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My Diary/Blog For the Month of May 2010

Monday 31st May 2010
(Whitsun bank holiday)
19:12 BST
  Today hasn't been as bad as it could have been. It started very grey and dull, and didn't really get better until mid afternoon. During the day the temperature rose from cool to tepid, and now it is feeling a bit close. If it felt like this a lot earlier in the afternoon I might think there was a storm brewing, but not now. It might even stay dry through the night, but I think that rain is forecast for tomorrow.

 This morning I really didn't feel like going out, and yet I knew I had to. After two days of relative inactivity, eating too much, and having a bit of a digestive upset for much of yesterday, and sometimes the two days preceeding that, I was not sure if I could even go out anywhere today. Fortunately my digestive upset cleared before mid morning (amongst other things I had a load of trapped wind), and then the only thing really holding me back was stiff legs and some mild back pain.

 It took a lot of will power, but I finally made it out of the door in time to catch the 10:59 train to Sevenoaks. My ultimate destination was Knole Park which is almost one and a half miles from Sevenoaks station. It was also up a long steep hill from the station. So just getting to Knole Park itself was a fair effort by itself. I had absolutely no enthusiasm for this walk until I reached the point where I could leave the roads and get into the "green".

 My first contact with greenery was not Knole Park but the Sevenoaks eco park which borders on Knole Park itself. Once I was among the trees I began to feel invigorated, and as I climbed up and down the footpaths, some of which were quite steep, I found reserves of energy that I didn't even know I had. I found myself easily overtaking some more sedate (but younger and fitter) people while going up a couple of really steep hills. Of course I was totally knackered and half breathless at the top, but it felt good.

 Knole Park itself is set around a large mansion house that is now owned by the National Trust. The grounds were originally used for hunting by the nobility, and (semi) wild deer still roam there. It was the deer that I most wanted to see, and it wasn't long before I was rewarded by the sight of many deer.
Deer in Knole park
 The deer there exist in a wild state, and yet seem to be quite accustomed to having loads of people around. I managed to get to within 6ft (2 metres) of the deer above, and for much of the time it continued grazing while I watched. If I attemted to get closer it would move away, but only at the speed at which I approached it (which was very slow). Like many of the deer I saw this one seemed to be very young. It is not clear in this photo, but it still seems to have the shrivelled remains of the umbilical cord hanging from it's belly. I think the spots on it's back also mark it out as very young, but in my ignorance I would say that the size of it's growing velvet covered antlers suggest it is not that young.

 I took loads more pictures on my walk, and when I have time I'll make a photo page with the best of them. I also toook a few short movie clips on my camera, and I'll use one or other of them on my experimental video pages some time.

 I wasn't out all that long, and in total I only walked 3.4 miles, but with all the hill climbing I managed to burn up 522 calories on this walk. It may have been one of my shorter walks, but it was probably about right for how I was feeling. I finished it feeling rather good, but there was better to come a few hours later.

 Since Easter I have only seen Patricia once, and then only briefly. I know she has been very busy at work, and is often tired at the weekend, but I was beginning to feel like I was being ignored. So it came as a complete shock when I recieved a call from Patricia asking if I was at home, and if I had time for her to call on me. Well, I was going to start editing the photos I took today ready to make up a photo page, but I readily dropped that idea and prepared for Patricia's visit. We had a good natter for several hours before she left again, and she left with the promise that she would be in contact again soon.

 In strict chronological order seeing Patricia was the the third good thing today, but the second good thing was only good in an ironic sort of way. Last Wednesday I reported an intermittent fault to Virgin Media, and they were supposed to send out a technician at 5pm on Thursday night. As I reported here, I was rather annoyed that by Saturday morning I had heard absolutely nothing from Virgin Media. Well today I received a text message from them.......
Sent 12:07 Sunday 31st May 2010

Virgin Media:
Dear customer,
You recently called to book a technician due to a problem with your Virgin Media Services.
We have an issue in your area which is affecting your services.
Your technician has been cancelled and we aim to have your service restored within 8 hours.
Virgin Media
......Well thanks for letting me know !
Sunday 30th May 2010
09:20 BST
  The weather has improved, although it may be only temporary. There has been some sunshine this morning, and I can see several areas of blue sky, but I can also see some dark looking clouds. My gut feeling is that today we will get the balance of the bad weather forecast for yesterday.

 Yesterday was supposed to be very wet and miserable, and indeed there were several rain showers, but nothing like the intesity or duration that I believed they would be. It wasn't all grey and miserable as it should have been. Admittedly the vast majority of the time it was rather dull, but there were even a few brief periods when the sun managed to shine. Also, it was not as cold as I expected, but still cold enough for me to put the heater on when I spent a long period of inactivity just reading.

 It is quite probable that further away could have seen much worse weather, but locally it was probably good enough to go out for a while. I didn't, and that inactivity, and inevitably eating more freely than I should have done, means that I don't feel like going out today (plus I am worried by some of the threatening looking clouds I can see, and which seem to be getting thicker by the minute). If the weather improves over the next couple of hours, and if I manage to throw off the stiffness of sleep and inactivity, I may force myself to go out today, but I don't feel very keen about it right now.

 Although I described my day as one of inactivity yesterday, it wasn't wasted. One achievement was to finish the last hundred or so pages of the novel I have been reading (Foundation And Earth by Isaac Asimov), so that is no longer a distraction for today. Other achievements include doing all the overdue washing up, two loads of laundry, a bit of tidying up, and most importantly, cleaning up, and around Smudge's litter tray.

 I also swapped out my network hub. One of the fans on it had been making a dreadful noise for the last week. It's replacement is now nice and quiet (and has better flashing lights on it !). Sometime at my leisure I will open up the old hub and either clean and lubricate the fan or replace it.

 When I think back I realise I did do quite a lot of computer based stuff yesterday. Changing over the hub was not that simple, although it should have been were it not encased in a spaghetti like tangle of cables. Another thing I did was to finally sort out an annoyance on my main PC where I had made some errors in the configuration for mounting my server as a network drive. I now, at long last, have full read/write access to it as I should have had when I first set it up.

 My final bit of computer based stuff was to make considerable progress in getting my video web pages up and running. When I first started playing with video in a web page I used a piece of java script called Cortado, but that presented a few problems. My interpretation of the way it worked was that it emulated a sub set of a complete video streaming application, and that subset was specifically configured to handle just one preset set of circumstances. These were that the video file had to be named content.ogv, and the size was fixed at 352x288. If I had installed the full version it would have been far more versatile, but I realised there was a better way of doing things.

 The preliminary specification of a new standard for web pages, HTML 5, includes a video tag, and most modern web browsers, excluding Microsoft's Internet Explorer, already support a lot of what will be HTML 5, and that includes the video tag. This makes life a lot simpler for me, and for anyone watching my videos - except for Internet Explorer users who will have to download the file and play it in an external application.

 There is still one problem with showing video in my web pages, and that is one of network bandwidth. Depending on what else my bandwidth is being used for there is only enough to support smaller, medium resolution videos without a lot of buffering happening. I have tested a few experimental files on my server while I have been at work. The smaller ones do play faultlessly, but a bigger one does tend to have a few pauses in it because I can't send the file through quick enough. There are three solutions to this, and I will only consider one of them for now. The first solution is to buy more bandwidth, but the idea of giving more money to Virgin Media makes my skin itch. The second is to make use of You Tube, but I want to do everything my way. The final solution is to make sure that all my videos are of fairly low resolution. Most of my videos don't actually need to be high resolution because they are more for "education" than for entertainment, but any that really need higher resolution I can provide a downloadable higher resolution file.

 For a sneak preview of what I have been experimenting on go HERE. You will really need to be using either Firefox, Chrome or Opera web browsers to see it in all it's "glory", and I have provided links to download these web browsers on the page for those still using Internet Explorer. You might also need to be patient. If I am doing something, like downloading a big Linux distribution, or other large download, it may take a short while for the video to start.

 Since starting writing the sky has become increasingly grey and nasty looking. Maybe I am destined to stay in another day playing with more video clips, or maybe I will get brave and go out regardless. Who knows ?
Saturday 29th May 2010
08:54 BST
  If it supposed to be pouring with rain this morning, but it's dry and there has even been a odd moments of sunshine. I don't know how long this can last because the sky is mostly very grey. It is also supposed to be rather cool today, but it doesn't feel all that cool to me. On the other hand, with precious little sunshine there is little chance it is going to get much warmer than it has started off, and while it is not that cool it is hardly what you might call warm.

 Until the bad news about the weather today was first forecast I had high hopes of going out exploring today, but with every subsequent forecast maintaining the bad news my expectations got less and less. Last night I made the decision that I would not be going out today, and acted accordingly. Now I wonder if that was a bit premature. It is possible that today will not be as bad as I thought, and I could have taken a chance and gone out for a while. Maybe if things get no worse I might still consider it a bit later.

 Last night I met Iain in The Catford Ram and had three strong pints of lager with him (he, of course, drank cider). Drinking three pints like that would not be too much of a bar to going out today, although it has left me with a rapidly diminishing hangover. It's what I did afterwards that was a bit foolish. Before explaining that I ought to mention that I was constipated all yesterday, and that made me feel a bit slow and sluggish, and I dislike walking unless my guts seem to be in harmony with the world.

 When I left the pub with Iain I told him that I would not be going to the Catford Chippy, and that I would go straight home and cook something a little more healthy. I started out to do just that and I was just inside the car park near the entrance to Tesco when the beer got the better of me. It was aided by a feeling of melancholy that had overcome me earlier in the week when the weather first got bad. The two combined gave me an insane desire for something nice (and inevitably bad) to eat. So I turned around and went into Tesco's. Among the items I bought and consumed were a Chinese takeaway ready meal that allegedly should have served two (anorexics, presumably), and two chocolate iced doughnuts. To make matters worse I couldn't wait for the Chinese meal to cook so I ate a sandwich while it was cooking. The end result was that I feel extra stodgy this morning and I don't feel like doing any walking at all now (although my guts are moving once again).

 On my earlier assumption that I would be staying inside in the dry today I had pre-planned several important activities for today. They include the simple, doing the overdue washing up and some laundry, to the more complex like emptying Smudge's litter tray and washing that area of the kitchen floor. I'll probably do some other light housework too, but I alos have website work to do. Very soon now I'll be needing a new page for June, and I want to do some more work on my experimental video pages (details of which I shall announce later).

 The fianl outcome of my call to Virgin Media about my intermittent broadband connection is still a mystery. After not getting a call from the technician on Thursday night I thought I may have heard something last night. So far I have heard nothing, but it is possible that a fault was found and dealt with. It may have been an hour, maybe less, after I called Virgin Media that my connection seemed to re-establish itself. That in itself would not be unusual from the intermittent nature of the fault prior to that, but since then I don't think it has failed once. I feel certain it was not fixed on Wednesday night, but it is possible that it was a problem that affected more than me and that the problem was fixed sometime on Thursday after someone else's complaint. Whether the fault has been cleared, or has cleared itself (for now) it is still very annoying and discourteous not to have been called back by Virgin Media.

 Maybe it is because Virgin Media has a very bad memory, and it is hard to condem them for that after my own experience. For three days now I have been meaning to show this picture......
CIS screen at Earlsfield railway station
 This slightly fuzzy mobile phone picture shows the Customer Information Screen at the bottom of the stairs leading up to platform 2 at Earlsfield station. It should show all the departures for the next hour or so. Every night since last Tuesday it has just shown this Windows NT4 desktop with the clock stuck at 3.55 pm. I know it to be Windows NT4 because I have seen it crashed before and the "blue screen of death" has revealed it to be so. I would speculate that it is running on an old Pentium II computer, and that the fault is one of three things. The first is that the capacitors on the motherboard have dried and and are leaking. The second is a faulty memory chip, and the third is that the hard disk has crashed. I would further speculate that Network Rail are waiting for a new computer to replace it. Presumably the new computer will be 10 or 100 times more "powerful" than the old and will sit there doing practically nothing most of the time while a tiny. tiny part of it's capabilities are used for what is probably a very simple DOS based database. It will be like giving a formula one car to the mythical little old lady who only drives to church once a week !
Friday 28th May 2010
08:23 BST
  If it were a bit warmer it would be a nice morning. There is a mostly blue sky, and the sun is shining, but it is just a little too cool for shirtsleeves. Today should be one degree warmer than yesterday, which reached about 18 C by the late afternoon. Any clouds today should be white and fluffy. So it promises to be a pleasant day.

 Tomorrow things are not set to be very pleasant. The weather forecasters have studied the entrails of several freshly slaughtered chicken and predicted that tomorrow will be cold and wet. The temperature is going to be a chilly 16 C, and there will be copious amounts of rain.

 Last night was particularly annoying. I neither saw or heard from the Virgin Media technician who was supposed to be investigating why I have had so many periods of no internet connection. Since yesterday morning my internet connection has been rock solid, and several things come to mind. One thought is that it would actually be better if the technician called at a time when the connection had failed. Another thought is that something was found that did not need a home visit, and I am very certain the intermittent fault was external to my house. If that is so then it would have been polite to have informed me. All this confirms what many people have been saying, that Virgin Media is now Old Slapper Media and won't do anything except for money, and then only reluctantly.

 Tonight there is a good chance that I will be having a quick drink with Iain, but since making it a definite appointment things have changed a bit. For a start there is the possibility that the man at Virgin Media who spoke as if he was mumbling through a sock with an Indian accent may have said that the technician would call tonight and not last night. In fact he could have been saying anything at all. He muttered whole sentences that I could not really understand. I can't work out if it was worse trying to understand him or the man from NTL (who ran the local cable TV service before it was taken over by Virgin). NTL had nice clear lines to their call centre (presumably) in Scotland, but obviously selected their employees by the strength of their Scottish accents. My memory of the time I spoke about a fault on my NTL installation may be a bit warped, but I seem to recall it lasting over three weeks, and with the aid of a phrase book we managed to ascertain that I was talking to NTL within 16 hours of the call starting. The next time I have to talk to one of these call centres I think I will commit suicide at the same time. I'll chop off an inch of my body at a time starting with my toes. Then we'll see which is most painful or takes the longest - I'm betting it will be talking to the call centre :-)

 I was looking forward to going out exploring tomorrow, but with the weather being forecast to be so bad it is likely I'll be staying indoors all day. That may not be such a bad thing. I fancy a bit of a rest, and I also have some stuff I ought to be doing around the house. Sunday may well be a far better day weather wise, and although I don't really like going out on a Sunday I may well end up doing just that.
Thursday 27th May 2010
08:26 BST
  A new feature has entered the weather today - rain ! Although it threatened to rain yesterday, it never did, but now it has happened this morning. I don't think there was any rain until after 4 am when I let Smudge in. She had been out all night and came in perfectly dry. Very soon afterwards there must have been a short sharp shower. The roads were wet, and the cars were dripping, but apart from an odd spot here and there it was dry as I came into work. The Weather Channel app on my phone says that it was only 8 C when I came into work, but I can't believe it was as low as that. If I had to guess I would say it was at least 10 C. More reliable (but not actually reliable) sources say the maximum temperature today will only be 16 C, but today should be the low point, and things will improve from tomorrow.

 I feel rather rough this morning. Like many a time before it is nothing specific. It's just a sort of mildly achey, low energy sort of feeling. It may well be caused by bad nutrition. I was a bit stressed last night and "accidently" ate several things that are bad for me in quantities that are even worse. The cause of my stress was having to phone Virgin Media's fault report line. My internet connection has become very intermittent since about last Saturday. At least once a day it has died for around an hour, and last night it only worked for a few minutes here and there all evening. This morning it seems stable, but it could die again at any time.

 After an interminable wait, listening to some of the worst music in existence, I finally got through to someone in, presumably, India, and we went through the rigmarole of he reading the script and me saying yes I have tried all those things. Finally he seemed to understand that it was an intermittent problem, and nothing to do with my Windows PC being misconfigured or infected with a virus. Of course I wasn't actually using a Windows PC, but his script doesn't even acknowledge that Linux exists, and as for a Linux based hardware firewall....well that's just sheer science fiction ! Eventually we agreed that a site visit was required, and a technician has been booked to call at 5 pm tonight. (Who has my mobile phone number, but probably won't phone it to find out where I am when he calls an hour early and finds me not home !).

 Tonight, once the trauma of deal with Virgin Media's "technician" is over, I really ought to see if I can eat a little more frugally. If I felt like I did while coming to work I would definitely not be feeling like going out on a long walk on Saturday. If I can be careful tonight, and tomorrow night I may be in tip top condition to tackle a 6 or 7 mile walk. Of course that is a bit of a gigantic "if", and tomorrow night there is the added complication of having a few beers with Iain after work. So I'll see what I can manage, and even if I fail miserably there is always the chance that the weather will be horrendously bad over the weekend and I will just stay in and have a good rest.
Wednesday 26th May 2010
08:22 BST
  Summer is over, and winter has begun ! It was cool enough for me to wear a long sleeve shirt and my lightweight coat to come to work this morning. Some estimates put the temperature as low as 11 C. Yesterday's high was only 18 C, and that was ten degrees down on the day before. Today we will be lucky to see 16 C, and worse than that, it may rain. As I write this the sky is 100% light grey. Some of it may be just mist that will eventually evaporate, but it looks like a whole load of cloud to me. So far there is no sign of the sort of cloud that would definitely bring rain, but if not later today, then it is almost certain that it will appear tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe, after tomorrow things may be looking up again (but I am not holding my breath).

 The main problem with yesterday was not the weather. That wasn't ideal, but not that bad. No, it is one of my teeth that was, and still is, the problem. I think I have exposed a sensitive bit of tooth, and sensitive toothpaste is no longer providing any relief. The pain is intermittent, and only bad enough to be slightly annoying. The worst aspect of the pain is that it reminds me I will soon have to endure a visit to the dentist, and my last visit to the dentist rather put me off dentists. On that last visit I had a tooth extracted, and despite gallons of anaesthetic being poured into my gum it hurt like bloody hell ! It was without doubt the most extended bit of agony I have ever had to endure at the dentist, and now I am very reluctant to go back, but I can predict the future. Soon the intermittent, and easily endurable pain from my dodgy tooth will get so bad that I'll be begging the dentist to fill my mouth with cold steel and other instruments of torture.

 I am not sure exactly what it was, although I suspect it was a chicken samosa I bought on my way into work yesterday, but something had a very powerful laxative effect on me last night. The effect only lasted over a period of about an hour, but during that hour it was very violent. It was all over before I went to bed, but my stomach felt distinctly odd as I lay in bed. This morning I felt very hollow, and so yet again I bought some food from the same Londis minimarket where I bought the chicken samosa. I have had stuff from there many times without problem, but should anything happen I hope it is after I am safely home again.

 Apart from the echos rolling around my empty gut, I did sleep rather well last night, although an extra hour would still have been welcome. It was obviously cooler last night compared to the night before, but it was still very warm in my bedroom. Knowing that it would cool off during the night I didn't want to try and sleep with nothing covering me, and so took the duvet out of it's cover and slept under just the cover. That seemed just right, although with the window slightly open it was close to chilly in my bedroom this morning.
Tuesday 25th May 2010
08:53 BST
  This morning is nothing like yesterday morning, not by a long shot ! It is actually quite cool, and the sky is quite grey and cloudy. Some of the grey is mist that is gradually lifting, but a lot of it is just plain cloud. Once or twice the sun has peeped through a gap in the cloud, and there is a good chance that it will again. It should stay dry today, but there is less certainty about that for tomorrow.

 It seems like "summer" is over. The coolness this morning was actually rather pleasant, and refreshing after the heat yesterday. Apparently the highest temperature recorded in and around London was 28 C, and the hotspot in central London where temperatures were predicted to reach 30 C failed to materialise. Once the sun started to set the temperature dropped quite quickly, helped along by cool winds from the north. In the far north of the country temperatures dropped to single figures by this morning, but here our cool morning was actually about the same as what would have been judged to be a warm day just a few weeks back.

 I rather enjoyed the heat yesterday. My enjoyment was undoubtably helped by having a good air conditioner in my office here at work, but I enjoyed the heat outside too. I have come to the conclusion that I do like walking under a blazing sun. It's actually tghe stopping I don't like. When I left work yesterday I seemed to have plenty of energy to stride out into the sunshine, and walk to the station with an ease that is quite rare. Of course once I got on the train and stopped moving I did get a bit sticky, but unusually it didn't seem that bad.

 I used up much of that spare energy on the commute home, but I still had enough left to do some housework. You may think that sounds ever so good until I reveal that the housework consisted of shoving some laundry into the washing machine, and washing a few plates and some cutlery. It wasn't much, but it drained my last energy.

 Once I had eaten some dinner, and watched a bit of TV I recovered a bit and did some experimentation with digital video and Linux. First of all I removed a firewire interface card from one of my old PCs and installed it in one of my faster PCs. That PC was running Lubuntu Linux and I needed to install a fair bit of software before I could beging my experiments. That was no big deal - I just opened the package manager, ticked what I needed (or thought I needed), and let it get on with it. Five minutes later I had two video editing applications, plus some supporting stuff all installed and ready to use.

 I plugged my camcorder into a firewire port and tried out the first video editing application. This was Kdenlive, and on first glance it seemed better that the other one called Kino. Kdenlive could not, or would not connect to my camera, So I tried Kino. That didn't have a "connect" button, and none of the transport controls worked, but I did find that if I used the play button on the camera I saw the video coming through on my PC monitor, and clicking Kino's capture/record button did capture the video. I ended up with several rather big video files on my hard disk, and then I attempted to edit them into one short video clip.

 For the editing I returned to Kdenlive. It seems to be potentially a very sophisticated piece of software, and I am sure that with hours of practice you could edit a Hollywood blockbuster on it, but I only had a short time to practice. It was a bit hit and miss, but I did manage to edit together a reasonably coherent 5 minute video clip. Ultimately I made three bad mistakes. The first is that I selected a far too low bit rate when I rendered the edit down to a single video file. It made the final video look very blotchy. My second big mistake was that I didn't check that blotchy video before commiting my third big error of not saving my project. Had I saved the project I could have tried lots of different settings in the rendering process until I found one which produced satisfactory results. If you click here you can see the crappy results of my editing.
Monday 24th May 2010
08:25 BST
  According to the highly dubious "The Weather Channel" app on my G1 Googlephone it is 18 C now and it will be 24 C by 4pm. My morning paper is a little more generous with a high predicted of 27 C, and last night the BBC were even more generous with the chance of the mercury hitting 30 C in central London. My personal prediction is for 28 C.

 With clear blues skies, bright sunshine, and a gentle warm breeze, I have done something I am not sure I have ever done before. I have come to work in my shorts, and it feels good. With the air conditioning on in my office I think I am going to feel rather good today. If you discount the windy stomache ache I woke up with (which has now gone), and maybe a very slight discomfort from where I managed to jam a seed between two of my teeth yesterday, I do feel pretty good today. I was a bit worried that I might have overeaten some bad stuff yesterday, and I am sure that it did bump up my blood sugar level a lot higher than desirable, but I do seem to have a lot of energy for a Monday morning.

 My feeling of well being is the result of two good days out and the chance to rest yesterday. It also helped seeing Aleemah yesterday because that meant I didn't start the day with a large breakfast. Aleemah only stayed until about 3 pm, and after that I was free to hit the fridge. Oddly enough I didn't go for large quantities, and compressed the vast majority of my gluttony into just one cheesecake. Later in the evening I had some grilled skinless chicken with my own special basting. This special baste is basically the first things that come to hand, and on this occasion it was black pepper, dark soy sauce, chilli sauce, sage, and olive oil. I may be biased, but I say it was rather tasty !

 I used the worsds basting, and baste there because I don't really know what else to call it. What I actually did was to smear a foil lined baking tray with some olive oil. Put the skinless, boneless, chicken thighs on that. On top of the chicken I sprinkled the black pepper and sage, and then poured on the soy sauce, chilli sauce, and finally a little more olive oil. I then just shoved it in a hot oven for about 25 or 30 minutes. Had I made up all the stuff in a bowl I could have called it a marinade, and indeed with a little more forethought I could have actually done that. However the most important thing was that it was very tasty, and relatively healthy. Tonights dinner may well involve cheese, and as everyone knows, that is really bad for you, but just so orgasmically wonderful !
Sunday 23rd May 2010
07:03 BST
 It's a little cooler than I expected this morning, but it has the makings of a beautiful day. There is a tiny bit of haze towards the east where the sun is rising, but the rest of the sky is clear blue. As the day progresses, providing nothing nasty appaers over the horizon, it should be another wonderful hot day. I think there was a forecast of the mercury rising to as high as 27 C, and that's not bad. Not bad at all !

 Yesterday was a glorious day with plenty of hot sunshine, and once again I am suffering from some sun burn as a result. I finally left home to travel to the other side of Ashford, Kent, a lot later than I had originally intended. Ideally I would have caught the 09:03 train from Catford, but I was aiming for the 10:03. I actually caught the 11:03 train for the long journey into deepest Kent to visit Ivor and his wife Jo.

 Google maps suggested that I would be walking just over three miles to get to Ivor's house, but my tracker software said I actually walked 3.93 miles. That's a bit less than my more recent walks, but it was another inland walk through country lanes that involved walking up and down hills again, and the awkwardness of walking on the camber of the road or on rough grass verge. It may not have been a long walk, but I was quite glad to reach the end of it.

 Here are the vital statistics for my walk ;
  • Distance =  3.93 miles
  • Duration =  01h 08m 10s
  • Climb = 305ft 
  • Calories burnt =  604
  • Average Speed = 3.46 mph
 To make life a little more interesting I was carrying a bit of a heavy load. In my back pack I had my usual half litre bottle of water, but I also had a half bottle of scotch and two mini bottles of wine in a cool bag with a pile of ice. I had other stuff too, but it was the liquids that added the unusual weight.

 It was good to see Ivor who I haven't seen for maybe a year, and very good to see Jo who I haven't seen in many years. We sat out in their excellent garden and consumed the booze while bits of my skin fried in the hot sun.
Ivor and Jo 22nd May 2010
 I think we chatted away for nearly two hours before it was time for me to leave. I had intended to walk back to the station, but with time getting short, and the train service only once an hour, I accepted the offer of a lift. Even so our timing was very tight. Annoyingly tight because when we arrived at the station my train was pulling into the platform before I had even got out of the car, and I had to forego the kiss and hug that Jo was offering. After a short run I managed to leap aboard the train just seconds before the doors started to close.

 The journey back to London seemed faster than the journey there, and that is surprising because the train crawled along for several miles after we had left Ashford. Unlike on the journey out, my train called at Swanley station, and that was very handy. There are no barriers at Swanley, and that makes it a good place for me to change train for the local service back to Catford. It is good because it is easy to pop outside for a fag while waiting for the connection - which I did !

 I felt pretty good when I arrived back in Catford. My walk may have seemed like hard work, but with it being relatively short, and having a sit down for a couple of hours with my walking boots off (I had taken a pair of flip flops with me), meant that I felt none of the strains I normally get after a long walk. It also meant that I didn't get the same buzz, but the pleasure of a few hours in the sun with good companions made up for that. It would have been easy to buy a takeaway to eat on the way home, but even though I had eaten nothing all day I seemed to have the patience to wait until I got home to cook myself some dinner. Although I had a fair amount to eat over the rest of the evening it could have been far worse, and I think on balance I probably kept my energy input/output balance in my favour.

 Today there are bits of me that are rather red from exposure to the sun, and one unusual bit is my right kneecap. I am not sure why that should have caught so much sun compared to the left, but that's the way it happened. It might be coincidence, but the intermittent arthric like pains I was getting in my right knee seem to have totally disappeared since cooking it in the sun. I was expecting it to be a little sore after the walk, but happily it seems fine now.

 My first task for today is to try and bring a bit of order to the place before Aleemah comes to visit me. After two days out in a row it seems that I have done zero housework, and the place is in a mess. Once I have got both me and the house clean I  have to rush out to do some shopping. Only then can I have a rest. So I had better get started !
Saturday 22nd May 2010
07:28 BST
 As I write this I have no internet service. I am hoping that Virgin Media will finish their so called network enhancements soon, and my connection will come back to life. If it's not engineering work by Virgin, and is actually a fault on my line, I am guessing it will take many days, and many soul destroying calls to some far away call centre to try and get it fixed. Meanwhile I'll keep on writing in the knowledge that even if no one else can read my web pages, at least I can.

 It's a very misty start to the day, but in theory, once the sun rises a bit more it will "burn off" the mist and we will be rewarded with another beautiful day. The forecast for today was for glorious sunshine and temperatures in the mid twenties or better. I hope that forecast still stands.

 Yesterday had it's faults, but overall it was pretty good. Occasionally the clouds would bubble up, but the sun was out for a lot of the day, and it was fierce enough to very lightly burn me. It is perhaps fortunate that I have already been burned once this year on my long walk from Birchington to Herne Bay, and with many occasions of light exposure to the sun since then, I have already built up some protection from the sun.

 My day out with Iain yesterday was to take a final ride on the last slam door trains that until the last train today been running in normal public service on the Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier branch line. Various slam door trains have been preserved, but none of them run in a "warts and all" condition correctly powered from the third rail. So many years after slam door trains were withdrawn from public service on all other routes for mostly imagined health and safety reasons, it was great kudos to SouthWest Trains to keep just two of the old units in service. Sadly, after today, those trains will be withdrawn too, and much younger diesel powered train will run on the branch from tomorrow.
CIG 1497 at Lymington Pier Station
 The train above, 3CIG 1497 painted in the old blue and grey livery, was what we wanted to see, and ride on. It has a sister unit, 1498, that is painted in the even older green livery, but alas that wasn't in service yesterday. Today both units will be in service for a final gala performance. It could have been nice to be there today, but it will be very busy, and it was nicer to experience these old trains in more natural circumstances (although there were a few extra photographers around yesterday).

 The first fault of yesterday was that when I went to meet Iain I found that all trains from Catford Bridge were suspended because of a power failure further up the line. I could have got a bus to Lewisham, and then a train from there, but I opted to get a train from Catford station to Elephant And Castle station, and then get the Bakerloo line to Waterloo where I was to meet Iain. Although it was an inconvenience, in reality it only added a little complexity to my journey, and may have only taken 10 minutes extra.

 From Waterloo it is a long, rather tedious, journey to Brockenhurst. We did pass a few points of interest, but for me it was mainly a case of grit my teeth and try not to think of nicotine withdrawal symptoms. We travelled on a fairly comfortable class 444 train at speeds of over 90mph at many points, but it still took 90 minutes to reach Brockenhurst.

 I am not sure if Brockenhurst station was really like I imagined it would be. Although it was an old building, it had all been modernised, but some heritage features had been kept or replicas installed. There was plenty of time there to have a fag before 1497 rolled into platform 4A. Although the train was not busy, I think it was fortunate that Iain and I happened to be standing right by the door to a "de-classed" first class compartment at the back of the train. So we quickly jumped in and made ourselves at home.

 It is a 10 or 12 minute journey from Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier station, but it was most satisfying riding in that old train, and hearing and smelling all that nostalgia. Lymington Pier station is just literally a platform on the pier. There are no station buildings, just a "bus shelter" and a ticket machine. The intermediate station, Lymington Town, has a proper station building, and while there have been some modern intrusions it still retains a very "heritage" feel to it. Even the platform name plates are in the old Southern Region totem style.
Lymington Town platform nameplates
 After alighting at Lymington Pier station we took a walk back towards the town to look for a refreshing pint of beer. We had one on the way to the town, and another in the town. Then we went to the town station to await the next train. Happily it was the service back to the pier, and so we had a little extra ride before heading back towards Brockenhurst for our train back to London.

 At Brockenhurst there is a connecting mainline train, but we opted to wait for about 30 minutes so we could do part of the journey on a train run by Cross Country. These trains we later discovered were actually class 221 "Pendolino" trains, and have the capacity to tilt when running on the West Coast mainline (north of London).
class 221 pendolino train at Brockenhurst 21st May 2010
 In theory these long distance trains (ours was heading towards Manchester) should be luxuriously comfortable inside, but our impression was that the seating and ambience was not a lot better than a (clean) London bus. Maybe 1st class was better, but for us ordinary plebs the class 444 trains were far better. We stayed on this train unto Southhampton Airport station where, after I had another fag, we boarded a class 444 train to Waterloo.

 From Waterloo we took a slight detour back to Catford by way of a tube train to Canada Water, and then a class 378 "London Overground" train from there to New Cross on the recently reopened East London Line. The class 378 trains plumb new depths of discomfort with their very unyielding longditudinal seating (we actually stood all the way). At New Cross we just had a 5 minute wait for a Hayes bound train to take us back to Catford Bridge and a short walk to the pub for another couple of pints of beer.

 We had not done that much walking, but I felt totally exhuasted after that trip. So it was over to the Catford Chippy for cod and chips and then straight home to eat it (Iain bought just one saveloy which he ate before getting his bus home). After a reasonable nights sleep I think I am ready to go out again today. I am off to visit my friend Ivor down in deepest Kent. He lives 3.5 miles from the nearest station so I should end up walking about 7 miles today, but it will be interesting to see how an hour or two break in the middle effects my endurance.
Friday 21st May 2010
06:47 BST
 24 C is the high we are hoping for today, and I think there is a fair chance that it will happen in central London. Away from London it is likely to be a degree or two cooler, and maybe a degree less than that on the coast. I am heading for the coast today, and 20 C will be fine by me. As the sun rose at 05:01 the sky looked rather misty and murky, but now, with the sun finally peeping above the roofs of the houses to the east, the sky is clearing and it looks like the beginning of a fine day.

 Yesterday got pretty warm, and with the sun beating down on the tin roof at work I was thinking that it is getting time to power up the air conditioner again. Maybe when I am back at work on Monday I will have to do just that. A light covering of cloud overnight has kept some of the warmth in, and it doesn't feel too chilly this morning. By the time I go out it should be feeling close enough to warm that I think I'll be wearing my shorts today.

 The first time I go out today may be to do some quick shopping, but that's optional, and my main outing starts at around 9 am. I am meeting Iain at Waterloo at around 9.45. That gives me enough time to buy the tickets and get a fag in, or two, before the long (2 hour) train ride down to Lymington Pier.

 I have plotted several ways to get there, and one of them involves a bit of a paradox. Getting the 10:09 train gets half way there a lot earlier than a train leaving at 10:05, but the connections are not so good, and we actually arrive at Brockenhurst, where we change onto the branch line, later. This may actually be a good option for two reasons. A bit of high speed running is always good fun, and missing the connection at Brockenhurst may provide some interesting photographic possibilities. Just like any other of my days out I will be making up a web pages with my photos on it (or at least the best ones), and because I am taking my camcorder with me I may provide a bit of video as well.
Thursday 20th May 2010
08:30 BST
 There is a good chance it will rain today, maybe soon. It is now very grey and overcast, but it didn't start that way. When I left home to come to work it was bright and sunny with a mostly clear sky. Not only that but it was not cold. It was just a touch under what could be called warm, but it was quite sufficient for me to roll up my sleeves and walk in perfect comfort.

 Yesterday was pretty good weatherwise. There were a few times when there were lots of grey clouds in the sky, but it stayed dry, and it ended up comfortable warm. It may have been the chilli I used in my dinner, but by the time I went to bed it was feeling a little too warm for sleeping under my duvet. In all probability it was just the chilli because a couple of hours after going to bed I found that I did have to get all my extremities under the duvet to keep warm.

 My dinner last night, with the chilli in it, or to be more precise, a generous helping of Jamaican hot pepper sauce, started life as a low fat, low salt, low sugar, low calorie meal. The two main ingredients were diced skinless turkey and cabbage. The only trouble was that even with a generous amount of herbs and spices it still looked too insipid for what I wanted to eat. So while it was simmering away I added some rice to it. That made it rather nice, but of course raised the amount of calories in it. However it must have been reasonably healthy because I do feel fairly lively today.

 Maybe that's because I am off work tomorrow, and my enthusiasm about going out tomorrow is rising. I mentioned yesterday that I am heading down to the Lymington Pier branch line to ride on the last remaining slam door trains in normal public service. To that end I plundered the timetable racks at Waterloo on my way into work so I can plan a more interesting route to get there. The only problem with that idea is that the new national rail timetable starts on Saturday, and all the timetables I picked up start from then. It is quite likely that most trains will still be running to the same schedules, but any plan I make here at work I will check with the older timetables which I have at home.

 Tonight I must do better in trying to have an extra healthy meal so that I am full of energy for travelling tomorrow, and also for Saturday when I hope I'll be out on a long walk. I hope I can make up my mind about where I am going on Saturday. I now have three possible destinations in mind. First of all it was Knole Park near Sevenoaks. Then I thought I might visit a friend (if he is available), and now I seem to be getting a yearning for the seaside again. Maybe my visit to Lymington Pier will satisfy my seaside lust.
Wednesday 19th May 2010
08:17 BST
 It is definitely getting warmer. Initially I was going to moan that it was rather chilly when I first went out this morning, and indeed it was a bit cool, but now, over three hours since the sun rose, I walked from Earlsfield station to work with my shirt sleeves rolled up. Another half a degree warmer would have been nicer, but it wasn't bad as it was. Apparently the temperature will rise to 20 C today, and that's not bad at all. The only downside is that the warmer air may bring the odd shower today, and definitely will tomorrow (or so the forecasters say).

 Yesterday was a pleasant day. By the afternoon it was warm, and apart from occasional periods when the sun went in, it was mostly bright and sunny. I enjoy going home after work everyday, but going home in warm sunshine with my sleeves rolled up is even better. It will soon be time to dig out my short sleeve shirts. We've come a long way since the short dark days of winter, and having to endlessly moan about commuting in darkness.

 I had a nice surprise this morning. I am off work on Friday and I'm going out "trainspotting" with Iain. We are going for a ride on the last slam door train in normal public service. It runs on the Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier branch line, and after Saturday it will be replaced by a modern train. Ideally we would go on the Saturday, but I have other (possible) plans for then. Last night I decided I ought to take my camcorder along to film a bit of the train action. So this morning I had a15 minutes to spare before leaving for work, and I dug my camcorder out. I haven't used it now for 2 - 3 years, and I was convinced the lithium ion batteries would be dead beyond reprieve. My nice surprise was that the batteries, far from being dead, actually had some useful charge left in them.  I guess I must have fully charged them befoe I put the camcorder away. One battery came up about 75% charged, and the other 50%. Even with figures like that I may have to cycle them a couple of times to get them back to full capacity.
Tuesday 18th May 2010
07:42 BST
 I think this morning is very similar to yesterday morning. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it is still just a bit too chilly to really go out without a coat, and yet for the second day running that is exactly what I did. The weather forecasters, or at least some of them, say that today will end up warmer than yesterday with temperatures as high as 20 C. If we are lucky it will stay dry today, but isolated showers are forecast for today. So I guess it's just pot luck whether we find ourselves under a leaky rain cloud or not. (By "we" I mean myself and others in my immediate vicinity rather than the royal "we" !).

 Yesterday was, on the whole, a pleasant day weatherwise. There were a few tiny spots of rain sometime around the middle of the day, and then again when I left work to walk to the station. They were so light and delicate that their presence hardly registered on my concious, and so I can't really be sure of the times they did happen. I am now trying to remember if it rained in the early evening, and I presume it didn't because I can't recall if it did or didn't. I know that Smudge was out all night, but came in dry and hungry this morning. (After an all night hunt for a takeaway she had to concede that Sheba "Chicken And Rabbit" was tasty after all !).

 It was a joy to walk around this morning with no pain from my feet. Wearing those ill fitting Reebok trainers yesterday really played havoc with my feet. I have double checked them and they would seem to be my correct size, but I wonder if they have been mismarked. The pinching around the toes was uncomfortable, but bearable, perhaps after a time even ignorable. What was not ignorable was the damage being done to my heels. Each time I stuck a sticking plaster over the red raw area it would get dislodged in a very short time. Eventually I held the sticking plasters on by wrapping 1" wide electrical insulation tape several times around my entire foot. That did work, and I was able to hobble around all day in relative comfort.

 This morning my heels felt very sore, but some of that soreness was due to the wounds being all crusty. It stinged a bit as I took a hot shower, but the water softened the crust, and before putting on new, cushioned, sticking plasters I put a little bead of Savlon on each wound. The combination of that, wearing some decent full sized socks, and my ultra comfy, ultra long lasting, and very cheap Aldi supermarket trainers, has resulted in perfect comfort. I am now barely aware that my heels were red raw and bleeding yesterday morning. I have high hopes that my feet will be OK for a long walk this coming weekend, or even on Friday when I have booked a day off work.

 Another thing that worked out OK in the end was my T-Mobile broadband dongle. I spoke to T-Mobile yesterday morning and they did whatever they had to do to "wake up" the sim card, and last night it was working again. This was actually quite handy because my home boadband connection decided to die on me. I am positive it was working when I first arrived home from work, but it died sometime before about 7.30 pm. It was still not working when I went to bed a little after 8 pm. Happily I was able to check out the web pages I wanted to see from the comfort of my own bed by using my Acer Aspire One netbook and the T-Mobile dongle. This morning I found my connection was restored. I expect the cleaner unplugged the internet so she could plug in her vaccum cleaner at Virgin Media's offices last night !
Monday 17th May 2010
07:45 BST
 It may be that the temperature was only a degree above where I would be moaning about the mornings still being too cold, but it was just high enough to come to work without putting a coat on. With the sun on my back it did feel quite warm, but my front still felt rather cool. I guess it was just on the edge of my comfort zone. There was a bright blue sky when I left Catford, but here in Earlsfield it looked as if there had been a recent light shower, and the sky was less blue. The clouds now seem to be gathering quite fast, and I am glad that I did stuff my lightweight rain proof coat in my bag, because it looks very much as if there could be some showers sooner or later. It is a small comfort to know that even if it does get wet there is some compensation in that it should get up to 18 C today, and that is the best we have had for some time now.

 Yesterday, after the bright start, did end up rather wet. There were one or two very light, very brief showers after midday, but the sky was still light grey. By 5 pm it grew very dark outside. Soon afterwards it began to rain. At 6.58 pm the rain had got so heavy that we had a flash of lightning, and a peal of thunder. Funnily enough I am sure the rain had passed it's peak when the lightning flashed, and soon after that the rain died right down and eventually stopped. By 9 pm, when I really meant to be fast asleep, Smudge decided that it was safe to go out, and she stayed out all night - not that she had any choice in the matter because I was asleep very soon after she went out, and I didn't check to see if she was ready to come in until I got up shortly after 4 am. She was pleased to see me, but she appeared to be dry, and her enthusiasm to come in seemed only about food.

 Recently I wrote about my sexy violet bed linen. When a certain pussy cat, the one who runs away from me if I approach her, but who expects me to greet her with great affection if she chooses to jump onto me, leaps on my bed to be all friendly and lovable, she leaves behind a small amount of white cat hair. That white cat hair stands out a mile on those violet sheets ! Presumably Smudge also leaves some lack hair behind, but that's never really noticable.

 Another thing I wrote about recently, maybe a whole week ago, was that I was getting something like athritic pain in my right thumb. I don't think I mentioned that the pain had completely disappeared the very next morning, and hasn't been back since. Yesterday, without affecting the intermediate fingers, the pain, and possibly a hint of swelling, moved over to my right little finger. It was uncomfortable to bend it, but not agonizingly so. This morning it seems to be so close to normal that it's hard to imagine it could have been so sore yesterday. I wonder what joint will become sore for totally unknown reasons next weekend ?

 Resting my knee by being a totally lazy git over much of the weekend has restored that to 99% painlessness. To keep it that way, at least until I abuse it by going on a long hike, I decided to wear some shoes with decent cushioning against the thwack of my feet on the pavement. The shoes I choose were ones I bought last autumn when I bought three pairs at very low prices in a sale. They are in fact Reeboks, and if I had paid full price for them instead of half price they would have cost 45 making them the most expensive shoes I have ever owned (possibly). With a well respected name, and a respectable price tag, you might think that would be excellent. In fact they are not ! They do have well cushioned soles, but they pinch around the toes, and the heel support is having a good go at wearing my heels down to the bone.

 I realised they were a bit tight around the toes when I first put them on, but I expected them to loosen up with wear. As I walked to the station I decided that the slight discomfort around the toes was offset by the comfort of the padded sole. However, as I walked I became aware of the problem around the heels. It may be that if I was wearing full length socks instead of trainer socks the damage would be a lot less, but by the time I got on my second train at Waterloo mainline station, I discovered that both my heel were bleeding, and the nice whiteness of the shoe was now discoloured red with blood. Luckily I had some sticking plasters in my bag, and they gave some temporary relief, but it is going to be a very painful day today !

 In other respects I feel surprisingly good today. Of course this is only in comparison to how I expected to feel following a weekend of over eating and under activity. I could never admit to feeling 100% - I'd lose all my credibilty as a whiner and whinger if I did that !

 My nights seem to be full of dreams again. Last night I had an unpleasant dream that was very loosely based on a true story I was told recently. I dreamt (or is that dreamed ?) that I was at the railway station at Ramsgate, or it could have been Margate or any 'gate for that matter. There was no explanation why I was there, although I seemed to be doing a little trainspotting while waiting for my train home. As the time for my train approached it was announced that the trains couldn't run any more that day, and that buses would substitute for trains. This did not please me ! As I queued up for a bus I became quite vocal that there was no way I was going to get on a crush loaded bus for such a long journey (although who I was forcibly telling this to remains a mystery), and that I may well stay the night and get a train in the morning. One bus filled up and pulled away, and a second bus filled up while I was still in the queue. As that pulled away there was a sort of instant change of scenery and I was in an old Austin 8 being driven by my friend Kevin towards home.

 For some unexplained reason I was dropped off not at home but at the (non existant in reality) Wetherspoons pub in Ladywell. Rather than walk across the park to home straightaway I decided to have a drink first. There was another instant scene change and I had obviously drunk my beer because I was going up the stairs to the toilets. On the way up the stairs I was accosted by some drunken yob who probably just wanted to be friendly, but whose opinions on music were at odds to mine. He kept holding on to my arm while trying to bore at international level, and eventually I had to partially throw him down the stairs to try and get him to let go and leave me be. He didn't seem to mind being thrown down the stairs, and was soon by my side again while I was trying to have a pee - which under the circumstances was impossible. So I told him that I would get him barred from the pub, and went to find the landlord to complain. It seems the landlord recognised him as a local psychopath, and called the police to arrest him. Once the police arrived he dropped several concealed weapons before he was arrested and taken away. I think that is when I woke up. It seemed like quite an eloborate dream considering the inspiration was just one cancelled train, and one substitute bus.
Sunday 16th May 2010
07:41 BST
 I'm sure it wasn't supposed to be like this, but it is bright and sunny outside. There seem to be more aircraft vapour trails than clouds in the blue sky I can see from my window. The forecast was for today to be rather wet, but there is still time for that. The morning temperature continues to rise. I have no idea what it is this morning, but it seems to be slightly above finger tingling cold.

 Yesterday started out similar to today, and was forecast to be dry and almost warm. The almost warm bit was right. I was quite comfortable going out with just a t-shirt on, but the dry bit was wrong. We didn't have any heavy rain but it certainly rained for as much as an hour just after midday, and there was further light rain in the early evening (and possibly later, but I did not observe that).

 When I first went out yesterday morning it seemed quite pleasant, but everything in Catford was not perfect. I found the main road closed off.
Rushey Green cordoned off on Saturday 15th May 2010
 The story I heard was that someone was knocked down and died on the pedestrian crossing which is on the most distant part of the road you can see in the above picture. There are several things I don't understand about all this. Once upon a time, and by that I might mean as little as 10 years ago, the whole main road would not have been closed off like this. So why now ? The answer, of course, is litigation - American style ! It reminds me of the song "Alices Resturant" (You Tube) - "They was taking plaster tire tracks, foot prints, dog smelling prints, and they took twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against us (full lyrics).

 The other very peculiar thing, as reported on BBC teletext, was that the casualty was taken to Kings College Hospital. That may sound sensible unless you realise that Kings College Hospital is about 5 miles away by road, and Lewisham Hospital is just a few hundred yeards futher along the road from where the accident happened. If the casualty was able to crawl they could probably have got to Lewisham hospital in less time than it took the ambulance to arrive. One explanation was that the casualty was already stiff (and that actually may have been the case), and Kings College Hospital has more room in it's morgue.

 While I was out dodging blue police tape (the blue apparently sigifies that a death has occured) I was actually heading for my building society. I wanted to take some cash out of their "hole in the wall" and to deposit 80 worth of 2 coins I had accumulated. I think I may have got stupidly carried away though because I took an extra 100 out of my current account and added that to the 80 of coins to deposit 180 in my savings account. I fear that such rash behavior may leave me a bit short of cash at the end of the month, but maybe it will induce me to be a little more careful with my spending. It is something I should do more often. I have been in my current job for around 5 years now, and all I have managed to save is slightly less than the equivalent of one months wages.

 After finishing my reckless transaction in the building society I came out and saw "The Incident Report Team" truck driving up to where the accident was reported to have occured at 3 am. I then went into the 99p shop for a rummage and left maybe 10 minutes later. After a wait of around 6 hours for the Incident Report team to turn up they did their job in around 10 minutes and the road was re-opened again. In fact there was little to show that the road had even been closed. I'm guess that they measured the skid marks, took a few pictures and were on their way again. It seems weird that it should need a wait of 6 hours just to do that, but that's modern policing for you.

 Last night I spent some time playing with my dongles. That is not quite how it sounds. The dongles I was playing with were my mobile broadband USB dongles. When I first got them it was because I was more curious about them rather than having any desperate need for them. However they have proved useful on a few occasions, and I worry that if I don't use them now and then the sim card will be deactivated. My fear of this is vindicated by the fact that my T-Mobile dongle account was suspended after a long period of no use. I succesfully re-activated it last night by topping up my credit with 5, but the sim card itself remains inactive. I think I will have to wait until tomorrow, and normal office hours, before I can get someone to re-activate it, or do whatever is neccesary for me to spend the 15 of credit that T-Mobile now owe me. Of course if I am lucky the news of my latest top up will filter it's way through T-Mobile's steam powered computers and eventually the card will reactivate all by itself.

 I thought that the same fate had fallen on my O2 dongle, but after a second attempt it worked OK and I bought 2 of air time that I shall mostly be wasting. The good thing about the O2 dongle, a Huewei E160, is that it is both unlocked so I can use it with any networks sim card, and that it works perfectly with Linux. With other makes/types of dongles it can be a struggle to make them work with Linux, if at all, but the E160 is just "plug and play". I hope the spare I bought from Tesco a few months ago is similarly unlocked, and I guess I ought to try it some day.

 The final thing I did last nigt was to climb into my bed with the new erotic (or funereal) shade of violet bed linen. As I suggested yesterday, it looked really good until I turned out the light, and then it was just like any other bed linen. However it may have induced a slightly erotic dream, or more precisely, a dream with erotic potential that, as usaul, was unfulfilled. In this dream I was in, or around, the studios where they film the (slightly comedy) motoring programme "Top Gear". Jeremy Clarkson was interviewing some Playboy models in one studio, and I was going down a nearby escalator. Ahead of me on the escalator was another Playboy model. Rather unusually she was not the almost repulsive over inflated plastic woman so beloved of Playboy, but an actual very good looking woman. For some reason that defies explanation I was wearing my black leather gloves, and also defying the laws of perspective, my right hand was level with her face. We exchanged some unremembered words, and then she rubbed the side of her face against my glove like a cat rubbing a hand (Smudge can get quite carried away doing that). Once again I can't remember what we said while this was going on, or after, but I woke up with the strong impression that the model had taken a shine to me, and that in that dream future, life would be far more rosy than reality.

 One hour and twent minutes have passed since I started writing this. During that time I have downloaded and edited the photograph above, listened to Alice's Resturant, and fed Smudge. Also in that time the sky has gone from mostly blue to a sort of light grey colour, and the sunshine is now so muted that it has practically gone. In some respects this is good. I am having a struggle with myself over the idea of going out for a long walk. I feel I need to take that walk, but I don't feel very keen about it. If the cloud continues to thicken, as was forecast, and rain seems very likely, as also forecast, then I guess that is the tipping point I need to be lazy and stay in all day. As yet I have not washed and dressed. So I still have a little while to either take the bull by the horns and go out, or to relax in front of the TV and rest my still slightly tender knee cap. My prediction is that I will compromise by taking a turn around the local park, but anything could happen in the next half hour.
Saturday 15th May 2010
07:22 BST
 The sky is a little misty, but it's looking as if it could be a nice day today. The mistiness, which seems mainly to be in the east, is making the sunshine a little muted, but to the west the sky looks a lot bluer. The temperature today is expected to be higher than yesterday, and getting near to the sort of temperature we might expect this close to June. The big difference is that the wind is from a more favourable direction. The downside is that it is bringing in some moist air that is going to be dumped on us as rain tomorrow, or at least that is what the weather forecasters say. However tomorrow, despite being wet, should be warmer still, and although long term predictions seem to go very wrong, it will be getting close to hot early next week.

 With today likely to be warm and dry I should be going out for a long walk today, but I am not for two reasons. The significant reason is that I am seeing Aleemah today (who claims to be incapable of walking further than the local shops). The other reason is that I have been doing an experiment all week. I have been wearing various pairs of lightweight canvas, plimpsole like, shoes to work all week to see which ones are more comfortable. In some ways all of them were comfortable to wear, but all were ultimately uncomfortable to walk in. Two pairs were better in some respects than the others, but all of them provided little cushioning against each footfall onto hard surfaces.

 The final outcome of this dangerous experiment is that I have done a small amount of damage to myself. My feet feel a little sore, but nothing that bad. However it does seem to have caused a bit more bother to my right knee joint. It is not to bad to walk on, but I am well aware that it is definitely sore, and needing a rest. So no long walk today, and in some ways it will be a blessing if tomorrow is too wet to pleasurably go out, although that will make for a boring day. Next week I will wear some more sensible shoes to work.

 I almost slept well last night, but I did wake up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep, and from a couple of dreams. I can't remember the first dream now, but I do remember thinking that it is amazing how both dreams could be so wrong in reality, and yet seemed right at the time. The second dream concerned a friend giving my half a dozen old Post Office relays. He was going to throw them away, but thought I might like them. As objects of nostalgia I did, but I was less pleased to see they were all broken. They all seemed to be missing a vital part that upon waking up I realized never existed in reality, and yet in the dream they seemed essential. For that dream I have no explanation.

 I do have an explanation for the inspiration for a dream I had prior to waking up again a little while ago now even if the dream ended up a little crazy. The dream started with me repairing my bed. A caster had fallen/broken off one leg of the bed, and I was trying to get the bed level again by either replacing the caster or taking another off. Both methods would have been feasible because the bed seemed to have a lot of adjustments available that real beds don't have. As I looked for a spanner to undo a particularly difficult nut the dream seemed to drift away to a new idea that was pure nonsense. Somehow I was seeing visions, maybe from a book or TV, on how to convert your bed so it looked like an old red underground train. Maybe my mind gave up trying to grasp this peculiar idea and I woke up.

 The explanation for at least some elements of that dream are actually quite simple. This morning I will be changing my bed linen, and I am looking forward to trying out some new stuff I recently bought. The new sheet, and two pillowcases are in the most gloriously kinky shade of violet, and the duvet cover, and it's matching pillowcases, are in the same delicious shade of violet on one side, and tube train/pillar box red on the other. If you I could taste, smell, hear, or even see those colours it would almost be an erotic experience to sleep among them. Alas, with the light off I won't even be able to see what I am sleeping in, and sleep will be no more exciting than at any other time. Still, at least the bed and the red side of the duvet cover inspired an interesting dream.
Friday 14th May 2010
08:45 BST
 It's still too cold in the morning, but I think I detected a further improvement this morning. At this rate it will be safe to come to work in just a shirt sometime in October. I don't think it is quite as cloudless as yesterday, but there has still been plenty of sunshine so far this morning, and it could well continue for some time yet. It will apparently get warm this afternoon with temperatures predicted to be around 16 or 17 C.

 Yesterday turned out to be reasonably mild. The clear blue sky that graced the first part of yesterday morning did not last for more than a couple of hours. By early afternoon a few (maybe 6 ?) drop of rain fell, but as 4 pm drew near it brightened up again. As I walked to the station to go home I actually felt rather warm, and I doubt if I would have been that uncomfortable if I had gone home without my coat on. Maybe today I will be able to do just that.

 My great triumph yesterday was to resist all badgering from Virgin Media when I told them I didn't want their cable TV or phone line. It will only save me 11.99 a month, but as I pointed out to them, that's worth 4 pints of beer, and 4 pints of beer is always worth having. I can't work out exactly what one of their offers was, but it involved going for a more expensive, faster, broadband package that would save me only around 5 a month. I think to get that saving I would still have to get rid of the cable TV and phone line, but Virgin hoped to lose less money my persuading me to upgrade. They did point out that my internet usage was quite high, and that upgrading would allow more data before their temporary bandwidth caps came into play.

 Having my bandwidth capped for short periods is theoretically annoying, but in practice it makes very little difference to me. It's true that it would be nice to download a Linux iso file in half the time, but I don't do that very often, and when I do I am rarely so impatient that I can't wait a few tens of minutes for it. So I stuck to my guns and Virgin will get less money from me. The sad thing is that if they didn't keep sending me spam email and spam stuff through the post saying how great they are and how I should spend even more money on them, I might not have "downgraded" at all. Were it not for the virtues of cable broadband, and the unpredictability of ADSL broadband over a telephone wire, I would tell them to shove all their services where the sun doesn't shine because they are smug gits !
Thursday 13th May 2010
08:18 BST
 If you were totally insulated from the air temperature you could be forgiven for saying that it seemed like a summer morning this morning. There was something about the clarity of the light that reminded me of a summers morning. Sadly the truth is that it is another cold morning, and it is unlikely to get very warm today. At least there was no frost this morning, and with luck we will gain a couple of degrees on the afternoon temperature as well. Apart from that, the sky is blue and the sun is shining nicely.

 Once again it was a very boring evening last night. I was so bored I even forced myself to watch the news, although the sight of all those never ending politicians did make me want to claw my own eyes out. It may have passed some time, but the news did little to educate me. As far as I can tell the only thing happening in the entire universe is that two senior politicians are having some sort of kinky love-in. My brain was so numb after watching all that, that it didn't really pay any attention to the weather forecast, which is what I really wanted to see.

 I did have one little diversion last night. Thanks to Virgin Media's bizarre and twisted way of doing internet stuff, I had a light fight with my email. It was triggered by setting up my G1 Android phone to download my NTL email using their imap server. I didn't realise, and I still find it hard to believe, that doing that would render their pop3 server, as used by default on most PC based email applications (Thunderbird, Outlook Express etc) inoperable. So I had to make a new account on my Thunderbird email application using NTL's imap server, and then set up rules to transfer all my email to my old NTL folder.

 Virgin Media, the new operators of NTL (and have been for several ears now) are really starting to irritate me in various ways. Today it is time for revenge ! I don't want to get rid of their broadband service because it has been mostly satisfactory, but today I am going to tell them where they can stick their cable TV and phone service. It will be in a place the sun definitely don't shine ! This will actually save me very little money, but it will give me immense satisfaction. Everytime they send out some advertising blurb suggesting I want even more channels on my set top box, which hasn't even been turned on for two years now, I find myself grating my teeth and wishing they would die. What I am about to do today is something I have been meaning to do for ages, but this time I have remembered to bring a copy of their bill into work so I can quote them the relevant account numbers etc. I wonder if they will try and offer loads of inducements to make me stay, and will I crack if they do ? Perhaps if they offer me a brand new Nexus One Android phone for 15 a month on a 6 month contract I might give in, but that would be an impossible offer - unless they are really, really, really desperate or incredibly stupid (although the latter seems entirely feasible).
Wednesday 12th May 2010
08:46 BST
 It was cold this morning. Definitely cold ! I put out some rubbish just before 5 am and there was frost on some of the cars ! The reason was simple. There was a very clear sky overnight, and what little heat we did have is now racing out into space at the speed of light. A few small whispy clouds have now appeared, but when I started out to come to work the sky was as crystal clear, and as blue as any (photographically enhanced) holiday advertisment picture.

 Once again I turned off the TV in disgust last night. It was all wall to wall politicians or people talking about bloody politicians. In consequence I missed most of the weather forecast. I think I caught the tail end of it, and I think the end piece is that the temperature is due to start rising fom now, but as I suggested yesterday, it will also mean some rain. Perhaps by the end of this month we can finally look forward to both warmth and dryness together.

 There is very little more to add about yesterday. It was one of those uneventful nights (a bit like most nights really). I called in to Tesco on the way home and bought food that I shouldn't eat, and once I was home I ate too much of the food I shouldn't eat. Fairly soon I was in bed reading a book until 9 pm when I went to sleep.
Tuesday 11th May 2010
08:27 BST
 According to my morning paper it is going to be a gloomy 12 C today, but maybe they have been too busy to stick there head of of the window while trying to see how many times they can print the words Gordon Brown in this mornings edition. Alternatively, the get their forecast from The Weather Channel who are based in America, and like most Americans, don't realise that this London is in a far away place, possibly in some science fictional universe. Or maybe they just make up their forecasts by gazing at how the gherkin slices are arranged in their super mega sized burgers (with some strange cardboardy things whimsically called "fries").

 The fact is that it is bright and sunny outside, and has been since the sun first popped it's head over the horizon. There are a few isolated clouds around, but on the whole they are thin and whispy. If, and I have to admit it is a big IF, the cloud does not thicken up, the temperature should rise a fair bit higher than the pessimistic 12 C forecast. A lot depends on the wind, but it's not that breezy outside right now, and on the starting temperature. The Weather Channel suggest it is only 6 C in Earlsfield, but although it does feel a bit chilly I would be surprised if it is that low. I'd guess more like 8 C right now, and something like 15 C by later afternoon (if everything else stays about the same).

(Note to self : the sun does not poop it's head over the horizon, it pops it's head over the horizon ! [error now corrected - it sometimes pays for me to read back over what I have written !!]).

 There is a fair chance that my own predictions for the weather are wildly innacurate. I started getting excited yesterday when the sun came out for a while around the middle of the day. While the sun felt very hot it did nothing to warm then place up, and it was only a few notches above chilly when I left work to go home.

 Last night was one of those nights when I am ot sure if it is accurate to say I did very little. I did make at least one important decision, and that was to turn off the news before I committed suicide. It would have been reasonable to arrange a special day of national celebration that Big Brother Brown has announced his resignation (for some time in the future - maybe a future that will never come), but to have a special newscast before the news and then to rebroadcast exactly the same thing as the scheduled news broadcast straight after was just taking things to absurdities. After 20 minutes of hearing Gordon Brown did this, and Gordon Brown did that, and David Cameron said this and Nick Clegg said that, I could take it no longer and switched the TV off for the night.
[For those blissfully unaware who all these brigands, thugs, mental retards, thieves, con men are; Gordon Brown - the NuLabour despot who is currently Prime Minister. David Cameron - wannabe Conservative Prime Minister who has a horny looking wife. Nick Clegg - wannabe Liberal Democrat Prime Minister. Now I need the mind bleach to erase these facts from my brain !]

 To while away some of the time before going to bed I had a play with embedding video into an experimental web page. I used a Java applet called Cortado, and got some mixed results. One of the trickiest things seems to be getting the video file encoded properly. I made one page that worked perfectly, and one page that didn't. Curiously enough, when I copied the relevant files to a further web page I found it didn't work at all. I need to do some more experimentation to get this to work as I want it to, but I have  made a reasonable start, and maybe other solutions will become apparent as I investigate further.
Monday 10th May 2010
07:49 BST
 As I walked to the railway station to come to work it was fairly chilly, but hope was in the air. Amongst the thin looking clouds I could see blue bits peeping through. At that time there was still a lot of cloud in the way of the rising sun, but by the time I reached Waterloo the first rays of sunshine appeared. Now I am in Earlsfield the cloud is very broken indeed, and the sun is shining brightly. I am not sure how long this can last, but it is a definite improvement over the weekend.

 I think the forecast for the next few days is that it will stay dry with occasional sunny spells, but with the wind coming from the north it will stay unpleasantly cool. It is not until the second half of the week until temperatures can be expected to rise to around 16 C. If it is a trend that continues it would mean that next weekend could be quite pleasant, although I have to shatter my illusions by remembering that warmer air could also be wetter air, and wetter air has a bad habit of dumping it's contents on your head.

 After writing yesterday I did no other constructive things (but I also did no destructive things). What I did do was to watch Countryfile on BBC TV, and totally manage to forget all but a few salient points in their weather forecast for the week ahead. I also did a little reading, and it was that reading that was partly my undoing. I intended to get an early night, but somehow kept reading until 9.30 pm - which was about an hour after I had thought would be a good time to start sleeping.

 So I lost about an hours sleep, but maybe that is of less importance now the days are longer. I certainly woke up early all by myself (by which I mean no alarm clock or frantic cat etc) at around 4.30 am, and I was able to approach the day in a more relaxed manner. Even with that unhurried start to the day I was still able to get the early (06:33) train without any undue rushing. I guess I must be feeling pretty good today for some unknown reason. That can't be right so I had better examine myself more closely. After all pain is natures way of letting you know you are still alive.

 On consideration, I did find the cool air a bit uncomfortable as I came into work. After eating too much meat yesterday I feel a little bloated this morning, and I have an almost below the level of consciousness undefined soreness in my mouth that may be the first signs of dental problems. Oh, and I think there must be a ruck in my left sock because my left foot is a tiny bit uncomfortable. So there you (or I) have it. I feel pain so I am alive and functioning within normal parameters !
Sunday 9th May 2010
15:41 BST
 Apart from a few light showers it has been dry today. Yet it is only now that there is a hint of thinning in the clouds that might just let in a brief ray of sunshine before the sun finally sets tonight. Compared to yesterday I think on a scale from bloody cold to unseasonally cool, the temperature has gone up one notch. When, earlier on today, I went out to do some shopping, I seemed to be quite comfortable in my very lightweight black bomber jacket (with hood). Without it I think it would have just been slightly too cool in just a t-shirt.

 Today I was supposed to see Aleemah, but I called things off early this morning. At the time I was suffering from a bad gut upset. It was the sort of thing that has caused me to go sick from work on a few occasions, but like on those occasions it all cleared up mid morning, and since then I have been fine.

 What I didn't realise was that there was also another reason that would have made things awkward for Aleemah to visit. I hadn't realised that we have no trains to Catford Bridge station this morning. Despite living within earshot of the railway lines I hadn't really realised that no trains were running. It wasn't until I went out to do my shopping that I became aware of the sound of a diesel engine. Detouring via the railway lines I spied a big diesel locomotive with a load of engineering wagons behind it sitting there blocking the railway. Somewhere, probably not far from here, they must be renewing the rails.
Class 66 loco near Catford Bridge 9th May 2010
 I took the picture above using the camera in my G1 mobile phone. Under better light the camera would have taken a better picture, but you can see the thick grey cloud that made everything look really dull and lifeless.

 I stayed up late last night preparing my new web pages of my walk from Eridge last week. Even then I didn't finish the job, but I did manage to finish the job this morning. So if you want to see some nice pictures of the countryside and/or some pictures of railway stuff, and/or you want to read a bit more about my 6.15 mile walk, clicking here will take you to the new web page(s).
Saturday 8th May 2010
12:23 BST
 Today the promised rain has arrived. It is very dull and gloomy outside, and none too warm either ! So far today the rain has been light and intermittent, but it feels like it could get heavier at any time, and it is setting a precedent for tomorrow which could be even worse.

 For a brief time it did get bright, and almost warm yesterday. When I left work I was in two minds whether to wear my coat or not. It did look like it could have been sunny as I got ready to leave. There had been a few sunny spells in the afternoon, but they didn't last that long, and I decided that I would wear my coat to go home in.

 Once I got home I didn't stay there that long. I got dressed up in jeans, black t-shirt, black trainers, and my old, and after a long period of disuse, rather stiff leather jacket. I also brushed my hair to it's longest and shinyiest, and left it unrestrained. So in full rock fan mode I made my way to The Catford Ram to see the band The Bluesiscians - and I thouroughly enjoyed myself ! The Bluesiscians are, as their name partly implies, a blues and rock covers band who occasionally seemed to get just a little worringly too close to country. They took a little time to warm up, dropping the odd bum note here and there, but once warmed up they improved tremendously.
The Bluesiscians playing The Catford Ram 7th May 2010
 With the exception of the beautiful young lady Jo, they are a bunch of old gits. Now I don't mean that in any bad way. Quite the reverse ! For my part they are to be celebrated for being in the same musical time zone as me, and with one, maybe two, exceptions I knew intimately every song they played. They were incredibly brave to tackle what you might call advanced songs, and on the whole they pulled them off quite well. Even the two Janis Joplin covers came out pretty good, although to really cover "leather lungs" they would need a new completely mad singer.
The Bluesiscians on stage at The Catford Ram 7/5/2010
 Once they had finished I went to take a picture of their set list, but my life was made easier by being handed an original copy by the bassist (who seemed a nice laid back kind of guy). The set list read as follows;
  1. Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar
  2. Rolling Stones - Honky Tonk Women
  3. Rolling Stones - Tumbling Dice
  4. The Eagles - Hotel California
  5. Patsy Cline (?) - Come On In
  6. The Eagles - Take It Easy
  7. Allanah Miles - Black Velvet
  8. Bon Jovi - Dead Or Alive
  9. Deep Purple - Strange Kind Of Woman
  10. Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
  11. Deep Purple - Smoke On The Water
  12. Linda Ronstadt - You're No Good
  13. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Freebird
  14. Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop
  15. Led Zepplin - Whole Lotta Love
  16. 16 Janis Joplin - Mercedes Benz
  17. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
  18. KT Tunstall - Black Horse And A Cherry Tree
  19. The Beatles - Come Together
  20. Patti Smith - Because The Night
  21. Fleetwood Mac - The Chain
  22. Janis Joplin - Piece Of My Heart
  23. Dire Straits - Sultans Of Swing
  24. Cream - Crossroads
  25. Faces - Stay With Me
  26. Rolling Stones - Brown Sugar
The Bluesiscians at The Catford Ram 7/5/2010
 Their performance was billed to last for two hours, but I guess that with all the applause they got they went on for at least an extra thirty minutes and went through their entire set list. I, for one, was certainly not complaining. I had drunk quite a few beers before and during their set, and I was feeling so good I was almost dancing. I took a short, and remarkabley stable video while they played All Along The Watchtower. It's about 4 MB in size, and it may play in your browser if you click here.

 After the gig was over we stayed and exchanged a few words with the band, and the headed for The Catford Chippy for a medium rock and chips. The do cook extremely tasty fish and chips in that shop, and I enjoyed my dinner immensely.

 Today I seem to have spent an awful long time preparing pictures, and the video for this web page, and I still have to finish all the picture editing for my web page about my walk from Eridge last weekend. With the weather being so yucky it seems unlikely that I will be going out anywhere today apart fomr the possibilty of a little local shopping. I thank the mostly I will be stuck on this computer doing stuff for my web pages !
Friday 7th May 2010
08:37 BST
 The gods must have smiling as we mere puny mortals elected our next dictator because, against all odds, we had a bright sunny afternoon yesterday. The sun felt very hot, and it was warm enough to go home with my coat stuffed in my bag, and my shirt sleeves rolled up.

 Of course it couldn't last. This morning it is cold and gloomy again, but at least it is dry for now. If this afternoon turns out to be sunny it will be an even more amazingly amazing surprise because the general opinion is that it is going to rain. On reflection, maybe it wouldn't be so amazing if it was bright and sunny this afternoon. It has been proven that the most accurate forecast that has ever been produced is to say that today will be like yesterday. I can't quote who proved it, but apparently just that simple forecast has proved to be correct for more days of the year than any super computer has ever achieved, or is ever likely to achieve.

 According to that method of forecasting we can expect tomorrow to be like today, but I think it only works on weekdays. For weekends special factors come into play. The most prominent of these is sheer bloody mindedness of those who rule the cosmos. For this weekend it is doubly so as the gods, godesses, creators and progenitors of the universe will be in a tsunami of rage and bitterness over the news that yet another mere mortal has been elected with visions of omnipotence to rule with a cruel heart and maddened mind from the excremental bowels of Westminster.

 So I wonder who this self satisfied, vainglorious, smug, over ambitious, self centered, fascist git is who dares to think he can rule over actually is. Well, whoever he is I can tell him one thing - "You may think you have control over our bodies, but our minds are still free !. No matter how much you try to homogenise and herd us, we are still capable of turning round and biting you on the arse. Remember that next time you want the people to pay for the upkeep of your duck house or porn watching habits !".

Blimey, with a speech like that maybe I should become a politician. Fortunately I concur with either Douglas Adams and/or Robert H Heinlien that anyone who actually want to be a politician should never be allowed to become one. The paradox is that I wouldn't want to be a politician and therefore should be one. I know that I would be a very succesful politician if I were one, although the sorts of things I might achieve would not be in the interests of the people, but if I did become supreme ruler of the galaxy I would make sure that the stormtroopers and assorted sycophants were well looked after to make sure there was no opposition to me for the next hundred years.I know I would be evil, but do they ?

 Now what would be my rallying cry ? .......................ahh yes, "London for Londoners ! Kick the Liverpudlians out (unless they are talented rock musicians or can write songs like Give Peace A Chance".

 Last night I met up with Iain for a quick pint in The Ram (I confess - it was three pints !). We had a jolly good drink and natter, and also made a discovery. Tonight there is a gig at The Ram. A band called The Bluesiscians are playing there. They are a four piece blues-rock cover band, and their lead singer, Jo Corteen, looks a little like Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. That's all the info I have about the band apart from that they are on stage at the very unfashionable, but highly useful, time of 5.30 pm. So tonight I am meeting up with Iain again, and maybe others, to see what this band are all about. With luck it will make for a pleasant start to the weekend.

 Another thing that will make a pleasant start to the weekend is fish and chips ! I would imagine I will get slightly drunk tonight. I don't expect to stay in the pub that late. Maybe I'll leave before 8 pm, but with nothing but a few pints inside of me and the excellent Catford Chippy five minutes walk from the pub (sadly in the wrong direction) I feel sure I am going to have some excellent cod and chips for my dinner tonight.
Thursday 6th May 2010
08:20 BST
 Yesterday's sunny morning did not last long. It did stay dry (apart from two individual drops of rain I felt, or imagined I felt), and it didn't really get anwhere near warm. This morning the clouds continue to dominate the sky. That means that it is marginally not as cold as it was yesterday morning, but still too low for comfort. Sooner or later we are going to have a lot more rain, and apparently the weekend is when it is most likely to happen, but we could get a shower at any time before then.

 I had a very busy day at work yesterday. Some of the busyness was catching up with a few things not done while I stretched my bank holiday weekend with two extra days off work. The rest was frantic preparations for a trade show coming up next week. In a rare display of generosity I stayed on an extra 90 minutes at work to fix the final problem. There is no overtime for that, but I will be taking some time off in compensation next week (i.e. I'll be going home extra early on a few days).

 I wanted to write some more about my walk on Tuesday when I wrote yesterday, but I had to rush what little I did write. I have a little time now, and so I can say a bit more about it, but as usual I'll be posting some pictures with commentary on a special web page that I'll be making in a few days or so. Actually it won't be "as usual" in this case. My walk took in some nice views of the countryside, and some interesting railways related views. My intention for the new web pages is to have a common start page, and then split into two new pages - one with railway pictures, and the other with the rest of the pictures. I think that both sets of pictures will have something of interest to many people, but some may not care for pictures of flowers and birds, and some may not care for pictures of railway stations.

 My walk (and photos) encompassed both national and preserved railways. I started out from Eridge station on the national network, but there are also the platforms of the Spa Valley Railway there. The latter are not in use yet, but will be sometime later this year. The point of my walk was to see how well the Spa Valley Railway was progressing in opening it's extension from Groombridge (the current temprary terminus) to Eridge. Having now visited both stations by way of a 6.15 mile circular walk through the Sussex countryside, I can say that they are doing quite well. It looks to me as if there are a couple of bits of signalling to complete, and then final approval of the railway inspectorate (or whatever their title is these days) before trains can once again run over the old route from Tunbridge Wells West, via Groombridge, to Eridge.

 I had not really prepared for the walk, and in many ways I had prepared not to walk by eating far too much crap in the preceeding two days. So when I started walking it felt like a huge effort, and I wondered if I was going to have to give up and turn back. Things were not made any easier by the steepness and length of the first bit of walking. I knew there was a hill there, and I knew a bit of it was going to be very steep, but reality was much worse than my expectations. After walking the first mile I began to get in the swing of it, and by then I was on more level ground. After that it no longer felt like my heart would explode, and even subsequent hills, of which there were many more than I had anticipated, didn't seem so bad.

 For most of the walk the weather was quite dull, but occasionally the sun did shine, and occasionally it felt very close to raining. Happily it stayed dry, although I did have a waterproof top in my bag in case it rained. Once I had got warmed up the walking was mostly easy, and my feet did not start to ache that badly until the last mile, or mile and a half. I did have one little incident that worried me. I managed to almost turn my ankle when my foot slipped into a deep pothole in the road. For a few tens of yards it was painful to walk on, but after that I noticed it less and less (and to my surprise it was not stiff or painful the next morning). The very worst aspect of the walk was that walking down narrow and twisty country lanes means you have no end marker to aim for. Unlike my seaside walks where I can see myself getting closer to a prominent landmark (like a pier), I had no way to judge I was getting close to Eridge station until I walked around a corner and there it was in front of me !

 Today I feel sort of strange in a way that I cannot describe. I think that ideally I would have liked to go back to bed this morning. It's probably because I got up too early. I was asleep soon after 9 pm. and I slept solidly until, as far as I can tell, I woke up quite naturally at 4 am. I didn't need to rush to the toilet, and there were no cat fights going on outside that might wake me up. So I assumed I had slept for long enough and got up. Now I am not so sure it was a good idea. To make maters worse I think I am having a drink with Iain tonight, and that will mean I won't be able to get an extra early night as I feel would be rather nice right now.
Wednesday 5th May 2010
09:36 BST
 Considering that there was bright sunshine and a clear blue sky, it seemed to be unnaturally cold when I left to come to work this morning. Of course the clue was in the clear blue sky - it let all the daytime heat out overnight. The fact that I knew that rationally did not stop it seeming wrong emotionally. The sky is clouding over now, and although it will probably remain dry it is not going to get very warm today - maybe about 15 C.

 After 5 days off work things are a bit hectic this morning and I don't have much time to write about yesterday. Briefly, I did go on my walk, and it was a bit longer than I expected, and considerably more hilly than I expected. In all I walked nearly six and a quarter miles. With all the hill climbing it meant that I burnt just under a thousand calories.

 This morning I feel both good and bad. I do feel better for having burnt off some of the excess calories I consumed on the Sunday and Monday of the bank holiday weekend. Most of my body feels fairly normal, but my feet are still a little sore in places. However there is a small complication regarding the comfort of my feet at the moment. I decided to wear what were once a very comfortable pair of shoes to work. These shoes did deteriorate so I used the memory foam heel insets, that I mentioned a few days ago, to cushion the crumbling inside of the heel. I did give the shoes a small test when I wore them to go shopping on Sunday. At that time they felt almost comfortable, but one heel now feels too soft and squidgy. It is a bit like walking on marshmallow, and now my right foot aches slightly where I am using assorted muscles to counteract the lopsided springiness. To make matters even worse I almost twisted my right ankle during my walk yesterday, and so there is a bit of extra discomfort from that. It will be quite nice when I am home again and wearing something more comfortable, but for now things aren't too bad (particularly because I do most of my work sitting down).
Tuesday 4th May 2010
06:57 BST
  It seems amazing, but I can't see a cloud in the sky when I look out of my window. It looks as if today could be a bright sunny day. It's certainly lovely and sunny right now. The only drawback is that it is bloody cold outside. I don't know how low the temperature dropped overnight, but I am sure at it's lowest it was in single figures. Maybe we were only a few degrees away from a frost ! It's going to take a lot of sunshine to warm the surroundings back up to the high teens, and even more to get back to the low twenties. Plucking some figures out of thin air I would hazard a guess that if the sun stays out for most of today we could get a high of not much more than 15 C (although it would be lovely if that is too pessimistic.

 Sometimes I wonder if I am dyslesic, or if there is just a loose connection from my brain to my typing fingers. There are some words that I just cannot seem to spell correctly first time, although even as I am typing them I know I have to go back and correct them. Sometimes my brains in built dictionary actually includes the automatic use of the backspace key ! There are three words that I automatically correct without even thinking about it :-
  • Because usually comes out as becuase until corrected.
  • Certainly usually comes out as ceretainly until corrected.
  • Blood usually comes out as blodd until corrected.
I expect there are others that I can't remember, and other words that I consistently fail to notice I have misspelled. On top of that I also suffer from what I believe is called fat finger syndrome where my finger clips an adjacent key on the keyboard and adds an unwanted letter to a word.

 There is one other problem with my typing that is annoying. Sometimes when my mind is racing I will leave out an entire word. Considering that I rarely have time to proof read what I have written, particularly so when I am at work, it is a wonder that anything I write here makes any sense at all. Maybe it doesn't, and I just think I am writing in something close enough to the Queens English to be understood by God's chosen people (i.e. those of us who live in Catford).

 Today is my last day off work before I go back tomorrow. So I am going to attempt to proof read this before hitting the publish button. In theory my writing should be perfect today, but only in theory.................

 My big plan for today is to go out and take a circular walk from Eridge railway station taking in Groombridge station on the preserved  Spa Valley Railway. Depending on the route I take (there may be some shortcuts via public footpaths) it should be a relatively modest 4 or 5 mile walk. If I have imagined the route correctly there will be a steep hill to climb at the start of the walk, and after that it will be downhill and then on the level. The best part is, provided it is still open, there is a pub very close to Eridge station where I can slake my thirst after the walk. All I have to do now is to actually decide to definitely go out and do the walk !

 My thanks to Mike in Canada for a comment that came through on my comments facility. Mike said ;
"Bill congratulations on your loonngg walk 10 miles is a long walk by any standards.I was fascinated by your porous rock pics,as i found something similar in some woods near me????"
I would have thought that 10 miles is just a quick stroll in The Rockies for you :-) Mike is not the only one to compliment me on such a long walk. There was a young woman who I was speaking to while outside smoking at work last Thursday was was totally amazed by the idea, and suggested she would be hard put to walk a single mile (although I can't think why because she looked quite fit). I still wonder if it really was a long walk or not. I sometimes feel like an amateur when I think of those people who go walking all over the place in such areas of the Lake District. but that's just a feeling. In actual fact I have no idea just how long their walks are. Perhaps my only comparison is checking out some walks published on the internet such as South West Trains walking guide. The walks there range from 3 miles to 67 miles ! The average seems to be about 8 miles, and these usually include a lunch break (I think). The longest walk is 67 miles, but that is supposed to spread over 6 days or so. From what I can see, none of those published walks demand that you walk almost non stop for more than 5 or 6 miles. So I guess I am doing pretty well.

 The porous rock that Mike referred to is this one.........
rock with holes in it
......from my web page HERE. I am not sure I would call it porous though. The holes do not go all the way through the rock, although I suppose that if it had remained under water for long enough the pebbles that bore the holes as they swirl around in the current could potentially bore all they way through. Incidently, there are not really any clues in the picture as to the size of this rock. As I recall it was approximately 4ft long, 3 ft wide, and perhaps 8 - 10 inches thick. The only thing I can suggest about the rock that Mike found in his local woods is that at some time it must have spent a very long time (hundreds of years or more) under turbulent water. Send me a picture Mike and I'll show it here for comparison.

 I seem to have written quite a lot today and now I can't be bothered to proof read it (and I am running short on time if I want to go out).  So I'll just hit the publish button with total abandon !
Monday 3rd May 2010 (Mayday bank holiday)
10:13 BST
  Some aspects of the weather are improving - just ! After a very soggy day yesterday this morning it is dry. There is still a lot of cloud in the sky, but occasionally the sun peeps out as it is doing right now as I write these words. It may be just a fluke, or a case of wild optimism, but I get the impression that the clouds is thinning out. That would mean more sunshine, and we desperately need more sunshine to warm things up. It is really rather chilly this morning. I haven't seen a weather forecast for a couple of days, and I have no idea what the current speculation about the weather is, but I am rather hoping that tomorrow, when I have the day booked off work, will see a return to brighter and warmer weather.

 Yesterday was a rather miserable day. It rained all morning, but I think it had mostly stopped by the afternoon. Even though the rain might have stopped it was still very gloomy outside, and chilly too. It did nothing to inspire me to do anything apart from eat loads of inappropriate stuff. It also killed any earlier enthusiasm I had to do some tidying up except for one very small thing.

 My very small bit of tidy up was to put the cover back on my server, and to hoover all the crap out of one of my spare PCs. I had left the cover off my server because I intended to properly fit either a new, or refurbished fan on it's processor. For the past couple of months it has been working on an emergency fan held in place by as little as one screw (but maybe two). One day I will fit a new fan properly, but for now it is working OK, and hopefully will continue to do so for some time to come.

 The spare PC that badly needed the hoovering was my main PC before I replaced it with another, very slightly more powerful one, also found in a skip. I did the changeover months ago now. In fact I can't quite remember just how long ago it was. Apart from hoovering out piles of dust and cat hairs I have been wanting to transfer some old files off it's hard disk onto my current main PC. I transferred those files and then did a brand new installation of Lubuntu linux on it.

 I chose Lubuntu linux because it is based on the very popular Ubuntu, but uses the lightweight LXDE desktop which is both very fast, and is a closer approximation to the classic Windows 98/2000 look that I feel most happy with. Had I wanted bright colours, bouncing icons, whirling desktops, and wanted to learn my way around a maze like menu structure I would have chosen either Windows 7 or Kubuntu linux (both are easy to use allegedly if you are not an interface luddite).

 The installation of Lubuntu went quickly and smoothly, but there was one problem, and I have to admit it was of my own making. That problem was that I could not connect to my network. I checked and double checked everything (I thought) and could find nothing wrong. In desperation I plugged in a USB WiFi adapter I keep handy, and after entering my WiFi password I was connected without further hassle. It wasn't satisfactory as an answer, but at least I could download and install a few updates, and a pile of my preferred applications. A little while later I found the real reason for no network connectivity. It probably happened when I plugged in the hoover - I had managed to pull out the network cable from my hub. Having plugged that back in everything worked perfectly. I guess that will teach me not to use plugs where the retaining catch has broken off !

 Today I really ought to go out and get some exercise. I have had a few mostly lazy days and I will start to sieze up soon, and yesterday I consumed enough calories for a whole weekend, and it would be a good idea to walk some of that off. However, while it would be a good idea I don't think it is going to happen for a couple of reasons. The overall feel of the weather puts me off, or at least doesn't provide anything in the way of inspiration. I have left it a bit late in the day to make preparations to go out, and lastly, I feel a few more computer experiments coming on............
Sunday 2nd May 2010
08:49 BST
  This morning is an absolutely despicable morning ! The temperature has plumetted to something in the order of 10 C, and it is pouring with rain. The rain started as darkness fell last night, although with the dark brooding clouds I guess it was dark sometime before actual sunset. I wasn't really paying attention to the time, but sometime between 9 pm and midnight the rain was heavy enough to produce a few cracks of thunder somewhere not too distant from here. There could have been more, but I was so tired after staying up unusually late doing some reading that I fell into quite a deep sleep sometime around midnight.

 The forecast for today is rain, rain and more rain. There could be a few respites like there was at around 7 am when Smudge went out to do her business, and managed to come back in 30 minutes or so later still dry (but it was a close run thing). In view of the weather I don't think I will be going further than the local shops today, and that means I have a whole load of time on my hands. I think I am tempted to do some more housework today. If I do it won't be so much cleaning and hoovering, but more like selecting stuff to dispose of.

 I think it is time I let go of a few of my precious possessions. At this point I am thinking in terms of some of my old computer junk. I do have a lot of stuff that for all intents and purposes is basically useless, and some of that is going to end up in the bin. There is some other stuff that could theoretically be sold on something like Ebay, but I can't be bothered with that. Instead I think I may make a list here and offer it as "no offer refused" (even 0.00), although I can't really see any takers for the stuff.

 Yesterday, while browsing around the 99p shop, I made a discovery that I wish I had made a lot earlier. That discovery was of memory foam heel pads. The significance of this is that I have had to throw away several pairs of cheap nasty trainers because the honeycomb like lightweight heel has crumbled, or been crushed, inside the shoe, and made them very uncomforatble to wear. In the past I tried several wild ideas to salvage them, and did have partial success by filling the voids with hot melt glue. That was a slightly difficult and slightly messy solution. Now I have discovered these foam memory heel pads I think they would do the job a lot better, although I doubt they would last that long, but at 99p a go it is not exactly expensive to replace them a few times. I do have one remaining pair of trainers which were not cheap and nasty, but have started to suffer from uncomfortable heels well before any other wear and tear. I am going to try some of these heel pads and see how they fare. Maybe, even if for ony a short time, they will rehabilitate what where previously a very comfortable pair of trainers.
Saturday 1st May 2010
07:40 BST
  I don't think this morning is as bad as I expected. What I was expecting was a lot of rain. There has been rain earlier as evidenced by the wet ground, but since I have been awake the sun has tried, and partly succeeded in shining. Maybe there will be more sunshine, but the sky is looking rather grey at the moment. Last night's weather forecast on TV was a bit more optimistic than mine, and suggested that this morning could be fairly sunny. If that is about right then presumably their next bit will be right, and at about 11 am it will start to pour down, and continue to rain on and off for the rest of the day. That then sets the pattern for the rest of the bank holiday weekend.

 My one crowning achievement yesterday was to finally hoover the stairs. It was hot tedious work, but I didn't stop there. I also cleaned up and hoovered the hallway as well as my bedroom. I am still waiting from spring madness to overcome me and do lots of other house cleaning. For that I suspect I will need to wait until one day in amongst some bright warm days when there is a brief lull in the good weather. You might think that today could be such a day, but today is part of a run of bad weather, and not a one off. I could probably think of many other lame excuses for not doing what needs to be done, but for today I have a better one, and that is that I will be seeing Aleemah today. I expect I will be meeting her at the station just as the rain gets into full downpour mode!

 My other great achievement for yesterday was to finally finish off all 32 web pages, with one photo on each page, of my ultra long walk between Birchington On Sea and Herne Bay. If you are curious and want to see all my photos, some of which are very educational, then click right here.

 I didn't do much else yesterday, but one click from me and my main computer did a lot of stuff. My main computer is the one that is on all the time, and that I use for all my internet facing stuff such as "surfing the net" and email etc. I use other computers, such as the one I am using now, for more creative stuff, like writing this diary entry (and editing the stupid little pictures I plaster all over the today page). My main computer's operating system is Xubuntu Linux, and yesterday it was upgraded to version 10.4 LTS. The meaning of the initials LTS is Long Term Support. In practice it means that my operating system will recieve all the latest updates and security fixes for the next three years - and all of this absolutely free of charge.

 I must admit that upgrading from Xubuntu 9.04 to 10.4 has actually made very little difference, or at least none that I have noticed yet apart from one little bug fix that was sort of annoying. That little bug meant that everytime I started the computer up the sound would be muted until I unmuted it. I am happy to say this little annoyance has now been fixed. I wonder if I will find any other interesting or useful changes in the future ?