Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives (which now will go back five years maximum):

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Tuesday 27th February - You Poured It On A Fish?

It was a busy couple of days working from home and being able to do some analysis on some machines at the same time - in order to ensure that any updates were performed for those that needed them, but also to be on hand for some migration work that had happened over the last weekend. On the whole it has felt quite a positive couple of days, but it was just nice to be able to not have to get any transport to work - not least on the Monday where the trains were completely borked due to some signalling issues and that meant everyone drove, so the roads for the buses were horrendous.

None of that for me tonight though as after work it was the relatively short walk over to West Croydon station and to get the train in a South West direction towards Sutton and then on to Epsom, with the fast train from London Bridge being picked up at West Croydon. It was full of commuters, a lot of which got out at Carshalton Beeches, Sutton and Cheam on the way, so all was good there. Once a Epsom the train was pretty empty and so headed out of the station and followed the Station Way path and past the clock tower, and on to a local pub for some food and drink fior tea.

So why Epsom? Well, tonight at the small Myers Studio within the Epsom Playhouse, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis (you'll know them as Punt and Dennis, and two of The Mary Whitehouse Experience back in the day) were doing a small intimate show where they would try out some ideas for what would go into their live show and tour, which is happening between April and June this year. Of course, this also meant that you might hear some ideas which might get canned for the later live shows, but be very much part of a work in progress, reflected also by the cheaper ticket price.

Initially, I was in the second row but then some front row "reserved" seats were available and I was asked if I'd like to go in front. I did along with two couples and that was good, I'd get a front row view. And sure enough, dead on 8pm, on they came. As yet because all the lines were being rehearsed, they had a script for prompts and so on which they'd hold - almost like doing a live radio show, but with a studio audience. I have to say though I liked the idea of that anyway and they were both immediately on form within a few minutes, with their witty and often satirical yet straight laced look on things.

Naturally, Hugh Dennis' eye for a good impersonation in both voice an actions came to the fore in a couple of sketches, one involving a former US president to a good degree, as well as there being a mock TV presenter with his back to the audience, being a literal presenter and saying "And now.. back to the studio!" - if you get the drift of that. Some sketches worked really well and got a lot of laughs from the audience, and overall it was pretty witty, funny and intelligent humour that I think will go well with some minor tweaks here and there, and a pleasure to see.

The final thing they did was in effect a modern day version of a classic iconic sketch from their TV show in the mid-1990s, World of Wine. In the sketch Steve Punt plays Tarquin, a posh bloke who talks very posh about the wine. Hugh Dennis plays Michael, someone who enjoys their wine just a little too much and often appears drunk. Even without them in suitable outfits, the sketch was brilliant, and even a nod to the "You poured it on a fish?" line, with Hugh saying about white wine: "Just don't use it on fish, you know I don't like it" as a suitable nod to the original. Nicely done.

Part of me admittedly would have loved to see the resurrection of the Mr Strange character and the legendary Milky Milky catchphrase, and when I got home later on the train I did dig out my CD single of "Milky Milky (Take Me To The Fridge)" credited to Mr Strange and the Lactose Brotherhood (make that tune of the day) and play it. Of course there's nods in that track to other characters such as the embarrassing dad (Hey, what's this? It's got a good beat!) as well as the busker doing the opening bit to Here Comes the Sun...

Sunday 25th February – Birthday Bash Number 2

The Love In My Heart and I had a good sleep last night – and perhaps for me one of the nicest sleeps I’ve had in ages. When I did go to bed after seeing Manchester City’s win at Bournemouth on Match of the Day, Brian the cat had decided that my end of the bed would be his snuggle space, and so lay at the bottom corner all snuggly. I had to steer the legs around him when I got into bed, but he was nice and warm so that was good to have. He did of course move to his Mummy later on but still, he didn’t move when I got in was happily snuggled for a bit, so I sort of take that one.

We had some breakfast, and then once that was all done, it was time to get ourselves ready and changed to head out – and to another birthday party. This time around it was my nephew’s second birthday and my brother had invited me up to his place for the afternoon, along with some of the family. It would be good to see everyone and it would be the first time we had seen the house since him and his fiancée moved in, so definitely good to see how it was all shaping up.

It was off from The Love’s place and soon out of Manchester and on to the motorway and then a main A road, heading North, and then from there I had some directions written down which got us exactly to where we needed to be – my brother’s place. It was a little end terrace with a traditional feel, and certainly felt like work had been done on the outside to make it look inviting. We came in and into the dining room where chairs were laid out along with a table with food on, leading into the kitchen also. The place felt very nice and warm and the front room also looked very comfortable, it was very nice to see it looking well.

My brother did say some hot food was being made too and sure enough a nice traditional Lancashire hotpot had been made, and had some of that and it was lovely. There were sandwiches, crisps and snacks and cold drinks – and apart from the nephew and baby sister niece, there was only one other child, who was related to my brother’s fiancée side on the family, so made sense that there was mainly standard buffet fare on offer. It was all nice and later on there were also some spring rolls and other little hot snacks too, so they did well – enough for everyone.

My Mum was insisting that my nephew opened his presents today – despite the fact it was his birthday tomorrow. There were plenty of toys and clothes for him, but he was more interested in playing with his existing toys, and that’s understandable. I would imagine it felt a bit overawing too. I have to say though that the little niece is absolutely adorable – she had a really happy contented face and was watching and observing whilst being cute. The whole afternoon was actually really nice and it was good to see that later on my brother appreciated us all coming and let me know it was good to see everyone.

The Love and I headed back towards Manchester in good time for me to head for my train home, which thankfully unlike Friday night’s shenanigans was actually on time – woo. I had the iPod and headphones on and blasted out a fair few bits of some albums including the excellent track Everything Is Connected by Blancmange (make that tune of the day) from their Private View album, which was thoroughly enjoyable on release. And the lines “take a train back home” just seemed apt considering that’s what I was doing!

Saturday 24th February – Birthday Bash Number 1

It was nice to get a relative lie in with both Brian the cat and The Love In My Heart, although Brian was miaowing at his Mummy to get up. I did head up to try and distract him with some Dreamies, and that worked for all of two minutes before he wanted snuggles with Mummy in the bed. Awww. He’s a big softie really but he knows who he wants to be with and I’ve got used to that now. I think too because The Love had a week off work this week that he has had even more fussing and cuddles than normal, and now he may find it hard next week when The Love goes back to work.

After some breakfast we got ourselves changed and ready,and were off to head out to the city centre. Thanks to a bit of clever negotiation, the venue we were at for today’s birthday party (namely The Cute Little One’s third birthday) was basically hired for not much at all, and with a decent bar too. It also meant that her parents could hire some soft play and a little bouncy castle for the day, so that was quite nice to have something for the children to enjoy, and there would be plenty of them arriving later on too, always nice to have friends around of course.

As The Love had been helping prep some of the party food, we set off early with trays of food in tow and timed it well enough to meet up with some of the family close to the venue, so we were able to head to the parking space right next door to the place, called The Stables. It did feel really nice inside with its beams and also had some nice heating on, so wasn’t too cold for everyone. The Cute Little One’s grandparents were here too, and they’re always nice to talk to and had a good chatter with them about potential places to go on holiday to, which they seemed to approve of and said that we should do it – so that’s good.

As the children arrived, The Cute Little One was super happy and was already excited by all the soft play arriving as well as seeing both myself and The Love, and was soon on the soft play with her friends, but initially was reluctant to go on the bouncy castle until a couple of her young relations also decided it’d be nice to be on there – and then that was her happy and playful too. They had set out a table for all the plates, cups etc and had food there which was all nice, and a lovely little birthday cake in the shape of a unicorn which was enjoyed too. It was all very nice really and had a nice couple of drinks (all Vocation beer too, winning!) with some of The Love’s family and friends.

The time sped by, and later on to ease the burden somewhat, we headed off with a massive load of presents for The Cute Little One and back to their parents’ place, so we could drop them all off for them – and there seemed to be plenty of nice dolls and toys as well as clothes too. We then decided to get ourselves something for tea as it had been a good few hours since the food, and so headed to the Sheldon Arms for a good old fashioned carvery, which went down very nicely indeed – the turkey and the gammon we both had were spot on, with lashings of gravy, Yorkshire pudding, carrots, peas, green beans, stuffing, the works. It was a really nice way to have some down time after what was a busy party day.

We arrived home in good time for Gladiators, and it was good to see some of the classic events once again, including of course the likes of Queen’s iconic Another One Bites The Dust when the contender fails, and that has to be tune of the day – it was playing in The Love’s car too on the way to the party earlier and just reminded me of that. Plus in the day The Cute Little One’s father was quite a fan of Gladiators back then, even having a mock toy pugil stick to pretend that they were on Duel (which is back in this year’s events too.) Like I said previously, they’ve not messed around too much with the original format and that has to be a good thing.

Sunday 18th February - Train of Pain

It was a nice lie in for myself, The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat as I had felt tired last night and wanted to get a good night's sleep, and The Love did manage that to some degree, more after I'd got up to watch last night's Gladiators that I had missed because I was at the football. I have to say that in both cases the eliminator was pretty close and that meant that it was one mistake on the travelator that potentially could have proven costly. I also managed to work out the 11 episde format. So, five heats where the winner plus fastest loser on the eliminator gets to the quarter finals. Only, there's three of those the heat winners plus fastest loser gets to the semis, followed by the semis and finals. Shame it wasn't 15 episodes with straight knockout from heats all the way through.

I suppose though the positive is that it's been well received over all. It was sensible not to muck around with the format, especially the Eliminator, and most of the classic games have been retained. The two new games, The Ring and The Edge, both seem to be good too, so defiinitely add something. I do think Gauntlet's play area seems wider and a bit too easy for the contestants to get 10 points, that needs to be addressed. Other positives are having Guy Mowbray from Match of the Day on commentary, and Mark Clattenburg as a no nonsense referee too, a la John Anderson.

After a visit to my Mum's early afternoon, we headed over to the Gateway for lunch, where The Love had the fish and chips and I went for the mixed grill. There was also some Titanic beer which was called Black Ice, and it was what it said on the tin - a black ale but quite a citrus taste to it, very different and also very nice, and went well with the meal. I did have coffee later and we had a good natter prior to me being dropped off at Manchester Piccadilly by The Love in order for me to get the train back home.

It was a journey that started okay but in the end was painful due to a number of reasons. I had the headphones on and all was well listening to some music, including the epic Me and My Woman by Roy Harper (got to be tune of the day that one) and the train had decided to stop at Nuneaton, for around twenty minutes. It was a scheduled stop but first I thought that someone was getting medical attention (which is understandably safer to do so when at a station of course) but it wasn't that, as it transpired, more so when the train made an unscheduled stop into Milton Keynes Central.

Then it all came out, via a fellow passenger who had been to the onboard shop but also then the train manager: a woman had got on without a ticket, and refused to buy one when asked for a ticket from the train manager. The woman got abusive and caused a disturbance, and was refusing to get off the train at the next stop when the manager asked (which is fair.) British Transport Police failed to turn up at Nuneaton, which meant then a move down to Milton Keynes to eventually get them involved. Thing is though, what if he train manager had been threatened, and say something happened at Nuneaton? Would the BTP be held culpable? I would hope that they would.

So the train arrived eventually 55 minutes late into Euston. However, I was concerned that the train manager was okay, and that whatever that woman was doing, any delay repay that had to be paid out to the remaining pasengers on the train (I worked this out to be around £8-10,000 or so) should be claimed back from the person refusing to pay - it'd be a tough lesson but for the rest of us who pay the fare, why should we have them increased because of inconsiderate people I wonder?

Saturday 17th February - It's Going To Be A Blue Day

It was nice to have a little lie in, well that would be of course if Brian the cat allowed it. He wanted The Love In My Heart to get up, so even me enticing him with Dreamies only worked for a little bit before he put on his cute face, looking at his Mummy. We all got up and had some nice breakfast with James Martin in the background doing all sorts of nice food including a pie which looked rather good and made me think that I would be having a pie later when at the football. It was just a nice relaxing morning really and it was good to see that Brian then assumed the position on the pouffle and was all content there.

The Love's sister came over for a while and we all had a good chat and catch up. She also dropped off some presents for The Cute Little One as it's her birthday next week, so The Love could take them over on the day. It was just good to have a brew and natter, and with me keeping an eye on the football scores (Liverpool were winning well at Brentford so the sister's husband would be very happy indeed!) all seemed well. The rain though decided to start hammering it down which wasn't good for me as I was heading over to the Etihad Stadium later for the 5.30pm kick off.

Sure enough, I left and it was hammering it down, and was glad my Joules coat with hood did the job, it kept the rain off me and that was a positive as I walked around the ground to the top tier of the South Stand - it is a long way up there, and more so when you then get to the row your seat is in - I was in Row W but even that was around two thirds up, some were way higher than that. I did have a pie before kick off in the hope that it would keep me warm as the rain swirled around in the wind somewhat - I was relatively dry by now but even so.

Something didn't seem right with Manchester City as the frst half progressed. It was a plan of being defensive and catch City on the break by Chelsea, and with them having pace up front, that almost worked early on. City though kept at it and should have had a header on target from Erling Haaland that was over, and despite some work on the wings down the left from Jeremy Doku, it wasn't happening up front and Chelsea broke down the right hand side with Nicholas Jackson, who fed the ball across to Raheem Sterling, who showed composure to slot the ball past Ederson for the opener. No surprise it was one of our former players doing the business.

City huffed and puffed in the second half but it was looking not to be - Phil Foden broke down the right and crossed to Haaland who volleyed wide, and a ball in from Kevin de Bruyne also saw Haaland head it wide when it was easier to hit the target. Not his day today, this happens. City pressed onwards and having had a scare to go 2-0 down which would have killed the game off, it was more of a scramble that saw the ball break to Rodri who smashed it home for the equaliser (thankfully!) - and despite a late flurry it ended up 1-1 and not the best game to be fair in terms of a result, but I'd take a draw over a defeat of course.

For some reason as well, not sure why, but lately over the PA system before the game there's been a tendency to play The Smiths' Barbarism Begins At Home. Granted, the title might be sensible due to our home record, but wonder if anyone at City actually listened to the lyrics before playing that one? Still, I do like the excellent guitar work of Johnny Marr there on this one (and he is a diehard City fan) so that has to be tune of the day all round I think.

Wednesday 14th February – Love Is In The Font Air

I must admit the one thing that The Love In My Heart and I agree on is that there’s so much over the top sentiments about today, that you don’t need to really do. After all, if you love someone, you love them every single day, right? I always think that it’s better to show your love like that and never go for the grandiose over the top gestues. In fact that most we do for today is send each other a card, and in both cases we didn’t send one that had any mention of Valentine’s Day on the front – mine was a lovely card that The Love had got from Caroline Gardner, keeping it very classy indeed, and an appreciated sentiment mentioning Brian the cat too. Awww.

Anyway, I had been working out an issue yesterday and today with a colleague to work out just why a certain tool that was being used was refusing not to display the correct new corporate font, despite everything else working well. There were effectively some reasons behind that, but from what I could read of the HTML source, it effectively was sending out the font family, but with a name different from what was expected. Indeed this is where the HTML inspector features in both Chrome and Firefox came in handy, as I was able to effectively replicate that one without any issue. So a quick amend and test – and it did what it was supposed to do.

I think the other thing to bear in mind is that you often see that with some custom fonts, their metadata doesn’t always behave as it should either. Mostly, the right name was present in here but I’ve seen instances where the data isn’t what it is, and depending on how the source is generated, it doesn’t play ball. I have some useful ideas going forward and so that should be a lot easier, hopefully, but we shall see. It did at least give me a refresher in re-learning some HTML and style sheet definitions along the way though, so there is something at least.

I did some research last night too into something for Mum, and found her some useful information for her online, but also realised that she would benefit from having a hard printed copy too – so I printed off what I had found, and then remembered I had some A4 envelopes so I could put it in and send it her first class large letter too. Hopefully that’ll get there tomorrow so it should be relatively easy to sort out, and if it means that I’m doing my little bit to help her then that has to be a positive I think.

I have had a song in my head all day though, primarily because it’s a sort of anti-today song as such but also because it’s one of my favourite songs from the band, and it’s one I’ve seen them do live many times and with joy all round as everyone sings along and bounces to it. So the iconic There Is No Love Between Us Anymore by Pop Will Eat Itself is tune of the day for me – cheekily also sampling the likes of Nat King Cole and the Righteous Brothers along the way, complete with the ending to part of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling too. And still I bounce to this myself live!

Sunday 11th February – Sunday Roasting

The Love In My Heart and I had a nice little lie in, although of course Brian the cat was doing his best to make sure that Mummy got up for him at a suitable time. As I got up first, I gave him some Dreamies and even offered to play ball with him, but no, he wanted Mummy and was miaowing to that effect. What is he like? I did settle in and watch the remainder of Match of the Day from last night (City were on first, so went to bed after that) and that was a positive all round. We did also later on check and see what options we may have available for holidays, so that was good to look at.

I did mention too that I’d be able to book some time off in April and May, so I have some dates down and booked, primarily for some nice things to happen but also as this year my birthday is a Friday, we can have an extended weekend of sorts together if I come on the Thursday night. As it is, The Love is seeing Take That on the Sunday evening with her sister, so I can head home during the day and it all works out. I did as well think that it would be sensible to probably look at working out something nice when The Love next comes to mine, so have some good ideas on that too.

We had booked Elnecot for Sunday roast and lunch this afternoon, as The Love’s niece had very kindly got us a gift voucher for there for Christmas to put towards the meal, which was a lovely gesture. The staff in there are always really nice too, so we headed on the tram and walked through New Islington Marina, stopping off at Finders Keepers for a coffee (really nice in there too) before then heading through Ancoats and to Elnecot, where we had a table close to where the cooking was happening so it felt cosy and warm in there too. The Love looked lovely in her top, and I had my new check shirt on I got from John Lewis.

We both got ourselves a drink (Elnecot Lager for The Love and a really nice Cloudwater Happy for me) and that was all good. The roasts were absolutely lovely, The Love went for the pork belly which was massive, and I had the wagyu beef which was super tender and spot on too. That all came with roasties, a massive Yorkshire pudding, parsnips, carrots, broccoli cheese (the future!) as well as lashings of gravy too. It was really good and we both enjoyed it, with the relaxed vibe and some excellent tunes being played too including Going Underground by The Jam (got to be tune of the day as The Love adores Paul Weller)

After that lovely lunch, we walked over to Port Street Beer House, as we hadn’t been there in ages. And when we went upstairs it actually felt really cosy and nice, with the likes of Human Behaviour by Bjork being played too, which was a bonus (early stuff klaxon!) I managed to get a really nice orange peel stout which was spot on, and their own lager went down well with The Love too – she did go for a wine later on and I had another half of the same stout as it was delicious, but didn’t want to rush too much all told. It felt nice in there, definitely need to go back in again soon.

We walked over to Manchester Piccadilly station for me to get my train homewards, and The Love to head home on the tram. The train back did get delayed around Rugby and I ended up in Euston some 20 minutes late, but did make up some time at St Pancras to get a train back to East Croydon so the delay was less overall. It did feel like a long journey home tonight, primariy as I do miss The Love In My Heart so much, but also because it was boiling hot on the train (no thanks to Avanti Worst Coast there for that one!)

Saturday 10th February – Relief and Heartbreakers

It was a very early rise for me this morning as I was heading up to Manchester, to see The Love In My Heart but also to watch the Manchester City game against Everton which was a 12.30pm kick off. This did mean that I would be getting on the 0733 train from London Euston to ensure I got to Manchester in a decent time, and surprisingly there were a fair number of people at Euston when I oot there. The train was all fine though and so had the iPod on listening to some tunes as the train sped (well sort of) through the countryside via Crewe and onwards to Manchester.

The Love was having a late lie in with Brian the cat so took the tram to her place, and later we had the unexpected bonus visit of The Cute Little One and her parents, so that did cheer me up no end. She was insistent on her Nana taking her on choo choo train at some point, and I had messaged her parents a pic of the train I was getting on this morning so she could see it. It definitely was good to see her being so happy and enjoying her little self, playing with a tennis ball and bouncing it so that Maggie the dog (their dog) could chase after it with her. Needless to say Brian the cat hid away and was completely non plussed.

It was off for me to the Etihad Stadium not long after and today I was in Level 3 of the Colin Bell Stand, which did mean a walk around the ground and the works to get there. It was a good atmosphere up there mind you, and was front row so was able to see without anyone in the way. I just hoped we could turn Everton over if only to go top for a few hours before Liverpool inevitably beat Burnley later in the day, and as the teams came out with Erling Haaland starting, that did get the hopes up. Mind you, any team managed by Sean Dyche will be quite defensive though, so was hoping we could break it down.

And at half time, I was still hoping. It wasn’t a great performance all round and any attacks we made were stifled out by the Everton defence, who had decided to kick off facing their own fans first half (a direct opposite to what we normally do) so that was designed I think to put us off. We did have some half chances but it wasn’t great. In fact the start of the second half was of the same vein and inevitably it was time to bring on the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Kyle Walker, as the plan I think had been to save them til Tuesday. But we needed a goal.

Seventy one minutes in, a corner came over, and after some attempts to clear the ball, it came to Erling Haaland, who smashed it past Jordan Pickford and into the net. Relief all round the Etihad to be honest, and I’d happily now take a 1-0 win – it was palpable to see to be honest. City pressed forward and attempted to get a second, mindful of the Everton counter attacks. From one end of the pitch the ball went to Kevin de Bruyne and he laid on a perfect pass for Erling Haaland to storm forward, brush off the defenders and slot it past Jordan Pickford for 2-0. Yes. Get in. Even ten minutes of stoppage time (ironically due to Everton’s time wasting) was all good, and in fact de Bruyne almost lobbed Pickford right at the end, but I’ll take a win.

Afterwards, The Love and I headed off to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a relaxing afternoon drink together, with the really nice picture of a Blondie live show reminding me of the band and how good they were. It was good to have a nice proper bitter pint too, and certainly felt relaxing. There had been a baby shower celebration upstairs and lots of balloons came down later on, but thought too it would have been so nice for the parents and friends to be somewhere nice like that in the afternoon. We did also note they now do pizzas in there, so will have to try that out.

In the evening, The Love and I settled in to watch Gladiators (again, excellent) with plenty of royal stuff on Channel 5 for The Love to enjoy. We did after tea watch Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win, with one couple getting up to £1.25 million before taking their smaller amount of cash home, and one father and daughter having a reunion with their son which was probably worth so much more to them than any money they lost. We did also watch on BBC2 a whole set of heartbreak love songs on the BBC, which included the awesome Smooth Operator from Sadé, so that’s tune of the day – not least as the F1 driver Carlos Sainz sings it when he wins!

Thursday 8th February - Rekindled and Motivated

It was actually a blessing in disguise today when I arrived to the office and realised that the first floor space I had booked was actually done before a block booking had taken place for other staff all in the same section, so I managed to get a second floor desk that happened to be near several of my colleagues, all sat together. That did mean we could collaborate a lot more in person, and for me, I have to say, that was a positive. We were heading out to check what the new office would be like later as well (as we're going to be moving office later in the year) and so was good that we were all together.

We took a walk later, and admittedly not very far, over to the new place, and I have to say there's a definite sign of progress. The desks are there, there's enough places for people to sit, there's some nice new tech in some cases, and we've got dedicated areas for us with suitable enough use for networking etc to be able to do what we need to do. The only concern I had was that maybe we'd need some more wired networking space instead of almost all wireless, and that some of the acoustics weren't quite right yet - maybe it'll work better once it feels more populated as a space.

I did head to the local Waitrose on the way back to pick up a parcel I had delivered to there - it was an order from John Lewis for a shirt that I had ordered and that all was well, and then back to the office to get a few good things done and liaise with my colleague on a suitable plan to start getting the next batch of Mac migrations kicked off next week. I have to say because of the fact that we were all together, it did rekindle good memories of being at the old office we used to have, mainly for tech, where it really did feel like a good close knit team. I definitely can see the benefits of that.

I headed home later and felt really refreshed and motivated in a good way, and spent a bit of time in the evening playing some games on the trusty Commodore Plus/4. I have been doing some game reviews as part of the Mastertronic Collectors' Archive site, which included the version of Kikstart (cue the theme tune by Mr Walkie Talkie called Be My Boogie Woogie Baby being tune of the day) as well as a compilation release which had Olympic Skier together with its iconic insults (don't get too piste off, hehe) along with Laza, Pacmania and Dizasterblaster. It's been good to get the creative juices flowing as well.

I had already archived the C16 Compilation tape using my 1530USB cable, and so know that the setup works well for that. It's definitely been a good thing to give back to the folks at Plus/4 World who are the de facto site for the Commdore 16 and Plus/4 series as they were missing a tape image for the compilation (they had the separate titles but not one tape with them all on.) I'll have to see if there's anything obscure I've got which may deserve a transfer over, but good to know I can do that. I might also archive some of the Commodore 64 stuff I have the same way for posterity (unless a backup TAP image already exists in which case I can use that) and always good to keep things retro too!

Wednesday 7th February - Continental Cup Quarter Final

I was working from home today so that meant I could head straight off after finishing work and head to Leyton Orient's ground, Brisbane Road, for the women's Continental Cup quarter final between Tottenham and Manchester City. Tottenham use the ground to host most of their women's football games, which does mean some dosh for Orient as well for hosting it, but also means a smaller ground that feels more full with fans in it. I'd never been to this ground before, and it was another league ground to chalk off to say I'd seen a game there. In fact, City's women were also in good form and so I was hoping for a good win all round.

I headed to West Croydon to get the Overground and although the original plan was to change at Canada Water for the Jubilee Line, I remembered that the escalators there are undergoing work and at peak times it's an absolute faff to be able to head down. I saw this myself as the train arrived and do stayed on until Whitechapel, where I could easily switch for the District or Hammersmith and City Line, and then a final change at Mile End for the Central Line to Leyton. The District Line was busy but all good, but I had to let the first Central Line one go at Mile End as it was super rammed and didn't fancy it - the second one was busy but managed to stand for the two stops via Stratford to Leyton.

I didn't take me far to locate the gardens near the ground, and noted that at each corner there's now a little block of flats, and as I saw when I got in the ground, some have balconies where you can actually face the pitch, effectively meaning you could watch the games for free if you were a diehard fan. The staff at the ground were all friendly and proper East London folk too, good to see, and a coffee for a mere £2 was definitely one to be had on this slightly colder night than it had been of late.

City kicked off and heading towards where I was sat (I had bought the away end ticket from City incidentally) and so meant I got to see a lot of the action close up. Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly were swapping wings on occasion and causing the defenders issues, Bunny Shaw was being her usual busy self and keeping their players honest, and in the midfield Yui Hasegawa was really battling well to win the ball and to keep the moves going as much as possible. It was a relatively dominant first half but I did feel that City needed a goal before half time.

A cleverly worked corner saw the ball go to Jess Park, who squared it to Yui Hasegawa. She decided to rifle in a shot from twenty five yards or so and it dived in off the crossbar for a superb long range strike - her first goal for City this season, but what a memorable one to hit. The City fans near me started chanting her name to the tune of 2 Unlimited's No Limits, a la the Yaya and Kolo Touré chant but with Hasegawa's name instead. Genius move and tune of the day for me there. And a cracking strike. No more goals before half time but I'll take that one for definite.

I got a pie at half time (pretty good chicken balti one too) and it was cosy and warm where the food and drink section was under the stand, which was good. The second half did see Tottenham attempt to come back into it, but City kept pressing and maybe could have had a second but for some last ditch defending. I must admit that the one chant of "Come on you Spurs" from their fans was getting a tad repetitive, but the City diehards there were singing all sorts, including a Lauren Hemp chant a la the Bernardo Silva one with the final line of "She has got an MBE" (as she has!) which was excellent to join in with.

It ended up 1-0 to City but that meant no extra time or penalties, and with a tricky FA Cup game away at Arsenal this weekend, it did make for a good effort to get the job done. Yui Hasegawa, not just for her goal, but for her power and battling in midfiield was my player of the match and I have to say too that Jess Park also impressed in midfield, carrying on from her performance against Leicester City last weekend. I made it back home via the tube and Overground the same way I came (a mere £2 on the way back, can't argue with that) and settled in once home for a good sleep.

Saturday 3rd February - The Canal Arms

I had decided that today would be a good day to do a lengthy walk and keep myself fitter. I think for me it's been something I've always tried to do when having a spare weekend, and when I've done this before over the last few years I've done the Capital Ring, Jubilee Greenway, Lee Valley Walk, and the big one, the London Loop. I may at some point go back to doing the Capital Ring as I did that between 2016-17, and so could be a revisit. I was looking at the Nature Trail for East London (having done North, Central and South) but some of the tube wasn't running due to engineering works. So I had an idea..

Create my own walk! Well, sort of. There is a branch of the Grand Union Canal called the Paddington Arm, which starts out in the far reaches of West London at Bull's Bridge in Hayes (the one that used to be part of Middlesex, not the place near Bromley!) and over thirteen and a half miles ends up in Paddington, hence the name. I wasn't going to walk all of that, but potential was there for me to join at Alperton and do the last six and a quarter miles or so, and end up in central London. That was a good shout, and indeed, the towpaths looked relatively flat and all paved or tarmac, so even if it was raining, it wouldn't be too bad to walk at all.

So it was on from East Croydon to Clapham Junction, change there for another train to West Brompton and use the pink reader (as I'm avoiding Zone 1) and District Line to Earls Court, changing there for Piccadilly Line to Alperton. All the trains and tubes worked well, and I was soon crossing the North Circular Road before arriving at Alperton, passing the local Lidl and down to the canal towpath. It was quite nice to see the new developments canalside and then the canal turned right and I could see some sort of bridge ahead - it turned out it was the North Circular Viaduct, where the canal goes over the North Circular Road, quite high up too and you'd think the fence here would be a little higher.

After that, it was onwards towards Harlesden and the really nice looking Grand Junction Arms pub which had a massive beer garden overlooking the canal - bet that gets busy in the Summer. More industry abound as you head towards Willesden and Old Oak Common Lane, with the depot for GWR being behind a wall that runs alongside the canal towpath. There are bridges where the London Overground services pass over, and heading towards Kensal Green there's the large cemetery on the other side of the canal, where the graves of the likes of Isambard Kingdom Brunel are. There is actually a wall on the other side of the canal and that was to stop grave robbing.

As the canal wends its way towards the top end of Ladbroke Grove and past the offices of Innocent Drinks, with the Queen's Park library facing the canal on the other side of Harrow Road, there's more greenery with the likes of Meanwhile Gardens and its skate park, which immediately had me singing Suicidal Tendencies' classic Possessed to Skate (so make that tune of the day) - and there seemed to be skateboarding lessons on the ramps there which was a good idea. It was along under the Westway (urgh) and past Great Western Studios before then passing the St Mary Magdalene Church as it was getting close to Little Venice.

I have to say Little Venice was very quiet today, it really did feel quite calm and peaceful which was nice to see. There were some people walking around, and some more heading to Paddington Basin itself, but it definitely felt like it was a more quieter day. I actually paused on the bridge at Little Venice just to take it all in and feel massively relaxed actually. Once at Paddington Basin, the six and a bit miles done, it was amazingly well timed for trains and tube back, getting the Circle Line to Farringdon, train to Norwood Junction and train to West Croydon (as doing this is £3.50 instead of £5.70 to East Croydon - yes really!) - and then heading homewards for the rest of the day.

Thursday 1st February - Documentation Day

After heading to the local Sainsburys this morning to get a few supplies, with me mainly needing some spread (I went for Flora Buttery in the end as it was on offer) so I could then use the remainder of the sausages I had last weekend to have them in a toasted sandwich, which went down rather nicely for breakfast. I had the laptop set up and it was good to be able to concentrate on a few things today whilst also offering some support for some of the folks in the office, who had been able to get a desk and then be able so help out with the audio visual stuff for some of the meetings - so a definite positive.

With some of the conference yeserday also coinciding with an effective brand relaunch (and all the lovely visual look and feel to go with it) that did mean that realistically I needed to check through any documentation that I had written over the last couple of years, and then update it. In the end it was relatively straightforward: I do have a template for the document, which you can then copy and use as needed, and so I updated that as needed with the new fonts and logo on the front page for the document master, so that was good to sort out so that anyone could use it as needed later on.

In fact, it was at this time during the afternoon that I did realise just how many documents I had written on some of the systems I use and help look after. In fact it was a good opportunity to revise some of the documentation and be sure that it was all updated too, in fact in one case because it was a deep dive into the Windows 10 task sequence for building machines, it was good to get everything accurate - and it's around a 60 page document with screen shots as well, so good to utilise that for reference as needed. It definitely is for me a labour of love of sorts, but documentation is good to maintain as it's always helpful for reference.

I did also check over a couple of Mac settings with my colleague and on the whole it definitely will be a positive that I've got the documentation updated for the provisioning to make sure it all works as we wish. We do know that the document was sound anyway as was the process, but always good to double check and revisit, and my colleague came back to me later and said that the documentation was spot on, so a good bit of advice - get your documentation peer reviewed to be sure that you haven't missed anything.

Away from work, the big news was Sir Lewis Hamilton leaving Mercedes and heading to Ferrari for the 2025 season, which was a massive surprise but not unexpected, oddly enough. With Red Bull dominant and Mercedes not performing, maybe a move might be sensible. I just though about when he moved to Mercedes and got them success there, maybe there's timing with this move. In either way, I just thought about the old school F1, Fleetwood Mac's The Chain (make this tune of the day) and Murray Walker commentating on Nigel Mansell in a Ferrari winning races in 1989. Il Leone (as the tifosi called him) was iconic there too...