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March 2010
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My Diary/Blog For the Month of March 2010

Wednesday 31st March 2010
08:25 BST
  Like most people, I was expecting to have put mornings as foul as this one behind me for the year. When I left for the station it was dark and gloomy, which is bad. It was raining, which is bad. It was cold, which is bad, and it was windy, which combined with the cold is just awful. Add that lot together and it comes out that this morning is a catastrophe !

 I saw a weather forecast on TV last night, and the way I understood it was that south and south-east London would come through the day relatively unscathed. I am sure there was even talk of seeing some sunshine. North of London was a different matter. Up on the hills on the outskirts of north London there was a prediction that some wet sleety snow might fall. Further north snow was forecast (and has been falling), and as far north as Scotland it gets really, really bad. They are expecting up to 40 cm (1ft 3") of snow from driving blizzards. This could be the start of the glaciers moving south as we enter a new ice age (in the middle of global warming !).

 It will be interesting to see how the weather develops here. (That is "interesting" in the same way as it's interesting  wondering if a scorpion sting is going to kill you.) It could be that the weather has shifted more south than the forecasters predicted, and it will just rain all day in these parts.

 Yesterday was cold and often wet, but nothing like this morning has been. During the dry spells I was just about comfortable going outside for a fag without a coat on. I don't expect I will be doing that today with the temperature not forecast to rise to above 8° C.  The shame of it is, that I know the sun is very warm at the moment. For just a few brief minutes the sun did come out yesterday, and what's more it came out while I was outside smoking. For that brief moment in time it felt really delicious in the hot sunshine.

 The really big question about the weather is what will happen tomorrow, and the other five days I have off work ? If tomorrow should start the same as today then I have a pretty good idea of what I will be doing tomorrow. In short, I will be going back into hibernation. If I could actually achieve it in practice I would only be getting out of bed to eat and to go to the lavatory.

 If the weather should miraculously improve to the point where it looks as if there will be some sunny intervals, and it is moderately dry, then I may well go out. I have an idea that I want to visit the seaside between Westgate-On-Sea and Birchington-On-sea (quite close to Margate, that I may well visit next). The coast there looks as if it has some rocky outcrops, and that might be interesting.

 While in a ridiculously optimistic mood about the weather for tomorrow, I did try and start doing preparations for a day out last night. Mostly that meant not being such a glotton as I have been lately. There were a few things I should definitely not eaten, but also some stuff that might be good (and this morning I think I might have been right). Making up quite a big portion of my dinner last night was a new invention of mine - the chicken satay sandwich. I made this from fairly thickly sliced multigrain bread. One slice I spread thinly with low fat peanut butter. Then came a very generous layer of Tesco "value" thinly sliced chicken. On top of that I put a handful of Tesco crunchy salad, and put a second slice of bread on the top of that. It was rather nice. I made a second, similar, sandwich, but I gave the second slice of bread a layer of Marmite. I think that made it even better. If trying this for yorself it is imporatant to remember that Tesco "value" thinly sliced chicken is almost tasteless. So it is important that you use at least 4 layers of it anywhere in the sandwich or you will not notice it is even there.

 Apart from eating a bit more rationally than of late, I also managed to get some more sleep in last night. I took my book to bed at 7.30 pm, and managed to finish the book by 8.30pm. At which point I turned out the light and was asleep very quickly. I was slightly disappointed that the story didn't involve our hero leaving the "caves of steel" and going out into the fresh air, and across fields under an open sky. I guess that must happen in the sequel "The Naked Sun" (as the title definitely implies). I did sleep well last night, and When Smudge did wake me up it was early enough at 3 am to let her out and go back to sleep while I was still only half awake. I did wake up before my alarm went off, but this morning it was only by 10 minutes or so. Tonight, or more exactly, tomorrow morning, I will have the luxury of going back to bed whenever I wake up. As I said, with no work tomorrow, I could stay in bed all day if I wanted. I must admit it was very tempting to do that today !
Tuesday 30th March 2010
08:33 BST
  It is a thoroughly despicable morning, or at least it is now. When I left to get my train into work it was not raining, although the ground was quite wet from earlier rain. Upon arrival at Earlsfield I found it lightly raining, and now, some 37 minutes after arriving at work, it is pouring down. It is of course very gloomy outside, and the heavier rain also coincides with it getting even darker and gloomier. With the best will in the world, the only positive aspect I can come up with is that it is still not too cold out. The forecast is that it will get cooler, and the temperature will duck a good degree, and maybe more below 10° C. Right now I would guess it is a whisker above that, and maybe we will see 11° C as the high point late in the afternoon.

 Last night it rained on me once I arrived back in Catford. It was only light rain, and I did have my lightweight bomber jacket with hood on. So I stayed dry. I'm sure it can't be, but I am thinking that was the first test of that jacket under reasonable amounts of rain. If it was then I can report that it worked well, and if I have already done so then I am reporting it again !

 After the clocks changed on Sunday morning we should all have been treated to an extra hour of sunshine after work, but it was not to be. It seemed so dull outside that I think I drew the curtains not all that long after 6 pm. My body clock is having a harder time adjusting to the change this year, or so it seems. I was tired last night, but that still did not stop me reading until 10 pm last night. That would have been the equivalent to 9 pm in "old money", and so I did fall asleep quite easily then. I will admit that I should have forced myself to put the book down a lot earlier.

 The trouble was that I am approaching what I think is an interesting part of the book (if my memory is not too corrupt). The book is "The Caves Of Steel" by Isaac Asimov. I have read it before, maybe twice before, and I kid myself I can remember some of the plot. If the plot goes as I think it goes, then Elija Baley, the detective hero of the story, will soon be going outside the totally enclosed new city of New York. Having lived in the enclosed city all his life it will be a bit of a challenge for him. I hope I have got the plot right because I particularly want to read that again (it could actually take place in the sequel "The Naked Sun").

 It is very easy to think that going outside into the open air is so straightforward that it is easy to forget that some people are agraphobics. For our hero it is more than a fear of open spaces. It is also the fear of the unknown. I imagine it to be like the transition from England to deep tropical jungle (or an inner London council estate). From a relatively safe environment you find yourself not knowing what will bite or sting, and whether either is merely unpleasant or lethal. Even with the knowledge that men having been living there for countless years (mostly) without being eaten alive, poisoned, or stung to death holds little comfort even to the most rational of minds initially. From then on, depending on your experiences, comes a period of time when you gradually get used to the dangers, and eventually learn to avoid them (if you live long enough, that is).

 So, having ploughed on through the book, with great enjoyment, but not actually reaching the pages I hope to read soon, I finally put it down and went to sleep. In an ideal world I would have slept soundly right up to the point where my alarm woke me up. I'll discount getting up once, maybe even twice, to go to the toilet. That can, and did happen last night, in such a dreamy state that it is hardly worth mentioning as sleep lost. What I can't ignore, both from the argument, or in reality, is that Smudge got me up soon after 4 am. She has this method that involves gently scratching on the door post of my open bedroom door until I get up and deal with her. It's like a bad itch that is impossible to ignore. You just have to scratch it, and so I got up, fed her, and as she was eating I went to the toilet. All these are little things, but without realising it time was passing, and they added up to the fact that it was worthless going back to bed to try for a mere 15 - 20 minutes sleep. So after just slightly less than 6 hours sleep I was awake. I think I am going to be feeling very tired tonight, and although I am almost desperate to carry on reading my book I think I will have to get some discipline and try and get to sleep at least by 9 pm tonight, and preferably 8 pm. If there is any hint that it won't be pouring with rain all through the night then I will let Smudge stay out all night tonight.
Monday 29th March 2010
08:06 BST
  The closer my train got to Earlsfield on my way into wiork, the darker it got. It was like time had gone into reverse. In the cutting between Clapham Junction and Earlsfield stations it was really like it was nighttime again. The reason was nothing to do with the clocks changing from GMT to BST, but to do with the thick heavy clouds that are pressing down on us. Some of those clouds are leaking ! Happily all I experienced was some fine misty rain from time to time, but from the looks of those clouds we could get a very heavy downpour at anytime.

 The long term weather forecast is for more and more rain. It looks as if the two days of holiday I have, and the four day Easter weekend are going to be total washouts. That is a bit of a shame because I was looking to get out and about on a couple of those days (if not more of them). I suppose it could still happen. I did manage to force myself out for my trip to Walton On The Naze when the weather wasn't ideal, and maybe I can again, but I am not sure about actually starting out under black skies and pouring rain. That sounds like going just a bit too far.

 I have long been of the belief that we should stop mucking about with the clocks and stick to Greenwich Mean Time, but this morning I am not so sure about it. Getting up and going to work an hour early, which after the clocks changed yesterday is effectively what I have done this morning, strangely feel good and not bad as you might think. I did have a little difficulty convincing my bowels to do their stuff an hour early before leaving for work, but that was the only problem. I do feel rather good this morning (providing I ignore the early morning headache that is probably the result of lethal, but not yet, blood pressure). By rights, after all the crap I ate over the weekend, and the almost total lack of any exercise, I should have felt weak and stodgy. Instead I seemed to have an extraordinary amount of energy. For instance, the walk from the station to work did leave me a bit tired and a bit sweaty (if I am honest), but I think I must have walked it in record time. I didn't set out to walk it that fast, but once my legs started moving it just sort of happened.

 Before I forget, I must apologise if you happened to be reading my writings yesterday afternoon. Although I had set all my clocks to BST, and typed the correct time, I forgot to change GMT to BST when I wrote the time down. Once I realised this I quickly corrected it, but not until late in the afternoon (or was it early evening ?).

 Dreams interest me, or at least mine do. It is so difficult to describe dreams that it is almost impossible to convey what the dream was like, and that means hearing about other peoples dreams is often a bit boring. Of course I realise that in describing my dreams I am being boring too, but sometimes the images in dreams are strong enough, and easy enough to describe that they can be interesting (maybe).

 I sometimes wonder if it is a peculiarity of my brain that many of my dreams are in the third person - I watch myself rather than be myself - sometimes I seem to manage to do both, and sometimes what I seem to do and what I seem to think are different, and last night was one of those times. Having now totally confused you because I can't put into words what I am trying to say, I will now attempt to use a small remembered fragment of dream from last night to illustrate this weirdness.

 My brain wrote the script (I assume, but it could have been aliens and their mind altering ray guns), and that script had me down as a prisoner after committing some sort of crime (probably something like committing thought crime in a built up area after the hours of darkness). This I knew to be so, but why, as a prisoner, was I the one unlocking the gates so I could be driven out in a bright red Mini to (presumably) prison. The policemen, if they were indeed policemen, stayed in the car while I unlocked the gates.

 I think the script I appeared to be following had this scene set in the yard of a police station. I have been in a couple of real police stations and on at least one occasion it was an open day... However the scenery my brain chose for the back drop to my actions was rather like the yard of Rushey Green telephone exchange (where I worked for many years), and the gates I was unlocking were identical as close as I can remember.

 It could be argued that my brain is not very imaginitive if it has to re-use "old scenery" when enacting its nightly rituals, but I might argue it is just being economical and not wasting stuff. I think some of my dreams are very imaginitive, and that my brain is a very fertile place, but a pile of cow dung is also a very fertile place.............................
Sunday 28th March 2010
11:54 BST
  Well, it's not snowing yet ! There is an awful lot of cloud in the sky, but amazingly it is sunny as I type this. Some of that cloud is thin streaky stuff, some is white and fluffy, and few clouds are more solid and grey. I think this means, in the words of that well loved Supermarionation show "Stingray !", anything can happen in the next 24 hours ! (although they may have said "next half
rday, and probably into the future until summer really starts to kick in, it is neither warm nor cold.

 While I was out shopping Tesco yesterday I remembered the most impotant thing in the universe - toilet paper. As of yesterday morning I was already a quarter through my last roll, and panic was beginning to set in. What I bought was "16 rolls for the price of 12" - whoot ! (or something). More interestingly I bought something I didn't know existed. It was 50% less fat peanut butter. So yesterday I relearned my love of peanut butter and Marmite sandwiches.

 Other stuff I did yesterday included a fair bit of reading - both on paper and electronic. I downloaded a heap of golden age scifi stuff from the link I mentioned yesterday (click on the March button above to see what I wrote yesterday). I installed a copy of that on my Palm T|X and gave that a quick test by just checking the first pargraph of one of the book. That was OK and when I feel the urge I'll have plenty to read on there. Once I have read all the stuff I downloaded onto my Android G1 phone I may try reading from the Palm.

 I actually have three Palm PDAs. One is very primitive, but it possible that it could be used for reading ebooks. The second, an M505 (whick looks really quite identical to the background images on this page) is also rather low powered, but it is good enough for ebooks, although the un-backlit display is hard to read in poor light (and impossible under the bed covers - not that I would want to do that). The Palm T|X is just about perfect with it's bigger, backlit, screen and up/down/left/right buttons.

 Transferring the ebook files to the Palm T|X was simple and fast. Transferring them to the M505 is simple but excruciatingly slow. I don't know why that should be, but one possibilty is that the memory card I have in the device is too modern for it. I have no idea what the maximum spec of the memory card should be, but I wonder if a 512 MB card is more than it's tiny brain can cope with, and I wonder if the software Palm used was written before the full specification of SD cards was finalized. I spent wasted quite a long time yesterday playing about trying to get those files onto the M505, and in the end I gave up for the day. This morning I am trying again. I have cleaned the M505 of all but the essentials, and I am just going to let it run until hell freezes over. I estimate the data transfer rate between my PC and the M505 to be something similar to the ancient old, ultra primitive, 300 Bd dial up modems we used to use. It has just taken about a full minute to transfer a 93 KB file. Anyone who has to much time on their hands could work out the baud rate for that and leave it on my comments page.

 My only priority for today is to watch the BBC Countryfile weather forecast for the week ahead. I'm not expecting it to be anywhere near accurate more than 3 or 4 hours ahead of the forecast, but it gives a sort of clue as to whether to feel optimistic or pessimistic. I try to watch that forecast every Sunday, but with the Easter bank holiday weekend coming up it becomes even more interesting. My Easter bank holiday weekend actually starts next Thursday. I have book two days off work, one before and one after to give me a clear 6 days off work. It would be nice if most of those days were warm and sunny, but I would also accept heavy snowfall. What I can't accept is grey skies and copious rain.

 Incidently, if anyone has tried to use my comments page and it hasn't worked, do let me know. You can directly contact me at this slightly obscured email adress.
bill followed by a full stop. Then kelsey followed by an @ symbol with tesco full stop net bringing up the rear.
Saturday 27th March 2010
09:42 GMT
  The weather today is sort of half and half. It's not very cold, and it's not very warm. It is sometimes sunny and sometimes overcast. I think it will rain sometime today, but I am not sure when. As I write it is sunny, but, as far as I can see, 80% of the sky is cloud. Some of those clouds are innocent white clouds, but some have a suspicious grey colour.

 The longer term weather forecast is interesting. On TV last night the weather forecaster for the London area thought that snow might return to London over the Easter weekend. It's hard to know if he was just being a killjoy, was being just plain incompetent, or whether that really is the combined opinion of the mighty (and often highly innacurate) Met Office. I can think of one precedent for snow at Easter. Way back in 1966 (plus or minus a year) I remember starting an Easter school trip to Holland and Belgium with a good few inches of snow on the ground. For reasons that are probably lost in the medieval mists of time, the date of Easter keeps moving around. Which is pretty odd considering it is supposed to be the anniversary of a death. Perhaps medical science was marginally worse then, and the doctors couldn't quite decide when he died. Anyway, I seem to think that my memory of that snowy Easter was around the beginning of April as this years one is.

 While I was at work yesterday I tried upgrading my spare Android G1 phone again. This time it worked upgraded correctly, and the phone and all the functions on it work perfectly except for the high speed "3G" internet connection. That is purely down to an electronic fault on the phone, and has nothing to do with software. I have to switch that phone to only use the 2G networks - which in theory should be a lot slower. In practice I find it makes little difference. For the reason why it should not make much difference I have to enter the area of wild speculation combined with medium ignorance. Of my two phones, my every day one, which works on 3G, uses the O2 network. The other, without 3G uses the T-Mobile network.

 My wildly speculative analysis is that while O2 often has the better signal strength, their data network is often seriously overloaded. (probably by iPhone users). So when I try and download something I get very rapids bursts of data interspersed with long periods of nothing happening. By contrast, T-Mobile seem to have more data capacity, although the signal strength is often lower. With more data capacity available I get a slow but steady download speed using their 2G network. In central London, where you would expect the networks to have more capacity, I think O2 is faster, but out here in the suburbs (and that includes where I work, and obviosly spend a lot of time) it is the slow and steady T-Mobile that wins. It's a classic case of the hare and the tortoise.

 My sleep was sort of interesting last night. With no work on a Saturday, and also because I am not seeing Aleemah today, I allowed myself to stay up a bit later last night. It was gone 10 pm when I fell asleep. That was nearly two hours later than my weekday average, and you might think that I would sleep rather soundly after that, but I didn't. I woke up at 3 am, and I didn't try to fight the lack of sleepiness I was experiencing, or at least I didn't after I looked out the window. What I saw was a star - just one single star, but that gave me an idea. I quickly pulled some clothes on and went out for a walk in the park because I wanted to try something.

 That thing was an application on my Android G1 phone called Google Sky Maps. The phone displays a map of the sky, and using the inbuilt compass, and the satellite navigation, it works out where you are, where the phone is pointing, and displays what you should see in the night sky in that direction. At home there is too much light pollution, and too little area of sky to see. In the park the light pollutions is marginally lower, but there is a far wider view of the sky. So I walked to the darkest area of the park consistent with the most open view of the sky and tried the application out. Conditions where not ideal. There was a fair amount of cloud, and the light pollution was still very bad. Nevertheless I did see a few stars, and managed to get an idea of which ones they were, and the application did correctly show where the moon was (which was partly hidden by whispy clouds, but still very obvious to the naked eye). My conclusion is that in London the application is not terribly useful, but if I am ever out in the countryside on a reasonably clear night it will be fascinating to look up at the night sky and be able to identify the stars.

 After my nighttime ramblings in the park I went back to bed again and had two more sessions of sleep before getting up. I can't recall now if it was when I woke up the first time or the second time that I awoke from a disturbing dream. In this dream I had the unpleasant task of killing a cat. It was no ordinary cat but a strange mutant. It had the usual four legs, but these stuck out from the side like a spiders legs, and looked similar to a spiders legs as well. It's tail was a bit like a scorpion tail, but I don't recall it having a sting in the end. Despite not having a sting it was considered quite dangerous, and probably lethal to other cats. I tried two rather unpleasant methods to kill this mutant cat, and the second seemed to work, but it came back to life again. Finally I cut off it's head with a small kitchen knife - which seemed rather unrealistically easy to do. I think this dream was triggered by seeing Smudge almost head to head with next doors cat on top of the garden fence. My attention to this was brought about by hearing some (cat) swear words being uttered outside my back door. As soon as I opened the back door the other cat scarpered. Smudge jumped down from the fence and came indoors, but oddly she did not seem to have a big fluffy tail as I would have expected from the argument she seemed to be having. Maybe it was not an argument but just exchanges of the local cat news.

 I don't know what I am going to do today. If my finances were a bit better I might have considered going out. If it were not for the spurious forecast of possible snow at Easter (just next weekend !) I might have attempted to do make great inroads into the two and half unread books I have here, but maybe it is prudent to leave some reading matter for later in case I am snowed in next weekend. However I ought to take into account that I have quite a lot of unread books in electronic form on my phone which I downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

 While looking up the link to Project Gutenberg I discovered that there is the complete library of science fiction books from Project Gutenberg that is available as one big download from http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/Gutenberg%20SF%20200703%20CD/.

 The software I use to read these electronic books is Fbreader, and is available, free of charge, for a multitude of different operating systems (including Windows and Mac).
Friday 26th March 2010
08:21 GMT
  At first light it seemed as if the sky was fairly clear, but when I left to walk to the station there were many black clouds in the sky. They were blown there by a fairly strong wind coming from the south. So far it has remained dry, and if it wasn't for the wind I would say it was mild. That wind does feel a bit chilly though, but I guess we are lucky it isn't coming from the icy north.

 I had a call from my bank yesterday. They said they wanted to talk to me about a security matter, and asked me for my passwords etc. I refused to give them, and said I would call them back on a number I knew to be genuine (the one on the back of my card). After negotiating an incredibly dim voice recognition system I managed to get through to their security deparment and found out that my credit card had been used fraudulently. Apparently their systems detected a small deduction being made from a foreign country (which amazingly wasn't Nigeria). The security officer confirmed what I had read elsewhere that these small payments are very frequently used to test an account is working before they attempt to empty it. Assuming all goes to plan all this will cost me is being without my credit card for a week or two while a new card with new account number is issued to me. The old card was stopped yesterday, and I won't be charged for the small test payment (which I think was £1.36 - probably $2 in yankee money).

 Yesterday, with the help of my workmate Gavin, I did a lot of hacking. This was true hacking, as originally defined as modifying or writing computer code, and not the tabloid usage of the word meaning to break into other computers. The hacking concerned making an ancient piece of computer code written in the Perl programming language work on a modern system. Fortunately for me, Gavin knows enough Perl to understand some of what the code did (he is currently a C coder by trade), and is also a whizz at typing code and commands.

 The program we were hacking might have been written over 15 years ago, and it is for running a very simple, very plain, comments page on a web site - a web site very much like this one maybe. Since it was written many things have changed, and as it stood it would just not work on my server. Now, after lots head scratching, it is working and you are invited to have a look, and even leave a comment if you want. Try clicking here and see what happens. One thing to note is that it does require an email address to work, but it doesn't require you to tell the truth ! (Even just typing "blank" is sufficient).

 I did a little more hacking at home last night. To be pedantic, it wasn't "hacking", but I am not sure what you would call it. Maybe I should call it "upgrading", because that is actually what I did, and I did it to my spare Android G1 phone. To say I successfully upgraded my phone to the latest version of the Android operating system would be incorrect, but I did have enough functions working on it to make it quite useable. While I pondered over the problem of getting it 100% functional I reverted the phone back to the backup I had made of the old system. This moning I feel the answer to this problem is to do a factory reset and clear all the existing data out before attempting the upgrade - and I may try this sometime today. (unfortunately a lot of my alleged free time will be taken up cleaning all the crud from another virus (and other malware) infested laptop belonging to one of the staff here at work. Word seems to have got out that I apparently do a good job doing this having already done two in the last fortnight.
Thursday 25th March 2010
09:36 GMT
  The weather forecasters seem not have the first clue about weather forecasting ! The heavy rain they have been predicting might have happened overnight, but it is dry again now. Although it's currently dry, the sky is not very pretty, and I would have to concede that there is every chance that it may well rain later on.

 I am sure that yesterday was nothing like the official predictions for it. Most significantly, I am sure I was not supposed to go home in very pleasant warm sunshine. It was indeed most pleasant. Sadly it did cloud over soon after I got home, and then once night had fallen the rain started.

 There were many disappointments yesterday. For starters, my new memory card did not arrive, and so I didn't get to experiment, and possibly brick, my spare G1 phone. Even more disappointing was the Budget. As usual it was a complete scandal, and as usual those hit hardest by the governments greed were the smokers and drinkers.

 In this day and age it is very dangerous to suggest that the Chancellor should be blown up or assasinated. To say something of that nature would have you hauled off to Guantanamo Bay faster than you can say the words "via Syria, dungeon, cattle prod, testicles". So I won't go down that road. Instead, and I think this is possibly still legal, I would urge all affected by this abhorent raising of tobacco and alcohol taxes to pray, or it's equivalent, to their favourite Gods or Demons for the Chancellor to by smited* and die a long painful lonely death.

* I am not totally sure what being smited involves, but it's a good biblical term, and so it must be legal for assorted Gods, Demons and other supernatural beings to do. Maybe they all have their own favourite methods of smiting.

 I tried to avoid watching too much of the news on TV last night because I really didn't want to hear what those smug bastards in Westminister were plotting to make our lives more miserable. Unfortunately I did see some total pillock who wanted smoking to be banned in cars because it allegedly damages children. Like all psychotic ego-maniacs he didn't stop to consider that not all cars have children in them, and also it is the children that should be banned from cars. In fact children should be banned from all forms of transport except prams until the age of 10, and up to the age of 21 they should only be allowed on (or in) transport if they have an armed escort to protect the public from them.
Wednesday 24th March 2010
08:06 GMT
 The biq question for today is, when will it start to rain ? It's dry at the moment, and I can even see some tiny patches of blue between the clouds. I didn't see the weather forecast on TV last night, but I have my suspicions they may have changed the predictions for a third time and cancelled the all day downpour for today. Maybe they are now thinking they were right all along, and the all day down pouring is now back to tomorrow.

 In some ways it is actually nice outside. There has been no sunshine so far, but it is fairly bright. The air feels what I can only describe as soft, and that does go well with the soft light outside. What I really mean is that it is not too cold, and the air is very still. In combination it feels..........well, sort of soft !

 There is nothing like a bit of booze for perking you up. This morning I feel rather good. Beyond a bit of a mild headache, I have no significant aches or pains, and I even seem to have a bit more energy this morning. This can only be attributed to beer, and specifically, the beers I had last night.

 Originally I was just going to meet Iain for a couple of beers on the way home, but that escalated a bit. On the basis that Jodie could well be passing through Ladywell on her way to yet another gig, I told her I would be in The Fox And Firkin at 16:45 if she was passing and wanted to drop in.

 In fact Jodie was not passing through on her way to a gig, but came anyway. When I arrived there I found Iain and one other who (by text message) declined to be named at 04:56 this morning. Later on Kevin turned up, and eventually Jodie's friend Mark also turned up. So we had quite a good drink together. There was also one other brief member of our drinking group who shall remain nameless because we didn't know who she was.

 We were all out in the garden under the heat lamps, and this rather delightful you woman came out and asked for a light for her fag. She was amused to see my "6 for 99p", "99p Shop" special lighter with the bright blue LED light in the end of it. Feeling in a generous mood, and for some reason finding her immeadiately likeable, I gave her a spare "blue LED" lighter I had in my bag. She stayed and chatted while she smoked her fag, and then went back inside the pub. Later on as I was leaving I found that she was, as somebody reported, sitting on her own, and when I saw her she was crotcheting (I am sure I haven't spelled that correctly, but the meaning will become clear in a moment). As I passed I said hi, and asked her what she was knitting. She said it wasn't knitting, but the other thing that I can't spell, and that it was some baby stuff for a work friend who was expecting a baby.  Then I wished her well and said I might see her again some day. I hope I do because I rather like her, although I can't see anything comng from it even if we do bump into each other again, but there is always hope (or fantasy).

Free rolls I guess it's not considered normal to take pictures in the pub toilets, but sometimes there are things in there that need to be recorded. I thought the poster, pictured on the left, was quite enticing. I wonder if they do a decent ham and mustard roll ?

 I felt rather good when I left the pub. Even my overtight trousers seemed to feel better (I am wearing them again today, but with a longer belt they don't really feel tight at all). I had had enough to drink that I could very easily have bought a wonderful greasy takeaway on the way home, but I was feeling happy enough to resist that, and decided to walk through the park to avoid any temptation.

 There are a couple of ways to get into the park, and one is via the graveyard around St Mary's church. It was fully night when I went through there, and it felt delightfully spooky. Away from the glare of the streetlights, and in the shadow of the church itself, and under the canopy of several big yew trees it was very dark. It took me right back to those nostalgic days in 1973 when I would stand around in the woods on a Saturday changing tapes once an hour for our pirate radio station.

 After going through the graveyard and out into the park itself, I was confronted by joggers - hundreds of them !!! They really do come out under cover of darkness. Never before have I seen so many joggers all running around in ever decreasing circles (probably). I even saw some masochists doing stuff like press-ups ! That was an education I can tell you !

Today only two significant things could happen. I need to get some shopping on the way home from work, and all day long I am going to try and get it fixed in my brain that I am going to have poached salmon and green stuff for dinner tonight. If I get that idea deeply embedded enough I may avoid buying something that would not be productive to increasing the looseness of my trousers.

 The other significant thing is that I am expecting delivery of a couple of spare micro-SD memory cards today. These, or actually one of them, will be used for my experimental upgrading of my spare G1 android mobile phone. I think I have found out the neccesary information to upgrade it to Android 2.1. It will be a fascinating, but hair raising experiment, and I might even throw caution to the wind and try it tonight.

 I was told I couldn't, or shouldn't, but I am going to post one more picture anyway. It could be informative for anyone who has never been in the Gents of a pub before, or will raise a snigger for anyone who has still got any schoolboy humour left in him.......
A condom machine in a pub toilet
Tuesday 23rd March 2010
07:51 GMT
  I didn't think it could happen now, but the weather forecasters said it could. They were right and I was wrong, but they were wrong too. What am I talking about ? Frost ! Clear skies during the night meant the temperature plummetted. The weather forecasters said that there could be some frost in "sheltered rural areas". Catford is hardly a sheltered rural area, and some cars definitely had frost on them, and although it might have just been heavy due, I think it quite possible that some of the grass in the park had frost on it. (I was unable to check the grass in detail because I only saw it through the train window).

 Later today there could be grey skies, and even rain, but for now it is bright and sunny, and the temperature is probably rising even as I type. Yesterday as nice and bright up to mid afternoon. When I went outside for a fag at 3 pm it was looking a bit dull. When I left work to go home at 4 pm the sky looked very threatening. By the time I had reached Waterloo it was raining. It wasn't a downpour, but it was considerably heavier than mere drizzle. Fortunately there was very little rain, maybe no rain, as I walked from the station to home. The rain in Catford probably started after it got dark, but I was not really aware of it raining while I was in bed.

 I ridiculed the Meteorological Office and their so called long term forecasts yesterday, and said that it was highly unlikely their forecast for all day rain on Thursday was correct. It is really anyone's guess what really will happen, but the official forecast for all day rain has now been moved forward to tomorrow. The reward for getting soaked tomorrow (if it happens) is that the weather for the weekend may be better than I hoped for.

 Yesterday I suffered in dignity after wearing freshly laundered trousers that were "a bit constrictive around the waist", and shoes that were suffering from "new shoe syndrome". There is both good and bad news about this. The good news is that the shoes are beginning to make friends with my feet (and vice versa). I did notice that there was the beginning of a blister forming on top of the remains of an earlier blister, but I have stuck a sticking plaster on that and put those shoes on again today. So far they are moderately comfortable.

 The bad news concerns the trousers. As I expected they became more comfortable as the shrinkage in the wash gradually loosened up. Another days wear would probably have put them back to very comfortable. Before wearing them I put a patch over one of the back pockets where it had worn thin as a result of keeping coins in that back pocket. What I didn't realise was just how thin the material was getting around the crutch area. It was about halfway through the day when I was sitting on the toilet and noticed I could see daylight through the material. How I never managed split my trousers at that point I don't know. It was obvious that it was time to bin those trousers, and that is what I did this morning. Before binning them I gave them an experimental tug. The material split so easy it was scary. At any point yesterday I could have had my arse hanging out the back of my trousers, and I would just have to live with the embarresment until I got home again.

 Today I have put on another freshly laundered pair of trousers. Once again they are very tight, and I have to admit that I don't think I can hang all the blame on the washing machine. I guess my gut has expanded a bit too much since I last wore these trousers (which I guess was sometime last year). There are many reasons for losing weight, and so far in this life I have only found three good ones. They are; a) chasing women, b) trousers too tight, and c) trying to keep over enthusiastic doctors and nurses off my back. Out of all these three reasons it is b, "trousers too tight" that is the hardest to realise. Chasing women is always a very good incentive, and trying to keep doctors and nurses off my back is really only a transient thing. The problem with trousers too tight is that with usage the trousers tend to stretch, and possibly they even remold the fat distribution of the body, and so they get more comfortable anyway. Besides, there is always the option of buying a larger size (but that's not a good option).

 I guess I had better try and lose some weight again. Since xmas I have lost some of the excesses of winter, but mostly I have just been careful enough with what I eat to hold things static. It is a real bugger to feel hungry all day just for the sake of a pair of trousers, but with the clocks changing from GMT to BST this coming weekend the timing feels about right to make a start. Of course I reached this conclusion within 10 minutes of squeezing into today's trousers. Quite why I decided to buy some breakfast in the form of sandwiches from one of the high street shops on such a morning is a mystery, but probably gives an indication of how succesful this is likely to be :-(
Monday 22nd March 2010
08:03 GMT
  The air seemed a little chillier than I have become accustomed to recently when I started walking to the station. It was also unpleasantly dull outside. That has definietly improved and despite there being few gaps in the clouds, the sun is actually shining as I write this. It seems it is not going to be a warm day today, but it will probably stay dry.

 The BBC weather forecast I saw on TV yesterday reckons that the temperature will stay a few degrees below the best we have recently, and it wil be like that all week. There are, it seems, plenty of weather systems blowing in from mid Atlantic, and usually I would expect them to bring warm damp air into the country. The BBC forecaster reckons it will only bring damp weather in. Thursday is forecast to be the day when there is a good chance I will get a soaking both on my way to work, and on my way home again. On other days I may be lucky and stay dry while commuting, but I don't think I'll be lucky enough for it to be dry every single time I want to go outside for a fag break. Most significant of all is that Thursday is rather a long way on from the 1·37 hours into the future where the forecasts  get a lot less accurate. By Thursday the actual weather could be anywhere between heatwave and blizzards.

 Curiously enough there was a small article in my morning paper that mentions an outfit who I have heard of before (but can't remember their name off the top of my head). They do an alternative long range forecast that uses totally different methods to The Meteorological Office. (In keeping with the "dumbing down" of the "sheeple" by the overlords of theoretically democratic House of Commons, Meteorological Office is now just the plain od "Met Office"). Anyhow, this alternative outfit basis it's forecasts on such things as the solar or space weather. Much to the annoyance of The Meteorological Office (and quite probably climate change pundits) their long term forecasts are often far more accurate. It seems they correctly forecast that last summer would be a poor one (The Meteorological Office predicted a so called "barbecue summer"), and correctly predicted the length and depth of this winter ( The Meteorological Office predicted a mild winter). It seems their latest long term forecast is that this summer could be one long heatwave. Funnily enough that was what I am predicting, but I am just saying the first thing that comes into my head !

 Yesterday I ignored all the advice I had given myself and ended up spending extended periods of time lying on my bed reading "I. Asimov" (Isaac Asimov's autobiography). All that laying around and also eating too much has meant that I feel rather less "dynamic" than I would like to feel this morning. I noticed my back was very stiff for the first hour or two after I got up. It didn't exactly hurt, but it did feel like it could have. I also feel rather bloated this morning. Although even that has tended to fade away since coming to work. The unfortunate thing about feeling bloated was that I am wearing some freshly laundered trousers this morning, and I have to confess it was a bit of a struggle getting them done up. They don't feel too bad now, and I guess they are gradually finding the old shape they were in when I last wore them. That shape was, as far as I can remember, very comfortable. It is actually several months (at least) since I last wore these trousers, and of course it could be my body desperately trying to fit the shape of the trousers and not the other way round !

 So my trousers are a bit tight, but there is better news about clothing, if one can call shoes clothing. After not wearing my nicely worn in shoes that I wore all last week during the weekend I thought I would give one of my rarely used pairs of shoes another go today. My problem with new shoes is that they always feel like they have lumps in them. They haven't of course, and it's just my feet failing to find all the depressions I have worn in the old shoes. Well today the new shoes feel more comfortable than last time, and I reckon that another couple of days of wear will actually see them become one of the more comfortable pairs of shoes I have.

 Neither my overtight trouser waist, nor my slightly lumpy feeling shoes are what you could describe as painful, but maybe they are just a little uncomfortable now, and maybe more so by the time I get home. I have a feeling that putting on a pair of sloppy lounge pants, and putting on some flip flops is going to feel rather good tonight.
Sunday 21st March 2010
12:20 GMT
  Meh ! It's sort of bright outside, but although it's dry, it doesn't feel very inspirational ! The temperature is a degree, or two, lower than yesterday, and maybe that has tipped the balance between a good day, and not so good day. It is not actually chilly outside, but I think it has just stepped over the boundary of the comfort zone. Maybe if the sun came out it would tip the balance in favour of it being a nice day for the time of the year.

 You can probably guess that I am building up to say that I have decided to be lazy and not go out today. It's not 100% laziness though, or at least not quite yet. I have been out to do some shopping, and I have started to do some laundry. I may, in fact, do two loads of laundry today, but beyond that I have no plans. I did stare at the garden a little while ago, and wondered if I ought to do some hacking and chopping. I think the answer is that I ought to do some, and I think the likelyhood of it happening is actually very low !

 One thing I think there is a better chance of me doing is too do some experimentation on one of my G1 android phones. Although it works, and in some respects works rather well, I am ot 100% happy with the new software/firmware I loaded on to my black G1. I think I have already mentioned here that I am interested in trying a highly experimental installation of the very latest Android operating system version. It is too complex to work on the G1, but there are tricks that will make it work. My experimentation in this area would have been helped if I had remembered to buy a new micro-SD memory card while I was in Tesco this morning. I can, and if I do start experimenting, I will use the current one, but sometimes starting from fresh helps with inspiration.

 My brain is eveidently getting soft. It was one thing to forget to buy that memory card in Tesco this morning (although I did have a distraction that I will explain shortly), but I have also forgotten what it was I thought might be very interesting to write about here. I have this feeling in the back of my head that there was something very important (or interesting) to say, but it remains stuck like a mostly forgotten dream. Maybe it was all a dream. I do seem to be aware, as opposed to actually remembering in any significant detail, that I am having loads of dreams lately. Last night had some good dreams, but of course now all I can remember is just brief snapshots from those dreams.

 In fact there was one dream I can remember more about trying to remember some details of it than the actual dream itself. Like the best dreams, but also the worst dreams, this one was about sex. The best because everybody gets a thrill out of interacting with the objects of the desires. The worst because invariably the dream ends just before the good bit !  I won't reveal the sordid details of what I can remember of what, in cinema terms, would be about 15 frames of excitement, but I can almost describe the object of my desires. (I might add that the feelings seemed to be mutual). She was a woman, probably between her late twenties, and mid thirties. She had quite short dark, perhaps even black hair, and big dark eyes set in a face that I think you could describe as elfin like. Apart from vaguely remembering she had on a quite short skirt, I can remember almost nothing else. I do have a strong feeling that anything else I could add would be pure fantasy, probaly fairly accurate fantasy, but I suspect it is probably prudent to leave it there.

 At the very last moment one of my few remaining bain cells has stopped it's terminal decline and I have remembered to mention the distraction I had in Tesco. ( I wrote that for dramatic effect - I actually had a quick skim of what I had already written and noticed that I meant to say the following........) While I was in Tesco I had had a quick look at what trouser belts they had in. (Are they called trouser belts, or just belts ?). I noticed that one was longer than the rest, and that was obviously the one I wanted. For some still unexplained reason it seemed to be double the price of all the others of identical style. Looking round I noticed a memeber of staff nearby and called her over to see what she thought of this pricing anomaly. Fortunately she had a portable bar code scanner with her and was able to check the price. Instead of £10 it came as as £3, or £2 cheaper than all the other belts that were priced correctly at £5. Obviously I grabbed the long belt and went away very happy that I had found a bargain - so happy that I forgot that yesterday I was thinking that I ought to buy a spare memory card today had I remembered it from yesterday (if you get my garbled drift - ok, probably not. Don't worry about it - it's me and not you !). Why do I write this rubbish ?

14:20 GMT

 It's not all that often that I come back and add to what I have already written for the day, but today is one of those times.

 As I write the sun is blazing away, and the sky is looking fairly clear. It feels like it has warmed up a bit too. So today seems like it might have been an ideal day to go out exploring after all. It's a shame then that I opted for a big breakfast. I can almost never go go out for hours and hours after a big meal, and once I succombed to that big breakfast my fate for the day was set in stone.

 The other thing I need to write down is the thing that was tickling the fringe of my memory, but not quite making it through to this dimension when I started writing today. It has finally broken through the fog of reality, and I can now remember exactly what it was I was going to write about. It concerns socks, and is sort of funny.

 Yesterday morning I grabbed a fresh pair of socks, and it seems they were a pair I have not used since (I'm guessing) last September. One sock was inside out. When I turned it rightside out I was rewarded with a pile of sand on my freshly hoovered bedroom floor ! That half of a pair of socks was probably last worn when I did some serious paddling in the sea (probably near Southend). My theory is that as I pulled off the wet, sand caked sock, it turned inside out and I was not aware of just how much sand was clinging to it when I later put it in the washing machine. That sock was from a multi pack of five identical pairs of socks, and it's original partner may not have been the one I put on yesterday. So the chances are that somewhere in amongst my socks there is another that is also full of sand.

 Assuming the sand was from the rather muddy estuarine sand found around Southend beaches, then it appears that a good wash and conditioning has done it good. The sand that poured onto my bedroom floor was of the most golden and smooth variety that would be the envy of any posh continental beach !
Saturday 20th March 2010
17:56 GMT
  They promised it would happen, and it has. The weather forecasters said it would rain today, and they were right, but I think that may have overstated their case. It has definitely been dull today, with hardly a glimpse of sunshine, but the rain was not the downpour I thought we had been expecting, but just intermittent drizzle. The rain is almost forgivable because it is exceptionally mild out. In some ways it could almost be considered close to warm. Were it not for the wind, which can get quite gusty from time to time, I would almost be tempted to say it was warm outside. I have certainly needed very little heating on indoors today.

 Yesterday morning I was hoping that the rain forecast for yesterday would arrive after I had got home - it didn't ! It was raining as I walked from work to the station, and it was raining when I arrived back in Catford. Happily, like today, it was only light drizzle, and for the most part ignorable.

 I did some shopping on the way home last night, and is so often the case I bought too much of the wrong sort of stuff, and too little of the right sort of stuff. My major sins were ready cooked hot southern fried style chicken, a large bag of crisps, and a "tangy lemon drizzle" cheesecake. Knowing that I would be the cheesecake made me ease off on the chicken overdose. Some of the chicken I fed to Smudge, and I kept half of it that I have eaten for my dinner tonight. I ate all the crisps and the cheescake.

 The cheesecake has far too much sugar in it than is probably good for me, but the biggest effect was one I have noticed before. It is rare that I have a sweet or desert as part of my evening meal (or with any meal for that matter). Maybe that is where I go wrong. With savoury food I seem to be quite happy to stuff myself almost to the point of being uncomfortable. It maybe just all in the mind, but when I have eaten something substantial that is sweet I do actually feel full, and don't want to continue eating. Sometime in the indefinite future when I see my doctor again, if I remember, I will mention this observation to him (or her - I am not sure who my doctor actually is at the moment). It is possible, but mostly unlikely, that it may trigger some thought about why this should be so, and perhaps suggest a way that it could be exploited somehow.

 I saw Aleemah today. When I went out to meet her at the station I wore my ultra lightweight bomber jacket with the hood. The rain was not significant to use the hood, but now the temperature is a lot higher than the previous times I tried wearing it, it is now coming into it's own. I think it will be very handy for going to work in even on dry days, and on wet days I can use the hood. On days when it gets warm in the afternoon it is so lightweight that it is easy to roll up very small and stuff in my bag.

 Tomorrow the weather forecast is a bit vague. The best information I have at the moment suggests it will be cooler than today, and there will be a mixture of sunshine and light showers with the sky just being dull when it is not raining or the sun is shining. Potentially I could take a chance and go out somewhere. I would be happier if the temperature was as high as today, or happier still if it was at least a few degrees higher. If the temperature was at least as high as today it would be an ideal day to put on my ultra lightweight bomber jacket and go out exploring. With protection from the wind and rain, I would have little excuse not to go out weatherwise, but there are other considerations. Chief amongst these is how I feel, but that vagaries of Sunday public transport is equally important. I could be tempted to go to Hastings, but I don't know if there is any engineering work going on that might effect the trains tomorrow. I certainly can't be bothered to much around with rail replacement bus services. Although having said that, I suppose there are some advantages. At least while waiting for the bus out on the public highway I can have a smoke, but the extended journey times would still make it tedious in the extreme.

 While I wait for tomorrow to come round, and see what the weatheris like, I think I am going to go to bed early tonight. In fact for a Saturday night it is likely to be ridicuously early, but I want to get back to reading my Isaac Asimov autobiography, and the most comfortable place to read that is in bed. So, night, night !
Friday 19th March 2010
08:49 GMT
  It would be nice to think that the days of freezing mornings are over until next winter, but I fear that would b a bit premature. Happily this morning is not cool, but there is a distinct lack of sunshine. There is hope for sunshine at some point today. The promised deluge has now been re-forecast to take place later in the day, possibly once I am safely home and in the dry. Yesterday's rain did happen, but it did not amount to much. I think it may have been starting as I fell asleep a tiny bit before 9 pm, and it seemed to be over when I let a soggy cat in at 1.30 am.

 As far as I can judge we have had a lot less rain than has been forecast for the last couple of days. With Saturday forecast to be a total washout I hope the forecasters have got that wrong too. I don't mind if it rains a bit on Saturday because I have no plans to go out anywhere, but it would still be depressing if we had heavy rain all day. The worst case scenario is if, by some miracle, tomorrow turned out to be warm, dry and sunny. Then I would be very sore because it would be ideal to go out exploring, but I  have made commitments which mean I can't go out.

 My longer term plans for going out exploring start as early as Sunday. The chances of it being a nice enough day are slim, and I am only thinking of Sunday as a  "maybe". (Another negative aspect of Sunday is that I strongly dislike travelling when transport is so sparse). Slightly further into the future is Easter. If the weather is reasonable then everything from trains to beaches will be more crowded than I like. I think I am going to take a chance on the weather before Good Friday, and/or the Tuesday after Easter Monday, will be quite reasonable and I am going to book those two days off work. That will give me 6 days of freedom, and I hope I will get at least two good days out in that time. Of course there is always a possibly that it will snow over the whole Easter period, and everything will be at a standstill. I am sure there have been precedents for this to happen in the past, but I'll take my chances as they come.
Thursday 18th March 2010
09:37 GMT
  This morning was even warmer less cold than yesterday morning (and that was an improvement on the day before that too). The sky was cloudy last night and that helped to keep the warmth in after a really rather pleasant feeling afternoon. Today started off quite hazy, but the haze is lifting now, and the sun is starting to break through. That should raise the temperature even higher than yesterday. The professional weather forecasters say that central London could hit 17° C today.

 The day before yesterday I wrote that rain would probably fall in the next 36 hours, and yesterday morning I wrote that my prophecy was probably going to turn out wrong, but I did note that tehre were still several hours of that 36 hours still to run. With something like an hour to go (but who's counting ?) before the deadline was up it did rain. That rain was exceptionally light, and if I hadn't noticed that all the windscreens of the cars parked outside had a sprinkling of rain drops on them I might have missed that it had rained at all.

 Apparently, the latest forecasts say that rain will be expected today around nightfall. Even with a large margin of error it seems that I should get safely home tonight before any rain falls. Tomorrow will be a different story. If the forecasters are right I will be getting totally soaked on my way to work, during every fag break, and on my home from work as well.Tomorrow does not sound very pleasant !

 My sleep is still very lumpy. I slept like a dog when I turned out the light at a little after 8.30 pm last night, but once again I woke up in the early hours, and last night I had even worse trouble getting back to sleep than the night before. I blame Isaac Asimov for this ! For the last few evening I have been reading his autobiography called "I. Asimov" (which is his name, but is also a pun on the name of one of his famous novels "I Robot".) (and when I say pun I probably don't mean pun but some other word describing a humourous play on words).

 I find Isaac Asimov's writing very easy to read, and that includes his autobiography. I could easily be tempted to carry on reading it into the small hours, but I have managed to resist that. What I couldn't resist was having my brain stoked to start thinking what I would write if I had any reason to write my own autobiography. This caused little problem when I first turned out the light. I was very tired and fell asleep easily. The problem came when I woke up at about half past one, probably just for a pee, but I started thinking about stuff in my own life, and each event seemed to suggest more events. As my brain churned I could not get back to sleep for well over an hour.

 It did sort of surprise me just what old junk I could trawl up from the more neglected areas of my brain. Prior to that brain storming session I could have written my entire autobiography right here. In fact I will. Autobiography Mk1 : I was born. I went to work. I died. Now it seems it was a bit more complicated than that. I guess over the last (almost) seven years that I have been writing this blog that there have been events I have written about that are more than just the weather (although moaning about the weather is obviously my real writing skill) and I would include them to pad out an autobiography, and some of them might even be slightly interesting.
Wednesday 17th March 2010
09:11 GMT
  I think it was a tiny bit warmer when I left for work this morning. The sky was quite hazy so although it was bright outside, there was no real direct sunshine. Since then some of the haze has lifted and a fair bit of blue sky is appearing together with some clouds. The daytime temperature is continuing to creep up. Tomorrow could see 15° C, but after that we will be back eights or nines.

 I may have mixed up my days, or the weather forecasters mixed up their days, but my suggestion yesterday that it would rain in the next 36 hours was wrong (although there is still 11 hours to go in which it could be right). The latest forecast I have seen suggests that rain will only feature sometime later tomorrow, and on Friday it will get exceptionally wet. I haven't seen a forecast for Saturday, not that I would trust one that far ahead, but I am guessing that Saturday is likely to be wet as well.

 If I had stuck to my plan of having bread, fish, and lots of water last night I may have felt all exhuberant and lively this morning. I don't, and the reason can only be blamed on excess chicken consumption. This time it can't be blamed on the delights of Tesco's hot chicken, or on any of the multitude of fried chicken shops, but it is still Tesco's fault. While buying the good stuff from Tesco I happened to notice that they had two new products in one of the freezers. They were piri piri chicken wings, and Jamaican jerk chicken legs, and both only cost £2 a bag. Of course they both had to be tested, and I cooked both.

 The piri piri chicken was very nice. If it had one fault it was that it seemed as if the piri piri seasoning may have used something sugary to bind it to the chicken. The Jamaican jerk chicken legs were merely ignorable. They were pleasant, but nothing exciting. To make the test valid I did have to (!) eat quite a lot, and the result is that I feel very sluggish this morning.

 One other possible reason for feeling sluggish is that I spent the night fighting my duvet. I do recall having loads of dreams (although I don't recall more than a fraction of the contents of those dreams). One I can remember in some detail was actually very short. I think the inspiration for it came from the amount of animal noises I could hear, and in particular, foxes mating. In case you have never heard the noises that foxes make when mating, I had better explain that it is a high pitched shrieking that can sound like children screaming - particularly when echoing around the neighbourhood in the middle of the night. I believe most of the noise comes from the dog fox who is actually in physical pain at the end of the mating, but I'll leave you to do a wiki search for the painful reasons !

 The cries from those foxes possibly triggered my sleeping brain to dream up a dream involving noisy children. In the dream I was actually in bed and was woken up by these noisy children. Looking outside I saw that my neighbours were having a midnight childerens partya™. under very bright lights. Those lights were so bright I could see what was going on through my curtains (somehow). I was worried that I would be kept awake all night, but then I heard one of the adulys say "more gin and tonics all round" in a rather loud voice, and from that I knew that everything was OK and I could turn over and go back to sleep. What I don't know was if I had any dreams while dreaming I was asleep (and if those dreams were about dreaming while being asleep).

 Midnight Childrens Parties ™ are my new patented invention. It is a thing to bring fear and hardship into any parents life, but it is also something that I bet all kids would want to try. I am sure as a kid I would have wanted to have one anyway !
Tuesday 16th March 2010
07:52 GMT
  The weather is improving in fits and starts, but I still have reason to complain. The mornings are still too cold. It didn't look as if it should be so cold this morning, but my fingers were soon cold enough to be uncomfortable as I walked to the station. If I wanted to be more positive about this I would say that at least it is not cold enough to turn them blue, as was the case not much more than a week ago (maybe less). I choose to be negative and won't stop moaning until I can walk to the station, first thing in the morning, and not feel my hands are too cold at all.

 Apart from whinging about cold hands, the weather is not that bad. There is more cloud than yesterday, and I think the top temperature may be a degree less than yesterday. The problem yesterday was that there was quite a cooling wind blowing. During the afternoon, when the temperature probably was at it's highest, around 12° C, it still felt very chilly when the wind blew. When the wind dropped it felt very pleasant out in the sunshine. If, as seems to be the case, at least for the moment, there is less wind today it might feel better than yesterday. The sting in the tail of all this is that sometime in the next 36 hours (probably) it is going to rain, and it might be a lot of rain.

 Last night I made a discovery that was not previously obvious to me, although others may be very familiar with it. I didn't want to do any cooking last night, and I did want to try a (small) tin of sliced tuna in sweet chilli sauce that I bought recently. That is part one of the ingredients to this discovery. Part two is that in case of emergencies, while they have been mucking around with the water mains in the neighbourhood, I have kept a few 2 litre ex-Diet Coke bottles full of water. A couple of them I kept in the fridge. The water mains work is now almost over, and as of last night my water was coming from the new feed pipe. So I felt quite happy to start consuming the bottles of water instead of just pouring them away.

 There is one other factor that brought about this discovery. Most people drink pints of tea and/or coffee, but I don't. I drink Diet Coke, and last night I was running short of it. So for my dinner I ate 4 slices of multigrain bread. One slice had the tuna in sweet chilli sauce, and the other 3 had other types of fish on them with a liberal dosing of chilli sauce. I also sprinkled on a small can of drained peas. To wash all that down I had chilled water instead of Diet Coke. I quite like chilled water, and as it is not gassy it is easy to drink in quite large quantities. During the course of the evening  drank about three pints of chilled water, and all that water appeared to make all the bran and other (tasty) crud in the bread expand. It did seem remarkably filling, and I went to bed feeling very full.

 I never stopped to count the calories, or anything like that, when I prepared and ate my dinner, but my feeling is that it was not that high. It's true that some of the tinned fish had oil with it, and all oils are high in calories, but I think it was of the type that is less bad for you than, let's say, lard ! To put it another way, I could have done a lot worse.

 This morning I feel quite reasonable. I have no major aches or pains, and I almost got enough sleep last night. If only I had not woken up at 04:00 I could have had near to my full eight hours sleep. Even my feet feel reasonably OK now, and that indicates it will soon be time to give them another bash. Unlike yesterday when my enthusiasm was zero, I might even consider going for a walk during my lunch break, but that rather depends on the sun being out, and there is only a 33% chance of that.
Monday 15th March 2010
08:27 GMT
  I don't know why I didn't declare that spring had officially started a whole lot earlier than last Saturday. Perhaps I am confusing cause and effect, and that it wasn't my declaration that started off the whole business of the temperature rising, and the sun putting in a few more hours of work during the day. No matter who's idea it was that the weather should start to get into practice for the summer, the fact remains that it is a beautiful bright sunny morning. The temperature is a bit low this early on, but by this afternoon it could have risen to a magnificent 13° C.

 After today the weather will deteriorate a bit. Some wet weather is on it's way for the middle to end of the week, but the daytime temperature should stay in double figures from now on until we come under the grip of autumn. Of course there may be the odd day when the temperatures blips, but the trend from now on is upwards - and that's an order !

 I must be stupid or something, but I never really realised just how tired Saturday's day out left me feeling yesterday. I was thinking I wasn't feeling too bad, and in terms of physical pains I wasn't, but tired is the only explanation of why I either did so little, or why what I did do took so long. Maybe there is a third possibility. Perhaps I was just basking in smug self satisfaction all day.

 This morning I can't work out how I feel. Many of the feelings I have are ambiguous, but at least one is quite definite. My feet ache a bit ! I have a mild but curious pain in what would be the knuckle if I was talking about a hand, but is whatever the equivalent would be called where my left big toe attaches to my foot. The rest of body seems basically OK, but it does seem to be more delicate under stress than the optimistic ideas I have about it's capabilities. The most important thing is that I still feel pretty good about my day out.

 While I was suffering from the unusual mixture of time flying while doing very little yesterday, I did do a couple of useful things yesterday. Perhaps the most important was the long overdue clearing up of Smudge's litter tray, and generally sweeping up the kitchen floor. It was a rather weak start to the spring cleaning that I want to get underway sometime soon. The other thing I did, even though I found it a bit of a slog, was to edit up a pile of photos to illustrate the web page for my day out on Saturday. It is probably another indication that my day out tired me more than I thought because, after many of my days out last year I was able to do all that work the same evening while it was all fresh in my mind. It began to get quite late as I put the finishing touches to the web page, and it contributed to me getting to sleep a lot later than I might have desired. The finished page is available for viewing right here.
Sunday 14th March 2010
11:40 GMT
  It really is a nice morning ! Some of the sky is cloudy, but there has been loads of sunshine, and it is not very cold at all. It probably helped that I had an almost scalding shower (thanks to wonky water pressure from the ongoing water main replacement work still going on), but when I went out shopping earlier this morning I felt very comfortable up until the point where I was carrying several heavy bags of shopping home. By the time I got in I had actually broken out in a light sweat.

 The weather forecasts suggest that a few days in the upcoming week will be rather wet, but also that a few days will see temperatures up as high as 12º C, or if we are incredibly lucky, even higher than that. On that basis, I declare that yesterday was the first day of spring, and now that spring has officially started I have opened up a couple of windows to let some fresh air in.I am only a couple of feet from an open window as I type this, and it feels rather good.

 After my long walk yesterday I didn't feel too bad this morning. In many ways I felt quite good. The long depression from being cooped up all winter has lifted, and although a few bits of me are a little stiff, and maybe even sore, I am nowhere near as bad as I thought I might be. I certainly felt good enough to take the scenic route to Tesco's. Initially I walked to Catford Bridge station to top up my Oyster cards. The first machine there wasn't talking to Oyster cards so I went to the other machine.

 That machine was also not talking to Oyster cards, and more than that, it wasn't talking to much at all ! It was displaying a typical Windows crash message that asked you to click on OK and then restart the application. I did find that the machine was still talking to the touch sensetive screen. Tapping on the OK button was accepted, but of course there was no way to restart the application. I think that only a reboot would do that.

 There was one more chance to top up my Oyster cards that didn't involve using a newsagent (where you can't always see the balance on the card), and that was to continue walking to Catford station. The machine there was working OK, and I duly topped up oth my cards (one for leisure travel, and one for commuting).

 Today I could almost have gone out again, but at the moment I don't really feel like it. The reason for this is that contrary to what I wrote yesterday evening, I didn't order a big takeaway. Instead I just had a sandwich and some ginger biscuits on top of a few snacks I had eaten soon after I got home from my day out. In consequence I felt rather peckish this morning, and I have had a large breakfast. Maybe once that has settled down, and if the sun is still shining, I might go out for a walk in the park. However I have another idea in mind that is a bit revolutionary - I might start some spring cleaning.

 Before I start anything so earth shaking as spring cleaning I do have one other task to complete. I want to sort through the photos I took yesterday and edit them to use on a web page describing my first day out this year. After I have finished that I may have lost the perverted urge to start spring cleaning. In some ways I hope I do. It's probably just my digestive system getting it's teeth into my breakfast, but I am beginning to feel quite lazy now.
Saturday 13th March 2010
19:03 GMT
  Today has been dry, not too cold, and there have been a few bursts of sunshine. At least that was my personal experience, but anything could have happened in Catford because I have not been here all day.

 As you may have gathered by some of my recent writings I have been pretty miserable lately, and as I think I explained yesterday, it has all been because of the bad weather making me reluctant to go out. Yesterday I very nearly carried out a plan I had for the future. That plan was to make a brief visit to the south coast after work one night. I chose the south coast because it is very easy, and relatively quick to get to from Clapham Junction station which I pass through on my way home from work every night.

 To be more specific, my plan was actually to catch my normal train from Earlsfield the one stop to Clapham Junction, and then to get a train from there to East Croydon. I would actually buy my ticket to the coast at East Croydon because I would be going back to there on the way home to catch a tram to Elmers End where I would catch the train back to Catford Bridge.

 Last night I got so enthusiastic about this idea that I very nearly put it into practice, but in fact I may have actually killed the plan off. Getting to Clapham Junction is obviously easy, and the train to East Croydon arrives quite soon after I arrive there. So far so good, but I hadn't counted on one vital factor. The trains heading out of London at that time are unfeasibly packed. There was zero chance of finding a seat, and while I can just about put up with standing in a very cramped place for the ten minutes from Clapham Junction to East Croydon, I would be very unhappy to stand like that for a full hour.

 So I think that plan is never going to work, although there could be scope for a similar plan if I took a half day off work and travelled in the very early afternoon when I would hope things would be quieter. Despite the full plan being a failure it was still interesting to try part of the route. I did arrive at East Croydon with enough time to spare to buy tickets and have a final fag before the long leg of the journey. So my idea there worked OK.

 Going home from East Croydon was simple in theory and in practice, but having endured a packed train I also had to endure standing up on a packed tram. In some ways it is surprising that the Croydon trams are designed with so much standing room in them. Standing on those trams is really an experience in itself with all the high acceleration, sharp braking and high G forces as the trams spin around bends. You really have to hold on tight, although it is not quite as bad as on the Docklands Light Railway which really lurches around like a thing possessed. By comparison I can usually stand on a normal train without holding on to anything except in a few particular places such as going over the pointwork on the approaches to Waterloo station (although I am getting quite proficient at it there now).

 One interesting thing about going home from work via East Croydon is that it only took about 20 minutes longer than by my normal route. By not going through zone 1 it should have been cheaper too, but I failed to keep a check on the fares I was clocking up on my Oyster card so I can't be sure about it. I certainly would not like to make a habit of using that route, but it is useful to know it can be done in case some sort of disruption on the rail networks makes my normal route unusable. There are a few other "scenic" routes I could use to get home, and with the lighter evening, and potentially warmer evenings coming, I might feel tempted to try a few more of these unusual routes from time to time.

 Today I really did go out to the seaside. I have to admit that there was a lot of temptation not to go out. It was pretty dull outside, and the day did start on the cool side. On top of that I was tempted to spend more time in bed, but I had been looking forward to getting out so much that I just had to do it.

 My destination was Walton On The Naze in Essex. To get there I started out with a bus to Lewisham where I caught the Doclands Light railway to Stratford. Unfortunately that bit of the journey took slightly over the hour I had allowed for it, and I just missed my train at Stratford. The terrible thing is that the trains to Walton On The Naze are only hourly, and I had a full hour to kill before the next one. I used some of that hour by taking a walk to the Stratford Wethersoons pub. It was only 10.30 in the morning, but I had a nice pint of "Brentford's Best" in the beer garden where I could enjoy a fag with my pint.

 It takes an hour and twenty four minutes to get to Walton On The Naze, and I don't think I enjoyed much of the journey there, or the journey back. Once I was there, and had walked the short distance to the beach I began to enjoy myself. I'll be writing a special page about my day out, and illustrating it with some of the photos I took. I should be doing that tomorrow, and that will have the full story of my day out, but for a taster, here is the route I took ;
My 4.15 mile walk around Walton On The Naze
 According to the Cardio Trainer application on my Android phone, I walked 4.15 miles and burnt 637 calories. It was easier going than I thought it would be, and I walked a lot further than I thought I was going to do, but my feet were pretty sore when I got back to the station.It's worth noting that the 4.15 miles does not include any of the walking getting to Walton On The Naze. The walk to and from the Wethersoons pub in Stratford was probably another half mile, and then there is all the short walks, often up and down stairs, changing from one mode of transport to another. It's no wonder that I am just about to order some sort of takeaway. I'm hungry, very hungry !
Friday 12th March 2010
08:12 GMT
  Normally I would probably moan about rain, but not today. There has been some rain this morning, and for a few minutes it was heavy enough to start the process of getting me very wet, but it very soon eased off and I was on my train seconds after that anyway. The good thing about the rain is that it came from clouds, and those clouds have kept the temperature up a bit. It is possibly a whole one degree warmer less chilly this morning.

 That slight improvement in temperature seemed to make the grey misty scene as I walked to the station less unpleasant than I might have thought. At least the view in one direction seemed almost pleasant. I guess the view along the road towards the station and the main road still looked sort of gritty and gruesome, but towards the trees in the park the view was somehow soft and pleasant.

 As I write this the clouds seem to be getting a bit more texture. It may just be the effect of the rising sun, but it does look as if there could be some breaks in the clouds later on, and then we might even see some sunshine. I suspect the sunshine is an essential ingredient if the temperature is ever to get close to double figures as last night's optimistic weather forecast suggested could happen.

 I feel a lot better this morning compared to the last couple of days. Having finally made the decision that I am definitely going to try and get to the seaside tomorrow has cheered me up (somehow I also seem to have more energy too).  It may be that events may conspire against me going out tomorrow. Such events could be earthquakes, fire, pestilence,  rail lines closed for maintenance, or any of the other common biblical disasters. It could also happen that I find myself in a position where I could blind drunk tonight and be incapable of leaving the house for hours if not days as I wish for death or the hangover to end. Whether or not it actually happens, the good thing is that I have made the decision to try for it.

 All this positive thinking has also got me curious about the possibilities of doing stuff after work, although I think this would probably only apply on rare Friday nights. I have actually done some a little exploratory research about what I could potentially do tonight. In theory I could get to East Croydon station where I could meet Jodie and we could get on a train at 16:33 to Lancing, and be drinking in The Three Horseshoes pub by 17:45.
Three Horseshoes pub Lancing
 As a plan it has several things going for it - mainly that Jodie is always up for a beer, and that she is often found in Croydon during the late afternoon. Using my network card the fare would be £13 return which is a bit much just to go for a couple of pints, but from where I stood to take the above photo it is only another hundred feet to the beach. Once the weather is warmer I think I will definitely have to start experimenting with a bit of after work exploring. After working all day I can't see myself going for very long walks in the evening, but a short walk, then a quick paddle, followed by a couple of pints sounds like it could be quite nice. Roll on summer !
Thursday 11th March 2010
08:33 GMT
  I guess that this morning I could use the description that I first saw used by a weather forecaster recently that the sky is a silver colour. Personally I reckon that white cloud is a more accurate description, but I wouldn't want to suggest that our weather forecasters could ever get something wrong................................................errrrrrrrrr !

 Along with the horizon to horizon white cloud (apart from the one penny sized bit of blue I imagined I might have seen a few minutes ago) the temperature is slightly improved. It is no longer cold enough to turn your fingers blue, but it is still a very long way from being acceptable.

 All this prolonged wait for spring is having a very negative effect on my psyche. I have taken to feeling very pissed off, and occasionally quite irritable at odd moments of the day. I have been finding work very unexciting, and the commuting to work tedious (or more correctly, a lot more tedious than it always has been). To cheer myself up I even went as far as looking for alternative jobs. As usual there was nothing out there that really grabbed my attention. There was one job that came quite close. It was was semi electronic, and semi electro-mechanical, and may even have had a touch of computer about it. Rather amazingly it was only about a 30 minute walk from home, but typically the pay was not that good. The thing that made it a complete no no for me was that it was working with coffee vending machines. I would find that quite unpleasant by itself, but I guess that these machines probably also deal with tea, and I would rather have a job working with raw sewage than anything to do with tea.

 The real reason why I feel so negative recently is quite likely to be that I am going "stir crazy". I feel the same sort of tension building up as last year when I first forced myself out for a few hours at the seaside. There was a subtle difference on that occasion because I didn't know if I could actually enjoy myself when out exploring on my own. Now I know I can (although company would always be preferable), but I have been put off time and time again by the weather. I am really yearning for when I can stroll around lightly dressed again, but I think I am going to have to accept that for some unknown time into the future the weather is not going to be ideal for me, and that I am going to have to force myself out sometime come rain or shine.
 I think I am gradually building up to going out on Saturday. It is possible that rather than attempt to walk for miles (which I may be incapable of until I get in practice again) I may just take a short stroll on the beach, and spend some time just watching the waves, and having a pint or two in a local pub with a book for company. I am already formulating a plan that has two possible options. My destination would be Walton On The Naze. I could go there directly by train and just wander around on the beach for a bit, or I could get off the train at Frinton, one stop early, and walk the two miles to Walton On The Naze with over half the walk being along the beach. That could be a good option. It is not too far to walk even when you feel really, terribly, out of practice, and there is always the option finishing there and getting the train home or to take a break and walk a bit further along the beach to an area where fossils are often found (near some crumbling cliffs).
Wednesday 10th March 2010
08:24 GMT
  There is still no sign of spring. It is cold and gloomy outside. Once gain it is not cold enough for frost, but still cold enough to numb the fingers. During the weather forecast on TV last night, the weather forecasters suggested the sky would be silvery. I can see that being quite a good description for some types of cloud cover, but not, as suggsted, for today, or at least not this early in the day. The sky could be described as tarnished silver. It is a sort of dirty grey colour. The only thing to cheer for today is that there is little chance of rain (although little chance does not equate to zero chance).

 On my way home last night I felt two individual small drips of rain hit my face. So I guess you could say that it did rain yesterday. For the final leg of my journey home I called in to Tesco to buy my March bottle of whisky, and I also made a very impulsive buy. After my public deliberations while writing yesterday I had 100% convinced myself that I would not be buying any chocolate ice cream. I didn't, but I did buy some vanilla ice cream. I had a few pangs of guilt about buying something so sugary, and so unseasonable, but it was so delicious that I could no longer care less about any guilt. I can't remember when I last had any ice cream, but it may well have been as long ago as last summer. Waiting for so long for more ice cream possibly multiplied the deliciousness fact by 10 or even 100 !
Tuesday 9th March 2010
08:30 GMT
  Since the middle of yesterday afternoon the weather finally feels like it looks. Unfortunately it now looks cold outside to match that it is cold. In an ideal world things would have gone the other way with warmth to match the blue skies and brilliant sunshine we had. This morning there are a few gaps in the clouds, but none have lined up with the sun yet. One thing the cloud has done is to stop the temperature plummetting overnight. There is no way you could describe this morning as warm, but for the first time in at least several days there was no frost. The air still seems cool enough to slowly render unprotected hands numb after 10 minutes exposure.

 The results of trying out one of my new pairs of shoes are now in ! They are both good and bad ! The good is that they are very lightweight, and just wearing them feels very comfortable. For very short indoor walks they do still feel comfortable, and I felt strangely light on my feet. By lunchtime my feet felt so comfortable that I was almost tempted out into the cold to take a walk in the sunshine. I am glad I didn't because those shoes quickly get uncomfortable after walking about 100 ft. I think they will be OK once they have worn in, but I was glad to get home to take them off (although once at home, and I had obviously stopped pounding the pavements, they quickly began to feel comfortable again).

 This morning I am trying the other new pair of shoes. These are also both good and bad. Generally speaking they are more comfortable for the slog that is commuting, then yesterday's shoes, but being new they are still a little stiff and will probably improve with use. The (mostly) bad thing about them is that they have very hard soles and heels. I didn't notice that until I started walking towards the station. I sounded like a horse clip-clopping along (or maybe because I only possess one pair of legs, just clopping - or is it clipping ?). On some occasions, perhaps when I am in a particularly rare boisterous, or childish mood it could be good that my footfalls are so resounding, but maybe not so much when walking to the station at an early hour in the morning. I suspect that these shoes would be good for clicking together for Gestapo officer impersonations (if I ever did such a thing).

 Last night I was very tempted to go home via Tesco, but I had two more pressing desires. One was to change my shoes, and the other was something else. Had I gone to Tesco I think I would have been very tempted to buy some hot chicken portions (or preferably the rarely found hot barbecue spare ribs). I feel I would also be tempted to buy some choclate ice cream for some unknown reason. It is more than likely I would have given in to the first desire, but less likely I would give in to the second. However, as I write these words, the idea of chocolate ice creams seems incredibly appealing for no other reason than chocolate ice cream is always so nice that in reality it's best to just not think about it - ever !

 Tonight I think it is much more likely that I will do some shopping on the way home from work. There are now a few things I need, and a few things I want, and there is always a few things I imagine I desire. Nothing I need is truly urgent, but you can never have enough cat food, and a box of tissues would be handy. I finished off what I think was my February bottle of scotch last night, and a new one for March would be handy. As for ready cooked hot meat products (drool !) I may get some, or I might not (but the might not carries less weight than the may get). While I am walking from the station to Tesco I shall remind myself that it is uncomfortably cold outside, and ice cream is not what I need right now - assuming that I even remember I have this twisted urge for chocloate ice cream.

 In case you are wondering, this insane fixation with chocolate ice cream has less to do with women's comfort food, and more to do with pure unadulterated gluttony. Although where the trigger for this psycho brain chocolate embolism came from is anyone's guess !
Monday 8th March 2010
08:03 GMT
  Just like yesterday, and Saturday before that, the sky is almost pure blue and the sun is shining. It looks great but feels bloody freezing ! There was a good frost on the cars this morning, and I don't think we saw that yesterday morning. With those clear skies the temperature plummetted overnight. I don't know how far it went down, but it must have been several degrees below zero. I am slightly surprised that all that exposed pipework I pictured yesterday did not freeze.

 This tropical sky and arctic weather is set to go on for some time - or so the weather forecasters think. Tomorrow may bring a few clouds, but it seems very obvious that we need far more greenhouses gases in the air to trap all that heat that the increasingly warm sun is trying to radiate towards us. Right now, with the lack of CO², and insufficient methane in the upper atmosphere, it is like living in a primitive uninsulated house.

 Today I may be making a mistake in wearing one of my new pairs of shoes to work. They are far too light to be work shoes, but worst of all they are suffering from that common curse of new shoes - phantom lumps. The inside of the shoe is perfectly flat, but my feet are used to the shape that they have carefully crafted into the sole of my previous shoes. So at the moment my feet are feeling a little uncomfortable. It's nothing drastic, but I don't think I will be running any marathons in these shoes for a while.

 It is not only my feet that are uncomfortable. When I first woke up I ached all over - from the ends of my hair to the  tips of my toenails. In theory, or at least in the second half of the night, I thought I slept quite comfortably. So it's hard to explain my discomfort from sleeping awkwardly (that word looks very wrong, but I can't think of a better spelling). I went to bed very early last night, but I had intended to read for a while. The short story I read was a little longer than I thought, but I still finished it in time to turn the light out at 8.30 pm. I initially had a bit of trouble getting to sleep. It was the usual story of feeling too hot under the duvet, and freezing cold outside. With one knee, and part of one arm outside the duvet I managed to get to sleep before 9 pm, and maybe even a fair bit earlier.

 I woke up around midnight, but I can hardly remember doing so. It feels almost like it was a dream, but I am sure I had a pee and then tucked myself under the duvet properly. I then slept peacefully, as far as I know, until 4 am when I woke up feeling odd. I say odd because it felt like I had slept enough, but I didn't want to get out of my nice warm bed, and I felt it was more comfortable laying down. However I did get up then. Initially it was to take a pee, but mostly because Smudge decided that once I was out of bed I may as well get her some breakfast. I could have tried to ignore Smudge, but it would be like trying to get back to sleep while trying to ignore a bad itch - and you just can't do it !

 So I have been up since 4 am and the only time I felt really warm was while showering. It is even cold here at work, but that will soon change. I have the heating on full blast and I won't turn it down until I am sweating !

 I just realised I lied - I did feel warm on the train between Waterloo and Earlsfield. It was probably a combination of the warmth on that train, and just moving around, getting the blood flowing, and easing stiff joints, that has stopped most of the aches I was experiencing before leaving home for work. I must admit I don't feel too bad right now. The room is starting to warm up, but very soon I will be going outside for a fag in the freezing air. As I stand up I just know I am going to creak, and my hips, knees, and ankles will complain for the first 25 steps. After that I shall be OK apart from my new shoes introducing new sensations into the soles of my feet !
Sunday 7th March 2010
17:20 GMT
  Looking outside from indoors it looks like a perfect summers day. All day long the sun has been shining brightly, and the sky has been brilliant blue. It is another story to actually go outside to sample it. There is an icy wind that has kept the temperature down to a mere three or four degrees. When the wind drops the sun feels hot on dark coloured clothing, but once the wind blows it chills right to the bone.

 I have been out three times today. The first was to get some stuff from Tesco. The second was to meet Aleemah at the station, and the third time was to see Aleemah back to the station. On that last occasion there was a hint that the air was warming a bit, but it may have just been a lull in the wind.

 Since sometime yesterday morning I have been served by a temporary water connection as all the piping in the area is renewed.
Temporary water connectionThis is the scene outside my house. Lying along the gutter is the temporary water main, and teeing off from that are the feeds to my house and next door. One aspect of the work is to add a water meter to each household, although apparently we have the option of either carrying on with the fixed flat fee for water, or to be charged by the litre. In theory I should be using less water than a large household, and being charged by the litre should be cheaper, but I would have to change many of my water using habits to save a lot of money that way. For instance I would have to turn off the tap while brushing my teeth. It might save the planet, but to be honest I just couldn't be bothered.

 Saving the planet is not high on my list of priorities right now. The two highest priorities I have are for some weather more conducive to going out exploring, and even more pressing right now is a desire for some sausages or other savoury meat products. I have eaten all sorts of stuff today, but in some ways it has been slightly bland, or sweet. I desire something very savoury, and I am not sure what I have available in the house. I know I have a joint of beef in the freezer, but that is frozen and would take an age to cook. Perhaps somewhere at the back of the freezer I might have some beefburgers. I think it is time I went and rummaged in the furthest recesses of the freezer....right now !
Saturday 6th March 2010
13:12 GMT
  Today's weather is, or was, being difficult. At the moment the sun is shining, but there are many clouds in the sky. It looks as if it should be a nice warm day outside, but in fact it is quite cool, and there is a bit of wind that cools even more. At least it is dry.

 I had some ideas that I might go out today, but after stepping out to do some shopping I changed my mind. As I walked to the shops I found that the wind, although not very strong, felt really cold. When I walked back from the shops, with the sun on my back I felt quite hot. Under such circumstances I felt that a long walk, sometimes too cold, and sometimes too hot, would be a bit unpleasant. Not only that, but certain excesses last night were not exactly user friendly for walking long distances.

 In some ways last night was a bit of a disaster. I had hoped that I would meet Patricia for a quick drink after work, and from there I would meet up with Kevin, and maybe others, for even more drinking. As the time got near I learned that Patricia was working late and unavailable, and so was Kevin. So instead of a boozy evening I elected to amuse myself with a large takeaway from the kebab shop. It was a very large portion, but I didn't eat it all. A surprising amount was eaten by Smudge, and I even had some leftovers that I was going to give to Smudge for her breakfast. Of course Smudge being Smudge, what was essential eating last night is tomorrow's poison. In contrast to her desperate pleading looks for more last night, I don't think she touched a single bit of it this morning.

 Stuffing myself with kebab last night meant that this morning I was feeling quite stodgy, and a trip to the local shops seemed quite sufficient for a bit of exercise under those conditions. To my surprise I found that it was a rather more extensive shopping trip than I usually make. I first went into Peacocks where I bought a cheap pair of baseball boots. Then while walking to WH Smith's I noticed that the Shoe Fayre shoe shop was having a closing down (for refurbishment) sale, and I bought another cheap pair of canvas shoes in there. From there it was on to WH Smith's where I spent more on magazines than I did on shoes. Finally I practically retraced my steps to the 99p shop where I bought snacks that I should have really bought, and a toy.

 The "toy" was one of those electronic things that should not be able to be sold for as little as 99p. It was a solar power deck light. I have yet to take it apart, but from what I can guess it consists of a white LED powered from some sort of rechargeable battery that is charged from a small solar cell panel. I am not sure how long it is supposed to shine for, and how much charging in direct sunlight it needs to fully charge it, but I left it behind the net curtain in full sunlight, and withing 20 minutes it had enough charge to run the LED and full brightness. I'll leave it by the window until night falls, and then see how long the LED glows when I take it somewhere dark (where it automatically comes on).

 I have a very strong suspicion that even in bulk it would be hard to match the price of the electronic components inside that deck lamp, and that's without taking into account the casing that it is in. If I had a serious use for solar power, perhaps living in the wilderness, maybe in a caravan or perhaps some sort of beach hut, then a whole pile of those deck lamps rewired into some sort of larger casing, would make for a relatively cheap "solar power station". Maybe a search of somewhere like ebay for solar panels would correct my theories about the cheapness of those deck lamps, but regardless of that, I still think that the lamp I bought today was fascinating, even if ultimately a useless, purchase.

 One other thing going on today is that Thames Water (previously known around these parts as The Metropolitan Water Board) has just started renewing the "Victorian" water main down my road. The scheme has been going on in the local area since before Xmas, but now it seems it is my turn to suffer. Earlier on this morning I had my water cut off for around 15 minutes while my supply was attached to a temporary feed. On Tuesday they start the big switchover, and I am likely to have my water cut off for much of the day (or so says the leaflet I found on my doormat last night). To my surprise the workmen seem completely unfazed by finding that my water feed is still using old lead piping (which gives the water a better flavour !).  That lead pipe is now rather old, and I hope they don't manage to crack it or something stupid.
Friday 5th March 2010
08:32 GMT
  The cloud that accumulated through the day yesterday cleared overnight, and so the temperature plummeted to several degrees below zero. In theory it should be a nice crisp morning. The frost is sparkling in the bright sunlight, and yet I find myself thinking that the cold is a real annoyance. We have just had too much of it, and we now deserve better.

 I may feel annoyed by the bone chilling cold, but I am happy that it seems unlikely there will be any rain today. It does seem that the weather changes faster than those climate change doomsayers can calculate it. They are beginning to get better at it. Often they can correctly forecast the weather for up to 24 hours ahead, but it is errors such as today that really prove that their attempts to predict the weather in years, decades, or evenn millenia ahead still have an awful long way to go.

 It is a bit strange, but a lot of me feels reasonably good today. I have been, and maybe I still am, suffering from some sort of long term digestive upset, but apart from the difficulties that can cause it is actually contributing to my wellbeing. It is possible that it may have contributed, along with a bit of extra exercise at the begining of the week, and some mild alterations to my diet,  towards a bit of weightloss. In all probability it is the alterations in my diet that are causing the digestive upset. Maybe it is positive feedback that is driving me more to a non winter mode of eating (or something). I was going to mention sweetcorn here, but apart from saying that I can't recall eating any in the last fortnight, I will say no more. Those who know will guess correctly, and those that are unsure may like to compare this to Billy Connelly and the subject of diced carrots to confirm their worst suspicions.If you have no idea what this is about then you are probably the sort of person who looks away while flushing the toilet, and need not think any more about it.

 I was reading the latest edition of New Scientist last night. There was an article in there about torture and coercion. It was mostly about how the Americans are possibly going to stop using methods to extract information and confessions that have been discedited since the 19th century, and may even move to more effective 20th century means (which mainly means being more intelligent and informed than your prisoner). Towards the end of the article was a very interesting statement. It said that psychologists have long known that an excess of coercion leads to resistance, and often to a negative response.

 I thought I was being uniquely childlike and petulant when I decided that the more the government want me to stop smoking, the more I wanted to continue. Now it seems that it is not such a unique position to take, and I could assume that the governement knew this all along and actually want hardened smokers to smoke more. That being the case makes me think I ought to review my stand on smoking. However that credits the government with some sort of intelligence, or even of listening to others when it is well known that the governments lust for power and wealth overrides any external influence or good sense. So it's carry on as usual.

 There was a story in The Metro this morning about the government (in the thin guise of health workers) considering the possibility of banning smoking in cars because it is lethal to children who drive them (or some such total bollocks). Now I really wish I could drive so I could own a car and smoke in it before it becomes illegal to do so (and then maybe even after that). They say that Hitler was evil just because he killed a couple of million more than America did in "friendly fire" incident in the last century, but at least he didn't interfere with smokers. Pol Pot probably grew tobacco in his back garden, and there are plenty of anecdotes of Stalin's prisoners getting tobacco in the gulags and salt mines. It makes it seem like our Westminster overlords are just plain brutal monsters (which of course they are - probably from some reptillian planet).
Thursday 4th March 2010
08:24 GMT
  We are definitely getting close to spring now. This morning could, with a bit of imagination, be a perfect spring morning. The main thing letting it down is that it is still a bit on the chilly side. I guess the temperature is at least 3 or 4° above zero, but there is a strong breeze that makes it feel cooler. The sun is out right now, but there is a lot of cloud scudding about. Sometimes there is more blue than grey, and sometimes vice versa. It doesn't look as if it will rain anytime soon, and the forecasters say that little joy is reserved for tomorrow.

 Yesterday was similar to today in some respects. Sometimes the sun would be out, and sometimes it would be hidden behind cloud, but all the while there was a cold wind blowing making it feel very chilly outside. Indoors, where the wind couldn't cool off anything, the sun, when it was out, was actually doing a reasonable job of warming any south facing rooms up. It can't be long to wait until the mornings are warm enough to come to work in a lightweight jacket, and maybe go home in just shirtsleeves !

 I wasn't at work yesterday because I started the day with a bit of a gut upset. Initially I phoned in sick, but even as I was phoning in my gut had mostly settled down, and I was free of any unpleasantness for the rest of the day. So I cancelled being sick and changed to taking the day as holiday. I am not sure what to blame for giving me the runs. It may have been beer, or it might have just been something I ate (possibly with an excess of onion and other roughage in it !).

On Tuesday I was having another "healthy" day. I did a 1.5 mile walk during my lunch break, and I did some walking in the evening. After meeting Iain in The Fox And Firkin ( which means walking away from home from Ladywell station) we had a couple of pints before walking to the Wetherspoons pub in Catford (which is further away from home). We had another couple of beer in there before heading for our own homes. I would not like to make more than the vaguest of guesses, but compared to Monday night, when I merely walked through the park from Ladywell station to get home, all the extra walk involved visiting the pubs possibly doubled the distance walked compared to Monday night.

 Iain had to walk a little extra when we left the Wethersoons pub. We walked together towards the bus stop at the end of my road, and as we approached it Iain announced that he couldn't find his iPhone. So he went rushing back to the pub while I, with my bladder starting to complain that it was carrying just a bit too much used beer, rushed off home. I haven't heard from Iain since, and I guess he never did find his iPhone.

 Whether the beer had any bearing on the volatile state of my guts yesterday morning is open to conjecture, but, as I mentioned, everything settled down very quickly, and for the rest of the day my guts rested.......and so did I ! I did go out and do some shopping close to midday, but for most of the day I was just quite lazy. I watched a film that I had legally downloaded from http://www.archive.org. In many cases it is easy to see how some of the films available there are in the public domain. The film I watched yesterday was a really bad sci-fi film from 1974 that had probably been abandoned by it's owners out of pure shame. I got the impression that the plot of the film was originally quite a good story, but the producer had probably lost half of the script and just made bits up to try and patch up the appalling continuity. Not only that, but not a single person in the film studio from the tea lady upwards had any idea about science, none at all, which meant there was scientific mistakes in it made that even your granny would spot. The underlying message of the film was that the machines/robots are taking over, and nuclear death awaits us all. Such fear probably comes easily to a writer who understands so little science of even the most basic kind. He most likely a raving technophobe who can't even work out how to use a roll of toilet paper properly, and eats with his fingers because a knife and fork are too technical to understand.

 Somewhere in the previous pragraph I should have mentioned the name of the film. Well no doubt the technophobe writer of it would find a few choice bit of slander for me because I can't remember something simple like the name of the film. It was something like "Cosmos - The War Between Planets", but it leaves such a nasty taste in the mouth that maybe I don't want to remember it ! I will grudgingly admit that the film did have one redeemimg feature. All of the three women who had major roles in it, were rather nice looking - one exceptionally so !
Tuesday 2nd March 2010
07:54 GMT
 There is a definite feel in the air that spring is on it's way........or maybe it's just me. This morning, like yesterday morning, has started off frosty because the sky is almost clear. There are a few small clouds in the sky this morning, but they are high up and look very insubstantial. It is probably those clouds that are the reason why the top temperature today is forecast to be one degree cooler than yesterday at around 9° C.

 It was a truly magnificent day yesterday. The sun was shining from dawn to dusk, and the temperature was reported to have just made double figures in London. The suns rays are now carrying a decent amount of heat, and in direct sunshine, with very little wind, it did begin to actually feel warm outside. It was so wonderful that I didn't have to provide myself any more than the gentlest of persuasion to go out for a walk during my lunch break.

 I didn't bother to have my lunch before going out, and in fact I didn't bother having my lunch at all. I also felt confident that the effort of fairly fast walking would warm me up enough that, combined with the warm sunshine, I would be comfortable in just my shirt sleeves. For the most part I was comfortable, but my arms felt a bit on the cool side.

 With my whole lunchtime available to me, and feeling good in the sun, I went for an extended walk. I attempted to track my walk using the sat-nav on my phone, but as usual, the strange properties of the park meant that the sat-nav went all peculiar again.
Where I actually walked and where the sat-nav thought I walked
 On the map above, the blue trace is where the sat-nav function thought I was walking, and the red trace, clumsily pencilled in, shows where I actually walked. My tracking app on the phone said I had walked 2.18 miles, but I guess the true figure is a little under 2 miles.

 King Georges Park does seem to be some sort of dead zone for gps sat-nav on my phone, and one of my workmates says he has had strange readings there on his sat-nav too. I have a theory that is unlikely, and yet might be the only explanation for all the strange things that go on to navigation in that park. Both my workmate, and myself, are using Google Android phones for satellite navigation. To speed things up when getting the first approximate location when using the gps system they first triangulate your position from the information broadcast from cell phone towers. It may be that one of the local cell phone towers has been wrongly programmed * and is broadcasting the incorrect location. If this is so, and the phones are still triangulating from cell phone signals even when successfully locked to the gps satellites, then it is feasible that the phone could develop a big headache and believe it is in two different places at the same time.

* Such a thing could possibly happen if equipment was borrowed from one cell phone tower to use as an emergency replacement in another, and in the rush it was not reprogrammed (although this is just a guess, and I have no real knowledge about how these things work).

 I felt both good and bad after my long walk. It was exhilarating walking in the warm sunshine, but I still declare I am very out of practice with this, and I got back to work feeling truly knackered. I think my shoes are getting close to the end of their useful life because my feet ached, although not badly.

 You might think that after that pounding I would have had enough for the day, but I had a sudden masochistic urge to get off my train home one stop early and walk through the park - which I did ! From about halfway through the park it did turn into quite a hard slog, but I recovered very quickly when I got indoors.

 This morning I feel both good and bad. My feet, and in particular my right foot (and ankle) are slightly sore. I almost feel I have a bit more energy this morning, but some of it is just in the mind rather than reality. The most significant bad feeling this morning is the result of bad sleep. I expected to sleep like a log after all my exercise, but I found it hard to get to sleep, and then stay asleep. I even got up for an hour during then night because I couldn't seem to get back to sleep after one of the times I woke up.

 I finally gave up on sleeping 30 - 40 minutes before my alarm was et to go off. I awoke from a long rambling dream. It was far too long and complex to explain here (even if I could remember half of what happened during it). The major part of the dream was set in the disused (except at xmas) postal sorting off that used to be at the end of the road where I lived as a kid. I think I was helping Sherlock Holmes to investigate why people were dying who lived near the sorting office. Inside the sorting office it was kitted out in typical early sixties GPO/Government Stationery Office standard office furniture of the sort I remember well from my days when the telephone service was part of the GPO, or recently divorced from it (in reality it was almost bare inside as I remember it). The place seemed to be deserted, but also unlike reality it had a basement. When we went down there we found two technicians, and all the postal sorting equipment that seemed to be based on surface mount light emitting diodes (in a way that is as mysterious to me now as it probably is to you). Other anachronistic items were laser bar code scanners which did their scanning in a cross pattern. It turned out that the two technicians we found were foaming at the mouth Christians, and were prone to kneeling on the floor and letting the laser bar code scanners project a cross on top of their heads. I woke up before any conclusions were reached about why people in the nearby houses were all dying, but I suspect that the reason was some sort of inverted satanic deadly rays emanating from the two holier than God Christians (or something).

 I am now wondering if I feel good enough, or will feel good enough, to go for another long walk during my lunch break. If I do, and with similar weather to yesterday almost guaranteed, I am sure I will feel compelled to, I will take my other Google Android phone out with me. The second phone doesn't work when set to connect to 3G phone networks (as I have explained in the past), but it does seem to be superior at fixing onto navigation satellites. With maybe another two miles of walking under my belt you might think I would not be looking forward to any more, and you would be right after considering how my feet may feel. However, tonight I will be walking home through the park again, or at least I think I will. I will be doing this less from choice, but of neccesity.  For the first time in ages I am meeting Iain for a drink, and we are meeting in The Fox And Firkin. After a couple of pints in there, the simplest way home is to walk through the park. Maybe with a couple of pints inside me I will sleep better tonight.
Monday 1st March 2010
08:34 GMT
  It is an almost perfect morning. The air is still, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining brightly. Unfortunately it is only just above freezing, or maybe even at precisely zero. There was frost on many cars, and after leaving Catford I noticed that a few puddles had some very large ice crystals in them. The size of the ice crystals suggest that the freezing had happened very slowly because the temperature was only just, miniscurely (if such a word should exist) below freezing point. In theory this bright sunshine, that should hang around for much of the day, will warm things up, but apparently not much higher then 8° C.

 While I was on London Bridge station I thought I ought to take a picture to show just how blue the sky was.
The Shard under construction taken from platform 6 of London Bridge Station 1/3/2010
 I took this picture of The Shard while changing trains at London Bridge for a train that would stop at platform B at Waterloo East. That's the platform with the gents toilets on it that I wanted to use. Changing trains at London Bridge usualy works well, and avoids the long climb down, and then up the subway at Waterloo East. The wait for the next train is usually less than two minutes, and frequently as little as one minute. Today it didn't work. A train that had come up from deepest Kent managed to sneak into London  Bridge before the one that comes from Barnhurst that I have got in the past. So I had to go down all those steep steps to the subway, and then climb up all those steep steps to get to platform B at Waterloo East for actually no reason at all.

 The Shard is destined to be Britains tallest building - which is sort of interesting, but the blue sky behind it was more interesting. You can read all about The Shard at Wikipedia. While I was looking for some information about The Shard I remembered to check on something that I have been meaning to check for ages. With very little searching I was rewarded with some information about one of London's most famous landmarks. It has stood proudly, almost out in the open for many, many years now. I am, of course, talking about Big Daves Gusset (with no apostrophe). If you have no knowledge about it you have missed out on many years of exciting intrigue, but now the true story can be read right here ! (you won't be disappointed by clicking on the link - maybe).