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

Friday 30th September 2011
08:54 BST

  In terms of the weather, yesterday was an excellent day. On other trems it was fairly dreadful. After the chilly, but sunny start, the day quickly warmed up, and by 4pm I think I could easily describe as being hot. In some places it did seem to feel as hot as was  officially reported - around 28 C - but back here in Catford my outside thermometer was saying it was only 25 C. This morning has started bright and sunny, but at only 15 C there is some way to go before we hit the 28 - 30 C that is forecast.

 My day at work was horrendous yesterday. I knew that bad things were due to happen, but it was hard to feel too bad about it with the sun shining down as I made my way into work. Any good feeling immeadiately drained away as soon as I entered my office. There was a box on my desk with a note in it saying that all chemicals have to be stored in a designated area overnight.

 No one has come up with a reasonable explanation of this new diktat. It's not fire safety because the quantities involved are too small, plus half of the "chemicals" are not flammable. Some are, like the couple of bottles of ordinary, common or garden, nail varnish I sometimes use to mark things, or seal adjustments. So remember ladies, that bottle of nail varnish you use on your nails is a dangerous chemical that should be stored in a nuclear proof bunker overnight.

 Next up was a meeting at 11am. It was less bad than I thought it might be, but still boring. The testing a devlopment team, of which I am a part time member, are formalising proceedures that are already fairly formal so that we can increase the amount of forests we use up to make the paper that will be needed, and to bow to the insidious blackmail that is known as ISO 9001.

 I do find it a paradox that the aims of ISO9001, and also the other thing we are being blackmailed to get, ISO14001 acreditation, seem to resolve into the opposite of their stated aims.  The latter ISO standard is all about enviromental stuff, and among it's aims are to reduce wastage and energy useage. To comply with it we have to rush about like blue arsed flies wasting energy left right and centre, and consume the entire output of several large paper mills to produce all the documentation that says we are reducing our paper useage !

 It was at 2 pm that I began to feel suicidal. No, not that. What's the other one ? Ahh yes, homicidal ! We had a lecture introducing these ISO standards from a lecturer who is far from engaging as a lecturer, and to not put too finer point on it, bloody annoying ! It was all the more annoying because most of the lecture was not relevant to my role in the company. I occupy a unique niche in the company where I am almost my own department supporting several of the larger ones.

 I am most closely allied with testing and development, and as such I should have attended their lecture, but that is on Monday, and I am on holiday on Monday. So I was forced to sit in on the production and goods in/despatch/stores department lecture. I don't know, or want to know, their procedures, but that was what I was lectured on. Part of the lecture involved safety stuff, and I felt it was a positive insult to be lectured on how to check a mains extension cord after being professionally involved with electricity for the past 40 years !

 After 90 minutes of brain numbing boredom I had to walk out and go for a fag. When I came back more tedium continued, and it was fast approaching the time I go home. I did leave it as late as I could stand, but once again I walked out to get myself ready to go home. By the time I had changed from flip flops to trainers, shut down my PC, and turned all the power off, I re-emerged from my room to find the lecture had just finished, and everyone going back to their work areas. I don't think I have ever left the building so fast ! My worst fear now is that it will be judged that because I missed some (allegedly) very important bits I will have to go through the whole thing again - over my dead body !

 It is possible that the long term outcome of ISO accreditation will be that I get the sack, but as I walked to the station I let the brilliant sunshine try and bleach my brain of all the pent up anger, and on the whole it worked. I still felt the need to visit Tesco again on the way home and buy some more stuff. I wanted stuff that I could eat straight away without waiting to cook it, and I wanted some beer.

 Some of the instant food was semi healthy (and other bits less so), and I enjoyed all I ate. I also enjoyed the beer too ! I bought a four pack of nice and strong Carlsberg Special Brew - that fancy of alcoholics and hoodies everywhere. Many people don't like Special Brew, but occasionally, and sometimes in small quantities I rather like it. I only had two of the cans last night, but that seemed to be enough to give me a fairly good, and trouble free sleep.

 I was in bed, and possibly fast asleep not very long after 9 pm. I think I may have woken up once for a pee, but I only have the haziest recollection of doing so. I did wake up at 4.20 am, which was about 40 minutes early. I could have tried to go back to sleep but I decided to get up for a while and go for a short walk. It is not often I get a chance to go for a walk in the park in the early morning before dawn, but when I have it has always seemed strangely pleasant.

 It seems that at this time of year that 4.30 am is a particularly good time. It was still very dark, and completely deserted. An hour or two earlier, and maybe only on a Saturday or Sunday morning, there can be a few people coming home through the park from parties or gigs, but this morning there was no one at all. The park does have lighting so most of it is never completely dark, but with a clear sky there were plenty of stars to see. I could easily make out the entire constellations of Orion and Ursa Major.

 The very best bit, and I am kicking myself for not bringing a camera (and probably a tripod too) was when I crossed over the railway to the western side of the park. There was a lot of thin mist coming off the river, and looking across the field at the lights through the mist was a most enchanting spectacle.  It was almost otherwordly with almost complete silence, and the mist appearing to glow around the lights. It is hard to describe  in any way that does justice to the real view.  It may not have even been possible to capture it on camera because that would flatten what was a very 3D view. It was so good that for a moment I forgot that I was busting to go to the toilet, and had to hurry back home again.

 Getting away from all the crap at work was not the reason I booked today off work, but it is still a very valid one. What I wanted to do was to gambol and frolic (as it were) in the hot sunshine, and it is still possible that I will. I did have ideas about going to the seaside, but for that I think I would have liked to start out a bit earlier. Maybe I'll just go out into Kent for a walk, or maybe I'll just revisit the park again in daylight. Alternatively I could get on with editing some video. I am mway behind with doing that, and although it would be a waste of the sunshine to do it, it would not be a waste of the day. Before I make any sort of decision I think I might investigate another nice way to spend the afternoon. I wonder if anyone is around for an hour or two in a pub beer garden ????
Thursday 29th September 2011
08:23 BST

  Yesterday was like the day before, but better, and almost as good as today is supposed to be. There was some misting lying over the old site of Catford Greyhound stadium, and also the sports pitches near Catford Bridge station. By now that should have gone as the bright sun warms the day up. It may have been a little cool for short sleeves and short trousers this morning, but by the time I go home I am expecting to feel a lot more comfortable than those still wearing winter clothes. It was 19 C outdoors at 9pm last night (but nearly 25 C in my bedroom). At 5am it was only 14 C, but when I go home I am expecting it to be a few degrees warmer than the highest temperature I measured yesterday - 22 C (though some parts of London allegedly reached 27 C).

 I went home via Tesco last night. That meant my diet was not optimised, and I feel a bit the worse for it. One thing I noticed in Tesco was that they had some unusually large sizes of both black and white plimsols in, and hardly any smaller sizes. It is rare that Tesco, like many other supermarkets, to stock many large sizes, and it must be a totally unique situation that has never happened anywhere in the universe that they didn't have any small enough for me ! Most of them, apart from a few far too small sizes, were size 12. I take size 11 !

 Although I feel slightly less good as a result of eating well last night, I feel significantly less mentally well knowing what's happening at work today. I have to attend two meetings. The first, at 11am, is just an exchange of ideas, and plotting the future for product testing. An hour has been booked in the diary for it, but my guess is that it will take less than that. A few brief moments of it may even be interesting.

 It is at 2pm when my heart really sinks. There is to be a lecture on ISO9001 compliance. By itself that would be boring enough to wish to slash my wrists, but I fear it will be done by someone whose lecturing style may be enough for everyone to leap out of the windows or slash their wrists. You will know my fate if this page is never updated again.

 Some of the effect of what I ate ate last night was probably to raise my blood pressure a bit, and the thought of today's wastes of time has raised it further. Quite why I am not dead is a mystery to me because there was one other thing that had my blood boiling in my veins. When I came in this morning there was a large plastic box on my bench with a note in it. It asked that all the chemicals I use, which on the whole consists of a soldering flux dispenser, and soldering flux remover, are to be placed in some special storage bin overnight. I will be flatly refusing to do this or two simple reasons. I cannot see the point of it (I know they'll say fire safety, but that's crap), and not only that, but my soldering station bench is often used by other people after I have gone home. I can see a row developing over this. Maybe even the sack, but sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in (or in reality go right up to the threshhold).

 To end on a happier note, here's a picture I took just as I came into work this morning. On one of the buildings here is a mobile phome mast, and on that mast was a large selection of crows. Look at the beautiful blue sky behind them !
crows on the phone
Wednesday 28th September 2011
08:11 BST

  It took a while for it to happen, but yesterday turned out bright and warm. I think it was almost midday before the misty cloud dispersed to allow the sun to blaze down. I was wearing a black shirt yesterday, and the sun on that felt really, really hot ! This morning has started bright and clear, and not too cold either. By the afternoon we should be seeing summertime like temperatures.

 The fish, cabbage and leek stew I made on Monday night tasted delicious after another 10 - 15 minutes of light simmering last night. For added fishiness I had added a small drained can of anchovies. In theory it should have been very filling, but I still found myself wanting more, and I wanted something sweet for some reason. I ended up eating half a dozen or so ginger biscuits. At first I thought that ginger biscuits and fish shouldn't go together, but then I remembered that ginger is often an accompaniement to fish in oriental cooking. Now I think I would recommend ginger biscuits after fish. It was definitely a good combination.

 Last night was a very unproductive night, but at least I was in bed at the proper time even if I didn't get to sleep as quickly as I would have liked. It was very warm in my bedroom last night, and everytime I tried to pull the duvet over me it felt like I was cooking. Eventually I found a comfortable position and drifted off to sleep.

 I woke up twice in the night. The first time was from a dream where I was riding a motorbike. In fact I had a choice of two to ride. One was yellow, and the other blue. Fortunately they were dream bikes and I didn't have to worry about the complexities of changing gear on a motorbike. I think I might have had a female passenger, but I have no idea who she was, and I don't think she was there all the time.

 Like many of my dreams, this one wasn't always experienced in the first person. It was more like a movie where there are alternative third person viewpoints. The last bit of the dream, and the only bit where I can recall some real details, was partly viewed from a third person point of view. I was riding towards a tunnel, and the scene changed to a view of me entering the tunnel. Once inside I was again dreaming from a first person point of view. For some reason I can recall a fairly vivid memory of the tunnel. It was hewn from solid rock, and there was no finishing over the rock surfaces. There were also large galleries on both sides of the road. They had people in them, but I have no idea what they were doing because that was the point where I woke up.

 The second time I woke up in the night I also woke from a dream. I can remember less about this dream, but I do rememeber what was probably the most important thing in it. I was in my friend Ivor's car, and we were pulling up outside a pub. I can't work out if that was a sad ending because we didn't go inside and get a beer, or whether it was a happy ending because we were about to get a beer.

 Things are very strange at the moment, It's probably the recent sunshine, and the promise of even more to come for at least a couple more days, but I still feel rather good. It is definitely taking longer for my body to warm up after sleep than it used to, but once warmed up it seems to be working well. I was thinking these thoughts as I went striding down the platform at Waterloo East station this morning. It felt sort of effortless, and agreeably fast. I couldn't help but thinking that this body of mine, for all the abuse it gets, is lasting longer than I imagined it might.

 That lead onto me thinking about The Who, and the song "My Generation" featuring the words "I hope I die before I get old". I've probably left it a bit late now at 56 years old, but sometime soon this body has got to break down beyond economical repair.
Tuesday 27th September 2011
08:07 BST

  By midday it was bright and sunny yesterday. It didn't last long though. As I made my way home from work it was rather grey outside, and tehre was even a bit of rain while I was waiting for my train at Waterloo. It was very light rain. So light that it didn't make a mark on the ground, but I could see individual drops where they had fallen on the conductor rail. That has a nice dull top that drops of water show up well on, and each individual drop was clearly visible some 5, or more, inches away from it's nearest partner !

 According to the BBC online weather forecast it should have been cloudy at 4am this morning. Also shown on the same page is the actual observation of the weather, and that showed it to be clear. As I walked to the station for the 6.33 am train it was too dark outside to really see what was going on. I didn't notice any stars, but I didn't notice any mist either. At London Bridge it had become very misty. Tower Bridge looked very atmospheric as we passed it. All the lights on amd near it had haloes, and it would have made for an excellent photo if I had been in a position to take one. I would imagine that there could have been similar photo opportunities across the other side of the river for the Tower Of London.

 The train from Waterloo to Earlsfield follows the path of the River Thames almost all the way to Clapham Junction, and although the day had become much lighter by then, we were still accompanied by mist, fairly thick in places, all the way. Here in Earlsfield there was little mist, but the air still had a very damp feel to it. At least one woman decided to walk to the station with her umbrella up, but I felt dry just in shirtsleeves - short shirtsleeves ! It was a rather cool 13.5 C when I left home, but after a washing my hair and having a hot shower I felt comfortable enough without a coat - though it did feel a bit cool as I walked from the station to work.

 All the mist and cloud is supposed to evaporate away as the day progresses, and if all goes to plan, which seems unlikely considering the general accuracy of weather forecasts, it should be very warm and sunny when I leave work to go home again. In theory it should be in the region of 23 C. I am wearing a black shirt today, and any sun is going to make that feel very hot !

 Last night I had grand plans for all sorts of things, and I don't think I carried any of them out. I was going to have a very healthy fish, cabbage, and leek stew for dinner (and theoretically nothing else all evening). I did cook that stew, but I got distracted and will reheat it, eat it tonight.

 The distraction for this was suddenly realising I had a bit of naan bread left over from the curry I had at the weekend. It was well sealed in it's foil lined bag, and still in good condition, but it couldn't last much longer. So I ate that essentially on it's own, but occasionally dipping it in some tomato sauce. Then I thought I ought to use up a couple of eggs, and some bacon that had been in the bottom of the fridge for a week.

 If I had thought all this through I would have warmed up the naan bread and eaten it with the egg and bacon along with some baked beans - not exactly healthy, but very tasty. I did wonder if both the eggs and the bacon were OK to use after being in the fridge for so long, but I needn't have worried. I think it would have been obvious if the eggs had gone rotten, and probably the bacon too. In theory the bacon should have lasted months - that's why bacon was "invented". Not only had the bacon not gone off, it had actually improved. The pack was open, and all the excess water had dried off leaving it feeling slightly stiff instead of floppy. Best of all though was that when it was fried it fried cleanly without all the sticky gunk that comes off fresh bacon to gum up the whole pan. I feel like buying more bacon and opening the sealed packet to let it dry out for a fortnight, or more, before using it.

 Not only did my plan for dinner fail, but my plans to do some creative stuff failed as well. I ended up doing a mixture of reading from the internet and reading from magazines - and very little else at all last night. I even managed to turn off the light, and get to sleep a lot later than I should have. I think it was 10 pm, or maybe even a little later before I was asleep. I slept soundly until I woke briefly at sometime around 3am. I'm unsure why I woke up then. I was presumably dreaming before I woke up, but all I can recall is the Staus Quo song "Ice In The Sun" buzzing around inside my head.
Monday 26th September 2011
08:29 BST

  It did get warm, but not hot yesterday, and it was about the 21 - 22 C predicted. I think there was more cloud than predicted, and that cloud stayed overnight to keep some of the warmth in. This morning started off very grey, but a very comfortable 17 C. Apparently it was stay rather cloudy for much of the day, and there is even a chance of a light shower. With luck it will brighten up for when I go home. Today, or maybe tomorrow is supposed to be the start of a mini heatwave with temperature almost getting to high summer temperatures by the end of the week.

 I was a little less creative than Saturday, but my Sunday afternoon was not wasted. I spent quite a few hours learning how to do some clever stuff using The Gimp - free, open source,image editing software for Windows, Linux, and, Mac. Maybe it would be more true to say I was learning more of it's capabilities, and more of my own incapabilities ! Still, it was fun even when things turned out to be far from what I really wanted to do !

 I'm really unsure just how unhealthy my food was yesterday. I find there is always some abiguity over baked potatoes for instance. Some say they are low in calories, but they are full of starch and carbohydrates. I did eat four very small baked potatoes yesterday, and I didn't put any butter, or margerine on them. I thought there would be quite sufficient grease attached to some marinaded pork belly slices, but there is also a lot of ambiguity about that too.

 Both the potatoes, and the pork were very overcooked because I forgot to turn the oven down to very low when I popped out for a while. The pork shrank a lot, but surprisingly the dish it was not cooked in was not swimming in grease. So at the end of the day, not including certain stuff that I definitely know to be bad, I am unsure if my main dish of the day was good or bad.

 There could be some clue as to how well I ate yesterday by how I feel this morning. I got to sleep a little later than I intended, but not exactly late, last night, and I slept quite well. Upon waking up this morning I felt like I didn't want to get up, and I also felt slightly rough in other ways too. Perhaps later on I will feel like dozing off at my desk, and maybe I will, but once I had showered and got dressed this morning I felt almost energetic. It didn't seemed to take much effort to stroll to the station at a reasonably fast pace. At Waterloo I even indulged in a bit of running up and down stairs !

 Tonight I think I will be eating a very healthy fish and green vegetables stew. Doing that will be easy. Less easy will be not eating some other stuff laying around just screaming to be eaten ! Once I have had my fill I may spend the next hour or two before I go to bed doing something creative. I have in mind trying to do a very quick editing job on a bit more video recorded at Party In The Priory back at the end of August. There is one song, sung not by Chain, but by Hannah accompanied by Jo on guitar, that should take little editing because I don't have much footage to add from the second camera. With skill, if I have any, I should be able to knock that out before I go to bed - unless something else comes along to distract me !
Sunday 25th September 2011
07:24 BST

  I thought that yesterday had the potential to end with a thunderstorm, but it didn't get warm enough for that. It didn't even rain, though the afternoon stayed quite cloudy. This morning has started with a nice clear sky, and as I write the sun is making a bright glow in the sky just behind the roofline of the houses to the east. Right now it is only 13 C, but if the forecast is anything to go by the temperature should rise to 20 or 22 C. There seems to be some ambiguity about this !
weather forecast for 25th Aug 2011
  At the top of this screenshot of the BBC's web page it says that the maximum temperature will be 22 C, but it doesn't say when it will happen. Will it be before 13:00 when we only get sunny intervals, or will it be after 13:00 ? Perhaps the only significant, and presumably accurate bit of this forecast is that the sun sets at 18:51. The days are getting shorter and shorter as we plummet head first into those dark miserable winter days.

 In between eating unhealthy stuff I managed to get down to work yesterday afternoon, and by work I mean editing some video. I missed out on the Chain gig in the evening, as I was sure I would anyway, but ended up with two completed videos. The first was the one I'd actually made a start on a couple of weeks back.

 It's Chain singing Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown). I was unhappy with the sound on this video. A heavy shower of rain a bit earlier had seemed to get into the PA and it sounded a bit crunchy for a while, but I love this song so much that I had to do it. I used three cameras to record it, and one of those cameras was my tiny microcam that Guy, the drummer, clipped onto the drum riser somewhere to give a drummers eye view of the gig. With all the rain, the audience was a little thin, but those who braved the rain enjoyed themselves.

 The second video is of Chain performing Alright Now. The sound was a little less crunchy for this song, and as the day got a bit darker the lighting effects were a bit more colourful. The only problem with this performance was that Chris seemed to be singing a little flat. Maybe he couldn't hear his stage monitor all that well. Look out for the bloke dancing toward the end of the video. I don't know who he was, but he seemed to be dancing through the whole of Chain's set, and possibly to the other bands on the bill as well.

 I finally got to bed sometime near midnight last night, and I slept quite well for almost seven hours. Tonight I must try and get to bed a lot earlier, but right now I ought to starting tidying the house, and myself up in preparation for a visitor. I do believe that Aleemah will be bringing a DVD to watch around midday, and at the moment the living room looks like a pig sty !
Saturday 24th September 2011
13:33 BST

  After the cool start, yesterday was definitely shirt sleeve weather. It wasn't hot, but it was warm as well as being dry and bright. This morning got off to a good start with plenty of sunshine, but it has clouded over a bit now. I don't think it is supposed to, but it does look we could get a splash of rain sometime. It is supposed to be warmer than yesterday, and I think it is already. If it gets too warm it could brew up a thunderstorm, but with luck the clouds will disperse again before that happens.

 It felt good to go to the pub last night. Initially I met up with Iain, and then Kevin joined us at about 6pm. I wasn't too impressed with the ales the pub had, and after trying a pint of Adnams "Broadside", and a pint of Batemans "XXXB" I changed to Stella Artois, and had two pints of that. Four pints was just about right. I felt merry with feeling drunk, and that seemed like a good point to go home and arrange some food for me, and for Smudge.

 For what must be at least six weeks, and possibly a lot more, I've wanted to indulge myself with a tasty takeaway at the weekend. Last night I did it. I ordered some curry from a place that has only recently opened, and that, like last night, was a good move to make. When these places open they like to make a good impression. So the portions were big, and the food extra tasty. The portions were big enough that I have enough leftovers to make quite a good meal for tonight.

 I slept well with the beer and curry inside me. I did wake up once at around 1 am. Oddly enough it was not so much that I needed a pee (which I did), but that my nose felt very blocked. From somewhere deep in my sinuses there was something very sticky, and very unpleasant that took some effort to shift. Having done that I went back to sleep easily enough, and dreamed about my nose being blocked. In the dream I gave a good hard blow and a pea came out of one nostril, and something very unpleasant out the other. That dream seemed to last for all of a few seconds, and I can't recall dreaming anything else.

 This morning I was either very lazy, or very productive. It depends on the way you want to look at it. Rather than get washed and dressed, or tackle some overdue email replies, I found myself on a quest to find historic photos of Catford. I seemed to spend hours and hours doing that, and found very little. It seems a lot of Catford's history has gone unrecorded in terms of pictures. I particularly wanted to find some pictures of the signal box, and the rather large railway sidings that Catford used to have. Sadly there were none.

 It was midday before I finally washed and dressed. Having got myself presentable I put some laundry in the washing machine, and then went out on the never ending quest for more catfood. To get it I went into Aldi's, and made a bit of a tragic mistake while I was in there. I bought too much frozen food. My little freezer is too small for it all, and I am going to have to keep it in the larder section where it will gradually thaw out. It shouldn't be left like that too long, so I am going to have to have a bit of a feast in the next couple of days to use it up. (Oh dear, what a shame !!)

In theory there is a Chain gig on tonight, but it is in the pub in Abbey Wood that is a pain to get to, and a bigger pain to get home from. I don't think I'll be going tonight, although I wouldn't rule it out 100%. Assuming I don't go, I think I'll try and spend the time doing something more productive like catching up on my video editing projects.
Friday 23rd September 2011
07:52 BST

  Try as I might, I can't really remember anything significant about the weather yesterday. I can only conclude that it was very average - warm, but not hot. Sometimes sunshine, and sometimes overcast. I would have remembered hail, sleet, snow, rain, fog, hurricane force winds, or skin blistering sunshine. So we didn't have any of them !

 This morning has started off nice and clear, but cool enough for condensation on cars, and also misty breath. If all goes to plan we are in for a spell of warm weather. If it stays dry and bright today, as it is supposed to, the temperature will end up close to 20 C, and the weekend could be even warmer. Sunday is forecast to get as high as 23 C, although it may also be a bit cloudy.

 It was almost a foregone conclusion that I would buy stuff stuff in Tesco that I really didn't want when I went in there on my way home from work last night. Usually it is food that doesn't match up with my current eating plans, and last night was no exception in that respect, but it gets worse. I bought two colour inkjet cartridges for my printer when I really wanted black ones. My current colour cartridge is half full, and I already had a spare, but last weekend I had to use my spare black ink cartridge to print some stuff out (or at least I should have - the ink took so long to flow evenly that I changed the text to dark blue and printed the document in blue ink from the colour cartridge - I did more printing using black a bit later).

 My dinner last night did include quite a bit of vegetable matter, but it also included quite a lot of meat protien, and more fat than I would have preffered. It was all the more tasty for it, but while it might be all in the mind, I don't feel quite as lively this morning than I did yesterday - and that's after getting quite a good nights sleep.

 I was in bed to do some reading very early last night, and I managed to convince myself not to read beyond 8.30pm. I was asleep very soon after - almost instantly ! After a few hours I woke up needing a pee. Prior to waking up I was dreaming, and the setting for the dream was, as far as I know, unique for me. I dreamt that I was at the swimming baths, and swimming rather well. Most of the dream was fairly bland, or at least what I can remember of it was. There was no drama, no drowning, I was just swimming.

 I don't know if I can remember doing them all, but in part of the dream I told someone, or maybe just thought to myself that I had done 6 lengths of the pool in quick succession. It took place in Ladywell baths which has a 25 metre pool instead of the more usual 20 metre pool. I was swimming breast stroke going up the pool, and crawl coming back down the pool. I think the last time I went swimming for real, perhaps 3 or 4 years ago, I did manage 6 lengths of the pool, or maybe more, but the best I could manage without stopping for a breather was two lengths, and I think I did both doing breast stroke (and without getting my face wet !!).

 It is now almost certain that I am going to have some beer after work, and I am rather looking forward to it. I am not intending to have a great amount of booze, but it could happen if I don't act as the party pooper and leave before either Kevin and/or Iain (depending on who makes it). If I do leave the pub sufficiently early, and still sober, I have some nice fish to add to a pile of vegetable. Some of the fish is salmon, and the oil in that should assist in lubricating my stiff knees. If I leave the pub feeling drunk I can foresee a large greasy takeaway for dinner :-)
Thursday 22nd September 2011
08:15 BST

  The weather forecast for yesterday did turn out to be more or less correct. By midday the clouds had thinned enough for a sunny afternoon. Last night, as the weather forecaster on TV was saying how clear the sky was, where he was, it was actually quite cloudy over Catford. The forecast for today is, as far as I can remember, that it will be mostly bright and dry. The morning has certainly started off with a lot of clear sky, and as the sun rises a bit higher in the sky it is becoming sunny outside. It would be nice if it could continue like this, although even if it does it is likely to be one of the cooler days this week. It was only just over 10 C when I got up.

 In a similar way to the night before, I almost, but not quite, got back on my high fibre, low everything else, diet. I failed on several accounts. I had some frankfurters that had been open in the fridge for a few days, and I threw them in my vegetable stew to use them up. I also ate a few mouthfuls of salted peanuts to use up another opened bag. I can't think of an excuse as to why I also had two thin slices of German rye bread with sunflower seeds that I spread with Marmite.

 Maybe what I ate last night was OK because I do feel a close approximations to very slightly healthy this morning. I seem to be slowly getting my stamina back, and I pushed myself just a little bit harder a few times as I made my way to work. Last Monday's walk probably helped boost my stamina a bit, and it is possible that I may venture out again, sadly by myself, this coming Saturday.

 Of course everything could go wrong tonight. I am now out of fresh vegetables, and one or two other things, and I'll need to get some shopping in on the way home from work. In the clear light of morning it is easy to say that all I want to buy is lots of leafy type vegetable, some other vegetables like peppers, some stock cubes, and some tomato puree, but after a hard day at work, and a long commute home, my idealism may get severely battered.

 The worst could be yet to come. I am thinking how nice it would be to see if I could round up Kevin and/or Iain for several, or more beers on Friday night. I can't recall getting drunk since Chain played at The Chatterton Arms a few weeks back, and even then I was far less drunk than I boasted about. So lots of beer, and probably some hideously unhealthy, but exquisitely tasty takeaway afterwards is highly tempting.

 Of course after that I would most probably be so unfit I couldn't even make it to the station in the morning. Even that could have a silver lining. I need to find some time from somewhere to finish the last bit of video editing I started, plus several more little video editing projects. It is possible to do video editing while groaning in pain. I know because I have tried it before !
Wednesday 21st September 2011
08:03 BST

  A few times yesterday morning the sun broke through the thin clouds, and all was bright and jolly. By the afternoon the clouds had thickened, and although it stayed dry, it was rather dull and gloomy. The gloom continued this morning.The days are now becoming so short that I leave home before sunrise now, and thick drizzly cloud blotted out any pre-dawn light. The drizzle seems to have stopped for the moment, but it is still very dull and miserable. It is forecast that it will brighten up as the day proceeds, and that it might be nice and sunny when I travel home from work. Despite all this gloom it was not really that cool this morning. I noted 16.5 C on my thermometer at about 5 am.

 I tried, and almost succeeded in getting back on my high fibre, low fat, low calorie diet again last night. It was certainly a success in terms of fibre, and I think I'll be suffering from that sooner or later. Last night's version of my dinner was closer to a stew than a soup. The fat content was higher than ideal because I added two diced up Italian sausage type things (similar to Peperami sticks). The fibre content was boosted heavily by adding rather more remains than I thought there were from a bottle of baked beans. They probably contained sugar and salt as well. Maybe other stuff too.

 I think that tonight I will cook something closer to the ideal than last night. One thing I could do last night, and will be doing the same tonight, is to put in loads of garlic. It is alleged that garlic is good for you, and even if it isn't it still adds a nice flavour, but it has it's drawbacks. Towards the end of last week I omitted the garlic in my meals so I would smell less like a Frenchman when I met Ruby for the first time. Of course in the end I needn't have worried because she was just as repelled by the smell of cigarette smoke.

 It was my intention to get to bed early last night, but it didn't happen. Sometimes a lot of time can pass when you are engrossed in looking at stuff on the internet. Instead of early, I was actually in bed slightly late at 9.30 pm. I fell asleep very quickly, and that helped me get a reasonable nights sleep. It wasn't as much as I would have wanted, but it will do until I can try again for more sleep tonight.

 I slept solidly until 3 am when I woke up from a dream that I can't remember anything about apart from what may have been the last two words I said or heard. Those two words were "hyperbolic metabolites" (or maybe metabolism). Quite what could have inspired such esoteric words remains a mystery. I had more luck remembering something of a later dream when I woke up again at 4.30 am (and didn't bother to try and get back to sleep again).

 That dream seemed to be based around some sort of preserved railway line, but I can't recall any trains being involved. What I can seem to remember was that in the rooms that are usually seen boarded up on railway platforms (assuming the original buildings haven't been demolished to be replaced with something that looks as if it came out of a flat pack box from Ikea), there was an old Strowger telephone exchange.
Tuesday 20th September 2011
07:49 BST

  The only way to describe the weather yesterday is to say it was glorious. It may not have been a hot as a summers day, but it was very warm, dry, and for the important times, bright and sunny. Today may not be so good. It is forecast to be cloudy today, and not so warm. The cloud is only forecast to be white cloud, and I gues that leaves enough wriggle room for that cloud to get so thin that it lets the blue sky show through. That's what's happening as I write this. I can see quite a lot of blue through my office window, and sooner or later I expect we'll have some unforecast sunshine.

 I had a wonderful day yesterday even if it did end on a slightly sad note. I went all the way up to town to meet my internet friend Ruby near Euston station. I had originally planned to travel up to St Pancras from Catford to meet her there, but she had been delayed, and I walked to Euston to meet here there instead. Then we walked back to St Pancras where we caught a train to Eynsford station so I could show Ruby one of my favourite country walks.

 I say it is my favourite, but it's only favourite by default of being simple to get to, and easy to walk. Ruby is no stranger to walking in the countryside, but she has never walked in Kent before, and by all accounts she loved it. We both carried mobile phones with applications to track our progress using satelite navigation, but there seemed to be some discrepancy over just how far we walked. My application said 3.61 miles, and hers suggested 4.64 miles. There was also a discrepancy over the time it took as well, with mine being closer to the actual time taken. From that I presume mine measured the right distance too.
walk between Eynsford and Shoreham (Kent)
 The route we took, and some statistics about the walk.
 The average speed, as shown in the statistics above looks quite low, but it includes the time we spent in The Hop Shop buying some lavender flavoured food and stuff, and also stopping for a quick picnic. The picnic was a bit of a surprise for Ruby. I had rushed in the morning to Tesco's and bought a couple of tuna and cucumber sandwiches as well as some disposable plastic cups for a bottle of red wine I had brought along as well.

 It was very nice to sit down in the sunshine and have a bite to eat, but it was after eating that things went a bit wrong. I knew that Ruby didn't smoke, and I wanted to keep her exposure to a minimum. Somehow I had endured an hour on a train, and then an hours walk without smoking a fag, but after eating and drinking I felt I had to light up. It was then that I found out that Ruby is far, far worse than a non-smoker, she is an ex-smoker.

 I wasn't lectured or browbeaten, but it was quite clear why she kept her distance while I wanted to hug her for what was one of the best days, if not the best day I have had all year. It's a shame really because otherwise Ruby is a wonderful lady.
Ruby on rails
(if you are a programmer looking for Ruby On Rails [as the pictures is tagged] you shouldn't be here, you should be at

 So it was that I left Ruby on the train as I got off at Catford feeling a little sad that the day ended with just a handshake, and the fastest kiss on the cheek possible while Ruby held her breath.

 After a long weekend I am back at work this morning, and it's back to the usual monotony. There's nothing much to add to that.
Monday 19th September 2011
06:22 BST

  There was far less rain than forecast for yesterday, but far less is not the same as no rain at all. Most of the day was bright, and quite often sunny, but as I left the exhibition early in the evening I was caught in a light downpour. After that it dried up again, and although it may have rained during the night, the pavements outside seem dry. Currently it is just a tad under 11 C, and with luck that will improve to at least 18 C by the end of the day. I am hoping that the forecast for today is more accurate than for yesterday. It is supposed to stay dry with sunny intervals.

 For the art exhibition I went to yesterday, I dressed up in my finest "arty" clothes. I wore a reddish purple shirt, brick red jeans and bright yellow trainers ! I stood out sufficiently that everyone ignored me ! It was only the second time I have worn those jeans in public because they are quite a tight fit, and it needs a special occasion to distract me from the fact that they are not as comfortable as my favourite pairs of jeans.

 The exhibition itself was slightly intimidating. I really know nothing about art, and even less about the techniques of making it using coloured pencils. Many of the pictures were impressive, but for me they still only warranted a few seconds viewing. There was a ballot to vote for our favourite picture, and I voted for this one.
Half Hearted - drawing by Barbara Murray
 It was drawn by my friend Ruby, but my vote wasn't purely sycophantic. Apart from the shadow of the wine glass, which appears to have an unnatural curve in it, it is well drawn, but the reason why I voted for this picture instead of any other is that it had one extra element, and that was the back story behind it. All the other pictures were just pictures, but that story made all the difference.

 Ruby entered one other picture that was both impressive, and yet still rather bland.
The Singer - drawn by Ruby Murray
 Being just white pencil on black paper did make it hard to photograph with most of the picture actually being a reflection of the gallery behind me. Seen properly it is well executed, and I can appreciate the skill that went into drawing it, but to me it still seems very corporate. It's the sort of picture that might be hung in a record company boardroom to remind them what their business is, but not to be admired.

 I'm not sure if "enjoyed" is the right word to describe how I felt about the exhibition. I certainly enjoyed the few brief encounters with Ruby (she was very busy), and it felt a great privilege to be invited to the private preview, but without a knowledgeable guide I feel I probably missed out on all the finer details. Having said that, I wouldn't have any hesitation in accepting an invitation to, for instance, next year's exhibition if it were held in London. Maybe I would feel more at ease a second time round.

 I guess I was only in the exhibition for little more than 30 minutes, and when I came out I was caught in the one and only downpour that I was aware of yesterday. I got mildly soaked as I walked back to Westminster tube station to catch the tube back to London Bridge where I caught a train back to Catford. It was surprising just how crowded the tube was for early Sunday evening (approx 6pm).

 It was even more surprising just how packed the train was from London Bridge to Catford. Many people complain about packed trains as they commute to and from work, but I am lucky when I travel. It is very rare that I don't get a seat, and on many occasions I get a double seat to myself. I didn't last night ! The train was only 4 cars long, and it was packed as tight as any of the worst commuter trains. I stood, crammed into a corner, the whole way home. It didn't help that there was an excess of bloody prams on the train.

 Today has the potential to be very enjoyable. I am unsure just how much time we have, but I am spending quite a few hours with Ruby today. I am dragging her out for a walk in the countryside - specifically between Eyensford and Shoreham (or maybe Otford depending on just how much time we have). This is not, as you may think, a cruel thing to do. Ruby does plenty of walking over hill and dale around her home town in Cumbria, and I thought I'd show her just a small taste of how lovely bits of Kent can be.

 If it stays dry, and bright, as I am crossing my fingers it will be, it should make for a pleasant walk. I hope she likes lavender because I intend to show her the Hop Farm shop with all it's lavender based stuff that it sells (amongst other stuff). Either during the walk, or after the walk, I'll treat her to a pub lunch, and then I think it will be time to deliver her back to central London to get her train back to Cumbria.
Sunday 18th September 2011
12:30 BST

  It is surprising just how different the weather has been compared to how it was forecast. Yesterday was supposed to be grey and wet - there was some rain, even some heavy rain with a rumble of thunder thrown in, but on the whole it was fairly bright and sunny.

 According to the BBC's online weather forecast it should rain in less than thirty minutes time, and a few hours after that there should be thundery showers. Outside my window I can see lots of white fluffy clouds, and the sun is shining. At the moment it is nearly 15 C, and the forecast says in half an hour it will only be 14 C ! Maybe it will rain later, but I think there is some hope that it won't.

 I did a lot of what I thought I might do yesterday. I went out and lugged a huge bag of cat litter back home again. I also bought all sorts of foods I shouldn't eat, and some I should. I laid on my bed and read some New Scientist. One thing I didn't do was the video editing. Instead I finished off another creative pursuit. A couple of months ago I started to write a short story to amuse myself (and at least one other person). Yesterday I finished it. It's a sort of light hearted sci fi story in roughly 4500 words.

 It is available for download here. It is a word formatted document, and different browsers may handle it differently. I'd recommend a right click and "save as". If you need a word proccessor to read it I would recommend Open Office (which I used to write it) or Libre Office. Both are 100% free, fully legal, fully featured office suites equivalent to the horrendously expensive, and difficult to use, Microsoft Office.

 Thta's about all I did yesterday - apart from one cooking experiment. I tried roasting the other half of my butternut squash. I seasoned it with some black pepper and smoked paprika, and drizzled a little olive oil over it. To my mind the result was a failure. It just turned into a rather bland soggy mush. I think my original idea of just simmering cubes of it in a stew for about 10 minutes was a far better idea. Although even then I still thought it to be fairly tasteless.

 This morning I went out to the 99p shop and bought a couple of things I needed, and typically bought lots of other stuff that while still useful to have around for the future, I don't actually need right now. One thing you learn when you visit the 99p shop is that what is available today may not be available tomorrow, or even ever again. So buying stuff you don't currently need, but may well do in the future, is a wise move.

 The highlight today will be my second meeting with Ruby. It will only be brief because she is undoubtably busy as chairman of the UK Coloured Pencil Society international exhibition. The exhibition is on during the week at The Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH, but I have a special invite for the private preview being held at 5pm today.

 Tomorrow I may not get a chance to write anything in the morning. I have the day off work to go for a walk with Ruby. Maybe we'll walk around London, or maybe I'll show her a bit of Kent. It depends what the weather is like. After that, and after I have seen her off on her train back to the other end of the country, (Cumbria - not very far from the borders of Scotland) I'll get a chance to edit up a few photos, and write about them - maybe.
Saturday 17th September 2011
09:29 BST

  I thought there was potential for rain yesterday but it didn't come until the early hours of this morning. The clouds that made the early morning so grey disperesed to leave a bright sunny day. Today is a bit more tricky to predict. The forecast is for rain, but although there are plenty of dark looking clouds in the sky, it is actually sunny as I write this. Outside it is 16.5 C, and that's only a couple of degrees below the maximum forecast for today. I suspect it could end up exceeding the forecast by a couple of degrees.

 I thought the highlight for yesterday was to be Chain's gig in Elmers End last night, but it was better than that. I hadn't realised that an internet friend of mine, from hundreds of miles away in Cumbria, was travelling to London yesterday instead of today.

 When I realised this I contacted her to see if she would be in London early to come to the gig. She had seen my videos and pictures of Chain, and had become a fan of the band without actually seeing them perform live. It was a bit of a mad dash, but she made it just in time to miss no more than the first couple of songs.

 It was quite exciting to leave the pub for a little while to go to the station and meet someone I had never seen before, and it was a very pleasant surprise. I find it quite hard to judge people from mere photos, but Ruby, for that is her name, was definitely a pleasure to meet. She is very, very pleasant on the eye, and although she was in unfamilar surrounding after a long and, to my mind, tedious journey, she seemed to have a far warmer personality than she had previously suggested she might have.
Ruby with beer and mobile phone
 The gig didn't go without a hitch - which was a shame for Ruby's first introduction to Chain playing live. They were just about to play Freebird when Jo's guitar broke down. It is a sophisticated guitar with built in electronics, and sadly the PP3 battery that powers it all unexpectedly went flat. So she rushed off to get her spare guitar while Chain played Crossroads which traditionally is sung by Chris while Jo takes a short break.
Jo with faulty guitar
This is Jo with the guitar that let her down....
Jo with replacement guitar and Chris
....and here's Jo with her replacement guitar playing alongside Chris.
 There was another special guest last night. I don't know his name, and I am not sure where he comes from, but he accompanied one song, whose title escapes me in the cold light of morning, on his harmonica.
guest harmonica player
guest harmonica player at Chain's gig
 One of the things about The Willaim IV pub in Elmers End is that the gig is accompanied by a "disco" light show. The lights are not ideally placed because they mostly shine down onto the area in front of the raised area that bands use as a stage. There are hints of them in the pictures I've already shown, but here's a shot without flash showing all the groovy colours (and smoke machine).
light show at Chain's gig
 It was a great shame that we had to leave the gig early to get Ruby onto the ridiculously early last train back to central London where she is staying. It was only a short taster, but she greatly enjoyed seeing Chain, and hopefully there will be another opportunity for Ruby to see more of Chain when she is in London again at the beginning of next month.

 Meanwhile, I'll be seeing Ruby again tomorrow when I, by special invitation, I'll be visiting the UK Coloured Pencil Society private preview of their International annual exhibition in London for which Ruby is chairman, and the real reason she came to London this weekend. I'm no great lover of art, but having seen some of the pictures on their website, plus a sneak preview of a picture that Ruby is entering into the competition, I have to say I am impressed with what can be achieved with just coloured pencils. It is a far cry from the undecipherable scribbles I did in primary school !

 Today I have the day off. I need to go out to buy some cat litter, and I think I'll spend time reading New Scientist, but if I can raise the creative juices I'll be spending some time editing video(s). In between that I think I'll spend some time in deep relaxation. i.e. Being incredibly lazy !
Jo and Ruby
Friday 16th September 2011
07:48 BST

  After the relatively chilly start to yesterday, the temperature crept up to a pleasant 20 C by the time I had got home from work. On the whole it was bright and sunny all day. Sometime in the night the weather took a turn for the worse. A few small puddles suggest some rain fell during the night, but possibly only here in Earlsfield. Smudge, was out all night, came in perfectly dry, and I didn't notice any puddles in Catford. There are plenty of clouds in the sky right now, and the potential for more rain, although I am sure the weather forecast does not predict rain until tomorrow.

 Last night I experimented with the butternut squash I bought from Tesco. I asked a couple of guys here at work what they knew about butternut squash. Their answer was that it should be roasted, and that if put into a stew it would just turn to mush. I ignored what they said and put just under half of it into my ready cooked stew. Being precooked the night before I really only needed to heat it up, but I let it simmer for 10 -15 minutes with cubes of squash in it, and those cubes came out soft, but still with some texture.

 I'm not sure if I liked butternut squash or not. Maybe it is better roasted after all, but it did have some flavour, and it wasn't unpleasant. I can't do any experimenting tonight because I am going out for the evening, but on Saturday I will use up the rest of that butternut squash, and see if I can find a more definitive feeling about it.

 I don't know if it is (or was) a hangover from the glandular fever, but it did seem a bit of a slog on the way home from work last night. I felt comfortable while walking a lot faster than a shopper, and a bit slower than the average commuter in a rush, but I found that I couldn't accelerate as fast as I wanted. It did cross my mind that this could have been a result of the very selective stuff I had been eating all week.

 It may have been that idea playing on my mind that caused me to be far less selective in what I ate last night. After my very low fat, and (I think) very low calorie cabbage, leek, skinless chick breast, and butternut squash stew I wanted more. The previous night I had some brazil nuts, but last night I had a huge chunk of fat laden spam with a whole, but small, jar of drained, pickled in brine, peppers.

 The peppers are mostly irrelevant apart from some extra unwanted salt, but the spam (or more correctly, pork luncheon meat) would have had all sorts of nasty unwanted stuff in it. I did feel rather guilty about that, but maybe it is another example of my body knowing best what it wants. This morning I almost felt quite energetic. The first great challenge of the day is the ramp leading up from Waterloo East station platform. I found myself going up that reasonably fast with little effort.

 Now if only I can keep that sort of level of energy going all day, I should be able to enjoy myself even more when I see Chain's gig at The William IV pub in Elmers End tonight. I won't want to be eating much more than a couple of mouthfuls before I go out. So this morning I've treated myself to a "spicy chicken tikka roll" - which is actually more like a wrap than a roll even though it is a rolled up wrap - if you see what I mean :-) It was very nice !!!!!!
Thursday 15th September 2011
07:50 BST

  Yesterday turned out to be a nice day. It was a bit on the cool side for longer than I hoped, but the sun continued to shine, and by the afternoon it was very pleasant. It seems possible that today will be very similar, although the temperature this morning has started off even lower than yesterday. There was a bit of breeze yesterday, but the air is fairly calm today, and that might mean that the day ends up slightly warmer than yesterday.

 I did feel tired yesterday due to my poor sleep the night before, and I did feel a distinct lack of energy as I made my way home from work. I wasn't actually feeling exhausted, but I didn't care to rush around. I still found the energy to go to Tesco where, amongst other stuff, I did buy a butternut squash.

 As yet I have not worked out exactly what I am going to do with that squash. Maybe that's strictly not true. It's more a matter of not knowing if it can be cubed up and added to other vegetables in one of my crosses between a soup and a stew. I suspect it can, but I think I'll have to be careful not to overcook it to a mush.

 What I did eat last night was slightly more extravagant than my recent few meals. I found some cooked, skinless chicken breasts that were flavoured with herbs and garlic on the reduced price shelf (just 85p). So I threw two of them into a cabbage and leak stew (together with stock cubes, tomato puree, etc.). It turned out to be very tasty, but I only ate half of it because I had also bought a hot chicken quarter flavoured with Jamaicam jerk seasoning. I didn't think I had tried that before, but once I tasted it I realised I had. I can't say I care for it that much. It had a very subtle flavour that promised more, but failed to deliver.

 All that lot didn't really satisfy me so I had a couple of bananas and some brazil nuts too. Sometimes you've just gotta have something crunchy, and the brazil nuts satisfied that craving. It was fortunate that the jerk flavoured chicken seemed quite dry, and hence relatively fat free (I think it might have been skinless). That just leaves the brazil nuts as the only thing to spoil my very low fat diet.

 These few recent days of low fat and stuff meals does seem to have had a continuing effect on me. It might be my imagination, but I think my gut is overhanging my belt a lot less recently. While that is good there is a downside to it. As I have observed before, most recently in the spring as far as I can recall, all this low fat stuff does leave my joints a bit stiff. Next week, because I have stuff to use up before then, I will have to introduce more oily fish into my diet. Past experience shows that to work well.

 The theory was that I was going to have an extra early night last night. It didn't happen. I seemed to spend far too long composing an email last night. I did get to bed at my usual time, and I did sleep reasonably well last night, but I don't think it was quality sleep. So once again I feel tired this morning. In fact once I was shavered, showered, and dressed, I had a strong desire to go back to bed instead of coming to work, but I came to work anyway.

 We get some odd stuff thrown in the waste bins on the business estate where I work.........
box of nipple tasssels (sic)
 Maybe it was from the people who do party supplies, or maybe it was from the swingers club, but presumably tasssels, spelt with three Ss are more erotic than those spelt with the more traditional two (not counting the one signifying plural at the end).
Wednesday 14th September 2011
07:42 BST

  There was a shower forecast for yesterday, and it did happen several hours after it was due, and it was so inconsequential that it was hardly worth remembering. Much of yesterday was mildly warm and sunny. The sun came up this morning to a cloudless sky, and as a consequence of that it was also rather chilly.I forgot to check my thermometer, but it was supposed to be about 11 C. As my train pulled into Earlsfield station the sun had already climbed high enough to blaze over the top of the cemetary, and dazzingly straight into the train door windows. The sun is still carrying enough heat, even at this time of the morning, to raise some nice atmospheric mist above the gravestones. It will soon warm up, but the predicted high is only about 18 - 19 C.

 It seems very unlikely that my current eating regime is severe enough to cause it, but soon after arriving home from work last night I felt a very slight touch of what I can only describe as feeling light headed. Low blood sugar level can cause it, but I did eat two bananas and an apple during the day, and bananas do contain quite a lot of energy. Maybe it was something completely different (presumably lethal), but after eating I did feel perfectly OK again.

 Dinner last night was quite thin. I left out the brocolli, but I did have a lot of correctly prepared runner beans along with red onions and peppers simmmered in my favourite garlic, tomato puree and chicken stock cubes stock. With all the stock it was a big meal, and initially filling, but it wasn't quite satisfying enough. So I had a couple of pears and a pile of almonds to round things off. Tonight I am getting some shopping, and I fancy seeing what I can do with a butternut squash (if Tesco still has any on the shelves).

 After dinner, and watching the TV news, I decided to make a start at editing some video on my newly souped up latest PC. Fitting the new graphics card, and the brute of a power supply to feed it, has made a very useful difference. I didn't feel creative enough to try any really fiddly bits of editing, but the simpler stuff did seem to go very smoothly as I juggled it around. Although the video I am working on is far from finished, I tried saving what I had done, and I was rather happy that the PC was able to render the file in almost real time. The four and a bit minute video to around six minutes to render. On my previous machine I am guessing it would have taken more than ten minutes.

 I made myself late for bed as I kept fiddling with that video. There is always just one more little improvement to make, or something to add, and you know it will only take a minute, but those minutes add up. It was gone 9 pm before I was in bed, and a lot later before I could fall asleep. Even when I did fall asleep I was soon awake again busting for a pee. My dinner contained close on two pints of liquid if you consider that all those vegetables contain a lot of liquid in themselves. The two pears contain a lot of liquid, and I drank a couple of pints of diet cola during the evening. It was like going to bed after a heavy session in the pub.

 Having got to bed late, got up several times for quite substantial pees, and possibly tossed and turned a lot, I feel rather tired this morning. Tonight I really want to get creative again, but I think an early night would be far better for me. I think it would be a mistake to even try to do "just a few minutes" of video editing because I know from past experience that those few minutes can telescope out into hours.
Tuesday 13th September 2011
08:05 BST

  It was very windy again yesterday. Apart from that it turned into a very pleasant day. During the morning the clouds turned from grey to white, and the sun broke through. Most of the afternoon was bright and sunny. That brightness carried through to this morning. It was quite fresh as I made my way to work, though the wind has dropped to just a light breeze, and if the sun had been a bit higher in the sky it would have been nice and sunny. Now the clouds are getting thicker, and it is possible we could finally see the shower forecast for earlier this morning.

 My new graphics card and power supply arrived at work yesterday, and the first thing I did when I got home from work was to fit them. That all went very smoothly, and I do believe that my "new" PC is now running more fluidly. I didn't have time to try any video editing, but I did transfer some more video from my camcorder to the PC, and that seemed to happen very smoothly. The sound problem I had transferring from the other camcorder had gone. Though of course that proves nothing. The sound problem could have ben the PC or the camcorder - or a mixture of both.

 The real test will come when I try and edit the footage from the three camcorders together. I am hoping that the preview window of the editing application will be able to show reasonably smooth video when I have have several video layers and several effects layers all being shown at the same time. The only fly in the ointment now is that the song I want to work on first was played when some of the torrential downpour of rain got into the stages PA system. So although I have transferred the sound from the main camcorder perfectly, the actual sound is quite horrible. With luck I will be able to get a copy of the song from Chain that was recorded directly off the stage mixer - assuming such a recording was made.

 On the whole I felt reasonably good yesterday, and particularly so once I got home from work. Fitting the new bits in my PC was obviously exciting and distracting, but even when that was done, and some initial tests proved everything was OK, I still felt bright and alert. So I was fairly relaxed about cooking, and then eating my dinner later than usual. Maybe I was too relaxed about it because lack of practice meant I forgot to do one vital thing.

 My dinner was a vegetable soup/stew with red onions, broccoli, peppers and runner beans. It was the latter where I made the big mistake of not peeling off the stringy bit down the side of the pods. It did spoil what was otherwise a very tasty meal that also had garlic, tomato puree, and one other special ingredient. That special ingredient was a sliced up "snack sized" chorizo sausage. It did add some fat to an otherwise very low fat, and extremely low calorie meal, but the extra zing it gave made those few sacrifices worthwhile.

 After such a healthy meal (and nothing but 2 bananas, an apple and a small orange during the rest of the day) I should be feeling rather good this morning, and in a way I do, but in other ways I don't. My jeans are feeling loose, and that is one good thing, and I do seem to have some quite good reserves of energy, but I feel a bit headachey this morning. I'm not sure why this should be, but it could have been the way I slept or something. I do remember that I had a quite violent dream sometime during the night that involved mutants, spacewoman, and, horror of horrors, Australians !

 I think I have very loose idealistic plans for tonight. The first plan is to cook a very similar dinner as last night, but with one major difference. Tonight I will prepare the runer beans properly ! The other thing, though this plan is more flexible than a well oiled limbo dancer, is to make a start on some video editing. I very much doubt I will get anything finished, but if the new, improved, PC lives up to my wildest imagination, and the editing process is now smooth and responsive, I may be able to produce a short sneek preview of what I am working on that I can show here (but don't hold your breath).
Monday 12th September 2011
08:03 BST

  The most significant aspect of yesterday's weather was some of the strong gusts of wind. Other than that it was sometimes sunny, dry, and warm. Apparently one of America's cast off hurricanes is passing the north of the country. Up north they are going to have some very fierce winds (80 mph !), while down here in the south things will be more moderate. All that air rushing in from across the Atlantic Ocean is warm and moist, and this morning it is dumping some of that warm moisture on us.

 So far all I have seen is fine misty rain, but looking out my office window it seems to be turning more into a light shower. I am loathe to believe the predictions of the weather forecasters, but their reckoning is that the rain will be over around midday, and this afternoon should see some sunshine.

 I had a lazy, but still fairly productive day yesterday. During the afternoon I set about transferring a lot of the video I had shot during the last bank holiday weekend of Chain playing at Party In The Priory. I transferred all the video from the microcam memory card, and cut it up into the different songs before converting it into a file format that my video editor can use. I also transferred the video from my Samsung miniDV camcorder onto my PC too.

 I was not too happy about the transfer from the Samsung camcorder. While the pictures were perfect (or as good as I had taken them !), the sound transfer was often spectacularly bad. I am unsure why this should be. At the moment it is of no consequence. I will only be using the sound to synchronise the pictures with the output of my Sony camcorder. If the sound transfer from that is bad I will have problems. I may have to resort to using my old PC to do the transfer from camcorder to computer file. It may be slower, but at least I know it is reliable.

 Sometime today I think the new graphics card and power supply for my computer should arrive. If so I hope I'll be able to fit them tonight, and I also hope it may be a magical cure for the bad sound transfer (though at this stage I can't think how it will help). If nothing else, I hope it speeds up the editing process by making it more fluid.

 This morning I feel rather good by comparison to many mornings last week, and all mornings in the two weeks before that. I am not exactly bursting with energy, but I do seem to have sufficient to make commuting bearable. If I had not eaten what I ate yesterday, which was not in keeping with the efforts I made in the preceeding few days, I may well have been bursting with energy. Basically I am virtually back to normal.

 With hindsight it is obvious that I was very much running on all cylinders again on Saturday night. After the misery and discomfort of glandular fever (a name which I bandy about despite it never being medically diagnosed) it really did feel wonderful to be able to go out, drink loads of beer, watch some great music being played, and not feel ready for my own grave at the end of it. Not only that, but I had enough energy to do a little bit of roadie work too.

 This week I ought to concentrate on getting myself in even better shape. I think after some of the excesses of yesterday I'll be back on the vegetable soup/stew tonight, and if I can, every night. I have got some fruit on standby too, and I'll try and use that as a distraction from other stuff that might be lying around. It's usually worthless trying to predict the future, but barring any accidents or distractions I could be feeling even healthier by next weekend.
Sunday 11th September 2011
10:40 BST

  Yesterday was a bit like Friday, but it was sunnier, and by early evening, a lot more humid. There were also a few showers that may have contributed to that humidity. This morning it feels much fresher, and although it is quite cloudy, there has been quite a lot of sunshine. I think that much of the day will be like this.

 I had quite a busy day yesterday. I went to Aldi and staggered back with a pile of shopping. I had a visit from Aleemah, but the highlight was in the evening. Chain were playing in The Chatterton Arms pub in Bromley. After missing the last gig because I was too tired/ill to go out in the evening, I was looking forward to last nights gig - and I wasn't disappointed.

 I decided to get to the gig relatively early, and set out early. It turned out that this was a good idea because there had been an accident on the main road that was causing a lot of traffic congestion. Thinking that my first choice of bus could take ages to turn up I walked to another bus stop where there was a choice of two buses. In the high humidity that extra walk got me quite sticky, but I dried out again while the bus I didn't think I was going to get drove to Bromley.

 It is only a short walk from the bus stop to the pub, and I walked that at a very sedate pace to avoid getting sticky again. I arrived just as Chris and Jo were taking in the last of their gear. Fortunately Jo was outside the pub when I arrived, and I was able to give her a dry peck on the cheek. Inside the pub felt like a sauna, and within minutes I was dripping, and even more so after I had helped Guy take some of his drum kit into the pub.

 It is always amusing when I am mistaken for more than just a fan and occasional roadie. Outside the pub were a couple who asked me what I would be playing. I am not sure if I have been demoted now. The last time I was mistaken for being Chain's manager, and last night I was only a band member. Having explained that I was only a part time, occasional, roadie, I told them a few of of the songs that Chain would probably be playing, and they seemed to be more than happy to stay for the rest of the evening.
Chatterton Chic and Essex boy
 Above is the couple at the end of the evening. Further chat revealed that the young lady lived locally, and the young man came from Basildon in Essex. At some point in the evening Steve (bass player) dubbed them Chatterton Chic and Essex boy !

 It was a very good gig once things settled down. As I said, it was very hot in the pub, but it wasn't crowded, and once the sun had gone down it did cool off. By the end of the evening it became quite comfortable in there. It may have been the heat and humidity, but the first two songs Chain performed sounded a bit ragged. From then on it all became very fluid, and any mistakes they made were too insubstantial to remember.
Chain on stage at The Chatterton Arms
Steve Cox, Jo Corteen, Guy Harris, Chris Mayer
With Chris playing his Epiphone Explorer guitar it was probably a Rolling Stones song being played.
Jo Corteen singing Sweet Child O' Mine
The top hat means that Jo was singing Sweet Child O' Mine
Chain - Steve Cox, Guy Harris, Jo Corteen, Chris Mayer
 Last night was one of those nights when I thought I might leave early, but I ended up staying to the very end, and doing a bit more roadie work before getting a bus back to Catford at about 20 past midnight. I was feeling really quite good. This was no doubt helped by the consumption of many pints of Stella Artois. I did claim to be drunk at the end, and of course technically I was, but I didn't feel wobbly or any other loss of control, although all that booze gave me a tremendous appetite.

 I had avoided eating too much during the day so I would feel more lively at the gig, but when I arrived back in Catford I headed straight to the extra late opening fried chicken shop - who were on the point of closing. One indicator that I was not as drunk as I could have been was that my order in the chicken shop was for a very modest 3 bag of spicy chicken wings. Once I was indoors I munched my way through them while watching some TV. Then it was off to bed where I fell asleep very quickly.

 This morning I woke up after only a few hours sleep, and got up feeling rather hungover to let Smudge in who had opted to spend a night on the tiles. After a while I went back to bed to try and get several hours more sleep. Initially I couldn't get to sleep, and then I managed some fitful sleep. After dozing and waking up again several time I thought I was never going to get any good sleep. Then the next thing I knew was that the sun was shining, and it was nearly 9.30am.

 My hangover has all but dissipated now, and in theory I could do something adventurous, but I am not sure if I will. It is bright, sunny, warm and dry out, and I really ought to go for a walk somewhere, Maybe I will take a spin around the park, but I am thinking more along the lines of trying to psych myself up to do some video editing this afternoon.
Friday 9th September 2011
19:18 BST

 I've almost forgotten what the weather was like yesterday. It was one of those bland days where there is a bit of everything, but none of it was particularly good or bad. I think there was a bit of sunshine, and a bit of rain, but mostly slightly grey. Today has often been grey, but it has also been warm and humid. On a few occasions the sun did manage to shine, and the temperature hit 22 C.

 I knew that hitting my digestive system with far more fibre than it has been used to lately would cause some sort of effect. Yesterday afternoon I suffered from some excessive wind. Then, early in the evening, soon after I had a couple of pints of cabbage and leek soup (which seems a better description than stew as I have described similar meals previously) I had to make several frantic dashes to the toilet. It left me feeling quite hollow !

 This morning I felt very hungry, but I managed to ignore it until early in the afternoon. After getting up at 5am, as usual, I meandered around for a few hours before going back to bed. I am not sure if I slept or not, but it was nice to be thoroughly lazy. At 9.30am I decided I had better get up, washed and dressed. After that I still did not feel that keen on going out for a walk as I had planned.

 Two hours later I finally managed to get myself psyched up to go out. Even then I was not exactly keen to go, and I didn't feel terribly energetic. As seems usual, the hardest part of the trip was getting to the station. It was a lot hotter and humid than I imagined it was, and I got very hot under the coat I had put on. Luckily I had my rucksack with me, and I was able to stuff my coat in that while waiting for my train. I had just under ten minutes to wait and cool off before my train arrived, and my day out started properly.

 While walking to the station I made a firm decision that it was not going to be a long walk. I was going to simply walk through the woods at Beckenham Place Park and check on the state of the sweet chestnuts, and pick up any promising looking ones. As such, I decided it wasn't worth recording the walk on my phone. A decision I now regret because my walk was far longer than I imagined it would be !

 I still wasn't feeling up to much when I arrived at Ravensbourne station and walked over the road into the woods. Once inside a transformation took place. I still didn't feel like rushing around, but the calming effect of the smell, light, and noises soon had me feeling relaxed about walking around. Some parts of the woods are quite dense, but some paths lead to nice open vistas.
looking approx east from Beckenham Place Park
 This view is looking approximately to the east from the top of the hill. At the bottom of the hill, roughly along the centreline of the picture, runs the railway line that serves Ravensbourne station.
strange bent tree in Beckenham Place Park woods
 Plunging back into the woods I came across this strange bent tree. To those who know the magic words it is probably magical.....or something :-)
unidentified butterfly
 It really enjoyed slowly meandering through the woods. Today was my third visit and slowly I am learning some sense of direction, but half the time I had no idea where I was, or where I was going.  Eventually I found a path that I was sure I knew, and that turned out to be correct. More usefully, I think I can find that path easily enough again because it is one path that has many sweet chestnut trees by it. I saw many fallen sweet chestnuts, but they are still very small and sadly very unripe. Hopefully they will be ripe when for a return visit in about a months time.

 Outside the woods it was, as I have already remarked, warm and humid. In amongst the trees it was positively sultry, and I was sweating quite freely as I came out onto Beckenham Hill. Just before leaving the park I noticed the butterfly, pictured above, fluttering around some weeds.

 Maybe it was the sweat, maybe it was just the fresh air, or maybe it was just madness, but I decided not to cross the raod to get the train home from Beckenham Hill railway station, but to follow the road over the railway lines and re-enter the park to walk by the golf courses. Most of my walk had actually been on that side of the railway, but I had crossed over via a bridge in the park itself (the densest woods lay behind the golf links).

 While I didn't see any ripe sweet chestnuts, I did see many ripe acorns. The road that runs through the golf links is lined with oak trees, and the road and grass verges were covered in small brown acorns. I didn't take any pictures of those, but I did take this picture.
disused drinking fountain
 When I were a lad (as they say) all parks seemed to have these drinking fountains in them (my local park had at least two of them). You pushed down on the brass knob in the corner of the fountain, and a jet of water would shoot out into your mouth. Meanwhile, the unused water would fill the receptacle in the bottom for dogs to drink from. This one was not in use, and that was a shame because I nice cool drink of water may have been nice.

 Having walked through the second section of park, and then down the small road that passes the tennis courts where (I believe) the Beckenham Tennis Week matches take place, I came out again onto Beckenham Hill. From there is is a thankfully downhill walk for about half a mile or so to New Beckenham railway station.
Victorian era post box in Beckenham
 Along the way I passed another relic of past times as a concerned resident peers out of her window wondering who the sweaty bloke with a camera is. This Victorian post box set in a brick pillar is still in use.

 I arrived at the station just in time to miss a train ! One of the handy things about New Beckenham station compared to Beckenham Hill station is that there are four trains an hour instead of only two. Unfortunately they are not evenly spaced around the clock, and I managed to get for for the 20 minute wait instead of the 10 minute wait. Another handy thing is that train from New Beckenham go to Catford Bridge station and not Catford station as trains from Beckenhamm Hill go to. That cut a few minutes out of my walk home.
class 376 train at New Beckenham station heading south
 While waiting for my train I indulged in a bit of train spotting. This horrible cheap and nasty class 376 train is just about to pull out of New Beckenham station on it's way to Hayes (Kent). In the far distance is Lower Sydenham station.
fully zoomed view from New Beckenham station looking towards Lower Sydenham
 Using full zoom to look up the line the down platform of Lower Sydenham station is visible in the distance just over half a mile away.

 Choosing to walk to New Beckenham station more than doubled the distance I walked. I have no idea how far I walked, but it was at least 3 miles, and depending on how much I meandered about in the woods, it could have been at least another half mile on top of that. That's not much, but it was enough to give me a very keen appetite when I arrived home at approximately 1.30pm. I couldn't wait until the evening to eat, and I wanted something far more substantial than broccoli and red onion soup. So I had fish fingers and garden peas for lunch.

 Since then I have also eaten some very fatty continental sausage, but nothing more. I think I can stand not to eat anything more today, so with the walk I think I can say that I may just still be on a sort of diet. In some ways this is quite annoying. For the past three weekends I have wanted to get a takeaway (chicken kebab to be specific), but on each occasion something has come up and prevented me from doing so. I can't even get one tomorrow night because I'll be out watching Chain play at The Chatterton Arms in Bromley.
Thursday 8th September 2011
07:56 BST

 Instead of the sunny spells forecast for yesterday we got grey skies and showers. None of the showers was particularly heavy, and none were at inconvenient times (such as going home from work). Today has started off very grey with some intermittent light rain blowing in the breeze. The forecast for today is for more showers, so I can only assume there will be baking hot sun or snow ! For all the grey sky and rain it is not particularly cold. My thermometer read 14 C just before I left to come to work.

 As planned, I called into Tesco on the way home and bought loads of healthy stuff, and nothing that wasn't. For dinner last night I had broccoli, cauliflower and baked bean "stew" with loads of garlic in it. The baked beans were only included to use up a less than third full jar of them I had in the fridge. I also had a few other things from previously opened packets that are best left unmentioned. Overall it was a very healthy, very low fat, and low calorie meal.

 I did expect to feel good this morning after that healthy meal, but maybe that idea was a bit premature. I certainly felt starving hungry until I had a banana a few minutes ago, and unlike yesterday I may end up having an apple as well before much more time passes.

 One change for the worst, at least I think it is a change for the worst, but it could equally well be for the better, is that I  might have suffered from a bit of light fever in the early hours of the morning. I have a vague recollection of waking up to pull the duvet around me because I was feeling almost cold, and yet I was also feeling a bit sticky too. It is often the case that something like that heralds the end of an illness, but apart from some lingering lack of "get up and go", I thought I was now free of the glandular fever that caused so much inconvenience a couple of week ago.

 However, for yet another morning I felt very sweaty on my way into work. I don't mind working up a light sweat if I rush from the station to work on a warm morning, but it is definitely wrong that my shirt should have damp patches on it just by sitting still on a train. One explanation is very high blood sugar levels, but that should affect me all day, and not just for an hour or two in the morning. Well, whatever it is, I am sure it wil either settle down soon or kill me.

 Tonight I face a small dilemna. It is quite possible that if I have my intended dinner tonight it could give me the runs in the morning. I thought the very fibrous meal last night might cause a problem this morning, but it is probably too soon for that. Tonight I will almost certainly have a variation on what I had last night. It will be cabbage and leak stew in the same garlic and tomato puree enriched chicken stock. The problem with this is that I have booked a day off work tomorrow.

 I have a half hearted plan that I will take a short train ride to Beckenham Place Park and go rummaging in the woods for nuts - chiefly sweet chestnuts. I left it too late last year, but after some of the wild weather we've had recently there could be enough on the ground that the squirrels won't have taken them all yet. If tomorrow, all the fibre I have eaten suddenly makes it through to the other end I will be reluctant to go out early, or maybe at any time. Of course there may be better reasons for not going out. It could be pouring with rain, or there is the lame excuse that I might feel like spending a lot of the morning in bed, and then spend the rest of the day being creative on my PC. I guess the only way to find out is to see what happens when I get up in the morning.
Wednesday 7th September 2011
07:50 BST

There was less rain than I thought there might be yesterday. It seems that the heavy band of rain that was approaching us from the west decided to travel over north London (which got completely soaked). It was quite overcast for much of the day, but the moderately strong wind felt close to being warm. There was one slightly heavy shower that fell as I waited on Waterloo East station for my train home, and some very light rain just blowing in the wind as I walked from the station to home, but overall the rain hardly effected me at all.

 I think there was more rain after dark yesterday, but this morning has started off almost bright. I can see blue bits amongst the clouds, but as yet none of them have been where the sun is waiting to shine through. It was 13 C when I left home to come to work, and if we do get the sunny spells the weather forecasters have promised us, the temperature could rise to 19 C - which is probably not too bad for this time of year.

 It may have been the grey skies and meeting a bit of rain on the way home, but I didn't feel as lively as I did when I came home from work the previous day. Once I was home I felt what I can only describe as odd. I felt like I wanted an early night, but I didn't seem to get one. Instead I ended up getting to sleep a lot later than I desired. I also felt like eating a lot (which isn't always the same as feeling hungry).

 I am not sure how accurate it is, but I could probably best describe myself as feeling agitated last night. I have no idea why that should be. I guess it's just one of those things that happen. The feeling of agitation meant that after a pleasant dinner of roast chicken and baked beans I still wanted to nibble, and I did. I nibbled on walnuts, that in moderation are good for you (I wasn't that moderate), and some peri-peri cheese, which is always bad for you (full of cholestrol and calories).

 My agitation continued when I got into bed at 8.30pm. I have no idea what it was up to now, but my mind would just not shut up. It feels rather disappointing that I may have discovered a fool proof way for world peace, and universal prosperity last night, but I just cannot bring to mind what it was that I was thinking about. There is something that is on the tip of my tongue, but it will just not reveal itself.

 It must have been as late as 10.30pm when I finally dozed off, and from then on I slept quite well as far as I know. I woke at around 3.30am to have a pee, and Smudge took that as her cue to become noisily active. I didn't think I would be able to ignore her, but evidently I did because the next thing I knew was I was being woken up by my alarm clock.

 That last sentence is not strictly true. I wasn't totally insensate because I was dreaming. Most of the dream is now lost to the mists of time, but I do remember the conclusion - perhaps the conclusion came when I first woke up. The dream seemed to involve me using some foam as a special effect when filming something, probably something in miniature. I was congratulating myself because I was under the impression that I had invented something new. Maybe if I could remember what it was I was doing in the dream I would find that I really had invented something new, but the conclusion of the dream, maybe made during the transition from dream to waking, was that whatever I was doing was probably first done as a special effect for Dr Who more than 40 years ago or more.

 It may not seem logical, but after more than I should have yesterday, the main thing I fell this morning is hungry. I've just eaten a banana, and that seems to have filled a small gap. If I want more I may have an apple later. All that eating last night has left me feeling a bit sluggish, and I didn't care to rush about a lot as I came to work. It wasn't all just the excess food though, my choice of footware has slowed me down a bit as well.

 This morning I am wearing almost identical shoes to yesterday. Yesterday they were black, and this morning they are grey. In all other respects they should be identical. Yet the black ones seemed to be very comfortable for the first 10.75 hours of the 11 hours that I was wearing them yesterday, and this morning's grey ones feel as uncomfortable as the black ones did in the last quarter of an hour of wearing them. It's all just another example of life's weirdness.

 I thought I'd just explain that 11 hours of shoe wearing. I left home unusually early to get to work at 5.50am, and I was in work by just after 7am. I arrived home again at approximately 4.50pm after leaving work at 3.40pm. It was a long day, but not typical like today when I left home half an hour later, and arived at work roughly hour an hour later as well. These ten and a half hour days are my excuse why it is very rare for me to go out to do anything in the evening. Within 4 hours of getting home from work I need to be in bed, and ideally asleep.
Tuesday 6th September 2011
07:20 BST

  Once again the forecast bore no resemblance to reality. As far as I can recall it stayed dry until the evening yesterday. There was a time when it did look like it would rain late in the morning, but that came to nothing, and most of the daylight hours were fairly pleasant. The feature that did spoil the day a bit was the strong wind. The wind dropped as evening approached, but it, and the clouds, were enough to keep the temperature mild overnight.

 I forgot to check the temperature this morning, but it didn't strike me as beeing cold. Today it is definitely raining, and I wouldn't be surprised if it rained on and off for a lot of the day. Autumn is definitely here now. Not only is it coll, wet and windy, but pesky eight legged intruders keep trying to use my home as a hotel for the autumn. I had to chase another big one out the bathroom last night.

 Sometimes I feel I am almost mended after my affair with glandular fever, and sometimes I get relapses. Much of yesterday I felt close to mended, and on my way home from work I seemed to have a level of energy I don't seem to have felt in what seems like ages. It wasn't enough energy to fly up the 51 steps to the platform at Earlsfield station, but enough to go up at a reasonable pace without feeling like I was killing myself. As I approached home my energy levels peaked. My pace as I walked from the station to home was as fast, and as easy as at any time.

 Once I reached home the novelty wore off a bit. It felt nice to sit down and do some writing while my dinner cooked. Dinner was ready by the time the 6pm news came on, and I watched that while I ate. Once the news was over at 7pm I went up to my room and checked my email and social websites etc. By 8.30pm I was very happy to be in bed. With little effort I was fast asleep in next to no time.

 I am not sure if I slept solidly or not. I certainly can't recall waking up for any length of time, and I am not even sure if I got up for a pee in the night. I do have a vague recollection of thrashing about a bit, and briefly waking because I thought I was about to get cramp in my foot or calf. I think I just turned over and went back to sleep again. Just before I woke at 4.30am I was having a dream that involved two of the presenters from the BBC's Top Gear programme - but I can't remember which two. They were having the often quoted, but never seen, willy fight. Of course that couldn't be shown on TV so they were using broom handles between their legs to simulate such a thing. I have absolutely no idea what it was all about, or even if I was watching it live or on TV. In fact I can't remember if I saw any action or if it was just a concept being discussed or something. It's like a faded memory of a faded memory.

 Another thing I can't remember was just when it was that I realised that I didn't feel all that good this morning. It is rather odd because at one point I was thinking that I felt quite good. That point was when I was towelling myself dry after my shower. I noticed that I didn't feel knackered doing like I had on some of the worst days following my glandular fever. I went back to my bedroom to get dressed, and didn't feel an urge to get back into bed as I have done on most mornings in the previous fortnight.

 The thing I don't like is that once under the hot shower I started to sweat, and now, nearly three hours later I still feel a bit sticky. The damper bits of me feel cool, perhaps even cold, but my face still feels hot. There could be several different reasons for this, but for simplicities sake I'll assume it is all part of the long recovery process from glandular fever. Of course I could just be using that as an excuse, but it is a convenient one despite my total disbelief that an illness could ever drag on for so long as this.  In my experience an illness should only last a week, or a fortnight under exceptional circumstances. Even death should be cured in less than three weeks !

 I think another early night is called for tonight, and then tomorrow night I think I'll try a new approach. Tonight I have to finish off some food that is ready for use in the fridge, but tomorrow night I think I'll stop by Tesco and buy the ingredients for "boiled vegetable stew". This is my secret recipe for health based upon lots of liquid, lots of green vegetables, lots of spices, and loads of garlic. You have to be in the right frame of mind to survive on it, and I will try and cultivate that during the next two days. The results can be remarkable after a few days of eating it, although the sides effects do include a runny bottom (initially) and significant weight loss after a couple of weeks of usage.
Monday 5th September 2011
08:11 BST

  I have to confess I was gullible enough to believe the weather forecast for yesterday. It was definitely wet for some of the morning, but the idea that the whole day would be wet was very wrong. The afternoon was dry, and sometimes quite pleasant and sunny. This morning has started brilliantly with clear blue sky and sunshine, although at just 12 C when I left home, a bit on the cool side. It doesn't seem like it is possible, but it is supposed to rain by mid morning, be dull for the first part of the afternoon, and then be sunny again by the time I go home from work.

 After a good shave, shampoo, and shower I felt ready to face the world yesterday (having not bothered with these essentials the day before). After allowing enough time for my hair to partially dry I set out to get some shopping in. It may have just been curiosity, or it may have been that I felt some modicum of energy, but I decided I would go to Lidl which is 2 to 3 times further away than Aldi. There wasn't much in there that excited me, and I ended up being unusually conservative in my buying. (Though bearing in mind the extra distance I have to lug all the shopping, it is wise for me not to get too carried away).

 One item I bought was rather interesting. It was a pack (punnet ?) of exotic tomatoes. All were quite small, and all were fully ripe, but they ranged in colour from green, through various shades of red and orange, to almost purple. The oddest was definitely the green tomato that had some yellow mottling giving it an appearance similar to a very large gooseberry. I ended up eating the whole lot over a fairly short time. They all tasted basically like tomatoes, but there were subtle differences in sweetness and acidity. I did wash them well before eating them, but it is still possible that they could have been responsible for the extremely volatile nature of my guts this morning.

 I finally got around to playing with some video editing on my new PC yesterday. It was both good and bad. It was bad in that I had some trouble capturing video from my camcorder. It was also bad in that my video editing software kept suggesting that the estimated time to finish stuff was no better, or possibly worse than my old PC. Yet when it came down to it, it's estimate of 15 minutes (for example) to render the finished project turned out to last half that time. Most annoying of all was that the preview function still seemed to stutter instead of the smooth(er) playback I was expecting.

 One potential reason for my partial disappointment of the new PC is that it is not using the powerful graphics card I was hoping to use. Once again this was a hand-me-down. On first testing it, maybe a couple of months ago, it seemed to work OK, and I assumed the odd glitch I saw on the picture was because everything was just pushed together rather than installed in a more permanent way. Sadly it turned out that the graphics card was, as my donater suggested, faulty, and I had to resort to using the on-board graphics chip. I'll probably take a look at what is on offer, and may buy a brand new graphics card sometime today (thank the gods for credit cards !!!).

 I didn't sleep as well last night as I hoped I would. I had some things on my mind, and even more on my stomach (as was brought forceably home to me this morning !). I was forced awake by my alarm clock application on my mobile phone, and woke up feeling quite stiff and creaky. Several hours later, now I am at work, I don't feel all that bad. I did feel very empty as I passed the little Londis supermarket on my way from the station to work. It would have been very easy to walk in there and walk out with a roll or more likely a "spicy chicken tikka wrap", but I resisted that (I  must be feeling better or something). I did walk in there, but I walked out a couple of bananas and some apples.

 Tonight I feel I will be getting an early night. There is no doubt that sleep is one of the best cures for everything. By the end of the week I am hoping to feel far fitter than I have for what feel like a long time now (but maybe only slightly less than a month), and by the end of the week after that I want to be bouncing with energy. Of course I also want to be filthy rich, king of the universe, surrounded by beautiful and very willing women, and have a much faster PC. Some of these things might be achievable, but most are also unlikely.

 In the meantime, here's my first bit of video editing done on my new PC. You'll note that there is not actually much editing in it. After I completed it, I was annoyed to realise that I had taken some close up shots on my other camcorder that I could have edited in, but in some ways it is such a simple piece that maybe it stands on it's own as it is. I present to you, Hanna, accompanied by Jo Corteen on guitar singing the song "Valerie" at the Party In The Priory gig on Saturday 27th August 2011.
Sunday 4th September 2011
07:35 BST

 Most of yesterday was bright and warm, although it wasn't as sunny as the day before. In the evening it felt warm and sticky, but the forecast thunderstorm never happened. Overnight the cloud increased, and right now it is rather dull with some light rain falling now and then. It is still comparatively mild at just over 18 C, and it should rise a few more degrees during the day. Unfortunately it is likely to be a fairly wet day.

 It was my intention that I would have gone out for a walk in the countryside yesterday, but the call of other things was too strong. One of those things was the legacy of my recent glandular fever sapping my energy. I had few, if any remaining symptoms apart from a lack of get up and go yesterday, and some of that was probably purely in the mind. The other thing calling to me was to get my "new" PC set up in place of the one I had been using for most of my work.

 It took nearly all day to set that PC up. I had already installed the operating systems (dual boot Linux or Windows), and installed most of the applications that I use. What took up a lot of time was customising everything to my liking, and what took up even more time, a lot of time, was copying all my files from the old PC to the new PC. I had hoped to connect the hard disk from the old PC internally to the new PC, but with no spare SATA connection I had to resort to using an external adapter connected via a USB port. That makes copying gigabytes of video files so slow !

 While all this setting up and file copying was going on I couldn't even be bothered to wash and put fresh clothes on. In fact it wasn't until I was going to bed in the evening that I thought I ought to have a good rinse off under the shower ! Luckily I wasn't expecting any visitors, nor did any unexpectedly arrive.

 Another aspect of my immersion in getting the new PC set up was that I couldn't be bothered to stop to prepare any meals. In terms of physical quantity I ate very little yesterday, but in terms of calorific input I ate loads. I even ended up eating something I only consume on rare occasions - a large bar of chocolate.

 For all my laziness and bad eating, I don't feel too bad this morning. I think I got close to 7 hours sleep, and that had far few interuptions than many nights. It was punctuated by one very strange dream that was totally out of character to me. I can't recall the circumstances leading up to it, although there is a remaining hint that it might have been some sort of scam, but I was going to have a fight with one of my old friends. That friend was Nigel who actually died 4 or 5 years ago. That fight was due to take place in some dark, airless, and probably smelly, club under a railway arch.

 I couldn't fight to save my life...well maybe I might try to save my life, but I've had no practice at it, and I can't recall ever seeing Nigel get involved in a fight. Yet we seemed to be plotting together to put on some sort of show, probably a rather painful show, that involved one of us winning 30,000. The dream either faded away, or I woke up before any action could take place. My last memory of it was being annoyed that when I came to put on a pair of gloves I found I had brought with me just one black leather glove, and one denim one. So much for my attempt to look sinister in all black !

 This morning I had to install, and set up one more application on my "new" PC (that was actually a hand-me-down). That application was Kompozer, and is the application I am using right now to write these words to my web site. Unless I have forgotten something else, or something needs more tweaking to get it work how I want it to work, the PC is now ready for action.

 Above all else, the action that it is required to do is smooth video editing. I am hoping that I may be able to master a new (to me) Linux video editing application called Kdenlive. On my previous PC, for reasons that I never understood, it would always crash upon opening. I haven't tried it on this PC yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will run OK, and it will do what I want it to do. If that fails I will have to reboot to Windows XP and continue to use the application that I have used for all the other videos I have posted here and there (including, under my "professional name", You Tube).

 Sometime today I hope to make a start on editing some of the footage I shot of Chain playing at Party In The Priory. Before that there is other stuff I have to do. Most importantly is to have a thorough shave, shampoo and shower this morning. Once I am clean and fresh I can venture out into the big wild world. I may go further, I may do more, but principly I have to get some shopping in. Smudge is running low on catfood, and I fancy something healthier than peanuts and chocolate today ! If I feel very energetic I may go to Lidl, but I expect it will just be Aldi.
Saturday 3rd September 2011
10:03 BST

 Yesterday really was like a summers day. After a slightly cool and hazy start the sun broke up the haze, and shone down fiercely until the temperature rose to 24.5 C in the shadow of my house. In more exposed places it felt much hotter. This morning started off warmer than I imagined it would be. By 7am it was 19 C, and that is warmer than some of the daytime temperatures we have had recently. It has now risen to 20 C, and if the sun can stay out it will get even hotter. The sky is not that clear right now, and if it gets too cloudy the heat could brew up a thunderstorm. The weather forecasters think that might happen tonight. Tomorrow is alleged to be wet.

 I felt the effects of my poor nights sleep yesterday, but in the end it was not that bad. I guess I was half OK and half not OK, and the not OK was not as bad as it might have been. Most of the physical discomforts of glandular fever seem to have gone now, but fatigue is still an issue. There were times when I was going home from work when it seemed like I was walking against the tide. Progress seemed to be slow, and I couldn't seem to find the energy, nor the will to speed up. I suspect a lot of it was all just in the mind because I didn't actually seem to lose any time by walking slower than I wanted to.

 Back in Catford I seemed to find the energy to take the long way home. I walked from the station down to the high street, and bought a few things from the 99p shop. Maybe that extra walk was the straw that broke the camels back. I did feel very tired once I was indoors, and at 7pm when I should have been making the final preparations to go out to see Chain playing in West Wickham, I found myself laying on my bed. I already had doubts about whether I would get to last night's gig, and it felt so nice to be laying on my bed that any intention to try and get to the gig just melted away like ice in a gin and tonic.

 By 8pm I was actually in bed looking forward to a good nights sleep. It was hot last night, and I wasn't feeling all that comfortable in bed, but by 8.45 I was starting to drift off to sleep, and that was when I got a phone call that brought me back to full conciousness again ! The details of the phone call are irrelevant, but maybe I will blame that call on spoiling the rest of the night. It seemed to take ages to find the exactly right position to lay in, and to switch of the noisier bits of brain to allow me to get back to sleep again.

 Eventually I got back to sleep, but at 2am I woke up again.  I didn't exactly feel wide awake, but possibly with the freedom of knowing I didn't have to get up for work this morning, I knew that it would be a futile struggle to get back to sleep again straight away.  So I got up for an hour or so. before getting back in bed. I then slept for a few more hours before getting up to let Smudge in and feed her.

 Once again I went back to sleep, and this time sleep came more easily (perhaps because my room was a lot cooler). I slept for what was probably another couple of hours, though by this time I was not bothering to check on the time. This time, when I saw Smudge she told me she wanted to go out again.

 Over the last couple of warm days, Smudge has become an outdoor cat again. She reckons today will be another nice day, and the best way to spend it is to be outside in the fresh air. I find myself agreeing with her, and have had some vague plans to take a walk in the countryside. The problem is that it is now almost 11am, and I am still not washed and dressed, and it feels like the day is running away from me.

 Today could well be the last warm dry day of the year, and it would be a pity to waste it, and yet I can hear other things calling me. Laying on my bed reading is quite enticing at the moment, and I want to make a start editing some of the video I took while setting my glandular fever recovery back by many days by standing in a cold wet field videoing Chain playing at the Party In The Priory gig. Before I start the video editing I want to install me "new" PC in place of this current one. It will, or ought to, speed up the process of video editing, but getting it all set up is going to take several hours at least.

 It is obvious that the first thing I ought to do is to have a nice shower, get dressed, and see what happens next. As they used to say at the beginning of Stingray, "Anything can happen in the next half hour !".
Friday 2nd September 2011
08:14 BST

 It was rather nice yesterday. The morning was a bit more cloudy than I thought it might be, but the afternoon was bright and sunny. Some say the temperature rose to as high as 22 C, but I only saw 19 C, though I must admit it did feel warmer than that. This morning started off at 14 C, but once again it seems less cool than that. Maybe it is just some legacy of my illness that is making me feel it is not as cool as it actually is. The sky is a bit hazy right now, but it was clearer earlier on, and should become clear again once the sun has burned that haze off. If we are very lucky the temperature, at least in the city, could rise to as high as 26 C today.

 Yesterday was one of those days where I seemed to feel good more than I felt bad. It seems to be the nature of glandular fever that recovery from it is a very hit and miss affair. What seems to be happening is that as every day passes I feel good, or at least OK, for more and more random hours during the day. Someday soon will come the day when I feel good for all 24 hours of the day, and at least on that day I will consider myself cured.

 It was the ongoing fatigue that spoiled some of yesterday. The sore throat comes and goes, but is less and less sore all the time. Yesterday it was very moderate, and this morning I have to deliberately swallow to feel any soreness at all. Another aspect of this slow, but ongoing recovery is my appetite. There were times when I practically lost my appetite - which is an exceedingly rare occurence for me. Last night my appetite came back with a vengance.

 For the past fortnight I had a large packet of peanuts in the cupboard. Maybe it was the sore throat, maybe just lack of appetite, but a fortnight is an unprecedented period of time for me to keep peanuts. Last night I thought I would have a few, and a few turned into quite a few, and quite a few turned into quite a lot, and quite a lot turned into the whole packet. There is a million to one chance that after all the excess sweating I have done over the last few weeks my body was short of salt, and there is a one to million chance that peanuts are addictive (and that I was just plain greedy). After everything else I ate last night, which included another punnet of alleged "superfood" blueberries, I went to bed feeling quite stuffed.

 If I had seen a doctor about my illness there is an excellent chance that this morning would be the last day of my sick leave. Instead it is just the last day of another working week. If I had got a ticket for three weeks of sick leave (and the NHS website suggested that was almost routine for glandular fever) I may have been feeling better than I do this morning. After stuffing all those peanuts I didn't sleep all that well last night, and I may be able to blame them for getting very sweaty as I made my way into work. Now I am at work I feel reasonably OK - at least I do just sitting here typing - but given the choice I would go back to bed right now.

 While I was feeling reasonably OK yesterday, I wasn't feeling terribly energetic. At lunchtime I decided not to take my usual walk into the park, but to just have a wander around the business estate. The back of it faces onto the other side of the river that I walk alongside in the park. This gave me sight of part of the bank that I can't see from within the park. Laying down in the sunshine was one inhabitant of the river bank I have never seen before.
Fox on the banks of the River Wandle in Earlsfield
fox on the banks of the River Wandle in Earlsfield
 At first the fox seemed to be asleep, but he (or she) became aware that I was watching, and sat up to take a closer look. After considering that I was far enough away, across the river, and no threat, it was time for a relaxed stretch and eventually time to slowly stroll away looking for a takeaway meal of some sort.

 Tonight, in theory, I am going out to watch Chain play at The Swan pub in West Wickham. At this end of the day I have doubts that I will be awake enough to go out, and even some doubts about whether it is worth going out. The start of the gig is being delayed to 9.15pm, or later, because of some stupid football match, and because the trains finish super early in the London bound direction from West Wickham station I would have to leave just as the gig is warming up. It seems unlikely that I will be going tonight, but it is still hours away yet, and anything could happen before then.
Thursday 1st September 2011
07:50 BST

 Yesterday ended up better than I imagined it could be. By mid afternoon there was some sunshine, and much of my journey home from work was done in sunshine. It seems we are about to get the briefest, coolest Indian summer possible. Today, after a slightly hazy start, is now bright and sunny. At the moment it is fairly cool outside, but if the sun continues to shine we may see temperatures back up to around 20 C, or maybe even a tiny bit higher. Tomorrow there is a possibility of a pleasant 25 C.

 I started off with much to complain about yesterday, but as the day wore on I began to feel a lot better. There was one point during that afternoon when I was rushing around, being inventive, and making up some bits for use here at work, when I felt very close to being back to normal except that I was sweating a lot.

 When I got home from work I seemed to have a fair bit of energy, and I went home via Tesco. I was quite selective about what I bought in there, and even more selective about what I ate when I got home. The first part of my dinner was a couple of little pots of Tesco "Finest" spinach and pine nut pasta that I had found at half price on the reduced price shelf. I followed that by a small punnet of blueberries, and a very small container of ready prepared melon and grapes, accompanied by Franks Diabetic vanilla ice cream.  By my standards that was a very small dinner.

 Maybe that small dinner helped in some way, or probably not, but I slept almost normally last night. Another hour of sleep might have been useful, but I think I got as much sleep as any normal night. I think it was good sleep too. Although I woke up two or three times in the night, I can't recall any dreams, and more importantly I didn't wake up bathed in sweat at any time.

 I was sleeping quite soundly when, for the first time in ages, I had to be woken by the alarm clock application on my phone. My first impression upon waking was that I didn't feel that good in some ways, but not too bad in other ways. As is the case every morning, after a good shower (and washing my hair this morning), and the exercise involved in getting to work, I feel much improved. There are still things wrong with me. For instance my throat is mildly sore this morning, but overall I think I feel the best I have felt for the last couple of weeks. If it weren't for the nasty habit of this illness to have many mini relapses, I would say that if I continued to improve like this I would be as good as new in just a few more days time. Meanwhile I think I'll try and enjoy the recent improvememt before something else falls off.

 Yesterday I showed a picture of a lonely flower, but commented that the picture didn't really show it in context.
lonely flower
Here's the lonely flower again, and below is the same flower as a mere blur that is almost lost in the greater picture.
lonely flower in context