Weeknotes 2024-05

As is somewhat traditional before a longish race, I made some flapjack on Saturday. It wasn’t my best effort (a bit too crumbly), but I turned it out onto a chopping board, and cut it more or less successfully into rectangles. I then put a cooling rack on top, flipped the whole assembly over onto the worktop, and lifted the chopping board off. A moment of confusion ensued as it dawned on me that most of it was still stuck to the board, then after hanging there for a second, Wile-E-Coyote style, gravity won out and most of it went tumbling onto the floor.

Yet another Pet Needs gig on Saturday, this time at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket (surprisingly my first visit, despite it being a handy 10 minute train journey away). They were excellent as usual, as were the two support bands, Ecto Peach (who I’d seen before) and especially Zombie Nation (who I hadn’t).

Ecto Peach
Voodoo Radio
Pet Needs

The toilets at the John Peel Centre had a classic case of having to use signage to compensate for a lack of design affordance:

Every sign tells a story

Sunday saw the first proper race of 2024, in the shape of the Great Bentley Half. I hadn’t exactly had the ideal lead-in week, what with a fairly high-mileage club training night on Tuesday, then daftly also going along to the monthly track session on Wednesday. Not to mention several hours standing (and occasionally jumping) on Saturday night. I dragged myself round in my worst time since 2020 (when I had some kind of chest infection which I assume was slightly early to have been Covid), but still better than the 1:40 that Stryd was predicting. That pretty much wiped me out for the day though.


Weeknotes 2024-04

I put my jeans on last weekend and noticed my wallet was no longer in the pocket, and couldn’t find it anywhere else either. Had I dropped it in the curry house on Wednesday, or on the ride back? No, pretty sure I had it at work on Friday. Must have fallen out in the changing room before I cycled home.

No contact from anyone saying it had been found on Monday, and no sign of it when I was back in the office on Tuesday. Hmm, maybe I really had lost it? That would be annoying, having actually been to a cash point recently for the first time in ages, just in case I unexpectedly needed cash at any point. I procrastinated over cancelling my cards though, as I still felt like it was more likely I’d just misplaced it (and if it had been pinched surely the miscreant would have used the cards by now). Of course I realise a sane person would have taken ten seconds to at least pause the cards just in case.

Sure enough, on Thursday I spotted it lying under the bed. Phew.

New cat has settled in well now, although not exactly friends with the others yet. He’s pretty much claimed the big scratcher that used to be Ninja’s favourite – hopefully they’ll be happy to share it at some point.

The other three had their annual boosters this week. Handy in one way to have them coincide, but a bit of a palaver to catch and box up three cats, then manhandle three carriers to the car, waiting room, consulting room and back. They’re all OK, although Nobby does still have an intermittent cough and sneeze, and sometimes goes off his food. He’s lost a bit of weight too, but they did a set of blood tests which all came back OK. I think maybe he might need to have his teeth looked at. Obviously being 15 he’s getting on a bit, but hopefully plenty of life in him yet!

Upside-down cat

I made two batches of marmalade at the weekend. Annoyingly quite a few oranges had gone bad (squishy and covered in mould) in the week between buying them and getting a chance to prepare them. Hopefully I’ve made enough to last me the year (I still have a few jars left from last year).


After completing Exercism’s #12in23 challenge last year, I’ve started following #48in24 this year. It’s slightly different this time, focussing on one exercise a week rather than a language a month. To get maximum credit you need to use the three languages they pick, but so far the exercises have been very simple. Last week was identifying leap years in Python, Clojure and Mips assembler – the first two were familiar enough that my first attempts pretty much worked, but the assembler needed a bit more research. This week it was reversing a string in C++ (horrible), Javascript (easy) and Nim (OK I guess).

After forgetting for the past year or two, I did the Big Garden Birdwatch on Saturday. My final tally was three blackbirds, two robins, two thrushes, three sparrows, four blue tits, one great tit, three blackcaps and a magpie (and a surprising lack of pigeons). I particularly liked the blackcaps (even though two of them were female and had brown caps), which I had to look up.


Weeknotes 2024-03

The new cat (called Cosmo by his previous owners, but I might change that if inspiration hits) has spent most of the week hiding under the settee (or occasionally behind the TV), only emerging during the night to eat and use the litter tray. He ventured out a couple of times during the week and was mildly beaten up by Nobby, then decided as soon as I went to bed on Saturday night that he was going to start exploring (I’d left the lounge door open so he could access the rest of the house), and that for some reason the exploration had to be accompanied by constant miaowing. I got up and went down to see him, and he was very friendly but insisted on continuing with the noise rather than coming upstairs. He was wandering round purring and attention-seeking in the morning, but back in hiding when I got back from my long run at lunchtime. He finally came back out at 7.30pm (maybe he’s nocturnal!), and immediately jumped on my lap and started being super-friendly.

Emerging at last!

In a new twist on people referring to shops as “Tesco’s”, “Asda’s” etc, I heard someone on the phone the other day saying “I’m in Waitro”.

It feels like something else interesting must have happened during the week, but I’m drawing a blank.


Weeknotes 2024-02

I still have the tail end of a cold, but hopefully the end is in sight. The worst bit is my traditional persistent cough, which makes it hard to get a full night’s sleep. I did go to the doctor about it once, but they said not to worry. That was sometime in the late 1970s, mind.

I’m blaming the lack of sleep for Thursday morning, when I made an espresso and added it to a mug of cold water, having failed to boil the kettle. I only noticed when I picked it up to drink and the mug seemed suspiciously cool.

My other tale of incompetence for the week is that I bought an old Garmin bike GPS from eBay (much easier to look at than my watch, especially in winter!), but failed to realise that “factory reset” doesn’t include “delete saved activities”. I thought it was taking a long time to sync, then realised I now had 114 of someone else’s rides in amongst mine. Fortunately Garmin Connect names them after the location, and they were all Basingstoke, so removing them there was easy if tedious, but deleting them from Strava was more of a pain. I used their API to automate part of the process, but even then it wasn’t as straightforward as it could have been (oh for a simple delete from activities where device_id = id!)

I spotted a sparrow hawk in my garden, but don’t think it managed to make off with any sparrows. Later in the day the cats seemed to take an interest in the spot where it had been perching, but it may have been a coincidence.

Sparrow hawk
Curious cats

During the Stowmarket cross country on Sunday I accidentally managed to recreate the photo from last year that I currently use for my profile pic on Facebook etc.

Profile pic recreation

Finally, I’ve acquired a fourth cat! He previously belonged to someone I don’t know, a few degrees of separation away, but they’ve had a baby, couldn’t keep both for some reason, and inexplicably elected to hang onto the baby. So far he’s remained stubbornly encamped under the settee – hopefully a better photo next week!

New cat!

Weeknotes 2024-01

Late again, but not as late as last week. And we’re now in 2024, of course, which as usual is a largely arbitrary line to cross. Normally I ignore all the NYE festivities, go to bed early then get woken by fireworks, but this (last) year I was invited to Dave & Sally’s again for some food, beer and anecdotes from a man who’d met Geoff Capes. It was an enjoyable evening, but meant a bleary-eyed start to get up and out for the bonus parkrun in the morning. To make matters worse, we were doing an unofficial double (now parkrun has stopped the real ones), which meant running to parkrun, then running to Justin’s afterwards for another go at his lockdown “not parkrun” course, then a coffee and a final run home (via the pub). Around 18 miles altogether.

At some point in the weekend I’d managed to pick up a cold (probably not Covid, as I used my last remaining LFT and it came up negative), and my Garmin claimed my training readiness was 1/100 (I’m not sure it ever actually goes down to zero), but I still dragged myself along to Tuesday night training. I basically did nothing for the next three days though, other than some gentle working-from-home. I still have a very annoying cough, which is making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

At some point in the week I watched Face/Off, for what I thought would be a bit of fun. Turns out I couldn’t remember a single thing about it other than that weird face-stroking thing, and it’s a lot less light-hearted than it had been in my mind. Mainly because in retrospect I was confusing it with all the face mask nonsense in Mission: Impossible.

On Saturday it was back to parkrun again (of course), and by coincidence I finished in exactly the same time as the one on New Year’s Day, which meant that after 292 runs I finally earned the unofficial “groundhog day” award. Holly, who I was running with, went one better though – not only did she get two identical times in New Year week, but she did the same in Christmas week too (I missed out on doing the same by one second). Given that those are the only two weeks of the year with two parkruns, getting that double must be a pretty rare (if utterly pointless) achievement.

Sunday was the county cross-country championships – always a slightly odd event, and much less exclusive than it sounds (in fact not exclusive at all). As we’re at the beginning of marathon training season (though I’m still claiming not to be running one), I got talked into making it into a long run by running the ten miles to the race with Robin and Dave, which made for a fairly long warmup for a 10k race. Unsurprisingly my pace in the race was half a minute a mile slower than last year.

After a long hiatus, I got my unicycle out briefly, and found that I’m neither better nor worse than before. I think I need to take it somewhere where I can go further without having to turn a corner, as that’s the bit that always goes wrong. I did a brief bit of drum practice too, and probably have got worse at that.

Having finished my slow Brooklyn Nine-Nine binge, I’ve gone ridiculously far back in time now, and started on the A-Team boxset (an actual boxset, in an actual box) that I picked up on eBay. It’s still mildly entertaining, though probably not quite as exciting as it was when I watched it on Saturdays at my grandparents’ as a kid in the 80s!

Now that is a boxset!

My Elixir port has been accepted into Emily Bache’s Supermarket Pricing refactoring kata, if anyone fancies a change from the Gilded Rose.

By an odd coincidence, I remembered my crossword puzzle geocache the other day, and thought I should probably go and check whether it’s still in place, as I haven’t for quite a while. Then the next day I got a notification that someone had logged finding it, which saved me the trouble. They also said that my crossword “could have come straight out of the Times”, which was nice!


Weeknotes 2023-52

A bit late this week. Good job I’m not one for New Year resolutions! I had a rare week off work from the day before Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, but didn’t accomplish anything particularly useful (no surprise there). I did get a bit further with my Goos project though.

A quiet Christmas as usual. Back to Chantry Park first for my second parkrun in three days, then home to cook my traditional once a year excessive roast dinner, which barely even fitted on my Alan Partridge style 12″ plate (and kept me in leftovers for most of the week).

Christmas Day parkrun
I’ve got this scam going with a 12″ plate …

After last year’s hollow trees, I managed to complete this year’s challenge of running to, and getting a photo in front of, a different clock tower each month. I made it harder for myself by also insisting that the time on the clock matched the month (ie one o’clock for January, two for February etc), and wearing sequential T-shirt colours (the hardest bit was finding clocks that work and tell roughly the right time). I then wasted more time in Pixelmator putting the photos together.

In possibly the most first world problem ever recorded, the fan in my temperature-controlled butter dish has started making a noise.

Saturday was parkrun again, obviously – my 53rd one of 2023. It could have been 54, but I marshalled one week (as well as doing post-run barcode scanning a few times). Then on Sunday it was time for the annual New Year’s Eve “triathlon” that I got roped into a few years ago. This entails cycling to Felixstowe, running along the prom for a bit, then getting in the sea and swimming at least one stroke (Garmin recorded my swim at 24 yards, which is very generous and mostly comprised of walking into the sea and back). Then after drying off we retired to a nearbypub for lunch, then rode back in time for a few more pints back in Ipswich. We did get rained on a bit, but nothing like the soaking we had last year.

The inviting North Sea


Weeknotes 2023-51

I finished a thing! I submitted a PR with my Elixir port of the Supermarket Checkout kata, although it hasn’t been merged yet. Also, I haven’t got round to actually doing the kata itself, which is an exercise in refactoring the convoluted code that I translated.

I made some small progress on GOOS-Elixir too, in that I now have it successfully both displaying a message in a GUI and sending an XMPP message from one process to another. Still a way to go before I have even a first passing (or even correctly failing) test.

A better turnout (and better weather) for the last Run for Beer of the year on Tuesday. I burnt my mouth on a very generous, but also very hot, portion of loaded chips, and got talked into stopping for a fourth pint before running home. I blame Merv for the latter – he may be a decade and a half my senior, but is still a bad influence.

Run for Beer on the Cornhill. Why do I always end up accidentally standing suggestively behind someone bending over?
And in the pub

The following night was the Christmas run with the TTT crowd, which fortunately didn’t involve the usual ten mile time trial, but a more leisurely jog round seven pubs in a similar number of miles.

On the TTT start line
And towards the end of the evening

Friday was mostly spent recovering from Thursday (thank goodness I’d decided to start my Christmas break on Thursday!), then Saturday featured the usual parkrun (not to be confused with the unusual one which will be happening on Monday), plus cake icing, mince pie making and late night food shopping to avoid the crowds. Sunday saw the annual Stutton & Holbrook Christmas Eve 6k(ish) charity fun run. It was a surprisingly mild day for that, but very windy, which I’ll blame for being marginally slower than the past few years.


Weeknotes 2023-50

My Brooklyn Nine-Nine rewatch has made it as far as season seven now, so almost up to the point where I get to see new episodes. I was saddened to learn of Andre Braugher’s death on Monday.

On Wednesday I was roped in again as a last-minute quiz team substitute, and we won again! I even felt like I contributed something this time, although not in any popular culture questions.

Team “Not Fast, Just Furious”

I was in the office on Friday, and a loud “tick tock” noise started coming from (as far as I could tell) above the ceiling tiles. It stopped eventually, then restarted and stopped again later, but nothing had exploded by the time I came home, so I assume it wasn’t a bomb.

After parkrun on Saturday I headed to Colchester to see Pet Needs for the fifth time this year (!) at their Fractured Party III at the University of Essex. I got there early for a secret acoustic gig in the afternoon, then killed a couple of hours by walking round an eight mile sub-loop of the Colchester Orbital route (which seemed apt as it pops up in one of their lyrics).

With the walk complete (and muddy trainers – oops), I popped into the campus fast food place to grab a burger. Once I’d finished I went to take my tray back, leading to the weird experience of having to politely ask at least two of the band and another two from the support act if they could move so I could get to the bin.

The main event was ably warmed up by Henshaw and The Lottery Winners, and the headliners were great as ever. I forgot my earplugs, but fortunately the sound was just on the right side of too loud (in fact during the encore Johnny’s vocals were pretty much drowned out by the crowd singing along). No guest appearance by Frank Turner this time, although I did spot him watching from the wings.

Secret acoustic show in Hex
A muddy Colchester Orbital
Lottery Winners
Pet Needs

No progress on the GOOS-Elixir project, but I came across a refactoring kata I hadn’t seen before (Emily Bache’s Supermarket Receipt Refactoring Kata), and have started porting that to Elixir as it isn’t one of the currently implemented languages. I should probably get myself checked for ADD at some point …


Weeknotes 2023-49

The week got off to a good start when I woke up on Monday to find that I hadn’t plugged my phone in properly and it had gone flat and turned itself off. The real problem though was that once I put it on charge and switched it back on it refused to accept my pin. I eventually had to do a factory reset and reload everything from backup (which was fortunately pretty painless, if annoying). This time I didn’t enable “auto-confirm unlock” (where it unlocks when you enter the final digit, rather than having to press enter) – I’m don’t know for sure that was the root of the bug, but I have my suspicions.

Monday night I finally made it to another GoodGym session (most of them have been on Tuesdays lately), and got to wear my 100 shirt at last. Three of us ran up to the Blue Cross centre and helped them repot a bunch of plants in their reception area. I ignored the advice to bring a head torch, but somehow still ended up running in front and warning the better-prepared people of obstacles in the dark section of path.

Tuesday was our work Christmas meal. We did lazer [sic] tag again, and I was rubbish again, then went to The Forge to eat, and finished up in the Nelson. Fortunately, unlike four years to the day previously, we didn’t witness a fight in the latter. More people than usual made it to closing time, but a few of the younger team members seemed strangely unaware of how the last orders and time bells and drinking-up time work!

Having missed the normal club training night on Tuesday because of the meal, the monthly track session was handily scheduled for Wednesday. It was forecast to be cold, so I switched the spikes on my cross country shoes for short ones to avoid any risk of slipping over, which also provided an excuse to cycle there and back instead of running. Unfortunately the back bend was completely covered in frost, so we ended up running on the infield instead.

I felt like I’d run out of excuses for missing TTT (Thursday Tempo Ten), and turned up with two other hardly souls to run the ten miles in pretty miserable weather. Gripper had twisted his ankle and Neil the vicar had a cold, so for once I was able to keep up, at least for the outward leg. We drifted apart on the way back, with me ending up in the middle, and just under 75 minutes. As usual, I felt wiped out afterwards, and was hoping a rest day on Friday would be enough time to recover for parkrun and the ten pub run on Saturday.

Then I remembered it was also the club social “12 pubs of Christmas” run on Friday night, so no rest day after all. This involved using a slightly flaky app that gave us quiz questions once we reached each pub, and a puzzle to solve to reveal the next one. Our team were last to leave, adopted a three on, one off (nine halves) strategy, and were also the last back. Fortunately time wasn’t a factor in the scoring, and it turned out we’d won.


The weather for parkrun was possibly even worse than it had been on Thursday night, with attendance down by about 50% from the week before. After cycling home in the pouring rain I just about had time to get dry and warm before heading back out for the annual Christmas ten pub run (12.8 miles, three pints, seven halves and a sausage roll).

Pub four (I think)

Weeknotes 2023-48

I got a £100 vehicle tax refund for the Roadster, after finally getting round to SORNing it. I’d put it off because I couldn’t find the V5, and begrudged paying £25 for a new one, but was spurred into action by the threat of a £100 fine for not insuring it, under the daft new (OK, 12 years old) rule where you still have to insure a car that you’re not using. At least now I can tell myself I’ve saved £75, though obviously in reality if I’d done it straight away the rebate would have been more and I still wouldn’t have had a fine.

Also, despite this being 2023, it came in the form of a cheque, which means I have to go into town at some point to pay it in.

We had a tiny bit of snow overnight on Thursday, and woke up to a wintry-looking world on Friday. I was nevertheless intending to cycle into work, having not been to the office for a few weeks thanks to a combination of time off and having a cold. Then I heard that the Orwell Bridge had been closed (nothing to do with the weather), which meant that anyone coming from north of town wouldn’t be coming in. I suspected I might be virtually the only person to turn up, which was plenty enough excuse to stay home (and get more work done).

The view I woke up to on Friday

Nothing had thawed out by Saturday, which made for a chilly but firmer underfoot parkrun, but it had warmed up a few degrees by Sunday for the delayed opening round of cross country. The forecast had been implying torrential rain, but it actually wasn’t too bad. Plenty of puddles and sand to run through/round though, but I managed a creditable (for me) 83rd place out of 400-odd.