Dear Diary... August 2020

Monday 31st August – Sunny in York

The Love In My Heart and I had had a good sleep at the White Bear, and we got ourselves up and ready so we could head across to where breakfast was served. Of course things were different due to the situation, and so rather than help yourself to cereal and orange juice, it was all on a menu instead. So The Love had fruit salad and I had granola, followed by the full Yorkshire breakfast – bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, hash brown, mushroom and fried bread, and some beans for The Love as well. We also had some toast and some orange juice as well as a cafitiere of coffee too, so definitely set us up very well for the day. Once fully ready and packed, we checked out, having had a relaxing stay overall.

We then headed back towards the A1(M) and followed this down to the junction to turn off for the A59 and heading towards York. Notably, the park and ride at Poppleton Bar was out of action because it was being used as a testing centre, so traffic was being diverted elsewhere. However, The Love had the NCP Parking Pass application and we knew that one of their car parks were £5 for 24 hours with the app, so we followed the road to the centre of York, and followed the road to the car park – the QR code scanned in fine on entry, and we then got a space on the second floor without any issues.

We did have a very nice walk around the shops first of all, and that was good to see all precautions being taken. We did go in a fair few shops including The Cat Gallery, Oliver Bonas and also Flying Tiger later on, but we did note that Joy had closed, which was a shame as I know that The Love likes that shop. What was nice were the umbrellas up above the shops at the Coppergate shopping centre and they made for a really nice display, and the sun was coming out rather nicely too, it has to be said. In fact we were tempted to try and get a spot for a coffee by the River Ouse, but you can imagine how popular that was on a nice sunny day like today.

Instead, we walked past some more shops and the Minster, then across to the York Museum Gardens, and walking up the hill to where the Yorkshire Museum is, a very nice little coffee cycle cart was outside, and serving some lovely coffee, and I had a latte with The Love having a capuccino. We walked around there for a while and after then going back to the car to drop some shopping off, we then headed back towards the River Ouse and to a nice little pub, the Tank and Paddle, where we got a nice seat by the window (the balcony seats were taken by the river view obviously) and even indulged in the Eat Out to Help Out lunch too – The Love had the fish and chips and I had the meat feast pizza, both of which were very nice, as were the beers we had too.

It was back to The Love's car, and we scanned the QR code on the parking app on the way out, all done. In fact it was ten per cent off five pounts as well because of the opening month for The Love setting up an account, so definitely that proved to be worth it (and cheap for parking in York too to be fair.) We headed out of York and past the racecourse, before heading on the A64, M1 and then M62 towards Manchester and back homeward, where of course Brian the cat was waiting patiently for The Love and wanted cuddles, and wanted some tuna and dreamies as well. He also loved the fact we had a large paper bag for him to play with and to venture inside – and then inside The Love's weekend bag as well! The Love also watched Strike from last night on BBC iPlayer, and of course the Beth Rowley theme tune is tune of the day.

Sunday 30th August – Back to the White Bear

One thing that The Love In My Heart and I had wanted to do over the Bank Holiday weekend was to spend some time away together, and to go somewhere that we were due to go earlier in thenot year, and that was to the White Bear in Masham, North Yorkshire. We had booked to go there for The Love's birthday earlier in the year, but of course that was all cancelled due to the situation at the time – so we wanted to make up for lost time. With Brian the cat all fed and happy, and with his favourite coat being placed on the bed so he could snuggle up in the evening, we got ourselves packed and ready to head out mid-morning.

It was off to the M62, and around the back of Leeds before going on the M1, then A1(M). With us making good progress we stopped off at Wetherby services for a bit of a rest and some well earned coffee. I even treated myself to a rather nice honeycomb latte at Costa that was there too, which was nice for me but I suspect that The Love would have found that too sweet. It was then off the A1(M) later for the turn off past Heck sausages and along the B road towards Masham itself, turning off for the Black Sheep Brewery and with the weather at least remaining dry and fine at the moment, so that was good.

It was into the Black Sheep Brewery's Sheepy Shop first of all to peruse the beers, of which I got six, and five different ones at that (I did get two of the Choc Orange Stout due to its loveliness). We had booked in their bistro for Sunday lunch, and had the two courses. The Love had the brie, and I had the Yorkshire puddings to start, and the mains were stunning. The Love had the full Sunday Roast lamb which was perfect, and some gorgeous vegetables, meat and gravy too. I had the Steak and Riggwelter ale pie, it was a proper pie with lovely mash and really meaty gravy, and really did have the pie full of steak soaked in the Riggwelter ale, absolutely stunning!

After a drink or two in there with our food, we headed round to check in to the White Bear. This time we had a room on the other side of the ground floor. Due to the current situation all the soft furnishings had been removed, but we still had a comfortable bed with pillows, lots of tea and coffee making facilities including a cafitiere and coffee for that, and a nice bathroom with big shower. The television needed a retune but sorted that all out, and later in the afternoon we had a nice little walk around Masham village, seeing plenty out in the cafes in the square, and lots of people including us walking around the church as well, which was resplendent in mid-afternoon sunshine too.

We got ourselves back to the room, and after seeing more of the Tour de France from Nice, spotting the Col D'Eze and the port and the I Love Nice sign, we got ourselves changed and The Love looked beautiful in her blue dress. We had booked the Kings Head pub in the centre of Masham for the evening, and we noted it was busy. The staff though weren't helping the situation somewhat, telling everyone that they were busy and it may take time for meals to come out. That said though, the food was good, but did take a considerable amount of time. I had the rump steak and The Love had the Hunter's Chicken which had plenty of sauce (possibly even too much) and lots of sides too.

We left around 10pm and took the walk back to the White Bear, where we had got some prosecco earlier and The Love had brought some glasses, so we headed to the room and snuggled up, and had a nice glass of prosecco each to relax and chill out together, along with watching a bit of telly as well at the same time. It was just nice to be able to take things relatively easy, and also be finally where we could have been a few months ago, so Happy Together is tune of the day, primarily becase it's how I feel when I'm with The Love. It was just good to snuggle up just for one night without Brian the cat getting his way and taking up most of the bed as well!

Saturday 29th August – Birthday Bonus

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned lie in this morning, and it was good just to be able to get a bit of extra rest after what had been a long week, more for The Love than me to be honest. The really nice thing is that Brian the cat snuggled up to his Mummy and was able to have plenty of fussing and tummy tickles, so that was pretty good for him. We were having company over a little later, and so were getting things ready and sorted, and of course Brian was more than happy to help out. He did see the young tabby cat later on who was more than happy to preen himself on the path outside with Brian watching intently every single move.

I had got up a little earlier to watch La Course, the women's single stage race over most of the opening stage of the Tour de France. The race had two laps around the outskirts of the hinterlands above Nice, including the likes of Aspremont and along towards the airport and the Promenade des Anglais, where the finish was. A couple of hours of hard racing ended with Lizzie Deignan pipping Marianne Vos to the line and a British victory on the stage, which was really good. The men's opening stage of the Tour de France started later with three longer circuits, and as the weather had got worse with rain, and plenty of crashes heading down the hills throughout, which made for exciting viewing.

The Love In My Heart had also got some lovely bits of food from Asda in the afternoon including all the necessary kit to bake a really nice Victoria sponge cake, which was to be eaten in the evening. It was good just to be able to take things nice and relaxed in the afternoon, and Brian the cat was of course nodding with approval when he had attention and cat food too. The weather had rained a little bit but then stopped, and we saw the exciting first stage finish in Nice of the Tour de France, with a full on sprint and some really close battles, and it was good to see that the race had started well.

Later on my friends came over to see us, and it was one of our friend's birthdays. It was good to be able to have them over, and we were having some nibbles and some food too. The Love was very much being lovely and we had plenty of conversation along the way, and a good catch up because of that. There were some crisps and dips to begin with, and later there was pizza, as well as garlic mushrooms and some messy fries as well. It was good to be able to enjoy the food together and we had plenty more chatter at the same time which was really good.

And it was time for my friend's presents, which we had ordered over the last couple of weeks, and he was really appreciative of them. One of them was the David Bowie Monopoly special edition, which had all sorts of squares based on albums and live events etc, so was really excellent – the truth is that I wouldn't have minded that myself. We also had got him the Bowie book by the photographer O'Neill, which had lots of rare and archive images from the 1960s and 1960s in particular, and some intriguing history into the artist as well. Naturally of course, tune of the day is the excellent Diamond Dogs from David Bowie, the title song of an album I like, and certainly of the era of the images too. Most of all, my friend was happy and that was good – it was good to see him and spend some quality time.

Friday 28th August – Record Shopping

The Love In My Heart had got up early as she was working today, but I was off work, and so as a consequence this meant I had a day where I could a fair bit of record shopping, and mooch around numerous shops. She had a long day today so had woken me up to let me know she was heading off, and Brian the cat settled on snuggling in one corner of the bed, as he does. It was hammering it down with rain though so once I got up and got myself showered and ready, I had some breakfast and then watched a bit of telly as the rain hammered it down outside, not the ideal weather to be outside.

Once that rain had stopped, I headed out ensuring Brian the cat was all good, and took the tram out to Chorlton, and to Kingbee Records to be the first stop. Plenty of decent stock there including items I already had (or there would have been some temptation) and also everyone being good and wearing a face covering and using the sanitiser too. Obviously the record deck you could play the vinyl on was out of action, but at least it was open, with plenty of people popping in and out even on a Friday. I did walk into the centre of Chorlton to have a little mooch around the shops and to use the cash machine, before heading on the tram back towards Manchester city centre.

Once there, I walked down Market Street and went into Fopp first of all. Plenty of vinyl now in stock on the ground floor, and still plenty of CDs at a good price in the basement too, and a fair bit of temptation. It was nice to see everything well laid out in there, and it was the same for most shops in the Arndale Centre (where I was a bit annoyed that not everyone was wearing a face covering) – I did have a look in a few places to get some ideas, and also noted that on the whole most of the shops seemed to be managing their queues and numbers sensibly. It was then a case of heading over to the Northern Quarter and to more record shops there too.

I went first into Vinyl Resting Place at the very top of Affleck's Palace, and that was pretty good all round. What was entertaining was that a couple of women, one of whom had got a turntable for the first time in years, had decided to purchase a lot of vinyl albums she liked when younger, and was reacquainting herself with it all, so was good to gauge what that selection was, and on the whole, pretty varied and eclectic, a typical bit of Mancunian music taste really. It was good here too that so many precautions were all taking place here as well, sanitiser all used correctly and screens by the counter for the staff as well.

It was then to Vinyl Exchange on Oldham Street, where I hadn't been for a considerable amount of time. It was a case of spending a fair bit of time downstairs with the vinyl at first, having a good look at the indie 7 inch and 12 inch singles at first, before then heading back up the ground floor for the CDs. I did spot a few things I fancied, but when checking out the Industrial section my eyes lit up with joy as I had spotted something I had been after for a while – the CD single of The Bog by BIGOD 20 (make that tune of the day) and it was nice to get that release. I also did get the Fake Nudes album from Barenaked Ladies as well, both items were a mere two pounds each, so a complete bargain really.

Thursday 27th August - Reunited

It was a day of two halves today as I was working during the first half of the day before taking the other half as leave, as I had a spare half day to take. This would also allow me to head up off-peak on a train up to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart for the weekend as well, so would be able to spend a bit longer together, which is nice. I did have plenty to do in the morning though, which involved being in a meeting first thing to assist with a software vendor, and then from that reporting back accordingly to those that needed to. I also made sure I had all the information passed over as to what was going on to my colleagues so that they knew what the situation was with regards to any handover that needed doing.

I had also had a good meeting with one of our external vendors in the morning, where my line manager was also present, where we discussed the possibilites of Autopilot and how that potentially could work as a service. I had already worked out that of course it was going to need both Azure Active Directory and Intune, and that was reinforced by the technical teams at their end too. Naturally I did point out that the number of licences we have for what was SCCM (now MECM) did have Intune equivalent licencing when Microsoft went down the route of Microsoft EndPoint Manager as a suite, so that might knock down the cost a bit and to take it from there. We shall see.

With the half day's work all done, it was time to leave the flat and head to East Croydon station, taking the train up to St Pancras and then a short walk across to Euston, in good time to get the 2.40pm train up to Manchester Piccadilly. The train was thankfully nice and quiet and I could have my iPod on playing some fairly relaxed tunes, including the excellent Paddington by Blancmange (make that one tune of the day) – and even with a bit of rain present in the Midlands, it did at least appear to head on through quite well and on time, and had arrived in Manchester, and a few minutes later The Love In My Heart came over to collect me, so all was well.

We thought it'd be nice to go for a post-work drink, with her having a very busy day, and after some thought, we were initially going to go to my old haunt of Sandbar, but alas, that was closed still. We therefore headed round the back of the university and managed to park outside the Booth Street car park (which was closed, but everyone else was parking outside it too) – and from there we walked across the new square and over to the Brewdog Outpost bar, where we both had a really nice drink each (the Lost Lager for her, and I had the rather nice stout that they do) and had a good natter sat opposite each other, with The Love looking as lovely as ever. Awww.

Once we got back to The Love's place later on we fed Brian the cat, who of course was being rather nosey at the case I had brought with me, and wanted some love and cuddles from his Mummy, as per usual. We did decide though to get some Chinese takeaway for tea, and as the local one was open, it was chicken and mushrooms for The Love, and crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce for me, both with fried rice. That was nice to enjoy as we both were nice and chilled out for the evening, and Brian later was then snuggled up to Mummy on the sofa and being all soft. Aww. The long weekend had started well and we both really had a lovely time tonight.

Wednesday 26th August - Dissecting

It was certainly an interesting day to get several things done at work today. One thing I did want to do was to take a more measured approach into what potentially any form of "new normal" might look like with some of the systems and present a fair and balanced argument, but dissect all the possibilities and explain what is sensible, what is doable and what isn't. I think the tricky thing from the perspective we have is that it's always a balancing act to find and some middle ground, but it was a case of being almost cold about it and attempting where possible not to have any preconceptions.

And that you might think is pretty difficult, and actually, yes it is. On the one hand you want to be the one to effectively show a fair argument but in favour of the products that you know both work and work well, but on the other you have to try and be reasonable in your arguments, not just "this might be better" but why, in a practical term, you'd expect a system to work better under those circumstances. For me it's perhaps telling that the more I get people to see that argument, I get the response of "we should have listened to you in the first place" quite a bit, which says a lot.

That also said though, I had a productive late afternoon checking over a spreadsheet one of our folks sent us over, and the idea behind it was that we could cross-correlate not just what's out there but also make sure that there's a reason why a certain record might not yet be present in one of our systems. In fact, it did prove a helpful sheet because it actually helped us determine a few things along the way, including why some of the records weren't discoverable before (often a middle or family name based in some countries was the responsible issue!)

In any case, before I knew it, the day had become evening, and I had noticed then that the gammon racist brigade have been up in arms with regards to the fact Sky Sports News have made redundant three of their presenters, with said gammons assuming that this is to put the likes of the excellent Micah Richards and Alex Scott in their places - and serving tons of racial abuse at the same time. Really folks, it isn't on. For a number of reasons. First of all, both Micah and Alex are excellent pundits in their own right, who adore and love the game of football and whose knowledge and enthusiasm is infectious.

Second, if you want to talk about achievements, both have done plenty - winning the Premier League the FA Cup for Micah, and being part of an Arsenal side that won the quadruple in the women's game (league, league cup, FA Cup and Champions League - no men's side have done that incidentally) as well as both players playing with distinction for their countries. Third: they both work hard at what they do, exemplified by both Alex giving it full effort in Strictly Come Dancing and still doing the day job, and also Micah having a conversation with Graeme Souness about racism after the Man City v Burnley game and having the respect for each other to listen and to learn from each other too.

It's oh so easy for those who just see Sky making changes as bowing to a generation who want change: but consider also this: all great football pundits have moved on in some point of time of their careers: and if they're good enough, they'll find work elsewhere and still be around anyway. The only one, due to spreading some conspiracy theories about the thing at present and also not fully supporting Black Lives Matter as Sky Sports have been doing, might find it difficult, but as Paul Weller sang in Going Underground (tune of the day) "you make your bed, you'd better lie in it."

Tuesday 25th August - Stormy Weather

Somehow a track by Pixies on their Bossanova album, Stormy Weather, seemed right for today (make that tune of the day in fact.) It didn't look too good when I left the flat this morning as I headed off to work in the office, but thankfully when I got to the train station the trains looked okay, and indeed I could hear the wind lashing against the windows as I made it safely to Victoria, and on a pretty empty bus to the office. Nowhere was open for coffee yet so went in early with a view for coffee later.

In fact I did the main task of the day which was to update the Windows 10 build task sequence with the new WIM (Windows Image) which contains all the necessary updates up to and including August, which means that when all done, it is less to sort out later, and indeed means it's nice and clean too. I also ensured that the new version of Adobe Reader DC was added at the same time, as that had been tested and working. Overall it's gone pretty well and the test run today (already having run it on a previous test) showed I was prepared for it all and doing the right thing.

I also had worked out a few plans going forward: essentially there may be a way to reduce the estate footprint of some of the services I look after, but they have to be reliant on a few things: a speedy enough network infrastructure (lack of speed = lack of value at times), as well as a sensible arrangement of places and points, as well as the facilities needed by those on the ground. In essence, it's a lot easier if you are able to get things done quickly as you need to, but without the infrastructure in place, that can be hard. So some thinking ahead as to what can be done.

I also had a nice little walk out at lunch time around Piccadilly Circus and the surrounding area before getting a meal deal from Tesco - it had at least stopped raining by then although it was still getting quite windy anyway and when I got home later, it was very windy indeed. I had opened the windows to let some fresh air in, but had to shut them a little later on because I could hear how much the wind was howling around, which isn't good. Needless to say it was raining in Manchester too, which meant The Love In My Heart had Brian the cat wondering if he was going to get any play out time tonight.

I must admit though we've got a longer Bank Holiday weekend this weekend which will be nice, especially as we're heading out too and we're going to have a nice time together. I think as of late I'm really relishing the chance to spend some quality time with The Love In My Heart when we can, and it also goes to show that all the time we do spend is really worthwhile. I know I miss her lots, but I do miss Brian the cat too, as much as he might try to play scratchy with me occasionally!

Monday 24th August - Raintown

It definitely was very changeable weather today after it being a reasonably good weekend weather wise - just the right temperature and not too hot to be doing a good walk or two, and I certainly managed that when I took on the sections of the London Loop. It was back to work today but also this meant being safe in the confines of working from home rather than venturing out. It was at least dry for the morning, but I could feel some humidity in the air and the skies certainly looked like they were going to darken a fair bit, and sure enough around 2pm they darkened further still.

What I didn't expect was the sheer deluge and torrent of rain that followed. The skies became misty and you could hear the raindrops hammering away at the ledges of the windows and indeed all over the place you could see people hurrying around trying to find shelter, and understandably so to be honest. It did really feel like the preface to the potential Storm Francis that was supposedly going to hit in the next day or so, so was pleased at least to be inside.

On a positive note, I released the August updates out to the masses at work after them undergoing their usual UAT testing first. In fact, because the cloud management gateway for MECM now in place with clients authenticated using token-based auth, I've seen an increase in the number of clients getting updates (as the CMG can also talk to the software update point too) - and as we effectively just give them the metadata and tell them to go Microsoft for the updates needed based on that, bandwidth is saved and also downloads if working from home are only limited by their connection, not via any VPN speed restrictions. Working well I think.

Naturally I kept thinking of a certain album when it was chucking it down - namely Deacon Blue's debut Raintown (the title track of which is tune of the day) - it's still to this day a cracking album, sounding gritty and yet warm at the same time, and there's the absolutely majestic Dignity on there too. A proper anthem if there ever was one to be honest. Hard to believe this album came out in 1987, but shows its longevity (and indeed Ricky Ross and Lorraine McIntosh are also still married thirty years on too) and its passion, expert songwriting and feeling. A lot of bands of today should play that and realise what they're missing.

I also spent some time tonight writing an article for a website I occasionally contribute to. It's been good to write something that I had wanted to write for a while, and after the success of one I wrote earlier in the year, it was good to go back and do some inside digging as to how I managed to find and fix issues with old classic games, using classic 6502 assembly code. To this day I can still work the code pretty well, so has to be worth sharing that many years on what the process was behind what I did and how I then managed to improve my craft over time. Definitely for me it's going to be more of this in future as I like writing about something I enjoy doing!

Sunday 23rd August - Half Way Round The Loop

It was back up to the London Loop walks again, primarily as I didn't just want to stay in all day but wanted to get out and get some fresh air. I also realistically wanted to get at least half way done, with twelve sections out of the twenty four completed. So it was back on the train to Farringdon, and after having some delays due to signal failures at Kings Cross, the Metropolitan line tube turned up to take me all the way to Uxbridge. It did mean I got the magic seats that face forwards again though, so that made me have a little happy moment as I headed out of central London.

Once at Uxbridge, it was back the way I came yesterday until I got to the Swan and Bottle pub, and rejoined the Grand Union Canal there. Heading via Denham Marina to the Uxbridge Lock, it was following the canal out of the centre and eventually reaching some pipes carrying utilities over the canal and by the side of the A40, which would shortly become the M40 just after. I carried on along the canal and after crossing a bridge to the other side for the towpath, I spotted the very nice Fran's Tea Room and the Denham Deep Lock - 11 feet deep at that and with a narrow boat navigating its way through.

Further North, you crossed another bridge over the canal again but there was no towpath, but instead you followed along a path that went by the side of the Denham Quarry lake, underneath the railway arches not far from Denham station, and then at Harefield Marina you had to head around it all, following a path that would take you through some woodland which was pretty nice, and a small lake there too. I arrived at a road and followed that back to the Grand Union Canal and widewater lock, and followed further North again, with some lovely moored boats everywhere.

It was then onwards to the Black Jacks lock, which also had a former mill there which is now a little café to sit and have coffee, and relax with some food also. It was quite idyllic to be honest, and further along the canal there were glimpses of the lakes on the other side, before then heading over a bridge which had a fast running weir attached, and then curving round and locating the Coy Carp pub, where you'd exit following the canal. In fact I noticed just off the canal someone had set up some canoe slalom gates, possibly for practicing for the return of Paddles Up on the BBC (for those of you who remember it from the 1980s.)

I then followed the road uphill to the stop at Belfry Avenue which is where the U9 bus turns round on its way back to Harefield Hospital and Uxbridge. There is only one an hour on Sunday though, and knew it was due, so gave it a few minutes, thought it wasn't turning up and so walked along the road around three quarters of a mile back to Harefield village, and soon enough the 331 bus to Uxbridge via Denham arrived, so all was good there. In fact it took me past where I had walked earlier just north of Harefield Marina!

I got back to Uxbridge, did lunch in the pub (where track and trace was all working correctly and it was a proper socially distanced table to have lunch in as well) before then heading back to Uxbridge station and heading back on the tube and train home. It was half way completed, and more than half distance, but I can see some really long stages later on,so be good to progress more and get those done for definite. As for tune of the day, somehow Half Way Home by Kristin Hersh from her album Possible Dust Clouds really does hit home as I made it around the loop today.

Saturday 22nd August - Looping Around to Uxbridge

Today after a good night's sleep, it was time to head off for another section of the London Loop - section eleven in fact, starting at Hayes and Harlington station and effectively following rivers and canals all the way to Uxbridge. Of course because they're both in West and North West London, a fair bit of travelling needed to be done, and I couldn't do the avoid Zone 1 trickery because of engineering works on the Overground today. So instead it was train to Victoria, Circle Line tube to Paddington and then TfL Rail service to Hayes and Harlington. All three had aircon (yaay) and the latter was the faster Reading train so less stops. Winning.

It was a short walk from the station to the Grand Union Canal and where I had completed the previous section, and followed the canal towpath for a while - noticing the piles of beer cans where people had been drinking by the canal and just littered everywhere, not good really. I did turn right when prompted and it was off to Stockley Park, the home of course of the dreaded VAR in football (cue big cries of "booooo" all round) and skirting round the golf course to head towards the centre of the tech development, then round the first hole, over the A-frame bridge and following the path down towards an industrial estate.

I have to say here that TfL really needed to up the game with regards to the signage - some of the waymarkers aren't even there and some point in the wrong direction, meaning a backtrack once or twice at some point. And there was no left turn sign to head back to the canal where there should be, but saw the pub in question in the guide and knew it was that way, following the canal all the way to West Drayton station and under the very pretty Colham Bridge before then following the canal through Yiewsley and heading towards the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal.

It was a nice little walk along the Slough Arm with some lovely boats moored up before crossing over a bridge and following the path to the River Colne and the beautiful Little Britain lake, which got its name because the shape apparently looks like the British mainland from above. It was a very pretty walk along the side of the River Colne for a while, crossing over a road bridge half way then following it all the way back round and right to a little cute country lane with some pretty houses, and heading back to Grand Union Canal for a final jaunt along the canal bank and towards the centre of Uxbridge.

In fact, it was nice to see that Uxbridge itself seemed very tidy: no litter at all, everyone using the bins properly, face coverings on when in shops etc, quite civilised actually. I did then head on the tube from the station, taking the Metropolitan Line via Rayners Lane and Harrow-on-the-Hill, past Wembley Stadium and Wembley Park before speeding into central London, and changing at Farringdon for the train back homeward. Not the shortest trip but all aircon and did give me chance to relax the aching feet a little after a good seven and half miles of walking earlier today.

I did then watch back the semi finals of the World Seniors Snooker that had been on earlier, and I had set my Freeview recorder box to record the red button channel. I was pretty pleased that Jimmy White had beaten Stephen Hendry 4-2, but also made a break of 130 in the process, by far and away the highest break of the tournament so far. He really did look up for it and for me it was nice to see him beat his old rival at the hallowed Crucible, and just had to play the original Drag Racer by the Doug Wood band for obvious reasons (make that one tune of the day.)

Friday 21st August - Thank Heavens It's Friday

It's been one of those weeks this week, and admittedly some of the work based stuff has gone well, although today I did receive a response from one software company we'd been working with, and the response quite frankly wasn't good enough, basically saying that it was our problem or a problem with another product and nothing to do with them. So I set about some further investigation and showed that actually, it was their issue. I was able to demonstrate that in fact the certificate they had been going on about was activated and installed by them when you visit a certain website.

I had also managed to work on a few things during the day and had worked out a plan of action to resolve a few machines that had issues, and was able to get together that plan and formulate it. I also helped out our Service Team manager with an issue that a user had with the Oracle website used for certain tasks, and we'd worked out what the issue was between us - not necessarily a particular one issue but a case of potentially too many cooks spoiling the broth and all that.

I had at lunchtime a delivery from Sainsburys as well - and nice to have everything in the order with no substitutions. I had of course wanted to be able to have a few things in to make for tea during next week, and also some lunches for work as well. The good thing was that I had even ordered a few extra bits for the freezer so after a long August Bank Holiday weekend next week I'd have stuff in. I did have two delivery people one carrying each of the two big baskets up to me, but all was good and meant I had what I needed in for later on.

I settled in to the evening's World Seniors Snooker later on, and it was going to be an exciting couple of games to see who would be in the semi finals. Stephen Hendry had already gone through earlier in the day, and the main focus of attention was on Jimmy White against Peter Lines last up. I have to say that Jimmy played really well and started to pull away when needed, clinching a well deserved 4-1 win and meaning that the dream tie everyone wanted with him playing Hendry in the semi finals was on!

I did feel pretty tired though, primarily due to a lack of sleep that was happening during the week due to the temperature not being so cold at night. I had changed the bedding though so it was nice and fresh for me to be able to rest, and I did nod off quite quickly which was good. Tune of the day is the vastly under-rated Sleep by the Manchester indie band Marion - a great piece of songwriting from the mid-1990s that was badly lumped together with the likes of Britpop at the time, serving that band a great injustice to be perfectly honest.

Thursday 20th August - Click, Collect and Cut

I had to nip out at lunch time to pick up a click and collect order that I had done yesterday. I had ordered the item I wanted online as a visit to the said retailer showed that what I was after wasn't in store - or else I'd have purchased it there and then. In effect, it's a new PCI-Express wireless adapter, which also happens to do Bluetooth as well, for the PC I have. My current adapter, a TP-Link one, has been pretty solid but it doesn't do dual-band wireless, and I'm pretty sure that being a single band the amount of bandwidth it uses won't be enough to have a full speed fibre connection I have going to it.

Granted, yes of course I could just plug in via Ethernet, but that would mean running a cable all the way around the flat, which would be a little untidy - and of course you could use Powerline adapters, but that's more expense. It worked out cheaper to just get the adapter and replace the existing one in the same slot. And, the good thing was that it looked quite a small footprint inside the case from the product description, and added to that the necessary header cable to connect it to the motherboard for the Bluetooth module was also provided.

So, having collected it, I brought it home with me - a TP-Link Archer T5E. Although the CD with drivers were provided (and using some setup program to do so, rather than native) it didn't actually need any drivers for Windows 10. It correctly picked up the Intel Wireless Bluetooth for the bluetooth side and that it was an AC7265 chipset for the wireless side too, which I later updated with the native Intel drivers rather than the Windows provided ones. And the result? 5Ghz wireless is correctly shown, and a speed test shows a similar level of throughput to the work laptop (which also has an Intel dual-band wireless chip, possibly the same model or the AC8260 one) - and as I know that's been stable for working at home, that's a good win.

I headed later on after work off to Wimbledon Park and to James Barbers for my hair cut, which the staff there did with their usual expertise and I must admit it does look a lot better. Because of the trams only part running at the moment, I ended up going East Croydon to Clapham Junction, then picking up a SWR train to Wimbledon - as it turned out, the platforms were adjacent at Clapham Junction and so was an easy switch over and a 2 minute wait, and not a long wait for the tube either.

I headed back later and walking back from East Croydon, it was a nip into Waitrose, where, amazingly, plenty of good offers on ale and craft beer. So we're talking two nice cans of the Brooklyn Brewery's beer for £3, the Fourpure Easy Peeler for £1.49, and four packs of Camden Pale Ale for £4.80, but even best of all, the Brooklyn Brewery's Special Effects 0.4% low alcohol lager for £2. I quite like this when I don't want a full alcohol experience and is well worth searching out for when you have time. In the meantime, tune of the day is the excellent "Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?" by Alexei Sayle - a sketch someone put up online reminded me of his genius so was time to play the 7" single..

Wednesday 19th August - Back To The Crucible

Whilst working from home today, and managing to work on a number of machines which had come back online and ensuring they were all up to date, I did note that today was the start of the World Seniors Snooker Championship, from the hallowed Crucible Theatre. Sensibly, it's a few days after the World Championship, so for example the table they used for the final can still be in the same place, and in effect all the other bits of setup can remain, so the commentary box is also there too. It's definitely an added plus to be able to watch it on the BBC Red Button.

I think as well that for a lot of us who grew up watching the game in the 1980s (include both me and The Love In My Heart in that list) many of the players were icons of the game at that time and household names, including the likes of Jimmy White, Joe Johnson, Dennis Taylor, Tony Knowles et al, and then the 90s generation of Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry as well. All of those would be taking part over the next few days, add to that some very good pros as well such as Darren Morgan, Patrick Wallace and so on too. Sixteen players in all to battle it out over the next four days.

The first match up was Ken Doherty against Rodney Goggins. Ken won the first two frames but seemed to fall apart after a bad miss on the red in the third, and from there Rodney didn't look back at all, pinching one frame and then playing with some class to go 3-2 up. Ken pulled together a quality break to force a decider, and that was pretty tense as it goes, but Ken pulled off enough decent shots to get a 4-3 win and through to the next round. He looked half decent when he was getting going but maybe it was the table that was awkward?

It was also a rather turgid game that followed between Aaron Canavan and Leo Fernandez. One frame lasted almost an hour which Leo should have won but made some errors coming out of snookers, and plenty of safety battles until Leo finally got over the line. As a consequence due to time, they were pulled off the table with Aaron winning 3-2 and having to come back after tonight's matches had finished, so could well be a late night. Maybe also the organisers may have been better having more time to play two best of 7s, possibly doing 11am and 6pm for the sessions instead of 1pm and 7pm?

However, Jimmy White was living up to his whirlwind nickname tonight against Joe Johnson (who walked on to Everlasting Love, which he used to sing in the clubs, so definitely tune of the day for me) - and he really was not mucking around with three quality breaks in three frames on the bounce to pull away from being 1-0 down to win 4-1. He looked every bit the defending champion and you do wonder if the seniors can do something which the pros can't do - and break the Crucible curse!

Tuesday 18th August - Back To The Old Office

It was a day of two halves today. The first half of the day saw me heading to the office in Central London which is currently my one day a week base, and was able to carry out some further tests in terms of being able to manipulate some of the test results I'd seen from one application and look at ways of why, when uninstalled, there's still some site data left in Chrome relating to that application. You can remove it for the one site, but in truth, it is a pain in the backside to do and I wouldn't want a number of users to have to do that. If an uninstall isn't clean, well it's not really an uninstall, is it?

I then headed over to what was my old office, which location wise was more ideal for me generally. It was actually quite good timing as my colleague couldn't get into the place because the key fob had broken off, so was able to meet him there, use mine, and get in. We did manage to get quite a bit done but the important thing was to get to my old locker and get out what was needed. To my delight, the test Mac I use was there, as well as in our shared cupboards some of the test laptops, so we were able to pack these ready for sending over to our other office and know they would be taken care of.

I also noted that the network infrastructure was still there, and was happily able to connect to the corporate wireless network without issue. In the other building, primarily due to location and also wireless interference on 2.4Ghz, that was turned off so it's a 5Ghz only network. Not good if your phone doesn't have a dual band wireless adapter on board, but it showed that actually the phone itself was fine connecting to an available netwokr when at the other site, so reinforces what our network folks had said about it.

It was good to also head out for a drink in the pub near that office, and have a well earned stout for the day's work. In fact it was just nice to socialise with people face to face as well and to be able to have that cameraderie that I've missed - more than I know to be perfectly honest. I think that's been the thing for me lately what I've come to realise, is that you can work from home all you want, but to have the proper conversation with people really does need to be in person. And I'm glad that all happened to be honest.

I headed home later and it was noticeable that both Nando's and Wagamama had sizeable queues due to the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. What this does also prove, as the latter doesn't do table reservations at all, is that if you price things right, people will come. Back in the day they used to do the occasional 2 for 1 on mains offer that had myself and The Love In My Heart visit it, but they stopped doing so, which was a shame (I do love the chicken katsu there) so maybe that also says something about us all being and needing to be more savvy money wise at the moment? "No Money" by The Freshies seems apt somehow as tune of the day.

Monday 17th August - Composition

I had a pretty good day at work, and that was sandwiched in between having a visit from the electrician who had been asked to check all the flats within the block I am in to ensure that they are all electrically safe. There is new legislation which effectively means that things have to be checked on a periodic basis, and the landlord had asked residents to arrange with the electrician - so had got in touch and had booked a slot for today. The good news was that all the checks were performed, and everything passed - with flying colours. Not a single issue in place. That made me feel happy.

In the evening I spent some time on the Commodore 64, primarily as one of my friends who also has the same machine was deciding to code something and wanted a little tune to go with it. They had given me some ideas to work on, so it was effectively out with the disk drive, and indeed the disks that had the likes of Music Assembler, the editor I used to use when creating music a lot, and so fired that up, loaded a couple of example tunes, and then initialised the RAM but this allowed me to keep the voice presets.

Next up was a basic rhythm of sorts, so got a drum pattern going with some white noise effects to effectively be the cymbals, and had some of them play in a lower pitch so that they were more of a crash cymbal effect. Nice. In fact from there I was then able to add a bass line with a neat bit of using the filters, so it sounded pretty smooth overall and quite nice to be able to do. It was then from there developing nicely, so made sure I saved what I was doing (first rule - save, save and save again!) and then on to the lead parts.

I did want part of the lead to have some odd sound effect whilst playing that lead, primarily to mirror a brief I'd been given initially. However, I remembered that I could do all sorts of weird effects by manipulating the slide rule effect to do so, and that actually worked really well, so really did sound exactly as I wanted. Not all the way through of course, but just in parts when needed, naturally, which is sort of what you want. And with that developed, I was soon able to progress nicely.

In fact, it wasn't too long before I had a working piece to try out, so once I'd performed it and transferred it all to the PC so I could mail it out, it all sounded pretty good and exactly what was needed I think. I'll wait for the feedback to come at some point, although it did make me realise that I could still do it after all these years. With that, I went back and played some of my other C64 tunes, including the cover version of Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez (make the original tune of the day as it's a bit of an 80s classic in my view) - and goes to show that no matter what old school limits you had, you could always work something out.

Sunday 16th August - Rocketing To Victory

It was nice for myself and The Love In My Heart to relax and have a good lie in together. Brian the cat even decided last night he would sleep at the end of my side of the bed, having made himself comfortable, and didn't even move when I got in, and was there for ages, even snuggling against my feet and giving himself a nice pillow, bless. He doesn't always behave so nicely with me so it was good. And we did have a rather nice restful sleep which I think we both needed to be honest.

Today was about taking it nice and easy and the weather was debatable whether it was going to rain or not, although we both thought it might do and was tempted to take a walk but thought against it. We had a nice breakfast together and got ourselves ready, and Brian was there wanting to play ball by lying on the floor and having me roll the ball to him so he could effectively pounce it and then roll it back with his paws. Aww, he is so cute when he does that let me tell you.

It was on with the snooker at 1.30pm for the third session of the World Championship final between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Kyren Wilson. It was set up well with the Rocket leading 10-7 after a spirited fightback from the Warrior from 8-2 down. Kyren won the first frame of the day to be 10-8, but that's as good as it got. He had chances in the next two frames and didn't take them, and it was soon a case of frame after frame going the other way - the remaining seven on the trot to go 17-8 up with one frame needed tonight to win the title, which Ronnie then duly got.

That did mean six world titles in all, equalling Steve Davis and Ray Reardon and only one behind Stephen Hendry. Part of me thinks he'd like to carry on to get eight, but we shall see. Someone decided after the end of the first frame to blast out Disco Inferno (make it tune of the day) but players, referee and the BBC folks were not amused by someone doing that, so that soon died a death, thankfully. Good tune, but wrong time for definite. It was good to see both players so sporting after the match and it was played in the right spirit, which is all you can ask for really.

The Love made a gorgeous late lunch / early tea of chicken en croute with ham and some potatoes and tenderstem broccoli with a luscious cheese sauce, so that kept me going nicely too for on the way home later. We both did feel sad as I left at the station, but we know that at least we've had a really nice time together - and the train did make up some time as it had arrived late, allowing me to get to St Pancras to get the train home, and so was able to get a few bits done around the flat before I headed to bed. Overall, a lovely day and a shame that the weekends now go so quickly.

Saturday 15th August - A Tale Of Two Pubs

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned lie in. Well, as much as we could do because a certain Brian the cat decided that he wanted to get up, but also wanted a fuss over, wanted to play out and in addition had spotted black and white cat parading round the front, so wanted to see what she was up to. He always does his fast trot whenever he sees another cat anywhere near The Love's place - he must have radar on that to be perfectly honest!

We did head out to Pets At Home later on as we needed to get Brian some cat food but also some special treats he has which treats any hairballs and helps sort them out. The Love did notice that he had some hairball sick the other day and thankfully it all came out, but always good to ensure he doesn't get them if possible. They actually still do the two packs of the hairball treats for £2.50, but as they had 12 for 10 on the Sheba tuna that was doable, as was this little trial pack of Iams Ocean Fish dry food. We tried him on that and he absolutely wolfed it down!

We headed over to the Sheldon Arms after the cat food shopping, and everything that was needed to be in place for safety was - so you had to sign in via a QR code web link for track and trace, you had to read all the regulations at the insistence of the manager before being allowed in, it was table service with staff visored up as well, and it felt pretty good that all these precautions were being taken properly. Other pubs should take note, and it wouldn't surprise me if all JW Lees pubs were doing similar. It made their stout rather enjoyable to sup it has to be said.

Later on we got changed and ready and headed out on the tram and then train to Cheadle Hulme, as we had booked a table at Platform 5, a place we quite like, for some tea. It was the first time The Love had been on public transport for a bit, so it was masks on and all good on that score. The train got us there on time and despite some confusion with them writing bookings down on scraps of paper (Alex Polizzi would have a field day!) we got a table and was all well and good. And they had the Chorlton Pale Ale, so winning on that score and made me think of the time when I used to incessantly play Love Crime by The Cygnet Ring when I used to be based in Chorlton work wise, so tune of the day.

The Love had the Wexford chicken which looked pretty good - possibly needed a little more sauce, and I had the steak and ale pie with plenty of chips, peas and gravy too. It was proper nice as was the sticky toffee pudding. What we did notice though was that the staff and security weren't enforcing the social distancing as they should which was a bit slapdash of Joseph Holt brewery (who own the pub) - they really need to get a grip on some proper measures in my view. In any case though, food was good and company was of course lovely - The Love looked beautiful in her green top and green little jacket from Oliver Bonas.

Friday 14th August - In The Frame

It was a productive day at work today and to be perfectly honest, I was more than glad to be in the office especially as it meant that the oppressive heat wouldn't be there as it had been at home, and a nice air conditioned room to work in and in fact get on with plenty of testing. In fact, I had carried out a number of tests in relation to one security product we've been testing out, and found that it leaves a remant in Chrome for those that are using it. In addition, we know how you'd have to get rid of it but it's a manual process that we don't really want anyone to necessarily be doing. I think I've got some other ideas, but we shall see.

It was also pretty nice to head out at lunch time with a slight bit of rain and drizzle attempting to clear the air and make it fresher too - I managed to head to Boots and get all the bits I wanted there, but it was particularly good to note that in fact everyone was wearing a face covering and at least able to get on with things - and as there was a chicken and stuffing sandwich for 50p, that had my name on it, may as well for that price especially as I was going to eat it pretty sharpish anyway. I did note it still felt a lot less busy than it has been over the last few weeks, maybe some people have gone on holiday (or are dashing back from France right now.)

As the afternoon developed, there were two meetings to go to - one of which was an overall team meeting for several of the tech teams. That was good as we had some ideas how we'd further looking at a different model of working but also being realistic, how many of us might end up adapting to this model in future. It's certainly made people think about maybe even not having to face the commute every single day as well, which of course on some days can be rather busy to say the least.

On the way to Euston I was keeping an eye on the snooker, and it was the final frame between Anthony McGill and Kyren Wilson. I had to just see the live scores, and when a frame ends up being 103-83 you know there must have been some foul shots and so on in there. The Love In My Heart said to me that I needed to watch it later, and she was right - it was surreal and yet full of drama and tension in a one hour nailbiter at the end. The snooker laid by Kyren was the turning point though - it took many attempts by McGill to get out and ended with a final foul at the snookers required stage, and then all sorts went on from there too.

I have to say that it was one of those moments to savour in a strange way - it was everything that only the Crucible and the World Championship could be able to serve up. The Love and I watched the whole thing on iPlayer and it definitely was surreal to see - but also gripping too. We did watch a bit out of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown as well, which is always a giggle, and the iconic Countdown theme is tune of the day as it seemed to be rather fitting for each shot being played at the snooker as well to heighten the tension, and all good all round. So nice to be back with my love!

Thursday 13th August - Multihacking

Today saw the publication of an article that I wrote for the Commodore Format Archive web site: it is in effect a full in-depth guide, with some technical detail, of how I wrote something on the Commodore 64 computer which let you hack lots of different games and get infinite lives and so on, to make the games easier. These things back then, which consisted of a BASIC master listing, and then some additional DATA lines (one set per game) to be added as needed, were called multihacks.

In essence, this was a lot easier than typing in a BASIC listing for each separate one, and that also included checks to ensure you had typed in the main listing correctly too. I have so many memories of that and it was good to write them all down and in fact note the work I had done over the months back in late 1991 onwards for that, a long time ago. To this day I still do know my way around 6502 based assembly language, something which has stood me in good stead over the years with learning coding. Always good fun to be able to share that information now and demonstrate the work and how it was done.

It's been nice to see a positive reaction generally - in fact one of my former colleagues where I used to work mentioned that you couldn't beat a good cheat POKE, so was good to know that those who were able to enjoy it still had some fond memories. It also helped me through a tough time too and kept me motivated and determined to learn more. In fact the Commodore 64 back then was responsible for opening up a few life avenues and opportunities when I needed something, and that has to be a massive plus as far as I was concerned anyway.

The weather has at least receded today, it still felt warm working from home but at around 3pm I could see the skies darkening and I could see mist forming before a massive deluge of thunder and lightning for around an hour, with an incessant amount of rain coming down. It certainly did feel a lot better once that had cleared up though and felt some fresher air coming my way too, so that helped a lot to get everywhere feeling a little bit better than it was before.

It was good to be able to get a few things done around the flat as well, and feel ready for the weekend and some quality time with The Love In My Heart after work tomorrow. I had a lengthy chat to her about all sorts tonight which was nice, and then blasted out some quality tunes on CD including the excellent On album from Echobelly. I still to this day like the opening track Car Fiction, so definitely tune of the day for me. It gives me back happy memories seeing the band live too!

Wednesday 12th August - Too Close For Comfort

My, what a horrrible, muggy, humid day today was. Not content with the temperature outside being around 35 degrees, but absolutely no air circulating, it had been 25 degrees overnight so was very uncomfortable for sleeping. I did manage a few hours eventually but was just sweating quite a bit (not very attractive to be honest) and really did feel rather horrible. It felt no better when I got up and the incessant heat from outside wasn't helped by the same feeling inside. My colleagues were also mentioning how hot and humid they felt too, so it wasn't just me (and was concerned just in case it was a high temperature, you never know.)

Apparently it's the first time ever that it's been over 34 degrees in the same place for six days in the UK. And not good for me at all. In fact, I was sorely tempted to head out for lunch just to mooch around Iceland or Sainsburys just in order to cool down a little but then the heat would hit you as you went back outside. Even in Nice last year when it was unfeasibly hot, the humidity wasn't as bad so was at least doable, and we did have aircon in the hotel room which gave us a well deserved break from all of the heat (and a nice view of the Notre Dame Cathedral too.)

The inside temperature for the heating system shows the thermometer at 32 degrees, possibly the warmest it's ever been inside the flat. Even with any windows open and not much airflow, it's not going to get much lower. I'm seriously having to consider getting my own aircon unit with a hose that I can place through the window to outside to help, and keep it reasonably cool inside, especially when working from home. I felt it less when working full time in an office as the aircon always kept you reasonably cool and that allowed you to be able to at least get through the day unscathed.

I did manage a bit today despite all of that - I first of all sorted out some queries for the remaining potential OEM machines I need to sort, and then worked through reading a proposal for a future implementation of some additions to one of our pieces of software we use. It did all make sense to be perfectly honest, and it was nice to just read that and have a think about how we can then implement that plan when the right time comes. It's been a good learning experience for me as well.

It still is unfeasibly humid though - and I am worried about sleeping tonight as I do feel I need a good few hours. I might have to console myself with the snooker semi finals and see a tactical battle unfold between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Selby. I must admit I was surprised Anthony McGill outplayed Kyren Wilson this afternoon, but he does at least have some decent walk on music, This Charming Man by The Smiths and so that has to be tune of the day. Now let's see if I can manage to cool off in any way possible..

Tuesday 11th August - Hitting The Hut

It was off to the office today and I must admit the fact it has air con really did sway me a fair bit, it has to be said. Granted I did need to leave in the morning but I was able to do so before I then got to the really warm weather, and headed into Whole Foods for a couple of cold drinks to keep me going at my desk. It was good to be inside there as it did feel really nice and refreshing, which allowed me to concentrate a lot more on getting plenty done, so a definite plus.

One thing I was testing out today was seeing if I could replicate an issue we saw with a program we're testing where it seems to take over a certificate authentication for one web site. However, a fresh install on a new machine and copious amounts of testing later, and this didn't appear to be the case, which I fed back to my colleague accordingly. I was also able to do some further checks and tests and all appeared well there, so can't really argue with that. I did feel quite positive actually.

I ventured out for lunch at Tesco, which was thankfully cool but outside was murder, so glad to be back in the office, and spent the afternoon sorting out a few other issues including analysing an Excel spreadsheet, and finding that due to a user putting in a single cell value in C1048576 (yes, really) this caused issues opening it elsewhere. I managed to rectify that and also put in some pointers for whoever created the sheet as clearly they didn't do something right. Good to at least back up some of that with some proof of course.

Two of my colleagues in procurement did head out with me for a nice after work drink at the Glasshouse pub. We could drink outside but they had to put the pints in plastic containers with lids on, but that did at least minimise the chances of spillage. It was nice to catch up and chatter all round, and definitely for me was a positive that we were able to have some form of normality. It was only one drink, but good to do and as it was still very warm outside, I thought eating out might prove worthwhile.

Then I remembered - the Pizza Hut close to work was back open, they were doing a menu to ensure social distancing, and they were part of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme so half price, so why not? They had air con too, so obvious winner in this weather. I entered, had the hand sanitiser done and was shown to a table. All the orders are done via a website and it detected my location right, I entered the table number, and did the deal which is normally £15.99 - an individual pan pizza, side, salad and soft drink. Of course this proved to be £8 with the deal on, so why not?

I had the southern nuggets which were vegetarian and more like Quorn, and decent, and I elected no salad but still had some tortilla chips come out anyway (maybe some dip would have been useful?) - but the star of the show was the meat feast with barbecue sauce - it was absolutely gorgeous. Lots of good taste and washed down well with 7Up Free, and of course because you had paid, no waiting for the bill, you could leave when you wanted. That did mean the unreasonable heat though, a line referenced in PWEI's 92 Degrees (make that tune of the day, certainly felt that temperature today for sure) and it was horrendous heading back to Victoria even at 7.30pm and then from East Croydon home too.

Monday 10th August - Humid and Hot

It wasn't the nicest day at all weather wise to be in, and even heading homewards last night I was feeling the difference on my journey home. I did actually change carriages on the train because the coach I had a seat for had an aircon failure and I didn't want to risk the overheating in there, and so found the unreserved coach U with space and with aircon, so that was good and felt it being nice. However, none of that on the Victoria Line, was absolutely boiling, and the train did have aircon but felt so humid with no air as I headed home later.

It was much the same when I got up and got myself ready for a working at home day today. The windows were all open early on as my side of the development is shaded in the morning, but I have to say that the curtains and blinds were closed by early afternoon as the warm sun otherwise would have come in. As it was, even with me taking some measures to try and keep cool, nothing much was happening and the heat was just staying there with the humidity to boot.

I even tried a couple of other things in an attempt to keep cool, but it just felt hot and sticky no matter what. The Love In My Heart had had a similar sort of day in terms of sticky weather too, so definitely not one to enjoy either for her. I might end up taking a shower later and just seeing if that helps before I head to bed, but definitely do feel that tomorrow at least with the office having air con that at least I won't melt as much, it'll just be when I get home later on that it probably won't be pleasant to say the least.

I also did manage to get some more things sorted for the far east zone, so their distribution point is now ready for PXE booting after some liaison with our networks team accordingly, with the PXE responder doing its job similar to how I set up another DP recently. Provided you don't need multicast, this is tons better as it avoids the use of Windows Deployment Services on the server itself, and keeps things relatively lightweight with a responder service doing the honours instead.

The World Championship snooker was of course on, and a real mixed bag in the quarter finals today. Mark Williams panned Ronnie O'Sullivan 6-2 in the session, and it could have been more. Ronnie was clearly slagging off younger players, but underestimated how relaxed and how well Mark Williams can play. Also, Kyren Wilson v Judd Trump is shaping up nicely to be a cracker - and a nice old school piece of walk on music from Kyren with Sandstorm by Darude, so tune of the day for me that one.

Sunday 9th August - Sunday Roast At Last

It was a nice relaxing day for myself and The Love In My Heart today, and we had both had a nice lie in and Brian the cat snuggling alongside his Mummy, because he can. We did have a lovely breakfast with some sausages, mini hash browns, bacon and a poached egg and that went down very nicely, as well as some fresh orange juice too. I must admit it sets us up well for the day and The Love really does look after me when making such lovely things like that.

We decided that as a lot of places were booked out and so you had to book way in advance to get a timed entry, staying local was the better option and so we headed off to Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury. We knew that the best chance of getting an on street parking space was at the far end where Millgate Lane meets Parrs Wood Road, and so it proved. From there, we walked down the little hollow into the boardwalk and then up to one of the main paths around part of the flood basins in the park.

We then went a different route today, instead of turning right near Millgate Fields, we went straight on and went past a field with some cows and calves in, and then the path turned left along a row of trees followed by a right turn uphill and towards the River Mersey, but then heading right again and along a nice path full of nature, plants and flowers. That then took us to another path with a right turn which followed along the far end of the farm field and back towards the path we normally take and over to the river. We then headed along the poplar trees, an iconic sight there, and then towards the rockery.

To our delight, the Alpine Tea Room was back open - but different. They had a little green trailer with the coffee and the cold drinks, and a gazebo where all the ice cream etc was too, with suitable chillers. As the inside of the tea room is small, this way you could queue outside and safely distance. We got a couple of cold drinks whcih was just the job for us as we sat on a bench and chilled out for a bit - it was very nice it has to be said. And everyone was being good and distancing properly as well despite it being pretty busy overall in the gardens and rockery especially.

We later headed to the Ashlea in Cheadle, having booked in advance, and to our joy they had Sunday roast on the menu! They weren't insisting on the app either, and as we had booked, all the track and trace details were in place anyway. It was nice to have a pint of the Yardbird ale, and the Sunday roasts we both had were lovely - The Love had the pork with crackling, and the pork was so melty and spot on, and plenty of turkey for me with the pig in blanket being a proper full sausage! Winning. Tune of the day is in fact "Lovely Day" by Bill Withers, because it certainly was that.

Saturday 8th August - Wine and Walloping

It was nice to have a relatively good lie in this morning, and somewhat a little bit longer than normal due to Brian the cat deciding that one side of the bed was completely his and hogging lots of space. When he eventually did decide to get up it was purely for a feed from his Mummy for some early tuna, but then The Love In My Heart quite rightly headed back to sleep. I think we'd both had a long week for different reasons and I think we both needed a bit of sleep to be perfectly honest.

After a nice breakfast and allowing Brian some quality playtime, it was off out for a bit in the afternoon, but mainly to make sure that we could do a few things for her father (at distance and not going in) and once that was done, and with the weather being pretty nice overall, we thought that it would be nice to sit outside somewhere. We didn't manage that, but we did at least manage to visit the rather nice Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury, and got a nice table inside by the door, having checked in for their track and trace purposes.

What we did see were a number of couples following in, wanting to have an outside table seat and almost in one case throwing a strop when the manager quite rightly said that they couldn't stand outside with drinks, most likely a licencing breach and all that. I mean, it was nice inside, the upstairs fans were on, and it was relatively cool inside (not to mention that the Titanic Mild was on form also and well worth a drink too) - so we were all happy and chilled out anyway.

It was back to The Love's place later on and we had a really nice evening meal together, and she had got some lovely gammon together with a honey glaze, and had that with some nice potatoes and vegetables. It was lovely, and we really just chilled out in the evening and saw the opening episode of a new ITV game show, Rolling In It, effectively based on a 2p rolling game in the amusement arcades, ruined by having Stephen Mulhern as host. Honestly, ITV, you could have had anyone else and made it decent.

I did see a bit of the snooker later and it was a pretty tense session between Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins, ending 8-8 overall (make Neil's walk on music tune of the day - it's Heart of Courage by Two Steps From Hell). They were walloping the ball round well but there were some tense frames as well to see, that was for sure. I also wondered why they didn't switch tables on the red button during the mid session interval, would have made more sense, surely? In any case, all good stuff. The Love did see some of the royal family stuff on Channel 5 later on (which always seems to be on a Saturday night for some reason, don't know why that is) and all was well with the world.

Friday 7th August - Lots of Office Space

I headed up and out early, and took the train to Victoria followed by the bus to the office, not far from Piccadilly Circus. I did note that it seemed a little busier on the train in, but the bus was quieter. Bit odd that but it may be that there's more frequent buses allowing for more spacing out, we shall see. In any case it was nice to get into the office and find that there weren't many people in, but also that the air conditioning was working well and that it was going to be a much cooler experience being in the office too.

In fact, it proved to be very quiet - I've been in when there's been a fair number of people, adhering to current safety guidelines that we need to. But instead there were around five of us in, so plenty of opportunity to be safe and apart as well too. I did also keep an eye on the continuing content distribution to the new DP and had seen some progress, but noted it was still taking some time to carry on. What I had noted though was that a number of Windows 10 machines we needed online to check them over were online, so was able to get a few things sorted with them too.

I ventured out to Boots, face covering on of course, for some lunch, and managed to get plenty in their reduced to clear bit, so a sandwich and some sushi for 50p each - can't argue with that really. In fact it seemed pretty quiet elsewhere too but was nice to head back inside for the aircon, have lunch at the space provided (we still haven't got any tea and coffee onsite for safety reasons) and then head back to the job in hand, and get a fair bit more done including a couple of meetings.

It was then on the bus up to Euston, but this time around went via Holborn so I could nip into the KFC on Southampton Row first and get some well earned popcorn chicken and chips, and then onwards to Euston station to head for the 1855 train to Manchester Piccadilly. The train was reasonably busy but spaced out well and I did managed to get the seat I had booked, so all good there. It was good to blast out some nice chilled out tunes including some classic 80s tracks as well, so make Empire State Human by The Human League tune of the day.

The Love In My Heart came to collect me from Piccadilly and back at her place we chilled out with Brian the cat, and it was a case of us both being able to relax with a drink (especially as The Love had got me some lovely cans of craft beer) and I had the rather nice raspberry gose one from Thornbridge as we settled in with some 8 Out of 10 Cats first of all, followed by turning over and watching some other bits of telly. Brian was of course happy to play out in the dark as it was cooler, and that also meant that he decided to also hog the bed later as well. What is he like?

Thursday 6th August - Distributing

A bit of a mixed bag for me today, and commencing the start of sorting out a new MECM distribution point for a new site after being given the go-ahead yesterday. It was noticeable that when we actually attempted to PXE boot from the nearest site and then also attempted to then get content from it, it looked like it was going to take far too long to be honest. As such it was easier to be able to have the go-ahead, and so this morning it was the initial setup being done.

That took some time, primarily due to the slowness of copying the installation files from the main site server over to the new location, but got there in the end. Once it was all copied over with some initial tests and checks, it was then to set it as a pull distribution point so that it would pull content from its nearest location. This of course would still take time, but at least it would be less time consuming overall. I suspeced though that it may take a fair amount of time so set it off and left it running with me monitoring what was going on.

I have to say that it did look like it was only marginally quicker than me actually setting up the content to go, but there we have it - nothing you can do so much based on physical speeds really, so it was a periodic check just to ensure that all was well and that the content was going along, and checking the log files as well to see which bit of content from which package was being sent. All of that seemed fine though so was a case of checking a few other things during the day and making sure the remainder was all set.

I must admit that I did see the weather forecast for the next few days and the potential heatwave wasn't filling me with excitement. It did look like it might be 35 degrees centigrade tomorrow, so thought it may be better (and I had the clearance to do so) to be in the office, aircon and all, before heading up to see The Love In My Heart. I had already booked for next Friday anyway, so thought it made sense. And indeed it did feel more sticky rather than warm tonight as well, so plenty of liquids consumed to keep hydrated.

I did also have a good listen tonight (and again) to the Great Sporting Experience CD. If you want the proper sports themes CD, this one is for you - it has of course the likes of the London Marathon, Athletics, Grandstand, Sportsnight, Test Match Cricket, Superstars etc, but it does also have Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band - the proper snooker theme and definitely tune of the day for me, absolute classic - the guitar riffs and all that are somewhat legendary!

Wednesday 5th August - In The Office

It was back to the office today, as it's been quite productive normally when I am in there - and I am also able to do some testing of various things physically that you can't really do when you are working from home. It was a different route today because the trains to Victoria weren't as often as I thought: so it was Thameslink to Blackfriars and then District to Embankment followed by Bakerloo to Piccadilly Circus. Interestingly, because Temple and Charing Cross tube stations are closed, it was only one stop on each line to go. The Bakerloo train was lovely and empty and had the whole carriage to myself.

It was nice to be in anyway as four of the IT folks were in and we had been allocated desks on a bank, correctly socially distanced but at least it meant we could talk to each other and get on during the day, which was actually very nice it has to be said. I also amended the Windows 10 build task sequence as per a planned change to include the new versions of Chrome and Firefox that I had tested and all was well there. In fact there was a laptop which needed a rebuild anyway, so set to work on that and it was done before our Service Team colleagues arrived, so all good.

It was a productive day - spent some time checking over some stats of machines with Bitlocker and reasons why, thankfully this was relatively easy to put together if you know what you are looking for of course, and it was useful to put together and sort. The good thing is that it shows that our build processes are solid, becuase we could clearly see that the number was very high (as it should be!) and that indeed it was all working as we wanted, so felt positive about that too.

I did head out to lunch and to Tesco, which was fine, and in the afternoon went out to get a coffee with one of my colleagues to take back to the office, primarily as we at the moment don't have any tea and coffee facilities on site, to comply with safety regulations and so on. It was all good though and a couple of more good meetings meant that the day ended on a high - and with a nice air conditioned office it did feel positive on the whole, it has to be said.

I took the train home later which was relatively quiet, and it was then home and on with the snooker from the Crucible. The start of the second round match between Mark Williams and Stuart Bingham was fascinating stuff, but on the other table another surprise result as Stephen Maguire again suffered in the first round, losing heavily to Martin Gould. Maguire has a habit of first round losses, including, infamously, to Dechawat Poomjaeng as well, if you remember him. Still, Martin does walk out to some Motorhead, namely The Game. Class that, and tune of the day.

Tuesday 4th August - Capturing Part II

I did another capture of a game from the Commodore Plus/4 tonight, and that was Tutti Frutti by Mastertronic. This still is one of my favourite games on the C16 and Plus/4 series, coded by the brilliant Shaun Southern and it is immensely playable. It has nods to both Mr. Do and Pengo while having its own unique style, and indeed plenty of really nice graphics using the colour palette well. It also has a title tune which although maybe simplistic is indeed addictive - and tune of the day because of that.

I did some tweaks in OBS to do the capture so added some text based graphics at the top and the bottom of the screen, indicating the game being played, and indeed also managed to get the audio settings mixed nicely so I could have the game play with any headset mic commentary as needed - well that was the theory. In fact once I'd worked a plan of action it wasn't too bad, although doing a capture straight from composite input and having a bit of scaling up slightly might not work. I thought about it a bit.

And then decided to do a little experiment, sort of on a budget. Ideally, get myself a composite input to HDMI upscaler and then from there get a little HDMI capture stick that comes in via USB, the idea being that I would then be able to effectively have the upscaling do its work (and hopefully do so at the resolution needed) and then capture that way, hopefully seeing more of the original style of the graphics come through nicely. Must admit though having my nVidia Quadro card do some of the hardware encoding proved pretty useful, not least because it took the load off the CPU. Nice.

I also did watch the World Snooker Championship today and it was a series of shocks, one after the other. First of all, Noppon Saengkham didn't waste any time this morning finishing off his match with Shaun Murphy, beating him 10-4. I had an outside chance of thinking Noppon might win, but definitely not by that scoreline. Granted Shaun didn't play that well but you still have to beat what's in front of you and be able to do the business, and Noppon did that in spades.

The other one was argubaly an even bigger shock to be honest, as the world number 89 Jamie Clarke took on number 4 seed Mark Allen. It was 5-4 to Allen at the start of the evening session, but at the mid session interval Clarke had pulled off some excellent snooker to go 7-6 ahead. He missed a chance for 9-6 that could have been a turning point, but it was frames shared from there and so that meant a 10-8 win for him. He played really well and had Mark Allen in all sorts of problems. I'm trying to think of a lower ranked player getting through the first round (possibly James Cahill last year!) but definitely, a huge shock result.

Monday 3rd August - Capturing

So I had a nice delivery of two things in the post today: the first of which were a series of small samplers via which The Love In My Heart had recommended - this way you get to try some things, in my case such as some aftershave or skincare products, see if you like them, and then you can always try before you buy - only had to pay postage. The Love found it quite useful when she had ordered, so thought I'd give it a go. Not too bad as it happens, has to be said.

The other delivery I got was courtesy of Retro Computer Shack via their eBay store - some audio and video cables for the Commodore series of computers. I ordered the video port to SCART lead to replace my current one, and you could tell the difference, the quality seemed much happier and a better picture overall, so definitely that alone was well worth the purchase. The other thing I was after was a lead to connect the Commodore 64 and Plus/4 via their video socket to either composite or S-Video, to connect up to a USB grabber device I'd acquired recently (albeit a bit old.)

So the combo lead did the job, and it looked impressively well built, and connected that the connectors, and then plugged it in. My C64 and Plus/4 do have the 8-pin socket, needed for this lead, so all connected snugly and then connected the Plus/4 to it. I had already managed to find a Windows 10 compatible driver, although as it turns out it didn't support S-Video, only composite, and so connected up the cables needed. Fired up OBS Studio and it detected the Plus/4 as a suitable source. Nice. Tweaked the settings a bit, did a bit of gameplay, and seemed to be okay but not great.

I think realistically if I wanted to do things more professionally, the Retrotink 2x series would have to be considered (although the Mini might be better when released if I wasn't bothered about capturing from the Wii) - as that can upscale to HDMI and output at say 480p, then I've got a decent original source to capture via a HDMI card. I probably need to experiment a bit first and see how I do with say a couple of C64 capture tests as well as the Plus/4, but still it's nice to see things work when they're connected correctly.

I did have a play of Vegas Jackpot on the Plus/4 to test, as it's the first Mastertronic release on that format. It was good to see that the old school Who Wants To Be A Millionaire plays as the title theme so that's tune of the day (not to be confused with the game show of course) - and that indeed all the sounds etc were there as intended. I did manage to work out how to also mix in my USB headset microphone too, so pretty good all round to work out that it could all be done.

Sunday 2nd August - Back On The London Loop

So today was back on the London Loop to take the next section on, section 10, which would start at Hatton Cross and head up Northwards to Hayes and Harlington. Of course, as the Loop heads further to the north and west of the city, this does mean increased travelling time to get to the start of the section and indeed back home from the end. However, it does allow me to also explore new outer suburbs of the capital city that I have never seen before, so there is that as well to consider. I think it's been surprising me so far with plenty of nice moments, and hoped for more today.

It was therefore on the X26 bus from Croydon all the way via Sutton and Kingston to Hatton Cross, even with it being an express bus that's an hour and half worth of journey with face covering on, but only right that I do so of course. Once at Hatton Cross it was heading along the A30 and via the outer perimeter road, seeing the road curve to allow the tube tunnel to come up from Hatton Cross station (and I did see a Piccadilly Line tube surface from there also) - so that was interesting to see. It was then down to Cranebank and to follow the River Crane as it snaked its way onwards.

Once through the initial park, it was then through a few streets and along the A4 to Cranford Bridge, crossing over the Crane and then after a brief walk through Berkeley Meadows, it was through some woodland to Cranford Park, eventually giving way to an expanse of open space that really did seem lovely, with the long grass and the trees being a perfect place to relax and have a picnic (as some families were doing safely too). It then took you via the left of the play area and car park onwards to St Dunstan's Church, which apparently is the burial place of Tony Hancock (he of Hancock's Half Hour fame). I couldn't locate the stone, but maybe I'll have to go back at some point.

It was then following the subway underneath the M4 motorway, through the lovely named Dog Kennel Covert and then to another piece of parkland, which was quite nice as it opened out with some more walking by the River Crane. I then followed the road to the A312 and up to the bridge over the Grand Union Canal. However, taking the spiral walkway down revealed the towpath was closed, so had to retrace my steps back a bit and then to the junction where there used to be a pub, and follow the road over the canal there and then down to the towpath. It was then I noted where the former Nestlé coffee factory should be, and was demolished apart from the art deco frontage, as that's to be a central piece of a new development.

I followed the Grand Union Canal to a pub and headed off there for Hayes and Harlington station. There was a Tesco Express there so time to grab lunch and get a nice seat overlooking the canal in a public square before then heading to the station - and this would mean my first ever journey on the Purple Train (aka TfL Rail or Crossrail). Obvioiusly a Prince classic was in my head at this point, so Purple Rain is tune of the day. It was all very nice actually, working wi-fi, proper air conditioning and even got the seats actually facing forwards and not sideways, so that was lovely.

The journey back home, and to avoid Zone 1 and paying more (Hayes and Harlington is Zone 5, same as East Croydon) was actually in four legs but four different transport modes in London - so started off with TfL Rail to Ealing Broadway, changed there for the Central Line underground service to Shepherds Bush, did an out of station interchange to the London Overground station and took that service to Clapham Junction, followed then by a Southern rail service to East Croydon. This however did mean it cost me £2.90 (as Shepherds Bush and Clapham Junction are Zone 2, so zones 2-5 travelled through) instead of going via Paddington then Victoria (Zone 1) which would have been £5.10. Always good to do that if you can save!

Saturday 1st August - Kernow and Chat

I did have the work laptop today and was keeping in touch with both my manager and one of my colleagues, who were down in the Kernow (that's Cornwall) looking at migrating over one of our recent acquisitions, who are based in a place not far from Redruth. Of course, it was interesting yesterday when the manager had joined us on our daily call and I could see the wind and the tin mines around, but it was down to getting the migration of kit sorted along with some of the software that was needed. I had set up a fair bit of stuff beforehand for them but did say I'd be on hand if I was needed.

That of course gave me the perfect excuse to watch the snooker on BBC Two, especially as I couldn't be there to see it later in the week myself. I did watch most of the game between Stuart Bingham and Ashley Carty, turning it over to the red button coverage once the main programme had finished, and Bingham had gone 9-4 up before Carty pulled off three in a row to get some respectability before Bingham closed it out to win 10-7, a good match really and one that Ashley Carty in my view should take a lot of pride from.

The afternoon was spent sorting out some machines' configuration for my colleagues, seeing the F1 qualifying and that meant Lewis Hamilton nailing a superb pole position and promising stuff for Lando Norris too in the Mclaren, and that was entertaining - not least Jenson Button doing the top three interviews as well. I did flick over then to the snooker too and saw a bit of an epic match between Ding Junhui and Mark King go eventually to a final frame decider, again over on BBC Sport app on the telly as even with some extensions, BBC Two coverage went off on the closing stages of the second to last frame!

Later on after a good chat with The Love In My Heart and that was nice (by all accounts Brian the cat had had his tea so was all good) and later on it was then time to meet up with my friends online and have a good evening of chatting all things retro gaming, the current situation and also how things were generally with everyone. It was really nice all told and was just good to be able to have a few drinks (the Cronx Entire Porter I got the other day just had to be consumed during this time!) and to effectively have a good time with everyone, which really helped.

There was even a discussion about the old Now Music records and how it's like something daft like Now 105 or something, and showed them my original copy of the first Now That's What I Call Music, with three appearances for Limahl (one solo, two with Kajagoogoo) and two for Culture Club as well. It did though have some superlative tracks on there such as Temptation by Heaven 17 and Is There Something I Should Know by Duran Duran (make that tune of the day) as well as other classics - Safety Dance by Men Without Hats, Down Under by Men At Work and Fascination by Human League. A proper classic compilation.