Dear Diary... January 2014

Friday 31st January - The Last Leg of January

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the ticket websites all went into meltdown for the Royal Albert Hall gig for The Cure, and I suspected that I wouldn't be able to get a ticket, and so it proved, and this despite the band adding a second date because the first one had effectively sold out on pre-sale tickets alone, utter madness that to be honest. I think also though it shows just how much people still want to see the band live, and when they do a three hour set, you can pretty much understand why you'd get so much value for money.

I for one was gutted but had no time to reflect as I had our team meeting in the morning followed straight away by one of our technical meetings, which was pretty good and productive on the whole. I was able to spot a few things and raise them constructively, and it was good that I had people listening to me and understanding that I don't raise issues for the hell of it. One of the proposed moves for the Summer may be to a newer version of Office, and that can have issues especially with Access databases, so only right to raise that as a concern and see what could be done.

In the afternoon I spent a bit of time working out why an LDAP attribute, which was secure, but was viewable by certain allowed user, wasn't mapping correctly when using one of our systems. As it transpired, this was an error by whoever created the security group so that users could see the attribute, it was incorrectly mapped to the wrong attribute and so was allowing something else. Once one of my colleagues got that sorted out, all was good to go and I was able to check out the other system to see if the data would pull in correctly, and it did. Yes, a good end to the week I think.

Anyway, I headed to my Mum's first of all as my sister was there and it was her birthday this weekend - but she was heading over to Sheffield for the wekend (mainly shopping and stuff) and so it was good to be able to see her and have a chat with her and Mum for a bit. It was also good that she appreciated the card and money (she wanted money so she could treat herself when shopping, and did ask for that, so fair dos really) and good too that we had a cuppa and chat. Mum seemed to be in fine fettle too.

I headed home via Tesco to get some bits, mainly stuff that I can only get from there and so wouldn't have been included in my online grocery order, which arrived on time from Sainsbury's later in the evening. I remembered to hand back a shed load of recycled carrier bags of theirs which meant at least I was able to do the right thing too, and then tucked in to some venison burgers for tea, which I thought that I'd try for a change. They were actually pretty lean and done well under the grill was spot on, yaay to that.

It was then time for The Jump on Channel 4, with the celebrities this time around getting up to some speed skating action on the outdoor rink. Straight away it looked like it was between Marcus Brigstocke and Joe McElderry for the win, and Marcus took the final in the end comfortably. The final placed finisher in each round went on the ski jump, so Anthea Turner was first with then Ritchie Neville from Five, and finally Kimberley Wyatt. The first two cleared a decent jump and although Kimberley would have done the best distance, she didn't land it and so was a no jump, so Sir Steve Redgrave had to just land it and he was through, which he did. I have to say Davina McCall looked rather nice in all black, and a rather good cape which of course was fake fur, and looked the part out there in Austria for the Winter.

Of course then was one of my favourite shows on telly back on, with The Last Leg. Alex Brooker was of course over in Austria co-hosting The Jump, and so they had Micky Flanagan standing in. I don't think the dynamics worked as well as it did with Alex, and Clare Balding was an excellent guest though, she really gave it with both barrels and her and Adam were of course mentioning how the whole of the Sochi Winter Olympics has been surrounded with controversy with the laws surrounding homosexuality in Russia currently. It was a good witty intelligent and funny insight, and once Adam got into his rant about the bloke from UKIP blaming the floods on gay people, it was like the show had never been away. Hurrah to that.

Tune of the day was an easy one really - no less than Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think" which is the theme tune fo the Last Leg - it just seems to work really well and it'd be ace if one day the show had the band on performing it as well. Of course having the intro with Alex on his BMX and doing a jump before entering with the blokes is immense fun in the titles, and I think it goes to show that if you're funny, it shouldn't matter about disabilty of anything like that. Had to smile at Adam's "5-0" prosthetic leg in the Australian colours though!

Thursday 30th January - Ski Jumping

It was another busy day in the office, but one where really it was a case of getting the head down and trying to do as much as you could, although there's plenty of changes going on at the moment. A few people are being shuffled around different teams and I have to say although I can see the benefit of that for some people, what I also think is that it's eventually going to cause friction as well whereas there are some which really don't want to leave where they feel settled and happy and content with who they work with. It was a rather difficult atmosphere to work in and to be honest, not pleasant.

I was therefore pretty relieved to be heading homewards where I knew that The Love In My Heart was coming over for tea, and that's always nice so I thought positively about that on the way home as well. I needed to speak to her to see if, I could get tickets, she wanted to see The Cure at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust set of concerts. I've not seen them live since 1992 at the Birmingham NEC (the Wish tour if I remember correctly) and so it'd be good to go and indeed to go to such a venue, always been one of my little things to tick off that.

Anyway, we chatted as she arrived and although she knew some of their songs, she thought it best that I go, so I'll have to see what I can do tomorrow - the presale had pretty much gone unless I wanted to pay £75 plus £7.50 for a restricted view, and to be honest if I was paying that, I'd rather be at the front or something. Still I suspected it'll be a sell out tomorrow morning so if I do get a ticket I'd consider myself very lucky indeed to be honest.

I made a chorizo pasta bake for The Love and I whilst she indulged with Emmerdale (twice over) and the food went down well, timing it so we had it whilst Top of the Pops 1979 was on in the background, with some excellent tunes on as well, including the Members' classic "Sound of the Suburbs" complete with the brilliantly named Nicky Tesco, tune of the day was an easy decision really. There was a compilation CD of the same title years later that one of the local pubs used to have, and believe me that got some hammer on the jukebox to say the least.

We saw the rest of The Jump and that was nerve wracking to see the ski jumping at the end, before seeing some for real ski jumping as part of Dan Snow's documentary on BBC2 with the history of the Winter Olympics. It was fascinating stuff really, and interesting how the owner and founder of Lunn Poly (remember them?) had a hand in effectively helping to popularise for Britons some of the pastimes that became the classic winter events. Of course, once the men's downhill got in there, that was an impressive sight to see the likes of Franz Klammer peg it down hill and nail it.

There were various moments which they covered, including the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game where the USA amateurs beat the Russian professionals, and of course the 1984 Torvill and Dean Bolero routine. Interestingly most of the venues in Sarajevo are now just empty and desolate, and indeed the bobsleigh run has become a home for graffiti artists and extreme cyclists who ride the track downhill, mad stuff indeed. Just goes to show though how much times have changed over the years...

Wednesday 29th January - Five One

It was another busy day today but a fair chunk of the day was spent in meetings on the whole, and that meant we could get some useful feedback from how things were going with the SCCM 2012 client deployments and where we were up to. There was some useful information to hand too, so we were for example to be able to work out just what was happening if a client wasn't deploying, and what I could see in some cases was a corrupted WMI on some machines (I tested this later on and proved it to be the case.)

It was also interesting too that I spent some time today sorting out a few things that were a little bugbear here and there, and so was good to see what was happening with those. I even managed to work out just why for example that a laptop wasn't playing ball in terms of wireless connectivity, and also worked out a plan of action for getting increased wireless coverage in one of the buildings, so I'm waiting to hear what can be done with that in the near future.

I had a phone call from Richer Sounds mid-afternoon as well in that my Onkyo TX-NR709 AV receiver has come back from the repairers and was ready to collect. Needless to say I was pretty happy and glad to have that back, and so I went to the Manchester Deansgate branch after work and collected the box before journeying back home on the bus. I unboxed everything and carefully set everything back up, and with me now fitting some proper banana plugs to the centre and surround speaker cables, everything fitted snugly in and looked good to go.

As you can imagine I did some tests as well, ensuring that all the sources were correctly set up, that the amplifier was doing its bit rather nicely, and indeed that the sources were all plugged in and working as intended, so managed to get everything up and playing ball, and played some Franz Ferdinand to celebrate, with the impressive "Take Me Out" bursting forth from the speakers, tune of the day was an easy decision as I was able to take the amp home and listen up!

I went round to my uncle's place later on as he had informed me that he had BT Sport on for tonight's game, and so that was rather handy indeed. Manchester City were away at Tottenham and after last night's results, a win would mean that we would go top of the league. And with my brother in law and my uncle's two sons there, all City fans, and the accompanying cat, we were all glued to the telly to see if we could do the business, and with everyone raring to cheer the boys on.

We had a fair few chances already with Sergio Agüero hitting the post with a great shot, but with a quarter of an hour gone a delightful ball from David Silva was dinked over Hugo Lloris by Agüero and the ball went into the far corner for 1-0. Lloris pulled off a superb save from Agüero's header as well, only for the City striker to pull a hamstring before the end of the first half and be replaced by Stevan Jovetic up front. Tottenham had a goal disallowed for offside, which BT Sport thought was controversial yet on BBC later it was clearly shown as offside. Different views on different channels, eh?

The second half started and Edin Džeko went for a ball in the area with Danny Rose the Tottenham defender challenging. To me it looked like Rose got the ball but also the man, and a penalty was awarded based on what the linesman had spotted. Rose was harshly sent off as well before Yaya Toure scored the penalty for 2-0, and three minutes later a neat City move had David Silva hit the post, the ball ping pong around the area before Džeko scored for 3-0, and the game looked over.

Tottenham though did score from a corner to make it 3-1 and they were putting City under a bit of pressure, which the blue heroes killed off with some neat passing, and a great ball to Jovetic saw him cut inside and score his first City league goal and finish with some aplomnb, and the fun wasn't over yet as from a corner, Džeko's shot was saved by Lloris but the ball went straight to Vincent Kompany in the area and the City captain capped off a fine display by scoring the fifth. 5-1, top of the league, I will have that!

Tuesday 28th January - Settling Down

After all the fun and games yesterday a few colleagues and I formulated a plan to settle things down somewhat, and I think it made perfect sense overall. In effect we turned off PXE boot as the first boot option for a chunk of the PCs, meaning if we wanted to, we would still be able to press F12 to PXE boot as needed, but this would for example avoid any potential issues if a machine was put into a collection where it may be needing a PXE boot to bring down an image for example, and so avoid things for the future. It made a lot of sense really.

In fact I also spent a chunk of time today looking at the statistics and co-ordinating the way that the SCCM 2012 client deployments were going to machines. On the whole it seemed to be working pretty well, and you could see that the deployments were playing ball, and certainly switching a fair number of machines on seemed to be doing the trick as well, with lots of them managing to download the clients quickly. I did feel somewhat more positive after that.

Later on I headed home and nipped to Tesco to get a couple of bits, thankfully nothing major, and then it was off home and to relax and watch Great British Railway Journeys, which as ever has been an entertaining series on the whole. Certainly taking the route downwards towards Chelmsford has been fascinating stuff, and certainly gives me some more ideas as to how to go exploring or where I'd like to go, so that's been pretty good all round too. Isn't it good when good telly happens?

The Love In My Heart came over, and I made us some hunter's chicken with mash and peas for tea, and she was engrossed in the hour long episode of Emmerdale, so that kept her pretty contented. In fact even two days into her new job it does feel like she's really getting into it, and being really professional about it, as you'd expect. For me it's certainly been a transformation to see how much that she is relishing the challenge and how much that it's back to something that she loved doing anyway, and you can tell.

We did watch The Jump on Channel 4 after that as it was the blokes' turn to do the skeleton. I must admit they were pretty brave to do it as it didn't look easy and lots of them were hitting the walls on the side of the ice on the way down. It was Sir Steve Redgrave versus Darren Gough in the jump off at the end and as Sir Steve went for the middle jump, he actually got further and won through to stay in the competition. It was nerve wracking seeing them jump off though it has to be said! Tune of the day is "Crash" by the Primitives, summed up what they were doing in the skeleton anyway.

And I've even booked a gig for my time off too. I'm heading to Lichfield in Staffordshire on Thursday 6th February to see Seth Lakeman play at the cathedral, which should be interesting stuff. I've managed to book the trains too which were relatively cheap, and a nice little B&B close to the venue itself, so it should prove to be a good and different way to spend some time off. I certainly know too that seeing gigs in different venues certainly adds to the excitement, and with a new album out, new material as well as the old. Hurrah to that I say!

Monday 27th January - Booting Bug Bears

It was one of those days today in the office, in that if things were going to go wrong, they were going to go wrong. And that wasn't healthy really. By the end of the day I had worked out what appeared to have been going wrong and from there this meant that I was able to offer some useful ideas and suggestions moving forward, just wished though that it hadn't taken so long and indeed been such a disturbance during the day. I felt better knowing I'd at least got people on side with me to minimise downtime, so that was good.

In fact I had also worked on several things at once and so was able to deploy some software to a couple of machines as well as work on setting up a few ideas for things I needed to plan ahead for - so was creative but in a different way. Thankfully as well the new coffee delivery of stuff I'd ordered from the Tassimo shop had arrived too, so that meant a nice supply for the office, and the Petit Dejuner classic has already gone down well, oh why is it only an online exclusive and not available in shops?

I headed into the city centre on the way home, and that was to head to HMV to purchase Rush on Blu-Ray which I'd been looking forward to. Having not been into the city centre for a while, I didn't realise till I got to their former site on Market Street that HMV had actually moved to inside the Arndale Centre, next to H&M on the Upper Mall! I suspected it was either something to do with the building that they were in, either too much rent being charged or the building not being safe for some reason. Either way, good to find it relocated.

I think the store used to be River Island, and thankfully on two levels, with DVD and Blu-Ray on the lower floor, and CDs and games on the upper floor. It seemed well laid out and easy to find stuff, and it didn't take me long to find Rush on Blu-Ray, and so take it to the counter to purchase. I'd got a HMV gift card for Christmas but didn't know how much was on it, so was most surprised when I found out it was £20 worth, and so after purchasing Rush meant I still had a fiver left on there. Double yaay in fact.

I got home, made myself some tea, watched the latest instalment of Great British Railway Journeys, and then settled in and watched the extras on the Blu-Ray of Rush (saving the film to watch with The Love In My Heart and preferably once the amplifier comes back from repair, so in full surround as well whilst I'm at it) and it was good to see how much effort went into making the film and indeed the authenticity of it all. Tune of the day is David Bowie's "Fame" which appears in the film and sums up somehow the general aura around the F1 drivers of the time.

Sunday 26th January - .. And Ting!

It was nice to have The Love In My Heart to snuggle up to as I woke this morning. One of the nicest things of all about being in a loving relationship is that closeness and togetherness you feel, and for me, especially being a kinaesthetic touchy feely person that I am, is that I can feel close to someone and for it all to feel natural. It was nice therefore to make her some breakfast and generally be all nice and lovely, as we were both doing separate things today. She was meeting up with some former work colleagues and friends for a nice meal and to celebrate her new job.

In the meantime, I was heading out to meet one of my female friends and have lunch and a lovely time with her and I was going to head on the tram for part of the journey. Well, I was, till I noticed that a points failure was causing severe delays on the network. Not good. I quickly checked the bus timetables up and worked out an alternative plan of action to get me there on time, and as none of the buses were actually Stagecoach Manchester ones on my route, but all different companies, the System One Day bus ticket (£5 for all buses for one day) worked out pretty good.

So just after 1 I headed on three buses to my friend's place (I could have taken two but would have waited 45 minutes for the second bus, so three was quicker!) and it was good to see her, all radiant and generally happy. We decided to take a relatively leisurely walk to a place near hers that does decent food (and we've been in there before) and so the Sunday lunch deal was on - two courses for £9.99. We weighed it up, and thought that main and dessert would be good: I had the roast beef, she had the roast turkey, and I followed it up with a Caramel Apple Betty whilst the chocolate cake was a winner for her. Yaay indeedy.

With food consumed and all manner of chatter in a relaxed atmosphere, we walked back in quite windy conditions (good job my wooly coat kept me warm!) back to her place, where it was coffee and relaxation, and plenty of chat about all sorts. In fact the time was going really quickly (a sure sign when you're having a good time) and I was chatting about departed relatives and got quite emotional as it happens, and my friend paid me a lovely compliment when she said that it's nice to see a man show emotion and not just bottle it up, which made me feel better about everything.

Anyway, she mentioned that she'd recently got a CD which had lots of reggae songs from the 1960s to the late 1970s, and how many of them were covered in the future and became hits cos of that (indeed a lot of them appeared to have been ruined by UB40 later on too). One that caught my eye though, and we just had to play it and sing along, was "Uptown Top Ranking" by Althea and Donna, number one no less in 1978. Of course a lot of the lines end in ".. and ting!" throughout. Also, the "no pop, no style" vocal was sampled by one of my favourite bands Pop Will Eat Itself in their single "X Y and Zee" - therefore, kudos to Althea and Donna, tune of the day an easy decision really.

Before we both knew it, it was approaching 8pm and the time had literally sped by, with us just chatting for ages and generally being all happy and smiling, and lots of laughs too. The Love had also had a great time with her friends when I rang her later on, so that made me feel happy too. It was two buses home (the times back worked brilliantly, I was home in under forty five minutes, a record time from my friend's place) and I reflected on a day well spent with lovely company and a real sense of making the most of the day. Why can't all weekends be this nice?

Saturday 25th January - A Game Of Two Halves

If you wanted a contrast between two halves in a game of football, then surely today's FA Cup fourth round match between Manchester City and Watford surely was it. As my friend who I normally go with was still not well, I was in a different area for today's game: block 212 of the South Stand, in the corner, above where all the real diehard City fans who sing are, and indeed not that far from the away fans either, so that was quite nice to be able to soak up some of the atmosphere. I got the bus to the ground and despite all the diversions around the ground due to building works etc, I got in with time to spare for a coffee.

The coffee didn't taste too good during the first half though. City didn't get going whatsoever, passes were going astray, the midfield was being over-run, and defensively, we looked a shambles and a half. Micah Richards was playing dreadfully, with Jack Rodwell in midfield having not a clue what to do with his role, and also it has to be said that Martin Demechelis wasn't inspiring either, and as for Yaya Toure, the word lazy would be too kind. It was almost as if they'd turned up expecting a walk over, only for Watford to come and battle their hearts out.

And to be fair to them and their voiceferous fans, 2-0 was if anything a little harsh on them - they could and should have had more by half time. Some excellent pacy attacks and hitting City on the break did the damage to the most part, but some lovely through balls through the shaky defence for Fernando Forestieri to hit home the first low and hard and past Costel Pantillmon, and some shocking defending but great attacking play from the Hornets meant that Troy Deeney was able to slot home past the City keeper for 2-0 with half an hour gone. They had a couple more chances to put more past us, but couldn't take them, but I'm sure they'd have more than settled for being 2-0 up!

I hoped that City manager Manuel Pelligrini was going to rightfully give the players the hairdryer treatment at half time, and he made two changes: off went Richards and Rodwell, on came Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany, with Martin Demechelis pushed up as a defensive midfielder. Kompany's team talk in the tunnel helped wonders too, and as soon as he and Zabman started to put some tackles in and get about the Watford attackers, that gave the whole City team a lift, and with Stevan Jovetic on for the sadly ineffective Marcos Lopes, it was attack and attack.

Aleksandar Kolarov, anonymous in the first half, came into his own a bit more and his cross was met by Edin Džeko but well saved by the Watford keeper Jonathan Bond, but the ball came to Sergio Agüero and he doesn't miss from there, so 2-1. City pressed further and with twelve minutes left, Agüero got the ball on the edge of the box, cut inside and curled a left foot beauty into the top corner. At least we'd pulled it back to 2-2 and if the worst came to the worst, a replay at their place.

But then came a moment of joy for City but despair for Watford, as with three minutes left Kolarov decided to have a go from range with a left footed shot along the deck. With the rain on the surface, the ball did skid a bit and Jonathan Bond in the Watford goal didn't get his body behind the ball, he attempted to almost catch it but the ball slid under him and into the goal for a 3-2 lead to City. Cue massive relief and joy from the City fans but I did feel sorry for Watford a little - I'd rather win by a wonder strike than some horrible goalkeeping error. Thankfully though Agüero headed in a Jesús Navas cross for 4-2 and his hat trick in stoppage time, which made it a bit more like a deserved winning goal instead.

As I headed back to The Love In My Heart's place, I spotted several Watford fans and shook hands with them, telling them that they had given us a real game and it should be massive credit to them that we had to bring on Kompany and Zabaleta to turn the game around for us, and that they should take that display and give that same level of performance in the league. Their fans seemed a nice friendly bunch on the whole and I'm sure they'll remember the day as a day that they really did push us close, fair dos to them and all.

Later on once the traffic had all died down The Love and I headed back to mine, where I made us some minestrone soup followed by some nice steak for tea, and we relaxed with The National Lottery In It To Win It, and I giggled at the pair who thought that the Chinese capital Beijing had six letters or less - really? They missed one of the i's off when spelling it, not too bad a mistake till you consider one of them was a teacher, and really they should know that sort of stuff (the champions are two teachers I should add, and they do know their stuff massively, just to balance that point out) We settled for watching Jonathan Ross on the telly too, and it was quite good to see Rufus Hound not only without a beard but also explain how his new acting role and a new political career might be taking shape.

Tune of the day though sums up the day really: "Low Happening" by Howling Bells. I did feel low during the first half, and that wasn't good, but yet when I listen to this track despite it being broody, I feel somwhat more uplifted listening to it. It's a cracking song all round and reminds me of how a lot of this album got me through a less happier period of my life too, so in a way the first half was the sad period, the second half the comeback period. On such things...

Friday 24th January - Total Sheffield Hero Team

I worked some more on the software I was playing with yesterday, and managed to find a breakthrough into why the software wasn't working with our trolley laptops, which normally are task sequenced as loan stock, and so are removed from our Active Directory domain as part of the process. It transpires that unless the machine is in Active Directory, when it tries to launch the software, the terminal's registration details show a different domain and so refuses to open the main Java class for the applications. Ouch.

Once I realised this, I knew there was a way to put them back in Active Directory and also keep the automatic login for the laptop user, so worked on getting that right, and then was able to test it, and tada! Everything worked as intended and they're now in a usable state for next week's sessions. Pleased I very much was, let me tell you, and it definitely made me feel better knowing that I've been able to come up with a solution to at least get people up and running for now.

After work I headed home to have something to eat for tea, and then it was off to Sheffield, where I'd be seeing MJ Hibbett and his mate Steve Hewitt do the Total Hero Team show that I saw in Salford last July. I know that usually Sheffield's quite a good place to see them do their thing with appreciative crowds, and managed to head out on the train to Sheffield, and from the station, a short walk out and up past the Showroom, then along the road to the Rutland Arms where the action would be happening upstairs. Quite liked the pub though, proper real ales, a lot from local breweries and really nice atmosphere in there, I'll have to remember that next time I head to Sheffield!

I got a drink and headed upstairs, and it was good to see Mark and Steve and have a chat with them for a while before the show got underway, and indeed I spotted musician Pete Green as well, so was good to see him as well, and another MJ Hibbett fan Ellen, who had made the trip over from Blackpool, so that's even more dedicated than me to be fair. It was going to be a good evening somehow, I could feel it and before long I spotted Kriss Foster getting changed into his trademark leopard suit for his gig.

Kriss Foster (and friend known as Mr. Ferris) came on and did a rather hilarious set, which I'm sure the late Frank Sidebottom would have been proud of (they both had Frank badges on, yaay.) His songs were about where he lives (Lancaster and Morecambe heavily so), Vimto, working in a supermarket ("There's A Spillage In Aisle Sixteen") and a tale of heartbreak at Rivington services on the M61 ("I Waited For You At The Service Station") thrown in. For the song about Morecambe, he had drawn some pictures in a book which at the right cue one of the audience managed to get out, twas good fun all round.

One moment of hilarity was when he was mentioning Morecambe FC in his song and how they used to play at their old ground before moving, and he mentioned some players including.. Phil Jevons! Me and Pete looked at each other with massive grins at this point: one of Pete's songs is of course "The Ballad of Phil Jevons" about said journeyman footballer as he used to play for Grimsby Town (the team he supports) and so we both yelled out "journeyman footballer" for a giggle with the audience. Ah, classic moments like that never die do they?

On came MJ HIbbett and Steve, and it was a great Total Hero Team show once again. In fact the way that the small bar behind the stage area was laid out meant they had quicker access to their various character hats for the characters that they play, and so seemed quicker and seamless because of it. It was of course great to hear a lot of the songs during the show such as the main theme, "Chester Champion, Legend of Lancs" and of course the rather wonderful "Get Over It" as well.

However of course the highlight for me is one of my favourite songs of his ever, namely "It Only Works Because You're Here". It was a lovely moment when everyone was singing along to the chorus and really making the whole thing feel that much more homely, so tune of the day was an easy decision really. Later on of course there's the IT classic "Control Alt Delete" (they really are the only buttons that you need) before heading on into the likes of "I Want The World To Stop" and "Do It Yourself" which brings about a happy ending all round. It was immense fun and if you're around Leicester next month, go see it.

I said my goodbyes to everyone before leaving, and headed back downhill to Sheffield station, just in good time for the 2247 service back to Manchester, which of course was a local stopper (or the "chugger" as Mark called it earlier). It wasn't too bad and quite empty though so it soon powered through the Hope Valley, through the tunnels at Cowburn and Disley and before I knew it I'd arrived in Stockport, changed for the train home from there and managed to get home just after midnight, not bad going all round really. A rather nice end to the working week, yaay!

Thursday 23rd January - Made of Stone

I had a mixed bag of a day in the office today, and on the positive side I've been working with one of our academics with regards to a piece of software that they plan to use for tourism management, namely Micros Opera, which apparently lots of hotel chains use. It transpires that their software, as served on a web server solution, is really not the best designed ever. It uses an old school Java initiator to open Java based windows, based on an older version of Java Runtime. It has four pre-requisites which has to be installed first, oh, and unless you have the very latest version, it'll constantly attempt to install Adobe Reader 10, even if you have Adobe Reader 11 on the machine.

Anyway, I've got to the point now where I know that they'll need to do an upgrade to the latest release. I also know that in the meantime till their arranged date for upgrades can happen, I need to work on a solution so at least a few groups can use it in the meantime. I agreed that it'd be easier to utilise a few of the laptops from one of the trolleys, downgrade Adobe Reader back to v10, install the pre-requisites, and then test it out. On the whole that plan was sensible and I was able to at least do most of the work with some nifty scripting for the pre-requisite installers (WISE installers, so /S all the way for silent work)

More of that tomorrow I think, but it was good to be able to avoid most of the hail storm that happened tonight. I was working a bit later and so I could see the thunder and hail and thought "I'm staying here for a bit!" and proved to be a wise move. When I did get home I could see the amount of hail, almost snow-like, that had fallen near me, and was making things a tad on the slippery side, so needed to be careful really to be sure I didn't fall over.

The Love In My Heart came over, and I made us some penne carbonara for tea, which went down really well. It was good to be able to use the pancetta and have a good amount of meat in there (I usually buy some because the carbonara sauce hardly ever has enough in it) and it was good to catch up and chat as well, and I know how much she is now looking forward to her new job, having met lots of lovely people yesterday. I think it's possibly the best thing to happen for her for ages, and I'm so proud I can't tell you!

We decided it'd be a good idea to kick back and put on the Blu-Ray of the Stone Roses' "Made of Stone" documentary that I got for Christmas. I can see why so many people queued to see this at the cinema now, it really does prove to be an excellent documentary film of the reunion, how and why it happned and a nod to the background and past of the band at the same time, showing you the rehearsals somewhere near Warrington and how the band were coming together musically again, and the epic legendary Warrington Parr Hall show which a lucky few got to see.

Footage from that and the warm up gigs culminates in three nights at Heaton Park of course, and showing the band in full pelt there and building up to that was a wise move all round, showing lots of fans really getting into it and the band themselves on good form. For me, the rendition of "Waterfall" during the warm up at the farm house really showed a feeling of like they'd never lost it, and so tune of the day that rightfully is. I really did enjoy it and I'll have to devote some time to the special features (lots of them) on the second Blu-Ray disc I got in the set!

Wednesday 22nd January - Paying the Penalty

It was a busy day in the office, but it was good to be able to concentrate and get plenty of things done. In fact most of the day was spent on SCCM 2012 in all. The morning consisted of a training / tutorial session for the remaining members of our team, so that everyone has had the chance to all be trained up to a certain level. It was good to be able to get in early, take up one of the group rooms in our new learning zone (with big screen and everything) and that way hook up the laptop to the big LCD screen in there.

On the whole it worked well, and although targeting the training at various levels of skill, it was good that I was able to at least sort out what needed to be done and I think that like the other sessions it has gone well. I know that I'm the first one of out all the team to complete all the tutorial sessions and get them delivered, and so that was really good on the whole. I had some positive feedback as well from another customer as well later in the day so that also boosted the confidence a bit.

During the afternoon I headed over to another of our central teams in order to be able to do some testing of package and task sequence delivery in SCCM 2012, as it was a requirement that where possible I get involved in a fair chunk of that. On the whole it went really well, mainly because of the fact that I was able to at least get a fair number of packages and task sequences containing packages or multiple steps tested thoroughly, and that was really good to be able to nail down efficiently.

After work it was straight on the bus from near where I work to Wythenshawe Hospital to see my friend who was in there prior to having the operation on his eye at the Eye Hospital. He seemed in pretty good spirits considering but the antibiotics were at least starting to kick in with regards to the chest infection that he'd had, so that meant that with that dealt with the op could take place. With City winning in the Capital One Cup last night we thought about the second leg of the other semi between Man U and Sunderland and wondered who would win.

I got home, made something to eat for tea and had a chat with The Love In My Heart, who herself had gone out with some of her family and her sister for her sister's birthday this evening. It was almost at the end of extra time in the football (Man U had won 1-0 in normal time, so 2-2 on aggregate, but if it stayed the same at the end of extra time Man U would win on away goals). Sunderland only went and scored in the 119th minute didn't they, and I could hear the celebrations of the Sunderland fans on the TV behind Colette's phone. Man U then scored again though at the end of extra time, which meant with both ties finishing 2-1 to the home team and 3-3 on aggregate, it was a penalty shoot out.

I had Radio 5 Live on for it as I don't have Sky, but I was interested to see what would happen. The penalties were terrible in terms of quality and number scored but on drama, it was up there. One penalty left each and Sunderland were 2-1 up, and so if Adam Johnson (former Man City player no less) scored, they'd win. He had his penalty saved. Rafael then walked up for Man U, and he had his saved by Vito Mannone, meaning a 2-1 win for Sunderland and they'll play us at Wembley. Ace. Oh, how I'm going to enjoy the sad faces of the Man U fans tomorrow, that's for sure! Tune of the day has to simply be based on the result: "This Is How It Feels" by Inspiral Carpets - well this is how it feels for them when their world means nothing at all.. or as City sing it "You signed Phil Jones, we signed Kun Agüeroooooooooo!"

Tuesday 21st January - Nine Nil

It was another busy day in the office today, but I did feel pretty positive by the end of it, making sure that we were able to sort out more issues and generally keep on top of things. I did have one issue that was a bit of a puzzle at first in that a printer that had been set up to scan to email, was trying to do so with a digitally signed certfiicate and with encryption on, not normal behaviour. As it turned out it was due to a misconfiguration and I was able to find out the settings and eventually get it all sorted, much to the delight of the person concerned, so felt good about that.

I had been debating whether also to take a couple of days off next week and head to see Manchester City's game away at Tottenham on Wednesday 29th January, but the numbers didn't add up. On top of the £48 for a ticket, the train fare would have been at best £46 (£19 there and £27 back) with advance single fares, and getting a reasonably decent hotel was either £60 for a Travelodge close to the ground or £57 for an Ibis in Earls Court and commute from there, so you'd be looking at around £150 all in, and that made me think of better things to spend the money on instead.

That said, I wouldn't have minded going to West Ham tonight to see Manchester City finishing them off in the Capital One Cup semi final. As it turned out, once Álvaro Negredo scored in the third minute, it was game over, and Sergio Agüero scored mid way through the first half to really put the seal on it, before The Beast followed up with a second early in the second half. This meant a 9-0 aggregate win for City and the highest ever semi final win in the history of the League Cup competition, so another statistic nicely set there for the all conquering team this season.

The Love In My Heart came over for tea and a good chat with me, and it was her final day at her current job before starting her new one soon. It was a tinge of sadness because of the fact that she had spent so long with the same employer, and indeed that it had been a difficult last few months for one reason or another. On the whole though lots of the people she managed all got her some lovely cards and gifts which made her feel better and also at the same time demonstrated the impact that she's had overall, so that was good to see from my point of view too.

We had the chicken katsu from the Sainsbury's Just Cook range, which although was very nice, both left us feeling that we needed much more sauce than you got in the sachet that came with it. Having been spoilt when we've had the corresponding meal at Wagamama for example, it was a case of me giving The Love most of the sauce, and I did some nice rice with it too which worked pretty well. That filled us up nicely going into watching some telly including Paul O'Grady and the Animal Orphans, which was a case of "awwww" at the cute cheetahs or feeling sad when the elephant died.

Tune of the day though resembles my train of thought at the moment: "The Boys in Blue" by the 1970s Manchester City squad, a tune I grew up with when I was little supporting Manchester City and how I wished we'd get to Wembley and win things. I was a mere three and a half years old when City got to Wembley in the 1976 League Cup final and beat Newcastle 2-1, and so it's been a long time for us to qualify for another final. We'll see how we get tomorrow, but remember folks, the boys in blue never give in...

Monday 20th January - Hospitals and Headaches

I must admit I did feel a little on the headachey side today, not necessarily with anything regarding work as such, but it's mainly been a case of seeing what needs to be done and making the best efforts to get things done in the least amount of time possible whilst still providing an excellent service all round. I did a fair bit of testing as well with regards to some applications that I'd packaged recently and wanted to make sure that it all played ball correctly - and looking by the sound of it, it was doing what it was now supposed to do in the first place. Thank heavens, as they say, for that.

It was also a chance to spend some time working on some documentation and also making sure that where possible I was able to be proactive into getting a few things sorted to make life easier for the whole team - and so that's where I often feel at the most inventive - being able to divulge useful information in an easy to understand way for the masses. It's always interesting to see how people develop and being able to give them some form of empowerment makes me feel a lot better, and that made any headache I may have had go rather quickly away.

I was on the way home when I received a text from one of my friends, confirming that they were back in hospital and were needing to have a course of antibiotics to get rid of an infection, and then later in the week, have an operation to sort out a partially damaged retina. Once I'd got home and got a few things sorted in the house, I headed back out and on the bus (two of them in all) and arrived later in the evening at Wythenshawe Hospital, where my friend was in one of the wards.

I think he was pretty pleased to see a friendly face and we got chatting about football and all sorts, trying where possible to not think about what was to come but instead try and be positive, and think of things that he could do post-op so that he doesn't get to feel isolated and not able to head out (driving might be an issue for a few weeks for example). It's always tricky to balance the feeling of being positive with being realistic, because you sometimes don't want to dress up the fact that it might be a lengthier road ahead, but it was nonetheless good to see at least he had his chin up most of the time.

I did remember that there was the occasional bus which headed via some of the suburbs of South Manchester and then right near my place, and timed the exit from the hospital so I could get on that, getting me home much quicker than I'd expect otherwise. That made some sense, even if the bus driver wanted to stop at every opportunity, such as Wythenshawe, Northenden, Withington Hospital and Withington Library and read the paper for as long as he was able to keep to the timetable and not be late. Clearly the timetable could be sped up as I reckoned around ten minutes plus of time could have been saved, but hey ho.

I got home, had something to eat for tea and had a chat with The Love In My Heart, and then settled back to watch the recording of tonight's Great British Railway Journeys, with Michael Portillo based mainly around Southampton and the surrounding Hampshire countryside. It all looked rather nice actually and is a part of the country I've not explored that much before, but made a mental note to maybe head there at some point of time. With that in mind, quite apt then that Mike Oldfield's "Portsmouth" is tune of the day.

Sunday 19th January - Winter Walk

It was nice to have a lie in of sorts today, even if we had the two cats at The Love In My Heart's place doing their best to vie for attention from us both - either snuggling on the Love's bed, or running around and creating chaos, almost forcing us out of bed to sort them out. They eventually did settle as we snuggled back up, but it was pretty manic seeing them just have their moments of madness (and wrestling against each other as well). It did feel like I was catching up on sleep though so that did feel good, admittedly.

After a nice breakfast and getting ourselves ready, and even watching an episode of The Sport Relief Bake Off that we missed during the week, we thought it'd be nice to head out into the countryside a little bit and have a nice walk together, and so after a bit of thought, I had an idea as to where to go, so off we headed in The Love's car, going out of Manchester, round the back of Stockport and then through Bredbury and Romiley and towards Compstall, and eventually stopping off at Etherow Country Park for a nice walk around.

After parking up by the lakeside, we followed the sailing boat lake around, with plenty of people sailing and really making the most of the conditions. It was good that the many ducks around the duck pond were getting lots of attention from the many visitors, and they were swimming serenely as they headed along. We got to the far side of the lake and headed along the banks of the River Etherow, bypassing another small pond, and heading to the weir, which, with recent rainfall, was churning torrents of water into the river.

We headed then back along the hard tarmac road which runs alongside one of the ponds and small waterways, and that leads you back also to some very nice houses that run close to the country park before heading back to the entrance. Interestingly, along the way there were plenty of notices to tell you that feeding bread to the ducks is in fact bad for them and it's not helpful to their health whatsoever. The Country Park shop even sold proper duck food for a cheap price too, to encourage you to actually feed them something a bit healthier, not a bad move that all told.

It was a nice leisurely walk which did us both good, and so I thought it'd be nice to head out for some food somewhere, so off we headed into Glossop and ended up at the Norfolk Arms, as they normally do some good food. So it proved, and in fact it was two meals for a mere £13 across the board. The Love had the fish, chips and peas which looked very good, and I went for their steak pie, which was really nice - it was a slice of a proper pie, and lashings of mushrooms and gravy as well as the meat, served complete with a nice buttery mash and some vegetables. Went down rather well with a pint of Maplemoon it has to be said.

We headed back to mine, and had coffee, and noted that the snooker had already gone off for the afternoon and with good reason - Ronnie O'Sullivan finished the session 7-1 up against Mark Selby. Wow. The Love headed home and I watched the remainder of the match later, with Mark changing his walk on music from "Fast Fuse" (which he now normally uses) to his former selection of "Underdog" by Kasabian (tune of the day that one) and hoping that might help his chances. It wasn't looking too good at 8-1 but Ronnie missed a brown, Selby got all the way to the black and missed, but Ronnie missed too, so Mark snatched that one for 8-2.

The next two frames were shared and so it was 9-3 at the mid session interval, but at least we got that far. At the start of the next frame some idiot in the crowd decided to call out when Mark Selby was playing a shot, and that was massively unfair. Referee Paul Collier spotted who it was and had security escort the idiot out - quite right too it has to be said. When you go to watch snooker you're respectful and don't do that sort of thing - you get engrossed in it all. Mark did well to win that frame, but a missed pink in the next was enough for Ronnie to then do the business and win 10-4. At least the frames were shared 3-3 tonight, how Mark wishes he'd have started better..

Saturday 18th January - Entering The 100 Club

So it was off to the Etihad Stadium today for what might be a momentous occasion - seeing if Manchester City could make it 11 wins out of 11 in the league at home for one thing, but also seeing if we could score our 100th goal of the season in all competitions, and be the earliest club to do so in the Premier League era. We'd been scoring for fun at home and the 5-0 FA Cup win midweek against Blackburn had been a welcome victory to keep the scoring run going.

As my friend who I normally go with was poorly, I ended up being in a different stand for today - level 3 of the East Stand. The view even fairly high up was pretty good, I was dead level with the penalty spot and the view down was good because of the steep rake up there, so no heads in the way or anything like that which has to be a positive. I got myself a coffee before the start of the match and drank that to keep myself nice and warmed up, and before I knew it, out came the teams and it was time to see what could be done.

City attacked with power and we almost scored in the first minute, with a possible penalty appeal not being given. City were going for it though, and shots were either being saved by the Cardiff keeper or going wide, with Álvaro Negredo hitting just wide with the outside of the boot. I knew though with the possession a goal would come sooner or later, and the City fans were in good voice singing along the new Pablo Zabaleta song in particular, as well as slight taunts to where Cardiff were from and so on (and of course with their new managed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being a former Man U player, you can imagine the stick he got!)

City took the lead soon enough though - a throw in was chested down by David Silva, and he got to the byline and pulled the ball back for Edin Džeko to strike the ball home. It seemed to take an age to cross the line (just) and the referee gave it for 1-0 and the 100th goal. The TV cameras showed a replay of the goal decison system being used for goal line technology, and it clearly showed the ball was over the line and in, which must have been the beep the referee had to give the goal. It was a quick decision and being able to see that on the telly was good, it eliminated any doubt for both sets of fans. 1-0 it was then.

Cardiff didn't lie down and their impressive right winger Craig Noone cut inside both Martin Demechelis and Vincent Kompany before shooting home low and hard for 1-1. That wasn't in the script, but it was a well taken goal and woke City up somewhat. A few minutes later a ball from Yaya Toure released Džeko and although the ball was cleared from him, it went to Jesús Navas who shot home low and hard past the keeper for 2-1, and that's how it would stay till the half time interval.

The second half was pretty nervy with Cardiff believing that they could force an equaliser, and with Noone being impressive down the right and showing up Demechelis on several occasions. However Noone was later beaten to the ball by Yaya Toure, the Ivorian surged forward, did a neat one two with Sergio Agüero who had come off the bench, and then Yaya whacked it home for 3-1 which made us all feel a tad more relieved. And indeed when the ball was fed to Agüero, his run and twists and turns resulted in a low shot home for 4-1 a couple of minutes later which put the game beyond doubt - despite a late Frazier Campbell consolation for 4-2.

So all in all I was happy: I'd seen the 100th goal for Manchester City this season, taken in a different view of he game and generally enjoyed myself. I headed over to The Love In My Heart and she was pleased to see me happy and smiling, and I got myself changed and ready to head out with her later, as we had a rather lovely evening, starting off with one of the pubs in the Printworks and having a pint of Doom Bar in there to boot. It was relatively calm and nice to chat about all sorts before we made the short walk to the Corn Exchange.

My cousin had very kindly got me a gift card for Zizzi for Christmas, so we could dine out in January at less expense, so we booked the table and thought it nice to have a good meal together. And so it proved too: we got the selection of breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to start, and that was lovely, followed by the mains. The Love had the Pollo Al Proscuitto, chicken wrapped in ham with some gorgeous green beans and potatoes to boot. I had the penne dela casa and that was stunning too: lots of nice penne in a creamy mushroom sauce with chicken and pancetta, a really nice heart warming dish all round. The tiramisu for dessert was excellent too, so that made me happy.

Later on we both headed back to Piccadilly and into Kro, where I had a really nice light seasonal ale from the Thwaites Brewery (name escapes me currently) and that was lovely, whilst The Love decided for old times' sake to have a Tia Maria and coke (woo!) and that went down pretty well all told. There were some funky tunes on in the background just adding the right sort of atmosphere and vibe, so it was all good and relaxed and a great end to a lovely day all round, with The Love looking gorgeous in her outfit it has to be said. Tune of the day meanwhile comes from MC Solaar: "Today Is A Good Day" - and he's not wrong.

Friday 17th January - Productive

I felt pretty productive today and spent a fair bit of time sorting out some application re-packaging issues as well as being able to do some testing and general maintenance tasks that I needed to do, so felt quite productive because of it. Best of all possibly was the fact that some of the work I'd undertaken yesterday with regards to a piece of software and its replacement dongle meant that when I did some testing on the student PCs, and logged in multiple times to the piece of software, they all communicated efficiently with the dongle and was able to work without issues - which made me feel very positive indeed.

It felt good being able to head home and that the week on the whole was about getting a lot of things in the right direction. Sometimes it's not always like that and I think that there is a definite need to really put together all the bits that I'm good at and concentrate on those, and use the ability I have to resolve problems and generally keep on the right side of frustration where need be. I do feel inspired though by The Love In My Heart, who has really flourished in her search for a new job and back to doing the job that she loves most of all - and that makes me think that I need to make the most of what I have because at least I am doing a job I enjoy most of the time.

I had a relaxing night in and decided for old times' sake to dig out Wii Sports Resort and have a blast on that. For a while I wanted to see if I could beat my nine hole record on both courses of the frisbee golf. I had got -9 on the resort course and -8 on the classic course, and after a few attempts on the classic court, I upped that to -9 as well, with some nice throwing on some of the par fives to get an eagle on one of them, and that helped nicely. Realistically that's a birdie every single hole, which is possibly doable, but eagles or holes in ones do help nicely towards that total if you can get them.

I also caught up with all the episodes I'd missed during the week of Great British Railway Journeys, as Michael Portillo headed via the shoe makers of Northampton, before taking on Coventry and Nuneaton along the way, and then in tonight's episode it was good to see him approach Nottingham, take the Robin Hood line to Mansfield and Worksop (a line that itself had closed during the Beeching Axe but had been reopened, with a slightly different route, due to public demand) and also end up via Doncaster to the Leeds City Varieties. Fascinating stuff, as ever.

I waited for my shopping to be delivered via Sainsbury's (excellent service as ever and £8 off for me each week at the moment, so no arguing there) and then settled down to watch some of the Masters Snooker, which proved to be pretty good viewing, even if Neil Robertson did get beat by Stephen Maguire 6-2. Robertson called a foul on himself when he was attempting to swerve around a green to hit the red, and Maguire got confused by the fact it wasn't called a miss, but Michaela Tabb had the rules spot on - and was right. It did disappoint me Robertson went out though, so no more of his walk on music "Heart of Courage" by the band Two Steps From Hell (tune of the day that one)

Thursday 16th January - Light at the End of the Cold Tunnel

I must admit all the fresh air, seeing City win, and actually managing to get a decent night's sleep last night did help me somewhat. I felt a bit more energetic today, so much so that I undertook a task to locate a couple of our multifunction printers that we needed to track down for audit purposes. Like the classic character Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes (or Life on Mars of course), I trust my hunches, and in both occasions they proved to be correct as well, which was rather good to be honest. That got me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day and to work on a few issues.

In the afternoon I was able to sort out a licence dongle issue that had been bugging me for some time. It transpired that for one piece of software we'd been sent two dongles, and of course with them both being HASP type dongles, you can't actually use them both on the same server. So what was happening was that when you ran the software that needed to see the dongle, it'd see one and not the other, but only see the first one and fail otherwise. Not good.

Anyway, the software company concerned had got in touch with one of our academic members of staff and arranged things so that we could have all the licences on one dongle, so it was a case of disconnecting one of the dongles, leaving the other attached, and then being able to run that one with an updated activation. It actually worked pretty well and I was able to work with a colleague to get that done and then test the software accordingly, which worked perfectly and as intended. Happy the man I was I think.

Even happier was that I started to feel the cold finally shifting from my body and breathing became gradually easier as I was working well on a few things today, and certainly being able to concentrate meant I could really focus the energy more. I headed over to my sister's place to hand her a birthday and gift card, and had a nice time with her children, helping the youngest one build a nice long train track for his Thomas the Tank Engine take and play trains.

I headed home later and The Love In My Heart came over for tea, and I did one of my nice little specialities: a chorizo pasta bake, which went down rather nicely. It was good to have a long chat and I had Top of the Pops on BBC Four on whilst we were having the tea together. It amazed me how many songs from 1979 I actually remembered, including some one hit wonders such as Paul Evans' "Hello, This Is Joannie" (make that tune of the day because of its cult classic status) and even Driver 67's "Car 67" as well, on the same show. Ah, those were the days indeed.

The final Sport Relief Bake Off of the week was pretty good too - Helen Skelton-Myler was actually for once rubbish at something and didn't really bake that well, and for me and The Love it was a choice of two to win it - either Rochelle Humes from the Saturdays or Alistair McGowan, with the impersonator actually doing a great job with the tennis themed cake at the end and making some rather gorgeous Eccles cakes in the end too. It's been a good fun week all round though on there...

Wednesday 15th January - Battering Blackburn

The FA Cup third round replay loomed large tonight for my friend and I as Manchester City took on Blackburn Rovers. It was the final replay of the week and one that would determine who would play Watford (who won their game last night) at home in round four. We had weathered the storm somewhat at Ewood Park and I had a feeling that a game at the Etihad was just the thing that Blackburn would look forward to with some fear, because of the number of goals we'd been scoring at home during the season.

We got to the ground and managed to get inside and dry before the rain started to absolutely pelt it down outside. It was nice to sit and chat with a coffee and just think about what score to bet on. My friend went with 4-2, as ever, and I decided that 6-0, although optimistic, did provide some decent odds and thought that it might be worth a cheeky punt at £1 to see what would happen. The kick off time drew nearer and we took our seats to see what would happen, with Edin Džeko and Álvaro Negredo up front and hopefully going to be in the goals.

The first half for the most part, despite a fair amount of City domination, didn't result in that many clear chances. A couple of times shots were blazed over by Džeko, and Micah Richards almost got on the end of a cross cum shot with his head but just missed the ball as it came bouncing across the box. Blackburn did try to attack as well and hit a free kick straight into the grateful hands of keeper Costel Pantillimon, and on the whole were thinking that getting a goal was their best form of defence.

With it almost into stoppage time at the end of the first half, Blackburn committed numbers forward, but the ball was cleared and Fernandinho started a break forward, and after some neat passing, the cross found the head of Negredo, and let's just say that The Beast doesn't miss from that range with his head. In it went for 1-0 and at half time we were both thinking that the goal came at just the right time to calm the nerves, but also to hopefully be a springboard for City to progress in the second half.

We weren't wrong, were we? A couple of minutes into the second half and a gorgeous diagonal ball from substitute Aleksandar Kolarov found Negredo, who deftly chipped it over the Blackburn substitute keeper and made it 2-0. Before long, City were terrorising down the right, and a neat cross low from Jesús Navas found the feet of Džeko, who slammed it from close range into the roof of the net and it was 3-0. At this stage we both thought it was all over and a case of seeing how many we might score.

On came Sergio Agüero after a period out with injury to massive applause from the City fans, and within a minute of coming on he had a chance to score, laid on by Džeko. Sergio took one touch, turned the corner and then blasted the shot low and hard and home for 4-0. Impressive stuff with his second touch and a return to form that was massively welcome from the City faithful, who sang his name. Time too for Navas to set up Džeko again to hit home a fifth goal and with ten minutes left, all of a sudden I thought "I might just be winning this bet here you know!"

No such luck though as the nearest City came was a free kick from James Milner late on which whistled past the post, but I kept thinking it'd have been good. Granted it was 18-1 odds for 6-0, but I wouldn't have complained if I'd have won, that's for sure. Still City's classic anthem "The Boys In Blue" played (tune of the day obvoiusly) as the players went off and were applauded by the fans, and it was a real feeling of happiness as we progressed nicely to the next round, and with kids for £1, a perfect excuse for any family to take the kids along to the football for the Watford game I think.

Tuesday 14th January - Baking and Blowing

Plenty of attempts to blow the nose today in some more futile attempts to get rid of the cold, along with plenty of decongestants, hot lemon, pretty much anything that I could try to get things shifted. I think it's reaching its peak of getting through the head and making me suffer somewhat, so it's been really hard to keep concentration at the office and manage to get plenty of things done. That said I was spending a fair amount of time in another office being able to work on the migration stuff I was doing yesterday, and it's been good to be able to feel part of a team getting things done the right way.

I headed home later and via the local Asda, as I wanted to get a couple of birthday cards for some forthcoming birthdays, and my sister mentioned to me that she'd quite like a gift card for her birthday so she can treat herself if she sees something whilst out shopping, and so I thought it made perfect sense to get that at the same time whilst I was in there too. It was quite quiet as well so it was a case of in, get what I needed, and then pay up and leave there and head home to warm up from the cold weather outside, and with good reason too to be honest.

The Love In My Heart arrived later on and I started to make us some chicken with cheese and leek crumble on top, together with some dauphinoise potatoes and sliced carrots, and that was hearty enough to warm us up for the evening too. It was nice too to be able to chat, catch up and generally snuggle up to each other at the same time, and I told her about a programme I'd watched on Channel 4 the previous night and recommended it to her - namely David Fishwick as the Loan Ranger, coming to the aid of people trapped in payday loan situations and what have you.

The second episode of the Sport Relief Bake Off was on tonight, and I must admit it was nice to see Jane Horrocks on there, as she's an actress I really admire, and doesn't hide her Northern accent (she is from Rawtenstall after all). It seemed good fun as she was baking somewhat more simple recipes but attempting to do them well, compared to the likes of Kirsty Young (who I have to say looks lovelier by the day) and up against Jason Gardiner (the picky judge from Dancing on Ice, apparently) as well as Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford.

It was good fun, and I think it was becoming clear that the ladies were doing a fair bit better, and certainly by the showstopper both of us had decided it was going to be one of the two. However, the showstopper also showed who was the best - and Kirsty's cake really did show off the theme of Desert Island discs nicely, with chocolate records and a gorgeous sponge inside - and for me, a deserved winner from my point of view. Had to laugh when Jane was impersonating someone who was really upset to lose as well - made me giggle a lot that did. Tune of the day in fact is Jane as Little Voice singing "Get Happy" simply because it makes you smile - and why the hell not?

Monday 13th January - Migrating Mucus

I know, not the most inspiring title and some would say somewhat horrid, but that's pretty much the sum total of my day all around. A constant battle with the bunged up nose with plenty of sneezing and lots of clear mucus coming out of my nose (nice), although at least I do feel at least there is some decongestion going on, if the ears would decongest along with the nose and mean that breathing would be easier, that would indeed help massively.

And I needed to concentrate a lot today, as I spent a fair bit of time over with a couple of our folks in our central team, troubleshooting the SCCM 2012 migration in more detail. On the whole, most of the migration had worked but we'd spotted some task sequences that had failed to migrate. I worked out that for some of them that were delivering applications only, we didn't need to reference a boot image, so we took those references out, tried the migration again, and badabing! Over they went. That seemed to work pretty well.

I also spotted that any custom queries made in 2007 would be able to go over to 2012 too, and it was a case of making sure where possible that the exporting happened first, so they'd be some MOF query files, and then import them in. The only ones that seemed to have some form of snag were ones which were written with custom Windows Query Language (WQL) which you may need to tweak. I think I've got to the bottom of one of them though and so if I can get one sorted the other three or four custom ones should work just as well, fingers crossed really. Sub-selected queries might also be worth revisiting here I think.

I did get out late but remembered to stop off on the way home for some cold and flu sachets (blackcurrant ones this time as lemon gets a bit dull don't you think) and made sure that I took one before I cooked some tea and settled in for the evening to watch some of the snooker before switching to BBC2 and watching the first of the Sport Relief Bake Off. I was a bit miffed though that Mel Giedroyc wasn't presenting this time around (I do prefer her to Sue Perkins it has to be said) but nonetheless it was all good fun, with Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter movies) winning and winning well, with some lovely creations.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Panic Attack" by Dream Theater. I think today that there's so much going on and I just wished that my cold would just go away so that I am able to do something else and concentrate a lot more on what we're doing at the moment. I also worry and panic sometimes that if I'm not performing at my best that I might not be fully with everything, so it takes a lot of out me mentally. And of course a good excuse to rock out is never turned down these days let me tell you.

Sunday 12th January - Knutsford Calling

I still felt bunged up and full of the cold when I woke up in the middle of the night, and getting back to sleep wasn't perfect either. Thankfully The Love In My Heart was really lovely and supportive, and just kept me feeling happier and gently cuddled me, which felt rather nice. I didn't want us to stop doing something nice today though, and as she thought that she might want to get some nice little birthday presents for some forthcoming birthdays, we both thought that heading into Knutsford might be a nice idea for us both to do.

We got up, I made us some breakfast and coffee and I took it easy relaxing whilst The Love got herself all ready to head out. And she looked gorgeous in her purple top, jeans and boots - and the new jacket, scarf and bag I got her at Christmas just finished it all off nicely. I consider myself very lucky indeed that I have such a beautiful woman to be with - let me tell you. We set off and headed into Stockport first as we needed to get something from Matalan, and then from there it was off onto the M60 and then M56 before cutting along the A556, A5034 and A50 to Knutsford itself.

It was nice to saunter down the shops in King Street, and as a confirmation of the fact that the town still attracts new businesses, a branch of the rather nice looking The Bath House had opened, and looked a very nice posh little place for specialist bathing products as well as skin care, fragrance and little gifts. The Love picked something up very nice in here and the place seemed very lovely and inviting to come in. I'm sure it'll do well in the area and it marries in with the town's ethos rather well.

As does The Little Jem, always full of really nice home based gifts and things for the house. It's always so nicely laid out, even when the sales are on, and you can feel the love and attention gone into everything. Needless to say it's this sort of little shop which The Love is most at home browsing around, and I can see the appeal. And with another present purchased from there it was already proving to be a rather successful afternoon all round really.

We mooched more around the town centre before heading outwards, and on the way back close to Mere we stopped off at The Swan for a bit of Sunday lunch - and with two courses for £9.99 that did us well - the mushroom starter was spot on, and the roast beef I had was good too - two Yorkshire puddings as well to go with the medium well done beef, and a fair amount of gravy, along with vegetables. Solid stuff all around and nice just to chill out, especially with the gorgeous orange juice and lemonade gave me the vitamin C boost I needed there and then.

We got back and the Masters Snooker was on, and with the score going to 5-5 and a final frame decider looming, the BBC decide to go to the red button. Well, that was a wise move wasn't it BBC? I can imagine plenty of people weren't pleased and although I switched over and saw a nerve jangling final frame with Mark Selby winning 6-5 against Mark Davis, I can imagine some would have been miffed that the coverage gave way to Ski Sunday - which might have been allowable if it was the downhill from say Wengen or something similar, but...

The Love headed home, and I spent the evening in front of the telly, dosing up on paracetemol and cough medicine (nice!) and watching the BDO World Darts Final between Alan "Chuck" Norris and Stephen Bunting. It was a high quality final and although it was 3-3 at the mid match interval, Bunting had missed doubles to go two sets up twice, and if he found some form with those he might surge ahead, and that he did, taking three on the bounce to go 6-3 up before Norris pulled one back with a 140 checkout to stay alive. Bunting made no mistake and clinched the next one to win the world title 7-4 in a good final all round where sportsmanship won the day. Nice to see the use of Queen's classic "We Are The Champions" at the end too, so tune of the day there.

Saturday 11th January - The Second Cold Wave

I must admit I didn't sleep at all well last night - just felt either really bunged up or massively shivery, with not that much in between. Ideally it would have been nice to be able to just curl up in bed all day and not do anything, but I thought that wouldn't do whatsoever, so I headed up, got everything cleaned up in the house and then sat back to watch some of the women's downhill skiing from Austria, which looked a pretty tough course to get right, but when you did, massively rewarding on the whole. For me it was good to see that it was practice for many of them before the forthcoming Winter Olympics.

I headed into Chorlton during the afternoon and had a good mooch amongst the racks of vinyl in Kingbee Records, always good to have a look around there and see what they have. I think on the whole it was good to resist a little bit but there was a fair bit of temptation there, especially some well looked after 12" singles that did tempt, as well as some nice 7" EPs and singles too. It's always worth a repeat visit and next time I think I might walk out with a carrier bag full of stuff, but whilst my amp's in repair, I can't play any vinyl as yet..

I also had a good look around a few of the charity shops as well, and they were full of some useful things (even a CD rack very similar to mine in one of them which was semi-tempting.) I did head into Morrisons as well as I needed some tissues and a few other bits, and lo and behold, there was bottles of the rather gorgeous Black Cat ale for the price of a mere £1 each. Let's just say at that price I bought a few, and with good reason of course. Be rude not to.

I spent a chunk of the afternoon keeping an eye to the football scores and watching the BDO World Championship darts semi final, where Stephen Bunting murdered Robbie Green 6-1, and Green was throwing a right strop of sorts at the number of bounce outs that he had, but in truth he wasn't playing good enough and Bunting was lethal on the doubles. As Bobby George always says, "scores for show, doubles for dough" and he would have been right with that on the women's final, only for Lisa Ashton to pull off a sensational fightback to win 3-2 against Deta Hedman and claim the crown for Lancashire. Epic stuff.

By this time The Love In My Heart had come over, and so we decided it'd be nice to head out for a drink and a chat first before I made the tea, so we headed off to the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor. They had the gorgeous plum pudding ale on, so I got a pint of that, only to get another half pint for free (an offer was being run on it apparently). I wasn't saying no to a free half on top of course, and so after getting a nice comfy sofa The Love and I caught up and chatted, and we spent some quality time in there before heading back to mine, where I made us some rather nice Wiltshire ham gratin. Yummy indeed.

I must admit I did feel a fair bit tired and sleepy, and it was hard to stay awake because of the cold bug I had, but we did watch a bit of The Voice, with Kylie Minogue looking rather lovely, and also seeing how Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs did as a judge. He didn't seem to be that bad, and certainly considering how the Beeb have used the band's classic "I Predict a Riot" (make that tune of the day) for the promotional stuff, he really was getting into it. Be interesting to see how it all pans out, although a lottery win later for either of us would have also been nice. But still, nice just to spend some quality time even if I was decongesting somewhat.

Friday 10th January - Coughing Catharsis

After all the bunged up cold of the last week and a half or so, the coughing seemed to take over a lot more, whilst still feeling somewhat bunged up as well. I managed to get through the team meeting this morning, and also spent some time sorting out some software installations in a lab room, which had to be done manually because the installer wasn't able to be rolled out silently (the vendor themselves had confirmed this) and so it was a case of switch on, log in and then do.

It was hard to try not to cough in the meeting that we had later in the morning as we discussed things we needed to do to finalise the SCCM migration off. One thing that was spotted was that a number of task sequences had failed to migrate as they referred to a boot image which also failed migration. On closer inspection several of these were application based task sequences, and a quick check of these later showed that the boot image option was ticked. Surely this wasn't needed, so I suggested a removal of those so that some of the main task sequences would then be able to be migrated over.

I spent most of the afternoon sorting out a removal of members of any collections, so that when the clients for the machines were migrated, it would mean that these woudln't suddenly try and get another task sequence of applications flying out to machines again, because all the previous record for any installations etc would disappear, including those with PXE records. The key here is that any machine left in a collection with PXE boot would try to start its task sequence from a SCCM 2012 server otherwise, so there is a need to be somewhat careful about it.

I headed home and was still coughing, so stopped off on the way home to pick up some bronchial balsam that normally does the job and took some of that before I had some tea, and watched Great British Railway Journeys as Michael Portillo headed to Honley, took part in a brass band and then headed down the Huddersfield - Sheffield line to Stocksmoor and taking a way to Holmfirth from there, taking in a dam which burst and flooded that very town. It was good to see him end up in Chatsworth as well and turn the key for the impressive water fountain.

I spent some more time tonight listening to the Shaker album "Kiss Me" after it arrived at the Towers last night. I for one was fascinated to hear more of it and certainly the tracks have all the hallmarks of a great indie band that never took off beyond one album, a shame really. "Watching You Fall" is another great track from that album so it's going to be tune of the day and I suspect I might be listening a bit more to the album over the next few days as it enters the consciousness.

Thursday 9th January - Oakworth!

It was nice to be able to get through today and have the benefit of being able to plan out a few things which needed to be done. The first of which was the last scheduled training course this week of three which I was providing to staff where they could see SCCM 2012 and its admin console in action. The feedback has been pretty good thus far, and to be honest the only downside has been that the building that we're having the sessions in and its small group rooms have no heating whatsoever, so it hasn't been the warmest place to do things in. My throat was feeling it a bit at the end as well for a lot of talking was needed by me to get things across.

I spent some time this afternoon with a couple of people from our central team, as they had their Microsoft consultant with them as the migration from SCCM 2007 to 2012 was well underway and there were a few things which we needed pointers to. On the whole it's been pretty good and I was able to offer some useful input to them in order to help out a little bit, and I have to say that I'm thinking that long term there'll be some considerable benefits, even if they're not seen straight away as yet.

Anyway, I've been pretty much working on a few things as well in awork so it's been good to be able to try and document some processes at the same time to make sure everyone is in the loop as to what's going on. I think that the more I can get done on that score, the better it works out for everyone in that there's actually things to follow and make sense of instead of having to fudge their way through things (which I've had happen before and it's not nice, so only fair really that I try and prevent that)

When I got home I had a nice surprise in a package with two CDs that I'd ordered online - namely the CD single and album from the band Shaker, who were around circa 1996. For me it has a link to a band I liked circa 1990-93, The Cygnet Ring, as the lead singer went on to Shaker as his next project. It was good to finally locate the CDs at a reasonable price, and be able to spend some time listening to them and enjoying the music from this era of time. "The Gate To My Bedsitter" was a really good lead off track and single and so that's tune of the day for today.

The Love In My Heart came over for tea as Great British Railway Journeys was on. Michael Portillo had already headed to Haworth (somewhere we've both been) and had had a tour of the Bronte Parsonage Museum and to explore the history of the famous literary family. He then went on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway down the line to Oakworth, made famous of course by the 1970 film version of The Railway Children. Michael spoke to some of the people who helped make it happen before being able to reprise the role of Perks, shouting "Oakworth! Oakworth Station" in a deep accent. Granted, it wasn't Bernard Cribbins of course, who will for me always have that role as his own, but it was good to know that the film's director Lionel Jefferies had insisted on the station keeping its name for the film, showing a care and love for the railway heritage.

We spent some time tonight watching some telly and notably had the first game of Scrabble together for this year whilst the dolphin documentary was on BBC One. It was a good game on the whole, and some good scoring, notably with some good use of the large letters on double word mainly. I was pretty impressed with The Love scoring some good treble words as well and really seemed to be back in the groove somewhat. My best move was QUIET and EF which on a double word scored me 33, a decent start I guessed to myself.

Wednesday 8th January - The Joy of Six

It was a trip off to the Etihad Stadium today to see if Manchester City could overcome West Ham in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi final, with a trip to Wembley for the winner on the 2nd March. City were in great form since the start of December, with many wins and the odd draw, but remaining unbeaten and keeping up the pressure at the top of the league. West Ham had rested several players in their FA Cup game and as a result were hammered 5-0 by a rampant Nottingham Forest side, not the ideal preparation, and it made me wonder why their manager Sam Allardyce would demerit the FA Cup so much, not the best move to endear yourself to the fans either to be honest.

My friend and I headed to the ground, and admittedly it was chucking it down, so I wasn't pleased that the rain was going to make the journey in a wet one. However, I knew we'd be under cover in the stadium itself, and that with a nice warm cuppa before the game we'd be getting behind the lads and making sure our voices were heard. I didn't expect a full house tonight primarily because it was a cup game and a lot of season ticket holders don't bother coming to those too (we sign up to the cup schemes to get first dibs for Wembley though so it simply has to be done.)

The teams came out with the rain still throwing it down, and right from the kick off we both thought that there was only going to be one winner to be honest. City were going for it and were relentless in their attacks on goal, whilst West Ham seemed scared and overawed by the occasion. Their fans were in full voice and for a midweek game brought a lot out with them to Manchester - kudos to them for that and it goes to show that sometimes it's the fans who make the team what they are.

City though were taking no prisoners tonight. A high ball from Yaya Toure right towards Álvaro Negredo and the Beast made no mistake with a lethal volley into the bottom corner of the net for 1-0. A few minutes later he and Edin Džeko combined well with some neat passes and the Beast was on goal again, sliding a shot into the top corner and past the West Ham keeper Adrian for 2-0. Yaya Toure had had an injury and was of the pitch, with the West Ham fans singing "Bye bye, bye bye Yaya Toure", and as it turned out, way too soon. Negredo released Toure on a run and there was only going to be one winner as the Ivorian ran to the area and smashed home low and hard for 3-0 before half time.

The same story during the second half too, with some good build up play from birthday boy David Silva and Samir Nasri and after a failed clearance, the ball went to Negredo, and the Beast smashed it home for 4-0 with just 49 minutes gone. The Beast was in superb form and could have scored more had he not been substituted to a hero's reception. With an hour gone a neat pass from the left from Gael Clichy saw Edin Džeko slide in for 5-0, and the West Ham fans turned on Sam Allardyce with aplomb, singing "We Want Our West Ham Back" and also less favourable chants about the manager, and understandably so.

The misery for them and joy for us was complete when Džeko completed a neat move involving Marcos Lopes and Aleksandar Kolarov and smashed home for 6-0. Adrian had already saved well twice from the Bosnian, or he'd have had a hat trick as well. City had 31 shots on goal in the end which showed the superiority, and rightfully the West Ham fans were really gutted by their performance. For City though, we march on and the 2nd March might now be involving a trip to London, and I'm secretly hoping Sunderland do the business against Man U in their second leg.

Tune of the day has to be Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet's "Lux Aeterna" which of course featured in the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack but at the same time was picked up by other films and even Sky Sports News and used for their coverage. Of course it's a classic piece of orchestral film score that in particular seems to suit a sporting occasion. I wonder how many people realise the genius also gave us Pop Will Eat Itself for years along with their many classic tracks such as "Def Con One" and their version of "Beaver Patrol". Makes you think doesn't it?

Tuesday 7th January - Fallout

It was a busy day back at work, but I managed to get quite a bit done in a small space of time, notably because it was the first morning of three that I was spending with staff and giving them a tutorial training session on SCCM 2012. It was decided that there'd be a few people across the sites who would be those passing on the information and knowledge, and I thought that for the benefit of all of the team, it would be most likely best if this was done as a session where I could get people together.

It proved to be really worthwhile and a good run for people to get an idea of what was where. As some of them hadn't seen the 2007 console before for a number of reasons, going to 2012 made perfect sense and allowed me to make sure that everyone felt comfortable with how things would be viewed and what to do with it. I think too that because I spent time to show people more about the reporting side and seeing how that works, it seemed to be more seamless in its operation and why things are where they are, so all good there.

I headed home feeling much more positive than I have done recently in terms of work, and so was getting everything together in the house to be all shipshape before The Love In My Heart headed over to see me. I made us some penne carbonara for tea with some extra pancetta, and tied this in so that the food would be ready once Emmerdale had finished (as I knew she'd be watching that anyway, and so it proved) so that we could chat and relax in peace.

We did see the second half of The 7:39 that was on tonight, and it really was a powerful piece of drama, and really showed the talents of all four main actors within. David Morrissey and Sheridan Smith were excellent as those who were conducting the affair, devising more ways to spend time with each other and flirt on the train (the almost undressed scene with one commuter was probably a call too close) but as the fallout happened, the partners' parts came into their own as those who love was spurned and how they dealt with it. Olivia Coleman was particularly brilliant here, having a mix of anger and resignation and showing just how much she was affected, and being the moral guardian.

Indeed, Sean Maguire as the husband to be of Sheridan's character Sally reacted somewhat differently, and that really did have a different side of how the affair was being affected, and his subsequent going off the rails was also a way that the human nature can also react. It did in essence reinforce the theory that affairs don't work and end up in so much in hurt, and the scenes by the Kent seaside near the end really did show a parting of the ways. Definitely well worth a watch on iPlayer if you missed it, or even purchasing the DVD when it comes out next month.

Sometimes it's too easy to go on about the lack of quality on telly but sometimes when there's something which really does show the talent we do have in this country, it's only fair I feel that we really do sing the praises somewhat. Tune of the day is me feeling a tad thoughtful after watching that: "Where Do We Go Now But Nowhere?" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, which would have been a perfect accompaniment to the seaside scene and set that perfectly (not to mention it's Nick Cave, so genius by default anyway).

Monday 6th January - The 7:39 at 9

It was the first full week back at work for this year, and I spent a bit of time this morning devising a few appointments for people this week so I could do a show and tell type session for the forthcoming SCCM 2012 migration, with it spread out amongst the team so that we always would have cover available, and on top of that be able to ensure that we have smaller groups to be able to demonstrate things to as well. And because it'll be quieter till next Monday, I figured with virtually everyone in it would be a perfect opportunity to get things organised and sorted out.

I also spent some time checking over an application which had been previously packaged and distributed okay, but for some reason now wasn't playing ball correctly in SCCM. That one in question was Axure RX Pro, which by the sound of it was actually doing a test run of Word to see what version it was and if it needed the Office Converter Pack, and considering it's Word 2010, you'd like to think that it didn't. It also turned out that when I looked at the installer log file, the startup switches are there, and so you could do MSCONVERTER=TRUE as a parameter, which at least stopped the Word check.

However, it also seems to me that the installer, because it uses the InstallAnywhere technology, doesn't want to run correctly as a system user, and so that would effectively mean that you'd want to have it installed with a login admin user. One idea I did have would be that the program in SCCM would run as the logged in user, and when we advertise it, we'd be logged in as one of ourselves (an admin user anyway) so that would at least mean that the install would work with minimal interaction apart from logging in to the PC. That would be useful I thought, so got that on the go for tomorrow.

I stayed back to work on that for a while and before I realised it, it had gone 5.30pm and I really needed to be out of there and on the way home, and it was good therefore when I got home that the first in the new series of Great British Railway Journeys was on with Michael Portillo. He started off in Manchester, examining the former slum area close to Oxford Road station before heading to Old Trafford (boo!) and taking in the stadium tour, and then via Warrington and Chester going to Port Sunlight and finally on to Birkenhead, which proved to be pretty interesting as seen through Michael too. I'm pleased that it's back.

Undoubtedly though the highlight for me last night was the first part of two of the drama The 7:39, written by David Nicholls (he of "One Day" and "Starter for Ten" fame) - where it focussed on two characters, Sally (played by Sheridan Smith) and Carl (played by the fab David Morrissey) who in their relationships with their partners seem to lead a normal life, but sharing the daily commute on the train together, despite an initially feisty encounter, seemed to bring them together in a way that you wouldn't think over time. Olivia Coleman as Carl's wife seemed the faithful, keeping the peace domestic goddess and she really did play that well, and Sean Maguire was the slightly overbearing and needy fiancee of Sally, and he did that to a tee too.

The second part tomorrow should be a great watch, as the first part has ended on a delicate and poignant moment (not spoiling it for those who haven't yet seen the first part on iPlayer of course) and it's been a great piece of quality drama all told. I for one would much more like to see this sort of telly on our screens rather than the endless Z-listers on Celebrity Big Brother, for example, which made me reach for PWEI's "Nosebleeder Turbo" as it takes the mick out of them (hence that's tune of the day)

A quick text to The Love In My Heart and we were both in agreement: it's been a quality piece of drama, with some great performances and I was actually wondering if there is a train which leaves somewhere at 0739 in the morning to get into London Waterloo (where the characters get off each morning and on at night) or if that was just a random time made up by David Nicholls when he wrote the thing. Nonetheless, excellent all round and already a contender for my TV programme of 2014, even this early.

Sunday 5th January - Beef It Up

It was a bit of a busy day for all sorts of different reasons. All potential plans for a lie in were scuppered a little when The Love In My Heart noticed last night that there was a small amount of water close to the toilet in the bathroom, and it looked like a potential leak somewhere. I was going to check the pipes behind the boxing off in the bathroom, and I noticed that the pipe leading to the cistern in the toilet was a bit on the wet side. I suspected it might have been a leak where the pipe goes in, and so my uncle and brother in law came over to check it.

It transpired that it was a faulty washer which had worn out, and so the pipework and cistern plug weren't completely doing the job that they needed to, and so once the washer was replaced, we turned the stop tap back on, and once done, we could see that the cistern filled and there was no leakage whatsoever. I was relieved to get that sorted out, not least because I didn't want anything to develop into a much worse problem further down the line, so all was good.

The Love and I then headed off later in the morning to the local recycling point to get rid of the Christmas tree. In fact I noticed when putting it in with the rest of the garden waste that there were a lot of trees already there that people had recycled, so I felt positive that so many people had thought the same as me. It's a shame that they're not collected anymore with any green garden waste when the recycling collections happen from the doorstep, but I suppose at least it's something that I can do the green thing still.

Once that was done, we got ourselves all changed and ready, and I watched the FA Cup third round game as Nottingham Forest eventually crushed West Ham 5-0, and deservedly so too it has to be said. I think it showed that if you take the competition seriously and put out a side who wants to win, you'll get your rewards, and they did. Little did I realise that later on Swansea City would pull off a heroic 2-1 win at Old Trafford and knock Manchester United out of the tournament as well, impressive stuff that too.

Later on we both headed over to Mum's, as she wanted to cook Sunday lunch for ourselves, my brother and his wife before they flew back to Japan in a couple of days' time, and my brother and his girlfriend. Mum made a lovely roast beef complete with potatoes, carrots, peas, Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy, and that went down rather well all round. It was good to sit around and chat together, and that was rather nice, as was the experience of my brother and his wife heading to London twice in the space of a week, and the second time going to the Warner Brothers studio to see Harry Potter!

It was nice and relaxing, and good to chat and catch up with everyone: and also my sister came over, and one of my nephews with his girlfriend and their son, so he got lots of fuss and attention as well, both of those were unexpected surprises so it was actually nice to see them too. Isn't it nice when those sorts of things happen unexpectedly? I definitely think so to be honest. It just made everyone feel a bit more together and by the time we'd had dessert and coffee, the time had pretty much flown by.

Now it's just a case of preparing myself for a first full week back at work and that won't necessarily be easy, but I suspect that it'll be a case of getting back into the groove and settling in to how things are and will be for the next month or two. Tune of the day resmbles that in a way: "More Than Money" by Seth Lakeman. I think the job is all well and good to earn the money you need, but at the same time, you have to be happy in what you do make it all seem worthwhile, and right now, I know it could be better, but it could also be a hell of a lot worse, and that's what I've got to remember.

Saturday 4th January - Magic of the Cup

It's always a special day in the sporting calendar when it's the FA Cup Third Round, as it really does have a history, a feeling, a sense of occasion and where everything might happen. For me, I always think that it's important to win and carries a massive amount of prestige. It did when as a kid my uncle and grandad went to Wembley for the 1981 final only to see us lose in a replay (yes, kids, FA Cup final replays, they did happen back in the day) and when I saw us win in the 2011 semi and then the final, and even losing at Wembley to Wigan last year also was still a special occasion it is the FA Cup.

I headed over to my friend's place as he has BT Sport, as City were away at Blackburn in the third round with a 12.45 kick off. City had sold out their full 7,000 allocation no problem, but my friend and I were a tad miffed that there were a shed load of empty seats in the home ends - they could have given us more tickets and I'm sure that they would have been taken without problem to be honest. I knew though it was going to be a tricky tie as they'd started to pick up some form and potential shock result was probably why it was on the telly.

The first half was a case of withstanding an early Blackburn storm and coming more into it as the half wore on. David Silva skied a chance when he should have hit the target, and a couple of wayward shots at both ends were all that seemed to be. That was until almos right on half time when a corner came in, Edin Džeko headed towards goal but it was going well wide, and then Álvaro Negredo saw where the ball was going and volleyed it in at the far post, 1-0, and right on half time. A good time to score I thought to myself.

The second half though saw us not take a couple of chances early on, and Blackburn had a corner themselves. It came over, a bullet header should have been better stopped by Costel Pantillimon, and he parried it straight out to Scott Dan who buried it from close range to make it 1-1. The more the half went on, the more Blackburn believed that they could win it, and they brought on Jordan Rhodes and DJ Campbell in an attempt to try and win the game at their place. We hung on a bit and Dedryck Boyata was correctly sent off for two bookable offences (the second one should have been a straight red too to be honest) and so are still in it.

More so than can be said for some other teams. Undoubtedly one of the two results of the day were Sheffield United from League One heading to Aston Villa, and the Villa fans weren't too happy with their manager Paul Lambert after he basically slagged off the competition. It showed in the way they didn't try, and Sheffield United won 2-1, deservedly so as well in my view. Leeds United went to Rochdale (of League Two) and Rochdale turned them over 2-0, again deservedly so. I think it goes to show that if you apply yourself you will do well.

Later on I headed home, and The Love In My Heart came over for tea. I made us some nice nibble bits including some cripsy won tun, prawn toast, spring rolls and some chicken bits, and we watched the Top of the Pops Story of 1979 - some fascinating stuff on there of course including the interviews, and I thought she might like to see it. It was great seeing Gary Numan talk about the likes of "Cars" and that's going to be my tune of the day - it's ace.

Friday 3rd January - Partying Like It's 1979

It was another busy day at work today and I felt better because of it. Not only was I able to finish off the laptop trolley stuff from yesterday and so was therefore able to be ready to wheel that back on Monday morning and have it all up and ready, a colleague and I got started on getting all the new laptops for two further trolleys up and ready. The good thing was that they were already at least asset tagged and numbered, and so all we needed to do was boot them up, get the MAC addresses for SCCM importing, and fingers crossed they'd start to be task sequenced (note the fingers crossed bit)

I think on the whole it's worked well and the first batch all finished spot on, so I stayed behind a little bit last thing and so was able to get the remainder of the laptops all started off to be imaged, so that was a positive thing to be honest. It also meant that I felt ahead of schedule and so wouldn't be so hassled next week when everyone is pretty much back in. I can see an influx of calls from people as they've forgotten things over the festive period so it's always good to be ready for that anyway.

As I didn't have the time to get my online shopping organised, it was instead time to head straight from work and into Tesco, which actually was pretty quiet for a Friday evening. It meant I was able to head around pretty quickly and get what I needed and without any hassle either, so I sorted out what I needed, got a couple of bottles of wine for The Love In My Heart and then headed homewards on the bus, which was quite quick all round. Considering I worked a bit late, getting back home around 6.20pm wasn't that bad at all really.

I also spent some time taking down the Christmas tree. It was something which needed to be done and I wanted to make sure that all the decorations could be stored away for next Christmas, and the needles of some of the tree did inevitably fall off as I was taking the decorations off, and so had to make sure that I swept those up pretty quickly and vacuumed up afterwards so that all was clean and good to go. The CD tower I got was repositioned and all seemed good.

I then watched BBC Four's excellent introspective into 1979 via Top of the Pops: The Story of 1979 which had some really good insights from the likes of Nile Rodgers, Jah Wobble from Public Image Limited, Chas and Dave on how the words in their hit "Gertcha" had to be censored, one of the Dooleys explaining that calling up petrol stations on the way to London to ensure they could top up at 3am despite the Winter of Discontent, and the man Gary Numan explaining how the Musicians Union tried to ban him because he was using electronics (I know, bizarre!) - good to see Gary taking part though.

Of course the songs of the era were featured on there and the following show "Big Hits" which gave you an hours' worth of overview of the era, and some massive classics on there too, and to give you an idea here's the songs which were played during the hour. I've flagged the one which I've specified as tune of the day to make it an easier selection, but on the whole I was mightily impressed with the cross section and showed that actually growing up as a kid music wasn't actually that bad. So here goes:

Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello and the Attractions
Lucky Number - Lene Lovich
I Want Your Love - Chic
Some Girls - Racey
Gertcha - Chas and Dave
Up The Junction - Squeeze
Silly Games - Janet Kay
Disco Matilda - Dame Edna (what the ??)
Babylon's Burning - The Ruts (tune of the day - absolute classic)
Can't Stand Losing You - The Police
Kid - The Pretenders
One Day At A Time - Lena Martell
Cars - Gary Numan
We Don't Talk Anymore - Cliff Richard
Eton Rifles - The Jam
I'm In The Mood For Dancing - The Nolans
On My Radio - The Selecter
Is She Really Going Out With Him - Joe Jackson
One Step Beyond - Madness
Pop Musik - M
I Don't Like Mondays - Boomtown Rats
A Message To You - The Specials (spot the legend Rico Rodriguez, who plays with Jools Holland, on trombone!)

Thursday 2nd January - Back Into The Swing Of Things

Being back at work so early on in the New Year does have a few advantages, and one of them is that whilst it's fairly quiet there's an opportunity to really catch up and get lots of things done at the same time. One of the things I wanted to do was update the laptop trolley used by one of our courses, as we didn't get chance to do so over the Summer due to building moves et all and thought it'd make perfect sense to have 64-bit Windows 7 and all the 64-bit versions of their design software on there, thus prolonging the life of everything a fair bit.

It also meant I could bring them over to our building and work on them all in our work room and thus be able to get things up and running there with a switch, so was able to get things all set off for imaging, checking that the hardware was fine within them, and having everything all set so straight after the main task sequence in SCCM for bringing down a disk image, there's another one later on which adds all the software on and installs it, thus meaning a nice clean build with all we need.

Of course, whilst that was going on it gave me a chance to catch up with any email I missed before Christmas (the whole workplace shuts down on Christmas Eve) and see if anything needed desperate actioning. It did seem eerily quiet everywhere though: I suspect this is because of the fact that the way Christmas fell last year, and being midweek, it meant that people were more tempted to take the two days off before or after Christmas (or both) and have an extended break which I can completely understand.

Later on in the evening I had another task of my own to achieve: a bit of mail transferring. For ages my hosting provider who looks after the domain name and allows me to have email at my domain effectively only allowed a standard mailbox and their webmail app wasn't the best. It transpired I could change this into an Exchange 2010 mailbox free of charge (yaay) and this also meant Outlook web access for webmail instead (and as I use this for my work email, not a biggie!)

The thing that took a little bit of tweaking was to set Mozilla Thunderbird, my preferred email desktop client at home, to effectively talk to the mail server via IMAP, and once that was done, and I'd set the subfolders up and subscribed to them within Thunderbird, it was a simple case of going through my inbox folder within Thunderbird, and after clearing stuff out, dragging it to the IMAP inbox. This also effectively meant I'll have the emails archived and web accessible if I ever need them too. The other good thing about that is that the mailbox has a 1GB limit (same as work) so I'll make sure that my emails are tidy. In fact I had eight years of mailbox archived in Thunderbird's inbox, and that took up less than 400MB, so there you go.

It took some time to transfer the messages over but that gave me opportunity to listen to some quality music whilst it was happening, and indeed to call up one of my friends and have a good chat and catch up after the Christmas period. It transpires that some of the stuff she's going through at work is similar in context to The Love In My Heart, and so was able to almost compare notes if you will. It was good though to just have a good natter and I don't think any of us was keeping an eye on the clock, some ninety minutes later in fact!

Anyway, tune of the day is a classic back from 1992 that really more people should have heard, no less than "Love Crime" by The Cygnet Ring. It's a great indie pop song and even though the band were signed to Warners at the time, and had some radio play, no one bought it. It makes me wonder in this day and age where a good pop song has a bit more chance of charting if a re-release might be timely for the band - here's hoping one day that it will happen and everyone will discover how bloody brilliant the band are. And yes, I'm a little biased!

Wednesday 1st January - New Year, Old Cold

It would have been nice to start the new year off without a pesky cold that I've had for the last few days, but alas, not to be. As it was both The Love In My Heart and I were both feeling not 100% come the latter hours of New Years' Eve, so I headed over to her place, armed with the food I'd got in if she was going to stay over at mine, and we both made the best of it, got dressed up nice and had a nice cosy evening together with The Love's two cats Jô and Brian as company, who were more than willing to either look cute or to be really in a climbing mood every few seconds.

We did watch the excellent Two Doors Down drama on BBC One, and for me it was great to see Daniela Nardini back on the screen. I remember her when she played Anna in This Life, and it was quite apt that her role of Caroline was similar: outspoken, flirty and often drunk! It was really good fun to watch actually, not least with Arabella Weir as the long suffering mother of the house Beth, and Doon Mackiachan also as one of the neighbours who would boast about the money that they had etc. It really did resemble quite a few parties I imagined, and there were even some decent background tunes being played during the show as well.

Lots of classic moments but one that stuck with me was how a lot of the cast were all chanting "Pie! Pie! Pie" after Beth revealed she was saving a pie to be baked for New Year's Day but how they all wanted one, and it was just hilarious, as was at the end when it was revealed that the cheap rubbish whisky had been given to all the guests and the good stuff was saved back just for the family to have together to raise a glass once everyone had gone - rather good fun that.

Also what we usually end up doing is watching Jools Holland's Hootenanny, turning over for the fireworks display on BBC1 to see in the new year (which apparently 14 million of us watched) and then back over to BBC2 for the rest of the Hootenanny. As usual, there was an eclectic mix of musicians on there but it was great to see the likes of Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band get everyone doing the classic "Oops Upside Your Head" after midnight (and he's allowed of course!) - and some really nice renditions of songs complete with Jools' full orchestra. Wasn't quite sure about Melanie C though.

However, some blistering performances stole the show over the course of its two hours: a really good version of Lisa Stansfield's "All Around The World" with the orchestra really in tune with her, and sounding lively, and the band Haim doing a superb cover of "Oh Well" by Fleetwood Mac, which shows that they really respected the original song massively, so tune of the day goes to them - worth staying up just to see that around 1.30am to be perfectly honest.

We both had a bit of a lie in this morning and gradually awoke (mainly because the cats weren't leaving us alone and wanted some serious fussing over) and then once showered, I spent some time watching the early kick off as Swansea hosted Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium. Of course, it was good to see Fernandinho score again and take the lead, only for Wilfried Bony to score the equaliser right on half time, and it did make me worried that we might throw away the lead here with the chance to go top for a few hours at least.

The second half saw us play better as well, so once we had managed to keep the ball in Swansea's half and after Pablo Zabaleta had won the ball close to the area, Yaya Toure was free to smash it home via a deflection for 2-1, and Yaya was involved in a nice dummy run to clear the way for Aleksandar Kolarov's run from the half way line to smash the ball home for 3-1. Bony did score a superb strike in injury time and he really was their best player, but we clung on for a 3-2 win, our second league away win on the trot and more impotantly four out of four wins over the Christmas period, and top of the table for at least a few hours till Arsenal saw off Cardiff with two very late goals.

Now I just wish I could shift this pesky cold that I've had for the last few days before I head back to work tomorrow. It's just all in the nose and head really and the rest of me feels fine, but it'd just be nice to sleep well, not feel so stingy in the eyes and have a lot of pressure in the head from where the sinuses feel pretty tight as well. I did try some Sudafed nasal spray and that seemed to do the job for a little bit but whatever I've got must be bad as even the effects of that aren't lasting the way I'd want it to.