Weeknotes 2022-45

Not much happening during the week, but on Friday I went to Norwich to see the always-excellent Half Man Half Biscuit. They were on at the Waterfront, which is much more convenient than UEA because it’s about five minutes’ walk from the train station. I saw them for the first time there 14 years ago (almost to the day, coincidentally), although I first heard them about 21 years before that. In 2008 I remember having to rush to the station the minute the encore ended to catch the last train, but this time we had an hour to kill, which meant we were forced to pop back into a pub for another pint.

Saturday saw a very gentle parkrun on the slightly dull Kesgrave course, as Chantry Park had been taken over by the “MoRun”, which seems to be an rather expensive race trading on the Movember brand while not actually directing any of people’s entry fees their way. Then Sunday was the Scenic 7: always a pleasant event, and used to be the only local seven mile event until Martlesham muscled in with the redesigned 10k. I managed to go a little bit quicker than I’d expected, but still 30s or so slower than my best. My ankle, which had stopped hurting, started hurting again – both times it was after wearing the Hoka trainers that I bought semi-randomly when I couldn’t get hold of the New Balance ones I usually wear, so I don’t think they suit my feet. The Saucony ones I got at the same time are fine, as are the lighter Asics that I wore today.

I finally got round to taking the shelf unit that I set up as a standing desk in the corner of the lounge at the beginning of lockdown out to the garage (I only used it for the first few months of working at home), and replacing it with a giant cat scratcher/climbing thing. So far none of the cats have shown any interest in either the thing itself or, more surprisingly, the box it came in.


Weeknotes 2022-44

Well it feels like summer might be finally over, although we did have a bit of a false start to autumn a while ago, so who knows? I finally caved in and put the heating on on Friday evening – partly because it had dropped to 14? in the house, but also because the humidity was 89%, which seems like it might be a bad thing. Incidentally, am I the only person who can never remember the keystroke for the ? symbol, so just holds down the option key and mashes the first two rows on the keyboard until one appears, then deletes all the other rubbish?

I went into the office twice this week, because it’s been mandated that we go in three days a week from now on, and two is equal to three if your error margins are wide enough. On Tuesday I forgot about the clock change, and didn’t take any lights with me (fortunately there’s a route home that’s mostly cycle paths). On Thursday it rained, and it turned out that despite most of us being in the office the team meeting we had scheduled was happening on Teams rather than in real life.

In the light of all the Twitter/Musk kerfuffle I found my Mastodon account again, and actually made my first “toot” (hmm) there, after five years of silence since I initially signed up. That may seem like a long time, but I was on Instagram for a whole decade before posting anything there.

The cross country season started this weekend. I pushed a bit harder than planned at parkrun on Saturday, but despite that and the pouring rain and mud I actually had a reasonable race on Sunday. Obviously these things are all relative – I only managed 97th place – but I beat Robin for the first time, which I’ll take as an achievement.

Biding my time before overtaking Mr Harper

Weeknotes 2022-43

Feels like I might be getting close to shaking off this runny nose and cough, a mere four weeks after contracting covid. The fatigue’s mostly gone too, but I have to say that if the expectation is that we’ll all get this a couple of times a year from now on that’s a pretty miserable prospect.

I think I’ve definitely narrowed the car issue down to the starter motor now. I didn’t risk driving it to Felixstowe on Tuesday night because it felt a bit reluctant to start again (there was a definite “strong–strong–strong–weak” rhythm to it turning over, which makes me suspect there’s a dodgy winding or contact somewhere). Fortunately I had time to get the train instead, which meant I got a few extra running miles in too. However, after a successful supermarket trip the next day and the purchase of a battery booster pack I just about summoned up the courage to drive it to Cambridge on Saturday night (for a much-delayed CoCo and the Butterfields show), but when I got in to drive home it did the dreaded click but don’t turn over thing. The booster was no help at all (as the battery presumably isn’t the problem), but by a stroke of luck I’d parked on a slight uphill, and there was a big empty space behind me. By putting it in reverse I was able to rock it enough to shake things up a bit, after which it worked OK, to my immense relief. Not sure I really want to use it again until I’ve fixed it now though, and to be honest it’s tempting just to replace it (it’s still virtually brand new by my standards – I find number plates with the letter at the beginning rather than the end a bit suspect, let alone these new fangled ones – but actually nearly 20 years old). Unfortunately that entails deciding what to replace it with – something small, cheap, economical, not too boring, reliable and maybe slightly more practical.

I’ve finally started getting my running volume back up again, after a few weeks where not only was the mileage very low, but a worrying percentage of it was races and other attempts to go quickly, with far too few easy miles. I don’t think I’ve got much chance to hit my original 2022 mile target for 2022 now, although 55 miles a week is theoretically doable (I managed something close to that for the last few months of 2020, to hit 2020, but there wasn’t much else going on then to get in the way). I’m seriously running out of time for my October hollow tree picture, so went out on Sunday looking for a suitable candidate. I found a couple, but didn’t realise until too late that the app I have on my phone that lets me trigger the camera from my headphones was misbehaving, so I hadn’t actually got any photos of myself (a normal person would have just asked the people who walked past while I was standing sheepishly in a tree to take one for me, rather than just sheepishly nodding hello).

I woke up on Sunday morning thinking “that’s odd – I feel like I’ve had a decent eight-hour sleep (bar the odd coughing episode), but it’s only been seven hours. Then I remembered that the clocks had changed. If we’d still been in the old world of having to do them all manually I expect I’d have made it through the day without noticing that I was out of step with the rest of the country.


Weeknotes 2022-42

Week 42!

Mostly over covid now, but still have an annoying (to others probably more than me) cough and an intermittent runny nose. Still slightly lacking energy too, but probably no longer to the extent that I can realistically use it as a cover for my usual laziness.

I had most of the week off, and as predicted failed to do most of the tasks that are waiting for me to get round to. I spent far too much of the time off preparing a talk for the internal DevCon15 event at work on Friday, which I think may be missing the point slightly. I think the talk went OK, despite giving myself 108 slides to get through in 15 minutes (mostly showing incremental code changes, which is safer – if a lot more work – than live-coding).

Ranting about code quality at DevCon15

There was some kind of reorganisation while I was away, but I think it’s just the usual “someone senior you’ve never heard of now reports to someone else senior you’ve never heard of, and you’re now technically in the same organisation as these other teams you have no dealings with” nonsense.

I did manage to make my Christmas cake (plus the small extra one I somehow got talked into making every year for a friend – I need to get a smaller tin so it’s not so wide and flat). They came out OK, but there was a near-disaster when I finished mixing the ingredients and wondered whether I’d missed anything … ah yes, the dried fruit that’s all sitting in a bowl soaking in brandy. Nothing important then.

Cake (with fruit)
Yes, that bottle was full when I started

On Tuesday when I went to come home from training in Felixstowe my car refused to start (or even turn the engine over). I got a lift home (realising that I’d left my house keys in the car, but fortunately I have a hidden spare), then returned by train the next day for a brief and unsuccessful attempt to diagnose the problem followed by a call to the breakdown service. It started OK once I was home with a boost from a battery charger, so I think it’s probably the starter motor (it’s always been a bit sluggish if the battery’s not fully charged). It’s going to be a pain to change it though, as it’s hidden behind the engine where there’s no easy access.

Went out for a meal with work on Thursday night, which I think is the first time since last Christmas. Quite a few people have left and joined since then, so it was good to do something vaguely social.

I got talked into entering the Thurlow 5, which I’d never done before. It looked like we were going to get soaked, but fortunately the rain stopped before the start, and didn’t start again until afterwards. It went OK-ish (35:37), and I think I may have got enough points to move up a place to fourth in my age category in the final Suffolk Grand Prix standings (for what that’s worth, which isn’t a lot as it only really includes people who make the effort to enter at least five of the races in the series, or just enter anything going like me).

I bought a temperature-controlled butter dish, which seems a bit indulgent but means I can finally stop having to microwave the butter to make it spreadable in the winter, and having it almost runny in the summer. I’d been thinking of trying to build something with a peltier junction and a heatsink, which I assume is how this one works, but I’m sure a commercial one will be more reliable (and not end up as a half-finished project).


Weeknotes 2022-41

A pretty quiet week, really. Slowly recovering from covid, which is mostly taking the form of the lingering cough I end up with every time I get a cold, plus a runny nose, headaches and general tiredness (the latter probably thanks to the cough stopping me from sleeping for more than an hour at a time).

I’ve probably been drinking too much coffee too (which won’t have helped with the headaches), but my brain seems determined to try to help by sabotaging the production process.

First I managed to grind the beans, fill the portafilter, tamp it down and lock the portafilter into the machine, then put hot water in a mug for an americano, remove the portafilter, knock out the grinds, start the machine, and wonder why the water level in the mug was rising but remaining strangely not coffee-coloured, and with no pressure at the grouphead. Fortunately I’d also mistimed my coffee order again and run out of proper beans, so only wasted some unpleasant stale emergency supermarket beans.

Then on a separate occasion I briefly wondered why coffee was pouring over my scales, before realising that I’d forgotten to put a cup under the machine.

TimeHop also reminded me that a year ago I tried to add beans to the grinder without taking the lid off, and for completeness I should also mention the incident a few weeks ago when I decided it would be a good idea to clean the cup that goes under the grinder while I was grinding the beans, instead of – you know – leaving it in place to catch the grinds and stop them from just falling on the grinder and the worktop.

Another very low mileage running week, for obvious reasons. I still went along to Run for Beer on Wednesday, and did parkrun (very slowly) on Saturday before finishing the week with the Saxons 5 mile race on Sunday. I don’t know what it is about that race that makes me suddenly become weirdly consistent, but in 2018 I ran it in 35:47, then in 2019 just failed to beat that, with a 35:48. After a couple of years when the race didn’t happen I absolutely smashed those times today with … 35:46.


Weeknotes 2022-40

Well, it was bound to catch up with me eventually. I felt like I was getting a cold on Monday, and as I still have some LFTs lying around I did a test on Tuesday out of curiosity. I initially thought it was negative as usual (and the reporting site prompted me to use the camera rather than entering the result manually, and also said negative), but when I looked closely it seemed there was a very faint line. The general consensus was that yes, that was a positive test, and sure enough when I repeated it on Wednesday there was a very solid line. Curse you, novel coronavirus, you won in the end.

Like most people’s experience recently, it wasn’t really that bad – pretty much indistinguishable from a common cold. Certainly not enough to stop me working, but I spent the week at home, and ended up with an almost unprecedented seven consecutive days of no running.

I’ve been continuing to put the odd bit of bread crust out for the badger, and the other night the camera caught him (and, separately, a fox) trying to get in through the cat flap.

I dropped my razor in the shower, and the screw snapped off (apparently the most common cause of demise), so I treated myself to an upgrade to a Rockwell 6s. Only used it twice so far, so obviously haven’t settled on which setting is best, but no complaints yet.

On Friday the utility room smoke alarm went off while I was making a stir-fry. I grabbed it off the ceiling and it stopped beeping, and rather than taking the battery out to stop it going off again, for some reason I thought “I’ll just shut it in the microwave for now, so the smoke won’t get to it”. What I neglected to do was check that the timer was on zero, but my suspicions were raised when I heard a ping a few seconds later.

So anyway, it’s probably time for a new smoke alarm.


I reckon there must be a book in all these mishaps (“The Chickpea Incident, and Other Tales of Incompetence”). I just need to somehow acquire Acaster levels of fame first, so people would actually read it.

By Sunday all I had left from the covid was a lingering cough (I always get those after a cold, and they can last for weeks or more), and an LFT was pretty much negative again (if you looked really closely there was possibly the suggestion of a shadow of a line), which I figured was good enough to avoid missing the inaugural Martlesham 7 (it used to be a 5k & 10k, but building work messed up the old route). It was tough going (mentally as much as anything, on a four lap course), but I staggered round in just over 51 minutes, which seemed reasonable enough in the circumstances. I felt pretty wiped out by the time I finished, and again once I’d cycled home, although the latter might have been partially attributable to the five pints in the Bader afterwards. Currently feeling a bit sorry for myself thanks to a combination of a headache (day drinking hangover I guess), a bad back, and a cough which has a habit of triggering sudden pain from one or both of the other two.


Weeknotes 2022-39

Nearly forgot again – it only seems a couple of days since I wrote last week’s notes. Oh right, it is. I’m also mildly surprised that I seem to have been correctly incrementing the week number every time.

A bit of routine medical (or medical-adjacent) stuff this week. On Wednesday I gave blood for the first time in a year, after being suspended for not maintaining proper haemoglobin levels. All was well this time though, so I got to earn my ginger nuts. Then I cycled into the office (well to be pedantic I stopped at the bike shed and walked the rest of the way), mainly to take advantage of a walk-in Covid booster session. This seemed convenient on the face of it, but actually involved taking a ticket and waiting the best part of an hour for my turn, as opposed to the previous ones I had at a pharmacy, where I was in and out in ten minutes. Anyway, I’m now bivalently boosted, so should be better defended against Omicron than before.

Thursday was my check-up at the dentist, and I actually managed to turn up on the right day this time. All teeth present and correct (well apart from the ones which were already missing).

We had our first club track session of the year on Friday evening, which featured blustery winds and rain. Lovely. Just before I left the house for that, another massive branch ripped itself off the apple tree, filling up another large amount of lawn (well “lawn” is pushing it a bit, given I haven’t mowed it for years). That wasn’t the branch I expected to go next, so on Sunday I went up a ladder and trimmed a large amount off that one, so that if it were to decide to join its colleagues in their groundward journey it wouldn’t take the hedge with it. A friend has offered to help chop up the wood and take it away for firewood, but in the meantime the bits I sawed off have taken another section of lawn.

Another one bites the dust

I think this technically belongs with last week’s notes, but I got some more badger footage from the infrared camera (this one is it eating a crust of bread I left out):

On Saturday I drove to Norwich for a much-delayed Frank Turner show at the UEA. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since he cut short his 2020 show the day before I was due to go (and a couple of days before the UK lockdown kicked in). He was actually supposed to be coming to Ipswich in 2021 for the first time in forever, but that got cancelled too in one of the later Covid waves. It was worth the wait though, despite the occasional shooting pain down my arm when people crashed into me and triggered whatever almost trapped nerve thing has been lurking in my right shoulder for years.

Support 1: Truckstop Honeymoon, from New Orleans
Support 2: Pet Needs, from … er … Colchester
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls (although you can only see two of them)
Frank Turner without the Sleeping Souls

Weeknotes 2022-38

Oops, very very late this week. Completely forgot on Sunday, then remembered at various points during the week, but never at a time when it was convenient to actually write them.

Obviously the week started with a bonus bank holiday. I didn’t turn the radio or TV on all day, but then I don’t on a normal day either. I went for a run at the kind of time I vaguely suspected the funeral was happening (I didn’t check), and it was pleasantly quiet, although not quite lockdown levels of quiet. There were a few (presumably) republican dog-walkers around, and a surprising number of people playing golf. I also encountered a couple of voles on the path, which was a nice surprise. They didn’t seem in any hurry to run away, to the extent that I initially thought one of them might have been dead.


I also got my September hollow tree photo on the same run. This was the hardest yet to get in and out of. It’s actually hollow all the way to the ground, and I climbed down the inside in case there was an easier way out. There wasn’t, and it did occur to me that I might have been there for some time had I not been able to climb out again, what with my phone being outside to get the photo.

Hollow Tree of the Month

I had my old man flu jab on Wednesday. No side-effects whatsoever, and I didn’t even feel it when it went in – in fact I have a sneaking suspicion that the pharmacist just mimed the whole thing. The little branch of Boots where I had it done seemed shambolic enough that I wouldn’t put it past them.

A double “Run For” on Friday, with coffee in the morning and pizza (and beer) in the evening. Somehow that led to a course PB at parkrun on Saturday morning (21:08), which makes no sense. Then I went out to Haughley in the afternoon for a gentle cycle ride on a borrowed bike and a pub lunch. Finally in the evening I unexpectedly got to see Ed Gamble at the Corn Exchange, thanks to a former colleague who had a spare ticket. Not a bad show, and Chloe Petts, the support act, was funny too.

One of my toenails had been loose since the SVP50, and it finally fell off on Sunday. I’ll spare you the photo, having already turned a few stomachs on Instagram and Facebook with a video clip of it flapping up and down.


Weeknotes 2022-37

Definitely a week when I’m glad I pretty much never watch live TV or listen to the radio any more. I suspect I if I had, I’d have stopped by now. Still, I suppose we are talking about “the most important event the world will ever see”.

Some more greyhound sitting this week. She continues to be extremely lazy, apart from a brief flurry of excitement to greet you on arrival.

After a few weeks of my wildlife camera not picking up anything, I moved it to a slightly lower position which seems to line the field of view of the motion sensors up better. Over a few nights this week it caught a badger a few times (or several badgers), and what looks like two different foxes (that wasn’t a huge surprise, given that I saw two foxes in the garden at once the other day). I put some short clips on YouTube.

I was supposed to have been running a leg of the Round Norfolk relay in the early hours of Sunday morning, then realised that I also had a Toy Dolls gig in London in my diary for Saturday night (originally scheduled for March 2020, and postponed so many times that I’d lost track of when it was). I think I could have just about made it back in time, but fortunately someone stepped in to take my place. I ended up getting home at 1am, which would have made it pretty tight.

The gig was good fun, and suitably silly as expected. It’s the first time I’ve seen them live, despite having been at least aware of them since the 80s.

After about five hours sleep I was up again ready for the Felixstowe Coastal 10, which I’d entered once I’d escaped my RNR obligations (I’d been regretting my choice between the two events, so it all worked out well in the end). I’d assumed that an evening of jumping around in the Kentish Town Forum with a bunch of ageing punks would have been poor race preparation, but somehow I came away with a ten mile PB of 1:11:10. Only four seconds faster than my previous best, but they all count! I was beginning to think the “getting older” factor was starting to win out over “getting better”, but maybe not quite yet.

It’s funny how quickly the cats have reacted to the recent sudden onset of autumn. Especially Ninja, who’s changed overnight from living in the garden and only coming in occasionally for food back to sitting on my lap and sleeping on the bed.


Weeknotes 2022-36

I’ll try to be a bit positive this week, or at least less negative. Things are resolved, even if not in the way I’d have liked. Fortunately I’m not a monarchist, so events of the week haven’t conspired to darken my mood any further. As usual I’m mildly surprised by a lot of people’s reaction to a royal death – not saying there’s a right or wrong way to feel, but personally I don’t find it any sadder than the death of anyone else I don’t know.

Most of this week feels like it was taken up with preparation for the next edition of our modern software development practices “bootcamp” (it’s not a bootcamp) for more of our Indian colleagues, which started on Friday (half a day a week for a month or so). Despite the fact that we’ve been running variants of the event for the best part of a decade (well I have – other people have been and gone), we kept up the tradition of making substantial changes at the lest minute – this time by creating an example Java project to use for demos and (hopefully, with a bit more work) some of the practical exercises. Have I mentioned that I hate Java? I realise I’m being unfair, and it’s improved massively since I last used it in anger (around the time when Java 7 came out), but I’ve never really used any of the new stuff so there’s a lot of looking up to do. Everything feels ten times more complicated than it should be, coming from the dynamically typed worlds of Ruby and Elixir.

As of Wednesday, I’ve been working at BT for 30 years, and without (touch wood) having taken any time off sick. I got a very pro forma recognition note, which is a bit ironic given that personal is one of the company’s three core values, but also £500, which makes it churlish to complain. Unfortunately it’s not cash, so I have to turn it into a voucher for one of a choice of retailers to be able to spend it. First world problems.

A fairly busy weekend (apart from this afternoon). Started Saturday with parkrun as usual, then popped round to Jane’s to lift up the slabs that used to be under the greenhouse I dismantled earlier. To be honest it wasn’t a hugely useful job, as all I’ve done is move them to the edge of the garden where they’re still slightly in the way, and I still need to pick them up again when I eventually sort out transport to bring them and the greenhouse parts from there to here. At least we established that they were just laid on a layer of sand (which Sky immediately went and lay in) rather than concrete, which will make turning it back into lawn much easier. Then after waiting for a gap in the rain to ride home (and a chat with her mum, who’d turned up to visit and whom I hadn’t seen for ages) I headed back out to Caroline’s 40th birthday party, which was enjoyable although I’m not really a party person. I even had a quick go on a bouncy castle. I was very restrained and left before 10pm after only a couple of beers (cans mind, not pints), on the basis that I was racing in the morning.

Well done Sky

I’d entered the Langham 5k/10k, even though most other people were doing the Ipswich Half, and ended up only knowing one person there (they’d have made a killing if they’d reopened entries after the announcement that Ipswich was being postponed). I thought it would be amusing to enter both distances, with the 5k starting at 9am (actually ended up being 9.10, which cut heavily into my recovery time!) and the 10k at 10. The plan was to hit the 5k hard, then see what I had left for the 10, and it didn’t go too badly (20:23 and 44:25 respectively). Despite being Billy-no-mates I hung around afterwards for a burger and just in case I’d got the age group prize in the sparsely-attended 5k, but I missed out by one place.

My Beer52 delivery arrived today, so that’s another month when I’ve failed to cancel it. If you want me not to do something, make it involve phoning up a human.

I’ve fired up the pizza oven for dinner, and decided that not only was it too cold outside this evening for shorts, but that I needed to put a jumper on too. Nearly Christmas.