|Friday 31st July 2009|
| 08:29 BST
The best part of this morning is that it is dry. Whether it stays that way through the day is debatable, and I think the likelihood is that it won't. It may just be my blind optimism about how the weather should be, but I think it is unusually cool for a July morning. Even if the sun doesn't come out for any length of time it should still warm up as the day progresses. Perhaps it might be better if it didn't get too warm because that could trigger off heavy rain, and maybe even a thunderstorm.
After the clear, sunny start yesterday morning, it all started to go wrong in the middle of the day. There were some quite heavy showers from mid morning to mid afternoon. After that things settled down again, and as far as I am aware it has been dry ever since. Certainly my commute home was done in the dry and "almost warm".
It's difficult to remember just when the idea seeped into my head, and when that idea turned into an obsession, but on my way home from work I was totally fixated on the idea of having sausages for my dinner. Being a Thursday, I already had plans to do some shopping in Tesco, principally for the latest edition of New Scientist. After picking up the magazine, and cat food, I homed in on the sausages and picked up some "Finest" pork and herb ones. Well actually, I did a little more than that. They were on a "three packs for £6" offer, and so I also picked up some pork and leek, and pork and barbecue flavour sausages. It was the pork and herb I had last night, and they seemed to satisfy my unexpected obsession more than adequately. Tonight I will have more sausages, but I am not sure what flavour to choose just yet.
Apart from satisfying my sausage craving, and reading New Scientist, I did a little research for a new project. I have been thinking about days out, and I am toying with the idea of my next destination being St Margrets Bay. I am not exactly sure what's there, but I am sure it is a 2.4 mile walk from Martin Mill railways station. After consulting some timetables I worked out routes for both a weekday and a Sunday. On Sundays it would involve about 4 changes of train, and take 3 hours from station to station. On a weekday I would still have to change trains about four times, but it only takes 2 hours and 46 minutes (station to station). Both schemes seem to have some convenient fag breaks in them - which is a relief for such a long journey. I think that were it not for engineering works that have closed the line between Dover and Folkstone, for maintenance of the tunnels, there would be a faster way to get there, but not for some weeks to come.
For some reason I thought that St Margrets Bay was alongside Pegwell Bay where the hovercraft service to France departed. While getting the link for St Margrets Bay from Google Maps, I did a search for Pegwell Bay. It is a little further along the coast, and much nearer to Ramsgate. That could be a more interesting destination, and it is possible, though not all that likely, that it may be faster journey to get there. Looking at the satellite views it seems that all the buildings for the hovercraft station have now been demolished, but the large concrete slipway is still there. I think a look around that place could be pretty interesting, and best of all it is only a 2.1 mile walk from the station.
|Thursday 30th July 2009|
| 08:19 BST
As I left home, to come to work, the sky was 99% clear blue from hoizon to horizon. It was also almost chilly in just my shirtsleeves. I had hoped that it would be a bright sunny day, and that it would get nice and warm, but the forecast in my morning paper was not so optimistic, and looking out my window, here at work, I can see increasing amounts of cloud filling the sky. Maybe there will be some showers today.
Yesterday was a very dull day. I didn't make it to work after having a rather unpleasant time in the early hours of yesterday morning. As part of my evening meal I had some ready made Tesco "discounts brands" pasta in tomato and basil sauce. I don't think it had any nasty bacteria in it, but the oil used in it, and there was quite a lot, must have been very low grade stuff, maybe even recycled engine oil. To make matters worse I added a generous, some might say a very generous, sprinkling of cheese on top. I think my guts rebelled against this assault, and in the early hours of the morning they decided the best thing to do was to get rid of the pasta via the shortest route possible. That nasty business kept me awake for a couple of hours on a night when I was hoping to get more sleep, not less sleep.
Eventually I got back to sleep. When my alarm woke me up I decided I was still too tired, and definitely very sore in the digestive department, and all the muscles used to power it, including those used for more unusual movements of food, and that I was not going to work while I felt like that. After calling in sick I spent all morning either in, or on, my bed, sleeping or reading. By lunchtime I felt a lot better, and decided it was now time to get up. Having got up I did very little, and probably achieved even less.
All that recuperation evidently did me a power of good because I do feel quite good this morning. Maybe it was the blue sky, or maybe it was the extra sleep and rest, but I do feel that there is a certain spring in my step this morning. In most respects I feel like I could have had a good day out doing some more walking today, but there is one aspect that would stop me doing that. I may have puked up a lot of that pasta, and more besides, but I think the last remnants of it are exiting in a more conventional manner. My lower intestine definitely feels dodgy this morning, and after only travelling for 25 or so minutes, I had to make use of the "facilities" at Waterloo. A certain twitchness suggests there could be more to come.......
One thing I have to try and do today, either here at work, or when I get home tonight, is to go through some of my recent writing, and convert a few sentences from total nonsense to something approaching normal English. Even though my typing is not very fast, I do seem to be able to type faster than I can think of what I am trying to say. I recently noticed there is a real piece of gobbledegook in the page I wrote about my trip to Sheereness, and I think I had better edit that very soon - like right now !
|Tuesday 28th July 2009|
| 18:53 BST
To my great surprise the day started off bright and shiny. It was cool, but not too cool. The sunshine continued for most of the day, and even when the sun went behind clouds it stayed dry. It seems that tomorrow will start off in a similar way, but later in the afternoon, perilously close to when I leave work to go home, there may well be some rain, and some of that could be very heavy.
Last night I intended to get to bed, and be asleep very early. It didn't happen that way, and in consequence I felt knackered for much of today. Tonight I am determined to get it right, and I aim to be in bed, fast asleep, as soon after 8 pm as I can.
The reason I was late getting to bed, and also the reason I was a little late for work this morning, was because I was playing about with configuration files on my new standby server box. I had a problem where web pages were being served with the wrong character code. At first I thought everything was ok, but then I noticed that British pound signs, "£" were not being displayed. I continued my research, and finally found the solution while I was at work. Part of the solution was finding that for some peculiar Centos seemed to have added a load of blank line at the beginning of the configuration file. That made it look like the file was empty until I realised I had to scroll a long way down the screen to find the bits to edit.
There is more I have to configure to get the standby server working as I would like, but for now it can serve my webpages when my on-line server dies again. Tonight I am not going to touch it or I know I'll be late to bed again.
It was only this morning that I realised that if I had not made the decision to use Centos, which was done purely for the novelty value, I could have made life a lot easier for myself. If I had installed Xubuntu, as used on my on-line server, I could have just copied the configuration files from that server, and my new server would have been instantly configured. Oh well, at least this way I have learned some new stuff (I think).
|Monday 27th July 2009|
Today could almost be the first day of autumn ! It is cold, wet, and miserable outside. I got slightly damp walking to the station, and slightly damp once I had arrived at Ealsfield. On the way here, as my train approached London Bridge, I couldn't believe just how dark the sky had become. It was as if night was falling. I made one big mistake when I arrived at Earlsfield. I didn't really fancy walking in the rain, and so I thought I would get a bus. With the schools on holiday the buses are reasonably empty at this time of morning, and the roads are reasonably clear too. I crossed the road outside the station, and had walked half the short distance to the bus stop when I realised that there was no bus shelter there any more. I have no idea when it was removed because I have not used the bus for several months now. So I got wet waiting for a bus, and to add insult to injury, the rain had practically stopped when I got off the bus. It is slightly beginning to brighten up outside, but I cannot bring myself to believe we will see any sunshine today.
I feel quite rough this morning, and I can attribute that to several different things. First there is the weather. The wet and gloom is always a downer. Then there is the fact that it is a Monday morning, and after doing very little exercise over the weekend, that always makes ne feel bad. There could also still be a little legacy stiffness from my two days of exploring. One other problem, a certain amount of gut ache, and volatility, I think I will lame on the Chinese takeaway I had on Saturday night. It certainly left it's legacy on me yesterday, and that had the effect that I felt both hungry and not wanting to eat too much yesterday. The end result of this is that I ate small amounts quite frequently, and the overall total was probably too much, and much of that too much was unhealthy snack-like food. So today I had to make use of the toilets on both Waterloo East, and Waterloo mainline stations (although the latter turned out to be a false alarm). One other little problem is that I made my usual mistake of getting enthusiastic about computer stuff far too late in the day. I ended up getting to bed at least an hour later than the latest I should have got to bed.
My computer stuff enthusiasm yesterday was to do with getting a standby server working. It all went rather well, and although I still have some fine tuning to do to it, and to add some more convenience software, I had it serving web pages (on my internal network) before I went to bed last night. As I suggested I might investigate, I did use Centos Linux 5.3 as my operating system. I am still not sure I like it, but it may be that I just have to get used to the way it does stuff. The handiest thing about it is that it has a fairly good graphical server configuration tool. One stupid thing about that tool is that it doesn't have a server restart button for when you have changed some configuration that only gets read when the server software first starts to run. There is a restart button available on another configuration tool, and that is handy, but to me it would seem rather obvious to combine the two into one.
The PC I chose to use as my standby server is one that I was originally using as a bedroom PC. It has a 700 MHz Pentium III processor, and a mere 256 MB of ram. Despite sounding rather primitive compared to today's desktop machines it actually runs rather well when Linux is installed on it. My current server has a 962 MHz processor, theoretically some 262 MHz faster, but there seems to be very little difference in speed that it serves up web pages. In fact I am not sure if there is any noticeable difference in reality.
One other thing I did yesterday was to investigate why I had no hot water. I feared the worst for my recently repaired water heater, and it is possible that the worst is still to come. The reason for no hot water yesterday morning was that the pilot light had gone out. There is a problem with this in that the igniter doesn't work, and the unit has to be taken apart to re-light it. Having taken it apart it looked very much as if the pilot flame had been put out by water, and I had (and still have) grave worries that the heat exchanger has developed a leak. Hopefully it is rain water that has somehow got blown into the airvent, and that could almost be feasible considering that on Friday there was a severe storm with gales in Catford (while I was enjoying the sunshine in Rye). Since re-lighting the pilot (and turning it's gas supply up a little for a slightly bigger flame) everything has worked OK. Either it was rainwater in there, or any leak has somehow resealed itself. Apart from the long time intermittent drip from the regulator control, there appears to be no other drips or anything. So I might have got away with it for now. I'll keep my fingers crossed that it was just rainwater !
|Sunday 26th July 2009|
First, the good news : My server is still running sweetly this morning after the repairs I did yesterday. I also edited the photographs, and wrote up some commentary, for my day out with Iain to Rye Harbour on Friday 24th July 2009. See it all here.
It is difficult to predict the weather today. The sky is a milky white colour, and that may mean there is a lot of mist up there that will "burn off" as the sun rises higher in the sky. If that is so we should be seeing some sunshine by midday, or maybe before, but it also might reveal some rain clouds lurking up there that will bring some showers. It is fairly cool at the moment, but I expect it will be at least comfortably mild a little later in the morning.
Yesterday remained fine, and it was warm, but not hot, during the afternoon, and into the evening. It was evidently warm enough right into the night, an up to the early hours of this morning, because Smudge decided she didn't want to come in until 2 am this morning. Luckily for her I heard her scrambling over the fence as I made my way back to bed after being up for an hour at that time.
After waking, washing, and dressing very late yesterday morning, and then rushing around doing some housework, and repairing my server, I had a very relaxed time for the rest of the day. I think I needed that to recover from two days of fresh air and exercise. Suprisingly I had very few aches, pains, or even stiffness after all that exercise. Even a quick walk to the corner shop didn't reveal any particular soreness, but I did feel quite weary. So I spent a lot of time quietly reading and making up the web page for my second visit to Rye.
In the evening I decided to treat myself to a mostly unhealthy Chinese takeaway from a restuarant I had not tried before. It was quite pleasant, and I did enjoy it, but I think I findChinese takeaways less exciting now than I used to. I am not sure why that is. It still ticked all the right boxes for sweet/sour/texture etc, but somehow it just didn't seem that wonderful. I am not sure what my favourite food/takeaway is right now. Maybe next time I treat myself it will be an Indian takeaway, but the last one of those I had was also disappointing - not because it was nasty, or for any other reason, but it just seemed a bit ordinary. It's really quite hard to explain this. Maybe it is just another case of the exotic becoming commonplace, and thus losing it's appeal.
Today I have few plans. When I consider it further I just have one definite plan. I need to go out and get some shopping. I have just started using my last roll of toilet paper. So getting more toilet paper, and more catfood is a sort of priority alongside getting in some other less essential supplies. After I have done that I really don't have any other priorities. I do have some stuff to read, and that is always good for filling in time, and I may raise the enthusiasm for making a start on my standby server. For no reason other than the novelty of it, I might try using Centos Linux as the operating system of my standby server. It would be great if I could get it to work, but Centos is based on Red Hat linux, and I always seem to have trouble with that for some reason.
|Saturday 25th July 2009|
| 18:50 BST
My server still seems to be running sweetly, and it might be my imagination, but it seems more responsive than it used to be now.
I have spent the last few hours editing photographs, and writing an account of my second trip to Rye Harbour. You can find the web page right here.
It's was a lovely bright morning. Even now, in the first part of the afternoon, it is bright and sunny, but the cloud does appear to be thickening. Maybe there will be some rain later. I don't really know what the weather was like here yesterday because I spent much of the day in Rye, and I will be writing about that, with pictures later.
It was unfortunate that my server died in the small hours of Yesterday morning, or I would have written of my adventures in Rye as they happened. The reason for my server dying on me was blown capacitors on the motherboard.
Above is a picture with one capacitor highlighted. It is less easy to see the detail in a 2D photograph, but the capacitor highlighted is just one where there is a bulge in the top, and some seepage of the electrolyte visible (the sort of reddish crust on the top). This morning, after a bit of a lay in bed, and after doing some essential housework, I set about replacing all the capacitors that were showing signs of distress. To help prolong the life of the new capacitors, and some of the existing capacitors, I have bridged them with surface mount ceramic capicitors. These bypass some of the high frequency ripple that tends to heat up electrolytic capacitors, and so shorten their lives. If I am lucky my server motherboard should be good for a few more years now.
I think that as an added security measure I am going to build a spare server that is ready to go when my current one dies for any reason. I found being "off the air" for over 24 hours was sort of unsettling. If not unsettling, then sort of weird, but the worse thing was sending out an email suggesting that someone look at my adventures in Sheerness page, and then having to send another email a few minutes later to say that my server had died, and the page won't be available until later (and of course I have to send out another email now to say it is available now (assuming I didn't miss anything in my repair job, and the server dies again in the next five minutes !).
Having rushed around all morning, albeit after getting up far later than is usual, I think I am going to have a sit down and do some reading. Once I have rested I will start on writing up all about my adventures in Rye, yesterday.
|Thursday 23rd July 2009|
I arrived home at roughly 5.45 pm after calling in at the grilled peri-peri chicken shop (very tasty). I am not so knackered as I was after my trip to Rye, but I am still very much looking forward to my bed very soon now. I've just spent the last hour, or so, making up a picture (and commentary) page with an overview of my day out today. You can see it here. It is helpful to click on the Google maps page link on that page (which should open in a new tab) to get a better idea of just how masochistic I have been today. From a simple A to B it was just a 4.8 mile walk, but add in the extra not shown on Google maps, and some of the other detours I made, plus the walking just in Catford, and I estimate I walked in excess of 6 miles, and maybe even 7 miles today.
I am now in a pub called The Playa (or The Beach - both names seem to apply). To get here I have walked all the way from Sheerness, and some more. I think the pub is 2.5 miles from Sheerness, and I walked at least another half mile beyond here, and back again. My feet are now a little sore, but otherwise I feel pretty good.
Just like at Rye there is a bus that can take me back to the station, but I may not get it. It all depends on the timing of the bus. Hopefully the bar staff will be able to advise me of the approximate time of the next bus.
The point I ultimately walked to is where the tarmac path ends, and the raw countryside starts. That was interesting, and I have taken several pictures of where the land meets the sea. In this case, literally so. It is high tide now, and the waves are almost lapping at the raw earth. It made paddling interesting. The shingle drops very sharply under the waves. Somewhere underneath the water is, I believe, a beach, but I had to paddle on shingle. My new canvas shoes proved to work very well for this, although I could have probably laced them a little tighter to stop too much sand getting inside them.
I would have liked to upload some of my photos now, but I seem to have forgotten a lead to connect my camera to the netbook. Maybe I'll upload them when I get home sometime tonight.
I arrived at Sittingbourne a lot earlier than my original travel plan, and in consequence I arrived at Sheerness On Sea a lot earlier too. It was about 11 am when I arrived dying for a fag, and slightly keen to have a pee. One of the first Things I discovered is that most pubs do not open until midday here. I asked one of the locals for advice, and he pointed mt to where I am now. It's a fairly dreadful pub called The Heart At Home (must recheck that name when I get outside -it sounds wrong). It is at the arse end of what I believe is the high street, and plays the most deadful music you can imagine (unless you are a chav). I decided not to even attempt the draught beer here, and I have opted for a pint of Hurliman lager. Once that is finished I'll bravely try the toilet, and then head to the beach.
I think something dreadful has happened to The formatting of the web page. I can't be bothered to correct it now. So it will just have to stay as it is - sorry ! (note: this only refers to my "today page")
I am now on a train heading towards Sittingbourne where I change for the service to Sheerness-On-Sea. So far, the broadband service from 3 seems to be holding up, but whether I can upload this remains a mystery until I push the publish button.....
The sky is a milky grey colour, but it is not raining, and it is rather cool outside. There is a possibility that when the sun gets a little higher in the sky it was start to "burn off" the more misty elements of the grey milky sky, and then there might be some sunshine. This theory of mine is quite similar to what I saw on a weather forecast last night. That forecast also suggested that there could be some scattered rain showers over the southeast of England at any time, and at any place. One animation of the weather I saw put a shower over The Isle of Sheppy during early afternoon, and that is when and where I might be today.
Yesterday remained dry, but by the afternoon there was very little sunshine left after the rather sunny start to the day. By the time 4 pm came around, and I started to make my way home from work, the sky was looking very sullen, and I thought there was a very good chance I would get a soaking on way. By the time I did get home I was quite damp, but it was not from rain, but from sweat. Maybe it was just me, but it felt very humid, and particularly so in Catford. I was just mildly moist when I got off the train at Catford bridge, but by the time I had got home, having detoured via the shoe shop, my brow was perspiring freely. Later on in the evening it did rain, but not very heavily, and there might have been more rain early in the night.
I decided to go home via the shoe shop to buy a new pair of shoes for walking in. I do have two pairs that are reasonably comfortable to walk in, but they are beginning to show signs of wear, andI thought I could do better. I wanted another pair of the cheap £9.99 shoes that initially were very comfortable to walk in. The problem with them is that with a lot of use the heel begins to sink. It does not appear to have one of those heel that consists of a lot of cavities, and that requires a sort of high density cardboard liner to give the impression of a smooth surface. In fact I don't know what is under the liner, but the whole area is still flat, but still sinking. This compares with another pair of shoes where I had to fill in the holes in the heel to stop my heels gathering a sort of honeycomb shape of indents as I walked along. Those shoes are now comfortable for short walks, such as going to work, but not much else.
The shoe shop had run out of the specific shoes in the size I wanted. So I settled for a similar, but not identical, style in black (I wanted white). Although very similar they are still an unknown quantity. I hope that if I do end up walking a long distance today they are as comfortable as the last pair when they were new.
While I was in the shoe shop I also bought a very cheap pair (£4.99) of lightweight canvas shoes. When I was in Rye I tried a pair of flip flops on the beach. On the sand they were OK, but less successful on the shingle, and quite slippery when in the water. I thought that some cheap canvas shoes might be a better idea for scrambling around the various surfaces of the shoreline today. Now I am not so sure that my choice was that good. The sort of shoes I had in mind, I think they are called deck shoes, have a soft rubber sole, but the ones I bought have a plastic sole. Not only that, but I am now thinking they look a bit weird. They look a bit long and almost pointy. I am not exactly sure what their intended purpose is, but my thoughts now are that they were designed more for style than substance (weird though that style is). Nevertheless, if I make it to the shoreline today, I will give them a go.
With 8 am fast approaching I am still not sure if I am going out today. I feel reasonably well after a fairly good nights sleep. It seemed too warm and humid in my bedroom to actually get into my bed last night, so I just lay on top of the duvet. I fell asleep easily like that, and quite early in the evening too. At a little after 2 am I woke up with my lower half of my body feeling quite cool, but my head still seemed hot. Rather than fighting these conflicting feelings of hot and cold I got up for something like 90 minutes, and spent some time on my computer. When I went back to bed my body had seemed to equalise and I got under the duvet, and soon fell asleep again. It was 6.30 am when I woke up again, and for me that represents a lie in. I certainly feel less creaky than I did yesterday morning, and that is a plus point to add into the mysterious equation that holds the secret as to whether I do go out today. Another plus point is that my guts feel far less volatile than they did yesterday morning.
There are a few unknown variables in this fictious equation, and even I don't know what all of them are. The big "X" variable is, of course, the weather. I don't want to go out with my coat on because it will be too uncomfortably warm, and there will be no room for it in my back pack when that is stuffed with all the junk I intend to take (towel, canvas shoes, laptop with assorted dongles, a couple of apples for lunch, and a bottle of water). Perhaps the worst bit is that my enthusiam seems to be waning a bit when I consider one alternative to going out on a long expedition. That one alternative is a session in the pub, and a takeaway afterwards. It seems I now have one hour to make my final decision. If I do go out I will try and update this page while on the move (but probably only the "today" version of this page - I'll only copy-n-paste any updates into my July page when I am home again).
|Wednesday 22nd July 2009|
This morning is far, far better than yesterday morning. Instead of dark skies and rain there is plenty of blue in the sky, and it is even mostly sunny. Apparently the clouds will thicken during the day, but if I am lucky the forecast showers for late afternoon will happen after I am safely at home again. It is fairly ild this morning, but occasionally there is a rather cool feeling strong breeze. If the sun manages to stay out for a few hours this morning it could get quite warm this afternoon.
Yesterday was actually fairly warm, although the grey skies, and showers, gave the impression that it would be cold outside. I found some of the light showers during the early afternoon felt almost warm. On the basis of that I didn't bother to put my coat on when I went home. The rain was definitely wet, but it wasn't overly uncomfortable until I was within sight of my house. By that time the rain ad got a little heavier, and I was starting to get quite wet.
It may be that getting wet last night was not a good thing. I think some bits of me feel a bit creakier than they did yesterday morning. Some bits of my upper torso, and upper arms, as well as my neck, are close to being painful than just uncomfortable. The lower half of my body, from the hips downwards I suppose, feels just sort of stiff. All this was particularly bad when I first woke up, but as usual things eased up once I started off to come to work. Even so, the walk from Earlsfield station did feel like harder work than usual. I would say that it took a lot of will power just to put one foot in front of the other, but of course that is nonsense. Nevertheless, given the chance, I would have liked to sat down for a rest.
All this does not bode well for my (very loosely) planned day out tomorrow. However, if the sun is shining, and if my guts seem less volatile than they were this morning, I may still be up to going out to The Isle Of Sheppy for a quick beer before coming home again. One thing in my favour tomorrow is that once I have got up at some ridiculous time in the morning to feed Smudge, and let her out into the garden, I can go back to bed again. Some of my ill feeling this morning is due to lack of beauty sleep (or swine 'flu !). I awoke at 4 am this morning after a wild night of dreaming, and although I could have tried for another hours sleep, I decided I may as well just get up. Tomorrow I could try for another three hours sleep, and that would be well worthwhile. In fact if I decide I am not going out I could spend most of the morning in bed. The idea of that sounds attractive at first, but in fact it would probably just make my back ache even more, and lessen my chances of a day out on Friday.
I hope at least one of these days out happens. I have three mobile broadband dongles to try out while I am on the move, and I am curious to see what works where. Some say that 3's network works better away from London, but that may just because it is bad at their home area, and better at a few select locations they regularly visit. So far all I can say is that O2 had very bad coverage in the Rye Harbour area. Of course that is so remote that I doubt any operator covers it with anything like a useful signal.
One thing I will be doing tomorrow, assuming I go out, is to try and write some stuff here while out. Initially I will only add any updates to my "today.html" page. Once I have finished all I write tomorrow, I will cut-n-paste it into the page for the month of July 2009. Instead of writing up plain text snippets like I did on my day out to Rye, I am going to use to write my stuff, and to make my life a bit easier when swapping mobile broadband dongles around, I am going to fall back on using Windows instead of Linux. If at some point in the future I decide to put all my eggs in one basket, and just use one single network provider, I will be able to optimise my Linux Mint 7 installation to work 100% reliably with the single dongle (if I thought swapping SIM cards around was a good idea I could have just stuck with the O2 dongle that is unlocked, and can take any SIM card). One think I must remember to do tonight is to install Paint Shop Pro (or The Gimp) on my netbook so I can edit any pictures I might upload to this page tomorrow. Of course al these wide eyed plans assume I am going to have some sort of access to the internet while I am out. My limited experience so far actually suggests otherwise, but we live in hope !
|Tuesday 21st July 2009|
| 08:40 BST
It's a terrible dark and gloomy morning. Worst of all was that I got rained on when walking from home to the station this morning. There seems little prospect of any sunshine today, but maybe it won't rain too much, and maybe I will be able to leave my coat in my back pack when I go home after work. The other aspect of the weather right now, and it may get worse later today, is that it seems a bit clammy outside. I felt quite sticky as I walked to Catford Bridge station with my coat on, and it was a relief when I was on the train to take my coat off and stuff it in my back pack. For the rest of my journey to work my coat was off and my shirtsleeves rolled up. I don't think the heating was on, on the train to Earlsfield, and I think I felt reasonably comfortable on the train, but by the time I was back out on the road I felt almost sticky (but in a clammy sort of way). If it is like that when I go home again it could make for a quite unpleasant journey, and more unpleasant still if rain forces me back into my coat.
Last night I did not go home from work directly. It seemed warm and dry outside, and there was even some occasional sunshine. So I got off the train at Ladywell and walked down to the Fox And Firkin to meet Iain for a couple of weak beers. It is good that they have discovered real beer, served from handpumps, in The Fox And Firkin, but I am not convinced they really know how to keep it in pristine condition. I had a pint of Fullers London Pride, and a pint of Fullers Summer Pride. Both were ok, but only ok in lower case. I suspect the problem is that their cellar is a couple of degrees too warm. Good ale is never served chilled, and many recommend it is served at room temperature, but I would say that is room temperature on a cold day, and not on a hot day.
After drinking two pints we left the pub and walked back to Catford through Ladywell park. I was heading for home, and Iain for The Ram for another pint or two. It was very pleasant in the park. The earlier damp weather had (probably) kept some of the noisy and boisterous kids away, and it was mostly quiet and peaceful in there. It was also probably the perfect temperature for walking in the park. Quite what that temperature in degrees was I have no idea, but it was warm enough for perfect comfort in just shirt sleeves, and cool enough that you could (but we didn't) do any kind of mild exertion like walking very fast without breaking into a sweat. The highlight of the walk was seeing a parrot roosting in a tree. I have seen (and heard !) parrots in the park for maybe the lasy five years, but never before have I managed to get a good look at one. Every previous time they have been in flight, or just obscured by the foliage. Yesterday I managed to get a good look at one (albeit 30 ft up in a tree). After having a good look I can't really add anything to any previous description I might have made of them. My best description is that they have two wings, port and starboard, and that they are green..........
It is unlikely that I will be going for a drink tonight unless by some miracle the skies clear, and the sun shines at around 5 pm today. That seems so unlikely that I cannot believe it will happen. This recent weather could pour cold water (literally) on some future plans I am incubating. I am on holiday again on Thursday and Friday, and I want another day, and maybe two days, out somewhere like I did a couple of weeks back when I went to Rye. It is possible that on Friday I will go back to Rye travelling with Iain this time, and maybe Ivor will meet us for a drink in one of the local pubs (Ivor only lives 18 miles away through quiet country roads from Rye Harbour).
On Thursday I am thinking about going to The Isle Of Sheppy, and in particular, Sheerness On sea. There are many pros and cons to this. Fortunately my research has already disproved one of Iain's negative comments. He reckoned there was only one pub in Sheerness, and that it was an awful place. In fact there are at least 6 pubs, and at least one of them (I forget which) seems to have quite good reviews. Another very negative thing is that The Isle Of Sheppy is slowly sinking under the weight of caravans, and the chavs, pikey's, and other rif raf who use them (with a few notable exceptions mainly living in the Bexleyheath sort of area). I did consider going further than Sheerness by taking the bus to Leysdown. After searching Google Maps satellite images to see if I could work out where I spent my last long holiday in a caravan in Leysdown I quickly gave up on the idea. I am no expert at study satellite images, but as far as I can make out the entire old town has been flattened for more caravan parks. When I was there last, in 1967, I am sure there was only one, or maybe two caravan parks, and I am sure I could have foound exactly where we stayed, but no longer. You just can't see the wood for the trees (or caravans for the caravan parks).
There is one more negative about going to Sheerness, although it could apply to many places. It's now the school summer holidays, and there is a good chance that there will be large families sprawled about in untidy heaps everywhere, and I don't fancy going for a pint in a pub full of noisy puking kids ! However there are a few plus points for Sheerness. It is reasonably quick and cheap to get there, and there is a long coastal road that runs out of Sheerness, and it looks as if it runs alongside some interesting coast with rocky outcrops. It should be quieter a mile, or so, along that road, and it could make for an interesting walk.
Both Thursday and Friday depend on two things. The first is that I actually feel like going out, and that will be an unknown variable until the actual morning. The second, and even more variable, is the state of the weather. On Friday we could change plans to accomodate anything except stormy weather (when I refuse to even get up in the morning). Maybe we meet up for drink with Ivor inland instead of on the coast, or maybe we will just have some beers in Catford. It all depends............
|Monday 20th July 2009|
| 08:16 BST
Apart from starting rather cool, this morning is a lot better than I expected. It is bright and sunny, and starting to warm up. As I was walking towards Catford Bridge station it appeared as if the whole of the southern sky was blue. There were more aicraft vapour trails than clouds. Some forecasts suggest that today will be dry with sunny intervals. I hope thos sunny intervals last as long as the one I am enjoying now. Tomorrow may bring back doom and gloom. The one forecast I have seen for tomorrow was in this mornings Metro newspaper, and it consisted of little more than a thundery looking black cloud sitting over London. Since they stopped doing a local forecast for London their big weather map is very vague, and quite often wildly innacurate. I must remember to bring some seaweed home when I next visit the seaside, and see if that is any more accurate.
I did sort of go to bed at 7.30 pm last night, but I spent at least an hour reading in bed. After I had finished reading I did get up and do some work - I made a repair to my bed. It must have been ages ago when a couple of springs broke in my mattress, and I will eventually replace it, but for now I make dubious repairs to it. Over the last week, or so, I have become worried about one of the broken springs piercing through the top of the mattress, and impaling me on cold steel. Last night that threat seemed closer than ever, and it was time to act. I had cut a hole in the mattress some time ago for a similar repair, and then sealed it up again with duct tape. To my surprise that seal was still in good order. I tore off the duct tape and groped around inside. There was a very sharp piece of broken spring very close to the top, and a good twist with a pair of pliers snapped it off deep inside the mattress where it should do no harm.
A rather crap picture of the broken bit of spring that I extracted
With the broken spring removed I stuffed the cavity with chunks of foam rubber that I had saved from some hard disk packaging, and then resealed the hole with fresh duct tape. It felt a lot better when I lay down, and I expected that I would get a good nights sleep.
In fact I didn't sleep all that well, and it had nothing to do with my repaired mattress. Too much lying down, and generally slouching around had conspired to give me bad back and neck ache. Initially I fell asleep without and great discomfort, but I woke up at 3 am in almost (but not quite) agony. I found that if I lay on my side my back was OK but my neck hurt, and if I lay on my back my back hurt but my neck was OK. Lying on my left side seemed the most comfortable position I could find, and I did manage another hour of rather fitful sleep. By about 4.30 am, or maybe before that, I could stand it no more and had to get up. The cure for all this pain and discomfort was, as usual, to come to work. A bit of walking around does seem to be the best thing to straighten my back out, although my neck seems to be a little stiff still. Even that will wear off as the day passes.
One picture I have been meaning to display here for ages is this.......
I doubt the significance of what this display shows is obvious to anybody so I will explain. First of all it is a customer information screen shared between platforms B and C at Waterloo East station. The last entry on it, "1629 Hayes Kent", is the train I normally get to go home after work. Sometime in the last few months some renegade has decided that Beckenham is more important that Catford. Historically the display would say "via Catford Bridge", but now it says "via New Beckenham". Lesser evils than this have caused revolutions and even wars. Even now the good people of Catford are gathering arms to rise up and fight this terrible thing (or would be if any of them had noticed the change !).
|Sunday 19th July 2009|
| 17:21 BST
Just like yesterday, today has seen a mixture of sunshine, grey skies, and an occasional shower. It's not been as good as I might have hoped for, but it is possibly better than the last forecast I saw for today.
Like most Sundays it has been a rather uninspiring day. One of the first things I did this morning was to call the T-Mobile helpline. Their system was partly down, but after a bit they did manage to help me. As far as I can tell, when you register with T-Mobile, so you can top up your airtime credit by credit card, it allocates you a pin number, but doesn't actually tell you what it is. I was fobbed off with some excuse that this was primarily for corporate customers, but why I was allocated one, and how the corporate customers find out what their pin number is remains a complete mystery to me. Anyway, the nice lady at the other end of the phone line set my account to no pin number, and I was able to log in and register my credit card for online top-ups.
Nowhere on the "fabulous" T-Mobile website (designed by salesmen who can't quite seem to imagine that users may require information beyond what phone has what features) could I find just how my top-ups would be used. At least nowhere that seemed a sensible place to me. Eventually I found an obscure sentence somewhere that my account was preset to the £2 for a days worth of airtime, and that I could change that to use by the week or by the month. That helped a little bit, but for the rest I am going to have to take a guess how it works. I think that while my account is in credit by more than £2 I get automatically charged for a days usage every day I try to connect to the internet. So if I am just curious about if a place has decent reception, but maybe don't want to use their service on that day I still get £2 lopped off my credit. I topped up my credit with £5 today, and used my first £2 while experimenting. So I have £3.02 left in my account (I don't know where the 2p came from either !). I had better make sure that I really do want to use T-Mobile's mobile broadband next time I plug in my dongle !
One other dongle related thing I finished this morning, was to get both my 3 and T-Mobile dongles to (almost) reliably work when I am running Linux Mint 7. Unfortunately something I have done to get this to work, and I have no idea what, has made my O2 dongle not work. When I plug it in I see it appear in the network manager, and it's light changes from red to blue, which indicates it is online (or capable of being so). So I click on connect, and the little network manager icon does it's little twinkle on the task bar. Just as it seems about to connect I get a message flashed up to say it is now disconnected ! It is quite annoying that it is looking simpler to use these dongles when booting into Windows XP. Maybe, if I keep my fingers crossed, there will be a new version of Network Manager for Linux available soon, or better still, Wicd, which I think is a far better network managing application, will finally incorporate support for GSM dongles.
Other stuff I have done today includes doing about 4 days worth of washing up, and some laundry. Apart from that I have finished reading a book, and watched some TV. There is one other rather special thing I have done this afternoon, and that was to really piss of Smudge by putting some flea drops on the back of her neck. She now looks at me, from a great distance, as if I want to murder her. I am currently trying to bribe myself back into her good books by treating her to some tuna fish. Even though she is now gorging on tuna, her ears are following every movement I make like radar dishes, and she is poised to leap out the window at the first sign of any funny business !
One problem of writing this late in the day is that my "one click" web page called "today" will only have this writing on it for a short time. It's back to work tomorrow, and I'll be writing something trite about the weather in just over 14 hours time. There won't be much else to write about because I doubt I'll be doing anything to write about for the rest of today. In fact I think I will be having an extra early night, tonight. It is quite possible that I will be in bed at around 7.30 pm tonight, although that depends on no distractions, and probably finding something to read in bed for 30 minutes or so.
|Saturday 18th July 2009|
| 19:46 BST
Most of today has been dry, and there have been some reasonable spells of sunshine. This evening the clouds have got thicker, and there a shower of rain about an hour ago. From the look of the sky there is still more rain to come.
Yesterday morning did get quite wet, but there were some sunny spells in the afternoon. I had half expected to get quite wet going home from work, and because of that I cancelled the idea of meeting up with Iain for a couple of pints after work. When the time came it was in fact dry, and my fears of getting drowned walking to and from the pub were ungrounded.
I did have an ulterior motive for not wanting to go to the pub. By itself it would not have stopped me, but in combination with the expected weather it was more than enough. That reason was that I had to get up early this morning to collect a parcel from the sorting office before shopping in Tesco, and preparing for a visit by Aleemah.
The parcel I was picking up was my latest USB mobile internet dongle from T-Mobile. I had very little time to play with it in between doing my housework, but enough time to be disappointed that it was another ZTE made dongle, and tricky to use when running Linux on my netbook.
After Aleemah left to go home I sat down and had a good play with the T-Mobile dongle. After a lot of mucking around, installing new software, and editing configuration files I did finally manage to connect to it, and possibly to the internet as well. It was all rather flaky so I rebooted to Windows and tried it again. It was not surprising that things were flaky - the T-Mobile signal is diabolical here ! Even when I was apparently connected I still could not acccess any web pages. Both O2 and 3 automatically divert you to one of their local pages, and give you the opportunity to buy airtime. I would have thought that T-Mobile would do the same, but I couldn't even do that. The instructions that came with the device are vague to the point of ridiculous. All the paperwork refers to buying minutes of talk time, and says nothing about buying internet time by the day, week, or month, as I believe it is sold by. Maybe if I use the swipe card that came with it to buy £5 of talk time it will allow me to convert that to credit for internet time. That is how 3 works, but they only sell internet time by the month.
The next bizzare thing is when I try to log on to the T-Mobile website from my normal broadband connection. Having registered my card, and set up an account, it then asks for a PIN number. I tried the one that came with my new sim card, but that was rejected, and as far as I know it is the only PIN number I have. This is all a bit weird !
One positive outcome of all the mucking around I did to get the T-Mobile dongle to work when using Linux is that the 3 dongle now works too. They are similar devices, the 3 is a ZTE MF628, and the T-Mobile is a ZTE MF626, and my configuration seems valid for both.
Despite my intentions of getting to bed early last night it was still a bit late when I finally went to sleep. I do feel rather tired now, but I think I am going to give the T-Mobile web site one more chance before I go to bed. Assuming I don't have any major breakthroughs tonight I take my swipe card to the corner shop and put £5 on it, and see if anthing changes.
|Friday 17th July 2009|
| 08:32 BST
The weather this morning is highly unsettled. When I first woke, as dawn was just breaking, it looked as if the sky was nearly clear. A little while later and it was quite cloudy. As I left for work the sun was shining, although only for five seconds. As I walked to the station it didn't feel too cool, and if anything it felt a bit humid. Later on, as my train approached Waterloo, the sky became very dark, but it didn't seem to rain. As I write this there are a few tiny blue holes visible amongst the clouds. Should the sun find one of these there will be some sunshine, but there is a bigger chance that we will get some rain today. Some of that rain might be very heavy, and there could even be some thunder and lightning.
There was thunder and lightning last night, but it was of the modern "global warming type". As I lay in bed with both my eyes and the curtains closed, I almost had my retinas burnt out by a flash that would put a Supernova to shame. I waited trembling for the gigantic clap of thunder that was sure to follow, and within a second or two came a sort of hollow "phut". Maybe ten minutes after that I was just in the half way state between awake and sleeping when I was jarred fully awake by the sound of a nuclear weapon going off in my back garden. My brain was rattled in my skull, and as the boom echoed around I was sure that my windows would shatter as they vibrated in their frame. I am convinced that this Hiroshima of a thunderclap was not accompanied/preceeded by the traditional flash of light.
There is a possible explanation to these particular storm events that does not involve global warming. I think there is a possibility that there is a freak wormhole in space and time lurking in the near vicinity of my garden. It's obvious that the searing flash of lightning I saw was associated with the brain jellifying clap of thunder I heard some ten minutes later, but one had got caught in the wormhole and was travlled in time. There is further evidence to support this idea of the freak wormhole. Earlier in the evening, while I was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom at the back of the house, I could hear music coming from somwhere beyond my own back garden. This would not be an unsual thing except this music was the sort of thing you tend to hear in this day and age, or indeed in Catford, or even London. In fact not in England at all apart from late night night, black and white arty type films used to fill up otherwise empty TV programming schedules. It was French pop/film music from the late fifties, or early sixties. It wasn't just one song, but as far as I could gather, it was most likely a whole album being played by someone, somewhere, and somewhen.
I have made a little addition to my web pages. It is possible you are reading this on the page called "today". This page is available by a single click from my home page, and just contains the last thing I have written here (or there if you are reading this on the page called today).
|Thursday 16th July 2009|
| 08:10 BST
I think it is the calm before the storm today. This morning has started off fine. There have been some clouds in the sky, but I can see a lot of blue outside my window as I write this. It is possible that there could be a shower or two later, but I think (hope) it will probably stay dry today, and there should be a fair amount of sunshine. Tomorrow could be a different story ! One weather forecast suggests that tomorrow will be very wet and stormy. I am not looking forward to that !
It was definitely dry when I went home from work yesterday, and I think that it was often sunny too. I don't know why I can't remember a bit more about whether it was sunny or not. I guess it was because it was all rather neutral. If it had been pouring with rain, or if the sun was beating down like an angry blast furnace, I would have registered these details. I can only conclude that my commute home last night was done in optimum comfort. The trains weren't too crowded, late, or too smelly (SouthEastern "Networker" trains are almost always slightly smelly for one reason or another). It wasn't too hot, or too cold, and it wasn't too dark, or too bright. In short it was the best I can hope to expect on a journey that only circumstances forces me to do.
I didn't do too much last night. In fact I had an early night. One thing I did do was to have another play with my "3" mobile broadband dongle. I just cannot persuade it to work while running Linux Mint 7. I had a few ideas, but after a long internet search I found that my experiences were far from unique. It appears that older Linux distributions, using an older kernel, can use the software that comes on the USB dongle, but that more recent kernels can't. Linpus, the operating system originally installed on my Acer Aspire One 150, does use an older kernel, and when running that the 3 software does work, but as a rule I prefer to use Linux Mint 7.
I think I have already mentioned that I can use the 3 sim card in my O2 dongle, and that works perfectly while running Linux Mint 7. As a workaround it is OK, but even though it is easy to do, I don't like swapping sim cards around. So I have had another cunning plan. It may be that I am just a little mad, obsessed, or just plain weird, but yesterday I ordered a third USB mobile broadband dongle. This one was from T-Mobile, and like the O2 dongle, I am able to pay just for the day (or week, or month) that I actually need to use it. I hope that the T-Mobile dongle will be compatible with Linux, although of course they never even mention Linux in their marketting blurb.
Now I think of it, I have a better excuse for buying my third dongle. It is called backup redundancy, and it's what all professionals should aim for (no matter how mad, obsessed, or just plain weird they are !!!). If I were to get a Vodafone, and Orange dongle (or just sim cards) I would have access to every single network provider in the country, and no matter where I was, if any of those companies managed to provide a receiveable signal I would have internet access. Now that is mad !
Tonight I think I know exactly what I am doing. I am going home via Tesco to buy cat food, Diet Coke, New Scientist, and most probably some sort of food that I probably shouldn't be eating, but suitable for eating while sitting in an easy chair reading New Scientist. Hopefully there will be one distraction to eating and reading, and that should be, unless T-Mobile are lying or over optimistic about their delivery times, playing with my new T-Mobile dongle.
|Wednesday 15th July 2009|
| 08:25 BST
The flavour of this morning's weather is "short, sharp showers" - as the weather forecasters like to describe them. Fortunately I managed to dodge them all apart from a few drops blown under the canopy as I walked along the platform at Waterloo East station. Most of the sky is thick with clouds, but there are tiny gaps in the clouds where little patches of bright blue are peeping through. Just a few hundred feet above my head it is a bright sunny summer morning ! Apparently the clouds will break up as the day progresses, and with luck it will be bright and dry when I make my way home from work.
Last night I did not go home directly from work. During my lunch break I had a call from Patricia suggesting we meet up after work (I think you may have read what I wrote yesterday Patricia). It was fairly warm and dry, with occasional spells of sunshine, as I made my way back towards home after work. I had arranged to meet Patricia in Lewisham, and so I got off the train at Lewisham station and took a "scenic" walk to the Lewisham Wetherspoons pub.
My "scenic" walk to the pub was actually a small detour through the shopping centre to look at all the mobile phone company shops. I hadn't realised it before that there are shops for O2, Orange, 3, T-Mobile, and Vodaphone all within a few hundred yards of each other. I was curious to see if the prices in the shops, and in particular the T-Mobile shop, of USB mobile broadband dongles, were in any way related to the prices charged on the internet. I never did find out. The shops were just packed with thick chavs and hoodies (as you would expect) and no place for the innocent to enter. Should I ever want anything from one of those shops in the future, I think I would be inclined to get there as they are opening in the morning. Most of the scum who dribble and slobber over the shiny toys will probably still be in bed then. Of course there is still the problem of the shop assistants who often seem to have an IQ not significantly higher than the yobs who endlessly browse these shops.
After my little amble around the shops I met Patricia in the pub, and we had a couple of beers together. When we left the pub I felt a rain drop or two, but decided it was nothing significant, and that it would be healthier (or more masochistic) to walk home. After 5 to 10 minutes of walking the rain seemed as if it could get heavier than the intermittent drops that were falling on me. I was approaching the Fox And Firkin pub at that point, and I remembered that Iain said he often called in there in preference to the London And Rye in Catford. So I gave hime a call, and indeed he was in there. Within a minute or two, so was I !
The Fox And Firkin, in it's early days, with the micro-brewery at the back, was a very good pub. Once David Bruce, who started, and owned, the "Firkin" pubs sold them off many started to go downhill. The Fox and Firkin actually plummeted. I put it on my blacklist 4 or 5 years ago when all it's handpumps, and any pretence at serving ale, disappeared. Since then it has undergone a change of management, and the hand pumps are back selling a fair range of beers, and the whole ambience of the pub is more friendly and pub-like.
I only had one pint of Fuller's Summer Ale in there, but in the course of chatting with Iain he volunteered to accompany me on my next day out. For which I am gratefull, but slightly worried it could be more boozefest than healthy and invigorating day out with. I do seem to be almost enjoying all this healthy and invigorating stuff because after we left the pub I continued to walk home. I think that the walk from Lewisham station is not that much less than the walk from the station to Rye Harbour in numerical terms. In Lewsisham I knew exactly where I was going, and I did do it in easy stages. That walk was absolutely effortless compared to the slog to Rye Harbour under a blazing hot sun.
|Tuesday 14th July 2009|
| 08:27 BST
Last night's weather forecast got at least part of it right. It was said that those who were up early this morning would see some sunshine, and this was the case. Since about 6 am the sun has been replaced by cloud. The cloud was patchy at first, but as the hours pass it looks to be getting heavier. Maybe today will be one day when I get drowned going home from work.
I stayed dry going home last night. In fact it was a nice bright evening, and for a while I had several windows open around the house lettting in some nice fresh air. Had Patricia called round last night she would have found the house smelling nice and fresh. Unfortunately she didn't call round, and I didn't even hear from her. Maybe she will text or phone today to arrange another time for a visit, but I doubt it even though half the purpose of last night's non visit was to fix a problem with her laptop.
Instead of playing with Patricia's laptop last night, I played with mine, and specifically with a new mobile broadband dongle. After my disappointment with patchy coverage by O2 mobile broadband I thought it might be worthwhile having another iron in the fire. So I bought a "3" mobile broadband dongle. It was cheaper than the O2 one, but the pay-as-you-go scheme was not so handy. 3 only seem to sell mobile broadband by the month, although their cheapest tariff is £10 for 1 GB (or something) - O2's most useful tariff is £2 for a single day, and that is better value for me when I am only likely to need the odd day here and there (and more often than not it's only because I can rather then it being essential).
The 3 dongle is different to the O2 dongle, but still shares the idea of it appearing as a virtual CD when first plugged in, and the connection software (installed from that virtual CD) switching the device over to a modem when called to do so. I first tried it with my netbook running Linux Mint 7. That didn't work so I rebooted to Windows XP and installed the software from the virtual CD. That worked OK, and I bought £10 worth of airtime. While looking at the virtual CD I noticed that there was an installer for Linux on there, and made a copy of it.
Next I rebooted back to Linux Mint 7 and tried to install that software. It did install OK and gave me a "3" connection application. Unfortunately it still would not work. I have a theory that the software that automatically switches over my O2 dongle was doing the same to my 3 dongle, and that the 3 connection software was fighting with it, and ultimately getting nowhere ! I did find a workaround though. My O2 dongle is not locked to O2 and it worked quite happily with the 3 sim card in it. The connection speed using 3's network may have been a tad faster at home, but overall they are pretty similar.
This morning I tried to connect to 3 at Waterloo Station, and here at work. The signal strength seemed reasonable, but the data rate was almost non-existent. At Waterloo I just about got up the Google home page, but nothing else, and here at work I didn't even get that. It is possible that 3 is having some sort of network problems, or it is just a crap service. I'll oviously be trying it later, and probably quite frequently, and I may have more to say on the subject tomorrow.
|Monday 13th July 2009|
| 08:37 BST
It doesn't feel right for a mid-July morning ! It should be warm and sunny, but instead it was rather cool overnight, and although there has been some sunshine this morning, it is mostly overcast. There might, or might not be, some rain later today, and it might, or might not be, very heavy.
There were a few showers yesterday, but nothing too bad, and there were times when the sun was shining. So overall, a very average late spring/early autumn day. It's just a shame that it is supposed to be summer. Then again, perhaps I am being too optimistic, and the weather is just typical for an English summer !
I had a mostly lazy day yesterday, but I did do some housework as I suggested I might. All the washing up got done, and the work surface adjacent to the kitchen sink cleared and cleaned. I did a couple of loads in the washing machine, and I gave the toilet and bathroom washbasin a bit of a scrub. What I didn't do, and what was probably more important than a few days worth of washing up, was any hoovering. I don't know why I dislike hoovering so much. In theory it is good because I do like to see the results of my own handiwork, but somehow hoovering just doesn't do it for me.
I made a fairly good attempt at moderating my food intake yesterday. The weekend is always a dangerous time for overeating when I am bored. Yesterday I thought I might have been doing well - for a Sunday ! I did have two main meals instead of the one I would normally have on a work day. One meal was some marinated chicken breast burger with sweetcorn. That seemed to be fairly low fat. The second meal was cod and beansprout stew. That latter meal was in the class of recipes that I use when I am doing some serious dieting. Combined with the chicken burgers and swet corn I still wasn't doing too bad, but what really messed things up was the amount of marmite on oat crackers I had between meals. Individually they would probably be fine, but I think I had rather a lot. My blood glucose level (which, unusually for a Monday morning, I dared to measure) did show that I had consumed more than I thought, although the large Bacardi and Diet Coke I had as a nightcap may have had more than a little bearing on the measurement.
Today it's possible I may eat more lightly, but there are two dangers lurking. The first is that I ought to pop into Tesco on my way home and buy some more catfood. Going into Tesco is always dangerous. The second danger, and one that will be increased by the first, is that I will be disappointed if Patricia doesn't come round after work as she said she (probably) would. Actually, I doubt she will come. I don't think I have actually seen her since I accompanied her to the dentist in May (or was it early June ?). It seems weird that a lack of a visitor should make me eat more, but that's just life (or the way I seem to live it).
|Sunday 12th July 2009|
| 11:19 BST
The sun is shining, but there is still a lot of cloud in the sky. At any moment the sun may go back in again, but the cloud is reasonably broken, and it will probably not be long until it shines again. There was a fair amount of rain yesterday, and it continued through the night. I think it finally stopped soon after 4 am. Despite the scarcity of sunshine yesterday, and the intermittent sunshine today, it is going to be warm at around 24° C by this afternoon. Tomorrow should see similar temperatures, but apparently there is a greater chance of rain.
I didn't see Aleemah yesterday as planned. I woke up feeling quite rough. I think it may have been something to do with the beer and very large takeaway I had on Friday night.............
I was a bit enthusiastic (or maybe undecided about what I really wanted) when I ordered that takeaway, and on top of that they got the order wrong when I placed the order. It did have it's compensations though. I had cold takeaway for breakfast and lunch yesterday !
Apart from reading New Scientist, and doing some intense resting, I did very little yesterday. One thing I did do which was interesting, but ultimately useless, was to install Apple OSX onto an external USB hard disk connected to my Acer Aspire One 150. After a few previous attempts this one worked reasonably well. In fact there were only two unresolved problems with it. These were the WiFi not working, and the screen resolution was incorrect (but still very useable). Like a lot of my computer experimentation, this was just another challenge/intellectual exercise. Having proved it can be done I will have to think of some other stupid thing to do on that little netbook.
Today I have no plans. I am currently passing a little time by ripping a few CDs onto my big laptop for some future entertainment purposes, but I am getting bored now having ripped just 4 CDs. Maybe it's time I did some housework. This would not be a bad idea. I think Patricia is popping around after work tomorrow, and I should make some attempt to get the living room half decent. At the moment the floor is covered with power bricks where I have been powering up two laptops, two external hard drives, an external DVD burner, and charging my mobile phone. Add to that all the USB leads and the floor looks like a vipers nest !
|Friday 10th July 2009|
| 08:30 BST
This morning is even better than yesterday morning. The sun was shining before I left home to come to work, and it is still shining now. Apparently, today will be fairly good, but it's only a brief respite from the previous wet weather. The weather forecasters assure us that the weekend will be overcast and wet. So I'll try my best to enjoy the sunshine while it lasts today.
Yesterday afternoon remained fine, and my journey home from work was reasonably pleasant. My idea of going for a beer after work didn't seem like a good idea after all, and once I got home home, having detoured via my doctors to pick up a prescription, and then into the pharmacy to get my drugs, I stayed in. I passed some time playing about with some dubious software to do an experimental installation of an operating system onto an external USB hard drive plugged into my Aspire 1 netbook. I did have some success, but with no sound, and no network connection, it was not a big success. I may continue that experiment sometime over the weekend.
Tonight it seems certain that I will be going for a beer. It will be a briefer drink than I imagined because I will not have to stay late at the pub to have a few pints with Kevin. He is away on holiday this afternoon, and so it will just be me and Iain having a couple of pints tonight.
|Thursday 9th July 2009|
| 08:34 BST
It was dry overnight, and as I left home to come to work I could see a lot of blue sky to the south. Unfortunately the sun was hidden behind some clouds that lay on the eastern horizon. By the time I got to Clapham Junction, one stop before Earlsfield, the sun had found away through the clouds, and the rest of my journey into work was done in sunshine. It is still sunny even now, and I can't see a single cloud in the limited patch of sky I can see through the window here. This is rather better than forecast, but things can change rapidly, and more cloud, and even some rain, might be possible, if not probable, at any time during the day.
When I left work last night I put my coat on. It wasn't raining as far as I can recal, but rain did seem very likely. There was one other reason for putting my coat on. I thought it was rather cool outside. Maybe it was initially, or maybe it was because I was still not feeling too good, and wondered if I was going down with some illness (It would have to be swine 'flu !). After walking for a few minutes I realised it was not that cool outside, and by the time I had got to the station, and gone up the stairs to the platform, I felt quite hot and sticky. Once I got on the train I stuffed my coat into my bag. Once I was at home I decided to measure my temperature. As usual it was low at 36.4° C. So despite feeling quite bad I was actually perfectly healthy.
This morning I feel better than yesterday morning, but I still feel off colour. I slept better last night thanks to a very large pink gin and tonic shortly before I went to bed, and that better sleep has probably helped a lot. I don't think I ache so much now, but I do still feel a little stiff and creaky. Walking from the station to work in the bright sunshine should have been pleasant, but it didn't. I felt as if I just couldn't pick up the pace as I walked. It's hard to explain that exactly. It wasn't painful, nor was it exhausting to try and swing my legs faster, but I just didn't feel like doing it. Well, maybe in some ways it was painful. I am not wearing my best walking shoes and my feet felt a bit heavy. Come to think of it, "heavy" is a good way to describe how my legs felt.
I am in two minds about what to do tonight. I have to go out again when I get home to pick up a prescription, and take it to the pharmacy. I could go for a quick drink after that, or maybe I won't feel like it. Yesterday I had contemplated seeing if anyone was around for an early pint in the pub, but by late afternoon I had decided against it. I really just wanted to go home and put my feet up. Perhaps I'll feel the same way tonight, or perhaps I will be ultra keen for a few pints. Who can tell at this end of the day !
|Wednesday 8th July 2009|
| 08:13 BST
My luck ran out yesterday, and this morning continued the run of bad luck. It was raining when I walked from work to the station last night. Then the rain in my personal space stopped until after I was in my local corner shop. I had just been served when the rain started, and as I walked the couple of hundred years back home I was engulfed in a torrential downpour. I arrived home saturated, but I was due to change out of my work clothes into more casual attire once I got back home, and I was soon feeling warm and dry again. For the next hour or so, thunder and lightning crashed around the sky, and the rain fell in buckets. It was all over and quiet after that, and all was peace and quiet when I later went to bed.
This morning the rain started again. Maybe there was more rain during the night, but I was not aware of it. My walk to the station was a bit soggy, but the rain was light, and I didn't get thoroughly soaked. This morning I most definitely wore my coat to work for the first time in a long time (a good several weeks at least). I did put my coat on yesterday as I walked from work to the station, but it was still quite warm and humid last night, and I took my coat off once I was on the train, and didn't need it again. There was no significant rain while I walked from the station to work this morning, but I have a funny feeling there will be plenty of showers during the course of today. It would be nice if they could hold off for about 15 minutes just before 4 pm (when I leave work to go home).
It's probably just the damp gloomy weather, but I do feel quite rough this morning. As seems to be quite usual, now I am at work, and some time has passed, I am beginning to feel better (but not best). I felt tired, stiff, and aching when I first woke up, and although all these feeling have substantially lessened since then, they are all still there to a certain extent. My legs feel a bit stiff and achey, but I can easily attribute that to the cool wet weather. The headachey feeling is less easy to explain, and the mystery internal pain the pops up now and then, about 3 inches north-west of my belly button, is most probably some, as yet, unidentified organ on the point of failure, about to explode, or implode. It is quite feasible that all my ailments (probably except the stiff legs) can be attributed to a rough night. The temperature in my bedroom last night was hovering between too warm, and too cool, and I think I was thrashing around a lot while I slept sometimes under the duvet cover, and sometimes not. It didn't help that Smudge, who obviously wasn't out during such a cold and wet night, decided to get up at 4 am. Quite why she feels she has to run around sounding like she is wearing football boots I just don't know. Traditionally, cats silently pad around, but not Smudge !
|Tuesday 7th July 2009|
| 08:37 BST
It's a damp and gloomy morning. The one saving grace is that I didn't meet up with any rain on my way to work. There had been a recent shower just before I left home, but it was dry, and much to my surprise there was some cheering bright sunshine breaking through the clouds while I was at Waterloo. I think what I am seeing now, mostly grey clouds with a very few small patches of blue between some of them, is the pattern that is set for the rest of the day. I expect it may warm up a bit during the day, but at the moment it is almost chilly.
I seem to be having a charmed existence when it comes to rain. There was a fair bit of rain yesterday, but whenever I was outside it stayed away. My coat has stayed in my back pack since I stuffed it in there yesterday morning, and I haven't needed it at all. Although it was almost chilly enough while on my way to work that wearing my coat would not have been too geat a hardship.
I've been dreaming again. Last night I think I was dreaming about writing a satirical article about the internet, bankers, and city life. (That is city as in The City Of London and all the financial stuff that goes on there). I can't describe the dream in any detail, and because I appeared to be mentally rehearsing what I was writing, or about to write (if indeed it was about writing) lots of ideas were floating around in my (dream) head. Putting together various strands of this dream in some sort of brief coherent description it goes like this ; It was a guide to investing in Web 2.0 ( the current dot com boom, and probable future bust) using the example of one new web based company that seemed to be called Monotuppence. In a wholly fictional way, go along to the city and invest/buy £50 of shares in this new wonder web company. You know there is a good chance it will go bust, but it could also boom, so £50 is a reasonable amount to gamble. After buying the shares you pop into a city pub filled with fat cat bankers who are partying like it's 1999 (or something). After buying a pint you sit down in the beer garden (so you can have a smoke with your beer). There in the shrubbery you notice a dropped wallet. Inside are some credit/debit cards and £500 in cash. This is obviously one of those mysterious hedge funds :-) Assuming you are only as dishonest as the over salaried, over bonused, banker who has lost it, you keep it. So already your investment of coming into the city to buy £50 of shares has shown a 1000% profit. This is good going, and all you have done is lighten the pocket of someone who only considers £500 to be small change. Then you noticed there is a feint impression in the leather wallet. It's as if someone has rested a piece of paper on the wallet while writing on it. It's just 4 digits - the same as a credit card pin number. Now you start to wonder about those cards in the wallet. What if........Then I woke up !
|Monday 6th July 2009|
| 08:40 BST
On the way to work the clouds started to well up. By the time I reached London Bridge there was some light rain. It soon stopped, and the rest of my journey was done in the dry, but now I have spotted a few drops of rain, and the clouds are starting to look a bit more theatening. I am glad I stuffed my coat in my back pack before leaving home. I reckon there is a good chance that I will need it on the way home.
The sun isn't really up yet, but the sky has been getting lighter for the last 30 minutes, and as far as I can make out the sky looks very clear. This doesn't really suggest the heavy rain that is forecast for today will be happening yet. Perhaps I'll get drowned when I come home from work, but I have some reasonable hopes that I will be going to work in the dry.
Yesterday turned out to be mostly sunny, and it did get quite warm again. Not as searingly hot as the last few days of last week, but quite hot enough to make sleeping difficult again last night. This morning the air is far fresher, and from about 1.30 am I had to partly cover myself up to keep at least one leg warm.
I did meet up with Jodi for a drink yesterday afternoon. We had a couple of pints of Independence Ale that had been brewed by some brewer, whose name I did not see, in celebration of The US of A Independence day. It wasn't a bad drop of beer, but it was just a little too hoppy for my personal taste.
After I had finished in the pub I did some shopping in the 99p shop. Apart from some dubious foodstuffs, I also bought a couple of different tubes of filler. One is probably silicon sealant, and the other some sort of cellulose based filler. I want to experiment with these as an aid to shoe repair. One problem I find with some sorts of cheap shoe is that the heal is not solid, and presumably to make the shoe lighter actually consists of large cavities covered over with something like cardboard. Over time that cardboard like stuff gradually gives way, and my heal finds itself resting just on the webs connecting these cavities together. I find that most uncomfortable, and in one pair of otherwise perfectly serviceable shoes I used a lot of hot melt glue to fill these cavities in. That restored the comfort of wearing those shoes, and now I have another pair that needs similar treatment. I am not sure which filler will be best. The silicone sealer would probably be softer and more comfortable, but it will probably ooze too much aceatic acid as it sets. That will give the shoes a bit of a vinegary smell. The other filler may set rock hard, and possibly be not too comfortable, but only experimentation will confirm this.
I had a dream last night that was a mixture of frustrating, peculiar, and not all that entertaining. It concerned Patricia, but I didn't see much of her during the dream. In this dream I discovered that Patricia had been sleeping on a couple of stacked mattresses in a room that was similar to one of the mostly disused offices in a telephone exchange where I once worked, but the room seemed to be situated on the top floor of my old school. I knew something had to be wrong for Patricia to be having to sleep there, but I couldn't get to ask her what it was. At one point I could see her in the room, and she sat up in bed wearing a navy blue nightdress and waved to me, but I couldn't get into the room to talk to her. Later on I tried to sneak back up to the room without being accompanied by my (presumably) school mates, but I was intercepted by the headmaster who said I shouldn't disturb Patricia. Later on I was actually inside that room. The mattresses were there, and so was the telephone that used to be in the office in the telephone exchange, but there was no sign of Patricia. Later still I had some sort of plan to get up extra early and go and see if I could see Patricia then. That time was 4 am, and it was also when I really did wake up. My efforts to dress myself in the dream translated to trying to untangle myself from the duvet cover in real life.
|Sunday 5th July 2009|
| 11:45 BST
This morning has seen a mixture of sunshine and semi-gloom. Sometimes there is a lot of cloud in the sky, and sometimes some large breaks in the clouds come by and the sun shines. It is quite a few degrees cooler than most of last week, but it doesn't feel particularly fresh outside. The night air was definitely quite cool, and I didn't need the fan on last night. In fact in the early hours of the morning I decided it would be a lot more comfortable if I got under the duvet cover instead of just sleeping on top of it. It is possible it will rain at some point today, and according to most forecasts it is a certainty for tomorrow and the next day.
Sometime last year, or maybe it was in 1998, I went shopping in Tesco. I filled my basket in fairly quick time, and went to the checkouts. The queues were not that big, and I selected one where one person had almost been served, and there was just one man in front of me (men are usually far quicker at going through the checkouts, and by a factor of at least five compared to a mother and kids). As I unloaded my basket onto the conveyor belt I looked up, and to my very great horror I saw Mavis lurking near the cashier. Then my blood turned to iced water, and my heart stopped several times when I realised that Mavis was just about to take over from the existing cashier. As I waited I totally lost the will to live, and I had to be resuscitated several times. Finally Mavis dealt with my purchase, and I have just got home. At least that is how I remember it, but I spent so long in a coma that there could have been details I am not aware of.
In my semi-comatose dreams, Aleemah visited yesterday. She brought with her a DVD of the film Commander And Master (or some such similar name). The film was set on a boat during the Napoleonic wars, and concerned the exploits of the captain and his efforts to burn, sink, or capture a much larger French ship in the seas around the Galapogos islands. Alongside the captain was his faithful friend the ships surgeon (Kirk and Bones for those of a Star Trek persuasion), and several young trainee officers. It was surprisingly unbrutal compared with how we tend to think of life on a Navy ship in those days. There was only one flogging ! Of course the final battle, when the English boarded the French ship, had blood and guts all over the place ! It was not the sort of film I would have considered watching of my own accord, but it wasn't bad, and maybe even slightly enjoyable.
Today there is a reasonable possibility that I will be meeting Jodi for a pint or two in the pub. I have yet to hear from her to confirm this, and sooner or later I had better call her. The problem is that Jodi and I exist in different time frames. There must be many days when I am waking up early and she is only just going to bed. Until such time as the sun rises later than I have to get up to go to work, I very frequently wake as soon as it starts to get light. On a weekend I will commonly go back to bed a couple of hours later, as I did this morning, but if I have to go to work I will stay up. Jodi, on the other hand, after a particularly good gig, and maybe after attending an after gig party with some of the groups she follows, often end up getting to bed as the sun rises. So even though my day is now almost half over, hers is possibly only just beginning. I wonder if she will be grumpy when I wake her with a phone call ?
|Saturday 4th July 2009|
| 08:49 BST
Today has started bright and cool. I am not sure what the outside temperature is right now, but I do know that the temperature in my bedroom has dropped a couple of degrees to 26° C, and that made sleeping a lot easier last night. I am a little out of touch with up-to-date weather forecasts, but I believe that cloud and some rain were forecast for today. From what I see outside my window, admittedly just a small portion of the sky, I find it hard to believe that can be true. The sky is a wonderful blue, and everything is bright from the sunshine.
There was no more rain after the bit of drizzle I saw early yesterday morning, although there were plenty of times when there was a lot of cloud in the sky, but there was also a fair bit of sunshine too.
My very vague plans to go out yesterday came to nothing. The early morning cloud, and the soreness of my feet were 99% good enough excuses not to go out, but the clincher was when Ivor called to say he had a plumbing problem to attent to, and would not be available. I recieved this news with a certain amount of relief. Had Ivor said he was available I might have pushed my enthusiasm a little harder, but after trying a short walk to Tesco I quickly confirmed that walking on my sore feet would not have been a good idea.
So instead of going out I stayed in reading New Scientist, and generally laying around resting my feet, and other bits of my body. I also seemed to eat far too much - one thing going out would have prevented. Resting my feet was a good thing. The abraded bits will still take a long time to fully heal, but rest of my feet feel reasonably OK today. Resting other bits of my body may not have been such a good idea though. I feel a little stiff, and I am suffering from some mild backache from lounging around too much. The paradox is that I couldn't do one without the other.
Today Aleemah is visiting. That will not involve too much walking, but it will keep my occupied, and away from food for a short while - but not totally. One bit of walking will involve a visit to the cafe, and I will be eating in there.
Now I think I ought to do some tidying up, then give my self a good scrub under the shower, and finally get dressed properly.
|Friday 3rd July 2009|
| 06:43 BST
When I first woke up it was raining. It was light rain, but it was enough that Smudge, who had been out all night, came in slightly damp. The rain has now stopped, and I think that the sun will eventually come out. It will probably be cooler than yesterday - a day when all records were broken again by being about as hot as the three previous days !
My day out yesterday turned out to be very pleasant, and I think I achieved all my objectives. I was quite apprehensive when I started out. I knew it was going to involve a lot of walking, and my feet were in bad shape after allowing the shoes I was wearing the previous day to scrape a lot of skin off the top of my feet. You can see some of the raw areas in the picture below of me taking a paddle in the sea. (The most prominent being on my left big toe, and just behind that partly covered by the strap).
There are more pictures of my journey to the beach here.
As well as the problem with my feet, I was also not too happy with having to go alone. Some company would have made for an even better experience, but there was no one available, and I don't think I know anyone who would enjoy all the walking and lack of entertainment for my destination.
When I set out on my day trip the sun had broken through, and it was starting to get hot. I caught the 09:31 train to Sevenoaks from Catford station. That first leg of the journey takes 41 minutes, and I knew I would be wanting a fag after that. Unfortunately I was supposed to only have a 4 minute connection to catch my next train, and knowing this I had stuck on a nicotine patch before I left home. Those patches help fight the chemical craving, but do nothing to fight the psychological craving. Happily, my next train was running late, and I had time to rush out of the station and smoke half a cigarette.
The next leg of my journey was from Seveoaks to Hastings. Originally I was going to change at St Leonards, Warrior Square station, but the guard on the train said that Hastings was the better idea, and indeed it was. It was the National Rail Journey Planner website that had originally suggested St Leonards, Warrior Square station, and that seemed to be a reasonable idea to me. I had an idea that it would be very quick to get outside the station for a quick fag there, and that there would probably be a toilet if I needed one. The first was true, but the second wasn't. So I carried on to Hastings where there was a toilet, but getting outside the station was a longer walk up and over the footbridge. The last leg of my (rail) journey to Rye from Hastings took just over 20 minutes.
At last I was in Rye, away from the no smoking railway taliban, and yet the hardest part of my journey had just begun. I had a long walk ahead of me. It was getting very hot, and I started out in the wrong direction ! Fortunately I hadn't gone very far before I realised my mistake, and asked directions from a waiter standing outside an Indian resturant. After half a mile I eventually found the start of Harbour Road, and a sign post saying 1.5 miles to Rye Harbour Village. At that point I tried to do some mobile mini blogging, but the GSM mobile broadband signal failed half way through writing it. So I continued walking.
I thought that Harbour Road would be a very minor road, narrow, and with no footpaths, but I was wrong. It is actually a main road, and after the first few hundred yards it does have a footpath. The reason became obvious as I walked. There are many industrial sites along it's way, and it has to convey many heavy lorries. I was about half way to the village when I saw a bus stop, and realised that the road also had buses running along it. A quick look at the timetable on the bus stop showed that these buses ran every half hour - which isn't bad for a minor country bus route. Soon after a bus passed me to provide proof that they did really exist.
It was with some relief that I finally reached the village, and saw the welcome sign of The Inkerman pub. My original plan was to investigate a pub after I had been to the beach, but I was very hot and thirsty, and the sweat was stinging my eyes. So naturally I called in for a pint of cold beer. Inside the pub I found there was no GSM mobile braodband despite having passed a cell tower a few hundred yards back down the road, but there was a weak unsecured WiFi signal that I could just about use to check my email, and to write a couple of lines in my mini mobile blog.
After maybe 20 minutes I was ready to find the beach. I hadn't realised that the path to the beach runs through a nature reserve. The nature reserve was mainly of salt marsh, and it made for a rather stark, but still scenic, pleasant walk down to the beach. There are pictures of stuff I passed on the way, and of the beach itself here. I guess it took another 20 minutes to walk to the beach from the pub. Apart from the scenery, there was a nice and refreshing sea breeze blowing gently across the nature reserve, and that made the walk that much nicer.
It was very low tide when I arrived on the beach, and I didn't truly make it to the actual sea because that was on the other side of a sandbar separated from the beach by a channel that was just a little too deep to wade through even with my trousers rolled up. I did have a paddle in the channel as far as my rolled up trousers would allow me though. I suspect that where I was paddling was very rarely uncovered except perhaps at the very lowest tides. There was plenty of plant life swirling around my feet, and maybe a little further out, where it was deeper, there would have been fish too. There was one man out with a fishing rod with water up to, and maybe above his knee line.
That man, with his fishing rod, was one of only about a dozen, perhaps fifteen, people on the beach with me. Across the River Rother, just a few hundred yards from where I was, lies Camber Sands, and there were far more people there, and it yet it was still very uncrowded. Camber sands is just pure golden sand with dunes behind, but where I was the beach had a lot of shingle followed by a wide swathe of very slightly muddy sand. I am not sure what lay beyond the channel. I called it a sand bar, but it may have been more shingle.
After my paddle I sat down to eat my lunch. It was to have been an apple and a pear, but for some reason I didn't fancy eating both, and settled for just the pear. I didn't even eat all of that because the core was going rotten. After my lunch, and with my feet dry and clear of sand, I put my shoes and socks back on and walked back to the pub. Now I was familiar with the walk, it seemed much quicker getting back. There was a bus due as I approached the pub, but with buses every half hour I thought I would get in another cold pint of beer, and get the next bus.
Getting back to Rye station on the bus was luxury compared with the long hot walk I endured getting to Rye Harbour village. It saved so much time that I had time left over for another pint, and to buy some sticks of rock from a souvenir shop before catching my train on the first leg of my way home.
Going home used a slightly different route, but still involved one medium lenght rail journey, and two longer ones. This was, once again, as suggested by the National Rail joureny planner. Leg one was from Rye to Ashford International station. There was sufficient time there to go outside for a smoke, and to use toilets which were actually worse than those at Clapham Junction station ! (This is a very poor show for what is supposed to be a prestigious station). Leg two was a 56 minute ride from Ashford to Otford station. The toilets here were locked up, but I didn't need one anyway, but the knowlege could be useful for the future. I had to wait about 11 minutes for my next train, and that left plenty of time to walk out the station for a fag (something a lot of other people seemed to be doing).
The final leg was a 41 minute ride from Otford to Catford station. I arrived back in Catford feeling exhausted, and also very hungry. All I had eaten since the previous evening was three quarters of a large pear. I thought it time to treat myself, and I intended to try a new chicken shop that has opened in Catford. It is called Grillers, and claims not to fry it's fried chicked. I theory it should be more healthy (in theory !!). I was evidently more tired, dazed and confused than I thought I was because I found myself in the wrong shop. I was in Favourite Fried Chicken ! In my defence, poor though it is, they are both very close on the corners of adjacent roads.
I arrived back at home with my pack pack definitely starting to feel heavy, my feet and legs gently aching, very hungry, and definitely needing a long sit down. I seemed to be so tired that I declined to finish my chicken and chips, and only ate half of what I bought. That is very strange for me ! After watching TV for some time I attempted to start editing the pictures I had taken. I managed sufficient to make my picture page, but after that I just had to go up to bed. Before going to my bed I had a very cool shower, and then I just lay down on top of my bed and tried to relax. It was one of those nights where you seem to feel as if you're too knackered to sleep, but then the next thing you know is that you are waking up again.
In my case I woke up close to 1 am, and needed to have a pee. As I walked to the toilet I realised just what a pounding my feet had taken. My right heel, in particular, felt very sore. It felt as if it was almost bruised. This morning it is still sore, although less so, and the areas on the top of my feet that got chafed are also still sore. On top of that my knees are a little stiff and sore.
I had a vague plan that I might go out again today. One possibilty was to meet Ivor in Barming for a lunchtime drink. That plan obviously depended on Ivor being available, and he said that there was a 50% chance he would be. It also depended on two other things. The first being the weather, and the second my fitness to walk. The weather is still a potential problem. I've been writing this for quite a long time, and there seems to be no sign that the clouds are lifting, although it hasn't rained in this time. The second thing, my fitness to walk (it is a two mile walk from Barming station to the pub) is highly contentious. I probably could do it, and Ivor could pick me up, and deliver me back to the station, but I think I am of the opinion that today should be more relaxed. Maybe I'll go for a lunchtime pint locally, or maybe I'll just put my feet up and let my feet heal themselves today. These, and other decisions will be made, as they are made, later on today. Now I think I am going back to bed.
|Thursday 2nd July 2009|
| 07:56 BST
The sky was very milky earlier on, but now that milky colour is slowly turning blue, and another steaming day approaches. Some forecasts say that today will hit record temperatures, but that has been the case for the last few days. Since the beginning of the week temperatures have been forecast to reach a record of about 32° C, and every day that has been what it has been. Maybe a few isolated hot spots do get hotter than they were the other day, and thus a new record is made, but overall I think the temperature has remained within a couple of degrees for the last few days.
The temperature did dip a bit lower overnight, and maybe I did sleep a little because of that. Having said that, the temperature in my bedroom seems to have stayed at 28° C overnight, and maybe it was just exhaustion that made me apparently sleep better.
Lack of sleep seems to have made me do a few strange things. When I came to write this I noticed that the calendar at the top of the page was all wrong, and worse than that, I had attributed yesterday's entry to 1st April 2009. I am not sure what is the worst scenario here. Either I am losing (or have lost) my mind, or my web pages have been hacked ! Either case is not particularly appealing, but being hacked is probably worse than going gently gaga !
Today's the day for my day trip to Rye. If it goes well it should be a pleasant day out, but another problem has arisen beyond the problem of trying to keep a decent level of nicotine in my blood during the long train journey. Yesterday I mentioned the long walk from the station to the beach, and how I wasn't terribly keen on it, but things just got a bit more complicated (or painful). Yesterday I tried out another pair of shoes during the day. As I predicted they were slightly more comfortable for walking in, at least as far as the bottom of the feet, but the top of my feet did get quite sore. Part of the top of these shoes (trainers, or sneakers, if you like) is covered with a fairly dense nylon mesh. It does help to keep feet cooler, but when worn without socks, as I did yesterday, it is fiercely abrasive. There are now several raw areas on my big toes, and on the foot just behind the toes. I am hoping that by wearing the shoes I was originally going to wear, these sore areas will not get further irritated. If they do it is going to make for a very painful walk, and one I may decline to complete.
After the satisfactory results of my "dress rehearsal" on Monday, I will be taking my netbook with me today, and doing some mobile mini blogging along the way. The results are below. One other thing I will try to do if I find the time, and a stable work area to do it (i.e. a quiet pub) is to upload some of the pictures I may take. I'll be dumping them as unedited, uncommented, images here, and someday I may make a proper web page to display them.
(Note added 3rd July; I have removed the iframe and pasted the text directly into this daily entry. For some reason Kompozer seems to have trouble editing a page with an iframe in it)
====== Mobile mini-blogging 2nd July 2009 =====
Day out to Rye
At last, a GSM signal. Now at Ashford heading back to London.
I have now reached Rye Harbour. It's been a really long hot walk
to get this far, but I am now enjoying a cooling pint of Stella
Artois in a pub.
Mobile broadband coverage is not as good as I hoped. I am
currently borrowing a WiFi connection that seems to have no
encryption -handy, but unreliable.
Off to the beach soon. Just another half mile walk ! Found there
is a bus back to the station fromhere.I will use it !
I've now changed at Sevenoaks to a class 375 train towards Hastings.
This train was slightly delayed, and I managed to get a quick smoke
They say a journey begins with a single step, but in my case it
starts with a single train. I am on class 319 319382 heading towards
Sevenoaks. As I write, the train has just pulled into Bickley.
GSM signal now bad !
|Wednesday 1st July 2009|
| 08:15 BST
July starts a bit overcast, but it is pleasantly cool outside. Later on the cloud should clear, and it will be the next hottest day of the year so far. We have now had two "hottest day of the year", and the temperature was pretty similar for both of them as far as I can tell. Today it is supposed to be 31° C again, but maybe it will climb to 32° C. All these temperatures seem to be a bit location specific. I guess that is no surprise really, but it is easy to think of London as being fairly homogenous. It's a shame the forecasters (and news readers) don't actually say "the hottest day in Catford this year". That would be far more relevant, though some specific data for Earlsfield would be interesting too.
While most people complained of sweltering in the heat yesterday afternoon I was feeling very good, and I am not talking about sitting in my air conditioned office. It was very bright and sunny when I left work to go home, but I found it very pleasant while I walked to Earlsfield station. Once I got there I realised that a train was due, and I felt fine to run up the three flights of stairs after my 10 minute walk. Running up those stairs did tire me a bit, but after a very fast paced walk to try and get further along the platform, I had to run about thirty feet to make sure I could get on the rear carriage of the front four. That allowed me to walk through the four carriages to get to the front of the train which is nearest the barriers at Waterloo. (In theory you can walk through the whole train, but the interconnection between the four car units never seemes to be available to the public).
It took 4 or 5 minutes before I had my breath back after that last bit of exertion, but although I was sweating I didn't feel excessively hot despite sitting on the sunniest side of the train. By the time we arrived at Waterloo I felt quite relaxed and just for fun I ran up the escalator, and walked over the link to Waterloo East station at my normal fast pace. This still didn't knacker me, and I still didn't feel like I was overheating. Of course most of this rushing around was done in the shade. Under direct sunlight things may well have been different.
Tomorrow, if I should chose to do it, I have the opportunity to do a fair bit of walking under the raw sun.This morning I feel a bit off, and if I feel like this tomorrow I may well chicken out, but otherwise I am looking forward to my holiday tomorrow. I have this idea that I am going to the seaside at Rye, in East Sussex. There are two downsides to this, although one of them may be partly the reason why I want to go.
The major downside is one I found while checking up of the train times yesterday. My journey starts with a 41 minute train ride to Sevenoaks. I change trains there for a 58 minute ride to St Leonards Warrior Square station. The problem is that there is only 4 minutes to change trains (probably just a cross platform change). Since those heinous bastards banned smoking on station platforms I will have no chance of having a quick drag while I change trains, and that means I am going to have to suffer agonies of nicotine withdrawal symptoms for an unbearably long time. Even double nicotine patches will not be able to scratch that itch. The next change of trains involves a 15 minute wait, and I reckon I'll get two fags in during that time. The last leg of the journey to Rye is only about 21 minutes, and that is an acceptable length of time to wait for another fag.
The next downside is that it is a 2.5 mile walk from Rye station to the sea. It might be pleasant, or unpleasant, but the worst aspect is that having walked it once, which should be OK, I then have to walk it again to get back to the station. Now the miles are starting to add up ! It was with some relief that I found, using Google Maps, that there is a pub at the rather isolated Rye harbour, and that is two miles from the station. It should make a good way station during my long walk.
I am expecting the beach to be very quiet, but maybe not, because by car it is no big deal to get to. Then again, there is nothing to see there except the water, and Camber Sands is very close by, and that is a far more popular destination - or so I believe. Well, maybe I'll find out tomorrow.
Apart from the long walk back to the station, getting home will be far more civilised. Once again there are some long periods on the train, but the couple of changes I have to make are all long enough that I should have plenty of time to go outside the stations for a smoke.
I start my journey at 09:31 from Catford station, and if I follow the rough plan I made yesterday, I think I get back to Catford at 18:46. It's a fairly long day, and nearly five hours of that is just travelling by train. My aim is to take my netbook and do what I now propose to call "mobile mini blogging" semi-frequently during the day. Once again it will be as boring and pointless as Twitter, but probably just like Twitter users, I will be doing it simply because I can !