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My Diary/Blog For the Month of July 2011

Sunday 31st July 2011
14:17 BST

  It seems like we are enjoying a little bit of summer, although it is not as good as I imagine it should be. My imagination says it should be about 30 C, but looking back to this time last year I see that the weather was remarkably similar with some clouds, but a lot of sunshine with the temperature around 24 C. I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but like yesterday, today is rather pleasant.

 Last night I did two things at the same time. I got quite drunk, and wrote some more of a short story that I started a couple of week  ago, and sort of abandoned. I was drunk enough to barely remember going to bed last night. I am not even sure I brushed my teeth. I did save my writing, and I did close all the programs down on my PC, but I woke up this morning to find that my PC was still on.

 I know I have succesfully written emails that make sense when being very drunk, but it was still a surprise to find that I seem to be able to write quite good fiction when I can barely see to write. I do have a dim memory of using the back space key more and more before I decided to call it a day. When I reviewed what I had written this morning, I found only one tiny thing that needed correcting.

 Probably the worst casualty from writing when blind drunk is the length of the story. I thought I would be finishing it last night, but I was in an inventive mood, and if got similarly drunk when I come to writing more I might find I have a novella on my hands instead of a short story. It is possible I may try and finish it this afternoon, or a bit later, and without the benefit of booze.

 I believe it was 10pm when I went to bed last night, and I don't think I wasted any time in falling asleep. Just six and a half hours later I was wide awake with no trace of a hangover except for a slight furryness in my mouth. Since then I haven't felt sleepy, or the need to lay down. I suspect it will happen soon though. Once I have finished writing here I am going to lay on my bed and do a little reading. I wouldn't be surprised if I fell asleep then.

 One of the things I ought to have done today is to go out for a long walk in the sunshine. I may have done so if I hadn't ended up eating far too much yesterday. It's not the fact that it has left me feeling a bit sluggish, but more to do with feeling a bit constipated, and I am most reluctant to go wherever there are no toilets in this state. Sooner or later I will need a toilet, and I suspect I will want one very quickly - which wouldn't be much fun if I was miles from anywhere (unless it was in very dense, and virtually deserted forest !).
Saturday 30th July 2011
13:33 BST

  Yesterday was nowhere near as bad as it was forecast to be. One part of the forecast was correct in that the early morning mist and greyness gave way to clearer skies and sunshine, but the rain for later in the afternoon didn't happen. It did get very cloudy late in the afternoon, but stayed dry, and by early evening the clouds thinned out again. It made for a pleasant evening.

 So far today there has been a lot of sunshine, and it is now fairly warm, but I am not sure it is as sunny as the weather forecast may have suggested. There are still many clouds in the sky, and the sun could be blotted out at any time. Maybe it is the humidity, but it feels warmer than 18 C (though it is 24 C in my upstairs front room where I am typing this). It is probably continue to warm up if the sun stays out - which I think it will.

 I don't think I have mentioned it here for some while - if at all - but, I think I have given working a fair trial of about 34 years, and I have come to the conclusion I don't like it. Yesterday one of the prettier members from work, a Brazillian girl called Mariana, left the company after working with us for the last few years, and is heading back to Brazil. There was a bit of celebration, and she was in floods of tears as she said goodbye to everyone, and accepted her leaving presents.

 Her very non British show of emotion (no stiff upper lip, by jingo etc !) was part joy and part sadness. I just felt a bit sad. Not from seeing her go, but with her being just the most recent of several people leaving I felt like everyone was being let out of prison except for me. The only bars of my prison cell are my wage packet, and I feel there is no way to break through them.

 This feeling could have continued into the evening where I witnessed another leaving celebration. Fortunately there was beer and good music involved, and the person leaving was not from the compnay I work for, and no one I had heard of before last night.

 Once again The Catford Ram, and Chain had been hired for a small celebration, and as usual the pub was open as usual, and the gig was available to everyone. I had a good time getting slowly drunk on many pints of Guinness while listening to some excellent music. It was a little bit different last night because the person whose was celebrating leaving her job was alos a singer and guitar player - quite a good one - and she got up on stage and performed a song or two (I think it was two, but I must have been more drunk than I thought I was, and can't seem to remember that accurately).
Kim playing with Chain
 Her name is Kim, and in the picture above I think she was playing a Stereophonics song. She has a very nice voice, and when speaking to her after the gig I found her to be a most charming person. I regret not taking a camcorder along last night to record her performance.  Like most of the gigs Chain play in pubs, it is too dark in The Catford Ram to get good video shots, but even something is better than nothing. However I did find that she has one song on You Tube (if I remembered the details correctly).

 After the gig had finished I went to find some dinner to take home. I was feeling a bit peckish after only eating 4 ginger biscuits before the gig, and only an apple at lunchtime. There is a new food outlet in Catford built on the ruins of another failed one. Where the "Griller" shop used to be there is now the "Happy Chik" shop which, as you might guess, sells chicken. Like the previous shop they also selled grilled, rather than fried, chicken, and I ordered some of that. I was also intrigued by their 99p chicken wraps, and so I ordered two of those as well.

 It took quite a long time, or felt like it, for the chicken to be freshly grilled, but once it was I took it home and prepared to tuck in. The chicken wraps seemed delicious (though the booze may have artificialy enhanced how they tasted). I decided not to spoil my appreciation of them by not eating the grilled chicken, and I saved that for today.

 This morning I was up rather early, and after feeding Smudge, and editing last night's photos I went back to bed. When I finally got up again I wasted loads of time and money contacting www.play.com who seemed to be having some trouble authenticating my credit card details for something I ordered from them. In the end I told them to delete all my details, and that I would buy the same item from amazon.com for almost the same price. In fact a small search of amazon revealed a second hand item, allegedly in perfect condition, several pound cheaper than I would have spent with play.com.

 With that frustrating business out of the way I finally got under the shower, got dressed, and was ready to go out and pick up my parcel from the sorting office. I was feeling lazy so I got the bus there, and the bus back again. On the way back I called in to Aldi where I bought 30 containers of cat food, and some bits and pieces for myself.

 Since then I have eaten my grilled chicken, watched one TV programme, and almost nothing else apart from writing this. Very soon now I feel a snooze coming on. Once I have recovered from that there is only one thimg that has to be done, and that is some washing up. I have a sink full of stuff to wash, and, I am ashamed to say, it is getting rather smelly in this warm weather. Once that is done I can do some laundry, but overall I will be mostly lazy for the rest of today.

 Tomorrow could be another matter. It is supposed to be sunnier and warmer still tomorrow, and with nothing else of any importance on I ought to see if I can bring myself to go out exploring somewhere. I seem to have lost the knack of doing it recently, but one day I'll make it, and it might be tomorrow.
Friday 29th July 2011
08:30 BST

  Summer returned briefly yesterday. After the very dull grey start to the day, the clouds parted, and glorious warm sunshine poured down. From time to time the sky did appear to be pure blue, but mostly it was still partly cloudy. It was still bright, but most of the sunshine was over by the time I left work and headed for home. I think the temperature reached 24 C, and that made for a rather muggy evening, and damp, sweat soaked, pillows in the night.

 This morning has started off just as dull and grey as yesterday morning, but with a few patches of mist thrown in for good measure. It seems there is a chance that we could get some sunshine later this morning, and maybe even after midday, but if the weather forecast is to be believed (which it isn't) I could get my first chance to try my new waterproof camera in the rain on my way home from work.

 I didn't feel too bad when I left work to go home last night. If it had still been bright sunshine I might have been tempted to force myself to walk to Wandsworth Common station (but probably no further). Instead I went home the normal way via Waterloo, and did some shopping in Tesco once I got back to Catford. I was quite careful about what I bought. I bought a load of salad stuff, and some fairly lean meats to go with it, but I also bought some sandwiches and hot chicken. I ended up eating quite adly last night, and I have been feeling the effects of that since waking up this morning.

 Just cleaning my teeth, washing my face, shaving, washing my hair, conditioning my hair, showering, and towelling myself dry seemed quite enough work for one day, and given the chance I would have gone back to bed instead of coming to work. Once I got to Earlsfield I started to feel like I had more energy, and the walk from the station seemed suspiciously easy.

 Of course I have ruined any regained energy by eating a large(ish) "spicy chicken tikka roll". I feel all sluggish again now, but it was neccesary because I won't have time to eat before I go to the pub very soon after arriving home tonight (and if I did eat then I would probably not feel like going out again). To wash my roll down I thought I would try some Dr Pepper Zero. The original Dr Pepper drink had something going for it in small doses, but was horribly sickly sweet after a few mouthfuls. This Zero version, which is sugar free, tastes interesting, but as I approach the half way point of the 500ml bottle I am starting to go off it. It is definitely a novelty item of no intrinsic value whatsoever.

 Not much was going on in the park yesterday - except for this little fella.
bright green bug of some sort
 I think it is some type of beetle, but I can't be sure. Either that or it is some sort of tick, but judging by it's colour it is after plant sap and not blood. Meanwhile at the station this morning......
poster at Earlsfield station 29/07/2011
 I think I first noticed this poster yesterday. So it should be up to date, and yet it doesn't seem to tally with reality. There is a new temporary staircase that leads down from platform 3. It looks as if it might lead to a subway under the railway to come out somewhere near the bottom of the stairs from platform 1 and 2. On Monday I'll find out for real what is really going on. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that when I go home from work next Monday I won't have to climb all the way to platform 3, and then cross over the very high temporary footbridge to platform 2.
Thursday 28th July 2011
07:55 BST

  On the whole, yesterday was a bit of a crap day ! There was no sunshine, and it often looked like it might start to rain. In fact I am sure I felt one solitary drop of rain. The only saving grace about yesterday was it wasn't really cold. This morning has started off ultra gloomy. The cloud seems so thick that it was practically dark when I woke up this morning. As the seasons change it won't be too long before it really is dark at 5am, but it shouldn't have been this particular morning.

 Tucked away in one corner of the 60 minutes allegedly devoted to national and local news, but in fact dominated by the news non event of the year ("it's one year to go to the great bore that is the Olympics"), there was the weather forecast for London (and even that was tainted by Olympic crap). Apparently, if my totally numbed brain had a working brain cell left to remember anything it all, it could turn out sunny for a few hours today. Tomorrow which earlier on was supposed to be sunny will now be wet, and Saturday which was first going to be sunny, and then wet, may in actual fact be sunny. So roughly speaking it is going to be cooler than a heatwave, and warmer than a blizzard !

 This morning I don't feel as bad as yesterday when I felt bloody miserable. That's not to say I feel particularly wonderful now, and I could feel better or worse by this afternoon. Yesterday I felt very low both physically and mentally. I couldn't find the energy to go and get my parcel from the sorting office, and even going an extra 50 yds up the road to the corner shop seemed like a huge effort.

 I don't know if I broke something when I pushed myself to walk 5 miles on my way home from work the night before, or whether it was just one of those things. All I do know was that it was a relief to finally get home and put my feet up. I don't feel anywhere near as exhausted this morning, and there are hints that after a poor start I am beginning to recover some energy. Then again I am sure I didn't start yesterday feeling particularly rough - though I was aware of a few mild aches and pains that were almost expected after the long walk the night before.

 I did think that maybe it was all in the mind.There are times when I really would prefer not to have to work, and yesterday was definitely one of those days. However, on those sorts of days I usually feel better and better the further I get from work. There have been days when I almost had to crawl to Earlsfield station, and almost danced from Catford Bridge station to home. Last night wasn't one of those days, and I was most definitely knackered when I got in.

 After some food I did perk up enough to edit a few more photos from my walk across Crystal Palace park the night before. There seem to be about six that show something sort of interesting.
The Crystal Palace TV transmitter tower
View across a bit of the park with the TV transmitter mast dominating the background.
grand staircase
One of the grand staircases that survived the burning down and subsequent demolition of the "Crystal Palace"
a statue
Originally there were probably statues like this along the whole of the terraces. This is the only one still with an intact head.
Crystal Palace sphinx
minus a nose, but with added crow, this one is one of three Sphinxs in the park
staircase guarded by a sphinx on each side
Two of the sphinxs (if indeed that is what they are) in context guarding another of the staircases that traverse the terraces in the park. The third one is slightly obscured, and sits alone by the scattered remains of yet another staircase.
view to the south east
the view to the south east of the park with a headless statue in the foreground.

 I have missed the late opening day of the sorting office, and won't be able to collect my parcel tonight, and I will have to get it on Saturday morning now. What I will do, or maybe must do tonight, is to get some shopping in from Tesco on my way home from work. The urgency of it is that I won't be able to do any shopping on Friday night, and by then Smudge will be out of food. On Friday night I am looking forward to getting very drunk while listening to some excellent music as Chain play another early gig in The Catford Ram. My booze intake over the last fortnight has been pitifully low, and maybe that's why I am suffering. If all goes to plan I can look forward to a thundering "never again !!" type hangover on Saturday morning !
Wednesday 27th July 2011
08:13 BST

  Summer appears to be taking a rest after it's exertions earlier in the week. Yesterday was very dull and grey, and the expected burst of sunshine just after midday was hardly noticeable. Even with no sun it did warm up in the afternoon, but also became rather humid. Today looks like it will be no better, and in all probability about the same. Meanwhile, the weather for the days ahead continues to be downgraded by every forecast. At the beginning of the week, or maybe at the weekend, the forecast was that tomorrow and Friday would both be sunny. Now only Friday is forecast to be sunny, and I wouldn't be surprised if that bit of mild optimism is crushed during tonights weather forecast.

 There was no sunshine, and it often looked like it might start to rain, but I still took a wander in the park with my camera yesterday lunchtime. Finding photo opportunities is getting harder and harder in the park behind work, but some careful observation, and perhaps brief instances of patience, turned up a couple of things.
hoverfly or something on burdock flower
hoverfly on burdock flower
purple flower
purple flower
acorn
acorn
burdock flowers with bee and hoverfly
bee and hoverfly

thing emerging from cocoon
thing emerging from cocoon
Click on any of the thumbnails for an enlarged view

 I am not sure what the thing is emerging from a cocoon, or even if that is what it is doing. Those long feelers make it look a bit like a cockroach, but it may be something far more interesting....or not !

 I am not sure I was feeling all that wonderful yesterday. I felt fairly good, but not enough to account for what I did after work. I suspect I may have come over a little bit masochistically mad. There was no cheering sunshine, no nice cooling breeze, but there was a very sticky feeling to the air as I made a split second decision to walk to Wandsworth Common station. Maybe it was because that two mile didn't feel that terrible that things got worse.

 As my train from Wandsworth Common station drew near to Crstal Palace station I had an insane urge to get off at Crystal Palace and see just how far, and how much of a climb it was from the station to The parade where I could get a bus home. It turned out that it was only around 0.6 miles over a series of flat terraces and up staircases and slopes that probably raised me 300 - 400 feet in all. The view from the top is, or rather would be on a nice bright clear day, rather spectacular.
view from Crystal Palace
 This view is to the south east, over Beckenham, towards Kent and the north downs.
 To climb all that way non stop, up a continual incline, would have probably sent me to an early grave (or made me wish that it had), but with the flat terraces to traverse, and all the photo opportunities (more pictures tomorrow) it seemed all too easy. Perhaps it was too easy, because when I got to the main road and bus stands I saw that a 202 bus back to Catford had just shut it's doors and was leaving without me.

 The sensible thing would have been to wait a mere 10 - 12 minutes for the next one, but I decided to start walking towards Catford. I had walked all the way home from there in what ended up as a blizzard one night. I doubt if I could do that these days, but I thought I would walk as far as I could before getting a bus the rest of the way. Just under three miles after starting from Crystal Palace station I gave up and got a bus.

 Walking close to five miles after being at work all day is probably more than I would prefer to walk, but I can foresee it happening again. There is a route that avoids going right to the top of Crystal palace (strictly speaking it is Norwood Hill) from the station, and is probably half the distance between there and Sydenham station - it is almost the route the train takes between the two stations. That route is probably close to level, and from there it is downhill almost all the way to Catford. As I realised last night there is even a way of avoiding the last hill before Catford. There is a long thin park that follows the River Ravensbourne all the way between Lower Sydenham and Catford, and because water flows downhill it should make for a very easy walk !

 So maybe in the not too distant future I will make another attempt to walk all the way home from Crystal Palace station. It won't be tonight because I want to pick up a parcel from the sorting office a mile from home. I think tomorrow night I want to go straight home so I can get some shopping in, and on Friday Chain are playing an early gig in The Catford Ram, Maybe sometime next week I'll be bold or foolhardy !
Tuesday 26th July 2011
07:44 BST

  Yesterday was the closest thing we have had to a summers day in ages. Occasionally the sun was obscured by clouds, but it was bright, dry and warm. Today may be less good. In contradiction to the BBC's online weather forecast, today started with a slightly hazy, but essentially clear sky. Over the last three hours reality has aligned with forecast. There is now a lot of white cloud in the sky, but it is still broken, and the sun could peep out at any time. Around 1pm it is forecast that the cloud will break up enough for an hour or two of sunshine, and then the cloud will be back to dominate the sky.

 Today started at a cool, but not cold, 14 C, and that should climb steadily to at least 20 C, but it probably wont match the rather nice 23 - 24 C we had yesterday. That is the optimistic forecast, and my own experience suggests it will be something like it. The Metro, the free morning newspaper, takes a far more gloomy view by suggesting that there could be a lot of rain from slate grey skies. That has to be wrong, and I'll explain why.

 Yesterday I took delivery of my latest camera, a Fujifilm XP10. The relevant points about this new camera is that it is alleged to be shockproof, dustproof, freezing proof, and most importantly waterproof (it even has a setting for taking underwater pictures). I am not convinced it is sealed well enough for prolonged underwater use, but all I want it for is to take pictures in the rain. Having now got this camera, sods law says that it won't rain for weeks now, and I'll have to be patient before I am able to test it in sone suitable downpour.

 I have tested it in the dry. I was feeling rather good yesterday. So good that I made a spontaneous decision to get off the train at Ladywell on my way home from work, and walk through the park. If my phone had managed to lock on to the GPS satelites I could have measured how far I walked (in unsuitable shoes), but for some reason it just would not lock on. Maybe there was some local interference around Ladywell, or maybe it was just one of those things. I estimate that it was just a little less than a mile that I walked from the station to home.

 There were some nice photo opportunities in the park, and I am quite pleased at how the new camera operated. It is only a 10 megapixel camera compared to my Olympus camera, but it uses less compression when it saves the pictures. That makes for less degredation of the pictures, and the overall quality about equivalent. I did miss the x14 optical zoom of my Olympus camera, but the x5 on the new camera is still very handy, and it does it without the lens telescoping out the front by over two inches.
bee on a right angles thistle flower
I don't know why this thistle flower was at right angles to the rest of the world, but the bee didn't seem to mind.
bright red berries
The camera didn't quite get the focus forward enough on the bright red berries, but it didn't do too bad a job.
black coloured berries
These seem to be either a black version, or a fully ripe version of the berries in the previous picture.
really bright red berries
Another slight colour variation to some similar berries
peace tree
Finally a picture just for Ruby. A very slow growing Buddhist peace tree (with name plaque enlarged and inset into the picture).

 If I feel as good after work as I felt last night, I may include a bit more extra walking on my way home from work. Today I put on some shoes more suited to walking just in case I get the urge (I am also wearing shorts !). It is plausible that I may feel OK tonight. I ate more than I should have last night, but it wasn't junk food. The closest description would be a cross between a chicken biryana and paella. It was skinless, and boneless chicken thighs cooked with "garden vegetables" and rice with wild rice grains.

 The whole dish was almost fat free, and in theory, small portions of it would have been fairly low in calories. I did have some idea that if I accompanied it with something I could eat half last night, and the second half tonight. Unfortunately I couldn't think of anything I had available that would accompany it, and I just scoffed the whole lot. Initially it was extremely filling, but like most dishes that are mostly rice, it soon renders down, and this morning I feel quite peckish. It will be nice when lunchtime comes around I can eat my extremely healthy two satsumas and an apple.
Monday 25th July 2011
08:00 BST

  It seems like summer has returned at long last. Yesterday was predominately sunny, and the temperature reached a pleasant 23 C. This morning started off with an almost cloudless sky, and yet at 15 or 16 C it didn't feel chilly. There is definitely more cloud in the sky now, but it is white cloud, and if it gets no worse we could still have a sunny day. Maybe the temperature will end up a degree or two higher than yesterday.

 Not a great deal happened yesterday, but Aleemah did bring over a DVD of the film "The Matrix" for us to watch in the early afternoon. It was not a film I particularly wanted to see. Back in my days as a TV engineer it was one of the DVDs that was used as a test disk by the guys that did DVD and video repairs. I must have seen the film several times over, but only in relatively short out of order clips, and usually with no sound. Now I realise that it is not just another kung foo movie, although there is still a lot of that silly stuff going on, it I could almost force myself to say that I enjoyed watching it.

 Another almost inconsequential thing I did yesterday was to change my bed linen, and last night I had the sensuous pleasure of sleeping on purple satin. It looked good, it felt good, but there were some not so good side effects. These side effects were wholly to do with the way that the pillows, and duvet, all covered in purple satin, would slide all over the place !

 I am sure all that purple satin inspired a mostly forgotten dream last night. I can still remember what is like one slightly blurry frame from a movie, and something like one brief paragraph from the write up of the film. Somehow my new bedding material made an ideal material for what in the cold light of day would be called a gas spectrometer. The one blurry image I have retained is of a length of square sectioned tube covered and/or stuffed with some sort of satin like material. Along the tube are a series of ports.  Air, or maybe some mixture of gases are passed along the tube, and different components of it come out of different ports. That is about all I can remember.

 This morning, after a relatively good sleep, I feel rather good (if you don't count wearing shoes best suited to posing in the pub rather than the rigours of commuting). I think I passed the remains of the toxic plastic beer glass monster this morning, and having been able to feel it's progress from one end of the digestive system to the other, I am confident that I'll have no more bother until once again I am forced to drink beer from a horrid plastic glass.

 This idea of a toxic plastic beer glass monster may, or may not be, a piece of romantic fiction that helps to conveniently tell a story. Believe what you like. It was as real to me as an imagined  God is to the average Jehovas Witness. However, someone to blame, a scapegoat, is now the reality in the age we live in, and who am I to buck the trend and just blame an act of a non existent God. No, it was definitely a toxic plastic beer glass monster that gave me what was probably Hepetitus A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I and J (for more details see the double page spread about Hepetitus in this mornings edition of The Metro free newspaper).
Sunday 24th July 2011
10:56 BST

  The weather was very kind yesterday. It wasn't any hotter than just warm, and there were plenty of sunny intervals. After a rather chilly start, it's looking as if today will be very similar to yesterday. I would describe it more as May weather rather than July, but it's still a lot better than a week or so ago.

 The "Chattfest" gig at The Chatterton Arms was both good and bad. I dressed up to attend it, and wore my reddest t-shirt, my bluest jeans, and my pair of bright orange trainers. When I mentioned this to my friend Jodi while she was tapping me for directions to get to the gig she was going to, she asked what childrens TV programme was I auditioning for ? I thought I just looked very eccentric, but she obviously thought a lot worse !

 It was fortunate that when I entered the pub I was told that I didn't actually have to wear the hideous rubbery pink wrist band that was handed out to every punter. These days I don't even wear a watch. So a horrid pink rubbery thing was the last thing I wanted to put on my wrist.

 The most notable thing about Chain's performance was the very young looking drummer they borrowed from another band to sit in for Guy who was unavailable (as was Matt their usual standby drummer). Considering that they had only done one very quick run through with him by way of a rehearsal, he did very well with some very spirited drumming for the second half of Freebird.
A very young drummer
A very young looking drummer.

 I only stayed at the gig just to see Chain play, and soon after they had finished their set I went home again to make a start on editing some of the photos I took.
Chain on stage at Chattfest 23/07/2011
All the band on stage
Chris and Marshall amplifiers
Chris in front of Marshall amplifier and speakers.
Jo
Jo
 
 Being a music festival type of gig, plastic beer glasses were the order of the day. I don't get on with plastic beer glasses. I remember being violently ill after drinking from some suspect looking plastic glass at a gig at The Brixton Academy many years ago. Perhaps it was all in the mind, but within a couple of hours of drinking my one single pint of Guinness from a plastic glass I started to feel sick.

 In the end nothing actually happened, and that may be due to sterilising what ever bug was causing it by pouring an exceedingly generous quantity of Scotch Whisky on it.  That killed the feeling that I was about to vomit whenever I burped, but it also left me feeling too sleepy to want to go out to see the second gig in the evening. I am a bit pissed off about that because it was a new venue, and one that I could get to by just a single 30 - 40 minute bus ride.

 Today I have some unexplained pains deep down in my gut, almost in the groin area. I assume that sooner or later I will be ejecting the toxic plastic glass monsters violently. At least this time it will be from the correct end ! In theory I should be as right as rain in time to go to work tomorrow. At least I hope I am. I think I shall be taking it easy today, and I hope to get a good nights sleep to further enhance my working day tomorrow.
Saturday 23rd July 2011
08:46 BST

  Yesterday continued to be mostly bright with plenty of sunshine dodging around the fluffy white clouds. The temperature reached a comfortable 20 C before the sun went down, and the clouds started thickening up. During the night there was some rain, and although I didn't see from within the comfort of my bed, it sounded like it was fairly heavy at one point. Since dawn the clouds have broken up, and there has been some chilly sunshine. Right now it is a rather cool 14 C, but with luck it will soon warm up.

 I think it would be true to say that I was very lazy yesterday. Apart from my shopping trip in the morning, and the two loads of laundry I put through the washing machine, I did nothing of any significance for the rest of the day. At least I can't remember doing anything in particular, but I must have done something because I can't recall being bored, or anything, until maybe fairly late in the evening. If anything, the day went by with undue haste.

 Today will definitely be a busy day. If all goes to plan I am going to two gigs today. The first is "Chattfest" which Chain are due to open at 1pm, and which is a ticketed event.
my ticket for Chattfest 23rd July 2011
 As the ticket implies, it is a charity event in aid of SELBCT and St Lukes Hospice in Dublin. I'm really only going to see Chain play for about 20 minutes so I won't be getting that much value for money from my ticket, but it's all in a good cause. I'm not sure if I'll be able to shoot any video there today, but I'll take one camcorder, and a spare in case I can, and I'll definitely have my stills camera with me.

 After the gig I'll go home for the lightest of lunches I can manage, and then rest up, perhaps doing some writing, or photo editing (both if there's time, and I have the inclination) before getting ready to go out again to The Vale pub in East Dulwich. Chain are playing there from around 8.30pm until some unknown, but possibly late time. Rather handily, the pub is on the 185 bus route, and buses back to Catford run until 1am (though I would hope to be on one not too much later than midnight, or preferably earlier).
Friday 22nd July 2011
11:41 BST

  The heavy grey clouds that oppressed me so much yesterday morning gradualy thinned out, and the afternoon saw the occasional sunny interval, as well as a couple of brief very light showers. It was very nice that this morning the weather followed on from yesterday. It is not very warm yet, but it is mostly bright and sunny. There are still many clouds drifting around in the sky, but on the whole they are of the light and fluffy variety.

 Getting to my friend Ivor's leaving drink was relatively straightforward in the end. The route I finally chose was via Peckham Rye station. From Earlsfield I caught the train to Clapham Junction, and from there I got a train to West Norwood. At West Norwood I changed trains once again to get a train to Peckham Rye. From Peckham Rye I caught a bus to The Forest Hill Tavern where the drink was taking place.

 I didn't really enjoy the drink. It was nice seeing Ivor, who I only see very infrequently these days, but I wasn't feeling very socialable. By the time I was on my third pint there was a small crowd, and I decided that it was time to go. I am not entirely sure why I felt so unsociable. Some of it was the legacy of how depressing all the thick heavy clouds were in the morning. Some of it was that I just don't get on well in crowds, and some of it was because I wasn't feeling all that bright. As I left I thrust a 20 note into Ivor's hand, and told hime to but himself a drink, and one for as many people as it would stretch to, and then I just walked out.

 On my way home I popped into Tesco to buy the latest New Scientist magazine, some spare cat food, and some stuff for me to eat. Once I was home I fed Smudge, fed myself while watching a bit of TV, and than went up to lay on my bed to read New Scientist. Within 15 minutes or so I was fast asleep, and I think I slept for around an hour. I guess tiredness was one reason for feeling unsociable too.

 For the rest of the evening I did very little. I did more reading, and had another one or two short naps. It must have been around 9pm when I got into bed, and even after the extra sleep I had I still fell asleep again with ease. I slept solidly until 3am when I woke up feeling like it might be difficult to go back to sleep. Maybe it would have been, or maybe not. What I do know is that after being awake for something like 2 hours, checking my email, and doing a bit of web surfing, I had little trouble getting back to sleep.

 I didn't sleep that well after that, but I must have got several more hours of sleep before I finally decided to get up at gone 7am. After feeding Smudge I did a little bit of tidying up, and gathered together some clothes to put into the washing machine. I then went out to Tesco again armed with a pile of Clubcard vouchers to buy something I had seen in there yesterday.
Practika Aqua Cam
 It was a Praktica underwater camera. It has happened once or twice, but it is exceedingly rare that I go underwater, but I wanted a camera that I could use in the rain. At just 39.97 I knew it was going to be pretty crappy, but the cost was completely covered by the Clubcard vouchers. On the whole it is rather crappy as the picture above of it's own packaging taken by it shows. All I need now is a nice rainy day to try it out under real conditions to find out just how bad it really is. Of course sods law dictates that just when you actually want a torrential downpour it is s sunny day !

 While the picture quality may not be that good, it does have one the one good attribute that it is fully submersible, and maybe I will find one instance when I want to take an underwater picture someday. For more every(rainy)day uses I still have my eye on a Fujifilm camera which Amazon are heavily discounting at the moment.  It is the Fujifilm FinePix XP10 waterproof camera that is heavily discounted at Amazon for 89.22. It is not designed to operate underwater, but at least it has x5 optical zoom (the Praktica has no zoom), and it also claims to be "Super tough four way proof, Shockproof, Freezeproof, Waterproof, Dustproof". It sounds ideal for walking in less hospitable environments.

 One more picture before I go off and do something else. This one is also slightly fuzzy having been taken on my mobile phone under slightly dim lighting. It shows Smudge's bizzare new sleeping place !
Smudge sleeping in the handbasin
Thursday 21st July 2011
08:06 BST

  It managed to stay almost dry until sometime after I got home from work yesterday. The almost not dry bits were a few extremely light, and quite brief showers. They were totally insignificant in the great scheme of things, and I didn't bother with any protection from them. Today may, or may not, be a lot worse. The sky really is a dense leaden colour this morning, but somehow I got to work in my shirtsleeves, and remained dry. Once or twice there was some very fine rain that was more like mist, but it was completely ignorable. I fear that we won't be as lucky as yesterday. The forecast seems quite certain that we are in for a downpour sooner or later today.

 I feel horrible this morning. I attribute a lot of it to the weight of those heavy grey clouds pressing down on me. Having made it into work some of the aches and pains have receeded, but my right knew, and the top of my spine still feel stiff and sore. On top of that, my right ear still seems very clogged after giving it another dose of Otex ear drops last night. Oddly enough it felt less blocked yesterday morning after not putting in any drops the night before. I am thinking that I might leave it to dry out for a couple of nights before putting in more drops.

 Some of what I feel this morning is a mild dread of what I will be doing this afternoon. I am taking half a day off work to go to a semi semi-retirement/leaving drink up of my friend Ivor. I definitely want to go, but I fear that there will be long spells of boredom involved as I withdraw from the social swirl that is inevitable at these functions. Further complications are that it is in a pub that is not exacly user friendly when it comes to transport from wherever I am.

 From home it means getting one or two buses. The second bus is only a short journey, and it could be easily walked if I didn't mind turning up hot and sweaty after walking up a bit of a hill. It is the hill it is on that complicates the journey from work.. Bearing in mind there is a strong possibility that it will be pouring with rain if the weather forecast even lightly brushes past reality, I have many horrible choices of route, and no good ones.

 The very worst choice is to walk all the way to Wandsworth Common station and get a train to Honor Oak station. From there it is simply a matter of walking up a hill that is so high you need a spacesuit at the top, and then struggle with vertigo as you go down the shear drop that is the other side of the hill. Less of an ordeal is to go to Earlsfield station as I do most nights, and then get a train the one stop to Clapham Junction where I can change to train towards Honor Oak.

 The trains to Honor Oak also call at two other stations that present onward travel possibilities. If it were a pleasant day I could get off at Crystal Palace station. Once again there is quite a bit of hill to climb, but going through Crystal Palace Park provides some nice views, and photo opportunities. The top of the park comes out by the bus station, and there is a bus that would deposit me practically outside the pub. The final option is definitely the cowards way out, but might be the best option if it were really chucking it down with rain. That is to get off at Forest Hill station and get two buses to the pub. There may be some other options that involve going by Peckham Rye station, and I think I'll investigate those during the course of the morning.

 Things are afoot at Earlfield station, but I'll just give the abridged version here :-)
New footbridge at Earlsfield station
 The footbridge in the picture above wasn't all there the day before yesterday . On that day there were only the steps on the righthand side, and the day before that there were just some workmen clearing the ground at the base of where the right hands steps sit. I have no idea why this new footbridge has been erected, but I have one outlandish idea that is both excellent and dreadful if it were true.

 It is not beyond the bounds of possibilty that one of the 51 step staircases that go up to the platforms is going to be shut for some sort of maintemance. If so it means there is the dreadful possibility that on my way home I will have to negotiate those 51 steps to get up to the wrong platform, and then have to walk three quarters the length of the platform before climbing up and over the new footbridge to get to the other platform.

 If both existing staircases are to have maintenance then the above scenario is almost ceratin to happen, and I'll probably die in the attempt. However if I put optimism into over drive with full turbo boosters on, I could hope that the staircase maintenance is not so much maintenance but replacement by escalators, or installation of lifts to give the "step free access" that is so beloved of transport operators these days. I can't argue against that. There has been many an occasion when a way of avoiding those 51 steps on the way home would have been much appreciated. On the other hand, when running late, the quickest way to the platform is to run up the stairs, and that is something I occasionally manage (even as recently as last night - though it wasn't a very spirited run).
Wednesday 20th July 2011
08:15 BST

 Once again the weather turned out to be far better than I feared yesterday. While there were many dark looking clouds in the sky for most of the day, there was also a lot of nice warm sunshine. I don't think there was any significant rain until late in the evening. Now I am wondering if some of the pinholes of blue I can see in an otherwise very dull overcast sky will open up and let some sunshine in this morning.

 As I travelled to work I felt pessimistic, and then there was a burst of sunshine and I felt optimistic. That burst of sunshine only lasted a minute or two and my pessimism returned. Travelling towards Earlsfield the sky looked really grim, and my pessimism deepened. Walking from the station to work I began to see tiny patches of blue in between the clouds that looked like great lumps of dark grey cotton wool piled up in the sky. I can't see any blue at all as I look out my office window, but I think I'll choose to be optimistic that we will see some sunshine today.

 Last night I ate fairly well. A bit less may have been better, but it wasn't excessive. That, and two other things meant I managed to get the best nights sleep in days. One of the other reasons is that I managed to keep Smudge out of my room all night (she appeared to have slept in the handbasin in the bathroom - she is one weird cat !). The one other thing is that I didn't put any eardrops in my right ear last night. With no popping and squelching sounds everytime I turned over it was much more relaxing.

 I seem to have accumulated quite a few pictures on my camera over the last few days. The freshest was taken as I stepped out of my front door this morning. Seemingly stationary in the sky were two identical hot air balloons floating above the centre of Catford. As I walked to the station they slowly, slowly, slowly drifted towards the south.

 Here's a matrix of recent pictures as thumbnails. You can click on them for a full 1024x768 image.
Hot air balloon over Catford
close up on balloon
hot air balloons over Catford
two balloons over Catford
A relatively flea free Smudge on my bed
a relatively flea free Smudge
on my bed
yound beech nuts
young beech nuts
hawthorn berries
hawthorn berries
grey squirrel
Squirrel
unknown fruit on unknown tree
unknown fruit on an
unknown tree
unripe rose hip
unripe rose hip
Tuesday 19th July 2011
08:17 BST

 To my surprise, yesterday was nothing like as bad as I thought it would be. There was a lot more sunshine that I thought was possible. Even when it was raining it was sunny ! In fact the only time there was a brief, but moderately heavy shower was when I was waiting for my train at Waterloo East. Even though there was a lot of sunshine, the sky was predominately grey with many almost black clouds floating around. I wouldn't be surprised if elsewhere many people were getting very wet, but I was just lucky to be where I was.

 This morning started out bright with many large patches of blue in the sky. As I got ready for work those blue patches got filled in by grey, and the sun had one more final go at shining as I walked to the station. Since then the sky is just horizon to horizon grey. There was evidence in the form of many puddles that Earlsfield had seen some heavy rain sometime before I arrived here, but it is dry now. I feel it won't be dry for much longer though.

 My evening did not go how I thought it might go last night. While being dazzled by the bright sunshine, and sheltering from a moderately heavy shower as I waited for my train at Waterloo East station, I received a text message from Kevin asking if I fancied a beer. I didn't really, but I wanted to go into a chemist to buy some Otex ear drops, and both Boots and Superdrug are more or less on the other side of the road from the Catford Wetherspoons pub. So I said yes - but no more then two pints.

 I was feeling tired, and I ached a bit when I went into the pub (which was why I was slightly reluctant to go in the first place), but two pints of beer helped a lot - and I did stick to just two pints ! Back at home I almost ate healthily. Compared to some of the excesses I have indulged in recently it was healthy in a relative sort of way. If I hadn't eaten the 5 ginger biscuits I think I could have claimed it was healthy in an outright sort of way. The main part was a heap of salad stuff with herring in creamy sauce poured on top. I still haven't checked the actual ingredients in the creamy sauce, but I am still sure it is yoghurt based, and therefore rather better for the arteries than real cream.

 I went to bed very early last night, but probably got less sleep than on a more normal night. After fighting with the cat for the best part of the bed I dozed off quite quickly. Ten minutes later I was woken up by a text message from my darling phone company, and then twenty minutes after that my landline started to ring. That call lasted 15 - 20 minutes, and soon after that I was asleep again. I slept solidly for another 3, maybe 4 hours before waking up again - probably for a wee, but I can't remember if I did, or didn't.

 What I do remember was that an email was waiting for me on my mobile phone. It was a most welcome message, and it was a joy to read it even though it stimulated my brain to the point where sleep became very difficult afterwards. I found there was more to read when I finally got up at 5am and checked a blog page. Now I am convinced I am in love. Not only is the author very good looking, but she once owned an Amstrad 1640SD, managed to run GEM on it, and can also program in C+ among other programming languages. I am in awe !!!
Monday 18th July 2011
07:48 BST

 The rain wasn't as bad as it was forecast for yesterday. There was a lot of it, but it could have been worse. On a few brief occasions the sun came out during the morning, and the thunderstorm forecast for sometime after midday didn't get too near Catford. I could hear many distant peals of thunder, but saw no lightning. I the evening it dried up a bit, and it may not have rained much at all overnight. It was certainly dry enough that Smudge decided to stay out all night, and she was dry when she popped in for her breakfast this morning.

 It feels a lot like autumn this morning. It is so cloudy and dark that I could hardly see to get dressed when I got up this morning. As far as I am aware there has been no rain, but there is a stiff, and rather cool breeze blowing now, and I believe it will be a feature all day today. Sooner or later it will rain, and from the look of the sky it could be quite heavy. Apparently today sets the pattern for the whole of this week. We can only hope that things improve for the weekend.

 I feel far better than I should this morning - excepting one minor annoyance. Yesterday morning I did what I suggested I would do, and went shopping in Lidl. It was during the brighter part of the morning. I felt a few light drops as I walked under a light grey sky to the supermarket, and walked back in sunshine with some really evil looking black clouds in the sky above the direction I was walking to. The weather had no bearing on how I felt last night and this morning, but what I bought did.

 I bought lots of good stuff besides the catfood, which was my prime reason for going, but I also bought some bad stuff. One of the bad things was a cake that undoubtably raised my blood sugar level as I slowly demolished it all during the day. Another bad thing, or things, were some frozen kebabs that were on special offer. When cooked as directed they were very fatty, and not that tasty. When severely overcooked they had far less fat in them, possibly very little, but tasted even worse.

 Eating the kebabs, the cake, and a couple of ready made pasta snack pots seemed to leave me feeling very stuffed by the end of the day - to the point where I felt so bloated that it made lying in bed less comfortable than it should have. There was also the problem with my waxy right ear. The well past their use by date Otex ear drops I have been using have converted the hard wax, which was noticeable but no bother, into what feels like a gooey mess without breaking it up (as fresh Otex might have done).

 Now, instead of just a mild awareness that my ear had a lot of hard wax in it, I have periods of deafness, and loud popping noises.I have a choice now of either submitting to the ministrations of a nurse (or possibly a doctor) armed with an unfeasibly large syringe, or I can buy a fresh supply of Otex, where the Hydrogen Peroxide has not degraded into water, and hope that it will avert the need to enter the land of the sick and infectious - my local health centre - and the discomfort, but rather rapid relief that comes of having several gallons of water shoved into one lughole !

 This morning the perils of eating piles of crap food were less than I expected. I left home just a few minutes late, and had to make haste to catch my usual train. I walked at a fairly fast pace towards the station, and somehow found the energy to then run along the platform, and over the footbridge to leap on my train seconds before the doors started to close. Having done that I was quite convinced I was going to die. My heart was beating like a steam hammer, and I could feel the anuerisms in my brain swelling up ready to burst, but somehow I am still alive. It took the the next station to get my breath back, and the station after that before I stopped being aware of feeling overtaxed (except in a financial way of course).

 Tonight I have several plans - some of which I hope come to fruition. I think I'll be buying some fresh Otex ear drops on the way home from work. Tonight I really ought to curb my appetite a lot. I did buy some good stuf from Aldi yesterday. I have a large selection of salad stuff, and I bought some herring fillets in creamy sauce. I have never checked exactly what is in it, but the creamyness is from yoghurt rather than actual cream, and in theory it should be healthier. If I had super resolve I might possibly just eat nothing but a meal of salad and herring, but I also bought some fig rolls.

 I haven't had a fig roll for years upon countless years, and if they are as nice now as they were it will be difficult not to open the packet and eat one. With the packet open it will be hard no to have two, three, four........many ! I am not sure how I resisted not opening the packet yesterday, and it is just as well that I didn't !

 The final plan for tonight is to attempt to write more of my new short story. I failed miserably to even write a single word yesterday. If I had to write for a living I would have to knuckle down and get on with it - perhaps to the detriment of the finished product - but I am only writing for fun. I am quite pleased with what I have written so far, and although I could abandon it, I want to find out how the story ends as much as my one loyal reader. Perhaps tonight I will find how the story ends, and I won't have to bear the shame of leaving my reader for ever wondering what happens after the cliffhanger that I left her with when I let her see a preview of the work in progress.
Sunday 17th July 2011
06:38 BST

 After a wet and soggy day it came as a bit of a surprise that the last hour or two of the evening were really quite nice. There was even a red sunset that should mean a nice day today. This morning has started out nice and bright. The sky was almost a golden colour as the sun rose, but I did notice what looked like recent rain drops on my dustbin. I think it is starting to get more cloudy now, and that is in keeping with the BBC's weather forecast for a truly appalling day today.

 If they are right there will be a short period of sunshine this morning eith heavy cloud either side of it, and the potential for gallons more rain to fall through the day. At 1pm they are even suggesting thundery showers, but worst of all they don't reckon the temperature will even reach a relatively cool 20 C, and maybe even a degree or two less than that. At the moment I reckon it is 15.3 C, and that's 1.3 C better than they predict. So maybe there is hope after all.

 Nothing much has happened since last night, but during the seven hours of solid sleep I had during the night I had one interesting dream that I wanted to write down before it completely evaporates. It was either a lucid dream, or a dream about a lucid dream. It was full of deep symbolism - I think - or at any rate one bit was very symbolic. I know this because I told myself so in the dream ! Much of the detail has already gone, but I will describe what I remember.

 I was standing at the base of something like a small railway embankment holding a wine glass. On top of this embankment was a person. I think it was a man, but it should have been a woman - one particular woman - he/she/it had a bottle of wine, and I was holding my glass up as high as I could get it, and he/she/it bent over and poured a tiny thimble full of wine in my glass. A crowd of people, I think it included some of my workmates among others, laughed at this. I turned round and said "shut up, don't you realise this is a metaphor how I feel I was treated by the woman I once thought I loved ?".

 As I said this I realised that I was dreaming, and considered the possibility of seeing if I could wake myself up. I decided that I wouldn't try so I could see if anything else of interest happened in the dream. I can't recall if anything did, but I did wake up soon after. As sson as I was awake I made a positive effort to try and remember all the details from the dream, but like most dreams the details still mostly evaporated far faster than I could commit them to memory.

 Last night was evidently a good night for dreaming because I can remember vague details of two more dreams, or maybe just one dream with a sort of jump cut in the middle of it. I think there must have been a volcanic eruption because while standing in an alley white hot molten lava started rushing past both ends of the alley, and was also encroaching into the alley. With more strength than seems feasible I pulled over a chain link fence enough to climb over it and jump onto the roof of some low factory buildings.

 Until I had pulled the fence down I seemed to be alone, but as I clambered onto the fence I noticed a teenage black girl nearby, and held the fence down so she too could clamber onto the factory roof. She wasn't a very nice girl, or at least her manner of speaking wasn't very nice. She almost demanded that I give her some salt for a sandwich, or whatever it was she was eating. I said I didn't have any salt, but she said I did, and sarcastically told me she had seen me put the little blue sachet of salt that came with a sandwich I don't remember eating into my pocket. Sure enough, when I felt in my pocket there was a little blue sachet of salt.

 (I did eat a couple of packets of crisps recently that were unsalted, but attempted to be traditional by including little blue sachets of salt in the bags. I didn't use the salt, and kept them for some other time.)

 After I gave her the sachet of salt we walked over the low factory roofs until we came out onto a main road with a large building in front of us. That building was familiar, perhaps of some significance, but I can't remember what it was now. The dream now cut to me in my kitchen, though it bore hardly any resemblance to reality. Looking out the window I could see the lave flow, but it was cold and set hard. Inside the kitchen there was a curious device that was essentially five small ovens stacked one on top of the oven. From the middle one I took out a plate that had what looked like one large and thick slice of doner kebab meat on it. As I put that meat into an oversized bit of pitta bread, maybe with some salad on it, the dream seemed to fade away.

 There are several things I might do today. The first is to go back to bed and see if I can sleep some more (maybe have a few nice dreams as well). Later on I may go to a supermarket, perhaps Lidl for a change, and lug back a weeks supply of catfood. I may go for a walk in the park this afternoon. Perhaps, for it's novelty value, I might go in the middle of the thunderstorm if we get one. If so I don't think I'll be risking my camera in the pouring rain, so I'll have no evidence of that walk. The most important thing I have to do today is to get in the right frame of mind to finish off another short story I am writing. There is someone, who has seen a copy of the work in progress, who is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to find out what happens !
Saturday 16th July 2011
18:38 BST

 It was very nice weather yesterday. It wasn't sunny all day, but even when the sun went in it still seemed to be bright outside, and it was reasonably warm. Some time in the middle of the night it all changed. There have been a few occasions when the sun came out today, but mostly it has been very grey and overcast, and there has been quite a lot of rainfall today. It looks as if it will continue to rain, on and off, through the night, and through much of tomorrow.

 I ended up doing very little last night, and it was my intention to get plenty of sleep last night. That didn't really work for some reason. I can't remember when it was I went to bed, but I think it may have been around 9pm. Possibly a tint bit earlier. It may have had something to do with filling my right ear with anti-wax drops that left me almost deaf in that ear, and felt sort of horrible, but I had some weird dreams that I can't remember. I woke up at around 2.30am from a dream where I seemed to be somewhere that had restricted headroom. It was close to being claustrophobic.

 After waking up I found I couldn't get back to sleep, and I ended up turning on my PC and "surfing the net" for a good couple of hours before trying to get back to sleep. It didn't feel like I was very successful, but I obviously did get some more sleep until giving up at 6am when I got up. After going downstairs to let Smudge in (who has become a bit of a stopout since I abused her by putting two small drips of fleakiller on her neck), and the feeding her, I came back up to my bedroom where I started some light housework.

 I did some tidying up, and changed all the bed linen. By then I could hear my next door neighbour moving around, and I thought it safe to start doing some hoovering. Never before has my bedroom been so hoovered, but a combination of that, flea spray, and Smudge not coming in to my bedroom, means that I have seen no signs of those dreaded fleas for several days now.

 With the housework done upstairs I shaved, showered and shampoo'd, got dressed, and tackled downstairs. My living room is still a mess, but a relatively clean one now :-) Finally I put some washing in the washing machine before going out to Poundstretcher to buy a new rug for the foor of my bed - the previous one I had ended up in my spare room.

 The new rug is a rather delightful aubergine colour. It probably doesn't match some of the colour scheme of my bedroom, but does match a couple of my duvet covers, and will probably clash badly with some others. One duver cover it won't clash with is one I bought this morning. Poundstretcher seem to have a partial sale on, and I bought a set of purple satin bed linen that was reduced from 14.99 to 9.99. It wasn't a great saving, but it was such a wonderful colour that I had to have it. I expect it is very poor quality, and may only survive a few uses before something terrible happens to it, so I think I'll only use it on special occasions. Quite what those special occasions are is a mystery at the moment, but one day, one day.

 Having got the house looking a little less like a bomb site it was time for my friend to arrive. She brought with her one of the worst Dr Who DVDs ever to watch with me. It was the story "Paradise Towers" and featured Colin Baker as Dr Who, and the worst side kick of all time - "Mel" played by Bonnie Langford. No doubt some like her, but she makes my teeth itch !

 This afternoon I came to a conclusion. The seeds for it were set this morning, and the final conclusion came this afternoon as I hung up my laundry, and did a little more tidying up. I concluded that I have too many clothes, and I don't know how to select any to throw away. There are a selection of reasons why I have arrived at this situation.

 Bottom of the pile of reasons goes back to the days when I seemed to have difficulty buying clothes I liked, and I would wear what I had until it was literally falling apart. Then I discoverd that getting new clothes was easy after all. So I bought loads of button up shirts for work, and then loads of short sleeved shirts for work during the summer months. I also seem to have been buying loads of t-shirts in all the colours of the rainbow. On top of all that I decided to do a lot of experimenting with different styles and colours of underwear. All in all I have far more clothes than I have places to store them. With so much choice it is taking an eternity to wear anything enough for it to get seriously worn out, and so the heap grows and grows. Well, maybe it has stopped for now, but how long will it be before I get an overwhelming urge for a shirt in some strange colour ???
Friday 15th July 2011
08:47 BST

 Yesterday was, with any luck, a foretaste of what is to come today. Much of yesterday turned out to be reasonably bright and sunny. From time to time the odd cloud would obscure the sun, but it was a vast improvement on preceeding days. My only complaint is that it never really got that warm. Today is alleged to be different. It has started out very nice, but now there is some thin hazy cloud muting the sunshine. Apparently that should soon clear, and the afternoon will be warm and sunny with a high of 23 C. That is very poor for mid July, but the best we can hope for. After today it is going to get very wet for an indeterminate amount of time.

 I was wearing some shoes yesterday that were very easy to put on, very comfortable to wear, but uncomfortable, and really rather hopeless to walk in. Some shoes make you want to walk fast, and some make you want to walk slowly, and yesterday's made it feel like I was wading through treacle. I do find it perplexing how different shoes can have such different properties. The shoes I wore yesterday were more specifically trainers, and even more specific than that, they were very cheap trainers bought from Tesco.

 I think their main failure point is that they lack flexibility. After walking for a while it was my ankles and knees that seemed to be getting sore as I was forced into an unnatural gait. Where this theory falls down is that my best hiking boots are also not very flexible, and they don't hurt my ankles - unless, of course, my ankles have only recently developed some sort of weakness or similar condition.

 I might well have walked to Wandsworth Common station last night if I had been wearing footwear that was comfortable for walking a couple of mile. Instead I rushed straight home the fastest way I know. Having got home I don't know where all the time went. Between 6 and 7pm I watched the national and local news, and that left me a theoretical two hours to do stuff before I should have been fast asleep.

 Some of that time went into composing a carefully worded bit of writing, and the rest went into reading not all that many pages from New Scientist. I was in bed sometime bfore 9pm, and by 9pm I was already fast asleep. So I didn't have a full two hours to do stuff last night, but it feel like what I did do should have taken far less time, and I should have had time to write a bit more of another short story I am writing. There was other stuff I feel I was neglecting too. Thank goodness it's Saturday tomorrow, and I will have more time to spare instead of the 10 plus hours I need to waste going to work five days a week.

 A few days ago I showed the picture I had taken of the infamous Wandsworth Prison. Evidently it's fame has spread all over the country....
Date: Wed Jul 13 21:40
Ruby (xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com):
Wandsworth prison! A famous landmark indeed...
....says Ruby from Cumbria on my comments page.

 I took a couple of new pictures while out in the park yesterday lunchtime.
Blackberries
 Blackberries looking black and juicy......
A Thrush
....and a thrush posing in the middle of the grass.

  Today I am feeling quite good, but as always there is something wrong. Today I am suffering a build up of earwax. I knew that my right ear was starting to get blocked so last night I put some Otex drops in it. I have found the stuff works slowly, but OK providing you don't leave it too late. Maybe this time I was on the cusp and the drops caused the wax to swell to the extent of leaving me partly deaf during the night. This morning my hearing is still a little dulled on my tight side. Tonight, and for probably the next half dozen nights, I'll put more drops in, and eventually enough of the wax will dissipate without the need to get my ear syringed - a not painful, but still uncomfortable bit of old fashioned low tech treatment by doctor or nurse.
Thursday 14th July 2011
07:57 BST

 On the whole, yesterday was just dull grey and miserable. Well, at least the weather was. I don't think there was a single hint of sunshine except for one brief instant in the evening. It was also remarkably cool considering we are in the middle of July. This morning sees the first clue that a temporary change is coming. Until I looked out my office window it had been an almost chilly grey morning, but from my office window I can now see great swathes of blue sky. The sun is stills hidden behind a cloud in a part of the sky I can't see from my window, but sooner or later there must be some sunshine.

 I had some fun and games during my lunch break yesterday. I went out to visit a vet I had found on the internet to buy more supplies of flea killer. The place didn't look that far on Google maps, and it didn't show it to be up a hill. Maybe it felt further than the threequarters of a mile because of that hill, and because I was travelling over unfamiliar territory. Nevertheless, it was still a round trip of a mile and a half that had to be walked, plus any waiting in the shop front during my 30 minute lunch break.

 It did involve a bit of waiting too. The nurse, who appeared to be the only one on duty while I was there, couldn't find the price of the flea killer. She tried every combination of the name in their computer, and looked for paperwork high and low. Eventually she had to admit that she couldn't find the price, and so couldn't sell me it. To say I was a bit disappointed after wasting my whole lunch break (and more) would be an understatement !

 There was nothing for it but to go to the vets in Catford. It's not far from home, but it is some distance from the station, and to make matters worse I wanted to get some stuff from Tesco which meant doubling back on myself. I took a chance that the vets were open, and fortunately they were, and this time I was able to buy the flea killing spray with no trouble. Then I partially retraced my steps to go into Tesco where for the second or third time of shopping in a supermarket I completely forgot to buy some kitchen foil.

 There was some good news this morning. After using up the last of my previous can of flea spray in and around my bedroom I went through my usual morning business and only had one flea jump on my foot. Even better was I saw it before it managed to bite me. I think I have managed to nip this infestation in the bud by acting early. Of course if I had been diligent in keeping Smudge's flea treatment up to date I would probably not have even started to get a problem. Before I left for work I dashed around the house spraying everything in sight with the new flea spray I bought last night. It is a brand I have never tried before, and I have to say that it smells a lot better than the stuff I was using before that had an unpleasant burning plastic sort of smell.
Wednesday 13th July 2011
08:23 BST

 I thought there might be a bit of sunshine in the middle of yesterday, and the weather forecasters thought there would be rain starting late in the afternoon. Both of us were wrong ! Yesterday was dull grey, but dry, all day long. Today I am confused. I thought on TV last night they said that after the chance of a shower sometime in the morning, it would warm up in the afternoon, and that there could be some sunshine. This morning's Metro newspaper paints a far gloomier picture, and suggests we could well get very wet today. I am not sure what to believe. It is rather cool, and mid grey as I write this, and on the assumption that today will be like yesterday (which has been proved to be more statistically correct than any weather forecast has ever been) it wil be another grey, but dry day.

 Last night I thought I ought to walk to Wandsworth Common station again, and maybe walk from Forest Hill station to home. I didn't because I found two lame excuses to be lazy. The first was that having left work I wished I had gone to the toilet before I left, and so I preferred a route with easy access to toilets should be need arise - there are useable toilets at Clapham Junction and Waterloo stations, and none in the middle of a 35 minute walk through suburban streets. My second excuse is that there was a big black cloud hovering over me as I walked out of work, and I was not sure if I would even make it onto the first train at Earlsfield station in the dry. Once I was home I could announce that I didn't need a toilet, nor did it rain, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

 There was some mild drama soon after I got home. In just over a week Smudge has gone from having the occasional flea to being heavily infested. Last night it was time for her flea treatment. Ideally I should have treated her as a matter of course instead of waiting until she is crawling with fleas, but she makes such a big fuss about having a couple of drops of liquid on the back of her neck that I feel guilty about inflicting it on her.

 I gave her some food, and as she started to eat it I started to part the fur on her neck. She is not thick, and knew what I was doing straight away. So I had to pin her down as I squeezed the little sachet of flea drops onto her neck. I left her alone after that, and she seemed to have eaten a bit more food before making for the great outdoors, and safety. This morning she came in briefly for a small bite to eat, and then went back out to probably sleep off her breakfast in some flea infested part of someone's garden where she picked up the infestation in the first place.

 Overnight she probably endured a lot of discomfort. Fleas, when in the process of being killed by chemical weapons of mass destruction, seem to get very vicious, or the ones that have been biting me feet and ankles after I sprayed the carpets with flea spray seem very vicious right now. The problem with the carpet spray is that it doesn't kill them outright, but mainly stops them breeding. So I have to grin and bear the bites myself for a while as the last lot of fleas die off.

 Tonight I could walk to Wandsworth Common station, but I doubt if I will. As well as all the usual lame excuses for being lazy, there is a slightly valid reason for not doing it tonight. I want to do some shopping on the way home, and if I don't weigh myself down with it too much I might find the energy or enthusiasm to make an even bigger detour on my journey home to call in at the vets to get further supplies for chemical warfare against the fleas. I still have one sachet for Smudge, but the can of carpet spray is all but empty. It is a shame that the stuff they sell in Tesco has fleas laughing at it, or I could get all my shopping in one place without having to go well out of my way to the vets.
Tuesday 12th July 2011
08:19 BST

 It is possible that the temperature may have risen to 26 C yesterday, but while it was warm, it was not very sunny during the afternoon. The sky ended up very hazy, and the sun was so diffused that it could hardly cast a recognisable shadow. This morning has started off with a milky coloured sky, and feeling both cool and rather humid. The morning is forecast to be dry, by this afternoon rain is expected, and by the feel of the air it could even turn into a thunderstorm.

 I wasn't entirely accurate about feeling OK yesterday. It was more a matter of not feeling as worse as I thought I might. From time to time I had some mild headaches, and I was sure they were caused by high blood pressure, and in turn, I was sure that was caused by high blood sugar levels. There were one or two other indicators that hinted of these things too.I didn't bother to measure either (and at work I couldn't), but I did resolve to do something about them.

 I was wearing shoes that were comfortbale to walk in, and yet paradoxically, uncomfortable to wear, so I thought it was about time I tackled the walk from work to Wandsworth Common station again. It can be as little as only 1.97 miles by the shortest route I have found, but any route means going up and over a hill. It's not a huge hill, but even at my fittest it taxes me a bit, and last night I was hardly feeling fit !

 Last night I tried a new route that made the walk a bit longer (a full 2 miles) but I think it avoided the steepest bits of the hill. There were some novel views to see on this alternative route.
view down the line to Earlsfield station
 This alternative route goes up the hill on the other side of the railway to the route I have used before. Previously I would cross under the railway by Earlsfield station, but last night I crossed over the railway on a road bridge, and using the full x14 zoom on my camera I took the above photo looking down the line towards Earlsfield station. My new route also took me past a place of macabre interest.
HMP Wandsworth Prison
 This grim looking place is adequately described by the next photo !
HMP Wandsworth sign plate
 I always knew I worked somewhere near Wandsworth prison, immortalised in songs like Squueeze's "Cool For Cats",  mentioned several times by "Fletcher" in the TV series Porridge, and probably in several old black and white Ealing comedies whose names escape me for the moment, but I never knew where it was. When planning my route using Google maps I realised I could go two ways that were equally long, and one went past the prison. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go past the prison.

 Walking across Wandsworth Common in the slightly grey light coming from the milky white sky was not as enjoyable as doing it under a sunny sky, but it did give some relief from walking alongside rows of houses and traffic. I arrived at Wandsworth Common station feeling rather knackered, and disappointed in having only burnt 323 calories (according to the wizardry of my satelite tracker application - Cardiotrainer).

 When a train arrived it was nice to sit down and relax for 15 minutes (or however long the ride to Forest Hill takes), and I evidently recovered faster than I thought I would. At Forest Hill I decided to push myself a little further and walk the 1.8 miles home from there. It is very gently downhill most of the way, and that made it a bit easier to face. It was fairly easy going, but I was glad to finally get home to have a sit down and some dinner. One of the best parts about getting home was getting away from flying ants who had decided to swarm yesterday afternoon.

 I didn't eat as moderately as I ought to have done last night, but I did manage some control over what I ate. If it were not for the fact that I overstocked on tempting goodies when I went shopping on Sunday, I might have done a lot better. Tonight will be no easier because I still have lots of stuff in the cupboard that it would be better for me if I avoided it. I'll see how much self control I can muster up tonight, but this morning I did manage to avoid the shop by the station that sells the most delicious "spicy chicken tikka wraps" (even more delicious when extra chilli sauce is added). Now I shall go away and drool a bit at the thought.
Monday 11th July 2011
07:56 BST

 By 6 or 7pm last night, much of the cloud that spoiled the afternoon had broken up to leave a nice bright evening sky. The afternoon wasn't dull and gloomy, but I can't recall any significant amounts of bright sunshine, and I didn't notice the temperature rising much beyond the 24 C that I reported early in the afternoon (though I must confess I didn't actually measure the temperature after that one occasion).

 Today may well do better. The morning has started bright and cheery with an almost pure blue sky. The lack of clouds overnight meant that the day has also started off rather chilly, but still not chilly enough to warrant wearing a coat. My morning paper is predicting that London could reach 26 C, and that sounds quite feasible if the sun stays out.

 I seemed to spend a lot of time typing yesterday afternoon. As well as the first 1141 words of a short story I am writing, possibly about a third of it, I wrote emails and other blogs. Remembering how much I hated writing the old fashioned way, with a pen, it never ceases to amaze me just how easy it is to write on a PC, and how satisfying it can be.

 I am not the only one to discover the joys of writing. This morning I opened an email which had an attachment to it. I was expecting it, and looking forward to it. I felt deeply priveleged to be reading something that may one day be in the public domain, but for now is, as far as I am aware, only shared between me and it's writer. While I felt deep joy in being trusted to read the document, I also felt much sadness where some of the writing had deep resonances with some of the parts of my own life that I didn't enjoy. Probably quite a lot of it.

 So this morning I feel a strange mixture of sad and happy tinged with a little foolish optimism that I am finding hard to supress. Physically I think I am feeling better than I deserve to. I had an excessive amount of pasta yesterday, and then, later on in the day, I ate an excessive amount of fatty and sugary ice cream. All that plus some snacks that I don't dare to mention.By all rights I should be feeling crap this morning, but while I don't feel like running a marathon (or even for the bus), I don't seem to be suffering from any effects of yesterday's excesses. Perhaps it will happen later.
Sunday 10th July 2011
12:58 BST

 I find it to be really amazing that the weather yesterday followed the path set out for it by the weather forecasters. There was a splash of rain very early in the afternoon, and after that the clouds slowly melted away to leave a fine evening. I'm not sure what the forecasters had in mind for today, but so far there have been a few sunny intervals as the sun has found cracks in the milky white clouds. Sometimes it looks as if there could be rain later, and sometimes it looks as if it could be a warm sunny afternoon. At the moment it is 24 C, and if the sun does come out for any length of time it could get hotter.

 Yesterday was both productive and enjoyable. I mentioned all the housework I did yesterday, but I have one thing to add to that. I also did all the washing up, and cleaned the sink. It's not actually much to boast about compared to the intensive hoovering I did because in reality it was only a few plates and some cutlery. The complete effect of all the housework I did is that little pockets of the house look quite good. As for the rest of my house.............

 I spent some of the afternoon trying to rest up in preparation for my night out. It was just as well I did because by 11pm I was feeling shattered, and we didn't leave the pub until gone midnight. By then I was feeling half zombified. It was rather handy that Kevin turned up at the pub. It was nice to have a bit of company while waiting 20 - 25 minutes for a N47 night bus at sometime around 1am.

 It was also very handy that it was a dry, and not too cold night. I took a chance and went out without a coat. It was feeling a bit draughty as we waited for the bus, but it wasn't unpleasantly cool. I'm not sure what time I arrived home. When I got in I had a pre-cooked cold snack waiting for me in the oven.

 As I ate that I watched a bit of TV. There was a fascinating documentary about the moon landings on. I think I started watching it close to the beginning, but I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch it through to the end. It was 2.30am when I finally got into bed, and I was probably asleep before my head hit the pillow.

 Even after going to bed so late I was still awake ridiculously early some 3 or 4 hours after going to sleep. I got up briefly, and then went back to bed for perhaps an hour before getting up again to edit some of the pictures I took last night of Chain playing in The Chatterton Arms.
Steve, Jo and Guy from Chain
Steve, Jo, and Guy
The agony of playing guitar - Chris of Chain
The agony and ecstacy of playing guitar
Jo with a clamp on her guitar fretboard
Jo with clamp on her guitar fretboard for the special tuning to play "The Chain"
Jo with thundertube
Jo holding her thundertube the right way up
 I was an excellent gig last night. For the first time since maybe last March, Chris (the dancer) turned up and once again tried to get me to dance with her. Despite being well out of practice I almost did do a bit of dancing. I think I improved on my 2 seconds last time to nearly 10 seconds last night. Next time I might even try moving my feet :-)

 Another little treat was Jo briefly using her thundertube - and remembering to use it the right way up this time. It is a pity that she took me unawares when she picked it up. Had I known she was about to use it I would have found a better position to take a picture. Instead, in the picture above, there is the snack vending machine that looks like the centre console of Dr Who's tardis dominating the picture.

 Having reviewed my photos from last night and edited a dozen of them, I went back to bed again. I was woken up by an email coming through. Happily it was a nice email, and I was delighted to re-awaken to it. Plus it was probably time I was up anyway. After reading my mail I had a shower and got dressed ready to go out and do some shopping.

 I seemed to spend quite a lot in the supermarket this morning, but I did stagger home with two very heavy big bags of shopping. Despite that it was actually a failure. I forgot to buy the one single important thing - aluminium foil - and the shop appeared to have run out of diet cola. Instead of a two 2l bottles of diet cola I bought a 2l bottle of sugar free ginger beer, and a 2l bottle of sugar free pink lemonade. All I need to go with those two to take me way back in time is some salt and shake crisps. Funnily enough I did buy some salt and shake crisps, but they aren't in the greaseproof paper bags that I seem to recall the original Smith's crisps used to come in.

 Very soon now I'll be having my Sunday dinner - pasta with bolognese sauce - and then after that I think I have some writing to do. I have an email to reply to, and I have an idea for another short story that I ought to get started on before I forget the vague plot I have in mind. Somewhere in between all that I fancy a snooze, and a bit of reading.
Saturday 9th July 2011
12:40 BST

  I can't really say that the weather improved that much yesterday. The rain did gradually die away enough that I was able to get home from work in the dry, but it was still rather gloomy out. This morning started out partly bright. I'm not sure if the sun did manage to completely break through the clouds, but I did see large patches of blue sky between the clouds. As I write this it looks like the clouds are building up for some rain. If it does rain it would, somewhat amzingly, tally with the weather forecast for today. Then if the weather is good enough to follow the path set out for it by the forecasters, it should brighten up later this afternoon, and the evening could be sunny until sunset.

 I really did feel rough at work yesterday, but it is hard to pin it down to any one thing. I had a few mild aches and pains in my joints and muscles, and from time to time a mild headache. More significantly I felt very tired, and it would have been so easy to lay down, and maybe snooze, if such a facility was available. Luckily the day didn't seem to drag too much, and my desire to go home came around quickly enough.

 Perhaps some of what I was feeling was all in my head because I did seem to feel better and better the closer I got to home. Getting home again didn't provide a complete cure though, but it did take the pressure off knowing I could lay down, or even go to bed at any time I wanted. In the end I didn't lay down, or go to bed that early.

 This afternoon I feel knackered again, but I do have a semi-good excuse for it. Evidently I am more well than I was yesterday because I managed to have a busy time after a bit of a lay in. I did have vague thoughts that I might go out for a short walk, but I opted for something far more taxing. I gave my bedroom, and the top landing a good hoovering !  It might be that I don't do it often enough, and have to really work at it when I do, but I find hoovering to be incredibly hard work. How anyone can do it for a living, or a proud householder keep their house in showroom condition beats me !

 As well as all that hoovering (which also included a light foray through the door of the spare bedroom) I have also done some laundry, and, miracle of miracles, done a thorough clean up of Smudge's litter tray (and the area around it). I also cleaned up around her feeding area. A proud housewife (or househusband) would probably judge that little lot as being insignificant, but for me it represents enterprise above and beyong the usual call of duty !

 This afternoon I was tempted to go and get a bit of shopping - probably of a non food variety. I was wondering if Poundstetcher, or somewhere similar had any nice mats to put down by my bed. The one's there at the moment are looking a little grubby. I think I could put them in the washing machine, but I would then spend the rest of the afternoon digging fluff out of the output filter. It may be extravagant to replace them, but as I recall they were only a couple of quid each originally.

 With the weather not looking too pretty, and new mats (and the other thing I thought of but can't remember) not being essential, I think I am going to spend some time doing some reading, and gathering my strength for an excellent nights entertainment. Chain are playing The Chatterton Arms (opposite The Ruby) tonight, and their Myspace page mentions that they will be pushing the sound limiters to the limit. I am intrigued by this, and can't wait to find out what it's all about. I can only guess that they have rehearsed a new heavy rock song. Maybe it could be the fabled AC/DC song that Jo has threatened to sing in the past, or maybe it will be some Led Zepplin with added Thunderbox (I am sure Jo mentioned she had a new toy).
Friday 8th July 2011
08:01 BST

  The weather is really changeable recently. Although there is one constant - the clouds. It was cloudy all day yesterday. Sometimes the sun would shine through, and sometimes it would rain. Sometimes it would do both at the same time, but I didn't see any rainbows. I woke up to fairly heavy rain this morning, but then that rain stopped for long enough for me to get to work before starting again. Maybe the sun will break through this afternoon, but right now it is very wet and gloomy.

 There is little more to add to what I wrote quite late in the day yesterday. As I suggested I would, I spent quite a lot of time just reading. While doing so I felt perfectly OK, but this morning I am not so sure that my illness, whatever it is/was is actually over. I woke up feeling better than on some mornings, but coming to work has made me feel a bit rough. Normally it is the other way round. I wake up feeling rough, but by the time I have got to work all the wrinkles seem to come out, and I feel fine.

 I can't really define what I mean by feeling rough. I do have a mild headache, but that is the only thing I can put a name to. The rest is odd feelings of this that and the other, and a desire to lay down, and perhaps sleep. Fortunately it is Friday, and once I have made it through that day here at work I can be as lazy as I like. Well nearly as lazy as I like. Tomorrow night Chain are playing at The Chatterton Arms pub, and have hinted that it's going to be a bit special. I can't miss that, and that means I have less than 36 hours to get fighting fit !
Thursday 7th July 2011
15:51 BST

  The forecast for yesterday said there would be rain around 1pm, but I can't recall that happening. As far as I can recall there were sunny spells between grey periods all afternoon. The most significant rain was in the early hours of this morning. The heaviest rain stopped sometime around 8am, and since then there have been alernate showers and sunshine. As I write the sun is shining, the roads are dry, and it looks as if it is about to pour with rain all over again. The temperature at the moment is a reasonable 20 C.

 This morning I woke up feeling quite stuffy, but otherwise mostly OK. I didn't feel like rushing back to work, though I probably could have. What I did do sounds counterintuitive for someone with a cold. I went out for a short walk in the rain to get some fresh air into my nose and lungs ! At least that is what I intended to do. I put on all my waterproofs and headed out into..........sunshine !

 I really did want to walk in the rain for some reason. Maybe the warm dampness seemed like a good idea. In fact the hot sunshine was even better. I walked round just half the park, and while some water hit me it was probably just blowing off the wet trees. Meanwhile the hot sun was hitting my dark waterproofs and cooking me under them. After maybe an hour, perhaps less, I got back home drenched in sweat - and feeling rather good for it.

 Once upon a time I wondered why people went to saunas - apart from the alleged naughtiness that some are reported to be a cover for - or so I read somewhere :-) It might have been last year when I found by experience that a good extreme sweating session can, in common parlance, sweat out all the toxins in the body. I doubt that is really true in scientific terms, but it definitely can do something good.

 I had to have a long sit down after getting home. This was partly to cool off again, and partly because I was feeling a bit tired - but it was a tiredness without underlying "feeling horribleness". Once I had cooled off, and some of the fatigue left me I went out again. This time to do the time honoured thing of those who declare them selves ill - to buy some nice food, and a good book to read. I might have overdone the good food a bit, and I certainly overdid the book buying thing. All I really wanted was a copy of this weeks New Scientist magazine, but it hadn't arrived in the shops.

 Instead of New Scientist I bought a copy of Rail, A copy of Linux Format, A copy of Classic Rock, two paperbacks, and a complimentary copy of The Times (handy for Smudge's litter tray). The two paperbacks were Peter Hennessy's "The Secret State" and Stephen Clark's "A Brief History Of The Future". That lot should keep me in reading material for the rest of the week and beyond.

 My future plans are now delightfully simple. I shall lay on my bed reading until my eyes start to bleed - unless I fall asleep beforehand, which is more likely.Tomorrow I think I had better go back to work. It's nice being lazy, but it doesn't pay the bills :-(
Wednesday 6th July 2011
09:12 BST

  After a mosty sunny morning the clouds started to thicken yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't until almost 5pm that the first rain fell. Initially it was very light, but it soon became a moderate downfall that persisted all evening. I don't know when it stopped, but it did, and this morning, contrary to the weather forecast, started out bright and sunny. Now the cloud is getting thicker, and darker. Sooner or later it will probably start to rain again. The forecast says it will be raining by 1pm, but it will be bright and sunny at 4pm. Time will tell how accurate that forecast is !

 I went for a quick walk in the park behind work yesterday lunchtime. It was pleasant enough in the warm, but slightly humid air. The birds were singing - which was nice - but it was also a bit boring. As I said yesterday, all the plants and trees that border the river have reached a sort of equilibrium, and there is little that is new or even different. I guess it is going to stay that way until the colours of autumn start to appear.

 I was quite lucky when I came home from work. It was warm and dry, and for most of the journey it was reasonably bright despite the sky being cloudy. My luck ran out just a few hundred feet from my front door. By that time the sky was looking very grey, and the first few drops of rain began to fall. It was only for the last couple of tens of feet that the rain changed from odd drops here and there to a continuous light shower. It was so light that for the few seconds I was exposed to it I didn't gather more than a few obvious drops on my shirt.

 This morning I am off work sick. I think I have a summer chill. I woke up with a slightly sore throat, and feeling a bit shivery, but the worst thing was a sort of sinusy headache. I didn't check my temperature, but I did notice that the room temperature was only about a degree less than last night, and last night I wasn't shivering but feeling a little too warm.

 I went back to bed and slept for another hour or two before calling work. I have to admit that at that time many of the symptoms had abated, and the shivers had stopped. As I write this, over four hours have passed since I first woke up feeling bad, but I still feel variably rough. I am beginning to feel very cool again despite my room thermometer saying its 23.3 C in here. My throat does not feel anywhere near as sore as it did, and the pressure on my sinuses has dropped, but I can feel that sort of itchy/twitchy sensation that often precedes a nose "waterfall".

 At the moment I am trying to evaluate whether I should be doing some serious resting or doing something to distract me from feeling bad. If it were bright and sunny right now I would be tempted to go into the park to bake and sweat this illness out of me, but apart from a few brief glimpses of sunshine it is mostly quite overcast. Well I guess I'll find something to do, and the good thing is that unlike being at work I can just stop what I am doing and rest if I need to, and that of course is the reason that I have chosen to lose a days pay (or maybe two if I still feel rough tomorrow) rather than any inability to actually do some productive work.
Tuesday 5th July 2011
07:52 BST

 It is difficult to think of anything bad to say about the weather yesterday. It may have been better if it were several degrees warmer, and less humid, but it was bright and sunny, and comfortably warm at around 26 C. Today promises to be very similar up to some unknown time in the late afternoon or evening. Whenever it happens, rain will come sweeping in from the west, and from then on things go downhill for the rest of the week - or at least that's what those gloomy old weather forecasters predict will happen !

 As I suspected there was little of interest in the park behind work at lunchtime. The little stretch of riverbank that produced some nice photos as winter changed to spring, and then spring into summer, has now settled down and very little is changing right now. I did manage to grab a couple of pictures of birds though.
blackbird in the undergrowth
 This slightly fuzzy picture is of a blackbird that was scratching around under the shade of overhanging bushes and trees. There was just this one clear view through all the foliage, and the bird looked up at me at just the right time. Unfortunately it was a very shaded place, and there was little light. That meant a long shutter speed, and some inevitable camera shake.
blue tit on fence
This picture is a little sharper, but the bird was not holding a very good pose for me. I am not exactly sure what sort of bird it is. The red under the chin suggests robin, but the yellow undercarriage suggests blue tit. Maybe it is some sort of unholy hybrid between the two - possibly created by some sort of mad scientist in his underground lair as he prepares to take over the world.

 While I had little bad to say about the weather yesterday, I really should have moaned about the heat and humidity when I got into bed last night. Then again it wasn't really the weathers fault that I felt very hot and sticky. It was mostly self inflicted. Earlier on I had some food with far too much sugar in it, and then shortly before going to bed I had a very large dark rum. The two things combined to give me a sort of hot flush.

 I really ought to have been in bed, and asleep, fairly early last night, but I let other things, like a magazine I was reading, distract me. Having finally dropped off into a very light fitful sleep, I was woken up again by my phone chiming to let me know an email had come through. That might seem like a bad idea, and if it had been some company flinging spam like email at me I would have been annoyed. Fortunately it wasn't that, and I was very happy to read my incoming message. There is someone I know who knows how to stroke my ego, and I slept better after reading that email than I would have if I had just continued to drift in and out of sleep, forever searching for that exact positioning of pillows, duvet, feet, hands, legs, arms, and probably bottom too, that is the unachievable, mythical, perfect sleeping position.
Monday 4th July 2011
Yesterday ended up quite warm, but maybe a little too sticky for when it came time to go to bed. I think I noticed that my thermometer was saying that it was about 16 C when I got up this morning. It sounds a bit cool, but I was more than comfortable as I came into work wearing some very skimpy shorts and a short sleeve shirt. The BBC were suggesting that it will stay dry and sunny for the most part of today, and that the temperature will go up to 24 C. My morning paper was a bit more optimistic with a prediction of 26 C, but then spoiled things by saying that after today the weather will get horrible again.

 I really enjoyed my walk in the park yesterday morning. It cost a lot of tax payers money, which I am not all that happy with, but the council really have transformed my local park from a fairly sterile area to one teeming with all sorts of wildlife. That are parts where it is easy to forget that you are a few hundred yards away from medium density housing, and the rest of the unpleasant urban environment. Forgetting about the urban surroundings only works at quieter times, such as early morning, when the noisy kids and sweaty ball kickers and hitters are not plying their particular trades of mayhem.

 There were some things I would have loved to get good photos of. At one point there was a beautiful blue dragonfly flitting about above the river, but it would not pose for me. Nearby were a couple of mayflies with their glowing tails. I saw quite a few different butterflies, but white ones never seem to stop, and the one single peacock flitted into view for a mere few seconds before going elsewhere. Shoals of fish are easy to spot when moving, but my camera can't seem to get any more than ghostly images when pointed into the water. There was one bit on the river where there was a shoal of my 30 - 40 tiny fish darting here and there.

 Today I rather expect I'll be spending 10 or 15 minutes in the park behind work. Alongside it's river bank there is wildlife to be found, but it is feeling quite bland now after experiencing how all the work that took place over last autumn and winter has transformed my local park. I am looking forward to meeting a friend from far away in September. I was thinking of showing her some of the nearer Kent countryside, but now I think I may show off my local park !
Sunday 3rd July 2011
14:48 BST  Yesterday finished pleasantly enough, and this morning started pleasantly too. It was surprising bright and sunny, and in that sun it felt quite hot by mid morning. This afternoon it is getting cloudy, and there is a feint chance that a thunderstorm could brew up if the temperature continues to rise. At the moment it is a very nice 25 C, and that seems to be an ideal temperature to be lazy in.

 After the catastrophe last night when Shades Beneath's gig was put back to well after my bedtime, I decided to mope and feel guilty about not going by indulging in an extensive Chinese takeaway. I bought rather more than I should, and ate enough to feel a bit uncomfortable when I lay down in bed. I didn't eat all I ordered last night, and in a way that was strange. I am sure that on other occasions I might have attempted to eat it all. Maybe I have learnt something, but I don't know what.

 Considering what I did eat, and how I felt afterwards, it was a bit of a surprise that I felt quite OK this morning.  I was up relatively early for a Sunday, and made a decision that I just had to go out and feel some of the early sun on my face. I didn't feel like going too far because I hadn't been to the toilet (apart from a wee) when I decided to go out. So I pulled on a t shirt, a pair of jeans, and a pair of trainers for a walk in the park.

 At first I felt very stiff, and bits of me ached, but it wasn't long before the warm sunshine eased the stiffness, and photographic opportunities seems to distract me from the rest of the pains. In the end I walked for 2.96 miles around the park, and that is the longest walk I seem to have done in ages. I took it rather slowly because I kept stopping to take photos. I took so many photos that even after whittling them down to the best, or most interesting, I have to take the unusual step of showing them in thumbnail form. You can click on the thumbnails for the full sized photo.

Anyone for tennis ?

a red flower

poppy

thistle

thistle and bee

pigeon and shadow

teasel

an orchid ?

bright red something

ring necked parakeet

loads of berries

fish in the river

water bird

butterfly

poppy ?

poppies

tiny flower

a thing*


* The picture titled "a thing" is  one of three, possibly Star Trek inspired, sculpures made from welded steel. It looks as if each has a pump handle to pump water from a well into what is otherwise a short stretch of mostly dry artificial river bed.

 I arrived back home damp with sweat, and with slightly sore feet. I wondered how I would fare by not wearing socks with my trainers. On the whole it wasn't too bad. The soles of my feet felt less sore than is usual when wearing flat soled trainers, but on both feet the toe next to the little toe was slightly bloodied where it had been rubbing on the inside of the trainer. I will admit that the raw area on those toes did sting a bit when I got under the shower to freshen up. Once the blood was washed away it became apparent that the wounds were in fact tiny, and with luck they should heal very quickly.

 After a slightly above lukewarm shower I felt rather good indeed, and after a rest of as little as an hour I went out again (this time with socks on) to get a bit of shopping from Aldi. I've never actually measured it, but the round trip to there possibly added an extra mile to my walking today.

 I managed to be fairly restrained while shopping in there, but I did get a few luxuries. One of those was a packet of Franfurters. I have a strange desire for fried eggs and Frankfurters for what is now going to be an extremely late breakfast. I reckon the smokiness of those Frankfurters will go well with fried eggs. Later on, for what will be a sort of evening lunch, I will try and stick to a salad of some kind.
Saturday 2nd July 2011
18:41 BST  Yesterday was quite similar to the day before except that it didn't rain, but with quite a few dark clouds in the sky during the afternoon it was possibly a close run thing. This morning started off fresh and bright again, but from time to time the sky has been very cloudy. Right now as the sun gets low in the sky there are some obvious clouds in the sky, but from some views it is hard to tell where the clouds start and the blue areas start. From west to east the sky seems to change from pale grey to a sort of slightly grey blue. The temperature today only seemed to reach 20 C. In the shelter from the light breeze that is comfortable enough, but short of the 24 C that I was expecting.

 I didn't sleep that well last night, and that was to have consequences for today. With today not being a work day I allowed myself to stay up a little later than usual last night, but a stomach ache kept me up even later than I wanted to. After a couple of visits to the toilet I thought I was OK to get a good nights sleep, but I had only been asleep for an hour or two before I had to get up and make two more visits to the toilet.

 After that my guts were fine, but I still did not get as much sleep as I wanted to. I woke at 5am, as I would during the week, and from then on a series of things happened to keep me from getting back to sleep properly. There was the usual demands from Smudge who wanted feeding, and to be let out. Then there was someone close by who was trying to start up what I am guessing was a diesel car. He (or maybe she - I wasn't looking) kept that starter motor intermittently running for what seemed like ages, and I don't think the car started even then.

 Eventually I had to give up trying to get back to sleep because I needed to do some housework to make the place look a bit more sanitary for Aleemah who visited for a couple of hours around lunchtime. I also wanted to do some preparation for this evening - something that was ultimately wasted.

 The plan for tonight was to go out and video the band Shades Beneath who are playing in a bands competition at The Forum in Kentish Town (an hours trek across London from south to north). I had some grand plans involving three camcorders, and two assistants in the form of Iain and Jodi. The band were due on stage "sometime after 9pm".

 Earlier this afternoon I received a text message from Matt, Shades Beneath's drummer, saying that their slot had been bumped back to 11.10pm. Sadly, by the time they had finished on stage that crosses the boundary for getting home on the last train by a too large margin, and none of us fancied lugging all the video equipment back on night buses.

 I felt awful letting Matt know that we were going to let his band down and not go tonight. He soon came back saying he could arrange a lift back to Catford, but by then Jodi had already started making alternative arrangements, and Iain was probably doing likewise. Meanwhile I let my guard down and I am already looking forward to my bed tonight. I did start to think that maybe I could jump on a train (and then the tube) by myself, and throw myself on Matt's mercy in getting me home again, but to be honest I just can't face the idea of hanging around for hours by myself waiting for things to happen.

 It's going to be awkward facing Matt again after this, but I do know that even before tonight was arranged he knew I am not a night person, and he acknowledged that in part of  the text message he sent this afternoon. I just hope that the gig goes well for him and his band, and that if they win the competition tonight and/or get taken up by record company, there will be other opportunities to video them on a big stage. In the meantime I am going to have a very large rum to see if it provides inspiration, or sends me to sleep even earlier.
Friday 1st July 2011
08:13 BST   Before the usual weather stuff I must do what I keep forgetting to do - check and comment on my comments !
Date: Tue Jun 28 19:43
Ruby (xxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com):
Well now I am really curious - what was the mysterious unnamed treat I wonder....
 If I recall correctly Ruby, it was some chocolate gataeu, but if it wasn't that it was something equally loaded with fat, sugar, and flavour !
 My theories about the weather yesterday were both right and wrong. After a nice bright sunny morning it began to cloud over, and as I travelled home from work, under quite threatening skies, there were a couple of light showers. One occured while I was on the train to Waterloo, and another while at Waterloo station, but that was so light I didn't bother putting on my cagoule that I had stuffed in my bag.

 What I didn't predict is that those masses of dark clouds would go away so quickly. By 7pm the sun started to break through again, and later on we were treated to a wonderful sunset with just a few small clouds left in the sky glowing slightly pink. It seems to have stayed clear overnight, and this morning feels delightfully fresh with no more than a few thin streaky clouds in whisps across a clear blue sky. It is possible that the afternoon may become cloudy, and like yesterday there could be a shower or two, but I don't think it will be as bad as yesterday (which on the grand scale of things wasn't really bad at all).

 Yesterday morning I had a sort of mild sensation of discomfort in my gut that got proggresively worse as the morning wore on. After lunch it was obvious that I had a stomach upset, and the main evidence for this was the three times I had to rush to the toilet to explode (and a couple of times when I didn't). Fortunately my gut had mostly settled down by the time I left work to go home, and I was comfortable on the trains.

 Having got home I soon went out again to meet with several people in the pub. I was not sure if that was a wise move because my guts still felt a bot odd. After one pint of Guinness there was a noticeable change in the way my guts felt, and at that point I wasn't sure if it was for the better, or for the worse. After four pints I had all but forgotten about my gut, and was feeling rather good. Having not had anything to eat since the two apples I ate at lunchtime, I was also feeling a bit peckish.

 I hadn't really planned on drinking four pints, and I had planned to leave the pub early enough to get some shopping in on the way home. I failed on both counts ! By the time I left the pub, Tesco had been closed for some time, and I didn't have any food at home that could be prepared quickly. So I went for the traditional thing, and bought some fish and chips. I'd like to say they were wonderful, but as I munched through them at home I concluded that the chips were strangely tasteless. It would have cost a fair bit more, but with hindsight I should have ordered two bits of fish and no chips. By a microscopic amount, that could have been the healthier option too.

 After my fish and chip supper I feel remarkably good this morning. It may be that because I emptied myself to an unusual extent yesterday afternoon, the chips have found some cavity to rest up in without causing any feeling of bloat. In strictly relative terms I felt almost thin this morning. A pair of light summer trousers that I may not have worn since last summer just seemed to almost fall on me with no effort whatsoever. I almost, but not really, felt light on my feet as I rushed around commuting this morning. If this feeling carries on, and the sun keeps shining, it could be a very nice day today.