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My Diary/Blog For the Month of January 2012

Tuesday 31st January 2012
07:58 GMT

  The pessimists forecast sleet or snow, and the optimists, sunshine. The optimists won out, and late yesterday afternoon there was a little cold sunshine. Until then it had just been unrelenting grey. It was finger numbing cold yesterday, and with clear skies in the night, the temperature outside my back bedroom was only 0.5 C. At ground level the temperature was below zero, and there was a crisp frost on all the car roofs as I came to work. Today the temperature is not expected to rise to more than 2 or 3 degrees above zero. By way of compensation, there should be more sunshine today.........unless it snows/sleets, which apparently it could also do.

 Yesterday lunchtime I had a quick wander in the park behind work. It was cold, grey and bleak - mostly.
St Georges park, Earlsfield, looking cold and grey at the end of January 2012
Then I took a more careful look...........
daisy flowering in January
 There in the grass was a little patch of colour. Maybe it was because a lot of this month was comparatively mild that these daisies decided to flower in a completely exposed bit of grass. So I looked a bit harder still.
bright red rose hips almost glowing on a cold grey day at the end of January
 In amongst the (mostly) leafless trees and shrubs along the river bank there were these rose hips almost glowing with thier bright red colour.

 So life goes on. At least it goes on unless you are my living room fan heater. After a couple of months of good service since I last lubricated the fan motor bearings it has died again. It happened just as I was about to leave for work. I was going to leave it on low all day to keep Smudge warm, and to take the chill off the house for when I get home again. I was just saying goodbye to Smudge when I smelt a very distinctive smell. It was the smell of cooking dust as the heating elements started to overheat before the safety cut-out turned everything off. Tonight I will get home to a freezing house, and my first job will be to give the fan motor bearings another squirt of WD40. Failing that I do have a partially working fan heater that will take the chill off the room, but may not actually get it warm. If worst comes to worst, the fan heater in my bedroom works well enough to make me sweat !
Monday 30th January 2012
08:06 GMT

  There was little wind yesterday, and that made the low temperature more bearable. I am not sure how low the temperature was, but I am guessing that for most of the day it was around 5, or 6 C. I can't recall a single hint of sunshine, but the cloud cover was only light grey so it wasn't terribly dull outside. During the night the temperature fell even further, but not low enough for a thick frost as I expected.

 My outside thermometer, that is approximately 12ft off the ground measured 3.8 C when I got up this morning. Nearer the ground it was probably a degree or two colder. Some cars seemed to have frost on them, but others only condensation. As far as I can tell there are two trains of thought among the professional weather forecasters for today. One view is that once the haze clears we could have a very cold sunny day. The other viewpoint is that in little more than an hours time we could get some rain, sleet, or in the extreme, wet snow. I think it will stay dry today, and probably for the whole week, but it is going to be very, very cold on some of those days.

 It could be said that I wasted most of Saturday. I certainly did very little of note, but maybe I needed to be lazy. I certainly woke up yesterday feeling much fresher than I had the previous day.  If I wasn't so easily distracted I may have knuckled down to do some more woodwork, but I had a few too many distractions. The first rather pleasant distraction was Patricia visiting for about an hour in the morning. She picked up the book I had obtained for her, and took away two large and smelly bath towels plus a hand towel to wash for me in her washing machine.

 Another distraction was that I had just finish downloading digital replacements for a TV series I have on VHS tapes. I do still own a working VHS player, but it is so much more convenient to play video digitally. The TV series was Secret War, and was a 7 part series narrated by William Woolard about scientific achievements made by both sides in the conflict during WW2. I originally only intended to watch part one about radio navigation techniques, but then I thought I might watch part 2 as well, and........... I ended up watching 4 episodes in all, and enjoyed them just as much as when the series was first broadcast in 1977.

 One other distraction was Smudge. She was following me around everywhere, and being unusually affectionate. It was obvious she was hungry, but refused several different flavours of cat food I put down for her. Late in the afternoon I took a chance and poached a couple of skinless/boneless chicken thighs in some chicken gravy. Those chicken thighs were meant to be for my dinner tonight. So I'll have to have something else. When I first put down the diced up chicken and gravy it was sniffed at very carefully a couple of times, and then Smudge dived in and proved beyond a shadow of doubt that she is capable of eating when it suits her. I am still left baffled as to why she cannot eat other stuff that was perfectly acceptable a few days ago. Maybe she is just going senile.

 After getting a lot of sleep in over the weekend I allowed myself to stay up a tiny bit late last night. I was aiming to be in bed before 9pm, but I had one final distraction. I had found a website called Britain In Space, and it made for rather good, and yet also rather sad reading. It's easy to blame the government for anything and everything. Sometimes they do stuff for pragmatic reasons, and very often because they are complete and utter pillocks. Cancelling the British space programme just as our first home made launcher, Black Arrow, succesfully launched a satellite seems the height of stupidity now, and probably then too.

 The Black Arrow launch vehicle was cheap and reliable by all accounts. If it had one failing it was that it was very small, and consequently could only launch a small payload, but I am sure it could have been, and would have been scaled up. Apparently, the budget for Black Arrow was only 9 million, and presumably that included the test firing(s) before the main launch as well. Some would have you believe that NASA could spend that sort of money just developing a new zero gravity pencil sharpener. I suppose it's all part of the old, old story. If you want a solid, reliable, rocket that will last for decades, and is built like a brick shithouse you ask a Russian German scientist. If you are prepared to wait ages for a rocket with the latest bling you ask an American German scientist. If you want a rocket quickly and cheaply you ask a Britsh backroom boffin to knock one up in his spare time while he works on some mundane, and completely pointless government inspired project that has been set up just to annoy the opposition party. The Britsih rocket will work, and work well, but may contain a lot of duct tape !
Saturday 28th January 2012
16:18 GMT

  It stayed dry and cold yesterday. By late evening the temperature was low enough for frost to form on car roofs. This morning started off very sunny, but again it was very cold. The wind, although not that strong, added a vicious bite to the cold. As the day progressed there was less and less sunshine, and now, roughly an hour before sunset, the sky is looking light grey all over. Currently the temperature is 6 C, and no doubt will go lower as the night progresses.

 I had a bit of a yearning for a beer last night. I hoped that Kevin might feel like a beer as well. Fortunately he did, but he would not be available until about 6.30pm. That suited me fine because I wanted time to change, have a shave, and also check up on Smudge before I went out again. Smudge has been poorly with a stomach upset recently, and had not been eating all that well. Happily she seems on the mend today. She has been eating more today, and has been far more active.

 Not only did a I fancy a beer last night, but I also fancied a kebab as well. When I was halfway through my fourth pint I popped into the kebab shop, next door but one to te pub, and ordered a kebab that I said I would collect at 9pm. At 9pm I finished my pint, said goodbye to Kevin and went to collect my kebab. Annoyingly it was only half cooked when I got there. So I still had to hang around while they finished cooking it.

 It was lucky that the kebab helped put an extra sense of urgency in my step as I walked home. I had underestimated how cold it would be, or maybe it was just how I felt, but the cold air seemed to chill me to my bones during the 10 minute (or less) walk home. I was very happy to get back into the warm ,and start munching away. I stayed up later than recently, but I was still in bed by 10.30pm (as far as  I can recall).

 Maybe it was the beer, maybe the food, or the combination of the two, maybe just fatigue, but I had no trouble getting to sleep, and staying asleep. I think I woke up once for a pee, but slept solidly until around 4.30am when I got up for more than just a pee. Very soon I was fast asleep again, and I slept solidly for another couple of hours until it became apparent that I was expected to feed Smudge. (Orders is orders !!!).

 I continued being very lazy until almost 11am when I decided I had better have a shower and get dressed properly ready to face the day. Once dressed I went out to get some shopping. Rather than Aldi, or Tesco, I decided to go further afield and see what Lidl had in store. The answer was very little, but I did find some of their own brand salmon flavoured cat food which later on got a nod of approval from Smudge.

 What I should have been doing next was some more woodwork. Instead I started eating some of the stuff I bought from Lidl. That put me in a mellow mood to watch a couple of episodes of QI on Dave (Freeview TV station). Then I decided to do some reading on my bed. After a couple of pages my eyes started to droop, and I was soon asleep. It wasn't a deep sleep, but for the next 2 or 3 hours I lay there drifting in and out of sleep. If I can sleep reasonably well tonight, I may have recovered my sleep deficit from poor nights during the week, and maybe I'll wake up in the morning ready to do something that doesn't involve lazing around. In the unlikely event it is another sunny morning I might be tempted to wrap up warm and go out somewhere, although as I sit here the idea of that sounds a bit like fantasy.
Friday 27th January 2012
07:53 GMT

  Yesterday afternoon continued to be bright, and sometimes sunny. The clear sky, plus a change in wind direction, allowed the temperature to drop overnight to just low enough for a patchy frost this morning. My outside thermometer read 3.8 C shortly before I left to come to work. It is supposed to be a very sunny day today, but that won't raise the temperature by more than a few degrees. The temperature is forecast to hover between low and very low for the next few days, and it seems there is a possibility of snow later next week.

 I thought I would have the enthusiasm to make the second worktop support yesterday afternoon, but that enthusiasm never arrived. I spent some of the afternoon laying on my bed reading. At 4pm I went out to buy some stuff for Smudge. She is ill at the moment, and off her food, while what she did eat seemed to exit rather rapidly from the other end yesterday. So I lugged home another heavy bag of cat litter, and I also bought some more Tesco hot chicken. As I expected, she managed to eat some of that, and I ate the rest along with a couple of small containers of ridiculously priced salad.

 To make those salad pots from raw ingredients would cost a fraction of the ready prepared salads, but I guess you have to pay for the convenience of having it all done for you. Plus there is no need to buy a whole something when you only want just a part of that something. One of those salads was labelled as an Asian salad. What that translated to was an uncooked vegetable stir fry. It was actually quite tasty, and went well with the hot chicken.

 I went to bed very early last night so I could do some more reading in bed. It also gave time for my bedroom to cool down a bit after I had left the heating on for too long. While I was reading, and for much of the day, I would occasionally clear my throat, but as soon as I turned the light off, and tried for sleep, my throat became very dry and tickly. It may have been as long as two hours before I managed to fall into a deep enough sleep to not be woken up, or prevented from getting to sleep in the frst place by a very tickly cough. It must all be in the mind because this morning, even changing from cold to hot, and dry to humid air, as I got on and off trains, I did no more than clear my throat ocasionally. The end result was that another night has passed where I got a lot less sleep than I desire.

 So far this morning I haven't felt sleepy, and my awakeness (should such a word exist in this context) has been enhanced by noticing that the sky was starting to get light as my train pulled out of Clapham Junction station this morning. It wasn't that long ago that I was seeing the first glow of dawn as I was leaving Earlsfield station. Now I am excited in anticipation of it soon starting to get light at Vauxhall station, and then at each earlier station until the time finally comes, maybe by the end of February (at a wild guess) when I can walk from home to Catford Bridge station in daylight. Perhaps a month after that I can look forward to actually waking up to daylight. Now that will be excellent ! It almost gives a meaning to life.
Thursday 26th January 2012
13:20 GMT

  On the whole it was very cloudy yesterday. Later in the afternoon, and as I left work to go home, it did feel as if it was about to rain, but apart from one or two, possibly imagined, drops, it stayed dry until sometime early this morning. When I first woke up it was raining quite freely, but gradually that tailed off, and by the end of the morning the sun had come out. I think the forecast for tomorrow is more sunshine, but it will be a lot cooler than the 9 - 10 C we've had recently.

 My second "toy" was delivered to to me at work yesterday. It was my new Freeview set top box. Like the video lamp I recieved the day before, I had ordered it from Amazon, and it to arrived faster than the estimates suggested. Once again, I attribute this to having it sent to a business address. Last night I gave it a test. As a receiver, and as a recorder, it works very well, but it's on screen menu system is very cranky. That I can get used to, but it is annoying that there appears to be no way of scrolling through the electronic programme guide while continuing to watch the channel you were originally tuned to.

 I made a 25 second test recording onto an SD memory card, and when I mounted the card on my PC I was able to play back that recording using VLC player perfectly. Someday that could be very useful. As yet I haven't tried the timer for unattended recordings. I doubt I'll be using that facility very often, but once again it could be useful one day.

 I made a bit of a tragic mistake yesterday. I had some washing to do, but waited until I had eaten a rather big dinner to start doing it. Bending over the bath pounding shirts in a bowl of soapy water, then doing the same through several rinses, and then finally in some fabric conditioner was a painful process. My stomach hurt, my back hurt, my arms hurt, my wrists hurt, and my hands hurt, but it was my back and stomach that fared worse.

 The agonies of doing that hand washing has spurred me on to get my washing machine working again. I felt a bit off colour this morning. Nothing bad - just a feeling that another hour in bed would be wonderful, and a slight uncertainty about the possiblity of an upset stomach.  I had concluded that my stomach was fine before the deadline to leave for work, but by then I had decided that I wanted to stay at home. After many lazy hour I finally got off my backside, gathered my tools together, and made this.....
support frame to hold up kitchen work top
 It doesn't look much, and to a professional builder/woodworker it's the sort of thing they could knock up during a fag break, but for someone who is more used to dealing with tiny micro circuits it was quite an achievment. It was the first time I have ever used corner halving to join two pieces of wood at right angles, and although it would probably only earn a grade D at "O" level woodwork, and I am pleased with the way they turned out.

 It may not be very obvious from the picture as to what it's all about. The woodwork in the picture is the first of the two supports I am making that will replace the side walls of of the cupboard under the sink that have rotted away to the extent that the only significant support the worktop has is the washing machine. Once I have made the second one I have to somehow force these into position to raise the worktop to it's proper height, and thus release the washing maching. I suspect it is going to be a bit of a struggle getting them placed, but once in place, and secured, they should, hopefully, outlast the worktop, and possibly me as well.

 Later this afternoon I may build the second support. Doing the first was hard work even using power tools. The second will be a bit easier now I know what I am doing (or so I kid myself), but I don't feel to be in a rush to start work again. Maybe a quick snooze would be nice.......
Wednesday 25th January 2012
07:56 GMT

  There was a lot less rain than seemed to be forecast for yesterday. Only during the first part of the morning was the rain moderately heavy, and after that it just got lighter and lighter until it had, to all intents and purposes, stopped by early afternoon. Another difference to the forecast was that it seemed a lot milder as I made my way home from work, though I have no figures to back up that feeling. There was more rain overnight judging by how wet the roads were, but I didn't experience any rain on my way in to work. Right now there are thick grey clouds overhead, and that is supposed to be the story for all of today. I think it could be milder than yesterday. The day has started less cold than yesterday, and with luck it may get even less cold as the day goes on.

 I didn't feel quite as tired as the day before when I got home yesterday. Some of the reason for that may have been because I had the first of the two new toys I ordered to play with. The "toy" that arrived yesterday was my new video light. I think I rather like it. It's 160 white LEDs give off a bright white light, and when I choose to use it, it should make for some nice bright video. There are a number of ways of powering it. The basic solution is 6 rechargeable AA cells. The only trouble is I don't have 6 matched cells. I have 4 rated at 2500mAh, 4 rated at 2100mAh, and two rated at 1850mAh. Mixing them up is not a good idea, but OK for emergencies.

 The other way the light can be powered is by using a camcorder battery. It had slots, and an adapter that several different makes and styles of camcorder battery will slot into. Most handy for me is the slot that takes battereies for Sony camcorders. It will take the big battery packs I use on my "prosumer" DX1000 camcorder. I have three of those, and it is rare that I need all three. The oldest, and lowest capacity battery powered the light non-stop for about 75 minutes in an experiment I conducted last night. After that time the light had dimmed very slightly - as far as I can guess - but there was still plenty of light available, and probably another 10 or more minutes life left. That is more than adequate for my likely use.

 I was going to do some hand pwered laundry last night, but I left it until after I had dinner, and then I couldn't be bother to raise the energy to do it. I did manage to raise the energy to wash my hair though, and doing that was more important than laundry (I am ashamed to say it was looking very nasty after being blown around in the rain, and not washed for 5 days). I managed to get it done in time to allow it to dry for an hour, and still get to bed just before 9pm.

 I really don't know if I slept well, or not. It took a little while to get to sleep, but it was probably not that far from an average time. I only recall getting up for a pee once in the night, but I would guess from the amount of dreams I had, I was probably tossing and turning a lot in the night. Eventually I woke up too early again at 4.25am. I did try to get back to sleep again, but after a few moment of struggling I gave up, and got up.

 As is usually the case, nearly everything I dreamed was almost instantly forgotten after I woke up, but one bit I remember in the broadest of brush strokes. I don't think it has ever been the subject of a dream before, or at least not at such an intesity, and  as far as I am aware, it has certainly never happened to me in real life.  In this dream a woman, whose  only well remembered feature was that she was wearing a thin light brown leather coat, fancied me.  I am sure we were in a pub, and that she wasn't a complete stranger, but  I remember her sitting down in contact with me, and being ultra friendly. She didn't stay long, and as she left I felt something pushed into my pocket. It was a torn off scrap of paper with her name on it, and her phone number. There was also the digits 1431 written on it, and I couldn't work out if that was already on the scrap of paper when she added her details, or if it had some cryptic meaning.

 Her name was Gaye, but I can't remember the phone number beyond remembering it was in the format of a mobile number. I think I can remember knowing 3, or maybe 4 Gayes, although one could have been a Gayle, and another, who I think may have been a cousin, may have been a Gaynor (Gayner ?). Regardless of how many I have known, or known of, in the past, I can't recall any of their faces, but I am certain my dream admirer was none of them. There should be a fundemental, and universal law that dreams should come true, but, alas, I think we were just ships that passed on the seas of the inner mind.

 It is possible that my second "toy" will arrive today. It will be the Freeview receiever that can record onto an SD memory card. I am keen to give it a test, and to see if there is any practical value of recording stuff onto an SD card. Plugging it in will be my first priority when I get home, but I'll be getting some shopping on the way home first. Inevitably this will mean getting some very tasty things that I will be eager to get my jaws around, but I hope I can curb my enthusiasm for that enough to be able to do some laundry tonight.
Tuesday 24th January 2012
07:46 GMT

  There should have been some sunshine yesterday, but no matter how clear the sky was, there was always one cloud blocking the sun. As I walked from the station to home the sky was virtually completely clear except for a low bank of dark looking cloud on the western horizon. There might have been a nice sunset except for that. The one saving grace about yesterday was that there was very little wind to make the cool air feel even colder.

 It stayed mostly clear overnight, and the temperature may have dropped low enough for some frost in the small hours, but it was nearly 4 C when I left to come to work. All the cars were dripping with condensation (perhaps melted frost), but it was otherwise dry. By the time I reached Earlsfield station the major feature of today had started - rain ! Initially it was a bit of a hesitant drizzle, but as I neared work it became continuous light rain. Later on it could easily became a lot heavier, and it seems it will still be raining, maybe quite hard, when I leave to go home again this afternoon. The temperature is not expected to rise more than a couple of degrees during the day, so we are only a few degrees above the point where the rain could have fallen as snow.

 After feely quite perky for a lot of the day, I began to feel quite tired as home time approached. Usually the fresh air and the action of going home revives me, but last night I found myself looking forward to bed soon after I arrvived home. I couldn't actually go straight to bed because I had things to do, but more significantly I was expecting a visit from Patricia to pick up a book I had found for her. She had warned me that she might not be able to collect it last night because she was working late. At 8pm I sent her a text to say that unless she was very close I was going to bed. A little while later she acknowledged my text message to say that she was still working, and would pick up the book another evening.

 At 8.30pm I was in bed reading, and at 9pm I turned the light out and tried to sleep. I thought it would come easily, but I may have layed there for over thirty minutes waiting to enter sleep. I don't think I slept that well. I do vaguely remember getting up a couple of times in the night, but managed to get back to sleep again fairly quickly until I woke at around 4am. I did manage to fall asleep again for 10 -15 minutes, but by 4.30am I gave up and stayed awake.

 On the whole I don't feel too bad today. One of the reasons I had trouble sleeping after 4am was that I had a headache. Maybe it was some sort of migraine, or maybe something life threatening. It eased off once I was up and moving around, but it was still gently annoying me just before leaving to come to work. So I took a couple of aspirin, and those, together with some fresh air improved it still further, but even now my head feels slightly thick. It's quite likely something to do with the weather. As I get older I don't like the cold. I've never been very keen on the wet, and dark grey skies have always left me feeling depressed. We seem to have all three at the moment :-(

 Stretching optimism to it's limits, there is a small chance that I may receive some "shiney stuff" to cheer me up today. Sometimes parcels are delivered to business addresses faster than to domestic addresses (or so it seems). I have a couple of things on order that I am looking forward to playing with. One item is a camcorder light. Once upon a time they used halogen lamps that ran off a heavy lead acid battery, and could only operate for minutes at a time. The one I am expecting is LED based. It uses 160 white LEDs to generate a nice bright light that should improve video taken in dim lighted pubs (and probably annoy anyone caught in it's glare). According to the reviews I read I can probably expect to get as much as an hour of continuous operation from it on one set of batteries. Some calculations based upon how much current white LEDs draw suggest that is optimistic, but we'll see.

 The second thing I am expecting is a new Freeview set top box. The one I ordered is a cheap and nasty one, but it has an interesting trick up it's sleeve. It can record programmes onto a standard SD memory card. On very rare occasions that could be useful. Even back to the earliest days of VHS video recorders I did very little "time shifting" of TV programmes. Any recording I did, and once upon a time that was quite a lot, was a recording I wanted to keep. Fast forward back to today, and there could still be the odd programme that I would like to record to keep rather than just watch later. Most TV recorders use hard disk to record on, and it would be a grand hassle extracting a hard disk to connect it to a PC everytime I wanted to take a copy. Pulling out a memory card, and putting it in a PC is far easier, and so I opted to buy a silly little, ugly, crappily made, Freeview box with SD card recording - for around 22 if I recall correctly.
Monday 23rd January 2012
08:07 GMT

  Yesterday was one of those days where the weather tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. The day was not bright, but it wasn't dull either. It didn't rain, and it was only moderately cold. The sky was supposed to clear overnight, and with that, a frost to form this morning. The sky is only partially clear now, and may not have started to clear until later in the night than had been predicted. Just before leaving for my my thermometer was saying 6 C, and the forecast suggests that will only go up by a degree or two during the day. However there should be some sunshine today.

 On Saturday night I indulged in my fantasies and ordered a couple of kebabs to be delivered. One was chicken, and the other lamb. Both were shish kebabs where the meat is grilled, and theoretically low in fat. With heaps of salad it might even have been relatively healthy (apart from it effectively being a double portion). If nothing else, the salad, which contained a high proportion of raw onion, would have been good for the bowels (which allegedly like plenty of fibre).

 It may seem to be incredible, but there is some anecdotal evidence that it was good for me. In the morning I felt quite good - apart from one small detail. Going to Aldi, and lugging back heavy shopping seemed less of a slog than some previous visits. So that was a bit of a change. The one small detail that was not so good was I allowed my blood sugar level to rise too high by eating stuff that is not recommended. On Saturday I ate some of the naughty stuff I had bought from the 99p shop earlier in the day. The downside of letting my blood sugar level rise too high is that despite it being rather cool outside, I was sweating like a pig by the time I had lugged all my shopping home. Having said that, it wasn't until I was actually back indoors that the sweating was at it's heaviest, and I had gone from the cold outside to a very hot living room where I had earlier had the heating on full to dry some clothes. It was a bit hot and steamy in there !

 It wasn't long after I got back from Aldi, and still damp with sweat, that I got a message from Patricia to say that she was going to have a look round the sale that Peacocks have on, and that she had my freshly laundered bed linen with her. I could have waited for her at home, but decided that I was feeling energetic enough to go out again and be nosy while she looked around the shop. After buying a couple of items she didn't hang around, and caught a bus up to the centre of London where she was handing over some certificates to some of her former students.

 I went home with my laundry, and prepared my dinner. It was unusually lean pork chops with roast potatoes and roast parsnips - the latter two being ready to roast frozen ones. I had just put it in the oven when Jodie got in contact. For some reason I didn't think it would happen, but earlier in the week she suggested she could come over to show off her new phone (an HTC Sensation) and give me back the first generation Android phone that I gave her on everlasting loan. It takes a good hour, or more, from her place to mine by bus, so I let my dinner continue to cook until it was almost done, and then turned the gas off while still waiting for Jodie.

 She eventually turned up a lot later than I had imagined. So late that I could have wolfed down my dinner before she arrived, but decided not to. I am quite jealous of her phone. In some ways it is like a scaled up version of my "San Francisco" (ZTE Blade) mobile phone. The only thing I didn't like about it was all the "extras" added by HTC to the desktop and applications. I would much prefer a raw Android interface that I can customise to my desire, and not someone else's (as indeed my own phone now is having "debranded" it to strip out all the terrible crap that Orange adds that ruins the whole phone).

 While she was visiting I opened up the bottle of Ukranian beer that one of my workmates gave me. Jodie is a beer connoisseur/pisshead and was interested in it. I fact for an eastern European beer it was very good. The next stuff we tried was some Cornish mead that I have had sitting around for over 10 years in the back of a cupboard. In fact I had three identical bottles in there given to me by a past friend who had Cornish origins, and who gave them to me as a sort of thank you for something or another I had done for him.

 10, or even maybe more years ago, I hadn't the heart to tell that friend that his Cornish mead was horrible. So I just left in the back of the cupboard until yesterday afternoon. Over that time something has changed. It could be me, or it could be the mead. Instead of tasting like some sort of nasty sherry, which is how I recall it, it had a flavour all of it's own. That flavour, and the accompanying smell, is of honey - which is what mead is made from. I find honey to be a little too sweet for me most of the time, but the mead also had a little it of balancing bitterness about it.

 Jodie finally left around 6pm, and I turned the oven on again to reheat my dinner. I suspect I let it cook a little too long because the pork chops were too dry and chewy - not helped by them being so lean. So I didn't enjoy my dinner as much as I'd hope for. What I did enjoy was the effect of that mead. Being honey based it seemed it must have help my cough. It feels like I slept almost the whole night, last night. I remember waking up once to go for a pee, and I think I may have coughed once or twice, but I was back asleep again before I could commit those few minutes to memory. I did wake annoying early at 4.30am. I could possibly have got myself back to sleep again for the last 30 minutes of the night, but it didn't seem worthwhile.

 I feel mostly good this morning, or at least I did up until about 5 minutes ago. It didn't seem to be terribly exhausting to slip into mad, late commuter mode on my way into work. I wasn't late in any respect, but that didn't seem to be any reason not to try and keep up, and where possible, overtake some of the fastest commuters (this was mainly on the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations). At no point on my way to work did I have any uncontrollable coughing fits, and that makes me feel good in itself.

 It seems that mead has done wonders, and very soon I'll be having some more. It could be very soon. In the last 5 - 10 minutes my throat has become very tickly for no apparent reason. Luckily I have filled one of my hip flasks with mead, and although it was for my commute home - if needed - I may well be taking a sip or two while I'm here at work.
Saturday 21st January 2012
15:24 GMT

  As far as I can recall, there was some sunshine, and a little bit of light rain just blowing in on the wind yesterday. I was feeling a bit tired, and eager to get home last night, so didn't pay too much attention to the weather, but I think it was clear enough that there was still some daylight when I got home. It wasn't noticeably cold, and so I assume it was mild. Perhaps milder than had been forecast.

 After a bit of a misty start it turned out to be intermittently bright this morning, and even with some very dark clouds drifting across the sky, there continue to be very pleasant sunny intervals even now. As I write it is 11.5 C, and I think that is higher than the forecasts were suggesting yesterday.

 After another bad night where my lingering tickly cough kept waking me up, I half got up at 5am. That was a lot earlier than I intended to do, and from time to time I do feel tired. Perhaps the worst bit is that either the sleep deprivation, or the remaining cough, is making me feel insatiably hungry, and also feeling low (which also feeds my hunger). Last night I ended up eating far more than I would have preferred to for maybe the third night running. I had cooked up a mostly low everything, but still very tasty stew for last night. Had I been in the correct mood it would have sufficed for the whole evening, but not last night.

 Today things are a little different. I saw Aleemah for a few hours earlier, and that distracted me from food, but also made it easier to buy some bad stuff. After Aleemah had eaten her breakfast, and I had drunk two halves of beer (one of which was some very tasty Old Hooky from the Hook Norton brewery) in the Catford Wetherspoons pub, we crossed the main raod and investigated Peacocks.

 As has been reported on the TV news, Peacocks are having major financial trouble right now, and may end up closing down some or all their shops. The shop in Catford had posters up in the window advertising 20 - 70% off everything ! Aleemah found a coat that she almost bought. I did buy one top that was reduced to 8, and two more pairs of plimsoles/canvas shoes that were reduced to just 4 each. I seem to have quite a stock of these now, but at that price it was definitely worth getting them. Maybe I can bring myself to throw away a couple of pairs that are quite worn - but not worn to tatters as I would prefer to happen before I binned them. I have begun to appreciate that these very cheap, and usually very comfortable shoes seem to wear very quickly, but paradoxically wear out very slowly.

 Going in Peacocks had nothing to do with food, but a few shops away is the 99p shop, and they do sell junk food by the bucketload. I did particularly want to go in there to buy a replacement for a bottle of chilli sauce that I found had a broken seal when I went to use it for the first time last night. I did get a new bottle, and I also bought lots of other stuff. In particular was a bag of something that I don't think I have ever tried before - tapioca crisps. The particular ones I bought were red chilli flavour, and they were very nice. I have no idea about their fat, salt, or sugar content, but I ought to find out because I can foresee me buying more of this novelty food.

 Apart for some that Aleemah ate, I munched my way through the whole bag after Aleemah had gone home. I also had some very naughty, but very nice ginger and chocolate things. Now I have to try and curb my enthusiasm for more food because I think it is quite likely that I will be getting a takeway tonight. I haven't decided what I'll have, but with no gig to go to tonight, no expected visitors tonight, and no plans that would be affected by stomach upsets etc tomorrow, I feel I have to take advantage of a good night for a takeaway. Maybe it will be kebab, but it could equally be curry or Chinese.
Friday 20th January 2012
07:41 GMT

  After a very soggy morning it did brighten up yesterday. There were even some periods of sunshine, but paradoxically, the brighter the sunshine, the colder it got. As I made my way home from work it was starting to feel rather cool, but it was also bright outside. Finally, after waiting for so long, I can announce that I arrived home in daylight last night. Even after I had been indoors for nearly 30 minutes there was still a bright glow on the western horizon.

 The theory was that with a clear sky the temperature would drop like a stone overnight, and this morning would see a thick frost. Somehow that didn't happen. My outside thermometer said it was 6.3 C this morning, but that was 12ft off the ground. At ground level it was definitely cold enough to give very tingly fingers as I walked from the station to work, but there was no sign of frost anywhere. Once again there could be some sunny spells today, but with a chance of some rain as well. The 6.3 C I measured this morning could well be close to the highest temperature for today.

 The lingering elements of my recent cold continue to give some problems. Last night was better than the night before. I know I woke up coughing a couple of times, but I must have fallen asleep again so quickly that I remember no more than the fact that I woke up those few times. At least that was the situation up until 4am this morning. That was an awkward time to wake up. Not only did it feel like I had a throat full of hair, but I needed a wee as well.

 The idea of a throat full of hair may only be a bit of an exageration. Smudge leaves fur all over the place, and it wouldn't surprise me if some of that occasionally got sucked into my mouth. I can't blame Smudge for it all. I washed my hair last night, and as usual it was flying around all over the place while it was so clean. I am not aware of actually coughing up any hair. I use that mostly as an analogy of what it felt like. Though there could still be some truth in it.

 By the time I could have tried to get back to sleep it didn't seem worth it. So I took my time getting up. With a tiny bit of effort I could have caught the really early train at Catford Bridge (the 06:03), but I decided against it, and went for my nomal 06:33 train. The strange thing is, I don't feel all that bad at all this morning. Maybe it is a sign of the lengthening days that my need for sleep is getting slightly less, but it is more than just being awake that seems OK. I didn't feel like really pushing the limits this morning, but I did seem to have more energy than I might have predicted, and I did use some of that extra energy to rush around on the way here.

 It seems likely that this feeling of wellbeing in the face of still having a disruptive cough is mainly a product of getting home in daylight yesterday. It certainly isn't because I ate healthily last night. My "main course" was relatively healthy - lots of vegetables, very little carbohydrate, and if the meat had been a lot leaner I could have declared it low fat as well. It was the crap I ate before and after that meal that spoiled things. With that in mind, I wonder how much better I might feel once I can start off to work in daylight ? It will be a few weeks before that happens, and a lot longer until I have the luxury of waking up to daylight. Now that will be something to celebrate !
Thursday 19th January 2012
08:27 GMT

  As promised, it did start to get less cold yesterday. When I arrived home from work it was so cloudy there was no sign of the last little bit of daylight after the sun has officially set, but the temperature had risen to 11.5 C. That was a useful improvement on 5 or 6 C, but still not exactly warm. This morning it was still around 11 C, and because it was 5am on a mid January morning I could almost bring myself to say that it was sort of warm. I can't though, because it was, and still is, dark, miserable and raining outside. There is supposed to be a chance that it will brighten up later on today, maybe even a bit of sunshine, but once we lose the cloud the temperature will slip down to 8 C by the evening. Overnight it may slip more, and a frost is forecast for the morning.

 This morning I don't feel that good. I don't think it has anything to do with some slight excesses in what I had for dinner last night. I can't even directly blame the lingering bits of the cold I have, but I can definitely blame it indirectly. All during the evening I felt fine. I was hardly coughing at all, and my nose seemed reasonably clear. There was little to remind me that I had a cold.......until I went to bed ! As soon as I turned the light out and lay down I had to search for some tissues because it seems that my nose became instantly clogged with thick sticky mucus. That triggered off a bit of coughing, and the two stopped me getting to sleep as early as I would have liked. Fortunately I had gone to bed early, and the delay in getting to sleep didn't take me much past my usual time.

 For around four or five hours everything was fine, and I slept OK as far as I am aware. Sometime after 2am, perhaps getting on towards 3am, I woke up with what seemed like an endless supply of thick mucus in my nostrils, and a lot of mucus in my windpipe. Every 2 or 3 minute I was having to reach for a tissue, or sit up for a good cough. It continued like that for hours, and I estimate I only got another half hour of semi decent sleep after that.

 So I feel cheated of sleep, and I had to come to work in the rain, but there is more still. I was very slow getting up, and wasn't ready to go out to catch the 06:33 train. The train I caught was the 07:04 which is a lot more crowded, and I had missed the 06:30 deadline for touching in with my Oyster card for off peak fares. So I was crammed into a hot, humid train, and paying an extra 90p for the privelege of doing so. By the time I reached work I was feeling very damp all over. Some of it was from the rain, and some from perspiration. On top of that I managed to trip at the top of the temporary stairs at Earlsfield station -  fortunately going up and not down them. The only thing hurt was my pride, but I did suffer a wet knee, which is what I went down on, and wet hands as I scrambled to get myself upright again.

 There is potentially one more negative thing about today. It is today that the man from ISO does the first inspection for ISO9001 compliance here at work. I'm not sure if it will affect me directly, but it will annoy me all the same. On the other hand it gives me an idea for a new business venture. I think I'll set up my own set of standards and conditions (and maybe fruit machines) and sell them to local businesses. If they don't comply then I'll send the boys round to sort them out. Maybe I could call the company The Richardsons.
Wednesday 18th January 2012
07:58 GMT

  I think that it did get a little less cold than I expected it to yesterday. By lunchtime the biting cold had given away to just merely rather cold. With very little breeze, there were times when it didn't feel all that bad (though with thermal underwear on I was better insulated than normal). Towards sunset the clouds got thicker and thicker. This morning, at 5am, the temperature was 7.8 C on my outside thermometer, and it was raining. The BBC weather forecast said that the rain was not due until midday. So they got that one wrong as usual. The rain had dwindled to just some fine mist blowing in the breeze by the time I reached Earlsfield station, but it looks like it could rain at any time today. We trade off this misery for temperatures at least as high as 11 C today, and possibly a degree or two more than that.

 For the first time in ages, and certainly this year, I took a brief wander into the park during my lunchbreak yesterday. If I had a little more time, and was feeling exceptionally creative, I may have found something to take pictures of. To the casual eye it was just dead and lifeless out there. I did take just one picture, not at quite the right angle, but the captions say it all.
autumn and winter

 I felt insanely hungry last night. Maybe it was just all in my mind, brought on by the thought of dull wet weather, or maybe fighting another cold is taking more energy than I realise. It's probably both, but more skewed to the former than the latter. I do seem to be fighting this most recent cold rather well. I didn't feel that bad yesterday, and it didn't interfere with my sleeping last night. When I woke up this morning I felt very congested, and up until I was half way to work I was blowing out, and coughing up huge amounts of "stuff". I still find it amazing just how much mucus the sinuses can hold. For the most part my nose has stayed clear until some hidden backwater decides to empty it's load into a hankerchief. Likewise, the airways down to my lungs seem clear until some crevice decides to give up it's load of tar and mucus.

 On the whole I don't feel particularly bad right now, and after a reasonable nights sleep, I hope I'll be feeling good when it's time to go home from work. After work I need to do some shopping. If I am feeling particularly good I may make sane choices about what food to buy. If I don't feel too good I could end up buying something that I probably shouldn't eat - something laden with fat and salt.....and flavour !!
Tuesday 17th January 2012
08:11 GMT

  Yesterday was both very cold, and occcasionally slightly warm. The air stayed cold all day. There was still frost on the grass when I left work to go home. Nearer the middle of the day the air was often very still, and on those occasions the sun felt deliciously warm - particularly on darker coloured clothing. Overnight the temperature stayed around zero, and there was another thick frost this morning. Most of today will be like yesterday, but later in the afternoon the clouds will start to gather, and we are promised that will raise tomorrow's temperature to as high as 13 C. Today, at least during daylight hours, we will be lucky to see the temperature get up to 5 C.

 These cold days are not doing me any good. I wrapped myself up reasonably well to come to work yesterday, although I didn't do up my jacket when I got off the very hot train to Earlsfield. During the day I was a bit snotty, but nothing too bad. Going home from work I didn't do my jacket up at all, and last night I paid the price for that. Not only was I going through tissues wholesale, but it really triggered off some intense coughing. It was every bit as bad as some of the worst days I had during last December.

 The coughing and nose blowing stopped me getting to sleep in any proper sense until around midnight. From then on I seemed to settle down, perhaps helped by leaving the heater on overnight, and I slept fairly well from midnight onwards. When I woke up this morning I found I was feeling far better than when I had gone to bed. In an attempt to stay that way I have put on my thermal underwear this morning. I think it is working. On the way to work I coughed a fair bit, but each cough seemed to clear my throat rather than just being the start of an endless series of dry hacking coughs. My nose didn't seem to run any more than at any time when out in cold air.

 The only problem with my thermal underwear is that it feels constricting, or bulky, or something. Last year I only wore it in the snow, and it was very useful, but maybe this year I should wear it whenever there is a frost - but only if the end of the day is going to be cold too. If the afternoon warmed up I would probably overheat. Anyway, I hope that the inconvenience of wearing thermal underwear is balanced by the convenience of not wrecking my lungs like I did last year when I was coming to work in the icy air while hacking my lungs up. That went on so long it became past a joke. With care, maybe this cold will be better behaved.
Monday 16th January 2012
08:01 GMT

  I don't think the temperature reached much above 4 C despite it being a bright sunny day yesterday. With the skies still clear, the temperature dropped to 0.5 C right outside the rear bedroom window, and significantly lower than that at ground level. I walked to the station under a bright half moon, and glittering frost all around this morning. When I arrived at Earlsfield station there was a fierce red glow on the eastern horizon just before the sun was due to rise above the horizon. That should suggest cloudy weather, but I think that today is going to be another very cold, but very bright day. Cloud is expected, but not before the evening, as far as I know.

 Out of all the things I could or should of done yesterday, I did..........none of them ! I'm not entirely sure where all the time went. I certainly was not bored, and it seemed there really wasn't enough hours available yesterday. One thing I did do was some "cookery", but I am not sure if cooking food counts as doing something any more than going to the toilet does. They are both constants that can be extracted from the equations of working out if the day has been productive, or not.

 It was cooking, or at least the eating of the cooking that hindered me from doing anything physical like walking or sawing up wood. Such things are best done (by me) on an empty stomach. What I had set out to do was to cook some diced beef that had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge long enough that it had lost all it's pink colour, and was the correct shade of light brown that supermarket meat isn't. I thought I would precook it, along with some shallots, garlic, chilli, and sweet peppers, in the morning, and then I could add some more vegetables and finish cooking it for dinner late afternoon/early evening.

 The problem was that it was gone midday when I started the process, and it smelled so nice that I decided that I would have it just as it was for an early lunch. The addition of a can of cherry tomatoes in tomato juice (expensive, but had to be tested once) made a really thick tasty gravy/sauce to the beef etc that had been fried in the beef's own fat. Most of the beef looked fairly lean, but enough fat came out that I didn't need any extra while browning it. It all made for a very rich, very tasty lunch, and afterwards I was not inclined to do anything physical until too much of the afternoon had passed to do anything anyway !

 I had a lousy night, last night. I think it is an allergy to coming to work.Just like on Friday morning, but not for most of the weekend, I had a terribly blocked nose and all sorts of unpleasant stuff seeping out of my sinuses. All through the night I kept waking up to blow thick gooey snot out of my nose. For unknown reasons more of it was coming out my left nostril than the right. Now I am actually at work I feel similar to how I was over the weekend. My nose is mostly clear, and a good blow now and then is all that is needed.

 I think that the bad sleep I had last night will soon catch up with me. In some ways it has already. I found my eyes closing as I read my paper on the train to work. I can foresee nothing much being done tonight except going for a very early night.
Sunday 15th January 2012
09:24 GMT

  When I went out at 8pm last night there was frost glittering on the cars. When I came back home after midnight the temperature had mysteriously risen to 3 C, and the frost had melted. This morning, under a blazing sun, the temperature is back down to 0.9 C, and everything at ground level is covered by frost again. It's going to be another very cold, but sunny day again.

 Last night was good, very good ! I wasn't sure I would have the energy or enthusiasm to go out into the cold dark night, but when the time came all these fears just evaporated. When I got to the bus stop there was just a five minute wait until the bus came. The bus, the 320 to Biggin Hill that I was taking as far as The Crown/Bromley Common, was freezing cold inside, and that was the only negative thing all night.

 When I got to The Chatterton Arms I found Chain almost set up and ready to go. Steve Cox, the bass player was double booked and couldn't make it last night. Instead they had Matt as guest bass player. I've only seem him play once before, and that was at the Halloween gig at The British Oak pub last October. On that occasion he was in fancy dress, and I hardly recognised him with his make up on.
Chain - Jo Corteen, Chris Mayer, Guy Harris and Matt
 Matt is on the right in the picture above. A (temporary) change of bass player wasn't the only change. The Indian restaurant that is opposite the pub had changed it's name sometime recently from The Ruby to The Indian Ocean. The name The Ruby can just about be seen on the awning above the brilliantly lit main shop sign.
The restaurant formerly known as The Ruby
 Whenever there is a guest musician the whole gig can be a bit experimental as they bring their own flourishes to a song. Some of the time Matt may have been unfamiliar with the songs, and just played along in a basic fashion, but on other occasions I could hear him playing "twiddly bits" that Steve would not play. It made it all the more enjoyable.

 As the gid progressed some dancing started. That's always fun, and the two main dancers were rather attractive. I think, but I could be wildly wrong, that it was a mother and daughter team.
dancing at Chains Chatterton Arms gig
 The dancers were attractive, and so was Jo......
Jo Corteen looking good
 I'm not so sure about these two though.....
Kevin and Matt Sharp
 On the left is friend for something like 50 years, Kevin, and on the right is Matt Sharp who guests on drums whenever Guy Harris can't make it (quite frequently). Matt lives very locally so dropped in to watch the gig.

 After many pints of Guinness, and after some great music, midnight struck, and it was time to leave. Kevin and I both go back to Catford, and we had even better luck with the bus than I had on the way there. This time there was no waiting in the cold - we had run the last 10ft to catch what was probaly the first N47 night bus of the evening (or more accurately - morning), and this one was warm inside.

 Back in Catford it was time to get some dinner. I was going to go to the chicken shop, but kevin suggested the kebab shop next to The London & Rye Wetherspoons pub. Since it changed hands sometime last year he rates it very highly, and it seems is a bit of a regular in there. With a bit of company it was OK to hang around waiting for my chicken shish to cook. A kebab after a gig is the more tradtional thing to do, but normally I hate waiting around for it to cook.

 Once everything was cooked I headed off home to eat it, and Kevin did likewise to his home. It may have just been the beer, but it was very tasty, and the onion rings, as recommended by Kevin, were good too. The chips, on the other hand, were no so good. I ended up throwing over half of them away.  While I munched I watched some TV, and then finally got to bed at 2am (I think).

 I woke up, or to be more precise, Smudge woke me up from a dream at 5am with a slightly painful hangover.  The dream seemed to go on for ages in several separate, but related segments. I am unsure exactly what my involvement in it was. Sometimes I was a passive observer, and sometime I seemed to be taking part in it. As far as I can recollect it was all about the making of some sort of trailer for a future episode of Doctor Who. In different segments different people would be brought in with either some part of their body encased in a translucent green gel, and at other other times the green gel was effect was artificially generated by CGI. It was, I think, supposed to show that body part, usually part of a leg or arm, had been immobilised, or otherwise affected by some sort of alien something or another, and presumably the full story would deal with Dr Who taking on the aliens, and restoring the people. Even though it was my dream I was not privy to what the whole story was !

 Once I had fed Smudge, whose antics woke me and allowed me to remember the dream, I went back to bed and managed a couple more hours sleep. I'm still short of that golden 8 hours sleep, but I'll get by for now, and there will be opportunities for more sleep during the day. I am unsure what to do today. I ought to make a start on doing the woodwork that will hold up my sink and worktop, but I don't feel very enthusiastic about that now. I do feel a bit of an urge to go out and do some photography in the bright sunshine. On the other hand I also feel an urge to lay down, do some reading, and doze off again.
Saturday 14th January 2012
14:44 GMT

  After a near cloudless night my outside thermometer was registering the coldest I have seen on it since first buying it, and putting it on the windowsill of the upstairs back bedroom (where it is about 12ft off the ground). It said it was 0.0 C ! The sun has been shining brilliantly since first it rose, but has only managed to raise the outside temperature to 4.8 C. Here in my bedroom at the front of the house, which faces south, that same sunshine has helped the fan heater set on low to raise the temperature to 23.7 C - which may be just a little too warm.

 I had my doubts about going out into the cold morning air, but I did it anyway, and as far as I can tell I suffered no ill effects from doing so. The cold air did make my nose run a little at first, but it was so little that I went out twice more. The first time was to Aldi where the most important item on my shopping list was cat food. Then I went out again to Poundstretcher where I wanted to buy some new bathroom mats to replace the rather decrepit, and smelly ones that were there. I also bought some new curtains for the front room which were in their sale. (I hope they are the right size).

 My third trip to the shops was to the 99p shop. I had hoped to buy some tubes of bathroom sealant and/or other sealing stuff. Today they didn't have any, but I bought some other junk anyway. Unfortunately a lot of that junk was actually junk food that I will do my best to eat sparingly and make last for some time.

 Shopping was not the only thing to keep me busy up until now. In a fit of unexpected exhuberance I've also done all the washing up. Not only have I done everything in the sink, but also some odd glasses, and other stuff that have been sitting on the worktop in a state of almost, but not quite clean for a long time. I then gave the worktop a good clean down. I did more after that too. I actually did all the drying up and put stuff away. These things may sound very normal if you live in a spick and span house, but are something of a rarity round here. It probably comes from living alone.

 I have two more tasks that I may well complete before I go out tonight, but after I've had a lay down, and done some reading. One is essential, and the other a lot less so. The less essential is to hand wash a couple of items, and the very essential is to hand wash my hair, and hand shave my face ! I may even take a second shower !
Friday 13th January 2012
20:18 GMT

  The temperature gradually fell until it was getting quite chilly yesterday. On the plus side, the sky was quite clear as I was going home from work, and it was close to daylight when I arrived back at Catford Bridge station. Overnight the temperature continued to drop, and it was only 2.9 C with a crisp frost at ground level when I woke up this morning. A lot of today was fairly bright, but the temperature only reached about 6 C at it's maximum today. Tonight it is due to plunge to a degree or two below zero. As I write this it is only 3.2 C outside the upstairs back bedroom window.

 My plans for a very healthy dinner last night went awry when Patricia asked if she could pop in. While I was in tesco I bought a couple of sandwiches to tide me over while Patricia was here because I didn't want to stink the place out with cooking smells (cabbage can be quite smelly sometimes). In theory I did make enough chicken, cabbage and leek stew to feed both of us, but I didn't want to inflict my rather unusual low calorie, and highly spiced cooking on the innocent. The initial idea was that I would have my stew after Patricia had left, but she stayed longer than I thought she might.

 So I had a few sandwiches, and Patricia had a sandwich she had bought, and later I had some more sandwiches. It was perhaps unfortunate that having slected a few packs of sandwichs from the sandwich counter I then went on to find more on the reduced price counter. So I had a bit of a selction, and I ended up eating them all before the night was out.

 The reason for Patricia's visit was to pick up her laptop which she had left for me to install some software on. Some of the reason why her stay was extended was because we had a bit of a fight setting up her email accounts in Outlook. The information provided by her service provider was not exactly clear, and it took many attempts to get it all running. In the end I won the fight, and Outlook was able to send and recieve Patricia's email. My reward for this service was Patricia taking away a set of bed clothes to be washed properly in her washing machine. That has saved me from another hand washing fight !

 After coming home from work in the cold air last night I got a little bit wheezy or congested. It didn't seem that bad, and once I was in the warm it soon went away. During the night I was a bit congested, and when I got up this morning I seemed full of snot, and was sneezing. That soon dwindled, but didn't go entirely away. With it being so cold outside I was worried that it might not be a good idea to go out in it. I would have done except for one other thing that I had, and that was a touch of the runs. I went to the toilet as usual soon after I got up, and then a while later I had to dash to the toilet, and barely made it in time. That seemed like an excellent excuse to call in sick to work.

 Apart from a bit of a hollow feeling I didn't have any further gut trouble, but I still had periods of snottiness during today. I don't know if it's a cold or hay fever. It comes and goes - sometimes I feel normal, and sometimes I am reaching for the tissues. Just to make sure it didn't get any worse I have spent a lot of today keeping nice and warm, and I've had a bit of extra sleep.

 The one major thing I have done on my day off is to finally remove most of the debris from the remains of the cupboard under the sink. It was amzing, and a bit scary just how much the cheap and cheeful melamine covered chipboard of the shelf and bottom of that cupboard had rotted. Some of it was just like a crumbly biscuit. I filled one extra strong bin liner with debris, and disposed of that in the wheelie bin. There is a bit more still in there in a small heap that I'll get rid of tomorrow, but I have now exposed a lot of the floor, and soon I can begin the next phase.

 The next phase is to build the new wooden supports for the worktop, and then try and fit them. I am concerned that the worktop could snap as I try and raise it back to it's proper height when I drive those new supports in, but hopefully, if I am careful it will go OK. Once those supports are in I can get down to the business of trying to repair the washing machine. It's possible that I'll get those supports made and installed this weekend, but with Patricia kindly doing some of my laundry, and the ease of hand washing smaller stuff, I don't feel the need to rush now.

 Tomorrow morning I was planning on going out to buy a spin dryer. If I wake up feeling OK I may well still do that. On the other hand I may conserve my energy, or otherwise choose not to aggravate my nose and chest and stay in the warm. There is a Chain gig on tomorrow night, and going out into the freezing night air for that may be enough exposure for one weekend. One thing I don't think I can avoid is going out to buy some cat food from Aldi. I am very low on Aldi cat food, and Smudge is complaining that alternatives, such as Whiskas Supermeat, just don't cut the mustard !
Thursday 12th January 2012
07:44 GMT

  Yesterday's weather was probably similar to the forecasts. During the day there was some cold sunshine, and during the afternoon it got cloudier. By the time I got home from work there was enough cloud to kill the remaining dregs of daylight that cheered me the previous night. Although it remained very cloudy overnight, a change in wind direction has brought a very noticeable drop in temperature this morning. The forecast for today was that it was going to be a wet day, then that changed to it being a dry day with some sunny intervals. So it will probably snow ! The temperature will continue to drop, and with the wind now to the north, the possibility of snow in the next week or two edges closer and closer to possible, if not likely.

 Like life itself, how I feel this morning is something of a mixed bag. Ignoring a few transgressions, I ate very healthily last night. I had a fat free, and (hopefully) very low calorie skinless chicken, cauliflower, and broccoli stew for dinner. This morning I can't quite work out if I feel hungry or if my guts are playing up. If I keep on eating such dinners, and little else for the next 47 years, I would maybe feel like running, but this morning I just had to content myself with feeling like it required a microscopic bit less energy to rush around on my way into work.

 It wasn't that wonderful, but that was the feeling good bit. The feeling bad bit is weather related. The colder air this morning made me feel chesty until I had sat on one warm train, and then an even warmer train. The walk to Catford Bridge station had me feeling bunged up and coughing. Prior to leaving home I felt fine. After 10 minutes on the train I began to settle down, and after being on the even warmer train from Waterloo to Earlsfield I suffered no particular bad effects when I walked from the station to work.

 Tonight I know I will be eating another very healthy meal. I know this because I cooked it last night. Once again it is a stew of skinless chicken with cabbage and leak. I also tossed in a few carrots sticks that were dehydrating in the back of the fridge, and the good bits of a baking potato that had gone to seed. Those bits of potato, not that there is much of it, will add a few carbohydrates that I'd prefer to avoid while I'm in the right mood, but I didn't want to throw it away.

 It is fortunate that I have pre-cooked my dinner because tonight I need to get a few things from Tesco. If I didn't have a covered saucepan of cooked food sitting on the cooker waiting to be reheated I could so easily be tempted into buying stuff that I shouldn't. I'll probably still buy a few things that ideally I shouldn't, but they can sit in the cupboard for another time.
Wednesday 11th January 2012
07:54 GMT

  There was a little bit of sunshine yesterday, but it didn't amount to much. Most of the day was fairly grey with a few very dark clouds appearing from time to time. On at least two occasions those black clouds gave a brief, and very light shower of rain. By the time I was going home from work the clouds seemed to have thinned out, and let enough of the last moments of light after the sun had set to make the grass still look green as I neared home. It can't be long now before a clear day comes along, and I'l get home in pure daylight.

 It is a bit cooler this morning, but only by a degree or so. Some forecasts suggest there could be some sunshine today before it gets very cloudy. The rather colourful red sunrise seems to agree with the idea that bad weather is on it's way. Tomorrow is supposed to be rather horrible, but then the sky will clear, and the temperature plummets for a bright and very chilly Friday.

 I took the evening off hand washing laundry last night. Instead I hand washed my hair (not that there is any other way that I know of). Tonight, with the towel I washed the other day now fully dry, and the clothes horse free again, I can do some more washing. Fortunately no towels will be involved, and the couple of shirts that I'll be doing, and maybe a couple of pillow cases, will be easy work. I may even have time and energy spare to out the finishing touchs to Patricia's new laptop that she has left with me to use my IT skills on.

 I still can't quite get over how much Patricia has changed since unwinding on her holiday. She has offered to do some washing for me in her own washing machine this weekend. That's an offer I couldn't imagine her making last year, and one that I think I might take her up on.  The smelly towel  that I attempted to hand wash, and that took a full two days to dry even with it hung in front of a fan heater (though usually just blowing cold air) still has a smelly corner for some reason. I think I would be very thankful if Patricia was able to give that towel, plus the one I am currently using, a full machine wash.

 Although I intended to have a nice healthy dinner last night, I didn't ! I ate an assortment of stuff. Most of which was close to junk food. On reflection, I don't think that the quantity I ate was all that big, and that may be reflected in the fact that I found myself walking rather energetically on my way into work this morning. On the long drag between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations I seemed to find it quite hard work, and knackering. That was until I noticed I was overtaking a lot of people. It is of course possible that I just happened to be with a lot of people who were walking slowly, but it feels more likely that I was pushing myself a lot harder than I realised.

 It's amazing what a hint of lengthening days can do, and I wonder what I can achieve once spring has really sprung ! At least I assume it's the first hints of spring fever, with longer and less cold days, that has put a spring in my step (even if in mid January it is a little premature - though the higher than average temperatures recently has also tricked things like daffodils to stir before they should). The only other explanation is that there is something in Tesco Chicken Tikka Slices that is actually good for you. I assumed it was just all fat, salt, and other stuff that is best not thought about. In truth, I think that getting so close to getting home in daylight is the real reason for this outrageous extended burst of energy. I wonder if I can keep it up ?
Tuesday 10th January 2012
07:49 GMT

  The weather continues to be grey and bland. Today will see little change from yesterday, and in turn the day before that. The temperature is hovering just above cold, but never getting higher than the blandest of mild. While yesterday was dry, it does seem as if there might have been a shower here in Earlsfield during the early hours of the morning. The roads and pavement look to be slightly wet compared with those of Catford. The condensation on the cars looks heavier here too. The weather forecast does hold out a very small hope for some sunshine today, but I fear it relies on the sun being in exactly the right place as a crack in the clouds passes by.

 I stopped off on the way home last night to buy a small bottle of Persil washing liquid. I also bought some foodstuffs that I really should not have bought. It made for a nice dinner last night, but I do feel slightly unhealthy this morning.  Fortunately it was only a one-off dinner, and tonight I think I'll be cooking up a rather more healthy skinless chicken with green vegetables stew. If I just had that, and ignored a few less healthy things I have in the cupboard and fridge, I would probably feel almost close to an imagined state of semi fitness tomorrow.

 While I may not be eating as frugally as I should, at least I can say I am getting more exercise now. I'm not just talking about the rushing around and general bedlam of commuting, but I am talking about towel wrestling.  Having bought the liquid laundry soap I had to give it a go, and wash the bath towel that I remarked  upon yesterday saying it was starting to get a bit stinky. I also washed the shirt I wore to work yesterday. The shirt was easy, but I still find it amazing just how heavy a full sized bath towel can be when it's saturated with water. It's also amazingly tiring trying to hand wring that same towel out enough to stop it dripping.

 I tried and tried but I couldn't get the towel completely drip free. So I put the clothes horse in the bath, and let it drip overnight. This morning I moved it down to the living room in front of the fan heater that I've left on cold, with just the fan blowing while I am at work. I expect the towel will still be damp when I get home tonight, and in anticipation of that I came up with a cunning plan last night.

 Back in the days when I lived with my mum we didn't have a modern washing machine with built in spin dryer. We had a separate one, and it was amazing. It used to spin so fast that things like t-shirts would come out almost dry enough to wear. Last night I had a look at what was available in the shops, and such spin dryers are still available for 100 - 120 or so. I think I am going to get myself one. Even when I eventually get my washing machine fixed it will still be useful on odd occasions. My washing machine can only spin at 800rpm. That's enough to stop stuff dripping when you hang it up, but separate spin dryers typically spin at 2800rpm, and the extra water spun out would significantly shorten the drying time - particularly in these damp winter months.

 The only choice I have to make now is whether to order one online and go through the palaver of trying to be in when it's delivered, or to go through the palaver of lugging one home on the bus. As I recall, they are pretty lightweight when empty and dry, and the only problem with getting one on a bus is the size of it. Using all my powers of imagination and bullshit, I reckon that the box it's in would by a metre ( one yard) high, and 45cm (18 inches) square. On a quiet bus that would be OK, but I wouldn't want to try and get that on a crowded bus. Maybe I should be such a sissy about it. I've seen women try and get baby buggies 24 times the size of such a box onto rush hour buses that are bulging at the seams. It's amazing they don't get murdered more often !
Monday 9th January 2012
07:50 GMT

  It seems we are being guarded from more seasonal weather by a big area of high pressure that is hanging around the south of the country. The temperature seems to be close to 10 C day and night recently, but this afternoon it could rise to a whopping 11 C !! Like yesterday, there is a lot of cloud in the sky, but it seems more broken up this morning, and with luck we could see a bit of sunshine oozing between those gaps in the clouds.

 After I finally managed to finish writing yesterday I didn't really do anything of significance. I did come close to washing a few pillow cases, but decided to wait until I have bought something better the tablets of washing powder that I have been using. They are handy for the washing machine, but I think some liquid soap may be more appropriate for hand washing. I may well buy some on the way home tonight.

 After I finished writing I had a lie down, as I suggested I might, and then I went down and watched some TV. Out of all the channels I have on my Freeview box only one was worth watching. It was ITV 4, and they were showing the movie "Dambusters". It's one of those films that is still enjoyable after something like the fifth viewing providing each view is 5 years apart. I was pleased to see that they they used the original soundtrack. There were rumours that for the sake of political correctness, all mentions of the name of Wing Commander Guy Gibson's dog had been over dubbed as something like Digger instead of the original Nigger. If I had wanted to watch history being re-written I would have watched my DVD of 1984 !

 While I was watching TV I suddenly felt peckish, and came to the conclusion that I hadn't eaten anything significant since breakfast ( a treat I often allow myself on a Sunday). I couldn't be bothered to cook so I ordered a Chinese takeaway. It may have been a mistake. I did eat far less than I intended, but still felt rather bloated when I went to bed. I felt too uncomfortable to relax properly, and this wasn't helped by my room being rather warm and humid where I had been drying clothes on a clothes horse.

 Instead of being asleep soon after 9pm (or preferably a bit earlier) it must have been gone 10pm before I drifted off to sleep. Fortunately I had plenty of sleep on Saturday night, and I did have a brief snooze in the afternoon, and so I don't think I'll be feeling too tired here at work today. I do feel a little sluggish though, but that may just be the trainers I'm wearing.

 I don't think I mentioned it before, but on Saturday I did some shopping in Aldi on the way back from the pub where Aleemah had eaten breakfast. At this time of year Aldi are having a bit of a clear out, and there were many trays around the place with oddments from their stockrooms being sold at discount prices. I noticed some trainers, and remarked to Aleemah that I would bet they didn't have my size. There were only about five pairs in the tray, and out of curiosity I checked the top pair without any intention to buy a new pair of trainers. To my astonishment they were my size, and so I bought them.

 They seem better than the last pair I bought from Aldi. The last pair I bought were as a replacement for a pair I had bought several years earlier. That first pair seemed incredibly comfortable, and seemed to last for ages (the still have a tiny bit of life in them). The second pair didn't seem anywhere near as comfortable despite being by the same manufacturer, and similar in style. The pair I bought on Saturday seem quite comfortable in most respects, but they do feel a little too spongy for my liking. That sponginess seems to make walking a little harder until you get into a fast stride. At less speeds, and perhaps at an uneven pace when in amidst a load of variable commuters, it is like walking on a wobbly surface or something. Maybe, like a new car, the feel of these trainers will improve once thay have been "run in". Perhaps I need one of those signs that I haven't seen for years and years now "Running in, please pass".

 This morning there have been good things and bad things. A good thing, or maybe it wasn't so good, was finally using up a can of shaving foam that I didn't really like. That can seems to have lasted months, and I thought I would be joyful to start using a can that I thought I liked. The only trouble is that the new can of shaving foam smells horrible, and despite being a gel, and being labelled as "sensitive", it felt like I was trying to shave with a blunt razor. So much for Tesco own brand shaving gel. Tomorrow I'll be breaking out my spare can of Aldi own brand shaving gel (which I am double plus convinced is OK - or was last time !).

 Another bad thing is that the bath towel I started using a few days ago seems to have gone smelly very quickly. It looks like I am going to have to hand wash it, and as I discovered last time, wrestling with a soaking wet, full sized bath towel, is taxing (to say the least !). There was one more bad thing this morning. For the first time in my life I tried a roll on deodorant. All I can say is, "sod the planet, I'm going back to an an aerosol" !!!
Sunday 8th January 2012
13:45 GMT

  Both Friday, and yesterday, were not too bad weatherwise. Both days had some sunshine, and if it had only been a little warmer I could almost have described it as pleasant. Today it is rather grey, and still stuck on that middling temperature of around 10 C - not exactly cold, but not quite mild.

 Friday night was a good night. I got home from work, fed Smudge, and then took a shower and washed my hair. While my hair was drying I had some biscuits and cheese and watched some TV. While I was doing that I received a text message from Jo (from Chain) offering me a lift to The Crown in Greenwich where Chain were playing. Sometimes I am spoilt, but I gratefully accepted, and did a bit of roadieing (roadying ?) in return for the favour.

 Last time Chain played at The Crown it was very busy, but on Friday the crowd was quite thin. From some camera angles it looked like a pub setting from something on TV - enough people to make it look slightly busy, but plenty of space for everyone (and the cameras). There were actually more people tucked away not visible in the photo below.
a quiet night at The Crown in Greenwich
 Maybe being a quiet night was handy for Hannah who did a couple of guest spots during the night. She admits to getting stage fright, and may have been less intimdated without a big crowd of football supporting yahoos leering at her.
Hannah's guest spot at The Crown in Greenwich
 Other highlights of the evening were Jo and her Thundertube........
Jo and her Thundertube
......... and,
Matt Sharp with brand new drum kit at The Crown in Greenwich
 Matt, who was sitting in for Guy, showed off his brand new drum kit.
close up of Steve Cox playing his Warwick Streamer bass guitar
 The final picture from Friday night is one I took on the spur of the moment, and sort of like how it came out. It's a close up of Steve playing his Warwick Streamer bass guitar.

 It was handy I had a lift home on Friday because Chain didn't finish playing until five past midnight. On the way to the pub there were 5 of us in the car - Chris, Jo, Hannah and her mum, and me. Chris and Jo's car is actually a people carrier, but with all the PA and instruments it was full enough that one of the guitars had to be carried on someone's lap. To make a bit more room I was given a lift home by Matt who lives somewhere in Bromley, and who can pass through Catford on the way without going out of his way.

 It was gone 1am when Matt dropped me off near the fried chicken shop. Unfortunately it was closed, and I was feeling rather peckish. I couldn't be bothered to cook anything when I got indoors, and so I munched my way through a whole salami sausage that I had in the cupboard while watching some TV. I can't remember what it was on TV that I was watching, but it was something interesting, and it was only when I found myself almost dropping off to sleep that I hauled myself up to bed.

 That was at 2am, and that is amazingly late for me. It was also amazingly late considering I had to clear the plaqce up in the morning for a visit from Aleemah. I had just enough time to do some superficial housework, and then have a shower before Aleemah was on the phone saying she would be at the station in 15 minutes time ! She brough a DVD with her that was both good and bad. It was a long form documentary about George Harrison. It seemed a bit of a dog dinner as documentaries go, but it had enough interesting stuff to make that forgiveable. It was actually a two DVD set, and we only watched disk one. Next time I see Aleemah I expect we'll watch disk 2.

 Sometimes things happen that surprise you, and I've had a couple of them recently. On Friday evening I got an Email from my friend Patricia to say that she was back from her holidays. She actually wanted to meet up on Friday night, but I was going to the gig. Then she wanted to meet yesterday morning, but I was seeing Aleemah. So we met yesterday afternoon after Aleemah had gone home.

 It was nice seeing Patricia yesterday. It was like seeing the old Patricia. Four weeks holiday away from the job that was almost turning her suicidal worked wonders. The best thing is that when she goes back into work tomorrow she will be handing in her resignation. Hopefully, with that weight of her shoulders, she will stay closer to the Patricia I knew and loved. Maybe it's possible that this year we may even meet up now and then. It can't be correct, but it feels like I didn't see her once last year.

 Patricia left here at about 7pm, and I decided it was high time I had more to eat than just the bag of cheese and onion flavoured mixed peanuts and biscuits I had eaten after Aleemah went home. I am trying to reduce the amount I eat at the moment, but just one bag of snacks, however unhealthy, was not enough for the day. So I cooked up a lamb stew. If it were not for the fact that it was swimming with grease it would have been quite a healthy meal. Unfortunately it wasn't  (but it was very nice) !

 While I was eating there were a few old episodes of Red Dwarf showing on TV, and I stayed up to watch a couple of them before going to bed. I did some reading in bed before turning the light out, and falling asleep very quickly. I have no idea when that was, but I'm guessing it was gone 10pm. I slept rather well, and had a dream about what was more or less a school reunion. Like many dreams it was all mixed up, and set in a sort of indeterminate age where some people were older than others. I can't think what could have inspired such a dream. I have no desire for a school reunion at all, and I can't think of anything I've seen that could have laid a seed for such an idea.

 I got up fairly late this morning. Today I should have started work on my kitchen worktop for my washing reapir project. I did get as far as charging up my cordless drill, and I did spend a few minutes looking for my steel tape measure. I am always losing that thing, and I can remember putting it in a safe, and obvious place last time I used it. The trouble is that what was safe and obvious last time seems not to be now !

 The urge to get the washing machine working again was subdued again this morning after I successfully did another batch of hand washing. It's hard work, but by being careful with what I wear, I didn't have to do as much as I would when the washing machine was working. Later this afternoon I may tackle one of the more difficult jobs - bed linen. I reckon that if I just do the under sheet and pillows today, and do the duvet cover later in the week, I can get by without a washing machine for as long as need........though doing big heavy bath towels is really hard work as I discovered when I did one by hand last week.

 The only other thing of significance I had done so far today is to edit the best 25 pictures of the 49 I shot on Friday night. In this case "edit" could be any combination of cropping, rotatating, adjusting brightness/contrast, as well as that old favourite - red eye reduction. Lately I've been doing that by hand rather thah using the auto options. In some cases I think my handiwork is better that automatic. I've no idea how long it took to do all 25 pictures, but it must have been a couple of hours. Normally I would just pick half a dozen good shots, but I promised I would send Hannah's mum all I had taken of her on Friday night.

 It seems to have taken, with several interuptions, several hours to write this. As I come to the end I think I am looking forward to a lie down, and a bit of reading. When I've had my fill of that I'll see what else I might do.
Friday 6th January 2012
07:43 GMT

   I'm sure, and one of my workmates agrees with me, that the weather forecast for yesterday didn't include rain, but there was some intermittent light rain for a couple of hours after midday. Some of that rain seemed to come from a cloudless sky, but that was only my limited viewpoint between high buildings. The last rain fell a good hour or more before I left work to go home, and the clear sky meant I was back to believing that the days really are getting longer again. Back in Catford it was not fully dark even though the sun had set while I was still at Waterloo (or maybe London Bridge). By the end of next week it should still be mostly light when I reach Catford, and a week later still it will be almost full daylight when I reach home. From then on, things start to look up.

 With the sky clear in the night it might have been a lot colder than it is this morning. I expected a frost, but the temperature must be a few degrees above that. Although there may not have been a frost, it is still plenty cold enough to numb fingers and noses ! The weather forecasts say that there will be a lot of sunshine around the middle part of today. Being bright is wonderful, but it won't be enough to lift the temperature to much above 7 or 8 C. It will be a sort of annoying temperature where it's neither really cold or mild - not cold enough for thick winter clothes, and not close enough to mild for lighter clothes. I find it a difficult balancing act to dress warm enough, and yet not overheat in this current weather.

 The first thing I did when I got home last night was to feed the cat, and the second thing was to get my own dinner prepared and cooking. While it cooked I got changed, and then did some hand washing. Washing some socks, a t-shirt, and an ordinary shirt by hand in a bowl of soapy water wasn't too bad, and I could cope with doing that for ages (I think). Attempting to wash a large towe by the same method was not so much fun. It was very hard work, and I soon ran up a sweat. The good news is that I did finally achieve it. I couldn't wring enough water out of that towel to stop it dripping occasionally after I hung it up. On a warm summers day it would soon be dry, but in this weather it is still very damp after hanging up all night. I think I must attempt to get my washing machine repair project as close to completion as possible by next weekend.

 It was hard work walking past the little supermarket near Earlsfield station this morning without popping in to buy a sandwich or a roll. I've managed to avoid doing so all week, but this morning the temptation was at it's highest. I think that cutting down on some unneccessary food is making me feel better overall, but not always. I guess I had a reasonable amount of energy this morning, but I wasn't rushing around as fast as I know I can do. Some of the reason is that I feel sort of tired this morning. Given the chance I would still be in bed now.

 It is a bit strange to feel like this when I definitely had one of my best nights sleep for some time. I was in bed exceptionally early to do some reading, and then I turned the light out at 8 minutes after 8pm. I think I fell asleep quite quickly, and I slept rather solidly. I have a vague recollection of waking up for a pee once or twice, but essentially I slept right through to just before 5am with no major interuptions. Perhaps this tiredness I feel is because my dinner last night was not terribly healthy. It was a stew made with some meat that was far from lean, and I also used up a couple of potatoes in it.

 Tonight is complicated. I am, or at least I want to, go and see Chain play in The Crown in Greenwich. Even if I am offered a lift again like last time, I won't want to eat anything substantial before I go out, and that means I'll be ravenous (as well as drunk) when I get home again sometime around midnight. Normally I would probably end up in the fried chicken shop, and I may well do so again tonight, but if I have any sanity left I will try and fight that option. I may well cook up a stew before I go out tonight, and reheat it when I get in, or I might try and go straight to bed on an empty stomach - I am sure I used to be able to do that once upon a time. Maybe it's time to try and relearn that skill.
Thursday 5th January 2012
07:48 GMT

   The old adage "red sky at night, shepherds delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning" was very apt for yesterday. There was definitely a red sky in the morning, and by mid afternoon it was raining. The rain wasn't particularly heavy, but it was enough to make my journey home from work more miserable than it could have been. All the cloud also made it a lot darker than I was hoping for. The previous night had been clear, and it was obvious the days were finally beginning to get longer. Last night it seemed to be almost night as I left work.

 Overnight the wind picked up again. It rattled a few windows, and for some may well have rattled a few roof tiles. As I left the house to come to work it looked as if it had not been raining for a while, but I had barely gone 10 paces before some light rain began to fall. It was light in so much as there was not a lot of it, but it felt rather nasty when the wind was smashing it directly into my face, and some gusts of the wind were very strong. One gust was strong enough to wobble my train as it sat in Lewisham station up on the bridge. The rain has died down now, and I can see patches of what in daylight would be blue sky, but I can also see some very black clouds drifting past. Allegedly it will actually be a sunny day today, but it will stay windy, and that will make the slightly less than moderate temperatures feel distinctly chilly.

 I have definitely been eating less over the last few days, although not as little as to say I am on a diet (as I should be), but I am definitely feeling better for it. I called in to Tesco on the way home last night and bought lots of green vegetables, but I also bought one of their very small hot roast chickens. That chicken formed the bulk of my dinner last night. I should have left it at that, but I also bought a half price packet of otherwise hideously expensive special Xmas cranberry and oat biscuits/cookies. They were rather nice, though maybe not nice enough to justify their original price, and maybe not even their reduced price, but that didn't stop me eating rather a lot of them.

 I had fully intended to be in bed early again last night, but that didn't happen as planned. Like a fool I started something on my PC that took at least two or three times as long to complete as I thought it would. Instead of being asleep by 8.30pm, as I hoped I might, it was closer to 10.30pm before I finally was able to go to sleep. As usual I woke up a few times in the night, and lost a bit sleep each time, but this morning I woke up very easily a few minutes before my alarm was due to sound. I'll probably feel sleepy later on today, although just thinking about it has started me off feeling sleepy right now !

 Tonight I probably won't do what I also didn't do last night, and that is to make a start on pulling some of the rubbish out from the crumbling cupboard under the sink. Last night would have been a particularly good time because the wheelie bin should be emptied today, and there was room in it for one more bin liner full of waste.Tonight I may well be in bed incredibly early. I think the latest edition of New Scientist should be in the shops today, and if I can buy it I may well take it to bed to read. It is possible that I may be in bed soon after 7pm. I could read for an hour, and then turn over and get to sleep soon after 8pm. It's probably a plan that is so full of holes that it will fail, but it's something to aim for.
Wednesday 4th January 2012
07:54 GMT

  The rain steyed light and intermittent until late morning yesterday. Then it really started to pour. It was probably sometime around 11am, maybe later, that it reached it's peak. With the wind threatening to blow the roof off, the combined effect was something like the special effects for some Hollywood sea disaster. As the wind whistled between the buildings here it created a sort of vortex right outside my office window. The effect of which was to make it appear that the torrential downpour was actually going upwards as it twisted and twirled around.

 Very soon after that the sky cleared, and we had some warm sunshine to compete with the very cold wind. The sun continued to shine, albeit very low in the sky, almost up to the time when I left work to go home. Then of course it started to rain again. It was only light rain where I was - which was almost on the dividing line between relatively clear sky and heavy clouds. The clear half of the sky meant that over half my journey home was done in daylight, or almost daylight. It can only be another week or two before it is still daylight when I arrive back in Catford after a days work.

 This morning it is dry, but rather cold. There is still a fair bit of wind that is not strong enough to do any damage now, but still quite capable of sending a shivery blast of cold air up your trouser leg ! The sun began to rise nearly half an hour ago, but there is a lot of cloud keeping things a bit dull - except for a few moments when the sky outside my office was lit up in many delicate shades of red.  The forecast is that it wil stay dry and rather chilly today.

 It was actually yesterday morning that I saw something in the road that is very rare these days. It was the tape from inside a compact cassette blowing about. In the days when cassettes were the only significant source of mobile music it was not an uncommon sight.

 I was too tired when I got home last night to do any work on my washing machine project. What I did do though was to take a picture to give some sort of idea of what the big problem is.
rotted wood causing the worktop to drop
 Over the last 25 years water has got down behind the sink and rotted the back of the worktop and it's suppport. While that is part of the problem, it is not the whole problem. The worktop, at the sink end, is, or was, mostly supported by the sides of a cupboard made from cheap chipboard. Water, some of it from the back of the sink, but also from other sources, has rotted/softened the bottom of the side panels, and the weight of the worktop has crushed the rotten chipboard. My plan is to replace those side panels with a timber frame, and do away with the cupboard entirely. The tricky bit is that the new frames will be where the cupboard sides panels are, and I have to find a way of supporting the worktop while I remove the side panels. It's definitely a weekend job, and not one for after work on a dark gloomy night.

 I expected to feel quite bad yesterday afternoon, but in some respects I felt fairly good. It took ages to warm my office up after a fortnight of no heating, and almost all morning I felt shivery. Once I felt consistently warm I felt far better, and also having only eaten fruit all day, I felt like I had more energy as I made my way home from work. That burst of energy soon dissipated once I got home, and after a meal of chicken, leek, and sweet potato stew I began to look forward to getting into bed.

 I can't remember if it was 8 or 8.30pm when I got into bed, but I do know that sleep came very easily. On the whole I slept well (even fitting in a very brief bit of erotic dreaming), but I did wake up a few times. A couple of those times were for a pee, and the others was probably Smudge doing something to wake me up. Each time I did wake up I was asleep again within seconds of my head hitting the pillow. I think I'll be aiming for another early night tonight.
Tuesday 3rd January 2012
08:02 GMT

  It was very bright and sunny yesterday, but the sunshine did little to raise the temperature. It was rather cool, and a stiff breeze made it feel even cooler. We lost the clear skies overnight, and the strong breeze became a strong wind. During the night the rain started to fall. As I came into work the rain was intermittent, and mostly light, but it is forecast that it will continue through the day, and even, perhaps, into tomorrow. The temperature is a little higher than yesterday, and should rise another degree or two by the afternoon, but with grey skies and more rain it is of little comfort.

 There were two significant steps taken in my washing machine project yesterday. As I hoped would happen, I met Kevin and we lugged some wood home to make the new supports for the worktop that is currently partly supported by the washing machine. The second step was the opening of the partly rotted cupboard that I have to replace with the new wooden supports. It is bad in there, but maybe not as bad as I feared. Nothing came roaring out like a bat out of hell when the doors were opened, and apart from a bit of spider web (probably spun by some primordal sheep eating spider) there doesn't appear to be anything else alive in there.

 As a thank you for helping me carry the timber back home I took Kevin to the pub to buy him a couple of pints. Unsurprisingly we didn't stop at a couple of pints. We actually had three followed by a couple of shorts. By the time I left the pub it was dark, and I was feeling very peckish after not having any breakfast or lunch. It also probably comes as no surprise that I ended up in the fried chicken shop where I bought a pile of spicy grilled chicken wings.

 As I munched those at home I was flicking around the TV channels trying to find something worth watching. Nearly all my Freeview channels were dead, and even those that did display a picture showed a mostly frozen one. For some time now I had noticed that my Freeview reception had been getting worse, and until yesterday I blamed it on my aerial system. A check of the analogue channels showed perfect reception, and that made me think that the signal was OK. So I brought the never used Freeview set top box down from my bedroom, and plugged it it. On that I had perfect reception. So it looks like my old Freeview box has failed. It hasn't lasted long - it seems like it was only as little as a year ago that I pulled it out of a skip (!).

 I managed to get to bed slightly early of the appropriate time for bed on the night before a day at work. It did me little good though. I couldn't get comfy in bed, and Smudge decided to play up all night. It was probably the spicy chicken wings that had me feeling very hot and uncomfortable in bed despite it being rather cool in my bedroom. So I tossed and turned all night getting a bit of sleep here, and a bit of sleep there. I have a feeling that I will be half asleep this afternoon, but for now I am at work on time, and feeling reasonably OK. I have a feeling I'll be in bed rather early tonight, and I won't be clearing out that cupboard under the sink.
Monday 2nd January 2012
09:44 GMT

  Sometime overnight the warm wet air that had kept the temperature up to around 12 C, and the sky covered in grey cloud, went away. This morning the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it's a bracing 6 C. Apparently it will stay like this for most of the day until that warm wet air comes back in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Looks like my first day back at work will be heralded with copious rain, and temperatures back up to 12 C.

 All I managed to do for my washing machine repair project was to start clearing off the draining board and worktop yesterday. I have still to open the under sink cupboard to find what lurks in there, but the time for that is coming closer and closer. All being well, I'll be meeting Kevin later this morning, and he will assist me in lugging some wood back to here that I'll be making the new support frame from. It depended on two things. The first was that it was not pouring with rain - which it isn't. The second was that Kevin was sufficiently well from a head cold that he recently started - which he may not have. If Kevin is unavailble I may attempt to lug the timber back by myself. It shouldn't be too heavy, but it's length will be tricky.

 This morning I am wearing one of my hand washed t-shirts. Apart from one tiny mark, it seems to have come out quite well, and that is just as well because I may have to do some hand washing for a little while yet. Even once I have extracted the washing machine from under the sagging worktop it will be a little while before I can complete the repair. On the assumption that it is the brushes for the main motor I can't actually order new brushes until I've inspected the motor. It seems that my machine could use either of two different motors, and I have to find out which it actually uses before I can order the brushes. Allowing up to week for them to be delivered means I could be without a washing machine for another two weeks.

 Maybe it will be worth the wait. Removing the under sink cupboard, and providing a new secure support for the worktop will be a good thing. It will mean the next time the washing machine goes wrong, and with it now 10 - 15 years old I have to believe it will, it will be easy to get at it without all the aggro I am going through now. It is hard to explain just why I hate all this messing around, and why I try and put it off for as long as possible. I guess I just don't like anything to do with plumbing. It probably comes to devoting my life to electricity or something.

 It is going to be a revelation going back to work tomorrow. In theory I should have been practicing getting to bed early, and getting up at 5am again. I did get to bed a bit earlier than of late last night, but I didn't really get to sleep until gone 10pm. This morning I didn't wake up until 6pm, and after I had fed Smudge, checked my email, been to the toilet a couple of times, I felt ready to go back to bed. I did go back to bed, and I slept again until almost 9am. It seems my body is well out of sync with the realities of working life now, and I can see myself getting home from work tomorrow so tired that even if I am not on the point of collapse, I will be most reluctant to start on woodwork etc.

 In theory I could start, and maybe finish the woodwork today, but if Kevin is available to help me carry the wood home I'll be treating him to a couple of pints afterwards. A couple of pints could turn into a couple more, but even if it didn't those couple of pints will probably make me doze off this afternoon. Given the choice between getting pissed and clearing out that under sink cupboard, I would choose getting pissed everytime !
Sunday 1st January 2012
15:03 GMT

  Yesterday stayed mild, but late in the evening it started to rain. It's mild today, and while the morning was dry, it is now pouring with rain. This morning the cloud was relatively thin, but it's now so thick that it is almost dark outside. There could be some advantages to this warm (12.4 C) moist air, but I think it would actually be nicer with frost and bright sunshine. Unfortunately it seems like these dull wet days may continue for a while yet.

 I felt completely non-motivated yesterday, and hardly did a thing. It has been hard work keeping myself amused over this holiday period, and I think I let my guard down too low for the gig on Friday night. Either that or I had a hangover from all the Guinneess I drank there. More likely it was a combination of things, with the aggravation of all the myriad problems to do with rehabilitating my washine machine playing a big part. It all added up to me feeling very pissed off yesterday.

 I ended up watching more TV than I have in ages, and also laying on my bed dozing off a lot. Early in the evening I made one positive decision. That was to finally order a large takeaway curry. I had been meaning to treat myself to one since the Friday night before Xmas eve, but for various reasons never getting around to it. Last night I did, and I have to say I found it very enjoyable.

 As I often do, I ordered enough for a second meal, not that I have ordered a curry now for months and months. Last night I had Chicken Bhuna with rice and some vegetable curry. Today I've had Nepalese curry with cauliflower bhaji and Bombay aloo. Both were very enjoyable, and it may have been the anticipation of today's dinner that inspired me to take the very first steps towards the rehabilitation of my washing machine.

 I have to confess they were very small steps, but at least it was a start, and I may have more planned tomorrow (though that depends on a couple of circumstances beyond my control). Late this morning I crossed my fingers and powered up the washing machine on the "Drain" setting. That setting only turns on the water pump, and that worked OK to pump all the soapy water out. Once drained I could open the door to retrieve the two t-shirts, two towels, and dishcloth that I was washing.

 I finished off the washing by hand in a bowl in the bath. As far as I can tell, the end result was as good as a machine wash apart from no application of fabric conditioner. It may be the method I'll be using for laundry for a week or two until I finally get a working washing machine again. It's good enough for a couple of shirts, but I don't think I'll be able to wash sheets that way.

 Tomorrow, if it's dry, and if Kevin is available to give me a hand, I'll be going to Wickes to buy some timber. Then, at some point that won't be tomorrow because we'll be going for a drink after getting the timber here, I'll start the tedious task of building new supports for the worktop that is currently being partly held up by the washing machine. It will be quite a good thing to do. I haven't used the now partly rotted cupboard under the sink for the last 20 years, and getting rid of it will open up some more floor space that might be more useful than a cupboard. Maybe I'll put Smudge's litter tray under there where it's out of the way.

 I'm full of curry right now, and I think I feel a snooze coming on. When I've had a lay down I may be brave and do a little more to the washing machine project. That will be to put on my bravest face and open the cupboard under the sink and see what lurks in there. I predict it will be a load of rotting wood inhabited by all sorts of things that live in such an environment. I know there are few 25 year old household cleaning items in there, plus an ancient refill pack for a foam fire exstinguisher ! Finally, there will probably be bits of plaster and wallpaper where water has been going down behind the sink for the last 20 years. All in all it is going to be a very unpleasant mess ! You might even begin to understand my reluctance to start such an horrendous job.