|My Diary/Blog For the Month of February 2011
The sunshine did not last long yesterday. By 11am most of the sky had clouded over, and it rained for most of the afternoon, and then overnight. This morning it is both cold and wet. I would hazard a guess that the temperature is down to less than 5° C, and some say it will only rise to a degree or two above that by the end of the day. So far the rain I have experienced has been no more than very light misty drizzle, but the puddles suggest that it has been a lot heavier, and it could be so again before the day is out.
Various authorities disagree about what should be the official date, but one line of thought has it that the first day of spring is tomorrow (link). That is three weeks before the vernal equinox, the date that the length of the day equals the length of the night, and was previously when spring was said to start. The argument goes that if spring starts on the night of the 20th March, then it should finish on the 21st June, and the weather in the first three weeks of June is most often more like summer than spring. Personally I have always thought it very strange that mid summers day is the same day as the start of summer, and is nowhere near the middle of the warmest, sunniest, season of the year. Anyway, the good thing is, that tomorrow we can, if we want to, officially kiss winter goodbye even if the weather is still bloody horrible !
This morning I feel pretty lousy, but in comparison to most of the weekend it is a very luxurious lousy. My attempts to pacify what I thought was an ulcer by drinking full fat milk, and eating rice pudding and chicken soup had no apparent effect. In fact by early evening, when I attempted to go to bed, the pain from my stomach seemed even worse. Not only that, but having spent so much time lying on my bed I found my back, and neck, was becoming more and more uncomfortable too. Against all wisdom I tried some more scotch. It had been of benefit on Saturday night, but not last night. Reluctantly I then tried a couple of tablets of paracetamol. Surprisngly that worked, and at least on the stomach ache, it worked really well.
There is a good possibility that if my back was not so painful I could have got a good nights sleep last night. It was definitely the predominant pain after the paracetamol had cured 90% of the stomach pain. Unfortunately I only seemed to sleep in one hour segments like I did on Saturday night. So this morning I feel rather fatigued, and would love to be able to just go to bed and sleep solidly for the next eight hours. My stomach is still a tiny bit tender, but comparatively speaking it is of no significance. Since coming to work my back has eased up a treat, but my neck is still a little stiff. I currently have a headache that seems to be getting better now, but is probably attributable to high blood pressure, and the high blood pressure is probably attributable to all the stress of the painful weekend, and maybe due to high blood sugar level after the food I was eating yesterday. I feel strongly that I am on the mend, but there is a little way to go yet.
Friday was not as bad as I feared it would be. It was several degrees cooler than the day before, but it was not as grey as it might have been, and on two occasions the sun did come out for a few minutes. Most of yesterday was just wet and miserable, but towards sunset the clouds started to break up, and although it was far from spectacular, there was a bit of a red sunset visible last night. This morning we probably came close to a frost (we may actually have had one, but I wasn't awake early enough to check). The reason for the chill was the sky becoming totally clear overnight. Right now the sky is near enough 100% blue, and the sun is shining. If it stays like this, and I have no idea if it will, we could have another warm spring-like day similar to last Thursday.
Watching Chain play on Thursday night was very enjoyable, but the Friday night gig was fantastic. They played The British Queen pub in Locksbottom, Kent. The last time I saw them play there was on Xmas eve. That was not a good night. I felt ill, and even though it was a ticket only event it was grossly overcrowded. So I had some slight misgivings about Friday night, but it turned out I had nothing to worry about. The pub was busy, but with care it was relatively easy to move about in there.
The British Queen is actually quite a friendly pub, and I got into conversation with several people (one was a bit of a loony, but I guess it takes all sorts). At the gig there before the Xmas eve one I was complimented on my t-shirt. On Friday night I was complimented about my glasses. It seems odd that an old pair of glasses, originally made in 1969 when I was a schoolboy, should be a high fashion item now.
Once again there were no surprises in Chain's set list, but they played all thier standards well. Guy was back as the drummer, and he is still a bit unsure about a few things, but getting better. As usual he had to take a few cues from either Steve or Chris. He could also have taken a few cues from Bob, Chain's retired drummer, who was in the audience, and miming a lot of the drumming.
Some people were enjoying themselves so much that they continued to dance outside in the pub beer garden.
I don't know the names of these two ladies, but they were quite happy to have their picture taken, and patient enough for me to retake the picture after I partially obscured the flash with my finger the first time.
It is more than likely that my enjoyment of the evening was enhanced by booze. After a couple of pints I went onto plain scotch and ice - something that may well have caused me some trouble later on. At the end of the evening I was feeling nice and happy drunk, but with no loss of coordination.
Things were so good that I ended up getting the last bus home at one minute past midnight. It's a shame that buses don't have toilets - hence my reason for abandoning pints in favour of spirits. That ploy worked well, and I suffered no discomfort for the eternal 40 minute bus ride back to Catford. The journey was made less tedious by having Iain, who had also been at the gig, along for company.
It was about 20 to 1am when we arrived back in Catford, and I was feeling very hungry. Most places were closed, but the Chick-Chicken shop was still just about open, and they still had some grilled chicken wings left. In fact they had too many left and I was treated to more than I ordered just to use them up. I left about half of them for a snack later in the day
I left Iain to get his night bus back to Rotherhithe while I hurried home to eat my chicken. Those grilled wings were very spicy, and combined with the neat spirits I was drinking earlier, seemed to aggravate a condition that had started in a more mild and intermittent way a few days earlier. I think I may have developed a stomach ulcer. I did not feel too bad when I finally got into bed at nearly 2am, and I was soon fast asleep, but an hour or two later I woke up with a bad pain in my gut. It made sleeping quite difficult, and I don't think I managed more than 5 hours sleep all night.
Yesterday the pain lifted for a short while in the morning, but came back after I ate the leftover grilled wings. It was then that I realised the significance of the pain, and how it is very likely to be a stomach ulcer. Through the day, which wasn't made any better for being dull and wet, I battled both fatigue and pain to edit all the pictures I had taken on Thursday and Friday nights. I completed that, although I wasn't feeling quite so creative as usual, but I didn't feel like writing much or I would have written something yesterday.
My new camera does have some limitations that I am still discovering, but on the whole it does seem to perform well under gig conditions. Almost every picture I took on Friday night came out usable as it was, but I improved many of them with a bit of editing. I showed a picture of Jo on Friday's blog, now here's a good one of Chris.
(the full resolution picture, without the slightly ragged edges, can be seen by clicking on the image).
After eating the left over grilled chicken wings for lunch yesterday, I decided that I had better leave off the spicy food and booze for a while. For dinner I had ice cream and a low fat peanut butter sandwich. That didn't seem to make the pain any better, but at least it didn't make it worse. At 8pm I decided I just had to try and go to sleep. I did manage to fall asleep for a bit, but the pain in my gut soon woke me up again. After trying some antacid tablets with little effect, and the time getting on for midnight, I decided the only thing possible was to try booze. That did work, and although I slept quite badly, with lots of dreaming, I did at least get 6 or 7 hours sleep.
This morning I didn't feel too bad, and as I write this the pain is more like a rumbling hungry sort of pain. Some of it is probably hunger because I didn't eat all that much yesterday (although the ice cream probably had several million calories in it). Not eating yet may be a bad idea if my stomach is making lots of acid in preparation for food, but I want to hold back until after I have been to Aldi to get some shopping. High on my shopping list is going to be rice pudding and chicken soup. In theory both should be fairly harmless to an ulcer (if indeed that is what it is). Later today I should try and get out for a walk in the sunshine. I doubt I'll go too far because I still feel rather fatigued, but the sunshine will probably revive me, and anything could happen.
It took a little while to get there, but yesterday was wonderful. The clouds dispersed, the sun came out, and it felt really spring like. Just before 2pm I went out for a walk in the park with no coat on, and my sleeves rolled up. It was possibly only 12 - 13° C by then, but the warm sun on my face and arms felt wonderful. At sunset I feel sure that the temperature did finally hit 14° C as the weather forecasters predicted.
Today has started out not too cold, but it is not expected to warm up that much. The top temperature today may only be 11° C. That's not that bad, but it is also predicted to be rather cloudy and dull today. Tomorrow could be cooler still, and it will almost certainly rain. We still have some time to wait before rejoicing that spring is here !
My lunchtime walk in that warm sunshine set me up for feeling really good for the rest of the day. I would have liked to top that off with a walk to Wandsworth Common station after leaving work yesterday, but I was in a rush to get home and get cleaned up ready to see Chain play in The Catford Ram.
As well as enjoying some fine music, I also had the chance to do some testing last night. It was the first time I have been able to test my new camera out in a pub setting, and I think I am rather pleased with it. The flash is not as powerful as I thought it might be, and many of the pictures came out a bit dark, but a few tweaks using The Gimp image editor revealed nice smooth backgrounds with little of the noise that spoiled brightened pictures from my Samsung camera.
My other bit of testing was testing one of my new pairs of trousers. The pair I wore last night were not exactly what I wanted when I placed the order. I wanted a pair of black jeans, but the particular pair I wanted were out of stock, and I obviously didn't study the suggested alternative too closely. It seems that what I ordered were definitely black, but were cords rather than denim. More significantly they were stretch jeans. I had never tried stretch jeans before, but I think I may be getting them in the future. They seem wonderfully comfortable, and I can only liken the feel to a very well worn pair of jeans. I liked them so much that I am wearing them for work today (although ultimately I think I like them too much to use them for work again).
This morning I feel really rather good. The small dose of vitamin D from yesterday's sunshine may, or may not have done anything, but a reasonable nights sleep, and another evening of not eating much probably made a good contribution. The proof of how little I ate yesterday is in how hungry I feel this morning - although maybe not as hungry as this lot......
These pigeons were having a feeding frenzy around the remains of a small loaf of bread (I think). I took the picture just down the road from work on my way into work this morning. It is a shame that the morning was not a bit brighter. With a bit of sunshine the camera would/should have reduced the shutter speed enough to remove a lot of the blur from the bird that is just landing.
Tonight I am seeing Chain again. Tonights gig starts and finishes a lot later than than last nights. It is going to be a bit of a challenge to keep my energy levels up until 7pm when I am leaving for The British Queen pub in Locksbottom. By 7pm on most nights after work I am turning the TV off and preparing to spend an hour or two doing other stuff (usually on line) before getting into bed. I seemed to have trained my body to go into deep relaxation mood by 7pm, but tonight I have to stay alert until I leave the house. After that I will be fine for the rest of the evening.
With a bit more effort yesterday could have ended up fine. The morning was wet and dreary, but instead of getting worse, as the weather forecast suggested, it started to brighten up later in the afternoon. By 3 or 4pm it seemed quite bright by comparison with the morning, and there was a hint that it was beginning to warm up. The sun didn't manage to break through before sunset, and although the temperature had risen it still felt little better than cold.
Today, in a burst of unbridled optimism, I think the forecast may be correct. There should be a lot of sunshine, and by late afternoon the temperature could rise to 14° C. The only fly in the ointment is that there appears to be more cloud now than there was half an hour ago. I don't think that goes against the grain of the forecast, but it does dent my optimism a bit for now. One thing is for sure, it is less cold than it was yesterday morning. I wore my lightweight jacket to work, and I was no colder than yesterday (but it still feels rather chilly).
Today could be a good day for more reasons than sunshine and (almost) warmth. Several good things have happened, and there will be good things happening tonight as well. For the first time in too long I ate well last night. My dinner was virtually fat free, low calorie, fish and vegetable stew. It was very low in carbohydrate, and in fact I hardly had any carbohydrates all day. That stew also had one other beneficial effect. As well as the fish and vegetables (which were mostly mange tout), the stew had around a pint of "gravy" in it. I drank (from a spoon) all that hot gravy, and it acted like a laxative (this has happened many times before). Within an hour I had the most explosive clear out, and funnily enough the mild stomach pain I was experiencing yesterday mysteriously vanished.
After that lot I feel almost good this morning. If only it was a bit warmer so my lungs didn't complain as much I could say I felt really good. The affect on my waistline would be hardly detectable by the finest scientific instruments, but I feel thinner (but actually less bloated). That brings me on neatly to another positive, but also negative thing.
I have recounted the saga of my pillar box red trousers that I bought but can't get into before, but now there is another update to the saga. To recap, when I first tried those trousers on I couldn't do them up. The waist was a quarter to a half of an inch too small to button them up even with the aid of crowbars. One or more people suggested a cool wash with fabric softener might help. It would have helped if they were too loose, but now the top button, and it's corresponding buttonhole are sveral inches apart no matter how much I breathe in !
The latest part of this saga is just proof that it is the trousers that are wrong and not me. Yesterday I receieved two brand new pairs of jeans (neither red, unfortunately). When I got home I tried them on. They fitted first time with no fuss, no struggle. The one single thing wrong with them is that they don't have deep pockets so I can't carry some of the normal crap with me. The most significant thing about them is they offer proof that the specifications for my body have not changed, and I know what they are - unlike the buggers who made my unwearable pillar box red trousers !
The final reason to feel good today is that Chain are playing in The Catford Ram tonight - and as usual for there, it is a nice early gig starting sometime soon after 5.30pm. It is always enjoyable to see Chain play, but even nicer when it is practically on my doorstep, and I can still get to bed at a reasonable time after the gig. Also, I can finally get to try my new camera for one of the main reasons that I bought it for.
Yesterday was not good, but then again, compared to today it wasn't bad. It was merely rather cool, and rather grey, but today it is even more grey, and it is raining. So far the rain is not all that heavy, but the forecasters have threatened us with heavier rain this afternoon, and it could potentially be teeming with rain by the time I leave work to go home. The only redeeming factor is that today sees the temperature start to rise as the warm, but very moist, air blows in from across the Atlantic Ocean. Today could hit 11° C, and tomorrow, when it may be brighter and drier, could see as much as 14° C in inner London. I still haven't put a figure on where warm starts, but I feel sure that 14° C will probably be above it.
I am still feeling odd things that suggest a brush with the common cold. My chest and cough seem to have improved, and my nose feels less likely to start to pour, but I do seem to have a mildly sore throat. I am not sure exactly how to describe it because it isn't so much painful as a hint of tenderness. More significant than that was a feeling from my gut. It felt like hunger pains to me, but I had sufficient to eat last night that I should not be feeling too hungry this morning. This is one of the problems in my life. I cannot accurately diagnose any mild to moderate gut pain, and since the dawn of memory I have alsways assumed I want something to eat. There have been occasions when I have had a suspicion that I have been suffering from an ulcer, but I still just piled some food on top of it. If on those occasions, and the last was months ago, it was an ulcer, then my cure seemed to do no harm, and may have done some good.
Overall, I am fit enough to come to work, and probably better off for doing so. However, it would have been nice to have had some sort of lie in this morning. I was in bed early enough last night, but it took a good few hours before I could get to sleep properly. It felt very uncomfortable in bed. It was either too hot, or too cold, and I couldn't seem to find a comfortable position. The more I tossed and turned the worse it became. It is possible that I finally fell asleep out of pure exhaustion.
I estimate I am owed two hours sleep after last night, and in theory I ought to try and make it all up tonight. That is unlikely to happen, and there is practically no chance of it happening tomorrow night either. Tomorrow night I am in The Ram watching Chain play, and on Friday night they are playing in The British Queen in Locksbottom, and that will be an even later night for me. Maybe I should stay in bed the whole of Saturday !
Yesterday was another day when the weather can be summed up just by saying it was dull and very cool. There were one or two times in the morning when it started to get brighter, but before any hint of sunshine the clouds closed in again, and greyness prevailed.
Today could be worse ! It is even more grey, and there have already been some showers. Fortunately the last shower seemed to have finished a little while before I started out to come to work, but it left many puddles as evidence. More rain is very likely today, and some of it could be heavy. Meanwhile the temperature is only going to hover around 5 or 6 degrees. It won't be until Thursday when things will improve - according to the recent weather forecasts.
I feel better, worse and indifferent compared to yesterday. I didn't feel the urge to rush around as I made my way to work this morning. In consequence I didn't arrive at the station almost puffing and panting like I did yesterday morning. I was a little less sedate at Waterloo, but even there I did not push myself as hard as I did yesterday. One reason for taking things a little easier is that I think I may have a cold coming on. I do feel a little more chesty than usual this morning, and I am coughing just a bit more than is typical for my smokers cough. Of course it could be lung cancer, but I don't think that gives you a mildly runny nose.
I will do my best to fight off this possible cold, and I am going to be hale and hearty for Thursday night. The alleged sunshine, and 13 degree temperature on Thursday will be a great healer to put the finishing touches to the progress I intend to make today and tomorrow. The reason why I will be feeling great by Thursday is that Chain are playing in The Catford Ram, and I fully intend to enjoy myself with booze and great music. Not only that, but I don't want anything to interfere with the chance to test my new camera in the situation that originally inspired me to buy it. It has proved to be wonderful for wildlife, but I want to take some great pictures of the band playing in the pub.
One of the reasons why I wanted to reduce my carbohydrate intake yesterday was so I would be feeling particularly fit for Thursday night. The only problem is that it didn't happen like that. I went shopping after work, and I intended to buy only healthy stuff, and to avoid temptatation. I was actually doing really well until I spotted some sandwiches on the reduced price shelf. They were on sale for just 25p each instead of £1 each. That was a bargain I couldn't resist, and I bought an assortment for my dinner last night. In terms of calories, a rough, back of the envelope type calculation, suggests that I got through the whole day consuming less than the medically recommended 2500 for a working man (of average weight). My estimate, at it's most optimistic, put my consumption at a fraction under 2000 calories. This means that in theory I have been on a diet, but I would still have preferred to have eaten less carbohydrates. Tonight I may achieve that if I only have the mixed fish, cabbage, and leek "stew" that Iintend to eat in large portions.
The weather was far from inviting yesterday. Most of time it was dry, but that was about the only positive aspect of it. It was dull, grey, miserable and cold. Today has started in a similar, but not identical way. There was a light mist when I set out for the station, but that seems to have lifted. Upon arrival at Earlsfield I noticed some cracks showing blue in the misty grey sky. They seem to have filled in again during that last 20 minutes, but I have high hopes that before the forecast rain starts this afternoon we will get a little sunshine to brighten the day up.
The long range weather forecast I saw on TV last night had some good and bad news. The bad is that we are in for a couple of days of cold rainy weather, the good is that the second half of the week may see things improve. By the end of the week we may have slightly above seasonal average temperatures of 13° C. It seems odd to me that I have no idea as to what the boundary is where cold turns to mild. I must try and pay attention when it happens next, and make a mental note of it. I do have a feeling that 13° C crosses that boundary. The next boundary is from mild to warm, and I am very much looking forward to when I can try and remember a figure for that.
If I were really diligent by next winter I could publish a list of my official designations of temperature, and what temperature ranges they encompass. Just like the Inuit are suposed to have 27 million (!) names for different types of snow, I think we should have some sort of names for the different temperature ranges in England. There must be better names than bloody, bloody, freezing cold for the depths of winter, and argh my eyeballs are frying for the hottest summer days. At this point in time I believe the temperature is around 5° C, and I think few would argue if I called that cold !
I had another lazy Sunday watching video and eating. The video was a humourous sci fi series from America called Warehouse 13. I've watched five episodes now and it is better than I imagined it could be because unlike, for instance, The X Files, it does not take itself too seriously, and does not seem to contain any particular message.
The eating I did yesterday was complicated. I had in the fridge some steaks that I had bought from Tesco a couple of days back. They were on the reduced price shelves, and were looking nice and brown instead of the bright pink they we are presumed to like. I am not a great fan of steak but at half price, or less, they seemed too good a bargain to miss out on. The complicated thing was trying to amuse my taste buds during the day so I could wait until very early evening before having a full dinner. It may not have been the best idea to do this because it involved on rather more snacking that I would care to admit to.
Just after 5pm I could wait no more and started to cook the steaks. My initial thoughts were that I would also fry some onions and tomatoes as part of the meal. In the end I changed my mind and just fried the steaks in a dry frying pan. I served them with potato salad. As usual the smell of them frying was wonderful beyond compare, but also as usual the taste was less than scintillating. Some parts of them were nicer than other parts, but overall I think fried chicken would have been nicer still.
This morning started out predictably enough. After a weekend of little activity, and the air being cold and damp, it took some time to get the creases out of my body, and even longer to warm up. I am now feeling very average, but earlier I felt sort of bad. On the other hand, I also felt like I wanted to be very energetic. I arrived at the station almost puffing and panting because I couldn't seem to slow my legs down. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest, and yet I couldn't stop myself almost running up the stairs of the footbridge. One of these days my heart will probably explode doing that, but today it held together somehow.
I doubt I will be doing any exercise tonight. If it were sunny I might consider pushing myself to walk to Wandsworth Common station, but the chances are it will be raining. One thing I am going to try and do to take the stress off my morning commute is to try and keep off the carbohydrates tonight, and substitute more vegetables instead. I'll have to take a chance that the extra fibre doesn't make my morning commute uncomfortable in other ways !
As forecast, yesterday morning was very wet. The rain was not particularly heavy, but it was quite persistent until almost midday. I wasn't paying too much attention to the outside world, but I don't think there was any more rain after that. Even after the rain stopped the sky remained very dull, and it was easier on the eye to avoid looking outside !
I missed a lot of this morning, but I am sure there was no rain. There are no puddles to be seen outside, and the pavements look dry, but it still looks just as dull outside as it did yesterday. Some of the dullness is mist. It looks clear nearby, but you don't have to lift your gaze very high to see the thin grey mist softening the outlines of distant tree tops. I think this could be another day where I will pay more attention to indoors rather than what is happening outdoors.
Another source of gloom is to do with my trousers. Not just any trousers, but the bright pillar box red trousers that I have been hoping to shock the world with. Yesterday morning I tried on a fresh pair of black trousers. It was a struggle to do them up, and it was blatantly obvious that they would be too uncomfortable to wear for long. Before thinking negative thoughts about my waist size I took a look at the label. Those trousers are two inches smaller than my usual size, and the fact that I could do them up turned into good news !
My bright pillar box red trousers were only less than an inch away from being able to be buttoned up. So I reasoned that if I could do up trousers that were two inches smaller than my current size, then maybe my feeble intermittent attempts at dieting had made enough difference to get into those red trousers. That theory was based on my experience prior to washing the red trousers. I had some serious doubts about it, but several people said that washing those trousers in a cool wash with fabric conditioner would make them more manageable. I was right, they were wrong ! I now need to lose about four inches around my waist before I could wear those trousers comfortably. By the end of summer I might even manage that if my fantasy plans come to fruition. In fact if my wildest dreams were to come true it could even be more than that.
Friday lunchtime was not that bright, but as usual I went for a quick walk to the park behind work, and I had my new camera with me.
I've been doing my homework this time, and I can say with some certainty that these are a pair of coots swimming in the River Wandle.
This picture of a robin on some old barbed wire high up on one of the old factory buildings brings some odd feelings. Is it an expression of freedom, or repression ?
After the misty start it did brighten up for a while around midday yesterday. There were even a few sunny spells. Later on in the afternoon it became slightly misty again, but it was really only noticeable as a slight haze. As the first mist lifted the temperature rose several degrees, but only just enough to take the chill off the air. It would be stretching the definition of warm to say that it got warm, but it was comfortable enough with my unzipped up jacket on.
Today there was no mist, but otherwise the day was very similar to Yesterday. The temperature is going to drop quite a lot tonight. Not enough for a frost, but the morning is set to be very chilly, and worse than that, it is also likely to be quite wet at least until the afternoon.
One significant thing happened yesterday. I got an email from Virgin Media that I initially was going to dismiss as just spam, but it did contain some interesting information. I had been offered a free broadband upgrade. It wasn't more download speed, but unusually it was more upload speed. Upload speed is quite crucial for my web server. The more upload speed the faster these web pages download. All I had to do, it said, to accept this free upgrade was to reboot my cable modem by turning the power off and switching it back on.
This morning, before going to work, I did just that, and lost all internet connectivity for much of the day ! There are a few technical reasons to do with my firewall that may have caused this, but in the short time I had available before I had to go to work I tried several things my end without restoring the connection. I think it may have been a problem at Virgin's end. It was annoying to be off the air all day, but when I came home I rebooted my firewall, and this time the connection came up as I had expected it to do in the morning. A broadband speed test reveals a curious thing. My upload speed is more or less the same as my download speed. In fact in one test it came out higher.
I suspect that the truly ancient PC I am using as a firewall may now have met it's match, and is now the bottleneck to my connection speed. This could be my cue to set up it's replacement. I built a replacement as much as a year ago, but never actually got around to using it. Before I can use it I will have to install the latest software, and that will be a task for some rainy day (but I doubt it will be tomorrow).
Last night I was hoping that I would have a quick drink with Kevin and Iain on my way between the station and Tesco after work. Kevin was still getting over the common cold (a simple illness at last !) and didn't turn up. Iain did, but because he has to travel quite a few miles from home to get to The Ram, I thought it might be more polite to stay a little longer than I intended. With three pints inside me, and it being a fair bit later than I intended, I decided not to get any shopping last night. At least no shopping from Tesco, but I did call into the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop for an unusually small order of fried chicken and nothing else. So last night I did manage to eat a tiny bit frugally.
Tonight was a bit different because I did do my shopping in Tesco. Even though I was stone cold sober I managed to buy all sorts of naughty stuff, and I will confess I have had a bit of a feast tonight. I'll probably pay for it in the morning, but at least I will do so in the knowledge that it could have been worse. Maybe it was because I knew that I had other (very naughty) treats available that I managed to leave a good portion of food in the oven ready to be reheated tomorrow for dinner.
Until late this morning I was not sure what I would be doing tomorrow, but a text message from Aleemah said that the thing she was doing has been cancelled, and she can see me tomorrow. I was looking forward to a long(ish) lay in, but now I'll have to get up a bit early to do some housework and stuff to make the place look presentable for her visit. As usual I probably won't have the time to spare to write anything here, but with this being done so late in the day there would be nothing to write about anyway.
Yesterday turned out quite nice. It could have done with being a bit warmer, but there was plenty of sunshine from late morning until late afternoon. Even then it stayed dry and bright, although the western horizon, where the sun was setting, had become quite cloudy. During my lunch break there was hardly any cloud at all as this picture of I crow I took demonstrates.
There is a good chance that today may be sunny again, and I have a feeling it might be a tiny bit warmer too. The main feature of this mornings weather is a light mist.
I took the picture on the left from platform 6 at London Bridge station this morning at about 6.55 am. It is The Shard disappearing into the mist. The very top is totally obscured, and lower down all lamps have haloes around them.
The mist was quite thin in Catford, some 25 minutes before I took this picture. On the ground visibility was hardly impaired, but all the car headlights had sharply defined beams, and all the streetlights had haloes around them.
I am making the possibly false assumption that the mist is a result of warmer air meeting the cold night air. It did seem to be very cold last night, but it didn't really feel terribly cold as I came to work. I have high hopes that that it will warm up a little today, and forecasts range from about 9° C (BBC, last night) to 11° C (Metro newspaper this morning). Maybe I am being too optimistic, but I am choosing to believe the Metro newspaper !
Last night I had some very healthy ingredients in my dinner. There was wholemeal pasta, white fish, spinach, sugar snap peas, garlic, and olive oil. I am not 100% convinced that wholemeal pasta is that healthy because it contains a lot of carbohydrates, but who am I to disagree with the self styled experts ?
While that lot may have been classified as a healthy meal in small portions, sprinkling a load of grated mature cheddar cheese over it sunk any claim to it being healthy. To further compound this failure is that I had two very big portions of it !
Oddly enough, after abusing my food intake like that, I do feel rather good this morning, but it is a select version of rather good. Nothing hurts except my feet (I'll explain that in a minute) but my body seems a bit unsychronised. For instance, my legs seem to feel I have far more energy than the top half of my body. This is, of course, a legacy of smoking, but as my legs wanted to walk faster and faster I found myself almost puffing and panting to keep up with them. Maybe I should have just let them get on with it, and caught up with them later :-)
My feet are not exactly sore, but sort of uncomfortable. It started yesterday, and continues today. All through the winter, with a few rare exceptions, I have been wearing my old hiking boots to work. Until recently they were very comfortable, but I think I have to admit to myself, that at 2 years old now, they are getting close to retirement. So yesterday, and today I have been wearing trainers. The pair I wore yesterday were not so much uncomfortable as just strange feeling. My feet, probably everybodies feet, get easily accustomed to the feel of a shoe, and all it's dips and bumps after prolonged use. Changing to new shoes can come as a bit of a shock sometimes.
So it was yesterday. It felt as if there was a ruck in my sock just behind the toes. There wasn't, but what there was, was an absense of the dip in the sole that my hiking boots aquired after miles of walking in them. One curious observation I made is that this mild discomfort never gets and worse as the day progresses, and yet never really gets better (in such a short time frame). This morning I am wearing a similar, but not identical, pair of trainers, and they feel almost the same, but not exactly. I think my feet are starting to adapt again.
Tonight I have the chance of eating a completely unhealthy meal. I need to do a little shopping on my way home from work, but I am going to pop into the pub first. It takes very little imagination to see that I could end up buying something terrible (and probably will). I wonder if I will ever get in my new special trousers ?
I guess the weather yesterday was not that bad. After the dull start it did brighten up, and there was even some sunshine. After the chilly start to the day the temperature did rise a bit, but even the sunshine couldn't completely get the chill out of the air. In the afternoon there was one very brief, and very light shower, but the rest of the rain waited until after dark to fall.
This morning seems a little less chilly than yesterday morning, and it is possible that by the afternoon it could start to approach the very lowest limits of warm (about 11° C). It seemed like the sky was very cloudy as I set out to come to work, but maybe the birds knew better. They did seem to be singing with increased vigour, and once the sun came up it was obvious that the cloud was actually very broken with a lot of blue sky visible between the clouds. The sky is turning misty now as the rising sun pumps a little warmth into the air. I think that will clear soon, and I am looking forward to some nice sunshine by midday.
Yesterday was one of those days that was very unremarkable. It wasn't quite boring, but nothing really happened. The only thing of note was that I almost managed to cook a fairly healthy meal last night. It was skinless chicken breasts cooked with cabbage and leek in a tomato and garlic gravy. Having eaten this low in fat, high in vegetable meal, I then went on to ruin things by eating a large bag of crisps a bit later in the evening. Nevertheless, I think I feel slightly less stodgy than yesterday, but I don't think I would go as far as saying I feel good this morning, although I have nothing specific to moan about.
What will make me feel good is when we finally have some warm, or even tepid, weather, and I can finally get out for a long walk. Ideally I want it warm enough that I don't have to wear a coat, and if I were to get carried away enough, warm enough for shorts ! Yeah, I guess I can't wait for summer to arrive. I have been getting emails from a friend in the southern hemisphere, where it is summer, and she keeps mentioning the hot sun. I am green with envy !!!!!
On the whole, the weather was not that bad yesterday. The sun was shining for most of the morning, and there were sunny spells in the afternoon. At approximately 3pm there was a very brief, very light shower, but after that it stayed dry until well after I had got home. If it had only been a few degrees warmer I might have described yesterday as pleasant, but the temperature never really got higher than a fairly cool 9° C.
Today has started off rather dull, and a bit chilly too. The forecast suggested that we might have a day similar to yesterday, but there is no sign of that yet. Although I didn't encounter any rain as I made my way to work, there was ample evidence that there had been some showers in some places. We are still in the middle of the two weather systems, warmer wet air to the west, and colder drier air to the east. This is an outside chance that these will finally clash at the end of the week, and if that happens there is then a chance that it might snow !
The balance of my Valentines day account was about average this year (i.e. zero). So with no romantic dinners/booze ups/animal passion in the offing I resorted to doing more rewarding stuff. This is mainly a lie because the mini project I did last night was actually a continuation of some stuff I had started earlier, and the core of it took place while I was at work yesterday. I have been carrying out further expeiments with Bluetooth.
This all started when I fished a brand new bluetooth headset of the skip here at work. The box had been opened, but all the contents were still intact right down to the sealed bag of earpiece gels, and the wraps around the mains lead of the charger. My guess is that it had been left for such a long time that the lithium ion battery had discharged to the point where it would no onger accept a charge. For those who don't know it is a terminal condition, but for those in the know, like myself, it is a conition that is easily remedied. What actually happens is that the charging circuit for the battery is powered by the battery itself. So when it discharges too low it loses contact with the outside world. Opening the device up, and carefully applying power directly to the lithium ion cells usually restores things back to normal, and it worked for me this time.
With the headset fully charged I tried pairing it with my mobile phone, and that worked perfectly OK. My next experiment was to plug in a Bluetooth dongle on my bedroom PC, and see if I could connect to that. That PC runs Ubuntu Linux, and it just worked. It saw the dongle and offered to search for devices to connect to. It found the headset, paired with it, and with a single click on the sound options I had music coming out of the headset. No fuss, no bother. That all happened several days ago. Yesterday was a bit different.
It seems I have five Bluetooth dongles, although I thought I only had four. One is permanently here at work, and since getting my new mobile phone that has a sensible USB connector, it is mostly redundant except when some of my workmates occasionally borrow it to use on their PC to connect to their mobile phones. Out of the four dongles I have at home I knew that two of them were definitely wonky, and probably faulty. So I brought them into work to examine them under the microscope here. Each had several soldered connections that did not look that good, and using the microscope I was able to resolder them to my satisfaction. I now wish I had just thrown them away.
Having done the resoldering I thought I would try them out on my work PC that runs Windows XP. What a nightmare that was ! I plugged in the dongle and Windows noticed it. It then asked me nicely if it could go online to search for drivers. I said yes and off it went to eventually find nothing at all. So I did a Google search and found the right drivers. Unfortunately the drivers need to be exracted from some sort of archive file(s) by an installation program. Upon running the installation program Windows repeatedly warned me that the drivers had not been blessed by Pope Microsoft, and was I really, really, really, really sure I wanted to install them. Having repeatedly said yes, yes, yes, bloody YES, the next insult appeared on the screen - "you need to restart your computer now".
Having gone through all that palava I found that both dongles appeared to be working, and could pair with the headset, but could not connect to the headset. Later on, after I got home, I tested the dongles out on my Linux PC. They were detected with no fuss, no new drivers required, and just ready to use. (By the way, I wasn't using them both at the same time even though it might sound like that). Once again though, I could pair with the headset, but not connect to it. To confirm my suspicions that these pair of Bluetooth dongles were a bit weird, I tried the fourth and final one that I had not realised I even had until last night, and which was different to all the others I own - plugged in, ready to use, no fuss no bother ! I paired with the headset, selected it as the sound output device, and instally got music through it.
I believe that the identical pair of dongles I have were bought together at some bargain price (probably to pad an order to to get free postage or something). Maybe they were not such a bargain. I have a suspicion that they only support an early version of the Bluetooth protocol, and are not compatible with newer Bluetooth equipment. When I feel like banging my head against the wall sometime, I will retest them against some other equipment. I have a vague memory that I managed to pass files back and forth between PC and my old mobile phone using one of those dongles. If I still can then I guess they are useful, and not worth throwing away.
It was well gone midday before the sun finally came out on Saturday, and yesterday the sun didn't come out at all, or if it did it was too brief to register with me ! For most of yesterday afternoon it rained, and during the first part of the evening the rain seemed to change from drizzle to heavier rain.
It's all change this morning with a mostly clear sky, and the sun is shining again. I am told that we are currently sitting in the middle of cold dry air to the east, and warm wet air to the west. When they meet a lot of rain may fall, and that could be tomorrow. For the moment, and maybe for much of the day, it is the cold dry air that is nearer to us. It is a bit chilly outside, and is unlikely to get that warm, but if the sky stays clear, and the sun beats down for most of the day, it could end up pleasant when the time comes for me to leave work, and go home.
It is tempting to say that the whole weekend was a lazy time for me, but I did have a few busy times. On Saturday I did the unthinkable - I hoovered the stairs (as well as the living room, hallway, etc). It must be a sign that spring is in the air (or a sign that even I could no longer bear to look at the state of my stairs !).
Yesterday involved far less physical effort - which was a shame considering the amount of food I consumed. One thing I did do required a lot of artistic effort - particularly when you have very little of it to begin with. A professional could have knocked this out in his tea break.....
.......it took me all afternoon !
I "filmed" this back on Saturday 27th November last year when Chain were playing outside in the freezing cold weather as part of the "turning on of the Xmas lights" celebration in Petts Wood. My feet and fingers soon went numb as I tried to use my camera, and I have no idea how the band managed to play their instruments with such cold fingers. I think the real answer is that they did have difficulties with a few little mistakes here and there.
I hadn't set out to edit this video together, but I did have it in mind to review some of the footage I had shot of the band, and see if I had anything I could be creative with, maybe at another time. For me, it is not that easy to convert flat footage of the band playing into something a bit more exciting, but as I play more and more I think I am managing to pull a few ideas together and experiment with them. It is a two way process. While I struggle with the editing I get new ideas about what sort of footage I need (or should have taken), and while filming I am more aware of the sort of shots I should take to make my editing easier. The triumph of this video is that I was far more aware of getting my timing right (where I could), and I paid far more attention to make sure there were no editing artifacts left (things like brief flashes when the end of one bit doesn't match up with the next).
I am surprised that I feel quite reasonable today. I slept well, and that always makes for a better day, but I also ate far too much of all sorts of stuff that I should not have eaten. Normally that would leave me feeling very sluggish. I did feel a little fatigued by the time I arrived at work, but I was carrying two bags of apples, and a bag of oranges all the way from Catford, and then at Earlsfield I bout two half litre bottles of Diet Coke. My back pack, with other crap stuff in it too, seemed remarkably heavy by the time I arrived in work.
I was quite surprised that there was some sunshine yesterday. It only lasted for a second or two, but it was still sunshine. The rest of the day was dull and overcast, but it was also mainly dry, and just mild enough for me to venture outside for a fag break in just my shirtsleeves.
By all accounts, today should be bright and dry with a many sunny intervals. Looking out the window reveals a different story. It is all wet and soggy outside as more light drizzle falls. When I opened the back door to let Smudge out, the air outside didn't feel that cold, but with the drizzle it wasn't that long before a slightly damp pussy cat was back indoors again ! Maybe the clouds will clear later, and the sun will shine through, but it doesn't feel like that will happen any time soon.
In theory I was going out today, but that depended on two things. The first, and more significant thing, was the weather. It is not very appealing now, and that makes it seem unlikely that I will go out. The second thing was that I was going to be quite careful with what I ate last night to give me the best chance of feeling good for a long walk - I didn't ! I ate all sorts of old crap last night, and I am not too sure how I feel yet.
My intended destination today was Broadstairs, and then to walk the (very approximately) six miles around the coast to Margate. It may be a good thing that I am unlikely to do that walk today. Six miles may be a bit of a struggle this early in the year. Fortunately I have one more excuse for not attempting it today - engineering work means that some of the rail journey would have to be done by that most infuriating thing - a slow tedious rail replacement bus.
Taking everything into account, I think I will be lucky if I manage another walk around the park today. If it takes until the afternoon for the weather to brighten up, a walk around the park maybe the only thing I'll feel like tackling (and I would like to see if the daffodils I saw earlier in the week are in bloom yet). If it brightens up a bit earlier I may possibly consider a walk somewhere around just a few miles outside of London.
One option for today, and I think I am definitely going to try it, is to go back to bed for a while. I suspect I have been up a little too long now to go back to sleep properly, but I may be able to get a little extra sleep in.
I am not sure how long the poster pictured below has been up at Earlsfield station, but I am sure it has not been there that long.
With all the troubles in Egypt recently, and who knows what future troubles may be in store during, and after, the change in government there, it just struck me as very optimistic to try and promote Egypt as a holiday destination. Also, thinking about the news reports showing all the demonstrators in action, and the slogan on the poster "and the stones spoke to me", I wonder what stones spoke to whom ?
Ahh well, good luck to all in Egypt. You've thrown out one despot, and now you can look forward to an elected despot supported by a load of elected cranks and self serving, greedy, power seeking, tyrannical nutters - just like a real democracy such as Britain and America. If you are very lucky it won't be too polluted with religious weirdos with their strange ideas andinterpretations of fairy stories written hundreds of years ago.
Overall, I think it is fair to say that yesterday was pretty horrible. I'll admit that there was no heavy rain, but it seemed as if there was a constant light drizzle, from a dull grey sky, almost all day. Early in the afternoon the sky brightened up a bit, but that didn't make any difference to the ongoing drizzle. The only redeeming factor about yesterday was that it was not too cold.
Today initially started out dry, but there was a some very light drizzle as I walked from the station to work. In all probability today may be a lot like yesterday. If we are lucky there could be less drizzle, but the chances of seeing any sunshine seem very remote. The forecast is that we will get a days break from the rain tomorrow. It's not going to be that wonderful, but with occasional sunshine, and temperatures of around 10° C, Saturday could be a lot better than these recent few days.
I didn't feel all that good for much of yesterday. It was nothing specific, and probably mostly related to lack of sleep. Last night I did get a reasonable nights sleep, and I woke up feeling not significantly worse than I did during the day yesterday. After adding the healing effect of a good hot shower, and a bit of exercise making my way to work, I feel considerably better than yesterday. In fact I would go as far as to say that I feel about 80% of average. If this improvement continues I will be feeling better than average tomorrow, and that may be enough to get me out on a long, possibly coastal, walk. On the other hand, this improvement has mainly come from better sleep. So maybe I ought to stay in bed all day tomorrow !
I don't think any improvement in my general wellbeing has come from improved diet. I was mostly careful with what I bought while shopping in Tesco's last night, but "mostly" is not the same as "actually". My dinner last night was a tragic case of (alleged) barbecue flavour hot chicken with nut and celery stuff that is almost like coleslaw, but isn't, and a bag of crisps !
The chicken came from Tesco's now extortionate hot chicken counter. I am fast beginning to question the wisdom of paying £4 for a roast sparrow. I feel sure that for the same price I could get more chicken from KFC with "fries" thrown in as well. It feels like Tesco have doubled the price of their cooked chicken, and halved the sizes in the last 12 months. I can't recall if I wrote it here or elsewhere, but I did write a small tirade on how small chickens seem to be getting. In that piece I said that it seemed greedy to eat a whole chicken, but that the chicken was so small it was barely enough to feed a cat. Last night I treated Smudge to a considerable amount of the breast meat, maybe up to a third of all the meat on the chicken, and later on she asked for more food. So if a third of a chicken won't satisfy a cat then I feel justified in eating a whole Tesco chicken because I am something like 20 times the size of cat.
Tonight I have even worse junk food to eat. As to whether I actually eat it, or cook something very healthy (I have the ingredients for either) remains to be seen. The logical thing is to eat the healthy option so that I feel particularly good tomorrow, and then go and burn off a shedload of calories on a long walk before "rewarding" myself with the junk food. The trouble is that logic is so often variable, and influenced by cloud, rain, or sunshine :-)
Yesterday's weather was good, though not as good as the day before. The sun did not come out until almost midday, and even then there were still a lot of clouds in the sky. However it stayed dry, and once again it did not feel cold (although nor did it feel particularly warm).
Today we are back to wet weather and a dull gloomy day. I felt a few small drops of rain while waiting for my train at Catford, and at London Bridge it was evident that I had just missed a light shower.Initially it was dry at Earlsfield, but at about halfway from the station to work I did get caught in some light drizzle. Judging from the drops on my window pane, that drizzle is turning into real rain. I didn't see a weather forecast last night, but I think this rain is set to last for most of the day. At least the wind is very light, and that is making it feel no more than a bit cool.
This morning I don't feel that good, but also not too bad. I woke up at 3am with a migraine like headache, and only slept poorly after that. I still have a very mild headache, and I am missing those two hours of good sleep from 3am to 5am. Other than that everything seems to be functioning to normal parameters.
After my messy start to yesterday I ended up feeling rather good. Once the sun had come out in a stable fashion I went out for a 2.84 mile walk around the park. The first bit of the walk, from home up to Catford Bridge station where I crossed the railway to start on the far side of the park, seemed like hard work, but as my walk progressed it became easier and easier. Apart from some foot discomfort leftover from the walk I did the previous day in unsuitable shoes, it felt like I could have easily walked another few miles with no effort at all. While in the park I took a lot of pictures, but only a few are worth showing here.
Here's the first signs of spring - crocuses.
I am not sure what sort of bird this is, a yellow tit maybe, but I just managed to get a clear picture of it when it was 30ft up a tree.
I am guessing this is honeysuckle, but with my poor knowledge it could be anything. It is in bloom though !
Another plant in flower. I've dubbed these "whitebells" because they look similar to bluebells, but obviuosly they are white !
I do seem to be having some difficulty in naming things recently, so this might be, but probably isn't a moorhen standing on a rock in the river.
After my walk around the park I reviewed and edited the pictures I took, and before I knew it, it was getting on for 5pm, and Kevin was on the phone asking if I still wanted to meet for a beer (a suggestion I had made earlier in the day). Fifteen or twenty minutes later I was in the pub drinking a very pleasant winter ale. So pleasant that I had three pints before I left.
It was my intention to eat as sparingly as possible yesterday, and I more or less achieved that. In the morning I did have some breakfast consisting of two bagels with marmite and low fat peanut butter filling. Then I had nothing more until after I had left the pub. I was feeling quite hungry by then, and quite impatient to eat. For speed I called into the fried chicken shop on the way home from the pub. By a miracle of self restrain while under the influence of beer, I limited myself to 10 grilled wings and three small samosas. I am not really sure what was in the samosas, but I am guessing they may have been a better choice than chips. In theory it should have been a moderately low fat meal.This morning it feels like I could eat a horse. So yesterday's restraint would appear to have been effective. Now let's see how much restraint I can muster while I get some shopping in Tesco tonight !
It was a most glorious day yesterday. After a slightly dull start the sun broke through. The forecast for yesterday turned out to be unusually accurate. If there was any innacuracy it was in understating just how good the day would be. By mid morning there was horizon to horizon blue sky, and by mid afternoon it was feeling as close to warm as we have had all winter. The sun felt very warm on the face, and only the occasional bit of strong breeze spoiled it. For much of the time the air was fairly still. When I arrived home from work I found that the front room, and my bedroom, both south facing rooms, felt very warm from where the sun had been pouring in the windows.
Today could be similar to yesterday, but with maybe a sting in it's tail. It is rather dull at the moment, but there is no frost, and if the sun melts away the misty cloud again, it could turn out beautiful. Unfortunately the weather forecast warns of rain towards the end of the day. Maybe it will happen after dark, and if that is the case it is forgiveable.
At the end of my lunch break yesterday I had a quick ten minute walk in the park with my new camera. My attempts to take some pictures of birds mostly failed (apart from a few sharp images of bird bottoms where they turned around faster than I could press the shutter !). One bird that did come out well was this one.
It's not a flesh and blood bird, but a metal one. I've cropped the picture a bit to show more plane, but the more significant thing is that wonderful blue sky. If you click on the picture it will open up to the full resolution, uncropped image as taken straight off the camera.
It felt really good in the park, and I was reluctant to go back to work, but it did inspire me to walk to Wandsworth Common station when I left work to go home. I didn't really feel up to the walk, and I was not wearing good shoes for walking, but I did it anyway. At the end my feet were quite sore (and I did develop a blister), but I did otherwise feel quite good for having achieved it. Towards the end the walk takes me across Wandsworth common, and that presented a few photo opportunities.
This languid scene is the view across the pond on Wandsworth Common. The sun was quite low in the sky when I took this picture, but still the sky was wonderfully blue.
The zoom on my new camera is really good for close ups like this picture of one of the ducks on the pond.
Anyone who didn't know might think that Wandsworth Common was near the sea. We know better, but obviously these gulls don't !
There is probably nothing special about this picture, but I sort of like it. With the sun sinking down behind the trees, it was the last picture I took as I left Wandsworth Common to cross the main road to get to the station. I think I can almost imagine leaves on the trees, and the end of a wonderful summers day.
Today I am taking a holiday from work. It wasn't actually planned like this, but I have a small problem. Another large boil developed on my inner thigh, and after a particularly hot shower this morning has erupted rather messily. This one started at about the same time as the one that erupted almost a fortnight ago, but for most of the time it was small and insignificant. Over the last couple of days it has "ripened" - perhaps helped by my walk yesterday. After the warm day yesterday, the water for my shower was so hot as to be close to uncomfortable (the heater is still set for deep winter !). I guess that was the final straw for the boil, and as soon as I got dressed I noticed an unpleasant warm wet feeling in my underpants where the boil had burst.
Apart from when I deliberately squeezed the boil to expel as much unpleasantness as possible, it has been remarkably painless. So now I am sitting here at my PC quite comfortably except for a towel stuffed down my lounge pants mopping up the remains. I estimate that in a few more hours it will have dried up enough that I could go out for a walk in the hoped for sunshine. In the meantime I think I am going to be lazy. I might even lay on my bed and try to get another hours sleep.
|Tuesday 8th February 2011
The border of the weather system that has come in from the Atlantic ocean hovered very near to here yesterday. From mid morning to mid afternoon the fringes of it passed overhead, and we had some occasional light rain. While the temperature was just about in double figures, it didn't feel that way with a strong breeze continuing to blow. As 4pm, and my home time, approached, the cloud began to break up, and although it wasn't exactly sunny, it was acceptably bright as I made my way home from work.
The cloud continued to thin, and eventually disappear overnight, and as it did so the temperature plummetted. This morning saw a very sharp frost. It is the coldest it has been for a couple of weeks now, but it won't stay that way. By all accounts, today will be bright and sunny, and that sunshine will make a difference to the temperature. It won't get that high, maybe not even as high as 10 degrees, but the air today is forecast to be quite still, and in the sunshine it may feel quite warm. After today we will return to grey skies and rain - or so the forecasters predict.
Although it was nice going home in bright daylight, the grey earlier in the day did little to inspire me to try and restrict my food intake to less than moderate, and even now I am not sure if what I did have was moderate or not. The principle ingredients of dinner last night were three cans of soup. One was "Chinese soup", as sold my Aldi. It was thin and brown, and had chicken and noodles in it. I couldn't be bothered to try and read the tiny list of ingredients, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had more sugar and salt in it than the couple of tiny lumps of chicken in it.
The other two cans were possibly healthier. One was tomato and red pepper, and the other was lentil soup. The thing that spolied these latter two soups was that I diced up the remains of the baked ham I had eaten for Sunday dinner, and added it to the soups. There was quite a lot of fat on the meat, and if it were not for the fat containing a significant amount of flavour it would have been beter to trim it off. My opinion after actually eating these adulterated soups was that it would have been better not to have added the ham in the first place. It added very little to the flavour, and just added fat and calories that I could do with not having. Of course if I had not used the leftover ham up in the soup I would almost certainly made sandwiches using it, and that could have been worse still !
The price of electronic stuff in China can be amazingly low. One of my workmates, who is Chinese, went back to China for their new year celebrations. While there he bought me a couple of spare batteries for my HTC G1 mobile phones, and one or more for himself (he also has a G1 phone). Both batteries also came with a "wall wart" type charger (unfortunately not suitable for UK type mains sockets). The lithium batteries were such a close copy of the Chinese made originals that I am tempted to think that they were in fact not cheap copies at all (but who can tell with Chinese made goods). I knew they were going to be cheap, but even I was a bit surprised when my work mate asked for just £10. I have modified one charger by adding a lead with a standard UK plug on it, and it works fine, and on first look the batteries seem to be OK as well. I think I just bought a bargain !
|Monday 7th February 2011
Yesterday was possibly the closest to warm that I have experienced for maybe months. At around midday I left my coat inside while I went outside the pub in just a t-shirt to have a fag. It was cool, but not painfully so. If there had been any sunshine, and I had been sheltered by the wind, it would have been better than just comfortable. Alas there was no sunshine yesterday, but there was also no rain.
As far as I could make out from the weather maps shown on TV last night, both home and work are very close to the edge of a weather system. A few miles north and it might well be raining, but if the weather system comes no closer it could stay dry today. Staying dry is useful, but there is still plenty of cloud in the sky blocking out the sunshine. It looks so dense at the moment that I am surprised it is not raining. Maybe it will break up later, or maybe not, but for now it has kept the temperature up. The day started several degrees above zero, and could just hit double figures today.
I managed to curb my enthusiasm while shopping yesterday morning, and only bought a few well known unhealthy items (like a large packet of paprika flavoured crisps - a fairly rare flavour that had to be tested). One item that looked nice, and indeed was nice, was something that on the face of it could have been something to avoid. It was herrings in a creamy white sauce. Closer examintaion revealed that the creamy white sauce was based on yoghurt. So it was herring flavour yoghurt - makes a change from fruit flavours ! I didn't actually go as far as reading the small print, but I assume it was, apart from the good fish oils, very low in fat, and also low in sugars. I can't see there is any need to sweeten a savoury dish, but who can tell ? Anyway, it made a rather nice, rather late breakfast.
Another item I bought was a cheap camera tripod. On the whole it it very cheap and nasty, and yet for some specific applications it could be very useful. It has wobbly telescopic legs, but with them retracted it makes for a nice table top tripod, and for just £7.99 I can't really complain. I did get a chance to try it out a bit later. While in Lidl I received an email from Kevin with a question about mobile phone sim cards. Instead of replying by email I made a voice call to him, and a minutes discusssion concluded with the plan to meet up in the pub on my way home from the supermarket.
The answer to the mobile phone sim card query was giffgaff (click on the picture at the top of the page to order your sim card and look forward to saving a lot of money). This was discussed over just two pints of Adnam's Old Ale (very tasty). While in the pub, and with my camera handily in my jacket pocket and ready to use, I tried out my new tripod.
It's not that brightly lit inside the pub, but a combination of my new camera's low light sensitivity, and using the tripod on the table to keep things still, produced the picture above of the bar (but no bar staff !).
Another thing I was able to do just before leaving the pub was to try out the facilities of a brand new pair of underpants . These underpants were off a make I had never tried before, and I wish I had tried to do what I did in the pub toilet somewhere where a rehearsal would have been a little more private (though in fact I was the only one in the toilets at the time). It was lucky that I was not desperate for a pee because these new underpants were evidently designed by someone whose anatomy is significantly different to mine, and presumably also everyone else who finds no problems with any of a dozen or more other makes and styles of underpants. It took a significant amount of rummaging around inside my trousers before I was able to achieve what I had set out to do !
With my underwear gymnastics out of the way I left the pub, and that gave me another photo opportunity (but not using the new tripod this time).
Almost outside the pub is this tree. As usually happens in the spring, the council prune the tree back to make sure it is safe as it overhangs the main road. The goons who did this one didn't stop at the tree, but also pruned the decorative strings of blue light bulbs that added a certain charm to the high street after dark. With the council (financial) cut backs I expect those remaining light bulbs will now just be swinging in the breeze dead for years to come, and the high street will once again be a sterile forbidding place after dark.
If my eating yesterday had not involved testing the large bag of paprika flavoured crisps, I could almost claim that I had eaten quite well for a Sunday, and that I had been unusually restrained for a Sunday that involved beer. I don't know if there was any significance in what, and how much I ate yesterday, but when I went to bed at a nice and early 8.45pm, I found I could not get to sleep despite feeling that I very much wanted to. My bed felt terribly uncomfortable. It was too hot and too cold. Every little bump or crease felt like I was trying to go to sleep on a walnut. To add to my discomfort I started to sneeze and my nose felt blocked. I think it was some brief sort of allergic reaction, but I have no idea what caused it, and it went away as quick as it had come.
Instead of getting a nice sold eight hours sleep, I estimate I got less than five hours of sleep punctuated with strange dreams and a few visits to the toilet. This morning I woke up feeling really bad. There was something very subtle that made how I felt different to 'flu, but it was very similar. Maybe one of the the differences was that with 'flu you don't wake up in the middle of the night feeling like you have been grinding your teeth together (or at least I can't recall doing so before). A good hot shower loosened some of the stiffness up, and reduced a few pains. It was still unpleasant during much of my commute to work, but some bits of me seemed to starting working rather well at the end.
As I walked from the station to work I found myself walking vey fast. At the same time I was also fairly breathless and my chest hurt. That should have been an indicator to slow down, but my legs seemed to be working so well that I did not want to slow down. While I say I felt breathless I don't actually mean I was panting, but I was breathing hard, and that started almost as soon as I got off the train, and didn't get any worse as I did my fast walk. It is possible I was only firing on one lung or something. The good news is that now I am at work I don't feel too bad, and I fullly expect to feel even better as the morning progresses, but given the choice I would dearly love to be back in bed again right now.
|Sunday 6th February 2011
I can't recall any rain on Friday after the few minor raindrops that fell first thing in the morning, and there was no noticeable rain yesterday. The main feature yesterday was the wind. It may not have been quite as strong as on Friday, but it still spoiled what would otherwise have been a mild day. Of course it was the wind that blew in the warm air that raised the air temperature to over ten degrees, and possibly as high as thirteen.
Today has started very much like yesterday finished off. It is quite mild, but it's quite an awkward temperature. It is too cold to be warm, and to warm to be cold. As a for instance of that nonsense I can only describe the events of a few minutes ago. I thought I would let some fresh air into the room by opening a window. At first it felt rather good. There was no icy blast threatening to freeze my face off or wither my gentleman bits, but after five minutes I felt a strong desire to shut the window and turn the heating on, and that is exactly what I did.
Meanwhile, the sky is medium grey, and the last forecast I saw predicted rain. It doesn't look like it will rain yet, but it seems inevitable it will rain sooner or later, and when that happens we will lose this brief respite from the chills of winter. It won't get that cold for a while, but there is still plenty of winter left for a fall of snow sometime before things really start to improve in March or April.
In theory I should have gone to bed very early on Friday night. I wanted to catch up on some sleep, but maybe the couple of pints of beer I had with Kevin stimulated my brain instead of dampening it (maybe as three pints might have). I can't quite recall what I did, or even what time I fell asleep on Friday night/Saturday morning because nothing really happened that was worth remembering. I know I watched some TV, and did some stuff on the PC, but apart from watching (and enjoying) the infamous "let's insult Mexico and Mexicans" edition of Top Gear everything else was instantly forgetable.
Without getting an early night I woke up feeling very tired yesterday morning. If it were not that Aleemah was visiting I would have spent half the morning in bed, but I felt I ought to get up earlier than I needed to do some minimum preparations before she came round. This time it really was the very bare minimum with only the most obvious places partially cleaned and tidied.
Later in the afternoon, after Aleemah had left, I just sort of chilled out. I had a snooze, listened to the radio, and other extreme low energy activities. It is at such times when a lot of time can pass without being really aware of it. I could see the figures changing on the clock, but they seemed to carry no significance, and inevitably I ended up not going to bed until stupidly late. The good thing is that I slept rather well. At 5am I woke up as if for a work day, but it seemed effortless to turn over and go back to sleep.
It was a little after 8am when I woke up again. Initially I felt very refreshed, but an hour later I am not so sure. Maybe I could lay on my bed again and sleep some more. On the other hand I feel like a short walk in the fresh, and not quite cold air. I don't want to trust the weather to stay dry for too much longer, so a long healthy walk is probably out of the question, but an unhealthy walk seems most likely. It will be unhealthy, or more accurately, probably unhealthy because I have it in mind to walk to Lidl and have a rummage around in there. The good and bad thing about going to that supermarket is that it is sufficiently far enough away to focus the mind on the amount I buy, and have to lug home again. So while I will mainly buy just the essentials, it is highly unlikely that I won't buy any unhealthy treats. In fact I am sure I will, and already my mouth is drooling at the thought of something very nice that is as yet unknown.
After lunch, probably featuring something terribly unhealthy, I think I will be able to, and probably want to, lay on my bed and have a snooze. I predict that today is going to feature a whole lot of nothing again - at least until the evening. Then I really ought to get my act together and try and get to bed nice and early for a full eight hours sleep (or more if I can).
|Friday 4th February 2011
The sun did end up shining yesterday. It took until almost midday for it to happen, but then it was sunny until late afternoon, and even with no actual sunshine it stayed bright right up until the sun set. If it were not for the strong breeze it might have even felt close to warm outside. That breeze strengthened after sunset, and became quite a wind. As I lay in bed last night it sounded really windy outside.
This morning the wind seems less than how it sounded last night, but it is still very gusty outside. Every now and then a light sprinkle of rain would blow in as I made my way to work, but it was of no great significance. There is a lot of fast moving cloud in the sky right now, and some of that cloud is going to rain on us today. With luck it will only be brief showers as the cloud scud across the sky. To make up for the rain, and general greyness, the temperature could reach 12° C today. Even this morning it is noticeably less cold than recent mornings, and the idea that this afternoon could approximate to being warm seems not that unlikely. Tomorrow could see aother degree on top of that, but with more persistent rain. From then on it's probably downhill towards much colder temperatures, and before the month is out, another fall of snow (as tradition dictates for February).
I didn't meet Kevin for a beer last night, but I did go in the pub anyway. The principal reason for going in was to use their toilet before going to Tesco, but I thought I might bump into Chris (from Chain) who often pops in for a beer on a Thursday night. He wasn't there either, but I did have a nice chat with Louisa the barmaid while I drank my single pint.
After my beer I went to Tesco to buy some food, drink, and the latest edition of New Scientist. I bought a selection of healthy (low fat etc) food, and some not quite so healthy. I did make one tragic mistake that was probably oiled by that single pint of beer. I found that I had bought food that in quantity would make what I would only consider to be two thirds of a dinner. If I had managed to just eat one of those two thirds I would have done quite well, or if I had added something else to make up the missing third it would still not have been that bad. What actually happened is that I ate both these part meals, and that was rather more than I should have. Although, on consideration, if that lot was spread out through the day, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, it would not seem excessive to anyone, and many would consider it to be three very light meals. It's worth bearing in mind that all I had eaten up to then was just one apple and two small clementines (or satsumas, or whatever they were).
While it is easy to rationalise my gluttony in words, it is not so easy when it comes to the after effects. I felt rather stodgy when I came to work, although the effect has worn off far faster than I imagined it would. Another peculiar thing is that eating too much the night before actually makes me feel even more hungry in the morning. It is sort of lucky that there is nothing, bar a few apples, here at work for me to eat. If I were at home I could easily be drooling to the thought of a full fried breakfast now. I probably wouldn't have one, but then again, if I had the ingredients, maybe I would.
Tonight my dinner will be smaller, but I am going to have some artery clogging greasy pork strips - maybe. It is both a shame and a blessing that in reality they are far leaner than I would normally prefer. It makes them a bit kinder to the arteries, but loses so much of that delicious flavour. I am very surprised that creationists don't use the exquisite flavour of well cooked fatty pork as an example of how clever their god is at making things.
It is possible, though nothing has been planned, or even considered, that I could end up doing some boozing before I come to eat my pork. A couple of pints, a nice meal, a bit of TV, and a read in bed sounds like the perfect ending for the week. It's a shame I have to get up reasonably early tomorrow to try and make the place look half presentable for when Aleem visits.
|Thursday 3rd February 2011
I can't really remember all that much about yesterday's weather. The misty sky didn't clear but became more grey, and I think that's how it stayed all day. The weather forecaster on TV last night said that London reached 10° C, but I don't recall it being anything better than slightly cold. One thing I do remember is the strong feeling that it was just about to rain as I waited for my train back to Catford. I might have even felt a few tiny spots of rain hitting me, but like the rest of the day there was just a whole lot of nothingness to act as a reminder.
I decided that I really had to wash my hair this morning, and that meant I was not ready early enough to catch the early train to work. Getting the later train costs a little more, but maybe an extra 80p was worth it to see the largely clear sky getting lighter and lighter as I travelled to work. At Earlsfield it wasn't just a bright glow over the cemetary, but for the first time in ages I could see over half the disk of the sun dazzling me as we pulled into the station.
Today, if the weather forecasters are to be believed, we will have a sunny morning, and maybe today it really will feel close to warm as the temperature rises to 10° C or maybe even a tiny bit more. I am not sure if I do believe the forecast, and I am thinking that today could well be like yesterday. The clear sky is already turning misty, and if that doesn't dissolve we will be left with another (light) grey day, with possibly an even stronger chance of some rain or drizzle just as I am going home from work.
There was a bit of a hiccup going home last night. The 16:23 train back to Catford had been cancelled, and that gave me two choices. Either wait for the 16:42 train, or go to London Bridge and get the 16:35 all stations train that comes out of Cannon Street station instead of Charing Cross. After leaving work a few minutes earlier, and somehow having the energy to walk to the station a tiny bit faster than usual, I was able to get an earlier train that got me to Waterloo early as well (obviously). In a burst of stupid optimism I made a beeline for Waterloo East in the hope that I might be able to catch a train to London Bridge that would arrive in time for me to catch whatever train runs before the 16:35. The chances are it is the 16:05, and with only 3 minutes to get to London Bridge it was really quite a hopeless idea. Nevertheless I tried, and I estimate I only missed the train by 10 minutes. I then had to wait 20 minutes for the 16:35 train on a cold platform where it felt like it was about to rain, and I couldn't even light up a cigarette !
I was only delayed getting home by 10 to 15 minutes, and I guess I am not too annoyed about it............yes I am - I hate you useless people without fathers at SouthEastern Trains !!!!!
It had been my intention to try and reduce the amount I ate last night, and I did almost manage that. Where it went wrong was when I tipped all the remaining bulgar wheat I had left over from last weeks experiment, into my terribly healthy simmered cauliflower and chicken. The bulgar wheat swelled up turning what would have been a very wet and watery meal into something more like thick porridge. It was rather nice, very nice, but that very large portion of bulgar wheat seemed to set in my stomach, and it feels like it is still there this morning. Yesterday I seemed to be able to rush around feeling quite energetic. This morning all that excess energy is gone. I couldn't maintain top speed walking from the station to work, and even at a reduced pace (perhaps 3mph) I felt knackered when I arrived at work.
In theory I should be very careful eating tonight. Two lettuce leaves and a carrot would seem appropriate, but there could be two hindrances to that. I need, admittedly not desperately, to get some shopping on the way home from work. That always brings temptations that can be hard to resist. Even worse is that I may also be meeting Kevin for a couple of beers. Going into somewhere that sells food after drinking is always foolhardy, but it will probably happen tonight regardless. I can only hope that I choose wisely for my inevitable gluttony !
|Wednesday 2nd February 2011
I don't think it was forecast, and I don't think I was really expecting it, but yesterday morning there was a long period of very light drizzly rain. Fortunately it was so light that I didn't bother with any protection when I went outside on my frequent fag breaks. The rain stopped around lunchtime, and the clouds started to break up. When I left work to walk to the station the clouds had broken up well enough for the sun to come out. It was too late in the day to contribute any significant warmth, but the overall temperature yesterday was not that terrible at around 5° C.
There was more light rain during the night, and that kept the temperature just high enough to stop any of the forecast frost this morning. I'll take a stab in the dark that this morning's temperature is around 3° C, but if we are incredibly lucky it might get as high as 10° C by late afternoon. At this time of year that is close to being warm, but probably comes with the penalty of rain. Warm moist air is now coming in from across the Atlantic ocean, and does tend to dump it's moisture on us. However, at the moment the sky is mostly clear, and we should be able to bask in some sunshine for at least part of this morning.
Having said that, I have just studied the sky again, and it seems that warm moist air coming in to meet the cold air over London is making the sky look quite misty now. Well, even if it thickens to much for my optimistic sunshine, I do still have the satisfaction of seeing a nice sunrise on my way into work. The best of the sunrise was, as usual, over the cemetary by the railway station here in Earlsfield, but the first light of the morning came well before that. It can't be that long now before I can leave home in daylight, and only a few weeks more after that until I can wake up to daylight.
This morning I feel a mixture of things. On the train this morning I had some toothache, but not ordinary toothache. I have noticed over the years that on some random day in some random week I get a definite toothache from some random tooth. This morning it was third from the left and for 3.2 seconds I had some moderate pain. Before that - nothing. After that - more nothing ! Sometime last week it was the 2nd from the right, and the pain lasted 1.832 seconds (approximately). I do have these twinges in other parts of my body too. I think it was last week that my left little finger decided it was going to be sore. That lasted a lot longer. I think it was sore for maybe a minute before I got bored with thinking about it and the pain went away while I wasn't paying attention to it.
Those pains are sort of intangible. It's probably something fatal, but I don't know where they come from, or where they go to. What I do know is that I had a different sort of discomfort this morning. One that was most real, and one that is made worse by being on a train. This morning I was suffering from wind. It was particularly uncomfortable while I was doing my best not to stink out the railway carriages I was in. To give you some idea of the severity of this wind I can reveal that I was forced to go into the worst railway station toilets EVER !
I do mean, of course, the toilets at officially Britains busiest railway station - Clapham Junction. They are small and smelly, and this morning both toilet bowls (yes, at Britains busiest railway station there are only two cubicles for men) were both blocked and out of order. Fortunately the toilet attendant opened up the disabled toilet/baby changing room for me. That was a pleasant surprise. It was almost civilised in there. With hindsight I didn't really need it, but with wind you never can tell, and it's better to be safe than sorry.
I don't think I have eaten anything in particular to precipitate such wind this morning, although I was none too careful with what I did eat last night. It was certainly not low in calories or low in fat. When I got home from work I did some soldering to make up some video leads instead of preparing my dinner. After I had done that bit of work I felt too hungry to stop and do any cooking so I mainly ate sandwiches. The sandwiches were made with German rye bread (with sunflower seeds in it). In that I had sliced tomatoes, sliced German sausage, and lashings of garlic mayonaise. One might have been close to healthy, but I had three such sandwiches, and, even worse, several small bags of potatoe based snacks. I think I was feeling exceptionally hungry for some reason, because on top of all that I also ate a small pot of ready made tuna and chilli pasta. Oddly enough, ignoring the discomfort from the wind, I do feel strangely energetic this morning. Maybe what I ate last night did have some good points after all.
|Tuesday 1st February 2011
Most of yesterday was gloriously sunny.
The picture above was taken during my lunch break, just before 2pm, in the park behind work. This is the view looking north towards Wandsworth, but the whole sky was just as blue as pictured here. With hardly any breeze, it did almost feel warm, but that was deceptive. When I left work, to go home, the sun was still shining, but with it being a lot lower in the sky the illusion of warmth rapidly disappeared.
The sky stayed relatively clear for much of the night, and I tended to agree with the weather forecast which predicted a heavy frost this morning. It is certainly very chilly outside, but I don't think the temperature made it to quite zero for any time. There was some light condensation on some cars I passed on the way to the station, and there could have been a hint of ice on one or two maybe. It is supposed to rain soon, but maybe that is not until tomorrow because it looks like the white misty cloud I can see now will evaporate away leaving a blue sky again. Today could be fractionally warmer than yesterday, and tomorrow is forecast to be as "warm" as 9° C, but it will almost certainly rain then.
The blue sky and sunshine yesterday did get me thinking grand thoughts. I came close to walking the near 2 miles to Wandsworth Common station last night, but having walked as far as Earlsfield station I concluded that I didn't like gulping in lungfuls of chilly air, and that I would definitely not enjoy the long slog up the hill with my bodies breathing bits operating at less than ideal temperatures. So I abandoned that idea, and enjoyed the sunshine from with a warm train.
Another creature enjoying the sunshine was this wagtail.
At least I think it's a wagtail. There are several that seem to live alongside the River Wandle at the back of where I work, and they are fairly frequent visitors to the yard/car park area here. I think this one is a female. The males seem to have a yellow undercarriage (chest and belly area). It is quite amusing to watch them out in the yard. They have this peculiar way of taking a few steps slowly, and then sprint for a dozen or so steps before walking slowly again. They are also rather timid, and the picture above is cropped from a far bigger image which I had to take at full zoom on my old Samsung S1070 camera. It would have been far easier to get a good picture with my new Canon camera with it's extended optical zoom range. (It would also be better if the sun was on the right side of the bird too !).
When I got home last night I found myself feeling both very tired and very hungry. The tiredness came from getting far less sleep on Sunday night than was good for me, and I think the hunger was tied into the tiredness. It all added up to the fact that I ate rather more than I intended last night. I have done worse, far worse, on many, many occasions, but it is particularly disappointing right now. After that I made sure I was in bed, with the lights out, at 8.30pm last night. I fell asleep easily, and in theory I had a full eight hours sleep, with maybe a few extra minutes in hand.
After that sleep I should feel all bright and wonderful this morning, but I don't. I do feel that I would like to go back to bed again (difficult while I am at work !). Even if it's not, I'll consider this the penalty for eating too much last night, and try to do better tonight. There are a few things that I want to try and do tonight, and one of them, testing a TV camera, could easily distract me from sleep tonight. So I had better try and remember that, and not get carried away. Maybe tomorrow I will wake up from a full eight hours sleep, and feel wonderful (or not !).