Dear Diary... September 2022

Friday 30th September – Leaving

It was nice to be in the office today and indeed with quite several staff from our department. It was the end of the month of course which is always a positive, but it was also mainly since one of our staff was leaving and heading off to New Zealand to emigrate and join more of their family there. That for me made perfect sense why you would want to head somewhere else, and with the state of play of things in this country, entirely plausible too. It was on the X68 early this morning to head off to work, and it was relatively relaxing, even in the rain.

Once in the office, it was good to get down to some maintenance works that I needed to do. So, we finally got permission to remove any assets from a part of the business since departed, because all the kit had been accounted for, so that meant a nice clean-up of systems overall and that did mean we could get some licences back across the board, which is always a positive thing. I was also able to check some systems in place and do some further testing, so definitely a day of where things did happen for the right reasons.

It was the final Friday this month too where we would be able to have some drinks in the lower ground floor of the office to end the week well (it was an incentive during September as people were heading back to the office more) and that was a good thing. We could of course start a leaving get together early and so we had a bottle of Peroni and some of the staff also used the table football table to have a little mini game, with the “no spinsies” rule in effect. It reminded me somewhat of the halcyon days of Indoor League, so tune of the day is Waiting for You by André Brasseur, which became the theme tune for Indoor League. I’ll si’thee then.

We then ventured out in the rain and over to a pub not far from Chancery Lane, which was decent. I did have the Sambrooks Wandle ale which is pretty good, and that went down nicely, and I enjoyed chatting with a number of colleagues, mainly about Sunday’s derby coming up. I do feel nervous about that, and it was good to be able to just discuss all sorts with everyone. I knew though I’d have to leave in a while as a train to Manchester was calling me for the weekend ahead and made my way back to Aldwych to get the bus up to Euston.

Thankfully the train was on time heading out, and I had no one sat next to me, so these things are little epic wins which I really like. I was able to relax with some tunes and have The Love in My Heart come and collect me afterwards, and we headed back to her place where Brian the cat was being all cute and cuddly, sat on the sofa and keeping it warm for Mummy. Aww. In fact, the film Cocktail was on Channel 5, so we ended up watching that, and of course as a Tom Cruise fan, The Love was suitably invested in watching it again. I remembered bits of it from being little, especially the bar scenes being suitably loud and raucous!

Thursday 29th September - The Lesser Spotted Home Bargains

It was back to the office today and it was good to see that my manager was also in - he now lives in the Wirral with his girlfriend, so had driven down at 4am this morning to head towards London, and is staying with one of the team in North London for the next couple of days. It works out well because for him at least, the cost of living is a lot cheaper, even if the two of them were sharing a place in Zone 2, and not needing to be in the office and be a dispersed worker has meant some more flexibility too, so everyone's a winner on that one.

My two main points of focus today were packaging some more applications, mainly updated versions of what we already use, so they could be out there in both Software Centre on Windows and Self-Service on the Mac, and so where possible, and if a version exists for both, have them at the same release level where possible to make sure that we have consistency. It did work out very well on the whole, so I was able to for example check over node.js, where the folks do things properly (MSI installer for Windows, pkg for Mac, done proper!)

I also did spend some time this afternoon also checking a piece of Mac software that we finally managed to get a version of that was compatible with what one of our clients supplied us in terms of the one they use. It transpired though during testing that the Mac was flagging it for malware (bad) and claimed it was a file without a date stamp and therefore the content couldn't be trusted. When I did some further research, the version of said software complete with their extra configuration was actually incompatible with MacOS Monterey (and my Mac in the office is fully patched to 12.6.0) - and I had to locate a very old Mac with Mojave 10.14 on for it to work. Darn it!

Anyway, that at least and the findings reported back were prompt, so that did mean that we would be able to liaise further and get something working. I was also then able to do some further road testing of some applications and make sure that they were both happy to install and happy to run. On the whole it does look like I've made some good progress, so will see what the state of play is with regards to getting some of those further configured along the way. The good news at least is that for me that all the work is coming to fruition nicely.

I headed to Temple and got the District line over to Wimbledon Park and to get my hair chopped to bits at the great folks at James Barbers. It was good to chat to one of the folks there who is a Nottingham Forest fan and discuss about what his side had been doing this season - and also how a crucial game against Leicester City on Monday evening could shape some of their season somewhat. We shall see. I did a nice walk to the 156 bus stop to get the bus to Wimbledon, and noted that there's a Home Bargains being built! This is pretty big news for that London, as there's hardly any (the only one I know of is in Beckton) so I may have to take a trip there - in fact tune of the day is Northside's cult classic Shall We Take a Trip!

Wednesday 28th September - No Stop Til Hammersmith

I was working from home today and had a busy day planned to be honest, mainly packaging up some Mac and Windows applications for a forthcoming piece of work with a migration from some devices that were coming in to us. They had specific requirements which our lead in the US wanted to work through with me - so from my perspective, it was a case of that I had gathered the information together, was able to then crack on with getting packaging done. I had the Mac laptop out as well as the Windows one, ready for action as it were.

In fact that did prove useful because if an application was cross-platform, I could do both at the same time and get them all packaged up nicely without any issue. It was definitely a case of being able to switch between, download the relevant installer, work out the command line to do the install silently, check a detection method for Windows to see if the application was installed already or not, and then from there be able to get them distributed for the content, and test out an install on both devices where applicable. It worked pretty nicely it has to be said.

After work I headed off to East Croydon station as I was going to be (hopefully) in the audience for the recording of part of the new series of Fantasy Football League on Sky Max, and this was being brought back after being made really popular by David Baddiel and Frank Skinner (together with Angus Loughran as Statto) in the 1990s. This time around it would be Matt Lucas and Elis James on presenting duty, with guests, but also with the comedian Andrew Mensah talking about the fantasy league itself and offering additional comedic insight, not quite Statto, but different.

It was basically a change at Clapham Junction, from there on a packed Overground to West Brompton, head over to the tube to Earls Court and change over for Hammersmith. Once I got out of the mini shopping centre there it was over by the Apollo and down towards the river and to Riverside Studios. No queueing outside thankfully, everyone was inside. I had my QR code scanned and was told I might not be able to get in (as they do oversubscribe for tickets in case of no shows) but they did offer everyone a voucher for a free bottle of Budweiser from the bar to keep us going which was good.

Anyway, they called everyone in, in order of number they had on the wristband, and it got down to a number left, almost everyone in twos and threes apart from me. The runner said they had one left, so volunteered to take it. I was in, by the proverbial skin of my teeth, and was on a couch next to a Wolves fan and a Tranmere fan. I had my 1989 Man City away retro shirt on, and as encouraged to by the invite, everyone did have a shirt on of some description, which was good. I have to admit that the studio set was very much like the original one, but also had two framed pictures: one of Baddiel and Skinner (whio apparently gave permission for the remake) and one of the late Jeff Astle, who used to of course sing at the end of the original show.

Whilst not giving anything away too soon (as it's being shown tomorrow night on Sky Max anyway) there's some bits they've kept from the original format: the hello to someone with the same name as the footballer, the Phoenix from the Flames is also back where the VT shows Matt and Elis recreating a classic football moment with someone, and having two celebrity guests on talking about their line up and their love of football. One of the guests happened to be a Manchester City fan so of course that got my approval as you can well imagine. It was pretty good and most of it happened in one take apart from some bits which needed a re-record.

On the whole, it was a good experience and a good effort from Sky, and the three hosts certainly kept the original feel intact, which was good too. I did like the fact also that they were happy to laugh at themselves and with the audience, and there's other nice bits which I am sure you will enjoy when you see it. In the meantime tune of the day is Back Home by the 1970 England Football Team, as that was covered for the theme tune to the original Fantasy Football League series, and a new version has been done for the remake. Now, if only they could sing about Pele being bobbins and worse than Jason Lee!

Tuesday 27th September - Upgrading Time

It was off to the office today and onwards with a move of one of the servers - mainly the one we use for inventory. In fact I had done some preparation work on that yesterday so was able to make sure that LDAP authentication was pointing to another server to do the job (so that user lookups would see there and work perfectly well without any issues) and that any mail sending was done using a different SMTP server that had been set up too for all sorts, and after doing the testing yesterday that seemed to work well as well.

So I did some final steps this morning first thing when I got to the office: disable the necessary Windows services, stop the services down for the server I needed to and then hand it over to the infrastructure folks for a good bit of lift and shift migration - primarily so we could effectively not be using an existing location. All seemed well whiilst they did the work and once done, I then needed to do some testing and checks. The good thing I was able to verify was that the certificate on port 443 was receiving some requests for sending data in still, so that was a positive.

However, in terms of the web admin console, nothing was doing and in fact it looked like very time you tried to start the web server service for that, it stopped after a few seconds. I did some digging and was able to find out why: effectively, the licencing is tied in to a hardware ID, and if that hardware ID changes (which it would have done here) then it's a simple case of relicencing it with the new ID, because crucially the host name of the server had not changed, so still worked.

Once I let that settle, badabing, everything was working fine. Clients reported in (and did a test both in the office and tethered to the phone to simulate being on a home network) and I could also run the reports, send a scheduled report via email, and generally speaking be able to get all what I needed to do done, which was a positive. I think for me at least it shows that working well with a team is always the best way to get results, and that definitelty has to be a plus.

I headed home and it was slightly surreal as someone who was on the bus clearly was drunk and trying to sound intelligent in the slurry speech. I was pretty glad to do the switcheroo to the 468 at Crown Point and so have a much more quieter journey home, have the rest of the pasta bake, chatter to The Love In My Heart (and how I am missing Brian the cat, it has to be said) and then sitting down to watch a bit of telly and also enjoy something else on Youtube that I contributed to, so that was nice. Tune of the day is from that video actually - Rob Hubbard's excellent C64 soundtrack to the game The Last V8.

Monday 26th September - Deutschland uber Wembley

It was one of the greatest football rivalries taking place tonight at Wembley as England took on Germany, and a rivalry that has always produced some intrigue, tense and classic matches. With both teams paired in the UEFA Nations League and neither qualifying for the finals (and England being relegated into the B groups next time around, it was most likely playing for some sort of pride tonight. Well, you'd say that but the way that the national team have been playing as of late, you do wonder just how much that our side have been slipping as of recent games.

So it was first of all on with the working day, where I was able to get plenty done and had finally seen all the content get to one of our distribution points in China, so can make some plans for having that PXE boot and indeed to see if we can use that to do builds from there. Unfortunately it may take time in future to send content to it, so definitely going to have to factor that in for any changes we do plan to make to be honest. In similar circumstances, at least we can show that there may be a better way of doing things.

Onwards to the football then, and it was a case of England trying at least to salvage some pride tonight. The firs chance too for the national team to have a moment's silence following the Queen's passing, blast out God Save the King (still feels weird but it's what we'll get used to over time) and then crack on with the game. And at least signs did look a little better as England did look okay going forward. At the defensive end though, it wasn't so great at all and I was a bit gutted when John Stones went off injured - he could be out of the Manchester derby which will be a miss for us.

The second half started okay but then Germany pressed forward, there was a foul in the box by Harry Maguire, echoing his poor club form, and after a VAR check from the referee, Germany had a penalty, duly tucked away by Manchester City captain Ilkay Gundogan - his third penalty scored at Wembley in fact after he got one years ago for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final. And with Kai Havertz adding a second a little while later, it looked like another defeat for England as of late, and that wasn't good.

However, on came Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka and the two changed the game pretty quickly, with them winning the ball, running at defenders and causing panic in the box. Indeed as the ball came in, it broke to the left for Luke Shaw to hit it low and hard through the German keeper's legs, and crept over the line for 2-1. That was good, but then three minutes later a flowing move down the right with Saka running at defenders meant a nice pass from him to Mount, who powered a beauty from outside the box into the bottom corner for 2-2. That did at least salvage sme pride and was a very well taken goal.

As England went forward again it looked like Jude Bellingham, who had been good all game, was cropped inside the box in a tackle similar to the Germany penalty. It went to VAR, and the pen was given. Harry Kane did what Harry Kane does and rifled it into the top left hand corner for 3-2. Could we beat Germany from 2-0 down. Sadly not, as a shot from Serge Gnabry was fumbled by Nick Pope in the England goal right to Kai Havertz who slotted it home for 3-3. I guess from 2-0 down it wasn't bad, but questions do need to be asked about our tactical acumen somewhat. In the meantime tune of the day is the classic World in Motion by England with New Order, still a fine anthem!

Sunday 25th September - Snooker Loopy

I had a well earned lie in today after having had a long walk on Saturday, and indeed having spent some time watching some telly last night including the opening performances on Strictly Come Dancing. I must admit there were some surprising performances, namely from Hamza Yusuf with Jowita Przystal - they really did nail their ballroom dance. I have to say also that Will Mellor and Nancy Xu smashed it too, and some that The Love In My Heart thought may have done better, such as Matt Goss and Fleur East, didn't necessarily perform so well. First day nerves and all that but we shall see.

I decided that it'd be a good day to take some rest and relaxation. I did think about going to the Chelsea v Manchester City Women's Super League game this afternoon but wasn't able to get any tickets as it had sold out well in advance. In a way that has got to be a positive - I went to Tottenham v Man City last season with around 1200 people there so hopefully the increased attendances at bigger grounds are here to stay. It was also notable that after Arsenal smashed Tottenham yesterday, it was also Liverpool v Everton at Anfield as well later today, so definite plus points.

What I did do was watch the World Mixed Doubles snooker on, and the afternoon session had two intriguing matches to complete the round robin stage. Neil Robertson and Mink Nutcharut had to win their match 4-0 against Judd Trump and Ng On Yee to be able to possibly qualify for the final, and they did that - with Mink pulling off a sensational 74 clearance to pull the frame back after Judd Trump had put a decent break on the board. That was superb stuff, and after Mark Selby and Rebecca Kenna beat Ronnie O'Sullivan and Reanne Evans 3-1, it meant that Robertson and Nutcharut had qualified for the final after all.

I did head out briefly in the afternoon for a walk and to get some fresh air, but it was not the warmest day out there, and I did feel a little tired in the legs after the walk yesterday - no bad thing as I do need to get back to do some more walking of course, so I'll take that as a positive. No pain, no gain and all that. I also did manage to get all the photographs sorted out for some Commodore 64 games that I am putting up on eBay - most of them are duplicates of what I have but others I won't realistically play either, so best that they go to a new home where they'll be loved.

Once all that was sorted I settled back into the snooker and to watch the World Mixed Doubles final, it was the best of seven frames and all four players did play pretty well. I did think the momementum was with Neil Robertson and Mink Nutchaut though, and both played some good quality snooker to edge the match 4-2 and be the inaugural champions. Also for Mink that did mean a share of the winning prize money (a cool £30k, the most a woman has won in snooker) and entry to the Champion of Champions also, so a definite plus. As for tune of the day I kind of wish ITV could get the rights to use the proper snooker theme of Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band, as that'd be rather ace!

Saturday 24th September - London Nature Trailing

So I decided last night after looking at the Transport for London web site and seeing a new section in walking that I'd be undertaking a walk today. It's the first time I've done a walk for some time and wanted to get one done, but somewhere different too. There are four walks that art part of the London Nature Trails series, and the one I looked at was in South London. This was nearer to me but also primarily because of the fact that there were no trains to Victoria, so wanted to do something that I could get to - and I had worked out that I could use a combination of Overground and tube - so would be cheaper.

It was on the Overground from West Croydon and then the Jubilee from Canada Water to Bermondsey, where the walk started. The walks are on the Go Jauntly app, so either have guided written steps to read or you can follow the map (and with location on) which for me worked better. I was soon able to get to the banks of the River Thames and follow Bermondsey Wall along to the statues of the family of Ada Salter, who was a prominent political figure in London, was the first woman mayor and indeed also fought for rights for women and had a part of the Bermondsey Uprising. The cat statue on the wall was also adorable too.

I then walked towards Rotherhithe and the Brunel Museum there complete with the bench that had a replica of the Royal Albert Bridge there (the one that goes over from Devon to Cornwall over the River Tamar) and then past the train station and following cycleway C14 for a while, heading towards the ecological park at Stave Hill, and climbing up the hill to the top with its majestic views of Canary Wharf and The Shard along the way. It was a really nice point to gather the thoughts before then heading towards Waterman's Way and the Russia Dock Woodland.

Once past there, and under the road, passing the rather nice looking Moby Dick pub, the Greenland Dock was there in all its glory, with someone sailing along the dock in their little sailing boats, and plenty moored up alongside too. I followed this back to the River Thames and then walked the Thames Path for a while (and indeed part of the Jubilee Greenway in reverse) until I got to Upper Pepys Park, walked through that and the lower park and round past the Dog and Bell pub as the path headed towards Deptford Creek and the statue of Peter the Great alongside the River Thames.

From here I followed the road back alongside Deptford Creek to the railway arches, diverting to the creek to see the lift bridge, then back towards Deptford and its famous market. I did also note the newer Deptford Market Yard on the way to the train station which really did seem rather lovely too, before heading through Margaret McMillan Park and crossing over the A2 past the Royal Albert pub. From here I followed some streets of Edwardian terraces, through a small park, and downhill towards Brockley, which had a sign under the railway bridge with a gold medal resembling the O (as Alex Yee the triathlete is from round these parts and he had won gold at the Olympics.)

I did also note the rather pretty Brockley Station Community Gardens with its little sections for vegetables and a kitchen garden too which made for a nice green little ending as I got to Brockley station. I headed to a nearby pub for some lunch and then headed on the train home, and had had a very good walk indeed. I'm definitely going to do the remainder at some point and I can recommend the one I did today highly - six miles of very enjoyable urban green strolling, which shows that sometimes you don't have to go too far to see something nice. Tune of the day in the meantime is Walking In My Shoes by Depeche Mode, which I had in the head for most of the walk!

Friday 23rd September - Strictly Friday

It was off to the office today and it was quite good to avoid some of the rain this morning as I set off - although thankfully the temporary diversions in Croydon centre had been removed and so it was back to normal for the bus route. I was able to swap to the X68 no problem and with the Friday traffic being less busy, I made it over to the office in good time, and got settled in for a busy day, and being able to asisst some of the staff in there during the day was a good thing too.

I did note during the afternoon that it did seem to be less busy, even with the incentive of a small drinks reception in the lower ground floor late afternoon as a way of settling people back in. I did head down and noted there was some wine, soft drinks, juice and some beer - the selection wasn't the best but that did mean that there was the Peroni 0.0% and so went for that - they used to call it Libera from what I remembered, and that was decent enough. The afternoon had been pretty quick overall and the good news was that it was of course the weekend.

However, the journey home wasn't the quickest unfortunately, as there was a burst water main on the way to Tulse Hill out of Brixton and that seemed to have a tailback of traffic. Of course because I was on the X68 bus I was unable to get off anyway til West Norwood, but these things happen. I knew Strictly Come Dancing's launch show was going to be starting so I asked The Love In My Heart to keep me posted. As it turned out she had kept me posted of the first few before I arrived home and was able to watch the remainder myself.

I must admit that it always seems a little long winded sometimes the way that they build up to the celebrities meeting their professional partners but in the end there were sensible choices - for example Ellie Simmonds, the swimmer, partnered with Nikita Kuzman. I also expected the rather tall Matt Goss to get someone tall, and so (as did Dan Walker did last year) it was Nadiya Bychkova for that one. The Love In My Heart and I were both pleased that Jowita Przystal - who was part of a couple that won The Greatest Dancer a few years back - was partnered with a celebrity this time around, as she's ace!

It did break new ground this year by having not one, but two, same sex couples, with Richie Anderson partnered with Giovanni Pernice, and Jayde Adams partnered with Karen Hauer. It's definitely a case of being more accepted these days to have a same sex partnership in terms of dancing, so that will be positive, and different - and good for Strictly to break that ground again. As for tune of the day I did note that one of the group dances at the end had Starlight by The Supermen Lovers, so got to be that just to get them all ready for the vibe.

Thursday 22nd September - Packing Heat

It was a working from home day today, and that proved to be pretty decent all round. This was primarily due to the fact that I was able to plan the day sensibly, with me monitoring some of the content distribution, checking on out of date clients and updating those (mainly the MECM client binaries) as they came online, and also being able to check over some asset management and compile a list to send to the service teams to be able to track down where those are too. So it was definitely a case of working out some sensible priorities.

I needed to head out at lunch time because I needed some packing material for a couple of packages I needed to send off - one of which was over to someone in Canada who wanted some of the Commodore 64 games I was selling off. As it transpired, I had ran out of proper Sellotape, but also needed some brown parcel tape as well as a large padded envelope too - having alredy put the games in bubble wrap and inside some stiff card to protect them, with the idea being I'd use the large padded envelope to further encase them, then use the brown kraft wrap to seal the package and tape it down, so was uber secure.

Thankfully a visit to Poundland saw me right for most of that - they even had the proper Sellotape for a quid as well as the remainder of what I was after, and managed to get a couple of other bits at the same time so all was good, and soon headed back home during that break to get things sorted and packed. It's also very useful to have a proper parcel postbox close by that I can drop off all these sorts of things to - having done the print at home postage along with the customs declarations as well, so that was a definite plus for me there.

I had a lovely conversation with The Love In My Heart tonight - and as much as I would have loved to jump on a train and see her tomorrow, realistically it's best that I save some money up for a forthcoming weekend we do have planned, so we had a chatter about all sorts to make up for it. Brian the cat has decided he now wants to play in the play tunnel that The Love got for him ages ago from B&M Bargains, so he can sit in there, hear the crinkle effects as he crawls in, and just has his own little hiding place ready to spot anything that comes by. Awww bless, he is so lovely.

I spent some time tonight also checking over some of the archives, and found that I had recorded a piece to audio about a gaming event back in 2001 as well as have some of the remixes of the game themes from that time. A lot has moved on since then of course but it was interesting to hear how my own voice has changed slightly over time, and also the tunes back then. One of those which I still enjoy today is Kent Wallden's version of the tune from Way of the Exploding fist, which in itself is a cover of a traditional Chinese piece called Dance of the Yao People, so it is that which is tune of the day.

Wednesday 21st September - You Must Concentrate

It was again up early this morning, and it was off to the office on the X68 bus. However, it seemed notable that the traffic was slow from Beulah Spa all the way to Crown Point, not because of any road works per se, and not even because of all the school traffic and the parents dropping their kids off in their big cars on the road right outside the gates and blocking up the road whilst doing so. No, none of that. At the top of Crown Point there is a Lidl, and outside there Thames Water had closed half the road off due to a rather burst water main causing issues in the road itself - with all the excess water flowing downhill.

As a consequence it did mean it took a lot longer to get into work than originally planned - I still got there on time but with a little less time to get all set up and ready to go. It was a busy day anyway, primarily due a course that all of our department were taking part in and having a meeting later in the day, so that has to be something - and planning the day around that did mean that I was able to get quite a bit done during the day, including tracking down the content being sent to a distribution point that wasn't the quickest, but just monitoring it and making sure all was well.

I did also later in the day utilise the deal that was in Costa Coffee for me - as I had enough beans to get a free coffee, and so got myself a large latte in preparation for later in the day, which did make more sense to be honest. I really did enjoy that and of course it's nice to have used that when a good coffee is appreciated. It did mean I could also make some notes and be attentive during this afternoon's course too when online, and with the headphones on zone out enough to be sure I could concentrate.

I was half expecting the voice of a woman proclaiming "You must concentrate!" a la the classic Theatre of Magic pinball machine, one which a friend and I used to play a heck of a lot in Manchester city centre. And inevitably the moment that phrase would be said, we'd ask them to go away but the ball would almost always drain. Even recently when playing it at Tilt in Birmingham the last time I was there, the same voice haunted me when I lost a ball - some things just don't change then!

I decided due to the nature of the road works that taking the train home would be the better option so I walked down to City Thameslink and headed home that way. It did mean I got home quicker and had a lovely chat later to The Love In My Heart, she had a nice surprise today which cheered her up somewhat which was good, and it did mean that we could both relax and chill out. Brian the cat was being all snuggly with his Mummy too which made me miss him a bit - where's my snuggle then, Brian?

As for tune of the day it's definitely a case of something I had in my head for most of the day - namely the Alexei Sayle comedy classic Ullo John Gotta New Motor? - in which case every line of the verses are repeated twice, and there's a real sense of nonsense in a lot of those words. Is there life in Peckham, he asks - as well as of course being covered by Ian Dury on the Toshiba adverts during the mis 80s later on - even the "here's my calling card - wallop!" repurposed for the sound system.

Tuesday 20th September - I Could Go To London

It certainly felt very much like The Morning After this morning as I headed off to work on the X68 bus, not least due to the fact that it was a much more quiet and serene London after the events of the last few days. The roas works along Beulah Hill by Beulah Spa had been completed too, so it was a much smoother run to and from work on the bus, and this did mean that I actually got to the office a little earlier than planned, but no bad thing really. In fact this allowed me to have a well earned coffee and to settle in for the day ahead, and on the whole that was a good thing.

In fact, I spent a bit of time today checking over some applications and discovering some new versions which did need some packaging tasks to undertake. One of them is used at one site, and the installer is a small download but actually needs to run the setup with the /layout parameter, so it downloads the installer files you really need and places them in a suitable area for deployment - and in this case, in both a x64 and x86 version, so easy enough to get the x64 version, add a couple of transform paramaters and bing, there's your MSI and MST right there. Absolute doddle when you work out what you need to do.

I also did spend some more time checking over some of the Mac configuration in JAMF Pro, and glad I did, because I spotted there may be some Mac App Store installs which are no longer needed, so will run those by the rest of the team. On the flip side, the ones that we do need do mean that you can update the inbuilt ones without too much fuss and keep them up to date (and as they're bundled with the OS anyway in some cases, it does make a lot more sense to do that where possible - again with a view to keeping things relatively simple.)

I did also make a decision that was proving to be one I needed to think about though - and that is to sign up for another year in the flat I am in at present. It wasn't the easiest decision due to a rent increase (with the cost of living for everyone and the demand in the area, I could sort of see it was going one way upwards) but as The Love In My Heart reminded me, I am happy where I am and if it isn't broke, don't fix it and end up somewhere that you coud be unhappy in or feel less secure at.

I had a lovely chat with The Love later on, then settled in to find that the hot water was working again after it being off a couple of days, so that's good, and that it was nice to kick back and relax with a couple of tunes from the delightful Duke Special. He is playing near me later this week so am possibly tempted to head along, but in the meantime tune of the day is the brilliant Salvation Tambourine, with its refrain throughout of "I could go to London..." which seems pretty apt as I head to the office, I think!

Monday 19th September - The Final Farewell

So today was the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, and with it being a full state funeral, a public holiday had been declared in the UK a week last Saturday in order to ensure that people could pay their respects if they wished to, whether this be watching on television, or making their way to central London or Windsor as the day unfolded. Whilst most businesses closed, including the likes of major supermarkets and other large high street shops to allow people to use that time as they wished to on the Monday, I did think about those on duty in the NHS and other emergency services where they wouldn't be having that time.

It was sensible of the likes of the BBC and ITV to not only stream the services live on their catch up channels, but also on the likes of Youtube, allowing it free to air for everyone and meaning those who were unable to watch the funeral live this morning could do so for example on their lunch break and rewind back to the service itself. Whilst I'm not a massive fan of monarchy per se, I do also appreciate the magnitude of the occasion for many, and that there are a family who have lost their parent, their grandparent, even their great grandparent, and for that any family loss like that should be respected.

Everything ran to clockwork as the gun carriage headed from Westminster Hall where the lying in state had completed this morning over to Westminster Abbey, where the world's leaders were amongst those gathered inside, and security being uber-tight as you could well imagine. It was a very sombre mood, with the Prince and Princess of Wales' children, George and Charlotte, also being there. There were readings from various church leaders, the Prime Minister Liz Truss (thank heavens it wasn't the previous one, that's all I will say) and the national anthem was played, both verses in fact, which you don't hear very often.

As the service finished, the coffin was laden back on to the gun carriage, taking in Horse Guards Parade, The Mall and heading past Buckingham Palace for one final time to Admiralty Arch near Hyde Park Corner, where a military service took place briefly and onwards through Hyde Park and to Windsor. The roads along the park and indeed along the A4 by the likes of the Royal Albert Hall were thronged with people, and as the procession headed with the hearse to Windsor, and to the Long Walk, large crowds were gathered, which shows just how many people wanted to come out and pay their respects.

In St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle, it was over to the calm commentary of Sir David Dimbleby with Kirsty Young in the BBC studio there, who had done such a wonderful job for the platinum Jubilee. As Sophie Raworth and Huw Edwards had done so at Westminster, it was a case of quiet calm professionalism, reassuring the nation. I did think Kirsty wanted to break into more tears during her speech there, and I don't think anyone would have minded one bit. It is the end of the Elizabethan era as the period of national mourning comes to an end, and as such, no tune of the day today, but a moment of silence and a graceful nod.

Sunday 18th September - A Rather Lovely Sunday

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned rest and lie in this morning: I know The Love had some interrupted sleep earlier in the week and I thought without any distractions at the moment it'd be good to let her have some more time asleep (not least because of no Brian the cat doing his tippy tappy hint to Mummy to wake up) and I headed up, had a coffee and saw what was going on in the world. Not much on the news but there was at least the rather good Jacinda Ardern being interviewed by Laura Kuenssberg this monring, who when asked about people kicking off about being shuttled on buses played it all down, and showed true leadership. I so wish she could be leader of this country!

We had some nice sausages on toast for some breakfast, and had a coffee whilst seeing the recent news events. The Love and I both predicted that the queue for the lying in state would close later today but people were making their way onwards anyway, and so having a last attempt to join the queue. We did also note that it felt a very sombre mood around London yesterday, even though it was the most busy we've ever seen the capital be since The Love's been to visit me, and that was notable perhaps due to the sheer amount of people attempting to get into one space - we were hoping lunch would be quieter.

I did see some of the Women's Super League game before we headed off later - and it was Manchester City at Aston Villa. City definitely didn't look the same in midfield now Keira Walsh had headed off to Barcelona, and the way that Villa attacked and looked refreshed, especially with Rachel Daly up front showing what the Lionesses could use her for in the future instead of a left back, City were 2-0 down before pulling a goal back right on half time. In the end after City had come back to lead 3-2, Villa came back themselves and won 4-3, with Rachel Daly scoring two goals - a real positive advert for the women's game with goals galore!

We got to East Croydon and headed off on the train, which was packed. We did note that a train was in Platform 2 and I think it had been terminated early at East Croydon and a lot of those on Platform 1 were on that train. We did get a seat and we headed off to Victoria, and then avoided the masses heading onwards and got the Victoria Line, which wasn't too bad after everyone piled off at Green Park, and got off at Warren Street and headed to our favourite little place near Euston, the Crown and Anchor, for some well earned lunch.

In fact, the lunch we both had was lovely: The Love had the Sunday Roast half chicken, complete with a shed load of vegetables and a massive Yorkshire pudding complete with all the trimmings. I had the steak, shin and ale pie, which was done with St Austell Proper Job Ale, a proper pie too with some clotted cream mash and a really nice gravy. Absolutely gorgeous and well worth it too. We did note the trains and as The Love had an open super off peak single, we thought to avoid the masses it may better for her to get the 1546 train to Crewe (and then onwards to Manchester Piccadilly.)

As we arrived into Euston I spotted that the incoming train was delayed, but was able to spot the platform it was coming in to - so we made our way down - and once it came in and we left people off, I got The Love on and she got a seat all sorted. We had a kiss goodbye and as I walked back up the platform, the world and their partners were hurtling down to get on the train, so we did the right thing. It felt sad saying goodbye a little earlier but this did mean The Love could be home for the minute's silence later tonight which I know she would like to observe. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good You Do Something To Me by Paul Weller, because The Love does do something - she makes me so happy.

Saturday 17th September - Queueing

The Love In My Heart did say to me last night that she would like to head to Buckingham Palace, if at all possible, to say her own sort of farewell to the Queen. I thought that was fair enough as she had said to me that waiting in the queue for the lying in state would be way too long, and unless we got up at silly o clock and headed towards Southwark Park, it'd be a pointless exercise. So we did have a nice full breakfast (with the plan to keep us going during the day) and then to head towards Victoria station and see what the state of play was from there. We were meeting The Love's niece later on too.

So when we got to East Croydon, we let one train from Platform 1 go to Victoria as it was absolutely choc full. We headed to Platform 4 for the next train and it was pretty empty: we got a seat easily. It always goes to show that sometimes a few minutes' wait is well worth it. When we did get to Victoria, we started to head down Buckingham Palace Road, where the police were directing you towards some back streets instead, presumably to alleviate the queue somewhat. So we ended up going down Palace Street all the way back to Victoria Street (so we could potentially have walked back from Victoria Station and gone there) and then left to Buckingham Gate.

Once we got there it was clear that the queue along here to get to the end of this road and then along to the palace itself was horrendous. Indeed, as we turned a corner, we saw others walking down the other side of the road. We did that but then saw they were being turned back further up, so no chance. As it was someone further up told us they were told it was a four hour plus wait from there - just to get to the palace. So instead we headed down Petty France, past St James's Park station and then left, crossing Birdcage Walk and into St James's Park.

In there we noted any path to the left to head back towards Buckingham Palace was closed off, and the park itself was full of people. We walked past the lake and towards Horse Guards Parade, and then towards the Mall itself, where we used the crossing and at least could see the palace in the distance. But the same queue to get to the palace we'd been in originally was also the one for Green Park for the flowers, and again, that was going to be way too long - and it was The Love herself who said "I can always walk to the palace when I'm next here if I want to, so we can do that" and we decided to sack it off.

We approached the Eastern end of the Mall, turned towards Whitehall and went in the Horse and Guardsman pub for a drink. This place used to be a Wetherspoons, but was taken over, renovated nicely, and really did feel a much nicer place. We got a seat upstairs and had a nice drink together, and we noted plenty who had been walking for hours to Westminster Hall for the lying in state queue having a well earned drink and resting their very tired feet and backs after waiting for so long.

We headed down to Embankment station and picked up the District line to Wimbledon, so we could head to East Putney station and walk to the centre of Putney. We were there a bit earlier than planned, so decided to have a good mooch around the shops there - and three of The Love's favourite shops were all together - Joy, Oliver Bonas and Flying Tiger. There were some nice dresses in Oliver Bonas she liked, and she got some things for work related for Halloween in Flying Tiger (as there isn't one in Manchester so made sense to get them now whilst we had chance)

It was then a walk over to see The Love's niece after messaging her, and we headed back into the centre of Putney and to the Coat and Badge pub for some well earned food and drinks. The staff there are lovely and I had ordered the Young's Special beer off the app, but they didn't have it and asked me if the Original was okay (which it is). We all had some lovely food too - The Love's niece had the burger, and both The Love and I had the chicken escalope, topped with a fried egg and some lovely chips. It was spot on and we both enjoyed that along with the chat and conversation for a good couple of hours - it was really nice to unwind together too.

We said our goodbyes at Putney station, and The Love and I headed back via Clapham Junction to East Croydon, and then home. We did watch the eight grandchildren doing their vigil, which was also really nice to see - especially the likes of Zara Tindall, Lady Louise and the youngest one, Viscount Severn, and all were impeccable. Again, if you had entered Westminster Hall at that point you must have been pretty lucky with the timing to see that as well.

We did have a game of Scrabble in the evening as we'd not played it together for ages, and The Love did very well indeed - nailing ZOOS on a triple word score and right near the end, with the board being particularly tight, playing JADE and getting rid of that letter well. It was a pretty tough game because a lot of the letter E came out at the start. In fact I ended up with five Is at one point, and gradually got rid of those over a number of moves, but not easy whatsoever. It was good to do that for the first time in ages, followed by watching the latest episode of The Secrets She Keeps.

The Love headed off for a well earned sleep later and I watched Match of the Day. Of course Manchester City had won earlier on and Erling Haaland had scored (again) as City won 3-0 at Wolves to go top, at least for tonight anyway. Naturally there's plenty of good vibes when he's playing, but I had to smile at the City fans singing to Wolves: "He's scored more than you, he's scored more than you, Erling Haaland, he's scored more than you" - which he has: 11 for him, 3 for the whole Wolves team this season! Tune of the day has to be the iconic Match of the Day theme of course.

Friday 16th September - When Love Comes To Town

It was going to be a lovely day today as The Love In My Heart had the day off work, and so she was heading down in the afternoon to stay with me for the weekend. This is particularly nice because it's been the first time in a while that she's been able to head down, and we had planned this way before the news that happened last week. We were going to head to Silverstone tomorrow but there had been a train strike planned, so we re-arranged the date for that, and then the strike gets cancelled. Sod's law of course, but with recent events it was probably best to re-arrange anyway to be honest.

I did spend a fair bit of time today in a couple of meetings, and had suggested a potential workaround to an issue that we've seen recently, mainly in MacOS Monterey and with the M1 type chips. Effectively, if you want to connect to say a hotel or airplane wi-fi, and connect to that network, you never bring up the login page, even if you use the Apple captive portal URL in an attempt to force it. What does seem to work though is in the wi-fi settings in System Preferences is to turn off "limit IP address tracking". This behaves the same sort of way that iCloud Private Relay does, and that also proved to be a pain.

Whilst I do get and appreciate the need to have some more security in place, the recent zero day vulnerabilities in MacOS just adds extra power to the fact that whatever operating system you use, there will always be things to secure. But also, securing something to the point of making the device unusable for a lot of users really does take the biscuit, and proves that, unfortunately, there's a lot more maturity needed from Apple before they become a much more suitable device for corporate use - indeed, two of my previous employers had blocked any purchase of them for that reason.

Anyway, the day ticked on well and The Love was all good on her train to Euston, followed by switch to tube and then train to East Croydon, so I headed off to meet her at the station. She was all good, and it was very lovely to see her. We walked back towards my place and stopped off at the Green Dragon for a well earned drink: in fact they had the Fierce Beer Moose Mousse stout, so of course I was going to have that one wasn't I? It was nice to sit down and chatter and have a drink together, and it was a lovely start to the weekend before we headed the very short distance back to my place.

I made the two of us some Wiltshire ham gratin along with some vegetables, and that went down well. In fact we noted that the Queen's four children were doing their vigil duty tonight for the lying in state, so we did watch that as it was a moment in time. I have to say that it did feel rather unique if you had queued up as a member of the public and happened to be there for that, with them all (including Prince Andrew, at the King's request) in their full military outfits. A moment in time and of course after we had heard that David Beckham had queued up with the public to pay his own respects, we were both thinking "Fair play to him for doing that." Others, take note!

We did watch some other telly later on including Gogglebox, and we did have a feeling that a number of the regular watchers would be really upset as it covered the announcement from last Thursday, and so it proved. We both knew Jenny would be crying a lot, and Mary (from Giles and Mary) too, but were surprised how many of them it affected, and with good reason. The other moment for them to weep buckets was in Ninja Warrior as an amputee completed the course for the first time with the whole crowd yelling out "Beat the wall!" at that moment. Tune of the day is In A Perfect World by Kodaline, the theme from said show.

Thursday 15th September - Beer And Queues

I headed off on the X68 bus to the office this morning. It certainly felt like traffic was generally busier heading towards central London, and at Waterloo station the entrance to the tube from Waterloo Road looked massively busier with queues on operation. And talking of queues, there was a now sizeable queue for the Queen's lying in state at Westminster Hall. As the bus headed over Waterloo Bridge, I could see the queue for myself, and that was around a mile or so in.

Later on, one of my colleagues who lives in Shad Thames, to the East of Tower Bridge on the South Bank, sent us a picture of the people queueing up along the road there heading towards Bermondsey as far as the eye could see. In fact as the day went on it did get as far as Southwark Park, some five miles or so of queuing - with an estimated time to queue of around ten hours. I can imagine that at the pace that they're getting people through (relatively quickly to be fair) it's not as long as it could have been, although the weekend might prove to be even busier as people are off work.

The working day went well overall, with the breakfast going down well with everyone, and in the afternoon I spent some time in a meeting where the wider tech team discussed the recent monthly surveys and how the feedback from that shows that we as a collective team are above the company average (which is good) but also how it shows that month on month it may become a moveable feast - something a few of us did note. It'll be interesting to see how much better this may work, but on the whole it was pretty productive to say the least.

After work I walked from the office along Fleet Street to City Thameslink station, in order to catch the train home - but not quite to home first. I was actually staying on past East Croydon as I was on the East Grinstead service, and got off at Sanderstead, in Zone 6 incidentally, and for a very good reason - to pop into The Wine Cellar, a very nice off licence that has its sister branch Freshfields Market in the centre of Croydon. But The Wine Cellar's beer selection is really good - lots of craft beer with 10% off when you buy 3, all sorts of World beer including proper Czech Budvar, Augustiner Helles, all the good stuff.

As it transpired I did get three very nice beers, the Vocation Bread and Butter pale ale, the classic Stay Puft marshmallow porter from Tiny Rebel, along with a very good saison from the Pressure Drop brewery in North London (I've been in their tap room when walking the Lee Valley) as well as some bottles of beers too, so that was a positive. It's a walk over the station footbridge and to the 403 bus to head home, so it works out well really, and I'll be enjoying those over the weekend when The Love In My Heart comes to see me. Tune of the day is Barrels Round from The Macc Lads. Beer, beer, we want more beer, all the lads are singing, get the bleeping beer in. Now!

Wednesday 14th September - Planning Ahead

It was working from home for me today, and I was glad really because I did need a good night's sleep. I didn't sleep that well on Monday evening after getting home, and was of course up early to set off to the office, so it was good to get a good few hours in, and then iron all the clothes that I had washed yesterday (get it done as soon as possible is always a good thing to avoid a mass of it all piling up) and be ready for the day ahead, with a coffee and some cereal to keep me going.

One focus today was getting the weekly report done, but also to work out some plans ahead. Most of the first half of yesterday was working with a colleague getting the SQL Server version on MECM upgraded to SQL Server 2019, which was considerably easier doing so than going from SQL Server 2012 to 2017. For a start, SQL Server Reporting Services was easily upgradable from previous, and once that was done, the server itself was a doddle to do, and upon restart, we then patched it to the latest cumulative update, just to be sure. MECM isn't fully supporting SQL Server 2022 as yet, but 2019 should keep us in good stead for years to come.

So with that all done, the next plan would be to do the 2207 upgrade and get that all sorted, so that all the necessary improvements and features can be used. So far it definitely seems that we'll meet the criteria nicely now (so both SQL and the Windows server versions won't flag any issues now) and it'd be good to get that all sorted well. So far I've not seen anything too untoward as yet either which is good, so can feel confident to get it all done and have a nice stable system to work with - which is what we all want.

I did pause at lunch time and head out to the local Tesco - now much more of a walk because the one near to me shut down a month or so ago, so now have to go to the one near the shopping centre. I mainly got what I needed and also had a peek into Bonus Stage (which was formerly Playnation Games). It's a sad sight to see so many 8-bit games just thrown into crates and effectively be rummaged around now rather than be neatly stored and organised as the other games on consoles are. I did note some of the rarer ZX Spectrum titles were now in glass wall cases, but still.

One of them though (namely the infamous game Sqij!) did remind me of the fact that you used to get music tracks on Side B of some games, especially those released by The Power House. Anna Black has very kindly archived those, so if you want to recall the likes of H.E.X (House Electronic Experience no less) playing reggae inspired tracks such as Sweet Therapy and listening to them on your Walkman, here's where to go - The Power House Tapes. As it turned out, there were a fair few there over the years and one of them - Over The Edge - is tune of the day, it was on the back of one of the Spectrum games no less.

I noted too that the queueing system to walk past the Queen lying in state, after her coffin went from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, was live. It's notable that people were queueing last night the moment the location was announced, and currently as I'm writing this there's a two a half mile queue down the South Bank of the Thames, stretching from Lambeth Bridge all the way to London Bridge, so for those of you going, be prepared for a long time being there. It does go to show how many people do want to be there too though, which definitely is something.

Tuesday 13th September - Rain On The Parade

It was definitely a rainy day of sorts today - although not when I left home to head to the office, doing a nice switcheroo for the X68 and onwards to work. It did seem a lot busier on the bus than it had been, and I was thinking that it might be that some would be waiting after work to get a view of the Queen's coffin as it passed from RAF Northolt along the A40 and into central London this evening. That might sound morbid to some but I suppose it's one way of saying your own farewell too, so definitely each to their own for that one.

I arrived in the office and as part of a welcoming back of sorts, and after a trial period where certain parts of the business gets priority over certain floors and desks Tuesday to Thursday (Monday to Friday is always a lot quieter incidentally) we've been given some nice welcome breakfast, served in the lower ground floor. This includes some nice little sausage or bacon baguettes, yoghurt, pastries, all that sort of thing. It's really appreciated and another way that we're being looked after well - the motto seems to be that if we look after you, you'll look after the business. Little things like that all mount up well.

I did spend some time today road testing some settings that my colleagues in Cyber Security had set, and this meant that it was all good to see what positive effect this might have. So far, and maybe too early to say, it's been good, with a focus on stability by having some of those settings amended. I'll be testing this at home when connected to the VPN as well as in the office today, but definitely a good start. I also spent some time this afternoon having a good sort out of the smart groups in JAMF Pro, making some of them a fair bit more usable too.

As I left the office, central London was pretty busy and the rain started to come down. I decided to head to the bus stop for the X68 home as there was a shelter there, and the bus was totally rammed - it was standing room only at Waterloo and carried on until I got out at West Norwood straight on to a quieter 468 home for the rest of the journey - still hammering it down with rain. When I got home,it did feel like raining on the parade somewhat as the hearse headed along the A40 and through the likes of Greenford towards Notting Hill and central London, then turning down Park Lane and towards Buckingham Palace. I wonder what time people were there this morning to be at the gates?

I did have a relaxing evening of sorts, mainly listening to some music to distract me from world events at present. It's not because I mind them (as after all it is history) but to have it repeatedly on with not much respite elsewhere does seem a bit much at times. With that in mind I had a good blast of the new Dub War album, which certainly is going to be up there in my favourite albums of the year. There's fast paced tracks but also those that have a groove along with some metal, especially Get Back Up, which is tune of the day for me - the way the end part just builds and develops is rather good!


Monday 12th September - Thoughts

It was a good day to be working from home today, as the rain definitely was hammering it down for a fair chunk of it. The only minus point on this is that of course it does get humid as well, which isn't ideal conditions. I will at least be in the office for two days this week, so that'll at least be a welcome distraction and allow me to get on with several tasks this week that I want to be getting on with. Well, of course, that would be if I'd be allowed to due to an issue I've observed at present.

So, for me, it's an open and shut case, and some of my colleagues are in touch with the software vendor at the moment in order for them either to send us some updated files so we can test and see what gets resolved, or a new version for testing is published which we can then road test that way. At present though the current version of said software, especially as it turns out when using Firefox and also if using a certain VPN client which we also happen to use, seems to be causing an infinite loop and blue screening. Not pleasant. Now, I have a similarish setup at home, but with different vendor software for one piece, and, yep, nothing wrong whatsoever.

At least it does mean that it's a starting point though, and through working with some other issues today, it's clear that a pattern has at least emerged, which I can feed back. And it's the same story with another vendor, whom despite me providing all the evidence that "actually your software detects an OS build version this way" trying to get them to correlate those with the actual OS version running is like getting blood of out a stone. So, surely, if said field is being reported and in their database, you should be able to extract that information, right? Well, you would think so.

Anyway, I did spend a bit of time this evening doing some further checks on trains for the forthcoming few weeks, and to be honest, it's not good. Before their recent driver shortages, I could with some confidence book in advance with Avanti West Coast and be able to at least get some planning done. Not at present - the weekends particularly are a few days in advance only, and on the London-Manchester route, no advance singles whatsoever, just all offpeak singles only. Made me think of the rather good tune Rip Off by Ryan Adams as tune of the day.

Which makes me wonder a few things really - such as how are you going to get people back on the railway if 1) your prices aren't affordable for a lot of people and 2) you can't run a service reliably? To me that just smacks of contempt for the passengers really. I for one would quite like to see First Trenitalia have the contract torn up, issued to an Operator of Last Resort for now, and then hopefully get someone to take it on who knows what they're doing, which to be fair, the DfT had, but then decided not to allow them to continue. Oops. Bad move right there.

Sunday 11th September – Christening

It was the christening of my brother’s baby son today, which was going to be a lovely occasion. As he now lives the other side of Accrington, in Great Harwood, this did mean an early rise to be up and ready and clothed for the occasion, with The Love In My Heart wearing a really nice blouse and matching plain coloured trousers, along with some heels (but sensibly she had some flats for driving). We headed off in The Love’s car and were first of all heading off to Denton to pick up one of my Mum’s friends, whom I’ve known for a very long time, and did appreciate us collecting her too.

With that done, it was off to the M60 followed by the M66, continuing straight on to the A56 and turning of before Rawtenstall, skirting around Haslingden before then taking the A680 towards Accrington, heading north over the M65, and then onwards towards Great Harwood itself. The church was a lovely and not massive church, and it did have parking on the road at the front for up to three hours, so we managed to get a space there without too much difficulty. A fair number of the family had arrived not long after us, with my uncle, auntie and two sons, together with my Mum, youngest sister and middle brother, so was good to stand outside and catch up a bit.

We headed inside the church and as two children were being christened, we were asked to take the right hand side pews with the other family on the left, which made sense and worked well. It wasn’t the longest service, primarily as the main church service had taken place earlier in the day, but it was all very formal and proper, and both children (including my nephew) were very well behaved as they had the holy water and were baptised. The Lord’s Prayer had slightly different words which did throw me a little bit (primarily as you’re normally used to it being recited a certain way so had to check the service book to adjust).

Afterwards, there was a get together at the local cricket club, and there was actually a match on – a local derby in fact between Great Harwood and Accrington’s Second XIs, who were in to bat first. We had the upstairs room for the do and it was nice because there was a balcony to look outside and watch the cricket, but also a bar with very reasonable prices, £3 for a pint of Theakstons for example. I did note that some of the batsmen were making use of the short boundary and hitting some sixes – so good job we had the car facing the wall and bushes in the car park so that the front windscreen wouldn’t be hit – just in case of course.

It was a nice afternoon all told and it was lovely to see how relaxed and happy my brother and his girlfriend were with the baby being so calm with a big grin on his face as he was taken around to say hello to everyone. I did have a drink and kept an eye on the cricket whilst catching up with relations as well, so that was a positive all round. There were plenty of good 80s and 90s tunes being played in the background including Alright by Supergrass (I quite like that to this day, so tune of the day it is.) I think too that it was good to be able to have room to all sit comfortably, and indeed the buffet was pretty good too – some nice chicken goujons, sandwiches without rubbish on (so the ham and tuna ones were much appreciated) and even some warm sausage rolls. All very nice.

We said our goodbyes late afternoon and headed off back down the motorways to Denton to drop my Mum’s friend off, who was appreciative of us taking her, and then it was for us off to have a bit of relaxing rest late afternoon and headed to the rather good Seven Bro7ers Beer House in Ancoats. They did have on a rather nice plum and vanilla porter, so yes of course I was going to have that one wasn’t I? It was very nice indeed and went down the right way as a good way to relax and end the weekend together. It had gone too quickly but it was appreciated to spend time with The Love.

Saturday 10th September – Approved

It was a Saturday morning where the winds of change were happening (cue 80s song by Scorpions being tune of the day) – and that the proclamation that King Charles III would indeed be king would be taking place. It was of course the first time such a ceremony had needed to take place for over seventy years, and indeed the first one which was actually being televised too. I suppose in a way it meant that not everyone would therefore attempt to go to St James’s Palace to watch proceedings, which were of course going to be a throw back to how it has been for centuries, with the MP Penny Mordaunt in her role of Leader of the House of Commons and on the Privy Council and Accession Council, conducting proceedings.

The notable parts of the ceremony do include the fact that because of the Act of Union, an oath has to be proclaimed to the independence of the Church of Scotland, sworn in, as well as the actual text of proclamation signed off. Notably, a number of matters arising due to the change in the royal monarch has to be approved, which were read out by Penny Mordaunt and approved by the King. One of which happened to be the official granting of a Public Holiday in all parts of the United Kingdom for the date of the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which we’d later find out would be Monday 19th September. Each time the King had to approve the decision, he must have got tired of saying “approved” every few seconds.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I headed over to Bolton to see The Love’s sister, and indeed be joined by her other sister and one of the nieces, as we commemorated the passing of one of the family several years ago. It was a reminder to me as well that as well as the current situation, there are plenty of others out there remembering their own loved ones. The Love’s Sister had her friend’s baby daughter with her, who was adorably cute and had lots of happy grins, which definitely made me feel better and it was nice to be able to give her a cheeky smile and have one back.

We did head over for some lunch to the Heaton Fold Garden Centre, where they have a really nice café with comfortable seating (including some outdoor) and lovely friendly staff. I ended up having the scampi and chips basket, which was really lovely, and The Love’s open sandwich with ham and feta cheese looked lovely too. The café is called Claude’s Café after the cat Claude who used to live in the centre there and get all the love, fuss and attention, and passed away earlier this year. The other cat, Oscar, works in the centre and chases any vermin away but is all white and adorable as he sits in his basket by the till.

It was then over to The Love’s sister’s place to see her husband, have a good natter about football (in absence of no games being played today of course) and to sit in the back garden and enjoy a cuppa. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon actually and cake was had too, which was nice. We later headed back towards Manchester city centre and it was over to Track’s tap room, which has now been expanded with an outdoor seating area. That was actually really nice and it was good to be sat outside and all relaxed with a nice beer to wind down the afternoon well. It had been a nice day all told.

Friday 9th September – Changes Afoot

It did feel a little surreal heading into work this morning after the news of yesterday, but at the same time, work doesn’t stop for anyone. And as such it made sense to head to the office with me taking a train up to Manchester later for the weekend. I was hoping to see Manchester City against Tottenham tomorrow, but had a feeling that due to the recent events, that game would be called off. I kept an eye on the official City web sire for any announcements, as well as the Premier League, as I suspected that there would be meetings with the FA to discuss a sensible plan of action.

It didn’t surprise me one bit when I noted later that all the leagues in England, Scotland and Wales, along with the Women’s Super League, were all having their fixtures postponed over the weekend. It’s a difficult decision to make, because you’re damned if you do (because people want a distraction from current events) and damned if you don’t (as maybe that would be disrespectful.) They key thing that probably swung it for me is that Prince William, the now Prince of Wales, is the head of the Football Association, and certainly it would be the case that the last thing the association would want to do is to tread on toes or even have to ask him for a decision if it was a case of playing.

I did manage to get through quite a bit of work today to be honest: it was nice to progress and test a few things and worked with our network team to resolve an issue with the port I was using for network booting, for some reason it stopped behaving but we noted that the port for some reason had been configured differently, and the moment it was reset to the same config as normal, it all started working properly again, so there’s something. It’s always good to be able to work things through and for me at least be able to test some Windows 10 builds and ensure they all worked as they should. And in the afternoon I did a fair bit of cleaning up of driver packages not needed anymore.

It was over to Euston later to get the train to Manchester, and as I knew some of the pubs near work would be busy around tea time, I decided that I’d first of all stay behind a bit in work and watch the speech and televised address from the new king, King Charles III. It was actually pretty good and he did articulate well how he will be different but also realise that he can’t fully devote time to all his causes he had as prince anymore, and will be getting the Royal Family to work with him. It was a sensible, fair and honest address and I know that The Love In My Heart would appreciate it a lot.

I had some nice tea in the Signal Box pub upstairs in Euston, including a very nice chicken and ham pie, before then making sure I headed down to Coach C and to get a seat on the 2000 from Euston. I had the headphones on and played some tunes from the iPod including the rather nice It Only Works Because You’re Here by MJ Hibbett and the Validators (tune of the day for me there) and it was a definite more calm and sombre feel on the train as people were generally a lot quieter as they headed up North. The train did get delayed but it was nice to see The Love In My Heart come and collect me – that did cheer me up no end.

Thursday 8th September - The End of An Era

Well, I was going to write something else entirely today, but I knew around lunch time that the course of the day would change, somewhat dramatically. It went over to BBC News at one, whilst I was having lunch, but all was clearly not well as it was reported at the time that Queen Elizabeth II was not particularly well, and her medical advisors had said that she wasn't in the best of health. The moment I saw Huw Edwards wearing a black tie during the afternoon, I did feel that it would be inevitable that today would, indeed, be the end of an era. I messaged The Love In My Heart as I knew she would want to know, and did what I could to get on with the day.

With my work day over, I was periodically keeping on eye on the television but another on the weather outside, as the constant changing between the sun and the rain meant I was timing a walk to the bin store, and as I took advantage of a dry period, a very small rainbow appeared outside. This felt somewhat poetic and I somehow knew that there may be an end somewhere. I headed back and The Love had arrived home from work and messaged me to say that she was watching the news, and it wasn't looking positive.

Indeed, I switched back on, and around thirty seconds later, an announcement was made, officially, that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away, peacefully, at her home in Balmoral. A number of the family were either there on on their way. I did feel as if the already over-saturated media coverage was forgetting one important thing in all this, in that even if they are the Royal Family, they're still a family. There will be children grieving for their mother, some for their grandmother, and some more for their great grandmother, just like every other family. I sincerely hope there's a period of reflection to allow them the time that they need.

My enduring image of Queen Elizabeth II from the last few years will be her, alone, at Prince Philip's funeral, setting an example during the situation that politicians could only dream of. My respect went up even higher due to that. It's a moment in time that showed an empathy with the people and also a moment of reflection. It's hard not to think that without her husband by her side (and I've seen this happen with other families, my friend's for one) it made the remaining time feel a little more isolated and understandably not feeling the same since that moment.

Seventy years plus on the throne, an immense amount of service in that time, and above all else, a one constant throughout the whole life of me, The Love In My Heart, my Mum, and so on. It's a sad day really, and even if you're someone who doesn't like the monarchy, at the end of the day, someone has lost a member of their family, and at least that should be respected. As such, no tune of the day today but instead a nod up to the skies (and a rainbow above Windsor Castle, somewhat poetically) and a respectful final wave to our departing queen.

Wednesday 7th September - Tale Of Two Days

It was sensible to be at home today after two days in the office, and so got on with plenty of things including the weekly report, and also checking over a couple of things in our JAMF instance for managing Macs. It looks like a couple of plans I've hatched over the week have come to fruition somewhat - with a focus on some Mac machines that needed to be updated, working with the folks to get that done. It does seem like we're getting a lot of that in order now, primarily to clean up some mess from before.

I also today investigated into a couple of printing issues but both of them were easily resolvable: in one case it was that the user was sending the job to the wrong print queue which is why they weren't being visible - and a colleague is making sure the older queues are getting removed, just in case they are present on other machines, and that makes some sense. The other was down to a possible lose of connectivity - a simple restart of the machine and re-send the job: sorted. Sometimes it's the easiest thing.

I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart later on, and she had had a long day at work plus the fact that the rain was coming down in Manchester by the bucket load, and therefore was making driving not the easiest. I did feel bad that my day was here at home, still with lots to do but with less of an emphasis on stress. I also do worry that The Love would be stressed too, as I don't want her to be feeling bad and would rather be nice and make her happy as much as I can.

I felt it was a good time to wind down with some games on the Commodore 64 and in fact out came two games to play - that had arrived in the post earlier. First off was Ghost Hunters, which was a conversion of the Amstrad CPC original game by The Oliver Twins, and the only game coded by David and Andrew Blott no less. It's quite hard in one player because holding fire operates the gun sight to shoot the ghosts and ghouls, whereas in two player mode one controls the man, the other the gun, so you can respond quicker in order to reserve your energy in the game.

It was then on to Super Hero, which is the last of the early releases I needed. It's quite a large isometric 3D adventure with graphics by Bernie Drummond, who had done so for the iconic Head Over Heels. Here, the super hero has to find some useful items to be able to get further, then progress and avoid enemies. Notably on the C64, when you lose a life, there's a version of Thank U Very Much by The Scaffold (make that tune of the day) which would later be in a Cadbury's Roses advertisement too.

Tuesday 6th September - Back To School

You can tell it's the start of the school term and the fact that everyone's back to school purely by the traffic increase on the roads and indeed the numbers of people heading out in their cars. Although I do get a relatively early bus which does miss some of the school traffic when heading to the office, inevitably there's always some bottle necks due to increased footfall, such as the gyratory near Tulse Hill where the South Circular skirts around, so had to factor that in - I still arrived well on time to face the day ahead, but still.

I did raise a couple of changes for later in the week today and then thought seriously about some planning for the next few weeks. Overall it's worked pretty well and I was able to draw up some thoughts and get them noted down. I was also able to assist a member of staff who needed to utllise an Excel add-on which had been installed, but for some reason wasn't starting up as it should. Then I remembered the add-on behaviour registry key and this had been set for the user to 2 so would never load. Set it to 3, started Excel, and boom! All working properly, as it should. Nice.

I did venture out a little bit at lunch time and was glad I did so when I did as the rain did come down a little in the afternoon - more so after there had been some thunder and lightning overnight which disturbed the sleep a little bit somewhat. It was good to be able to avoid that and then later in the day avoid it again as I headed for the train station to take the train home - primarily as I wanted to get home a little earlier to be sure I could make some tea before the England v Luxembourg women's game later.

What I soon realised was that of course back to school also meant back to work for plenty too, and with some delays anyway due to a passenger pulling the emergency cord on a train in Blackfriars, it was a little bit delayed. It was standing room only from City Thameslink all the way home which was not the best, and it was rammed, so to be honest this is why I normally take the bus combo home - generally less busy and I can always relax a little and feel less stressed on the way home.

As it transpired, that game, as I expected, was to be an easy win for England overall. It was a real sight to behold to see the likes of Ella Toone and Alessia Russo now getting deserved game time, and it was only a matter of time before England scored. In fact it was five goals in each half for a 10-0 victory with eight different goal scorers, and a capacity crowd at the Bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. Jill Scott came out before the kick off to show off the Euro 2022 trophy to massive applause, and all was very well. Well done again the Lionesses.

And well done indeed to Manchester City also, as the boys in blue went to Seville and crushed them 4-0 with Erling Haaland (who else?) scoring two goals, with Phil Foden and Rúben Dias scoring the other two. It was a proper demolition job as well, professional performance and when you have someone who can score you goals at will (well it seems that way) it does make you wonder a) why we didn't get him sooner and b) imagine him and Sergio Aguero up front together? As for tune of the day it seems apt that the Kolo/Yaya Touré chant is being resurrected for Alf Inge/Erling Haaland, based on No Limits by 2 Unlimited, so it'll be that then.

Monday 5th September - Just Another Manic Monday

And I wish it was Sunday, because that's my fun day, as Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles would have sung in said 80s classic (written incidentally by Prince, in case you didn't know, and tune of the day because of it) and I don't have to run day. Well none of that thankfully as I headed to the bus stop and changed over nicely for the X68 bus to the office. What I didn't realise was that there appeared to be some gas or water mains works at Beulah Spa which meant that the temporary traffic lights did delay the bus a bit, so worth noting for the remainder of the week ahead as I couldn't see it being fixed quickly.

It was good to be in the office and indeed around some good people I know, so that did allow some nice chatter during the day and made the experience a lot nicer. I have to admit that it does keep me going sometimes when you're able to speak to someone human instead of being at home all the time, and in addition it does mean that I'm able to converse, collaborate and get on with things too, which is nice. I've been primarily checking over some Mac stuff so I can crack on with getting the remainder of the machines needed to be upgraded to pushed along into doing so.

I think as well one thing that I've learned over the last week or two especially is that you have to state facts to be correct to of course have a useful source of information, but also present them in a way which gets everyone onside with you. Doing that does reap its own rewards, and getting everyone on the same page does at least mean that when you do progress nicely, it's a positive vibe to be had. It's also better to build a bridge and keep it maintained rather than knock it down and have to repair it: good working relationships across the whole spectrum of teams is definitely the way to go. So I've learned something there, and it's definitely more what I shall be putting into practice.

I was doing a number of checks later in the day and that did mean I finished later than planned, but I did at least arrive home before the rain set in for the evening (and indeed some thunder and lightning later on, which did wake me up briefly around 3am this morning also!) so that was something to behold. I do wish though that it'd bring along some fresher air that's less humid and that'd help enormously when attempting to sleep. I'll see how I get on later tonight and go from there.

I had a good wind down tonight by playing one of the finest pinball games around - and one I've had pretty much had since I had the first PC back in 1997 - Slam Tilt from 21st Century Entertainment. It's the follow up to the classic Pinball series from Digital Illusions, and the tables in Slam Tilt are spot on - I really like the Mean Machines one, especially its thrash metal when you get multiball. Of course I'd like to play it on the original Amiga release, but alas, I need an AGA-enabled Amiga 1200 for that which I don't have.

Sunday 4th September - Slowing Down Sunday

I must admit after the long day yesterday of travelling around, it was actually very nice to have a lie in to be honest. I did feel quite warm still due to the fact that the humidity seems to be hanging in the air around where I live, but it was good nonetheless to be able to get a long sleep and then wake up feeling a tad more refreshed overall. I have to admit too that it was nice to just be able to get up when I fancied, put some pyjamas on and have a leisurely morning pretty much not doing much if you know what I mean.

I spent some time during the day sorting out and uploading the pictures from yesterday. Due to the train delays yesterday it was quite late by the time I got back and had chatted with The Love In My Heart and I wanted to be in a fresher frame of mind to sort out. I have to say some of the pictures came out well and I'm sure there will be some train fans who will be positively drooling over seeing those Class 484 trains (and yes, I know my niche audiences out there!)

Later in the day I kept an ear to the football scores whilst avoiding any talk of Formula 1 - so much so that I watched the first race of the 1992 F1 season on Youtube. There's a channel uploading all the great highlights from BBC including the iconic Murray Walker and James Hunt commentary, and for that alone it's enjoyable. Nigel Mansell of course was the man that year in his rather good Williams, and so a nice easy win at Kyalami was to be had, but still entertaining to see what else happened with the classic Fleetwood Mac The Chain theme playing (and make that tune of the day obviously.)

In the evening it was on with Channel 4 and on with the highlights of the Dutch Grand Prix from Zandvoort. Naturally it was a sea of orange all cheering in Max Verstappen as you can imagine, and despite the best attempts from Mercedes, a cruical strategy call of not pitting Lewis Hamilton for a new set of softs backfired as he lost the lead to Verstappen and also had his team mate George Russell (who called for softs) and Charles Leclerc pass him also. Let's just say Lewis was not happy about it!

It proved to be a nice evening all told though as I did spend some time sorting out all the washing as well for next week (so much less to do) and also planned some days in the office to hopefully keep things a bit cooler for myself - the humidity is something else at present and I don't like going to sleep feeling all muggy inside. I just hope I can get some well earned sleep tonight and face the next week with a sense of purpose, but we shall see won't we?

Saturday 3rd September - Isle Of Wight Festival

Today was the day that I'd fulfil a long time ambition of mine - to head across the Solent and visit the Isle Of Wight. I'd been wanting to do so for years, more so when I visited Portsmouth a while back and realised that the harbour station literally leads straight down to the Wightlink catamaran service, meaning a nice straight across method rather than getting off at Portsmouth and Southsea and finding the way to the hovercraft port to get across (and yes, it is the only remaining hovercraft service in the world still running, pretty unique that to be honest with you.)

So it was up early and after grabbing a coffee at East Croydon it was on to the 0723 to Portsmouth Harbour using my Southern Day Save ticket, as at £22 it worked out cheaper than two advance returns and gave me flexibility if say for example I wanted to head elsewhere (say if I missed the catamaran and wanted to go to Littlehampton or Brighton) - and the train sped through Horsham, then the Arun Valley to Barnham, and along the South Coast before turning left after Havant and to Portsmouth Harbour - in fact part of the line later was having speed restrictions on there so probably a good job I left early.

The train got in at 0905, I got down the ramp, used the ticket machine to get a day return ticket (no times either, so much easier) and the tickets each had a QR code to be scanned by the staff. As it turned out lots of cyclists were heading across to do a lap of the island, and they were also probably doing a reccy for the Tour of Britain final stage which takes place on the Island next Sunday. That definitely will be interesting to see how the demand is for getting across Saturday evening and Sunday evening next week, so that is probably when advance booking comes into play.

Anyway, all was good, even with a little rain in the air at Portsmouth, and I headed across, it was nice and smooth and sat on the sun deck to get some fresh air (and it stopped raining) and soon the pier head at Ryde was in full view where the catamaran stopped, and was soon heading off. Twenty minutes or so, nice easy journey. And straight to the accompanying train station for my first taste of the Island Line train service. Unfortunately as yet there's no ticket machine here, so had to buy from the guard on board, and got myself the Day Ranger for £6.70 - when you consider one way from the pier head to Shanklin is £5.10 alone, yes, well worth it.

I headed along the line to Shanklin, so could tick off all stations including Smallbrook Junction (as the steam railway was running today) and the refurbished D-Stock tube trains that run on the line (as Class 484s) were refurbed well - clean, comfortable seats (no ironing boards here folks) and definitely feels like they've been given some love. And they kept the bays with forward facing seats so you can look out of the window on the left side, handy just past Lake, where you can see the sea in the distance beyond the cliffs, so that is nice.

I arrived at Shanklin and followed the road to the town centre, and some nice little shops, and one of which I went in - it was Arcade Games and they had shelves full of games for most systems from the late 1980s onwards, and a really nice friendly vibe to it. No Commodore 64 stuff, but the owner did explain testing those and loading off tape / disk does take time (and I can vouch for that) so made sense to me. I passed the theatre and followed the roads down towards Shanklin Chine, which meant I was at the far end of the Esplanade and could walk along it.

That was all very nice, with views of the clock, the cliff lift, and a nice big amusement arcade - so big that it had an 18 hole crazy golf course inside it. Well, I had to have a go, and it was well worth it too - it played spot on, was well looked after, and got several twos and close to a hole in one on occasion. I didn't ring the bell on the final hole but total score was 44, good recovery after some threes early on. I walked further down the Esplanade and spotted more crazy golf outside - in fact, two courses, Jurassic Bay and Pirates Cove, on the same development.

Even better, you could pay a lower fee to do the two, but do the second one any time in the next seven days, a really good idea! I was of course going to do them back to back so started off with the Jurassic Bay one. Lots of models of dinasours around and a good theme to the course, with some well designed holes, and well maintained. I did get a hole in one here and a total score of 44, deja vu eh? I then went back to the reception, they unstapld the two course ticket, and on I went to Pirates Cove. Again, some well themed holes here, two inside a cave (yes really) and some really sensible designs too and the last hole having to hit over a creek of water, but not too hard - was quite pleased to get a two there and when totting up the scores - yes, 44, again!

I spotted the South East Beach Café and so did lunch inside there with an inside table looking out to the sea. I got fish and chips and a pint of Peroni for just over £15, which was good value. The fish was lovely, and the chips had skin on too and tasted really crunchy, so really enjoyed those - and there were lots of them so that definitely was a positive, well worth it. I thought that although I could head back up to the train station and get the train to Sandown, the timings meant I may be better walking along the coast and the esplanade path there - and that's what I did!

It was a very nice path to walk down with lots of beach huts for the nice clean beaches along the way, and indeed plenty of little cafés to stop at and have a coffee to admire the view. It was also positive that it felt like it was a well sheltered path with the cliffs, so was relatively calm and still too. I arrived at Sandown and headed to the pier, and they had plenty of arcade machines inside and when you walked to the end of the pier, there was a mini funfair with dodgems on. I did however spot an indoor crazy golf course, Aztec themed, of some 11 holes, and had a good go of that. No 44 score this time of course but did get 29, 5 under its par of 34, so I'll happily take that!

After a nice walk along the seafront in Sandown I headed through the town centre, got myself a cold drink from the Co-Op there, and then headed along Station Avenue to the train station. I have to say it's not that near the sea so was pretty glad to have done the coast path and walk back instead to be honest, and due to some delays I decided that I'd head on the next train one stop to Lake, then get that train heading back out of Shanklin so as not to feel too delayed. That did work well and meant I could see the class 484 coming in, and headed back along the line to Ryde St John's Road.

There was a method in this, walk up St John's Road and up the hill, meaning I'd be at the very top of the High Street so could walk along it and down to the sea front. It did mean I could visit Outland Video Games at that end of the high street - nice stock of Sinclair Spectrum stuff, but nothing Commodore, as well as some Warhammer stuff also. Nice little place, and after that, a walk along the High Street was pleasant although a lot of the independent cafés had already shut for the day.

I went down to the Esplanade and walked along here, past the hovercraft setting off for Southsea (some noise that!) and also followed past the harbour towards the beaches to the East of the town, ending up walking all the way along the seafront to Appley Tower, with its woodland behind and beach in front. This was much quieter and nicer, and definitely well worth the walk further to see it all. It was then back along, passing all the classic cars on display close to the Superbowl and the cafés and bars on the harbour itself, and then because of the train times decided it was easier to walk along the pier at Ryde and to the pier head to head on the catramaran back to Portsmouth.

That had been delayed slightly due to an aircraft carrier passing through the Solent waters, but the catamaran did pick up some speed and got into Portsmouth Harbour a couple of minutes late. I headed up the ramp and straight on to the Southern 1811 departure for East Croydon - winning, so I thought. As it turned out the speed restrictions through the Arun Valley meant by the time the other train re-attached at Horsham, it was decided to terminate the train at Three Bridges, meh. So I had to wait for the next train homewards, so got home eventually just before 9pm. It was a long day but one I really enjoyed and definitely need to head back to the island again at some point, possibly next time to do other places by bus instead. Tune of the day reflects this - Island in the Sun by Weezer.

Friday 2nd September - Shopping For Nothing

It was a busy day of work today, primarily because I was chasing up some jobs from earlier in the week to be done, but also because I wanted to prepare some stats with regards to some of the Macs which haven't as yet gone to the latest OS update, primarily to see when they last checked in to our management system to see if they're actually in use (and that might mean we can account for some of them) - with that done, I did also note to our service teams to see if they knew the whereabouts of any of them - and we can get that percentage up even higher then.

I did head off after work to IKEA, primarily as I found out that One4All gift cards can now be used in store there, and as I've still got some, it means I could potentially get some new things for free. Kind of wish I'd known that when I got those Pallra chests for the games, but hey ho, at least I know in future if I wanted to get another one and all that. It of course is relatively easy for me to get to IKEA anyway as it's a simple tram ride away from Croydon there (and indeed if I was at The Love In My Heart's place, a tram ride from hers too to the local one, so definite win.)

I did need a nice new fitted sheet for the bed and two pillow cases in a plain colour to go with the new bedding I got the other week (because you only get 2 instead of 4 now when you get a double set) - and with that in mind, and after having a nice chicken schnitzel with mash and peas and a nice still lingonberry juice, it was through to where the bedding section is. There was on duvet cover I'd have loved to have but it was only in king (and when I got home it's not in double anywhere, boo) - but I got myself the fitted sheet (and got The Love In My Heart one too as I said I would for her) and also got the pillow cases, and a new towel for the bathroom with its little loop for the hook I have, so all good. And no cost, so win!

Later on also realised that I needed to get some food for next week and to make sure I've stocked up, so it was a nice little walk over to Lidl and to get what I needed. They didn't sadly have any of the nice beers they occasionally get in the Middle of Lidl bit, but I did get quite a bit really - including for example some nice chicken, mushrooms and korma sauce to make a curry in the week, and also some nice Angus burgers and buns to make a nice easy tea, all sorts really. I'm sure it'll all be lovely and it was good to go when it was a little less busy - but it does get busy in there too.

I did also relax this evening and played again the new Dub War album Westgate Under Fire - this is fast becoming one of my favourite albums of 2022, primarily because Benji and the folks are back doing what they do best, rocking out with some killer bass lines and some crunching guitars, with him on ace vocal form too. There's a good amount of variety too, especially in Coffin Lid (hence tune of the day) where Benji goes from Death Metal style to a more rounded vocal within the space of 30 seconds with some crunching riffs. Fab!

Thursday 1st September - Home and Chorizo-ed

It was an early rise for both myself and The Love In My Heart, as she was heading off to work on an early shift for the day, and this meant that although I was up and about too, and getting myself ready, she would leave before me. This did allow me some quality time with Brian the cat who was sat on the pouffle watching the world go by, as he does, and then was receptive to a little blow of a kiss as I headed off and for the tram to take me to Piccadilly, with The Love having headed for work. It would have been nice to be able to spend more time but alas, it was a case of trying not to use all the annual leave up.

I got to Piccadilly and as I knew the 0835 train was cancelled, I'd be getting the re-timed 0812 instead. As it turned out the 0735 and 0755 trains were running, so I was hoping it'd be a bit quieter. It was. I got a table all to myself in Coach U for unreserved, and that was the case all the way to Milton Keynes Central, where the masses piled on to head to London, but even so. It did allow me to relax and have the breakfast I got from Greggs along with a coffee, so all was well as the train sped down.

I got home later on and worked from home during the afternoon, and notably spotted something that other people had reported in relation to one of our software products - and similar setups and behaviour to what I possibly had noted. This was primarily due to the fact that someone else within another team had noted similar, and once I put two and two together, and found it, there was definitely a link between them all and it was well worth raising further, which I did. However, I will also know I'll need to gather some evidence of this further and then take it from there.

I did take the time tonight to get round to making one of my favourite things - the chorizo pasta bake! I did get the sauce, cheese and the chorizo a while back from Lidl, and set about the task earlier and got it all in the oven to bake nicely. It did taste very nice when done and did feel like I'd done a good job with it, so can save the time tomorrow and just put the other half in the oven for tea and go from there. It's relatively easy to make and prepare but also means I get two meals for the price of one (or a meal for two of course!) - and tune of the day is also about food, namely Good Cooking by MJ Hibbett.

I also kept an eye on the transfer deadline day with all the developments coming at pace. I knew that Manchester City were signing a defender, and we did, namely Manuel Akanji from Borussia Dortmund, the same side we signed Erling Haaland from, so he'll at least know someone there. With our centre back injuries at present it made sense to have cover, and as promising as Rico Lewis looked last night coming off the bench against Nottingham Forest, it made sense to strengthen to be sure. Of course, all the football, all the time, reminds me of that iconic Mitchell and Webb sketch. Watch the football, it's gonna move!