratchy accordingly. We did notice he was getting a little like that last night, so safety first. They’re not cheap, but the way I look at it, you do get what you pay for and that was a positive.

It was then off along the M60, off at junction three and down to Cheadle Royal and the John Lewis there for a mooch. The Love and I noted plenty of festive displays already, and an abundance of jigsaws for present ideas – seriously, they had loads, including some Lego ones amongst others. I did also note that the fashion was leaning towards the Winter wear too but some of the prices were not cheap to say the least, so definitely not as good as it could be. Still though, good to have a look around in any case.

We did then head over to the Ashlea in Cheadle for a well earned Sunday roast together. The Love had the roast beef, which being a little on the pink side wasn’t to her full liking, but I did a swap with some of the turkey I had, which worked well. In fact mine was lovely, and the massive pig in blanket to go with it topped things off really well to be perfectly honest. It was just the thing and it was nice too that we could go for a drink in the Gateway down the road later and not worry about being able to head home.

Later on we settled in with some crisps and dips and some nice beer (I had the Elvis Juice tonight having had the gorgeous honeycomb beer last night) and that was all good as we saw that Adam and Katya were voted off Strictly – I wasn’t surprised but no way should Tilly and Nikita have been in the dance off to be honest. I did wonder too just how much the voters are sometimes going for popularity as for me Dan should have been in the bottom two, probably the BBC Breakfast viewers saved him. The last dance (badly!) was to Hi Ho Silver Lining by Jeff Beck, a quality tune even now and that’s tune of the day.

Saturday 6th November – Strictly 80s

It was nice to have a lie in this morning and to take things relatively easy. Brian the cat of course wanted his usual fussing and play out time, which The Love In My Heart kindly obliged him with. It was just good to get some sleep, have a really nice breakfast and get ourselves up and ready for the day. We weren’t getting up to that much really, mainly seeing family on both sides, but we knew we’d have a cosy night in with Brian later and be able to enjoy watching telly together and the things we like as well.

First off, the youngest member of The Love’s family came over along with the Mum and of course that was really lovely for The Love. It’s nice that there’s regular visits over and so that The Love gets quality time to be able to spend, but also that’s nice for me as the young one is so adorable and cute, and enjoys it immensely if I get out the Sooty puppet that The Love has to say hello – it’s a real nice sense of being happy and smiling and that makes me smile too. I am sure there’ll be lots of happy times ahead of course.

I was of course keeping an eye on the Manchester derby score too – The Love doesn’t have Sky, so was death by Teletext or the BBC Sport app as I was checking the score. City won 2-0 in the end and won easily, it was a casual stroll for the last half an hour which was immensely entertaining. I’m sure there’ll be meltdowns from the Manchester United fans later on so that’ll be good to watch, and The Love of course was pleased as she’ll know that some of her family will be pretty pleased with that result. I should add that it was also the first time we had beaten United in the league for a bit too, so double win.

We then headed over to see Mum, as it was her birthday last Wednesday and she had received my card and gift before then. However, one of my nephews had his birthday tomorrow so dropped a card off at the same time and was able to catch up a fair bit with both Mum and my youngest sister too, so was nice to be able to see them too. I did have a nice coffee and a bit of cake at the same time, which was superseded later by a visit to Wine and Wallop and some rather nice First Chop ale which was very drinkable indeed!

Later on we got back, fed Brian the cat his tuna for his tea, and settled in with some lovely chicken in cider sauce and potatoes and watched Strictly Come Dancing. I have to say that I was mega pleased for Sara and Aljaz showing their ballroom skills well again, and couldn’t see them in danger. However, wasn’t sure about Adam and Katya’s routine, and Dan and Nadiya for me would also be near the bottom score wise. However, AJ and Kai smashed it (and The Love is quite a fan of Kai!) so she was happy, and also it was great to see Tom and Amy’s Paso Doble being so good (and for the record, I’m a fan of Amy too, so definitely want to see her do well.)

Straight after was a nice final two parts of a musical look at the 80s, curated by Dylan Jones. I have to say it was excellent, especially the fact that it was full of indie and alternative 80s tunes that I liked – and nicely segued both the original Billy Bragg and later Kirsty MacColl versions of A New England (make that one tune of the day) as that’s always a cracking tune. Add to that the likes of The Smiths, The Stone Roses, Echo and the Bunnymen, New Order, and Pixies’ classic Monkey Gone To Heaven (where I had to explain to The Love about the whole Black Francis / Frank Black thing) and all was well with the world, well at least both of ours anyway!

Friday 5th November – Bonfire Bonanza

It was off to the office today and it made perfect sense to actually head there with me heading on the train to Manchester later. It did also mean I could road test the task sequence stuff I was working on yesterday, as well as look at cleaning up a number of disused packages in MECM which needed to be retired before then got rid of, as they’ve not been in use for some time, and of course, in these situations, less is more. I for one always like to keep things neat and tidy for that reason.

After work I headed towards Charing Cross Road and to Leicester Square to get the tube up to Warren Street – and with good reason. My train wasn’t til 8pm tonight and so decided that a nice meal in the Crown and Anchor, my favourite pub near Euston, was the weapon of choice to do, having booked a table earlier on. Sure enough when I got there, table with my name on and as they have a QR code to scan so you can order from the table, which is much handier if there is just one of you – it made perfect sense to get that all done and sorted. So obviously, there had to be pie involved.

And I was not disappointed, the steak and ale pie was as gorgeous as ever, with chips, buttered greens, and a shed load of gravy too to pour over. I also got myself a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and got myself a Camden Hells at the same time – well why not eh? Got to treat yourself occasionally when the opportunity arises and it was a perfect time to be able to get some down time and to relax before taking the train up North later. I could hear all the fireworks going off outside Euston and pretty much as I headed on the train too.

The train was all good, but busy, and was really annoyed about the lack of consideration of a number of people who deemed it not busy enough to be considerate to put a face covering on. We’re still very much in the current situation and I kept facing the window, away as much as I could from people, and had the very nice Penfriend album Exotic Monsters to keep me going, including the rather fab I Used To Know Everything with its very NIN-esque chorus and therefore tune of the day for me.

I got to Manchester Piccadilly and The Love In My Heart was there to meet me – so that was good, and we headed back to her place. She had very kindly got me some rather lovely beers from Asda (she’s so kind) and that meant I could watch The Last Leg and have the gorgeous Salty Kiss from Magic Rock Brewing – and I also noted the likes of the Seven Brothers Honeycomb and two beers from Brewdog too, so she had done 4 for 3 just for me. I’m so lucky to have someone so kind and she really appreciates me coming up, so it’s just a nice thing!

Thursday 4th November – Cassette Confuzion

It was another day of working at home today, which was quite good really. Primarily because it meant I could get all the clothes I needed ready for heading up North this weekend (and with an extended stay as I would be working from The Love In My Heart’s place on the Monday) but also a case of being able to investigate a few things along the way – as is the usual thing of course. I was going to be in tomorrow anyway so made perfect sense to be able to get some preparatory work done.

That included new versions of both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to be included in the base Windows 10 build and as normal, I’ll add them to the test task sequence first, test to make sure all works well, and then when working correctly, raise a change to make it all live and get that sorted. I think the main thing is that if you start with an up to date base of your core applications, then the rest will follow over time and that will be effective and efficient at the same time. Epic win, of course.

One of the things that I noted today was listening to the cassette B-side of the audio of the track Confuzion by Private Property, which appears on the Commodore 64 game in SID form by Rob Hubbard. I’d definitely say that the tape really did seem like it was recorded on cheaper media, a fair amount of tape hiss is present and using Dolby B or C on the Marantz tape deck I have really did muffle it a little too much, a sure fire sign of the cassette type being the bog standard ferric, no chrome or metal tape here (and in fact some companies did end up using BASF tape later, see Mastertronic.)

I was debating whether it’d be worth me salvaging an audio recording from it, and could in effect use the headphone out of my AV amp to go to the socket on the laptop – but of course it’s one of those daft hybrid ones that doesn’t detect mic or line in properly. The other option potentially would be to re-route the rec out from the amp not to the tape deck, but get the 2 phono to jack plug and use that as the line in (I know that works beforehand) and that might take some time but could at least get that connected to the PC line in as well.

In the end, I didn’t need to do any of that. One of the Sinclair Spectrum sites actually had a pretty good quality MP3 version of the track (make it tune of the day) available anyway, so that made perfect sense to utilise that and listen to it, and preserve the tape – even with my high end Marantz deck, anything to prolong the tape life for loading the game especially is always a sensible decision. It did make me go and play the game again though and that still proved as difficult as ever.

Wednesday 3rd November - Resolutions

I spent some time with one of my colleagues today who is based over in Dublin. It transpired that one of the Macs over there needed to be re-enrolled in our management system (JAMF Pro) but for some reason the enrolment URL wasn't accessible and even if using an alternate option to get to it, it was then still not playing ball. I had seen this before a while ago and seemed to remember a couple of issues with either DNS or indeed the hosts file being incorrect.

I had the hunch about the hosts file and so checked that in the /etc folder on the Mac. I was able to show to my colleague that there was an IP address there which was an old way of resolving the URL for enrolment for the system, but because that was there, any time you referenced the URL, it was attempting to get to a non-existent IP address, hence it would fail. It was a case of making a copy of said file, editing it, and then overwriting the one in /etc with the correct one (provided you have admin credentials of course) and then, as if by magic, the enrolment works.

With that nicely resolved, on to the next one to sort out: I had been rolling out the new VPN client fine and everything worked apart from one machine for some reason. I was able to see that in fact the hardware inventory seemed to think that the old version was still there, and when I checked further, I noted the installation source referred to a folder in the CCM Cache that didn't exist. I suspect this was a classic case where someone had manually deleted items in the cache folder and didn't do it properly via WMI (where the install source would be removed.)

The way to fix this was to effectively recreate the source folder with the content in it as it would have been installed originally (I still had all the install files of course) and once copied over, the next time it was able to check the new version, it was able to remove the old one, install the new one, and then add the config files needed and show properly compliant. Excellent stuff, and 100% fully compliant across the board for those machines that have been deployed, and so that has to be a positive.

I had Radio 5 Live on later via the BBC Red Button and was keeping an ear to Manchester City's Champions League game against Bruges in Group A. After Phil Foden had taken the lead there was a bit of drama courtesy of a John Stones own goal. Thankfully the second half was much better and City was able to exert some control on the game, with Riyad Mahrez scoring to go 2-1 up. City made some changes, Jack Grealish went off, and City played much better without him, and Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesús scored and made it a comfortable 4-1 win for City, which was good. Tune of the day is the classic Man City anthem The Boys In Blue, as they never give in...

Tuesday 2nd November - Pogoing Through Games

I had a nice package arrive earlier in the day - which was a set of auctions I had won on eBay over the weekend and all from the same seller. It was very well packaged indeed and nice and secure to be sent in the post, and so really was pleased how well looked after the games were. I got a few bargains within that lot and nice to be reunited with some of the games and utilities that I had for the Commodore 64 back in the day and thought it'd be good to re-own them now and have a good play too. Definitely for me a case of having a small but well formed collection to have some fun when friends come over and so on.

One of the five was actually a utility - Ubik's Musik, which I used to create music on the Commodore 64 back in the day. It was good to load this up and remind myself of the way that I'd use the utility. One thing which I really used to dislike then (and still sort of do) was that when you're in the sequence editor and want to see how the sequence plays, you can't just play the sequence only which is a bit of a shame (and something I can currently do in the editor I do use) but still, good to be able to check it all over and to have the original of the relocation compiler (after the main program) to move the tune in memory as you need once compiled.

It was then on with the games: first off, Confuzion by Incentive. It was a good puzzle game back then and I can remember the fun of trying to sort out the path to get to the bombs. But the main reason I wanted it was the audio side on the B side, which has the tune to the game by the band Private Property (and hence tune of the day) - which was then translated in SID form by Rob Hubbard. It's quite a different thing back then to have an audio tape with the soundtrack (this was 1985 after all) so has to be worthy of note just for that.

On to the big box cassettes now, and to Imagine's beat em up Target: Renegade, an unofficial follow up of sorts to the arcade game. It's actually really well out together by Ocean's star programmer David Collier, a mix of high res and multicolour sprites for a detailed colourful set of characters, baddies and a real sense of urban battling, jumping at the biker to dislodge him, using the baseball bat to good effect as well. The detail of graphics was superb and the gameplay tough but doable - and notably too the first known instance of the Ocean Loader 4 music by Jonathan Dunn too.

I also checked over all the games of the Konami Coin-Op Hits compilation - this was the same compilation I had back in 1987 for the C64 as well, so nice to have it back. Of course there's three David Collier programmed games here: Yie Ar Kung Fu, Hyper Sports (and of course cue the Martin Galway excellent version of the Chariots of Fire film theme) and Green Beret, as tough as ever. Mikie is pretty good fun (also got that and Hyper Sports via the Six Shooter compilation) and Ping Pong is a little game compared to the rest in terms of hype maybe, but definitely one that seems to play at a fair lick, just as I remember it too.

Finally for tonight, and the one I spent a good couple of hours on, Nebulus from Hewson. It got a Zzap! Gold Medal back in late 1987, and deservedly so when I played it back in the day (those of you in the USA may know it as Tower Toppler.) You control the character Pogo, and need to get to the top of each tower by avoiding nasties, taking lifts up, not falling down blocks that give way, and it is gorgeous to look at, with the viewpoint of the tower scrolling just a superb technical achievement. It is so playable as well, and before I knew it I had got to the fourth tower, and the difficulty is just right so that you get further each time. Very enjoyable indeed, and so pleased to have this one.

Monday 1st November – Crewe Conundrums

It was working from The Love In My Heart’s place today, which I’ll actually be doing for some Mondays in future as the trains proved to be a lot cheaper to be able to go back Monday evening (£28) as opposed to Sunday evening (£50 plus) and of course that does mean we get to spend Sunday night together too. Of course this one was a little unplanned due to the fact that there was bad weather and no trains, and all at least seemed good for the trains coming back tonight so that was at least something. The Love and I had breakfast and she gave me a kiss before heading to work – she wouldn’t be back before I set off for home later.

I had Brian the cat keeping me company all day and he was adorable – lying on the bed keeping it warm or Mummy, or just stretching out on the floor or the pouffle as he does and wanted to even play ball later on too. He was all good and that was nice to see and purred happily when I gave him his tuna and his Dreamies later on, so that was also nice. He did resist snuggling up next to me on the laptop though as I worked and wanted to have his own sleepy time. He is so adorable.

I was setting off another deployment of our revised client for VPN access, and that appeared to be going very well. My plan of effectively minimising disruption by ensuirng those who weren’t connected to VPN getting it first appeared to be paying off nicely, with numbers up and our networks team reporting the new clients reporting in also, so a good bit of teamwork all round there and working together to get things sorted, so that was positive. And it did mean I could monitor things nicely too.

With work done and Brian fed, it was off through the rain and the tram to Manchester Piccadilly station, and it seemed relatively busy. I was boarding the 1831 Transport for Wales train to Crewe, changing for the 1935 London Northwestern train to Euston. As soon as the train left Piccadilly, I felt something was amiss somewhere and we crawled into Stockport, not good. Anyway the train had broken down (second time out of two from Manchester with TfW) and so had to swap at Stockport, get on the next Avanti train to Crewe, and I thought it might be tight.

And so it proved. Knowing the train came into Platform 1 at Crewe, I needed to be near the back of the train, and so got off, legged it to the bridge, crossed over and got on the train at Platform 7 with a minute to spare (no kidding!) – but at least that was all good and on time to Euston so has to be a positive. I kicked back and had some excellent tunes on the iPod, including the likes of Penfriend and so Cancel Your Hopes is tune of the day – it really does have a great kick to it and the chorus is rather enjoyable (but not to be sung loud on the train, if you know, you know why!)