Dear Diary... March 2019

Sunday 31st March - Sunday Roast

The Love In My Heart had a well deserved lie in this morning as the clocks went forward to be now in British Summer Time (woohoo) and that was also good because it meant that I could see the F1 qualifying highlights that I had recorded from Channel 4 the night before, so could see Charles Leclerc doing the business and getting pole position for the first time ever - and showing Sebastien Vettel a thing or two along the way. He was also the first driver from Monaco to get pole ever too which must have been pretty special!

The Love and I had breakfast later and did the full nice English brekkie - only I think I over-grilled the bacon a bit which then set the smoke alarm off! I had to open the windows to get some air in to stop that, but in a good way it showed that it was working, which had to be something good to know. I also think that to be honest it proved that I know I'd be safe. I did also manage to put together some mushrooms, sausages, scrambled egg and some plum tomatoes too so that went down nicely - before The Love had more of a well earned rest, she had had a very long week at work and wanted a rest. Fair enough really.

Later on we saw some of the semi final of The Voice that The Love had missed last night when we were out - it was perhaps notable that one of the acts, a three piece band, had decided to perform their own song instead of doing a cover. No matter how they might have done in the rest of the show, I thought it was very good of them to do that and shows that actually in some cases some bands do want to get on and show what they can do without having to resort to covers all the time - kudos where it is due.

The Love and I then headed off to East Croydon, and train and tube later were heading to The Crown and Anchor and having a very nice Sunday lunch together. The Love had the half roast chicken which looked massive and came with a shed load of vegetables, and I had the chicken and mushroom pie - gorgeous as ever and with some lovely triple cooked chips on the side too, and a cute jug of gravy. I also noted at the bar that they had some bottles of beer for £3, so tried the Anchor Brewers' Pale Ale, and that was rather nice all round actually!

It was sad when we got to London Euston and had to say goodbye to The Love as she headed home on a very busy train later but we were both pleased we'd had a lovely weekend, and doing different things when she's down here makes it feel more like a weekend away fro her too. Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "May Love Travel With You" by Paul Weller, which just seems to be in my head whenever me or The Love part to take a train - it feels so long to wait to see each other again...

Saturday 30th March - Victorian Ballet

It was nice to have The Love In My Heart down here to see me this weekend, so whilst I was getting everything all sorted in the flat this morning and had one of those giant crumpets for breakfast too, so that was good. In fact the sun looked to be peeking out and that was going to mean a nice day weather wise all round. For me at least that boded well as The Love was in the quiet coach having a nice relaxed journey before then tube and train to East Croydon, from where I'd collect her later and we'd be on our way back to mine.

As we had some time before we headed out later on, we decided to head out for a spot of lunch and so it was to The Green Dragon pub not far from me and had a nice little lunch in there. I did have a voucher for a free drink, so it was a pint of the Bermondsey Brewing's very nice porter. The Love had the barbecue pulled pork sandwich, with the fish finger one for me which was stunningly nice - proper hand made fish fingers in that one and we had a good catch up and chat together as we had lunch, all very civilised.

We headed back to mine and with some classic tunes from 1987 courtesy of the Top of the Pops repeats on BBC Four (including It's A Sin from Pet Shop Boys, obviously tune of the day) - it was nice to have a game of Scrabble and relax somewhat together. In fact I played MAZE down as my first word with a triple letter on the Z, so that worked out pretty well, but The Love also did some very good moves too and no doubt about it, she still has some very good killer moves up her own sleeve. With that taking us nicely to the time we needed to leave, we headed off back to East Croydon station.

From there it was the train to London Bridge, and then from there it was down to the Northern Line and four stops to Angel, going up the long long escalator and then left out of there downhill slightly, stopping off at the Pearl and Feather for tea. I had the Victorian sausage and mash, where the sausages were very herby but lovely, as was the mash (maybe the herbiness or the way they were made was what made them Victorian?) and The Love had the fish and chips. The vibe was nice and the pub even had Cloudwater Mild ale from Manchester too - which of course I had to have. Oh, and the baked cheesecake with blackcurrant sorbet was absolutely stunning!!

We walked across to Sadlers Wells Theatre, and went up to the second floor where our seats were for tonight's performance - there was a bar on each floor so got some drinks there and also ordered some interval drinks too to save us some time. The bar prices were okay, and they even had the non-alcohol Free Dam beer, which I ordered for my interval drink as a new thing to try. The Love got herself a programme, and we were all set for tonight's show - a ballet based on the story of Queen Victoria, and inspired slightly by the ITV drama which is back on the telly at the moment.

It was a good view from our second circle seats in Row H, close to the middle, with all the stage in good eyeline, and you could see the orchestra below the stage too. It was good to watch them occasionally to see the intensity of their playing of their instruments, with the percussion and drum staff really giving it their all during the production too. I also liked the fact you could see both and that you could get the drama between the dance and the music.

In fact, for possibly the first ballet I've ever been to, I picked a good one! The Love really enjoyed it due to the dramatic storytelling and the way that the dancers were very expressive in their positions and were using the stage with sensible management of space - very key that. I also appreciated how strong you must be to do some of the moves and carry them out with suitable grace. We both enjoyed the music and in fact it was also a case of because we'd got the programme, we had an idea of how the acts would be and how they relate in each section to the story. It helped a litle, although the basic idea most people would have got without it. I mainly wanted to take The Love as a little treat for her, and she loved it, which was really nice to see. If you get chance to see it, do so, you won't regret it.

We got back to Angel and then on the tube to London Bridge, then timed it ever so well to get on the train straight to East Croydon which it did in 12 minutes or so (possibly an all time record since I've been here to be honest!) - we were then able to head back to mine, see that Manchester City had won against Fulham and watch some of that on Match of the Day before then watching some of a show I'd recorded which featured Howard Donald of Take That and Dario Franchitti and a lot of rebuilding cars that had been disassembled. It was okay, but The Love wanted more of Howard driving a car around and looking cool...

Friday 29th March - Three Times A No

Whilst admittedly I was busy in work today, what I did note this afternoon was that yet another vote on the Prime Minister's Brexit "deal" was being put forward to a vote. Despite promises that the PM would leave if the vote was voted through, the likes of the DUP saw right through that and went "no way" and decided against it, as did the likes of Labour and other parties' MPs. No surprise then when I noted later in the day that there was another vote against such a deal, and onwards to Monday for more discussions with the clock ticking. In fact today was supposed to be the day of leaving, but wasn't happening.

What did disturb me somewhat was how the protest by some Leave campaigners later in the day not only got violent but clearly racist as well, with the likes of Tommy Robinson being there and hijacking the thing for his own ends. I have no issue with how anyone voted, either remain or leave, because most people would have considered their position and thought beforehand - and individually we'd have our reasons either way. I do have issue when the police and other members of the public are being attacked though and when a protest turns violent, all it does in my view is lessen the very cause you're attempting to get people onside with. When you compare that with the peaceful 1 million or so last Saturday, it's a marked contrast.

In either case, what it leaves behind is an absolute mess and one which really going to be difficult to sort out. Whatever compromise then comes forward may not be agreeable with everyone, and it will be a compromise for sure. It's maybe even easier to actually revoke Article 50, get back to the negotiation table and actually get a deal that works best for everyone and only once a deal has actually been agreed do we then re-invoke it. That way it at least means there's no time clock pressures and a deal is at least ratified and passed to be fair and so that everyone can move on, regardless.

I did today manage to get some success and was able to sort out applying updates to a build task sequence to create the WIM in MDT. In effect the key thing was to rename the updates that had been downloaded from the Microsoft Download Centre not to have the long name in, and also then give the update a name when imported which had no spaces in. As a result, the error went away when applying the updates step and that meant all the things I wanted to do worked, and had a completed build. Woohoo!

In fact that also meant that I was able to relax at home on the Friday night and watch the likes of Gogglebox and The Last Leg feeling successful that I had managed to achieve something during the day - not least because I had also written a document as I go that detailed the whole creation of WIM process in MDT, and that with screenshots was some 60 pages - but it was properly and professionally done, which was better than the zero documentation beforehand. I win, and tune of the day in the meantime is the ace Last Leg theme tune, Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy.

Thursday 28th March - Cutting It

It was good to spend some time at another office today so I could do some testing of putting together a suitable Windows 10 1809 WIM. Unfortunately the office we're currently in is a shared building, so we don't effectively have our own network and have to use a VPN client to get onto our network. That works, but of course this means you can't do certain things such as for example using a Hyper-V machine to boot to the LAN or a bootable CD to test things such as MDT image building. So it was good to venture out to another building and do some testing.

In fact earlier in the day I'd put a planned change in motion for some maintenance and effectively upgraded MDT to the new version 8456, which you need to do for a number of Windows 10 1809 related reasons (and of course to ensure that the ADK for 1809 will talk to it too). In essence, all the task sequence goodies work nicely, which is good, but it still comes up with an odd thing that wasn't present for Windows 10 1803 - if you use the Apply Patches step, it knows which updates you want to add in, so when you apply the operating system it also then applies those updates too (thus meaning that your created WIM is all up to date). Unfortunately it's still coming up with an error - yet without those updates, it all runs smoothly. Investigating that one!

In fact though one thing I did set to work on was the very useful bit of Powershell scripting which takes out some of the bloatware applications that you don't really need to have working properly for Windows, especially in a more corporate environment. Don't want XBox stuff? No, thought not. Don't really want any games either to be honest, get rid of them whilst you can, and of course if you really don't need any of the Zune efforts, get shut of them as well. And that did work rather nicely actually. It also meant that during a test of Win10 without any updates but with the removals included, the resulting WIM was a fair bit smaller, meaning deployment should relatively be a nice breeze. That'll tie in nicely with other planned things too.

On the way homewards it was off to Wimbledon Park and to James the Barbers to get the hair cut. It was all good in there with the usual BBC 6 Music in the background, and the staff are always good and especially that there's lots of football chatter. One of them is a Man U fan and was pleased but not over the top about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking the Man U manager job full time - but what can't be denied is the fairness - they held their hands up and said Wolves deserved to win the FA Cup game the other week. It's always nice to be in there and it's a quality cut at a very good price - I can recommend them highly if you're anywere in South London to be honest.

I headed home later and had some tea and chatted with The Love In My Heart - which reminded me that I needed to renew the Two Together Railcard. As it happened I also spotted a discount code for 10% off so that meant it was a mere £27 for the year (I think the year before last I got 20% off and paid just £24). Granted, The Love and I do have to travel together, but when we do when she comes to me, it does save us money and pays for itself over time. So all good for that, and tune of the day is in fact "Two Minutes By Train" by the great band The Caretaker Race. Never heard of them? Go find out more..

Wednesday 27th March - Determination and Despair

It was a busy day for me today but it was a case of getting plenty sorted out and managing to move onwards on a number of things at the same time. For example, it was good to be able to check on what updates for the March set needed to be released to the test group first, and then get all of those out there as the first part of a phased deployment to the business. I included my own laptop in that group so I was then able to test those cumulative updates out correctly and make sure all was working correctly - which it was.

I also spent some time checking over what effectively would be whitelisted (or not) for the Windows 10 appx included apps. There's a well used script which I know some of the consultants I've worked with before now have used (and me too) where you whitelist mainly the system apps and ditch everything else. It was a mature conversation with two managers about what to keep or not and why, and that at least gave me some direction as to where to go - and if this trims things out nicely, then so be it.

I definitely know as well that it also means that I can constructively work forward to actually get some up to date work performed on sorting out a Windows image and one which will form the basis of a revised task sequence with everything all nicely sorted out as much as possible - which is a longer term aim. I know that the foundations are there and it's just building on those to make it all work really well - so far so good. Hard to believe it's been almost a month in the job now.

I watched with despair BBC News tonight and to see how many of the different alternative options for Brexit were all trashed. But, what was perhaps noticeable was that the customs union was pretty close to getting a majority, and that the most votes of all were given towards the people's confirmatory vote for any form of deal that may be passed, which really does sum up the feelings of the public and that at least in that way there would be an option to make that decision.

I did though think that the way that some people in that house decided to bully certain other members was way out of order: you can see for example why Anna Soubry left the Conservatives and became independent - a sense of maturity and fairness that she was able to express was something that showed a lot of the idiots in there for what we are. It does make me wonder whether in fact we need a total overhaul of the whole system and for a greater say from the public and not so many numpties deciding for us. Tune of the day is the classic Rage Against The Machine track "Killing In The Name", primarily for the public and everyone to sing out "F**k you, I won't do what you tell me..."

Tuesday 26th March - Breakfast With The Bosses

One nice thing about the new job is that everyone gets invited to a welcome new starter breakfast, and with some of the top managers including the main CEO of the company being there to answer any questions too. The idea behind it is that they get to know who everyone is and also so that it feels a bit more welcoming. Certainly it's the first time I've ever had that happen in any job I've been in, and it was a pretty large turnout all round considering the numbers of new people around.

It was nice to go to another of the offices and be there early, so I could sort myself out with a desk and be able to work from there (and normally the circular desks have a number of the commuications and HR people I get on nicely with, so has to be done really) and then head over to the room where the breakfast was being served, with rather large croissants, along with some pastries too. It was very busy but it was good to be able to see lots of different people, and it was good that it allowed us all some time to mingle.

Several of the main management were there including the CEO, and it was good to see that they all took turns in answering some of the questions but also had some useful advice too - one of them was to take some time out each day to think things through with no distractions, as difficult as that might be, and think of a solution or way forward. I quite like that thought, no less because I realised that the Virgin Money Lounge in London is close to Haymarket, and that's not far from the office I was in today. Might have to consider that a serious possibility to be honest.

I also then had a good afternoon as I was able to see the benefits of having an up to date boot image for SCCM complete with the new ADK binaries - I knew this would work properly anyway but seeing the increase in boot speed for PXE boot for the boot image has been massive - it was from 7 minutes down to 2 minutes 20 seconds with the TFTP Window size, and once I made the image a lot smaller with stripping off all the unnecessary drivers, that means a maximum of 35 seconds and often a fair bit less than that. Epic win!

I had a good evening heading home and picking up what I needed before settling in to watch the Great British Sewing Bee - the semi final stage at that with all sorts of worldly designs to make and some epic challenges ahead. I must admit that I still do miss Claudia Winkleman a heck of a lot although it's still good. Some epic worldwide challenges and the origami final challenge was tough - although Riccardo's outfit was ace, along with the likes of "Venus As A Boy" by Björk too (make that one tune of the day) which added to the feel. Roll on the final next week!

Monday 25th March - The Power Of Five

It was good to get home and have some tea in good time for the second England game in three days as they strived to qualify for Euro 2020 and get the job done as soon as possible. An impressive 5-0 win against the Czech Republic was very good, but Montenegro away with its small ground and very hostile atmosphere in the past has proved to be a tough place to go. I was just hoping that the team would be professional and get the job done, and that would be a good way to end the break with two wins.

It was a slow start to the game and although England had possession for most of that, Montenegro did break forward and after getting the ball back from Callum Hudson-Odoi, and deflecting off another England defender, Vesovic put a curling shot past Jordan Pickford and Montenegro had taken the lead. To be fair the shot was a good one but the defending could have been better. However, I wasn't losing faith as it would be a case of how England would come back from this.

And come back they did - and looked a much better side after going down, with some character. First of all from a free kick Ross Barkley floated the ball in and Michael Keane met it with a powerful header into the bottom corner, which was good to see. After that it was a good run forward from Callum Hudson-Odoi and his cross or shot was spotted by Barkley who got his foot to it and turned it in nicely for a 2-1 lead at half time. I was however hearing racist chanting in the stands and that was not very nice to hear - no idea how Clive Tyldesley could not have heard that.

The second half was more of the same for England, with Ross Barkley on hand to whack a good shot in for his second of the game, and as the ball was being played forward later, Raheem Sterling went down the right, and a good run, and spotted Harry Kane in the box. One perfect pass later and Kane scored his goal for 4-1. England were rampant and the game was pretty much won all round - and it was impressive stuff thus far. Could we even score another?

The answer was yes, we could. The ball was played forward and Raheem Sterling slotted it home and under the goalkeeper nicely. He silenced the racist fans and the goal celebration seemed to indicate that he had been racially abused during the game - which isn't on really. I was just glad he did his talking on the pitch with his play, and another excellent England win - two five goal hauls on the bounce too, and very well played to the whole team. Tune of the day is "Three Lions" by Baddiel, Skinner and the Lightning Seeds - maybe, just maybe, football could come home next year?

Sunday 24th March - Up and Down the Downs

I had word from my Mancunian friend that they weren't able to arrange a meet up as they were spending time with some family members whilst they were down in London, which is perfectly understandable. My friend also at least let me know early in the day so I could also make some alternative plans instead, which was pretty good. I had pencilled in a walk over the weekend where possible, so this meant I now could do one today and enjoy the sunshine that was coming out, as well as the blue skies, which certainly always makes a good walk that bit more enjoyable.

With me having started to take on the London Loop walk a month or two back when I did section 6, I thought I'd go and do section 5, from Hamsey Green to Coulsdon South, because I could get the bus to the start point and from the end point (one bus each way) and also meant that I could see more scenery right on the edges of the Greater London boundary. It was a nice journey on the 403 bus passing through Sanderstead and via the pond before heading towards Hamsey Green, and when I got off to start, I noted that it was right on the London/Surrey border! It was then along the road to a field, and walked through there towards Riddlesdown.

In fact the path took me over the railway line to Oxted and beyond, and the train actually passed underneath around a minute after I walked over. It was then down to the road for Caterham, over the railway line to there, and then up the very steep hill towards Kenley Common. Looking back, I could see Riddlesdown Quarry providing a spectacular backdrop too. It was then across the common, skirt around the Betts Mead recreation ground and past the Kenley Aerodrome before then following the footpath across the fields to Kenley Observatory - small, but in a high enough position to see space at night.

It was then down the hill and then up again down one lane, crossing over the road and then crossing towards Coulsdon Common, with the masses heading to The Fox pub for Sunday lunch - the road and car park was very busy indeed, and football was being played on the common too. It was from there a walk along the path that took me to Happy Valley, and that was beautiful, a sense of a down in itself and a hidden little valley away. It was nice to then walk through the forest on the other side and head up at the far end of Farthing Downs, with a road that took cars to the visitors' centre also having paths on each side to walk along.

In fact as I walked along that path it went slightly uphill, and you could actually see from up there the view of The Shard, a mere 15 miles away, and some of the buildings in Canary Wharf too. Pretty impressive all round that and it was good to see elsewhere as you looked around and then went gradually downhill back towards Coulsdon, which was good. I crossed over the bridge at Coulsdon South station and then got the 60 bus back towards my place, which was a boon to not have to get far to go homewards. It was around a six mile walk in all and all of it rather gorgeous.

I've checked out other sections of the London Loop online and a lot of them are going to be rather lovely to do, although some of them are long (10 miles for some sections) so they do need some planning to get there and then get walking, and also to get back. Almost all of it is covered in London Fare Zones though, although mostly in Zone 6, so worthy of note in terms of travel costs etc. Tune of the day is something I had in my head whilst walking up and down those hills, the fab "Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush, because I wanted to really be able to run up some of those steep hills today!

Saturday 23rd March - Afternoon Tea in Zone 8

I had a nice surprise planned ahead of me today, in that one of my good friends from my previous job had sent me a nice email to let me know how they were doing, but also if I had anything planned for this weekend as they did remember I had a free weekend sometime. I actually hadn't planned anything as such primarily because one of my other friends was coming down South this weekend and there was an outside chance of me being able to meet up, but that was looking unlikely, so thought "why not?" and so managed to get a little visit arranged for today.

In fact, my friend lived outside Dartford - which meant right on the boundaries of what is Oyster territory. In fact Dartford was only added as a London fare zone in 2015, primarily because a lot of people would get trains to there and not realising they should have got off at, say, Crayford (Zone 6) - so when the changes were made, Dartford became Zone 8. I also worked out a bus would take me from there to my friend's place, and so meaning I didn't have to use another station further out (which is non-Oyster!) so with a bit of extra pay as you go credit to cover the extra zones not covered by my monthly Travelcard, off I went to East Croydon station.

I got the train to London Bridge and noted at East Croydon how many people were waiting for trains to London Victoria for the protest march happening later, and London Bridge was quieter as a result. I changed trains easily enough and got the faster train to Dartford, which only stopped at New Eltham, Sidcup and Crayford before arriving in Dartford. And it was timed well for the bus to my friend's place, so that was all good and in good time which meant I kept to an arranged time, had to be done.

My friend was delighted to see me and their partner was there too - and seemed really friendly, down to earth and from Derby, so a Midlander and a Northerner in the house! It was just nice to have coffee and chat with them both before I had a nice surprise laid on - my friend had been baking again and also made some lovely little sandwiches (even with the crusts cut off!) with salmon and cream cheese as well as ham (and no salad, happy bunny) as well as litle sponge cakes and scones. That went down nicely and it was good to be able to chat about all sorts to them both and really did feel warmly welcomed which was lovely.

In fact, the time went by far too quickly as we discussed about my new job, some travel plans including my friend's visit up to Scotland a few weeks back, the leavers from my old workplace (two more in the three weeks since I left) and potentially who else would be around too. It was also good to mention Cornwall and my friend also let slip as we were talking about Formula 1 about their meeting with the legendary Aryton Senna (and yes of course I was jealous but at the same time happy for my friend too. It was a lovely afternoon and definitely one that I'll have to get sorted again at some point, no question.

Later on I made my way back to Dartford and then on the train to London Bridge (timed the fast one again, nice!) and at London Bridge I thought I'd head under the arches and hop over to Hop Kingdom as I knew it would be their happy hour and indeed that meant Hop King Pale Ale for £3 per pint. I had to remember it's card only payment (did that) but they also were collecting for a music charity Music Fusion, and some of their acts were either DJing or perfoming, which actually went well with the skateboarding theme. You also got a 2CD set of their acts, one CD Hype, the other CD Chill, and I'd listen to that later on.

I got back to East Croydon then home and put the CDs on. Actually, pretty well produced overall, and the CD warns that some of the subjects aren't suitable for young children. The motto on the back also says "words not weapons" which I totally get - channel those feelings through music is sensible. For me, "Prayers From The Gutter" by Pink Princess is tune of the day - effortless devliered spoken rap vocal with a piano backing from the Chill side, and a real sense of identity in the words too, which makes you sit up and think. It's also the second such two CD set after a 2017 release with the same sort of idea on - and a very worthwhile project. Kudos for Hop Kingdom for getting involved with support too.

Friday 22nd March - A Sterling Performance

It was a productive and good day all round at work today, and I spent some time working out a sensible plan of action using Clonezilla for one of the future plans that we have to get done over the next few months. The good thing was that I had worked out what was going a little bit wrong yesterday and worked on a sensible plan - so I effectively had a small 4GB USB stick with all the Clonezilla boot ISO on there, and the larger hard drive for the images that I needed to transfer back. And once I got that set up and sorted, as well as documented, I felt it a good time to test.

And it worked too - so I was able to effectively bring down the backedup image to the laptop concerned, and then did a suitable restart of the device, and all was well, the laptop came on. I've started to build up how it needs to be configured, documenting it as I go. In fact that's going to work nicely as it will mean there's a useful reference document going forward which we can then refer to as needed, as well as giving me a necessary reminder as to what we then need to do for other builds of a similar vein that we have to do this way - pretty nifty all round actually.

It was nice to actually hear that there'd been a positive impact made by me so far and that really did make me feel rather happy and proud. It's all very well to be able to do your job and get on with what you do, and that's what I do - but to actually have the praise and to feel that it's all genuine makes me very happy. It proved to me beyond any doubt that actually moving to the new job was a sensible move, and leaving behind what was a toxic culture in the last job has really given me a big shot in the arm.

It was good to get a few bits in Iceland later and then settle down after a bit of tea to watch the England v Czech Republic game at Wembley - the first Euro 2020 Qualifier for England. In fact it was a game where we really looked decent, with Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling down the wings with Harry Kane in the middle. Sancho put across a quality cross, and there was Sterling to finish. Top of the league and 1-0 to England. Sterling was then sandwiched by two Czech defenders and he was fouled for a penalty - which Kane finished with suitable aplomb right on half time. 2-0? I'll take that thank you very much.

Better was to come in the second half, as Raheem Sterling scored a nice curling shot after a sensible assessment of the goal beforehand, and then taking the ball from a pass from Ross Barkley, shot from distance and had a deflection in - but a hat trick was well deserved, as was the man of the match award. Later on pressure from England resulted in an own goal and so it was a commanding 5-0 win for England, very enjoyable to watch and even more so as it was a quality team display and showed that the World Cup last year was no fluke - Gareth Southgate has got the team playing properly - and tune of the day is the Rolling Stones song as ripped off by The Verve and used for ITV's coverage: the orchestral version of "The Last Time" - and definitely tune of the day.

Thursday 21st March - Productive Respect

Another busy and productive day ahead of me today, as I had two planned changes to get underway. The first of those basically involved a tweak to the SCCM client settings which I had been testing for a few days now, where effectively we change the background and indeed the title bar of the Software Centre, so it displays the corporate logo in the correct format and with the correct colour as well, the idea being that it looks more corporate and fits correctly. Those who observed it seem pretty impressed overall with that, so all good there.

The other one, which I was also documenting for reference, was to do with the Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK) for Windows 10. Not everyone necessarily knows that really when you do upgrades to SCCM you should, where possible, upgrade the ADK as well. This way, you're able to always have the latest Windows PE image for PXE boot, and in addition, update it with the binaries from the ADK along the way (and it's usually a sensible requirement if you're deploying Windows 10 with SCCM task sequences too) - so good to get that all duly noted down for reference as well.

One thing I did note today and one thing I respect highly has been the actions of the New Zealand Prime Minster, Jacinda Ardern, following the appalling mosque attacks in Christchurch last week. If like me you're sick of all this Brexit malarkey and just want to see how real leadership looks like, look no further than Jacinda. Not only has she been at the forefront of ensuring that those who have suffered were offered genuine warmth, empathy and love in the days surrounding the tragic events, but positive action is being taken throughout.

So, whilst America sits on its outdated gun laws with idiots prattling on about amendments, Jacinda has taken action - a ban on any type of gun or weapon similar to those used in the attack, and with a real push for change too, speaking how racism can be an initial indicator of division and hatred, and how by eliminating that at its source, how you can do a lot of good and actually educate people into the right way of thinking. Sensibly too, she's realised that she alone cannot do that - it's for everyone to come together and be proud, be open and also to be more tolerant. It was an inspiring speech, one which shows me that if you get the right people in place doing the right job, good things can happen.

It made me feel a real sense of emotion in that there's so much more we can do in life if we put our minds to it, and to drive out divisions and to actually learn respect for each other, even if you may not agree with the other person all of the time. The Love In My Heart mentioned to me with regards to her workplace how some people feel the need to bear grudges, and that's just wholly wrong really - you can't always get on with everyone 100%, but sometimes you just have to be the bigger person and show that actually it's okay to be different, but not to act like a spoilt child. One of the many reasons for my love of The Love is that she herself is always polite and respectful, and that makes me want to be even more like that (which I am generally!) - manners cost nothing, but are absolutely priceless. Tune of the day in fact sums that up, in the song "May Love Travel With You" by Paul Weller.

Wednesday 20th March - Catching Up

After the weekend away in Manchester, I had a little bit of catching up on telly to do, so I managed so spend some quality time tonight effectively making sure I'd watched either what I had recorded, or what I was going to plan to watch on Netflix as well - the idea being is that I can kick back with some food, and a brew later, and just digest all the good telly. When I'm travelling back on the train Sunday night this is often when decent telly is on, so the Humax recorder box is put to good use!

So on first was Sunday night's episode of Race Across The World, which I've been enjoying seeing as the now four pairs head across for the remainder of their journey from London to Singapore, starting in Baku in Azerbaijan for this leg. As it transpired, all four ended up getting the very same ferry which also carries freight over the Caspian sea, having to rought it out and drop anchor due to the stormy weather and then once off the other side having to work a way through the likes of Uzbekistan along the way.

It was a different approach taken by all four, with one couple seemingly wanting to fritter away their dosh on taxis, the other relying on a lift to get them where they needed to be but having to wait ages to do so, and the father and son instead going on a route with public transport and getting to know the locals on the trains and such. In fact that move paid off as they arrived in Samarkand (a place the father had always wanted to go to so he was obviously happy he made it there) - and chatting to a local they knew of an unpublished to timetable 5am train to get them to the next checkpoint, unknown to one of the other couples who happened to be around the same train station! Killer move.

Later on I then flicked over to Netflix, and The Love In My Heart had told me of a series around Formula 1 called Race To Survive, which she had even liked when watching an episode or two. It was a good second episode especially which focussed on Carlos Sainz Jr and Fernando Alonso, both battling to be top Spaniard and having some good races in Azerbaijan and Spain. In fact I'd say that from having two punctures to finishing seventh was possibly one of the drives of the year from Alonso last year, and he really did show that in a much better car he would have been able to complete and battle.

Carlos Sainz of course had some good moments with his father of the same name, who of course was twice world rally champion so knew a thing or two about driving as well - and seeing them watch the football with their nephew and manager was a real insight into the downtime all drivers need. Full marks so far, it's been an excellent series and all it needed was a bit of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" (make that tune of the day) and we would have been totally sorted!

Tuesday 19th March - Puzzle Perplexion

It was a different sort of challenge today as myself and one of my colleagues went through an idea that I had for a forthcoming office move and onboarding of kit that they were having over the weekend. Effectively, this meant that we wanted to not have to reimage all their existing kit but add on some standard applications that would be part of our estate, and still have them keeping all their installed applications at the same time. I did think of an idea where we'd PXE in and run a task sequence, but that didn't work because it was expecting an OS deployment to happen and that there'd be an OS applied before a domain join and so on.

Instead, my colleague and I ditched that and went for a different approach. Effectively, we would bring the device into our Active Directory, then add the SCCM client, from which that they would be able to pick up an application installation task sequence with what we'd need to have. One idea I thought of, using a script from the folks at CCMExec, was to effectively add the machine to a couple of Active Directory groups that were required, so that would save some time later on. It all appeared to work in practice, but on a test deployment, it wasn't having it.

I then realised the error why later on - after some head scratching - the script was correct in that it couldn't find the group, because the parameter was the wrong group name! I had even checked that the account used to run the step which needs to be a domain account with enough rights, was correct, and tried it manually with the same command line before fixing it and realising the error. Nonetheless, my colleague and I worked later in the day in one of the offices to get to the bottom of the situation and that did work pretty well overall, so that was good to spend some time getting stuff done.

Later on after speaking to Mum I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart, with Brian the cat looking outside and not moving from his comfortable spot on the pouffle by all accounts. Definitely for me it was worth noting that it had been a long day for us both as The Love also had had a meeting to go to late in the day, so we both felt an early night was in order, although of course we were both later on looking forward to The Great British Sewing Bee, with the British and Irish week this week, and the theme tune being tune of the day.

It was a very tricky week too with the linen jacket being one that really did kerfuffle a lot of them especially with the sleeves: most of them were the wrong way round with only Jen getting it right. It was the second round of transformation with deckchair and parasol to make into a garment that Leah excelled at, but the final made to measure with wool showed a coat from Riccardo that The Love said to me that she would happily wear - as it looked fab - and I had to agree, she would have looked totally gorgeous in that! Janet left, but she did have a difficult week...

Monday 18th March - Long Journey Home

So last night, I was on the 1935 train from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston. It had already been an eventful journey on the tram as a woman had got on, clearly scroaty, at New Islington and was attempting to get on without a ticket. They had ticket inspectors on who were having none of it and told her categorically to go to the machine and pay up - and they wouldn't let the tram move until they kicked her off. I guess if it means that some of the other fares are being kept down, that has to be a plus I suppose. But still, got a coffee, got on the train, had some She Makes War on (make the excellent "Devastate Me" tune of the day) and all was good.

Well that was until the train decided to slow down in the tunnel a mile or two north of Watford Junction - and wasn't going anywhere. The train manager announced that effectively a person had been hit by a train near the station and this meant that we weren't going anywhere for some time until the transport police had given us clearance. So it was actually backwards on the train to the other side of the M25 and Kings Langley station, where the train was able to pull in and people could have a stretch if they wanted to.

I knew it was going to be some time so checked my alternative routes I could do - mainly trains from St Pancras to home, and then it was a case of waiting, and waiting more. The train manager did in fact tell us when we were going to move and made sure anyone waiting on the platform got back on, and then it sped off towards Euston, albeit around 90 minutes delayed in total, which meant of course a full delay repay refund for the train fare. Scant consolation as I'd rather have been home of course, but when someone decides to jump in front of a fast train then it can't be helped really.

The train got into Euston at 2335, which was around 90 minutes delay as I thought, then I walked down Euston Road towards St Pancras station knowing that there was a train at 2351 which I could get to East Croydon. I did make that with around five minutes to spare so got a seat and was able to relax a little on that as it made its way to Farringdon and then to Blackfriars, passing through the platforms at London Bridge and then heading off to Croydon. I then walked it homewards as I normally would do, and it was 0030 when I hit the pillow and went to bed!

I did have a good and positive day at work, and after that I got home later and watched the F1 highlights, having avoided all the coverage and only knowing that Valtteri Bottas had won. Channel 4's coverage was decent, although no The Chain anymore as the theme tune! It was at least good to see Steve Jones, David Coulthard, Mark Webber et al do some great work on the coverage, and the addition of Billy Monger was also very welcome - and a great insight too.

Sunday 17th Match - Seven Brothers Dine Out

It was nice to have a relaxed morning with The Love In My Heart as we both had some croissants for breakfast, and Brian the cat was all being cute and wanting a cuddle. In fact he let me pick him up and have cuddles, which he normally wouldn't do, so must have been in a good mood (or he knew Mummy was around so wasn't going to be all scratchy with me!) - either way, that was nice, and we got ourselves showered, changed and ready to head out for the afternoon.

For different reasons we were going into the city centre early but both for shopping - The Love wanted to get a birthday present sorted, which she did, and I managed to pick up a new camera bag for my DSLR camera after seeing one I fancied online - the Crumper Proper Roady 2.0 one. It had all the right sized pockets to fit stuff in and would also mean that it would look quite smart if I was heading out for a walk and taking some pictures along the way. My old trusty Lowepro Altus bag died the slow and painful death the other week, so was good to get all of that sorted out.

We then headed up towards Ancoats and to the Seven Brothers Beerhouse in Blossom Street, where our friends were already there. I did have the flight of three third pint glasses which meant I could try three different beers - I went for the session ale, the red IPA and the marshmallow stout, so got a good mix of all three. The Love had the Vienna lager and that looked pretty good too, and the staff were also lovely as well which made the overall vibe warm and welcoming. Definitely if I had a boys weekend in Manchester this would be one place on the must visit list I think!

It was then to Elnecot, and to be honest, we'll be going back there as soon as we can. The service was top notch, the staff very attentive, even having the owner and head chef come to chat to us about our friend's allergy and to reassure us, which was good. The Sunday roasts looked gorgeous and so it proved to be as well, I had the rib of beef which was nice and tender, The Love had the pork belly as did one of our friends, and that was ace, and our other friend had the shoulder of lamb, which also totally looked ace. In fact, the roast potatoes were gorgeously crispy, they had vegetables a plenty and served the cauliflower cheese on a separate side plate - result!

I also had the bread and butter pudding for dessert, which was amazingly cute, and that was stunningly nice, and the coffee was nice too as well. We all agreed it was brilliant, and if you get the chance, a) book and b) go for their Sunday roasts, they are brilliant. We went back then to the Seven Brothers Beerhouse and I had the light stout this time, a mere 3% alcohol but you wouldn't know it either, it was really nice actually. We all agreed the day was good and it was a very enjoyable time all round - tune of the day is the excellent "How Did This Happen?" by Bodega, which was in my head as I was heading off to the train station later. Indeed, how wonderful days happen is a lot down to The Love, it has to be said.

Saturday 16th March - Back From The Dead

It was an early start for me as I headed up and out of the flat, and took the walk to East Croydon station, and soon was on the train to London Victoria followed by the tube to Euston. I went and got some cash out, and once that was all good, I was all set for the 0820 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. I decided that as hardly any places in Euston did a decent breakfast that I'd treat myself on the train to coffee instead, with the hope that The Love In My Heart would then do breakfast later (which she did, a nice sausage toastie, yaay my love!)

Brian the cat was actually being very relaxed and allowed me to give him a stroke and a cuddle, which was lovely, and he is getting used to me again now. The Love and I had a relaxed morning chatting and catching up and then it was over later to see The Love's father, via going to Asda first and doing some shopping there for him. It was of course absolutely chucking it down with rain of course, so wasn't the best weather to be heading out and about, but there you go. The Love's father was fine, and we managed to get a few things sorted when there and located the remote control for the TV in the bedroom as well which he'd mislaid for some reason!

We were going to head around the city centre and maybe take in Central Library and a bit of shopping, but the rain was hard and incessant, and the parking attempts were just all expensive left right and centre, so decided instead to head over to The Elizabethan in Heaton Moor for a welcome little snack of their messy chips and some drinks too. And they had a rather nice guest ale which was good, and the rugby was on and with it being St Patrick's Day tomorrow, a fair few Irish fans were watching the Wales-Ireland game which Wales went on to win and land a grand slam!

I headed to see my friend later, and we were going to see the Manchester City versus Swansea City FA Cup tie down in South Wales. It was of course a tricky place to go, and I wasn't underestimating anything. We were both hoping for a win and a chance for Wembley again, and the game kicked off with plenty of rain coming down, which would affect things we both thought. City started well enough and Riyad Mahrez was unlucky not to be able to get a header on target after the ball came in from a cross and a defensive scramble.

Swansea though had other ideas. Fabian Delph brought down one of their attackers and it was a clear penalty, which they scored to go 1-0 up. They weren't done there either, with a gorgeous flowing move started by their goalkeeper and down the left hand side, with former City midfielder Bersant Celina scoring a gorgeous curling shot. They held that lead firmly till half time and 2-0 down, all was not good. In fact we were both thinking that our cup run might have ended somewhat early.

However, City brought on Raheem Sterling, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Sergio Agüero and the mood changed. Sergio held off three Swansea defenders and put the ball to the left for Bernardo Silva to score for 2-1, and we were right back in the game. Then Sterling went down under a challenge, and to be fair, it was a very soft challenge and not worthy whatsoever of the penalty we did get - and no VAR in operation either (which to be fair Pep Guardiola did actually want!) Agüero took the penalty, it hit the post and off the back of the legs of the Swansea keeper and in for 2-2.

It wasn't the end either as it was a case of Bernardo Silva heading down the left and putting a cross in which Agüero finished with his head for what proved to be the winner. It did look as if he was slightly offside, but my friend and I were not complaining of course - we'll take a 3-2 win all day of course! I headed back to The Love's place as she collected me later, and we went to the Chinese takeaway to have a nice meal for tea with me having some nice crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour, and chilled out with Brian the cat being all cute - tune of the day was what I listened to in the morning coming up, "Getting Away With It" by Electronic. Seemed somewhat apt for the footy!

Friday 15th March - Sorting Out Time

It was good to be able to spend some time today on getting some sorting out done, especially in terms of the drivers and driver packages for the majority of the laptop estate that is out there in the new workplace. I had been able to see the correct hardware types for the Lenovo products now, and that meant it was fairly straightforward to be able to use that type for the WMI hardware query, but also it would mean that we were able to put together the right sets of packages, with the Lenovo site for all the links to the SCCM driver packages proving pretty useful all round.

It was noticeable that I'd spotted some hardware types that weren't the usual ones, but some further investigation may reveal why that is, possibly based on their location and what they actually get in terms of localised kit and things like that. I think for me to be able to have some focus on understanding the business in more detail and the likes of a worldwide focus is probably sensible: there are time differences to consider as well as the needs of the different sections too.

I decided later in the day that writing some further documentation was an essential thing to do - it was able to be written down comprehensively and that meant that I could go back and refer if needed. I think it's very easy to do, but also to document as you do, is a skill that I like to keep going. I do also know that one of my colleagues who started the same time as me has that same mantra - so we can both be a positive influence all told to be honest. Time will tell.

The first two weeks have gone by really quickly and it was nice to head home, sort out the clothes for the weekend trip up to Manchester, and settled in for some telly, including Gogglebox. It was noticeable for me that a number of the new families seem okay, but having the Siddiquis take on Only Connect was a sensible move - I knew somehow that they were going to be clever enough to get some of the connections round pretty quickly and so it of course proved!

I did see The Last Leg later before heading to bed (make the theme tune, Public Enemy's Harder Than You Think tune of the day) and that was as funny as usual. I must admit that it was good to see Victoria Coren-Mitchell on (and a link to Gogglebox because she of course is the host of Only Connect!) and they were putting to rights the issues of the week. With all the events going on in the world today as well, there was a more serious side also and a nod to how well the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ahern was dealing with the awful events in Christchurch too.

Thursday 14th March - Scan Mo' Get Mo'

I decided today that as there happened to be a KFC within walking distance of work (and had been signposted to where it was by one of my colleagues earlier in the week) that it'd be a good opportunity to head out there at lunch and have a worthwhile break from poring over some content checking with some of the SCCM distribution points. In fact, I was setting off a quality check on one of them in order to claim some space back and so knew that was going to take some time, so was able to set that off, lock the laptop and be all good to go.

Of course KFC for some time now have been hyping up their mobile app, where, as they claim, you can scan mo' and get mo' - haha, very street. Still it does mean that when you initially register for the app, you do get some free hot wings and they have other offers on - the idea being, a la say IKEA Family, you scan you card, see what offers are available and then take them up. Even better is that they have a touch kiosk like some branches of McDonald's does now, where you choose what you want, but also an option to scan the QR code from the app on your phone.

So being the sort of value for money Northerner that I am, it was a case of thinking what I could get, so not only were two free hot wings the order of the day, but add to that as well the mini chicken fillet burger for a mere £1 - and I could customise it and get that lettuce off there (much better for me that way anyway) - and adding some chips to that meant effectively a little lunchtime meal for a mere two pounds - happy days. In fact it was tempting to go one further and maybe one Friday I'll go for the bucket box for one, but that might be when I'm really feeling peckish as it's pretty mahoosive.

Later on at home I settled in for the evening and after a lovely chat to The Love In My Heart, along with Brian the cat coming up to her asking for cuddles (aww) it was time to catch up some telly and I'd missing The Great British Sewing Bee on Tuesday as I was at the Kristin Hersh gig, so settled in to watch that. It was great to have a whole week of recycling and making new things with old fabrics and thrown away pieces, and certainly had to get them thinking inventively too. I liked also they had an Italian female model for Riccardo who even spoke with him in Italian as he was sorting out her dress for the made to measure challenge.

Of course because The Love and I have walked around where the location is, it seems a bit more real now, and the dress for the final challenge made by Juliet was pretty ace, and definitely garment of the week. I thought Leah might have been a goner but Mercedes it was who left, and did get a bit upset too as emotions flooded back to her grandmother giving her a sewing machine way back when. I must admit though seeing all the trains go past reminds me that if I look closely on the way into London Bridge at weekends in the Summer, I should see if I can spot them on the roof top terrace!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather ace "LAX" by Kristin Hersh, as I've been giving the Possible Dust Clouds album some extra playtime after the excellent gig the other night. For me, it's a rip roaring start to the album and full of lovely distortedly loud guitars as well as Kristin being on top form vocally, giving it plenty in that department. It also builds wonderfully well as a track through the three and a half minutes or so, room to breathe with the middle section before some even more of the dirtier distorted bass line comes in as well. Excellent all round.

Wednesday 13th March - All Go In Air

It was to another office, and one my colleague and I had been to before, and it was good therefore to head over to Air Street, close to Piccadilly Circus. In fact, it was pretty good because it meant that I could actually have an easier trip homeward later (38 bus straight to Victoria and onwards to train) and also that the office there is nice and the people are nice too - so double win. In fact I spent most of the morning mentoring one of their service team as he wanted to learn more about the systems I'm looking after, so good to get him onboard and go through some stuff too.

In fact we road tested a known setting that could be achieved for PXE boot and speeding up this process. I was able to demonstrate that actually the speed could well increase using a particular parameter that was first documented in an earlier SCCM release, but still works today. Proof of that was shown by the fact that the boot image loading time was reduced considerably from seven to two minutes and was reliable, and in fact that a speed increase from 8 to 16 in terms of window size setting didn't make a massive difference, so stuck that at 8. The other thing I'll be checking over is a way to trim all the unnecessary drivers in the boot image (way too many in my view!)

With that done, I've also been able to chat to some of the other staff who were sat close to where I was this afternoon, and full kudos to them all for being lovely people and wanting to have a good natter whilst they were getting on with what they were doing. I think too certainly from my perspective it's been nice to see that there's a theme of inclusivity, and general niceness about people, and certainly feels a happier place to be work wise. I think that stems from the fact that there's a good sense of dynamics about what people do and how their work is of benefit. Good to feel valued I think. In fact I met the first Crystal Palace fan I've worked with since the move down here too!

Later on I was sorting out trains for Mum for her later in the year holiday, as I'd actually given her another idea for consideration which meant that she would be in First Class for longer and for not that much more - and of course that did mean that it would be a comfier journey on the way. She thought it was good to go with that and so it would set her and her friend off the right way on holiday. In fact the saving I managed to get has more than paid for her and her friend's railcard too, proving it was a sensible decision to get it. Not daft me you know!

So it was then onwards with having a good listen to some music and so went for the excellent Ladytron and some of their back catalogue including "Seventeen" which is tune of the day - deceptively simple but also brilliantly done, with a real synth hook bringing you in along with those whispery vocals. It still stands the test of time as does the Soulwax remix version of it which added more guitars, and so glad I have the CD single of this too - essential tune!

Tuesday 12th March - No Shade In Shepherd's Bush Shadow

It was good to get through a lot in work today, meet more people, get to have an understanding more of the infrastructure, and generally get to work with different people. In fact I'm going to be at another site tomorrow so will be good to be out and about and generally see how the land lies and how it all works, so definitely good there to be honest. It was also pretty good to get the feet on the ground and get a better understanding of some of the processes such as the CAB process for change too.

With that all successful, it was off on the Central Line after work, but not to close to the gig venue for tonight's gig - yet. I instead stayed on all the way to one of the termini at Ealing Broadway, where chaos was ensuing as the power supply for Great Western Railway had decided to not work, effectively meaning a horde of cancellations on the way out of Paddington. I instead walked out of the station and followed The Mall towards Ealing Common, and headed off to the pub for some well earned tea - and a drink to go with it, it would have been rude not to!

Later on it was on the 207 bus via Acton and towards Shepherd's Bush, getting off close to Loftus Road (not to QPR's ground) and to Bush Hall, where tonight's Kristin Hersh gig was at. It was as lovely a venue as ever, although selling the likes of Doom Bar in bottles was a bit of a no-no, thankfully other beer was available if needed. It wasn't getting too overly crowded but was just the right size and vibe for her along with Rob Ahlers on drums and Fred Abong on bass to be playing later on.

But first, Fred Abong came on solo as the support, with a mix of electric and acoustic guitar songs, all short and pretty sharp too to be honest. There's a new EP Pulsing released recently which has the title track as one of them that he played tonight, pretty good too. The closing track from that The Wire also sounded really intense with its electrics, so definitely a positive thing. I also liked the acoustic tracks that formed the Homeless EP from last year too including the likes of Equinox. Might have to invest in both of those EPs actually and take a further listen now.

Later on, on came Kristin Hersh with Fred and Rob, and they were not messing about - a proper power trio set. Commencing with the album opener from the Possible Dust Clouds album, LAX - and that was ace. So was the next track No Shade In Shadow as well, and the scene was set for a storming set. That continued with the in my view vastly under-rated Mississippi Kite. What I wasn't expecting after that was a slow introduction with a drum and bass line that paused, and then..

"If I walk down this hallway.." - oh my! It was an absolutely storming version of Your Ghost, with Kristin on absolutely blistering form. The smiles in the room were wide and proud - it was brilliant, and definitely tune of the day for the sheer enjoyment of it. We also got more stuff from the new album, so the likes of Half Way Home and Tulum sounded excellent too. I must admit I'd have liked Lethe, my favourite track of the album, but that's just me. We did get Sand and an electric version of Cuckoo as well, and even for the encore a nice version of the 50 Foot Wave track Broke, so all was excellent there, and for that encore Rob and Fred swapped instruments, and Fred to be fair was a pretty good drummer too!

It was a great night, made even more great by the fact that when I checked my phone for the football scores, Manchester City had given Schalke 04 a tonking in the Champions League, with a a massive 7-0 win on the night and 10-2 on aggregate, with the likes of Sergio Agüero, Leroy Sané, Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesús all getting in on the goals. And the third time Man City have scored seven or more at home this year. Mental!

Monday 11th March - New Beginnings

It was off to one of our other offices in work at Kingsway, close to Aldwych and indeed also close to Temple tube station, so I did the same as I did on Friday and got off the train at Blackfriars, then the tube one stop. It worked so well that I got into the office around 0845, and the newly fitted second floor was a hive of activity as staff were moving in there today after the work a number of us put in last week to ensure that all was good to go in terms of its setup, but we'd be on hand today if there were any requirements needed from us.

In fact, the most requests I got were from people asking where the toilets were, and as I knew that I was able to direct accordingly, but also it was good to see that our Service manager was on hand too (he's a really good bloke anyway) and we were able to catch up with him and see how things were. On the whole though it does mean that all the move seemed to go pretty well, we had a presence about us if needed, and that really did set the tone nicely.

It was also good to get some diagnostics done for some of the SCCM back end - I can see that in fact there's a fair bit to get done, but I'm making inroads and as a result raised another two planned changes, these are more cosmetic though. The first will speed up PXE boot by using some known methods that have been in place for a while, and the second will then ensure that for the hardware, some extra information is collected for some of the laptops, primarily due to Lenovo having some weird way that they store their info, different from everyone else (officially meh.)

It wasn't the case on the train that getting home early was an option though. I got the tube back to Blackfriars okay, but due to a breakdown of a train between St Pancras and Farringdon, and in addition an electrical power supply failure, trains were in very short supply. The first two that arrived I had to let go without getting on because it was way too overcrowded and I didn't want to risk getting hemmed in if the driver had to brake suddenly, so not a good idea. I eventually got the third one and headed homewards.

I did note though that the new CDs I'd ordered had arrived from Amazon (hurrah) so headed on with the new Dream Theater album, Distance Over Time. Of course it had been noted it was their shortest album for some time, but no track over ten minutes either (which is usually their trademark for being progressive metal and all). However, on a positive note, this does mean more accessibility for some, and with tracks like "Paralyzed" being still their trademark and rocking pretty hard (make that tune of the day) - all is still well there.

Sunday 10th March - Lazy Sunday Afternoon

The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat had a deserved lie in after a long week, and Brian had been on watch most of last night as he had spotted something moving in the front decking and wasn't letting any distractions affect his concentration. However when we did have some chicken casserole last night The Love did put some raw chicken aside for him, which he ate with his little contented tigger growl that he does, and he was very happy indeed to have that for a change from his usual uber posh tuna and prawn Sheba (yes, he is a fussy cat when it comes to food!)

I got up and saw most of Match of the Day, and The Love then got up later and we had a lovely breakfast together, with a bit of telly in the background. We were pretty relaxed all round and didn't feel the need to head off for a walk with the wind, rain and later hail howling down around us. Brian had his harness on to go onto the decking, put one paw on and realised it wasn't so good, and just stood by the patio door looking outside and being on watch again. He does like to be the king of all he surveys mind you!

Later on after the weather had calmed down a bit and we'd seen the triathlon highlights from Abu Dhabi excellently hosted by Louise Minchin, we headed off for a lunch in the afternoon. As it turned out The Love had a voucher for The Ashlea in Cheadle, so it was sensible to head there and do lunch, not least as their Sunday roasts are decent and they do decent real ale - in fact they had the Robinsons' new one Brew Monday (work it out folks!) and that was nice to have with my roast pork too. The Love looked lovely in her jumper and it was just nice to be out and chatty and have some food.

Once we'd been there we later had a drink in The Gateway as well - I did though do a coffee because I wanted to have their nice coffee and because it was a free refill too - so it meant I could have some more if I felt like it. I did also enjoy the fact we were in a quiet corner chatting and were also planning a possible trip away too, which was good to get an idea about what to do. It was also good that the atmos was calm and quiet so you could hear yourself talk - always good that.

Back at The Love's place we gave Brian his tea and some more chicken (cue happy cat growl that he does) and settled in to watch the likes of Countryfile as well as me keeping an eye on the football scores, and although Liverpool won, Chelsea drew with Wolves and Arsenal beat Manchester United, so that worked out nicely actually. I headed home on the 1935 train which was nice and quiet, and had some David Bowie (especially I'm Afraid of Americans, make that one tune of the day) as the train sped back towards Euston, and made it in good time home just before 11pm and bed.

Saturday 9th March - Printing A Win

It was an early start for me this morning as I was heading off on the train and then tube to Euston, and all in good time to board the 0820 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. I thought it would make more sense to at least be all good for the weekend and that meant I could rest last night after the first week in the new job too - just the way it worked out. The train was thankfully relatively quiet which meant I could put the headphones on and just chill out as the morning weather fluctuated between wind and rain for most of the time on the way up.

The Love In My Heart met me at the station and it was so nice to see her and give her a kiss and cuddle (well, I have missed her!) And when we got back to her place, even Brian the cat seemed quite pleased to see me, and he got strokes and fusses too. In fact he was looking outside seeing what was happening out there and generally being on watch as the wind blew and the leaves fluttered, meaning he was often in fast trot mode heading between the front room and the bedroom.

Later on we went to see The Love's father, and he had got a new printer but the printer didn't have a disc with any setup or drivers on, with an expectancy for you to download them yourself or to use a mobile app - not really the thing for him to be honest. I had downloaded the drivers and burned them to a disc last night, so was able to go through all that, do the setup and before you know it, printing was working flawlessly for him with a cabled connection - and wireless did work too when using a mobile app (which I tried to test with) which was pretty good really.

It was also then off to my brother's work in the Northern Quarter to drop a card off for him as it was his birthday on Monday, and he and his girlfriend had a good chat to us (they have their own shop you see). It was nice to see them both and even nicer to have a short walk up to the Mackie Mayor and have an afternoon drink together too to be honest - it was all good on that side with some nice beers and a good way to wind down a bit and have a chat before then heading back to her place in good time for the football later.

My friend and I met up at the Etihad and it was a home game against Watford, with a win for City temporarily putting us four points ahead of Liverpool until they play tomorrow. I suspected it was going to be tight, and we even got interviewed by Ian Cheeseman for his matchday vlog about the view we have from our position - nice surprise that. Nonetheless Watford had ten points from the last five games, so no slouches, and they were to be taken seriously. To be honest, I'll take 1-0 every game to the end of the season if that means we'd win the league!

It was a frustrating first half as Watford came with a plan to be defensive and not give much away, and Ben Foster their goalie was time wasting a bit. However it was only going to be a matter of time before City did score, albeit controversially. Sergio Agüero touched a ball on, Raheem Sterling went for it, the Watford defender's clearance cannoned off Sterling and went in. The linesman correctly flagged offside, but the referee for some reason over-ruled him and it was 1-0 to City. Not the way I'd have wanted us to score, and to be honest it was a poor refereeing decision.

Thankfully that did open things up but what I didn't expect were another two Raheem Sterling goals for a hat trick, and indeed inside twelve minutes or so! That was impressive, and he deservedly came off to a standing ovation to be rested for the Schalke game Tuesday night. City pressed on but Watford brought on two subs and they combined to make the score 3-1. City though looked like they were relaxed on their way to another win, and indeed 15 out of 16 in the league at home (the only blip being Crystal Palace) - and Oasis' Wonderwall blasted out at full time too - make that tune of the day as everyone who was left in had a little singalong to celebrate another three vital points.

Friday 8th March - Flown By

The first week of the new job has relatively flown by, and today myself and my other new colleague were off to one of our other offices to join a couple of the team there in sorting out some of the new offices that some of the staff will be moving to - we already have the ground and first floor of the building but now the second floor as well, with a view that we'll be moving others into the location and then that gives space in another building elsewhere for us to move into, which does make some sense actually.

What I did manage to do today as well was to double check some of the back end of the system I'll be looking after and worked on checking some of the content on the distribution points - and ultimately was able to see that in fact once I was able to drill down and carry out some investigations, this meant that I could also take some further action. In fact I've raised another change for next week to ensure that there's a correct file placed on the root of some of the server drives so it's not used for anything other than the operating system. That will work nicely and gradually I'll get a lot done too.

It was interesting this afternoon as one of the team handed me a tablet which we needed to build with an older image - but found quite a few things which were going to be an issue with the new tablet - a check with the manufacturer showed that actually it may not be correctly supported with Windows 8.1 due to the fact it was new - but also that even if we did try and put 8.1 on there, it'd restart with a blue screen failure. I think I know what the issue is and will check it over on Monday to be sure.

The first week has relatively flown by in a good way and certainly one of the company's ethos of no silos is definitely present: we really all do muck in a lot and that has to be said that it's good to see that we all do - and act as one big team. I think too that in a way having visited three differnent offices this week gives me a real sense of where the place is going but how they serve the people that work there ever so well. I'm really looking forward to getting on with a lot but am pleased that my manager appreciated how much we've both managed to get involved during the first week.

I headed home later on and had a good chatter with The Love In My Heart as well as being able to sort out some trains for the next month or two, including a case of getting The Love's birthday booked off and being able to come up the night before, so was good to get that sorted and get that time done too. It does mean that of course that we'll have some quality time together too - which will be lovely. Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "In A Perfect World" by Kodaline, the theme for Gogglebox, which is nice to see back on the telly!


Thursday 7th March - Positivity

I spent most of today finishing off a document which was going to detail my initial work that I was going to do with the system I'll be looking after. In effect, I've been able to work through some key features where I know that there can be some improvements, and then work from them to carry it all through. In a good way it's meant that I've had to write a document template I can use in future, and indeed use the company's custom font to do so (and therefore be all corporate.) I think too that you do need to document things so it acts as a term of reference later on, so good to get that done.

In fact that followed on from two meetings back to back with some of the infrastructure people and indeed some of the security folks, so good to get to know more people you're working with and understand what they do too - and that served me well to get an understanding of where everyone's coming from and what they need to do going forward as well. One thing which I did then manage to do was complete the document in hand and proof read it before then checking for the final time and submitting to my managerial team for suitable comments and feedback.

What I wasn't expecting was that both of them were taking the time out to read the document this afternoon, and definitely not both of them to effectively say that they appreciated the work I put into it and that I had hit the proverbial ground running. It was unexpected and actually a real confidence boost to know that I was on the right lines where I was heading, and that was pretty good all round to be perfectly honest. I think too it showed the nature of the environment too, and that really is a marked contrast from the previous job.

It was absolutely hammering it down with rain as I left the office later so it was on the bus close by and the 38 to Victoria at that, down Shaftesbury Avenue (where I noted Fopp was still around so must nip there sometime!) and then to Piccadilly Circus and along Pall Mall to Hyde Park Corner and down to Victoria to get the train home. Of course it takes a while on the bus, but as it was chucking it down the walk to Farringdon did seem less inviting - and didn't do that badly heading back either. Worth noting for future reference that (and indeed when we move offices the 390 will be the same option)

I relaxed at home and effectively made the most of some leftovers for tea (because waste not want not and all that) and had a good chat with Mum - who's a bit panicky about when some trains go on sale, so had to do the reassuring thing. As The Love In My Heart said to me later, if anyone knows how to get a good deal on trains, it's me, so you think that she would know that really. But anyway, nice to speak to The Love, and she had had her car in for a compulsory bit of maintenance due to a recall from Citroën. They discovered a manufacturing fault and offered to replace the parts free of charge, and gave The Love a courtesy car for the day too - a gorgeous C4 Cactus!

And to really make the good news day complete, my friend up in Ulverston, who was down with us last weekend, informed me that his job interview was successful and has a new job starting Monday. Happy news indeed and I'm really pleased for him too - so that definitely was excellent to know. In fact, and based on the ace Hop Kingdom place we visited last weekend, the awesome "Possessed To Skate" by Suicidal Tendencies is tune of the day. And the skating's getting radical...

Wednesday 6th March - Three Tour Dates In A Day

One thing I'm learning very quickly in the new job is that no two days are alike, and in addition, you can be at different buildings getting things done and working with different people. So yesterday my manager asked myself and the other new starter to head to one of the other offices based in Air Street, round the corner from Piccadilly Circus. In fact it worked out well as I was able to double back out of Blackfriars to Elephant and Castle then hop on the Bakerloo to Piccadilly Circus and get off there, a doddle actually. It did mean too that I was able to get a seat on the tube (yaay) and got there in good time ready for the day ahead.

The morning was spent doing some checks and also going through with one of the IT folks there how their build process works, and in essence I could see some room for improvements and ways forward straight off. The good thing was that one of them is willing to learn and take on some extra tasks, but also wants to learn about the system I'll be looking after, so was good to spend time with him and actually to go through a few checks and tests along the way. That's been quite good overall to do so far, so long may that continue.

In fact it was quite a nice plush office too - the ground floor entrance is very much reminiscent of its former guise as a hotel reception (and you can tell) and below the floor we're based on is the headquarters of the UK Twitter. Might be interesting to see what comes out of there in terms of what they're doing to combat the likes of online trolling and other social media ills. But in any case, it was good to get used to another office, and also pick up a security pass for the building so I can get in and out in future.

Another security pass was obtained at the next stop for my colleague and I - our offices near the bottom of Kingsway close to Aldwych. It was there that the HR folks including the lovely HR woman who did my onboarding were giving their induction to the company, how it all works, and some useful information about what benefits etc you could get after a qualifying period as well as lots of other good stuff. The new starters all seemed really nice too and we had to give out interesting facts about ourselves, so I mentioned the piece I did for The Retro Hour!

It was then back to the normal base for the rest of the day after that, and following that we were invited out for a couple of drinks at a local pub too. In fact it was a nice pub that sold proper real ale, so was able to enjoy a couple of well earned pints and chatter about all sorts with the folks. Even the higher management seem pretty down to earth and really want a whole team collaboration to get things done, which is a real positive contrast actually and one that I'm relishing. And in addition to that, it was just good to be out there and having a wind down for the day, and on the way home I was thinking "why didn't I do this earlier?" Tune of the day is the excellent "Temptation" by New Order, sums up the mood nicely...

Tuesday 5th March - Let's Get Technical

It was certainly a second day of contrasts, and firstly I was writing up a technical document about where we are with the current system that I'll be administrating. On the whole there is some good practice, and things that will require some tweaking and improvements. As ever, it's always a case that some development has been embryonic in terms of growth and how it works, so has been notably interesting to work out what happened when and how to take things forward in a sensible way. The good news is that it's a case of writing up the document and then presenting it onwards to see what can be done.

Myself and my other new colleague have also been out and about meeting people, so today for example our head of service desk came over to meet us both with our manager. It's been quite good to get to know people face to face and for me at least, it's definitely been encouraging to see a collaborative way that work happens, in that we talk about things and then see what we can do to work out a solution and move onwards. I like that. A lot, actually. Means that we can get things done in a good way.

In fact tomorrow we'll be heading over to two of the other offices in central London: one close to Piccadilly Circus and one close to Aldwych for various reasons. The good thing is that for us is that it gets us familiarised with the rest of the place nicely and that means that we also get to see and know people too which is a definite plus for everyone. I am already liking the different approach and one of our heads had asked me for some SCCM related stats which I answered professionally, which he appreciated. I like to get on with things so all good from that perspective.

So onwards tonight with The Great British Sewing Bee, and continuing the technical theme, it was technical fabrics week, and some fiendish challenges. Wanted to make a swimsuit in three hours? Now's your chance. It looked bloody hard, and you could tell that Leah was almost going to swear but pulled it back at the sight of Patrick Grant at the last minute. I have to say though that when Patrick brought in his dog Winston, the dog was cute with his little outfit on and The Love In My Heart did let me know that she also approved of the dog too - not sure about some of the outfits made though!

The final tracksuit challenge left some short of time - Mercedes and Alexei really struggled with that and it wasn't a surprise to me one of them was heading off, not before some class 80s tunes including Aha's "Take On Me" (make that tune of the day folks) and it was nice to see Jen get garment of the week (Juliet pushed her very close though!) and as I thought, Alexei was gone, two unfinished garments from three is a tough one - but certainly from where he was to learning so much in two years should also be appreciated. He's more of a take the time and get it right person from the engineer school of thought. Give them longer and he would have made some more excellent stuff, that I have no doubt at all.

Monday 4th March - New Start

So it was the first day of my new job today - new job title, new place of work and a new commute too. As it turned out the new place wanted me in a little later than their normal start, a sort of opportunity to bed us all in gently. As it turned out, there was another new starter in the same team today, so it worked out pretty well all round that we'd both been headhunted by the same recruiter, and that indeed it'd be a case of settling in and getting on with things as much as possible.

It was good to meet some of the team I'll be working with and indeed getting an overview from my new line manager of some of the systems in use. In effect there's some slightly different methods of working, but on the whole the important thing is that the main body of infrastructure is there and present, and that is definitely a good thing as far as I can see. I had a good overview from one of my new colleagues as to how that is all together complete with locations, servers and the like, which was very useful.

In fact the building currently is very much a temporary home for the next few months till we move to something more purpose built, and that's a good thing to look forward to. What I can tell though straight away is that there's a good body of initial structure there, but that there's plenty I can get the teeth stuck into, much like the last job in a way, but also in a much nicer atmosphere overall so far. I also met one of the HR people I had been liaising with on the job and she was lovely too, so that was good and it made me feel a bit more welcomed as well along the way.

I did walk back from Holborn to Farringdon to get the train home later on, and that worked out well as it meant I'd get a seat for a start, but also did mean that I was able to gauge the time and distance and also what train realistically I'd be able to aim for, bearing in mind the later finish than the previous job. One good thing already though is that there is a real element of a sense of team and the fact us two newbies have been invited out for post-work drinks on Wednesday evening says a lot about the collaborative culture too, so that's definitely positive for me thus far.

I also updated the likes of LinkedIn as well and made sure that the recruiter contact me buttons were all off, as there's no need now really. It's amazing how even on the first day I feel different about this role, and that has to be good. I had a sense of listening to what was going on and taking note of the feel of the place, and due to the unfortunate death of Keith Flint of The Prodigy today, it was a case of blasting out the iconic "Firestarter" as a suitable tribute and tune of the day for that reason.


Sunday 3rd March - Homeward Bound For Three

It was good to be up and about and that the hot water was working too, so a well earned shower was had where needed. I had some croissants sorted out for breakfast along with coffee, which went down well, and it was just nice to be able to relax, watch the highlights from the EFL using the Quest on Demand web page, with the trusty Hudl2 streaming that direct to the telly, and then from there we could see all those highlights as well as the rest of Match of the Day that we missed last night.

We left a little earlier than planned as two of our friends wanted to head to Playnation Games along the way to pick up some retro gaming goodness, including a Commodore 64 and a Sega Mega Drive I. It was always good to head back in there and get lots of stuff overall of course, and I think for me I was tempted by a few items along the way but was attempting to be good whilst doing so. We then walked over to East Croydon station in good time to get the 1137 departure for St Pancras, which was pretty busy all round actually.

We got to St Pancras and walked over to Kings Cross, where gradually we said goodbye as two of the friends were leaving for their trains to Newcastle and to Doncaster. It had been great to see them and as my friend and I walked back to Euston in order for him to head back towards Lancaster, we definitely will all have to meet down here again - granted it does involve some logistics with trains which I managed to sort out. but it was good that we were able to at least get that done.

It took me some time to head back to East Croydon because of signalling issues at Clapham Junction meaning trains were crawling in and out of there, but once back it was good to get all the bedding deflated and then the rest of the sheets and duvet covers washed, and vacuum packed all the duvets and pillows ready in my storage box for the next time that anyone comes to visit. I also made a coffee and had a good moment's reflection on how good that the weekend was, and also did a little bit of video editing.

What we'd noted yesterday when bowling was that when you pressed next game and the score would reset, it did it as if it was using an old loading screen method that software companies such as Ocean used on their 8 b it systems, especially the C64. I had captured the video on the phone, but went about editing it so that I could effectively have the audio track as the classic Martin Galway's Ocean Loader 2 theme (make that one tune of the day) and that really did seem quite cool once I put it all together, so pretty pleased. And of course onwards with the new job tomorrow too!

Saturday 2nd March - Croydon Weekender, Day 2

It was good to be up and about in the morning, and once we'd had some coffee to wake up with, I then set about some breakfast, lots of sausages and barmcakes were the order of the day for everyone which works well when we stay at each others' places to be honest. The only thing I did note was that the water was lukewarm and when my friends had seen one of the neighbours this morning, they mentioned the lack of hot water. I rang the service number and they were already looking at contacting the heating engineers, so fingers crossed that'd be all sorted for later.

We headed off from mine later via Playnation Games in the Whitgift Centre - temptation was abound including Commodore 64s, plenty of the original Sega Mega Drives (unboxed but of course good to see that they were around) and the like. In fact we would be going in there tomorrow to get some stuff, so we headed out of there and on to the bus stop to get the 75 bus to Lewisham. As I'd expected, it took time as it headed through South Norwood, Penge and then Sydenham and Catford, but as the Oyster reader wasn't working, we effectively all got on for free, so no arguments there.

For some reason Lewisham Bowl hadn't seen a record of my online booking despite me having an email confirmation from them, but thankfully a lane was free anyway so we were all sorted. It was £13 each for 3 games, and the lane played very well, the balls were in good nick, and it was a little bit old school in layout. You could also bowl in your own footwear which was pretty good too - really nice not to have to change either. In fact that probably helped us be more steady on the feet, and all was good. I played pretty well for a change and had three scores of 140+ in the three games, two 144s and in the second game a 148 where I got the final three strikes on the bounce, pretty chuffed I was. The background music played all sorts including The Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" (so make that tune of the day) and the bar wasn't even that dear either to be fair!

It was then a walk around the one way town centre system and on to the DLR station in Lewisham and we headed four stops to Cutty Sark in the centre of Greenwich. We popped out to see the ship (as one of my friends was interested) and then once that was done, it was then to the Gate Clock for some well earned lunch and some nice beer too - in fact the Southwark Brewing's porter was spot on and that was definitely one to have again to be honest.

We then took the 188 bus from the centre of Greenwich via Surrey Quays and Canada Water and on towards Bermondsey, getting off at Abbey Street and walking down towards Druid Street and the arches that mainly form the Bermondsey Beer Mile. One of the places was having a wedding reception and the whole place had been booked out, but we did stop in the Marquis of Wellington to try some beers out before then walking down to the Southwark Brewing Company, where my friend had the same porter as earlier (because it was good) and I had their bitter, and we all had different beers. There were some women being loud and asking blokes to use a tape measure to measure anatomy parts, but they were best ignored as conversation was the order of the day.

Later on we walked further down the arches towards London Bridge and stepped into Hop Kingdom, and so glad we did. I had seen it on the map and wanted to go in, and it was ace. It's effectively craft beer and skateboarding, so one of the arches is a little skate park, part of the second one has ramps with the rest of it being a bar where craft cans are on sale, but also the lovely Hop King Pale Ale, and it was £3 a pint. The staff even let us try a bit first, and we had a pint because it was gorgeous. In fact the vibe was spot on, really nicely laid out and lots of chilled out people enjoying a beer too. Definitely a must visit for me now again!

We then got the train from London Bridge back to East Croydon and from there went to a few pubs close by, which was good way to make the way homeward, so was first off to the Dog and Bull, which was very nice with the Young's Special being bang on, and then across to the Spread Eagle where of course the Oliver's Island was also on form, and finally then off to the Royal Standard, the closest pub to mine and pretty quiet, so we could natter and chatter for ages and have some good beer, before then getting a chicken take out and heading home to watch Match of the Day later. It was a really good day all round and so nice to do something different during the day too.

Friday 1st March - Croydon Weekender, Day 1

Today was the first time that I was going to host three of my good friends for a weekend get together in the new place in Croydon. I had of course previously hosted weekends at my old place in Manchester, which admittedly had three bedrooms and as such much more room to get everyone in. I had of course managed to have one extra person staying over a few times (whether it be my Mum, my brother or a friend) but of course it was a much more difficult logistic task to get three of us staying, all with single air beds in the main.

What I had managed to do was get the air beds, sort the bedding out and worked out what I could do to get everyone in - moving furniture around a little in the front room and have one at the kitchen end. It was doable, and I think that my plan was to have the air beds blown but in my room and then move them in once ready to go at night, it in truth made much more sense that way as I could keep the front roo sorted most of the time. I had all the food shopping, I had the beer (lots of it actually due to work too) and all the place tidy, and so once I had lunch later in the day it was then off on the train to Euston.

One of my friends was coming down from Ulverston via Lancaster, and the way it was his train arrived first, and on time too which was good. We then chatted as we walked down Euston Road to Kings Cross, where down from Doncaster out second friend arrived, and then a few minutes later down from South Shields via Newcastle, the final friend arrived. Having both of them at the same station meant a much easier meet up generally, and once we were all sorted, it was next door to St Pancras, through the barriers with their contactless cards (same payment method as Oyster folks) and then on the next train down to East Croydon and my place. We all got the four seats together so that was good, so plenty of nattering as the train sped down.

Once at my place the friends who hadn't been before admired the flat and said how nice it all was, which was lovely to hear, and it was then cracking open the beers and having a good natter and catch up whilst also watching Pointless and seeing how the contestants would do - and if we would do any better. It has sort of been a tradition as of late, so nice to be able to do that and indeed to put a nice pasta bake in the oven with lots of cheese and bacon alongside a raft of garlic bread too. That and the tiramisu for dessert was more than enough to keep everyone going for a fair while.

After watching some online video of retro gaming goodness, I had a surprise for my friends - a retro gaming and Commodore 64 themed pub quiz! I'd spent some time during the week getting that sorted and it worked out really well actually, four music rounds including the classic SID sound chip, including the likes of game themes played backwards, if the game theme was an original composition or cover version, and also cassette loading themes to identify, as well as some original songs (including Skunk Anansie's excellent "Weak", make that tune of the day) and they had to guess if I had covered it on the C64 or not. That and some other trivia questions along the way. It proved to be great fun, and my friend from South Shields took the honours.

Later on we headed to The Green Dragon pub near me and so was nice to go somewhere local. The beer was lovely as it always is in there, and conversation continued to flow, although it was a little loud at times on a Friday night due to the open spaces in the place. We then headed to some takeaways including Tops Pizza where the pizza is pretty good, and got back to mine later on to munch all what we had and also to have a couple of more beers too - that said I will probably have plenty to keep me going for ages now! All in all, really nice way to start the weekend and it was really enjoyable to host once again.