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December 2015
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My Diary/Blog For the Month of December 2015

Thursday 31st December 2015
18:35 GMT

  Yesterday didn't seem like it was that cold - my thermometers agreed that it was around 14° C a lot of the time, and yet a strong breeze made it feel much cooler to exposed skin. I was expecting it to rain yesterday, and I think it did, but not really while I was paying any attention to the outside world. The forecast said that there could be a sunny morning, and maybe some sunshine in the afternoon with a splash of rain between the two. That sort of did happen, but I was travelling and can't really say exactly what happened in Catford. My own experience was that it was a gloriously sunny day up to the time I popped into a pub for a quick drink at approx 1pm, and while I was in there, there was a short, sharp shower. After that there was some patchy sunshine, and it stayed dry. As far as I know there is still a good chance of a frost tomorrow morning, and tomorrow is going to be a rather cool day.

 I dared to go out shopping without a coat yesterday. I have to admit that it felt a lot colder than the air temperature lead me to believe. It was the fault of the strong breeze ( or should that be described as wind ?). I bought some stuff from Aldi - including an Airfix kit of a Hurricane to go with my Spitfire kit that I bought last year. Could 2016 be the year I make these kits ? I suppose it was a subconscious idea not to tempt myself, but I didn't buy much food in there. I did buy some sausages, and if well cooked in the oven, they can be very slightly, just about, but not really, low fat. I also bought a couple more bars of the Stevia sweetened sugar free chocolate. I still haven't made my mind up about that stuff. It is fairly tasty, and it's food credentials look as if it should be mostly harmless, but it sort of worries me. So I try and eat it only occasionally.

 After I put away the stuff I bought in Aldi I decided I felt good enough to go out again. With hindsight it may have been a mistake. I went out in a large circular shop via the 99p shop, Poundstretcher and the £1 shop. I was sure one of those shops had some hard spectacles cases. I have one that I bought from one of those shops once, and I wanted another - maybe 2. I couldn't find one anywhere, but I did manage to buy quite a lot of stuff. Some of it was cleaning products, one of it was some chocolate things, and two of it was a couple of bottles of Diet Pepsi. I bought the latter after finding that Pepsi Max was not so revolting as I had once thought, and it turns out the Diet Pepsi is quite passable, although it does help if it is very well chilled. I think it was Poundstretcher doing 1.5l plus 33% free (= a standard 2l bottle) bottles for a reasonable 89p each.

 Going out in just a t-shirt in that cold wind didn't feel too terrible at first, but when I added carrying some heavy (4 litres of cola) unbalanced load, I found that I had strained my chest soon after getting home. I didn't have any trouble at all while I was out, but once I relaxed my chest began to hurt, and it continued to do so for almost the rest of the day. More worrying was that I also seemed to develop an occasional cough for a while. That was quite uncomfortable, and if it had got worse it might have been very unpleasant.

 I managed to get to sleep relatively early last night. It may have been helped by a couple of large glasses of Jim Beam "Devil's Cut" over proof bourbon. These days I tend to drink my spirits neat, but that stuff is only nice when about 50-50 with cola, and then it is very nice. I seemed to sleep quite well, and while I can't say I woke kicking and screaming, I didn't feel as terrible as usual, and that prompted me to to do what I was considering doing yesterday - going out to stretch my legs for a while.

 It was not warm by any stretch of the imagination this morning, but it was at least 10° C, and it was definitely very sunny. So I decided it was time to use my Senior Railcard. There were many places I could have gone to, but I decided I would go to Herne Bay. I checked online that it would be something like £17 return using my Railcard for one third off the usual fare. What I couldn't check was the fare from the boundary of where my 60+ Oyster Card would take me for free. It turned out that using the two cards brought the fare down to £14.15, and that seemed pretty reasonable to me.

 So reasonable that I didn't formulate any plans to make the most of it by trying to spend as long as possible there by walking far and wide - and yet that is almost what I did. I thought I was terribly out of condition, and that my chest would start to play up in the cold air. It turns out I was only a bit out of condition, and I walked far and fast enough to work up a bit of a sweat at the end (when I went into a pub near the station for a pint of liquid breakfast). It seems that working that hard also warmed me up enough for my chest to be absolutely no bother at all - at least not while I was walking. I felt a few twinges while sitting on the train after an hour, and had to change my posture a few times.
today's walking route
 There is some debate as to just how far I walked. I was tracking myself on two mobile phones using two different apps. The app on my Firefox phone showed that I had somehow managed to swim in a ruled straight line from the end of the pier to the road entrance of the harbour. I speculate it lost the signal between those two points, and just assumed a straight line between them. It totalled it all up to a 3.25 mile walk - which was almost impressive after so little practice in the last 12 months. The app on my Android phone plotted the route more accurately, and it is shown in the picture above. (In reality the left and right portions should be stacked one above the other, but it was more convenient to split and rejoin them side by side). That shows I walked almost 3.5 miles, and just maybe the distance from the red marker, which is where I stopped for a pint of beer, to the station is the missing 0.05 miles that would round it up to an actual 3.5 miles.

 Coming home was just as tedious as the 2 hour journey getting there - except it was worse ! I have to change trains at Bromley South station, and the connection on the way to Herne Bay is a reasonable 9 minutes. On the way home it means a 25 minute wait. That is unacceptable, and it pisses me off to the extent that I left the station and caught the bus back to Catford. On rare occasions it works, and on other occasions it can go badly wrong. Today I only had a one minute wait for the bus, but so many people got on at all the stops in Bromley that it took ages to get to Catford, and on this occasion if I had waited patiently for the connecting train I would have been home 7 minutes earlier.

 I felt rather tired when I got home, and my legs were beginning to tire again. They had been fine in Herne Bay until the last uphill bit to the station. That made them feel tired, but not to the point where I couldn't have pushed myself to have gone a bit further. Once I got home I dumped al my stuff, phones, camera, map and stuff in the living room, and went out to the kitchen to prepare some breakfast (a 3pm breakfast !). It was a bit tragic that after going all that way to Herne Hill and back again without anything worse than slightly tired legs, I stepped the one step down into the kitchen, and one of my ribs decided to jump out of it's socket (or whatever it does). It was a moment of agony, and for a second or two I couldn't even bend over to grab a bottle of cola out of the bottom of the fridge. My chest/rib/sore bit has calmed down a lot now, but it is still very tender, and I have to watch my posture very carefully.

 Tonight is new years even when celebrations typically take place everywhere, and reach a frenzy at midnight.It is possible the noise might keep me awake, although it is usually reasonably quiet around here apart from fireworks going off in the vicinity. I am not doing any celebrating tonight, and after all the fresh air I got today I may well be fast asleep before midnight.

 It can't be denied that a new year starts tomorrow, and we'll all have to get used to putting 2016 on stuff. Other than that I have no major plans to do anything different next year - apart from to try and make as much use of both my 60+ Oyster Card and Senior Railcard. In theory that should get me a little fitter. I suppose there is one unusual thing I think I want to try in 2016, and that is to use my 60+ Oyster Card a bit after work. I like to rush home as soon as possible after work, but sometimes there is no real need to apart from habit, and maybe I ought to try and change that.
Wednesday 30th December 2015
11:02 GMT

  Yesterday did see a few sunny intervals, but I can't really recall being impressed with them - although on reflection, there was a very handy period of brilliant sunshine that I took advantage of to take a couple of pictures of some clothing that arrived here as a Xmas present for my friend Patricia (who is currently in Argentina, and will have to be patient until she is back in the UK and able to see it for herself). I can't remember if it rained like it was supposed to yesterday. I don't seem to recall any rain, but I do remember that it was a generally cooler day than those of late. Today started off with some nice sunshine (most of which I missed because I was in bed with the curtains drawn - as were my eyelids for some of the time). For the moment the temperature has gone up again. I am measuring 14° C, although the forecast says it should be 12° C. Sadly it won't stay that way. We are losing the sun, and the clouds are getting thicker. In a couple of hours it could be raining quite hard, and it will continue to rain, sometimes hard, and sometimes soft, until the end of the day. Tomorrow, the last day of the year, is going to be rather cool, maybe no more than 10° C, and after quite a lot of cold sunshine it will rain for a few hours in the early evening. During the afternoon, and then into the evening and night, the temperature is forecast to go right down to just 2° C. The new year is going to start with a frost !

 Yesterday I suggested I might be feeling good enough to wash a few shirts, and I was ! I can't actually go as far as to say that I felt good yesterday, but it did feel like I had stopped being assaulted. Washing those shirts didn't tax me too much, and as is often the case, the exercise straightened out a few twisted muscles/ligaments/ribs in my chest...although it did leave a few short lived aches in my arms and wrists. Most importantly was that I felt satisfied in having been able to do the job. (Hand washing clothing can be wonderfully therapeutic in so many ways).

 With the shirts hung up to dry I wondered what to do next. The obvious thing has been obvious any time I have been bored since the holidays began, and that was to try out my mini digital video recorder on some old VHS recordings. That meant getting an old and dusty VHS machine dusted and ready to work. Happily for me it is a well made, rather posh in it's day, Panasonic machine. They were noted for their general quality in both construction and video quality, and that is why I saved it from a skip despite the control panel flap being missing - I can only control it with a remote control.

 I hooked it up to the digital recorder, and connected the recorder to my TV to see what was going on. The results I got were encouraging, but not perfect. I was feeding it some pretty poor quality video, and of course it did nothing to improve it ! In fact the very, very simple conversion it does from 25 frames per second (UK TV standard) to 30 frames per second (American TV standard) does degrade the picture a little. The biggest problem was actually the sound. The recorder is not designed to record high quality sound, although I don't know why not - it would add very little overhead to the processing and file size, but maybe there were patents they didn't want to pay for. The greater problem is that I think the SCART output from the VHS machine was overloading the input of the digital recorder. There is an alternative, RCA socket, audio output on the VHS machine, and maybe that will be better in my next experiment.

 So my first experiment with that recorder was close to a failure, but it showed promise. I could have done more yesterday, but I wanted to have a bite of lunch, and relax a bit before going out for a beer with the Thursday night guys. The only problem is that the hot, once low calorie before I added some cheese, meal seemed to stir my stomach up, and instead of walking to the bus stop at 4.30pm I was sitting on the toilet !

 I finally left at 7 minutes to 5pm. 7 minutes is not a lot of time to get to Beckenham where the pub was, and I would have used most of it walking to the bus stop. Then there was a 6 minute wait for the next bus - which was lucky considering they are every 15 minutes, and I could easily have just missed one. The traffic through Catford was rather heavy and slow, and yet with all that against me, I was somehow in the pub just half an hour late.

 I could have stayed and got quite drunk last night. Initially my stomach still felt a little odd, but that passed after my first pint, but I still decided not to risk it, and besides which I thought I might want to get up early this morning and go out exploring. So I stuck to just three pints, and then wished the guys happy new year before walking to the bus stop.

 Three pints of average beer seems to just happily take me to the edge of drunkenness without going over it. I just felt nice and relaxed, and no more so than on the bus - which is very strange for me. The bus was very lightly loaded for most of the journey back to Catford, and it seemed to be going not particularly fast, but quite steadily with only brief pauses at bus stops. I somehow managed to find a comfortable way of sitting in the seat, and for 10 - 20 minutes I almost enjoyed the journey home.

 On the way home I considered the possibilities of what to have for dinner when I got in. I decided I would definitely not be going in any takeaways on the way, but I didn't rule out the possibility of ordering something when I got home - and that's just what I did. I ordered some grilled peri peri chicken. It takes too long to prepare and cook when waiting in a shop, but the wait is OK when at home. In theory it is grilled, and should be relatively fat free. I am not 100% convinced mine fully satisfied those statements, but it could have been a lot worse.

 Now the only problem with having that spicy food so close to bed time was that it made me feel uncomfortable in bed. On top of that, I just didn't feel too much like sleeping anyway. I guess I was sort of enjoying feeling quite a lot less ill than I was on previous days - well most of the time I was. I still had a few twinges here and there.  I am unsure what time I actually went to bed, and I have no idea what time it was when I finally fell asleep. All I do know is that when I woke up around 6am I felt like I needed more sleep, and I felt every bit as bad as I did when I was trying to get to sleep 5 or 6 hours previously.

 I got up for a bit, but eventually I went back to bed, and I probably slept for a couple of hours even if it felt like I was awake most of the time. The way chunks of time seemed to pass suggests I must have slept even if I didn't feel I had. This morning I don't feel ill like I have for the last 3, 4, 5, 6, (?) mornings, but I definitely felt pretty crappy. It wasn't the sort of feeling that would inspire me to quickly get washed and dressed and get on a train to the seaside despite that being one of the possibilities I had been thinking about for today.

 Now I am washed - body and hair - and I am coming to the end of my writing, I think the next step has to be to get into street clothes, and go out and get some shopping. I haven't been in a supermarket for 7 or 8 days now, if I recall correctly, and there are a few things that I need. Plus there could be some bargains to be picked up if I am very lucky. After that I don't know what I'll do, but another experiment with my mini digital video recorder would probably be a good idea. Plus I still have a pile of hi res pictures of my visit to Waterloo and Blackfriars to upload to Flickr before I forget them.
Tuesday 29th December 2015
09:12 GMT

  It wasn't very warm, but at 12° C yesterday wasn't very cold either, but better than that, for all the hours that mattered, it was gloriously sunny ! Today is forecast to be different. This morning's temperature will only be 11° C, but just after midday it will rise a degree for a couple of hours before falling to just 10° C for the rest of the afternoon, and then into the evening. This morning, and this afternoon will see some sunny periods, but a splash of rain is forecast for 1pm. Tomorrow is supposed to start dry, but from midday it will start to rain. For a few hours it will be quite light rain, but a lot heavier afterwards.

 Yesterday was a day when I felt like I had accomplished something useful, and for a while I felt quite good.....well almost felt quite good. I set out to go to Waterloo station feeling rather rough. Walking to the station was OK, but once on the train my chest gently hurt, and I had a bit of a headache. It was one of those headaches that feels like your head has been slightly over inflated. The pain is incredibly mild, but it just doesn't feel right, and is annoying. I guess the ache in my chest was quite similar.

 The journey to Waterloo was straightforward, although slightly complicated compared to the direct route via Waterloo East station. Engineering works for the Thameslink project around London Bridge meant that trains from Catford Bridge were terminating at New Cross. This has been going on since Xmas, and they did rehearse it on a few weekends leading up to Xmas, but yesterday was the first time I experienced this novel situation.

 At New Cross I changed to a London Overground service to Shadwell. Terminating at Shadwell was a novelty too, and one that I was almost tempted to experience, but I wanted to get to Waterloo, and the Overground service was annoying me a lot. When you get on an Overground train at any intermediate station the only problem is the terrible longitudinal seating. It seems so unnatural to sit sideways on to the direction of travel ! Things are far worse when you get on at a terminus - particularly one like New Cross that has no obvious departure board (though it must have one somewhere) and you have no idea what time the train is due to depart. You sit there bored while people open the doors and get on. A minute, maybe less, later and the doors bleep and close, and you think this must be it, departure time, but then you notice that the open button is still lit, and the train is not ready to depart. Ages later a recently opened door starts to bleep, and this time the open button goes dark. We really are departing at last !

 It's only a couple of stops to Canada water where I change to a Jubilee Line underground service to Waterloo. Without that horrible wait at New Cross it might even be a viable alternative route for any time. It's only about 10 minutes on the Jubilee line to Waterloo, and probably by pure chance there was zero waiting time at Canada Water for my Jubilee line train - it pulled into the platform at the same time I got off the escalator onto the platform.

 Waterloo station was surprisingly busy - the ticket office doubly triply, quadruply, quintupley so ! There were also a lot of policemen about - some of them armed. Us ordinary commuters don't get that much protection, but I guess tourists are special. Anyhow, it didn't take long to track down my quarry, and there were two of them ! They were class 43 diesel locomotive hauled Great Western Trains. Most of the time Waterloo station is used exclusively by South West trains, and so these Great Western trains were a novelty - a thought shared by quite a few camera wielding spotters !
two class 43 power cars at
                    Waterloo station
Two class 43 power cars, each with a rake of coaches behind it, plus another power car on the rear, on adjacent platforms at Waterloo station. The one on the left formed the 11:39 to Bristol Temple Meads service.
the 11:39 disappearing out of view after
                    leaving Waterloo
A view of the 11:39 after departing Waterloo using extreme zoom so the scene is foreshortened, and giving the rails that tangled look.

 After taking some pictures of the trains I investigated the ticket office. For some reason I expected it to be fairly quiet, and I would be able to buy my Senior Railcard there. I have no idea how I could have been so stupid. The place was ram packed, and the queue spilled out onto the concourse. It felt like the back of the queue would not be served until sometime in the new year. I declined to wait there that long to buy my Railcard, and evolved an alternate strategy. I decided to walk to Blackfriars station. It is a big station so the ticket off should have been open, and it wasn't too far to walk - I'm guessing about a mile, but it may have seemed longer because I was unfamiliar with the area. Along the way there were a few photo opportunities.
the OXO tower
I've seen the OXO tower many times from the train, and I think I have even walked past it, but I have never photographed it before. Now I have, and I think it looks rather splendid framed by the trees and stuff against a lovely blue sky - one of my more arty shots....maybe.
guarding the City Of London
This charming little fellow guards one of the ways in to the City Of London - that of Blackfriars Bridge. It is full of occult symbolism. Which really does make you wonder if the Square Mile of "The City", with all it's banks and stuff, really is run by a lizard conspiracy !

 When I reached the station's entrance on the south bank I found the ticket office was closed. It was suggested to me later that the ticket office on the north bank entrance was more likely to be open, but by then it was too late. It was almost too late to catch the next train back to Catford. The departure boards said that the next train from platform 3, two flights of stairs above me, was due in 30 seconds ! For some reason I knew that the train would be late leaving (it was a Thameslink service after all) and so I legged it up those two flights of stairs, and down the platform in time to get on the train with still one minute to spare before it left the station three minutes late !

 Now the funny thing is that after walking for maybe a mile, I was able to get close to running up those stairs with very little difficulty. I was expecting to run out of breath, or my legs to sieze up at any moment, but nothing happened apart from some sweat a bit later on. I was breathing a bit deeply, but nowhere near gasping. It almost make me wonder if on a good day I am now capable of running long short distances - longer than just the rare 20ft sprint to a bus stop - maybe a 30 ft run !

 Of course once I had been sitting on the train seat for a while my chest started to ache, but I feel there is a reasonably strong chance that it is a matter of posture rather than anything to do with my previous exertion. As well as the rather inconclusive visit to the doctor last September where she agreed it did seem to be some sort of muscular problem, I have also done a fair bit of research on the internet about this chest pain. It is no substitute for a competent and interested doctor (not easy to find), but the consensus of opinion from many places kept coming back to what I had tentatively diagnosed before last September, and that was Chostochondritus (or a variant of it). Having some sort of winter bug is making it a bit more persistent and annoying lately, but essentially it remains unchanged. When I collected my last prescription I was "ordered" to make an appointment for a routine check up with a nurse soon. I suppose once the new years over I had better do that, and see if I can escalate my chest problem up from there.

 So I had a slightly uncomfortable journey back to Catford. That discomfort started to dissipate once I got moving again when I got off the train - once again pointing to a posture problem. I had a nice surprise when I got off the train. I found the ticket office open. It was possible that by then the ticket office at Catford Bridge had opened too, but it wasn't open when I had set off in the morning. There was no queue at all at the Catford ticket office, and I took advantage of that to finally buy my Senior Railcard.
Senior Railcard
 I must say that the Senior Railcard looks a bit bland compared with how I thought they looked, and it doesn't even need an accompanying photocard now. That seems rather low security, but it's not my problem. Anyway I have it now, and it starts today ! At one time I was even considering using it today, and may be I might have done if it were not for a couple of things. I had a quick look at the sort of savings I could expect, and if I recall correctly a return ticket for travel to Herne Bay starting on the 09:33 train from Catford would cost £17.70 instead of £26.?0. That's a saving of about £9, and three journeys like that would almost pay for the card (£30). More importantly, dropping the price below £20 makes it seem like the sort of journey you could do just for fun. As soon as the fare hits £20 it seems like a serious journey that needs justifying in some way - at least that is how my psychology works.

 Apart from the aches and pains I described when first going out, and the chest ache when sitting down on the train home, I felt relatively OK while I was OK (even if it doesn't seem that way). While walking, and even going up that double flight of stairs, I seemed to have no lack of energy. However that all came to an end when I got home. It all caught up with me, and I had to have a small amount of breakfast followed by a good hard rest for quite a few hours before I felt up to doing anything more. I didn't actually do more because there was nothing I wanted to do, although I did watch a couple of episodes of vintage Dr Who on BBC4 - and that was very fortunate because it was followed by the first of a rather excellent Royal Institution Xmas lecture that I didn't even realise was on.

 That lecture, considering it is really aimed at kids, didn't finish until 9pm. I thought that was rather late (although maybe it was a repeat on BBC4 from earlier in the evening on another channel ?). I switched off the TV after that and went to bed to read for a bit. It turned out that I should have tried to read for a lot longer because I just couldn't seem to get to sleep when I tried. I think it was close to midnight before I fell asleep. From then on I couldn't tell if I was dreaming or awake on quite a few occasions. I guess it was probably a mix of both.

 It was partly because of my bad night that I didn't fancy taking a joy ride to Herne Bay today. For the first hour, and maybe two, after getting up I didn't feel like doing much at all. I was sort of in pain, but it wasn't pain like pain it was pain like something else - probably something all in the mind. However, a couple of painkillers do seem to have made some sort of useful improvement, and I am thinking I probably ought to do something or another sooner or later. Later will almost certainly include going out for my traditional Thursday night drink being held on a Tuesday this week. It's in Ye Olde George pub in Beckenham this week. Other than that, I think I feel OK to wash a couple of shirts today, and I have made a tiny move towards finally getting my old VHS video recorder out to play a tape or two into my new mini digital video recorder. All that, and some reading and snoozing should see me through the day. Maybe tomorrow I'll go out and play on the trains or something.
Monday 28th December 2015
08:53 GMT

  The grey, but mild weather continued yesterday, and continues today.....or does it ? As I write this the sun is trying to break through the clouds. It actually looks quite bright to the east. It's obvious the cloud has thinned a lot because the temperature has dipped to just below 10° C. It was up near 14° C for much of yesterday. The weather forecast on the BBC's website has finally been updated and it shows the temperature slowly falling over the next week. Next Friday could be sunny, but rather cold at just 7° C. Today is shown as bright and sunny, and the temperature should rise to 12° C soon. Tomorrow may be very similar.

 I began to feel a bit better yesterday, but not enough to be tempted to go out and do anything. I mostly rested and concentrated on throwing off some of the things that ailed me. It sort of worked too. By early evening I was feeling better than I had felt the previous few days, and I did toy with the idea of popping out for a pint, but decided against it in the end. This was partly because I had had a good run of eating really rather carefully.

 Of course carefully does not always equate to healthily, but in terms of keeping total quantities of food to a sort of minimum I did quite well (in my own heavily biassed opinion). All I ate yesterday was some well cooked sausages (and you should have seen how much fat came off them !), a small steak, a handfull (literally) of salted peanuts, and two cans of soup. The soups both contained a lot of pulses (peas, beans) and they are alleged to be good for the digestive system - although anyone in the room might disagree with that. Not that anything of a farty nature has happened yet.

 The steak deserves a mention to itself. It had the possibility of being inedible, but it was really delicious. The reason it might have been inedible is the length of time it had been sitting in the bottom of the fridge (not freezer). I'm sure I saw mention of October on the packaging, but it was vacuum packed, and it didn't seem to look spoiled in any way, and it smelled OK. So I cooked it in my mini oven, and set the timer for what I guessed might be the right time. Then I got sidetracked by a phone call. When the phone call was over I found the steak looked rather well done, but crucially it had had time to rest after cooking, and that made it deliciously tender and tasty.

 One of the few useful things I did yesterday was to upload, and add notes to the pictures I took of Ladywell village on Boxing day morning. You can see all the pictures in their full glory right here
I think that is all I can remember doing it's not, but it's hardly worth mentioning that I finally got around to doing several days worth of washing up, but I am sure that's all I did.

 I went to bed a little after 9pm last night, and I thought I was going to have a bad night. I didn't seem to feel as if I wanted to sleep, although I had been yawning a lot before getting into bed. So I laid there feeling annoyed, and promptly fell asleep ! I have a vague recollection of waking up once or twice, but essentially I slept really well for a change. I also had a really mind boggling dream !

 The dream was about a new (and as far as I can recall, totally fictitious) Microsoft map application that featured al the facilities of Google maps, Google Street View, and Google Earth taken to extremes. For instance I was looking at an aerial view of Catford, centred around St Dunstans College, and it was like you could strip away layers of earth bit by bit to reveal old river channels, and the underlying bedrock. The latter was in vivid 3D detail, and it looked like you could see molten magma at the centre of the Earth. The Street View type feature used thousands of carefully stitched together photos to show or recreate view from the present to the past. I remember looking at the huge industrial complex (that has never actually existed) to the south of Catford, and it showed all the big pollution spilling factorys that I (fictitiously) remembered from my youth in vivid 3D colour. It would be rather wonderful if such an application could really exist, and I guess parts of it, like being able to see the underlying geology, do exist in some limited format in specialist maps. Unfortunately the recreation of views from past rely on suitable photographs being available, and for some places they just don't exist - at least not in the public domain. For example I have searched the internet hogh and low for pictures of Catford Bridge station when it had a working goods yard, and the extra siding on the east side, and I can't find any at all.

 Today I feel better than yesterday, and that was better than the day before, but I am not symptomless yet. I have had a shower, and since then I have begun to feel less......I'm not sure what the word is. A sort of word that describes the transition from sleep to awake, and incorporates such features as "where am I", and Why am I" with a hint of wobbliness or dizziness or light headeness, or something that combines all three but is none of those things. I think only Douglas Adams could describe it in any understandable way.

 Well, no matter how weird I might have felt in the first hour of waking up, I have felt worse and still made it to work. So I see no reason why I shouldn't go out today - particularly so with the sun shinning. My destination today is Waterloo station. The only problem may actually be an opportunity, and that is that I can't get there by the usual straightforward route. Trains are only running as far as New Cross today - which is a bit of a novelty. At New Cross I can get an Overground train to Canada Water, and then change to an Underground train to Waterloo. I am making a rash decision that most of the trains will be relatively lightly used, and that will make travel more pleasant.

 My reason for going to Waterloo is to take some pictures of intruders there. It didn't used to be the case, but for the last 5 years (maybe more) Waterloo has been used exclusively by South Western Trains, and that is all you see there now. Today (and also yesterday) engineering works on the rails serving Paddington station means that Great Western Trains will be running 2 trains an hour into and out of Waterloo station. So it is a rare opportunity to see anything different at Waterloo station.

 If I can find all the needed paperwork without delaying myself too much, I might just buy a new railcard - a Senior Railcard. I thought they were only for the over 65s, but no, they are for the over 60s, and can be used to get a third off most rail tickets anywhere in the country.  See here if you are an old git like me -
Sunday 27th December 2015
10:42 GMT

 Yesterday was another very grey day, but at least it was dry, and at 14° C, not too cold. Today may not be so good, if indeed yesterday could be described as good. It is currently warmer than yesterday, 15° C, but it is also raining. There is no rain included in the rather stale forecast for today, but I think I recognise a wet road when I see one ! I'm not sure if it's worth quoting a forecast last updated 3 days ago, but if it were to be true, we could see an hour of sunshine, sandwiched between unrelenting grey, tomorrow.

 I went out for a walk soon after sunrise yesterday (not that there was any sign of the actual sun !). I walked through the park to Ladywell, and then wandered around Ladywell village taking some pictures. One thing I wanted to see, and to take a picture of, was a plaque on a fairly new building put up by the Ladywell society.
the site of the Lady Well
 I also took a load of other pictures, and sooner or later I'll upload them to Flickr where you can see them in all their glory. It was very quiet in both the park and Ladywell village. I saw a few buses pass me while taking photographs, and a couple of people waiting at bus stops, but there were no trains running through Ladywell station. I guess I probably walked about 2 miles, and while I think I could have walked much more without stress, it was still rather nice to get home again.

 Being able to walk that distance, admittedly rather slowly while taking photos, with no stress was a bit of a surprise because I felt quite ill in some ways. My chest was feeling a bit cranky - although not while I was walking - and it didn't take much to feel it aching. In fact from the waist upwards, including my arms and head, I had quite a variety of aches, pains, creaks, groans, stiffness, and generally not feeling very good.

 After getting home from my walk I lay down, and read for a while, and I think I may have dozed off for a while as well. At about midday I thought I should go for another walk - a rather shorter walk past a few of the shops on the high street, and ultimately to The Wetherspoons pub. I took my book with me so I could read while drinking some beer. The only problem is that I felt rather uncomfortable sitting down and reading. Leaning forward to read the book laying flat on the table was making my chest feel a bit uncomfortable. Even worse than that was I wasn't enjoying the beer ! So after drinking the two halves I bought when I first went in there I picked up my book and went home again.

 Apart from reading, and being generally lazy, I didn't do a thing of note after that. I didn't even eat...well not a full meal. I did have a couple of snacks, and a rather intense snack attack late in the evening. It was a strange sensation because occasionally I did feel slightly hungry, but I couldn't be bothered to eat. That is not to say my calorie intake was particularly small yesterday. In the morning I did have a pile of sausages and a pile of crisps as a sort of substitute for chips. There was probably enough calories there to see me through the day before I consider the small truckle of cheese that I slowly demolished nibble by nibble, and the excess amount of Cheese Thins I had rather too near bedtime.

 I think it was probably those Cheese Thins, aided by whatever terrible disease I am suffering from, that had me on the point of throwing up soon after trying to get to sleep. I guess that technically I did throw up, but it was only a small amount, and most of it was liquid. It was lucky it didn't happen a bit later because like the night before (or was it the night before that ?) I had another attack of the shivers. I really wish I had been able to take my temperature while it was happening to see what sort of fever I had, because I am not sure it was a fever. I was shaking from head to toe like shivering, but at the same time I didn't feel particularly cold, and yet the relief I slowly got when I wrapped myself up in my duvet would suggest otherwise.

 It's hard to say how much sleep I got last night, or even if I slept well. If I ignore the negative aspect of waking up quite a few times, and concentrate how easy it was to get back to sleep, then it could be said to be good. It was also rather good that it seemed very easy to stay in bed for far longer than usual. I didn't go to bed a lot later than I would during the working week, and yet I was able to continue sleeping for hours longer. I guess this is another indication that I am ill.

 I'm guessing that being unable to tell if I am well or unwell is another legacy of smoking. For so much of my life it was easy to tell if I had an illness. My nose would pour, and I would develop a hacking cough. I did cough a few times yesterday morning, but it was a rather pathetic weak cough, and my nose has never been drier. So I think I am well - until I try and do something !

 This morning I was going to try and do something. I was thinking of jumping on a train (they are running again this morning) and see how I felt. If I felt OK I would go a bit further, and as a possible final destination I might have ended up in Southend. That is not going to happen today for three reasons. Firstly, half the morning has already gone, and there is not much more than 4 hours of daylight left. Secondly, it is, or was, or will be, raining, and thirdly, I just cannot raise the enthusiasm. I think the next thing I will do is to lay on my bed, and read until, inevitably, I doze off. It is possible that I might go to the pub again today to see how it feels, but while it sounds like the sort of thing I would like to do, I am not sure if I can be bothered.
Saturday 26th December 2015
06:38 GMT.
  It was rather grey yesterday, and from time to time there was some rain, but I think it was less rain than the forecast seemed to suggest. During the night the temperature seemed to rise instead of going down. It is currently 14° C, although I am sure it was almost 15° C about an hour ago. It looks quite damp outside, but I don't think it is raining right now, but it surely will later on. The forecast, that probably hasn't been updated since before Xmas, merely says that there will be thick cloud all day with the temperature a constant 14° C until sunset when it will drop to 13° C. Tomorrow is forecast to be remarkably similar except for a splash of rain around 8am.

 Yesterday was an interesting day. In many ways it was like a Sunday - but with even more shops closed. I felt ill in various ways yesterday, but I think my "detoxing" by drinking nothing but chilled water from morning to late night helped a lot. It certainly flushed my kidneys through ! I can't say it was a very productive day, but I did manage to finish the book I was reading, and I did finally upload the pictures I took of Chain playing at The Iron Horse pub on Saturday 19th December. I'm quite proud of a few of them, but others are not as good as I hope for. I had to convert some to black and white to hide how grainy they were in colour, but even the professionals have to do that now and then. You can see the entire album here -

 While the left over Chinese takeaway was very nice for dinner yesterday, I'm not sure it was very good for me. Either the salt, or more likely the MSG (monosodium glutamate), probably spiked my blood pressure, or something similar. After eating lunch (or was it dinner ?) it felt like someone had driven a nail into the top of my head. It was an extremely localised sharp pain at the very top of my head that lasted a couple of minutes. I guess it was just a few more brain cells dying.

 One of the peculiar things about yesterday was how quickly the time seemed to pass considering how little I did. One of the problems of Xmas day is that it can be boring, but somehow yesterday wasn't. I probably spent less than an hour in front of the TV, but quite a lot longer behind my book. Then there was the amount of sleeping I did - except I am not sure if it was sleeping.There were several times when I laid on my bed with my eyes closed, but still apparently aware of what was going on around me.

 What was surprising was that when I went to bed at around 9pm, I seemed to fall asleep quite easily, and I think I stayed asleep until midnight. When I woke up at midnight I was shivering. I didn't seem to feel particularly cold, but my whole body was shaking - which made taking a pee tricky ! When I got back in bed I pulled the duvet rightly around me. All too often I would feel too warm like that, but last night it felt good. The next time I woke up, maybe an hour or two later, I felt normal. At 4am I was feeling rather hot, and barely covered myself to go back to sleep. At that point the thermometer was saying it was almost 15° C outside, and I probably should have turned the heating off.

 As I sit here writing this I feel rather warm, but otherwise I feel no worse than I do many mornings after travelling to work. It is possible, maybe probable, that my shivers in the night was a fever, and I was fighting off some sort of infection. That would account for feeling rough yesterday, but whether I am cured of whatever it is/was will become apparent later on when I try and do something useful.

 I definitely want to go for a little walk today to get some of the knots out of my muscles, and a bit of fresh air may wake me up a bit more. Despite getting quite a lot of sleep I am still yawning as I pound away on the keyboard (and thinking about just makes it worse !). I think most of my body is in fair working order this morning. Perhaps the worst discomfort is from my neck for a change. Although I do seem to have a mild headache that comes and goes.

 Once I have showered and dressed it will be a bit closer to sun rise, and I will try and go out for a walk once it starts to get light. Maybe I'll take a wander into the park. That is the only plan I have for today, but there are other things I might do. I probably ought to try my new mini digital video recorder by playing some old VHS tapes into it - if the VHS machine is still working OK. If I feel like doing anything physical I might do some clearing up. It wouldn't be too hard to fill another large bin bag with assorted debris. In theory I do have a plan to eat as little as possible today, but the chances of sticking to that are pretty slim !
Friday 25th December 2015
10:10 GMT.
  All the forecasts were completely wrong ! On Wednesday I quoted a prediction that yesterday would be particularly wet. Well that was true for a few hours in the morning, but it felt like more of the day was sunny. It is even possible that the weak winter sun raised the temperature a bit. I don't know what it rose to, but it didn't feel anything worse than a bit cool when I made my way home from work. The sunshine definitely helped warm my room up at work ! During the night the sky was mostly clear, and the temperature dropped to about 7° C at daybreak. The two day old forecast said today was going to be very grey, and very wet. Well there is still quite a lot of day to go, but so far it has been dry, and although I don't think the sun has managed to break right through the clouds, it has certainly tried to be sunny. The current forecast has changed to show a generally dull day with a bit of rain around 6pm, and more persistent rain around midnight. Tomorrow is forecast to stay dry, but unremittingly dull, and grey, and miserable !

 It seems contrary to my work ethic, but I was too busy at work to write anything yesterday. I was mostly busy doing nothing at an industrial pace, but my manager seemed quite happy with what I actually did - which was to write a short report that included some pictures. Sitting here writing all sorts of boring stuff is jolly good practice for report writing - although for the real thing I try and make it a bit drier, and use more "it seems so" rather than "it definitely is".

 It was 2pm when I asked my manager if he wanted to do that one-to-one that had to be cancelled last week. I suggested we do it in The Wandle pub on the way to Earlsfield station. He happily agreed, and we went for just one pint before we left, and both got a train to Waterloo. While he went off to do some more Xmas shopping, I noticed there was a Hayes (Kent) train due (that takes me back to Catford Bridge), and I had mere minutes to rush across the link to platform A of Waterloo East station. It would have been a very tight thing, but the previous train was running late, and delayed mine. That gave me a couple precious minutes to make my way down the platform to my favourite position on the train.

 I don't think it was just the one pint of medium strength beer, but I arrived home feeling really tired out, and almost looking forward to my bed. Even the fact that I had travelled during daylight hours, and with the sun shining didn't really do anything for me. One of the first things I did was to have something to eat - a couple of sandwiches. Then I didn't exactly go to bed, but I did lay on my bed, and I think I fell asleep. The reason I sound doubtful is because I have no idea if I slept for 2 seconds, or over an hour. I wasn't paying any attention to the time, and the only clue I had was that I remember it was still light outside before I fell asleep, but it was dark when I woke up. I guess that must mean I slept for at least 15 - 20 minutes.

 I didn't feel all that good when I woke up, and I had strong doubts about ordering my traditional extra large takeaway to sustain me over the holiday shutdown. In the end I decided it would be a nice idea, but I ordered less than usual, and also unusually I ordered Chinese food. That might have been a mistake. In the last few days I have had several things that contain a lot of sugar. Eating sweet and sour prawn balls last night was  probably a very bad idea. I think my blood sugar level went very high, and today I am having to flush myself through with plenty of plain water to help shift some of that excess sugar in my system.

 In theory I could have gone to bed as late as I wanted to last night. I didn't have to get up early for work this morning so I could be guided purely by how I felt, and the feeling was that I should go to be at about 10pm last night. Initially I slept OK, but it all started to go wrong at about 3pm when I woke up and didn't think I would get back to sleep again. I did, but I started waking more frequently until at 6am (or was it 6.30am ?) I gave up trying to sleep.

 I felt pretty rough this morning, and it has taken a long time to start to feel better. Some of it I attribute to high blood sugar (although I haven't actually measured it), and some of it to my chest, and then there are a mixture of the usual aches and pains that float around my body. My chest is particularly tender feeling today. I probably need to do some walking, or some hand laundry to stretch it back into shape or something.

 So far this morning I have trimmed my beard, washed my hair, had a shower, drunk several pints of water, and done a bit of photographic editing. Now for the results.
Car charging point in
                    Dogget Road
You may, or may not remember this picture from 28th June 2015. It shows the electric car charging point in Doggett Road, near Catford Bridge station........
electric car charging points location.
That charging point has now gone, and a week or two ago work started to replace it with two new high power points. I'm not sure if they are working yet, but the pavement has been reinstated where it was dug up to lay heavy duty power cables. As yet I haven't seen any sign of life from them - no lights, and I don't think the displays are showing anything under their protective plastic film. Maybe they are waiting for a technician to configure their controllers/computers.
two new electric charging points in Doggett
Other pictures were taken at Waterloo station a couple of days ago.
litter on Waterloo station
There are so many announcements at railway stations about not leaving parcels unattended, and yet someone decided to leave this unusually big parcel unattended......
unattended parcel on Waterloo station
One more picture...
short circuited resistor
 This picture will need a bit of explaining. It is a picture I included in a report about a repair I did for one of our customers. The customer has successfully diagnosed the fault and made a repair. They had changed the communications interface chip (2 pins of which can be seen on the right of the picture), but in doing so they had been very messy with the soldering iron. It had dragged a blob of solder across the part marked as R14 to the left, and OIC on the actual part itself. This blob of solder had shorted R14 out. For a person of my age it would be difficult to see with the naked eye, but it stood out like a sore thumb under my microscope, or even with my jewelers loupe. It made for a nice easy repair - the type I like !

 Lunchtime, or dinner time for some, is approaching, and I think I am beginning to feel hungry. Lunch will be more Chinese food. Hopefully it will have less sugar in than then the sweet and sour sauce that I should not have had last night. Other than eating, I am not sure what I will end up doing for the rest of the day. It is raining now, and that puts me off going for a walk, but maybe I might have one later. I think I'll spend some time laying on my bed reading - and falling asleep if that happens. Other than that, I'll just make it up as I go on.
Wednesday 23rd December 2015
08:13 GMT.
  Yesterday wasn't as grim as I thought it might be. As well as a couple of showers in the morning, there was at least 5 or 10 minutes of sunshine early in the afternoon, and maybe even more. By the afternoon the wind died down a bit, and that made my journey home from work feel a little less cold than it might have. It was still a bit cool though. I think the temperature may only have risen to 14° C at the very best yesterday. During the night the clouds dispersed, and the temperature dropped to about 10° C, and the forecast said that the temperature would continue to drop to as low as 8° C by 9am. From then on it will rise to about 13° C by sunset. Most of today, or at least the brief daylight hours, should see blue skies and cold winter sunshine. It looks like tomorrow it will start to get wet, and the day after, the day than many will celebrate as Xmas, is going to be particularly wet !

 I had a bit of fun* here at work yesterday when I gave my new toy** a test. The new toy is, as I mentioned yesterday, a mini digital video recorder that records onto SD memory cards. I found it actually works very well, but it does have a small problem that might make it unsuitable for what I wanted it for. That problem is that it is optimised for only the American NTSC television system based on 30 frames a second. When playing back a British PAL, 25 frames a second video recording there can sometimes be a some juddering on moving objects. It is not always terribly bad, and sometimes it is not noticeable at all. I think it is worse when using the video output to feed a TV or video monitor. Playback of the file on a PC from the file on the memory card seems a bit cleaner. Some time in the next week or two I'll give it a proper test as I try and use it to transfer an old VHS recording to a digital format.

* "Fun" in this context means doing something that is interesting.

** Anything new and shiny, and electronic is always a "toy" but more so when it is probably just a 5 minute wonder that will be consigned to a dusty drawer once it has been used for what it was originally bought for.

 On my way home from work I popped into Tesco for a few items - and bought more than a few ! Nothing I bought was so important that I would have gone in the place if it were a bit more busy than it was. I definitely will not be going near the place tonight or tomorrow, particularly tomorrow, because it will be rammed full of shoppers. If I had any sense I would not have gone in there last night. They were playing "music" in there last night, and it was terrible, terrible, terrible ! I can stomach the odd playing of Slade's Merry Xmas Everyone, but last night all I heard were some slow and very sombre dirges. I may be making this up, or it may be true, but I think one of the songs that was mournfully played last night was about hearing the screams of children burning to death as their house burnt down.....or it may have had less light and joyful lyrics than that. I preferred to concentrate on listening to the screams coming from inside my head !

 I had a terrible dinner last night. Not terrible in that it was not enjoyable - that was the trouble, it was too enjoyable ! The fish pie was probably acceptable, although I didn't look at what the ingredients were, or how much sugar, salt, calories and stuff were in it. What was rather less acceptable was the huge influx of sugar from the raspberry cheesecake ! I noticed it looking all sort of lonely on the shelf with a half price sticker on it, and I rescued it. If I could have made it last 4 days, or maybe more, it would have been OK, but even now I can feel my pancreas shivering in terror from what hit it last night.

 As a penalty for over indulging last night I have decided that this year I will forego my traditional gigantic order of curry on Xmas eve, and not eat curry for the following 48 hours. This year I shall use up some of the stuff in the fridge, and freezer. Clearing the freezer out could be a good move because it probably could do with defrosting sooner or later.

 After a few nights of bad sleep I was feeling rather tired at work yesterday, and I decided to do something about it last night. I decided that I would not eat anything hot and spicy last night, and that meant I didn't feel hot and sweaty when I got under the duvet. Well that was the theory, and it did seem to work last night. I went to bed, and had turned the light out just before 8pm. I think I may have actually fallen asleep by 8pm, and on the whole I slept well. I woke up a few times in the night, but only briefly, and if my alarm hadn't gone off at 5am I might easily have slept another hour or so.

 This morning I feel a lot better for all that extra sleep, but other bits of me are still pretty crappy. My chest is just as tender as at anytime, although it would probably be more accurate to say that it feels like it has the potential to be really sore, rather than actually sore. This is best demonstrated by what happened yesterday. I was walking to the station after work, and as I walked I could feel my chest swinging around, and clicking and popping painlessly. When I reached the crossroads before the station I twisted around to see if any car behind me was signalling left before crossing the road. As I did that my chest went pop, and I almost went ouch. Maybe I would have gone ouch, but for 2 seconds it was too painful to breath. 5 seconds later I just had a dull ache behind two distinct patches of my chest. I've had no problems like that this morning, but I did have bad guts ache, and that did need a rather urgent visit to the gents on Waterloo station. Since then all I can complain about is the usual aches and stiffness in most limbs, and my neck. My nose is feeling pretty good this morning, and my earlobes seem to be in perfect working order. So it's not all bad news !

 Tonight is booze night ! The Thursday night drink has been brought forward to tonight to avoid the Xmas rush, and a few people not being available on Xmas eve. Tonight we are drinking in The Ravensbourne Arms in Ladywell (or the Ladywell end of Lewisham). That's not quite as convenient as Catford, but more convenient than many other places. It's actually a very pleasant walk home from there on a warm summers evening. Tonight I'll probably get the bus !
Tuesday 22nd December 2015
08:45 GMT.
  It's officially the shortest day of the year today, and that means it is Yule. Whether you get up to weird paranormal/pagan/spiritual/ritualistic stuff, or just breathe a sigh of relief that we have hit rock bottom, and things can only get better from here on, let me wish you a happy Yule.

 There was plenty of rain yesterday, but I was fortunate that it only fell while I was indoors. I was expecting to get semi-drowned on my way home, but apart from a few tardy drops left over from a previous shower that I noticed when I first went outside, my journey home was essentially done in the dry. I am unsure what the temperature was while I was travelling, but it did feel a lot cooler than previous days. There was evidently some rain during the night, and once again I caught the tail end of it in the form of a fine spray like rain for a minute or so as I walked to the station this morning. It was so light that it didn't seem worth doing my coat up for that minute (probably closer to 30 seconds when I think about it). The main feature today is the wind. It was quite blowy while I waited for my train, and it will probably be windy all day. Some rain is expected today, but hopefully none of it will be significant to me on my travels. Unfortunately it is probably going to be a very grey day today, with not even a hint of sunshine. It looks quite disgusting outside at the moment. The top temperature today may only be 13° C, and with the wind it is going to feel a bit cool outdoors.

 I was a tiny bit busy at work yesterday, and maybe that stopped me feeling too tired. I think I felt fairly OK yesterday, although I did seem to jar my chest again on the journey home from work. I think it was as I did a double pirouette, and epicyclic turn as I simultaneously cleared a seat on the train while swinging my bum towards the cushions as I turned in off the aisle...or something like that. For a while my chest was quite sore, and then it settled into a mild, but still annoying ache that faded out sometime after I got home.

 I didn't stay at home very long last night. I spent a minute or two in the toilet, changed my shoes, and headed out again to pick up my prescription from the pharmacy. On the way back I called into Aldi and bought a few things, but not the item I really wanted. That was a shame because it would have made a suitable Xmas present for someone. For a short while I had a busy time when I arrived home with my drugs and my shopping. First of all there was some cooking to be done.

 The main dish of my dinner was an invention of mine. Everyone has heard of curry and chips, but I made the far rarer roast potatoes and curry. I had already pre-roasted the potatoes, and they just needed a good blast in my mini oven to finish them off. Once that was done I poured a jar of ready made curry sauce into a microwaveable saucepan, and gave it a 5 minute zapping. To complete the meal I slapped the roast spuds on a plate, and poured the hot sauce over them. They were rather nice ! It's a shame that part 2 was not so nice.

 Curiosity got the better of me while I was in Aldi, and I bought a pack of scallops in spicy butter. The instructions were to pan fry them, but I didn't see why I couldn't oven cook them. I put the two dollops of flavoured butter in an aluminium tray, and put it in the hot oven until it was bubbling nicely. Then I tossed in the scallops, and let them cook in the butter for the recommended 4 minutes. Maybe 5 minutes may have been better. I can't say I liked them. I didn't like the texture, and I didn't really care for the flavour. In fact a couple of them seemed to have a whiff of ammonia about them. Maybe they were on the turn, or maybe that is how they are supposed to be. I've never had them before (as far as I can remember), and so I have nothing to compare last nights with.

 Next on my list of being busy was to complete washing a sheet from my bed. I had left it soaking since the previous evening, and all I had to do was to rinse it out in about 4 or 5 changes of water. It was rather hard work, and made harder by using some rubber gloves I bought from Lidl. These rubber gloves could be very good for some things, particularly washing plates, but they are not very good for laundry. They have a pattern of little dimples that give them exceptional grip, but that turns out to be a hindrance when wringing out washing. A little bit of slip when twisting the water out seems to be more effective than no slip, and these new gloves do not slip !

 I needed to cool off quite a bit after finally getting that sheet dry enough to hang up to dry without dripping too much. That meant I didn't get to bed as early as I probably deserved, and even when I did get to bed I was still feeling a little warm. That made me feel uncomfortable, and I couldn't relax enough to fall asleep very quickly. Once I got to sleep I seemed to sleep quite well until 3am when I woke up, and could not find a position I could relax in. I had to get up for half an hour before trying again. That didn't seem to work, but evidently it must have because I was enjoying a nice dream when my alarm went off to wake me up at 5am.

 This morning I felt so bad that I thought I would have to call in sick, but after several trips to the toilet reduced one source of discomfort, and a hot shower reduced a few more, I felt I could probably make it to work OK. I still felt a bit rough in various ways as I made my way to work, and I had to use the toilets at Waterloo on the way, but for the last bit of my journey, the walk from the station to work, I felt partly OK. As I sit here in the warm, some bits of me feel OK, and other bits less so. My chest is playing up in a very unique way that is most probably completely unrelated to any other chest troubles I have - although maybe there is a common thread. The problem is a recurring itch on the top half of my left man boob. The annoying thing is that it is an area that is still slightly numb since my operation 2 years ago, and scratching it feels damn weird - it sort of helps, but not much, and the act of scratching it feels almost like a weird sort of pain that isn't a pain at all. If I am lucky the itchiness is something to do with the numbness going away. If I am unlucky it is some sort of reaction to the detergent I washed my shirt with...or,of course, it could be some sort of parasite or fleas ! That itch can be annoying when it peaks, but generally it is more ignorable than the headache I seem to have developed since getting to work. I might have to take some Paracetamol if it doesn't go away soon.

 I have a new toy here at work that will amuse me for a while. It is a miniature video recorder I ordered from Amazon. It records on an SD memory card, and I am hoping that it might be a solution to digitising old analogue video recordings. In the past I have done this by using my old Samsung DV camcorder, but that has a couple of drawbacks. The first is that the process is double slow - there is the time it takes to record the source onto the DV cassette, and then the cassette has to be played back in real time to copy the digital signal from the camcorder to my PC. The second drawback with the camcorder is that it can detect some types of signal drop out, perhaps from a bit of crinkled VHS tape, as a copy-protection signal, and immediately stop recording. That can be seriously annoying ! Hopefully my new little toy, which records an mp4 type file onto the memory card, will be away around these problems. If it works well enough I may spend some of the upcoming holiday transferring some old recordings from dusty old VHS tapes to digital files.
Monday 21st December 2015
08:26 GMT.
  I can't recall when the showers for yesterday evening were forecast to happen, but I think they probably happened later than expected. There was evidence of rain during the night when I went out this morning, but I was not aware of when it fell. What was probably more obvious was that the temperature was falling last night, and this morning it was only about 7° C. The paradox is that the low temperature was the result of the sky being fairly clear, but the rain was the result of the sky being cloudy ! This morning should see some sunshine. It is now more cloudy than it seemed to be at 6:15 this morning, when I walked to the station, but there are still some blue patches visible between the clouds. The sun is still too low in the sky to do any more than illuminate the very tops of some the higher buildings around here, but there is hope that we'll see some real sunshine later this morning. Unfortunately it is forecast to rain this afternoon, and not only is it going to be rather cold rain, it is also likely to be raining moderately hard when I leave work to go home. 13° C is still probably quite good for this time of year, but it is going to feel somewhat cooler than it has recently.
not quite sunrise, but
                    close to it
 It wasn't quite sunrise when I walked from the main road towards work, but it was close to it. The bright circle just below the centre of this picture is not the sun. I'm not exactly sure what it is. It might be a reflection on the camera lens from the bright street light, or it may be a distant street lamp. The other problem with this photo is that the sky at the top of it should have been a lot darker, almost black, but my mobile phone camera seems quite fond of making the sky look a lot brighter than it really is. My current theory is that it's ultra violet and infra red filters are not very effective.

 I got my dates wrong, but after a few seconds research I can quite confidently say that tomorrow, the 22nd, is the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year - Yule ! This is both the best and worst day of the year. Worst because it is the day with the least daylight, and best because it marks the start of longer days that ultimately ends with Summer. Yule, as a festivity is a pretty good one. It doesn't need belief in any sky fairies, the twisted beliefs of weird men, or priests to misinterpret and misquote old writings. It is there for all, and can just be seen by looking outside. Of course marking where the sun rises each day, and how high it climbs in the sky each day, perhaps by making some notches on a stick, or erecting some gigantic stones on Salisbury Plain helps keep track of these things, but that just makes it all neater. You don't need to know how it happens to enjoy it, but if you want to know how it is easy enough. There are no secrets involved. No mysteries, no priesthoods to join with strange an exotic rituals. Just ask a scientist, or even consult wikipedia !

 Today I feel like I didn't get enough sleep, and maybe that is because I didn't get enough sleep last night. Just a couple of days of not following my usual schedule has mucked up my sleep patterns. I was yawning when I went to bed just after 9pm, but sleep wouldn't come, and because it would come it turned into one of those nights when every minor defect in the bed becomes huge. Even one of my own hairs on the bottom sheet feels like a log, and the pillow feels like a sack of coal. Not only that, but the bed is too hot and the room is too cold. On top of all that I seemed to be farting a lot when I got in bed - which was quite unpleasant. Just to top off the list of miseries, I seemed to have a frequent feeling like my right foot was just about to get the cramps - but it never did !

 While I struggled to get to sleep I pondered about all the farting I was doing. There are two schools of thought about farting. One says that farts are mostly carbon dioxide and nitrogen. The other says that farts contain a high proportion of methane - and then go on to prove it by setting fire to them. (You can probably find many burning farts on You Tube if you care to search for them). I think I subscribe to the methane school of thought, but maybe only for the type of farts I had last night. It seems likely that some farts are just accumulations of gas from fizzy drinks, etc. passing through the system, but others are the result of fermentation by anaerobic bacteria.

 These bacteria are probably the cause of some farts, like mine last night, being disgustingly smelly. The good news is that methane has a high calorific value - you can run a car from methane produced by the fermentation of waste matter by bacteria ! Those calories are not produced out of thin air. They are chemical energy, and it may be a bold leap in faith, but my theory is that if the bacteria are eating some of what I have eaten, and ejecting it in the form of high calorie methane, then they are calories that my body is not absorbing - which is good !

 I lost track of what I ate yesterday, but like a few recent Sundays, I think I ate less than what was probably my normal consumption in the past. Of course some of the things I did eat were not exactly good for me - principally the box of reheated southern fried chicken ! I had a few other bits and pieces - including more sugar free, sweetened by Stevia, chocolate. When early evening came around I had intended to have a hot dinner, but I decided that a couple of small bags of beef flavoured Hula Hoops were all I needed. This morning I felt a bit hungry, and "thin". Of course this is a very special usage of the word "thin" that does not actually exist in real life, and is a sort of shorthand for "not bloated".

 Most of me actually feels fairly good this morning. My chest is certainly well behaved this morning, and my usual aches, pains and stiffness are very attenuated, perhaps almost to the point of non existence is some cases. It does seem there is still some bacteria fermenting stuff in me this morning, but it doesn't seem to be anywhere as energetic as it was last night. Hopefully the tiredness I mentioned earlier will not affect me too much during the day, and hopefully I won't get drowned when I leave work to go home. If those two conditions are met I should be OK to go and pick up a repeat prescription from the pharmacy after work. I'll probably do it anyway, but if I am feeling fairly OK I might pop around the corner and buy a few things in Aldi while I am there.
Sunday 20th December 2015
13:22 GMT.
  I don't think the temperature dropped below 14° C yesterday, or if it did it was only by a single degree. For all the time that mattered it stayed fact I can't recall it raining at all, but the sun did manage to shine a couple of times in the late morning/early afternoon. This morning the temperature may dropped to 12° C by daybreak (possibly 11° C), but it is now back up to a touch over 14° C. As I write this the sun is trying to shine, and maybe we will see a brief sunny interval - it was in the forecast - but so was rain. There was a light shower an hour or two ago, and more showers are forecast from any time after sunset. Tomorrow is forecast to be wetter than today, and also cooler, but there could also be more sunshine - if we are lucky.

 Either today, tomorrow or the day after is the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. It will be sometime, probably quite a few weeks, before it becomes obvious the days are getting longer, but it's coming and I am trying hard to get into a celebratory mood in honour of the fact. I think it is tomorrow that is the official winter solstice, and if I raise a small glass of whisky to it tonight, I'll raise an even bigger glass tomorrow night !

 I think I probably amazed myself when it seemed almost easy to go out when by tradition I would be thinking about going to bed yesterday. Naturally I tried to think of it as some sort of offence to God, or natural order, or some such gobbledegook like that, but I made smooth progress to Sidcup and The Iron Horse pub. I got a very warm reception from Jo Corteen who was was almost astonished to see me. It is an easy pub to get to (apart from an annoying 15 minute wait for a change of trains at Lewisham), and it was the second time I had visited it for a gig, and so I had rehearsed the journey before last night.

 It was most enjoyable being there on several levels. One attraction about last night was that the pub was not very busy. That is not good for the band or the pub, and that is a shame because it suits me quite well. Another very good thing was that there is proper stage lighting there, and it makes so much difference to my photography. I haven't processed all the pictures I took yesterday, but a brief glimpse at that showed that there are a few excellent shots in among the rather less than good shots. One of the better needed no processing at all. It was bright, in focus, and well framed. It has already received much acclaim elsewhere. All I have done to this picture is to shrink it down to fit on this page.
Jo Corteen at The Iron
 Once I've selected the best photos, and performed a few minor tweaks - colour balance, framing, rotation, etc. I'll upload them to Flickr, and they can be seen in all their high resolution glory. Maybe I'll have a link for the Flickr photo album tomorrow if I can pull my finger out and get working on it today.

 I felt unusually comfortable at the gig, and I almost could have stayed later than I did, but it was a late running gig, and may have finished close to, or beyond midnight. I was not sure of my transport possibilities that late, and decided to stick to my original plan of leaving after the first (of 2) sets. Even that meant staying a bit later than intended, and getting the 11:01pm train back to Lewisham. I think that the next train, the 11:31pm would have been the last that connected with a train back to Catford Bridge from Lewisham (although there is a selection of buses I can get from Lewisham - if only I could work out where the bloody bus stops are now they have completely changed the road layout near the station).

 While I was feeling 96% well and everything as I left the gig, it didn't stay like that. I think it was probably as I bent down to pick my coat up off the floor that I twisted my broken chest superstructure. I went home in mostly quite mild pain, but occasionally it was quite painful. That pain lasted through the night, although didn't affect my sleep, and didn't really go away until I forced myself to hand wash some shirts. It seems like a paradox that doing stuff that seems like it would make things worse actually makes it feel better.

 The pain in my chest was not the only thing that spoiled the evening. There was also the little matter of what I found when I got home again. I found that one of the mouse traps that I had cleaned up during the day, and placed in what seemed like good places, had actually caught a mouse. It was a very clean kill - no blood, guts or gore - but I didn't realise that until I tackled the disposal job this morning. I wasn't in the right mood to do the job at midnight last night. It would be nice t think that I have caught the mouse, but unfortunately I know that if there is one there is a good chance there are others. Maybe one of the things I should do this afternoon is to clean up and re set all the traps in likely places - plus try to find where they are getting in and block those places as best I can.

 It was almost 1am when I fell asleep last night, and for a lot of the night I slept really well, but I couldn't manage to sleep for the full eight hours that I wanted to. Maybe I didn't need to because I don't seem to feel very sleepy this afternoon...although having said that, I do find the idea of a lay down, and maybe some reading or snoozing quite attractive. I think I may well do that, but what I ougt to be doing is selecting photos of last night  to process and upload. I took 188 snaps last night, and while there are far more duds than good pictures, there are still going to be quite a lot to process. What I ought to do is to select the ten very best shots and concentrate on those instead of having to try and work miracles on a pile of barely adequate snaps - as happens in dimly lit locations.

 Tomorrow I am back at work. I wonder if I'll get much flack about being a miserable bastard at the xmas dinner/party ? Oh well, there's only four days of work (hopefully just three and half) before the xmas shutdown starts, and I am off work for 10 days or so.
Saturday 19th December 2015
17:56 GMT.
  Yesterday's weather was mostly harmless. It was dry and mild, and there was even a brief glimpse of sunshine sometime around midday. By late afternoon, and with the sun getting ready to set, it was 14° C by my reckoning. It didn't rain during the night, but the cloud meant the temperature barely dropped all night. This afternoon, after another dry day, with several sunny intervals, some lasting tens of minutes, the temperature just about hit 16° C. It's still 14° C now. The forecast says tomorrow is going to be a little cooler. The morning will be 13° C, but the temperature will drop to 10° C by midnight, and another degree by 5am Monday morning. Even more sunshine is forecast for tomorrow, but it is also forecast to rain for a few hours mid to late morning, and for even longer later on after dark.

 There was one good thing that came out of the Xmas dinner and party at work - I was able to go home in daylight ! This year I was even more out of tune with reality, or whatever psychobabble brain imbalance I suffer from, and all I could stand to do was to attend the pre-dinner party for two 5 minute segments. After that I felt completely and utterly depressed. As soon as everyone had sat down to dinner, at approx 2pm, I put on my coat and sneaked out.

 Going out in daylight, and with a couple of hours of daylight ahead of me, helped to relieve some of my depression...or buried it under other thoughts. It was interesting to see all the works going on for the Thameslink rail project at London Bridge itself, and the approaches going back halfway or more towards New Cross. It is obvious that a lot of work has been done that I haven't been able to see while travelling in the dark, and yet what has been done is not that obvious in terms of being able to see some sort of completion to the work. Somewhere, someone had a spreadsheet with lots of ticks on it charting the progress towards completion, and yet to the casual observer it is just changing patterns of chaos.

 When I got back home I relaxed for 10 minutes, but because it was still daylight I decided I would go and get my weekend shopping from Aldi early. Not only did I do that, and do it in shirtsleeves because it seemed mild enough not to need a coat, I also decided to give the new Dunlop trainers I recently received a test. They were both comfortable and uncomfortable. I think they can be broken in with persistence, and it may be worth the pain to try and do it. Their main problem is their lack of width at the widest part of the (my) foot. It's not crushing, and doesn't seem to be rubbing enough to lift any skin, but the margin of error is very small. I wasn't in pain when I got home with my shopping, but it was nice to get those trainers off again.

 I still felt some residual pissed off - ness in the evening, and decided I wouldn't go out. Instead I would stay in and eat some nice stuff, and enjoy the solitude. Some of my eating therapy involved chocolate - but not any old chocolate. I found some chocolate in Aldi that is sweetened with the herb Stevia. In theory, if you ignore the fat content, it makes the chocolate sort of harmless - low in sugar and stuff. I'm not sure I enjoyed it, but it wasn't bad, and anyway I only ate it as a sort of protest thing because generally speaking I am not a great chocolate eater. It's nice, but also bland in a sort of monotonous way.

 Also in protest, although I am not sure what I was protesting about, or to whom, I poured myself a large glass of whisky. I thought about getting drunk, but one glass seemed all I needed to prove an unknown point to and unknown audience. There's nothing like shouting to the wind for feeling good - probably. Is that a famous saying by a famous character (real or fictitious), or did I just make that bullshit up ? Oh well, it sounds good anyway.

 With no need to get up early for work this morning, I could be relaxed about what time I went to bed last night. If there had been something of vague interest on TV I might have stayed up later, but I found myself in bed, and turning out the light around 10.30pm. I think I slept reasonably well last night, but the best bit was that I slept on well past 5am. It was gone 7am when I finally decided that I couldn't sleep any longer, and that I ought to get up anyway to get the place ready for Aleemah to visit.

 The problem with Aleemah, or more accurately Aleemah's problem is that the railway was doing a dress rehearsal for the xmas shutdown today, and trains were only running as far as New Cross. So today, Aleemah had to get the bus. The good thing about that was there was no way to tell when she would arrive in Catford - well not accurately. So rather tragically I had to get to the pub early and test some beers while waiting for her to arrive. This morning, at about 10am, I got to try 2 pints of beer made up of half pints of these beers....
4 different beers
 Click on the picture for a high resolution version !

  Today Aleemah brought over a terrible movie to watch on DVD. It was the film Krampus. It is probably worth quoting from IMDB here (click on the link for the full info) - "young Max (Emjay Anthony) is disillusioned and turns his back on Christmas. Little does he know, this lack of festive spirit has unleashed the wrath of Krampus: a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers". I guess this is a warning to me not to be completely and utterly disillusioned, and turn my back on Christmas. Well all I can do is apologise if I've released a demonic spirit, but my dislike of Xmas has been honed to a fine edge this year after years of practice.

 After Aleemah went home I was going to do something useful, but I couldn't think what that might be so I didn't do anything. The only thing I have done of some significance is to edit some more photos, and upload them to Flickr. It was another experimental album of pictures taken using another old camera. This time it was the camera in my old T-Mobile G1 android phone. It was the first Android phone widely available in the UK, and it was my first Android phone, although it was far too expensive to buy new. I bought it second hand. In it's day it was a flagship product, and it had a rather good camera built into it. These days it is not so wonderful, and I found it struggled with the uneven lighting. I took the pictures while on my way to the pub to meet Aleemah. The sun was out, but it was still very low in the sky. That meant the tops of some building could be very bright while the road was still very gloomy. You can see how well, or how badly the camera coped with these conditions by clicking here -

 Tonight, or in fact quite soon now, I am going out to see some of Chain's gig in The Iron Horse pub in Sidcup. It is possible there will be a £2 entry fee, but I reckon I can cope with that even if I leave half way through - as I almost certainly will. So It's a train to Lewisham, then cross over to the opposite platform, and head back the way I have just come until the tracks veer off towards Sidcup. Pictures later (possibly tomorrow).
Friday 18th December 2015
08:12 GMT.
  There were a few splashes of rain after sunset yesterday, but fortunately I missed them all apart from the very lightest of short duration sprinkles. Most of yesterday was just blandly grey. Once again the temperature was in that curiously neutral range where it's neither warm nor cold - although obviously this depends on what you are doing, and how you are dressed. It was about 15° C at best. Today is forecast to be another grey, but dry day. The temperature will not be quite as high as yesterday, but it was 11° C when I got up. By this afternoon it should be about 13° C. Tomorrow could be similar, but with the possible addition of a shower or two.

 I did not feel that good at work yesterday. I had a strong urge to lay down and snooze, but I couldn't do that. I also seemed to get a mix of hunger pains, and chest pains in the afternoon. At the time it seemed bad enough that I was thinking of abandoning going for my Thursday night drink. Fortunately most of the discomfort had gone away before I left work, and once I was out in the fresh air, and moving about, I felt comfortable.

 I thought it might be wise to not drink too much last night, and to get home fairly early. My original plan was to have maybe just two very strong seasonal/winter/Xmas beers, but this plan was thwarted by the pub not having any ! So I stayed for three pints of moderate to low strength beers - at least I think it was only three, but I feel slightly drunk. Maybe it was because I was drinking on a relatively empty stomach, but in that respect it was no different to most Thursday night drinks. I left the pub in time to catch the 7.02pm Bedford service from Shortlands to Catford station - a journey of little more than 8 minutes. I stopped on the short walk between the pub and the station to take a picture.
light sculpture
 I am not really into Xmas trees and other Xmas stuff, but I thought that the tree with the star on top was a nice light sculpture in what is probably known as Shortlands Village. The greasy smear on my mobile phone camera gives the picture some extra glitter, but it is probably responsible for blurring the structure of that light sculpture. It was far more impressive than my picture shows.

 I was feeling quite good when I left the pub, and even better when I got back to Catford. I was probably hallucinating because I was having thoughts along the lines of - "I don't seem to feel that tired, and if it was still daylight, and preferably bright, warm and sunny, I could jump on a bus and go somewhere just for fun using my 60+ Oyster Card". Instead of exploring in the dark I decided that what I needed was some hot food. I has stuff ready to heat in the microwave, but then I caught a whiff of fish and chips on the breeze. So I wandered down to the kebab shop, which is also the fish and chip shop, and to my amazement they had a nice big piece of cod ready to go, and unusually, ready cooked chips as well.

 It was nice to get home and eat the fish and chips, but I don't really remember much after that. I don't think it was because I was drunk, but more the fact that nothing really happened after that. I quickly checked my email, and stuff, and I was probably in bed before 9pm. I think tiredness made me sleep better than usual. I know I woke up a couple of times in the night, but they are dream like memories. I have a feeling that I had a dream that I wanted to try and remember, but it has completely evaporated now.

 This morning I feel rather bad. It is one of those morning when if I didn't have to come to work I would have gone back to bed, and not got up again until something like 9am - maybe even later. My main complaint this morning, aside from the usual aches/pains/stiffness is my chest. It is feeling very delicate this morning. I jarred it a couple of times, usually by twisting or turning, and induced a few sharp pains that slowly fade away. By the time I arrived at Earlsfield I was feeling fairly comfortable, but then, as I went down the stairs to exit the station, I felt my whole chest move upwards, and come down with a crash that left a strong pain right across my chest in a thin line. It was almost like something had snapped. The initial, very sharp pain only lasted a few seconds, but it remains very tender, and even a deep breath can cause a bit of pain. I've taken a couple of Ibuprofen tablets, and they are just starting to calm the inflammation down, but I think my chest is going to remain sore for a lot of today - maybe all day long, and into the night.

 Today is our Xmas part at work. I'm too much of a miserable bastard to participate, but I might grab a glass of beer when it officially starts.  There's a sit down buffet starting at 2pm, and I think that while everyone is eating I might slip away - like I do most years. It is a treat to go home in daylight at the time of year, and somehow that seems more valuable than free food and drink. If I get home early enough, and if I feel well enough, I may go and see Chain playing in my least favourite pub - The Swan in West Wickham. It's usually full of footballists, and tonight it will probably be really crowded. So I reckon the best I will manage, if I manage anything at all, will be to pop in for about an hour, and then high tail it home again.
Thursday 17th December 2015
08:11 GMT.
  I didn't notice that it felt warm in any way yesterday, but then again I didn't notice that it was cold either. 15° C is in a sort of no man's land between mild and cool. Had there been any sunshine I could have described yesterday as not bad, but although they didn't leak any rain, there were copious amounts of cloud above us all day. As far as I am aware there was no rain in the night, and rain is only forecast for this evening. Once again the temperature is going to be unusually high for a December day - although not unprecedented. I can't recall the exact year, but it may have been Xmas day 2008 (plus or minus 5 years) when it was warm and sunny, and I took great delight in walking to the corner shop (which doesn't let something as insignificant as Xmas stop them from opening) just wearing a short sleeved t-shirt and jeans. This run of mild weather is forecast to continue for some time yet, although the weekend could be quite wet too.

 I can finally tell the outcome of my long wait for the third parcel from Amazon to arrive. During my days off last Thursday and Friday, plus Monday of this week, I was waiting for three parcels to arrive with stuff I had ordered via Amazon. The first two items had fairly firm delivery dates, but actually both arrived a day earlier than expected. It could have been awkward if they had arrived any earlier, but they arrived at quite appropriate times. The third parcel had a very loose delivery date. I had hoped it would arrive before I came back to work on Tuesday, but it didn't. It probably arrived on Tuesday sometime.

 I first became aware of it when I went out to go to work yesterday morning. By the dim light of the streetlights I noticed a grey outline in the grey shadow of the wheelie bin. I didn't have time to do any more than pick it up, and put it indoors before walking to the station. When I got home from work last night I had a better look at the package. There was a hole in the side that had let rain in - or possibly something worse ! There seemed to be a feint whiff of fox pee on the outer covering, but I don't think there was any inside.

 The parcel contained a pair of Dunlop trainers I had ordered from Amazon. I bought them out of curiosity. They were quite cheap, £9.99 I think, and advertised as genuine Dunlop products. In theory they should be of good quality, and they do seem to be except for one important detail. Like some previous Dunlop trainers I have bought, they seem to be smaller than their numbered size would suggest. I deliberately bought an over sized pair, and they do seem to be almost identical in size to trainers one sized smaller. So they fit lengthwise rather well, and they seem like they could be very comfortable if only they were a bit wider. I have a feeling that if I had dared to wear them to work today they would have rubbed the skin of my bunions. I think I'll try them on a short shopping trip before I commit to wearing them for any length of time.

 The other "excitement" last night was going home via Iceland, and buying more Iceland "Slimming World" ready meals. More exciting was that I also bought a liver and mash ready meal because I fancied some liver and bacon. What I didn't notice was it had no bacon in it until I sat down to eat it. What I did notice was that it said it only had just over 400 calories in it. This was both surprising, but also obvious once I had seen how small it was, and how it lacked bacon ! It was still nice though, and a "Slimming World" cottage pie followed it nicely. It is almost conceivable that I only ate about 1700 calories yesterday. That is about 500 more than I might try and aim for if it was summer, and I wanted to lose some weight at a self sustaining inspiring speed, but I feel it's pretty good for winter time.

 After all that "goodness" I didn't sleep too well, and I felt pretty rough this morning. My legs, which seemed to be running at peak perfection a few days ago, are a bit stiff this morning. It's a shame my chest is not stiff this morning. It seems very loose lately. (This is the less usual use of the word loose, and in this case it means my ribs, ligaments, muscles and stuff rather than phlegm in my windpipe). While it feels like my chest superstructure has come loose from the rest of my skeleton, it can be remarkable tender, and it takes little to start it getting quite sore - and it is quite sore this morning.

 I don't hold out much hope of any good news coming out of my wobbly chest, but there has been one case of bad news turning into good news this morning - and it concerns salad !
22 calories in salad
 Sainsbury's didn't have any of the usual salads that I buy for breakfast this morning. The usual salads come with some sort of dressing, and maybe a tiny little bit of cheese. They average around 200 - 210 calories per bowl, and I eat two of them. This morning I could only find some bowls of very simple salad - or "Leafy Bistro Salad" - whatever that is ! Upon examining the back I noticed that it is only rated at 22 calories per 100gm, or a tad over 24 calories per 110gm bowl. I had two of them, and they weren't bad with a splash of zero calorie balsamic dressing. Just in case they didn't satisfy I also bought a "Tandoori Chicken With Lentil Dahl On A Flatbread", and that clocks in at 408 calories. So this morning I didn't really have much more than I would usually have, but I feel in future I should try and stick to just the salad. A 48 calories breakfast could have some useful results if I can keep dinner down to a reasonable size.
notice inside the window
                    of The Black Cat
 I noticed this notice inside the window of The Black Cat (formerly The Catford Ram) pub while I was walking to Iceland yesterday. There would be hardly any times when I would take advantage of it, but I like the idea of being able to pop into the pub at 9am for a quick beer !
Wednesday 16th December 2015
08:32 GMT.
  Yesterday's weather was really all about whether I would get wet, very wet, or drowned going home from work ! There was possibly more rain than expected yesterday, but on the whole it was fairly light rain, and it went from very light rain as I left work, to hardly any rain at all as I walked from the station to home. There was probably more rain later, and it might have rained on and off through much of the night. It wasn't particularly cold yesterday - perhaps 11° C, or maybe even better. This morning it was about 12° C, and by this afternoon, after a very cloudy, but dry day, it will almost feel warm at 15° C. It seems like it will be unseasonably mild and dry until, and perhaps beyond the weekend !
Looking towards the London
                    Eye along platform A of Waterloo East station
 This picture would have been far, far better if my mobile phone camera had focussed on infinity instead of the woman in front of me.....I took it at 16:18 yesterday as I waited for the 16:20 train to take me to Catford Bridge from Waterloo East station. Dead centre in the picture is Waterloo Mainline station. To the right of that is The London Eye lit up in pink for some unknown reason, and obscuring the right hand quadrant of The London Eye is what was, and maybe still is known as The Shell Building.

 I felt quite good yesterday morning, but that didn't last long. By mid morning I had developed a few aches and pains. Most had gone by mid afternoon, but my chest remained a bit clicky, or ratchetty, and occasionally mildly sore. The odd thing is that I felt like I had a lot of energy when I started off going home. At Waterloo I went up a set of stairs almost at a run - and I didn't feel particularly bad when I got to the top. I wasn't gasping for air, but maybe my legs, or particularly my knees gave some hints they would definitely not like me to do it again without a decent rest between attempts.

 Maybe I over did it, and wore myself out because I didn't feel so lively when I walked from the station to home...but then again it didn't feel like hard work either. It was nice to get home (as always), put the heating on, and arrange some food. I have to confess I started with an excessive snack as I sat down to check my email, and transfer some pictures to my PC. That snack was a large, but not huge (70mg ?), packet of "seasonally spiced" sweet potato crisps. They were nice, but I am not sure if they lived up to my imagined expectations.

 My actual dinner started with some tomatoes, cheese and chutney. The chutney had a very high sugar content, but that was to be expected. That starter was followed by an Iceland "Slimming World" curry, and that was going to be followed by some noodles with chilli sauce, but I mysteriously found I felt too full to eat them. I still felt a bit full, but not uncomfortably so when I went to bed. Maybe that lead to some strange dreams !

 The most significant dream seemed to occur quite early in the night, and it was complete sci-fi nonsense - but still enjoyable in a scary sort of way. I can't recall the details very well now, but I do remember considering what I had just dreamed - possibly in another dream ! The first dream was about some apparatus that had some parallels to a large and fierce Tesla coil, but instead of boosting a low(ish) voltage to millions of volts, it boosted a small current to millions of amps. Such a thing is sort of possible, but is never done to such extremes of scale to my knowledge. In ways that defy common sense, these huge currents were enough to ionize the air to a rather lovely, but damn scary, violet plasma.

 I woke several times in the night, but I was quite pleased to see that the last time I woke up it was just 5 minutes before I would have had to wake anyway. All too often it is 20 minutes early, and sometimes double that. My initial thought was that I didn't feel too bad, but as time passed I began to feel a bit rough - as usual, that cumulatively rough - a combination of small things making a greater whole. One such problem is actually more a problem now, and it is trapped wind. To be more accurate, that wind is less trapped now than it was, and I feel I will soon be making a third visit to the toilet since starting to write this !

 One annoyance compared to yesterday is that my legs feel stiff and unenergetic this morning. I walked up and over the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations without any particular bother, but I definitely could not have managed to run up and stairs ! One thing that has made this worse is that my feet do not feel comfortable this morning, and I am not sure why. I am wearing the same make, size and style of shoe that I was wearing yesterday. The only difference is that they were black yesterday, and blue today. Not only that, but I wore these blue shoes sometime last week, and I don't recall them being uncomfortable then. It's a bit of a mystery. The only thing I know for sure is that walking from the station to work seemed like (slightly) hard work.

 I never used to understand, and maybe even fully believe my mum (and some other older people) when they would complain about wet/damp weather making their legs stiff, but I believe it now ! Hopefully my legs will loosen up during the day, and maybe my feet will find their place in my blue shoes, because I want to divert my journey home from work to go via Iceland to stock up on more of their "Slimming World" ready meals. Apart from that I intend to do, not really. I just can't think of anything I will do.
meet the managers at
                    Waterloo station
Yesterday morning there was one of those "meet the managers" type thing going on at Waterloo station.
southwest trains staff ready to answer your
Tuesday 15th December 2015
08:29 GMT.
  The forecast said it couldn't happen, but there were a few sunny intervals yesterday - perhaps three of them, each lasting a few minutes. Well it wasn't much, but was still very welcome. Yesterday managed to stay dry until well after sunset, and maybe even until the early hours of this morning. There were puddles about as I walked to the station, but apart from a brief occasion when I felt a little dampness on my face, it didn't rain while I came to work. It's going to be a very grey day again, but it will be mild, perhaps 11° C, and it shouldn't rain until I am on my way home from work. Of course it shouldn't rain then, but that is what the forecast says. It also says that it will start with light rain, but it could be very heavy before I reach home ! Oh well, at least this morning it seemed to be fairly benign - cool, but not cold, and a very thin mist that softened rather than obscured the distance.
Catford Bridge station
                    looking south
This was the view looking south from the footbridge at Catford Bridge station at 06:25 this morning.
looking north from the footbridge at Catford
                    Bridge station
The view looking north - which seems a little mistier.

 I can't recall if I mentioned it before - I probably did, but I have something to add to it - last Saturday I was complimented by being told that I had lost weight. I haven't bothered to weigh myself for ages - I am more bothered by the size of my trouser waistband in inches than my actual weight. On Saturday it didn't seem that my trousers were any looser than usual, although I did wonder if my gut was overhanging my belt less than it had been, but this morning I think I could imagine that maybe my trousers were a little looser than they were some unknown amount of days in the past. This is rather surprising after five days away from work when I have taken little exercise, and I would have thought I would have eaten not only more, but more bad things - including this !
stinky, but tasty
                        cheese !
 I bought this cheese from Lidl when I went there early on Sunday morning. It it tasted like it smells it would be truly terrible - it really stinks - but paradoxically it is rather tasty, or rather it was rather tasty because by yesterday evening I had eaten the lot ! That is not a recipe for reducing the size of my trousers, and yet this morning my trouser belt is done up as tight as it will go without boring a new hole for the buckle. I have been trying to be a bit careful with what I eat lately (salad for breakfast this morning) or maybe this is the result of some terrible disease, but if it is I say bring it on ! It will be nice to be able to wear my red trousers again, or wear my smaller sized shorts again next summer.

 I don't know how I did it because it didn't seem that it would be possible, but I managed to get to sleep suitably early last night - that's suitably early for work the next morning rather than "an early night". I'm not sure I slept that well though. I think I woke up several times in the night, but those occasions seem so dreamlike now that I wonder if at least one occasion was actually a dream. One dream I definitely had was about being in space on a space station. I don't recall any feeling of weightlessness, but I was very aware of it being a vacuum outside. The dream involved a villain who was thrown into space after he had planted an exploding reel of tape in my back pack. I do remember the reel of tape, and disarming it by taking out the slip of paper that somehow made it explosive. (Back in the real world a slip of paper was often used as a quick and simple marker when editing reel-to-reel tape recordings.) I don't recall the villain being thrown into space, and I suspect that was just implied by the script...or something like that.

 This morning I feel, or felt more good than bad. I was a little concerned by some aching in my wrists, and a slight numbness in my fingertips. I assume it is probably carpel tunnel syndrome rather than anything else, and was brought on by excessive keyboard use over the last couple of days. My chest is a bit clicky this morning, but also like my usual aches and pains, somewhat less than usual. The curious thing is that I do, or did seem to have quite a bit of energy this morning, and my legs seemed to be working rather well, although it is starting to feel like I have exhausted that energy now. I could definitely fancy having a lie down now, and maybe even a snooze !

 I have no plans for tonight beyond struggling to try and eat sensibly, or more accurately, trying to avoid eating too many snacks. I have a couple of Iceland "Slimming World" curries to eat tonight, and in theory two of them should be all I need to eat tonight, but I have a strong suspicion that I might also eat some cheese, tomatoes and chutney at some time tonight. I'll probably have worse too, but if I avoid TV, maybe have a large whisky, and get to bed early, I can avoid some of the worst excesses.
Monday 14th December 2015
11:10 GMT.
  There is now just a week to go until the winter solstice, and when the days start to get longer again. In the meantime, some mornings are so dull it is hard to know when day has started ! This morning was particularly dull, and rather cool too - just 7° C, and it's only just over 10° C now. It should brighten up a bit this afternoon, but only a bit, and not nearly enough for any sunshine. Then the cloud will thicken again, and a couple of hours of rain are forecast for just after sunset. There will be a bit more rain in the middle of the night, but then it will be dry, and about 11° C until I head home from work when it will pour down ! I'm just glad that I don't work on a building site !
working on a building
 These guys are working on new flats for the Catford Green development on this dull and damp December day. If I recall the adverts for these flats, they are supposed to be ready to move into before Xmas. It seems unlikely from what I can see.

 The idea was that I would try and get to bed at my usual time last night so I could resynchronise my body with my usual rhythm for work days. It almost happened, but as 9pm approached I  decided that I should finish off some laundry that I had left soaking during the day. Unfortunately this included a medium sized bath towel. It was not only heavy to manipulate and wring out, but it needed so many rinses before the water coming out was tolerably clear. It was about 10.30pm when I fell into a well deserved sleep.

 Once again I didn't sleep for as long as I felt I should have - and now, with less than half the day over, I am feeling like I need a good long snooze. This does not bode well for tomorrow when I am back at work. During the night I remember having a very long composite dream. With hind sight it is obvious that the dream was made up of many "chapters" on the same theme, but each was probably a seperate story in it's own right. The theme  was trains again, and last night it involved a ride to London Bridge, presumably, but not explicitly from Catford Bridge. The theme also included the train being diverted via "the docks". I am unsure where these docks could have been, but it could have been somewhere in the vicinity of the old Battersea Power station. There are lots of odd spurs and diversions possible around there. It made for quite a scenic ride.

 This morning is yet another morning where I seem to have done very little except sit in front of my PC monitor straining my eyes as I edit photos or upload them. The good news is that I have finally uploaded the best (or least worst) pictures I took at Chain's gig on Saturday night. You can see them here in all their high resolution glory (click on a picture to read a brief description).

 Maybe by the end of today I will have another Flickr photo album ready to show to the world. It may not be quite so entertaining, but then again many of my photos are historical records rather than "wow !" pictures. I have been going through my archives trying to find all the pictures I have taken of Catford Bridge station. It is possible that in years to come the station will become part of The London Overground, and there are even tentative plans to incorporate the line from Catford Bridge to Hayes into an extended Bakerloo Line on the London Underground. So a nice record of how it looked might be nice.

 About the only thing I am doing today is waiting in for one more parcel delivery. The email I was sent said this parcel could arrive at any time since last Friday up to tomorrow. Well it hasn't arrived yet, but hopefully it will arrive today or it will be bloody awkward if it arrives tomorrow when I am back at work. The first two parcels of my Amazon order arrived one day earlier than predicted. So here's hoping that the last parcel will arrive one day before the last possible day. If it should arrive very soon I might go out somewhere for a walk, or to take more pictures. I didn't think it could be possible, but as I write this the sun has been shining through a little gap in the clouds for the last 5 minutes. It is rather nice !
Sunday 13th December 2015
19:39 GMT.
  I wonder if it's worth mentioning the weather. It's probably a boring subject, but on the other hand it is sometimes interesting to look back over the years and compare a day to the same day years ago. The weather has actually been very similar over the last week or so. It has been dull and grey, and the temperature has ranged from as low as 7° C (first thing this morning) to around 12 ° C most days during daylight, and very late into the night last night. There was some rain this morning, and probably some in the night too, but yesterday, and from late morning today it has been dry.

 On Friday night I decided I was a lazy bastard and I wasn't going to go out to see Chain playing in Greenwich. I'm not sure if I regret that or not. By the time I would have gone out I was actually feeling OK, and (only) by comparison with earlier in the day, maybe rather good. On the plus side, being completely lazy is one of the treats of taking holiday from work.

 On Saturday morning I saw Aleemah. As usual, the first port of call after meeting her at the station was the Wetherspoons pub for breakfast. They had a couple of nice Xmas beers in !
two nice Xmas ales
 The one on the right was the least I think it was that way round !

 Aleemah's taste in DVDs continues to be weird. This week she brought over a rather "adult" film rather than an old childrens TV series as she has been bringing over recently. Saturday's film was most definitely X-rated, but also rather comical. It was a badly dubbed Italian film about Devil worship in an English country house. I have to confess that I enjoyed it a lot more than some of the DVDs she brought to watch.

 I felt a lot better on Saturday than I did on Friday, but there were times when I still felt rather rough. I felt terribly tired after Aleemah had left, and bits of me ached. So I lay on my bed, and did very little for quite some time. I'm not sure if I dozed off or not, but I had quite a few fleeting days dreams that often only lasted a second or two. Quite often I would try and remember what they were about, but all I was left with was a sort of unexplained flash frame, and that in turn rapidly evaporated from my memory. It was a mix of exciting and annoying !

 The good thing is that the extra rest meant I was feeling sort of good when it came time to go out to get the bus to the other side of Bromley for Chain's gig in The Chatterton Arms. It was nice to be paid a compliment as soon as I arrived at the pub - even before I had gone in. I bumped into Jo Corteen's two daughters, and they were both convinced that I had lost weight since they saw me last. I suppose it is possible. I do try and be careful with what I eat some of the time, and maybe my trousers are still a bit looser than they were earlier in the year, and perhaps my gut doesn't overhang my gut much now, but I don't feel thinner in the way I would like to.

 I only stayed for the first set of the gig, but I could have stayed later if I wanted to. I was feeling mostly comfortable physically, but maybe not mentally. The background noise in the pub was annoying me a lot, and with hindsight I realised that I find watching the band non stop is a bit tiring. I don't know when that first happened, but I found myself thinking how good it was when I would pop outside for a fag every 20 - 40 minutes. It was a nice break, often quiet, and a chance to socialise with other smokers (and sometimes some non smokers too).

 I took a fair set of pictures while I was there, but another revelation came to me on the night - even with the biggest lens in the world, you can't take good pictures of moving subjects in dim light. So although I was reluctant to do it, I took some pictures using flash, and of course they look bright and sharp, but unfortunately they lack depth and "ambience". I will probably be uploading the photo album to Flickr tomorrow, and I'll link to it once it's up.

 Getting home was doubly annoying. The first annoyance was that the first bus that arrived was a 208. These take exactly the same route back to Catford as the 320, but are always slightly slower. The one I caught was exceptionally slow because some idiots got on in Bromley, and presumably wouldn't or couldn't pay. So the bus driver turned the engine off and refused to move until they got off the bus - which took so long that I was able to get off and get on the following bus !

Back in Catford I bought some chicken and chips. On this occasion it was something a bit different to drunken gluttony. I hadn't eaten all that much during the day because I wasn't feeling all that good. When I got home I tore into that chicken and chips like I was half starved - and promptly gave myself indigestion, and if only I had realised it, a clue as to what I have been suffering from recently.

 I didn't sleep all that well last night, although the reason was possibly more due to timing rather than indigestion. I don't know where all the time went, but I didn't go to bed until almost 1am this morning. Had I slept until 9am I would have been fine, but force of habit woke me up at 6am (which is an improvement on 5am - my normal time on work days), and I couldn't seem to sleep much beyond that time.

 Once I got up I started editing last night's photos, and while I did that I had a light snack. That gave me indigestion, and with the grand benefit of hindsight, that was a significant part of the discomfort that made me feel so bad on Friday, and to a lesser extent, yesterday. Today I had a gulp of Tesco's indigestion mix (aniseed flavoured milk of magnesia), and very soon I felt far better. If only I had realised that on Friday I could probably have saved myself a lot of discomfort.

 Sometimes it seems like photography is hard work ! Not only did I take a pile of pictures last night, but I went out and took more pictures today. Today was a silly sort of experiment to see how good or bad the pictures taken by my Praktica "Aquacam" could be. I bought the camera in Tesco a some years ago because I thought it might be useful for my walks along the seashore. It comes in a fully sealed housing for use underwater, but can be taken out and used like a pocket camera. I don't think I ever thought I would use it underwater, but maybe I could have used it near sea spray without fear of harming it.

 Today I decided I would take a slow walk to Lidl, and take some pictures along the way. I was careful how I composed the pictures, and careful how I took them - particularly keeping the camera steady for a few seconds after the camera appearing to take the picture (it suffers from very bad shutter lag). Had it been a sunny day the pictures would obviously been better, but they came out fairly well, and serve the purpose of illustrating various shops and stuff in Catford. You can see the complete collection here - - and read my notes and descriptions. It was writing the descriptions, adding tags, and showing where the places are on a map that was the real time consuming part of the whole exercise.

 It seems madness, but it is now getting close to bed time - or should be. I have one more day off tomorrow, but I am back at work on Tuesday so I ought to try and get back into synchronisation with the working day. Luckily it will be a short week. As well as being off on Monday, Friday is xmas part day at work, and being a miserable bastard I will probably sneak away early in the afternoon !
Friday 11th December 2015
17:39 GMT.
  Just 10 days to go until Yule and the winter solstice when the days start getting longer again. Today has not only been short but it has been cold - or maybe that is just how I felt it to be. My thermometer says it is currently 9.4° C, and I don't think the temperature has been higher than about 10° Cat any time today. It has been dry, but there hasn't been a trace of any sunshine. Tomorrow should see the temperature back up to 12° C in the afternoon, but only after starting as low as 5° C at sunrise. It is also going to be a wet start to the day, and with temperature that low I would not be surprised to see a bit of sleet mixed in. There could follow a couple of hours when it doesn't rain, but it is supposed to start again around midday, and then it will continue at varying strengths until late in the evening.

 I had a pleasant drink last night...well almost pleasant. I don't know how they do it, but somehow The Catford Constitutional Club seems to have a knack for selecting beers that are not that nice. I feel fairly certain that they look after them correctly, and it is just their choice of brewers, and brew that is not good. Of course all this is down to our individual palates. I thought the better, or least worst beer, was the one that everyone else thought was quite nasty.

 I ended up having two pints of Welton's "Ginger" - which was ginger in colour, but nothing else. It wasn't that bad, but after two pints I thought I would try what everyone was drinking - which I think was Partridge's "Dark Star". It was OK, but I didn't care for it. My last pint was Holden's (?) Vim, and while everyone thought it was good, I thought it revolting ! I made that my last pint and headed home via the chicken shop (!).

 After filling my face with fried chicken I headed to bed. If I recall correctly it was not all that much after 9pm when I got into bed, and I think I fell asleep quite easily. I seemed to sleep well until 4am when I woke up feeling horrible. It is difficult to describe just what horrible means in this context, but it involved several assorted aches and pain that prevented me from getting back to sleep for some time. One discomfort improved after three visits to the toilet, and some Ibuprofen calmed a few muscular type pains enough to finally get back to sleep sometime after 5am...perhaps nearer 6am.

 It was nearly 9.30am when I woke up, and decided to get up. I still ached here and there. It was a bit 'flu like. What is probably of some concern is that it was only a couple of weeks ago when I had some 'flu like symptoms. I wasn't particularly concerned about some mild aching in my legs, and also a bit of mild back ache, but the aches in my arms worried me a bit because my chest ached too.

 Most often the pains in my chest are varied and usually in several places at once. This was a more dull ache that covered quite a lot of my chest, and it seemed difficult to blame it on my dislodged ribs/torn ligaments/muscular damage, or whatever is the root cause of my usual chest pains. I am not sure what is causing the discomfort I have been feeling today....and I think I would describe it as discomfort rather than pain.

 There is one very weird way of describing that discomfort - it is like drinking Pepsi Max ! One of the things I did yesterday afternoon, after all my expected parcels had been delivered, and my electricity meter had been read, was to take a quick spin around the Sam 99p shop (rather than the ordinary 99p shop). It wasn't actually a 99p bargain, and ultimately it was a waste of money, but curiosity made me buy a 2 litre bottle of Pepsi Max to see if I still hate it - and I do !

 Out of all the sugar free colas the best is still Diet Coke. That is followed by Lidl's Freeway Cola, and that is closely followed by Aldi's diet cola. I can't decide what goes at the bottom of the list. It is a toss up between Tesco's own brand diet cola and Pepsi Max. On reflection it is probably Tesco's own diet cola that must take the award for most revolting sugar free cola. That's a shame really because before they changed the recipe (or maker) in 2008, it was my favourite - even ahead of real Diet Coke.

 So today's chest pain is a bit like being forced to drink Pepsi Max. It is unpleasant, but doesn't usually feel dangerous. There was one point when I thought it might be wise to get my emergency kit together just in case, but that passed. Generally speaking the discomfort goes away when I am laying down, walking, or washing a t-shirt and a pair of shoes. Oddly enough it has gone away as I have been sitting here typing - and another thing has happened too.

 The time when I thought I should check my emergency kit (toothpaste, toothbrush, mobile phone charger, mini laptop, mobile broadband dongle - all the things I wish I had taken to hospital when I had my quad heart bypass back in September 2013) was this morning, and I seemed to be sweating for no obvious reason. After 10 minutes of sweating I started feeling cold. Not shivery cold, but not far off, and I have kept the heating up high for most of the day since then. The other thing that has happened since I sat down to write this is that I am beginning to feel quite warm again. I wonder if my appetite will come back. Losing that is surely a sign of serious illness ! (Maybe not for you, but it must be for me).

 It is as if I have some sort of recurring bug or other malady. I am sure my resistance never used to be this low. I think I ought to blame it on commuting on South West Trains, or South East trains, or both ! Well, at least it has happened at a convenient time when I am off work on holiday. It might seem like a waste of holiday time, but at this time of year I am most reluctant to go out into the cold, and wet, and dark. So laying on my bed reading is what I would most probably be doing anyway.

 If, as seems to be the case, I am starting to feel better then I guess I could get ready to go out to see Chain playing in The Mitre Hotel in Greenwich. It's not raining, it's easy to get to, and I've heard that the pub has re-arranged the furniture a bit to give the band more space, and they no longer have to play as if they are standing in a queue at a bus stop ! It's tempting to go, but is it wise ? Particularly when it is more urgent that I go to their gig in The Chatterton Arms (Bromley) tomorrow.  Let me think about it....
Thursday 10th December 2015
12:14 GMT.
  This morning started off dry, and it was about 12° C. It was also as gloomy as expected. It's now even gloomier, the temperature is about the same, but it recently started to rain - a little later than expected, but now it has stated it could rain for most of the rest of the day...and the temperature is expected to stay the same !

 Stop Press ! The forecast has changed. It is now not supposed to be raining, but will start again at 3pm, and continue until 9pm. At 3pm the temperature will drop to 11° C and will ever so slowly continue to fall until it reaches 9° C at 5am tomorrow morning. If the forecast holds good (or maybe evil would be more apt), it's going to be a rather cool (9° C), wet and gloomy day tomorrow. It doesn't seem like the sort of day that I can really put my day off work to some practical use.

 Nothing much happened last night, but whatever it was I was doing kept me occupied until 11pm. I was just mooching about watching a bit of forgettable TV, and looking at some stuff on the internet. I guess I have to blame my subconscious for convincing me that I wasn't tired because I could sleep in late this morning. Once I went to bed, and fell asleep, that myth was evidently proved false because I seemed to sleep well for a change. That's not to say I wouldn't have liked to sleep another hour or so, but maybe I can do that tomorrow morning.

 Today I have to stay alert for another parcel to be delivered. I wasn't expecting it until tomorrow, but like the one that was delivered last night, it seems to be coming early. According to the tracking info it was placed on the couriers van in Mitcham (maybe 5 or 6 miles away) at 08:32. I just hope that I am not at the end of the delivery route, and I won't have to wait too long for it to arrive now. It will be a bit annoying if it turns up as late as last nights delivery (although in that instance I was very glad it was that late so I was at home to receive it). Hopefully it will not delay me going for my Thursday night drink at 5pm.

 I am also expecting another visitor today. There was a card dropped through my letterbox yesterday to say that the electricity meter reader will be sometime between 9am and 6pm. It would be handy to have my meter read for the first time in possibly 2 years. I have a suspicion that my standing order to the company is a little too high, and I will have built up a lot of credit. My current level of payment is probably based upon when I was at home recovering from my operation in September 2013. I was using a lot of heating them because I left my chest bare most of the time to avoid irritating my big scar. Sleeping on my back, with my chest uncovered, was not easy. Not easy at all, but was made a bit easier by keeping my bedroom warmed to mid-summer temperatures for over a month (maybe 2) - and then it was winter so I had the heating up high anyway !

 So far this morning I have only done a couple of useful things. I have washed two t-shirts, and three work shirts, and I have washed my hair.  Unfortunately one of the things I haven't done is to have a shower. I left it a bit late, and then I decided I didn't want to be caught in the shower when the parcel delivery man arrives - and the later I left it, the more paranoid I became.......No worries now though. Just as I was writing the last sentence the parcel arrived. It would be nice to get my electricity meter read today, but that is far less important. I am now free to do anything I please this afternoon, and I am free to head to The Catford Constitutional Club at 5pm !!
Wednesday 9th December 2015
18:41 GMT.
  After a wet day yesterday it was nice to have a dry, and quite often sunny day today. The only downside, and it is almost forgiveable, was that the cloudless sky meant a cold morning. It was only about 5° C when I walked to the station. The thin winter sun did it's best to provide some warmth, but it was only 9° C when I got home after work.  The weather forecast reckons it should actually be 11° C right now, and that it should stay at that temperature through the night, and through most of tomorrow. The reason for that is that it will be very cloudy tomorrow, and from about 11am it will rain, and rain, and rain.....Lovely !

 It's been a strange old day. It started with me feeling mostly OK. I had some discomfort in the lower gut area, but nothing too bothersome. What was more bothersome was that I was fearful I had made a bit of a mistake in my choice of shoes. For some unknown reason (brainstorm perhaps ?) I decided I would wear a pair of Dunlop trainers this morning. It has been so lo0ng since I last wore them that I couldn't remember why I didn't wear them more often. I suspect it was because the last times I wore them was when my feet were swelling up a lot due to the effects of the medication I took. I take a lower dose now, and my feet swell less - the right foot hardly at all.

 When I tried on those trainers this morning they seemed to fit really well. There was no pinching, rubbing, or other uncomfortable things except for a bit of a feeling of lumpiness. That made for some occasional discomfort when walking, but it wasn't significant until coming home from work. Sometimes it was a bit painful, but I have endured far, far worse - particularly some trainers that have felt like sandpaper in some places, and have ground off many layers of skin. Ouch !

 It hasn't been a good day for computers, networks, and servers today. The clean up operation for the computers at work after the company server was attacked with a ransomware virus for the second time went on until almost lunchtime, and even now there are some network modifications that are going on. That didn't stop me getting on the internet using my 3 mobile broadband dongle, and rather curiously I still seemed to have 423MB of the 500MB I had bought the day before, and which was only supposed to be valid for 24 hours. I'm not sure what is going on there, but I can't complain !

 I was all set ready to start writing this blog this morning, but I wanted to upload a couple of pictures first. I set up an FTP client program on the Linux Mint laptop I was using, and tried to log in to my server here at home, but I couldn't seem to connect. My first thought was that I had set things up incorrectly, or used the wrong password, but it soon became apparent that my server was not running correctly. I then found that it wasn't serving web pages either. I had several attempts to fix the problem with a remote log in session, but that failed too.

 What had happened is that there must have been a power glitch that had cause the PC I use as a server to reboot. Unfortunately, the hard disk I use for these web pages does not automatically mount when the PC boots, and I have to mount the disk manually. It is something I must get around to fixing someday - probably the same time that I stop using a 3 year old temporary lash up as a server with the hard disk just sitting on top of the PC completely unprotected from dust and all sorts. I'll get around to doing it all properly sooner or later, but I don't like to rush these things !

 The other thing at work that was sort of I.T. based was a problem with some thermal imaging cameras. It is a new product line, and the company bought it from another company. So we are all a bit green when it comes to understanding all the ins and outs of the processes and procedures. To make matters worse, the two guys who know the most are away. Then to make matters even more worse, one of the company directors has taken a personal interest in a little problem, and has been hovering about all day !

 It has been quite annoying, and yet maybe I have earned a few brownie points. I was asked to help, and yet I know very little about what was going on. I've watched a few bits of some of the processes involved in programming, and setting up these units over someone's shoulder, but only to be nosy rather than trying to learn what was going on. Today I was able to offer some suggestions, and to occasionally agree with other's theories and stuff, and all the while pretending to be interested. Well the outcome was that the director thanked me for my help, and I guess that is pretty good for spouting the occasional bit of bullshit guesswork !

 They were still playing with it when I left to come home. It did feel a bit odd saying goodbye to the director so early. He does know I get to work very early, and I presume he knows I am there for a full 8 hours, but even so, no one has ever actually approved my starting and finishing time. I sort of set it myself, and no one has ever stopped to query it. I guess if I believe it enough it must be right.

 It was nice to go out into the last few minutes of daylight, and with the sun still making a very bright glare over the roofs of the houses to the west. Fortunately al the trains have been behaving themselves today, and I was on time coming home. I came home via Tesco so I could get a couple of bottles of Diet Coke, and have a rummage around looking for yellow reduced price stickers. I did manage to find a few useful bargains, but going home via Tesco was a brave thing to do.

 The reason it was brave was because I got an email today saying that a parcel I had ordered from Amazon was going to be delivered today. Originally they said it would be delivered tomorrow, and that would have fitted in with my day off work tomorrow. I assumed that if it was going to be delivered today, as the email said, I would almost probably be at work when they tried to deliver it, and that would complicate things tomorrow. However I thought there might be a small chance that it could be an early evening delivery, and indeed that was the case. I had hardly been home for more than 15 minutes when the doorbell sounded, and my parcel was delivered into my hand.

 That is potentially quite handy unless I hear that a second parcel is going to be delivered early. At the moment it is scheduled for delivery between Friday to next Tuesday. Maybe I'll be free to go out tomorrow now parcel one has arrived, but on the other hand it is supposed to be a pretty horrible day tomorrow, and maybe I would have preferred waiting in for a parcel. It is a lot less stressful having stuff delivered to work where there is always someone there to take the parcel in, but of course then I suffer the inconvenience of having to lug it all the way home.

choir/carol singers at
                    Waterloo station
 I had one lucky break while coming home from work today. It was pretty obvious that this lot in the red surplices, or whatever they call them, were just about to start caterwauling carols or some such, but I arrived, and passed through the station, while they were taking a brief break.

 Tomorrow I could be doing anything, but I think I will be constrained to just a few things. Maybe I will be waiting in for a parcel, or maybe I'll be staying in because it is pissing down with rain. I think I will definitely be washing my hair when I get up, and I think I will definitely be going out at 5pm for a Thursday night drink. Tomorrow it is very conveniently in The Catford Constitutional Club, and with no work in the morning I guess I probably ought to stay late, and get drunk.....but I don't know if I want to get that drunk.
Tuesday 8th December 2015
10:09 GMT.
  It's a pretty wet morning, but that's about all I can say for now. My work place server is under attack, and we have disconnected our internet connection. I am currently connected to my home server via a mobile broadband dongle, but I have only bought a small amount of data, and I want to use it for other things. I'll do a full update tonight - probably !

19:02 GMT

 What a day ! Today has seen both sunshine and heavy rain. I can't quite recall when the first ray of sunshine broke through, but I think it was before midday. There followed a couple of hours of sunshine in variable amounts until approximately 3pm when it very rapidly clouded over, and then proceeded to pour with rain - very heavy rain for a while. By some miracle it managed to stop just before I left work to go home. The last 10 - 15 minutes of daylight were almost sunny - the sun was shining, but it was below my visible horizon. The latest theory is that tomorrow should be dry with some sunshine, but it will be a fair bit cooler. The top temperature is forecast to be no more than 11° C.

 There was trouble on the trains going home from work yesterday. A person hit by a train at Raynes Park was reported to be causing severe delays through Wimbledon (and at Earlsfield too being as they are on the same line). I didn't have time to look any further than that on South West Trains website before I left work. I decided I would rush to the bus stop, and get a 44 bus to Wandsworth Town station.  It is on a different line, and should not have been affected.

 Unfortunately that line was having it's own problems, and after a tedious 10 minute ride on a packed and smelly bus, I discovered that I faced a 16 minute wait for the next train to Waterloo (or 15 minutes by the time I had got my camera out).
15 minute wait until the
                    next train to Waterloo from Wandsworth Town Station
 To stop myself feeling bored I got my little Nikon S6300 camera out and took some snaps of the sunset...well I couldn't actually see the sun setting, and I couldn't even be sure what direction it was, but I managed to get a few snaps of the sky turning pink. Oddly enough, it was my mobile phone that took the pinkest picture, and not the Nikon.
the sky turning pink at
I have to confess these were not the most artistic pictures I have ever taken, but I liked them enough to upload a set of 7 (these two plus 5 taken on the Nikon) to Flickr -

 By the time my train arrived it was more or less dark, and by the time the train arrived at Waterloo it was far too late to catch my usual train from Waterloo East station. The next train to Catford Bridge is 19 minutes after my usual one, and I was so late getting to Waterloo East that I only had to wait 8 or 9 minutes for it. The good thing about is that it is a class 465 train instead of a class 376. That means more, and more comfortable seats. For some reason the train is generally less busy too. So I had a seat to myself without being jammed in, and a fairly pleasant ride back to Catford.

 As I walked from the station to home I couldn't help but think how easy it seemed to be to swing one leg in front of the other. It almost felt as easy as when I used to do my long walks (obviously before the point when my feet had been pounded into agony !). I just wish I knew the secret ingredients that make walking seem so easy on these odd occasions.

 I was late getting home, but only by about 20 minutes. So it wasn't the end of the world, and I felt sort of good. Good enough to do a little hand laundry job - and it was a very little job really. I had soaked a well stained greasy tea towel, plus a grease stained mini-table cloth in bio detergent for 24 hours, and all I had to do was to give them several rinses and lots of wringing out. Now they are dry it looks as if all the grease spots, and other food stains have come out OK - at least it does under slightly dim artificial light. Seeing them in bright daylight could reveal something else !

 I managed to eat fairly (but not wholly) sensibly last night. The core of my dinner was a couple of Aldi "steamed meals" - white fish, green vegetables and potato flavour.  They were supposed to be only 235 calories apiece. Of course I ate some junk too, but I still managed to feel a bit hungry this morning, and very hungry for a while this afternoon - although those feelings may not have been all that accurate because it feels like I have a bit of an odd stomach this evening. I might even explode soon !

 For yet another evening I felt as if I should be sleeping, but not ready to go to bed for some reason. It was almost 10pm before I got in bed, and it was sometime after 10pm before I fell asleep. I think I slept reasonably well, but I woke up half an hour early, and I ended up feeling tired most of the time I was at work today.

 That wasn't the only feeling I had. I sort of felt a bit uncomfortable in an undefinable way. I definitely wanted to lay down, and if I had been able to I would most probably dozed off - I almost managed it in my office chair ! While coming home from work, via my usual route tonight, I partly felt good, and partly felt bad. I had something that wasn't quite pain, and yet was still unpleasant, in my gut area. It was almost as if I wanted to go to the toilet, but not quite, and also a bit like the lead up to the lead up to feeling like I might want to vomit at some time in the future. Maybe it was/is trapped wind that the finally escape in a cloud of miasma at some point, or maybe all my organs are in a slow spiral of decay. Some sort of cancer of the navel perhaps !

 To carry on the theme, I do feel a bit bloated after my dinner of two Iceland "Slimming World" curries, and I do feel rather tired. I guess the tiredness is die to bad sleep even if it did seem to be good at the time. It is certainly not from over work. It has been a very lazy day at work today. With the server at work being eaten alive by one of those file encrypting ransomeware viruses the server was switched off, and we were isolated from the internet. There was stuff I could have done using files stored locally on my work PC, but why make extra work for yourself when it's not needed ?

 This is the second time the server has come under attack, and it is believed the infection was carried in a drop box account. That was not my concern, but after it happened the first time I took precautions. Not only did I have a memory stick with me with hundreds of hours of music on it to amuse myself, but I also took in my "3" mobile broadband dongle, and used it on an old laptop that has Linux Mint installed on it. A days worth of date cost me £2.99 - which was obviously rather expensive, and it would have been better value to buy a weeks worth (or even a month), but I assume the internet will be back tomorrow. Obviously the good thing was that I was the only one who had internet access on a desktop device (even if it was a laptop), and I was able to keep an eye on my favourite web sites while everyone else had to squint at their mobile phones if they wanted to check anything online.

 After tomorrow I don't have to worry about the internet at work for a few days. I've booked Thursday, Friday and next Monday off work, but I've also done a silly thing - possibly. I have ordered a few things from Amazon, and one bit will arrive on Thursday. If I doesn't come early I will have to stay in and amuse myself here. Another part of the order could arrive any time from Friday to next Tuesday. I hope they give me warning of the actual day it will arrive (they usually do if they can), and I won't have to spend all my mini holiday indoors waiting for the postman !
Monday 7th December 2015
08:35 GMT.
  Yesterday was an unrelenting grey day with a few showers - mostly after dark. The temperature remained higher than it seemed. I think it was almost 15° C late in the afternoon. The temperature stayed up overnight, and this morning it was 13° C when I walked to the station. There were a few puddles left over from the rain earlier in the night, but thankfully no rain is forecast for today - although you would think there was judging by the look of the sky right now ! At the moment there is supposed to be light cloud, and the dark cloud that is overhead right now is not supposed to happen for a few hours yet. There is a possibility that there could be some sunny periods in the last hour or two before sunset. Maybe the last few minutes before sunset will be sunny. The temperature today is forecast to hardly change at all, and it will stay around 13° C until sunset. Even then the temperature will only drop by a degree or two. Tomorrow will see similar temperatures, but there will probably be some rain. There will also be some sunshine - possibly more than today !

 I am having difficulty working out/remembering how good or badly I ate yesterday. The confusion comes from the idea that I didn't eat all that much in terms of physical quantities, but I probably ate a lot of calories and stuff. I think I can only conclude that my calorie intake was excess - which is bad, but that my sugar intake was reasonably low - which was good. I almost felt hungry when I went to bed last night, and this morning it seemed that my contribution to the toilet was less than usual. It is a shame that I didn't take more exercise yesterday to burn off some of those excess calories.

 On the whole, I had a lazy day yesterday, and apart from a quick walk to the £1 shop, I hardly did anything that I could call constructive. That didn't seem to stop me getting what seemed like quite a good nights sleep last night. There were times yesterday evening, and perhaps part of the afternoon, when I felt a bit odd, and that was even more true this morning. I have absolutely no idea if I feel good or bad this morning.

 My confusion comes from many conflicting feelings from around my body. I thought my legs felt a bit stiff, and I thought that maybe my feet were not comfortable in the shoes I chose to wear. On top of that I thought I felt a little bit asthmatic, and my chest superstructure (ribs, ligaments, and muscles) seemed like it was going to give trouble. None of these things seemed to hold me back from walking to the station, and none of those things caused me any sort of bother as I walked.

 I found that walking was actually as easy as any time in the last couple of years, but not as easy as in pre-angina and smoking days. I was walking fairly fast, and whatever had made me think I felt a bit asthmatic as I showered, and towelled myself dry earlier on, didn't seem to recur, and I was some way from being anywhere near out of breath when I arrived at the station. My legs and feet were OK too, as was my chest...sort of. My chest remains a bit of an enigma still. It does feel a bit loose and crunchy, and seems to be on the point of starting to hurt, but so far it hasn't really complained at all. With everything seemingly explained there is still something that makes me feel a bit odd today, and yet I can't seem to define it. Oh well, I'll either be dead before the end of the day, or it will have gone away.

 I note with some dismay that France is panicking in the wake of it's recent terrorist problems, and now seems to be taking a lead in heading towards the world depicted by George Orwell in 1984, or even Terry Nation in Blakes 7. Universal surveillance cannot be far away now. Now is the time to try and sign up to The Party if you can, and enjoy the good life, or just become a prole surviving on the scraps of the party members with little access to healthcare, housing, or any of the amenities we usually take for granted.

 The article that depressed me is here - and a quote from it :-
"France's state of emergency could lead to blocks on encrypted Internet connections and a ban on public Wi-Fi networks, if proposals put to the government go ahead.According to Le Monde, the extension of the state of emergency could also stretch to requiring all rental cars to carry GPS, expansion of public video surveillance, two-year telecommunications data retention, and approval for police to use IMSI-catchers (like the Stingray devices used in America)."

 Still, never mind. There are alternatives. The new estate, Catford Green, being built on the old Catford Greyhound stadium is littered with CCTV cameras, and it is well know that these stop bombs blowing up, and jam AK47 or similar weapons. Unfortunately they will probably do little to stop drug dealing, and stabbings once Catford Green turns into the latest sink estate when it is inhabited by those decanted out of the nearby Milford Towers when that latter place is demolished in a year or two.
the brave new world of
                    Catford Green
The brave new world of Catford Green (as seen from the safety of the other side of the railway line).
one of many CCTV cameras on the estate
Close up on the full pan/tilt/zoom CCTV camera in the previous picture.
looking at you looking at us
Another CCTV camera with an excellent view into someone's bedroom.
more CCTV
When the building work has finished, and there is access to the whole of the site, I could, if I was brave enough, go and count all the cameras. I reckon there could be as many at least 20 outside, and probably many more inside the buildings. Big brother is definitely watching YOU ! Or maybe not ! Is anyone actually watching these camera to take action if they see anything ? I doubt it. I expect they just feed into a recorder so someone can see how something happened in the past - if they can be bothered.
Sunday 6th December 2015
13:22 GMT.
  The weather continues to be just like autumn.....or does it ? What is autumn weather like ? Maybe daytime temperatures of 12 - 14° C are a little higher than autumn usually demands, but that's how it's been recently, although some strong winds have often made it feel cooler. There were a few sunny periods on Friday, but mostly the sky has ranged between pale grey, and deep grey. There was some rain last night, but not much, and yesterday and Friday was dry (as far as I can recall). There will probably be some rain this afternoon. In fact it looks like there might have been a light sprinkle already. The rain may be heavier later on, but still only a fractional amount compared to reports I've heard of rain in the north west of the country. Cumbria has been hot by heavy flooding for instance. Tomorrow should be dry, and there may even be a few sunny periods just before sunset.

 Friday turned out a little different to how I imagined it would...or maybe it didn't ! I continued to feel OK at work until the afternoon when I started to yawn a lot. Getting out into the fresh air at home time rejuvenated me a bit, and I felt perfectly comfortable to go home via Tesco. At that time everything was running to plan, but when it came to the possibility of going out to see Chain playing in Greenwich, everything went weird rather than wrong.

 I didn't feel like going out once I got home. I was suffering from that specialised form of tiredness where you don't feel tired until you try and do something. It came as some relief that I had made a mistake about when the Chain gig was taking place. It wasn't on Friday night but on Saturday night. That left me free to be completely lazy without a trace of guilt. I was feeling so lazy that it seems I couldn't even be bothered to try and remember what I did on Friday night.

 I have a vague memory of doing some stuff with photos, but it was Saturday night when I uploaded some to Flickr, and not Friday night. Maybe I watched some TV before going to bed, but when was that ? I don't think it was very early, but I have no idea when. I think I probably slept quite well, but it was another of those nights when I woke up too early to get up, but not able to get to sleep again.

 So on Saturday morning I got up at about 4am and pottered around for something like an hour before going back to bed again. I managed to get back to sleep, and probably slept for a few hours, but I couldn't sleep any longer because I had to get up, and get ready to see Aleemah. I had barely washed, dressed, and done the absolute bare minimum of housework, no more than a quick tidy, before she phoned me to say what train she was on.

 From then on it was the usual breakfast in the Wetherspoons pub, and then back here to watch a DVD. This time Aleemah brought over a DVD of a six part children's TV series about young girl who keeps travelling back in time to the Elizabethan era. Aleemah seems to like these stories about time travelling. I do too - up to a limit, and like the last one, this crossed the limit ! It wasn't actually boring, but neither was it exciting !

 After Aleemah had gone home again I went out to get my shopping from Aldi. Late afternoon is certainly a less busy time in there compared to the usual Saturday morning madness, but it is a bit of a wrench to suddenly get busy again when you want to relax. However once I got moving I was fine. I even found some unanticipated energy to do quite a lot of laundry (by hand) not too long after I got back from Aldi.

 That left little or no energy to go out again, or maybe it was just a lack of enthusiasm, to go Greenwich to see Chain's gig in The Mitre Hotel. Instead I did two other things - one of which turned out to be quite important, and the other not really important at all, but very time consuming. That latter thing was to edit 45 photos of a visit I made to Eastbourne on the 22nd August this year - one of the hottest days of the year. It includes many photos that I am quite proud off, and you can see them here -

 The other thing I did was to take a look behind the toilet bowl. The almost hallucinatory vision I had several days ago when I thought I saw something streak across the bathroom floor out of the corner of my eye, had been playing on my mind. Since then I have seen no evidence that I have a small furry visitor in the house, although once or twice I have heard an ambiguous rustle that could have been something moving, or just a floorboard creaking. What I found in the gloom behind the toilet bowl was a small hole that was almost certainly gnawed by a very small rodent. It was almost triangular between two floorboards and the skirting board. It seems very likely that I did see a mouse race across the floor out of the corner of my eye. I have no idea where it is now, but I am pretty certain it won't be using that hole behind the toilet again now I have sealed it with "frame sealant" - which goes rock hard !
festive bleach
 I am unsure where all the time has gone today because I have done very little so far. I had another split morning where I got up for an hour or so before going back to bed again.

 The first thing I did when I got up for the second time, and after I had washed and dressed, was to go the shops. I was going to go to the Sam 99p shop (rather than the ordinary 99p shop), but for some unknown reason it was closed. So Went to the £1 shop, and wasted money on this and that. One of the things I bought I have posted a picture of on the left. The label suggests it might be cranberry flavoured, or perfumed bleach, but it appears to be neither. It is not even coloured. It does seem to freshen the toilet bowl but it doesn't even have a strong bleach odour.

 One of the things I wasted money on was some strings of fairy lights. I am unsure what I will do with them because I will not be putting up any decorations again this year. I just seem to have a fascination with things that light up. Part of that fascination is wonderment that blue and white LEDs that used to be so incredibly expensive and rare are now so stupidly cheap that you can get a string of them, including the wire, and a little flimsy battery box, for just £1 !

 I did have some thoughts that I might go out somewhere today. One possibility was to go to Watford station on the Metropolitan Line. Sometime in the not too distant future that station is due to close when the line is diverted to pass through two extra stations, and then terminate at the mainline Watford station (which is apparently more convenient for most things in Watford). I do intend to get a pile of pictures before the station closes, but not today. It is too late in the day, and it is far too gloomy for photography (but mostly too gloomy for me!). I think I will just end up having a thoroughly lazy afternoon in preparation for work on tomorrow morning.
Friday 4th December 2015
08:26 GMT.
  The weather turned out to be quite similar to the forecast yesterday. I thought that the clouds were a little darker than the forecast suggested, but that is probably just my opinion. I can't recall if I checked the temperature because it just felt like the expected 12° C - not warm, but not too chilly. I don't know if the rain started at 7pm when it was supposed to, but it did rain yesterday evening, and this morning there are puddles around to prove it. I don't know when the rain stopped, but I do know all the clouds had gone away by 5am. It is a nice clear, but rather cool morning. The temperature was still falling when I left home to come to work. It should have hit the lower limit around now, and that was forecast to be about 6° C. It will slowly start to warm up now - if you can call not much more than 9° C "warm" !. Sometime this afternoon it will cloud over again, but it is supposed to stay dry all day today, and tomorrow too, although tomorrow is supposed to be quite cloudy - probably similar to yesterday.

 I felt fairly good at work yesterday, and I felt reasonably good going home from work, but I had no enthusiasm for extra travelling, and so I went straight home instead of going for my usual Thursday night drink. If I had arranged to take today off work, and preferably yesterday off as well, I would have made a far better effort to go for that drink - and then stay on, camera in hand, for the regular open mic session held in The Coach And Horses in Beckenham - the venue for last night's drink.

 The strange thing is that I didn't seem to miss that drink, and the company, much. I had things to do at home that kept me entertained (if you use a broad definition of entertained). One of the "entertainments" was eating. I have mentioned the Iceland "Slimming World" meals quite frequently recently, and I thought it was time I posted a picture of one.
an Iceland "Slimming
                    World" ready meal
 This is one I had last night. Ignore the fact that some stupid person has chosen to illustrate it the meal using broccoli instead of spinach ! It is a fair sized portion, and is only about 400 calories. It suggests eating it with rice, but my preference is to leave out high carbonhydrate rice, and substitute another similar meal - maybe the sweet potato curry - also about 400 calories. A pair of them are fairly filling, and if I was still smoking I could probably manage to eat nothing else than these in the evening. On a typical work day I only have about 400 calories for breakfast. Adding breakfast and the evening meal together comes to only 1200 calories, and that is about my ideal amount to lose weight. Unfortunately I can't seem to manage to eat just that without the aid of cigarettes and sunshine !
sprout surprise !!
 This was the second course of my dinner last night - sprouts ! I am not a great fan of sprouts, but under certain circumstances they can be OK. I'm not sure what the illustration on the packet was of, but it was nothing like what was inside ! Quite a few years ago Tesco used to sell frozen sprouts and chestnuts as a seasonal "special". They were quite generous with the chestnuts, and with a bit of gravy they were actually nice to eat. The mix I had last night definitely needed more chestnut in it, some more obvious bacon might not have been a bad idea either, but the cheesy sauce worked well. I couldn't actually recommend this product to anyone except a true sprout lover.

 Having eaten dinner, and then with the aid of some snacks as cigarette substitutes, I set about editing some more pictures. The pictures I chose were another set of bright and clear pictures taken almost a year ago on Sunday 28th December 2014. They were of Jo Corteen performing solo on the special busking stage set up in Bromley Market Square. It was a nice bright, but rather cold day. The madness of the xmas shopping was over, and the place was not too crowded, but there were enough people around for Jo to earn the price of a cup of coffee from change thrown into her guitar case. I have uploaded those pictures to Flickr, and you can see them here -

 If you use the criteria that if I had to be woken up by my alarm going off then I must have slept well, then I must have slept well last night. I'm not so sure it was that simple. I know I woke up several times in the night, but maybe it was less than my current average, and maybe it was for shorter periods too. Maybe I slept better than usual because I seem to be feeling tolerably OK now, or maybe it is the other way round. I think I said yesterday that it would be very, very nice to feel a lot, lot better, but that would probably only be possible by some sort of youth rejuvenation drug - or something suitably science fictional. So I don't feel good enough to do anything energetic, and I don't feel brave enough to do anything that might upset my fucked up chest superstructure, but at least I can sit here at work without anything hurting (much).

 Tonight I plan to go home via Tesco so I can buy a few odds and ends. I'll get my main weekend shopping from Aldi - possibly tomorrow, or maybe on Sunday. Other than that I have no plans unless I mysteriously feel semi-wonderful. As unlikely as that is, if it should happen I could go to Greenwich to see a Chain gig in The Mitre Hotel. I guess it is a little crazy, but because it is one of the worst places to do any photography (dark and a stupid "stage" layout), I don't feel a strong urge to go - and that's despite it being one of the easier venues to get to. When was it that photography became more important than the music ? I don't know, but that seems to be how it is these days. I am hooked on the everlasting quest to take the perfect photo !
Thursday 3rd December 2015
08:16 GMT.
  Yesterday was remarkably similar to the day before. It was dry, mostly grey (ranging from light to dark at different times), and there was even a few unexpected brief sunny periods. It was probably a degree, perhaps two, cooler, but with the wind being lighter, it didn't really notice. Today will be a little different. During daylight hours the sky is forecast to be light grey (it is currently not that light !), and the temperature is supposed to be a constant 12° C. Once darkness falls the temperature won't start to fall until midnight when it will drop to 7° C by tomorrow morning. The worst thing will be at 7pm when some possibly heavy rain will fall, and it will continue to fall, maybe not always very heavy, until the early hours of tomorrow morning.

 It is now getting to the time of year where all my commuting is done in darkness. There was still a bit of light left when I waited for my train at Earlsfield station yesterday, but once I was on the train, travelling towards Waterloo, the light just faded away. It may have gone by the time we reached Clapham Junction station (1 stop, or a few minutes from Earlsfield), but I think I was trying to ignore the outside world by then. Apart from the sole of my left foot hurting (for reasons far too common to explain here - even I don't fully understand the mechanism that causes it) I was feeling mostly good...and quite happy to be heading towards home.

 On the way home I called into Iceland to buy some more of their "Slimming World" products. I found a fat free cottage pie (or was it shepherds pie ?) to try as well as the curries I also bought. One other item I bought was not billed as low anything, but hopefully it won't be too terrible. It was a deluxe mixture of sprouts, chestnuts, bacon, and a couple of cheeses. It is either going to be disgustingly horrible, or very nice. I am not a fan of sprouts by any means, but they do combine with chestnuts rather well, and years ago I used to quite like the frozen sprouts and chestnuts that Tesco used to sell (haven't seen them for quite a few years now). Whether Icelands recipe is nice or nasty is something I hope to find out tonight.

 My left foot was quite sore when I finally got home - not actually agony, but I was glad to take my shoes off, and rest my foot. I was quite keen to have my dinner once I had got changed into my slouch-about-in-the-privacy-of-my-own-home clothes, and for some reason I was excited about trying the cottage pie I had just bought. Being excited about that was completely illogical, and I may have just imagined that idea based upon my later assessment of it. I have no idea what they did, or what was in that pie, but it was far, far nicer than a normal full fat cottage pie ready meal. There are probably premium cottage pies featuring real mashed potato instead of some strange pulp, and real prime cuts of meat. They are probably available from places like Marks And Spencer...and cost a fortune ! Anything less has just been made obsolete by Iceland's "Slimming World" version.

 Apart from filling my face, I also uploaded two photo albums to Flickr. As I do this more and more I discover short cuts that make the process a little less tedious. For instance I now know had to add tags to every photo in an album at the same time, and also to place the location where they were taken on a map (although it is a shame that the map seems to use incorrect place names - for instance it thinks that Catford Bridge station is on Blythe Hill instead of being in Catford !).  The first photo album I uploaded can be found here - it is of Andrew Rogers on the stage at the Petts Wood Memorial Hall singing his "rat pack" stuff - not my first choice of entertainment, but the pictures should earn me a beer or two ! The second album is of the band Red Post Hill performing some great rock covers in The Black Cat pub (formerly the Catford Ram) in Catford last Saturday.  Their photo album is here -

 I'm sure I shouldn't be sitting here writing that I seemed to get quite a good night's sleep last night, but that is exactly what I am doing ! I didn't seem to be in a great rush to get to bed last night, and it was probably 9.30pm before I turned out the light. Thankfully I didn't hear any suspicious rustle, creak, squeak or any other noise that would hint at the existence of a mouse in the house last night, and I am beginning to think that the undefined blurry streak I saw out of the corner of my eye while I was in the bathroom a few days ago, was just a shadow, or one of my hairs or eyelashes, or just my imagination. Since then I have seen, nor heard anything that might suggest I have a new little furry lodger in the house.

 With no audible distractions I was able to fall asleep quite quickly. I woke up a few times in the night, but mostly just for brief periods. The one time I was awake for a longer period was because I woke up with cramp in my left leg, and had to walk around a bit to ease the muscles. One of the good things about last night, or should I say this morning, is that I only woke up 10 minutes before my alarm was due to go off. That is a great improvement on 30 minutes (or even more on some occasions). One of the bad things about this morning was the cloud completely covering any hint of sunrise. It was dark when I arrived at Earlsfield station, but by the time I had walked to work, it was just about light. It can only get worse !

 Apart from my left foot, which is still a bit sore, I feel at least average, and maybe slightly better. That doesn't mean I couldn't feel a whole lot better, but that would probably demand that I was twenty years younger, quite a few stones lighter, had an un-operated on chest, and maybe drunk ! I could theoretically satisfy one of those requirements tonight. It's Thursday, and that should mean drinking night ! Tonight we are drinking in Beckenham, and maybe "we" doesn't include me for several reasons. It is a bit out of the way for me (when travelling from work), and it involves a fair bit of walking that would be nice on a warm summers day, but not in the cold miserable night with a sore foot. There is also the probability that it will be pissing down with rain at about the time I might be leaving to go home. I had intended to get today and tomorrow off work so I could go there straight from home, and I could stay out late, but I never got around to booking the days off. I may still go tonight. I'll make the final decision on my way home, but my guess is that I'll be getting off the train at Catford Bridge instead of staying on it until it reaches Clock House station - the nearest station (for me) to the Coach And Horses pub in Beckenham.
Wednesday 2nd December 2015
08:30 GMT.
  The best thing I can say about yesterday's weather was that it stayed dry. The second best thing I can say is that for a December day it wasn't all that cold - about 12 - 13° C. I have a vague recollection that there was even a little bit of sunshine, but mostly it was a miserable grey day. It is looking like today will be very similar. It is quite a dark grey at the moment, but there is some mad hope that it may only be light grey later on. Temperatures will probably be similar to yesterday.......... I really should check the latest forecast before writing this stuff ! Since 5am, which is what I have been quoting, the forecast has changed a little bit. It seems that there is now a good chance of some rain falling around midday, but everything else seems to be the same as it was forecast at 5am. It is currently forecast that tomorrow will see some rain in the evening, but the temperature and greyness will be similar to today or yesterday for most of the day.

 To my surprise I felt mostly OK at work yesterday. My chest remained tender, and it was fairly easy to provoke it into giving a few moments of pain, but as the day passed by it seemed to be recovering. I think it was probably down to the shoes I was wearing, but I didn't seem to feel particularly energetic on the way home. The particular shoes were slip on "skater style" shoes, at least I think that is how they are described, and they are definitely very comfortable to wear at work. They are also mostly comfortable to walk in, but they feel sort of spongy when walking, and it seems to feel like hard work to overcome that sponginess. I don't quite know where that sponginess comes from because the soles are quite thing with no obvious padding, although they are not as thin as the cheap and cheerful slip on plimsolls I have grown to like. Sadly they are not really suitable for wet weather, but it usually feels like I have extra energy when I am wearing those plimsolls - and that's despite their thin soles being quite hard on the feet.

 With hindsight, I was in a funny sort of mood when I got home from work yesterday. The outcome of that is that I almost ate sensibly, and I did something I didn't even imagine I would do. One of things I did want to do was to upload a photo album to Flickr. I felt a bit hungry to do it straight away, and in theory I should have waited until I had eaten dinner before doing it, but I opted to eat a big bag of fat and calorie laden crisps to "keep me going" while I waited for all the multi-megabytes of pictures uploaded, and to feed my braincells when I added descriptions and tags for each photo. You can see the result here - - at least I hope you can ! As I write this it seems that Flickr, and several other web sites seem to have gone off the air. Whether it's a general thing, or just the capricious internet connection here at work, is an unknown right now. (update: it's back now).

 After eating that big bag of crisps - venison, red wine, and thyme flavour ! (and not all that nice) - I was somehow spurred on to be quite careful what I ate for my real dinner. I opted for a couple of Iceland "Slimming World" curries. They added up to around 800 calories. The salad I had for breakfast was about 400 calories, and the crisps were about 8,000,077 calories. So added up that makes......too much - again ! Oh well, at least it left me feeling rather less than full, and able to perform some madness.

 I decided that I ought to make a start at doing some laundry. I had two work shirts that, and some t-shirts from the weekend to wash (plus some underpants). I didn't really mean to do it all at once, but I did just that. Two work shirts, and 4 t-shirts, plus underpants left me dripping with sweat by the time I had them all hanging up to dry. I don't know if it was the relief of getting that lot washed, or the excitement of being able to wash that much in one go, or the rush of endorphins that extreme exercise brings on, but I felt rather good when I finally sat down and attempted to cool down. It was a bit of an extended cool down because I had to wait some time before my hair was dry enough before I could go to bed.

 When I got to bed I felt both tired, and not tired. I guess it was my body that was tired, but my mind was still buzzing. Eventually I managed to relax, and just as I was beginning to fall asleep I heard a noise. It was the sort of noise a mouse might make, but it was also the sort of noise that my computer desk might make as it relaxes after I had been leaning on it. It was also the sort of noise that a pile of clothes might make when the pair of jeans that had been casually thrown on top with pockets of change in them might make as the pile settles down. It was also the sort of noise that happens so suddenly, but is so brief, that it is gone before you have time to examine it. Was it a mouse, or was it something totally innocent. The only thing that mattered was that my brain went from relaxed to a high state of alertness, and it took ages for it to calm down before I could fall asleep.

 This morning it feels like I finally managed to get a reasonable night's sleep. I don't feel too bad. All the effort of hand washing all that laundry actually probably helped sort out the chest/ribs/ligaments/muscles pain I had. This morning there is still some tenderness that I am wary of, but I haven't had any pain yet. If anything it is some of my arm muscles that have a slight memory of how much effort they had to put in to do that laundry. I can't say they are painful, but there is a definite sensation there !
breakfast !
 I thought I would have a small change to my breakfast this morning, and I opted for these simple salads which even with their sachet of creamy dressing, still come in at around 400 calories for the two bowls.
two bowls - just 404
 I doubt I will do any heroics tonight, but with luck I will upload, tag and describe another photo album to Flickr. One photo album will be of Andrew Rogers on stage performing his "rat pack" style songs, and if I get as far as doing the other, it will be the band Red Post Hill performing in The Black Cat (formerly the Catford Ram) last Saturday night. One thing I ought to do is to stop off on the way home to buy some more "Slimming World" products from Iceland (the supermarket).
Tuesday 1st December 2015
08:17 GMT.
  The thing about yesterday's weather forecast was that it was mostly wrong ! It started off OK. There was definitely rain in the morning, but that was the last rain of the day. While it was most definitely a horrible grey day, I didn't notice any rain during the afternoon, and it certainly didn't rain while I was on my way home from work. That forecast said that the rain would continue to, and beyond, 5am this morning. Well the ground did look a bit wet when I walked to the station this morning. So I guess there must have been some rain in the night, but if the new forecast for today turns out right it should stay dry all day. The only trouble is that the sky looks so leaden that it makes you think it is about to rain at any minute. It's apparently going to be like this all day - and that is going to mean that it will be dark before sunset, and my entire journey home from work will be done in the dark today - and it can only get worse until things turn around in three weeks time, and the days start to get longer again.

 Considering how little sleep I thought I got on Sunday night, I seemed to feel mostly OK at work yesterday. I did start to flag about as home time approached, but there is nothing particularly unusual about that. Just as I noted in the morning, I seemed to be quite comfortable for practically all the time I was at work. That changed just as I was leaving. I think I may have turned a bit awkwardly as I was opening the door to go out while saying goodbye to someone almost behind me. That caused a small jolt of pain across my chest.

 After that my chest felt a little tender, but on the whole it was not painful. I had one or two minor jolts while I was traveling - one on a bus to the station when it lurched a bit while I was standing up, and hanging onto a grab pole. Once again it was a sort of twisting motion. I had a smaller, but similar jolt on the train. When I got off the train in Catford I was aware that my chest felt very tender, and I could feel each footstep in my chest. It was just uncomfortable enough to make me wish I was home and in the warm, and possibly sitting, or laying down...or anything but walking on the hard paving stones.

 About two thirds of the way from the station I stepped on something I hadn't seen in the dark. It turned out to be a couple of twigs, or some other foliage. To see what it was I craned my neck forward to look down at my feet. As I did that I had a shocking pain go through my chest, and after that my chest felt really sore until I got home, and then just very tender once I got home. I expected it to be so tender that I thought it would be too painful to do some washing up, but while it was a little bit painful, it was mild enough not to deter me from doing all the washing up - some of which probably dated back to last Friday !

 I thought doing some hand laundry would probably be taking things too far. Plus I didn't seem to be in the mood for it anyway. I did wash my hair, and once again, all the flailing over head arm movements were not wholly comfortable, but the discomfort was more just a reminder that my chest was not in good order rather than actual pain. I almost wonder if the bad pain I felt as I walked from the station was actually one of my ribs (or ligaments) popping back into the right place rather than something else.

 Pain or discomfort can have unpredictable results. I assume it was the pain, and the fear of pain that some of the discomfort foretold of, that made me feel very "edgy" last night. I managed to control what I had for dinner quite well. I had a bowl of salad that I made a little less healthy by the addition of some nice chilli flavoured mayonnaise. That was followed by a bowl of beef ghoulash flavoured soup which, might, or might not, been low in some of the things I try not to consume. That was followed by an Iceland "Slimming World" chilli con carne. The later was almost nice for a fat free product, but I think I prefer their fat free curries.

 The rot probably set in while I was watching TV as my freshly washed hair dried. What I really wanted was a cigarette - or quite a few of them. I felt bored, and had this sort of empty feeling in me that needed filling with something. Smoke would have been fine, but wasn't an option. So I had a couple of large glasses of whisky/whiskey (both spellings are valid - one glass was Scottish and the other Irish). I also gave in to a bad case of the munchies with some crisps and some peanuts.

 I didn't feel drunk, and I didn't feel bloated despite the three course dinner and the snacks afterwards, when I went to bed, but I guess the booze helped me get to sleep quite quickly after I turned out the light a little while before 9pm. I think I probably slept quite well last night. I can recall dreaming a few times, but the weirdest dream was just before I woke up. I was dreaming I was awake, and unable to sleep, and I was feeling rather annoyed about it. The transition between the dream and reality was a bit strange when my alarm went off. In the dream I was laying on my left side, and then suddenly I was laying on my right side with my phone going bleep-bleep-bleep.

 This morning my chest is still sore and tender, but until I do something to provoke it, which I avoid doing if I can, it is painless. I did take a couple of Ibuprofen tablets when I got up, but they seemed to take a long time to work, but they have helped. All I have to do today is to try to avoid any torso twisting movements plus some other unknown manoeuvres that will cause pain. If, and it is an if the size of a mountain, I can avoid annoying my poor ribs and ligaments, and anything else I have inflamed, this latest painful interlude should go away until next time.

 My chest is not the only thing bothering me. I hope it was sleep dust in my eye, or some other optical illusion, but when I went to the bathroom after getting up I thought I saw a little grey streak out of the corner of my eye. If it wasn't something in my eye, maybe a stray hair of eyelash, and if I wasn't dreaming, and indeed what I thought I saw was for real, it was a little house mouse streaking across the floor to hide behind the toilet bowl (or maybe through some small opening around a pipe or something, and under the floorboards). For the last couple of years I have seen no evidence of mice, no droppings anywhere, and I have heard nothing (or at least nothing that wasn't ambiguous - perhaps an odd rustle, but no gnawing or scratching sounds). I really hope I imagined that little grey out of focus streak this morning, and I don't have new visitors !

 I suppose what I should be doing when I get home tonight is to clean up, and set my mousetraps again - just in case. I really ought to upload at least one of my new photo albums to Flickr as well. I am not sure why I didn't do that last night. It would have been a better distraction away from my aches and pains, and cigarette craving than watching boring TV. The only trouble is we only know these things with hindsight. At the time I was just not in the mood for it. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to announce a link to a new Flickr photo album. At least I hope I will be able to.