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January 2020 February 2020

Saturday 1st February 2020
09:54 GMT
  It was fairly mild yesterday with the afternoon temperature around 12° C. During the morning the clouds were thin enough to let through an occasional flash of hazy sunshine, but it wasn't long before the clouds thickened up. As I suspected, there was more rain that the forecast predicted. Some was very light, and almost ignorable, but from as early as 6pm, and maybe beyond 8pm, there were some periods of heavier rain.
maybe a brighter day
  Since 8am it has been reasonably bright, and while they were quite hazy, there have been some sunny spells already. Just as I wrote that the sun has broken through again, and it was a lot less hazy than earlier. The latest revision of the forecast says the sunny spells will now start at 11am, and continue through until sunset. Based on what I am seeing at the moment, some of those sunny spells may last long enough to be described as just "sunny". With the temperature predicted to rise to 12° C this afternoon (after a reasonable start of around 10° C), it might feel quite nice in the sunshine. Tomorrow might see 13° C in the afternoon, but it is forecast to be a very cloudy day with rain for most of the morning.

  Yesterday was another day where I was saving myself for late afternoon/early evening. It is hard to remember just how I passed most of the time prior to going out at a little before 3.45pm. What I do remember is that the time seemed to pass quite quickly. The only negative thing was that in the last couple of hours before I needed to go and get my train I felt uncomfortable, and had to visit the toilet every 30 - 40 minutes. It was 50% just wind, but never before has the crude phrase "you're full of shit" been more appropriate.

  With just 13 minutes to spare I made my way to Catford station, comfortable, but sore, if you know what I mean, to catch the 15:55 Luton bound train. It was important to catch that exact train because trains that run through as far as West Hampstead are a bit sparse, and any other train would mean changing trains at Blackfriars, or maybe St Pancras. It takes 42 minutes to get to West Hampstead, and I spent much of the journey reading stuff on my phone. That did make the journey more pleasant. Had it been light outside I would probably have admired the view, but despite being before sunset, the thick clouds made it very dim outside.

  At 16:37, right on time (probably) I arrived at West Hampstead (Thameslink) station (to give it it's full name). I was due to meet Aleemah outside West Hampstead Jubilee Line Tube station at 16:50. I think we actually met about 5 minutes before that, and we then wandered down the road, past the Railway Signal pub where we had last met as much as 5 years ago, and to the bar/restaurant that Aleemah wanted to visit.

  I can't quite remember it's full title, but it was a large house that had once been a meeting point for Czech people who had escaped from behind the Iron Curtain during the cold war (or something to that effect). Now the whole house, and it is a very big house, is this bar and restaurant serving Czech beer and food. It is curiously OK in there, although the bar we elected to sit in, rather than the more ornately decorated dining rooms, did remind me of the rather bland and bleak bar that featured in the film 1984. I imagine this was by intent to reflect the rather austere times behind the Iron Curtain.
two Czech beers
  Many (most ?) of the beers on offer were of Czech origin - or from close by areas. Pilsner Urquel, and Budvar were prominent on the bar, but they also had others. I just had two pints - one each of the beers in the picture above.
Beer mats
 The Bohem brewery is not in the Czech Republic, but in London, but their extensive range of beers are brewed by Czechs in equipment specially imported to London. The brewery's web site states that the brewery sprang into existence when the head brewer, Petr Skocek, found his home brew, brewed because he found London beer prices to be too high, was thought to be good enough to start a commercial brewery. It is somewhat ironic that I found the price of the beers to be rather high last night ! The Kozel was £5 a pint (and it seemed like a short measure).

  It was nice catching up with Aleemah again. We both surprised each other by having gifts. My gift from Aleemah was a small plaque saying "Bill's Garden". My gift to Aleemah was a couple of framed photos I had taken of her in 2007.
Aleemah on the
                          Orient Express train
  This is one of the photos. I think in 2007 we were "dating", and we booked a lunch session on the Orient Express, luxury Pullman coaches. It was off season, and "relatively cheap" for a ride to Paddock Wood station and back to Victoria station. It was a treat to ride on the famous train, but there were two downsides. It was just after the total ban on smoking on trains came in, and I did that rise with a couple of nicotine patches on my arms, and had to get one of the waiters to let me off the train for the few minutes we were at Paddock Wood station (fortunately smoking hadn't been banned on platforms at that time). Normally the doors are kept locked while at the station - so I was lucky. The other thing was the "high class" food we were served. Like many posh restaurants the portions were very small, and I was so hungry on my way home that I think I bought some fish and chips - Catford had a proper chip shop in 2007 !

  I drank my two pints of beer while Aleemah had her meal. She chose the set menu of the day. It cost £25 and was a soup with meatballs for a starter. A bowl of shredded cabbage and onion with dumplings and bacon for a main, and then a pudding with custard. It looked quite pleasant. With the beer drunk, and the food eaten, we called it a day, and I walked Aleemah back to the tube station. We agreed that we would meet again in another 5 years - or maybe less ! Then I walked as fast as I could to get to the Thameslink station.

  Our exit from the bar/restaurant was sort of timed for me to get a direct train home, although it did seem touch and go. After saying goodbye to Aleemah I really had to walk as fast as I could to get to the station. It transpired I could have taken it a bit easier. I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare - if my train had been on time. It actually arrived about two minutes late, and so I had a 4 minute wait on the platform - in light rain !

  The train was fairly lightly used until we passed back through the middle of London, and at approx 7pm there are still a lot of people going home from work in the city. By the time we left Blackfriars station the train was standing room only, and I was crunched up against the window for the rest of the journey back to Catford. It became increasingly uncomfortable. There were three toilets on the train, but the way to the nearest, a mere 20ft away, was blocked by people, and so I just had to put up with the increasing discomfort.

  It wasn't quite so bad when I stood up, and I thought I would be OK spending 5 minutes in Sainsbury's on my way back home. When I finally got home I just dumped everything on the floor before racing upstairs to the toilet. I made it with about 37 microseconds to spare ! While in Tesco I had bought some salads, and a couple of packs of reduced price coronation chicken sandwiches. (Why is it always coronation chicken ?).

  I didn't touch any of the stuff I bought because I had already prepared, and 90% cooked, my dinner. It was simply bacon and sprouts in an enhanced beef stock. It just needed 9 minutes in the microwave to heat it through and fully cook the bacon. It was quite nice, but after cooking it seemed quite small. I discarded almost all the stock which was full of bacon fat and juices. It wasn't long, perhaps, half an hour, before I decided to eat the coronation chicken sandwiches.

  After flicking around the TV channels I found myself watching the film "V For Vendetta". It seemed so appropriate for the night we officially withdrew from the European Union, and the last shackles have been removed from Boris Johnston becoming dictator for life - at least that sometime seems to be the path he is following. I missed the beginning of the film that may have explained the rise to power of the man who would become dictator, but the rest of the film seemed so prescient is many ways. There were many parallels to the film/story 1984.

  The film ended just before, or just after midnight, and I went straight to bed afterwards. Maybe I was tired, or maybe it was something else, but it seems I slept well last night. I don't recall having any dystopian dreams, or indeed any dream at all. I didn't even seem to wake up to pee many times. This morning I feel sort of OK, but maybe not very dynamic. My blood pressure continues to be low, and to my surprise, after drinking sweet beer and eating sandwiches, my blood glucose was still under 8 (it was 7.9), and 10 is the danger level.

  There is only one thing I am definitely doing today, and that is going to the corner shop to buy the latest New Scientist magazine. I may go to Poundstretcher to buy a few things - possibly garden related things. I may sow the flower seeds in the front garden today while it is bright and (hopefully) sunny. Maybe I might finish clearing/cleaning/arranging/filling the bookshelves in the back room. Maybe, but perhaps more unlikely, I may go to a gig this evening. If I do it will be a great shock to most because it will be to a venue I don't like (too small and cramped) to see a band I don't generally care for (but their front man is a good bloke).