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My Diary/Blog For the Month of January 2011

Monday 31st January 2011
08:15 GMT

  It must have been almost midday, perhaps a little earlier yesterday, when I got back home after shopping. At the very instant I closed the front door behind me the sun came out. For the rest of the afternoon, and almost right up to sunset, the sun shone down on us in variable amounts. Outside it was still very cold, but indoors the sun felt very warm, and for a time I turned off all the heating. Later in the afternoon, as the sun began to sink lower in the sky, I had to turn the heating back on, but for a brief time it was all rather luxurious. With the sky being fairly clear I would have expected the temperature to plummet to below zero overnight.

 The weather centre, as reported by the BBC, pulled some random numbers out of the thin air and announced it would be -2 C this morning, and I thought that was probably quite an accurate forecast. Much to my surprise, and probably to the acolytes of the great computer that calculates the weather forecast with supreme accuracy for the next 3.2 seconds into the future, it is not below zero this morning, and could be higher than +2 C.

 When I left to come to work, the cloud was still thin enough that I could see at least one bright star through it, and I could see the first light of dawn over on the eastern horizon. Now the sky seems misty rather than cloudy, and with a lot of luck we may be in for some sunshine later on. If we are even luckier, and the great omniescent weather computer has managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, we could see temperatures in double figures towards the end of the week, but the thorn in the side of that prediction is that we will also get rained on mid week.

 I really did want to do some serious healthy eating over the weekend even though I knew that it would be very difficult. On Saturday it was not that healthy, although perhaps still a little restrained compared to many previous Saturdays. Sunday is always a difficult day with so little going on, and more difficult still after shopping in a supermarket. The supermarket I went to yesterday was Aldi, and I bought some stuff in there that I really should not have.

 My first meal of the day was probably best described as brunch, and I had two large "doorstop" (or "doorstep") sized sandwiches of tomato, mature cheddar and some sort of Polish pepper sausage slices. The bread I used was "deli" bread, and had some sort of melted cheese and tomato flavoured stuff on it. Overall it was remarkably unhealthy, and like most unhealthy things extremely delicious. Later on I had some naughty snacks. I bought a variety bag of potato snacks which claimed to be reduced fat and reduced salt. They definitely do have a small health related advantage in that they are not terribly pleasant, and I expect the bag will last me a lot longer than more tasty alternative snacks.

 My dinner slightly made up for my earlier indulgences. I noticed that Aldi had some prepared pheasant in one of their freezers. It had been ages since I had last tried pheasant, and I couldn't remember if it was good or bad. So I decided to treat myself to one. In theory I should have defrosted it overnight, but I left it in the oven, on the lowest of gas setting, to defrost for over three hours before turning the heat right up for the recommended cooking time of 50 minutes.

 It was definitely cooked all the way through when I served it up, but of course the outside was really rather overcooked. That would not have mattered too much if pheasant was not a very lean bird. After all that cooking there was probably very little more than a dessert spoon of fat in the bottom of the roasting tray. Some more fat would have soaked into the slightly unpleasant tasting stuffing, but I left much of that. I think the unpleasantness was cinnamon. Sometimes cinnamon tastes good, and sometimes bad, and in this case it just didn't seem to compliment the meat and so was bad. The meat itself was tasty, but not tasty enough to make me want to repeat the experiment again at any time in the near future.

 Apart from a bit of the stuffing that came with it, I didn't have anything to accompany the meat, and I felt that some sort of dessert would go well after it. To that effect I had a large chunk of battenberg cake that I had foolishly bought. The problem now is that having opened the cake I now have to eat it. Tonight I was hoping that I could manage to eat even more frugally to make up for the weekend. All such intention is really going to come to nothing because I refuse to throw away the rest of the battenberg cake, and even by tonight I will be going stale now it is exposed to the air.

 Despite the excesses of the weekend I feel reasonably good this morning. The extra fat and oil in my weekend diet have cured the constipation that made last Friday an uncomfortable day. There have been a few moments when I have felt very fit this morning, and longer moments when I have felt rather unfit. A fit moment came when I ran up the stairs from the subway at Waterloo East. As I did it I was thinking that if only I could lose a couple of stone I would almost feel like I could fly. An unfit moment came when I was still 3 or 4 steps from the top of those same stairs and I was reduced to thinking how great it would be once I was at the top and able to get my breath back (although I barely slackened my pace as I was thinking those last thoughts) !
Sunday 30th January 2011
09:56 GMT

  The forecast was that we were trading a few extra degrees for cloudier and wet weather this weekend. Yesterday seemed no cloudier than the preceeding days, and not really any less cold. It may be that the clouds were a little brighter than on some of the days of last week, but on Friday, the day before yesterday, the clouds were thin enough to let the occasional sunshine through. I am reminded of this by a photo I took on my way home from work on Friday.
The Shard 28th January 2011 from Waterloo East station
 There is no actual sunshine in the picture, but you can see that there is a lot of variation in the cloud, and a few areas are thin enough to show the blueness of the sky. The subject of the picture is "The Shard", the monstrous new building being erected next to London Bridge station. I think, but I don't know for certain, that it is now at it's full height, and it really towers over the adjacent building to the right.

 The weather today is cold and dry, but there is a lot of cloud in the sky. Much of the cloud seems rather thin, and I can see a couple of very small blue patches of sky. It doesn't look like the sort of cloud that is going to produce rain, and yet drizzle is forecast for midday. After that the cloud will get dark, but paradoxically we will reach today's peak temperature of 5 C. Later still, the cloud will break up and the temperatures will plummet to minus figures overnight. At least that is what the BBC forecast this morning. It will be of no surprise to me if something completely different happens.

 I had a really enjoyable drink with Kevin yesterday. We met at 4.30pm, and the idea was that we were only going to have a couple of pints, but two turned into three, and three turned into four, and four turned into five, and that was the final tally. It was one of those events that seem to be happening to me more frequently now, where everything just seem to fall into place for a very enjoyable time. I seemed to be on great form, and although you can attribute it all to the beer, I managed to crack a few jokes that had Kevin splitting his sides with laughter. Of course I can really remember exactly what I said now, and even if I could it would probably mean nothing without the atmosphere, the beer, and our shared experiences over a great deal of years. One joke I do remember was a visual joke, and as such can't be reproduced here. Even attempting to explain it would require revealing certain confidences about the background to it, and anyway it is too rude for this "family edition" of my life !!!!

 So we had a good laugh as a quick drink turned into a long drink, but eventually it was decided to bring it to an end while still on a high. Kevin went off in one direction to home, and I went in the other direction to my home, but also coincidently towards the fried chicken shop. I bought one small portion of "fries", a couple of bits of fried chicken, and a large portion of grilled wings. It would have all been most enjoyable except the grilled wings were not only phyically very hot, but also extremely spicy hot. They left my mouth just a little too burned to enjoy the fried chicken and chips as much as I could have done. I am not sure what they use to marinade those grilled wings, but I suspect it is chillies dissolved in sulphuric acid ! When phyiscally cool they would be ok, but the physical heat combined with the chillie heat is a little more than I can withstand.

 The one disappointment of last night was that when I got home I found someone sitting in for Pandora on Radio Caroline. In the previous few weeks I have come to enjoy her radio show. Her substitute just didn't sound so good. In some ways it was a blessing in disguise. Staying up to midnight was not really what I wanted after several nights when I got far less sleep than I should have. Instead of midnight, I was in bed soon after 10pm, and on the whole I slept well with a nice lie in this morning.

 I am not sure what I am doing today. It's some 90 minutes to go before the BBC thinks the drizzle will start, but the sun is doing it's best to shine right now. That ought to tempt me outdoors, but I suspect the furthest I will go is to a supermarket. Most probably it will be Aldi, but if I suddenly feel energetic I may walk all the way to Lidl and have a poke around in there. Then I have to make a decision about how to allow myself to ruin all my dieting efforts of last week. On Friday night I went too far, and last night I was pushing my luck, but today I could eat something terrible, or be extra carefull. I don't there is any way to predict it. I'll just have to live life as it comes, and hope it coincides with my intentions.
Saturday 29th January 2011
15:29 GMT

  Much of yesterday was fairly unpleasant. It was freezing cold again, but did start to brighten up for a while in the afternoon. As I was going home from work there was a glorious red sunset. By traditional lore that should have indicated that today should have had good weather. If the wind had been coming from the west that would probably have been true, but today has not been that great. It is not quite as cold, and the wind has dropped, but it is still damn chilly outside. Perhaps the biggest improvement is that the cloud is just a dirty white colour instead of grey (or worse).

 I have finally realised the cause of the constipation that I suffered from yesterday and the day before. It was not the bulgar wheat (which was a silly suggestion anyway), but the fact that my diet in the preceeding few days was virtually fat free. Last night I had some slightly greasy chicken, and things are almost back to normal now. Tonight I might have some mixed fish, of which some is oily salmon, with wholemeal pasta sprinkled with a generous amount of olive oil.

 On the other hand I may have something very different, and not nearly so wholesome. In a little of half an hours time I am meeting Kevin for a few beers. I did have a fairly good snack a little while ago, but even so, a few beers might reduce me to buying something hot, tasty, and almost certainly not low calorie, or low fat, on the way home from the pub.

 I have come to a reckless conclusion that the dieting I have been doing has been working well, and there is a possibility I have shed the excess I put on last December. Now all I have to do is get rid of that gained during November, and to a lesser extent, last October, and then I'll be at a good starting point to improve on the fitness levels I achieved last summer. Of course all this is just theory. Without knowing my starting weight, the only metric I can judge things by is the notches on my belt, and that is fair enough for it is my waist size I want to reduce - losing weight is only a side effect. Well, now it no longer feels like I am carrying a brick around in my lower intestine, I think I can say that my belt is on one notch less than it was a few weeks back. One more notch and I should be able to sqeeze myself, probably using grease and tyre levers, into my red trousers. One more notch after that and they might even be comfortable to wear for a few minutes at a time. Meanwhile, my jeans, with exactly the same size on the tag, will be falling around my ankles. (What a marvellous, and optimistic imagination I have now and then !).
Friday 28th January 2011
07:44 GMT

  Yesterday was a most unpleasant day. The air temperature was very low, and the icy wind made it feel a lot worse. The sky was a dull leaden colour most of the time, and it did it's best to snow twice. The first bit of snow was just a few tiny flakes mixed in with a few drops of sleet at around 11am. Then it did a very similar thing while I waited for my train back to Catford from Waterloo East station.

 Today could see a small improvement. There seems to be less wind, and apparently the sky could partially clear by this afternoon, letting in some sunshine. Today should stay dry according to the BBC (so I am expecting a blizzard), but the air will be just as cold as yesterday, and I believe it is not until Monday that we will see temperature soar by a couple of degrees to the heady heights of 4 or 5 degrees Celsius. Of course we'll probably enjoy that with a side order of rain.

 I am not totally convinced that bulgar wheat is that good for me. This morning, the amount of weight I seem to have lost over the last week seems to be less than the whole units my scales display, and I blame the bulgar wheat. Maybe I have actually lost some weight, but that bulgar wheat, and the boiled eggs I had with it last night, seems to have bunged me up a bit. This morning I feel slightly uncomfortable with constipation. Maybe if things were flowing smoothly I might have been a pound or two lighter this morning. (Don't laugh - in the past I have measured the before and after and it does make a difference !)

 Apart from the discomfort from the constipation, I seem to be in reasonable shape this morning. At least I do now. When I first woke up my head felt very bunged up. I wonder if that was because I slept awkwardly last night. After my loss of sleep the previous night I should have slept like a log last night. It seemed easy enough to keep dozing off on the train coming home, but not so easy getting to sleep once I was in bed. I expected to fall asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow, but by then I had my second wind, and initially my brain wouldn't quieten down. I was probably fast asleep by 10pm, about an hour after I would have chosen to go to sleep, and only woke once during the night.After that it was somewhat annoying to wake up 20 minutes early for no apparent reason.

 Given the choice, I would be back in bed now, and quite probably sleeping deeply. Sadly I am at work, and apart from falling asleep at my desk, and on the train home, I won't be getting any more sleep until tonight. That presents a bit of a dilemna. I would like to go to see a gig tonight. It's not Chain this time, but Kill The Machine. They are considerably heavier than Chain, both musically and in stature. The reason I want to see them is because two members of the band were in New England (or NEUK, as they later named themselves to avoid difficulties with an American band of the same name). I used to follow them at the start of their career some 15 years ago, and I am curious to see how they are doing now, and if they remember me. They are conveniently playing in The Fox And Firkin which is only a 20 minute walk away from home, but they are the headliners of a three act gig, and are not expected to be on stage until 11pm tonight. On all but the rarest nights I am usually fast asleep by then, and I think tonight will not be one of those rare nights. That's a shame, but on several occasions recently I seem to have found myself out a lot later than I ever thought I would. I guess I'll just see what happens as it happens tonight.
Thursday 27th January 2011
07:50 GMT

  For the most part, yesterday was just a rehearsal for today - just a degree or two less cold. This morning I don't think the air temperature is quite as cold as the forecast said it would be, but the wind certainly has an icy touch about it. At least it is dry, and I am guessing that it will probably stay that way today. We were warned there could have been a light dusting of snow overnight, but that didn't happen last night. Maybe it will happen tonight when the forecast says it shouldn't !

 After the delight of seeing my new camera waiting for me when I arrived at work, I had a nail iting time hoping that the memory card I had also ordered would turn up so I could test the camera. Once again I was relying on deliveries to work coming through faster than Amazon estimated. Maybe it is because it is a business address that Royal Mail pull their finger out. My hopes were rewarded when the memory card, plus a spare battery that I also ordered, arrived at around 11am. A few quick snaps taken here at work suggest that I made a good choice of camera, but now I have to be patient, and very patient to test it out properly. Patient for the next Chain gig, and very patient for a nice sunny day !

 My attempts to get a bit healthier in time for (what I shall call) the walking season took another slight step forward last night. I managed to survive on nothing but a theoretically healthy meal of skinless chicken, cabbage and bulgar wheat (plus the usual garlic, and assorted hot spices). Last night was the first time I have made a meal with that darling of the health food/vegetarian culture, bulgar wheat. It's not bad, and certainly added more body to what was otherwise going to be a rather thin stew. According to the packet it only has 360 calories per 100gm, and it seems that once cooked, 100gm makes for quite a pile. I would be surprised if my total food consumption yesterday added up to a lot more than 1500 calories. Tonight I am contemplating making bulgar wheat the main ingredient of dinner, and flavouring it with pesto sauce.
In theory I should have nothing to moan about today, but as usual there is always something. Today it is lack of sleep, although there was a good reason for it that I shouldn't moan about. I actually got off to sleep a little earlier than recently, but just before 3am I woke up to go for a pee and noticed my phone flashing to say I had received an email. In fact I had received two emails, and both of them were from Patricia. After that I didn't really get back to sleep again. Patricia sent through some news and a few pictures of what she has been getting up to in Argentina, and also sent a copy of a photograph that she took before flying out there last November. I wondered how the picture turned out, and now I know.
Smudge, me and Patricia
 The picture, taken using the self-timer on Patricia's camera shows Smudge, me and Patricia sitting on my settee on one of the wonderful days of my life. With luck, the next time a similar picture is taken, my gut will be a little smaller ! I do find it surprising just how small Patricia looks next to me. I knew I was a bit taller than her, but I had never realised there was that much difference.
Wednesday 26th January 2011
08:04 GMT

  It was supposed to be a extra few degrees less cold than previous days, yesterday. I am not sure if I noticed any difference, but then again I never went outside yesterday. After a grey start it did lighten up, and during the afternoon there were a few glimpss of weak watery sunshine. Later still, in the evening, there was some light rain.

 That rain continued through a lot of the night, but it was so light that it hardly left any puddles this morning. What was significant was that all the cloud kept the temperature up. I did feel a lot less cold than recent morning. When I left to come to work there was some very fine rain in the air, and while I was waiting for my train at the station the rain turnd less mist-like, and more like real rain. I think it stopped soon after I was on the train, and there has been no more rain since. That's not to say there isn't the potential for a lot more. The sky is a dirty shade of grey right now, and another deluge could happen at any time. The worst is yet to come. Tomorrow, and Friday, the forecast is for icy winds to blow in across the North Sea from Scandinavia, and daytime temperatures will drop to barely above freezing. Even a light dusting of snow is possible.

 This morning I feel unfeasibly good. I could moan about a few odd twinges, but they are irrelevant. The fever I had yesterday morning subsided fairly quickly, and I thought I felt OK, but evidently not well enough to decide to go out for some fresh air. In fact the fever may have lasted longer than I thought. I felt perfectly warm and comfortable while either lying on my bed, or doing stuff on the PC in my bedroom. What I didn't appreciate was how hot I had got the room. After a brief spell downstairs, which felt a little cool until I acclimatised to it,  I went back up to my bedroom and it felt like an oven !

 Although I didn't feel like rushing around I felt perfectly comfortable for most of the day. The only big source of discomfort was when I found out what had probably caused the fever. On Monday, while I was feeling full of beans, and running up escalators etc, I had noticed a small mildly sore spot on my inner thigh. I thought it was just a zit until I undressed for bed and found it was bigger than a zit. It was a boil, or abscess. It seemed to have grown remarkably quickly, and just as remarkably quickly it drained itself yesterday afternoon. My big source of discomfort was not from pain, but from suddenly realising I had a big soggy area in my pants where the boil had discharged itself.

 After that unpleasantness yesterday, I seemed to have recovered very quickly. I still have some stiffness from laying about all day (as happened at the weekend as well), but I felt quite energetic as I made my way to work. Rushing around to and from station, and when changing trains seemed curiously effortless, but paradoxically seemed to fatigue me more at the same time. A good example of that was when changing trains at Waterloo. It felt like I did the rush between the Waterloo East and Waterloo Mainline stations in record time this morning, but at the end of it I was more than happy to collapse onto a seat on the train.

 If you count today as starting from about 10.30pm last night, it is turning into a great day. After another long wait I had a nice email from Patricia come through on my mobile phone at 10.30pm. On my way to work I found a 10 note in the road, and upon arrival at work I found my new camera had been delivered. Now I hope the rest of the day goes as well as it has started.
Tuesday 25th January 2011
08:12 GMT

  The weather yesterday was typical for the time of year. In other words, it was not very pleasant. The morning was very dull, and a cold wind made the meagre temperature seem even colder. Eventually the clouds did break up to reveal a few bits of blue sky, and the sun did manage to peep through now and then.

 Today it will be subtly different. The peak temperature is forecast to be 8 C, which will be a small improvement over yesterday, but it seems unlikely there will be any sunshine. The BBC says that there will be "white cloud" around the middle of the day, but that will thicken to bring some rain by the evening. Meanwhile, some thirty minutes after sunrise, it is unpleasantly grey outside.

 I have phoned work this morning to say I am sick and taking the day off. In all probability there is nothing much wrong with me. On the other hand I could be suffering from something so terrible that it should require the evacuation of the whole British Isles. When I woke up at 5am I couldn't stop shivering even when sitting in front of the fan heater on at full blast. It made going to the toilet in my cold bathroom a most unpleasant experience. After a while I got back into bed and fell asleep for about 90 minutes.

 The fever, which I assume I was suffering from, seems to have gone away now, and I am left with feeling sort of weird. There are no aches or pains of any significance, but I do feel "hazy". I can only describe hazy as being like the first few seconds after waking up extended for about half an hour now. I am expecting to feel a lot better once I have had a good hot shower, and start moving around a bit more.

 It is somewhat ironic that I should feel so bad this morning after feeling so good last night. I may have overestimated how much I felt I had overeaten over the weekend because by mid morning yesterday I was feeling quite good, and by the time I left work to go home I felt like I had more energy than I had had for a long time. On the way home I did something I had not done in ages. I ran up the escalators at Waterloo, and it didn't seem like hard work at all. So from feeling really rather good last night I have gone to feeling moderately bad this morning (but hopefully improving all the time).

 I don't know how today will work out. I feel that a bit later on I will want to go out for a short walk, perhaps just to the shops, to limber up, and let the fresh air blow a few cobwebs out. I don't fancy that just yet though. At the moment I am torn between having a hot shower or laying on my bed. As I typed that the thought came into my head that I could, in effect,  do both. I made the assumption that once I had showered I would get dressed, but there is no reason why I couldn't have a nice long shower and then lie on my bed until it feels like a good time to do something better.

 Whatever I do end up doing today it has to have one major aim, and that is getting back to work tomorrow. There is a small chance that my new camera could be delivered to work today. It was despatched yesterday morning, and although the estimate was for 2 - 4 days to be delivered, I know that stuff from Amazon seems to get to my work address very quickly. So if it is not deliverd today, there is a good chance that it will be delivered tomorrow, and I am most eager to get my hands on it and fondle it !
Monday 24th January 2011
08:45 GMT

  On the whole, yesterday was just dull and miserable. It was cold, and I can't recall the sun shining at anytime (though there could have been a brief flash from it). As far as I can recall it was dry, and that is more than you can say about this morning. As I waited on the station, for my train to work, several drops of rain fell. That was the only rain I encountered, and if we are very lucky it could be the last for today. The sky is grey, but it is in patches of lighter and darker grey. If I was to be terribly optimistic I could hope that some of the lighter patches could fade away to leave bits of blue sky, and the opportunity for the sun to occasionally break through. Even if the sun does get through it is still going to be a cold day with temperatures at the seasonal average of around 5 C. We have to wait to Wednesday for the one day this week when temperatures could climb a couple of degrees higher.

 After a very sedentary weekend I do not feel all that good this morning. Things are improving now, but my back is still a bit stiff from too much sitting and laying down. Various other parts creak and groan too. If I didn't know the reason (doing bugger all for two days), and the cure (actually getting up and moving around), it would have been tempting to call in sick today, but the cure is starting to work, and in a few more hours I will improve further, although the back ache may take a fair bit longer to fade completely away.

 One thing I did last night was to put my wallet where my mouth was (colloquially speaking). After drooling over the idea of a new, and better, digital camera, I did some research, and I have ordered a camera that I am hoping will be rather good. It is a Canon SX120 IS, and various reports commend it on two points. The 3" viewfinder is reported to be easy to use in bright light - handy for my outdoor shots, and the low light performance is also said to be very good - handy for those dim pubs. I thought I had found a bargain when searching Amazon's web site. There was a second hand, but "like new" camera for (I think) 160, and I ordered that last night. By this morning my order had been cancelled. I presume that two of us tried to order the one camera simultaneously, and it was me that lost out. So I changed my order for a brand new one at 195. It pushes my budget a bit, but maybe it's worth it. The only problem now is that my next camera, perhaps sometime next year, is going to cost a lot more than that if I am after something better still.  I now await with baited breath for it to be delivered.
Sunday 23rd January 2011
08:33 GMT

  I didn't believe it would happen, but the sun did finally manage to break through the cloud later yesterday afternoon. That still doesn't alter my opinion that yesterday was a typical cold grey winters day. There is no reason to think that today will be any better. I haven't seen a forecast for today, but right now it is cold, damp and grey, and it feels like the only change could be for the worse with drizzle or even rain possible.

 I stayed in all day yesterday keeping myself warm and cozy, and doing lots of housecleaning ! Unfortunately the type of housecleaning I was doing was on my server, and not on my dusty stairs. I spent a considerable amount of time re-filing all my photos on the server to make access to them more logical (i.e. they are arranged by year) and in many cases I added a short description to the folder names.

 While doing this server housekeeping the server crashed again. I thought I had cured that fault when I changed the power supply, but evidently not. Earlier on, when running some stuff from the command line I had noticed a few segmentation faults, and it was these that gave me a clue as to what I am now hoping was the real problem. I think I had a faulty memory module. I changed the two 512MB memory modules for a pair of 256MB memory modules, and since then it has been as good as gold. I haven't even noticed any slow down from only using half the amount of memory.

 My final server task of the day was to run a backup of the re-arranged photo files onto the backup disk, and also to backup all my web pages (and supporting files) to my standby server (which is currently operating in "hot" standby in case the main server fails). Some day I must try to make sense of all the video files on the server. There are considerably less of them than picture files, but there are still a lot of them, and being considerably bigger it will take a long time to get them in some sort of order.

 I couldn't wait all day to try out my barley based recipe yesterday. I managed to avoid eating until it got to nearly 1.30pm, but after that I became increasingly hungry. I boiled/simmered the barley mixture for the recommended time in just sufficient water so that most of it was absorbed in the cooking process, and then served it with the whole contents of a jar of "fiery hot" pesto. Like many foods described as hot, the pesto was actually just mildly warm, but with the addition of some sliced red jalapeno peppers, it did add a useful certain something to the meal. It was quite filling, and quite pleasant to eat, but it wasn't really exciting enough to warrant adding to my collection of tasty stuff to eat, and I doubt I'll be trying it again.

 By mid evening I was hungry again, and devoured a Tesco "Healthy Eating" quiche Lorraine that I had in the fridge. I had it cold with baked beans and chilli sauce on it. Eating it cold may have been a mistake because it just didn't seem to satisfy me. Not long after, while watching TV, I felt the urge for more to eat, and I had some cake followed a bit later still by a small bag of monkey nuts. If that didn't wipe out at least one day of last weeks bit of dieting then I would be very surprised.

 After finishing with the TV I went up to my bedroom to do a bit more stuff on the PC in the warm. I was feeling very full at that point, and I was soon to find that it wasn't from what I had just eaten. Two rapid trips to the toilet (and one more sedate one) left me feeling considerably less bloated. After that, although a bit later, I was perectly comfortable to go to bed.

 My dreams last night were unusually inventive. In one dream I speculated that someone sufficiently skilled could write scripts that would use a spreadsheet to show simple animations using the cells of the spreadsheet like a dot-matrix display. I suspect that it could actually be done, but is a million miles away from any of my computer skills. A later dream was about using a spiral of LEDs (or other sources of light) around a cylinder for some sort of display. The image I recall from my dream was of quite a high resolution display showing quite detailed text. In the cold light of day I can't quite see the point of it now, but it all seemed quite logical in the dream. Part of the dream involved the software used to drive this peculiar display, and that software was, I think, written by a good looking woman. Maybe she was the whole point of the dream !

 Today there is a slim chance that I'll be going for a quick drink with Kevin at lunchtime, but beyond that my day is totally open ended. I have some laundry to do at some time, and I am considering the possibility of doing some shopping in Lidl, but after yesterday's food consumption it may not be wise to tempt myslef further - specially after doing so much yesterday to clear my shelves of stuff I really ought to avoid when I can. If the world outside my house was more welcoming I would like to go for a walk, but it is so bloody miserable out there that there is practically no chance that will happen (and that is another reason why I doubt I will be going shopping in Lidl or anywhere else).
Saturday 22nd January 2011
06:55 GMT

  Yesterday, after a grey start, was bright and sunny. Unfortunately the winds were from the north, and even though the air temperature was probably in the region of 6 or 7 C, it felt freezing cold. The temperature today will be similar, and the winds continue from the north. The big difference is that no sunshine is forecast for today, and indeed for much of the week to come. There is no real rain forecast, but we could get occasional light drizzle. So generally the outlook is gloomy and depressing.

 When I left work last night a lot of the sky was clear, and the clouds that were there seemed quite thin. The result of this is that when I arrived in Catford it was still real daylight, and even after taking a fairly slow wander around Tesco there was still a lot of light on the western horizon as I reached home. I found that most encouraging. Now I am waiting for the day that I can leave for work in the morning in daylight. Once that happens I can probably cease to moan about the short days of winter.

 While in Tesco I bought some good stuff and some bad stuff. The bad stuff probably negated at least one day of dieting. Another thing I bought may also not be that good for shifting a bit of weight. Some weeks ago now, one the guys at work was eating something that looked very tasty during the lunch break. It was based on pearl barley with some sort of savoury sauce on it. I gather that it is quite popular in Poland where the guy comes from.

 I have checked several places to buy some pearl barley, and so far I haven't found any. Once upon a time it was popular as an addition to stews, and I can remember disliking the rather slimy texture of the individual barley seeds as my mum used to cook them. Last night I found the closest thing to pearl barley in the healthfood section of Tesco. It is actually described as mixed barley or something. As well as the barley seeds it also has a few dried pulses in it. One useful feature is that although dry, it is all part precooked, and it only needs 10 minutes of cooking time.

 I bought some "fiery hot" Pesto sauce to go on mine. I have yet to check how many calories it will all add up to, but I am expecting it to be quite a lot. Ideally I would have it for dinner after work, but I am curious enough about it that I may well try it for dinner today - on a day when there will be plenty of opportunities to eat other stuff which I can't do while I am work. On the other hand I also bought a couple of packs of skinless chicken at a reduced price because they were on their sell by date. I ought to use those first.

 I am unsure how my eating will go today. Ideally I should get out (thus putting food out of reach) and walk off the excesses of last night, but my success rate at going out in the cold and damp under a grey sky is so bad that I think I can discount any idea of that happening today. Even if it were sunny today, and knowing the accuracy of most weather forecasts, it is still a possibility, I am still not sure that I would want to do a lot of walking. I find that gulping in lungfuls of icy cold air makes me mildly asthmatic, or something along those lines. Having said that, I did feel unusually energetic when I came home from work, and I almost ran up the three flights of stairs to the platform at Earlsfield station. I certainly went up them faster than usual, and I was only mildly turning blue as I reached the far end of the platform at a full rush hour pace.

 I am not seeing Aleemah today. So there is no certainty about anything I might do today - except for one thing. When I have finished this I think I am going to indulge in the luxury of going back to bed. Perhaps I'll have another nice dream like earlier during the night. I had a dream that a woman, who I am sure I should know from years ago, had fallen in love with me. I think the whole dream was set in the past, or at least we all seemed to be younger. I think it even featured a Routemaster bus somewhere, but the details are fading fast. What I do recall in rather broad brush strokes, and it seems unusual for my dreams, was that it was very kissy-kissy rather than touchy-feely (more often hoped for rather than actual), although I am sure that some of the latter did take place.
Friday 21st January 2011
08:07 GMT

  No frost again this morning. The temperature is quite cool, but overnight cloud and rain stopped it getting too low. The rain hadn't started when I came home from the pub last night, and had stopped sometime before I left to come to work - which was rather well timed. I haven't checked what the BBC might randomly guess for today's weather, but my morning paper did have a sun symbol hovering quite close to London on their weather map. So maybe the cloud I can see now might break up later this morning. It does have some lighter patches here and there. So miracles could happen.

 Yesterday was mostly grey and rather chilly, but that didn't dampen my enthusiam for going out to The Catford Ram to see Chain who had been commisioned to play at a retirement party there. When I arrived at the pub it was very full of party goers, but once the official speeches had been done, and Chain started to play, the crowd thinned out a lot. There were still a lot of people around the bar area, but up on the raised section where the band play was almost empty. Towards the end it felt like the band were playing just for more me, but that wasn't the case. There were other people paying attention on the periphery, and even two women who did a bit of dancing, but they weren't my two favourite dancers (who didn't turn up).

 Having three bite sized pork and pickle pies before going to the pub did act as a useful buffer against the booze. (I do literally mean bite sized. I can easily put a whole one in my mouth !). I think I probably had 5, maybe 6 pints of beer last night, and although I felt very good, I didn't feel specially drunk. At the end of the gig I increased my experience as a roadie by carrying out several loads of gear to the waiting cars without mishap. No mishaps is just as well because one trip to the cars was with Chris' precious guitars - the Epithone Explorer, and the Gibson 335.
Epiphone Explorer guitarGibson 335
 My almost, but not really, sobriety was handy when I got home. I was quite hungry, but somehow one brain discipline cell was still half functioning. The other three pork and pickle pies, which would have taken my calorie consumption up to only about 1200 (not counting the beer - which does not count, but including the fruit I had eaten at work) did not fully satisfy me. So I had a look around in the kitchen and remembered I had a small tin of mixed fruit and nuts. The peculiar thing about these tins, bought from the 99p shop, is that they actually have very few nuts in them (maybe that's why they were sold off cheaply to the 99p shop). Less nuts means less oil, but more fruit probably meant more sugar. I don't actually know how many calories each tin contains, and assuming that they were cheap because the maker had messed up the fruit/nut ratio, any information on the tin may well have been wrong anyway. So I just scoffed the lot regardless.

 This morning I do have a mild hangover. It is not really of the painful variety, but more of the towel-wrapped-around-the-head variety. Apart from that I think I feel rather good. Since embarking on this food reduction regime in a slightly more serious way, my energy levels do seem to be climbing back towards how they were prior to the onset of winter. It seems highly unlikely I can keep this up, particularly with all the potential spells of bad weather still to come before spring is well under way, but if I did I could be feeling remarkably fit for the start of summer. However......the rot is likely to set in tonight when I go shopping in Tesco. I have a yearning for something a bit extra nice. I am not sure what that is yet, but I have a few disasters in mind !
Thursday 20th January 2011
07:58 GMT

  I was expecting another frost this morning, but it seems no colder than it was yesterday afternoon. The reason for this is that it is now very cloudy, and some of those clouds are leaking ! A couple of times on my way into work I encountered some thin, misty like, drizzle. Perhaps today was not the best day to leave my back pack, with cagoule inside, at home. I am really not sure if it will brighten up, or rain even more today. All I am sure about is that it is not going to be warm today.

 Yesterday was often brilliantly sunny with only a light wind. On occasions the air would go still, and at such times the heat of the sun was detectable, but at other times it still felt very cool. At lunchtime I went for my usual look at the River Wandle to see if the ducks were about, and, of course, to have a fag or two. I hadn't planned it, but with the sun really bright in the sky, I didn't stop on the bridge across the river like I usually do, but I kept on walking. I did a complete circumnavigation of the park at a fairly fast pace. The entire walk is just under a mile, as I recall, and it seemed incredibly easy to do. It was as if I was hardly out of practice at all.

 I suppose it was the benefit from restricting some of what I eat recently. It was only a temporary thing, but I stepped it up a notch last night. I think there is a good chance that my total food consumption yesterday was under 1500 calories, and possibly closer to 1000. During the day I ate 2 small cox apples and two clementine oranges. Last night I had two cans of soup and a pile of rice cakes with marmite on. The marmite was potentially useful because one, or more, of the B vitamins in it is needed to metabolise fat.

 The slower build up to this weeks more obvious calorie restriction has possibly done more than I imagined. On a whim, I weighed myself last night. On the occasions when I am brave enough to use my scales, I generally do it in the morning when I am naked, have had a good wee and poo, blown my nose, shaved, plucked my nasal hair and trimmed my toenails. Last night I did it after eating and drinking, with some lightweight clothes on (with fags and lighter in one pocket), and wearing flip flops. I found I was lighter than I had anticipated.

 Tonight I am hoping to have a good time. Chain are playing in The Catford Ram, and that means good music, hideously expensive beer, but most importantly - fun ! It means that my diet is going a bit weird tonight. When I get home from work I'll have a couple of greasy bite sized pork and pickle pies to line my stomach before pouring the beer in. When I get home again I would ideally not have any more to eat, but I know after a few beers that will be impossible. So I reckon it will be more greasy bite-sized pork and pickle pies until the six pack I bought is empty !
Wednesday 19th January 2011
07:50 GMT

  Clear skies overnight have left a thick frost this morning. With a little less streetlighting it would have glittered nicely in the glare of the big bright full moon that greeted me as I set off for work this morning. As the sun prepares to rise above the horizon (any minute now) the sky is looking a little hazy, but the ever helpful (but often tragically wrong) BBC weather forecast says that we will have a sunny morning. It may cloud over later on in the afternoon, but should stay dry. Temperatures will, apparently, be around the average for this time of the year at around 6 or 7 C.

 It is a shame that the bright sunshine we had for much of yesterday wasn't combined with the higher temperatures of last week. If they had it would have been like a fine spring day. Unfortunately the temperature was only around 6 or 7 C (the same as today is supposed to be), but on a few rare occasions, when the air became still, it didn't feel at all bad in the sunshine.

 The best thing about yesterday was the reasonably clear sky as I was going home from work. About 50% of the sky was clear so the sun wasn't always shining, but enough daylight was getting through for it to actually be "daylight" when I arrived back in Catford. By the time I had bought some shopping in Tesco it was just about dark, but the big, almost full, moon was shining brightly, and that wasn't bad.

 I feel a certain smug self satisfaction this morning. There are signs that my attempts to reduce my waistline enough to get into my new trousers are actually working. This morning, the jeans that I was worried might be worse than too tight to wear seemed to just fall on. It is too early for that sort of improvement to have taken effect on me. Most of it, but not all of it, was down to the jeans returning to their pre-wash dimensions. While being acutely aware that I am always just one dinner away from undoing my recent meagre achievements, I have come up with a wild theory. I think that it is possibly easier to lose weight recently gained in winter than weight that has accumulated over years. If that is so there is an unlikely chance that I'll be in my new trousers in weeks instead of months.

 Another thing that feels good is that last night I had my best nights sleep for some time now. It may have just been exhaustion after several nights of very disturbed sleep, or it may have been due to a review of my pillow policy. When I got my new mattress I treated myself to some new pillows. They were all nice soft and fluffy, and you might think that was great, but they never did seem quite right, and I was getting a neck ache from sleeping on them. Last night I used my old pillows. One is very knackered. It is almost hard and flat with lumps in it. The other, which I use on top of the other, has definitely seen better days, and although lump free is definitely not fluffy. As I laid my head down on these two old pillows it felt like everything was just in the right place, and I think I fell asleep quickly and easily. I only woke once in the night for a pee, but went back to sleep almost instantly when I got back from the bathroom, and although I have very vague memories of dreaming I can remember nothing of them. That suggests I was sleeping very soundly. Hopefully I'll be yawning just a little less than yesterday !

 Just in case you were wondering, I successfully called the Oyster Card helpline yesterday, and my 4.50 has been refunded. So all's well that ends well (at least that's what Shakespeare probably thought).
Tuesday 18th January 2011
07:45 GMT

  Heavy rain during the night has left everything dripping, but it had just finished by the time I left to go to work. It seems that was the last of the rain for this week, but the penalty for that is that it will be getting colder. It didn't feel that cold as I came to work, but I did notice that my fingers were getting a bit tingly after walking from the station to work. Perhaps tomorrow I should start wearing my gloves again. I think the temperature for today is forecast to be around 6 or 7 C, and although dry, it will stay overcast and dull.
 Yesterday brought several disappointments. The first I should have mentioned yesterday. When I arrived at Earlsfield station yesterday morning, none of the Oyster Card readers was working. That meant that I was charged a single off peak fare from Catford Bridge to Waterloo East, and then another fare from Waterloo to infinity. That latter fare was an extra 4.50 making my journey to work cost 6.50 instead of 2. This can be sorted out on the Oyster Card helpline, but it's a lot of faffing around, and I did hope that it could be sorted out by the staff at the London Underground ticket offices at Waterloo station.

 I certainly had enough time to make enquiries because another big disappointment was that my usual train from Waterloo East was cancelled. There was some good cheer when the next train was not overcrowded as I feared it would be, but there was no joy from the ticket office. So sometime this morning I'll be phoning the Oyster Card helpline.....press 1 for this, press 2 for that, press 3 for the other, please hold, please wait while we transfer you, press 9 if you're tired of life and want to commit suicide......

 The last disappointment of the day concerned trousers. I have already told the tale of putting on the freshly laundered jeans that I feared had shrunk more than my waist would contract to during washing, and how they actually went on with no trouble at all (and this morning they are almost a rather loose fit). Yesterday I recieved a new pair of trousers that I had ordered over the internet. My friend Jodie thinks that I am going through some sort of mid life crisis because I decided that for the first time in my life I wanted a pair of pillar box red trousers. There could be some truth in that, but it depends on how you define an increasing desire to grow old disgracefully.

 Once I got home from work I couldn't wait to try the new trousers on. According to the tag on them they are the same waist size as the jeans I am wearing now, and the jeans I was wearing before yesterday, and the same size as many other pairs of trousers that I can easily get into. My struggles suggest that in fact they are two whole inches smaller than their tag says they are. To my extreme disappointment I can't wear them yet. Fortunately I have been taking small steps in the right direction to reduce my waist size, and now I need to try and increase the size of those steps. I don't think I'll need to go the whole two inches to get into them, and just one inch (and some tyre levers) may be just sufficient to start with.

 Last night was almost a big step towards reducing my waist size. After only eating two satsuma oranges, and one small apple during the day, my dinner consisted of a spinach and skinless chicken curry cooked in a water based sauce. It was very low fat and fairly low in calories. If I had left it there I would probably lost 0.002 of an inch off my waist this morning, but I also scoffed a bag of brazil nuts. They are good in terms of fibre and minerals, but they do have a lot of high calorie oil in them. So I possibly only lost 0.0004 of an inch yesterday. Still, only another 3000 days like that and I'll be in my red trousers like a rat up a drainpipe !
Monday 17th January 2011
07:58 GMT

  It's not too cold this morning, and that's just as well because it is very wet. If the amount of rain that has fallen this morning had fallen as snow, as often happens at this time of year (9th January last year ?), we would be wading through snow up to our waists. Well, maybe not waists, but above the ankle at minimum.  According to the BBC, this rain is set to continue until gone midday. After that it might just stay grey and miserable with the temperature hovering around 10 C - which is possibly "warmer" than I expected.

 It could be argued that yesterday was better than it was forecast to be. There was the long period of sunshine from early morning until almost midday instead of the grey morning and mere sunny intervals forecast for midday. I expected it to rain around midday, but it just stayed overcast except for an inexpected flash of sunshine for a few minutes. Later on, perhaps around 3 or 4pm there was a some very light drizzle, and maybe more persistent rain after dark (when I had the curtains drawn, and was not paying any attention to the outside world).

 I am not sure how I feel this morning. In theory I should be feeling quite good. When I think back, I find myself a little surprised about how little I ate yesterday (compared to a typial Sunday !). I ate my leftover Chinese meal, and a large proportion of that was just rice. Later on I had some (alleged) low fat baked potato, almost, but not quite like crisps with some generous portions of lime pickle on them. After those I had some rice cakes with a generous layer of peanut butter on them. None of these things are noted for their healthy attributes, but at least they were eaten as a sort of main meal instead of between meal snacks.

 It does feel rather odd that I ate as little and as infrequently as I did. It was because I seemed to be having another good day, and that was because I found myself quite focussed on, in the great scheme of all things, a rather trivial, but time consuming task. The task had several facets to it, and one the whole each was a great success. It may not seem like much, but the end result of one task resulted in an experimental temporary web page here.

 This morning I put on a freshly laundered pair of jeans that despite describing as freshly laundered I have actually been dreading trying on since about xmas. I was not really convinced that I would be able to get in them after some of the winter excesses. It was very pleasing that I had absolutely no trouble putting them on, and I am wearing them quite comfortably right now. If I had to think of one single complaint about them it would be that they feel a bit stiff, but that is typical of fresh jeans in my experience. After a couple of days they should be as supple as a supple thing.

 So I got into my fresh jeans with ease without resorting to tyre levers, and that suggests that at worst my weight is back to "normal" (for me). It didn't really feel like that when I rushed up the slope to get out of Waterloo East station this morning. I seemed to get unusually winded in the process. Perhaps I can blame it on the dense wet air I was trying to breath, or maybe because I had two coats on (normal coat plus cagoule on top). I can't wait until I can do that bit of commuting mad dash wearing just a t-shirt in warm sunshine !

 Tonight I am in two minds about whether to get some shopping on the way home. There are only a couple of things I want, but are not that important yet. There are two negative aspects about going shopping. The first is that I could easily be tempted to buy food that I am trying to avoid for the moment. The second downside would be a ceratin amount of guilty feeling if I delayed getting home while Smudge is out in the rain. This morning I left the back window open for her to come in again after she went out to attend to her needs. The problem is that I don't know if she did come back in ! She has just found a new place to sleep that is hidden under either the settee or one of the chairs, and I didn't have time to get down on my hands and knees to see if she had gone back to bed before I had to leave to get my train. So I could get home to either a very pampered cat, or a very soggy cat. Being an old softy I'll probably race directly back home to see what I find when I get there.
Sunday 16th January 2011
10:47 GMT

  Yesterday I was foolish enough to say that the pleasant interlude of nice weather was over. This morning it is actually bright and sunny ! The temperature outside is alleged to be 11 C. This measurement comes from the BBC who claimed that at 9am there was grey cloud (it was sunny), and that by midday there would be sunny intervals (the sun has been shining non stop since it first rose). This same forecast says it will be raining by 3pm. Well, it does seem to be getting cloudier. So maybe it will, or maybe it won't !

 I had a most excellent evening last night. There was nothing that special about it, but it just seemed to flow so easily. It started when I threw caution to the wind and ordered a Chinese takeaway. Maybe it was just me, perhaps the good mood I was in, but it somehow seemed to satisfy the tastebuds in a legendary sort of way. As usual I ordered more than I needed, and I now have the pleasure of the rest for dinner today. The only spoiler to this wonderful gastronomic experience was the knowledge that Chinese takeaway food has so many evils in it in the forms of sugar, salt, fat/oil, and monosodium glutamate. All stuff the healthy body should avoid.

 After eating I watched some TV. When an unfortunately rather lame edition of QI finished I turned off the TV and went up to my bedroom. I didn't intend to go to bed straight away, but I thought I might do a bit of reading while listening to the radio. I didn't do much reading, but I did listen to most of Pandora's radio show on Radio Caroline. I have to admit she played some excellent music.

 With my PC on to listen to the music I started to check out some stuff on the web. While I checked this and that out, and posted a few messages on a few forums I became increasingly mellow as I listened to the music and consumed a few large whiskies. Alcohol is variable stuff when it comes to moods and feelings. As Homer Simpson once said " Beer - the cause of, and the answer to all lifes problems". Last night it was not the cause of problems but the cause of no problems. In short, a combination of nothing at all, some excellent music, a bit of booze, and maybe the chance to do a bit of Linux advocacy on a forum left me feeling wonderful.

 At this point I was going to use the word hubris, but upon researching I find it doesn't actually mean something like the revenge of the gods. The gods did indeed get their revenge in though. No sooner had my eyes started to droop, and I started to enter sleep my phone binged to say I had an incoming email. I should have learned by now that I ought to put my phone on mute on nights such as last night, but as I also rely on the alarm function to get me up for work I dare not start using mute on it in case I one day I do it on a week night.

 Through the night, or at least up to 4am, I had more responses to stuff I had posted, or to emails. In consequence I had a very bad sleep last night, and it may be that either tonight, or perhaps even this afternoon I will just crash. If I were a clever person I would learn from a million past mistakes , and force myself to not rest until going to bed early tonight when in theory I could get an extended full nights sleep.

 Today I should have gone for a long walk to walk off some of last night's (and today's) Chinese food, but I had doubts about it yesterday, and even more doubts about it this morning with the sun shining. Yesterday I feared the weather would not be good for walking. While I have been writing this, a lot of time has passed since I wrote that the sun was shining brightly. As I write these words the sun has been replaced by dark clouds, and rain can't be far away. What I have actually decided to do today is to try and be a bit creative. As I am typing this I am also listening to some music, and researching about that music. Maybe you'll see the results here, or elsewhere some time.
Saturday 15th January 2011
16:40 GMT

  The spell of mild weather seems to be over now. This morning didn't feel too bad, but there is definitely a chill in the air now. If we are lucky the temperature won't fall below 5 or 6 C for the next few days, but that is still under half of what it was yesterday. The only redeeming thing is that it has stayed dry today - so far.

 Yesterday was definitely very mild, and definitely very wet ! Most significantly it was wet during my journey home from work. I left work under steady drizzle, but it dry up a bit as my train travelled to Waterloo. Upon arrival at Waterloo it was obvious that there had been a very heavy shower, but it had stopped by the time I went outside the station for a smoke. For a while the sun did try and filter through a crack in the clouds, and it became cheerily bright. As I finished my cigarette the rain started again, and soon it was teeming down. While I stood under the shelter of the platform canopy the rain came thundering down (although surprisingly there was no thunder and lightning).

 As my train travelled towards Catford I could see light sky to my left, and the darkest, thickest, most evil looking cloud to my right. At any moment I expect the heavens to open, and the train to be almost submerged in a solid wall of water. Oddly enough all that appeared to falling from the sky was just light rain. At Catford the rain had stopped. Overhead the sky was black, but towards the north the sky was almost blue.
Black cloud above, and almost blue sky over London
 I took the picture above soon after leaving the station. It was only takern on my mobile phone camera, and it only give a flavour of what the real view was like. The orange street lighting affected the colour balance, and originally it was a lot darker. Above is the black cloud that is rendered as more of a dark grey. To the north is the almost clear sky. It look blue here, but in reality it was more a pale milky blue colour.

 The real significance of the picture is not to show the two shades of sky, but to show that on a clear day it would almost have been daylight when I got home from work. Since the winter solstice the days have been getting longer again, and very soon now the longer days will make the evenings seem useful. Currently, when I get home in the dark it seems worthless doing any more than eating, watching TV, and going to bed. I am really looking forward to when the time comes when going out again after work seems less like going out in the middle of the night.

 Today has been dry, but very dull. I did have the pleasure of a visit from Aleemah. Once again she had some breakfast in the Wetherspoons pub. So I had the added pleasure of a pint of ale while she ate. After the pub we went round Aldi where I did a little bit of shopping. Don't tell Smudge, but as well as cat food she also has some dog food for a bit of variety !

 I am in two minds as to what to do tonight. The best choice would be a cook a light meal so that I feel good to go out for a long walk tomorrow. The other choice, and it is a gigantic temptation, is to order a takeaway - probably Chinese. With the prospect of tomorrow being rather cool, as well as overcast, and possibly of it raining too, I am guessing that I won't be going out no matter how good I feel. In which case I may as well enjoy myself tonight even if the long term affect is not so enjoyable.
Friday 14th January 2011
07:58 GMT

  I didn't really believe it was possible, but I am sure that this morning is milder than yesterday. It is almost, but not quite, warm outside. There seems to be more potential for rain today. When I arrived at Earlsfield station I just caught the tail end of a light shower. With the mild temperature, and the rain being very light, I didn't even bother to do up the front of my ultra lightweight coat with hood (I didn't bother with the hood either).

 This unseasonably mild weather seems to have put an extra spring in my step. Once again I feel rather unusually good. Even my smokers cough seems very mild for the time of the year. While I could always find some sort of ache or pain to moan about, I think that this morning I'll only moan about my injury. It is not the most serious of injuries, but it is still annoying. This morning I am ashamed to confess that I cut myself under the nose while shaving ! Over all the years that I have been shaving it still comes as a surprise as to how much blood can come out of a hole one sixteenth of an inch wide, and as deep as a human hair !

 It is of no consequence now, but one other thing I could moan about is what happened during the night. Every so often, although possibly not for several years, I get cramp in one or other leg while in bed. Last night it happened three (or was it four ?) times. I woke up to the feeling that my leg was in a vice. Fortunately my reflexes are still sharp, and each time I threw back the covers and leapt out of bed. Once I put some weight on the offending leg (I think both suffered last night), and maybe walk a couple of paces, the cramp goes away, and I am comfortably in bed again within a minute or two.

 It is a bit mysterious as to why after several years of no bother I suddenly get cramp a few times in the night. Some say it is due to low salt, and I think some say it is due to high salt consumption. I don't think there was anything unusual about my diet recently that would make my blood chemistry unusually unusual last night. Of course it could have been aliens trying to abduct me (and probably failing). There is a condition known as sleep paralysis that is often blamed for people believing they are being abducted by aliens, or being rogered by the devil, or any amount of wonderful ideas that depend on your beliefs.

 During the night I think I was affected by sleep paralysis (or I was having a heart attack). I do remember a bit of dream where I was laying down on something like a clock face and being shown the crown jewels (weird !). While this was happening I felt increasing pressure on my chest, and movement became difficult. It must say something about me because I didn't think I was being anally probed by an alien, or that some witch-hag was trying to do something unspeakable to me, nor did I consider it might be some sort of bad medical condition. No, I thought the cat had jumped onto my chest as she used to before I decided to banish her, and her fleas, from the bedrooms.

 One thing I did last night, that some might blame for these strange sleep disturbances, was to go and have a few beers in the pub. That in itself was nothing unusual, but eating two tiny little greasy pork and pickle pies beforehand was unusual. I popped in at home to let Smudge in, who had been out all day, before going to the pub, and while at home those two little bite sized pies seemed like a good idea to save me drinking on an empty stomach. They probably worked too. After three pints I felt almost unaffected by the booze. I even nearly managed to avoid buying fish and chips on the way home, but I felt too impatient to cook my own dinner. So I did buy some fish and chips, and they were very nice !
Thursday 13th January 2011
07:53 GMT

  It is amazingly mild this morning, and what's more it is not raining ! I remain unconvinced that the weather forecasters got the forecast exactly correct. This morning was forecast to be one degree cooler than last night, and yet by my reckoning it is warmer this morning. We still have to pay a terrible price for this warmth. The sky is heavy with cloud, and it could rain at any time.

 There was some rain when I left work to go home last night, but my cagoule kept me totally dry. In fact, all I needed to wear was the cagoule. It was mild enough that I stuffed my main coat into my back pack. This morning I just wore my extra lightweight jacket with hood. Despite being so thin I warmed up enough during a surprisingly fast walk from the station to raise a thin sheen of sweat on my forehead.

 Another thing that looked like it was sweating was all the tiled surfaces at Waterloo East station last night. I expect other surfaces were probably doing it too, but it was most obvious on shiny glazed tiles. Those tiles were so cold after the weeks and months of freezing weather that the warm moist air was condensing on them the same way as warm moist air condenses on a cold beer bottle. In the subway there was enough condensate running off the tiles that the floor was soaking wet with puddles here and there.

 I'm not sure if it the continued relief of getting over my recent 'flu-like illness, or the continued effect from the great night I had last Saturday, or just because it is almost, but not quite, warm outside, but I do feel rather good recently. Occasionally a few bits ache, but not badly. My chest is still a bit bunged up with tar and fag ash, but I still seem to be able to walk at full commuter speed plus for extended periods without feeling too breathless. Overall, most of my body seems to be functioning to minimum specifications or better - which is sort of surprising ! Tonight I think I'll ruin it all by going for a couple of pints in the pub  :-)
Wednesday 12th January 2011
07:52 GMT

  There are still claims being made by the weather forecasters that the temperature is to rise to 13 C. It is just about feasible that it will happen today. It felt rather chillier than that when I set out for work, and the wind and rain provided little cheer. However, I walked from Earlsfield station to work with my hand completely unprotected, and they didn't go numb, nor did any fingers fall off. So I guess that this morning is warmer than it has been for some time. The price we pay for this rise in temperature is just more and more rain falling from dark gloomy skies. Apparently it could continue like this until the weekend.

 I was obviously very mistaken about the possibility of yesterday getting something close to detectably warm. The bit of weather forecast I saw, but did not hear on TV the night before yesterday, was evidently a rather unlikely, but maybe true, forecast about how today could end up rather than yesterday when it stayed rather cool all day.

 I may be mistaken, but I think there was a brief glimpse of sunshine yesterday. Most of the day was very dull, and quite often wet. Under such conditions my bravado at thinking I might possibly walk to Wandsworth Common station after work very quickly evaporated. I didn't even put plan B into operation. That was to pick up a bit of shopping on the way home from work. In theory it should have been a safe time to shop because I knew that I had some dinner just waiting to be warmed up once I got home. That should have taken away the temptation to buy unsuitable stuff to stuff myself with.

 Tonight I really do need to get some shopping, and the most important item on my shopping list is catfood. I think I am down to one small container of food that Smudge will eat, and several that were once acceptable, but are now considered to be yesterday's flavours.  So once again I have rustled up some human food and pre-cooked it ready to warm up when I get in tonight so that my thoughts are on that rather than all the goodies in the supermarket. At the back of the freezer I found some chicken breast fillets, some sweetcorn, and some some frozen spinach. I cooked that up in some stock flavoured with chilli sauce, and garlic. I can't say I have ever noticed it before, but the smell of the spinach cooking away with the chicken smelled unusually nice. I am looking forward to seeing how my new recipe has turned out.

 One of the great things about pre-cooking my dinner is that it saves washing up a saucepan. Each of the last three dinners cooked in the same saucepan have been based on chicken. After dishing out my dinner I didn't even bother to drain any excess "gravy" out of the pan, and I just simply added more water and more ingredients before putting the pan back on the hob. There was a cooking method where a large pot would be kept simmering by the kitchen fire day and night (we are talking about past times here), and whatever meat or vegetables were available would be tossed in the pot. The idea being that it was never completely emptied so the stock would develop a really rich flavour. If I had the facilities I would probably keep such a pot going over the whole winter.

 There is nothing more disconcerting that realising that your bed is actually at the front of the top deck on a double decker bus, and that everyone in the high street could potentially see what adult things you were doing with a member of the opposite sex in it. Such is the wonder of dreams, or in this case, nighmares. Apart from that dodgy dream, and several others of less nighmarish scenarios, I think I probably slept well last night. These last few days I have been getting just enough sleep, although more would always be desirable. I don't know if it is just another indicator that the 'flu like illness that caused me a lot of discomfort last week is now behind me, or if it is just an indicator that my body is now growing used to my new mattress and new pillows, but I didn't wake up with a crick in the neck and a headache this morning.
Tuesday 11th January 2011
07:44 GMT

  I didn't hear the weather forecast on TV last night because I was on the phone, but if I interpreted what I saw on the screen correctly it could get close to being warm today. Across London on the weather chart was a large "13", and I am assuming that is the possible top temperature today. What I failed to notice was any details about rain.

It rained during the night, and this morning everything is very soggy, but it hasn't rained since leaving to come to work, although there seems to be plenty of potential for more rain to fall. There is plenty of cloud in the sky, and that gives reason to hope that it may get close to warm today. My morning paper was less optimistic suggesting about 8 C instead of that mythical 13 C that the BBC seemed to be suggesting, but even 8 C could be considered luxury compared to what we have had to endure lately.

 It was often quite draughty yesterday, but the roots of this increase in temperature could even be felt despite the wind. When I left work to go home I decided that I did not need to do my coat up as I walked to the station. The temperature had not risen enough for that to be 100% comfortable, but it was more comfortable than walking in the ice and snow with my coat done up tightly, and wearing my warmest gloves and thermal underwear. This morning I put on my lighter jacket, and with it not done up at the front it was no less comfortable than last night.

 All I want now is for the sky to clear before 4pm, and for the temperature to really rise to 13 C. With daylight extending further and further into my commute home it would make for an almost pleasant journey. I noticed yesterday that it was still light while I waited for my train at Waterloo East station, and it was still light enough to see out of the train on the way to London Bridge. It is heartening to think that every day that passes brings daylight closer to Catford. Very soon now it will be daylight at London Bridge, and in a few more days it may last as far as New Cross.Then a few more days after that, Ladywell, until finally I will be getting off the train in Catford in full daylight.

 It makes me feel good to think that the dark days of winter are now showing definite signs of receding, although it is important to bear in mind that hours of daylight do not relate to temperature. There is still plenty of time for it to snow again before spring is really upon us.

 Another thing that makes me feel good is that at long last I have finally had some news from Patricia. I think it was quite early last December when she last wrote to me saying that she was now back to somewhere where there was a PC and she could contact me more often. It's been a long wait, but sometime during the night a very nice email came through from her.

 All this good news is almost matched by useful improvements in how I feel physically. I am still getting headaches too frequently, and I am occasionally a bit chesty, but all the other stuff that made last week a bit tough have gone. It almost feels like that if it were nice and warm I could almost tackle a five mile walk. I did contemplate walking the 1.9 miles to Wandsworth Common station last night, and if it is warm(ish) and dry I may consider doing so again tonight. Although unlikely, if it is actually sunny when I leave work tonight it could just tip the balance enough to firmly convince me to walk, but really it will just be a spur of the moment thing.
Monday 10th January 2011
08:11 GMT

  After a clear day, and an almost clear night, there is a thick frost on the ground. When I left for work it was too dark to see what the sky was like, but I guessed there was some light haze in the sky. It was thick enough to obscure all but one bright star, or more likely a bright planet (Venus, maybe). Here in Earlsfield the sky on the eastern horizon, over the top of the cemetary as the train pulls in to Earlsfield station, was lighting up in vivid pinks and oranges as the sun was just about to appear on the horizon. Now that the sun is high enough to provide a crude approximation of daylight, I can see that the cloud is filling in all the spaces, and I think that sooner or later we are due for more rain.

 Yesterday was a brilliant sunny day. Behind glass that sun felt very hot, but it was pure delusion. Outside in the harsh world of reality, the temperature was only about 5 C. It was a really cruel trick by one of the Gods to make the outside look so enticing, while in reality it was cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

 I felt really rather good yesterday. Much of it was to do with having such a great night out on Saturday, but it was also to do with being able to be totally lazy indoors in the warm. The good feeling seems to have continued today, and yet there are several reasons why I should not feel that good today. Foremost among those reasons is that I had a lousy sleep. I went to bed half an hour early, but didn't get to sleep until almost 2 hours late. Even when I did sleep it was poor quality sleep with many strange dreams and waking up at odd times.

 I blame the poor sleep on the unneccesary supper I had last night. It was some cheese and onion rolls (in the style of a sausage roll). In light of that I am surprised that I don't feel worse this morning. I have a few mild aches around the torso, and a sort of very low level headache, and yet I also seem to have a lot of energy this morning. I did the most stressful part of my commute into work, the walk from Waterloo East to Waterloo mainline station with a sort of lightness of step. Even the walk from Earlsfield station to work seemed less of a slog. Those latter two bits of walking felt the same as if I had lost some weight, and yet I know I haven't, and if anything I have put weight on over the weekend.

 On reflection, I didn't eat anything seriously bad over the weekend, and although I wasn't dancing on Saturday night, I was doing a lot of foot tapping and I guess that burnt up a couple of extra calories (3 or 4 !). So it is conceivable that I have lost some weight - but only if you think in terms of micrograms - perhaps about the same as clipping your fingernails !

 After such a bad nights sleep I am not sure how I will fare today, but if I can just make it through the working day without falling asleep in front of my computer too many times, I can look forward to a totally lazy evening (I have even pre-cooked my dinner), and, hopefully, and early night with plenty of quality sleep.
Sunday 9th January 2011
09:19 GMT

  The forecast for today says it is going to be a bright sunny day, and it has certainly started that way. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it is very chilly outside ! It all started last night. After a somewhat gloomy day the sky started to clear just as the sun was going down. It was quite a surprise to see the star constellation of Orion twinkling brightly in all it's glory as soon as I looked up when I went out last night.

 I did two shopping trips yesterday. One to the building society and the 99p shop. The other was to Tesco. After getting back from Tesco I felt really fatigued, and then spent most of the afternoon just lazing around. It didn't seem like I would enjoy going out last night, and indeed it was a struggle to get myself out the front door. I wasn't too happy while travelling to the pub on the bus, but once there things became much better. Much better indeed !

 The venue was The Chatterton Arms in Bromley where Chain were playing their first gig of the year. After several beers, some good music, and some nice company I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Chain played well, and even Guy, the new drummer, is now starting to play better. It is not easy to explain just what "better" means, but I guess it is me becoming more accustomed to his style, and he is more relaxed as he becomes less of the new boy, and more a part of the band (or something).

 Part of the evenings entertainment were two fans of Chain who are very enthusiastic dancers. If I can recall their names correctly, and take a stab at the spelling, they are Cris and Leigh.
Cris and Leigh
 Leigh was once a professional dancer, and I believe that Cris was once a nun (if I was not being wound up). They are both a very frisky pair of ladies. Cris made an attempt to get me dancing with them, I tactfully declined her kind offer, but it did provide an opener for some chat after the gig was over. This morning I can't exactly remember how it happened, but that chat ended with a very enthusiastic kiss from both Cris and Leigh. I did explain that I was terrified of ladies with red hair. So fortunately they treated me very gently :-)

 When I first started out to go to the pub I thought it was going to be one of those nights where I would have to slip away early. I was very wrong ! I stayed right up to the very end. It became so late that I feared that I would miss the last bus. I was much relieved when Steve, the bass player, said there would be no problem dropping me off in Catford as he has offered to do on previous occasions. So in return for being his roadie (almost - I just helped carry a few bits of kit to his car) I had a nice easy ride back to Catford, and arrived home at nearly 1am.

 I was too hyped up to go to bed straight away, and I had some food ready prepared to eat for when I got home. I ate my dinner while watching some film on TV. I did sort of recognise the name of the film, but I can't recall it now. It was set, and possibly made in the late 1960s, and featured the music of Strawberry Alarm Clock (most famous song = Incense And Peppermints). I eventually felt too tired to watch it all, and went to bed before it finished.

 After only 3 or 4 hours sleep I woke up with a pounding headache. A couple of Ibuprofen tablets seem to have sorted that out, and I feel reasonably OK now. I don't know what I am doing for the rest of the day, but I hope a few hours extra sleep feature in it.
Saturday 8th January 2011
09:41 GMT

  I can see one blue patch, but the rest of the sky is looking very murky. For the moment it is not raining, and considering the amount of rain we have had recently, I would be surprised if there is any rain left in the world, but regardless of my thoughts it is very likely to rain again at some point today. The only saving grace is that the temperature remains 5 or 6 degrees above zero.

 Yesterday was a particularly wet day. It poured with rain in the morning. In the afternoon there was a brief spell of sunshine to try and lure us into a false sense of security, and then it rained again. There was a brief respite in the early evening, and then it rained again, and seemed to be raining for much of the night.

 When I went out for my retinopathy scan yesterday morning the rain was lashing down, and it stayed lashing down when I came out of the hospital after my eyeballs had been seared with the flashes used to illuminate them for the photography. I wasn't too pleased with the rain, but the gloomy conditions suited me just fine for once. With my pupils dilated from the eye drops they put in to get a better view inside the eye, everthing looks ten times as bright.

 On previous occasions when I have had this done on a bright day it has been most uncomfortable getting home. Yesterday I hardly noticed. Some bright lights were dazzling, but it was easy to avoid looking at them. Back in Catford the rain had stopped, and although I knew that the sky looked very grey, and that the world should have looked grey and depressing too, my over sensitive eyes were telling me it wasn't that dull at all.

 The ongoing effect of the bug that I had been suffering from left me feeling very tired by the time I got back home. On the way home I picked up a couple of magazines, and some sandwiches. So I had a very lazy afternoon either reading or dozing off. It was all rather pleasant, and while just slouching around like that I felt perfectly fine. Also what was fine was my eyes. The nurse/technician only had a brief look at the pictures, but it was enough to see any significant problem. The pictures will be analysed in more detail at some point, but that is only likely to reveal something minor that they will "keep an eye on" as happens every year.

 After several short naps, but not the longer sleep I thought I would manage, I felt much better in the evening. It may be the result of feeling very satiated after treating myself to a Chinese takeaway, and possibly because I stayed up to 10pm (late for me in the general scheme of things), but I didn't seem to have any trouble getting to sleep last night. It wasn't a very good sleep though.

 On one occasion I had to wake up from a dream that was turning into a nightmare. I think it started with trying to get a train between two different stations on a route that has hardly any trains on it. When I did get on the train I was not sure if it was the right train. Halfway through the ride the train left the main line as expected, but there didn't seem to be any tracks, and the train seemed to have turned into a coach. At it's destination, which wasn't where I wanted to go, it seemed to morph into a sort of cafe or restaurant. The train/coach/cafe driver was trying to attract my attention to say I owed him 8.50 for the fish and chips that were part of the service. He looked a very swarthy latin type, and it seemed as if the other people in the place were speaking Spanish. I desperately looked in my wallet, and in my change pocket to find that I didn't have a single bit of money with me. At that point I decided it was safer to wake up !

 I feel fairly good today apart from a mild headache, but I do wonder how I'll feel once I decide to do something more than quietly sitting at my PC. While I feel OK, I don't feel very dynamic. I'll shortly be testing just how dynamic I am when I go out to the building society. In these desperate financial times there is very little spare money around, but I feel I ought to try and top up my savings having not done so for a whole year now. I am not sure how much is safe to draw from my current account to not go in the red at the end of the month, but however little I decide upon I know I can top that up with the 40 of 2 coins I seem to have amassed, and quite possibly a pound or two of 1p and/or 2p coins. The one thing that my building society desperately needs is one of those machines where you just pour all your loose change into a hopper and it automatically counts it all for you, and adds the amount to your savings. That would make life so easy, and I know I would save a lot more.

 With my financial deeds done I think the next thing will be a bit of shopping in Tesco. After that I predict that I will take things easy until it is time to go out to see Chain playing in The Chatterton Arms in Bromley. That is going to be a good test of my stamina, but fortunately it is one place where they don't play late, and if I want to leave a bit early I won't miss much.
Friday 7th January 2011
06:20 GMT

  It is damp outside, but I don't think it is actually raining right now, but rain seems to be a strong possibility anytime today. Along with that possible rain, there is also the possibility that it will be quite mild today. It doesn't feel that bad even now. In a display of unbridled optimism, the BBC says that by 6pm the temperature could be as high as 11 C, and that the day has started off at around 4 C.

 Although it didn't get anywhere near as warm, if you can call 11 C warm, yesterday probably set the pattern for today. For a brief time the sun did come out, but much of the day was very wet. The rain didn't really stop until early evening, and even then it may have resumed after I was safely indoors, and not paying attention to the outside world.

 My 'flu like symptoms seem ever changeable. I didn't feel too bad for a lot of yesterday. Most of the muscular aches and pains had gone away, but I did have a mild, but annoying headache late in the afternoon that only beer could provide a temporary cure for.

 I didn't go straight home last night, but went to the pub. This was principly because I wanted to have a quick word with Chris (lead guitar from Chain), but Iain joined me, and one pint became four, or almost four. Towards the end of the fourth pint I was struggling a bit, and I did leave a mouthful of beer in the glass when I left the pub, because I was feeling a bit off by then.

 What I needed, and what I got was something to fill my empty stomach (I had only eaten a couple of apples during the day). My filler was fish and chips, and they went down a treat. After eating them I managed to find the strength to look at my server. As a few people noticed, these web pages were off the air yesterday, and a lot of the day before too. The culprit seems to have been a failing power supply. Since dropping in a spare I had hanging around, everything seems to have been working for nearly 12 hours now, and hopefully the problem is cured.

 Today I have the day off work so I can go to a hospital appointment for my annual retinopathy scan. This is where they use bright flash photography to photograph the retina at the back of the eye. To do this they apply some drops that dilate the pupil and make you look like some raving drug addict, and make my vision hypersensitive. For an hour or so after the drops have taken effect it is like everything is lit up by an arc lamp. Today is one day where the darker, and gloomier the sky is, the better I'll like it ! It all takes place at 9.15 (allegedly), and I might even get home, and into a nice darkened room an hour after that.

 Once I get home again I can stop fighting this bug I am suffering from, and possibly go to bed to sleep the rest of it off - if I need it. I don't actually feel too bad this morning. I feel a bit stiff, but there is no real discomfort, and a good hot shower may well cure the stiffness. All that will be left is a certain amount of lethargy, but that's not untypical for me anyway. Of course I may just be feeling better because I don't have to go to work today, and know that I can indulge in some intensive relaxation for most of the day. On the other hand, if I don't feel too bad, I may go for a walk this afternoon and burn off some of last nights beer and fish and chips. It doesn't seem too likely at the moment, but anything is possible.
Wednesday 5th January 2011
07:48 GMT

  I was surprised to see stars up in the sky this morning. A fair amount of the sky was clear, and that meant that it was colder this morning. Just how much colder is difficult to tell for reasons I'll come to soon. It is theoretically possible that we could have some sunshine today if the sky stays partially clear, but I believe that some rain is forecast. However, weather forecasts seem very unreliable at the moment.

 Yesterday saw a mixture of sunshine, showers, and a lot of just plain grey weather. Oddly enough, the showers and the sunshine, although not at the same time, happened in the same part of the day, around elevenses time. After that brief episode the day returned to just being cold and grey. The only pleasing thing that happened later was that I noticed that there was still the last vestiges of daylight as I waited for my train at Waterloo East on my way home.

 While it was pleasing that I had confirmation that the days are really getting longer. It was less pleasing that my train was cancelled.  Fortunately this information was displayed well in advance of when the train was due, and not after the fact as sometimes happens. That gave me the opportunity to take the first train to London Bridge, and then catch the next Catford bound train that originated at Cannon Street instead of Charing Cross (where my usual train come from). It meant that I was about 15 minutes late getting back to Catford, but that is (grudgingly) just about acceptable.

 I didn't go straight home from the station, but walked at right angles towards the Lidl supermarket for another look around in there. I picked up a few bits and pieces in there - principly a couple of 2 litre bottles of their own brand diet cola, and some catfood (and dog food !). It was the latter that was one of my main reasons for going there. Smudge is getting bored with the same old flavours from Tesco, and last night rather enjoyed some chicken and liver dog food (although I didn't tell her it was dog food !).

 It was a bit difficult to comment on this morning's temperature because I think I have some sort of bug. Yesterday I found my thigh muscles complaing painfully whenever I went down stairs, and later in the day a few other muscles, including round the elbows, were also occasionally painful. This morning I felt both good and bad when I first got up. The good is that I can almost imagine I shed a little weight yesterday as a result of some careful eating. It is possible that I have actually lost weight - a few tenths of an ounce maybe ! It did feel like my gut was less bulging, and I can even imagine that my trousers were marginally looser.

 Beyond the feeling of less bloat, I did feel quite bad. Travelling to work definitely felt unpleasant, and on the train I realised that I was sweating quite heavily. Some of that sweat I could attribute to the fast walk I did to the station, but on the other hand I did not feel like I was very hot. Nor did I feel particularly chilly. My conclusion, flawed though it may be, was that I was running a temperature, and that the warmth of the train, plus being well wrapped up against the cold, kept me from getting the shivers. In some ways I hope that I did have a fever because for me it is proof that my body is defending itself against the ravages of all those naughty little bugs, bacteria, and viruses.

 Now I have gone through the ravages of travelling to work, and I am now sitting down in a warm room, I don't feel too bad. Yet bits of me still don't feel that good. It does feel like 'flu in some respects, but having been vaccinated against both seasonal and swine 'flu, and having already had a very mild dose of 'flu (like symptoms), it can't be 'flu again. I expect it is something exotic like Edison Screw,  Baird's Bogies, or even the Boogie Woogie, but I am sure I'll be over it soon enough.
Tuesday 4th January 2011
08:02 GMT

  There was a hint that there may have been a brief sprinkle of light rain before I went out this morning. I noticed what looked like a few sparkling rain drops on some surfaces when I first stepped out the front door, but it was cold and dry as I made my way into work in the dark. It now looks like there is some fine rain on my office window, but a workmate who has just come in says it is still dry outside. I don't think rain is forecast for today, but it is going to be very cloudy, and the chances of seeing the partial solar eclipse this morning are not even worth considering.

 Yesterday was a little brighter than I think today will be, but there were only a few glimpses of sunshine in the morning. In fact I can remember any actual sunshine, but I do remember seeing some blue patches in the sky. I guess they were just in the wrong place for the sun to shine through.

 It is hard to decide if things are getting better or worse. The days are getting longer again, and have been since December 21st. Sunset is due at 4.06pm today, and so it should still be light during the first part of my journey home. So that is an improvement. It is getting warmer, and if the laughably inaccurate BBC weather forecast is anything to go by it could even reach 10 C by the end of the week. That too is an improvement. Unfortunately the same forecast says it will be pouring with rain, and that is not an improvement.

 Yesterday, after I had met Aleemah at the station, we wandered down to the Catford Wetherspoons pub so that Aleemah could have a hot breakfast. I didn't partake in any food, but I did a pint and half of beer. The first pint was an ale that I think had some sort of festive name. I can't recall that name, nor who brewed it, but it was just a little too bitter for my personal taste. The half pint was of a Russian Stout style beer with an alcohol level of 5.3%. After the bitterness of the first pint it took a little time before the true flavour of the stout came through, but when it did it was a revelation.

 I had always thought that the fanciful descriptions that wine or beer tasters give, with undertones of this, and hints and essences of that, were a little bit too weird to be true. Yesterday I suddenly found that I could start to appreciate the complexities of the stout. It did have hints of chocolate and vanilla, and something else that I couldn't quite put my finger on. It could have been liquorice, and in a fair and just world I would be able to go back to the pub this morning and have another taste of that beer. Sadly I am now stuck at work, and I don't think I'll be drinking after work tonight. However, when I next have a beer I'll have to see if I can use more than my usual dialect to describe the taste.

 It was a bit of a shock to the system having to come to work this morning. Getting up at 5am was no problem, but not being able to go back to bed again is annoying. It is lucky that I went for my walk on new years day, and then did all that travelling (with a small walk attached) when I went to see my sisters the day after. Even the brief walk through Catford with Aleemah, yesterday, may have helped cushion the blow of trying to lug my over fed, and under exercised, body all the way from Catford to Earlsfield. It did feel like hard work, and the cold air was making my chest feel tight and wheezy. It made my smokers cough a bit active too.

 I managed to avoid buying a roll or two from the minimart near the station this morning, and if I can basically stick to my plans for dinner tonight, I hope to feel a bit more lively tomorrow. Tonights dinner should be something to do with cabbage, leeks, and smoked sausage. In theory it is low in everything except goodness, although the sausage will add some fat that it would be even better to avoid.
Monday 3rd January 2011
06:24 GMT

  It might just be me, but I think this morning is colder than the last couple of mornings. It is hard to tell when sunrise is still over an hour away, and it is still dark outside, but I get the impression that it is rather cloudy. From indoors I can't see any stars in the sky, but with all the light pollution it only takes the lightest of cloud cover to block out the stars. So that is not a reliable indicator of the amount of cloud, but I still get the impression that the cloud is thicker than yesterday.

 Adding the idea that it is colder, and that the cloud is thicker, does go some way to suggest that the weather forecast for today may be close to correct. At 6pm, by the BBC's reckoning, there will be some sleet falling, and by 9pm we will have some light snow. I can definitely believe that.

 Yesterday's forecast, the revised one that was issued retrospectively (!) took away the sunshine we were promised in the earlier forecast, and substituted more cloud. In fact there were a few glimpses of sunshine during the morning, but by the afternoon the cloud was more substantial, and it almost felt like it could snow then.

 I managed to avoid eating yesterday morning, as I hoped I would, and at 11am I went out to catch a bus to my sisters place. It was a long 45 minute bus ride out into the "wilds" of Kent, and if the bus had been warm, moving a bit faster, and the sun was shining, it may not have been such an ordeal. At least it was daylight, and I could admire some of the scenery from the top deck of the bus. That mitigated a small part of the ordeal.

 It has been many years since I last saw my older sister, but we have spoken on the phone far more frequently. It had been even more years, about 20, since I last saw or spoke to my younger sister, and I have to admit my disgrace at hardly recognising her. They were pleased to see me, and it was nice to see them (and their husbands).
My two sisters
 I was told twice, once by my younger sister, and then later by her husband (who had been out to the shops when I first arrived), that I had not changed at all in the 20 years since I last saw them. That was sort of uplifting for some reason. Although it was all rather pleasant and nice to catch up on the family gossip, after 90 minutes, and with their dinner almost ready to be served, I made my excuses and left. I could have stayed for dinner, but I wanted a smoke, and I wanted to get to the shops before they closed (4pm on a Sunday).

 My older sisters house, where my younger sister was staying for a few days, is close to Biggin Hill airfield. Another reason for leaving when I did was that I wanted to walk down to the old RAF entrance to Biggin Hill where a Spitfire and Hurricane aircraft stand guard at the gates. Once upon a time they were real WW2 aircraft, but I am lead to believe that they are now incrediblt detailed, but essentially plastic replicas of the real things. From the bus they still looked very impresive, and I wanted to take some pictures of them.

 In the end that didn't happen. It would have been a walk of over a mile in the cold, and fortunately mostly downhill, but I gave up before I got there. My excuse was the timing of the buses. There are, allegedly, three buses an hour on a Sunday, and I didn't fancy a long wait in the cold. As I came out of the side roads from my sisters place I noticed a bus pass on the main road that had come from Catford. The timetables suggested that the end of the route was only five minutes away, and so at the very minimum the bus could reappear heading towards Catford in 10 minutes, but I guessed at 15 or 20 minutes to be more realistic. So I walked as fast as I could while keeping an eye on the time. After 15 minutes I had reached the next bus stop, but was still one bus stop away from the aircraft. I decided to cut my losses and wait for the bus to arrive where I was. My guess was not bad, I only had to wait a few minutes before I was on a bus back to Catford. I'll leave taking pictures of those aircraft to a sunnier day.

 I arrived back in Catford in time to get some stuff from Tesco. For some reason I still had a bacon fixation, although my desire for eggs had waned. I bought some cheap "cooking" bacon (off cuts and mis-sliced rashers), and some mixed chicken thighs and breasts, and I also bought a bag of small sweet potatoes that I found at the checkout (either forgotten or discarded by a previous shopper). Back at home I covered the chicken and a couple of small sweet potatoes with bacon and left it in a hot oven for something like 90 minutes. The crispy bacon, moist chicken and sweet potato glazed with bacon fat, were really nice (although probably terribly unhealthy). The best bit is I only ate half of it so I can look forward to the other half later today.

 My first priority today is to do all the normal stuff prior to a visit from Aleemah. All my grand ideas I mentioned a few days ago about doing hoovering and tidying up came to very little, and this morning I had better see if I can manged to give the place a light skim to make it look a bit more presentable ! I have the perfect excuse for not doing more - my wheelie bin is full of mattress, and the only tiny bit of room left in it is reserved for the contents of the waste bin in the kitchen. I still have the metalwork of my old mattress, but now it has been stripped of all material it is looking very insubstantial. It will still take a fair bit of time to finish breaking it down to individual springs, but once that is donethe entire metalwork should almost fit into the same space as a large shopping bag.
Sunday 2nd January 2011
06:54 GMT

  I feel cheated ! We were promised a cold, but sunny day today. Now the latest forecast is for a cloudy day, and although it may not be as overcast as yesterday, it doesn't sound like there will be much, if any, sunshine today. Meanwhile the temperature is still only going to hover at a degree, or so above freezing !

 Even the forecast for yesterday turned out to be wrong in one respect. It was supposed to be dry until early evening, but it rained, albeit very lightly, sometime around 11pm. It was probably that time when I forced myself out for a walk around the park. For the first five minutes of that walk there was some very light, misty like rain. It wasn't the sort of rain that gets you wet unless it carries on for far longer, but I could feel it on my face.

 The gps tracking software on my phone said that my entire walk was only 2.55 miles, but I am so out of condition it felt much, much more than that. It probably didn't help that I was only wearing my lightweight, cheapo, Peacocks Urban Spirit brand copy of a Converse trainer. They are comfortable to wear, but not that comfortable for a long walk, and definitely not suitable for some of the mud I had to go through. At first I walked quite fast, but that very quickly wore me down. Then I slowed the pace, and stopped occasionally to take pictures. That felt a lot better, but then fatigue set in and the last mile was definitely a bit of a slog.

 On first sight the park looked rather dead, but by looking more carefully there was stuff to see, and hear. The most obvious thing to hear was the birdsong, and most obvious of that was the parrots. Looking carefully among the trees and bushes I saw a very small bird. It might have been a baby sparrow, but I am sure it was a wren. I have never seen a wren before, apart from on the old farthing coin,
farthing coin
 Now I come to look at the farthing coin itself I am very sure that what I did see was indeed a wren. I did try and take a picture of it, but it was so tiny, and so mobile that I just could not get it in the viewfinder for long enough to press the shutter. Not only that, but being so overcast meant that there was not enough light for fast exposures. A few birds did pose for me long enough for pictures, but one was under the branches of a fir tree, and I had to work hard to pull this picture out of the gloom.
A robin in the dull gloom
 By contrast, if you'll excuse the pun, this pigeon was easy to photograph.
......and this duck came out nice and colourful (shame about the bit of weed partially obscuring it though).
 Squirrels are very skittish things, but one obliged me by staying still for half a second.
 Finally there was one bit of wildlife that was both colourful, and didn't move........
 I am not sure what this fungus was, but it was growing on the stump of an old tree. It could be honey fungus, or suphur tuft fungus, or something completely different ! One interesting fact that came up while trying to find a name for this fungus, is that fungi growing directly on wood are unlikely to be poisonous. Unlikely is not definite enough for me at the moment, but it might be useful to remember if I am ever stranded on a desert island or something.

 Before I went on this walk around the park I did give some thought to going out again in the afternoon, and as such I managed to avoid eating in the morning. I even managed to avoid eating for almost an hour after I got back, but I felt so knackered that I decided there was no way I would be going out again, and that it was time to eat. Like the day before, I had egg and bacon, but this time I had baked beans as well.

 Once again I found that the eggs and bacon were more filling than the quantity of food would suggest. I am sure there is a lesson to be learned there, but I am not sure what it is. Later on, in the early evening, I piled on the calories with copious amounts of peanut butter spread on rice cakes. I also had a few other smaller snacks, but it feels like my eating was fairly moderate in total compared to the excess of some days when I have stayed in all day.

 Apart from a desire to go back to bed (which I will do) I feel very reasonable today. I don't think yesterday's walk has left any particular after effects, and my (comparatively) moderate eating yesterday was probably beneficial to how I feel now. All I have to do now is to hold off eating for another 4 or 5 long hours and I can go out again today. If I get out it will be a long bus ride, rather than a long walk, to go and visit my two sisters.
Saturday 1st January 2011
06:50 GMT

  Once again it is dry, and the temperature is a moderate 6 C (approximately). Unfortunately it is also overcast again, but I can't describe the extent of it until the sun comes up in just over an hour.  According to the BBC, the cloud will eventually thin out, but before it does that we can expect some drizzle in the early evening. With that out of the way the sky will clear, and the temperature will plummet overnight into minus figures.

 Yesterday was rather grey and uninspiring. I don't think I did any of the things I thought I might do. I seemed to spend a good deal of the morning doing stuff on this PC. At lunchtime I decided that what I wanted was some breakfast, and I found I had a fixation on eggs and bacon. It is very rare for me to have eggs and bacon. In fact I can't remember the last time I had it for breakfast (lunch or dinner !).

 The problem was that I didn't have either eggs or bacon in the house. So I took a walk to Tesco where I was hoping that they would have some of their bacon joints on their hot meat counter. Although it is sold as like a joint of meat on the bone, it's taste is far closer to old fashioned bacon than modern watery rashers are. What I actually found was that Tesco was hopelessly crowded, and I did an about turn before even going in.

 Then I walked to Aldi, and that was far less crowded. It did mean that I had to buy a poor substitute for bacon. The packet said "thick sliced", but if that was thick sliced I dread to think how transparent the thin sliced is. However it did have a pale taste that reminded me of bacon. The eggs were just eggs. Once cooked, the whole packet of bacon shrunk down to a couple of mouthfuls, but with three eggs it seemed to be quite filling.

 With my breakfast sitting nicely on my stomach I decided to have a lie down (on my new mattress), and I fell asleep. I have no idea how long I slept for. It could have been anywhere between five minutes and a whole hour. Yesterday was one of those days when time seems to gently slip by without you noticing. This effect continued right up until the time I turned out the light and went to sleep.

 I'll have to check my previous diary entries, but I think I bucked tradition last night. As far as I can recall I usually try and get a bit of sleep in before midnight on new years eve. Inevitably I get woken up by all the hubbub that happens around midnight, and then probably stay awake for the next hour. Last night was different. Although I had no intention of doing any celebrating, I did stay awake until midnight. It was an accident though. I had gone to bed rather later than usual at about 11pm, and I thought I would do a little reading before going to sleep. As midnight approached, so did the end of the book. I carried on reading, really rather oblivious to the time, and just as I read the last words the clock struck midnight (metaphorically speaking). What actually drew my attention to it was the odd sporadic firework going off earlier on had changed into a salvo that would have reminded me of the blitz if I were 30 years older. All that was missing was the sound of German bombers droning overhead, and the anti-aircraft searchlights in the sky. Thirty minutes after that I was fast asleep.

 So it's the start of a new years, but in my philosophy it's just more days. As such I don't make any resolutions based upon that, but I suppose I could make some predictions for the new year. I predict that once the seasons change again I will try and attain the fitness levels I achieved last summer, and I hope I am back to being capable of going on 10 mile hikes in the summer. I'll also predict that next winter I will be just as fat and slothful as this one when even a walk to the local shops is a taxing experience.

 It is possible, although I fear unlikely, that this year I may attain even greater levels of fitness. To manage that depends on my friend Patricia coming back from Argentina, and her willingness to also do a bit of exercise. Before she left we did discuss the possibilities of going swimming together again, and maybe even doing a bit of hiking together. It is probably the swimming that would be most beneficial to me, and in the unlikely event that Patricia will have the time and energy to go swimming, I had better hope that I can get some walking in beforehand, and not feel like a beached whale as I do now.

 Today (or tomorrow) I have the opportunity to go and visit both my sisters (and brothers in law). Maybe I'll pop in and see them for 10 minutes, or maybe not. It would be sort of nice to say hi, but it will probably be quite boring and claustrophobic hanging around for too long. Relatives are another of those things I never really did get the hang of.