Dear Diary... April 2017

Sunday 30th April - Grand Designs Live

The Love In My Heart and I had some breakfast (full breakfast too, felt the need to be really good and have all the ingredients to hand including bacon, sausage, egg and mushroom) and that set us up nicely for the day as we were heading off to Grand Designs Live at the Excel. Primarily of course it was good that I'd managed to get us free tickets to have a mooch around, and considering the ticket cost, it made sense to have that 100% discounted. We both agreed later on that paying full price wouldn't have been worth it.

So it was the Overground to Shadwell, followed by the DLR towards Beckton, getting off at Prince Regent (Custom House is closed or that'd have been nearer) and then at Excel walking down the main passage all the way down to the other end where the show was. We entered through a tunnel where the theme music from said programme was being played (I'm sure that The Love enjoyed that) along with a main hub where you could go off into five distinct sections, including kitchens, interior design, that sort of thing.

The garden section was pretty interesting, with lots of focus on outbuildings and hot tubs (surprised The Apprentice contestants weren't there!) and also some stalls selling little bits for the gardens themselves and making money nicely (because they weren't all overpriced, sensible move). A number of dog charities also had stalls there, and sandwich in between posh luxury outdoor lodges that you could buy a share of (cue many salespeople everywhere) - and then the interior design part had lots of lovely bedding, sofas, and indeed for some reason many stallls selling massage chairs!

What The Love and I liked best was the Design Arcade, a long straight passage with stalls on either side selling interior design accessories and things like art, picture frames, cushions, that sort of thing. In fact some of the stalls were doing well - one of a montage of pictures of football grounds especially. We loved that primarily because it was all independent people who were selling their own work and not keen on the bull, unlike the kitchen appliance stalls where the likes of a blender and a side loading toaster were made to look far better than they actually were. I was tempted by the toaster but thought it best to wait and when I saw the negative reviews online, thought I'd made a sensible decision really.

We headed off to London Bridge via a change at Canning Town for the Jubilee line later, and crossed the bridge for the House of Fraser store at Monument. The Love managed to peruse some nice items and it was a fairly relaxed atmosphere with hardly anyone around. In fact most of the City of London as we walked through was the same - it wasn't till we got close to St Paul's Cathedral was it a bit busier. The Love had never seen it close up so it was nice to tick that box off for her too, and later on it was a well earned drink at a nice pub close to Blackfriars station.

The evening was mainly having some tea, watching some of the snooker with Mark Selby struggling against John Higgins, then of course switching on to BBC1 for the series finale of Line of Duty. It didn't disappoint, with Steve's determination to find the evidence being particularly well noted. And indeed the clash of personalities as Hilton tried to stop Hastings before AC-12 found the important evidence that they needed was something as an undercurrent to the whole series. And as for the finale part - well, plenty of things to take forward for series five, with the bad news being it won't be till 2019!! The theme tune by Carly Paradis is tune of the day as a result.

Saturday 29th April - Strawberry Hill Forever

It was a mass cleaning exercise this morning, with lots of tidying up to do, sorting out all the flooring, vacuuming, doing the bathroom and making sure it was really clean in the flat (not an odious task as I generally keep the place clean anyway) and then heading off later to East Croydon station, as The Love In My Heart had made her way from Manchester Piccadilly and was across on the tube and on the train. In fact the driver of her train was delayed as was the train, but it was so nice to see her when she arrived.

We unpacked back at mine, and once done we headed back off to East Croydon to take the train to Clapham Junction, followed by another train off to Strawberry Hill, just the other side of Twickenham. We had decided to visit Strawberry Hill Palace, as we get half off the cost of admission with National Trust membership, and walking from the station, we noted that the houses were all very lovely, lots of wooden shutters which The Love adores, and a real sense of tidiness and a pride in the area too. It was rather lovely, and I could happily win the lottery and live there without any issue whatsoever.

We arrived at the palace, and had a good walk around. Guides were in most of the rooms being really informative, including the large windows with the stained glass in them, the library with the alphabetically ordered bookcases, the gorgeous long gallery on the first floor, and indeed the room which was made to look almost in a Tudor style. In fact the whole look from the exterior was wonderfully gothic inspired, it really did feel like taking a trip back in time in a lot of ways.

We explored the gardens outside, and with the arrangement of trees set to enjoy the view of the palace from the seating, and the former terrace that would have been a view to the River Thames before 1920s housing developments (in fact one of the windows used to have a gorgeous view from the bedroom) and it showed a lot of design and consideration into how the views could be maximised. All rather lovely actually it has to be said, and we thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Afterwards we walked down to Radnor Gardens, a small park which had a beautiful bowling green and club (The Love's father would have approved) and the rather gorgeous little café as the park's paths snaked alongside the River Thames. Added to that a nice drink in the Alexander Pope pub afterwards, and we sat outside and enjoyed the view together. It was really good to be able to see all that and we felt a nice sense of being away from it all in a lovely part of the world too.

It was back on the trains later, getting on before Twickenham was useful due to the Army v Navy rugby match on and the queues at that station for the trains showing it was better to be already on! Once back at mine, we had some beef brisket with potatoes and vegetables for tea, and settled in for the evening with a mix of telly, snooker on BBC2 (didn't last long as John Higgins for the one frame he needed to win the semi) and we also then saw Top of the Pops on BBC Four, including some classics such as "Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club (make that tune of the day) and that was a nice way to end the day.

Friday 28th April - Bursting With Darling Buds

In one way I was glad to be doing the late shift at work tonight, as that meant I could effectively head straight out towards Kings Cross and to see The Darling Buds at The Water Rats. Of course, it was another London venue I could chalk off the list in terms of visits too, and having seen them in Hebden Bridge a couple of years back, knew that the band were on ace form. And there's even a new EP out "Evergreen" which shows really nice new material off to its finest. Excitable? Oh yes. Primarily because I have all the early singles, a signed 7" single of Burst, a partially signed CD single of Tiny Machine, and lots of other 10" and 12" singles along the way. Consider me a fan!

First though off for tea and to the Wetherspoons near work. Now that they've released the Order and Pay app thing for Android, I thought I'd give it a go, especially as I was on my own. So, selected the Fish Friday deal with drink, done, selected table, done, paid for it all, done. And it worked too. The drink came over quickly and the food was really nice - the fish was one of the best fish I've had for some time, nice crispy batter which I am sure that The Love In My Heart would wholeheartedly approve of. That all done, I headed towards Kings Cross, and as the venue wasn't open yet, I had a nice pint of the Naked Ladies ale from the Twickenham Brewery in the Lucas Arms opposite, so that was all good.

It was then time to enter the Water Rats, and the venue part is at the back of the pub itself. A nice compact size, small stage, and I can imagine it getting hot and sweaty in there (which it did) but it felt a nice setting, and lots of people the same age as me too, so didn't feel like the oldest indie kid on the block. In fact one couple had come over from New Jersey, which says a lot, and others had made the trip up from Wales to see the band (they are from Newport, after all)

So first up were The Popinjays, who at their peak were signed to One Little Indian (same label as The Shamen and the Sugarcubes no less) and it was nice to hear them so many years on. Wendy did really belt out the vocals rather lovely, and Polly with her guitar was a really nice backing. As it was when they first started, they had drums for backing, this time played via a Macbook rather than a drum machine, it didn't detract though from some of their lovely songs, namely "Vote Elvis" which was joyous, and "Thinking About The Weather" as well. They also did a cover of "I'm A Believer" which was a single they released back in 1992, and I thought to myself "Noooooooo! I can't escape that band" (Mum is a big fan of The Monkees so had to listen to them a lot growing up...)

So onwards with The Darling Buds, and my, it was hot, but rather excellent all round. They played the title track and indeed the lovely "Complicated" from their Evergreen EP, and of course went through several songs in the back catalogue. It was so nice seeing so many smiles as the band started another song which was joyous indie pop goodness, especially the likes of "Burst", "Hit The Ground", a rather lovely "Let's Go Round There" with some of the audience providing backing vocals for the "don't you wanna go there?" part of the second verse. Nice. In fact it was that warm Andrea's white wine was looking less than drinkable!

The band played some stonkingly tight versions too, "It Makes No Difference" and "Honeysuckle" being particularly good, but also then a rather gorgeous "The Other Night" (didn't expect that one!") and the likes of "Long Day In The Universe" and "Isolation" also. Back to the Pop Said album goodness though, so "Things We Do For Love" got a nice fast rendition, and on top of that, the awesome "Big Head" with it being spot on and just over two minutes, classic indie pop that one. Love it! And a stonking version of "Tiny Machine" to add to proceedings, with some brilliant drums to underpin the whole thing.

Near the end of the set it was time for "Shame On You" which was just brilliant, Andrea spot on vocally and everyone singing along with the "I'll get you get you get you get you get you, get you back!" line at the end of the chorus, tune of the day especially. And.. one of my early faves, "It's All Up To You" - mega happy to hear that one. There were lots of more crackers too, and it was a hour and twenty minutes of pure quality, musicianship, no fancy screens, no fooling around, just the band playing ace, and Andrea doing her trademark throwing flowers to the crowd. Just awesomeness.

Thursday 27th April - Manchester Is Almost Blue

As my colleague who normally does the lates is off for the rest of this week and Tuesday next week, I normally will step in to cover, and so it was nice to have a little bit of a lie in this morning and then sort out plenty of washing and cleaning before then heading off for the 0854 train to work for a 1000 start. In fact I had a plan of action today and was most pleased when the first thought and part of that plan came off, following some investigative work I did yesterday.

So I did a further test on a laptop, and connected to a wireless network within range of the office that was a public one and not part of our corporate network. And.. Skype all worked with voices and everything. Hmm. I checked with our Network team and they allowed one laptop to have all ports enabled, and that worked. We then looked further into it and spotted that some UDP ports may be the main cause, so once those were enabled alone, I tested it again, and it worked properly. Have to say that was really pleasing to have got that one nicely sorted.

Another thing I got sorted too was proofing tools for Office 2016 / 365. I've had experience of this before in Office 2013, and effectively it's a case of downloading them and then running the setups with a /quiet option for a silent install (this also means you don't have to accept the EULA either, more difficult for example if the language pack is Arabic.) In addition if you add the keyboards in Windows 10 first, it all works lovely in Word too. To that end I snagged the tools for Arabic (as this was the original request), German, Italian, Welsh and Scots Gaelic (as we have offices in Wales and Scotland and they often use their native tongue, so a bit easier) and they're now all good.

I headed home through the rain, stopped off at Waitrose as they had offers on Costa Tassimo pods, and then settled in for an evening of the snooker, with John Higgins taking an early lead against Barry Hawkins, but most of all the Manchester derby. I wasn't able to get the time off to head up to Manchester for this one so watching it at home and kicking every ball with my friend, who is there tonight. As I suspected it was a tense first half and not much being given away, to be expected especially when so much could potentially be at stake for the top four finish.

It got niggly in the second half, but Marouane Fellaini lost it for United in the space of a minute. He blocked Agüero and City got a free kick, and then looked to foul Sergio again a few seconds later. Not content with that he then went to headbutt the City striker, the ref saw it and a straight red it was. Despite that, it was difficult to watch as I couldn't see City breaking down United, no matter how much possession we had. Even bringing on Gabriel Jesus near the end seemed a little too late.

And so it proved. Whilst a 0-0 draw was at least meaning that we kept United below us in the league, it wasn't good enough to catch the top three and an opportunity missed I think. Questions may need to be asked about how we can break down the teams who will come to defend, and we don't seem to always have the answer. "Born of Frustration" by the Manchester band James seems perfect, especially when one line always gets misconstrued as "Don't need no Stretford exorcist.." That. Tune of the day by a mile.

Wednesday 26th April - Puzzling

I had a bit of a puzzle to resolve today, and spent a fair bit of time working on it. We had our second line staff mention that a few users had tried to make a call with Skype, but they couldn't hear the other person (which is a bit odd). Normally of course most people are using Skype for Business internally which works well, but there are times when a normal Skype account is needed to communicate with those outside of tenancy (and in addition, where they may not be able to do Skype to Skype for Business conversations) - so pretty useful to have that working.

I did a bit of testing and found that when I used the Echo Test Call it was the same issue - in fact that call hung up after around ten seconds. I also wanted to test with an external contact so my brother who lives in Japan was online, we had a message chat then tried a call, same problem. I did a bit more digging and found in some cases this is primarily due to Skype these days using NGC codecs (next generation) instead of the older and reliable SILK ones. The new ones are more cloud-based which means more reliance on network connectivity to a degree, but more flexibility apparently. Anyway, by deleting a DLL file in the Skype folder, it forces back the old SILK codecs into play, and hey ho, it works!

However, it's not a long term solution. In fact if you log in as another user and run Skype, the MSI installer checks for the file being missing and puts it back, therefore rendering the next user unable to hear the calls again. Darn. So when I got home I did some further testing, and with the same desktop client and MSI installer. It installed, and all the calls including the test one worked without issue. Hmm. I had a think and it was either going to be a network blockage of some description or possibly the fact that the same DLL files are in the Office 2016 install for Skype for Business they may clash - we shall see.

I also spent some time tonight listening to some old classic Commodore 64 tunes, primarily because of a few things I've been backing in the retro gaming arena but also because some people mentioned some of the songs that were covered by the C64. In fact, the game I-Ball with the Rob Hubbard soundtrack really nicely covers two Cabaret Voltaire songs, namely "Whip Blow" and "I Want You". I really adore the 12" version of the latter, classic 1980s beat driven Industrial music, so tune of the day without a doubt.

And in the snooker, it's all been going really nicely. Ding Junhui deservedly pulled off a 13-10 win over Ronnie O'Sullivan with some excellent breaks, and to be fair Ronnie embraced him at the end and said afterwards what a great player Ding is. He'll be facing Mark Selby next, whose 143 break in the 15th frame against Marco Fu is perhaps the best total clearance in terms of balls being in awful positions I've seen, and when Stephen Hendry says that too, you know pretty much it definitely is. I think the crowd enjoyed that - they gave him a standing ovation as an appreciation. I'll be gutted when next Tuesday comes and it's all over...

Tuesday 25th April - Wishful Thinking

So back to work, and back to plenty to do. No bad thing of course as I like keeping busy and making the day go by quickly is always good. I had infact planned the test server upgrade of SCCM to the latest 1702 release in the morning, and after some initial tests, that appeared to be going reasonably well so far. One thing I can't quite put the finger on though is the fact that it looks like for some reason the pre-production client push (always worth checking before you deploy the new live client) isn't necessarily always pushing, although this can take some time initially. I also noted a few nice features too.

However the real acid test will be tomorrow when I look at the distribution point roles and see what can be done. It may not be entirely necessary depending on what happens in future, but the key thing is to at least ascertain if that option is possibly doable or not, as that will then give a steer towards some future direction. I did note too that the other important option is also that in fact there could be a peer to peer based BranchCache distribution allowable for some packages and applications, but of course this relies on machines being on and talking to each other, potentially good but also potentially risky.

It's nice though to have some challenges and to be able to think on the feet quite a bit, which is one good reason why I adore the job. On the other hand, I've also been thinking that it's a darned shame that I had to move down South to get something like this: and that there's so much centered around the capital city. If someone had offered me similar closer to Manchester, no question, that would have been really good, but I'm also realistic enough to know that you do have to go where the work is. One day of course things will change but that might not be in my lifetime sadly!

Anyway, onwards with the snooker and it was a massive session tonight for Ding Junhui against Ronnie O'Sullivan. From 5-5 he took five frames on the trot with some quality snooker, and only a Ronnie century in the last made the score somewhat more respectable at 10-6. It was great play from Ding though, potting some quality long reds and having the calmness to finish frames off when needed. I did feel in one or two frames though that Ronnie could have played on, but thought better of it for some reason.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the proper snooker theme "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band. If only with it being the 40th anniversary of the Crucible and all, the BBC should have correctly reinstated the proper theme that we all know and love, but didn't. Own goal and missed opportunity somehow seems quite apt considering, despite several of the players and fans actually wanting it to happen. One day, they'll see sense. Maybe one day..

Monday 24th April - Homeward and Heartbroken

It wasn't nice to wake up thinking that in a few weeks time Manchester City wouldn't be in the FA Cup final, but after arriving back around 11pm last night in Manchester and having slept on it, that was the reality, and not very nice either. The Love was heading off to work later but I was staying at her place as my train was at 1135 back to London. This did give me time to watch Line of Duty from last night on BBC iPlayer, which was rather excellent all round, especially as there's going to be some final twists in next week's episode, that is for sure. We'll be enjoying that!

I said goodbye to the two cats Jô and Brian later on and headed off to the tram stop and onwards to Manchester Piccadilly station, where the station was busy and I'd got myself on board the train, and a table seat this time too. It was relatively quiet really, most people either silent or like me with headphones on, and I listened to the whole of Susanne Sundfør's excellent "Ten Love Songs" album too, which includes the superb track "Fade Away" which has to be tune of the day - it's gorgeous!

I arrived back at Euston, and via the tube and train to East Croydon, and arrived home to some good news. It looks like the flooring contractor is heading over tomorrow to check out the tiled wooden flooring and see if any of the possible issues I've reported can be sorted out. I'm hoping that it's something sortable, but this is one good thing I suppose with renting - any issues you do report are at least not your issue to fix, and I've got a good working relationship with the landlord too which is a positive thing overall.

I also then noted once I got home that the snooker had finished for the afternoon as both Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby had taken their first three frames in respective matches and both of them had won 13-6, so the BBC were going to show the preview night of the 40 years at the Crucible again that I'd seen on red button. I had however recorded the 40 Years programme Steve Davis did and was shown on BBC2 last night, and so watched that instead. It was ace. Steve was as usual brilliant and witty along the way too.

I must admit though that the neck is still feeling sore and even though The Love very kindly let me try out some of the painkilling gel she had yesterday, it appears to be a little bit worse today. I'm just wondering if for example I sneezed and jarred something by accident, but we shall see over time. I just want to get a good night's sleep tonight, head off to work tomorrow and get back in the swing of things and take it from there - that's about all I can do really.

Sunday 23rd April - Wembley Woe

It was a very early start, as I was off with my friend to Wembley to see Manchester City take on Arsenal in the FA Cup semi finals. In fact the coaches left at 7.30am so I arranged to meet my friend in the City car park at 7am, and once met up, we were all good to go, located the coach, got seating sorted, and it was then heading off in the direction of the arch (seems wrong, so want to say the Twin Towers instead as it used to be). So, M56, A556, M6 and then the M6 Toll before stopping off at Norton Caines services, where a cuppa just had to be purchased.

In fact then it was back on to the M6 Toll, down to the M42 and the M40, followed by the M40 up to Hanger Lane gyratory followed by a trip along the North Circular Road (the road from Hell, trust me) and then just by IKEA veering off towards the back roads that took you to the car parks dotted around the stadium. Some of those were being done up so we were in the yellow car park, just where the ramp up Wembley Way goes up to the stadium level itself. We did however spot a Sainsburys Local close by, so sandwich and Meal Deal done for some food!

We then headed up the way and round to the entrance N where we were, and in block 125, with a very decent view of the pitch for the game. My friend got a pizza in the ground, I did the chicken balti pie, and that set us up nicely for the game. The City end was full of noise, and flags which everyone waved during the classic The Boys In Blue song too. It built nicely and with an unchanged side, we both were thinking "Oh no, not Claudio Bravo in net!" - but were going to see what unfolded over the next few hours.

The first half was tense and indeed had some niggly fouls which saw David Silva have to go off injured, not a good thing at all in our case. We battled well though and the ball went forward to Leroy Sané whose cross went to Sergio Agüero - he looked to have got the ball over the line but Raheem Sterling scored the rebound. The linesman had disallowed it, originally I thought for offside but no, the ball had gone out of play with the cross. Replays later showed it actually hadn't, so that was not good to learn!

The second half went a bit better with more flow to the game and as Arsenal attacked the ball was cleared by Yaya Touré to Agüero - who ran half the length of the pitch before dinking the ball past Petr Cech and scoring. I went mental and it was good to see that the City fans were doing the same. It was about as good as it lasted though, because Arsenal went down the right, a cross found Nacho Monreal and he blasted it past Bravo for the equaliser.

Not that we didn't go close before the full time whistle though: Yaya Touré had a volley that was saved by Cech on to the post, and then the header from Fernandinho late on hit the bar. My friend said though he thought our chance had gone, and sadly he was proved to be right, with Alexis Sanchez bundling home a goalmouth scramble by being the first to be alive and alert to the ball, unlike most of our defence were. Yet again not having many shots on target against us, but conceding far too easily proved to be the downfall for us.

It was maddeningly disappointing and nothing is worse than having to face a long journey home from Wembley either. It was the first FA Cup semi final City had lost since 1932 (!) and indeed the first time I'd seen use lose a semi as well at Wembley. Not an experience I want to go through again, and after stocking up at Sainsburys before going on the coach, it was a long way homewards, and it seemed to take an age to leave the stadium area. Tune of the day is somehow apt: "Disappointed" by Morrissey, and certainly that's how we both felt, and totally gutted.

Saturday 22nd April - Gardening At Day

The Love In My Heart and I had a relaxing morning, being able to take things nice and easy, have some breakfast, see some of the snooker from the Crucible (with Ronnie O'Sullivan beating Shaun Murphy 13-7 in the process) and then waiting in for The Love's father to call over. It was nice to see him, The Love's elder sister and niece, and we'd got some nice posh Victoria Sponge cake to have as well, so felt really nice to relax with a cup of coffee and cake and just catch up and chatter.

The Love and I were heading off out later on, as we wanted to be able to see if we could get some nice stuff for The Love's little front garden: now that the replacement fencing had been put in at the front of her flat, it meant that the decking and soil could do with some plants and/or some pebbles to make it all look more aesthetically pleasing. We headed over to Levenshulme Market first just in case anyone was trading in plants and stuff, but no luck there, and although planning to go to B&Q, we instead went to what was a former B&Q, now a B&M Bargains and Garden Store in Burnage.

It proved to be a good move. Lots of plants at not expensive prices, including some hebe, which of course will last all year round, but also we spotted some pebbles, and some rather nice ones at that. It was three bags for £10 and The Love was thinking how many we'd need. I suggested three because of the coverage area and how big an area she actually needed to cover. Only snag was that they weren't light, so glad we had a big trolley for them all to go in, and in total, £23 spent but with lots of stuff for the price.

As a little treat we stopped off at Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a well earned drink - we would have sat outside but it was packed, but had a nice spot inside to chatter for ages, so that was lovely, then headed via Tesco to get a watering can (found a good one for £3 too) which then meant all the gardening shopping was complete. We got back and placed all the items at the front ready for The Love to work her magic tomorrow, and we then snuggled up, had some lovely pork belly for tea with a nice lemon posset for afters, so that was all good too.

In fact we watched Gogglebox from last night (as I had missed it due to being on a train) and then after that we watched the last two episodes of Peter Kay's Car Share back to back. It was quite an interesting ending (won't spoil it in case you've not seen it yet) but it was somehow apt to use the mid 80s classic "Kayleigh" by Marillion (make that tune of the day) and it certainly felt like it was a sensible end to the series as a whole - of course unless he decides to make another one. For some reason though I didn't seem to enjoy it as much this time round compared to the first one, maybe because it went down the swearing department...

Friday 21st April - Late Night Traveller

It was a later than planned trip up to Manchester tonight to see The Love In My Heart this weekend, but for a good reason. The trains were cheaper to be able to be booked, and it also meant I could go home, have some tea, watch a bit of the snooker and then head off later for the 2040 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. Of course naturally I'd rather get there earlier, but sometimes it's just how it works out, and as I had no idea of if City would have been playing West Brom at home this weekend (as planned) or what day the FA Cup semis City had qualified for may have been at the time, I couldn't chance a Saturday morning departure.

As it was the day was pretty productive. I managed to get to the bottom of a couple of nagging issues and also worked on some plans to test out the test server upgrade next week, in terms of SCCM. I've actually got two Windows 2008 R2 servers set up, one of which I'll add as a distribution point before the 1702 upgrade, and one after. Apparently the older servers are only available to be set up as a distribution point before the 1702 upgrade and still be used, and you can't do so after, so be interesting to see if the theory is true.

That also ties in nicely with the other thing I've been doing, in that as remote sites all go to Windows 10 and have the new SCCM client as part of that, it's then been a case of decommissioning the old SCCM 2007 distribution points along the way. As it happens currently, today was the second one of those to go, so it's a case of ensuring all the content is safely removed first before removing the role off. It worked pretty well to be honest, and glad I can get those changes performed properly.

I headed home for some tea, and it was nice to have some proper steak burgers complete with a nice brioche bun, and that filled me up nicely. I got the stuff packed and it was then off to East Croydon, heading on a train to London Victoria before heading across to the tube and off to Euston. It was busy in Euston, but got the announcement beforehand and so got the 2040 train with no fuss whatsoever. I must admit I was pleased that it was nice and quiet.

This meant I could have the headphones on and listen to the iPod (Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk seemed apt to be played as I left Euston, so tune of the day that definitely is) and it was speeding through the night, getting to Manchester Piccadilly and then off on the tram to The Love In My Heart's place, and being able to snuggle up with the two cats Jô and Brian also in attendance and wanting lots of love and attention themselves. Awww.. nice way to start the weekend all round.

Thursday 20th April - Enforcement

All sorts of troubleshooting today, but glad to be able to get on top of a few things and get cracking. One thing I'd been tasked with is to work out a suitable way that a SCCM task sequence could be enforced to a machine in order for it to reboot into Windows PE, and then effectively clear the TPM and reformat the disk, the idea being that without the TPM generated encryption key, even if any data was recoverable, it'd still also be encrypted and so wouldn't be able to be viewed.

I had some ideas about how this would work and with a wired connection to the network, no problem, it would fire up in Windows PE, talk to the SCCM server for the task sequence content and away you go. However, if connected to wireless and with Direct Access, you can of course at least obtain the content from the SCCM server, all good, but then of course the issue you've got is that once you restart, unless you had some way of connecting wirelessly, all isn't going to play ball.

One idea I did have though which I'll play with tomorrow is to be able to effectively have the content I need as part of the WinPE image, restart in Windows PE and run a necessary command line to do all the work. It should work pretty nicely overall and so it would be good to have that running, especially more so if it's going to be all done without wires. The idea being is that it'll be a bit more reliable to work under all circumstances and of course be more controlled so as not to have issues with machines being formatted.

Part of the reason also is that I did try the likes of sdelete, which deletes disk content in a zero fill full wipe format, but of course with the seven passes that took ages (how does 36 hours sound?) - and that's not really viable. In addition of course the current system used for laptop encryption has the option to simply remove the cryptography key that it uses for encryption, thus ensuring that it can't be re-used afterwards. So something similarish would do the job, that's the plan.

I got home to watch some more wonderful snooker at the World Championship as Shaun Murphy faced Ronnie O'Sullivan. The seventh frame was the best one: both players were missing chances and it went down to the final black, and after a few safety exchanges Ronnie left a difficult chance on for Shaun but a superb pot was the order of the day. However, Ronnie is 6-2 up and so it'll need a pretty special session tomorrow to see if the gap can be closed. Tune of the day is of course the proper snooker theme "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band - it is the proper theme after all.

Wednesday 19th April - Shockers

Well, I didn't expect the events of today's snooker to unfold as they did, that's for sure. In fact because of two tight and long frames, they ran out of time in the morning to finish off the Rory McLeod v Judd Trump match, with The Highlander being 9-7 up at the time. It would realistically therefore have to be played in the evening after whichever table had finished first (likely to be Table One, the other table was having an opening session tonight so the full nine frames would be played)

That's how it turned out too, after Ryan Day had been pretty much hammered 10-4 by Xiao Guodong, a result I'd predicted but not the scoreline, so that was a good estimate by me. Out came Trump and McLeod and after some really brave shots, Trump took the opener and so it was 9-8. You could feel the Crucible tension as the next frame got underway but once Trump had missed a red and they were all over the place, a really sensible and well judged break from McLeod got him a decent lead, and once Trump had left a final chance of a red to the top left corner, McLeod took it and won the frame and match 10-8, by far the biggest win of his career.

Controversy reigned afterwards though: it had been noted that Rory McLeod didn't shake hands with the female referee Maike Kesseler. However it transpired that for religious reasons he had been granted an exemption from World Snooker for shaking hands with a female referee, and when Michaela Tabb used to ref they'd just exchange nods instead, which seemed to work. I suppose people might be wanting to make more of an issue of it despire the governing bodies knowing about it and allowing it - if it's good enough for them I guess.

And then came the news from BBC Radio 5 Live that Judd Trump had not taken part in the mandatory post match press conference, and that's normally something that World Snooker doesn't like. Whilst his manager had already noted he wasn't 100% (had been wincing with the right shoulder later in the game) it did seem a little petulant - just get them done, get out of there and then rest up as needed till the start of the season. We shall see how that progresses I think.

It was good though to have some nice tea (complete with painkillers beforehand due to the neck) and then a lovely frangipane and raspberry tart which The Love In My Heart had made for me over the weekend, and I'd had a few of them in a box to take home with me and have for dessert during the week, which really did make me feel a little better. I'll see how they last, but they're too nice for words (and with that in mind, tune of the day is the delicious "You're Gorgeous" by Babybird, as it describes not just those but The Love In My Heart as well. Awww, I know!

Tuesday 18th April - A Pain In The Neck

All was well as I headed off to work today, but mid morning I must have twisted a little funny, and throughout the rest of the day I did feel slightly in pain on the left side and around the neck area. Gradually this did appear to get a little worse throughout the day, which made me wonder if I pulled something completely by accident. Not quite sure how either, but I know that in the evening it felt a little worse and was difficult to bend down without feeling a fair bit of discomfort. Sleep indeed might prove to be not so easy!

That said, it was a little bit of positive news following the team meeting as most of the envelopes were being handed out by the management of various departments, informing us of performance and whether we'd get a pay rise or not. The good news was that mine stated that I have been doing well enough to warrant one, and so it was nice to have that notification, and that it'll start from the end of this month's pay. I think that one thing I'm conscious of is that although moving down has meant more pay, the cost of living had to be balanced out as part of that, and so a boost like that means that I'm more than doing even better than I expected.

Don't get me wrong of course, if someone said to me that the place I work at was all relocating to Manchester and you'd be paid the same money, that would be an epic win. But I also know that in a lot of cases that this doesn't happen, and getting a different sort of thinking in that places don't all have to be based on London is difficult. I mean, look at the furore over the BBC moving various bits up to Salford, which has probably done them the world of good in the long term.

Still it was nice to have some tea and then sit back, cushions around the neck of course, watching the World Snooker Championship from the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. For the BBC's red button coverage, it's changed this year so that they have a studio near the practice room with either Jason Mohammad or Hazel Irvine doing the thing, and this means that they can have analysis with another presenter / pundit during play and in betwen frames rather than just wait for the players to come back out.

However, it was a decent effort all round tonight as Liang Wenbo came out on top in a titanic scrap and won 10-8 over Stuart Carrington. It was closer than I expected, especially as I thought that it would be more one-sided, but the key thing was that each of the frames later on became more edgy and experience did tell a little bit, it has to be said. Naturally of course I'd be wanting to see as much as the other table, and Graeme Dott had edged ahead 6-3 over Ali Carter too. I've gone all snooker loopy again so said tune by Chas and Dave and the Matchroom Mob is tune of the day.

Monday 17th April - Spring Walk

It was good to have a lie in with The Love In My Heart, with the two cats Jô and Brian all wanting lots of attention, love and lots of Dreamies. Once we had sorted them out we then went to have some breakfast, and The Love excelled with some lovely egg, bacon, mushrooms and toast, a lovely way to start the day. We got ourselves ready and wanted to head out somewhere for a nice walk together, and so thought that Lyme Park on a Spring early afternoon might just be the thing.

Before all that though, The Love had been clearing out some of her cupboards and had found a video tape that she thought we could watch - and it was the last ever episode of Brookside from 2003. I had remembered it moons ago of course and used to love it (the theme tune is tune of the day) but the final episode certainly dealt with a lot - getting rid of the drug dealer Michaelson, the return of Barry Grant, and Jimmy Corkhill being the last man standing in the close. Ah, those were the days...

That was of course the idea of everyone else too, it seemed, notably as the Cadbury's Great Egg Hunt was still on at many National Trust places, Lyme Park being one of them of course. The traffic ground to a halt as we headed to High Lane, and as we got nearer the turn for the entrance, we could see lots of cars all queueing up for the right turn in to the narrow lane, and cars attempting to get out the other way. We knew it would be ages getting in so we decided on Plan B instead.

And that was to head along the A6 through Disley, turning left at New Mills Newtown and then towards the centre of New Mills, where after parking up, we followed one of the paths down towards the Torrs Riverside Walk. Unfortunately due to rock face damage, part of the path was closed, so we had to head back up the cobbled hill to the car park, headed across to the other side of the centre, then down the hill by the visitors centre, so took a nice walk along via the Torrs Hydro, down by the River Goyt and over the Millennium Walkway, following the river to the uphill road to the train station.

It was quite a nice walk and certainly the final hill back up to the town centre certainly was keeping us fit, and even with a train in the station to add to the more countryside feel. We then once that was done headed back via Marple, and off to the Fiveways in Hazel Grove for some nice carvery (the gammon and beef was on top form as was the rest of it) and then to Manchester Piccadilly station in order for me to take the 1755 train back home. It was a shame that the weekend had gone by so quickly, especially as it'd been so nice with The Love In My Heart as well.

Sunday 16th April - The Easter Snooker Bunny

Easter Sunday it may be, but I had another date with Sheffield, this time though not being able to book an advance train ticket as in order to get there early enough, I had to be on a Northern Rail train, and they (rather annoyingly as they do on other lines) don't do an advance ticket for the Manchester to Sheffield route. So it was to the station, in the Sainsburys (which being a Local was open) to get a sausage barm, and an Americano from Costa, and it was on the stopping 0744 service, which went via Marple, New Mills Central and through the Hope Valley stations before arriving at Sheffield just after 0900, giving me plenty of time to head up to the Crucible and be there for this morning's match I had, Shaun Murphy against Yan Bingtao.

As I headed in to the theatre, Rob Walker was having a chat with the audience about Yan Bingtao and how a friend of his family who owned a factory raised the money to get Yan to enter tournaments, and how Yan then sends his parents money when he does well. Quite a heartwarming story and well done on Rob for doing his research. He also mentioned about Yan not allowed to have Betfred on for legal reasons (Yan being under 18 and all) but to give him a massive cheer on his first entrance to the Crucible - which the crowd really did as well. It was also nice that they also gave Maike Kesseler a good reception on her Crucible refereeing debut.

The Murphy v Bingtao match then was good quality all round, especially three centuries in four frames - Bingtao scoring one to win his first frame which may be a possible record for a debutant (I'd have to check!) - and then Murphy turned it on with two centuries on the bounce to go 4-1 up. Bingtao did pull it back with a couple of tight frames, but the eighth frame was the turning point for me. Bingtao had a chance to knock in the third to last red but missed it, allowing Murphy to clean up to make it 5-3. He was on for a 147 in the last, especially the third black which was a superb pot, but knocking a red in front of the black scuppered that - still enough to win though which was a good thing.

On the other table some of the frames were pretty close and it was a case of who'd win those, and Kyren Wilson was doing that when needed. As it was 9-6 and looking like to be 10-6, I didn't wait to find out and headed outside, and saw Yan Bingtao with his manager / interpreter, who was more than keen to try and get him out of there asap. However Shaun Murphy was a gentleman as ever, taking a while to chat and pose and sign autographs with fan, showing his true ambassadorial spirit. It was starting to rain so most people headed off and I headed off to the station. I did see in the Winter Gardens that the crowd was ready to re-greet Hazel and Steve and Stephen Hendry with them too, so all good there.

It was back on the 1411 to Manchester, and once back via the tram to The Love In My Heart's place, where she went and collected her father and we had a nice lunch together which was good. Her father had been enjoying the snooker and so we had that on in the background whilst The Love did a nice roast, some gorgeous chicken along with roasties, gravy, mash, carrots, broccoli and Yorkshire pudding, absolutely spot on of course. I must admit too that it was good to see her father in fine fettle, and he appreciated the meal and the company too, so we did our bit there.

Later on it was on with Line of Duty (make the theme tune tune of the day) and that was pretty dramatic all round it has to be said. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't watch it, but there were some twists that really will make you think "So what is going to happen next time around?" - and it leads into more questions that answers, so somehow meaning that the final episode in a couple of weeks time is going to be a right cliffhanger. It may even be a 90 minute one like last series..

Saturday 15th April - Snooker Loopy

And so it begins. The seventeen days of competition that is the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield, the home of snooker. I was massively chuffed to get a ticket for this morning's 10am session with Stephen Maguire v Anthony McGill, and in order to get a relatively cheap train I was up and out early, taking the tram to Manchester Piccadilly from The Love In My Heart's place and a quick trip to Waitrose where two croissants meant the free coffee (note: you now have to buy something in Waitrose to have the coffee, whereas you didn't previously)

So on the 0720 and in Sheffield nice and early, and once at the Winter Gardens I noted the BBC Studio being set up in there, the World Snooker displays with the info on how to vote for your player of the year, and the glass cases with bottles of the local Hendersons Relish, signed by the players with a picture of each one next to their bottle, pretty nice that. I also spotted one of the Herd of Sheffield elephants based on the Arctic Monkeys' "AM" album cover in there too, and no doubt later that day the likes of Hazel Irvine would be doing her stuff in there. I felt ready to go and collected my ticket from the box office. I was all happy!

I saw a few players around in the morning, Stephen Maguire surprisingly spent time with people and seemed fairly chilled out, as did Anthony McGill. Fergal O'Brien arrived and he also seemed quite jovial too, as were some of the referees. Maike Kesseler was with Leo Scullion, and Leo had said to Maike to head out of the stage door and say hello to people, so that was good of them both. It's Maike's first ever Crucible and noted later she was sat with Olivier Marteel as he was scoring so she could sample the atmosphere first hand. It's good also to see referees being given that opportunity at the highest level.

I was of course on Table Two for the McGill v Maguire match, and it was even stevens for the first four frames, with the third and fourth getting close affairs and around 30 minutes each. They and Mark Selby v Fergal O'Brien finished at the same time so the interval was busy as a result. Whatever Maguire said to himself at the mid session clearly worked as he put some good breaks together, and was unlucky with the 97 not to make a century. McGill's long pots deserted him whereas Maguire was literally like his nickname On Fire, and hitting them well. He did bash the table in frustration at one shot though, something he needs to keep control of. Do that and he would win (which he did in the evening, running out a 10-2 winner nonetheless)

Outside after that I saw Kyren Wilson who again seemed nice and relaxed. Ronnie O'Sullivan came in a blacked out BMW and literally sprinted in, so he wanted to get in the zone ASAP. Steve Davis seemed to be everywhere - he had been outside the front entrance filming a piece and then off to the Winter Gardens, and certainly he was very popular with everyone - well he is a legend and all. I headed back to the train station and got the booked 1411 train back to Manchester, and was soon back at The Love's place.

Later that evening we got ready and headed off first to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a drink, and we got a table upstairs which was nice and chilled out, and good to admire the view from there. Certainly the atmosphere was really good and I'd seen that Manchester City were winning 3-0 at Southampton so that was massively pleasing too. It was nice that the vibe was good and lots of gentle background music, nothing in your face which meant it was more about conversation than anything else. Tune of the day in fact is "My State of Mind" by Swing Out Sister, seemed quite right for this.

We then went to the Ashlea in Cheadle and met up with some friends, one of whom it was their birthday yesterday. The food as ever was lovely in there: I had the stilton and peppercorn mushrooms to start, followed by the chicken and pancetta pie and even had a sticky toffee pudding for dessert too (well, why not eh?) - and it was definitely relaxing. Our friend liked her present (Adele hardback book, the Adele at the Royal Albert Hall Blu-ray and CD set, and a gift card too) so that was good, and time went by far too quickly before heading off home and seeing City do the business on Match of the Day. A good sleep beckoned before another early rise tomorrow..

Friday 14th April - The Long Good Friday

It was a relatively earlyish start for me as I was heading back up to Manchester for the weekend and spend some time with The Love In My Heart as well as being able to see some snooker at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, as you do of course. I had to go an alternative way this morning due to engineering works on the main London to Manchester route, and because of that tickets hadn't gone on sale. However, I booked Megatrain from London St Pancras to Sheffield (basically on East Midlands Trains) and then one from Sheffield to Manchester, which was around the quickest route.

I'd booked the 0856 train from St Pancras, and I literally just had to show my reservation to the ticket office staff at the barriers and they let me through. They indicated I needed to go to the unreserved coach C and locate a seat there, which I did, by the window, and with a table too, so that was pretty good all round really. I managed to get a space for the case, and just had to show the reservation to the conductor on board (proper Sheffield lovely lady saying "duck" to everyone too) and I arrived on time in Sheffield at 1100.

I had some time before the train to Manchester and so what better than to head off to the Sheffield Tap and have a rather nice ale brewed on site, the Mojo? It was very nice too and plenty of Birmingham City fans had stopped there on their way to Rotherham United later in the day. It was pretty busy anyway even for this time but as always a lovely atmosphere and good to see out to the station. I was glad though I had a reserved seat on the 1211 from there to Manchester Piccadilly as it was pretty packed to say the least!

The Love In My Heart came to collect me and we headed off to John Lewis in Cheadle, as she wanted to get her Converse little dainty sneakers for the holiday, and as she had a voucher for there, it meant it wasn't as expensive either. We also nipped into Sainsburys and let her pick the Easter egg for me to get her - she went for a cute Thorntons one with a butterfly motif on. As of course I don't eat chocolate any more, I wasn't tempted so instead we thought it a good idea to head to the Gateway on the way back and have some fish and chips for lunch there, then headed off back to The Love's place, where the cats Jô and Brian were more than happy for a love and a fuss from us both!

Later on we turned on the BBC Red Button as The Love had mentioned that the 40 Years of the Crucible celebration was going to be shown there, and so it was, a joint Eurosport and BBC thing with both Hazel Irvine and Colin Murray along with many of the players from past and present too. Every recent champion bar Mark Williams was there, and all the qualifiers, plus the likes of the real legends like Ray Reardon, Cliff Thorburn and of course Steve Davis. It was pretty good stuff, notably Thorburn recreating the yellow of his 147 break and taking a few attempts. Of course tune of the day has to be "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band, aka the proper snooker theme.

It was nice later on as The Love made a gorgeous lasagne, which was really wholesome, and we snuggled up later with some telly and especially Gogglebox, where they were really watching all sorts including the likes of Line of Duty, University Challenge where the contestant Monkman really did go a little OTT and lost as a result, and of course some of them were on top form as ever. I must admit I've not really missed the Moffatts, Steph and Dom etc, and one of my new favourites are the three brothers from Bristol - they're an absolute hoot!

Thursday 13th April - Chanteuse at the 100 Club

It was nice to head home, have the remainder of the chorizo pasta bake that I crafted yesterday for tea (one dish meant two meals for both last night and tonight, value for money there I think) and then get everything sorted out for the Easter weekend away before then heading off into the early evening sunset and back towards central London. I had a while ago decided it'd be nice for me to head out and see some gigs and get that passion for music into gear again. Of course not all gigs are cheap, so it's picking and choosing the decent ones, and ones I've not seen for a while.

Tonight was also the first time I'd seen a gig at the 100 Club on 100 Oxford Street, slap bang in the heart of central London no less. I've done many venues in the capital so nice to chalk off another one, and tonight it was some French pop with the lovely Mélanie Pain, whom I've seen before as part of the glorious Nouvelle Vague, and solo when she toured with the Bye Bye Manchester album and I saw her in Manchester (seemed just apt somehow!) It was mainly to promote her recent album Parachute for tonight's gig, so was going to be interesting to see how it all panned out.

Before that was the support act, which was a two piece called Candy Says, with a bloke doing keyboards and percussion, and a woman singing and playing the guitar. Apparently it was only their third gig, and it definitely didn't sound like it, with a good ear for a tune and some nice vocals too. I really enjoyed their set, and as a nod to Mélanie, the singer even did an introduction to one of the songs in French too. They should have had longer, but got me in the right frame of mind well.

I got myself a pint of the ace Dead Pony Club (woo, Brewdog beer in a gig venue, nice if not so cheap) and shortly after 9pm on came Mélanie Pain along with her band - the cool bass player Olivier, the keyboard wizard Marc and the drummer and occasional singer Julien too. Mélanie had a gorgeous dress on - backless too, and shimmered around the stage in her heels (or barefoot) and was really breathless in her vocal delivery, just something about it that draws you in. And a nice cross section of a set list drawing on all of her back catalogue rather nicely.

Opening with a really stunning version of "D'un bout à l'autre" which sounded so dark and yet wonderfully melodic, it set the tone for some pop goodness. The excellent "Pristine" also played early on set the tone really nicely, with some bouncy drums to really give it lots of life. Naturally I also enjoyed "Bruises" which I've seen her do with Nouvelle Vague too, her dancing around the stage hypnotically as the band played along, and "La Cigarette" sounded particularly moody and lovely along the way too.

For me, one undoubted highlight was the title track of her second album "Bye Bye Manchester" delivered with loveliness all round, but perhaps best of all was a really spot on version of the opening track from that album "7 ou 8 Fois" with the great driving synth lines and bass really holding it together, and Mélanie's vocals on top form. I happily sang along the French bits I could remember, and most definitely tune of the day for me too. Having the excellent and very much slowed down "Ca Grandit" as part of the encore was also chic and cool too, and set me up for the night walking back down Oxford Street to Oxford Circus to take the tube and train home.

Wednesday 12th April - Judgement Day

Lots of stuff going on at work, and managed to get a few things sorted during the day, so all good work there and certainly for me plenty to be getting on with over the next few weeks. However, I arrived at Farringdon station with a view to getting the train home, and there were no trains, apart from one on the opposite platform stood there and not moving. It took a few minutes but an announcement over the tannoy confirmed my worst fears: the trains were not moving due to an incident at Hendon where a line-side fire involving gas canisters effectively closed the railway line and the M1 as well.

So it was off on the 521 bus from near work to London Bridge, and once there it was a case of getting the first available train to East Croydon instead. It was packed as I expected but was relieved that I wasn't attempting to go Northwards, as that would have been total carnage. In fact the concern is that I'm heading on the train up to Manchester via Sheffield on the Friday, which may mean that depending on when the line can be re-opened, it could be a messy journey back up. Let's see what happens.

Most of the evening was spent though keeping an eye on the live streaming from Ponds Forge in Sheffield, where the World Championship final round qualifiers, aka Judgement Day, were taking place. Earlier in the day the first eight had qualified (the top 16 qualify automatically of course) and some shocks there, and tonight was tense with a capital T. I can only imagine being in the crowd there and seeing it all unfold. I did have the dulcet tones of Rob Walker and Neal Foulds commentating and they even read out a tweet of mine, excellent!

One by one the players made it through: Stephen Maguire got through first, closely followed by Graeme Dott, whose 10-8 win over Jamie Jones was the quality performance of the round from both players. There was then some really nice surprises - Noppon Saengkham beating Lee Walker and coming back well from 6-3 down, Stuart Carrington holding off a fightback from Mark Williams, and another dramatic final frame decider saw Zhou Yeulong beating Ben Woollaston 10-9.

It's addictive viewing, especially as the switch between tables usually works at a dramatic point of a frame or two, including two outrageous flukes from Hammad Miah against Rory McLeod - unfortunately he tried one too many which let the Highlander clear up for a 10-7 win. It's definitely been superb stuff and I think for me it'll make the draw more interesting when that's made tomorrow - and the theme tune (the proper one) "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band is tune of the day.

Tuesday 11th April - Berwick Street Browsing

After work it was nice to head out to do a bit of shopping. Primarily I wanted to head out and get some birthday presents for a friend whose birthday it is this weekend when I head back up to Manchester, and I knew that one of the presents would be purchaseable within one or two of the shops within the Westfield Centre at Stratford. So what I did was to take the tube to Liverpool Street and then head direct on the TfL Rail service there and that got me straight there in no time. From there it was following the underpass and to Westfield, pretty straightforward all round.

I had a good walk around and after visiting a few shops, I had managed to locate what I needed and that was good to be able to sort it all out and have the purchases done. As I knew that potentially the trains home might be a bit busier, I decided instead to have a nice mooch in the some of the record shops around Soho, so it was back to Stratford station and on to the Central line via Bethnal Green, Liverpool Street and Chancery Lane and on to Tottenham Court Road.

It was a walk down Oxford Street and a left turn down Berwick Street, and straight away it felt like home. I used to mooch a lot around the record shops here when I was younger and visited London for those and the big HMV that used to be round the corner (now Sports Direct, meh) and those were many good memories. I headed along Berwick Street and there was Sister Ray, so headed in there and had a really good look at the vinyl section downstairs, full of new and used items and plenty of real collectors' stuff.

More of the same was in Reckless Records almost opposite too, and plenty of enthusiasts browsing all the vinyl and CD in there. A lot of the vinyl again looked in really smart condition and lots of album covers in sleeves on the wall showing the really rare stuff. As you can imagine it was pretty tempting to buy lots but I decided to be good and just peruse around. It was good though also to be able to listen to some of the music being played in both shops. In fact that's part of the vibe really, listening to that and thinking "that sounds really good".

I headed off then back on the 73 bus to Victoria and the rush hour traffic had died down enough to make the train journey home pretty reasonable for a change. Once home it was good to watch Peter Kay's Car Share on BBC1 - naturally of course I recognised the likes of Chorlton tram station and The Bar which I've been in with The Love In My Heart, and lots of 80s tunes thanks to the imaginary station Forever FM, including "One Step Further" by Bardo, which was the UK entry for the 1982 Eurovision Song Contest. It was quite funny to see Peter Kay and Sîan Gibson sing along, so tune of the day it is.

Monday 10th April - Monday Mastery

First of all, a note about The Masters golf last night. The word "epic" was an understatement. It was to and fro between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose all day with the lead changing hands a fair number of times. The par save from Garcia at the 13th was the turning point - he had been in an awful position and to get out of that and escape was pretty superb stuff. The 15th saw a superlative second shot hit the flag and that made the scores level with three to play.

The 16th saw some excellent tee shots and both of them were close, but Rose holed out to go one ahead. He bogeyed the next though so the scores were level up the last. Both of them had a chance for birdie to win the Masters but both parred, and so it was sudden death and back up to the 18th tee. This time Rose hit wide and was in all sorts of trouble, and to get a bogey five was the best he could do. Garcia confidently hit his putt straight in for birdie and won the Masters on what would have been his Spanish compatriot and mentor Seve Ballesteros' 60th birthday. The stars were somehow aligned there.

Also, it was interesting to see Matt Kuchar get himself into contention with a superb hole in one on the 16th. The crowd went mental, going "Kuuuuuuuuuuuuuch!" as they do. He picked the ball out of the hole, signed it with a Sharpie pen, and found a kid in the crowd to hand the ball too. What a lovely thing to do and a really good way to get the younger generation inspired. I think it shows along with Rose's reaction afterwards how some players can be absolute class on the golf course.

Back at work all was good - in fact one of our Server Team had managed to work out an issue why PXE booting to SCCM on the same vLAN wasn't working. It turned out that the network was actually too fast for the DHCP response to be sent back from the SCCM server to the client, and so didn't get the response it needed to. Adding a delay of 100ms in the DHCP scope settings meant that the responses were then processed without issues and all appeared to be well. I was most pleased too as it showed that the SCCM configuration was completely spot on.

I got home and watched Line of Duty from last night (make the theme tune tune of the day in fact) and it did seem quite dramatic what was going on - especially the ending. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't as yet watched it, but definitely be ready for a moment there. I did like the fact that some of the pieces are coming together and yet some are even becoming more devious, so it's going to be very interesting how it all plays out in the next few weeks...

Sunday 9th April - Hare Hill

After a nice breakfast and some time relaxing with the two cats Jô and Brian, The Love In My Heart and I fancied going somewhere different today. We had decided that it would be nice therefore to head off to a National Trust property we'd never been to before, and scouring the local possibilities we noted Hare Hill, between Alderley Edge and Macclesfield. I'd got some directions sorted and once we were changed and ready I made sure my case was packed in the back and we set off, with the weather still rather lovely as well.

It was a case of heading down Kingsway and the A34, avoiding the masses all going to John Lewis in Cheadle Royal and carrying on the bypass until the roundabout turn off for Alderley Edge, following the road through to the village and then turning left at the war memorial and up the hill, past lovely houses and a hotel and passing indeed the actual Alderley Edge before then turning off down a country lane and arriving. The car park attendant had told us we had no space but The Love and I spotted someone coming out and as quick as a flash she had the space sorted - she's an excellent driver is my love, it has to be said.

We went along the main path and had a little map and guide from the little shed kiosk for entrance, and walked down towards the rather lovely walled garden, which had plenty of families with picnics soaking in the sunshine. We followed the paths along to the bird hide, with a really nice spot for twitchers, past the many wooden statues of hares everywhere and along then to a pond which had a lovely view over the rolling hills and countryside beyond. It wasn't a massive place to explore, but what was there was lovely, and families with picnics seemed to relax here quite a bit (and do the Easter Egg hunt of course!)

After that we were going to try and stop at Alderley Edge and walk to the actual edge but it was too busy for parking, so we went into the village instead and had a nice mooch around before stopping off at the Merlin pub close to the roundabout. It had some gorgeous outside space so we sat outside with a drink and admired the view from the garden and had the last of the lovely sunshine for the day. It was nice being so relaxed and chilled out together to be honest.

We then stopped off at The Gateway in East Didsbury on the way back where lots of nice food was had and some excellent ale too, and I went for the mixed grill which was fab. The Love had the rarebit burger which she said was really lovely, might have to try that myself sometime. We both were feeling happy to be sat outside and dine alfresco, watching the world go by. In truth the time went by far too quickly and before I knew it I was giving The Love a goodbye kiss and plenty of hugs, heading off for the 1735 train back to London Euston, where "Numbers" by Kraftwerk sounded as we headed off, so tune of the day for that one.

The journey home was fine till I got to London Victoria, where yet again Southern Fail showed how bobbins they actually are. The train left a little bit delayed, but a 18 minute journey to East Croydon took twice that, meaning I was later than expected to arrive back home. Meh. Good job I had the F1 recorded to watch and then see the golf for most of the rest of the evening, and that proved to be pretty dramatic stuff all round. I can only imagine what it must have done for people's bedtimes...

Saturday 8th April - Winning All Round

It was nice to have a relaxing lie in with The Love In My Heart, and later that morning I headed off to the local bookmakers near her place to put a bet or two on the Grand National later that day. It wasn't that packed either so I was able to get it all sorted and head back via Asda on the way back and pick up a couple of bits that I needed as well. It was actually really nice to be able to relax and have some good breakfast, and potter around for a bit before then heading off to the Etihad to meet my friend.

It was good to see my friend as ever, and we headed to the stand with the sun beating down beautifully - it was rather warm in fact! We got a brew and had a good natter in the shade of the stand's concourse before heading out to the pitch to see it in perfect condition and with the players training. And as I had noted, when we won the toss we kicked off towards the Family Stand end for the first half, the idea being that we would then attack a majority of fans in the singing South Stand in the second half. So the theory went anyway.

Manchester City played well during the first half, but it was a source of frustration that we weren't breaking them down. I wanted us to bounce back quickly after the defeat against Chelsea, and eventually the goal came. It was a move down the right hand side and when the cross came in it missed Sergio Agüero's head but found the wrong foot of the Hull City defender who scored a rather spectacular own goal instead. Oops was the word and so at half time we were 1-0 up, so positive (ish) at least.

In the second half we worked hard to break Hull City down and the work was rewarded after a fine run down the right from Raheem Sterling who squared it to Sergio Agüero who scored for his fourth game on the trot to make it 2-0 and a little bit safer too. Then after another fine Sterling run the ball fell to Fabian Delph who positively wellied it with some power into the bottom corner from 18 yards out for 3-0. Even the usual Claudio Bravo blunder allowing a soft shot to squirm under him for a consolation wasn't enough and so we ran out 3-1 winners in the end.

I was pleased, and headed back to The Love's place and we watched the Grand National together. Neither of us won whatseoever, but the horse One For Arthur had timed the run perfectly to come into contention with two out, hit the front at the last and looked like winning it easily from there, and at 16-1 half decent odds. Two of the horses I had did finish but in 14th and 19th place respectively, with the other one pulling up before the last. The Love's two pulled up, one at the 29th and one at the last fence, but the good news was all horses were all safe and sound.

Later on after a shower and change The Love and I headed off to the Elizabethan pub in Heaton Moor, and with good reason - I'd arranged to meet my cousin and her family who were up from Bournemouth, with their son and her husband having gone to the Etihad to see the City game! We had a nice booth table and it was really lovely to spend time with all four of them catching up, and having a rather nice time of it with chatter and good food. I had the chicken and mushroom pie which was rather tasty all round to be honest.

The time went by far too quickly, and it was all so nice. In fact my cousin mentioned we should head down to Bournemouth soonish, which I thought was lovely to do, and we'll have to check that out. They headed back to the Travelodge in a taxi and The Love and I headed back to hers, and she watched the Take That special on ITV+1 which had some über-fans in a studio with the band chatting and performing new and old songs. In fact, because I know The Love adores the song, "Back For Good" is tune of the day - piano and vocals for a fan from Argentina was actually a nice touch.

Friday 7th April - Northern Lights

It was a good day all round today as I felt pretty positive that the fixes I had put in place yesterday were working correctly and it was nice to see that things were resolving themselves well in time. I had also been liaising with a member of staff who works remotely where they had an odd issue with a particular Word font - they selected it, and it went all massively spaced in between each letter, and definitely not some spaces put in by accident either. Yet, when I open the document, all appears to be well. I suspect it's something at the user's end and will endeavour to put the proverbial finger on it.

I had a nice surprise before I boarded the train this afternoon as one of my friends and former work colleagues was heading down to London to see her daughter. This meant we had time for a chat and catch up as my train wasn't leaving till 1820, and hers was arriving at 1643, so all worked well. We met on the concourse at Euston and with the weather being decent, I suggested that we head out to the Euston Tap for a well earned drink - she had some rose wine and I had some very nice red ale too, which went down a treat. It was really lovely to catch up actually.

She was telling me about her daughter and her nice new relationship, and how things were working out well for her down here. I must admit I was pleased as I know my friend was worried. She mentioned she was off to Greenwich tomorrow so I definitely had to mention both the place that The Love In My Heart and I get the fab scarves from (Forever Florence, in case you wondered) and the pub with a proper chippy in the middle (the Spanish Galleon) so well worth taking the time out to visit both of those methinks. The time went too soon and it was nice to have a hug before I was due to head off for the train back up North.

It was nice that there was light all the way up to Stoke-on-Trent, and so much better when you can see where you're going. I had some nice new tunes loaded to the iPod, and so had a lovely blast of Susanne Sundfør's "Ten Love Songs" album, which includes the rather joyous pop like goodness of "Fade Away" which sounded so gorgeous as the train sped Northwards, so tune of the day without question. The train was busy but had no one next to me, so I call that a result really.

The Love In My Heart came to see me at Piccadilly, and it was nice to snuggle up with the cats Jô and Brian later and we watched some Gogglebox, with some nice commentary on the likes of Line of Duty and The Voice final, with lots of our favourites on commenting away, and then The Last Leg, with Ed Milliband rightfully taking the mickey out of himself as well, which was quite entertaining. I suspect that since becoming more of just an MP rather than a main leader, he's actually mellowed a bit. There's something in that...

Thursday 6th April - Fixing

I had a few things to be cracking on with this morning, including an unexpected issue that came up. I had managed to get an idea of what was going on though, and so put forward a solution which would work well and so was able to implement that and get some grip on the situation nicely. It worked too, and so should be a useful thing to note going forward. Effectively, for some reason, recent versions of Skype need Visual C++ 2015 in order to work - without it, you'd get a missing DLL that is the Visual C library main DLL. Nice. The good news was that our Windows 10 builds have that on, so a chunk of the machines were all good, thankfully.

That did somewhat mean I was playing catch up for the rest of the day, dealing with some assistance requests, checking some reports for a colleague to present for the remaining Windows 10 desktops, and also being able to put my knowledge to good use and overcome some issues with attempting to perform a BIOS configuration for some of the HP laptops. So it actually did feel a very busy but also pretty productive day all round. I do know there's a mountain of work to do so that's keeping me nicely busy. And still no word on if I've passed the ITIL exam yet!

The journey home would have been fine, only for the fact that one of the trains I get home, the 1651 from Farringdon, was cancelled, meaning the next one was the 1713. Add to that the masses of people who were going to get on and I knew it was going to be standing room only all the way, and so it proved. In fact how anyone even managed to get on at either City Thameslink or Blackfriars I have no idea, but was rather pleased to be getting off at East Croydon and not suffer so much overcrowding all the way down to Brighton. Okay, it's a new train. But 8 carriages when the previous one was cancelled is always going to be carnage.

On a positive note, I'd managed last night to sort out a place to go for Saturday night for myself and The Love In My Heart, along with some guests: my cousin and her family. Her son is a Manchester City fan and so are heading up for a overnight stay all the way from Bournemouth so he can go and watch the game on Saturday against Hull City. I'm hoping that it will be a win of course, but we'll be meeting up in the evening and having a nice little catch up, so that will be good.

I also spent some time tonight listening to some 80s tunes courtesy of Top of the Pops from 1983 on BBC Four. Some classics too including Heaven 17's "Come Live With Me" (vastly under-rated compared to their other singles in my view), early Echo and the Bunnymen with "Never Stop", and "Cool Summer" from Bananarama (didn't realise the song was that old either.) But perhaps the highlight for me was David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Forbidden Colours", the theme from the film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and so tune of the day - the film features David Bowie in too.

And.. the instrumental version of the theme (which was simply "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence" as per the film title) was the inspiration for the Commodore 64 soundtrack to the game International Karate, as done by Rob Hubbard. The game theme went for much longer and built on theme with a whole longer middle and end part to develop on the oriental style, and certainly made for enjoyable play. And the sequel with three player mode and all those lovely background touches, ah memories!

Wednesday 5th April - Game Over

It was an important game for Manchester City tonight and it was a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. I had tried to get tickets for the game, which wouldn't have been so far to go, but no luck whatsoever. Boo. So I had worked out that as the game was on BT Sport, and that I had the BT Sport app on the tablet, I could watch it on that and hook it up to the big telly to see the game. I only have BT Sport 1 because of it being free with the broadband subscription, but that does mean that as Premier League games are on there, all is good.

Well, it would be, if City actually played like they could. It didn't take too long for City to be a goal down as the midfield wasn't too existent, and the ball found its way through to Eden Hazard. He had far too much room and had the shot on goal, which deflected off Vincent Kompany and then squirmed past the keeper Willy Caballero for 1-0. Not good. It took City some time but looked like they were passing the ball well and attempting to get forward. I was hoping for an equaliser before half time.

And that I got. The ball was miscleared from Thibault Courtois and found its way to David Silva, who ran down the left side and had a shot on goal, which was saved, but went straight to Sergio Agüero and he doesn't miss those. 1-1, and all good. Well it was but then Pedro was fouled by Fernandinho in the box, and the penalty was taken by Hazard. Caballero saved it but the save went straight back to Hazard who finished with suitable aplomb and made it 2-1.

The second half, you would have thought, would have seen City pressing a lot more than they did. But they didn't. Chelsea had made a tactical change at half time and put Matic on, and that made a lot of sense, as it had some midfield bite that was needed to stop City going forward quickly. That's what makes Antonio Conte a better manager than our Pep Guardiola in my view: he had seen the danger early on and knew what to act, whereas Guardiola put the subs on a little too late, and we didn't do enough.

The late drama did see a good save from Courtois as Agüero was reaching for a shot after a cross from Nolito and right at the death a corner came in, Kompany attempted to head it, and the ball fell to John Stones who skied it as the ball didn't arrive quite right. And that was it - 2-1 to Chelsea and any hopes we may have had of the title completely gone. Losing to Chelsea home and away meant a net 12 point swing. So, instead of being 14 points behind, we'd only be 2 behind instead. And our record against the rest of the top four makes pretty grim reading this season, it has to be said.

I am disappointed but also not surprised either. I suspect that part of the reason is that I've seen City do this a lot at the moment and it just seems to me that the players don't get what Guardiola is trying to do, or he actually can't adapt to the Premier League having won titles easily overseas. Either way it looks like the scene will be set for some changes a bit of a clear out over the Summer, as well as possibly seeing which youngsters can be given a chance to stake their claim. "Disappointed" by Morrissey seems highly appropriate as tune of the day somehow.

Tuesday 4th April - Back To Reality

So after a lovely weekend, it was back to reality - with a sizeable bump. Having the alarm go off at 6am isn't good, but something I'm used to when I'm in work, so I've made sure I give myself enough time to get up, get showered, have some breakfast, sort out the washing if I need to (and I did so today as I had plenty to do) and then make sure I'm changed and good to go and out of the door by 0645 at the latest, allowing me enough time to walk to East Croydon station and off to the 0658 train to work.

Today did seem quieter, perhaps because my manager was on holiday for the next two weeks and my team lead was also off sick, and so I was manning the fort for a fair bit, and being able to go straight into it and sort out a potential issue with a piece of software running. In fact after some investigation it turned out it was the antivirus software that was doing a bit of overzealous checking, so there is potentially a way around that which we need to look at as well.

I also worked on a few things ready for application upgrades tomorrow: today's planned one for Filezilla went without a hitch, with plenty of successful installations, and then Skype tomorrow, followed by one to remove the old version of a piece of software which is incompatible with Windows 10, so best to have that one removed and then be ready for the new version. I had tested the removal and it all worked, so it would be good to ensure that all plays ball, so spent some more time triple checking everything.

I headed home later on and diverted into Waitrose, as I needed some Persil colour liquid tablets, as they were matching prices of the other supermarkets, and I would pass it on the way home, so easy peasy really. I realised when washing some clothes this morning I'd used the last one, and so knowing more washing was needed to be done wanted to be sure I could get all that sorted, and with that done, plenty of ironing all sorted, I felt all ready to take on the rest of the week.

Tune of the day is the still rather impressive version of "Rambo: First Blood Part II" from the Commodore 64 game, originally composed by Martin Galway and re-done by Matt Gray as part of the Reformation fourth CD. It has all the original morse code beeps (which spells out all the game's creators in case you ever wondered about that) along with some gorgeous lead instruments which really do set the tone well. And I'm a big fan of the original loading theme, so to have it done so well is a mammoth task achieved.

Monday 3rd April - Chatsworth Calling

So today is The Love In My Heart's birthday, and suffice to say that I wanted her to have a lovely day, hence I had booked the day off work and was able to have lots of time together. We had already booked tickets to go to Chatsworth, as we'd not been in around three years, and wanted to see the new exhibition House Style, which had plenty of outfits from the family on display but also would give you an insight into how the fashions and styles changed through the history of the house. With the weather actually looking nice, we were both hoping for a lovely day.

The Love opened her present with the cats Jô and Brian in close attendance, as ever, and it was nice to see so many lovely things. Her friend and partner had got her a gorgeous scarf with a little button with C on, and it was nicely boxed too, very stylish that. Her sister had got her a Ted Baker box full of very nice smellies indeed, together with a Yankee Candle, and she had money from her father as well. My Mum had got her a bracelet which looked nice, so it was definitely a case of being spoiled with nice presents. I had got her a gorgeous necklace to match the bracelet I got her last year, plus a lovely green scarf from Greenwich Market and a cat bag charm / keyring that she wanted from Cath Kidston, so that worked out nicely too.

We set off with the sun shining nicely (it was always bad weather when we had been to Chatsworth before) and once filled up with fuel, we headed along the A6 through Hazel Grove, Disley and Furness Vale before then turning off near Sparrowpit and headed via Peak Forest and Stoney Middleton on the way to Baslow, turning off to Chatsworth itself. Booking online also meant free parking (normally £4) so it was straight off to park The Love's car, and we then headed to the house. As we had gift aided the admission, we also had a voucher to spend in the shops and restaurants, which we planned to use for lunch.

The house looked different from the outside with scaffolding around parts of the exterior due to wall refurbishments, but inside the house still had its grandeur, and the exhibition House Style was really good: lots of history of the family and some artefacts around the fashions including some old lace gloves and hats, and wedding dresses and funeral outfits in two contrasting rooms by the chapel. As you headed upstairs you saw the Duchess of Devonshire's robe that was her outfit worn for the Queen's coronation no less, which rightly had pride of place where it did.

We headed through the house and admired all the different rooms of fashions, with a gorgeous green dress by the iconic picture of Georgiana, and downstairs the library had outfits made of paper and a striking pink dress which looked like pages from a book and opposite the veiled lady statue. There was also #hatsworth in the side gallery, where you could try hats on and have your picture taken inside a frame - The Love had a go and some of the hats were very outlandish designs to say the least. The sculpture gallery was almost in the dark and took on a different feel as we headed then into the shop and admired all the good stuff.

We went and had lunch in the Carriage House, and that was very nice. I had the ham hock and brie hot sandwich (which was massive) and that had some wedges with it, The Love had the vegetable soup and got lovely bread with that, and we had coffee plus the lovely Victoria Sponge cake too. It worked out nicely and we were able to sit outside in the sunshine of the courtyard, which was making the day even lovelier to be honest. It also meant that we would enjoy the gardens walk more.

And enjoy it we did: we explored up to the vegetable garden with its spinning Devonshire Diamond in the middle, headed along to the top of the Cascade and followed the upper path which looked down the 100 steps to the maze (with new layout too) and then the grotto with its lovely view, and the grotto pond. In fact the pink stiletto sculpture had found its new home here by the pond and made for a pretty view. We headed downhill then via the trough waterfalls and to the ravine bridge, followed by the maze and to the cornish slate line by the canal pond, a lovely walk all round.

We headed off from there but had had a really good day all round, and despite some bad traffic heading to the New Mills Newtown junction, we stopped off at the Rams Head in Disley for a drink where the Wreckless ale was on fine form, and then we went along and back to the city centre, and I did feel rather sad. The good thing was that The Love had had a lovely day, the sun was out, Chatsworth was as lovely as ever, and I had Beth Rowley's "So Sublime" in my head as we headed back, a song The Love and I both love, so tune of the day. She looked so lovely during today and it made me realise how lucky I am to have such a beautiful and loving girlfriend. I felt even more sad heading home but knowing I'd see her soon will keep me going this week.

Sunday 2nd April - Everything's Rosylee

It was nice to fuss over and snuggle up to the cats Jô and Brian this morning, as Brian did his usual thing of resting on the pillow next to The Love In My Heart and purring quite a bit too. We got up and had some breakfast, and generally pottered around watching the cookery shows on BBC2 before then heading to the shower and getting ourselves ready for later on. It was nice just to be relaxed together and I think it was also nice knowing I wasn't going home on a Sunday night for a change, which I'm sure was massively appreciated.

We headed off into the city centre and this time off to the Northern Quarter, stopping off at the Abel Heywood for a drink. The Love's friend and partner joined us in there, and I have to say that with it being a Hydes pub, that also meant Beer Studio beer too so that was all good, had a gorgeous ruby red looking one that hit the spot nicely. It was good to natter and catch up with The Love being able to share all sorts as to what had been going on, and it was just a relaxed atmosphere too which is always good. In fact, some decent tunes in the background as well including some 80s classics. Happy days.

We then headed across to Rosylee for their Sunday Roast and it didn't disappoint whatsoever. The staff were lovely (as ever) and the service was spot on (Don Giovanni, take note) with a real sense of pride in the staff's work. The deal was two courses including the roast for a price, and I could have had three, but settled for main and dessert instead of starter and main. The Love had the paté to start which looked pretty good, and she had the roast pork which looked also gorgeous. I had the roast beef, and it was lovely, lots of nice vegetables, Yorkshire pudding, and melt in the mouth beef cooked the way I like it. What more could you ask for?

Well, sticky toffee pudding was the answer, and it was absolutely gorgeous too, lots of ice cream and the pudding and sauce were just right. In fact The Love had got herself a bottle of their gorgeous white zindfandel rosé wine, which we're going to have to locate ourselves as it's lovely, and we chatted for ages before then heading off to the Port Street Beer House for a drink in there, and with the weather being decent it was nice to be in the beer garden outside, with one of the local ales being on top form that I had too, all good and well there.

Later on we headed back to The Love's place and relaxed with a coffee, and then we settled in to watch Line of Duty. It was good to watch the second episode together, and the what happened after the potential chainsaw ending of episode one was nicely done, with the evil DCI Roz Huntley (so well played by Thandie Newton) making sure that she was covering her tracks, although I suspect Steve Arnott is on to something and has an inkling into how the forensic investigator met his fate. The theme tune is tune of the day.

Saturday 1st April - Dining Out In Town

It was nice to be up and ready and head for the 0900 departure from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to spend an extended weekend with The Love In My Heart. I knew for a fact that it was going to be a busy but good weekend, culminating in her birthday on the Monday. Naturally I made sure that I packed her presents up carefully and then made sure that they had no opportunity to break along the way (not that they would, but best to be safe than sorry). In fact the train was nice and quiet to Victoria, as was the tube to Euston, but the train was very busy with plenty of Man U fans heading up to Manchester to see them play West Brom (and have to later witness a 0-0 draw..)

I got the tram from Piccadilly to The Love's place, and she was happy to see me, as were the two cats Jô and Brian. In fact I got a gorgeous picture of Brian resting on his side on the pouffle, which when uploaded to Flickr later gained many views and favourites, he did look admittedly massively cute along the way. We had some nice breakfast and a coffee and once all ready, headed off to see The Love's father, where I sorted out his printer issue (it needed the black cartridge replacing, not that easy really) as well as her elder sister. She received some nice birthday presents which she'd open on Monday but was just good to spend some time there.

We then headed to my Mum's, where Mum had got her a present and a nice card, and we had a coffee and a slice of lemon cake and caught up nicely. In fact Mum had booked a holiday with her friend so she showed us where it was, and it admittedly looked pretty nice all round, I'm sure that they'll have a good time. We also showed Mum where we'd be going too, so that was good to give us something to look forward to, and that meant that the time flew by.

We nipped into Asda on the way back to The Love's place, and then got ourselves all changed, showered and ready for being out later, not before the cats decided to be just as cute as earlier and snuggle up to each other. They're just so loveable when they do that. We wanted to be sure we had no hairs on our outfits though so made sure we put those on last minute and then headed off for the tram and in the direction of St Peter's Square, and our friends had rang us to say that they were not far away from where we were going.

It was to Don Giovanni's on Peter Street, and we'd not been there for absolutely ages. I was glad I'd booked us a table and we had a booth by the front window, which was quite a nice view. It was also easy for us to be able to chatter, albeit that the packed restaurant and music (which in our view was a little bit too loud) didn't always allow for conversation to always flow. That said, it was really nice to have a natter and catch up with our friends, and we then ordered the food.

In fact, almost all of us bar The Love had three courses: the minestrone soup our friends had looked good, and I had the mushroom bruschetta which was rather gorgeous. The Love had had some paté to start (similar style to that in Carluccio's in fact) and her main of the chicken in a mushroom sauce looked heavenly, and she told me afterwards it was the best chicken dish she'd had in ages. I had the carbonara (all good), and our friends had the mushroom risotto and lasagne respectively. What we didn't appreciate was the waiting staff almost throwing the food on to the table at us, a little bit slower and more refined would have been better, and it certainly was also noticeable how slow they were on occasion.

We got to dessert and I fancied the tiramisu and had that, all good. The strawberry millefeuille was good, but it wasn't an oblong shape which was different, and my friend had the profiteroles of which I suspect there may not have been enough of. Again though, a little bit more plate throwing. On the plus side our friends were ace and had got The Love the camera style bag she was after, plus a gift card for House of Fraser. They really didn't have to do that, but was massively appreciated by us both. In fact tune of the day is "Starman" by David Bowie, as that is what my friend is - a star. In fact we were reminiscing about the fact we used to work in the same building Don Giovanni's is in, very small world and all but one we both enjoyed way back when.