Dear Diary... July 2004

Monday 26th July - In sickness and in health

What a mixed bag. Had a couple of days off earlier in the week and so I decided to head up to Windermere, which was very nice, and indeed very warm too. It was a nice day so I walked it down to Bowness Pier from the train station (around a mile and a half) and caught the boat up to Ambleside and back, which was lovely and pleasant, with lots of scenery passing by rather serenely. Of course, the crazy golf they had there just had to be played, and I took 53 shots in total, not too bad, although it's only nine holes so you play them twice over to get the 18 hole score. After that, time to relax a bit and head to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction. All very nice, and I'm sure it's good for the kids, but £3-90 is about £2-90 too much for admission. Honestly. Little introductory video (heavily pixellated too) followed by small walkways around which larger size characters are shown, again good but too little, and after going through the merchandise shop it's then another 10 minute video showing the life of Beatrix herself (with a little surprise of a big Peter Rabbit showing through the back of the projector screen, nice touch). And not to mention of course the cost of all that merchandise eh?

While the train journey to and from Manchester was pleasant, and so was the weather, what happened to me later in the week definitely was not. I was working in another building on the Wednesday, installing a new multi function printer. Fine so far, except this building is one I've complained about before as the leaky roof leaves a very foul smell (and even fungi growing) in some of the rooms. And for some reason no matter what it was, I couldn't help but feel the smell was a bit stronger than usual - it was not pretty. I got home Wednesday night and my stomach felt a bit tight, and thought it was just being a bit bloated, so I had an early night and thought nothing about it. That is until 1am when I decided a quick visit to the toilet was needed (clue: knelt on the floor, head over the cistern) and for the next five to six hours every twenty minutes was resulting in a similar visit. I spent part of Thursday day once an hour checking to see if I needed to empty my stomach, and since then until around Saturday I took nothing but soup and water on, just to be on the safe side. Only during Sunday did I feel like eating a little light. Now I'm not one to put two and two together and make five, but I'm bloody convinced that it was working in that building Wednesday that made me poorly. And I don't really want to be unwell. The side effect also was that I'd suffered a bit with trapped wind, and even though the Remegel chews are doing their job, it can be a little on the uncomfortable side when you feel really bloated but know at the same time that you do need to eat. Not impressed, for obvious reasons.

Sunday 18th July - Motivation and perspiration

It's been an up and down week (the sort of thing the golfers would be saying at Troon at the moment during the last round of the open, really). Firstly, I did manage to get the Willow Tree green paint on the walls where it needs to be, although it needed two coats of the stuff, and I literally only just about had enough to do what I needed. What was a pain was that as the ceiling is so high up from the floor, getting to the very top edges of the wall above where the bath is proved rather difficult. Managed in the end but that was with me tiptoeing on the end of the bath and getting a couple of my relations to do the same and try as well. It does look nice now it's on, however I did think that actually getting a sunken ceiling done would be a nicer idea, much less to reach up to and also the effect would be nice as well. Just got to investigate the costs of that and go on from there, although it would be good to see how everything else goes. It'll take a few weeks but I'm sure when everything's done it'll be worth while.

I even went for it on the rowing machine as well in another exercising effort, I've been doing different drills to try and keep the motivational factor going. So for example I've managed to see how long it takes me to burn 500 calories, and the current record is 9 minutes 46 seconds, which also means that I've gone over 1300 metres as well, so that wasn't too bad I suppose. My eventual aim is to try and build myself up to be able to do an hour and see how far I get. I did do 15 minutes today though and got just over 1,900 metres at a pretty steady pace, and that had to be impressive stuff. I guess a few weeks in and it's a case of getting up early in the morning enough and being motivated to be able to have the time to do what I need to do. Also gives me the motivation to get through the day even if it's not been such a good week.

Also been pretty busy at work as well, doing all the preparatory work before the start of next year, ensuring all the student PCs are up to date and that they're clean of any illegal software and viruses before the start of the next year. What is always interesting is to see if anyone has tried to install anything, and usually from the install log I can identify who the user is, which is quite clever. What stopped me in my tracks during the week was five Microsoft critical security updates that needed rolling out, which I've now done (and I strongly suggest you do them at home by visiting the Windows Update website as soon as possible) and so that our PCs are protected. Nothing worse than a virus hitting you at home when you could have patched that security loophole well before the event. Remember, the infamous Sasser worm hit 18 days after the corresponding Microsoft patch came out. You have been warned.

If you have been watching the golf this week, no doubt that you'll have seen the fashion sense (ahem) of Ian Poulter, particularly his Union Jack trousers on the first day. People actually complained because it wasn't "proper golfing attire". The rule makers of golf here were quite right - he was wearing trousers, and whatever colour they may be is the choice of the golfer, and he wasn't breaking any rules at all. He followed that up with some Payne Stewart-esque plus fours trousers for most of the rest of the week, although the pink socks and cap on the Saturday might well have been taking it a little far.. but still, nice to see someone make a bit of a talking point at the tournament as well as play half decently, and if it shows up those who still believe golf is for upper class people to be idiots, then all well and good.

Friday 9th July - Decor mania!

Well the week's been a busy week for many reasons. First off at work we've had a couple of youngsters who've come along for some work experience, so a colleague and I have been showing them the ropes and what we have to do during the summer et al, which includes our clean up of the PCs, which basically means check for any software that shouldn't be there, get rid of any temporary data, clean the user profiles left on the PC, and check the printer queues etc. Not the most exciting job in the world, but it has to be done, and already most of the building we're in has been blitzed, as well as taking a hardware log of all the PCs and what comes with them. Spent some time today generating an Access database to store the information in, and even generated a nice form to input everything in as well. Isn't that nice?

As for the busy week at home, that's all down to the bathroom project that I'm working on. I did a bit of purchasing at B&Q Warehouse on Saturday (and had to go again last night) and basically got the floor tiles that I wanted, the ceiling paint, the bathroom wall paint in a nice Willow Tree green, and also the usual paint tray, roller, usual stuff. Luckily I still had almost a full bottle of white spirit, two pain brushes and a dust sheet (although I could have sworn I had two of them, still, I found one) and so after clearing everything out of the bathroom and removing all the white plastic accessories that were still in there from when I moved in, and covering everything up, it was time to get to work. On the Wednesday, it was the ceiling, and already the white on there looks a heck of a lot brighter than before, and much more light and open. Yesterday was the application of this Polycell Base Coat stuff that's supposed to also cover minor hairline cracks etc quite well (as there's a few minor hairlines in the bathroom, probably due to the age of the house). Well, it seemed to go on okay and it has covered a few of them well, and also any marks where anything has been before have gone, so that wasn't too bad at all. Only problem is that it is quite fiddly to apply, even when mixed with a stick, and tended to go everywhere. Good job I covered as much as I could, and good job I was wearing a hideous shirt that I never wear otherwise so I can wreck that while doing the painting. Tools for the job, and all that sort of thing.

Then some time this weekend it's time to apply the Willow Tree, and I know that I only have to do so much of the wall, because I'm going to get some uPVC cladding around the bath and where my shower is going in (ah yes, got to be done), and also around the other walls in the bathroom so it looks clean and crisp. And here's the good bit: the length that you get is enough to go to the ceiling with around the bath (which makes life easy) but also when cut in half it goes level with the bathroom window sill, so it serves as a good reference point for where I have to paint around the rest of the room. So that's good, and it also meant I could get away with a 2.5 litre tin of paint rather than a 5 litre one. Good job too, as the paint is £16 a tin, it's not cheap work this bathroom lark. I've also seen the bathroom suite I'm getting, and with the tiles already purchased the only thing to do now is to ensure that everything's in place for when my father and uncle give me a massive pair of helping hands to complete the job and get it all done. Must admit I can't wait though to get everything sorted and it'll just add another part of the home being "me", if you know what I mean.

Sunday 4th July - Remind me what Summer is again?

Well if there's one thing you can rely on, it is the Summer here. First we've had hot weather, but for the last two weeks it's been mostly rain, rain, and yes, you guessed it, more rain. And pretty heavy too, and so much so that I've managed to catch a cold as well. It's not too bad really, I'm just a little blocked around the nose, but unfortunately it tends to build into a headache and occasionally a cough as well. I'm fighting it off as best as I can and try to do stuff normally (and I even broke my 20 minute record on the rowing machine yesterday, managing a pretty unbelievable 2302 metres!) and consuming hot drinks and as much Vitamin C as I possibly can to try and battle the bug. Fingers crossed and all that, eh?

The rain did it's havoc with Wimbledon and as usual Tim Henman got to at least the quarter finals and went out. Sure, he's played pretty well again, but every year he seems to be the nearly man but he doesn't seem to have that extra edge and win a trophy. I think soon his time will come to retire, and the worrying thing is that no one seems able to take his place. We can't rely on him forever and it'll soon be that someone else will have to come through - although we had a positive today with a Brit getting to the junior men's final, and lost 7-5 7-6 to the current world number one, so no disgrace there. I just hope that we can nurture him into a player of the future. And yes, I was pleased that Sharapova won the women's title. Wished I'd have put a bet on at the start as even in the first couple of rounds I thought she might do something, but beat Serena Williams like that, and 6-1 in the first set, my that was excellent stuff.

Well being laid low meant Istayed in on a Saturday night and so watched the final of BBC1's Strictly Come Dancing. I only saw bits of each programme during its run, but the final was clearly the one who could dance against the one the women of the public fancied, but in the end thankfully talent overshone showmanship as Natasha Kaplinski did the honours and won, with her partner Brendan Cole (who was the professional dancer). They narrowly in a public vote beat the actor Christopher Parker (plays Spencer Moon in Eastenders) and his professiona partner, Hanna Kattunen. Right from the first dance of the night you could see who had the talent (and the looks) as Natasha looked gorgeous and moved elegantly. Three dances in one night were hard work, but both couples did well, and it was clear that the judges were much more impressed with Natasha. I thought "better vote on this to make sure she wins" and so I did - and as some of the vote money went to charity, just as good a reason as to do so. The shock on her face when she won though - it was really sweet. And Christopher held his hand up and said the best person won, which was very sporting. Be an interesting BBC Breakfast programme tomorrow, that's for sure.