Dear Diary... April 2020

Thursday 30th April - Another Month in Lockdown

So it's the end of the month.  Already.  Another month that I've had in lockdown and working from home at The Love In My Heart's place.  I could say that it's been a real eye opener into how companies have adapted or had decent working from home policies already (my employer has) and how those that are classed as key workers such as The Love have been able to carry on working and manage to get things done, doing their bit to help everyone keep going.  In a good way, we've not been under each other's feet which has really helped things considerably, and at least then in the evening we get the quality time to ourselves, and Brian the cat of course.

I should mention that Brian does get the occasional cat visitor or two - and the other day we had both the little black and white cat and the tabby cat both walk past the front of The Love's place at around the same time.  In fact the black and white litlte girl cat wanted to come and say hello but was a little timid, but tabby came up to the front and was more than happy to say hello.  Brian was asleep thankfully or else there would have been hissing and yarling all over the place to be perfectly honest, and what will never do, let me tell you.  So on the whole it's been good that Brian at least has some human company, I tend to leave him to chill out though.

After I'd fed Brian later with some tuna and prawn Sheba and some hairball treats, I thought it'd be nice for us to have takeout tonight, as Thursday seems a lot easier than Friday to order.  For a change we decided to go down the burger route, and spotted one place on Just Eat that looked good, La Canadian.  We both went for a burger with some fries, with some chicken poppers and dip plus a bottle of 7up to go with that.   They delivered on the time they said they would, found The Love's place fine, and on top of that, the burger was spot on - very much like the old Canadian Charcoal Pin in Fallowfield which I used to love, so epic win.

As there was not much on telly again, we watched back to back episodes four and five of series three of Line of Duty, saving the ninety minute finale until the weekend at some point.  Of course this is where the plot thickened with blame clearly being hurled in Steve Arnott's direction, but something about Kate Fleming going to a different AC unit made you think she had suspicions on Steve, but in fact she had realised something didn't quite make sense and was suspicious of Dot Cottan, maybe when he attempted to kiss her and that pushed buttons - Steve would have never done that with her.  And of course, that car moment with Lindsay..

As for tune of the day I went all 1980s style again with Absolute 80s to keep me going, as you do, and of course what would be better than a bit of classic Depeche Mode.  Everything Counts is still, after all these years, my favourite Depeche Mode song, it just hits the right notes all round, and have been more than happy to sing along to that whenever it comes on anywhere.  It also really has that sense of angst and anger at the way that the power hungry corporate businesses of that time acted, with the underlying grabbing hands grab all they can.  And.. Martin Gore's publishing is Grabbing Hands Music.

Wednesday 29th April - Sewing Bee Holiday

So it was time for the Wednesday evening of about the only decent bit of telly of the week at the moment.  I must admit I don't really like the news and have been avoiding it, it's just the same old press conferences with spoon feeding of information and a real sense of having to go through the motions now.  I also fear that the questions posed by the journalists are vetted, which means of course that there's no real sense of being able to be properly audited for the use of some serious, needed questions, such as why other nations have done so much better than we have under the current situation, and why the Government have basically put too many lives at risk by not acting quickly.

Definitely for me it's a bit of escapism tonight, and so first of all Location Location Location with Phil and Kirstie all around Chester and North Wales.  The truth be told, it's not them I find annoying (although I can understand why some people do) but instead it's some of the participants, who clearly have more money than sense and in some cases are way too fussy to be thinking about moving house.  I know a move has to be for all the right reasons and all, but it does make me think sometimes just how often people really do attempt to make an effort, and then think that getting on said show will magically fix all their problems.  Worth thinking about.

So onwards to the second episode of The Great British Sewing Bee, and this week - Holiday Week.  This of course meant rather loud and fancy prints everywhere,  but three different challenges.  I have to give full kudos to The Love In My Heart for her spotting that the palazzo pants would have been worn on the French Riviera, and indeed on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.  She said it and then the little mention of it said the Med and the Riviera.  She is such a good fashionista on this one.  There were some good designs but I liked the pattern matching with the rhinos et al on Liz's design, quite liked that.  Some excellent work all round but I had a feeling Ali would win that one.

Then on came the transformation, to turn some beach towels into something else.  A lot of them went for some rather saucy outfits (which I think Esme cheekily appoved of in some cases) but the invention of Peter to have the two contrasting stripes in the wrap outfit really worked well and for me it was a deserved win all round.  That said though there were some good designs and then some absolute disasters with hardly anything being changed over and transformed.  Some of them didn't even finish (Fiona and Alex) which for us both put them both at risk of being in the bottom and leaving the show.

The final challenge was the made to measure and to have a holiday shirt for a bloke.  There were varying degrees of success - Hazel's African style suited her model perfectly and looked good - and Matt's really well made one was a shirt I would wear myself, and he deservedly won garment of the week for that.  The models also strutted to Katrina and the Waves 80s classic Walking on Sunshine (make that tune of the day) and so that was rather good all round.  However, we both thought Fiona would leave but she was saved and Alex went, not the ideal outcome, but definitely lots of work to do next week to save himself.

Tuesday 28th April - 80s Flashback

Today was mainly about getting to the bottom of a potential issue when bringing over some Excel spreadsheets into Google Sheets. I had had an enquiry from one of my colleagues who was attempting to work out why it wasn't playing ball as it should, and so was sent links to the example sheets in question so I could do a compare and contrast. I knew too that in theory the spreadsheets were going to be big, not in file size per se, but amounts of data, and so did a bit of initial research beforehand to see what the state of play would be and how readable that same data might be. Always better to be forewarned and forearmed.

So, in case you didn't know, when bringing in any form of Excel XLS or XLSX file or CSV type data, there is a maximum, and it's the same for a new Sheets workbook too. In effect, there is an internal limit of five million cells in total, and around ten thousand columns - on the other hand rows aren't so much of an issue here. Now, I did a bit of calcuation on one of the spreadsheets in Excel (number of columns multiplied by numbers of rows) and this came across as something over twenty million cells, so obviously way too much and not going to play ball. Looking at another one, they had multiple sheets but adding all the cells in that, similar amount.

Well worth noting that limit if you're planning to collaborate cross platform - in most cases the everyday user wouldn't hit those amounts, but for the real uber power users, well worth noting. Wth that in mind, what did help me was listening to Absolute 80s on The Love In My Heart's little mini system with DAB radio, and that was a good selection overall. Indeed, having my favourite Morrissey song ever (Everyday Is Like Sunday, so therefore tune of the day for that reason) as well as the single edit of Fools Gold by The Stone Roses was a pretty good place to start overall, it has to be said.

It was also a rather wet day outside and Brian the cat was looking rather longingly wanting to have a play out, but it was just too wet and horrible. In fact it had dried off a little later on, and as he sat in his favourite little box all relaxed, one of the tabby cats who lives locally walked past and just was at a slow pace, having a little wander. I must admit that if Brian does see any of the cats outside he does get all territorial and hisses a bit, so have to be careful that he's inside and at least cannot get out to chase after them or else it would be carnage, of that I can be pretty certain.

There was not much on telly tonight either (The Love is really missing the soaps not being on as much it has to be said) but we did settle in for a little bit of escapism and watched Race Across The World again on BBC2, before then putting on another episode of Line of Duty Series Three, in which it was all set up for Harinder Baines to be arrested, no thanks to Dot, and the retrial of Lindsay Denton to come to a conclusion. And the deceptively evil Gill Bigelow too, who knew what she would become in later series I thought. So that was that, another day of lockdown done, but it is driving me up the wall a bit at times.

Monday 27th April - The Last Day of April Sunshine

With the weather looking much more gloomy over the next few days or so, it was the final day that there would be some decent weather and sunshine in the offing. I must admit that I did have a think this morning about whether or not I may need to try and venture out for a long walk during lunch in between the working at home phases, but in the end as I knew we needed some bits from the local Asda decided to do two for one - take a walk and then do some shopping at the same time, in order that I could get a few essentials that were needed. Fresh air is good and it did mean some exercise.

First off though was to set the release out for the April cumulative updates for Windows 10 across the business, and by the end of the day I could see a fair number of them had downloaded the content without any issues, and indeed were primed ready to restart once installed, so pretty pleased with how that all went to be honest. At lunch time, it was off on my walk around the local park and onwards towards the local Asda, where I was able to get everything that I needed and without too much fuss at all. In fact the queue was pretty quiet and that meant straight in, got what I needed and straight out again.

I got back and all was set for the evening meal later, which The Love In My Heart was cooking for us - her rather gorgeous lasagne! We did have all the sauces and mince, but we needed the fresh lasagne sheets. I got those earlier, and The Love set to work to be able to make it all gorgeous, which it was. Needless to say that Brian the cat was sniffing around and I think he quite liked the smell of the cooking - not sure that cats and lasagne go together though. It was good and hearty, and felt much happier for having that tonight, it has to be said. Always good to enjoy a good meal.

After The Love had watched the soaps, we settled in for the evening and decided as not much was on telly, we were going to go into Series Three of Line of Duty, and ended up watching the first two episodes back to back. Daniel Mays is excellent as Danny Waldron, and his support team were also pretty good. This was probably the series that The Love and I didn't miss an episode on and thus spent many a Sunday night watching it - in fact we were away in Nice when one episode was on and the hotel television had BBC One, so we could watch it there, which was pretty epic it has to be said!

Of course the plot about why Danny was attempting to track down former people in his life was starting to unravel somewhat, especially as it was down to the former children's home he had been at. For me at least, it showed a real sense of the plot moving onwards and a gradual unveiling to the viewers of Dot Cottan (excellently played by Craig Parkinson) as The Caddy. Definitely well worth a re-watch. In the meantime tune of the day is the BBC Snooker theme Drag Racer, which is the perfect theme for the game and one I had in the head when keeping an eye on this afternoon's BBC2 showing of a classic match.

Sunday 26th April - Ushuaia Here We Come

After a nice lie in and some lovely breakfast made by The Love In My Heart, I decided that it would be sensible to look at a nice walk and keeping as fit as possible during this lockdown perios. I had actually walked down the local Ashton Canal yesterday in a loop towards Ancoats and then back via Holt Town and following the tram line to the Etihad Stadium, doing a complete circle before heading back to The Love's place. It was good to do another one today and for this walk I decided to head in a different direction to keep it refreshing whren I do so, so it was along towards the old railway viaduct and using the path at the side of that to head towards Clayton Vale.

I followed the path down and then up, and went through the path with trees either side until I reached a more open plan section of the upper part of the vale, following the border path around the outside, which is part of the circular walk there. The Newton Heath Sidewinder mountain bike path crosses over in parts, and sometimes in use too, so good to see. I got right to the far end and followed the path down to the main central path, crossed over and back over the River Medlock, then turned off to go up towards the railway bridge to Culceth Lane, and then followed the path at the top at the other end, which took me back towards the old Mineral Railway and back through the park towards home.

That all said and done, we did then have a very nice little game of Scrabble during the afternoon too. It was good to see that The Love had really upped her game as of late, and was playing some excellent moves making use of two or more words at once, and indeed utilising the Z for the likes of ZORB on double word, and playing QI late in the game for 31 with the triple letter on the Q when the board was tight. It's always good to have a bit of a relaxing late afternoon like that and I think we both enjoy that it of time out quite a bit to be honest.

Later on we settled in and it was on with Race Across the World on BBC2. It was the final leg of the journey, starting in Mendoza and ending up in Ushuaia, the most Southern city in the world. I did feel sorry for one team who had to pull out on arrival at Mendoza as they had no money left to continue, but it also showed another team's strategy to be careful with their money was the right one to do. What we didn't expect was all three teams to get to a city and all be waiting for the same bus and ferry combination to take them to Rio Grande. It was there two teams did the taxi to get to Ushuaia quickly but at a cost of course.

It wasn't over quite yet though: they had to locate a hotel on a hill using a bus to get part of the way and then walk up the rest to it, and even then they then had to walk a trail to get to a little mountain peak above the hotel where the book was - not quite the drama of having to pay to get into the hotel balcony in Singapore at the finish, but amazingly close. One team won by a mere 20 seconds from the other, which is madness, really. It does show though how good it was and how much all the teams had bonded over time, so that was good to see, and definitely well worth a watch again.

We then ended the evening with the final episode of series two of Line of Duty (theme tune by Carly Paradis being tune of the day obviously) and it all came to a head as memories were flashed back to the original incident and ambush and what actually did happen, and of course Steve Arnott craftily working much better undercover than Kate Fleming in order to be able to work out what was going on. It was also setting up the scene for Dot being more of The Caddy which would be exposed in Series Three, so definitely one to take note of as we catch up.

Saturday 25th April - Online Weekender

So this weekend would have been a get together for me and three of my friends, so plenty of conversation would have ensued about retro gaming, especially the Commodore 64 of course, plenty of rather nice beers, and of course lots of football and other chat too. Needless to say it was a bit of a gut wrencher when the lockdown was announced and realistically I knew that we would have to cancel a get together at mine. I know today we would have been in some nice beer gardens in the centre of Croydon (Dog and Bull for example) but also sampling some local beers from elsewhere too. I did have a plan of action for later today though, so we shall see.

Whilst I gave The Love In My Heart a well deserved lie in with Brian that cat, I ended up watching another classic race on the Formula 1 Youtube channel - the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix from Suzuka. It was an epic race, although also controversial, because the rain in the first part meant being behind the safety car and when they decided to resume, it was the wrong decision. Gianni Morbidelli spun off and then at the same corner later on Martin Brundle spun off and hit a marshal who was attending to the other car to get it off the track. Drivers were not happy, the red flag came out and the race was duly suspended, and rightfully so in my view.

So later on when the weather cleared and the race resumed, it was based on aggregate time over the two legs. This meant despite an epic battle with Jean Alesi and Nigel Mansell, with Mansell passing on the final lap, Alesi had still got third on aggregate. The two drivers embraced warmly with respect after an epic battle pretty much all race that they had had. Up front, Damon Hill just edged out Michael Schumacher by 3.36 seconds (cue Murray Walker shouting this fact out in commentary, a classic moment methinks.) It meant the title went down to Adelaide, but also was a pretty good race in the end and showed some excellent wet weather mastery - Damon Hill calls it one of his best ever.

Later on I had arranged a bit of a get together online with the same friends that I would have spent the weekend with. This worked out very well actually, with us all being able to have headsets on and chatter away with online text chat to help with any web links or things to see. We did speak about how many cover versions there are on the Commodore 64 with me pointing out the main theme from Dune by Toto (make that one tune of the day being covered on the Commodore 64 game Pandora by Firebird. We did also spot many others along the line and had a good discussion that if an original artist doesn't think something on computers is a cover, then it's that view that's above all else, surely.

We all had beer as accompaniment, and it was really nice to be able to chatter for ages - lots of football discussion, whether I should get a 1541-Ultimate II for my Commodore (the answer being yes) as well as plenty of thought about how to end the football season if we had to. It really did help to make up for the fact we weren't together and we admitted that we know it'l be a long time before we do meet up, but when we do it is going to be a stormer of a weekend all round, that is for sure. It did go far too quickly though and so I'm sure that's a reflection on how easy conversation flows, and how much we all appreciated that too.

Friday 24th April - Packaging Power

One of my colleagues at work had asked me if there was any opportunity to look at packaging an application that would read .msg message files that wasn't effectively Outlook. Part of the reasoning for this is that as part of email and other migration, users might receive said attachments but don't necessarily have Microsoft Office installed to open it. So I had looked at a few options with him and we agreed that one of the free viewers out there did the job, and it wasn't too difficult to install by the look of it. Of course, I wanted to be sure it could be correctly packaged as an application for MECM, and off to work I set.

Thankfully, it looked like the installer was created with InnoSetup, and what was more, the silent installation switch of VERYSILENT worked a treat - it installed to the default folder required, didn't launch after install, and was nice and quick. In fact, the uninstall with the same switch worked too, so it was good to be able to see that working and working well. I for one definitely found it useful to be able to get that tested, with a suitable detection method employed, and then packaged up nicely and tested. My colleague also tested it too and he was pleased with the result - an epic win all round, and that way it makes sense to get that readied.

Also, after yesterday's afternoon of online training with Snow Inventory, I knew that there was an examination to take as well for the Snow Licence Manager User - most of the online training had been for that and the extra session yesterday backed that up. The exam was basically a series of multiple choice questions where you needed to get either one correct answer or in some cases more than one answer. You did have three attempts if needed to pass, however I am pleased to report that I passed first go and got a very good pass mark as well, and was even emailed a certificate later in the day to confirm that I had passed too - so another string to the bow.

It was good to end the week on a positive note all round, and The Love In My Heart was going to head to Asda later after work to do some shopping, only that the queue was horrendous, so off she went to Aldi instead, which by all accounts was a much nicer experience. I did need some lunches for working at home later on, so decided to head to Asda much later. There was no queue whatsoever, straight in, and got all what I needed without any fuss. I think inevitably that Friday after work is a usual peak but leaving it a couple of hours later really does pay dividends in terms of being able to get what was needed, happy days all round.

Flushed with that success, we snuggled up and ended up watching Gogglebox as we normally do on a Friday evening. It was good to take the minds off the current situation to be honest, and it really did show with that Netflix show where a load of people ended up on a place where they couldn't have any form of sexual contact, and how they broke the rules constantly and the money went down that they could win. It showed the selfishness of trashy television too which made most of the families chuckle quite a bit. As for tune of the day I did have Absolute 80s on earlier, and the New Order classic True Faith got an airing, so an easy decisionr really for me.

Thursday 23rd April - Snow In The Big Night In

It was a day of two halves today - the first half being this afternoon and me undertaking the Snow Inventory online training. I had already done the pre-requisite modules online during the week, but the afternoon online seminar was all about being able to effectively listen in to some demonstrations and show what functionality that there is, along with some useful revision for the online test that you need to do as well in order to pass the examination. For me at least it was good that all the learning was still fresh in the memory, and so would be able to be achieved well and without too much fuss. That was my theory at least, but we shall see.

Unfortunately, it did also mean having to use Zoom - a product I loathe - for the session. The main reason for my utter disdain for this product isn't any usability settings per se - although having to have a client present in most cases is unwieldy - but the fact that I don't trust its security, or lack of, one bit. I'm always wary of anything where there's not enough security applied, and certainly for me it was a bit of trepidation involved to be honest. However, it seemed to work okay and at least I was able to participate, but needless to say that pile of bobbins got removed the moment the session had been completed.

Talking of bobbins, I did also get an email from the Withnells Brewery yesterday. At long, long last they had finally agreed a way to be able to order the two officially licenced Frank Sidebottom ales online and to be ordered. Naturally I alerted a couple of friends and indeed The Love In My Heart because I know she wanted to get me some last year, but wasn't able to, so it might be a nice incentive to do so. The Not Bobbins Bitter and the Timperley Rhubarb Ale (of course from the greengrocer on the corner) are available, so of course will have to give them a go. You know you must, you really must. Thank you.

I decided to treat The Love to some Chinese takeaway tonight, and we ordered again from Buddha Express who have been very good. It was crispy shredded beef in schezuan sauce and crispy chicken in Kung Po sauce, both of which were rather nice all round and really did the business. We settled in too to watch The Big Night In on BBC One, which had some good moments and Stephen Fry linking to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pleased The Love, and in good time for the weekly clap for carers, being led by William and Kate, which was good. You can't help but admire them for being a part of it to be honest, whether you like the royals or not.

Of course there were some fab moments - Little Britain being resurrected from home with Matt Lucas and David Walliams, even doing the likes of Lou and Andy, the ladies, and of course the two old dears who throw up when anything that they eat is made from someone not of their liking! I must admit though David Walliams doing Dennis Waterman is still my favourite bit, and proved to be so here (cue I Could Be So Good For You being tune of the day) - and on the whole lots to keep everyone entertained. Naturally I'd have liked to have seen more key workers during the Amarillo replay, but still it was good and at least cheered everyone up at a time like this.

Wednesday 22nd April - Sewing Bee

Tonight was something of a welcome distraction, and what The Love In My Heart and myself had been waiting for to come back on the telly for a number of weeks now - The Great British Sewing Bee! Thankfully it had all been filmed and wrapped up before all of the current lockdown, which meant that it could be shown in full. In fact, this series had a number of considerable changes, the main one being the move over to BBC One from BBC Two. It seems that the programme was popular enough to get it moved over, and it also shows how the fact that people always seem to take it more seriously if on there than BBC Two, which I still find bizarre.

The other major change was the fact that the number of contestants had increased from ten to twelve, meaning two more weeks of challenges unless they planned to get rid of two at the same time, but the fact it said ten episodes meant it'd be one per week throughout. The Love and I have been past where it is filmed in Bermondsey and have even seen the roof terrace from the railway line into London Bridge, so of course that gives me more of a sense of realism knowing it was filmed somewhere where textiles were being made at the time too. I guess as it's not that far from central London it makes sense also. So what would happen, we thought.

The first challenge was a wrap around skirt, a good challenge to get them up and running. Some were better than others, and to me it seemed as if there were some which panicked a bit too much, or took too much time over faffing abour with the pattern. Inevitably, those that did didn't look so complete, but the best one was Peter's with the faces print on - it looked stylish and smart, and he really upped his game on the transformation challenge, going very Vivienne Westwood with the shirt into a womenswear outfit change. It was smart and sassy and we liked what he had done with it - and seemed a pretty good bloke too.

The made to measure was a vintage style tea dress, dating from the 1930s, and as one of the contestants Clare was much into that sort of era anyway, she had to be a shoe in to do well - and did do well. I also liked the more 1990s grunge look design as done by Liz, very much a throwback to her student days. And to add joy, the superb Dress by PJ Harvey playing when the dress was being shown - tune of the day for me without any doubt. It was excellent and that for me was up there with one of the best, good on her I say. Some though were not so good and clearly time was the issue for me.

It was really for The Love and I down to two who could have gone home, Angillia who seemed to be up against it time wise, and Alex, who was just very untidy all round. It was a close call but in the end Angillia went - and I think Alex was a very relieved man all round. I still of course wish that the delightful Claudia Winkleman was hosting it, but Joe Lycett is decent. I have to say though Esme Young really does seem to have a little bit of a darker witty side about her, a bit cheeky too, which I really like. I suspect that the chemistry with Joe works well there, with Patrick Grant attempting to be all smooth and debonaire for those that adore him. A good start overall.

Tuesday 21st April - Snooker Cat

It was another day working from home for me, and another day spent in the company of Brian the cat of course. To be fair, Brian has been very good all day, mainly sleeping during the morning and then having a walk around the flat during the afternoon. Today was no exception as he tends to spend time at the bedroom window looking out and keeping an eye on the birds outside as well as any other cats - although the tabby cat or the black and white cat didn't show up which meant he wasn't going to hiss and snarl around, which was good. I do adore Brian when he is in relaxed mode, his face looks so cute when he is like that.

In the afternoon I had the television on in the background for another bit of clasic snooker. As the World Championship would have been on if normal service was assumed, instead there's been a series of Crucible Classics on BBC Two, which is filling the gap. Today was an epic semi final in 2014 between Mark Selby and Neil Robertson, with a close match throughout and some quality snooker too. Now, when the snooker is on, Brian the cat often watches the television and keeps an eye on it. He was sat in his box and perched up looking towards the television today, hence he is the snooker cat of course.

It's somewhat ironic too, as one of the regulars at the Crucible, the one with the Coventry City retro shirt, is Brian Wright, so Brian the cat shares the same name. I must admit though that we were able to enjoy the match, and of course it was a 17-15 win for Selby but in an absolute epic. He would later go on to win the tournament as well in an epic final so that definitely was one to remember and enjoy - but still. It's filled some of the gap during the day rather nicely, so for me it's keeping going and having more meetings later on too, to end the day well and be motivated too.

I got some ironing sorted after work before The Love In My Heart arrived home from work, and having been to Asda first thing this morning to get some ingredients, The Love made a really superb meal all round - it was chicken in a tomato sauce, with tomato chunks, all with the chicken baked in mozzarella and some roast potatoes on the side. It was a beautiful recipe and one that The Love had perfected over the years but I hadn't had before. It was stunning. I must admit that one thing that I've been fortunate to have is some lovely food prepared by The Love - she's an excellent cook and does enjoy cooking - and I've made the odd thing for her too.

Later in the evening we watched the fifth episode of Line of Duty, and so the theme tune from Carly Paradis is tune of the day - and it is all getting to a head at the end of Series Two especially with some tense interviews throughout. I definitely like the way that it shows the development of both Arnott and Fleming as main characters and a real sense of togetherness attempting to resolving what the situation was. It all leads up to the series that really did make it big time when it moved over to BBC One for series three, but without all of that foundation it wouldn't necessarily have got to where it was.

Monday 20th April - Just Another Not So Manic Monday

Do I wish it was Sunday? Perhaps. But at the same time it's another week at work and another time to get more forward planning for the next few weeks, with some important dates for migrations planned, and some other well worked plans in action. So effectively now any machine with older versions of Windows 10 will get upgraded to Windows 10 1909, so was keeping an eye on that and making sure machines were receiving the update, and downloading them and being readied for installation. On the whole it appeared to be working pretty well, so will be monitoring that as much as I can and getting things sorted.

Not just that though. I've also been gathering statistics on how one of our clients were deploying for our inventory, and the numbers look pretty good. As I predicted, it would make sense that more clients will come online this week and receive it, and then report back. What I can see from the reports back so far is that the tweaks we have in place are working on the overnight runs, and the main database is being correctly populated accordingly as we wish to as well. It's all about tieing things up well now, but there's definite progress which makes me feel pretty happy. I am making things work well.

After lunch I had a little walk around the local park, mainly to get some fresh air and also to be able to keep up some exercise too. I must admit that the two walks I did over the weekend were good and were useful, but am always wary of being out with too many people at the same time, and so I can distance correctly and do the right thing. I really appreciate the small amount of time that I have for this, and it does also mean that Brian the cat gets some more sleep as well during the day which he does really relish. He was able to have some rest and be able to chill out and I had some Absolute 80s on too.

It was pretty nice to have that on whilst working and helped pass the time at work well, including the classic Blancmange single Living On The Ceiling (make that one tune of the day as it is a real classic an does mention the immortal line of up the bloody tree as well) - and there were plenty of others which were good too, the likes of Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, New Order and plenty more. Certainly for me it was a positive to be able to power through the rest of the day and get plenty done, so that was good. I know that The Love has been busy with her work too and I think for her there's some normality there.

In the evening, The Love In My Heart and me had a relaxed evening. The Love made some rather nice burgers complete with crispy toasted buns, and also was good to have with some chips too. We did settle in later for Mastermind and we surprised ourselves by doing very well on the general knowledge, and I even got a few right on some of the specialist subjects too, including three on Grayson Perry. I felt pleased and just wish Only Connect was still on to be able to exercise the mental brain a bit more, but will have to wait for the next series whenever that is able to be recorded and then shown. I do adore Victoria Coren Mitchell as host, she is very witty on that.

Sunday 19th April - Race Across South America

It was good for both myself and The Love In My Heart to have a lie in and we both felt the benefit of a good night's sleep. Brian the cat of course was doing his usual sit on the pillow and purr loudly with contentment as he got his prime spot as he usually does. I got up and left them to it, and Brian just snuggled even more up to his Mummy. He's a really clingy cat sometimes which really shows at times like this too. Needless to say though give him some Dreamies and he does become a rather happy cat, thankfully. And of course allowing him to play out on the front decking too.

We had some lovely breakfast and I decided to get showered and changed and give The Love some quality time with Brian whilst I went for another exercise walk. I decided to head further along the Ashton Canal path, so this time heading up the locks, passing the lock I had crossed over yesterday and keeping going, heading under Edge Lane, passing fields on one side and then towards the Fairfield Junction, where the canal turns right but also a left into a basin at the centre of Droylsden. Once I'd turned right and came up at the bridge it was a short walk to the centre of Droylsden, timing it for the tram back.

Sensibly, the trams had been reduced in service and the majority of those on board were actually going to the large Asda for their shopping and had recycled bags at the ready too. I think for me it was good to see with less services, the trams were all double trams which of course means a better chance of social distancing when on board too - which is how it worked out well. I arrived back at The Love's place, and she was sat in the sunshine with Brian the cat playing out. It was so lovely to see him being so relaxed and happy, and I settled in with a coffee ready for the afternoon.

The afternoon had another of the Crucible Classics matches at 3pm, which was Hazel Irvine introducing extended highlights of the 1982 World Championship final, as Alex Higgins took on Ray Reardon. The final was played the latest ever at the Crucible, ending 16th May, and it was a titanic scrap with the attention all pockets approach of Higgins contrasting with Reardon's more measured way. Needless to say it was close all the way through and ended up at 15-15 before Higgins won the last three, doing a total 135 clearance in the final frame to win the match, and an impressive performance. Cue the crying for his baby at the end, and impressive match it was too.

Later on it was on with Race Across The World on BBC2, which we've loved from the start. In the second series, it's been from Central to South America, and with the teams in Ilha Grande in Brazil, it was back across towards Argentina. This time though money levels were critical and I suspect there may even be one of the teams pulling out before the end if they need to. Part of me thinks making them go across to expensive Brazil was the main reason for that instead of going straight down, so not sure if that was a wise move on the producer's part. Still, it was a case of seeing what would happen to them as they went down.

Getting out of Brazil into Paraguay went one pair, and they managed to earn a bit by cleaning some luxury yachts in where seemed to be the South American equivalent of Monaco, but of course that meant staying there was dear too, so swings and roundabouts. I do think though that the last leg could be close and may depend on who's been money smart, so that Jen may have been complaining at Rob for being budget conscious, but his smartness might win when needed. In the meantime tune of the day is the Brazilian national anthem, as it's uplifting when you hear it and reminds me of the legendary Ayrton Senna, a mural of which was spotted by one of the teams too.

Saturday 18th April - Bargains at Home Bargains

It was another lie in this morning as it had been seemingly a long week at work even though it was four days. The Love was all snuggly with Brian the cat, so best to leave them to it and watch the next of the classic F1 races uploaded, in full, by the Formula 1 official Youtube channel. This time is was the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, which features tons of rain and not many finishers (six to be exact, so all scored points) and an absolute demonstration of skill in that weather by Michael Schumacher, picking his way through to lead and not looking back.

In fact, only Jean Alesi and Jacques Villeneuve finished on the same lap, albeit a minute or so behind, and that was with Schumacher doing two pit stops as opposed to one by the other two. The rain was continuous and so many drivers were caught out. I did feel gutted for Rubens Barrichello who could have had a podium finish if the car hadn't have broken down after the pit stop, and it was the first time Pedro Diniz scored a point too in the Ligier - this a couple of races after Olivier Panis had of course won in Monaco in rain and then drying conditions. So really good to look back, and yes, Murray Walker commentary too.

Later on I decided that a good walk would be needed, as part of my daily one allowed piece of exercise. I was going to walk down the Ashton Canal as far as some of the shops near Edge Lane in Clayton, the idea being I could couple both things together. It's quite nice walking along the canal actually and it was at least green and scenic, if a little colder than it has been - although wearing my bigger coat did keep me warm it has to be said. It was good to head along there and cross the bridge over the lock at the closed Strawberry Duck pub, and then cross over the canal and to the main road.

Part of me was tempted to head into Aldi, but there was a queue and I've done enough supermarket queues at the moment. Home Bargains though wasn't busy at all and so I went in there for a look around. They had a good selection of toiletries and so on, but also food, and most of all, beer. The nice thing is that they always get good real ales in and at a very good price, so I had a good mooch there. I ended up getting four bottles for one pound each - the Sadlers Sorcerer and Hop Bomb, and the Salcombe Devon Amber and Shingle Bay. Cracking selection all round anyway, plenty more I could have had.

I took the walk down the main road back to The Love's place, and it was good to see Brian the cat having his play out, although he saw the little black and white cat and started hissing, which wasn't good. Later on we settled in for the evening and watched some of Britain's Got Talent - the young magician was good, but the unicyclist was mental, particularly the really high one that had him miles above the ground - if he fell, that was going to be lethal. Thankfully not, but shows just the extent people will go. I think as well for me and The Love it gives us a welcome distraction from other events.

I did feel rather sad today because this would have been the day that the World Snooker Championship would have started at the Crucible Theatre, and me possibly going there to see the action unfold, with Rob Walker getting the boys on the baize, and Hazel Irvine being as brilliant a presenter as usual. Needless to say the proper snooker theme (Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band) is of course tune of the day - more so when the Beeb are showing older Crucible classics, such as Tony Knowles panning Steve Davis in the first round back in 1982, perhaps the best example of the infamous Crucible Curse.

Friday 17th April - Positivity

Today for a number of reasons did feel rather positive, it has to be said. The first part of the day was spent running some checks on some of the recently upgraded Windows 10 clients, and all appeared well with them with the update going well on them. I was able to verify from the log files that the main update files were coming from Microsoft Update, but the metadata as to what updates were needed still controlled from our main MECM server. Pretty good when it works and shows that we've been able to ensure that things work the right way when we need to - and for me a good win.

I was also able to sort out a plan of action and complete it in good time for the Windows 10 build revisions I plan to do next week. So the Microsoft Office 365 revisions were done, and only for those that need it in future, and also we'll be scaling back on the use of OneDrive as it won't be needed, so in effect I utilised a previously well known way of removing the startup for OneDrive from the default user's profile, which meant that it won't install either. It'll just mean that we get things updated the right way going forward but also as a part move towards our longer goals too.

It definitely has felt rather good overall to be able to keep an eye on Brian the cat as I have been working from home, and Brian in fact was all good. He was mainly sat on the bed and being all chilled out, coming in to the front room only to sit in a little box that he has and insist that I bounce the ball towards him so he could paw it away cleverly. He does see it as a little bit of exercise although it has to be said that he does like to lie down a lot of the time and be all comfortable, so there is something about him being a real creature of habit too.

I decided that it'd be good to have takeaway tonight as a little Friday night treat. It's a shame that the local Chinese isn't open, but instead we used Deliveroo to order from the local Pizza Hut not far from us. Bizarrely the Pizza Hut web site itself doesn't deliver to The Love's postcode despite using the same branch - which is odd. Still, with deals for one selected twice over - with different sides so we can share, order placed, order came, and all good. The meat feast I had was rather excellent and that definitely was well worth it, along with the chicken strips.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I had some fun with Brian the cat as he wanted to play ball, again, and bounced it towards him. He bounced it back right in the direction of The Love and her glass of wine - and he looked so cute doing it to say the least. We later then watched Gogglebox as we normally do, with the Kodaline theme tune tune of the day as we saw what they had been watching this week - and some dramatic things at that such as that bizarre contortionist on Britain's Got Talent for one - I didn't like seeing that when it was on and the reaction was the same as when we saw it originally.

Thursday 16th April - Problems Solved

It was a case of problem solving today and assisting with some of my colleagues in our Service Team with an issue that they had with one of the Windows machines - in that it simply refused to install the VPN client, and so as such could not connect to the VPN. Normally a reinstall works fine, so it was definitely something amiss. An install showed that it got so far in the progress bar and then rolled back, which wasn't ideal of course. After a bit of chat online with text based chat and listening to Soft Cell's classic version of Tainted Love - make that tune of the day I decided to join a conference call.

We had established that an installation was failing, but at the same time I needed to dig deeper. In fact, that took some time, as I was breaking down the parts of the installation, and took a look at a working install to see what would possibly be a cause. Then, spotting some drivers contained within the installation were the ones that may be attempted to be installed, I could see if they could be individually installed - and that was a no. However, the failure message that was there gave me an idea, and so delved into the Windows registry to see what I could find.

That finding actually helped me determine what the issue was. The user had mentioned that the battery had ran out on the laptop when connected to the VPN previously, and I therefore suggested a driver crash. Both of the drivers contained are kernel level drivers, so normally should be removed on uninstall. However, one of the two drivers that were left were actually still present in the registry and therefore attempting to load on startup - and maybe that failure was causing the install issue. So, I removed the registry and then restarted the machine - and once done, it then allowed a client reinstall and the user connected to the VPN. Winning!

It definitely was a positive start to the day and that positive continued throughout the day as I did a further road test of upgrading an older version of Windows 10 using the in-place upgrade to the 1909 version - and after an initial test with a colleague on an older machine, I expanded the test, and that was working well from what I could see too. It for me definitely was a huge positive that I was making inroads the right way, and that for me was really good. I love it when a good plan comes together, as some famous TV series might say.

In the evening, The Love In My Heart and I had a relaxing evening on the whole, first of all seeing George Clarke turn a house in Bromley into a real home with some lovely design ideas, includng a slatted timber frame to divide some of the open plan space so to allow light but still define its dimension, but also the kitchen and island was really good. I have to say for me it was very good and that made me realise just how much you can transform things well if you have the right planning, ideas, and motivation (and naturally money too of course.)

Wednesday 15th April - Remembering

It was good to be able to head up this morning and see what had been happening overnight, and it turned out that Owain Wyn Evans, the North West Tonight weather presenter, had performed his own take on the BBC News theme. Some of you may remember the Bill Bailey rave version from one of his live shows. Well, Owain is a drummer, and so he decided to move the drum kit up to the front room and to be able to add drums to the news theme in that way - and excellent it was too. Move over Bill, and tune of the day for me definitely.

I did also spend some time this afternoon to take a few minutes out a around 3pm and pause for thought, and remember a fateful day some thirty one years ago, when a disaster happened at Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday's ground, and where 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives. Ever since then it's been a case of those families pursuing justice, and although the fight goes on, the fans have at least been exonerated of any blame, which was quite right of course. For all football fans, moments such as this, Munich in 1958, Bradford in 1985 are moments to pause and reflect.

I think too that it's important to see that even in these dark times, there's some good to still come out in this world. Needless to say, seeing Captain Tom Moore live on the Victoria Derbyshire segment of the BBC News, hitting a massive five million pounds raised for the NHS for his walk, was a wonderful moment. It reflects well on the captain of course but also the genorosity of everyone who has all contributed and shows that how much heart people have for the NHS, and how much they want to support it no matter what - something this Government should take very significant note of.

It's also been a day where I've managed to get a few things sorted too, so moving forward we're redoing the Office 365 configuration for any user's machine that still needs it in future. I had had suitable discussion yesterday and was able to determine which components to keep, so went through the packaging wizard in MECM, took all the necessary screen shots, and got things created and distributed ready for a planned change next week, so interesting times ahead methinks. I was just pleased to get into something I could get processed and done.

Brian the cat was good for the day, and the only incident he had was when a black and white little cat walked past. The Love In My Heart and I have seen the same cat a few times in the last couple of weeks, and she seems to walk past the window and just want to say hello and be a friend. Brian though clearly marks his territory and was a bit on the hissing side when he saw the little cat. I do wish sometimes that he would relax a little bit and actually be able to play with other cats, but I guess he's been so used to being spoilt by his Mummy now.

Tuesday 14th April - Who Wants To Be A Coughing Millionaire

It was back to work after the Easter weekend, and a really good day all round considering. I had been monitoring one of the deployments of our inventory client at the moment, and that appeared to be going pretty well. I have also been able to work out where some clients were taking time to report in, primarily because they may not have been switched on at the point of being able to report, but also playing catch up. Monitoring the database back end I could see those clients now reporting in as well, so I guessed that it was catch up.

I also had noted that the number of upgraded Win10 machines were working pretty well too - I knew that I had a fair number be ready to be restarted over the Easter period, and as they came back online, all was going well there. It's been pretty positive so far in being able to get things up and running too, so that has helped me work out and prioritise the day nicely, in between sorting out Brian the cat when the tabby cat walks past. Brian does get a little agitated but then calms down once the tabby cat has passed.

Later on The Love In My Heart arrived, and as we needed a few bits to go with the evening meal, I headed across to the local Asda. There was a reasonable queue and it moved reasonably well, so was able to get in and peruse what was needed. It was pretty quiet all told and the people numbers control was working well. I soon headed through the till with all what was needed and got back to The Love and Brian in good time for the spaghetti bolognaise and garlic bread for tea, rather good all round.

As we had watched the finale of The Nest on BBC One last night, we had missed the first episode of Quiz on ITV, with Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant and Matthew Macfadyen as Major Charles Ingram. The first episode set the tone well as to how Celador approached ITV with the plan for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, even with its poor title of Cash Mountain originally. It really did give a backdrop to the initial showings and how it all worked - and how there were some attempting to get on multiple times too.

On the second episode, it was the time for Charles to appear on the show, and the team were convinced he was going to do rubbish based on the two lifelines used prior. As the recording continued, the sound engineer and floor manager noticed something wrong and of course that was really well done, with the drama coming up to the final question and how that panned out. It sets the scene nicely for the court appearance in the final episode, and as the show is still on in the UK with Jeremy Clarkson presenting, the theme tune is tune of the day.

Monday 13th April - Canal Conundrum

After a nice lie in this morning, both The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat were all being sleepy and so I decided to get up and leave them to it, especially as Brian had decided to get on to the pillow and do his customary purr towards his Mummy in order to have a cuddle. It's something I've been used to but it's always nice to see just how much Brian really does get a bit clingy where his Mummy is concerned - more so when Tabby did his walk past earlier too as Brian was totally on it to say the least.

After some breakfast and coffee, we decided to take a walk along the Ashton Canal which runs close to The Love's place, primarily because it would be a good walk to do but also to ensure we got some exercise and fresh air along the way. We joined the canal round the corner, and walked under the bridge to the Velodrome and the tram line before then following up the locks and towards another road, and a pub on the corner by the canal too. It was a bit windy but the fresh air was at least a positive, and it was very quiet.

Some more walking resulted in a few more locks and at a junction where there was a bridge over a little side part of the canal, but we could also join the cycleway 60 as well. We did that and followed it round for a little while, although further would have taken us to the likes of Abbey Hey and Debdale along a disused railway line. We headed off that and followed a path that took us to Greenside Street, and we could follow this road back towards the Manchester City training complex, and follow the fence back towards the canal.

It was a good walk all told and we then headed back towards The Love's place, and noted that the queue for the local Asda was mental, so instead we headed to The Love's place, and she headed off to one of the local shops to get some essentials (which was doable) - so worked out pretty well too. I think we both appreciated the walk and had plenty of time and space to chat about normal things instead which was a welcome and worthwhile distraction too. We both appreciated that I think, so definitely can recommend that if you have somewhere close to walk by.

Later on The Love made a lovely tea which was some sirloin steak, chips and peas and mushrooms with some lovely peppercorn sauce. Brian the cat was outside but we had to get him in pretty quickly when Tabby cat showed up and Brian wasn't happy about that, hissing as he often does. Tabby just walked on like "yeah, whatever" and strolled effortlessly - as Tabby does. It reminded me of the old Liam Lynch song United States of Whatever, so that definitely is tune of the day - short, punchy and punky.

Sunday 12th April - Hoppy Easter

It was a rather different Easter Sunday today, for fairly obvious reasons. The Love In My Heart had a well earned lie in, and I also was fairly chilled out watching some old telly on the likes of BBC iPlayer as well. I had got The Love an Easter Egg - a nice Galaxy Truffle one at that, so she could enjoy some nice chocolate over the Easter period. Brian the cat of course wanted his play time and so was outside on the decking keeping an eye out for what was going on. Needless to say he spotted a little black and white cat and was on it, as he usually is of course.

In fact we decided that staying in was sensible - the shops were shut anyway because of Easter Sunday (and no one even attempted to drive towards the local Asda either) - and it was a case of just spending some quality time together during the day. We spent some time having a really nice cafitiere of coffee as I had got some Costa coffee for it, and that did taste really nice. We also had a game of Scrabble too, and that really was nice to do as we both played some good moves and scored well. The sun was out too but we were being sensible and not heading anywhere for safety.

Later in the day we decided to continue along with the second series of Line of Duty, so we would watch the series in order and catch up again on the whole plot before hopefully Series 6 resumes filming and becomes a transmission later in the year. Keeley Hawes is of course brilliant as Lindsay Denton as of course are the likes of Martin Compston and Vicky McClure too. Definitely it was well worth a good watch to remind us both - and the different hair style of Vicky's character Kate was something to note too. If you have never seen it yourselves I can recommend a watch from the start too.

It was time for one of The Love's special signature dishes later on, which she had all the ingredients for - a chicken casserole with potatoes, carrots and a really nice creamy sauce, made by hand as well. Of course, any sight of raw chicken and Brian is on it, and needless to say he had a little bit beforehand. He lapped it up, a perfect accompaniment to the tuna he had for his tea. I loved the casserole - utterly gorgeous as well. I am so pleased and lucky I have someone who is a superlative cook.

We also watched The Nest on BBC One later, which was rather good too - and the theme tune of which is tune of the day as it sets the tone perfectly for the drama ahead. It was an episode of revelations to say the least, but one that also leaves it perfectly for the cliff hanger that will be tomorrow night's episode. Realistically as well it'll be a shame when it finishes as it had been a perfect Sunday night bit of telly to us before we snuggle up together, and it's now been over three Sundays that we've done that.

Saturday 11th April - Priti Vacant

It was a nice lie in for us both this morning after all, as Brian the cat had got up earlier than expected and had seen another cat at the window - it was a younger and thinner version of Brian, same sort of colours and more white underneath, with a whiter face. I noted the other day this cat appears to have a collar on, and so as such must have a home somewhere, but at the same time appears to like playing out and wandering on to the decking at the front, looking for Brian. I think this cat would happily have a cuddle from me or The Love, but that depends if it's allowed by Brian of course!

I was sorting out a few things and emails, and hopefully getting a few things sorted towards a re-arrangement of some future travel, and The Love headed over to see her father. It was a short visit, distancing observed, and checking he was okay. He did also seem according to The Love a little bit chirpier today, but as he's also got carers in at the moment it was a case of checking in between, and at least he would be able to have some company which in these times I know is appreciated a lot. I was fairly chilled and just watching some old F1 clips to keep myself occupied.

Later on whilst The Love was doing her cleaning (which means Brian goes and hides as he does not like the noise of the vacuum cleaner) I decided to take my allowed exercise for the day, walking through one of the local parks and on to Clayton Vale. I followed the main path to the South of the River Medlock all the way to the far end, exiting and climbing up Berry Brow to the railway level crossing, then following the path through the Vale back left which took you by the railway line, on to the former Clayton Mineral Railway and then back down towards the local park. It was fairly warm but a nice walk to take.

Noticably today the Government's daily update was chaired by the Home Secretary Priti Patel. She has been noticably absent over the last few weeks and didn't take kindly to one question posed as to where she had been. Her monotone delivery of what was happening wasn't great, and although it is right to raise the issue of increases in domestic violence at the moment, it didn't sound like she cared. Even worse when someone asked her for those in the NHS that have sadly died, if she would apologise for the lack of PPE, she was vacant at best and dismissive of the question almost. Absolutely awful.

This of course compares starkly with New Zealand and the wonderful leader that they have in Jacinda Ardern. She not only implemented lockdown early, but also has kept everyone updated and led from the front to explain in a sensible and fair way why they were doing so. The result? A mere four deaths. That's four out of five million compared to almost ten thousand out of sixty five million. Not difficult to work out where lockdown was early, less deaths - Greece and Taiwan being two other examples. And that makes me really angry at how the lack of actions has led to the state we're in now.

In the evening it was a nice relaxed night in with The Love, and we had some beef bourbignon for tea with some dauphinoise potatoes and carrots, all very nice. The Love also had a bottle of prosecco so we shared that and then Brian the cat wanted playtime, so we let him out onto the decking and I watched old school Guitar Heroes at the BBC on Yesterday. It was fascinating to see some older performances, not least Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower (make that one tune of the day as it's excellent) - and many others which made me want to think about how nice it would be to rock out at a gig in the future.

Friday 10th April - The Long Lie-In Good Friday

It was a long week, more longer for The Love In My Heart than myself, so it was sensible that a lie-in was needed for her, and for me I did have a good sleep but felt it best to leave her to relax with Brian the cat all snuggled on the bed. I instead had an idea what I could do for the morning - and that was to watch a classic Formula 1 race that is on their official Youtube channel. I did see the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix last week which was ace, and so it was another great race from that era - the 1997 European Grand Prix from Jerez in Spain, which was the final round of the championship and a showdown between Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher.

Of course the qualifying for that race was the stuff of legends in F1, as three drivers all got the same time to the nearest one thousandth of a second - the aforementioned Villeneuve and Schumacher, but also Heinz-Harald Frentzen in the other Williams. It was amazing stuff, and whoever set the time first got pole, which was Villeneuve. It was set beautifully for a titanic scrap and Murray Walker with Martin Brundle were proving to be a formidable commentary pairing - even better than Murray and James Hunt. All set, and it was go go go go!

Schumacher took the lead at the first corner, and stayed in front through the first round of pit stops - and even though he had help from the Sauber of Norberto Fontana to hold up Villeneuve, it was pretty close coming in to the second round of pit stops. After the second tyre stop it seemed Schumacher was having brake issues and setting slower times, and Villeneuve closed up - and overtook, only for Schumacher to deliberately turn in. As Martin Brundle put it "That didn't work Michael, that hit the wrong part of him my friend" - and indeed Schumacher was beached in the gravel.

Villeneuve took care of the ailing car, revealing years later in an interview that one of the battery cables was hanging loose and overdriving the car would have caused it to fail. On the last lap Mika Hakkinen overtook and won, with David Coulthard second and Villeneuve third and a title winner. Epic stuff, and the classic Formula 1 guitar intro music of the 1990s is tune of the day - it set the scene well and this broadcast even had the bits in between the commercial breaks that ITV didn't show at the time. That passed the morning well and allowed some well earned sleep for The Love.

In the afternoon it was a nice relaxed chilled out time with Brian the cat, and we had the chairs out sat on the decking in the front of The Love's place. The sun was out and Brian was also playing out too, so made for a nice afternoon and fairly relaxed. It certainly was nice to be able to do that and later on it was on with House of Games, and we did do quite well in the rounds, especially Answer Smash at the end. I was quite pleased that Naga Munchetty won over the week, and she is quite witty - even more so than when on BBC Breakfast as well.

Thursday 9th April - All In The Line of Duty

The final working day of the week, due to the Easter weekend upon us, and throughout the day plenty of public information announcements effectively telling us not to go out over the Easter weekend, despite what appears to be rather nice weather outside. It certainly was the case today but I know that to be safe, I need to be inside as much as possible, save for a walk for my daily exercise should I require it. I've spent a fair bit of today finalising some plans for contributions to projects over the next few months, and also able to work out where I'm at and what might happen over the next few weeks or so. As you can imagine, it's unusual times.

In hindsight, being with The Love In My Heart prior to the lockdown was a sensible move - it does at least mean we can keep each other company but also as well be able to support each other - and have Brian the cat to fuss over and to keep occupied. He decided mid afternoon that he wanted to play ball with me quite a bit, which is nice of him really. He does approve of me bouncing the ball to him so he can just paw it away and get some little exercise that he does. I think too that although I am no substitute for his Mummy (understatement there) I do believe that at least I've been able to work well and to adjust to the current working regime a bit more.

I also decided to check in with three of my friends who would have been staying at my place in two weeks time for a great weekend of beer, retro gaming and natter, but naturally that all had to be postponed until a future date, whenever that might be. I for one know that it's good to keep in touch and that we've been able to at least get the trains sorted out for refunds et al, and for me that's important to get right and do the right thing - and no matter when we do meet, I know it'll be a great celebration, perhaps more so than usual to be honest, with great company and plenty of fun along the way. Because that's what we all miss, that social contact we're not allowed to have.

Later on The Love arrived from work with the good news that she doesn't have to be working tomorrow - it could have been on, but it was decided it wasn't feasible to do so, so that was a relief - it means she can have a lie in tomorrow and I plan to leave her to that and to rest. We did decide though to order takeout tonight and use Just Eat, and ordered from Buddha Express on Upper Brook Street, and they delivered - and pretty quick too to be fair. We had the crispy beef in sweet and sour sauce and the chicken in OK sauce, both with egg fried rice, and that went down pretty well, and we enjoyed that. Just meant it was less hassle and more chill out time.

As it proved later on as we settled in for the final episode of Series 1 of Line of Duty, as we had decided to watch from the start again - and make Carly Paradis' excellent theme tune tune of the day - proper piano parts and dramatic drums really do work. It of course reminded me of some clues to later series, such as the golf club where Tommy had been apprehended but also the role that Dot Cottan would end up playing in later series. Interesting times ahead, and definitely you could sense the urban gritty nature as it was filmed around Birmingham originally (it moved to Belfast in later series). Also seeing Martin Compston in particular as a lot younger Steve Arnott reminded you of how much the series and actors have matured over time.

Wednesday 8th April - It Asda Be The Later Opening Hours

It was a good day today for me as we started to get the deployment of the Snow Inventory client out to machines, and in an agreed and phased way in order to preserve the network bandwidth via the VPN, and also to ensure that we would be able to monitor the deployment effectively too. In fact it's proved to be quite useful to do that anyway and worked out a good way of doing so. I saw no issues with any bandwidth and neither did our networks team so that was pretty nice to see overall to be honest. It makes me pleased to have worked things out and really does mean that we can still operate as close to normal as possible.

I was also able to monitor some of the machines that were for some reason getting an error when looking at updates, and found out the reason why, and it had been documented online by someone. I had to tweak things slightly, but in effect it was the fact that Group Policy had failed to apply properly, so it meant that the registry.pol file in the Windows system folders was corrupted. A rename of that, force a Group Policy update and run an update scan cycle, and all worked correctly as intended, which was really good to see to be honest. I'll write up what I found and document that accordingly but my hunch was correct.

The Love In My Heart was on an earlier shift today and so had finished earlier and that meant that she could relax at home for a bit whilst I was still working - which did feel a little surreal. I think she had been on lates most of the time so wasn't too bad as we didn't overlap. That said it was nice just to see her and Brian the cat having a play and Brian getting his usual fussing over, including him wanting to play ball with me as he usually does - and he loves that bouncing ball - a lot actually. Needless to say that kept me running around after him for a while once I had finished work too, which has to be something.

Later as The Love settled in to watch the soaps, I decided to take my allowed once a day exercise and combine that with the supermarket shopping at the local Asda at the same time. I had a good walk around one of the local parks, and followed one of the paths around the pond, then down to the former ampitheatre and around the cemetery and over the bridges, climbing back up to some old railway arches and then heading towards Asda. The local one had slightly extended its opening hours, and I don't think everyone was aware, so thought it sensible to head in and get a good amount of shopping without having to faff around and queue up.

And so it proved as well - and some relatively chilled out music at the same time including the likes of Never Too Much by Luther Vandross (The Love loves a bit of Luther, so tune of the day that one. I managed to not only get all my lunches for work next week, and indeed some nice food for tea over the weekend, but also some nice wine and some beers for me. I managed to get the Brewdog Clockwork Tangerine for one, along with some nice bottles including the Robinsons Kettlehead Stout, and the St Austell Proper Job, which I love to bits. Happy days, and later we snuggled up and watched another episode of Line of Duty.

Tuesday 7th April - Walking in Sunshine

It was a relatively early start for The Love In My Heart, and as I had also got up and showered and changed, it was time to head off to the local Asda for me to get some essentials. I figured that even if there was a small queue prior to the 8am opening, it should be relatively calm and I'd be able to get what I needed. That was exactly as it turned out, the queue went down well enough and I was in by around 8.05am. I also sped round as I knew exactly what was needed, and was soon heading back to The Love's place with what I'd got - so saved me a trip at lunch time effectively so I could use that time for a walk instead.

In fact the main overnight news was of the Prime Minister, and he had been moved to intensive care as part of his own battle against the dreaded COVID-19. As much as I may not be a fan of him, suffice to say that whatever your political opinion, you would not wish death on anyone in this situation. It's also quite scary to think that in effect it shows that no one is immune, and that we've all got to do our bit to contribute. I've been sticking rigidly to it, so only out for essentials and a once a day walk, which I have been doing to keep fit and not be sat at home all day at The Love's place.

So today at lunch time and with the weather being pretty good, I needed to walk to the local post box to post a birthday card, do did that first, and then walked down along one of the main roads to another road, and followed that towards the local park, following the path down to the former ampitheatre in the park before climbing back up to the exit near the canal, and then back over and homeward. The fresh air even if was warm was good, and at least I did get walking and do what I can. I think too that even though we can see out from the flat and have our own space, it's good just to take a walk and get some green space - something I know that is valued.

Also today I worked out a deployment plan for one of the pieces of software so as not to interfere with anything else at the moment, and came across a good split of machines to do that with, and base them on the client's local time. Effectively that would mean that it would be 9am at whatever time zone it is, spreading the load, and spread across six batches in all over two days so meaning that we'd keep everyone happy and be able to get things done but with full awareness. I do like that approach ultimately but it's a case of seeing what happens and then go from there.

The final thing is that I was able to listen to some more 80s tunes during the day and keep the spirits up as much as I could possibly do. Part of it for me is that music is a big part of me and my life, and being able to at least have that on means I don't feel as alone (although Brian the cat does his best to be all cutesy anyway.) In effect, it was a classic case of more one hit wonders too, so Men Without Hats came to mind with The Safety Dance, a tune I loved then (and still do) so tune of the day definitely. We can dance, we can dance, everybody look at your hands..

Monday 6th April - Back To The Future

So today it was the first real test of something I had planned, and tested and then tested some more before a go live situation. As it transpired, it meant that we were able to get some Windows updates out and deploy them slightly differently from normal, but still have a good level of control over how it all works. The good thing is thst I spent some time today creating a little diagram of how the data flow works, and it was nice to see our head of our netwroks team approved it and liked the idea - a lot. It made me feel positive that I was doing the right thing.

It's one thing that thankfully we have still managed to do despite the unusual work situation, and that is to work together and to be effective as a team despite the distance and despite varying degrees of network connectivity. For me at least it goes to show that making the move to my job in March last year was exactly the right decision to make, and one that I really needed to do in order to be able to better myself. I do think though in the long term that once we all are able to go back into the offices and enjoy a much speedier net connection, it means I can do a lot more, and test a lot more too.

I must admit what does keep me going during the day, as well as Brian the cat being cute, is the likes of Absolute 80s on the DAB radio keeping some nice tunes in tne background as I work. I must admit I went back to the future almost with the likes of Huey Lewis and the News with the classic The Power of Love from said film so obviously it is tune of the day for that reason. It was also nice to see that various unsung 80s heroes got a bit of a play too, tracks where you would think that you would remember it but only if you heard it. In any case keeping going right now makes a lot of sense, that's for sure.

The Love In My Heart was on her early shift and so had arrived home whilst I was still working from home, despite a diversion to Home Bargains to get some essentials along the way including some household items. She did make a very nice chicken in white wine sauce for tea with added mushrooms which was lovely, and this just made for a hearty meal together and plenty to chat about during the evening too as we were both catching up together. All of that stopped at 9pm though for the series finale of Liar on ITV, something which The Love had been glued to the telly for the last few weeks.

And as it turned out, it proved to be a very dramatic ending in the end, with it all playing out slightly differently from what you might expect. I'm not going to spoil it for you if you are watching on catch up, but suffice to say that both Joanne Froggatt and Catherine Tyldesley are both excellent in their roles, and it really did feel like the two of them had a good chemistry particularly towards the end. The Love really did enjoy it and with Brian the cat sat on the sofa in relaxed and calm approval before it was time to head to sleep ready for what the next day might bring us all.

Sunday 5th April - Clayton Vale and Cake


The Love In My Heart and I had a deserved lie in together, with Brian the cat deciding to join the end of the bed and just sleep there as his adorable self tends to do. It was good just to take things relatively easy and I had got up to watch some of the Andrew Marr show, including an interview with the new Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, where he came across really well to be honest. I liked his approach and it's something different from the previous Labour regime - the fact he was voted in at the first round says a lot about the way the party needs to change.

The Love had got out a baking kit ready to be able to do some home baking during the afternoon, and so I had decided that I would take the opportunity to do my one piece of allowed exercise per day under the Government guidelines, so was doing as I should and staying locally but managing a good workout. So I headed from The Love's place and off to Philips Park, heading down towards the River Medlock, and past the old ampitheatre area, and then over the bridge to the cemetery, walking along there towards the Catholic section and then taking the bridge back over and up the hill to the park again.

Once I had crossed the road I took the stairs up to the remains of the old Clayton Mineral Railway, and all the trees had been cut back making for a level and clear view across the city from here. It was then following the old route, and heading over the bridge and following the Victoria to Ashton railway line and along the edge of Clayton Vale before then dropping down towards the River Medlock again, this time following the river again and crossing over at a bridge crossing, back up a hill and steps to another dramatic valley view over the river, and a final walk back to Philips Park and to The Love's place.

Whilst I had had a good walk and some exercise, The Love had been baking, and had made an utterly gorgeous strawberry sponge, with a light sponge, cream, jam, and fresh strawberries in the middle and the top. It was absolutely stunning and after taking a picture The Love's niece responded that I wouldn't want to leave here and was living the dream. How true, how very true. It was simply gorgeous and well worth the walk and the wait, and to have that with a coffee was just a delight and treat to have, so I am so grateful to The Love for doing such a fab job.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon having a good game of Scrabble, with The Love creating ZEN for 36 as a triple word and also using the J on triple letter for JOB too which was pretty good going all round. It was a mixed bag as one of us ended up with loads of vowels and the other one with lots of consonants, but worked out well in the end. We also have been enjoying Series 1 of Line of Duty again and so the theme tune by Carly Paradis is definitely tune of the day - when you watch new series now you realise how far it's all come over the years.

Saturday 4th April - Virtual Grand National

Today normally it would have been the Grand National, which would have seen a bet on the race and then watching that with The Love In My Heart to see who would win. Of course things have changed to say the least and so it would be a case that we'd be taking part in the Virtual Grand National instead, where the money made would be donated to the NHS, all the odds were the same at each bookmaker concerned, and also it would mean that we would at least have something to watch later on. We also thought that The Love's father might want to put a bet on too.

It was a quiet morning all round, but I had gone to Asda to get some essentials during the morning. It was of course queueing up but the staff inside were all lovely, ensuring social distancing properly and that I'd go on on my own as you're supposed to now do and get what was needed. In fact I got all of what was required and on top of that I had managed to get some extra bits including some fresh spaghetti for the bolognaise tonight, and also a nice bottle of Leffe brune to have over the weekend too so that definitely was well worth the trip. The good thing was that it appeared to be back more normal in Asda too.

We spent a quiet afternoon mainly in front of the telly and watching some older programmes to pass the time, but also lots of playing ball with Brian the cat. Naturally he was of course happy to do so and definitely felt rather pleased that he was able to jump around and paw his favourite ball away too. He was so cute doing that and it was lovely too that the cuteness of Brian was keeping us both happy and full of some humour at least, which was a bonus. Aren't cats just the best at this anyway, I thought to myself.

So on went ITV around 5pm, and they had the Race of Champions on first which they seemed to cut a little short - not that good really. Naturally Red Rum did win that one but only just ahead of Manifesto, then it was the virtual race itself. It was quite good how they did it and The Love commented how realistic it all looked in terms of the circuit, the background etc. I had backed Tiger Roll (because he had won for me last two years in the real thing) but he had finished fourth with Potters Corner taking the honours in the end. It was some light relief and a fair amount was raised for the NHS, which is a good thing.

I then noticed that the Formula 1 Youtube channel had decided to upload the next in the series of their F1 Rewind broadcasts - full races and the original broadcasts too. So in this case it was the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, a classic race due to the rain and changing conditions and one I remember well watching. I do miss that rock heavy F1 intro music at the time (make that tune of the day and it was really good to be able to have the full race on with proper Murray Walker commentary as well. I was most pleased and it was a great little treat to wind down the hours.

Friday 3rd April - A Different Birthday

It was The Love In My Heart's birthday today, although we both knew it was going to be an unusual birthday to say the least. We could do one bit of exercise and walk out together later, but that'd be pretty much about it apart from some shopping for food. We woke up and Brian the cat was being all cute and wanting cuddles - it was almost as if he knew. We had a coffee and The Love opened her cards - a fair number had come in the post. My Mum very kindly had sent her one with a Next gift card, and most of her relatives had send one too. There were lots of nice cards from friends too, so that was nice.

I had bought her something from Joules that she was after - a nice french navy blazer jacket which looked smart and stylish, and she loved that. One of her relatives had also created a little box filled with some nice food to have for lunch or tea, along with chocolates and wine too, which was a very nice thing to do, all wrapped lovely. It was also good that one of her friends video messaged her with a birthday song and a nice little chat too which was lovely, that certainly brightened up the day nicely for her too. We knew it was going to be different but at least we both had the day off, which meant less stress and hassle.

After a relaxed morning, lunch was had and we used the food from the little food hamper as part of the present - so it had some lovely fresh pasta and sauce, along with some posh garlic ciabatta as well. It was really lovely and we both enjoyed that. The Love had also been to get her food shopping (obeying current guidelines of only one adult, so she went) and she also got herself a present of Downton Abbey on Blu-Ray which she would watch later on (she loves Downton as a TV series so a no-brainer to treat herself really.) We thought a walk and our once a day exercise would be sensible, so we headed off towards the local canal and followed the towpath.

The towpath takes a route that goes around the Sportcity complex, and then drops down to a basin, turns right under the Ardwick branch line and follows the line of former factories with Bradford Road in the distance on one side. It's then a case of it heading underneath road bridges and towards the city centre and the New Islington Basin, so gets more modern with flats as you walk further. We walked as far as Carruthers Street and took the exit there, then walked over the bridge, down to the road and at Holt Town tram stop we followed the walk back to Sportcity - heading around the Etihad Stadium, going over the footbridge to the Academy complex, then round to the bridge to the Velodrome and back to the canal. It was a nice walk and just nice to be together and get some fresh air.

Later on The Love settled in with Downton Abbey on Blu-Ray and of course that was lovely, the theme tune of which is tune of the day - I must admit I've watched the TV series in parts over the years and my favourite character is the maid Anna (excellently portrayed by Joanne Froggatt) who is also a good friend to Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) but also doesn't take any rubbish during the film and hatches a plan to ensure that the Downton staff are the ones making the meal for the Royal visit. Of course The Love enjoyed it, and rightfully so, and had a glass of wine to enjoy it with.

I had had a notification that one of the gigs we were going to go to had been postponed til next April, so I spent some time attempting to sort out possible rescheduling of hotel booking for that - when I had booked everything it was last November, way before any Covid-19, but the original dates would be too close to indicate if we would be able to go anyway, so having that rescheduled with original tickets still valid kind of made the decision for us. We shall see what happens, but good to get that initiated for The Love and hopefully means we can still enjoy that when it comes around in April 2021.

Even though it was a very different day overall, it was just nice for myself and The Love to spend some quality time together, and later on Brian the cat had a surprise too - a similar looking cat to him turned up in the late evening and was sat by The Love's car. In fact it was a younger version, and Brian was up on his hind legs by the window looking out and seeing the cat. It did look like it wanted to come and play but was also scared too, but he was being all cute too. We snuggled up later and it was nice that he was able to be part of The Love's day too, as was I. I am so lucky to have her and always remember this.

Thursday 2nd April - An almighty Matt Hancock-up

Normally, I wouldn't be so outspoken when it comes to political discourse, primarily because of the fact that I do vote, and that although it can be that what I voted for doesn't always happen in reality, then at least I've exercised my democratic rights correctly and I've been able to put forward a view. Plus if I do want to complain afterwards at least my vote means I can have a voice on this. No vote, no voice as I always say. No point complaining about anything if you didn't actually bother to make those feelings known at the ballot box. So it was with interest today I was watching the daily briefing.

And I was most surprised to see the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock back and giving the daily speech too. That was because he had been isolating since last Friday, so six days ago, as he had been tested positive for Covid-19. So isn't the guidance in those cases to self-isolate for two weeks, and therefore not be back in the public eye and working from home during that period? So that was alarming that he could be back and potentially still spreading the virus around, particularly as the Prime Minister is still in isolation himself. So that was an initial concern.

Then of course was the speech that was given. No apology for the lack of testing up to this point, but just excuses about how the country doesn't have X, doesn't have Y, and doesn't have all the testing and chemical facilities, and so on. I'm sure that we're all finding it shameful that celebrities can be tested just like that, but yet front line NHS workers, the very people who actually need tests, are not getting them and it was around 2,500 only at the time of his speech. Considering the NHS employment totals are at least 1.3 million if not greater, that really puts it into context.

Then to say that we'd get to 100,000 tests across five different sets of tests by the end of the month, and it was a goal only, really did kind of rankle. In fact, some of the press were quite on it asking some difficult questions, and so they should. Therefore it was shameful that the BBC decided, just as a difficult question was being asked, to cut off from that and head to the 6pm news - surely from a public interest perspective this was more important to see politicians being held to account, so you'd think anyway. But apparently not. Shameful behaviour by what's no more than a state broadacaster when it comes to news output.

Thankfully it was a much more relaxed evening with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat. Brian had decided he wanted to be all cutesy and play ball (which he loves me doing particularly) and we settled in with a beer - I had had a delivery from Shindigger in record time (same day if you are in Manchester folks) so that was nice, and we also watched the first episode of series 2 of Sunderland Til I Die on Netflix (the title theme of which is tune of the day - and great to see some of the behind the scenes footage as the 2018-19 season started off with a last gasp win against Charlton - the irony of which will come later.

Wednesday 1st April - No Fool

Didn't feel much of an April Fools' Day, for fairly obvious reasons. I think as well that with me still being at The Love In My Heart's place for the forseeable future and also not being able to head homeward and take advantage of potentially faster broadband when working from home, there's been some senisible options taken when working from home. So for any large downloads I need to do for packages etc, it's easier to actually log on to one of the servers remotely, and let that handle all the bandwidth as it would go from there directly out to the Internet at much quicker speed.

Admittedly though it was a good time to be able to road test a couple of things where I actually needed not to be connected to the work VPN in order to see if any downloads for updates were coming from Microsoft, but with metadata taken from MECM, and the answer was yes, again. So it was good to see that for clients as well that what I had put in place was a sensible option and something I know that can at least work correctly. I also was able to input some ideas into a couple of planned deployments as well, so definitely at least feeling more positive than recently.

It was also nice to see that Brian the cat is getting used to routine now, and he looked at me longingly around 5pm to ask me to feed him, so it was out with the tuna and prawn Sheba (his favourite by the way) and feed accordingly. He was a happy cat to say the least and later on when The Love was sorting out a gift bag or two for presents, Brian spotted one and decided to hide in it when it was laid on the bed. He loves hiding in cosy places for some reason but especially when he has a tight and cosy place to be - he just loves all that and the attention he gets too.

The Love In My Heart is still working very hard indeed it has to be said, and it's noticeable that management are looking after her and making sure she's okay, and that all the support that is needed can be provided. I think for me this is particularly important because I think we're all suffering a little from the lack of going out and what affect this may have on our mental health, so having that looking after is really good. Naturally I can be supportive too of course but it I am not an expert in what she does - and neither am she in what I do. Support is key though so at least it's good we have each other.

We also settled in to some telly later on and that included Location Location Location which showed just how expensive Leeds had become, even in areas a few miles out of the city centre. What it does show is that even with the current climate, the housing market is still expensive and it's a case of pricing people out of affordability. I could never buy a place in London for example and I'd have to even consider it if the two of us were together. That said, part of me in the future would love to head back to Manchester permanently and this is definitely on the thought process. In the meantime, Manchester by The Times is tune of the day as it reminds me of the late 1980s indie scene and how much it all centred around the city.