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

Tuesday 30th November 2010
07:47 GMT
 
 It's a little warmer this morning - not much, but definitely above freezing. Depending on your point of view, this morning was either a good time, or a bad time for the first snow to fall in London. In places the snow has sort of settled, but it's really little more than slush instead of nice squeaky, beautiful (at first) snow. Elsewhere it is just making every thing wet. I guess what's falling now is closer to sleet than snow, but the sky is dark and heavy looking, and it will probably continue to fall for many hours yet.

 It is possible that the sleet will change to proper snow, but that feels unlikely. If it did though, it could be cause for mild concern. All the roads, and the rail services are operating with no disruption now, and getting to work was straightforward, but if heavier snow did fall it could cause problems maybe. In theory the moving vehicles should keep the roads and rails OK. It's only when it snows ovenight, when most things are at a standstill, that everything comes to a grinding halt. Despite the rational view that everything will be OK there is still that illogical nagging worry that I could get stuck here at work for ever................GULP !!!

 It was definitely colder when I made my way home from work last night. Smudge refused to go out (and she refused to go out in the wet this morning too). So tonight I think I'll have to empty the litter tray. I fancied a nice hot meal when I got in, and after considering what was available in the fridge and larder I decided to make a great big paella. I haven't cooked one up for ages, perhaps several years, but I don't seem to have lost the touch. If anything the paella I made last night was better than I have ever made before (to my taste buds and preferences, anyway).

 The only problem is that it was one of those dishes that grew bigger and bigger as I added more ingredients. It turned out to be quite a substantial meal, and sat heavy on my stomach all night. It didn't seem to stop me sleeping last night, but it may have been responsible for some vivid dreaming. There was one dream I was going to partly describe, but like so many dreams all the details seem to quickly evaporate upon waking. I am sure the dream featured The Incredible Hulk, but now I can't think of the how, the why or the where (or any context at all). It's sad really. That could have been an Oscar winning dream, but it is now just so many ashes !
Monday 29th November 2010
08:11 GMT
 
 This morning is not too dissimilar to yesterday morning. The sky is fairly clear, and it is very cold with the temperature a degree or two below freezing. There is less frost this morning because the air is so dry that no water could condense out of it to freeze.  I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of today is similar to the rest of yesterday.

 According to the BBC's weather forecast for Lewisham there should have been some sort of snowfall yesterday.
Very wrong BBC weather forecast
 This screenshot of the BBC's web site was taken at midday. It shows that there should have been light snow. The reality was that the sun was shining brightly,  there was hardly a cloud in the sky, and the visibility was excellent ! So much for super computers. Looking out my window beats them hands down every time. I am not even sure they got the temperature right. It was certainly cold outside, but I am not sure it was below zero. It makes you wonder just how accurate all the predictions for global warming/climate change are !!

 It seems my doubts about going out to photograph some snow at the seaside where probably well founded, and I am glad I didn't go out into the cold. In fact I didn't go out at all yesterday - not even to the corner shop ! Worse than that, I didn't even bother to wash, shave, or get dressed properly. Instead I stayed in the warm dressed in ultra comfortable slouching around clothes. Amongst some of the stuff I did yesterday was this bit of video editing/production.

 Like the video I shared here yesterday, it is Chain playing in the freezing cold outside The Daylight Inn pub in Petts Wood. I had a bit of background footage I had taken between songs, and I have tried to use a bit of it in a sort of crap artistic way. I don't know if it works or not, but at least it did cover up a bad bit of camera wobble (that you'll never see, but can probably guess where it happened).

 Other stuff I did yesterday was some special cooking. My lunch was not typical of Sunday lunch. It consisted of 4 mini cornish pasies with a can of tomato soup poured over them. Dinner was slightly more elaborate. I made a casserole of some cheap stewing steak and a bag of ready prepared "soup mix" vegetables. Included in the recipe was a lot of garlic paste, a fair amount of tomato paste, and a couple of beef stock cubes. I cooked that lot in the oven for as much as four hours, and it was like nectar when I ate it  in the evening !

 Considering some of the food I have eaten this weekend I feel unusually well this morning. It may be that I have eaten double the calories that I might aspire to, and yet if anything my trouser belt seems microscopically looser than it did earlier last week. I guess keeping the body warm in these low temperature days does need a few extra calories, but it's hard to believe that I could be eating anything like that needed to keep "energy in" versus "energy out" in equilibrium. Maybe it is so, and in theory I should be able to capitalise on that to lose a bit of weight, but being cold and hungry, even slightly hungry,  is not fun.
Sunday 28th November 2010
09:38 GMT
 
 The day has started out very frosty, but also fairly bright. The latest forecasts suggest that we could get a dusting of snow around midday, but other than that it should be a reasonable day (if you can call temperatures that would freeze the balls off a brass monkey reasonable).

 Yesterday was very cold, but it was very overcast and dull. Late in the morning I went out to Tesco to buy some food and stuff, and after that the time seemed to fly by with undue haste. I ate a few sandwiches I had bought from Tesco, and before I knew it, it was time to rush out (while suffering from terrible indigestion) to get to Petts Wood to see Chain play.

 It was bloody freezing standing outside the pub, but nice and warm inside it. Unfortunately all the action was outside, and it was painfully cold to hold my camcorder with bare hands, and try to hold it still, for the duration of an entire song. Later on I managed to do a reasonable job operating it while wearing gloves, but that was fairly tricky to do. Here's how one song came out.

 Chain played up to just before 5pm, and then they were followed by five minutes of a dance troupe from one of the local schools. At 5pm the lights were turned accompanied by a firework display. I had left and was waiting for my train on platform three of Petts Wood station when all that happened. It turned out to be an excellent place to watch the fireworks. I had about a five minute wait for my train, and I am guessing that I saw the majority of the fireworks.

 It was good to get home into the warm again. Particularly with a bag of hot chicken and chips to munch on. I did feel strangely tired when I got in, but after eating, and watching some TV I sat down to examine the pictures and videos I took. I think the cold was affecting my digital stills camera because many of the pictures came out very dark despite the flash firing off normally. The video camera disn't seem to be affected, but my operation of it was. I seemed to be operating in slow motion, missing all my cues, as I fought off the effects of my cold hands and numb feet. The video above seemed to come out alright except for all the wobbliness when I decided to change position half way through.

 Today I had hopes of going out to Southend where I hoped to takes some pictures of snow falling at the seaside. I checked this morning and snow is forecast for there at midday (as it is here), but it looks as if it will only be a very light fall, with heavier snow falling at 6pm tonight. In view of that, I don't think I will bother going out just for a few possible snow flakes. Besides which, to get there for midday I would have to be leaving soon, and I am not even washed and dressed yet.

 So today, apart from another shopping trip around Aldi's, I will stay in the warm and do some more video editing, some reading, some eating, some TV watching, and maybe some snoozing - but maybe not in that order !
Saturday 27th November 2010
09:42 GMT
 
 There is no snow this morning, and it is now looking unlikely I will see any today. However it is bloody cold, and there is a thick frost this morning. Unlike yesterday, even into the late evening, the sky is not clear, and everything looks rather grey at the moment.  Maybe the grey murk hanging over our heads will break up, but I suspect not, and the whole day is going to be rather grey.  By comparison, although just as cold, yesterday was a brilliantly sunny day.

 The highlight for today is Chain playing outside The Daylight Inn while they turn on their xmas lights. As yet I have no idea of the extent of the xmas lights. The pub seems to be a focal point of that area of Petts Wood, and it may be that the xmas lighting extends to more than just the pub itself. It wouldn't be too hard to imagine that it is the whole road that will be turned on this afternoon.  The whole event kicks off at 3pm.

 I had hoped that the event would take on an extra xmas like dimension with a light fall of snow. A heavy fall would be more scenic, but the chances of anyone being able to get there with more than a tenth of an inch of snow on the ground would seem unlikely. (modern trains, under modern management only seem to be able to cope with one snow flake per square yard).

 While the threat of snow this afternoon has diminished to the point where it is unlikely, there is still a reasonable chance of some snow falling tomorrow. The last weather maps I saw put the chances of snow most likely to the east of London, and some parts of Kent and Sussex towards the coast. The area which interests me the most is to the east, and around Southend in particular.

 For quite a while now I have had a desire to photograph some snow near to the sea. Usually this has not been possible due to all the transport coming to a standstill, but tomorrow could be different. With snow unlikely in London all the trains should be running locally, and with the railway to Southend running on overhead catenary there is no reason why it should not be a bit more resilient to snow fall.

 Maybe tomorrow I wil be able to fulfil my wish to photograph some seaside snow, but there are a lot of ifs and buts as to whether I will actually go out to do it. The first thing is it actually has to snow just in the Southend area, and knowing the weather forecast we won't really know that until it has actually happened - if it does ! Then I have to be in the right mood, in the right state of health, and not overwhelmed by the cold and drabness.

 If I didn't know that this afternoon was going to be really good, I doubt I would want to go out at all today while it is cold and grey. At least I wouldn't be venturing further than the local shops for some essential supplies, and that is what I have to do next. I need cat food, diet cola, and some more toilet paper could be handy soon. (The latter is only included as a demonstration of essential items. I reckon I still have as much as a week left before the panic sets in for that).
Friday 26th November 2010
08:19 GMT
 
 The sky is almost totally clear this morning, and that resulted in the temperature dropping at least a couple of degrees below zero overnight.The frost on the cars is very fine grained so the temperature must have drpped very fast - not that the temperature was very high to begin with. Yesterday it was bloody freezing whenever I went outside for a fag with no coat on. Some of the discomfort was from the icy wind. While the grey sky did nothing to bring any cheer. Happily, it looks as if this morning will be bright and sunny, but it may not last. The latest predictions are that snow could hit London by tonight.

 Last night I had the time, energy, and inclination to transfer the pictures taken on my walk around Beckenham Place Park on Wednesday from my camera onto my PC.  Here's a few of the more interesting ones. (read yesterday's blog for more info).
The entrance to the bar
This is the rather discrete entrance to the bar at the rear of the manor house
The grand front of the manor house
While this is the rather grand front door of the manor house.
Parakeets in tree
Beckenham Place Park has a huge colony of Parakeets (or parrots)
friendly robin
This robin, like most robins, was very curious about me poking about in the leaf litter looking for sweet chestnuts.
overkill !
Finally is this picture of total overkill. All the road signs were for a 3ft wide path !

 It was bloody cold when I got up this morning. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow for two reasons. Firstly I can get up, turn the heating up full, take care of the essentials, and then go back to bed and not get up again until everything is warm. Secondly I am looking forward to seeing Chain play at The Daylight Inn in Petts Wood (within spitting distance of the railway station). Chain were specifically booked by The Daylight Inn to play during the switching on of the xmas lights ceremony. If the weather forecasts are true there could be an extra seasonal sparkle from some snow. Even a light dusting would be very scenic, although too much and all transport will grind to a halt, and nobody will be able to get there !
 
Thursday 25th November 2010
08:29 GMT
 
 Sometime before I woke up this morning there was a light shower. From the pattern of raindrops left on the ground, it looked as if it could have been sleet instead of rain. That would be of no surprise because it is close to freezing outside, and there is now a bitter wind blowing from the north. It seemed very dark and gloomy as I travelled to work, but now I see that the cloud is well broken up, and there are plenty of patches of blue visible from my office window. It seems quite likely we will get some sunshine before the snow. I think the forecast for tomorrow includes a small chance of a dusting of sleety snow in parts of London (and a good fall of snow in some areas a bit more to the north and north east of London).

 The (probable) forthcoming weather is a far cry from the weather we had yesterday. To my great surprise it was a bright sunny day. the air was very cool, and the occasional wind was very chilly, but when the wind dropped, and in the path of direct sunlight, it didn't feel too bad at all.

 I have had two wonderful days off work. On Tuesday Patricia came over to visit me, and to leave some stuff in my safekeeping before flying south for the winter. It was the possibly the first time this whole year when she has been free enough for a proper visit. Her ex-job kept her so busy, and so stressed that she barely had time for anyone, but on Tuesday she was a s free as a bird. We had a really good time chatting together, and going out for dinner in Nandos. The amount of hugs and kisses when she left was really unprecedented in all the 6 years I have known her now. So I was obviously rather happy, but also sad that she would be so far away (and there is an extremely small, but finite chance she will never come back).

 Yesterday was a really good day for different reasons. Accompanied by friend Iain, I went out exploring Beckenhan Place Park. As I suspected, it was too late in the year to collect any sweet chestnuts, but from the amount of empty, and rotting, shells I saw it would have been an excellent place to collect bags of them. Maybe next year I will get there at the right time.

 In all we walked around three and a half miles. In some places it was under a very warm sun where the land was open, and in other places it was under the canopy of mostly leafless trees. Despite being so late in the year, and most of the trees losing their leaves, it was still very green in the woods. One thing that made it even greener was the amount of parrots (or parakeets) inhabiting the woodland. It was almost like an infestation.

 The interior of the park is very quiet in respect of the noises of civilisation. The sounds of traffic in the distance is barely at the level of perception, and apart from the occasional aircraft flying overhead, the only sounds were from the birds. That doesn't mean it was quiet in the woods. The crows often made a dreadful racket, and the parrots were bloody noisy too at times, but there was also more pleasant bird sounds to be heard when the noisy ones stopped shrieking, cawing, and making other raucus noises.

 One interesting thing about Beckenham Place Park is the old manor house in there, and in particular an almost anonymous, bland looking door with a small shy sign on it saying "BAR". Near that door is a block of toilets. The ladies was open, but the gents was closed. The timing of it was rather good, because just as we happened to be inspecting the closed door of the gents a council employee came past and said it was closed because of vandalism, but that there were toilets in the bar we could use (while pointing towards the inconspicous door).

 I had read that there was a cafe somewhere within the manor house building, and the bar was it. As well as snacks and a few light meals (toasted sandwiches etc), it, being a bar, also served booze. A bit of rehydration after walking 3 miles (at that point) didn't seem such a bad idea. So we had a pint each before moving on.

 I took quite a few pictures yesterday, but they are still on my camera at home. Maybe tonight I'l prepare and upload a few for tomorrow. There are pictures of parrots, leaves, fungi, and most essentially, a picture of the shy little door which leads into the bar.

 The day didn't end at the bar. After our pint we walked the last half mile back to Beckenham Hill railway station, and caught a train to Peckham Rye. From there we caught a bus to The Forest Hill Tavern in (or near) Honor Oak. I think we had three pints in there, with Ivor joining us for the last two. After that Ivor headed off home, and Iain and myself found ourselves in Ladywell where I was dying for another pee (this cold weather certainly makes it go through you !). The answer was The Fox And Firkin where we had another two pints.

 I was feeling quite merry as I made my way home from there, and I was also feeling starving hungry after not eating a single thing all day. Well, drunkenness and hunger mean only one thing, and I bought some chicken and chips on the way home. While eating that I watched some TV, and it was not too long after that, that I went up to bed. I am not sure what time I got into bed, but I think I was snoring by 9pm although it could have been earlier.

 I did wake up a few times in the night, but on the whole I got a good nights sleep, and this morning I feel rather good overall. Having had two excellent happy days in a row helps a lot, but just walking 3.5 miles may have helped even more to contribute to my wellbeing this morning. Like on all my walks, I only give the distance for the core walk and not things like getting to the stations and stuff. Last night, the walk from The Fox And Firkin to home was nearly an extra mile, and I guess that helps too.
Tuesday 23rd November 2010
09:48 GMT
 
 In some respects the weather is improving. This morning the sky is only a very light grey with a few occasional flecks of blue, but there are also some heavier looking clouds. It might remain dry, and it is possible that we could see some sunshine, but it won't last. The temperature is dropping all the time, and the forecasters are still saying that the end of the week is going to be very cold with daytime temperatures barely hitting 4 C. That is dangerously close to the right conditions for some snow, and indeed there may even be some in London, although "wintry showers", i.e. sleet, is more likely within the London area. Just to the north of London may fare much worse.

 Yesterday I would describe, in the words of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, as mostly harmless. It wasn't desperately cold, and it was dry, but it was overcast for most of the day.  It was most uninspiring.

 Today I have other reasons to be inspired. In under an hour Patricia will be visiting me. She is bringing over some stuff for me to look after while she spends the winter in the southern hemisphere. Once she has dropped that off we are going out to do a bit of shopping, and probably get a pub lunch in Lewisham.

 Before she arrives I have (in theory) a load of work to do to try and make the place look a little less like a dump. I have already done the most important thing - I have, at long last, cleared up Smudge's litter tray, and some of the spills around it. Hopefully, with the aid of a few windows open, the place will smell a little fresher (I am ashamed to say it has been a little stinky these last few days). I can't keep the windows open for too long though because it is already starting to feel rather cool in here.

 I hope that today will not be the last of Patricia I see for the next 6 months. There is a remote possibility that it could be the last time I see her ever if circumstances come about that she decides not to come back to the UK. However she doesn't fly away until Friday, and I hope I can see her tomorrow, or maybe Thursday evening. Right now though I ought to get the hoover out or she'll never want to come here again !
Monday 22nd November 2010
08:23 GMT
 
 After the relentless grey of yesterday I am happy to report that the clouds have broken up. The sky was not clear enough for a frost this morning, but it came very close. Everything was dripping with dew as I walked to the station from home. Another degree, maybe two, lower and that dew would have been transformed into bright sparkling frost.

 I wasn't treated to the sight of the sun rising above the cemetary as my train pulled into Earlsfield station, but it was a very close thing. The sky was mostly clear in that direction apart from one long thin streak of cloud that was aligned to totally block out all but a golden halo of the sun's rays.

 This afternoon it is forecast to rain, but they morning should be dry, and hopefully quite bright once the sun is a little higher in the sky. This afternoon's rain, will be unpleasant if it should fall wherever I am at the time, but it may be nothing compared with what may be instore for us. The end of the week is forecast to be bitterly cold, and some snow may well fall very close to London, and there may even be a dusting in London itself. That will be a disaster waiting to happen. One snowflake on London will stop Southeastern Trains. Two snowflakes will stop Southern trains, and after three snowflakes have settled the rest of the rail network, the tube network, and the buses will all be afraid to venture out of their hutches. Of course they'll all say that it caught them unaware, and I must admit that snow in November is rather unusual, but I have now warned London myself, and if London doesn't read this then I will be more than happy to stay indoors, in the warm, until the snow has melted away, and public transport runs again.

 It is hard to blame the public transport operators when far milder weather stopped me going out yesterday. It was dry, and only cold rather than freezing cold, but overarchingly it was grey, and that grey caused my intentions to dry up like over cooked toast. That was not the entire reason I didn't go out. I also had a stomach ache after stuffing myself silly with greasy kebab (with loads of chilli sauce) the night before. That had mostly settled by midday, or maybe a tad later, and there was no real reason why I couldn't have gone out foraging, but by that time I was really rather enjoying staying in, in the warm.

 The place I wanted to visit was Beckenham Place Park. Prior to yesterday I had little idea of what to expect in the park, or more specifically the woodland area of the park. With the extra time on my hands from not going out I did some research and found that Lewisham Council have an excellent webpage about the woodland (with links to other aspects of the park). Their web page is here. The information there confirms an unfounded suspicion of mine that those woods do contain sweet chestnut trees - and foraging for sweet chestnuts was the main reason I wanted to go there.

 I am beginning to think that maybe I have left it too late into the autumn for that sort of foraging. If for no other reason then the amount of leaf litter that will be concealing the fallen nuts. There is still a possibility that I will get there soon. I am taking tomorrow and Wednesday off work in the hope that I will be able to spend some time with Patricia. I doubt she will be available on both days. So I may have a spare day to go out foraging assuming I don't go out boozing instead.
Sunday 21st November 2010
09:51 GMT
 
 Just like yesterday, it is cold and grey. There hasn't been a hint of any sunshine for a couple of days now, and the temperature has remained around 6 to 8 C. The overcast sky has not let the temperature drop low enough at night for any frost, and there is little wind. Yet it is still feels unpleasantly cold outside. This is not the sort of weather that inspires me to do anything - except maybe one thing that I shouldn't.

 I saw Aleemah yesterday. We met at the station before going for some brunch in the cafe. After that I dragged her around Aldi. In theory that is my supermarket shopping done for the weekend, but I ideally I should go out and buy some cat litter today. In this cold weather Smudge has perfected the artform of avoiding going out too much, and that means her litter tray, meant only for emergencies, is taking a bit of a bashing recently.

 After Aleemah went home I just mooched around the house. I watched a bit of TV, did some reading, and took a nap. Later in the early evening I did the one thing that I should not have done, but was inspired to do by the bleak weather. I ordered a huge greasy kebab. I have to admit it was very nice, and maybe more so because it was the first I have had in ages.  An hour or so after eating that, and feeling very stuffed, I went up to bed. Although it would have been a good idea to get to sleep early, I opted to do some more reading.

 It wasn't a real book I was reading, but an ebook on my mobile phone. It's title is "Fallen Angels" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn. Although only published in 2000, it is legally downloadable from The Baen Free library here. There are many more free books available there, and in other places. To read these books I uses FBreader, and on their web pages are links to other places where free books can be downloaded. I started reading Fallen Angels on the train as I came home from work every night in the last week, but last night I decided to finish reading the story. It is an exciting story, and if truth be told, I couldn't wait to find out how it all ended. I finished reading at half past midnight - yet another late night, and I only slept for 7 hours before I got up again.

 This morning I wish I had managed to sleep an hour or two longer, but I woke up feeling too uncomfortable to go back to sleep again. All the greasy kebab I ate last night was, and still is sitting heavy on my stomach. That is a bit of a shame because I was going to try and force myself to go hunting today. I may have mentioned it before, but I have this idea of going out hunting for sweet chestnuts. I know there are some Brook Wood to the south of Bromley that I visited on my trip to photograph fungi, but today I considered the idea of the woods in Beckenham Place Park. I have no idea if there are any sweet chestnut trees there, nor have I any idea if I will eventually go out to see if there are. The dreary grey sky does not inspire me, nor does the bloated feeling in my gut, but there is still a minute possibility that I may go.
Friday 19th November 2010
08:35 GMT
 
 This morning brings clear skies and a touch of frost. I think the sky cleared too late for the temperature to drop low enough for a thick frost, but a few cars seemed to have a rime of frost on their roofs as I walked to the station. It is probably just as well that the temperature did not drop any lower. There were a few showers last night that have left many of the roads and pavements wet. If it had got any colder it would have made it very slippery walking around this morning (and no doubt cars would have been ploughing into each other, and pedestrians too).

 As the sun rose it cast a very pinkish light, and that suggests more cloud is on it's way, but for now the sky is blue and the sun is shining. If it could keep that up all day the afternoon could even get something close to not "bloody freezin' !". Actually, with very little wind it is not desperately cold even now. You would have to stand around for at least 30 minutes before your fingers turned blue :-)

 I did very little last night. I had even pre-cooked my dinner the night before, and it just needed reheating. Yet despite doing very little the time seemed to fly by. Before I knew it, it was already 10 past bedtime, and I ended up having another late night (though not drastically late on this occasion). That late night was compounded by waking up at a little after 1am and having difficulty getting back to sleep again. Eventually I turned the heating back on, and that seemed to help.

 Evidently I did sleep quite soundly towards the end because my alarmed sounded for a good few seconds before I woke up. Usually I almost anticipate it, and I am awake before the first beep has finished, if not before that. I woke up feeling really crap this morning. There was nothing specific about it, but I really longed to go back to bed. Coming to work seemed a worse chore than usual. As I approached work at the end of my walk from Earlsfield station, it began to feel like the end of one of my longer walks during the summer, but without the pleasure. I guess I am really looking forward to the weekend so I can take my time getting up, and relax a lot more than I can here at work.
Thursday 18th November 2010
08:19 GMT
 
 It was a miserable commute into work this morning. It started off very dark, fairly cold, and rather wet. By the time I reached Waterloo there was some feeble grey light filtering through the clouds, but if anything the rain had got heavier. Here in Earlsfield it wasn't so bad. The clouder seemed thinner, the rain had stopped, and best of all there was blue sky visible towards the west.  Since then there has been a short burst of very oblique sunshine - and more rain. Yesterday the weather was very bland. I can't remember any rain, and I can't remember any sunshine. I do remember it being cold, and I think there was a bit of a breeze, but that is about it.

 The two packets of crisps in my larder are still there even now. This doesn't mean that I ate as healthily as I could last night, although it wasn't bad in parts. My dinner was a sort of  chicken stew. The thing that reduced it's healthyness was that the chicken wings I used were not skinless, and that increases the amount of fat in the stew. Apart from chicken skin everything else was (probably) very wholesome. Included in the stew were a whole bag of mixed vegetables meant for stir frying, and loads of garlic paste. It is what I ate afterwards that has mixed reviews. It was a large tub of plain, Greek style, low fat, probiotic, yoghurt. The unknown factor for that yoghurt (because I didn't read the label) is the amount of sugar added to it. Maybe it wasn't too bad, or maybe it was terrible.

 I can't say that dinner left me feeling that good this morning. I woke up with a headache, and something almost like heartburn this morning. Sometimes it felt like a sore throat, and sometimes it felt like something deeper with a desire to belch when I could. Mostly it has all worn off now, and I have few complaints, but I have just suddenly broken out in a sweat. The cause of that is less likely to be illness, and more likely the amount of hot chilli sauce I poured onto my breakfast which I have only recently finished eating.

 My plans for possible unemployment continue to take shape even though the likelyhood of it happening seems a lot lower now. Smudge has been eating Tesco own brand "supermeat" cat food. When I first put it down she tried to ignore it, but I think that was only because she was hoping I might share some of my dinner with her. This morning the plate was almost licked clean. So it couldn't have been that bad. Last night I topped up the Oyster card I use (sometimes) for leisure rather than the one I use for commuting (although there is absolutely no reason why it should be done on separate cards). That card now has 26 on it. This morning I topped up my emergency Oyster card with 50, and that now has 52.60 on it. Even after the swingeing fare rises due in the new year, I now have enough credit on my two spare Oyster cards to keep me mobile for some time, although I'll bring the other card up to around 50 sometime soon. One other financial thing I ought to do is to withdraw a substantial part of anything left in my bank account at the end of the month, and put that in my saving account. I think the last time I did that was sometime in the spring, and I have been meaning to do it more frequently. Now could be a good time - assuming there is any money left in my account at the end of the month.
Wednesday 17th November 2010
08:07 GMT
 
 There was no clear sky this morning, and because of that there was no frost either. The cloud has kept the temperature above freezing, but not very far above it. Today's weather could be very unpredicatble. We are very near a weather front, and apparently there is little chance of rain to the east of London, and a good chance to the west, but no one knows exactly where that dividing line is. It may well be that it rains sometime today here in Earlsfield, and yet stays dry in Catford 6 miles to the east of here.

 Yesterday was a rather fine day weatherwise. The early morning frost soon melted as the temperature rose during the morning. I don't think the temperature rose into double figures, and if there had been much wind it would have felt chilly. Instead the sun really did feel hot. Standing outside having a cigarette was half pleasure and half discomfort. Standing with my back to the glare of the low in the sky sun warmed my back up a treat, but my front still felt very cool. I can imagine that if you lay down on a good insulator, such as an air matress, it would have felt warm enough to sunbathe provided you could keep your exposed skin in the direct rays of the sun.

 Further into the future another harsh winter is expected. Some say the first snow could fall this coming Sunday, but it is unlikely to reach this far south just yet. The mountains in Scotland have already had enough snow to open up for skiing, and some of the high moorland in Yorkshire has already had a dusting too. Some independent weather experts, the type who try looking out the window instead of relying on a mega-super computer to generate wholly random forecasts, are saying that there is an excellent chance that London could have a white xmas with snow falling well before xmas and well after it too.

 While yesterday was a fine day weatherwise, it was less so in other ways. It may be that trouble is brewing here at work. Although I have yet to invoke the magic words "health and safety", I have had to refuse to do a job for the first time. In practice it is a health and safety issue. I was asked to build a prototype circuit board that uses an extensive amount of subminiature components that can only be accurately soldered in by doing the work under a microscope. With my aging eyes I do more and more of my work using a microscope, and for individual repairs it is no bother, but I am not prepared to spend several days continually hunched over the microscope squinting down the lenses while soldering parts whose connections are sometimes no bigger than a full stop on this page.

 I doubt that things will get so drastic, but I am just starting to pull some plans together to soften the experience of another long session on the dole should the need arise. Contrary to many stories you read in some of the more right wing orientated papers, living on the dole when you are a single, childless person is no picnic. A single person just gets enough money to pay for something like 1500 calories a day - it's probably some sort of legacy left over from wartime rationing. There is certainly no money for booze or fags or for feeding a pet. In short, when you are living on your own, with no parents or relatives to bail you out when things get desperate, it's a bloody nightmare.

 Amongst my plans are plans to top up my two spare Oyster cards with something like 50 on each card. That will keep me mobile for some time even when I have no other cash. I'll be abandoning plans to use a lot of my accumulated Tesco Club Card vouchers on an unneccesary xmas present for myself. They will be more useful for buying food at times when I am stony broke. Smudge is going to have to learn to only eat cheaper cat food, and tomorrow night I am going to see how easy it is to survive on soup ( 45p a can) with instant noodles (10p a packet). I couldn't live on just one can with one packet a day, and I estimate I would consume maybe 4 a day. That works out at 2.20 a day, or 15.40 a week out of around 60 dole money. Take off another 5 for poor quality Catfood, and we are down to around 40 left over. Now take off another 5 for the internet, and maybe the same again for a phone line (both essential for job seeking these days). Finally take off 40 for cheap rolling tobacco, and the result is a whole lot of debt and misery, and the temptation to get in with the criminal fraternity.

 Never mind, only another four and a half years to go and I think my non government pension is due. I only worked for the company for about half a normal career, so it's only going to be a small pension, but that's better than nothing. I think there is a lump sum payout as well, and that could be handy for paying off a minute portion of the billions in bank charges I am likely to accrue while they yank me from pillar to post like they did the last time I was on the dole.
Tuesday 16th November 2010
08:17 GMT
 
 As I walked to the station the air and sky seemed very clear. The sun was still too low below the horizon to produce any more than dim twilight, but had it been higher the thick frost on the cars would have glittered better than a sequined ball gown (or something that glitters a lot). At Waterloo East station the sun had risen enough for streams of slightly pink golden rays of sunshine to light up the tops of the buildings. At Vauxhall I could see thin tendrils of mist rising off the river, while Clapham Junction was wreathed in thick mist (or fog - I'm never sure when one becomes the other). Here is Earlsfield the air is clear, but there is a slight mistiness about the sky, and I was dazzled by the great fiery ball of the sun rising up above the frosty grass of the cemetary.

 Apparently we are due to get some cloud later in the afternoon but it will remain a cold dry day. If the wind keeps away it may not feel too bad despite the temperature being in single figures. Yesterday was not significantly warmer, and yet the lack of wind made it feel no more than just fresh. For instance it was no great hardship going outside for a cigarette in just my shirtsleeves.

 I felt remarkably good yesterday. It was like I had just recovered from an illness, and maybe I had. It was a week after my 'flu innoculation that I went down with what seemed like mild 'flu, and although I thought I had recovered from that quite quickly, I am wondering if it did linger on in a mild way until the weekend just gone. I seemed to have more energy and less aches and pains than what I had began to believe was normal.

 I am not so sure I feel all those advantages today, but I don't feel that bad, and the less than perfect feeling I will attribute to lack of sleep this morning - I woke up at about 3.30am and never really managed to sleep again properly. One unforeseen effect of me feeling good yesterday was that I did not feeling famished when I got home from work. I did feel hungry, and I was looking forward to my dinner, but it didn't seem like the "life or death" type hunger that happens most (cold and dark) nights after work.

 In my larder I had two packets of crisps, and I expected to eat them as I prepared my dinner last night. This morning they are still in my larder comepletely untouched. The dinner I prepared, apart from one ingredient, was one of my very low most things crossover between soup and stew made from skinless chicken and Tesco mixed vegetable intended for stir frying, but in this case partially steamed, partially simmered, and very slightly boiled. The one ingredient that probably doubled the calorie content was a bag  of instant noodles that I threw in (minus the salty flavouring) to give a little more body to the meal. Later on I did snack a little on some so called chilli flavoured rice cakes with some lime pickle on them.

 A little more than an hour after eating my dinner an event happened that may have reduced my overall calorie uptake by a very small amount. It is probably easiest to say I exploded in a toilet direction - a lot ! It felt like I had emptied from about the top of the lungs downwards. I wouldn't like to speculate how much may still have had calories in that the digestive system was still extracting, but I am sure the answer is not zero.

 I did feel somewhere between the reaches of imagination and reality a microscopic amount thinner this morning. This is, of course, a total nonsense, and being a little less bloated is nearer to the truth. Maybe that has made me feel a little livelier this morning, but I have ruined it all by eating a couple of the delicious, but incredibly greasy, samosas bought from the Earlsfield Londis supermarket on my way to work.

 Tonight I have to buy some cat food on the way home from work, and inevitably that means going into Tesco. It would be useful to have another very healthy meal tonight, but after the temptations to be found in Tesco that seems unlikely.......but maybe it might be possible.........just !
Monday 15th November 2010
07:58 GMT
 
 All the cars were covered with glittering frost as I walked to the station this morning. I think it is the thisckest frost we have had since autumn started, and yet with very little wind it doesn't feel all that cold out. Today is forecast to be dry and cold, but there is a chance for some sunshine. The part of the sky I can see from my office window looks rather grey and dull, but while walking here from the station it did look as if the cloud was very thin, and there were definitely gaps in it. If the sun had been a few more degrees above the horizon I could have been dazzled by bright sunshine pouring through a gap in the clouds on the eastern horizon.

 Yesterday's weather was really nothing to write about. Mostly it was grey and damp, but I can't recall any showers after the morning, and I am not entirely sure if there were any in the morning anyway. My rather blank memory about yesterday's weather suggests there was nothing to remember. Had I been caught in the glare of bright sunlight, or if there had been a heavy fall of rain I am sure I would have remembered it. So it must have just been dull, grey, damp, and very cool.

 I had one of those days yesterday when superficially I was realaxing and being generally lazy, but with virtually zero effort I did seem to achieve quite a lot. One very tangible thing I did was some laundry, but maybe equally tangible was some of the computer stuff I did. Most important of that was to copy all the picture and video files off the computer I had been using for "multimedia" stuff before I decided I ought to dedicate one of my faster PCs for the job.

 The other thing I did was to do more monitor swapping. The silly 1366x768 widescreen monitor that I replaced with the man-sized 1290x1024 pixel monitor on the "multimedia machine" was sitting there doing nothing, and so I decided to hook it up to my main "doing stuff on the internet" machine. That machine runs exclusively Linux, and I had recently fitted an upmarket graphics card to it with a DVI connector (as well as the VGA connector I was using up until yesterday). I connected the 1366x768 pixel monitor up via the DVI connector in the hope of some improved results. The result I got was absolute nothing !

 Another bizzare fact about that cheap widescreen monitor is that it appears to be impossible to bring it out of standby without a valid video signal, and the only way to switch from the VGA input to the DVI input was by using the monitors menu system that will not show until you have a signal on the currently selected input. I had to reconnect the VGA input so I could go into the menu to select the DVI input. Once I had done that all was well. The DVI has made some improvement, and then by turning down the dots-per-inch of the computers display system (the X server), I managed to get a reasonable amount displayed on the squat screen. It is now very useable, and I now have the far better 1440x900 pixel widescreen monitor free to use on another of my spare PCs.

 For reasons that I don't understand, I don't feel too bad this morning. After spending so much time loafing about and eating inappropriately for the amount of energy I was expending, I expected to feel slow, sluggish, short of breath, short of energy, and short of enthusiasm today. I expected all the slouching around, sitting awkwardly on the settee, and laying on my bed, would have made my back stiff and aching. All that has happened but to a barely perceptible degree. Either that or some other malady is over shadowing those symptoms.

 That other malady is my own stupid fault for possessing a remarkable lack of self discipline. I would have liked to have a very long snooze during the day. I didn't. It would have been very useful, if not essential, to have gotten to sleep before 9pm last night. I didn't ! In fact it was around 11pm when I fell asleep last night, and I slept like a log. I didn't wake up one single time in the night, and I was so slow coming out of sleep when my alarm went off that it became part of my last dream. I seem to be unable to get more than 6 hours sleep lately, and it is leaving me sleepy during the day. Perhaps tonight sheer exhaustion will drive me to my bed nice and early, or maybe I'll find the self discipline to go anyway. Whichever way it happens I hope that sooner or later I will get my full 8 hoursd beauty sleep, and then some on top of that.
Sunday 14th November 2010
10:36 GMT
 
 It's a bit of a murky morning. The sky is a dull grey colour, and intermittent light drizzle is keeping everything wet. It's hard to tell if it will get any better, or any worse than this. I would guess that as it is now is the pattern for the whole day. The one saving grace is that it is not that cold. It is cold, just not that cold !

 Last night I had worries that I would not be feeling up to go out to see Chain play at The William IV pub in Elmers End.  There was nothing specifically wrong with me. I was just feeling a bit tired and a bit creaky. Not only that but I had been doing stuff on the internet and hadn't realised how time had started flying by.  Before I knew it, it was close to 8pm and I had wanted to get to the pub by about 8pm.

 Throwing caution to the wind, and ignoring how I felt, I quickly got my bits together and headed off to the pub. I fully expected the band to be already on stage by the time I got there, but had I thought about it properly I would have realised that they play late in that pub.  Although I had missed the sound check there was still time for a short chat before Chain took to the stage.

 On this occasion the pub turned on the stage lighting. Well, it's not exactly stage lighting, but more like disco lighting. When the lights weren't dazzling the audience it did make the stage more colourful, and presented some interesting photo opportunities. To capture the lights in their full glory I had to turn the camera flash off, and that meant I had to keep the camera still for very long exposures. I obviously couldn't keep the band still, but I was able to wedge the camera against some pillars to keep it fairly still (although a tripod would have been a better idea). A few of the pictures came out nice and colourful, and almost sharp enough to be presentable.
Coloured lights on stage
Coloured lights on stage
Coloured lights on stage
  Just like the last time I saw Chain play at The William IV, I didn't intend to stay too late, but just like last time I did stay late. I did get away a little bit earlier last night, and probably got the bus home 20 minutes earlier. That still meant that I got back to Catford after the chip shop, and even the KFC had closed. I had been looking forward to fish and chips, but with the fish shop closed I fell back on the now familiar standby of the Chick-Chicken shop for some hot wings and chips.

 I ate my rather late dinner while watching some TV, and I have no idea what time I switched off and went to bed. What I do know is that an extra one and half hours in bed in the morning does not make up for getting to bed 3 or 4 hours late. So at some point today I would like to go back to sleep for a few hours. I am sure it won't happen, but I feel there might be a reasonable chance of getting to bed very early tonight. Hopefully I won't end up feeling knackered at work like I did for a lot of last week.

 One of the things I did earlier yesterday with Aleemah was to go to Peacocks (purveyors of cheap Chinese knock off fashion clothing and stuff). While in there I noticed that they had some of their "Urban Spirit" branded baseball boot-like trainers in a slightly different style. Quite often their shoes are too narrow for my feet, but these looked (and are) wider. Apart from having a lighter coloured sole, and obviously no branding, they are identical to Converse All-Stars trainers that I have found to my liking recently. So I bought two pairs for 12 each as opposed to 39 (or thereabouts) for the genuine article. One pair was black and the other white. I wore the black pair to the gig last night and found them to be pleasantly comfortable. Now if only they had had the light blue ones in my size I would have nearly all the colours of the rainbow in (almost) matching trainers - all the colours except yellow, which I don't think I want, and purple, which I do want.
Saturday 13th November 2010
16:25 GMT
 
 The good thing about today is that it has been dry. I'll also grudgingly admit that it has not been excessively cold. If really pushed I could say that the light grey sky is an improvement over a dark grey sky. Staying dry is a definite improvement over yesterday, but overall it has been an autumn sort of day, and not one that has given any thoughts about outdoor activities.

 I have been out twice today, and with luck I will be going out again later. This morning I went and did some shopping, and then a bit later I went out to meet Aleemah at the station. Tonight I have a second chance to go out and see Chain play at The William IV pub in Elmers End.

 I had planned to go see them play at The British Queen pub in Locks Bottom last night, but circumstances were against me. I was put off by the foul state of the weather, and I was also feeling rather weary after a week at work. More significantly I was suffering from a mild stomach upset. By itself it was no big deal, but it seemed unwise to commit to a 40 minute (or more) bus journey while feeling a bit unstable.

 Instead of going out I stayed in and tried to catch up with some extra sleep. I was partially succesful in doing that. I went to bed an hour later than usual at 10pm, but I didn't have to get up early, and in theory I should have managed to get some extra sleep. That did sort of happen, but not as well as it should. I went to sleep fast enough, but after sleeping for something like 6 hours I woke up again, and then only managed to sleep intermittentently  for anouther couple of hours. It is possible that the total amount of sleep I got was in the order of nine hours, but a lot of it was very poor quality sleep.

 Assuming I get out tonight I will have a few beers inside me when I get home again. I don't intend to stay out that late, and although the band will be playing until midnight (I think), I think I would like to get back to Catford before 11.30pm (when the chip shop closes). That means leaving a good hour before the band finish. Of course last time the band played in tonights venue I enjoyed myself so much that I stayed almost to midnight. I can't see that happening again, but you never know.........
Friday 12th November 2010
08:20 GMT
 
 Today could well be a mild version of yesterday. The strong winds have died back a bit, but it is still gusty outside, and all the wind has done a good job of drying everything out except for the deeper puddles. This morning there was some very light rain falling when I got to Waterloo East station, but since then it seems to have been dry. There are some breaks in the cloud right now, and it is just possible that we may see some glorious sunshine, but another shower could happen at any time.

 On the whole, yesterday was rather cruel. It didn't rain all day, and the sky was not black all the time. On a few occasions the sun did manage to shine. The sequence was that the rain would die away leaving a grey sky, and then a hole would open up in the greyness. For 10 to maybe 20 minutes there would be bright sunshine, and in a few brief seconds between gusts of wind the sun would feel just warm enough to taunt you. Seconds later the sky would go completely black and more rain would come tumbling down.

 I did feel pretty awful yesterday, but surprisingly I didn't die. This morning I feel nowhere near as bad as yesterday, although things are not that rosy. From soon after the time I woke up until some time after I left for the station, I had a headache that was probably due to ultra high blood pressure (but could have been something more innocent). That seems to have faded away now, and if I am honest I don't feel too bad now. That's not to say I wouldn't very much prefer to be back in bed right now. Last night, and the night before (I think) I did get something close to a full nights sleep, but I believe I am still suffering from a sleep deficit. Maybe it's just my natural instinct to go to bed when it gets dark, and not get up until it's light again. (That being the best compromise to sleeping through the whole of winter if it were possible).

 When I think about it more I conclude that maybe I wouldn't like to sleep all through winter because I would miss out on several important things. There are a few gigs I want to go to in the winter months, and I wouldn't like to miss any snow we may get. Snow is bright and pretty and so a good thing even if it is bloody cold. Besides which, it can provide a great reason not to go to work (albeit at the cost of lower wages). Once the decision is made that getting to work is impossible, or just too complicated, it is great to relax and enjoy the predicament. For the rest of winter though, sleep would be ideal.
Thursday 11th November 2010
08:25 GMT
 
 Wet and windy would seem to adequately describe the weather this morning. It is also very slightly less cold than yesterday. There is plenty of evidence to show a lot of rain has fallen, and yet during my travel to work I only encountered intermittent light rain. Maybe it was because I was well wrapped up in waterproof, and more significantly, windproof clothing, but the wind didn't feel that strong, and yet the trees seemed to be really rattled by some of the stronger gusts. Here at work the tin roof quite frequently shudders and shakes (as does the tin cladding on the walls of this typical industrial estate unit).

 This wet and windiness is due to last all day. The only positive aspect of it that the temperature is due to rise to around 14 C. Persoannly I would prefer the bright sunny weather of yesterday even if the temperature never made it into double figures - possibly only peaking to around 8 C.

 Over the years many disused PCs accumulated here at work, and yesterday they were due to be collected by a recycling company. The hard drives, which were supposed to be mechanically destroyed will probably end up in Nigeria 100% intact, but some of the graphics cards were extracted before the PCs were taken away (assuming they actually have gone by now). I appear to be the lucky owner of a couple of what were high end graphics cards a few years back. In theory they should be a vast improvement on the "on-board" graphics cards of my own similarly dated PCs.

 Last night I tried two "new" graphics cards in my fastest PCs. It is mostly games that can benefit from these superior graphics cards, and because I don't play any computer games I didn't notice any real difference. Besides games there are some programmes that can make use of the extra processing power in the graphics adapter, and I am hoping that some of the video editing/re-coding applications I use can make use of this extra power. All I tried last night was squeezing a short video down from about 400MB to 200MB by converting the video from being encoded using the DV codec to the Xvid codec. To do this I used the excellent free application Avidemux (available for Linux, Windows and Mac). I don't think that avidemux can take advantage of a more powerful graphics card, but it is possible that avidemux did work a tiny, tiny bit faster. What I am hoping is that my full video editing suite wil work faster, or more smoothly. Maybe I'll get a chance to try that out tonight.

 This morning I do feel particularly bad. I suspect that my blood pressure may be ultra high. The clue to that may have come from the nosebleed that started after a moderately ultra violent sneeze when I went to the cold bathroom this morning. That sneeze started a nose bleed. It wasn't a full blown nose bleed with blood dripping everywhere, in fact it didn't drip at all, but everytime I blow my nose there is a lot of semi-congealed blood coming from my right nostril. Apart from the nose bleed me head feels a it sore as if a few blood vessels are about to burst in my brain too. I hope I can get home tonight to try my video editor out  before the cranial explosion reduces me to a vegetable.
Wednesday 10th November 2010
08:20 GMT
 
 It was forecast, and it's happened - today has started bright and cool. The sky is now practically clear, and soon the sun will have risen high enough to shine over all the clutter that dominiates the city skyline. Unfortunately all that sunshine might feel hot when shielded from the rest of the elements, but outside, exposed to all the elements it is going to feel bloody cold. The top temperature for today is predicted to be as little as 8 C. I think we came very close to a frost this morning, but the clouds did not clear early enough for all the heat to be lost. It was a close thing though, and I doubt that frost would have felt much colder as I made my way to work this morning.

 Yesterday there were some torrential dounpours reported, but they were to the south and south west of here. All we experienced was a lot of drizzle in the morning, and a dull afternoon. By late afternoon the first signs of the cloud breaking were visible. I could see one little patch of bright blue sky. Some lucky people may have been in the right place, at the right time, for bright sunshine to pour through that hole as they headed for home. Unfortunately it wasn't me. My journey home was in the grey, dry, but grey. The only positive thing was that the clouds were sufficiently broken to allow some last vestiges of natural light to very slightly lighten the walk from the station to home.

 It was good getting home last night, and for more than the usual reasons (cold, hunger, boredom, etc). Last night I had some shiny new technology with me. Over the last weekend I got fed up with the new monitor I had bought for the front bedroom PC. It was a widescreen monitor that had a silly resolution of 1366x768. It was silly on two counts. First of all, for technical reasons, all computer monitor resolutions should be multiples of 8 - and 1366 is not a multiple of 8. This meant that no matter how I set it up I still got strange aliasing effects on fine print. The second problem is that 768 is such a small number for the height of the picture that you are constantly scrolling up and down the page. I suspect that 1366x768 may have originally been something to do with widescreen NTSC (American, Japanese, etc) TV.

 Having got fed up with that stupid monitor I took a look at what else was available, and it seems I may have got lucky. I found, and ordered a 19", 4:3, 1280x1024 monitor from Ebuyer (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/222840). I opted for the free delivery option that takes 3 to 5 working days. The order was placed just before midday, and 20 hours later it turned up here at work ! That's not bad for free !!

 After lugging it home in it's box with a handy built in handle, I was very keen to try it out. My good luck continued in as much as I had already prepared my dinner, and it just needed heating up. With my dinner able to look after itself, heating up on a very low gas on the hob, I was free to plug my new monitor in and try it out. My first impression was very favourable, and by the time I finally switched it off as I was going to bed, I became convinced I had made a good buy. There are somethings that a widescree monitor is good for, but for many applications on a PC I think that an old fashioned 4:3 monitor is still the very best option. For a few things, like writing, my widescreen monitor may have been far better if I had rotated it through 90, and used it as a narrow screen monitor.

 I think I feel quite reasonable this morning. I ate tolerably well last night, and I managed to get a lot more sleep than of late (although even more would be better). I had one of those curious cases where the concious mind intrudes into a dream last night. I had been sleeping for about two hours, maybe a bit more, and having some sexy, but not sexual, dreams. They involved a sort of composite woman made up, and dressed, from many women I have known from the past to the present. I can't remember what all the dreams were about, but I know they were happy and nice. More than that, I believe that they were probably leading up to something even more enjoyable, but then something happened. The woman of my dreams (literally) came in to where ever I was looking sad. She announced that there had been a bonfire at The Birthday Club in Putney (a place presumably invented for my dream). The implication was that she was upset by people, perhaps people she knew, being hurt by the club catching fire. My concious mind saw it differently. It decided that you could make a bonfire from the club, but the club itself could not be a bonfire. So my conciousness decdided to wake me up so I could reset to reality again before going back to sleep.
Tuesday 9th November 2010
08:41 GMT
 
 Apparently there is a severe weather warning out for London today. If the weather forecasters have their way we will be lashed by torrential rain later on. This could result in flash floods in some places. Maybe that is yet to come, but right now it is wet underfoot, but I haven't seen or heard any rain since first waking this morning. The sky is very grey, but as yet it doesn't look to be particularly threatening. All the cloud has kept enough heat in to avoid a frost, but it is still very cool outside, and the chances are that the temperature will stay below 10 C all day. All of yesterday was rather like it is this morning, but as I was about to go home from work I did spy a bright blue patch of sky. Someone, somewhere was enjoying a short spell of late autumn sunshine, but it wasn't me.

 I started off yesterday feeling rather rough, but I improved during the day, and I didn't feel that bad when I left work to go home. My disposition might have improved further if SouthEastern Trains could have found the missing 5 carriages for my train back to Catford Bridge. Instead I was reduced to grumpiness as I traveled from Waterloo East to London Bridge in inhumane conditions. I got off the train at London Bridge and like a few other knowledgeable people, strolled over to platform 2 where a five minute wait produced a half empty slow train back to Catford Bridge. My smugness in doing this simple trick did not entirely override the grumpiness I still felt for being forced to do it in the first place.

 (I really must try and find the phone number of some Super Villain, in his hollowed out volcano, and see if he can spare a few gigawatts of nuclear death from his orbiting satelite of death to rain down on the headquarters of SouthEastern Trains. If that can't be arranged I'll have to see what else I can come up with here - http://www.villainsource.com/super.html )

 I arrived back in Catford relaxed after sitting in a totally uncramped style on a double seat all to myself (unlike the poor saps who stayed crammed into the fast train face to armpit !). Upon getting home I had to make a rapid decision. Do I cook some chicken stew-like dinner, or do I just shove some potato wedges into the oven and let them get on with it. I chose the latter idea and after setting them off in the oven I attended to feeding Smudge, getting changed, checking email etc etc. As the potato wedges neared the end of their cooking time I took the lids off two cans of soup and put them in the oven too.

 You can see where this is leading. Yes, I had potato wedges and soup for dinner. It may have been odd, but it was still nice. Tonight I will definitely have the low fat, low calorie, high fibre chicken stew. I know this because I precooked it last night. It's still sitting on the hob, with the lid, on where it was cooked, and all I have to do tonight is turn on the gas and reheat it .

 Cooking was not all I did last night. I also did some video stuff on the PC, and uploaded it to You Tube. This kept me up a little later than I might have desired, but I then compounded the error by reading to the end of a book I had started just recently. That kept me up for an hour and three quarters after bedtime. After that I certainly slept well. I only woke once to go to the toilet at around 3am. After taking care of that I was fast asleep again in no time. I didn't wake again until forced to face the world by the alarm clock application on my mobile phone.
Monday 8th November 2010
07:55 GMT
 
 We are in for some atrocious weather this week, and are just getting a taste of it now. When I first left the house it was rather cool, but not as cold as I thought it might be. It was also dry. Halfway to the station I caught my first gust of wind, and it felt very chilly. As I passed through central London the first drops or rain fell. At Earlsfield station there was steady light rain. As I got closer and closer to work the rain became heavier, and right now it is teeming down.

 The weather now is indicative of the whole week - or so the weather forecasts predict. Here on the eastern side of the country we will not bear the full brunt of it, but lashings of rain and gale force winds are coming in from the Atlantic to batter the entire country. Even on the very best day temperatures are predicted to struggle to reach double figures, and many nights will see some severe frosts. This may be autumn, but it's autumn with a vengance !

 For someone who intended to be entirely lazy yesterday, I seemed to have little time to relax. I didn't do anything grand, but I did do lots of little things. Much of it was done on computers, but I did do some more washing, and curiously enough I did a little tiny bit of other housework. I also managed to do some restful reading, but the one thing I couldn't seem to manage was to get any extra sleep. A couple of times I seemed to doze off but something always got my attention and woke me up again.

 This morning I do feel rather bad, but at least on this occasion I can't blame it on food. My main meal yesterday was simply mixed fish with cabbage and leek with a (very) generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese. In theory that should have been quite healthy. I did have some oven cooked potato wedges in the evening, and some chicken soup (to warm me up) for breakfast. For a lazy Sunday that was a pretty mild food intake.

 I suspect that some of the reason I feel rough is due to sleeping on my wonky mattress. It is high time it was replaced, but over the last year it had sort of settled into a reasonably comfortable shape. That was all messed up when I took it from one room to the other. So not only have I got to beat the mattress into submission again, but I am also having to cope with my feet pointing west instead of south in the new room. So the mildly uncomfortable sleep went with the aches and pains of moving the two beds around, and the alcoholic poisoning on Friday night. Plus two nights of eating junk food. That explains a lot of my discomfort, but doesn't fully account for the chesty cough I seem to be developing this morning. Could I be in for another cold ? No, it must be tubercholosis, cholera, rubella, deep vein thrombosis, schitzophrenia, or something like that. It can't be anything as common as the common cold - that would just be so common !
Sunday 7th November 2010
11:23 GMT
 
 The day started off quite misty and murky, but the sun is shining now. All there is left of the mistiness are patches of thin high level cloud. It seems unlikely that even with the sun shining it is going to warm up much today. Yesterday, which started off relatively mild, quickly cooled down as sunset approached. Once it became dark a mist sprung up to compliment all the autumnal feeling.

 For reasons that I can't even begin to imagine an explanation for, I decided, in a fit of madness, to swap the beds over even after saying there was no way I had the energy to do it. Now the big bed is in the big room, and the small bed is in the small room. Manhandling the double bed from one room to another by myself was an interesting experience, and it has left a bit of a legacy of aches and pains.

 I did choose a very mad time to do that move. Not only was I not originally feeling like doing it after my hangover, but I should have been conserving my energy for going out last night. When the time approached for me to go out I was having serious doubts about it, but in the end I went anyway, and what's more is that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

 It did feel very cold when I went out, but it was also very atmospheric. There was the light mist swirling about plus all the bangs and flashes from all the fireworks being set off. It seems many people, plus many public displays, waited until Saturday night instead of the traditional 5th November which was the night before to celebrate Guy Fawkes night.

 When I arrived at the gig I presented the band with the CDs I had made for them, and they were very pleased. It earned me a couple of pints of Stella Artois on a night when I probably should have not been drinking at all after my Friday night session. It also earned me the offer of a lift after I expressed a worry about last bus times (although not to home unfortunately).

 The venue, The Chatterton Arms, was very quiet for most of the evening. We think that many people had opted to go to bonfire night parties instead of going to the pub. It was their loss though because it was an excellent night. One particular highlight was when the band played Hotel California. A few weeks back I had suggested that Jo should take the lead vocals, and the band had independently thought so too. I'm not sure how the decision to do that affected how they played, but the whole sound was much more "fluid" and wholesome. Rather awesome in fact.

 I had started out feeling rather rough, but I had improved by the time I got to the pub, and as the evening wore on, the good music (plus 4 pints of booze) left me feeling rather good. In the end I stayed to the end and went to find a bus at gone 11.30pm. After the walk to the bus stop I didn't have to wait too long before a bus came along. The driver was evidently in a hurry to get back to Catford because the ride was very "lively". Heading out of Bromley, going down the hill towards Catford, the driver had to slow down quite a bit as we went past a speed camera !

 It was very late when I arrived in Catford, So late that even the KFC shop had closed. In theory that should have stopped me abusing my body even more, but further down the road the Chick-Chicken shop was still open. Although I was feeling cold and hungry I managed to limit myself to some grilled hot wings instead of greasy fried chicken, but I did have a portion of greasy fries with them.

 This morning I got up too early, and overall I am feeling rather bad. I think several ideas I had for today are now going to be abandonded, and I am going to have a very lazy day. That might fit in well with what has happened to the weather in the time it has taken to write this far. The sky is now looking very grey, and I would not be surprised if it rained sometime soon. I think I am going for a lie down right now !
Saturday 6th November 2010
11:30 GMT
 
 So far it has been dry this morning, but I don't know how long that is going to last. There are a few blue patches of sky in amongst the grey clouds, and rain might not be far away. Contrary to earlier weather forecasts it is not as cool as predicted. I had the window open for nearly an hour earlier, and it seemed fairly comfortable as I just sat quietly at my PC.

 Yesterday was almost warm, but it did come at the price of some rain. There were one or two light showers during the day, and some heavier showers in the evening. The last one that I was aware of was particularly heavy. After that it seemed to dry up, and it was a pleasant night.

 That very heavy shower happened while I was in the pub with Kevin. As I predicted it might, it did turn into quite a heavy session, and I left the pub feeling very drunk. I am, or was, paying for it this morning. I had a quite dreadful hangover, and because I was drunk enough to stuff myself with rather a lot of chicken and chips, I also felt bloated and horrible as well. Still it was a good drink !

 I don't feel so bad now, but I feel that I am going to have a lay down and do some reading soon. Apart from sitting at a PC for what seems like hours on end, I have done one load of laundry, and that is now hung up to dry. It is possible that will be the only housework I will do today. What I thought I might do today was to swap the two beds around between the two bedrooms. It is a little ridiculous that my double bed is in the smaller bedroom, and the single bed is in the big bedroom. There was once a reason for this, but that hasn't been relevant for ages now.

 Somehow I am just not in the mood for humping beds around just now. I am saving my energy to go to The Chatterton Arms in Bromley to watch Chain play tonight. The gig starts at 8.30pm, but I think I want to get there, via a tedious bus ride, maybe half an hour before then. The last time I saw them play there I was feeling rough and only stayed for the first half. Maybe tonight I will feel up to watching the whole gig.
Friday 5th November 2010
08:56 GMT
 
 There was some very light misty rain swirling around when I left home to walk to the station. I think it had stopped by the time I had got halfway there, and it seems to have been dry since. It might be dry now, but the sky is still very grey and more rain might just be a second away. All the cloud has kept the temperature up, and it might almost be described as warm outside. It is not actually warm, but it wouldn't be uncomfortable to something like fast walking in just a t-shirt. Maybe some rain today is forgiveable, but tomorrow the unforgiveable happens. From a possible 17 C today the temperature plummets to 12 C tomorrow.

 On the whole the weather was good yesterday. There was some sunshine, no rain (that I recall), and it did truly feel slightly warm in the afternoon and into the evening. It was quite windy though, and although it was the wind that brought the warm air in the first place, it would have made things a bit nicer if it had stopped once it had delivered that warm air.

 I managed a bit of home productivity yesterday in so much as I printed off some CD jewel case inserts for the CDs I am knocking together for Chain. I also did some shopping in Tesco for the first time in almost a fortnight. After doing my main shopping in Aldi on the last two Sundays I have begun to realise just how expensive Tesco has become. Once upon a time it was cheap, and although Aldi had cheaper stuff it was often of lower quality.

 Now the stuff that Aldi stocks seems to be quite good, and the only real disadvantage of shopping in their is the lack of choice. If you don't like their something or the other then it's tough - there is no alternative. Yesterday I spent about 40 in Tesco, and admittedly that did include an expensive ink cartridge for my printer, but my entire shopping only filled a few carrier bags, and was easy to carry home almost one handed. By contrast a similar amount spent in Aldi last Sunday had me wondering how I was going to lug home the five big carrier bags full of stuff I bought. Now if only I could discipline myself to only buy the stuff I really need from Tesco, and buy everything else from Aldi I would be a lot richer than I am at the moment (which is not very !).

 Tonight it is possible that I will be going to another place that is not as cheap as at least one alternative, and that is the pub, and specifically The Catford Ram. They have a mini beer festival on at the moment, and I am curious to try one of the beers listed on the poster in the window. Maybe if it's nice I'll have two, and maybe if Kevin joins me in the pubs I'll be having a lot more.
Thursday 4th November 2010
09:58 GMT
 
 The sun is struggling to shine through a misty sky, and for the most part it is making it - for now.  It is also unseasonably not cold. Like yesterday, the morning temperature is more like what the afternoon temperature could be, and the afternoon temperature is forecast to be as high as 17 C. Unfortunately it could also start to rain in the afternoon.

 Yesterday wasn't that bad, but the afternoon felt a bit chilly to me. Maybe I was expecting too much, and perhaps today I am expecting too much as well. 17 C seems like it should be t-shirt weather, but maybe the actual feel will not live up to my hopes.  It is possible that I felt cool yesterday because I was under the weather. All the late nights and bad eating was making me feel quite rough.

 I did have ideas that I would be quite productive when I got home yesterday. The first nail in the coffin for that came from my journey home from work. Instead of a 10 carriage train from Waterloo East to Catford Bridge a 5 carriage train turned up. So we were all squeezed in like sardines. This pissed me off immensely, but I did have a cunning plan which worked out exceptionally well in the end, and left me feeling quite smug (but still irritated).

 I got off the train at London Bridge, as did 3 or 4 others who were probably changing trains to somewhere else. This left just enough space for one of the two gigantic prams that two ultra optimistic mothers were trying to get on the train, but not really any space for the other pram, the two owners of the prams, and the other half dozen people who were trying to get on too.

 Meanwhile I sauntered over to platform two where after a wait of 5 minutes a Catford bound train arrived from Cannon Street with hardly anyone else on it. From standing packed in like sardines I went to getting a whole double seat for myself. Getting that "all stations" train added 10 minutes to my journey home, but it was definitely worth it !

 The other reason why I didn't end up being as productive as I thought I might was because I had found some rick pickings in the dustbins at work. Someone from one of the many other companies on the business estate had dumped a DVB-T (Freeview) set top box complete with remote control and instruction book. I fished it out and gave it a look over. All I found wrong with it was the aerial socket had been broken. That was easily fixed with some deft soldering.

 When I arrived home the first thing I did after letting Smudge in and feeding her was to swap out my ancient OnDigital set top box with the new one. It worked a treat, but of course I had to give it a thorough test by watching digital TV for a lot of the evening. I did manage to cook a few cans of soup, and I did put a load of laundry through the washing machine, but that is all I did all evening before going to bed.
Wednesday 3rd November 2010
08:07 GMT
 
 This morning the temperature now is about what it should be in the afternoon. You couldn't call it warm, but it is not war off. This afternoon it could actually be warm with temperatures around 16 C - or so the forecasters think. Unfortunately the rather sparse cloud we have right now could thicken up to give some rain later in the afternoon.

 Yesterday was relatively mild again. It also stayed dry, but there was little in the way of sunshine. During the later part of the evening there may have been a shower or two, but I was safely in the warm and dry and paid little attention to what was going on outside.

 Last night I finished my little project that has been keeping me in Earlsfield way beyong my normal going home time, and also needing me to dash over to west London on Saturday. Apart from a little more reward (possibly including some always useful duty free fags) still to come, I hope that is the last of my involvement with it. I am really looking forward to going home early tonight.

 There is stuff that I want to do when I get home that I couldn't bring myself to do when I was getting home so late in the evening. Even silly things like washing some sheets have had to wait because a full wash cycle takes around an hour, and some nights recently I have only had about an hour after getting home to getting ready for bed.

 Tonight I can do some washing up too. I have to confess that I have done no washing up for two days now, although I have also not done any significant cooking in those two days either. That is another thing I want to get back into the swing of - cooking some slightly more healthy meals than I have had for the last couple of weeks. Finally I want to make a start on the artwork for the CDs I am making for Chain. I intended to start that last Sunday, but things had been so hectic I just wanted to relax. Maybe that will be the case tonight, but I'll try and do 5 minutes if not more.
Tuesday 2nd November 2010
07:52 GMT
 
 There was a fair amount of rain overnight. It left many puddles, but seemed to have stopped before I left for work. It is still very grey outside, but if we are lucky the sky should clear later on, and we will have a rather glorious sunny afternoon. It was be exceptionally mild too - or so the weather forecasts predict. Tomorrow could even be classed as warm when the temperature could climb to as high as 17 C in central London.

 Today it is only forecast to be about 14 C, but that is apparently still 4 C higher than the average for the beginning of November. Yesterday only reached about 12 C, but even that didn't feel too bad, and we even had some sunny intervals to make life more pleasant.

 Last night I stayed here at work for an extra 90 minutes, and tonight I may do so again. One of the more annoying things about these late nights is that I am getting used to them. Prior to all this stuff I would find that my stress levels would climb to "about to be attacked by a hungry lion" levels if the clock so much as moved one minute past 4pm. Now I seem to be able to do this with ease. The downside is that staying late can lengthen my journey home from one hour to an hour and a half - all due to vagaries in the railway timetable.

 The upside is that tomorrow night, when I should be able to go home at my normal time, is going to feel like luxury. It would be even better if it were before the clocks changed so I could do the entire journey in full daylight. I haven't been keeping track of sunset recently, but I expect that at best I'll be getting home in twilight tomorrow. Of course the worst is yet to come. By the winter solstice on 22nd of December (or thereabouts) it will be fully dark long before I leave work, and still fully dark after I arrive at work. I don't know why I mentioned that because I have been trying not to think about it until reality forces it upon me.
Monday 1st November 2010
08:07 GMT
 
 Last night it was All Hallows Eve, or Halloween. I wanted to eviscerate any kid who came along saying it was trick or treat and hang their entrails over the gate to warn others. Sadly I have no gate, and no kids came along anyway. I wanted to dance naked with beautiful witches in the woods, but it was raining and too cold for that. I wanted to worship the devil, but I've lost his phone number. So I went to bed early and did some reading instead.

 Now the pagan festivities are over, the clocks are on GMT, and November has begun, I can report that November has started with a very autumnal feel to it. It is cool, the skies are grey, and there is now a distinct smell of wet leaves in the air. Maybe it will rain later, or maybe it won't. I think we are close to a weather front that could bring rain or even sunshine depending on which way it wriggles.

 On the whole, yesterday was rather mild. It seemed to take very little effort to warm the house up, and if it was not for a load of laundry scattered around upstairs drying, I may have used very little heating for much of the day. There were a few scattered showers during the day, and more persistent, but stlll light, rain during the evening.

 That rain may have kept the misguided kids who think everything in an American, Disneyfied, sanitised TV show is true, and that in this country we go round trick or treating, from going out on the rampage, but it didn't seem to stop copious amounts of fireworks being let off though. Maybe they were being let off by superstitious recent immigrants who thought that they might scare the devil away on such a night. That seems a bloody stupid idea to me. Think about it - fireworks, with suphur used as part of their formulation are your traditional fire and brimstone. That won't scare the devil away. He (and his wife) will come and join you to watch and enjoy them, and drink all your cans of "double club card points" cheap supermarket lager !

 Maybe it was something to do with the devil that made me a get a phone call that depressed me a little. It was more news about the project I was working on last week (including, at the last moment, Saturday afternoon). There are still problems that need sorting out, and it looks as if I will need to do an extra late night or two to (hopefully) sort it out. At least now I have a good idea of how it is supposed to work, and I think I have a good idea of what might be possibly wrong. If my guess is right it may only take an hour to fix things. If my guess is wrong then I am up a well known creek without a paddle !