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March 2011
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My Diary/Blog For the Month of March 2011

Thursday 31st March 2011
 08:28 BST

  We never did get the heavy rain forecast for yesterday, but there was light rain on and off from late morning to early afternoon. Fortunately it had stopped half an hour, or more, before I left work to go home. The rain started again, and was probably heavier, in the early hours of the morning, but it had stopped, all bar a few stray drops, when I left to come to work. What is supposed to happen next is that during the morning the cloud will break up, and we should enjoy a sunny afternoon. I am not completely convinced that will happen, but it will be nice if it does.

 This morning my legs don't won't to walk very fast. Maybe it is the damp weather making them feel stiff - although stiff is not quite the right word I am looking for. By not pushing my legs to go very fast I had a rather effortless walk from the station to work. I think this grey weather slows everything down. Maybe my legs are photosynthetic, and need sunlight to power them, but I haven't noticed them being particularly green. All I know is that the brighter and hotter it is the faster they work. It is possible that Saturday will be bright and hot. 20 C and a lot of sunshine is forecast. That is a little beyond warm, but not quite hot, and in theory I should be able to walk rather well on Saturday if I get the chance.
Astounding stories

I did even more "dumpster diving" yesterday. This time I didn't fish out any computer bits, but something totally different, and maybe the last thing I would expect to see.

 I fished out 5 ancient copies, dated between 1957 and 1959, of Astounding Stories of Science Fiction. They were damp, with slightly faded covers, and browned pages, but intact, and still very readable.

 I haven't scanned the covers of the ones I found yet because I am still waiting for them to dry out, but the picture on the left is pretty typical of the genre. The editions I got were the British versions which were priced at 2/- (two shillings, or 10 pence in modern money).

 Astounding was the magazine that published some of Isaac Asimov's early stuff, but sadly there are none of his stories in my copies. However I do recognise many of the writers names, and one of them I think, though I haven't checked yet, is a psuedonym for someone more famous.

Wednesday 30th March 2011
 08:12 BST

  There was one light shower yesterday. That happened late in the morning. After that the sky brightened up, and I think the sun may have popped out a few times. The day ended pleasantly enough. The temperature was moderate, and it was fairly bright. Today could be better or worse. A few days back there was a forecast that today would be a very wet day. A more recent forecast says that rain is still probably, but mostly that it will be a very dull cloudy day. Today has started just a bit less cool than yesterday, and as cloudy as it became an hour or so after sunrise. Instead of a very wet day I am wondering if today will be a lot like yesterday. If it is then it's not too bad. While yesterday was not great, it was fairly acceptable.

 Today I feel better than yesterday in some respects, but possibly worse in other ways. The worse is that I don't feel particularly energetic this morning. The walk from the station to work seemed a bit of a slog instead of a brisk stroll.On the plus side I did get a good nights sleep last night. It wasn't enough to wipe out too much of my recent sleep deficit, but it did help.

 Another good thing was that I managed to get a nice hot shower this morning. I also washed my hair. To do this I had to wait until 6am for the mains water pressure to come up to it's day time level. I'll be phoning the water company to complain about this today.  I wonder how long it will take them to set their time switches in the pumping station to British Summer Time ?

 I've been doing some more "dumpster diving" here at work, and come up with a few goodies. One of the firms on the industrial estate has had a clear out, and amongst their rubbish was a load of computer stuff. My workmate is now the proud owner of a Commodore 64. That old PC was supposed to have a good audio chip in it, and my workmate, who has some musical aspirations hopes to have a play with it.

 I pulled out an Amiga A600 computer. Prior to yesterday I don't think I had ever seen an Amiga PC in the flesh, but I had read a lot about them. Many said that they were far superior to anything else around when they were first put on sale. They had a proper operating system (Workbench) which had a crude "graphical user interface", and had luxuries like a floppy disk drive, and proper interface ports. The one I pulled out of the skip has two broken keys, but I can bodge something together to replace those, but what I don't have is any floppy disks with the operating system on them. On boot up I just get a graphic on the screen of a floppy disk being inserted into the drive. I expect I can find the software I need in the murkier depths of the internet, and once I have it I will probably install a hard drive into the box.

 One other rather handy feature of my "new" Amiga is that it has a 16 bit type II PCMCIA card slot. I believe I can plug in a network adapter into it, and could then connect the machine to my network. I think I even have a suitable PCMCIA network card ready to go in it. Assuming I manage to find a copy of the operating system, install a hard disk so I don't have to mess around with floppy disks too often, and get a network interface working on it, then what ? I really don't know ! It is a primitive machine by any standards today. So I doubt I will ever find a practical use for it, but these things are interesting, and interesting things are always good.

 Other stuff I pulled out of the skip were some useful leads, a 600MHz Pentium III processor, and a historic paralel port connected CD ROM drive. The latter appears to be brand new, and even has the instruction book and drivers and software with it. Once again I had heard of these before, but had never seen one. It would make a good addition to my old Intel 486/indows 3.11 museum piece computer that is slowly rusting away in a cupboard. Well it would make a good addition if I didn't already have a CD ROM fitted internally in it. So really it is just another piece of interesting junk - but I like interesting stuff !.
Tuesday 29th March 2011
 07:47 BST

  It turned out to be rather nice yesterday. After the misty start the mist and cloud broke up, and for the rest of the day there was a lot of sunshine. It didn't get as warm as some of the fine days we had last week, but it was still perfectly comfortable going home in my shirtsleeves after work.

 Today may not be quite as good ! The sky remained mostly clear overnight, and that let the temperature drop almost low enough for a frost. When I started out to come to work there were a few clouds in the sky, but the crescent moon was still visible. Now, about 90 minutes later, the sky is getting darker instead of lighter. The weather forecast warned of the possibility of a light shower today to get us into the mood for tomorrow when it is forecast to pour with rain. From the look of the sky outside my office window we could be in for more than a light shower soon !

 I feel sort of rough this morning. It could be because I felt quite chilly while coming to work, or it could be something to do with the amount of cabbage and leek I ate last night. Last nights dinner, or at least part of it, could almost have been considered healthy, and if I had trimmed the fat off the gammon steaks I had, it would have been. My gammon, cabbage, and leek dinner was not as tasty as I hoped. Ideally I should have fried the gammon steak, but I chose to boil it along with the cabage and leek. Almost all the smoky flavour seemed to disappear in doing that.

 That dish was not all I ate last night. I also had some mixed fruit and hazlenuts. If I had stopped there everything would have been fine, but I also had two seeded "deli" type rolls that were past their use by date that I wanted to use up. So I ate them too ! None of that accounts for quite how I feel, although I feel that the cabbage and leek have something to do with the slight stomach ache I have. A lot more be due to another night without my eight hours of beauty sleep.

 After my sleep deficit the previous night I was quite surprised that I didn't feel tired yesterday. It made it quite difficult to get to bed early as I intended, but I managed to get into bed at 9pm. By 9.29pm I had been asleep for all of 30 seconds when my phone went bleep for a new message coming in. That woke me up, and after reading my message it took ages to get back to sleep. Maybe I don't actually need as much sleep as I would like to get. This morning I woke up well before my alarm was set to go off. I can't think of any reason for waking up early. I was not desperate for a pee (although I did need one), Smudge was not scratching on my door, and the world didn't seem to be ending. I guess my body decided I had had enough sleep.

 One other reason for me feeling rough is that I didn't have a hot shower this morning. In fact I didn't have a shower at all ! While most of the world adapts to the clocks changing without a fuss, the water company have yet to get their act together. I am sure it happened last spring, and probably the years before that, and "it" is low water pressure. Prior to the clocks changing there was a significant change in mains water pressure at 5am. Now everyone's clocks have changed, except for the water company's, that change is happening an hour later at 6am. The problem is that my water heater needs the higher pressure to reliably give out hot water.

 Yesterday morning the water went very cool halfway through my shower. That was rather unpleasant, and I didn't want that to happen this morning. So I ran the shower for a minute before getting under it, or not in this case. Like yesterday there was a brief period of hot water before it ran cold. Rather than freeze my bits off I resorted to using the hand basin and a flannel to have a wipe down. (The low pressure only affects the shower because the showerhead constricts the flow compared to a wide open tap). I think a nice hot shower would have wonders for me this morning - and I could have had one if I waited until 6am and made myself late for work.
Monday 28th March 2011
 07:50 BST

  Yesterday did not warm up like I expected. During the afternoon the sun became more and more hazy, and although it stayed bright, the sun had effectively disappeared by mid afternoon. By late afternoon it seemed to cool off quite a bit, and I decided to shut all the windows I had open to air the house.

 Today has started off rather dull and misty. Of course, after the change to British Summer Time yesterday, it is, in effect, an hour earlier than it really is, and in an hours time things may look better. The most obvious change of the clocks was that it was only just light when I set out to catch my train to work. As far as I know it will stay dry today, and tomorrow, but Wednesday could see some heavy rain (with luck this will be the same heavy rain that was originally forecast for last Saturday - i.e. one light shower !). Apparently it won't be to the end of the week that temperatures start getting pleasant again. Today, and for much of the week, I think we can only expect average temperatures of around 13 C.

 I managed to avoid too much dozing off during the day, yesterday. In one respect that may have been a shame. I went to bed a little before 9pm (8pm in "old money", but didn't really get to sleep for a good hour after that. That might have been OK if I didn't wake up an hour early this morning. In fact I was woken up by Smudge scratching at my bedroom door. Quite why she decided that it would be a good idea to wake me up at the equivalent of 3am, as it would have been last week, is a mystery. I think she either wanted to be fed or to be friendly. She got neither ! I went downstairs and opened the back window. In a fit of curiosity she jumped up onto the windowsill and I quickly shut the window and went back up to bed leaving her outside.

 In theory I should have been able to get back to sleep very easily, but it didn't happen. After half an hour of tossing and turning I effectively got up. I guess I got 6 hours sleep in total last night, and maybe for these longer days that is enough. I don't feel tired now, but I would not be surprised if I start to feel drowsy later on in the day. The good thing is that it will feel like I am going home an hour early tonight.

 I never gave any more thought to the idea of garden clearing after I wrote about it yesterday. One thing I did do to amuse myself was to attempt to install Debian Linux on my old (ancient !) iMac. After a lot of fussing around during last week I did succeed in getting a five year old version of Ubuntu to work on it, but being so old it was not supported, and I couldn't be bothered to manually set up new software sources for it.

 So I thought I would try a network install of Debian Linux because that has huge amounts of current software available to it, plus there I had far more control over what was installed. My multiple attempts at an installation all came to nothing. Each one ended in an error. As I prepared to give up for the day it suddenly occured to me that the root of the problem was most probably a failing hard disk. The hard disk in that old iMac was a 10GB one that had been given to me by my Linux Guru, Steve, and that one, and several like it were all well used when I got them, and most of the others failed some time ago.

 I feel reasonably confident that once I have put in another hard disk I will be able to complete the installation with few problems. All what I shall now call practice runs were quite useful. Once installed and working the iMac's hardware is really of no consequence, but it  needs some consideration during the installation process. A major difference is how the machine boots up, and how the hard disk needs certain partitions to be recognised as a valid disk. I am unsure how these things work, but I do recognise their existence now.

 If I do anything of any note tonight, it will be to change the hard disk in the iMac. It is not a straightforward task like in a PC, and it needs time and patience to open the unit up. Whether I have that time and patience tonight remains to be seen.
Sunday 27th March 2011
 12:29 BST

  It turned out that the weather forecast for yesterday was very slightly right, and quite a lot wrong. It did rain as forecast, but it was only one passing light shower. The morning was a lot brighter than it sounded like it might be, and it didn't seem as cool as forecast. Overall it wasn't a bad day. The first half of today seems to be following the forecast as it was on stated on Friday, but not like this morning's forecast said. After a slightly misty start there is now a lot of hazy sunshine, and it feels warmer than 10 C. I don't know what the actual temperature is right now, but it felt ok to go and get some shopping from Aldi without wearing a coat. If the sun can stay out it could potentially end up as quite a warm day.

 It would have been so easy to stay in last night, but I managed to force myself out to see All You Need playing in The Star And Garter in Greenwich.
All You Need playing in The Star And Garter, Greenwich
  Getting to the pub is theoretically easy, and having now done it once it will be easier next time, but after getting the 199 bus to Greenwich Market Square there is still a half mile walk (maybe 0.6 miles) to get to the pub. That walk seems a lot harder when you are not exactly sure where you are going, and when you really haven't recovered from a long lay down on your bed after eating a big spicy meal. To make matters worse, while I was dozing off on my bed I had the heating on too high. So I started out for the pub feeling far too hot, and sweating from the chilli in the meal I had earlier. I was just about cooling off when I walked from the bus to the pub. It was not nice turning up almost dripping with sweat.

 All You Need are a strange band. Individually they seem to be good musicians, but they don't always seems to work together that well. Last night it didn't help that they had a stand in bass player. The lead guitar and drummer work well together as the heavy metal end of the band. The keyboard player and stand in bass player seemed best suited to progressive rock, or even old time soul music. Then there is Liz, the singer. She has a very powerful voice, and if she wanted could probably do a good Janis Joplin in full manic mode.

 You might get the impression that I didn't enjoy last night, and in a small way you would be right. It was nowhere near as good as going to see Chain play, and I could have done that last night, but getting to where they were playing was troublesome, and I would probably have to throw myself at the mercy of Chris and Jo for a lift home (which I am sure they would have done).  However, variety is the spice of life, and I did get a pint of Guiness bought for me by Liz !

 I didn't stay until the end of the gig. I left the pub at 11pm, and for someone who grew up with 11pm being pub closing time, it seemed a good time to leave. The night air didn't seem as cold as I thought it might be, and the walk back to the bus stop seemed rather pleasant as I went past the old naval college, and the Maritime Museum. Overhead an intense green laser beam was shooting out over the prime meridian from the Royal Observatory. I don't know if it happens every night, or if it was something to do with the clocks changing from GMT to BST at 1am this morning.
green laser from Royal Observatory, Greenwich
 I bought some grilled chicken on my way home, and then ate that while watching some TV before going up to bed. I didn't go to sleep straight away, and did some reading before I did. It was 1am when I turned out the light, but at that instant 1am turned into 2am as the clocks changed to BST. I am unsure just how much sleep I got last night, but I know it was rather less than is desirable. Now I face a difficult decision. Do I try and stay awake all day and then hopefully fall asleep very easily, very early this evening, or do I take a nap possibly soon ? The first choice is probably the best idea considering my body is going to think I am getting up at 4am tomorrow morning, but I find the idea of laying on my bed reading quite appealing at the moment.

 Apart from trying to get to bed very early tonight I have no plans for the rest of the day. I have already been out to buy some catfood and other stuff, and I have done some laundry. That seems to be all I need to do. So some relaxation doesn't seem too bad an idea. I'll admit it is unlikely that I will do it, but earlier on I was considering the idea of doing some clearing in my garden. It seems nice weather for it, but....................................
Saturday 26th March 2011
 06:35 GMT

  "Best day evah" might be how some would describe yesterday. It is true that yesterday was the warmest day so far this year, but I wouldn't be quite so enthusiastic. It was warm, but it didn't feel like we almost hit 20 C as one part of London was reported to have. There was still a bit of a breeze that took the edge off the warmth. When sheltered from the breeze the sun did feel deliciously hot, and it was a good taste of things to come. Today has started of rather murky, but it's still dry, and it doesn't look like it will rain anytime soon. Several of the warm sunny days recently started like this. So there is some hope that the weather forecast for today will be hopelessly wrong. The one thing they may have right is a change in the wind direction that brings colder air in. So it is almost certain that today will be a lot cooler even if the sun does break through the misty murk in the sky at the moment.

 I am unsure if booze prices have gone up yet following the budget. So last night, for the second night in a row, I went to Tesco and bought a second one litre bottle of their own brand scotch whiskey. I am sure it used to be 14.97, and it's now 15.29, but the 150 club card points (worth 1.50) make up for that small increase in price. I also bought a bottle of Drambui. That was expensive at just over 22. So I hope that was at the pre-budget price because I would hate to think I have helped to line the chancellor's pockets any more than I would have before the budget.

 In the middle of the week I was out in the park with my camera during my lunch break. The sky was a beautiful blue, and a very frequent event occured - a helicopter, on it's way to Battersea Heliport flew overhead.
Underside of a black helicopter
 It was so bright outside that the camera used a very fast shutter speed which almost froze the motion of the blades. The helicopter was flying quite fast and I have no idea how I managed to track it across the sky to get it directly from below.

 Yesterday I spotted some more spring flowers in the park.
Forget-me-nots - I think
 These tiny little flowers, just a centimetre across, are probably forget-me-nots. I must admit that a Google image search for forget-me-nots doesn't show an exact match. I have just done another search on Google and now I think they may be the weed called Corn Speedwell.

 Today I am seeing Aleemah, and so very soon now I'll have to start doing some housework. Later on, in the evening, and then only if I have the energy and inclination, I am going out to a pub to see a band play. Just for a change it won't be Chain that I am seeing. They are playing tonight but in a fairly inaccesible pub near Abbey Wood. The band I think I'll be going to see is called All You Need, and is the band fronted by Liz who used to do guest vocals for Chain. They are not really to my taste, but there is some overlap, and the pub they are playingat, The Star And Garter, in Greenwich is fairly easy to get to.
Friday 25th March 2011
 07:48 GMT

  This spell of good (for March) weather continued through yesterday, and continues today. Some say the temperature rose as high as 19 C yesterday, and I think I might just agree with them. The only thing that spoiled the day was a cooling breeze late in the afternoon. Without that it would have felt truly warm. Today should be close to a repeat of yesterday. The forecast suggests that it could be one degree cooler though. After today we are plunged back into misery again. Tomorrow will be might be wet with the temperature struggling to reach 12 C.

 After the deep depression and anger from the soul crushing news about the budget I feel a lot more cheery today. If cat hair, of which I have an excess about the house, works as well as hair of dog, and eye of newt, I should have cast a spell that should at the very minimum see the Chancellor of The Exchequer's cow give soured milk, and at best he will be slowly eaten alive by slugs. If that fails I have invoked the mighty Krank from Arcturus to fire a miniturized space quantum nuclear destructo missile up his left nostril.

 There have been some reasons to feel good despite all that Big Brother can throw at us. For a start it is Friday, and that's always good. Another reason is that I checked my bank balance this morning, and I am not in the dire straits that I thought I might be in. Then there is the result of yesterday's "dumpster diving". I pulled out a few goodies. There was a 4 port PCI USB2 card complete with driver disk, and believed to be working. I do have a very good use for that. Less useful, but still interesting was a USB connected ZIP drive and two ZIP disks (one brand new in it's original wrapping).

 Once upon a time the 100MB ZIP disk was a useful back up device. These days such a small size is almost laughable. So I have no practical use for the drive, but it is still interesting to play with it. I noted that it needed no drivers for Windows XP to recognise it. When I got it home I found that likewise Linux recognised it with no problems whatsoever. All I have to do now is find some use for it, the three disks I have for it, and the SCSI connected version that I gave up playing with many years ago. Any suggestions warmly welcomed !

 One other piece of good news (and some bad news) is that the black stretch jeans that I probably mentioned a few days ago do fit perfectly. The one trouble with them is that they stink ! I don't know if it's the black dye, but they have a nasty musty smell that reminds me of sweaty athletes. Last night I gave them a wash and they now smell better, but the smell has not gone away completely. I had hoped to wear them today, and if they were dry I might well have done so. Maybe I'll giving them an airing tomorrow.
Thursday 24th March 2011
 07:41 GMT

  There is no other description for yesterday than glorious. The sun shone the whole day, the sky was deliciously blue, and it was warm ! Today may end up nearly as good. The day has started rather cool, and with a lot of mist, but there are already signs that the sun is starting to disperse the mist, and break up the cloud. By this afternoon, and maybe even earlier than that, I am hoping that the sun will be out, and the air warming up.

 We do need a good day today to make up for the bleakness in life that our cursed chancellor has bestowed upon us. As usual, those heartless tyrants who we supposedly elect to rule over us have hit all the soft spots in announcing the budget for the year ahead.

 George Osbourne is the name that shall be cursed throughout history. That heartless bastard has again hit smokers and drinkers, and hit them hard. Quite why we have to pay for the running of Britain is a mystery, but it may have something to do with being civilised and easy going people who are unlikely to rise up in rebellion and string him up to the first lampost. Why can't he put a huge tax on nappies and baby clothes instead of life's essentials. It would be good for the planet - breeders might think twice about cluttering up the place with their wet smelly noisy things. If I had known what the future held 40 years ago I would have tried much harder to learn a foreign language so I could get the hell out of this shit hole of a country. I can't wait for the revolution to come !
Wednesday 23rd March 2011
 08:13 GMT

  Some extended periods of sunshine could have made yesterday a great day, but there was very little susnhine. In fact, hardly any at all. Nevertheless it was still very mild, and like the day before I went home from work with my coat in my bag, and my shirtsleeves rolled up. To be honest, it wasn't really warm enough for that, but I think the joy of feeling unencumbered, after a winter of wrapping up extra warm, easily overcame the very, very slight discomfort at times.

 Today has started off a lot better. Yesterday's cloud evaporated away overnight leaving clear blue sky this morning. It also left some rather cool temperatures. Things will get better though. If you believe the BBC weather forecast, the temperature today will hit a rather glorious 18 C, but tomorrow will be a degree or two cooler. If you believe The Metro, the free morning newspaper, it will only be 16 C, but will be a degree or two warmer tomorrow. I think I choose the BBC weather forecast for today, and The Metro for tomorrow !

 There are various reasons why I feel rather good this morning. Sunshine and more comfortable socks (believe it or not) are big contributions to my feeling of well being. Another factor is that I modified my eating arrangements last night to, I believe, positive effect. Instead of starting to cook dinner as soon as I get home from work, I did some stuff on my PC first. Then I timed my cooking dinner preparation so it would be ready for when the early evening news came on TV. Watching TV makes me eat more, or so it seems, and in theory, by not watching so much TV I might eat less. Last night that sort of worked.

 The main part of dinner last night was herring. I have had some stiffness, and even a few brief twinges of pain from my right ankle recently, and in the past I have found that fish oil cures it. I had two tins of nice oily herring in two different sauces, and I imagine I can feel the benefit already. That is probably impossible, but if imagination work I say go for it !

 Another reason for feeling good today is that I am expecting a package to turn up for me here at work. Once upon a time, if I found clothing that actually fitted, and was comfortable, I would hang on to it forever. In the case of a pair of jeans I would wear them to the point of them falling apart (or often even past that point) because they were so rare and precious. Now, thanks to the wonderful internet, I can order jeans that I know will be comfortable (or at least the last few were). Not only that but I have a choice of styles and colours, albeit both still limited. I have no need for new jeans/trousers, but I have ordered a pair anyway - because I can. The new pair are stonewashed black. I must admit that I think I would have preferred plain black, but I'll see what turns up when it arrives.

 Ordering another pair of jeans was not quite a totally frivolous thing to do. I added them to an order for yet another pair of shoes. The new walking shoes I bought a fortnight ago are not as good as I first thought. They suffer from that scourge that afflicts all who are rather heavy on their heels - like me - in that the heel is not solid material, but has cavities that slowly collapse. It's a shame really because in other respects they were quite comfortable for very light use. For more intensive walking they also suffer from very thin soles that seem to provide little protection against "lumpy" ground.

 What I really ought to say is that they are cheap Chinese rubbish, and that I have wasted my money in buying them. I look at it more as an education, and I'll know better next time not to buy shoes made by Southbay. The new walking shoes I am expecting today are made by Regatta, and I know that Regatta hiking boots are fine, and I have walked many miles in them with little discomfort. So hopefully the shoes will be as good as the boots, and will make short walks, such as commuting, an effortless joy (or something).
Tuesday 22nd March 2011
 07:49 GMT

  Yesterday was very nice, very nice indeed. Until mid afternoon the sun was shining, and the air warmed up to at least 15 C. After mid afternoon the sky became increasingly cloudy, but the sun still popped out from time to time. Gradually the cloud became denser and denser, and being after dark it was a good thing. It kept a lot of the warmth in, and this morning it is very mild. It is also still quite cloudy, but apparently the chances of rain are very small, and today will be as warm as yesterday.

 I still suffer from the affliction of not really being able to decided if it is cold, mild, warm, hot, and a multitude of shades between. Stating degrees Celsius does describe how it feels, and those other names (cold, mild, warm etc) are so subjective. What I can say about yesterday was that I was quite comfortable going home from work with my coat stuffed in my bag, and my shirt sleeves rolled up. If the temperature was half a degree cooler I think it would have taken me out of the comfort zone, and as the sun got low in the sky that condition began to approach as I walked from the station to home.

 Despite being on the borders of the comfort zone it felt great to be able to go home in just my shirtsleeves. Sometimes it seems we lose our nerve, and think that winter will go on forever, or alternatively that summer will never come. Well last night was a great reminder that summer is coming, and it won't be too long now before I will be able to come to work in my shirtsleeves. Then not too long after that it will be time for short sleeved shirts (or t-shirts) and then shorts on the best days. It is unwise to look further ahead than that because.....well, you know, because...after that comes autumn, and then (shhhh) winter again.

 Once again I ate a load of crap last night, and I put the blame fairly and squarely on the toaster, and the idiot who bought it. I ended up eating egg on baked beans on corned beef on toast for my dinner. Both the eggs and the corned beef ( which was loose rather than tinned) had been in the fridge for some time and needed to be used up. I also had a few snacks last night. One snack was some dry roasted peanuts. Logic suggests that dry roasted peanuts should have slightly less energy in them than normal roasted peanuts. I have no idea if this warped theory holds any truth or not, but even if it does I am still sure that one single peanut contains enough energy to power a steam engine between Euston and Scotland, and that a whole bag (of which I ate around a quarter last night) has sufficient calories to launch a rocket to the moon. Peanuts are so evil, and yet they are so nice !

 I actually feel both good and bad this morning. The good is, surprisingly, of the sort that is usually clobbered by poor eating. For some reason I don't feel bloated and lacking in energy. I felt really quite energetic as I came to work, and particularly so as I strolled unusually briskly from Earlsfield station to work. Of course I arrived slightly out of breath, and with the beginnings of a sweat, but it didn't feel like hard work getting in that state. Maybe there is hope after all !

 The bad feeling is not that bad, and is only a very minor, mostly ignorable inconvenience. I am suffering from hay fever, at least I think it is hay fever - though obviously not of the usual kind. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that I have a small reaction to the pollen from some of the earliest flowering trees, and some of those trees have just come into flower now. Pretty soon now it will go away, and once the grass pollen starts, and some people start to suffer badly from it, I'll be fine until autumn when I think I have some sensitivity to fungal spores (or something like that). In the meantime I am left slightly snotty as if I have a mild cold without the other symptoms.
Monday 21st March 2011
 07:44 GMT

  After the mild, and bright weather yesterday it is a bit of a shame to wake up to chilly air, and greyness. The greyness is not thick cloud, and with luck it will break up as the morning progresses. At the same time the air should warm up, and if the weather forecasters have not just been picking numbers out of a hat again, it could warm up to 15 C sometime this afternoon. The theory is that we should see the same temperature for the first few days of the week, and it will only drop a degree or two at the end of the week. If we have some sunshine I think that 15 C is going to feel rather wonderful.

 After my very lazy day yesterday, all my organs hurt this morning. Mostly this was the result of overeating rather than laying around all day. The laying around just made my back feel stiff and sore when I first woke up. Now, after a hot shower, and the 25 minutes, or so, of the walking I have to do to get to work, my back feels almost OK, and it seems less likely that my major organs (and probably some minor ones too) will burst, explode, catch fire, putrefy, or mutate into space monsters. There is even a possibility that if I can force myself to walk to Wandsworth Common tonight, I might even feel quite good, but knackered, when I get home tonight.

 When I do get home I ought to try and find something healthy to eat, but when I consider what's in the fridge that doesn't seem very likely. I know I have some eggs in the fridge that need to be used fairly soon, and if I poached (or boiled) them they would make for one part of a healthy meal. I also have some bread that needs using up, and that presents a problem. Ideally I should not have bought that bread, but I did while on the tail end of my bizarre craving for toast despite knowing all along that I need to avoid carbohydrates (or so my own experiments seem to show). I strongly suspect that I will be having egg on beans on marmite on toast for dinner tonight. As such that won't be bad for me, and if in the highly unlikely event that was all I ate last night I would probably feel quite good in the morning. An overlong exposure to reality in the past suggests that it is going to take a couple of nights before I begin to feel healthy* again.

* where healthy means still warm with a detectable pulse, and with enough strength and movement to lift a pint of beer from table height to lip height..
Sunday 20th March 2011
 17:20 GMT

  The weather stayed rather pleasantly sunny until sunset yesterday. I don't know what the temperature reached, but with little wind it was very comfortable. It continued like that into the night, and today has been very nice. There wasn't quite so much direct sunshine, but it has been bright and dry, and close enough to warm for me to walk to the corner shop in just a t-shirt and no coat. I've even had some windows open today to air some of the house.

 After a good rest I felt almost a little too relaxed to go out again last night. My stomach felt a bit rumbly too, but I pulled myself together and set out for The British Oak on the far side of Blackheath to watch another gig from Chain.
The British Oak, Blackheath, after dark
 The pub is actually rather nice and traditional with seperate public and saloon bars - something that is rather rare these days. If I have one complaint about it, it is the dark oak panelling inside which seemed to suck all the light out of my camera's flash. Last night was the first time that I was not happy with the pictures my new camera was taking. Pictures without that panelling came out fine.
Chain with dark wood panelling behind
 In the picture above I had to use a lot of processing to bring out all the detail, but it has left the dark areas very grainy.
Dancing at The British Oak
 Apart from a few dust orbs spoiling the picture, everything was nice and bright when not looking towards the dark panelling. The lady, slightly right of centre, was the first up to start dancing to the band. She has a slightly odd face, but I thought her to be rather attractive (particularly her rear aspect !).

 In any group of people gathered together statistics prove (or so I heard somewhere) that someone is bound to be someone's birthday, and last night was on exception. Chain have a well rehearsed "happy birtday" routine for such occasions, and go through at a surprising amount of gigs. Last nights "birthday boy" seemed so delighted that he clambered onto a rather precarious high table to take his bow. I was outside having a cigarette when the performance started, but just manged to capture him climbing down again.
The birthday boy climbs down
 I think I have mentioned it before, but I am still surprised that some old fogeys like the music that Chain play, and then I am forced to remember that I am one of those old fogeys ! Chain play music that I grew up with (as they did), and that means the audience is older than the average, and yet plenty of young people appreciate it too, but I think the large proportion of less testerone fueled youngsters make these gigs calmer and more friendly. The upshot is that I find myself talking to more strangers, and more strangers talking to me - and they are not all old !
a delightful young lady (and brother)
 This delightful young lady (joined by her brother in this picture brother) was coming back from the toilet and noticed me in the smoking area. She very politely asked if she could borrow a fag from me. In this rare case it really was borrow instead of scrounge. She kept to her word and gave me a fag back which she actually scrounged from her brother who joined us a few minutes later (her own fags were inside the pub). While we had a smoke together we had a nice chat about the pub and other stuff.

 My original thought was that I would be leaving the gig early so I would have time to find my bus stop, which was half a mile away somewhere on, or near, a complex road junction, and try and get a bus heading back home. It is the usual way I work until I become familiar with the pub, local area, and the bus service, but it didn't happen like that. When I mentioned my plans to the band Chris imeadiately stepped in and said he and Jo would be more than happy to give me a lift back to Catford - it was on their way home anyway.

 So I stayed to the very end, and enjoyed myself even more. I think the gig finally finished just before midnight, but I really wasn't watching the time then. Once the bands kit had been knocked down, and packed up I reprised my role as a roadie and helped take the gear out to the cars. I must admit I never really appreciated just how much kit the drums made up, and how heavy some of the stands were, but I know now !

 I wasn't expecting it, but not only was I driven back to Catford, but I was driven right to my front door. I like this new hobby I have ! I guess it was the simplicity of getting home, and not even having to walk from a nearby bus stop, but I found myself really rather buzzing when I got indoors, and it was gone 1.30am when I finally turned out the light to go to sleep. Sleep did come fairly quickly after that, and I think I slept quite well.

 When I woke up it was bright outside, but I have to confess I had a slight hangover, and eventually went back to bed for a few more hours. Since getting up again I have had a very lazy day. I did put some clothes in the washing machine, and went to the corner shop, but they were the most energetic things I have done all day ! I am not exactly sure where all the other hours have gone to, but all I care about is trying to get to sleep early tonight so I can try and get my eight hours in before getting up at 5am for work in the morning.
Saturday 19th March 2011
 15:08 GMT

  Yesterday's rain finally petered out during the afternoon, and after the sun set there was a bright moon perfectly visible. It should have got very cold after that, but somehow it didn't get cold enough for a frost this morning. It was quite chilly, but with a bright sun in a clear blue sky it has warmed up a lot. The forecast was for a mere 10 C, but apparently it has reached 11 C already, and if the sun continues to shine, and the wind holds off, it could get a degree or two warmer before sunset.

 After a day of just resting yesterday I really wanted to go out somewhere today. Ideally I wanted to go and see the sea, the rail connections of a few destinations I thought of were atrocious. By the time I had done my research, and considered the abomination of a near 30 minute wait to change trains at Sevenoaks, it became a bit late for long journeys anyway.

 What I finally decided to do was to take a walk around Beckenham Place Park. With hindsight it was good that I didn't go for a long coastal walk today. After walking for about 2.5 miles, which included a bit of hill climbing, I decided I had walked far enough. Evidently I am more out of practice than I thought.

 There was not a lot to see in the woods in the park at this time of the year, but it was very pleasant walking in the bright sunshine, and I did feel quite warm at the end of it. In fact I was starting to sweat a bit under the surprisingly hot sun. While there was not a lot to see I did take a few pictures.
Beckenham Place Park manor house
 With golfists clustering around it like flies, this is the manor house in the park under that wonderful blue sky.

 There are times when my new Canon Powershot SX120 IS digital camera really excels. Consider this next picture, and the golfist in the red square.....
across a fairway towards the manor house
...a minute later, and a few more paces up the hill, full zoom, and some cropping of the photo.....
taking a swing
 It's the same golfist now taking a swing at his ball. The picture is a little fuzzy, but adequate if it had any blackmail potential !

 For the next few hours I think I am going to lay on my bed reading. Then tonight, if I don't feel too tired or knackered, I may well go out to see Chain play again. They are playing The British Oak pub on the far side of Blackheath, almost in Charlton, and it's a pub I thought would be very messy to get to. Further research suggests that it is relatively easy to get to. There are two buses that go directly from Catford to within less than half a mile of the pub. Unfortunately they leave Catford from two different widely spaced bus stops. So I'll have to decide which one to go for. Coming home is simpler because they both start from the same stop (I think).
Friday 18th March 2011
 12:16 GMT

  Maybe it was just me, but most of yesterday felt really cold. I had a hard time keeping warm except in my own room at work where I had the heating up quite high. Most of the day was very dull and miserable, but eventually the clouds parted, and for a short while the sun did try and shine. The sky stayed reasonably clear into the evening. Once again it might just have been me, but it felt warmer in the evening, and into the night, than it did during daylight hours.

 I am not sure what to make of today because I haven't gone out yet. It seems as if it is far less chilly than yesterday, but unlike yesterday it is raining today. It doesn't seem to be that heavy, although after being out for a few hours, Smudge came in very wet. There seems little sign of it getting brighter, and it may well continue like this until tomorrow when the forecast is for sunshine, but rather cold.

 I had a wonderful night, last night as I watched Chain play in The Catford Ram. There was one MAJOR disappointment though. The promotional material for the night said that Guinness was to be 2.50 a pint (it being St Patricks day). Apparently it was until 5pm when it reverted back to it's normal price (3.10 a pint) - and I got there after 5pm !

 Instead of their normal two sets, Chain had a special Irish musical interlude where Steve, who normally plays bass guitar, accompanied a special guest, Elizabeth, on an acoustic guitar while she played some Irish stuff on a penny whistle. I have to confess that I mostly hated it, but it was a nice touch for those who may have liked it.

 There were a few surprises last night. At one point I was accosted by a young lady who decided she had to show me off to her friends as a long lost brother or something. For some reason she thought that because we wore similar styled glasses there was some sort of simularity between us. It was pleasantly unusual, and a bit of a laugh, plus a good excuse to put my arm round a strange woman !

 Another surprise was a huge influx of French students from some nearby language school. They seemed to enjoy themselves dancing to a few of Chains songs, and having a fish and chip supper in the pub. One of them had a most pleasantly cute bum !
French student with very cute bum !
( The French student with the cute bum - she is the one with the long dark hair, blue jeans, and light brown boots).

  The final surprise was finding myself in one of my own pictures. OK, it wasn't really a surprise - I gave my camera to Jo to take the picture, but it was a sort of surprise that she asked to do it.
a post gig drink
 You'll notice that in deference to it being St Patrick's day (or night) I was wearing a green t-shirt and green trainers (and my special woman attracting [it seems] glasses). After the snafu with the price of Guinness, and if I were a foolhardy, and fearless man, I might have gone back home to put on an orange t-shirt ! In the picture above, I am on the left. Next around the table is Iain, Kevin, one of Chris' workmates whose name escapes me, and finally Chris  (Chain lead guitar). The handbag on the empty chair belongs to Jo who was taking the picture.

 Today I am having a well earned rest from work. As I predicted, it was a late night, and I did have a hangover this morning ! It was well worth using up one of my holidays today. After getting up at 5am to feed Smudge, I went back to bed, and didn't rise again until 9am. Since them I have been sitting at my PC editing photos, and writing stuff like this. I did have one break for breakfast of eggs and reheated chips left over from a takeaway bought on my way home from the pub.

 As yet I haven't even had a shower or got dressed properly. I think doing those should be my next priority. After that I will consider going out to get some shopping. After that I suspect I'll be spending several hours laying on my bed readin New Scientist. After that..........well, who knows ?
Thursday 17th March 2011
 07:55 GMT

  As far as the weather went, it was a miserable day yesterday. All day long there was nothing but mistyness, and greyness. There may have even been some drizzle, but I can't say one way or another because I stayed indoors the whole day, and tried to avoid looking out the window.

 This morning is a continuation of yesterday, but having come to work, and thus been exposed to the great outdoors, I can say for definite that I have passed through a few patches of light misty rain. In theory the clouds should break up later, and there could even be a few glimpses of sunshine. Hopefully the temperature will rise too. It must be around 5 C now, and it might rise to 12 C at the end of the day.

 These low temperatures are annoying in as much as they are not low enough for long enough to inspire me to wrap up warmer in the mornings. It is quite chilly coming to work in clothes that are more suited to the day starting at 12 C and finishing up at 20 C. However the time for that is getting nearer every day, and once it comes I'll still not be satisfied because I'll be looking forward to the day when I can come to work in just shorts and a t-shirt !

 I thought that after my frenzy of rushing to the toilet yesterday morning I would soon settle down, and maybe do something productive during the day. I think I was possibly worse than I thought. For most of the morning I just wanted to lie down, and then just as the morning was about to end I found I needed to rush to the toilet again, and one more time for luck ! At that point there really was no more to come, and I began to feel slightly more lively.

 Slightly more lively is not the same as lively though. I had thought that I might go out and get some shopping at some point during the day, and certainly during the afternoon I was stable enough to do it, but with it looking grey and nasty outside I just couldn't be bothered. One thing I did do was to make some repairs to my settee.

 Once upon a time, when it was young, my settee was made with elasticated webbing that was held in place by metal wedges pushed into the wooden frame. Now, in it's old age, those wedges have a hard time staying put. Recently a few popped out leading to a few very sagging places. Yesterday afternoon I refitted the webbing, and used some screws to hold the wedges in, but I fear I may have to come up with a better idea to prolong the life of the settee. For now it holds me up OK, and that should make it safe and comfortable for anyone else.

 Today is St Patrick's day (or so I believe). I don't feel any special affection for Ireland, and even less for saints, but tonight I will be celebrating anyway. There are two reasons for this, and both of them are good ones in my humble opinion. Chain are playing in The Catford Ram tonight, and The Catford Ram is selling Guinness for 2.50 a pint. I am sure it must have happened before, but I can't remember a single occasion when they have had cheap beer on sale in The Catford Ram. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say discounted rather than cheap. 2.50 for beer is not cheap !
Wednesday 16th March 2011
 07:40 GMT

  There were reports that the temperature reached 16 C near Gatwick airport yesterday. That's not too far away, but it didn't get as high as that where I was. I would guess the best I experienced was only 11 or 12 C. After the misty start to the day the sun did eventually break through, but there wasn't that much of it, and the day ended misty and grey again. This morning it is misty again, and it feels rather cool. It is forecast to stay grey and cloudy all day. The very best temperature the BBC can offer in their forecast for the day is a mere 10 C, and that is rather on the chilly side ! Tomorrow offers a slight improvement, but then it's all downhill with temperatures not getting much above 7 C for Friday and the weekend. Let's hope they have that very wrong !

 This morning I feel fine apart from one annoying thing. Last night, for the first time in nearly a fortnight, I had some chilli sauce. I don't know whether to blame that or not, but everytime I was about to go and get my train to work I had to turn back and rush to the toilet. I seem to be empty now, but I feel a bit bleurgh*, and I am taking the day off sick.

* where "bleurgh" can mean anything from fatigue to stomach ache and a few other things thrown in as well - I want to just lie down and recover.

 Yesterday I remembered a little computer application that is quite handy. It's called CPU-Z, and it tells you quite a lot about what's in a PC. Of particular interest for me was to find out exactly what CPU this computer uses.
the CPU in my PC
 CPU-Z is a Windows application, and the screenshot to the left shows this computer to have a single core 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor in it.

 This is rather old school technology these days, but it runs Ubuntu Linux very smoothly. Even video processing seems fairly fast on it, but I could do better.

 In fact I can do better. The PC I use mainly just for email, and downloading stuff, that's in the rather cool backroom downstairs, has a dual core 3.0GHz Pentium D processor in it. At some time I will swap the computers over so I can do my video editing, etc, on the faster machine.

One interesting point about CPU-Z is that it will run using the Windows emulator for Linux - Wine. Not all features work, but the CPU is definitely displayed.

CPU-Z using Wine on Linux

For the screenshot taken with the computer booted into Windows I used the most up to date version of CPU-Z. I could have used the same version when using Wine on Linux, but I hadn't downloaded the latest version at that point.

 The earlier version is subtly different, and I imagine that Pentium 4 processors had only just been added to it's database - which might explain why they report the two different packages for the chips.

 Once upon a time CPU-Z was called CPUid, and I was using that ages ago. I haven't uses it on all my computers, but I am sure that somewhere I have a screen shot taken from an ancient pre-Pentium "486" computer. I can't find that, but I do have a screenshot from an ancient Compaq computer using a Pentium MMX cpu limping along at 233MHz !

CPU in old Compaq PC
 That computer was, as you can see, running Windows 98 (and not even the more reliable second edition). How times have changed !
Tuesday 15th March 2011
 07:54 GMT

  If only yesterday was just a few degrees warmer it would have been very pleasant. There was a lot of sunshine in the morning, though it did cloud over after that, but it still felt cool enough to make me wear a coat when going outside for a cigarette. By the time I left work the cloud was quite thick, and I considered myself lucky that it was wasn't raining.

 The cloud stayed overnight, and as a result this morning started out a lot milder than yesterday morning. There was no frost, but there was, and still is a lot of mist about. In some places, and near home was one of them, I guess you would call it fog. Visibility was down to a couple of hundred yards across the park, near the river. The sky now is misty rather than cloudy. The mist will lift eventually, but whether it will reveal clouds or blue sky is a mystery. I suspect it will stay dry today, but I could be completely wrong.

 After work last night I went home via Lidl's. As well as loads of their house brand cat food I bought two pairs of sock, and a surprising amount of tinned fish for some reason. I also bought a container of herring in a creamy sauce. I bought some the last time I was in Lidl, and it is rather nice. The creamy sauce is actually yoghurt based, and in theory, though I haven't bothered to check the information on the container to prove it, it should be pretty healthy stuff. I had it on toast last night along with some stuffed vine leaves. I also had some unhealthy crap too, but I only went slightly over the top.

 I am wearing one pair of the socks I bought today. They are hiking sock, and have all sorts of strange panels in them that allegedly pull your feet into the best pose for walking - or something like that. I must admit they do feel rather comfortable for now. I am also wearing another new item.

 Just recently I ordered a couple of shirts, and yesterday they arrived. One shirt is a black shirt, and the other red. I thought I would go for a nice comfortable fitting. I ordered them from a place that stocks bigger sizes, and added an extra half inch to my normal collar size. I can comfortably wear shirts half an inch smaller, but only just, and a half inch bigger than normal seems almost too big. That was the black shirt.

 The red shirt is a different story. There is a particular occasion coming up sometime in the hopefully not too distant future, and I wanted a nice red shirt for it, and I wanted it to be very comfortable to wear. I couldn't get the same size as the black shirt. I could have gone for half an inch smaller, but that would be too tight. The nearest size that was in stock was two inches more than my normal, and the shirt is gigantic ! I have yet to try it on, but I wonder if it is actually too big to wear (though I will anyway). For me that is a rather novel situation.
Monday 14th March 2011
 08:01 GMT

  I think the weather forecasters got their forecast wrong for yesterday and this morning. Yesterday was forecast to be very wet. It wasn't ! There was some light rain around lunchtime, but as the afternoon progressed the cloud broke up, and by sunset there were many open patches of sky.

 Our weather forecasters made the wild assumption that it would be a cloudy night, and predicted that today would start at about 5 C. In fact the day has started bright and sunny with a sharp frost. Now I have no idea what today will bring in the way of sunshine. maybe it will continue to shine, or maybe it will pour with rain. One part of the weather forecast for the week ahead is that most days will see temperatures rise to 11 or 12 C, and that is apparently the average for this time of year (although whether that average is pre or post global warming is anyone's guess).

 My day yesterday was definitely a lazy day. I could have gone out shopping in the afternoon, but I couldn't be bothered to. (I aim o get some shopping after work today instead.) The only thing that disturbed my laziness was doing a bit of laundry, and doing some overdue washing up. The most enjoyable aspect of yesterday was finishing one ebook, and starting another. Both books are by Murray Leinster, a sci fi writer with classic sci fi tastes. I am not entirely sure when the two books were written, but I am guessing sometime in the early 1960's. They made reference to some "modern" technology, but were still written with the excitement and wonder so prevalent in earlier sci fi writing. Maybe sci fi is not such a good description, and I would propose "space fiction" as a better name. At least I would do except that "spa fi" doesn't have the same ring about it, but space fiction does nicely describe these stories.

One of the things I did yesterday was to watch the BBC's "Country File" programme. As usual it made me yearn to get out and explore. Yesterday.s programme had an added incentive in that most articles were based around Essex, and featured two places I have visited myself (or almost visited). One place was Epping Forest, and I did go through one corner of that when walking from Epping to Ongar stations last year.

 The other places visited on the programme were Frinton, which was the first place I visited last spring, and Mersea island. I did intend to go back to Frinton again this year, and maybe I will. Mersea Island is more an area on the Essex coast rather than an actual island, and it looks very interesting. Unfortunately it is too far from a railway station to make visiting it a practical proposition. However, some 10 - 20 miles down the coast is Burnham On Crouch, and that does have a railway station. This morning I will be ordering an OS map covering the area so I can investigate whether there are public footpaths etc. to enable a walk around the coast there. Google maps just shows agricultural lands with no visible roads, but the OS map will reveal all. Maybe, if the weather is fine next week I could go exploring again, but that seems a long time away at this end of the week.
Sunday 13th March 2011
 11:01 GMT

  I don't think I expected it to be so sunny yesterday. It was fairly mild too - just like an early spring day should be.
tree in blossom
 The picture above was actually taken earlier last week, but it gives the feel of how yesterday was.

 The sun did not last all day, and by mid afternoon the sky was clouding over. That was good in one respect because it trapped in the heat, and this morning it is once again fairly mild. Mild enough that I was able to take a shower in the unheated bathroom with the window partly open, and I didn't shiver once !  The penalty for this is that the sky is a steely grey, and there has been some light drizzle. Much heavier rain is a strong possibility at any time today.

 I have a feeling it is going to be a quiet weekend. I saw Aleemah for a few hours yesterday, but after she left I hardly did anything of any importance. I was going to go shopping today, but weighing up the pros and cons of how little I really need to buy compared to how unpleasant it looks outside, I feel I will probably be putting off shopping until tomorrow.

 Not going shopping could potentially be beneficial to my diet, on the other hand I do have quite a lot of stuff in the house that I should really only eat in extreme moderation. Somehow that seems unlikely, and I have already eaten some naughty stuff. The days when I have moderated my diet do seem to have had a useful effect, and maybe on the days when I have thrown caution to the wind it hasn't been quite as bad as I thought. Friday night, and to a lesser degree, yesterday, could have been an exception  though. Yet this morning I still feel less bulging than I expected to, but I don't think I care to actually do anything as bold as weigh myself. Maybe I'll do that next Thursday morning, after 4 days at work away from food, and before I try out the new government inspired idea of binge drinking while I am in the pub on Thursday night !
Friday 11th March 2011
 07:52 GMT

  The weather yesterday was nothing like I expected. I expected it to be a bit warmer, and a lot wetter. It was neither. By sunset it was warmer than cold, but still not "warm". As far as I can recall not a single drop of rain fell yesterday. This morning has started off cool enough for my hands to feel quite cold, but not painfully so. Other than my hands I was comfortable enough in my lightweight coat.

 The best bit of this morning was that it was bright and sunny. As I left home, to walk to the station, the sun was possibly still just below the horizon, but it was light, and the sun was shining on the aircraft contrails turning them into streaks of fire in the eastern sky. Quite what the rest of the day will be like is a mystery. It seems to be getting cloudier now, but the forecast is that any rain won't start until tomorrow, and that it will be on Sunday when we get a real rainy day.

 After writing loads about the shrinking days in autumn I feel I ought to rejoice in the longer days we are getting now. It is hard to say exactly when the first day was that I was able to leave home to come to work in full daylight. Maybe that day has not truly happened yet, but this morning was close enough. Getting home in full daylight has been happening for some time now, but last night passed another milestone on the long march towards summer.

 Last night, on my way home from work, I called into The Catford Ram for a pint or two. Principly it was to hand over a CD with the pictures I took at Chain's last gig to Chris from Chain, but I was also hoping I might see Dee. Dee didn't turn up, but I stayed drinking with Chris and his workmates. I had three delicious pints of Guinness before leaving the pub. To my surprise it was still light when I left the pub. It may not have been truly daylight, but there was still enough light left in the western part of the sky to read by. After having three pints and not finding it dark outside is most definitely another milestone passed, and a reminder of glorious days ahead.

 With retrospect, three pints of Guinness was just a little too much. It just took me over the edge into unsatiable hunger. After having tinned spaghetti on toast with fried eggs I found myself wanting more toast. Maybe the novelty of my new toaster has not worn off yet, but I toasted yet more bread. Two slices for a cheese sandwich was very tasty, and later on another two slices with marmite and peanut butter finally satiated me. Oddly enough, I didn't go to bed feeling over stuffed as I feared I might, and this morning I would definitely have breakfast if I were at home. Here at work I'll have to make do with an apple.

 I don't think I have any plans for tonight. On my way home from work I'll pick up the latest New Scientist magazine, and probably spend a lazy evening reading some of that before getting an early night in readyness for an early(ish) start tomorrow.
Thursday 10th March 2011
 07:49 GMT

  The weather forecast for yesterday turned out to be right, but in the wrong order. Most of the sunshine was in the morning, and the rain fell in the afternoon. I say rain, but it may have just been the tears of an upset pigeon. It must have been around 3pm that for a few minutes a dozen or so tiny drops of rain fell. I must admit the sky looked as if it could have done a lot worse. On my way home the sky over Central London looked very threatening, but no rain fell anywhere near me.

 Today has started a bit cooler than I was expecting it to be. I am not sure why I thought that wearing my lightweight jacket was a good idea this morning. With the benefit of hindsight it was not such a good idea. This afternoon is forecast to be close to warm, but it may be at the price of a lot of rain, and my lightweight coat is not ideal in rain.

 My new shoes arrived yesterday morning. They are both good and not so good. They are very comfortable but seem so flimsy that I can't seem them lasting that long. I was able to give them a quick test when I went for a  0.94 mile walk around the park during my lunchbreak. That went well, but  I still remain unconvinced they will remain comfortable.

 I finally got to test my new toaster last night, but in doing so I ended up eating a little more than I might have. The main part of my dinner, and what in an ideal world would be my entire dinner, was poached eggs on cabbage and leeks. I think I have mentioned before about Tesco's bags of ready sliced cabbage and leek. It's a remarkably tasty combination when cooked with chicken stock, garlic, and tomato puree. As it cooked I just broke the eggs on top of it, put a lid on the saucepan, and let the eggs coagulate in the steam. I am not sure if I have ever poached eggs before, but last night they came out absolutely perfect !

 Having had the healthy part of my dinner (eggs are now apparently healthy) I then moved on to the unhealthy part. I made two slices of toast. On one I put some not too thinly sliced Welsh cheese with mustard seeds in it (very tasty !). The other slice I had with some low fat houmous which I treated as if it were a dip.

 I think I'll be eating more toast tonight. I am calling in the pub on the way home from work for a couple of pints of Guinness. This is principly to give Chris (from Chain) another CD with my latest pictures of the band taken last Saturday night. I might also see Dee in there. I don't think I have seen Dee since before Xmas, but on Tuesday night she sent me her new mobile number, and I sent her a text message to say I would be in the pub early tonight. So if she does turn up it will be nice.
Wednesday 9th March 2011
 07:45 GMT

  On reflection I think that yesterday was probably better than the day before. It was just as sunny, but a little less wind made it feel fractionally closer to being warm. Today has started a bit differently. Instead of a bone chilling frost it is a few degrees above zero - which is good. It is also rather cloudy - which is bad. There were a few damp patches here in Earlsfield suggesting that there may have even been a light shower earlier in the small hours of the morning. There were no such signs in Catford.

 The weather forecast has predicted that there is a small possibility of a quick shower this morning. At the moment that seems unlikely because the cloud is thin and broken. I can even seen little bits of blue among the clouds. As the morning continues those blue bits are supposed to get bigger and bigger, and eventually we should enjoy sunshine for the rest of the day. It could be today that the wind swings around to a more favourable direction. If that is the case it is supposed to feel warmer than it actually is, and that should be similar to yesterday.

 I didn't predict I would do it, and because I wanted to do some shopping on the way home it seemed very unlikely, but last night I walked the 1.97 miles to Wandsworth Common station, and apparently burnt 322 calories in doing so. Most of those calories were burnt getting my carcass up and over the hill that seperates Ealsfield from Wandsworth Common. It didn't seem to be such a struggle as the night before. I must be getting into practice or something.

 Like the night before, I wasn't wearing ideal shoes for pounding the pavements. That should all change soon. I ordered a new pair of trainers yesterday morning that are like a cut down version of my current favourite hiking boots. At least I think they are. Maybe they will turn out to be rubbish, but it won't be long before I find out. In a fit of devil may care I ordered them next day delivery, and they they should arrive at work sometime today. If they arrive before I leave I may even try them out on the way home. I might even walk to Wandsworth Common again tonight.

 When I arrived back in Catford last night I called in at Tesco to get some shopping. In keeping with my desire for toast I looked for, and found a toaster. It was a Tesco plain box special for 6.10. I didn't get to try it last night because I spied a few remaining bags of hot chicken on the hot counter. It's very naughty stuff, but also very nice. I grabbed two bags of assorted flavoured legs and thighs. One bag had three portions in it, and the other five portions (two thighs and three legs as I recall). It was an extravagant thing to do, but I bought the bag of three portions to treat Smudge with.

 I ate my chicken with rice cakes and "tex-mex" dips. In theory this could have been rather reckless considering the last time I had chicken like this it hit my hardly healed ulcer like a small atom bomb. This time I had no trouble whatsoever, but I'm still going to treat my (possibly healed) ulcer with some respect for another week before I hit the chilli sauce again.

 In theory, if three portions of chicken can feed a small cat, then five portions should represent a mere snack for a large human. I gained some evidence that this, and other theories I have, is indeed true. Since I last weighed myself I seem to be half a stone lighter this morning, and that period of time includes days when I deliberately ate stuff to favour the healing of my ulcer, and which was often relatively high in calories.

 I got the incentive to get on the scales this morning after my trousers kept slipping down while taking a walk around the park yesterday lunchtime. Since then I have been doing my belt up one extra notch. Maybe seven eighths of a notch would be a bit more appropriate, but this morning a full notch (one inch approx) seems to be comfortable. Maybe one day I will finally get into my pillar box red trousers (only three notches to go !!!).
Tuesday 8th March 2011
 07:48 GMT

  With a bit of luck today will be the same, or maybe even better than yesterday. After the frosty start the the blazing sun slowly started to warm things up. All day long the sky was, as the BBC weather forecasters put it, gin clear blue. For all it's effort, the glorious sun could only get the temperature up to about 10 C. That was just about enough to make a walk in the park close to comfortable without a coat on, but not enough to roll up my shirt sleeves. Today, which has also started with a thick frost and clear blue sky, may just get a degree or two warmer. I think the forecast I saw last night mentioned that the wind will soon be coming from a more favourable direction, and that will make it feel a bit warmer. Unfortunately I don't that that happens until tomorrow, or maybe even the day after that.

 I still wasn't feeling terribly energetic after work last night. After a day at work that may not be that surprising, but sometimes the lure of home perks me up a lot. With the sun shining I disregarded several reasons not walk to Wandsworth Common station, and did it anyway. It did feel like hard work, and I seemed to be making quite slow progress - particularly going up the long, and particularly towards the latter half, steep hill past Earlsfield cemetary to Wandsworth Common itself. Considering how much I thought it was a long hard slog it was surprising that I seemed to arrive at the station a lot earlier than I would have predicted. Either I left work a lot earlier than I thought I did, or I didn't walk quite as slowly as I thought I did.

 I arrived at the station with plenty of time to catch the 16:18 train (I was aiming for the 16:30). That train means I have to change trains at Crystal Palace station, and in turn that means a foot weary slog up and down a grand staircase to get to the other set of platforms where the trains to Forest Hill depart from. While I had got my breath back at Crystal Palace my feet were still complaining.

 I was wearing my old hiking shoes yesterday. Once upon a time they were really great for walking in. Now, as I think I remarked not too long ago, they are getting uncomfortable, and are definitely due for retirement. One of my priorities this morning is to order a new pair. I do still have a perfectly sound pair of hiking shoes/boots, but they are reserved for long distance walking. For normal commuting and work I have several good pairs of shoes, but if I am to make a habit of walking that little bit extra I think I have to treat myself to something better.

 Another thing I might treat myself to is a toaster. Last night I had egg on beans on marmite on toast for dinner, and it was quite a nice dinner. It might even have contributed to me feeling that I have a tiny bit extra energy this morning (although the large tin of rice pudding I had after certainly didn't help). Usually I don't eat all that much bread, and other baked stuff, but I think I may be going through a toast phase for some unexplained reason (it probably aliens or CIA mind control experiments again !!!). I think I'm going to Tesco tonight so I might see if they have any cheap and nasty "Tesco Value" brand toasters on the shelves.
Monday 7th March 2011
 08:30 GMT

 I am not really sure because I didn't go out in it, but I think yesterday stayed fairly cool. It certainly stayed grey, although it wasn't really a dark horrible grey - just a sort of meh ! sort of grey. Today has started significantly different. Clear skies overnight gave a frost this morning, and also made for a bright sunny start to the day. Even with only an hour or so of sunshine the day is starting to warm up. If I can believe the BBC's online weather forecast, and I desperately want to, this afternoon will be bright and sunny with temperatures of around 10 C. That is not all that high, but if the air stays calm it is going to feel like luxury compared the the finger numbing cold as I walked to that station this morning.

 My day yesterday was, as I thought it might be, a very lazy sort of day. I don't think I did anything of any significance apart from wash some sheets. Well, the washing machine did most of the work, but I still had to hang them up to dry. It was nice lazing around, reading, writing (a fairly long email), watching TV etc. but maybe I have a few regrets about it. I feel a bit stiff this morning.

 My health seems interesting at the moment. I had some now fading lower back pain, and my right shoulder felt a bit creaky at first. My right ankle seemed to be a little sore again when I first got out of bed. That faded away so quickly that I can't recall it being any bother after that first impression.

 I am happy to say that I have had no re-occurence of the ulcer type pain that spoiled so much of the previous week. It is rather curious how my careful diet has panned out. Apart from taking a chance with a plate of egg and bacon for breakfast yesterday, I have been quite careful to eat a load of stuff that I imagine would prevent further irritation to the ulcer, and hopefully that is helping it to heal nicely. A lot of that stuff I have eaten should have raised my blood sugar level a lot higher than I would like, and that may partially explain my lack of energy this morning. The other, and just as valid explanation is that I just don't like rushing around, puffing and panting in freezing cold air.

 A further point is that this morning I feel very relaxed. The big influences for that were a nice weekend, and the nice sunshine this morning. Even though hanging around in the freezing air was not pleasant, it was pleasant to feel the sun on my face. One other curiosity is that this morning I did up my trouser belt and it felt a little bit too tight. It seemed to confirm my fears that a lot of the stuff I have been eating, while good for my ulcer, was bad for my waistline, but I was wrong !

 I had, with very little extra effort, pulled in my belt one more notch than normal. It is hard to be objective about such things, but it feels like my belly is less bulging than is so often the case. Perhaps it is true, that a little of what you fancy does you good - except in this case it a little of what I fancy and nothing more. When I look back it seems that while I have had some stuff I really should avoid, I haven't always had that much of it, and in some ways I haven't had a lot of anything.

 I wonder how I will feel later ? Once the day warms up I might consider walking to Wandsworth Common station after work tonight. It is even possible that I might walk from Forest Hill station (where the train from Wandsworth Common takes me) all the way to home. The latter seems a bit far fetched, but the former might just happen.
Sunday 6th March 2011
11:41 GMT

  Yesterday's weather was a bit of a mixed bag. Most of the day was grey, but for a few minutes during the afternoon the sun blazed down. It stayed dry until about sunset, and then a fine drizzle set it until around 10pm. A curious thing happened then. It might have just been my imagination but it seemed to get a lot milder. Today seems less cold than recent days, and although rather grey at the moment, it looks as if there is a small chance for an occasional sunny spell a bit later on.

 Yesterday was another day without any hint of pain from my (suspect) ulcer. It seems that my specially selected diet has been doing as I intended. I did allow myself a few extra things yesterday. These were mainly in the form of baked, rather than fried, snacks. This morning I have tempted fate by having egg and bacon for breakfast. I ate it without any condiments, not even tomato sauce, but it seemed to satify a craving I had. For the rest of today I shall be far more careful in what I eat.

 In some ways it is surprising that I feel so good this morning. Last night I had approximately five pints of guiness, and I was a little tipsy when I left the pub. On second thoughts maybe it is not so surprising that I feel so good this morning - memories of the intense pain I suffered last weekend seemed to supress any temptation for a late night snack of grilled or fried chicken.

 I suppose I ought to say that feeling good this morning is a sort of relative expression. I do feel a little tired after a late night, and I did have a non painful kind of hangover. The hangover has all but faded away now, but some tiredness, or just plain old lethargy remains. One other little source of discomfort faded away quite quickly. That was a pain in my right ankle. I think it was a sort of repepitive strain injury. Last night I saw Chain play in The Chatterton Arms pub, and that involved a lot of foot tapping !
Chain on stage
 The picture above shows how not to take a photo. Chris, playing the Epiphone Explorer guitar, on the right has a palm tree growing out the top of his head. However, in this case, the palm tree fronds are so well placed that I have decided that this picture is right !

 It was an excellent night. The beer flowed, the music was great, and the company was wonderful. Even the 25 minute bus ride home at midnight didn't seem so bad. One half, Chris, of the two very enthusiastic dancers were there, and I guess I was nearly there with the booze because she managed to get me dancing. It was only for a few seconds, but I guess it was a start.

 Today I definitely have a case of the lethargies. The non too wonderful weather is not acting as any form of lure today. So I think I can safely relax into extreme couch potato mode. This probably means that by later this afternoon I will suddenly find I have an urge to do something. I have no idea where that urge will take me. I expect I'll find out later when it comes.
Saturday 5th March 2011
07:40 GMT

  I think I was quite surprised when yesterday turned out to be quite sunny, and maybe with less wind it almost started to feel like it could get warm. I can't actually say it did get warm, but the worst of the chill lifted. It is possible that today may follow the recent pattern of a cloudy morning followed by a sunny afternoon. The sky is just a solid mass of mid grey at the moment. It looks like the sort of misty, almost foggy, cloud that will break up once the sun gets higher. I think that is at odds with the weather forecast that said there could be a few isolated showers later in the day.

 This morning I feel reasonably good. I haven't suffered any pain for two days now since tuning my diet to avoid stuff likely to cause irritation to what I still presume to be an ulcer. I am going to keep up this diet for a good few days yet. Looking back at it I realise that it is generally a vegetarian diet. I really do fancy some bacon right now, and later on something like a fierce chilli con carne, but I guess that will have to wait until I am quite sure that the ulcer is healed.

 Of course if I were to cook some bacon under the grill, and eat it between a couple of slices of dry bread, it may be safe. If I get through today with no problems I might just test a dry bacon sandwich tomorrow. Without lashings of tomato sauce is may not be that nice, and maybe that is one reason why I won't do it. The trouble is the more I think about bacon the more I want it. I think I must have inherited the Homer Simpson gene !

 Today I am seeing Aleemah. So I ought to start tidying the place up soon. Tonight I am off to The Chatterton Arms to see Chain. I'm not sure if I'll be staying there all evening, but I am pretty sure I'll be drinking more Guiness, and not large quantities of scotch on the rocks. The two pints of Guiness I had the other night slipped down so well, and coincided with the seemingly rapid healing of my ulcer. That could lead me to believe that it is actually therapeutic (even if deep down I know it isn't).

 The bus ride back to Catford from The Chatterton Arms is nowhere near the ordeal of coming back from the British Queen, but I think I will still prefer to do it without a full bladder. So either I have to make a couple of pints last all evening, or go home early. Considering that all week I have been in bed, and sometimes fast asleep, before the time Chainare due to play tonight, I may well feel like leaving early anyway.
Friday 4th March 2011
07:19 GMT

  For the third day running (I think) we had a cold sunny afternoon after a grey start yesterday. My morning paper suggests that pattern could continue today, but I don't recall the weather forecast on the BBC last night being so optimistic about today. This morning has started off rather grey, and very chilly too. Some areas on the further outskirts of London probably saw a frost this morning, but Catford and Earlsfield were just about frost free. Even with that small head start, the temperature today is unlikely to get any higher than a chilly 7 C.

 In some respects I don't feel too bad this morning. Yesterday I was in considerable discomfort from my ulcer after it's rather dramatic, and unwelcome return in the early hours of yesterday morning. I am still not sure my diagnosis is 100% correct, but the measures I have been taking to heal it do seem to be working.

 As I mentioned yesterday, I wanted to get some shopping in on the way home from work last night. This is always dangerous because of all the tempting stuff in the supermarket. There is also the lesser danger that the pub and supermarket are only a 10ft apart ! At first I was going to pop into the pub for a quick one, and then I wasn't....and then I got a text message from Kevin saying he had to go to Tesco too ! So we met up and I had two pints of Guiness. It is ages since I have drunk any Guiness, and I must say it went down rather smoothly.

 After those two pints I went into Tesco and got my shopping. The low level pain I still had served as a reminder to buy sensible food, and over rode any loosening of resolve that the beer would have caused. Curiously enough, when I got home, I didn't seem to be that hungry. All I ended up eating was one packet of egg and cress sandwiches, and some diabetic ice cream. That was washed down with Squash instead of fizzy Diet Coke. There was one other ingredient to my "dinner" last night, and that was milk of magnesia.

 I kept the heating on in my bedroom all night so I could toss, turn and thrash around without freezing myself if I threw off the duvet. In the end that didn't happen apart from when I was finding a comfortbale position to sleep in. I slept fairly soundly from as early as 8pm to 4.30am this morning. I have a vague recollection of getting up for a pee once or twice, and some memory of a dream where I was on a Royal Navy warship for some reason. It didn't feel excessively hot in my bedroom after having the heating on full blast all night, but it did feel bloody chilly in the bathroom ! So once again I didn't wash my filthy hair again this morning.

 If I had the chance I would elect for some more sleep "therapy". That and the careful eating, not forgetting some praise for the milk of magnesia, seem to have accelerated the healing of my ulcer to the point where the pain has receeded to a mere feeling of slight tenderness. I am now practically back to the point when I was stupid on Wednesday night and threw caution to the wind and ate badly. That was a painful reminder that this time I need to be careful with what and how I eat for at least a whole week now before I dare get out the chilli sauce again. The good thing is that I now know that moderate amounts of Guiness are at least benign, and hopefully therapeutic. Tomorrow night I intend to have a few more pints of Guiness :-)
Thursday 3rd March 2011
08:12 GMT

  The sun definitely came out yesterday afternoon. By mid afternoon the sky was almost pure blue, and the sun began to warm things up - but only a little. By the time I got home the air was still very cool, but at least the sun had taken the edge off the cold. As the sun set the temperature plummetted again. This morning was forecast to be 3 C, and it certainly felt that way as my fingers turned blue and fell off while waiting for my train at Catford Bridge. I think we are very near a weather front today, and it will be pot luck as to whether we will get sunshine or just grey cloud later on. Whichever it is, it should stay dry, and still rather on the cold side.

 Yesterday evening Iwas feeling quite good when I got home from work. I was in no particular pain, and I wasn't particularly tired. Under such circumstances I let my guard slip. Instead of a lightweight, semi bland, dinner, I had some "southern fried" chicken (actually oven baked from frozen). At first all went well. I felt fine, but a few hours after I had gone to sleep I woke up again. After a pee I took a quick swig to moisten my mouth before going back to sleep again.

 As the liquid travelled down towards my stomach the valve into the stomach opened. At that point I am guessing that it squirted a little extra strong stomach acid that had been digesting the chicken into my esophagus. I am also guessing that this is where my ulcer was, and prior to this had started to heal. It felt like I had been stabbed as that acid hit the sensitive spot. From then on I was, and to a slightly lesser extent now, in a lot of pain. It made sleep difficult once again, and this morning I did something I have rarely done before - When my alarm went off I turned it off and went back to sleep while I could.

 I only slept for an extra half hour, but I think it was worth it. It always feel less traumatic waking up naturally instead of by alarm. I don't feel unusually tired now, but my mid chest area is still very sore. I suppose I have learnt some sort of lesson from this. Once this attack has seemed to heal I will try to remember to continue to treat it gently for a good few days before I abuse my guts again.

 Tonight I need to do some shopping, and that is always a bad time when trying to stick to a certain diet. My principle need tonight is toilet paper. This morning I just started my last roll, and I do get paranoid if I don't have a spare hanging around. I also want to pick up the latest New Scientist magazine, and get a bottle or two of Diet Coke. Before shopping I am going to pop into The Catford Ram for a drink. That may be unwise, particularly if one drink turns into two or more, but I am hoping to see Chris (from Chain) to give him a CD of pictures I took at their last two gigs. Usually when I try to do something similar he is not there, but when he is it is invariably on a Thursday...........as I wrote that I suddenly realised that Chain are playing a private gig tonight, and there is no way Chris will be there. Maybe I might still have a quick beer.....or maybe not.
Wednesday 2nd March 2011
07:56 GMT

  The weather yesterday was crap, and it continues this morning........except that there might just be a hint of sunshine this afternoon. Even if the sun shines it is still going to be nasty and cold, and quite possibly damp still. Perhaps I ought to be generous and say that the sun may raise the temperature a few degrees, but a few degrees on top of around 5 C is still rather cold. There is some wind as well, and that will take away anything the sun gives.

 I found it difficult to get warm yesterday. That was even with the heating on full blast at work. I arrived home feeling quite creaky with the cold seemingly penetrating right to the heart of my bones. Having two cans of "thick and chunky" beef soup soon after I got home helped a bit. I then had a couple of cheese and tomato sandwiches (which I made without butter, margarine, or mayonaise). To top that off I had a tub of "natural, "light", yoghurt.

 I thought the yoghurt might be useful to calm any stomach problems such as an ulcer (if I have one). I felt very full after that, but a bit later I took a stupid chance and ate a small quantity of wasabi coated peanuts. I am not sure if they made things worse or not, but I did feel uncomfortable in bed later on.

 On top of the bad stomach I have experienced in variable amounts (yesterday was not bad by comparison, and this morning it feels reasonably OK) I have been suffering from back ache. I am sure it is just another symptom of my body being tricked by the false spring day we had last Thursday. To counter the cold and damp I have decided to wear my thermal underwear today. It does seem to be helping a bit, but so did leaving the heater on in my bedroom last night (on full !), and leaving the heating on semi high overnight here at work.

 It is curious that I did not wake up this morning feeling as hot as I would expect for having the heater on full blast overnight. Maybe I should have checked my temperature to see if I was running a fever. If I was I could just blame all this discomfort recently on some sort of infection that should soon heal itself with patience.
Tuesday 1st March 2011
08:05 GMT

  The drizzle yesterday continued on and off all day. The only redeeming factor was that it was only very light drizzle instead of pouring rain. I can't recall a hint of sunshine, and it was cold all day too. Today is most likely to be very similar. I haven't seen any sign of rain yet, but the sky is a nasty grey colour. It is certainly no warmer than yesterday, and if anything, this morning may be a tiny bit cooler.

 In quite a few ways I feel a lot better this morning compared to yesterday, but there are still things I could complain about. Most of the improvement happened as the day progressed yesterday. That was very fortunate because I would have been far from happy if I felt really crappy while going home from work. Earlier in the afternoon there had been some sort of signal failure at Waterloo that trapped many trains there. After that cleared those trains had to get to their distant destinations before they could head back to London. In practice it meant I had to wait for 20 - 25 minutes for a train from Earlsfield to Waterloo. (The normal frequency at that time is one train every 3 - 5 minutes).

 Waiting that long, in the cold, was not nice, but it allowed one photo opportunity.
platform 1 - Earlsfield station
 The picture above shows a train stationary at platform 1 of Earlsfield station. As far as I know there are no trains scheduled to stop at platform 1, and only platform 2 (London bound) and platform 2 (country bound) are in normal use. The train above was held at a red signal for a few moments, and I just managed to take the photograph before it moved off on the single yellow signal. While it waited at the signal it didn't open it's doors. One curious aspect of the picture is how the zoom lens makes it look as if there is a step on the platform (just by the rear of the train). In reality it is a gentle slope between to old and new standard level for a railway platform.

 After my extended wait for a train at Earlsfield I knew there would be no chance of catching my usual train from Waterloo East, but there would be time for a quick smoke before the next Catford Bridge service. Maybe it is some sort of karma, but when I reached the platform at Waterloo East I saw that my usual train had been cancelled, and the train I did get was the only one I could get. I am not sure whether hanging around in the cold is better at Earlsfield, or Waterloo East, but at least the wait at Earlsfield gave that photo opportunity. On the other hand, I also had one at Waterloo East.
empty to depot
 Shortly before my train was due to arrive this train went through the station with "EMPTY to depot" on it's front indicator panel. I can't be 100% sure, but it was very likely to be the train that should have formed my normal 16:23 service. Apparently it has some sort of fault, but there was nothing obviously wrong with it as it passed through the station and off into the distance.

 Last night I allowed myself a slightly heavier dinner than the day before. It included pea and ham soup, as well as some individual (1.5 bites per pie) pork pies. It all seemed to settle quite well on my stomach, apart from a slight sensation of fullness. I was surprised that I didn't feel too bad last night - particularly after standing around in the cold and damp. I didn't even feel specially tired, but I knew I needed sleep. So after the news finished on TV at 7pm I switched off the TV and slowly made my way to bed. By about 7.30pm I had the lights off, and very soon after I was fast asleep. Initially I slept for two hours. I had a vague dream like memory that I may have woken up an hour earlier, but after that I slept right through to 5am in two or three hour chunks.

 I woke up about half an hour before my alarm was due to go off. I felt rather stiff and uncomfortable, but still managed to turn over and go back to sleep again until my alarm woke me up. Until I had had a nice hot shower my back felt quite stiff and painful. After that I felt just about OK. Now I am at work all my joints are working optimally, but I do have a sort of mid chest pain. It's in the same general area as where the pain I blamed on a stomach ulcer came from, but this pain is slightly different in a way that I can't explain beyond saying it is far less intrusive. I am reminded of some discomfort I suffered the previous winter. That went away with the arrival of spring, and I'll assume this current pain will too. In the meanwhile I'll try to get plenty of sleep again tonight, and try and to eat a healthy(ish) sort of diet.