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My Diary/Blog For the Month of April 2010

Friday 30th April 2010
08:30 BST
 
  Contrary to expectations, this morning is not too bad. The sky is very cloudy, but somehow the sun has managed to shine through the clouds on many occasions. It is also not quite as cool as I was expecting. In truth I should have realised that it would not be that cold because there was plenty of cloud overnight, and that always keeps some of the heat in.

 That overnight cloud did release some rain, and at one point, while I was safely tucked up in bed, it did sound fairly heavy for a short while. This change in the weather first started yesterday morning when there was the briefest and lightest of showers. After that things recovered, and much of yesterday was fine and warm. Later on, as I started out to go home from work, I could feel some light raindrops blowing around in the breeze. At that point I was walking without a coat and my shirtsleeves rolled up. As I neared Catford the sky grew darker and I thought that I would have to put on my lightweight coat that I had stuffed into my shoulder bag. Happily the sky got a bit lighter, and it was dry when I arrived back in Catford.

 There is the potential for some rain at any time today, but it is tomorrow when it is forecast to be very wet. Even then I have my doubts that it will quite the soaking that a now out of date forecast that I saw suggested it might be. Even if that forecast was wrong it will only be wrong by degrees. One thing seems very likely is that for a time it is due to get rather chilly. I can't remember what precise day it will be, but the weather forecaster who was giving us the bad news remarked that it would feel more like January. Maybe that is not so bad. I seem to recall that there were a couple of days in January when it felt rather nice.

 I have had the misfortune to make a discovery, and that discovery is that last year the ITV company Granada blasphemed by remaking the classic 1967/1968 cult TV series The Prisoner. I have now had the further misfortune of actually watching the first episode. It was like someone offering you your mythical lost childhood puppy back by handing over a diseased goat. All the recent earthquakes and volcanos were undoubtably caused by Patrick McGoohan spinning in his grave. I can only imagine that it was seeing this new American (despite it being commisioned by a British company) re-make that finally killed Patrick McGoohan in January 2009. I can only conclude this terrible, terrible, holocaust like, tragedy with the phrase "kill all Americans" !

 Today, apart from planning some terrorist atrocity like flying Westminster, and all their ant-smoking buddies, over to America and crashing it into Hollywood, there are several things I might do, and some that I almost certainly will do. One of the certainties is to finish my photo pages of my ultra long walk from Birchington On Sea to Herne Bay. I did do so more to it yesterday, and I am now about halfway through. Tomorrow morning I am hoping to announce it is all complete, and remind you of where you can see all these pictures.

 I think I am definitely going to do some housework today, and I have already made a bit of a start in that respect by putting a load of washing into the washing machine. That's pretty easy stuff to do, but one thing I really want to tackle sooner or later, is a lot like hard work, and so easy to put off doing, and that is the long overdue hoovering of the stairs. I hope that I can bring myself to do that today. Everything else is rather of secondary importance to those dusty stairs, and if I can manage to get them looking OK I might do one of two things. I may suddenly, and mysteriously, get very houseproud and do lots of other stuff, or I may decide that I have had enough of housework and go and do something completely different. One very different thing would be to go out and take some pictures of the newly re-opened East London Line. It is possible that I may do sometime today regardless of anything else, but my desire to do it is easily tempered by how I feel and how the weather feels. The weather is an additional influence on how I feel, but also could be quite important to photography. It won't make for good pictures if some brand new station I want to photograph is half hidden by rain, and looking dim in gloomy overcast light.
Thursday 29th April 2010
08:30 BST
 
  I think it is a little less cool this morning. As well as the temperature being a bit higher, it also feels like the humidity is higher too. From what I gather, today is going to be the last wheeze of this run of pleasant weather, and it is quite possible that sometime over the upcoming weekend the temperature will drop to below the seasonal average instead of several degrees above it. Also it is very likely to rain. If we are lucky the rain will miss south London today, but after that it is everyman for himself !

 I have finally managed to catch up on my lost sleep. That's not to say that more sleep would not be welcome, but I had a full 8 (and possibly a bit) hours sleep last night, and I don't feel tired this morning at all. I may even make it through to this afternoon without feeling tired and sleepy, but maybe that is too wildly optimistic.

 All my aches and pains have either gone, or are reduced to insignificance, and I am still none the wiser as to their real cause. My latest theory is that I have just recovered from the hitherto undescribed, and medically impossible, 56 hour 'flu. The way I was suffering on Tuesday, and to a lesser extent Monday really did feel like 'flu, but although there were times when it did feel like my temperature might have fluctuated, I don't think I actually had any fever. Of course one thing seems to still be ill, and that is my brain. I have just realised that I said much of the above yesterday. However I think I have said it better today.

 While all the aches and pains of a couple of days ago have ceased to be a bother life would not be life without some sort of pain or ache (or at least my life wouldn't be). So today I am happy to report that I had a mysterious pain in my right elbow. It is not a place I usually associate with pain, and that pain has gone now so I can't even begin to describe it beyond saying it was the sort of pain that is ignorable. It's like gravity. You can't fight it, you can't get away from it, and you are usually not even aware of it until a falling brick hits you on the head and reminds you of it's existence.

 Comparing my earlier mild elbow pain with gravity seemed like a good idea until I realised it made no sense, but I am leaving what I wrote about gravity in case I want to cut and paste into some sort of argument where it does make some sort of sense. It would have been far better to say that the mysterious pain in my elbow was mild enough not to be a distraction, and mild enough not to impair the functioning of my arm. It was so mild that I cannot remember when it started and when it finished. It was not so mild that it wasn't worth mentioning (even though it's boring to read - I have to have something to write about !).

 Now that I am more or less well, or functioning as well as can be expected by this particular model of human, I will attempt to finish off my web site photo pages of my ultra long walk last Saturday. Since making a start on it last Sunday I have done nothing more to it. I think I am happy with the format of the first two pages. So tonight I will add some more. I think there are 32 photos I have selected and edited to show, and some are more than boring holiday snaps - they are actually educational. If that doesn't scare you, keep looking out for my announcement about finishing the new pages.

 If I don't finish those web pages tonight I have the opportunity to finish them tomorrow. I have booked tomorrow off work. The original reason for this was basedon the assumption that the weather would be good, and that I would be desperately keen to go on a long walk. Neither reason seems like a good idea now, but there is plenty of other stuff I can do. I can lay in bed as long as I please in the morning. I can finish off my web site photo pages, and possibly design (read :slap together) a new page for May. I could do some much needed housework, or finally I could go out and take some pictures on the newly re-opened East London line. It is possible that I could do several of these options on one day. It is even possible that I may do something completely unpredictable. Whatever I finally do will probably be as much surprise to me as to you.
Wednesday 28th April 2010
08:04 BST
 
  This morning did not start as bright as yesterday, but was still a vast improvement over the dull greyness of Monday morning. There was some cloud overnight, and the weather forecast suggested that it would be milder this morning, but it doesn't feel to me to be any significantly different to yesterday morning. Once again it was just tolerable to leave my coat off as I made my way to work, but I couldn't describe is as exactly comfortable. Later today we could see a shower, but it is supposed to be a degree warmer than yesterday. Tomorrow the weather goes downhill, and some long range forecasts suggest it could really plummet with daytime temperatures going down to below 15 instead of the 20, or more we have experienced lately.

 It was very plesantly warm as I made my way home from work yesterday, but I was not in the mood to enjoy it. I felt totally shattered. When I got home I couldn't even raise the tiny amount of energy it needs to cook my dinner. Instead I had some sandwiches, and some stuff out of tins. Soon after 7 pm I was in bed. I read for a bit to relax me, and by 8 pm I was fast asleep.

 Having got to sleep so early I should have been able to catch up on some of my missed sleep, but it didn't really work out like that.  After sleeping quite solidly for six and half hours I woke up again. I didn't feel too bad at that point, but I knew I needed more sleep. It was possibly the internal argument between what I knew I wanted and what my body wanted to do that stopped me from getting back to sleep again. What I should have done was to get up for an hour and then gone back to bed. Instead I had this fight going on inside me and I just tossed and turned for 90 minutes. Although it didn't feel like I had fallen asleep at all during this time, I know I must have because Smudge woke me up at 4 am. Once I had seen to her needs I got back into bed and fell asleep quite quickly - but only for about 30 minutes before it was time to get up.

 This morning I do feel considerably better than I did yesterday. I expect I will start feeling tired in the afternoon, but right now I feel averagely alert. Many, but not all of the aches and pains I was suffering from yesterday seem to have gone, and the ones that remain seem less intense. On the whole I would say I am recovering from whatever it was that ailed me yesterday.

 Although it is easy to blame my unusually long walk last Saturday for damaging my body, I am no so sure that it was only to blame. I now speculate that the stress on my body from all that walking allowed something more sinister to take hold. If I didn't feel I was recovering so quickly I would have said 'flu. All the symptoms were right apart from a fever. I did feel a few temperature variations that with hindsight could have been a bit of fever, but nothing that inspired me to get my clinical thermometer out. Assuming I am improving as I feel I am, then the time factor really rules out 'flu. It is entirely possible that I am now rapidly recovering from a previously unknown ailment. If I had seen a doctor yesterday, and had that doctor been one of the rare breed who stop to diagnose an illness instead of prescribing aspirin and bed, he or she might have made a name for themselves, and I might have had a disease named after me. It's not exactly the type of fame I am after, but it would do if nothing else came along in the meantime.

 Many years ago, during one of his comedy routines, Billy Connolly was talking about hair care products, and specifically about all the strange ingredients that are (allegedly) used in them. One ingredient in particular sticks in my memory, and that was jojoba. Billy Connolly found it a very comical name, and wondered what the hell it was. After all these years I now suspect that it is most probably made from armadillo droppings. Now you may think that strange and improbable, but consider this - one of the most expensive coffees is made from cat poo. It's 100% true - check the wikipeadia article. All sorts of stuff you would not believe are used in cosmetics including nightingale poo. One very surprising, and amazingly expensive ingredient for hair conditioner is bull semen. There is a very nuch cheaper alternative and that is Bill semen. If any ladies want to try it I am sure we can come to some sort of arrangement. Me, I think I'll stick to the jojoba !
Tuesday 27th April 2010
08:25 BST
 
  After yesterday's dull start it is a pleasure to say that this morning is bright and sunny. It still feels a little cool to come to work without a coat on, but it is still a definite improvement over the mornings of as little as a week ago, and I left my coat off anyway. It should be a warm day today, and tomorrow is predicted to be slightly warmer still, but also cloudier. After that the prediction remains that the weather will go downhill a bit. At least that is the last official prediction I can recall. My personal prediction is that it may not be that bad, and will recover quite quickly if it does dip. However that may just be me in one of my more optimistic moods.

 Yesterday the sun finally started to shine in the afternoon, and by the time I was heading for home it began to feel quite warm - enough that I rolled my shirtsleeves up.I was really looking forward to getting home as fast as possible, and then, after eating, getting to bed really early, but soon after I left work I got a better offer. I received a text message from Patricia asking if I wanted to stop off in Lewisham to pick up the duty free fags she bought for me three weeks ago (or was it more ?).

 I thought that we would go for a drink together, but it was just a short meeting in the reception of her place of work. It was nice to see her, but it would have been a lot nicer if we had been able to sit down together and chat for longer. Within 10 minutes I was on my way home again. I contemplated walking back to Catford, but I felt so weary that I caught a bus instead.

 If I had not eaten the big chunk of cheese that I had in the fridge, I would have had the perfect healthy dinner last night. The cheese was a strong Orkney cheddar cheese that was from Tesco's more expensive range of cheeses, but had been on the reduced price shelf for nearly half price. I had never tried that cheese before and curiosity got the better of me when I was in Tesco last Sunday. Last night I finished it off by nibbling at it while I cooked my proper dinner. So tonight there will be no cheese temptation to drive me off the straight and narrow pathway. If it were not for another potential temptation I would only be eating another big plate of poached fish and leafy vegetables.

 It is only a potential for it may not be delivered today, but the temptation is a jar of Marmite XO. It is a special edition Marmite made from 4 specially selected yeasts from specially selected breweries (or something like that). It could be very nice like the special edition using yeast from Marston's Pedigree brewing, or it could be almost revolting like the special edition using yeasts from champagne brewers which was released for Valentines day last year under the name of "I Love You (Marmite)". By itself Marmite is jolly good for you. It is low in calories and high in all sorts of useful vitamins and minerals, but in particular, vitamin B12 which the body uses to convert fat back into energy. The trouble is, that to use Marmite is has to be spread on something (although it can be used to flavour stock), and the most useful stuff to spread it on is bread. So I may be increasing my carbohydrate intake just when I don't really want to.

 The reason I want to avoid too much carbohydrates is because I think I might have overdone them on Sunday. My excesses then seem to have largely negated any gains I made from my extra long walk last Saturday. My weight this morning was considerably higher than it was on Sunday morning, although thankfully not as high as it was on Saturday morning. Still, the Marmite XO has to be tried, and if it is delivered today it will have to be tested tonight.

 I think I feel worse than I did yesterday morning. It is hard to be specific about what it is that makes me feel so rough. Although I got a reasonable amount of sleep last night, it was only just enough for normal circumstances, and still not enough to make any difference to my sleep deficit. So it was a bit of a struggle to choose between staying in bed and coming to work this morning. On top of that I may have slept awkwardly last night, and this morning I have some mild aches up and down my back, across my shoulders, and a few other places besides. It is the payback from sleeping fom exhaustion I guess. There is still more to come, but is even harder to pin down and describe. I feel like I have a mild hangover - everything is just that little harder to do - breathing, walking, blinking, scratching my nose, sitting down, standing up, smiling, snarling, thinking, not thinking - basically everything ! It is quite amazing that I came to work this morning, but as usual, once I get moving I start to feel better rather quickly. Most of everything bad has gone now, but I would still dearly like to be in bed, and while most of the aches have gone, another has developed. I now seem to have a mild headache ! Oh well, I guess that's life - mostly pain and misery with a few good bits thrown in to fool you.
Monday 26th April 2010
08:00 BST
 
  I think that I may have been trying too hard to be heroic when I didn't wear a coat to come to work. With the benefit of hindsight I now realise that it was jst a little too cool for that, but only by a degree or so. I suspect that this morning must be the least cold morning we have had so far this year.

 When I first looked outside this morning it was still exceptionally early, and the sun was not due to rise for as much as an hour, but there was some light in what looked to be a very clear sky. (That pre-dawn light completely demolishing the myth set up by The Momas And The Papas in their song that says "The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn" !). When I set off to work there was bright sunlight streaming down the road, but I was soon aware that most of the sky was very cloudy. By about half way to the station the clouds covered the sun, and I have not seen it since. I gather that today will be cooler than recently, and maybe there will be some rain.

 Yesterday's weather was the opposite of how it was forecast. The morning turned out to be quite damp with short spells of moderately rain. The afternoon was brighter, but as evening approached I think there may have been some more light showers.

 The after effects of my long walk on Saturday did not really catch up with me until maybe mid morning yesterday. When I went to Tesco to do some shopping I almost bounced along. It must have been a small pocket of left over adrenaline or something. Soon after I got back, but maybe more significantly after I had a late breakfast, I began to feel the strain of it all. Apart from the sun burn, and occasionally the blisters on my right foot, nothing really hurt, but I felt very drained and couldn't motivate myself to do that much.

 I didn't really want to rest too much yesterday because I knew that inevitably I would become bored and start eating all sorts of stuff that I would rather not eat. That did in fact happen, and this morning my weight had jumped back to almost the same as Saturday morning. (the actual comparison is slightly meaningless because I weighed myself on Saturday morning after having been to the toilet, and this morning before I had gone to the toilet - believe me, it can make a surprising difference !). The one unanswered question is why did I buy stuff that I knew I should not eat ? Maybe my subconcious was a better predictor of what I would do compared to my concious.

 So I had a very lazy day and ate too much ! I didn't do any computer hardware/software type stuff, but I did edit up all 32 pictures I will be using to illustrate my long walk. I even found the energy or patience (I am not sure which) to make a start on building the web pages that will show the pictures. I have decided to put just one picture to a page, so the pages load faster, and add navigation buttons to move on to the next picture. So far I have only made two pages, and one or the other (or both) need editing already. There is not much to see yet, and it will be much later in the week before I finish the whole sequence, but if you want a sneak preview you can look here.

 I am finding it very hard to describe how I feel today. The sun burn still reacted painfully to hot water while I showered this morning, but otherwise is no bother. The blisters on my right foot are not hurting at all. Oddly enough it is my right heel that seems slightly sore this morning, and yet it seemed to be completely undamaged by my long walk. The oddest thing of all is that it feels like I have no energy, and yet when I call on extra energy it seems to be there in abundance. My walk from the station to work seemed like hard work, but only because I seemed to do it in record time. If I had walked it at a steady 3 mph it would have been effortless (I think).

 Later today there is one thing that will catch up on me, and that is tiredness from lack of sleep. I don't know why it was, but I slept really badly last night. I initially couldn't get to sleep, and then I woke up before 4 am. I did managed to get a little sleep after that, but it certainly wasn't the full hour I would have got if I hadn't woken up when I did. I don't really know what time I did get to sleep last night, but I am certain it was sometime after 10 pm. With the brighter and longer days after the gloom of winter, I seem to need less sleep, but less than 6 hours means I will be falling asleep at work this afternoon.
Sunday 25th April 2010
07:12 BST
 
  I can't tell if it is cloudy, or if the sky is just very misty yet. I think most of it is just mist and haze, and that once the sun gets a bit higher it will "burn it off".On the other hand I can definitely see some cloud structure, but only time will tell just how much cloud there is today. I have heard second hand that the weather forecast for today has been downgraded from today being as hot as yesterday to being several degrees cooler. This must be further evidence that secret states top secret weather modification machine has been started up to favour all those sweaty athletes running the London Marathon today. Quite why "Big Brother" should favour those of an extreme masochistic exercise kind is left as an exercise to the serious paranoid conspiracy theorists ! What I do know for sure is that the last weather forecast I saw suggested there could be some light rain this afternoon, and presumably that has not changed in the last 36 hours.

 You may wonder why I am up so early on a Sunday morning. It is partly because I woke up early feeling fairly fine, but mostly to brag about this............
Walking route betwen Birchington and Herne Bay
........Yes, I did it ! I managed to walk from Birchington On Sea railway station to Herne Bay railway station. According to my Cardio Trainer GPS tracker I walked 9.35 miles, but that doesn't tell the whole story. For instance, just to the right of the blue dot on the route there is a small gap in the trace. It was there that I paused for less than 10 minutes to eat a Twix bar. I also changed into canvas shoes and had a paddle in the rather muddy sea. At least the sand was muddy, the water was clear, but that mud did have an unpleasant green tinge to it. Once I had changed my shoes I should have resumed the GPS tracking, but I forgot to do it until after I had changed back into dry shoes again. I didn't walk far with the tracker off, but that little extra, plus the fact that I stopped the tracker at a pub a little way from the station, may have taken the total walk to at least 9.5 miles, and maybe even 9.6. That is remarkably close to a 10 mile walk I was hoping to build up to many weeks in the future. I guess my new aim now is something like 12 miles, but I think I have reached my practical limit for now.

 Not only have I reached the effective limit to my endurance, but I have now also walked the entire length of the coast from Margate to Whitstable. All I have to do now is to walk from Whitstable eastwards until what could be called the seaside turns into river bank, and I don't think it is that far. That will mean I have walked both the north and south sides of the Thames Estuary where it could be called seaside, and that only leaves several thousand miles (or something) of British coastline to walk ! Though for practical reasons I very much doubt I will be exploring more than the southeast corner of the country. The travelling is too far to go anywhere else, but there is still plenty more to do in the south east.

 It would be true to say that after that long walk many bits of me hurt this morning. Suprisingly though, it is not the parts you think would hurt the most. My legs don't feel too bad, and apart from a couple of small blisters, my feet don't feel too bad either. The more serious pain is from bad sunburn on my legs, and a lot less pain from my arms. When I had a shower a little while ago, the warm water felt like molten lava on a few bits of my legs. There was a definite tingle on a few bits of my arms too. My face, which obviously is always exposed to the sun every day that there is sunshine, is a bit red, but feels fine. I did notice that the rest of my head was a little tender in some areas when I brushed my hair this morning. No doubt "nanny" would have insisted that I put on some sun blocker and worn a hat while out in the hot sunshine yesterday, and apart from the hat I reluctantly, with hindsight, would have agreed with (the fictional) nanny. Next time I am out in hot sunshine I will, but now the tanning process has started it will become less important as the body builds up it's own protection (or so says my semi-psuedo personal science).

 The one thing that is not psuedo science, although the actual figure is probably only an approximation, is that my walk burnt 1437 calories. If I had not eaten the large Twix bar during my walk it would mean that I had a calorie defecit just for the duration of the walk without considering how many calories I was burning just from being alive and thinking as I would on any normal day. My dinner when I got home was the terrible fried chicken and chips, but it was a slightly more moderate portion than I would consume through normal gluttony. I bought 6 pieces of chicken and four fries (a standard option on the menu of the shop). Two portions of fries I just threw away. At least one portion of chicken was eaten by Smudge, and I ate one portion of chicken for breakfast. Eating just four pieces of chicken is like a snack for me, but it seemed enough last night for my whole dinner (and only meal of the day if you ignore the Twix bar during my 5 - 10 minute break from walking). The result was that I lost a few more pounds yesterday. Whether I can keep all that off today is a difficult question. With a lot of time on my hands today it seems unlikely that I will be able moderate my eating that well, but I may not go too mad.

 The walk itself was partly interesting, and partly boring slog. It was low tide for most of my walk and it was interesting to see that a lot of the sea bed that was uncovered by the low tide was actually the eroded roots of the cliffs that were a feature of at least half my walk. At the start they were white chalk, and around the middle they were a sort of slightly orange clay colour. Around Reculver, just over the halfway point of my walk, the cliffs were very high, and there was evidence of some very recent rock falls. I did spend a minute or so kicking over the debris of one fall that may have happened as recently as a few days ago, to see if I could spot any obvious fossils. Although it looked soft and crumbly it was remarkably hard, and without tools I could not break open any of the smaller rocks to see what was inside, nor did I spot anything obvious on the outside.

 Reculver castle, with the remains of a church that had been built on top of it, was interesting, and if it hadn't been covered in kids I might have stopped to have a poke around. I have a few good pictures of it, plus loads of other pictures along my walk, and as usual I will be making up a web page with the best, or most interesting of them.

 Once again I was not that impressed with Herne Bay. I have now seen both the east and west sides of it, and it doesn't appeal to me. It's not nasty and tacky like Southend, but it hasn't got the elegance of somewhere like Bexhill. The only words that come to mind when trying to describe how I feel about it are "council estate". Obviously it is not a council estate but it has that sort of feel to it - like the local council desperately trying to make something very drab look good, and not really succeeding because under the bright paint you know it is still drab. If it's any consolation to the inhabitants of Herne Bay, I am not talking about the deeply ghettoised inner London council estates where the best form of protection is an armoured truck with rocket launchers on it, but the more outer London estates where you really don't like walking at night, and still keep an eye over your shoulder during daylight.

 My biggest disappointment along my walk was not knowing exactly where the fabled Minnis Bay beach was. This was the place I read about in a local paper last year as a suggested legal naturist beach. If it was where I think it was I can see no objection to allowing people to cavort about naked apart from the nudists themselves. Basically there is no beach as pictured in that local paper. What I saw was just rocks, boulders, seaweed and slime. I can only guess that I was looking at the wrong place, or the picture in the paper was taken from a very clever angle.

 Today I am going to have a good rest - I think. I am not seeing Aleemah today as planned. She is off colour and won't be coming over. There is so little chance that I will hear from Patricia that it is not worth thinking about. So I will go out and do a little shopping when the shops open at 10 am, and after that I don't really know what I will choose to do. My options include some extra snoozing, watching some TV, doing some work on one of my spare PCs, or editing yesterdays photos and making up a new web page for them. The latter is very likely, and I will probably do a mixture of all the other things.
Saturday 24th April 2010
07:34 BST
 
  It was warm when I got home from work last night, and in consequence I didn't put on any heating during the evening. The significance of that is that this morning the house feels very cold and chilly because the outside temperature plummetted overnight. I would imagine that the temperature fell to with five degrees of freezing. The sky is mostly clear, and the sun is shining. If the forecasters best guesses come true it could warm up to 20 C today. That's not bad. Not bad at all. Originally the forecasters said that tomorrow could reach 22 C, but the last I heard was that it will be a bit less than that, and that there could be some light rain showers later in the afternoon.

 Something happened yesterday and I am not sure what it was, or at least what caused it. I wrote a fairly long piece here, and as far as I am aware I saved it OK on the "today" page, and also on the April page. Quite where it saved to is a mystery because this morning, when I went to update this page, I found that the last entry was dated to the previous day. Mysteriously, a small update I appended to yesterdays writing did get saved, and because it referred to what I had written yesterday it makes little sense by itself. So I had better explain it.

 Earlier in the week, or maybe it was even last weekend, I had the notion that I would walk from Birchington On Sea to Herne Bay today. I explained this in greater detail in my lost writings of yesterday, and mentioned that at about the half way point I would take a look at Reculver Castle. I incorrectly assumed that the castle was a little way inland, and that by visiting it I might increase the length of my walk to as much as 8 miles.

 After writing that, and as far as I knew, saving it, I decided to investigate some information about Reculver Castle. I didn't find a website that had all the information, but the English Heritage website has some useful stuff, as does Info Britain. One thing became obvious, and that was the castle, or strickly speaking the remains of the church that were built on the site of the castle, was right by the sea. That meant I could see it without having to lengthen my walk by going inland. The other thing that caught my eye was that the site is listed as being 4 miles from Herne Bay.That seemed further than I had imagined, and so I thought it might be useful to check with Google maps just how far I would be walking.

 I was rather gobsmacked to discover that the task I had set for myself is a nine mile walk (check the map here), and this startling revelation was the subject of my couple of lines of update to yesterdays lost writing. Well, I have said that I want to build my stamina up to the point where I can tackle a 10 mile walk, but I thought I might build up to it in easier stages. Perhaps another 7 mile, and then an 8 mile walk, and so on. Now it seems that I am going to attempt to jump straight from my previous record of 7.13 miles to something a little over 9 miles (9.02 if I walk exactly as shown on the map, but in practice maybe as much as 9.5).

 I feel quite intimidated by the thought of this walk, but I think I am still going to attempt it. As usual I will be starting from the most distant point, Birchington On Sea, and once I have walked, say, 4 miles there will be no turning back, and no other choices but to continue to Herne Bay because there are no intermediate railway stations between the two. I do have one option that I would prefer not to fall back on, but I will if I have to. One of the websites I checked about Reculver Castle mentions a number 7 bus going to Herne Bay.

 It is probably lucky that I have my new hiking shoes to wear on this long trek. I say "probably" because new shoes are always a gamble. In this case the new shoes are made by the same company as my older hiking shoes, and they turned out to be very satisfactory when I first used them. My next dilemna is whether I should be bold and wear a pair of my new untested shorts for this walk. It is rather cool now, but if it does get to somewhere near 20 C today then it might be a good idea. It will be a bit cooler by the sea, but we have lost the chilly winds that ruined so much of the sunshine during the week, and I am hoping that even a few degrees less will still feel warm on the coast today.

 I checked both my weight and my blood sugar level a little while ago. My blood sugar level did seem high, but that could be just a spike from drinking some "no added sugar" but still fairly sweet fruit juice an hour or two beforehand. Being on the high side is no bad thing considering what I am about to attempt, but if it was only a brief spike I had better take a snack with me to eat along the walk. There is more positive news about my weight. It seems that I have lost half a stone over the last week or so, and that will make walking just a tiny bit easier (maybe too tiny to really notice though). This long walk is going to be a real calorie burner, and if I don't eat more than the lightest snack along the way I am not going to feel guilty if I have something positively evil to eat tonight !

 My one hope to be saved from the madness of this long walk is some contact from Patricia. Predictably enough, I didn't see her on Thursday night. It would have been nice if she had just sent me text to say I would not being seeing her. When she called on Wednesday to say she might see me on Thursday I suggested the possibility of Saturday if Thursday was not possible. Something as simple as a text message to say that today might be a possibility would have been nice too, but so far I have heard nothing, and I assume I will hear nothing until sometime next week. However miracles could happen, and I might get a call before I have left Catford for the day.
Friday 23rd April 2010
 Something went wrong when I uploaded my scribblings for this day. All that was left (unless I can salvage something from the cache on my work PC) was a brief update that I tacked on after I had written the body of this days blog. The update is partially meaningless without the writing that preceeded it, but for the sake of completeness I'll leave it anyway, and the meaning is explained in my blog for Saturday above.

Update : I've just checked - Reculver Castle is right on the coast. So no extra walking required to see it. The bad news is that according to Google Maps the walk from Birchington On Sea to Herne Bay is 9 miles ! I think an sit down half way might be a good idea !
Thursday 22nd April 2010
07:44 BST
 
  This morning the weather is very much the same as yesterday morning apart from maybe a few fluffy clouds. If only the air was 2 or 3 degrees warmer it would be excellent. Instead it is just "good". I presume, that like yesterday, it will be a sunny day, and that as the morning progresses it will start to warm up.

 The wind may have changed direction yesterday, as at least one forecast predicted, but I didn't notice any change in the direction. What I think I noticed, although it is hard to be objective about such an epheremal thing, was that there did seem to be more lulls in the wind. During those moments when the air seemed to stand still, the sun felt deliciously hot, but once the wind started again it felt annoyingly cool.

 Tomorrow is forecast to be a couple of degrees warmer than today, and Saturday should be even warmer. At least that is the forecast as a mish mash between what I can recall seeing on TV and what appeared in my morning paper. If Saturday is bright and sunny with the temperature up at 19 C, as it was forecast to be the night before last, then I am very much looking forward to it. Like last Saturday, I plan on going on a long walk by the sea, and hopefully I will be able to top up my tan. I say that slightly tongue in cheek. I am not really wanting to get that bronzed look, but it's nice to lose the winter pallor.

 As far as I know in advance, there is only one microscopic chance that my plans for Saturday could be changed, and that is that I might have to meet up with Patricia. There is a small chance that I might meet up with her this evening, but if that doesn't happen I suggested Saturday. In all probability I won't actually see her until next week. Which is a pity. I am looking forward to getting the duty free fags she bought for me when she came back from Argentina 3 weeks ago.

 Last night I arrived at the GiffGaff social event unfashionably early, but I am glad I did. It gave me a chance to have a bit of a chat with some of the staff. An hour after it started it was getting very crowded in the small room they had hired, and it was also hot and noisy. The nicest chat I had with with a very good looking young lady who happened to be a fellow smoker. I never did catch her name, which was a pity. One of the interesting things she told me in answer to a question of mine was about the beginnings of GiffGaff (which should all be in lower case, but I guess my school English teachers, despite despairing of me, managed to train me too well that all names should be capitalised).

 It seems the founder of GiffGaff was, and I hope he'll forgive me using the term, a bit of an old hippy, and decided that a community lead company was the way to go. I can't recall every detail of how all this was explained to me, but it raised my esteem for the company a lot. For the moment, and hopefully into the fututre, those hippy ideals seem to be working well. There are lively forums on their web site where most problems are discussed and usually resolved without having to resort to long calls to call centres based in far away places with far away inpenetrable accents.

 I can't really say that I enjoyed the social event as such. There were plus points and minus points. Plus points for the two free bottles of Corona I drunk. Minus points for the often rather intrusive music that didn't include any Barclay James Harvest, Hawkwind, Pink Floyd or Motorhead. In fact I didn't recognise a single tune being played. Such is the life of a grumpy old man ! I am still glad I went though. It was nice putting faces to a few names. The only regret I had was that I left when I did.

 I never intended to stay much beyond 8 pm (it started at 7 pm) so I could get home in time for some dinner and a bit of relaxation before going to bed. It was just after 8 pm that my conversation with the delightful young lady was interupted because she was wanted for something or another. She said that we would resume the conversation soon, but I had to leave to get the next train before she came back. So without saying goodbye I just upped and left.

 Annoyingly, with the benefit of hindsight, I could have stayed a bit later, and not have been rude by walking out without saying goodbye. There was signalling problems on the railway, and I had to wait well over half an hour for a train home. The train eventually arrived, and after we had crossed central London and were heading into south east London I saw a most disgusting sight. A suited and booted business man had obviously had too much booze and vomitted. That would be bad enough by itself, but somehow he had vomited into his jacket. As he stood up to lurch off the train at Crofton Park station a surge of vomit emerged from the sleeve of his jacket ! It was all rather unpleasant (understatement of the day !).

 It was nearly 10 pm when I got home, and even the unpleasant sight on the train home could not dissuade me from the idea that I was starving hungry after not eating anything since breakfast time (when I bought a spicy chicken tikka roll on my way into work at 7.30 am). I could have cooked something up to eat, but I settled on a couple of spam sandwiches. It wasn't much, and I could easily have had more, but I fought the temptation and left it at that. It was probably a good idea to do that because combined with some of my previous care about what I eat, my weight would appear to be the lowest it has been all year this morning.

 
Wednesday 21st April 2010
07:52 BST
 
  Why is the weather so mysterious ? I can tell you that it is cool enough to make my fingers tingle, and that the sky is almost pure blue with the sun shining brightly, but I cannot rely on the weather forecasters to make any predictions ! Last night, on TV, the weather forecast was that the wind would be from the southwest, and that would feel more pleasant. My morning paper shows that the wind will be from the opposite direction ! One of them must be right, or maybe both are wrong. The TV forecast suggested that the winds from the south west would be very light, and so although it would actually be cooler today, it would feel warmer. Usually winds from the south west are warmer, but also wetter winds. It feels fairly breezy outside, and so my moneys on the winds being from the south east, but I guess over the course of the day they could swing round. If that is the case then I guess both my morning paper and the TV are correct, but just running on different time scales. My prediction is that it will stay sunny, and start to warm up after 11 am. By 4 pm it should be as good as yesterday, or hopefully better, when it was just about warm enough to go home in my shirtsleeves.

 Last night I finally made up my photo page for my walk last Saturday. You can view it here. I seem to have shown a lot of photos on this new page - about 25 if I recall correctly. It does mean the page is very long and will take longer to fully load than usual. I really ought to investigate some sort of slideshow way of displaying my photos. I could do it using ordinary plain vanilla html coding, and I may just do that, but I think I will investigate what software or templates might be out there to make the process a little simpler. One trouble with this approach is that the solutions I may find may not be customisable to suit my needs, or they will require some sort of extra software on my server. Ideally I want something to automate the production of the web page(s), and with the final web pages running as static pages. In theory I could be getting to the point where I could write my own script to do this by cobbling together bits and pieces I already know, and maybe learning a few new bits. Ideally I'd love to do that, but it takes a lot of time and patience that I rarely seem to have lately.

 Tonight I am off to the GiffGaff members social evening. It doesn't start until 7pm, and that should give me plenty of time to get home, smarten myself up a (tiny) bit and then go get on a train to St Pancras. I am really curious to see what this social evening is all about, but I am not expecting to enjoy myself, or to meet any new friends there. The free food and drink is a minor attraction, but in my greed I am hoping there could be some other goodies there.  I don't expect there will be anything more exotic than logo'd pens and notepads, if that, but if Giff Gaff are feeling exceptionally generous there could be stuff like t-shirts. It's probably more likely that there may be some stuff like that on sale, and if it is cheap enough I may spend a couple of quid.

 Going out tonight inevitably means another late night. I think I need less sleep now there is more daylight, but for the last week (give or take a day or two) I have been waking up at 4 am after not getting to sleep until 10 pm. This morning I was out of bed very soon after 4 am. If I didn't have to go to work today I would have gone back to bed again after an hour or so, and I am sure I would have slept again for another hour or two, but being a work day it just wasn't worth going back to bed again. On the whole I feel OK with only getting 6 hours sleep, but I did get very close to falling asleep while reading stuff on my PC here at work. I certainly got into the state where you are aware that your eyes have closed and have to struggle to open them again. That is pretty damn close to sleeping, and I am sure that it is going to happen again today. Happily I am near the end of the book I am reading, and one last session should see me get to the end of it. I say happily because it will take away a bad temptation to not get to sleep early, but in a way it is sad because I have been enjoying the book immensely, and would wish it to go on and on.
Tuesday 20th April 2010
08:28 BST
 
  One of the words I keep seeming to forget when writing here is the word "fresh". This morning I remember it, and so can write that this morning it is fresh. Written like that it doesn't seem to work. Nevermind, I 'll just fall back on my usual description of the morning being somewhere between cool and chilly. It is also very nicely bright and sunny. With luck the day will soon warm up.

 Yesterday the sun burnt off all the clouds and mist by midday, or perhaps a little before, and it did warm up. However I can't believe that the temperature rose to 17 or 18 C as the weather forecaster suggested last night. I took my jacket off when I travelled home from work, but it didn't feel warm enough to roll my sleeves up as well. My morning paper suggests that it wil be a lot cooler and cloudier today in direct contradiction the BBC's weather forecast last night. That was more optimistic, and from the feel of the warm sunshine I am even more optimistic.

 This morning I feel sort of odd. Some of the oddness is just a continuing lack of sleep while the book I am reading tempts me to stay up reading longer than I should. The other oddness is a mild stomach ache. I think I know the reason for it, and I think it was self inflicted.

 I read in this mornings paper that yesterday was the previously unheard of "National Garlic Day". By pure coincidence, for the first time in ages, I used a very (very !) generous amount of garlic puree in a rather delicious mixed vegetable and skinless chicken, low fat, low(ish) calorie, stew last night. I also added an excess of chilli sauce of the fiercest West Indian variety. I suspect that the chilli is what has given me the mild stomach ache this morning. Apart from the fierce heat of the stew it was very tasty, and it is the sort of thing I should cook more often. I made it with loads of water too, and I suppose you could almost describe it as a soup with lumps in it, but all that liquid made it very filling (as it was designed to do). During the day I had only eaten two satsumas and an apple, and if I had stopped after the soup/stew I could have claimed to have eaten a sort of healthy diet (if you ignore the chilli burn). However I have to blame the chilli a bit more because it also inspired me to finish off the last 5, almost stale digestive biscuits I had in the cupboard.

 Tonight I have more (possibly) healthy food in mind. I have some fairly lean beef in the fridge, and a sweetheart cabbage that will form the main ingredients of my dinner. I had better watch the amount of chilli I add tonight because I have no biscuits left to soak up some of the heat (or whatever).

 Another thing that happened last night was that I recieved my invitation to a very peculiar event. It is a social evening for users of GiffGaff mobile phone sim cards tomorrow night. I have no idea what the evening will be like. It starts at 7 pm and I only expect to stay there for about an hour. I applied for a place purely out of curiosity, but free booze and food was also a bit of a draw. I doubt I will eat or drink much, but I will certainly grab any other goodies that might be going.

 Since GiffGaff started 6 months ago it has matured well. Of course the big draw was the free mobile internet usage until 25th May. After that internet usage was to be charged, and I wasn't sure if it would be more than I would like to pay, but now they have some fixed price plans that are very attractive. In their strange way they have called them "goodybags", but I suppose this is no more strange than some other operators name their packages (Orange can be pretty weird). The goodybag that I will start of with is the 10 one. Checking their price page reveals that for 10 a month I get 100 minutes of talk time, unlimited texts, and unlimited internet. Of course, like all mobile operators, they use the special usage of the word unlimited. In reality it means that if you stay within the terms and conditions, and only use the sim card in a mobile phone, then in practical terms it is unlimited. If it were used in a mobile broadband dongle for a laptop, for instance, you would really have to be very careful about keeping your data transfers really low to avoid a warning about unfair usage. Some light web surfing and email would probably be fine, and not really dissimilar to what you would use on a phone, but downloading movies, or Microsoft service packs would be frowned on.
Monday 19th April 2010
07:48 BST
 
  After the glories of the weekend this morning is looking pretty poor. It is dry, and it is somewhere between cool and chilly, but it is very grey and drab. I can see a few small, very small, gaps in the clouds, but they seem too small for the sun to find. My morning paper suggests that it should be worse than this with very dark grey clouds and rain, but last nights forecast on TV was more optimistic. That reckoned that the cloud will break up allowing some sunshine through. Sadly, the temperature is only likely to rise to a disappointing 12 C today. We will have to wait until the end of the week for the temperature to get back to a modest 15 C, but that's if we can trust the long term forecast. In my wild optimism I am hoping for warmer and sooner.

 I was a little surprised that my feet, and in some ways the rest of me, felt reasonably good yesterday. After the discomfort I was in towards the end of my walk on Saturday I had been expecting to be partially crippled, but apparently not. I didn't do anything to strees my legs and feet yesterday, such as a long walk around the park, but for the three times I did go out I felt fine.

The first time I went out was just to go shopping in Tesco. I was sorely tempted to buy something bad for me while in there. Maybe something like a large chocolate cake, but I couldn't think of any good excuse why I should want to buy something like that. So I didn't. What I did buy was mostly healthy sort of food, although the 12 pack of catfood was probably more healthy for Smudge than for me.

 The next time I went out was to meet Aleemah at the station, and to do a little more shopping. I wanted to get a couple of new t-shirts, and for some bizzare reason I wanted a yellow t-shirt. I do have plenty of t-shirts at home, but many are in bad condition after the curse of "dribbled" chicken fat. The fat stains seem impossible to remove, and I have a theory that it is the dyes being soluble in the fat and running that causes the problem rather tan just the fat remaining amongst the fibres of the cloth. I really ought to test this theory by using some strong detergent before normal washing, and sometime soon I will. Nevertheless I still wanted a yellow t-shirt, and a couple of other light colours as well.

 Aleemah suggested that yellow was not currently a fashionable colour, but once we were inside Peacocks I quickly found a yellow t-shirt, and also pale blue and bright red too. These I bought, and I am going to try hard not to get chicken fat on them in the future. This could be easy because I wan't to try and avoid eating hot fried chicken at least until autumn starts. On the other hand I sometimes think I love fried chicken more than life itself. So I can but do my best.

 After Peacocks we went to Shoe Zone where I found that they had new stocks of Redfish lightweight, plimsol like, shoes. It was in Redfish canvas shoes that I did what you might call my first long distance paddling in the sea last year. They do seem to be more comfortable than the other canvas shoes I have used, and so I was quite happy to buy a new pair. The new ones seem to have a slightly padded insole, and seem unusually comfy for flat soled shoes.

 I also bought a new pair of trainers that have some similarities to my favourite extra comfy ones that I bought from the supermarket a few years back, and still wear on odd occasions (like last Thursday and Friday). I am wearing the new ones now, and after coming to work in them I can announce that they are reasonably comfortable. Maybe they are still too new to be very comfortable, but in time they will improve. Alternately, bearing in mind where I bought them from, they may quickly deteriorate and become unwearable after a few days !

 The third time I went out was to see Aleemah back to the station. It's only a brief walk, but that is when I tried the new Redfish shoes. As is usual it will take a few tries to wear them in, and/or get the laces correctly tensioned, but my first impression was very favourable. Until they have considerably more wear on them I think I will keep them out of mud and water, and use them for more everyday walking (to/from the shops etc), and use my other canvas shoes for mucking about in seawater.

 I hope it will not be too long before I feel that the sea will not instantly convert my feet into block of ice, and will be able to walk at the waters edge, or in the water as my fancy takes me. I fear it will still be many weeks away before I can do that, but it should only take 5 days now until I can dazzle the world with my yellow t-shirt along the beach somewhere (I am counting on next Saturday being warm and dry !).

 Last night my thoughts returned to the stupid idea of staying out overnight with only a sleeping bag to protect me from the elements. My initial idea of metaphorically sleeping under a hedge gave way to the idea of sleeping amongst sand dunes. Both ideas are probably impractical, but somehow I think that sand dunes may be less impractical than a theoretical hedge. At the moment I am not convinced it will never happen even if when I consider it with a clear head it seems rather unlikely.
Sunday 18th April 2010
07:18 BST
 
  Some say it could get as hot as 18 C today. From the way the day has started that seems highly likely. Even at this relatively early hour it looks beautiful outside. The sun is shining, the sky is 100% blue, and there is not even an aeroplane contrail in sight (thanks due to the grounding of all planes while the upper atmosphere is full of volcanic dust).

 After the misty/foggy start to yesterday it turned into a glorious day. At least it did in respect of the weather. There was continuous sunshine with very few clouds in the sky, and only a light breeze to just take off the very edge of the available warmth. It meant for a good day out, and I even picked up a little mild sunburn. My day was not prefect though. Several things went wrong to spoil it, but I still enjoyed myself.

 The first problem with the day was  very minor. My original destination was to be Whitstable, and indeed that turned out to be so at the end. Prior to starting out I had in mind a sort of circular walk around Whitstable, but upon consulting a map I decided it would be a nicer walk if I started at Chesterfield & Swalescliffe station and walk along the coast. Unfortunately every second train skips that station, and the service I was due to get did just that. So actually booked through to the next station, Herne Bay, and started my walk from there.

 The second problem of the day was also with the trains. Someone had stolen some signalling cables around the middle of the route. That meant that trains had to be hand signalled for several miles, and the delays involved in this added an extra 20 - 25 minutes to my nicotine cravings. This was so on the way there and on the way back.

 The third problem was that having got to Herne Bay I didn't get into my stride until I had walked about a mile. It seemed hard going, and if I had been local I would have turned around and gone home again. Eventually it began to feel good, and I pressed on towards Whitstable.

 The fourth problem was not actually a problem, and really only an extremely small disappointment. It is best summed up by this picture........
No nudes allowed !
I wasn't expecting to see the cheering sight of naked bodies, but there was no need for Canerbury City Council to rub it in !

 The fifth problem was that after 4 or 5 miles my feet began to hurt. Practically all the walking I had done was on paved ground, and it was taking it's toll on my feet. I mentioned yesterday that my hiking shoes were getting less comfortable, and it now seems that they have almost had their day for these long walks. Some of the blame may lie with the socks I was wearing though. They were a little loose around the toes, and may not have been giving as much protection as they could have.

 The sixth problem was a major annoyance. I had been tracking my progress using the Cardio Trainer software on my Android phone, and the last distance I saw recorded was over 5 miles. That was while I was approaching Whitstable harbour. From then on I used it to leave the beach area and navigate towards the station. It was because I was using it frequently as a navigation aid that I didn't wait for the screen to lock before putting into the case with my camera which was dangling around my neck. I finally got onto the road that leads directly to the station, and without checking the distance I had walked I put the phone back in my camera case. As I did I heard it clicking as the scroll wheel, which was obviously rubbing against the case, moved several times. When I pulled it out to check it I found that it had obliterated all trace of my long walk. Now I don't know far I walked, but I am pretty certain that it was very close to, or may have slightly exceded 6 miles.

 The seventh and eighth problems were at Whitstable station. There was no pub near the station, and I was looking forward to a pint of beer after that long walk. To rub salt into the wound I realised that the next train was due in less than one minute, and I didn't even have time for one last fag before getting on the train. Had there been a pub in view I would gladly have waited 30 minutes for the next train while drinking, cooling off and smoking. Despite it not really being that warm on the coast, I had worked up a sweat and a cooling off period before boarding the train would have been nice.

 The ninth problem was largely of my own making. With the extended journey time due to the manual signalling I expected that I would miss my connection at Bromley South, and in a way I did, but such was the delay that we arrived in time for the next train back to Catford. Unfortunately I was looking out for a train towards Kentish Town, Luton or Bedford. In my ignorance I forgot that on Saturdays the trains are diverted towards Victoria, and it wasn't until I had just missed a train that I realised this. I could have waited another 30 minutes, but I elected to get a bus back to Catford.

 The tenth, and last problem was with the bus. It was a little too warm on it, and after a couple of stops the back of the bus was full of very noisy annoying brats. So it was not a pleasant ride, but the worse bit is that the service was due to terminate in Catford and the final stop was one before I thought it would be. So with aching feet I had a little extra to walk. It did take me past a cash machine that I wanted to use. So I guess I would have to be positive and admit that every cloud has a silver lining.

 While I enjoyed my long walk I would say I only enjoyed it about half as much as could have been possible. Having now walked from Herne Bay to Whitstable I now have a new challenge for some time in the not too distant future. That challenge is to walk from Birchington On Sea, where I finished my walk from Margate, to Herne Bay. It is a fairly long walk, perhaps exceeding 7 miles, but it could have it's compensations. It means walking by Minnis Bay, and if my memory serves me well, that is already being used informally as a nudist beach, and there is a movement to make it official. Unless by some miracle I found a daring female partner to walk with me I think it would be wiser to keep my camera out of sight, but there could be some interesting sights to see (as well as some gruesome one too !).

 I still want to explore further along the coast from Whitstable, but the next railway station back towards London is a long way away, and inland too. So I will have to resurect my circular walk for that. Possibly before that there is another stretch of coast to walk that would join on to the start of an earlier walk, and that is Broadstairs to Margate.I estimate that to be over 6 miles, and more like 7, but once I have completed that I could claim to have explored the majority of the coast on the southern side of the Thames Estuary. I think that during the course of this year I could potentially explore most of the coastline of the southeastern corner of England. It's an interesting challenge, and I think I look forward to it.
Saturday 17th April 2010
08:00 BST
 
  It is quite foggy outside. I often have difficulty over the difference between fog and mist, and as far as I know there is no absolute point when one changes to the other. There is a further difficulty at the moment because what I see, or rather don't see, is different dependant on whether I am looking north or south. Looking south I would definitely describe it as fog. To the north, perhaps only mist.

 This fog is obviously a sign that it got bloody cold last night after a reasonably pleasant sunny evening. From the way Smudge raced in after doing her business I would infer that it is still bloody cold outside ! Later on, once the sun rises a bit higher in the sky, it should "burn off" the mist and fog, and then we have been promised an exceptionally sunny day with temperatures rising to 17 or 18 C. It will probably be a bit cooler by the coast, and that has some significance.

 It is my plan to go out walking around Whitstable today. At least that was my plan, and I hope it still is my plan. It was my intention to be getting ready to go out around now, but I am delaying going out for two reasons. Firstly I am going to delay my departure until the day starts to warm up a bit. Secondly my guts feel a little unsure right now, and I want to give them a chance to settle down a bit before heading out into the wild blue yonder.

 The reason my guts feel off key is purely and simply because I ate too much last night. I had been anticipating a message from Patricia to say we could meet up after work for a quick drink, but unsurprisingly that message didn't come. After waiting for an age I decided it would never come, and by that time I was starving hungry. I had planned to eat a light meal in anticipation of going out today, but I ended up eating a lot of the stuff I had planned to eat after my long walk today.

 It would be a little tragic if my over indulgence, and it's after effects, were to stop me going out today because yesterday I was looking to the future of a lot more walking and getting some extra kit in for these long walks. I ordered a new pair of hiking shoes, and two more pairs of shorts. My current hiking shoes are still a long way from being worn out by my usual standards of flogging a pair of shoes until they are almost falling apart, but they did get a lot of use during the winter for just going to work in the snow (for instance). On my last day out walking I got the impression they had lost some of their comfort, and I thought a new pair would help to keep my feet in better condition if I end up increasing the distance that I walk.

 The shorts were a bit of a gamble because I bought them unseen on-line. Hopefully they will be comfortable for long distance walking in the summer, but if not I am sure they will be OK if I am brave enough to wear them to work. If we do get the extra hot summer that some predict then their main job may just be as  everyday wear. Meanwhile the shorts I first tried last summer are still in good condition, and I know they are really comfortable to walk in on the hottest days.

 There was one other thing I bought yesterday that I am not sure if I will really use in the way I imagined. It was a sleeping bag I saw on the shelves of Tesco yesterday. I had a rather fanciful idea that I might use it so I could stay out overnight during the summer. It is unfeasible for me to take a more traditional holiday, but the idea of two days of walking/exploring is starting to feel like a good idea. I have already done that once or twice, but the problem is that it involves two long boring, and expensive train journeys that I wouldn't have to do if I stayed out overnight. I can't be bothered with trying to predict where and when I might want to stay, and never having stayed in a hotel in all my adult life, and only once as a kid, I have no idea how to do it anyway.

 My somewhat eccentric solution to this problem is to just crash out under a hedge (although probably not literally) for the night. It seemed like a good idea until I thought about it a bit more, and now I am not so sure about it. Nevertheless it might happen on the spur of the moment (and when I am confident of a warm dry night). One thing is for certain, it won't be happening anytime soon, and not just because the nights are still very cold now. No, the bigger problem, and big is the operative word here, is that I barely fit inside the sleeping bag. If I leave my arms outside I can get the rest of my body inside, but that would mean a cold uncomfortable night. Maybe I could get a bigger sleeping bag, but it would be better if my body were a bit smaller by, say, August.  On further consideration I am not even sure that would work. It is possible that my gut could be a lot smaller by then, but I don't really need the space for my arms there, and I know my chest will not shrink significantly where I do need the extra room. It's not looking good for the moment, but anything could happen in the future.

 When it comes to losing weight I have made a new discovery that I don't think is widely known. It explains a phenomena known to most people who try and lose weight where sometimes weight loss comes to a grinding halt despite almost starving yourself. It seems that without sufficient B vitamins it is hard to metabolise fat. The clue came from an article that I have only briefly scanned through in New Scientist. The whole article is about the endurance of the human body (I think), and is broken down into panels of information. I am not sure how it caught my eye, but I noticed that it stated that during extended periods of starvation it was possible to die of hunger yet still have a lot of body fat in existence. It explained this by the lack of water soluble B vitamins in the body. Being water soluble they are not retained in the body and need to be replenished frequently.

 A search of the internet brought me to this page - http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/focus/nutrition/facts/vitamins_minerals/vitamin.htm
...and here are some cut-n-pasted quotes from that web page ;
  • Vitamin B12 is also needed for the breakdown of fat and carbohydrate.
  • The best dietary sources of the B vitamins, especially B12, are:

    • animal products (meat, poultry)
    • yeast extracts (brewers' yeast, Marmite).
  • Other good sources include:

    • asparagus, broccoli, spinach, bananas, potatoes
    • dried apricots, dates and figs
    • milk, eggs, cheese, yoghurt
    • nuts and pulses
    • fish
    • brown rice, wheat germ, wholegrain cereals
 I think that gives a pretty good clue how to stop the pauses in weightloss while on a diet - eat more Marmite !!

 While writing all the above the sun has broken through. The fog turned to mist, and it has now practically dissipated. It is looking excellent out there. By the time I am washed and dressed it might even start to feel less than chilly. I had better get a move on and enjoy the day.
Friday 16th April 2010
08:40 BST
 
  If it were only warmer it would be a perfect morning. The air was quite chilly when I left for work, and yet it felt like the start of a warm, almost summer like, day. There was something more to than the bright sunshine. For indeed was very sunny with just a scattering of clouds in the sky, but what that mysterious something was eludes me. I can guess a couple of possibilities. Maybe it was a small amount of warmth trapped in my front porch, or maybe it was just the quality of the light. I don't know, but whatever it was it felt good.

 The sun should continue to shine for a lot of today, but there are some clouds around, and some of them look very dark in colour. With luck the temperature will rise another degree today. Yesterday it did manage something like the 13 C forecast, and with less wind than the previous days it did feel pretty good as I made my way home from work. Today, assuming the temperature does rise to 14 C, it should feel most pleasant. Then tomorrow, with the temperature still forecast to be 17 C, it will be close on wonderful.

 It will be interesting to see how the Icelandic volcano effects the weather. It has already had one beneficial effect, although only on the political weather. It, or more specifically all the volcanic ash clouds leading to the suspension of all flights, managed to knock the upcoming general election off the top of the news, and that must be good. Of course all the carbon dioxide spewing out of the volcano (and in due course the other one that will be triggered by the first) will, according to the most paranoid greens, cause run away global morning and we will all die (maybe sometime tonight, for the ultra ultra paranoid). Until someone holds a test tube over the "nozzle" of the volcano we will never know for sure, but the chances are that one single volcano is emitting as much CO2 as most of the industrialised world does in a year.

 The flip side of the global warming through CO2 is that all that ash floating around above our heads will reflect a lot of warm sunlight away from the Earth. So we are all going to freeze ! If the second volcano that Icelandic scientists say will very likely do the big firework, actually does blow it's top it may trigger the next ice age. That may sound bad, but there is worse to come. All that ash in the upper atmosphere will provide the fine articles that rain drops grow around. So we can expect more heavy rain, and all those great big thunder clouds will reflect even more sunlight causing even more global cooling. So there is even a bigger chance that the Earth will turn into one big snowball.

 Maybe I won't get to see an ice age in my lifetime, and maybe there won't be one anyway, but one thing is for sure - when it comes to messing about with the climate, contrary to what climate change evangelists may say, we, as mankind, are rank amateurs compared to what mother nature can do.

 Talking of evangelists, but this time of the God bothering type, I was forwarded an email containing lots of pictures. It was supposed to be uplifting, but I found it all rather depressing. All the pictures were tainted by God and/or religion except, curiously enough, for one. That one definitely seemed to carry a more humanist/hippy sort of feel. I thought it needed a bit more colour. So I added that. I thought I could improve on their  smile, and if I were an artist I could have , but I changed it anyway. Finally I aded an extra word and removed references from it's original source (presumably a God bothering website).  I am now happy that it is fit to be seen by more enlightened company, and here it is....
Peace Man !
Thursday 15th April 2010
07:52 BST
 
  Sometimes what you are promised is not what you get. Possibly, just possibly, today we may get what we were promised. The promise is that the sun will be out today, and it will get to be a close approximation to warm. When I started out for work it was grey and most definitely very chilly. By the time I reached work I could see the first bits of blue among the grey misty clouds. The sun did manage to weakly shine through a less dense area of cloud once as I neared work, but it only lasted for mere seconds. If the sun should eventually manage to shine for long peiods of time we could see the temperature rise to an almost acceptable 14 C.

 Yesterday was appallingly cold. Due to a cock-up by the gas board we have no heating at work except in my room where there is a fan heater. How everybody else did not revolt against the cold is amazing. I am sure that the Factories Act says that the temperature should reach 60 F (approx 15.5 C) within one hour of work starting, and I feel sure it didn't. There is no thermometer here to actually verify the temperature which is probably also slightly illegal. None of this really involves me because my room is nice and warm, but going outside for a fag chilled me right down to the bone, and it seemed to take ages to feel comfortable again.

 All I have said above may not be strictly accurate. It may be that it was just my perception that it was freezing cold yesterday, and it is just about possible that my reason for feeling that way was because I was ill in some ill defined way. I had some very obvious aches and pains yesterday, but I never really thought of myself as ill as such. However, I feel so much better today that it makes me think that I was vaguely ill yesterday.

 There are some factors to take into account when saying I feel so much better today, but I am not sure they acccount for everything. One instant improvement is that I am wearing my most comfortable walking shoes today. They are not my comfortable hiking shoes, but a pair of trainers I bought almost 2 years ago now from the Aldi supermarket up the road from home. They were cheap, but evidently extremely durable, and I have not seen any more like them since. Wearing these shoes really puts a sort of spring in my step, but that comes at a small price. The shoes I wore yesterday, and the day before that, were ultra lightweight, and so comfortable that you forget you are wearing them until you actually stand up and try and walk. They have so little padding that it feels like you are being beaten on the soles by a nasty policeman wielding a slab of paving stone. Today my shoes make it feel like I am walking on a lawn, but they never quite let you forget you are wearing them. I am not sure how to explain that. It's not a question of pain or tightness, but just that they are sort of there....

 The other factor that has probably improved my well being today is that I ate slightly less than usual yesterday. The main part of my dinner was white fish, broccoli and peas curry made with a mostly oil free curry sauce. If I had only eaten that I could boast that I was on a diet, but it didn't quite stop there. I also had a large handful of pecan nuts, a very small ice cream and a low fat peanut butter and Marmite sandwich. I didn't go to bed feeling hungry last night, but perhaps more importantly I didn't go to bed feeling too full.

 Along with all the stuff I (consciously) did that helped me feel better today there may have also been stuff going on at the cellular level. The stiff neck and headaches that were causing me some discomfort may have had a base in something more than high blood and high blood sugar level. Today, my one area of concern is towards my right ear in the area where the jaw hinges. It is definitely sore in some circumstances, and while it might be something ignorable like cancer, my main fear is that it could be the start of something like an infected tooth that may require dental treatment. What I am hoping is that it the last remaining point of some larger infection that was making my whole neck stiff and sore. If so, then it may clear up in a week or two without further intervention.

 There is just one more thing that is helping me feel unusually good this morning. It was learning that Saturday could be bright and warm. The BBC weather forecast for London on TV last night suggested that Saturday should see clear blue skies, and the temperature reach 16 C. What makes this of such significance is that I have been planning on going out for a long walk on Saturday.  I was probably going to go anyway assuming it was not really wet or really cold, but now it looks as if I could have a great day out. I plan to have a look around Whistable. I think, in fact I am sure, that the sea will be far too cold to paddle in, but this time I might take a chance of a very brief paddle if I manage to walk far enough to get my feet really hot and sore.
Wednesday 14th April 2010
08:22 BST
 
  I really should not have made that rash prediction that the weather was definitely on the up turn. I was so wrong ! This morning it is cold and grey and horrible. The weather forecasters seem to think that the cloud will blow over, and there will be sunshine later on. I feel less optimistic than that, and I would go as far as to say that it could even rain at some point. Once again the forecast temperature is supposed to be as high as 13 at some point today. As I write this it could be half that, and the 15 - 20 mph wind coming in off the North Sea (and colder points to the north east) is making it feel even colder than that. The promise is that tomorrow will be brighter and sunnier, but let's try and get through this day first.

 There is very little to say about yesterday. I had a thoroughly lazy time, and spent a lot of it laying on my bed reading. I did go as far as getting out the spare PC out that I said I would be experimenting on, and I gave it a good hard stare, but I didn't do anything else to it. In support of what I could have been doing I copied some information off the internet, but that is all I did.

 My wobbly guts did mostly settle down yesterday, but they still felt "odd" most of the day, and even a little bit this morning. I guess that what I should have done is eat practically nothing yesterday, but there was no way I could manage to do that. However, when I remember what I did eat it doesn't seem that much for a day spent indoors slightly bored.

 Having spent a considerable time on my bed yesterday I do, or did, feel very stiff and aching when I woke up this morning. Had I not known better I would have said that I was suffering from 'flu when I first woke up. Since coming to work all the stiff and aching bits have, as they usually do, eased up, and I am almost, but not quite,  comfortable now.

 Today, apart from being at work, nothing is due to happen. I think my only plan is to get to bed as early as I can and continue my reading. Having finished the first two of the robot novels by Isaac Asimov (The Caves Of Steel and The Naked Sun) I have now moved on to the third in the series, The Robots Of Dawn, which was actually written something like 20 years after the the other two. Yet the feel of the book is that no time passed between Isaac Asimov writing the first two novels and writing the third - which is sort of clever I think.
Tuesday 13th April 2010
11:18 BST
 
  To my surprise it is nice and sunny this morning, and even better, it looks as if it might stay sunny for a lot of today. By this time yesterday it was fairly grey outside, and there were only a few brief glimpses of sunshine. What hasn't changed is the wind. It is not strong, but it is blowing from the cold wastes of Russia (or somewhere else in that general direction and also cold). Were it not for that wind it would (or should be) most pleasant outside.

 I have to confess that I haven't been outside to check some of those facts. All I have seen is the sunshine pouring through my window, but I do know that it is definitely cool enough to need the heaters on this morning.  I have taken the day off sick from work with a stomach upset. I'll spare you the details. It's enough to say that I would not have liked to be stuck on a train while my "digestive anomoly" was in full operation earlier this morning !

 I am now over the worst of it, and to quell a hollow feel to my gut I have gone as far as to stuff it with a large sandwich.  I feel almost, but not quite, normal now, but I think I prefer to keep the toilet nearby for a while yet. In some ways I feel much better than I did yesterday. My problem then was lack of sleep. Last night I was asleep soon after 8.30 pm, and I slept well until the toilet beckoned at about 1.30 am. At that time I had a hint of what was to come later.

At 4.30 am I woke up again, and this time it was not a pee I needed. It was the start of the unpleasantness, and out of neccesity I was awake until just after 8 am. After phoning work to tell them I was sick I went back to bed. Very soon after I was fast asleep again, and I didn't wake up until 10 am when I received a phone call from one of my workmates. He was most apologetic, but wondered if I could remember where a spare lamp for the microscope was kept if we had one. I did contemplate trying to get back to sleep after that, but I felt so hollow and hungry that I could not resist getting up and making a sandwich.

 It may be that I will have a lay down, and ideally more sleep a bit later, but there are one or two things I could do while I am here. I have been neglecting my computers lately, and my server needs backing up for one thing. Another thing is that I have an idea for a spare computer which is currently gathering dust. I once experimented with remote computing using the "No Machine" NX client/server software. It did work rather well even though for most of it's short life it was 99% novelty, and a mere 1% useful. Now I have an idea that would shift the balance away from novelty, and more to useful, but admittedly not by much. By installing it on it's own dedicated machine, and then locking it down to the best of my ability, I could not only use it myself on a few rare, but useful, times, but I could allow a few select people the chance to try Linux in a slightly unusual way. It will take a bit of work setting it up, and unless I get overenthusiastic I very much doubt I will get it up and running today, or even this fortnight, but I could make a start today while I listen to my gut rumbling away. Right now though, that idea of getting a bit more sleep is feeling quite attractive. Perhaps I will just be very lazy today - after all I am officially sick right now.
Monday 12th April 2010
08:51 BST
 
  There is a very chilly wind blowing this morning, and there wasn't much sunshine in compensation for it. The sun is out now, but there are still quite a few clouding floating about in the sky that could block it at any time. While it should stay dry today, tomorrow, and probably for the rest of the week, the temperature is going to stay around a disappointing 13 C. Maybe I was a little too enthusiastic when I was extolling the virtues of the weather when I wrote yesterday. With daytime tempertures only reaching 13 C it seem unlikely that the world (as I know it) will warm up enough to stop the mornings being so chilly.

 Amongst several disapointments yesterday was the news that while London was a barely adequate 13 C (or thereabouts), Glasgow, up in the "frozen north", managed to reach 20 C. That is so unfair ! Glaswegians are supposed to have blue skins, but if they carry on like that they will end up with tans ! I shouldn't get too upset though, I believe they are back to a mere 11 C, and I am sure that is much more to their liking (i.e. they have an excuse for many more "wee drams", or pints of heavy).

 I had a 95% lazy day yesterday. The odd 5% was when I took a walk to Aldi to see what might be new there. It was a fatal mistake because, of course, there was lots new, and many many familar things that I stupidly thought I ought to get reaquainted with. In short I bought lots of food and made a pig of myself. This undoubtably raised both my blood pressure and my blood sugar level, and the result was similar to the result which I blamed on eating the Irish soda bread on Saturday. I once again suffered from a headache that rose up from my neck and strangled my brain. Happily it was not as intense as it was on Saturday night, and I did manage to get close to a full nights sleep last night.

 I am still lacking in sleep this morning despite getting a good 6 or 7 hours last night. Ideally I wouild have got 8 hours, and even more ideally I would have managed several hours sleep when I went back to bed after writing yesterday morning. I did manage about an hours sleep, but after that I only managed a couple of short naps during the day.

 Tonight I must aim for an early night, but it won't be easy. I spent a fair time reading Iasaac Asimov's "The Naked Sun" yesterday, and I am now up to the most exciting part of the story. I will not be able to resist the temptation of reading more tonight, and I fear it will be very difficult to put the book down and get to sleep early (or even on time).
Sunday 11th April 2010
07:01 BST
 
  At this time of the morning the sky is looking rather grey and misty, but I expect that as the sun rises it will clear most of the mist away. Hopefully it will turn into another bright sunny day like yesterday. Yesterday was not perfect, but it was close. It was bright and sunny, and just about warm enough to go out for short walks without a coat. However, once the sun started to set it did cool off rather quicker than I would have expected.

 I had a pleasant time seeing Aleemah yesterday, but things started to go downhill a bit after she left, and it ended up that I had a very bad, semi-sleepless, night. There are two things that might get the blame for this. One was some piri-piri chicken wings that I cooked. I followed the  cooking instructions, but I am not convinced that they were cooked properly. Near the bone there was a ceratin amount of redness indicating that they should have been cooked for longer. I don't think they were to blame though. If it had been them I can imagine that my reaction would have been far more unpleasant. If they did cause any problems at all it was likely to be just some rumbling in my gut and a bit of a blaoted feeling. It is far more likely my next suspect is the blame.

 My second suspect of was some Irish soda bread that I ate. I think I may have had some sort of reaction to that for some reason. My reaction was in two parts. The first was either feeling too hot or too cold. The second was a really awful headache that radiated upwards from my neck. I guess you could add that my neck felt realy stiff and sore too. I guess there could have been other reasons for all this, but in this day and age we are all trained to blame something, and so I blame that soda bread.

 With all that going on it took me ages to get to sleep, and when I did get to sleep I kept waking up. One time I woke up after sleeping partially uncovered and I found that my buttocks were as cold as ice. Fortunately by that time my temperature sensitivity had calmed down and I was able to keep myself covered up.

 All this bad sleep meant that I was aware that I was dreaming a lot. I had dreams about being at a beer festival in Southhampton, except this Southampton was a suburb of London. Another dream was set in a secret government building above a nuclear fall out bunker. It was my new place of work, and along with a dozen or more new recruits we were at a sort of induction lecture/ceremony. Part of it was reminiscent of my first day at secondary school, or my first day at work. Part of the new kit we were given was books. These books, which included a bible, were all old school books that the government had carefully stored away since the 1960's. All were second hand, and all had the former pupils names in them. At any moment I was half expecting to see my name appear on one of these old books.

 As well as those dreams, and others that are now too vague to remember anything significant about, I also laid in bed just thinking. At least I think I was awake thinking. Some thoughts may have just been dreams too. One train of thought, triggered by who knows what, was about womens shoes. At some point, but I am not sure whether it was at the begining, middle or end of this train of thought that I realised the similarities to "The Shoe Event Horizon". This was from the radio version of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, and you can hear the relevant bit HERE, or read the script HERE.

The relevant point in my train of thought was not about the economic outcome of the shoe event horizon, but about looking down on the ground when depressed. I am not thing of the classical "oh I feel so depressed" type of depression here, but about the misery of a cold wet day of the sort we had quite a lot of, rather too much of in fact, until the sun finally got it's act together. In other words it's a winter phenomon, but there's more to it than just looking down when it's cold and raining. There are also winter days when it is bright and sunny, but the sun is so low on the horizon that to avoid the glare you tend to look down (or at least I do). So over the winter I had plenty of time to study womens shoes (mens shoes being boring).

 So my conclusions : I guess I am abnormal in that I don't think that, general, high heels are very sexy. It's true that in the hands (or should that be feet ?) of some skilled women they can give a delightful wiggle to the bum, but overall they do nothing for me. Some high heeled shoes seem so absurb that they just look rather ugly. After high heeled shoes comes boots. Those inside out sheepskin "Ugg" boots are tremendously practical, and I couldn't blame women from wearing them in the cold, but they are not really sexy. However there is one style of boot that actually makes me feel sick. I have no idea what they are called, but they appear to be knitted. They look to be the sort of thing a hideous old granny should wear, but you actually see otherwise fairly attractive women wearing them. I guess for some with strange fetishes they may be good, but for me....urrrggggghhhhh ! Leather boots come in too many styles to comment on, but stack heels like some of the old late 1960's "kinky boots" seem nicer than stilletto heels (but once again it depends on the wearers abilty to keep them under control). Finally come trainers. I think that they range from the good to the bad. The bad are the trainers that have all sorts of lumps and bumps on them. Maybe used for the sport they were presumably designed for they have some practical value, but otherwise they look ridiculous as ordinary street wear. The good are just plain, often but not always, white flat soled trainers (or sneakers to those of an American disposition).

 In theory, now that the days are warmer and drier, and the sun doesn't sit on the horizon dazzling my eyes, I ought to be able to look up, study, and come up with a train of thought one sleepless night about womens tops and bottoms, but I fear there is just too much variety to make such a train of thought viable. Either that or I just have a shoe fetish that nobody has told me about ! Maybe I just wanted to tell the world how distasteful I find those bloody hideous knitted type boots, and the rest was just window dressing.

 Of course in an ideal world I won't have any more sleepless nights, but that's probably the same ideal world where I have too much money to count, and lovers by the score. Still, fantasy is a fine thing ! It is entirely possible that I will be enduring some sleeplessness very soon. I have decided that I feel too rough to go out today, or at least too rough for a day out, and so I am going back to bed soon. I hope I can get some more sleep. I have taken a couple of painkillers and my neck ache and headache have both gone, and my temperature sensitivity appears to have gone. So there is no reason why I should not be able to get comfortable, and doze off, but at this time of the morning............well, I can but try.
Saturday 10th April 2010
09:53 BST
 
  Is this the third day in a row that the day has started out bright and sunny ? I think it is, but I may be wrong. The more significant thing is that this morning seems marginally less cool than, say, yesterday. So the good weather continues, and is getting better ! Apparently it will not be so warm today as it was yesterday, and yesterday was possibly not as warm as the day before. That sounds like things are getting worse, but we are only talking about a change of a degree or so, and the general trend is still upwards.

 Apparently Glasgow, way up in the north where they were suffering under a blanket of snow recently, will reach 19 C today, while London will be two degrees lower. To balance things up a bit their temperature will drop a couple of degrees tomorrow, and here in London it should stay about the same - I hope.

 After finding my blood sugar level was a bit high yesterday morning, I am happy to say that it was back to a nice low level when I tested it after getting home from work. This morning it is a bit on the high side, but less than yesterday. So it seems everything is under control, and it's all done without drugs. All my prescription drugs ran out a month or two ago and I didn't bother getting a repeat prescription made up. On the whole I feel far better for it even if I am supposed to drop dead at any moment. Well maybe I'll get around to dropping dead sometime, but I can't be bothered to do it now. There is even good news about my weight. It's only a tiny bit of good news because there has only been a tiny improvement, but like the weather, the general trend seems to be in the right direction.

 Today I am seeing Aleemah, but tomorrow I may have to take advantage of the continuing good weather and go and take a walk somewhere. I am contemplating starting a walk at Lancing, and seeing how far I can walk towards Brighton. I think physical obstacles will prevent me staying close to the sea, and it could end up as one of my shorter walks, but I expect it will be quite enjoyable if I do go ahead with it. The only negative thing is that water is undoubtably far too chilly to go for a paddle, but I could be masochistic and have one anyway. It all depends on how I feel when I get up tomorrow.
Friday 9th April 2010
08:19 BST
 
  Another fine sunny morning ! Alas, the mornings are still rather chilly. At least they seem that way. It is probably just the expectation that the temperature should be higher in this sunshine. By comparison with the toe curling chill when winter would not give way to spring, it is relatively mild. By this afternoon it should be at least 17 C, and if we are lucky another degree on top of that.

 It is definitely looking up for the weather. The weekend is forecast to be pretty good, and if both days are as good as yesterday I will be happy. When I went home from work last night I stuffed my coat in my bag, and rolled up my sleeves. It felt really good to go home like that. Now I can't wait until I can come to work without a coat and wearing a short sleeved shirt. Maybe it will be a few weeks yet, but unless there are any bad setbacks, we are getting there slowly.

 Last night I thought I would have a very healthy sort of meal. It didn't work out like that at all. I made a couple of errors of judgement, and they weren't the ingredients. If you imagine putting too little water in the saucepan, leave the gas higher than you thought it was, and then misjudge how long it will be to a commercial beak on TV so you can serve your freshly cooked food. With that firmly in your imagination now try to imagine the smell of charred broccoli, and fortunately slightly less charred salmon. Well, you probably now have a good idea of what happened to my dinner, and how the house smelled last night (and how the kitchen still smelled this morning) !

 Steamed salmon with broccoli would have been such a healthy meal, but I could only salvage some of it. Rather than starve I ate some crap food. It wasn't much, but evidently too much. I seem to have put on weight this morning, or maybe I definitely didn't lose any weight, and my blood sugar level was a bit higher than I might like it.

 This is all rather strange. I have been doing a lot of exercise recently. The most recent being a mile and a half walk during my lunchbreak yesterday. Along with all the exercise I have been eating less too, and there is a sort of confirmation that I am not imagining eating less. On the assumption that the percentage of fibre in my diet is usually similar from day to day, then the amount I excrete should be in proportion to the amount I eat, and I know I have excreted less recently than, say, during the cold winter months when I was definitely eating far too much on many occasions.

 It seems unlikely that the answer is to do with the extra density of muscle fibre compared to fat, but that could still be possible. When I look at myself in the mirror I do seem to have the legs of an athlete and the gut of an American. What I need to do now is to work out a way of walking using only my stomach muscles.

 Apart from ruining my dinner, and possibly wrecking my best saucepan, I almost finished my new web page with the pictures (and a few comments) of my long walk from Goring By Sea railway station to Lancing railway station via the sea front. I say "almost finished" because it was only once I was in bed last night that I realised that I had forgotten to add any navigation buttons to the page. The reason for that is that I re-used the recent page about walking from Margate as a template, and that too has no navigation buttons. I'll add the buttons to both pages in due course, but if you can stand to look at the page as it is you can find it here.

 Yesterday I suggested that my interest in the the upcoming election, and politics in general was almost zero. Since yesterday I have an almost detectable interest in politics, and it's all thanks to the wife of Prime Minister wannabe David Cameron. His wife, now that Britain has almost adopted the American way of politics, has been out campaigning on his behalf, and she is, as the saying goes, a bit of a babe. Beyond that, all politicians can go to hell in a hand cart (third class) !
Thursday 8th April 2010
08:06 BST
 
  The old saying that "you can't have your cake and eat it" seems to apply even to the weather (although I think it is a rather stupid phrase for any occasion). All the cloud that made yesterday so dull, and which dropped light rain on me several times, evaporated overnight. With clear skies the temperature plummetted. In compensation it is splendidly bright and sunny this morning.  I guess it is probably going to take maybe another month before we can have our cake and eat it - in other words, it will be both bright and sunny and warm in the morning.

 If today's forecast is correct we can expect to see some light cloud in the sky from time to time, but mostly during the morning, and the temperature will creep up from the rather cool 5 or 6 to a rather respectable 16 C. Tomorrow it could be 17 C, and (fingers crossed) the forecast is that the whole weekend will be as warm. It is also supposed to be bright and dry. Considering that with all their super computers they still struggle to get the forecast correct more than 5 minutes into the future, the forecasters are saying that this pleasant weather will continue into next week as well.

 My comments about the weather may have to be based more on gut instinct rather than trying to unravel they Delphic sayings of the weather forecasters. The weather forecast is always in the middle of the news, and that is becoming intensely boring and irritating lately. It needs something like a mega death natural disaster, or a major terrorist incident to generate any news that is, in the eyes of the broadcasters, more important than endlessly going on about the bloody Olympics or the blasted upcoming general election. I don't care about the olympics, and all the politicians ought to be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

 Having got that off my chest, I can say I did slightly lie twice just now. I am interested in the Olympics and I definitely want tickets to see some events. Of course this is on the basis that the tickets cost -300 each. Yes, that is minus 300. In other words, if they pay me 300 I will go and watch some sweaty athletes doing something very boring.

 Now when it comes to the general election I have to admit that I will be curious as to how well The Official Monster Raving Loony Party do, but I will definitely not be staying up all night to watch the results come in, and with careful planning I should be able to miss everything until the following day when all the results are in. Even then I may have to get the news from the internet because the TV stations will be endlessly discussing the results for weeks afterwards.

 One thing I didn't mention yesterday was about the fares for my day out with Kevin on Tuesday. I called it a "Travelcard bash" because in the past we have bought one day, all zone, Travelcards to travel all over London. On Tuesday I used my Oyster card instead. One of the useful things about the Oyster card in pay-as-you-go mode is that the price is capped to the same as if you were using a one day Travelcard. If you use it only on buses the price is capped to the same as an all day bus pass, and if you use it on the trains it is capped at the appropriate price for that. It is a rather handy idea, but it can go wrong as it did to me. As we progressed on our mad tour around London the credit on my Oyster card dropped lower and lower until it reached the capping point, and then dropped no lower. Each journey from then on was shown as free, or at least it was until suddenly a chunk of credit just vanished from my card.

 That was irritating, but fortunately there was a remedy. I phoned up the Oyster help line yesterday and explained the problem. They were able to call up all the details of my travels around London, and could see where I "touched in" and "touched out". (The Oyster card is a contactless electronic ticket). This is why I prefer to use my card anonymously, and only use cash to top it up - Big Brother can't always watch me ! Once the helpline had brought up the details of my travel he could see that it had all gone wrong and was able to see how much credit I should have had left on the card. He could then correct it, but there was a small catch. To get the refund I had to se the card at a designated station with 8 days. This morning I used my "leisure" Oystercard instead of my "going to work" Oyster card for my journey form Catford Bridge to Waterloo East. Sure enough, once I touched in, all my lost credit magically appeared.

 Last night I finally edited the photographs I took while on my 7.13 mile along the coast on Monday. I even made a start on making up a new web page for them. It got too late to finish that off last night, and in fact I made myself a bit late for bed. So tonight I must try to get to bed a bit earlier, but in between reading New Scientist and avoiding all the Election and Olympics stuff on the news, I should finish that web page and write the link for it here. All I have to do then is to start work on the photographs I took on Tuesday............
Wednesday 7th April 2010
08:48 BST
 
  When I arrived at Earlsfield station it was obvious there had been a light shower. This was both surprising and unsurprising. Surprising because it was such a contrast to yesterday's weather. and unsurprising because it was looking decidedly grey when I left the house to come to work. As I walked from the station into work I did feel some intermittenent light rain on my face. If my morning paper is anything to go by, it will be like this all day. However their forecasts cover such a wide, but rather undefined area, that they are almost useless. Despite that I would like to believe their forecast that it will be 16 C tomorrow.

on a "Travelcard bash". This meant travelling all over the place using a one day Travelcard and Yesterday was rather a glorious day. The sky was mostly clear and there was plenty of sunshine. I have no idea what the temperature was, but at times I did feel a little too warm while rushing around wearing a coat. I spent much of the day with Kevin discovering new bits or changes in London's (rail based) public transport. Highlights of this day out included seeing the new Docklands Light Railway station at Woolwich, and the new International station at St Pancras.

 The best discovery of the day, although ultimately it was a bit disappointing, was the new Addiscombe Railway Park. When the railway service from Elmers End to Addiscombe was shut down to use much of the track for the Croydon Tramlink there was a stub left unused because the Tramlink followed a slightly different course. That stub is now a rather narrow park that stretches from adjacent to Black Horse Lane tram stop to within a couple of hundred yards of the original Addiscombe station.

 Before the park was developed there used to be an old semaphore railway signal still standing next to the track that was gently rusting away. I had high hopes that the signal may have still been in situ when the old track was turned into a park, but sadly no. It had gone, and so had almost all traces of the old railway. It looked like the council had just let a bulldozer sweep it's way along the old track bed and destroy everything in it's path. We did have some fun looking at some of the edges of the park, and did find some old broken insulators, and few other bits of track peripherals lurking in the undergrowth, but there was nothing substantial. It was only at the midpoint of the park where there use to be a bridge across a small road that we found something more substantial. The bridge has been demolished, and the trackbed scooped out to bring it down to road level, but on that second half of the park, just inside the gates, there is a sort of memorial.

 The memorial consists of about 4 ft of track fixed down onto sleepers, and between the track is a point motor (the thing that operates the points [otherwise known as a switch in some of the former colonies]). I am not an expert when it comes to point motors, but my opinion about it, and it's an opinion shared by Kevin, is that the point motor has been fitted at right angles to how it should be fitted. Apart from the ignomy of such a technical travesty, there is little else to record the railway that used to run there.

 It is at this point that I should show a picture of the memorial, and it would be a good idea if I showed a picture of the railway as it once was, but I have not downloaded the pictures from my camera yet, and I didn't bring my camera to work to do it here. To make things even more complicated ; to show a picture of the railway as it was I would have to scan one of my old (chemical) photographs into the computer and I don't have the photo with me, nor do I have a scanner with me. For the moment you will have to use your imagination, but maybe tomorrow I may have a picture or two to see.

 This morning I feel more fatigued than yesterday morning. It may have been a mistake to go out again after my 7 mile walk, but I didn't feel too bad, and in many ways I did feel quite good. I think it was mainly my right foot that a bit sore from time to time. The rest of me felt in reasonable condition. This morning I definitely feel quite creaky. I was hoping that all my exercise, and to a limited extent a slight throttling of my food intake, would cause me to weigh a bit less. With great trepidation I did weigh myself this morning and I was disappointed to see how much I weighed. Of course it is possible that I weighed even more before the start of my long weekend, but that is something we will never know now. I guess the reality is that I did lose a bit of weight. My trousers feel looser, and my gut feels less flabby. There is one other factor involved in all this. Muscle weighs a lot more than fat (allegedly), and it is feasible that all my walking has increased the muscle density of my legs - although way I feel at the moment suggests my muscles are actually wasting away !

 Sometimes when I am typing I occasionally seem to miss out a letter. I am not sure if this happens when I am distracted, as I have been by my workmates many times this morning, or if I just don't press the keys on the keyboard properly. What I do know is that if I hadn't spotted one such error in the previous paragraph I would have had a fatwa put on me by Greenpeace. When I typed the work walking it came out as waling. The idea that I had been waling all weekend would have caused great wailings from the likes of Greenpeace !
Monday 5th April 2010 (Easter bank holiday)
19:11 BST
 
  The day started off fairly dull, but the sun is now setting on a mostly clear sky. It's hard to say just what the weather has been like today , at least in Catford it is. For much of today I wasn't in Catford. I hear that the weather in London is set to be quite good tomorrow, but that is a third hand report, and I have not had a chance to check any details about tomorrow myself.

 Yesterday afternoon, for reasons that are far too complex to explain, I ended up feeling very depressed. It was bad enough that I only got, at maximum, four hours sleep last night. I knew that the only cure for this was to do some hard exercise, and hard excercise for me means a long walk. It's not a perfect cure, but it helps a lot. So while tossing and turning in bed I hatched out a plan.

 I didn't think I would be doing anymore walking so soon after my long walk last Thursday, but I did have a destination in mind for some future walk. That destination was Goring By Sea, and the future time turned out to be today. I wasn't too keen on going out this morning, but I knew it had to be done.

 I set out fairly early and caught a train from Catford Bridge to Elmers End where I could get the tram to East Croydon. It was rather on the dull side when I left, and a strong breeze made it feel rather chilly. These were not ideal conditions, but at least it was dry.

 I caught the 10:33 train from East Croydon to Goring By Sea. It is a fairly fast journey of just over 70 minutes. As I travelled the sky started to brighten up a bit, but it was still overcast when I arrived at Goring By Sea. The station name is not enirely accurate unless you call being almost a mile away as being by the sea !

 I didn't have a particular destination in mind for my walk, but with the railway running almost parallel to the coast, I could choose to finish my walk at many places depending on how I felt. The obvious place to finish would have been West Worthing where one of my walks last year started. I seemed to reach West Worthing fairly quickly so I carried on Walking. The next good place to stop would have been Worthing itself, but I carried on Walking. In the end I walked all the way to Lancing.

 At the bottom of the road leading up to Lancing station I stopped for a pint of beer. Cardio Trainer said I had walked 6.7 miles at that point. My feet were starting to feel almost numb, and the headache I was developing suggested that I was getting dehydrated. So I had a sit down while I drank my pint of beer. Just 15 minutes later I was ready to set off again. That short rest worked wonders, and I felt like I could have walked far more than the (approx) half mile to the station.

 Maybe I could have walked far more, but it probably wasn't worth "pushing the envelope" much more, and I still had a long way to go to get home. Even now though, I don't really feel like I walked so far today, but I did, and here's the chart to prove it ;
Route of my Goring walk
 The most significant thing is that the total length of the walk was 7.13 miles, and that is a new record for me. The other thing is that I apparently burnt just under 1100 calories doing it. After that I think my only meal of the day, a large Chinese takeway was well deserved ! If I make a habit of this I might even lose some weight !

 So how do I feel ? I am obviously rather tired, and I must get to bed soon so I am fresh for another day out tomorrow (but one involving far less walking - I hope). I think my feet and legs have stood up to the assualt rather well, but I would not be surprised if I felt a bit stiff in the morning. As for my depression......well the root cause still exists, but I have certainly had a good distraction from it, and like all bad things it gradually fades away. Today's walk may not have been the cure, but I am sure it has speeded up the fading away process. If I have a good day out tomorrow, and I am sure I will, and if it involves some pleasant boozing, which I can almost take as a certainty, I reckon I will be almost back to normal in time for Work on Wednesday.

 As usual I will be making up a new web page with more about today, and some of the pictures I took. It's too late to start that now, and I doubt I will have time tomorrow, but sometime  in the next few days I'll probably have the page ready and a link to it here.
Sunday 4th April 2010
10:45 BST
 
  The sun keeps trying to come out, but it never stays out for long. Most of the time the heavy grey clouds make it look very gloomy outside. It is dry though, and the last rain I am aware of was sometime yesterday evening. Even then I don't think it was particularly significant. The temperature is still hovering at the point where it's not really cold, but it's still cool enough to feel a bit chilly when inactive. An alternative way of looking at it is that it would be easy to get too warm when doing anything physical (like moderate speen walking) with a coat on, and unpleasantly cool when stopped and not wearing a coat.

 I've just had to check what the weather forecast is for today ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/forecast/2574) and it seems that this afternoon should be quite sunny. Then there will be light rain in the evening. After that the clouds will go away and the temperature will plummet. We will be we waking up to a rather cool 6 C, or half the 12 C we can expect for later this afternoon. Even 12 C is not very good, but it's probably typical for this time of year (along with the famous April showers !).

 Yesterday was similar to today except for some moderately heavy rain in the morning. I went out to get some shopping at around 9 am, and I had to wear protection from the rain. Just before 11 am I met Aleemah at the station. By then it was dry again, and I think the sun came out briefly at least once before we came home again.

 A day or three ago I thought I might go out again today, but apart from the possibility of meeting up with Patricia, anything else seems unlikely. If it was definitely bright and sunny it might give me more enthusiasm, but somehow I just don't feel the urge to go exploring today. I am begiining to develop a totally bogus theory that my days out are all animal instinct. It's probably a mating urge or something. Aside from the fancy theories I have noticed that the urge to get out and explore does build up over time and I have to go out. Once I have had a nice day out it does seem to satisfy that urge. So today I do have it in the back of my mind that a bit of exercise would be good for me, but having gone out last Thursday I am temporarily satisfied and can relax today. The same happened after I had forced myself to go out to Walton On The Naze a few weeks back. I expect the intervals between the urges to go out will become more frequent the closer we get to summer.

 It is possible that I might go out tomorrow, but that mainly depends on the weather. However it is more certain that I will be going out on Tuesday. So there is less need to go out tomorrow. On Tuesday (my last day off work) I am, or should be, going out "train spotting" with Kevin. It's not actually train spotting, but there are a few places on the rail network we want to visit, and a few trains we want to ride on. For instance, neither of us has seen the latest addition to the Docklands Light railway, the new station at Woolwich (that has been open for nearly a year now). Also, neither of us had taken a ride on the new class 378 trains that appear to take people on very uncomfortable rides around the bits of the railway network now run by Transport For London under the guise of "The London Overground". Once last ride on London Underground Metropolitan line A60/62 stock would be nice too. These trains are now around 50 years old, and yet because of a very extensive refurbishment back in the late 1990s not many people are aware of this, and the tabloids haven't started bleating about ancient trains being dangerous etc. As far as I can make out, the last train crash on the Metropolitan line was in 1945, way before the A60/62 stock was even designed. That being the case, I don't know why millions of pounds are being spent on replacement trains when the originals, with decent maintenance, shouldn't keep going until their centenary. After their last refurbishment they look like modern trains, and I am sure they could pull off the same trick again in another 10 - 20 years time.
Friday 2nd April 2010 (Good Friday bank holiday)
09:56 BST
 
  It's not very nice this morning. The problem is that it is grey, very grey and depressing. On a positive note, it is dry outside, and it is slightly milder than yesterday morning. I thought that the forecast for today was for a lot of rain, but I am not so sure it will happen this morning. The grey cloud is slightly broken, and I think the sun is trying to peep through a crack even as I type this. It has certainly got lighter in the last few minutes, and if this trend continues I might withdraw my comment about it being grey and depressing.

 Yesterday I did go for my day out. It wasn't quite as planned, but things conspired to make the day even better than I thought it might be. I left a lot later than I had anticipated doing, and that turned out for the best. My journey meant changing trains at Bromley South station, and while I was there I tried calling an old friend of mine. He was due to be travelling in the opposite direction to me, and I was going to say "give me a wave as our trains pass" somewhere down the line. I didn't get through then, but a bit later he called me back and said that his trip to London had been called off. We were both on the move then, and reception was bad one the mobile phones and we didn't say much more.

 As I approached my intended destination, Westgate On Sea, I got another call saying he would meet me at Margate station. So I stayed on the train the one extra stop to Margate. When we met I suggested he might like to take a walk with me and aid his recent, and rather succesful, dieting with a bit of exercise.  The initial idea was to walk the (approx) 2 miles to Westgate On Sea where we would find a pub and have a drink. I didn't think he would want to walk any further than that, and I wasn't sure if I wanted to either. As the going seemed so easy for both of us we decided to press on to Birchington On Sea (which was to be my original destination anyway).

 If I had been on my own I suspect I would have only walked a couple of miles. The weather was not ideal. It was not that cold when sheltered, but there was a very stiff breeze blowing near the sea front, and that made it feel a bit on the cool side. For a lot of the walk it was quite grey and dreary, but the sun did come out a few times. The worst aspect was that it was high tide while we were there, and the water was right up to the sea walls in many places, giving no access to the beach.

 However, chatting away was a good distraction from these negative aspects, and made the walk very enjoyable. In all we walked at least 5 miles, my friend slightly less because he caught a bus and didn't have to walk from the pub back to the station, and used in excess of 700 calories doing it.

 It was late, gone 7 pm, when I arrived home after nearly two hours on the train (with a very quick fag break at Bromley South station). It was a little to do with not eating anything more than 3 digestive biscuit all day, but mostly from the walk, that I felt really "buzzy" when I got home. It felt so good that I even ate a lot more sparingly than I might have done. That's not to say it was a strict calorie controlled meal, far from it, but I could have easily eaten a lot more than I did. When I got off the train at Catford I had thought of getting fish and chips to have for dinner, but I resisted that temptation. I was helped by realising that it had obviously rained very hard here, and Smudge had been out in it all day. So I came straight back home to let a rather damp cat in !

 I really should have been tired out in the evening, but I seemed to find the energy to make a start on recording my day out on a new web page. Eventually that did get a bit tiring, and I finished it just before writing this. You read more, and see the pictures I took here. Once I was in bed I found it difficult to get to sleep despite feeling rather tired. I fell asleep around 11 pm, but woke up again at just gone 1 am this morning. Once again I felt both tired but rstless. So I read some stuff on the internet for an hour before trying for sleep again. This time it came and it came rather well. I slept through my alarm going off at 5 am, and didn't really wake up until a little after 7 am.

 Today I am going to have a rest, or at least I have no plans to go out beyond the corner shop to buy some diet coke. There are somethings I would like to do, and the worst of these is to hoover the stairs. I hate doing that with a capital H, and I don't know if I will actually do it, but there are some more minor household tasks I might manage to do.

 Over half an hour has passed since I wrote that the sun seemed to be trying to come out. Just now it succeded. It has gone in again, but I reckon there is more to come. Maybe if there is some sunshine later on I might be tempted for a short walk around the park. I can feel the effects of yesterdays 5 mile walk, but they are not too bad, and a short walk in the sunshine would probably not be that painful.
Thursday 1st April 2010
09:01 BST
 
  It's hard to believe it, but this morning the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. There are still two problems though. It is going to take a long time until things warm up a bit, and by the time they do it is likely to be back to grey skies and more rain. It is very cold this morning, and I think we only avoided a frost by a few degrees.

 Yesterday was pretty miserable. It was definitely the coldest day we have had for while, and I felt cold and miserable while at work. I had the heating on, and my room should have been comfortable enough, but it never seemed to compensate for the chill I felt everytime I went outside for a fag. It probably didn't help that I didn't have a warm coat to go outside in. I wore my lightweight jacket with my cagoule over the top of that to go to work in the rain. The two of them combined were just about adequate to keep the chill out, but neither on it's own was warm enough for my fag breaks.

 On my way home I was reasonably OK on a warm train, but having arrived back at Catford I saw a chilling message.
Catford Bridge station notice 31/04/2010
 It seems that if the rail strike goes ahead on the 7th April there will be no trains at all from Catford Bridge station. This is going to make getting to work a little tricky ! I expect I will be forced to get on an ultra crowded bus to Lewisham. From there I will probably be able to get a train to Waterloo East - if it is possible to get on it. Whether any train will be running from Waterloo to Earlsfield is anyone's guess at the moment.

 Another alternative is to get a 185 bus to Vauxhall, and then change to a 77 bus that goes directly to Earlsfield. The ride from Catford would mean a mind numbing, body crushing journey lasting a painful 44 minutes. From Vauxhall to Earlsfield takes a suicide inducing 39 minutes, but because it is heading out of town may only crush loaded (as opposed to liquidising the passengers and pouring them in).
 I don't even want to think about what the journey home would be like.

 All I hope now is that the rail strike is called off, or work allows me some unpaid days off .

 Apart from the gloom of seeing the station closure notice I had a pleasant, although rather naughty/stupid evening. I came home via Tesco where I bought some stuff to cheer me up. After eating rather a lot last night, I am not sure if I feel comfortable to go out today. It is possible that I will go anyway.

 Assuming that I do go out today I will be going to Westgate-On-Sea which is near Margate. According to the BBC weather forecast it should be dry with sunny intervals for the middle part of the day. Considering how wet and unpleasant the weekend is forecast to be I really ought to take advantage of these "sunny intervals". So it is probably time I had a shower, shave and shampoo. Get dressed and then see how I feel. Maybe I'll see the sea today, or maybe I won't.