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Sat Dec 22 2001
We went shopping for Christmas cards this afternoon, and I was disappointed to find out that they've turned all of the free street parking in Northampton centre into pay and display! :-(
We took Adam, Paul and Vikki's Christmas presents with us into town. After we'd got all of our Christmas cards, we popped in to see Adam in the Sony centre, and then drove round to Paul and Vikki's place to drop their presents in.
Naomi came back for Christmas this evening.

Fri Dec 21 2001
We went to Bluewater again this morning, and spent most of the day finishing off all of our Christmas shopping. When we'd finished, we drove to my Parents'.
In the evening Martin brought Grandma up from Bournemouth.

Thu Dec 20 2001
I got up at the usual time of 6:30 this morning as if I was driving back to work, but instead, I went over to Bluewater. I parked in the almost empty and very icy car park, and then headed into the centre. I had to wait a while for the shops to open, but I passed the time doing window shopping.
I spent most of the day there and found everything I wanted for Nicola. I'd already got the concert CDs and a cute fluffy cat for her. Today I bought an optical mouse, a set of Shot rocks, a candle making kit, some gloves for couples that have two normal single gloves and a shared double glove that you both put your hand in so that you can hold hands, and some Calvin Klein lingerie.
I drove back to Strood late afternoon, and had my car washed at Safeway while I went and did a bit more shopping. I tried to find a Zippy key-ring for Naomi again but didn't have any luck, I bought some wrapping paper, and got a card for Nicola.
When I got back to Nicola's place, I waited outside for a bit and sent her a few texts hinting that I might be there soon. I could see through a crack in the curtain that Dave was home, and rang him on the landline to find out exactly where Nicola was. He said she was in her room so I asked him to let me in, and then I crept up the stairs to her door. I was about to send her another text to ask her to open it when she came out to see who had been on the phone. She got quite a surprise when she saw me standing there! :-)
In the evening I wrapped up her Christmas presents out of the way in her Mum's room, and then we headed down to Chiquito for a meal.

Wed Dec 19 2001
I've already booked Friday off work, and I decided to take Thursday off as well today. Thought I might use the whole day to do Christmas shopping for Nicola.
The bootleg CDs of the Heather Nova concert we went to have arrived, and they're really good! I had a quick listen to them when I got back home from work this evening. The sound quality is great, and the songs have all been put on different tracks. I was quite impressed! I'm going to design some nice colourful CD labels for them, and give them to Nicola as a Christmas present.
Had some dinner and then headed down to Kent.

Tue Dec 18 2001
I'm using Freeserve for my ISP now. Their AnyTime package, with no call charges, is just £12.99 per month, and they have an offer on at the moment of one month for free.

Mon Dec 17 2001
Nicola spent the day at my parents' today while I went to work. When I got back in the evening, we had some curry for dinner, and then headed back down to Kent, as Nicola has an appointment there tomorrow.

Sun Dec 16 2001
We walked down to Strood in the morning to see if we could do a bit more Christmas shopping. Naomi wants a Zippy key-ring, and I've seen them before in Woolworths, but we couldn't find one there today. Couldn't find any marshmallows for Gran either, but we did get a gas lighter, and bought some chocolates for Mum.
On the way home we popped into Safeway and got some honey and mustard Chicken Tonight, some jelly and a bottle of Archers, some marshmallows for Gran, and a bottle of Jack Daniels for Adam.
When we got back, we cooked the Chicken Tonight for lunch, then packed up some stuff and headed to my parents'.
We told them about the engagement, and then went to see my Gran to tell her the good news too. I took quite a few photos of the ring yesterday, and uploaded them to the website tonight.

Sat Dec 15 2001
We got up nice and early this morning and went to Bluewater to buy an engagement ring and do a bit of Christmas shopping. We looked in the windows of a few jewellery shops and went into one of them to get an explanation of the diamond classification system. Then, after having been round about half of the jewellers in Bluewater, we finally found a ring we really liked, and asked them if we could have a closer look. Nicola tried it on, and the guy in the shop went and got the classification of it. It did look quite nice but, for the price, we weren't quite happy with the classification. Its clarity rating didn't even show up on the chart we had been given earlier. So we carried on looking round, and eventually came back to the first shop we'd looked at. This time we spotted a really beautiful ring in the window. We both thought it looked stunning and we went in to try it on. As well as looking fantastic, it also had a surprisingly high classification... 0.35ct SI1 G. We decided that it would be the one! :-) It wasn't quite the right size, but they said we could have it resized later. They fitted a clip on insert to make it slightly smaller so that we could take it away there and then.
We went to Pizza hut for some food, and managed to attract Helen's attention quite quickly this time. :-) We chatted to her for a bit while we were waiting for a table, but she didn't spot the ring, even though we were trying our hardest to get her to notice it! :-) We sat down to eat, and when Helen came over for another brief chat later, we told her the good news. She seemed quite excited about it! :-)
We did some more shopping in the afternoon, but by 4:00 we were getting a little tired, so decided to head off. We'd just started driving away when we realised that Helen would be finishing work soon, so we rang Nicola's Dad to suggest that we could give Helen a lift home. There was no answer on his home number, but we got hold of him on his mobile, and he said that he was shopping in Bluewater!
We met up with him inside, and then told him about the engagement. We were so nervous about telling him as we had no idea how he'd react, but he seemed very pleased for us both and invited us back for a meal. :-) We had a quick coffee while we waited for Helen to finish work, and then headed off. Nicola and I went via Safeway to get some garlic bread for the meal. When we got back, Caroline opened the Archers to celebrate the engagement.

Fri Dec 14 2001
Nicola moved back to her Mum's place for the Christmas holidays today, so tonight after work, I had to drive all the way to Strood. The traffic on the M25 wasn't brilliant, but it was reasonable, and I arrived at about 8:00.
Nicola still had loads of unpacking to do, so she carried on doing that until about 9:00, then we headed out for some food. We tried Frankie and Benny's first, but it was absolutely packed, so we went to Chiquito instead.
Nicola had told her Mum about our engagement when she picked Nicola up from uni in the morning. She seems quite pleased for us, and when we got back from Chiquito, she gave us our first engagement card. :-)

Thu Dec 13 2001
Had our work's Christmas dinner today at the Deddington Arms pub. We headed over there early afternoon, and I gave Andrew a lift in my car, as he was quite interested in seeing the satellite navigation system in action.
Our table wasn't quite ready when we arrived, so we had a quick drink in the bar first, before being called through to the restaurant about 10 minutes later. I had potato and leak soup for the starter, turkey for the main course, and strawberry parfait for dessert. The food was rather good, and we even got warm mince pies with our coffee. :-)
After the meal was over, we all headed straight off home, so I got back a little earlier than usual. Started work on an email advent calendar in JavaScript for Nicola... 25 buttons, with 25 reasons why I love her behind them. :-) And only the buttons up to the current day will be active, so she'll get a new message of love each day. :-)
In the evening I headed up to the Greyhound to meet John for a few drinks, then came back and had a nice long chat on the phone with Nicola. I hadn't quite completed the calendar by this point, so when we got off the phone just before midnight, I headed downstairs, finished it off and mailed it to her. I hope she checks her email tomorrow before she packs her computer away...

Wed Dec 12 2001
No sign of fog at all today, but it was really cold in the morning and I had to scrape loads of ice off the windscreen before I could set off for work.
The post card I sent Nicola from the BP garage yesterday never turned up. I wonder what happened to it. Oh well, it might turn up eventually.
Drove down to see Nicola in the evening. Took the logos I'd printed out yesterday for her with me. She was quite impressed with how they came out too, but she's not going to try any of them out just yet as this is her last week of term, and she'll be moving out on Friday. We'll have to wait until the new year to impress people with our artistic skills! :-)

Tue Dec 11 2001
Another foggy day today. There was some thin fog in the morning on the way to work, and although it cleared up during the day, by the time I set off home again in the evening it was back, thicker than ever.
When I got to Ardley road, between Middleton Stoney and the M40, I met a huge queue of traffic, which was quite unusual as that road is usually very clear. After about 10 minutes of not moving at all, I guessed that there must have been an accident up ahead and decided to turn round and take another route through Bicester. The fog was getting even thicker at this point, and my detour took ages as, at some points, I couldn't see more than a few metres in front of me! The strange thing was that as soon as I got back on to my normal route, the fog vanished. It literally went from being so thick you could hardly see anything to perfect visibility in a matter of seconds!
I stopped at the BP garage just outside Towcester to get petrol, and on my way out of the shop, noticed that they had a couple of "Information Terminals" which looked a bit like free-standing ATM machines, but with proper keyboards. They had touch sensitive screens and there were various things you could do, like route planning, find weather reports, etc. These were actually web pages... You could see it dial up and the URL got displayed at the top of the screen. It wouldn't let you type URLs in though unless you put some money into it, and then you got access to the Internet and email options. One of the other things you could do for free was send an electronic postcard with a message, so I sent one to Nicola. It hasn't turned up yet though.
We designed some "Nicola" logos over the weekend for her to put in the nameplate holder on her door at uni. I printed them out tonight, on nice glossy paper, and they look really cool. :-)

Mon Dec 10 2001
Had a lousy journey to work from London this morning. The traffic coming out of London was a lot heavier than usual so I got delayed there, then I got on to the M25 to find huge queues caused by a lorry that had broken down in the outside lane, and to top it all off there was thick fog from the approach to Oxford right the way through to work!
Found out at work today that we're going to be moving office in January. Andrew hasn't found a permanent place yet, but we're rapidly running out of space for new people, so we're going to be moving to Upper Heyford for about 6 months.
It's quite a good location for me. It's actually on my current route, and it'll knock about 15-20 minutes off my journey time. It's also really close to the M40, and as I can skip driving round Oxford, travelling down to see Nicola should be a bit quicker too! :-)

Sun Dec 09 2001
I just want to let the whole world know that Nicola and I are engaged! :-)

I want to thank you
for giving me the best day of my life
Oh just to be with you
is having the best day of my life

from Thank You
by Dido

I love you Nicola! Thank you for everything!

Sat Dec 08 2001
We left uni reasonably early this morning and headed to Bluewater to do some Christmas shopping. Nicola's sister, Helen, got herself a weekend job working in Pizza Hut there just recently, so we decided to pop in and say hello. :-) There was a bit of a queue, and while we were waiting we spotted her working at the salad bar over at the other side of the restaurant. She looked our way lots of times, but didn't notice us once! Even when she came over to put some menus away right beside us she didn't see us! We kept on trying to catch her attention throughout our meal, but in the end we had to go up to her and say hello on our way out to get her to notice us! :-)
We did some Christmas shopping for a few hours after that, and then headed over to Nicola's Mum's for a bit. At 6:00 we drove back to Bluewater to pick Helen up after she'd finished work, then had a nice meal at Nicola's Dad's place. Mmmmm... Cajun chicken. :-)
Later on, we all went to the Red House for a few drinks and a game of pool. Nicola and I played Helen and Steve, and we won! Yay! :-)

Fri Dec 07 2001
I had a meeting at Argonaut again today, which meant I could have a bit of a lie in this morning. Got up at around 8:30 and left just after 9:00. The traffic in South street was a lot worse leaving at this time, but the rest of the journey was a much clearer, and it only took me about 40 minutes to get there.
The meeting finished slightly earlier than I was expecting and I was back at the University soon after 3:00. I bought some roses on the way to surprise Nicola with.
We decided we were going to cook some pasta for dinner and needed a few things like mushrooms, an onion and a pepper, so soon after I got in, we drove over to Tesco. We found that they were doing a special offer on drinks... Buy two 4-packs of either peach or orange Archers Aqua or Smirnoff Ice and get the third 4-pack free. So we got one of each! :-)

Thu Dec 06 2001
Drove down to surprise Nicola again tonight. The traffic around Oxford was very good, as was the M25, and although I got held up on the M4 for a bit, I made very good time. Got to the University soon after 7:00.
I gave Nicola a call and we chatted for a bit, not letting on where I was. Then she asked "Where are you?" and I replied "Right outside your window!" So she looked out and finally saw me standing there. :-)
She had a bit of filing to do with her course notes, so while she did that I headed out and got Chinese for dinner. They do a cheap meal for one person that is actually plenty of food for two people, so we had that between us... Sweet and sour chicken, beef chop suey, and egg fried rice... Mmmmmm! :-)

Wed Dec 05 2001
Went over to Towcester this evening for a meal at the Indian with John, Andrew (Who's over in England again doing some more work for the company John works for), and another guy from his work.
I managed to have a quick chat with Nicola when I got home from work, then John picked me up from my house just after 7:00. We left the car at his house and all walked to the Indian in the centre of Towcester. I had the chicken Madrass, and it was really nice.
After the meal we had a few drinks in a couple of the pubs, then headed back to John's house at closing time and Ian drove me back home.
Had another chat to Nicola.

Tue Dec 04 2001
Sorted out and uploaded the photos from Helen's 18th birthday meal and the ones from Warwick castle this evening. I'm very pleased with how well this sunset picture came out. It looks really nice!
I also renewed my domain, as it'll be two years old in January. Happy 2nd birthday! :-)

Mon Dec 03 2001
It was Helen's 18th today, and she had a big birthday meal at The Windmill in Hollingbourne.
I left work at 5:00, a little earlier than usual, so that I could get down to Kent in time. I arrived at Nicola's Dad's place by about 7:15, and then we made our way over to the pub.
Loads of Helen's family and friends came to the meal, and we had a great time. She opened all of her presents first, including a digital camera and a sparkly magic wand. Then, before we ate, Helen even made a speech! :-) The meal itself was very good, especially the cake, which she really enjoyed! :-)

Sun Dec 02 2001
We had a great day out at Warwick castle today. There was loads of stuff to look around inside the castle itself, the castle grounds were quite picturesque, and we got some great entertainment from a juggler in the courtyard. On the walk we did round the top of the castle we caught a beautiful sunset, and I got some fantastic photos!
We left the castle just as it was getting dark, and headed back down to uni, stopping off at the BP Safeway garage on the way to get some milk.

Sat Dec 01 2001
We drove up to Milton late morning to pick up my old Psion and then continued on to Coventry. We went to Dixons to collect my band new replacement Psion, and then did a bit of shopping in the city centre. We found some nice shiny wrapping paper that we can use for wrapping both Christmas presents and Helen's birthday presents.
We were going to go to the Sozzled Sausage in Leamington for dinner tonight, but when I rang them up to find out what times they served food, they told me that they don't serve food on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday!
We decided to get Chinese and have an evening in instead. I wasn't too sure where the closest takeaway was, so I asked our next-door neighbour and he gave us directions. When we got back with the food we watched loads of episodes of Friends on DVD while we ate.
Gave Nicola's Heather Nova T-shirt a good clean.

Fri Nov 30 2001
Drove back down to uni in the evening. We went out to Pizza Hut for dinner.

Thu Nov 29 2001
I was sorting through some stuff yesterday and found my copy of the hilarious quiz show party game YOU DON'T KNOW JACK. I took it to work today and had a few games with Rich at lunchtime. It really is very funny.
I've booked another week off work at the start of the new year. I've now got just over two weeks off for Christmas! Yay! :-)
Drove down to see Nicola after work as she was getting a little stressed about her work, and I wanted to try and cheer her up a bit.

Wed Nov 28 2001
I was thinking last night that it'd be much easier for me if I could collect my replacement Psion from somewhere a bit closer than Coventry, so today I rang Dixons again and asked them if it would be possible to take my old one back to a different branch. Unfortunately they said it would have to go back to Coventry, so I'm going to have to make another trip up there some time.
Went out to the pub with John this evening.

Tue Nov 27 2001
Nicola was feeling much better this morning. She had some more food she'd bought with a meal ticket for me to take to work for my lunch... A yoghurt and a cheese and onion roll with loads of onions in it! Mmmm... I love onion. :-)
I phoned Dixons again today, and managed to speak to the manager this time. He said they'd be happy to replace my Psion! Yay! I'm getting a brand new one after all! :-)

Mon Nov 26 2001
Found a cool utility for Windows 2000 today. It's called Glass2K, and it lets you set the transparency of any window at the touch of a hotkey.
Dixons didn't call me back. I'm going to have to ring them up tomorrow and have a moan.
Nicola was feeling a quite ill this afternoon with heavy cold symptoms, so in the evening after work I drove down to see her.

Sun Nov 25 2001
I rang Dixons this morning and asked to speak to the manager, but he wasn't there. I spoke to the deputy manager instead, and asked for a replacement Psion. He said that because it was a different fault, it didn't come under the previous fault's 42-day replacement period. I wasn't going stand for that. I'm not waiting possibly another 42 days to have my Psion back all because someone created a new fault while fixing the original one! I told him this, but he said he couldn't make the decision. He said he'd have to speak to the manager about it tomorrow and give me a ring back. :-/ We had lunch at my parents', and in the evening headed down to uni. After Nicola had gone to sleep tonight, I planted the backdrop on her computer. :-)

Sat Nov 24 2001
We were up just before midday and drove up to Coventry to pick up a new Psion from Dixons. When we got there and spoke to someone about it, they went away for a bit, then came back to say my old Psion had been fixed, despite what I'd been told on the phone yesterday! I checked it over and it did seem to be OK. It's a shame really... It would have been nice to have a brand new one. :-)
We did a bit of window-shopping in Coventry centre, then headed back to Milton.
In the evening I played around with my Psion some more, and discovered a different fault with it! It now doesn't turn on and off when you open and shut the case. They must have forgotten to reconnect something or damaged the switch when they put it back together. I'm going to have to ring Dixons again tomorrow.

Fri Nov 23 2001
Drove to the new office in the morning, and it really is a nice place. It took about the same time to get to from my parents' as Radford, but it'll be closer to Nicola by about 20 minutes! :-)
I phoned Dixons about my Psion again today, as it'll have been there 42 days by tomorrow. They told me that it's going to be at least another 2 weeks before they get it back, so it looks like I'll be getting a brand new one tomorrow under the terms of the warranty! :-)
Drove down to Nicola's after work. We sorted out her washing and had something to eat, then drove up to my parents'.

Thu Nov 22 2001
I prepared a backdrop image this evening, which I'm going to plant on Nicola's computer some time... A dark red photo of me with "I Love You" written in large bright letters over the top. :-)
We're going to see a new office for work near Cassington tomorrow. Andrew thought it might be a good idea if we all drive straight there in the morning. That way we can all see if the location's okay for getting to.

Wed Nov 21 2001
Had a couple of mails today from Matthew and Ben James telling me that the project I'd been working on at my previous job had been stopped and that everyone on the team was reassigned. I wonder if it'll trigger off any more resignations.
Went up to the Greyhound for a few drinks with John this evening.

Tue Nov 20 2001
The new Playstation 2 development kits arrived at work this morning, so we no longer have to share just one! :-)
The financial advisor who'd talked to us about the pension scheme came back in today, and I got my application sorted out.
Work email is still being slow. Demon appear to be having major problems with their servers.
Uploaded all of the photos from the weekend.

Mon Nov 19 2001
Drove to work from Brunel this morning. Nicola had bought some lunch for me (a roll and a yoghurt) from the canteen with one of her meal tickets, as she needs to use them up before the end of term.
Demon's mail servers are playing up at the moment, and work email is arriving very slowly. It's quite frustrating!
Nicola found most of the messages I'd hidden in her room over the course of the day. It made her so happy. She thought it was really sweet! :-) And there's still a few she hasn't found yet. :-)
Nicola had a surprise for me too. She'd ordered some heart shaped Hot packs for us both from Firebox, and they arrived in the post today. It's really cool the way the packs work. There's a little metal button inside each one and when you press it, it starts off a chemical reaction that turns the contents of the pack from a liquid to a solid. This process releases heat, and the pack stays warm for about an hour. To reuse them, you place them in boiling water for a while until the solid stuff becomes liquid again. Neat! They should keep our hands nice and warm this winter! :-)
Sorted out the photos from the weekend.

Sun Nov 18 2001
We walked to Syon park today, and visited the London butterfly house and the Aquatic experience.
The butterfly house was really cool. It was great being able to get so close to them, and I got some amazing macro shots. They had other insects and exotic creatures in there as well, and although they were behind glass, I managed to take some fantastic close-ups of these too.
The Aquatic experience was very good. It's an exhibition of endangered species that live in or near water in the tropical regions. They have a large collection of snakes, fish, crocodiles, poisonous frogs, and other amphibians. We wandered around the main section first, where they have all of the animals in glass cases. I got an amazing close-up of one of the crocodiles, as it was resting right up against the glass and I was able to take a photo from just a few centimetres away! I took some fantastic shots of the frogs too. We finished looking round the exhibits just in time to catch the "Animal encounter" show, where we were given an interesting talk from one of the keepers and some hands on experience with some of the animals. Nicola really wanted to hold the Boa Constricter round her neck, so after the show we asked the guy if she could. He was a bit reluctant at first, but in the end he went and fetched it out again for us, so Nicola got to hold it! :-)
We walked back to uni via the London Apprentice where we stopped for a quick drink. When we got to Nicola's room, we looked up showing times for The others and then walked to the cinema in Richmond. The Thames was really high on the way there, and the water had flooded over the bank in some places. Luckily we were able to get all the way to Richmond okay, though we had to turn off the path slightly earlier than usual.
The water had gone down a lot by the time we walked back after the film. When we got in, we cooked pasta for dinner.
After Nicola had gone to sleep tonight, I hid the 28 "I Love You!" notes all around the room.

Sat Nov 17 2001
The weather's been really cloudy recently, and I don't think there's any chance we're going to spot any Leonids. Oh well, maybe next year...
We got up late this morning, and headed into central London to do a bit of shopping. It's Helen's 18th birthday soon, so we bought a few things for her.
We found somewhere to sit down and eat the sandwiches we'd brought with us for lunch, had a few drinks in a pub near Victoria station, and then decided to go and do a bit of sightseeing. It was beginning to get dark by this time, and I wanted to get some shots of London at night.
We walked to Buckingham palace and then on through St James Park (Which had some very cool lighting under some of the trees) to Westminster abbey. We headed past Big Ben, and went over the river to get some shots of the Houses of parliament. We were getting quite thirsty again by this point, so we found a pub on Whitehall and had another drink. Next we walked to Trafalgar square, and then to Cleopatra's needle, before getting the tube back to Richmond.
On the way back to uni we got Chinese from the takeaway.

Fri Nov 16 2001
Drove down to see Nicola after work. Stopped off on the way to buy her some flowers.
We went to Chiquito for dinner tonight.

Thu Nov 15 2001
Another cold morning today and there was even more ice on the car windscreen than yesterday. The temperature outside was -1 on the way to work!
I was so pleased with how cool the night time shots I took last weekend looked, that I decided to take some more this evening. Got quite a few interesting photos of the house and garden in the dark.
I printed out 28 little "I Love You!" notes for Nicola. I'm going to hide them all around her room before I leave for work on Monday morning, so she'll be discovering them throughout the rest of the day! :-)

Wed Nov 14 2001
It was very cold this morning, and I had to spend a while scraping ice off the car windscreen before I left for work.
John was busy tonight and couldn't come to the pub, so I decided to drive down and surprise Nicola in the evening instead. :-)

Tue Nov 13 2001
It's a boy! Andy and Helen had their baby yesterday.
Uploaded a whole load of photos tonight. As well as the night time shots and the photos from Saturday's birthday celebrations, there were the ones of my birthday cake, my birthday meal, and the night out we had a few days before my birthday.

Mon Nov 12 2001
I read today that there's going to be a heavy meteor shower next weekend... The Leonids. I'm hoping it's going to be a clear night. If it is, I'll try and get some cool photos.
My parents' boiler broke down the other day, and it still hasn't been fixed, so the house was quite chilly when I got home. Especially in the kitchen, which is where my computer is set up at the moment. I decided to keep my coat on for most of the evening! :-/
I sorted out the photos from the weekend, but Naomi was using the phone line all night so I didn't get a chance to upload them.

Sun Nov 11 2001
I didn't feel too bad this morning, but I did have a bit of a spinning head. I had a lie in until just before midday, by which time I was feeling much better. Nicola was feeling a lot better today too.
We went to Tesco to buy some food, then came back and cooked cheese and ham on toast for lunch.
In the evening we went for a walk across Richmond lock and down by the side of the Thames for about a mile. By the time we got as far as opposite the London Apprentice, it was getting quite dark. I got some great night time shots of the pub and, on the way back, the lock and the river. I thought it'd be quite cool to take some more night shots, so we headed back to Nicola's room to get a fresh set of batteries for the camera, and then went round the uni grounds taking more photos.
We cooked pasta for dinner, then had some fun with a game Nicola had bought for us both.

Sat Nov 10 2001
Went out in London tonight with some friends to celebrate my birthday. Had a great time. I didn't have to buy a drink all night! :-)
Nicola and I headed into central London late afternoon and arrived at the Slug and Lettuce near Leicester Square around 5:30, where we were supposed to be meeting John, John and Andrew. When we walked in we were quite surprised to see Glen and Giles there. They'd been there watching the football, and were waiting around because Giles was going to a concert later. We chatted with them for a while, then soon after 6:00, John and David arrived, followed shortly by Charles, who was going to the concert with Giles.
Adam rang to say he'd got home late for work and couldn't really make it in time, and there was still no sign of John and Andrew, so at about 6:30 I gave them a ring. John said they'd been delayed, but would be at the pub in about 10 minutes.
We had a few drinks after they arrived, then Giles and Charles left for the concert, and the rest of us headed over to the Moon Under Water in Charing Cross Road for the rest of the night.
I had some very strange drinks bought for me by various people. One of which had quite an interesting consistency! What were those floating bits? Perhaps it's better I don't know! :-)
Nicola's been feeling a little under the weather recently with a cold, and she was beginning to get a bit of a headache soon after 10:00, so we decided to call it a night and head off home.

Fri Nov 09 2001
I phoned Dixons today, as it's been almost a month since I took my Psion in to be repaired. They spent ages trying to find out what had happened to it, and eventually said that it had been returned. I asked them to check to see if it was okay, and the problem hadn't been fixed! They told me they'd send it off again, but they've only got 2 more weeks to get it sorted out, otherwise I'm entitled to a new one under the extended warranty I took out.
Drove down to see Nicola after work. We went to the London Apprentice pub, which overlooks the Thames, for some food and a drink. It was a reasonable day, and the pub was only 3/4 mile away from uni, so we decided to walk there.
We're having a bit of a late birthday celebration out in London tomorrow, and on the way back from the pub I gave Adam a ring to see if he wanted to come. He said he could make it, but he'd be working during the day so he may be a bit late.

Thu Nov 08 2001
I had a meeting at Argonaut today, and it's only 10 miles away from uni so I had an extra 45 minutes in bed! :-) I dropped Nicola off at school at 8:30 and then drove on to the meeting. It took about an hour to get there through the London traffic.
I finished at 3:00 and was back at the school by 4:00 to pick Nicola up again. Back at uni I had a shower. When I got out, Nicola told me the news that her friend Laura had decided to leave her course and would be going home later on in the evening. We went over to the refectory with her and chatted while she had some food, then went out for some food ourselves at Pizza Hut. Laura had just about finished packing when we got back, so we said goodbye before she headed off with her parents.
We made a makeshift double bed to sleep on tonight, using some blankets, duvets and the sleeping bag. It wasn't the softest bed in the world, but it was still reasonably comfortable.

Wed Nov 07 2001
Nicola and I have been together 6 months now! :-)
I left uni at 7:00 this morning so Nicola would think I was going to work, but I'd booked the day off. I had planned to be in Coventry yesterday night and to go shopping there today, but as I was down in London I decided to drive to Bluewater instead.
I spent ages searching for the perfect card for the occasion. When I found it, I wrote her another poem inside. I then thought I'd get her a little gift too, and bought some nice purple lingerie from La Senza. :-) On the way back to Brunel I stopped of at a florist and bought 6 large red roses... One for each month we've been together.
I got changed into my suit in the car when I arrived at the uni car park, and then waited by the stairs in the hall for her to come back from her lecture. She was so surprised when she saw me! :-) I gave her the flowers and the card, and back in her room, she tried on the present. :-)
Later on in the evening we headed over to the cinema to see America's sweethearts.

Tue Nov 06 2001
I surprised Nicola tonight by driving down to see her after work. I waited outside her door for a while. I could hear her inside doing exercises with Laura, and I kept sending her SMS messages giving bigger and bigger hints that I was waiting outside. She realised eventually when I sent her one that said, "Why don't you open the door?" :-)
Nicola had some work to do for her course, so while she did that I designed a spreadsheet for her on her Psion so she can record her weight, see how well she's doing, and get a prediction about when she should reach her target.
Nicola cooked me a really nice cheese and onion omelette for my dinner.

Mon Nov 05 2001
There was a problem with the heating at work today and it was freezing when I got into the office. I had to keep my coat on all morning until it got sorted out!
Let my mum know about our plans for Christmas. As Nicola will be at my parents' on Christmas Day, Mum will need to do an extra Christmas dinner. :-)
I had my Alien island picture made in to a huge A0 poster last year some time, and we thought it would look quite cool on one of the walls in Nicola's room at uni. It's at Coventry at the moment. I think I might pop up there tomorrow to fetch it.

Sun Nov 04 2001
We headed over to Nicola's Dad's for lunch today. Their house extension has progressed a lot since we saw it last, and it's almost complete.
In the evening we headed back to her Mum's for a bit to collect a few more things, then drove back to London. On the way, we discussed what we were going to do for Christmas and where we were going to spend it. We've decided to spend Christmas Day at my parents', and then head down to Kent on Boxing day.
We went to Leisure West and were going to go and see America's sweethearts, but we wanted to have some food too and the show times were awkward, so we decided we'd see the film another time.
We went to Frankie and Benny's to eat. I had the American Hot pizza, and it really was the HOTTEST pizza I've ever tasted!!!

Sat Nov 03 2001
Drove down to Nicola's Mum's today to collect a few more things from her room for uni. While we were there we cooked pasta for ourselves and for Nicola's Mum and Dave.
In the evening we went over to the Conservative club in Gravesend with Nicola's Nan to celebrate her birthday. We had a few drinks and played bingo.

Fri Nov 02 2001
I wrote a poem for Nicola today...

Winter's drawing nearer,
The evenings getting dark.
But when you're close beside me,
It's summer in my heart.

The days are getting colder,
The frost begins to bite.
But you are there to hold me,
And warm me through the night.

The trees are losing leaves now,
Their colour fading fast.
But our love is eternal,
Forever it will last.

There's one thing that's for certain,
Something that's strong and true.
No matter what the season,
Nicola, I Love you.

by Jonathan Hunt

I headed into Chipping Norton at lunchtime and bought a nice card. It has a picture on the front of a heart drawn in the sand on a beach with some flowers by the side, and I wrote the poem inside.
Nicola's wanted some cute fluffy slippers for ages, and while I was looking round the shops, I found some cool ones in the shape of cats. Tabby cats, just like Izzy. :-)
I drove down to see Nicola after work, and gave her the slippers and the card. She really loved both of them. :-)
Later on, we headed out to Pizza Hut for dinner.

Thu Nov 01 2001
We had a financial advisor come into the office today to talk to us all about the company pension. It sounds like it's quite a good scheme.
I've booked off my Christmas holiday. My last day at work will be Thursday 21st, and I won't be back until Wednesday 2nd. Over a week and a half! I've also booked off a day for our 6-month anniversary next Wednesday so I can do something special. :-)
I took the bear Nicola gave me for my birthday into work today and put it on top of my monitor. Looks so cute! :-)

Wed Oct 31 2001
It's almost pitch black when I leave work at 5:30 now. The Sapphire Torch I got from Firebox is coming in very handy for getting back to the car park in the dark! :-)
Paul came round this evening to drop off my birthday presents... Some very strong Warp mints, a 3D camera, and the first double part episode of Enterprise.

Tue Oct 30 2001
I won't go
I won't sleep
I can't breathe
Until you're resting here with me

I won't leave
I can't hide
I cannot be
Until you're resting here with me

from Here With Me
by Dido

Mon Oct 29 2001
After I got in from work this evening, Mum cooked us sweet and sour chicken for dinner. Then we packed up our stuff and Nicola and I headed back down to Brunel.

Sun Oct 28 2001
It's my birthday!!! I'm 25 years old today. Doesn't sound too bad until you realise that it's a quarter of a century! The clocks went back tonight too, so I had a 25-hour 25th birthday! :-)
Nicola gave me my first present just after midnight. ;-) The rest, I opened in the morning. She also got me a model Mini with a clock on the roof, and a cute little bear holding a box full of romantic messages she'd written. Some of the things I got from other people were a new black mobile phone cover, The phantom menace on DVD, glossy photo paper, a couple of printer cartridges, a big tin of Cadbury's Roses and a cake from Barbara.
We went to The Old Barn in Milton Keynes for lunch. It's changed a lot since the last time we went though. It's no longer as old and rustic as it used to be, and they've completely repainted the inside. Fortunately the food was still really good.
On the way back, Dad drove to the place where Naomi's got an interview tomorrow so that she won't have any problems finding it.
Nicola doesn't have any lectures tomorrow, so I asked her to stay another night, and she's agreed! :-) Just before midnight she gave me my final birthday present. :-)

Sat Oct 27 2001
We drove up to Coventry this afternoon to pick up the scales for Nicola and some more of my stuff. We stopped off at Draycote water on the way back for a walk and an ice-cream... The first Mini-Milk I've had since I was a kid! :-)
In the evening we all had takeaway from the Chinese chippy. Nicola and I both had one of their excellent chili burgers.

Fri Oct 26 2001
It's my birthday on Sunday, and we decided to have a bit of an early celebration after work tonight. I'd arranged to meet Paul and Vikki at their place first, and John said he'd meet us in the pub later with a few friends. I tried to get hold of Adam during the day, but I didn't get through until late afternoon. He'd just come back from his holiday in America, and although he was quite tired, he said he'd join us anyway.
He came down to our house first, and he'd brought me some presents back from his trip. Some chocolate casino chips, a car registration plate, and a huge bottle of Bacardi!
Dad gave us a lift over to Paul and Vikki's, then we walked the rest of the way into town. We went to Wetherspoons first, where John was supposed to be, but there was no sign of him when we got there. We had a drink, and waited for him. He turned up about 10 minutes later with a couple of friends.
The drinks were very cheap in Wetherspoons. Just over a pound a pint, and they were doing special offers on bottles and doubles too, so we decided to stay there until closing time. John bought me the, now traditional, birthday cement mixer, and we had a great night. :-)
We were feeling a little hungry after we left the pub, so we headed to the Up All Night burger place for some food. Nicola and I shared an Ostrich burger... One of their specialities. Tasted quite good. Though I'm not sure if that was just because we were drunk! :-)
Shared a taxi back home with Adam.

Thu Oct 25 2001
Got up and said goodbye to Nicola this morning, then headed off to work. When I got to the Radford crossroads, I saw Rich, Juan and Di's cars parked on the grass, and as I turned the corner I saw why... Two cars had collided head on with each other and were completely blocking the single track road. I reversed back to the crossroads, parked on the side of the road, and walked the remaining third of a mile to the office.
By lunchtime the accident had gone. Rich gave me, Scott and Nik a lift to the garage to get some lunch, and on the way back dropped me off at my car so that I could drive it to the office car park.
Nicola and I went up to the Greyhound in the evening for a meal and a few drinks.

Wed Oct 24 2001
Drove down to pick Nicola up from Brunel after work. Packed up all the things she'll need for the rest of the week, then we headed straight back to Northampton. Got in at around 9:30, which wasn't too bad.
We were starving by the time we got in though, so cooked some nice spicy chicken with potato wedges.

Tue Oct 23 2001
The traffic was really good again today. I love half term! :-) There weren't any hold ups this morning, and I got to work on time. They've opened a bit of the new dual carriageway, but they're only using one side of it for both lanes of traffic, so it isn't any faster just yet.
I downloaded a modem driver for my mobile this evening. It lets me use the phone as an infrared modem, so I'll be able to go online even if someone else is using the phone line. :-)
I've decided what I want Nicola to do for my SnakeII prize. I've asked her to come up and stay with me tomorrow and stop until the end of the weekend! I'll be picking her up tomorrow, and I can't wait! It'll be fantastic spending so much time with her!

Mon Oct 22 2001
Drove back to work from Brunel this morning. It's half term at the moment and the traffic was really good, so I actually got to the office 10 minutes early! :-)
I thought I wouldn't hear anything from Nicola while I was at work, but her Internet connection came back up during the day so she was able to send me email. :-)

Sun Oct 21 2001
I beat Nicola's high score on SnakeII today. I got 1560! :-) Now I've just got to decide what I want her to do for me for my prize. She said she'd do anything, so I'm gonna have to think about it carefully. :-)
We went to the supermarket in the afternoon and bought some potatoes, onions and some nice sausages. Then came back and made bangers and mash with onion gravy. Mmmmm! :-)
We were going to go for a drink at the union in the evening, but when we got down there, we found that it was shut. We headed back to the hall and had a few drinks in Laura's room instead while we watched City of angels on TV.

Sat Oct 20 2001
Nicola's Mum came to visit her at uni today. We drove out to the Leisure West entertainment complex and had a meal with her at Frankie and Benny's.
Nicola had quite a lot of work to do for her course this afternoon, so after her Mum had gone, she got on with that, and I played around with my Psion for a bit. The Internet connection in Nicola's room has been broken for a while, so I fiddled around and got the Psion connecting through my mobile phone.
Had Chinese takeaway in evening.

Fri Oct 19 2001
Had the day off work today and we decided to go shopping in Oxford Street. We started off at Tottenham Court Road tube station and walked all the way down to Marble Arch. We had some food at KFC, then worked our way back again. Nicola bought a cool CD rack and a tall thin frosted glass to use as a vase, and I treated her to half a little something from La Senza.
After we'd finished shopping we had a few drinks in the Moon Under Water, then headed back home via the off-licence to get some Archers and lemonade.
In the evening we went to the union for a while with Laura, Laura and Darren. We all had a few games on the Hangman machine, and Nicola and I tested out our arm wresting skills. :-)
When we got back to Nicola's room, we had some Archers and lemonade, and a few Sidekicks, then Nicola tried on her new outfit. :-)

Thu Oct 18 2001
Someone from Australia calling themselves Kyobona left a really strange entry in my guestbook yesterday. Something about there not being any Pokémon, DBZ or Digimon on my website. Very odd!
Headed down to see Nicola after work. Stopped off on the way to buy her some flowers. We went looking for the El Torito resturant again, but we still don't know where it is! Ended up going back to Chiquito.
The Orgasmatron arrived yesterday, and we gave it a try out when we got back from the resturant. Mmmmm... it really is good! :-)
Just before we went to bed, I surprised Nicola with the news that I'd booked tomorrow off.

Wed Oct 17 2001
And when somebody knows you well
Well there's no comfort like that
And when somebody needs you
Well there's no drug Like that

So keep me, keep me
In your bed all day, all day
Nothing heals me like you do
Keep me, keep me
In your bed all day, all day
Nothing heals me like you do

And where I'm home, curled in your arms
And I'm safe again
I'll close my eyes and sleep, sleep
To the sound of London Rain

So keep me, keep me
In your bed all day, all day
Nothing heals me like you do
Keep me, keep me
In your bed all day, all day
Nothing heals me like you do
Nothing heals me like you do

from London Rain
by Heather Nova

Tue Oct 16 2001
Found an interesting item on Firebox today... A head massager called the Orgasmatron. They say it's deeply relaxing and it gives you an intensely pleasant shivering sensation. Sounds like fun! :-) Decided to order one as a surprise for Nicola.
I also thought it'd be nice to have a long weekend this week, so I've booked Friday off work.

Mon Oct 15 2001
The weather was still very wet this morning. George, a bear Nicola gave me, and I got quite soaked on the way to the uni car park! On the drive to work I dried George out by perching him on top of the suitcase in front of the passenger seat so that the warm air from the air vent could blow over him.
Made another Forever Friends picture message and sent it to Nicola this evening.

Sun Oct 14 2001
Nicola got a really high SnakeII score on her phone today, and she's challenged me to beat it. If I get more than 1536, she says she'll do anything I want! :-)
We planned to go somewhere for a picnic this afternoon, and went and bought some food from Sainsbury's, but by the time we got back to the house, the weather had turned wet and miserable, so we had the picnic inside instead. :-) Watched some episodes of Friends while we ate.
In the evening we drove down to Brunel. Cooked pasta for dinner.

Sat Oct 13 2001
Gave Dad his presents this morning. After he'd finished unwrapping everything, he put the CD on and listened to it for a bit. He seems to like it. :-)
Nicola and I took Naomi's old bed up to the tip late morning in Dad's car, and while we were up there, she stayed back at home and washed my car. :-)
Early afternoon we drove up to Coventry and dropped my car in at the Toyota garage to have the ventilation system fixed. Ever since they fitted the satellite navigation, I haven't been able to turn the air vent selection dial all the way round, as if some cables had got tangled up with something somewhere. It didn't take them too long to fix, and we waited in the garage while they sorted it out.
I've also had a problem with my Psion recently too. I think the U key is stuck down... The keyboard locks up completely when you turn it on, you have to do a soft reset to be able to do anything with it at all, and then, you can't use the letter U. It's as if it already thinks the key is being pressed. After the car had been done, we drove into the centre of Coventry and took the Psion back to Dixons to be repaired.
In the evening we popped out to the supermarket to get some stuff, then cooked Chicken Tonight, and watched Go on DVD.

Fri Oct 12 2001
There was a fire drill in Nicola's hall this morning. I had just started to get up at around 7:00 when the alarm went off, and it was very loud! We threw on some clothes and headed down to the assembly point, and then waited around for about 5 to 10 minutes before they let us back inside. I finished getting dressed properly, then drove up to work.
It's Dad's birthday tomorrow, and we had a meal at Frankie and Benny's this evening to celebrate. The table was booked for 6:45 and the plan was to pick Nicola up from Northampton station at 6:30 and then drive over to the restaurant. There was a mix up with the trains though, and she ended up on one that didn't stop at Northampton, so I had to head over to Milton Keynes to collect her. We were slightly late for the meal, but only by about 10 minutes or so.
When we got home later, we all helped Dad to eat his birthday cake. :-)

Thu Oct 11 2001
Thought I'd give Nicola a surprise tonight and drove down to see her straight after work. She wasn't expecting me at all and had just finished cooking something for herself when I arrived. I had planned to take her somewhere for a meal and wondered if we'd have to do something else instead, but she said the food would keep and she'd eat it for lunch tomorrow so we could still go out tonight.
We headed over to Richmond and tried to find the El Torito, but we drove round and round for ages without any luck. We decided to give up in the end, and headed back to the first Chiquito instead.

Wed Oct 10 2001
Went over to John's in the evening after work. We had Chinese from the takeaway, and then chatted for a bit, until about 9:00 when I headed back home.
Talked to Nicola on the phone for the rest of the evening.

Tue Oct 09 2001
Found a website today with some cool Forever Friends picture messages on it. Transferred a few of them to my phone so I can send them to Nicola later. :-)
While I was looking up Chiquito restaurants the other day, I found another nearby Mexican place, El Torito, in Richmond. Thought we might try it out some time, so I've put the address in my car.
Found out that you can put new-line characters in SMS messages that you send with LogoManager. This means you can make simple flick-book style animated messages using 4 new-line characters to separate the frames. Designed a nice romantic one and sent it to Nicola. :-)

Mon Oct 08 2001
If you want, then start to laugh
If you must, then start to cry
Be yourself, don't hide
Just believe in destiny

Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up, and use the chance
To return to innocence

from Return To Innocence
by Enigma

Sun Oct 07 2001
Spent most of today over in Kent. We went to Safeway first to do a bit of food shopping, then headed up to Nicola's Mum's. Nicola put a big load of laundry on, and we chatted to her Mum while it was washing. Then, after it had finished and she'd hung it up to dry, we headed over to her Dad's for a bit. We had some food, and picked up a spare Network card her Dad had, which he said she could have to connect her computer up to the network point in her room.
We popped back to her Mum's in the evening to pick up the washing, and then drove to uni. When we got back, I fitted the network card and set up the computer for Internet access. And a nice fast connection it is too! :-)

Sat Oct 06 2001
We were going to go to Kew Gardens today, but it was a little dull and wet, so we decided to do some shopping in Oxford Street instead. We caught a bus to Richmond, then took the tube into central London.
Dad's birthday is next week, so I bought a few presents for him. A CD he said he wanted... Natural Elements by Acoustic Alchemy, and a book about the TV series Survivor. We also bought the new Heather Nova album, South, for ourselves. :-) We had a few drinks and a bite to eat in the Moon Under Water, then headed back to uni.
We went to the second closest Chiquito for food this evening, as it isn't much further away than the one we went to yesterday, and we thought it'd be worth checking out too. I don't think we'll be going back there again though. It took them absolutely ages to seat us, they put us in a smoking section when we specifically asked for non-smoking and then couldn't move us because the restaurant was too full, and to top it all, they got our order wrong! Some good did come out of it though... I complained to the manager and got 50% taken off the bill. :-)

Fri Oct 05 2001
Drove down to Nicola's after work. I decided to take her to the Chiquito I looked up yesterday, but wanted to surprise her, so I blindfolded her until we arrived. :-) When we got inside Chiquito we found that they had a 30 minute wait for a table, so we decided to try somewhere else. The restaurant's on quite a big entertainment complex, with a cinema, a Pizza Hut, and a Frankie and Benny's. We decided to try Pizza Hut, and got a table almost straight away.

Thu Oct 04 2001
Looked up where the closest Chiquito to uni is today, and it isn't too far at all... About 4 miles away. I think we might pay it a visit over the weekend. :-)
I've been playing Pontifex loads and finished the demo version fairly quickly. It really is great fun, and as the full version's only $20, I decided to order it this afternoon.

Wed Oct 03 2001
Nik showed me a demo version of a cool bridge building game called Pontifex today. You get given a limited amount of cash with which you can buy materials to build a bridge over a river. When you've finished construction, a train makes a number of passes across the bridge, and if the bridge is strong enough to support the train, you move on to the next level. A simple idea, but very well implemented, and I warn you, it can get quite addictive! :-)
Headed over to Chipping Norton at lunchtime. I bought a London A-Z which I thought might come in handy now that Nicola's living there, and a small wooden photo frame so I can have another photo of her on my desk.
In the evening I went up to the Greyhound with John for a few drinks. We found a nice spot in front of the open log fire, but half way through the evening we were asked to move as the two of us were taking up quite a large table, and they had a big party of people they wanted to seat for food. The bar man gave us both a free pint for our trouble! :-)
Printed out a picture of Nicola to go in the wooden frame when I got back, then chatted to her on the phone for the rest of the evening.

Tue Oct 02 2001
The Heather Nova "I'm no angel" DVD arrived today, and it's really cool! Although a few bits of it are in German, luckily most of the menus and things are in English. :-) It's a DVD on one side and a normal audio CD on the other, so you can play it in normal CD players too!
LogoManager has an RTTTL editor (Ringing Tones Text Transfer Language), and lets you transfer the tunes via the infrared, so I've been playing around with my own ring tones for a bit tonight. Made a really nice annoying siren tone! :-)

Mon Oct 01 2001
Drove Nicola to school in the morning, then headed on to work. She was a bit worried about how she was going to manage to get there every week, as it's quite a distance from the university, but she found out on her way home this evening that she'd been sent to the wrong school, and that the school she was supposed to be at was only just down the road from her room!
Glen came into work for an interview today. I picked him up from Charlbury station early afternoon, and dropped him back at the station again after the interview. He seemed to like the place, and it'd be quite cool if he ends up working with us.
Zebby passed away today. :-(

Sun Sep 30 2001
We got up about midday. Mum and Dad had gone out, so Nicola and I cooked for ourselves.
Did lots of Danger mouse related stuff this afternoon. Searched around and found a few images which I used to make a Danger mouse logo for Nicola's phone, and managed to work out how to use Sibelius to reduce the theme tune midi file down to a single track, so she now has a Danger mouse ring tone on her phone too! :-)
When we drove back to uni this evening, we went and found the school that Nicola's going to be doing her teaching placement in, and book marked it in the satellite navigation system so that we'll be able to find it easily on her first day there tomorrow. We also popped into the 24-hour BP Safeway garage to pick up some food. We wanted some chicken, but they didn't have any so we had to make do with turkey. When we got back we cooked honey and mustard turkey tonight. ;-)
Had a nice mug of hot chocolate before bed.

Sat Sep 29 2001
We got up fairly late morning and headed over to the supermarket to get some things for Nicola for next week... Some onions, mushrooms and pasta sauce.
In the afternoon we drove over to Draycote water. We got an ice-cream, then walked a little way around the reservoir. We decided that we'd stop off at my parents' tonight, and tried to phone them to let them know we'd be coming. Had a little trouble with the phones though. The first couple of times I rang using my mobile, I could hear my Dad, but he couldn't hear me. Then we tried with Nicola's phone, but had the same problem. We thought it might be a problem with my parents' phone, so we tried ringing Naomi's mobile, but that didn't seem to solve the problem. We both sent her a text, but we got no receipts back. Even walking to the top of the hill near the car park to try and improve reception didn't help. In the end we decided to just set off to Milton, and rang them when we were half way back. By this time, the connection problems had mysteriously disappeared!
We had Chinese for dinner tonight. Naomi drove us to the takeaway in her new red Nissan Micra. Later on, Nicola and I went to see A.I. at the cinema.

Fri Sep 28 2001
Drove down to work from Coventry today. We all went to the pub at lunchtime, and Andrew treated everyone to a drink! :-)
After work I drove back up to Coventry, and Nicola and I had an evening in... We watched a few episodes of Friends, then ordered a pizza from Domino's and watched The matrix on DVD.

Thu Sep 27 2001
Had a very sore throat this morning. Luckily I still had some of the strong throat lozenges left from the last time my throat was bad, which helped a lot.
Dropped the car off at the garage at 8:00, and was given another Yaris as a courtesy car for the day. An almost brand new dark green one with only 900 miles on the clock.
Felt a little ill when I got to work. My sore throat had gone, but I had cold symptoms all day. Rich gave me some Actifed tablets, which helped a little, but they weren't non-drowsy, so I felt sleepy for most of the day.
Late afternoon I rang up the Toyota garage and they said the satellite navigation system had been fitted okay. I left work a little early, at 4:45, and headed back to Coventry to pick up my car. It feels good to finally have everything back the same way as it was in the old car. :-)
Drove down to see Nicola. Stopped off at Tesco on the way and bought a bag of doughnuts and a party pack of Sidekicks as it had a couple of the new orange flavour ones in it.
We went out for a meal at Pizza Hut, then spent the rest of the evening back at uni. Just before midnight we drove up to Coventry.

Wed Sep 26 2001
We were paid by cheque again this month. The BACS system still hasn't been sorted out yet. Drove to Chipping Norton at lunchtime with Nik and Juan to pay them into the bank.
Headed over to John's after work for a curry. Then drove up to Coventry (Via my parents' house to pick up my hands free kit), as I'm dropping my new car off at the Toyota garage tomorrow to have the satellite navigation system fitted.
Spent the rest of the evening talking on the phone to Nicola.

Tue Sep 25 2001
Heather Nova's released her "I'm no angel" single on DVD, but nowhere in the UK seems to be selling it, so this evening I ordered a copy from Amazon Germany.
I also had a mail from one of the guys who left a message in the guestbook last week about the Heather Nova concert we went to. He said he knew someone who had a bootleg of the concert and asked if I'd be interested in getting a copy too. I certainly would! It'd be so cool to have a recording of the actual concert we went too! :-)

Mon Sep 24 2001
I drove to work from the university this morning. I thought I'd left myself plenty of time, but there was a traffic jam on the A40 just outside Oxford, and I arrived at work about 20 minutes late.
Made Nicola a separate guestbook for her online diary tonight. Also played around with LogoManager a bit more and discovered that it can convert simple midi files into ring tones! Thought I'd try and make Nicola a Danger mouse ring tone, so I found a midi file of the theme tune, and tried to use Sibelius on my Dad's PC to simplify it down to a single track. I wasn't really sure how to use Sibelius though, and it was getting late, so I decided to leave it for another time.

Sun Sep 23 2001
Nicola's Mum was a little angry this morning because someone had used her 3 to 2 pin mains adaptor and she couldn't find it. I'd been using it last weekend and hadn't put it back, but she blamed Nicola. Things got a little heated, and Nicola got really upset and rushed out. She didn't even stop to put her socks and shoes on. By the time I'd got downstairs and outside, there was no sign of her.
I was really worried. :-( I quickly grabbed her socks and shoes, and started walking around all the nearby streets looking for her. There was no sign of her anywhere, and after a while I decided I might have more luck driving around, so I headed back to the house, jumped in the car and continued searching.
I drove around for what seemed like hours, but still couldn't find her. :-( Eventually I got a call from Nicola's Mum to tell me that she'd arrived home safely. I was SO relieved, and rushed back to see her. She spent quite a while talking with her Mum, and eventually they patched things up.
We'd been invited over to her Dad's for dinner, and headed over there at about 1:00 to eat, but came back later on in the afternoon to do some more sorting out in Nicola's room.
Early evening, we drove back to uni. We thought we'd try and find the Pizza Hut in Hounslow, but couldn't see it anywhere. We found a 24-hour BP Safeway garage though, and Nicola bought some supplies for next week. We stopped off at the chippy on the way back to get something for dinner, and after eating, had a nice evening drinking Archers and relaxing. :-)

Sat Sep 22 2001
We got up late morning and headed over to Nicola's Mum's. We stopped off on the way to get some lunch at the Wimpy in Clacket Lane services, and at Bluewater to do a bit of shopping. We bought the two different "I'm no angel" CD singles by Heather Nova, a 3 to 2 pin mains adaptor for my shaver, and a couple of mobile phone holders which we saw and thought looked pretty cool... They're made of transparent plastic in the shape of a hand and they light up and flash just before you get an incoming call or SMS. :-)
We did some more sorting out in Nicola's room in the afternoon, and in the evening, drove over to The Hollywood bowl for dinner. It wasn't long after we'd arrived at the restaurant that I realised I hadn't got my wallet with me. I was sure I'd picked it up before we left the house, but I couldn't find it anywhere! I searched the car, asked the restaurant staff if it had been handed in, phoned Nicola's Mum and asked her to look round the house for it, but it had just vanished! Nicola had some money with her so we decided we'd still have a meal, then we had another good look around for it when we got back to the house. I was just about to give up and phone up to cancel all my cards, but had one last look in the car... and found it!!! Phew... It turned up in one of the pockets to the side of the dash, and had been hidden by some CD cases. I was very relieved! :-)
Nicola gave me a nice long massage to help me unwind, and we spent the rest of the night relaxing together.

Fri Sep 21 2001
I phoned up Gadgets Galore today to tell them that my LogoManager software hadn't arrived. They said that a registration code to unlock the demo version should have been mailed to me, but it turned out that they'd got my email address wrong so it'd got lost. I gave them my address again and double-checked that they'd got it right this time.
Later on in the day the registration code arrived, so I unlocked the software and played around with it for a bit. One of the really cool things it does is let you send flashing SMS messages! I sent a flashing "I Love You!" to Nicola. :-)
After work I drove down to uni. I stopped off at the service station on the way to get changed into my suite and to buy some flowers. Nicola was really impressed by the suit! :-) She'd dressed up for me too, and was wearing her little orange dress when I arrived. :-)
We relaxed in her room for a bit, then decided we were feeling a little hungry so we cooked some pasta for dinner.
As well as the suit and the flowers, I brought a few other surprises down with me for her... The framed Alien island picture, two photos of us together (Which I'd put in some nice frames she hadn't been using), and a copy of one of the games industry trade magazines (Which had my picture in it in the recent movers section). :-)

Thu Sep 20 2001
Nicola guessed "T" first thing this morning...

I'_ _oi__ to ____ __ s_it.

For most of the day Andrew and Rich were over at Bicester, checking out one of the new offices we might be moving to soon. They said we could pop along and see it for ourselves whenever was convenient, so just before lunch I headed over there and had a look. It really is nice and much more spacious than our current place.
I then drove up to Banbury to see if I could find Nicola any cute fluffy slippers, but couldn't find any anywhere. On the way back to work I remembered that the new Heather Nova single was out. I'd forgotten to look in HMV for it, so in the evening, I rushed back to Banbury to try and get there before it shut. I'd had a look on their website and it said that they shut at 6:00, but I needn't have rushed as, when I got there, I found out that they actually close at 5:30. :-(
My infrared adaptor has arrived! :-) It came with it's own phone interface software so I was able to have a little play around with it, but there was no sign of the LogoManager software, which is what I actually wanted to use. I'll have to chase it up tomorrow.
Printed out another sunset picture for Nicola. While we were talking on the phone tonight, she managed to guess what her surprise for Friday would be...

I'm going to wear my suit.

Wed Sep 19 2001
Nicola was still a little bit ill this morning. She had a few meetings to go to, and I didn't want her to be on her own, so I phoned Andrew and asked him for the morning off to stay with her. I walked her over to where she had the first meeting, and once she'd gone in and I knew she was OK, I headed back to her room.
I noticed that some of the very black sections of the sunset picture were stuck up against the inside of the glass where they'd been pressed by the back of the frame, causing patches of dark on the image. I tried to pull the picture away from the glass, but unfortunately some of the ink was stuck on too firmly and got separated from the paper leaving some marks where the white of the paper was showing through. They're quite noticeable so I'll have to print another copy of it for her.
Went back to meet Nicola after the meeting. She was feeling a little better and we thought it might be a good idea for her to try eating something, so we had some food in the refectory. After her second meeting, we headed back to her room and I felt happy enough about how she was feeling, so I headed off to work. Got there by about 1:00.
I drove back to see her in the evening and thankfully she was feeling much better. We cooked some pasta for dinner, and she picked "O" for the clue...

I'_ _oi__ _o ____ __ s_i_.

Tue Sep 18 2001
Nicola guessed "S" for the hangman clue today...

I'_ __i__ __ ____ __ s_i_.

I drove to Chipping Norton at lunchtime to get a couple of frames for the pictures I printed yesterday. Went back to WHSmith and bought two of the same type as the one I put the tulips picture in.
I popped into the newsagents while I was there too, and happened to notice that they were selling a strange looking brand of crisps called "Jonathan Crisp" crisps. Since they share the same name as me and as one of the flavours was jalapeno pepper, I just had to buy a packet! Mmmmmm :-)
Nicola was feeling very ill this evening and after chatting to her on the phone for a bit after I got in from work, decided to drive down to see her. I put the sunset picture in one of the frames before I left and took it with me. She really liked it and it seemed to cheer her up a bit. :-)

Mon Sep 17 2001
I ordered an infrared adapter today from Gadgets Galore so that I can hook my phone up to the computer and transfer the address book, logos, ring tones, etc. They have a special offer on at the moment, selling the adapter and LogoManager software together for £40.
I'm going to surprise Nicola on Friday and wear my suit when I go down to see her. :-) I've given her a hangman clue to see if she can work out what the surprise is before then, and told her that she can guess one letter per day. She picked "I" today...

I'_ __i__ __ ____ __ __i_.

I'm also going to frame a few more of my POV-Ray pictures for her, so I printed out Ocean sunset and Alien island on nice glossy paper this evening.

Sun Sep 16 2001
Today was Nicola's first day at Brunel. We finished all of the last minute packing in the morning and loaded everything into her Mum's car. Then, before setting off, we had lunch... Her Mum cooked a lovely sausage casserole with some of the nice sausages we'd bought yesterday. :-)
The traffic on the motorway was really good so it didn't take too long to get there... Just over an hour. We were following her Mum and Jo (One of her Mum's friends who'd come along to keep her company on the trip) to start with, as they knew the way. After a while we decided we could find it on our own, and thought it might be a good idea to get there first and get the keys sorted out, so we sped off! :-)
We found the place OK, and after parking the car, followed the signs to the building where the registrations were being done. Nicola collected her keys and sorted out the admin things, then her Mum phoned to say they'd arrived, so we headed back to the car park to meet them.
We all picked up some stuff from the car and headed up to her room. And a very nice room it is too! Much bigger than mine was when I was at uni, and nice and conveniently located right opposite one of the toilets. Handy for those middle-of-the-night trips! :-) We finished moving all the stuff from the car, then went to the Students Union cafe for a cup of tea before Nicola's Mum and Jo left.
Back in the room, I set up Nicola's computer and helped her unpack her stuff. It took quite some time to get it all sorted out and it was thirsty work, so when we'd finished, we went to the Union for a drink, then came back and made use of the hall's kitchen facilities to cook some pasta as we were also quite hungry! :-)
Spent the rest of the evening with Nicola, then headed back to Milton just before midnight.

Sat Sep 15 2001
We went shopping in Chatham this afternoon to look for a present for Steve's birthday and found a couple of CDs he should like. I also bought myself a new pair of black jeans as my old pair have a hole at the back that's gradually getting bigger and bigger! :-)
After doing all our shopping, we had KFC for lunch, and then headed back home to do some more packing for uni.
In the evening we went over to The Bull and had a meal with Steve and his family for his birthday.

Fri Sep 14 2001
We got up around lunchtime and headed down to Safeway to get some essentials... bread, bacon, sausages and Archers. :-)
We spent most of the afternoon and evening packing and sorting out all of the University forms and documentation, but we had a bit of a break at the end of the day and headed over to Chiquito for some food.

Thu Sep 13 2001
Nicola was feeling a little ill tonight, and after speaking to her on the phone for a bit after I'd got back from work, decided to go down and see her. I phoned Andrew to book Friday off and after quickly packing a few things, headed down to Kent.
We chatted for a bit on the phone as I was driving down. I wasn't sure how well the hands free kit would work in terms of background noise when driving, but it's very good... Much better than I'd expected.
I took the passport photos I'd printed out with me, one of which will go in the frame she bought me back from Holland, and the framed printout of the tulips picture, which she really loved! :-)
I was quite hungry by the time I got down there, so Nicola made me some nice cheese on toast with garlic and pepper sauce, and a toasted sandwich in the sandwich maker with cheese, onion and ham. Mmmmmm! :-)

Wed Sep 12 2001
I went back to Banbury again today, and this time I had my driving licence with me, which was one of the things Carphone warehouse said they could accept. I reminded them about the free phone offer they'd made me yesterday, but the guy I'd spoken to yesterday wasn't in and they said they'd need to see proof of the offer. After speaking to him on the phone they found out that it was a deal in one of the papers and went out the back to try and find it. They eventually found it in the bin! So they gave me my free phone! :-)
I also wanted a car charger, which cost about £11, and I took out their insurance package which came with a £10 discount voucher for the charger, so I got the phone and a car charger for a pound! :-)
I charged the phone on the way back to the office so I could play with it for a bit, and then fully charged it from the mains during the afternoon. The phone was working fine, but it had limited functionality while I waited for the sim update message. I couldn't send normal text messages but I could send picture messages, so I sent a flying heart to Nicola! :-)
I eventually got the sim update but no more options appeared. I rang Orange to ask them about it and also to ask them to enable data calls for use with my Psion. They told me that data calls were enabled by default so that would be fine, and that the extra options would appear if I turned my phone off and back on again. I also made sure that my bills would be paid by direct debit.
I drove to Johns' straight from work and we had Chinese. I stayed over there most of the evening until Nicola gave me a call on my mobile. I told her I was still there, but I'd leave so we could have a chat. I headed home, put the hands free kit in to try it out and then tried to ring her back. It looks like I'll only be able to use my phone upstairs as it seems very difficult to get a signal downstairs unless I'm right by the window!

Tue Sep 11 2001
I went to Banbury at lunchtime today to try and get a phone again. I thought the bank might be able to print me out something on headed paper to use as proof of address, but they didn't have any. All they could do was print my details out on plain paper, which Mobile phones direct wouldn't accept. They suggested I could try the Carphone warehouse and see if it was acceptable there. Carphone warehouse were slightly more expensive, but I asked if they would price match. The guy serving me went out the back to check, and came back to say that they would price match an offer in one of the papers and I'd get the phone for free! :-) Then I explained the situation about the proof of address and he said he couldn't accept anything I had with me. :-/ I said I might be back later.
During the afternoon I heard about the horrific attack on the World Trade Centre in New York City. One of the guys at work was informed about it in a mail from a friend. We then managed to get a signal on one of the TVs so we could watch the news and keep up to date with the events as they unfolded.
A shocking day for the whole world...

Mon Sep 10 2001
I drove to work straight from Nicola's again today. The traffic was really bad this morning and it took about 3 hours to get there!
I thought it would be nice to print out my tulips picture on glossy paper and frame it as a present for Nicola. I headed into Chipping Norton at lunchtime to see if I could find a frame, and found a nice natural wood one in WHSmith. I also popped into the florist to see if they had any real tulips to go with the picture, but they told me it wasn't the season for them.
In the evening I printed out the tulips picture, and a couple of sheets full of passport photo sized pictures of Nicola as she needs loads of them to register for things in preparation for University. It's a lot cheaper for me to print some than going to a photo booth, and they look just as good.

Sun Sep 09 2001
We had a very long lie in today, and didn't really get up until early afternoon. I set up PsiWin on Nicola's computer and showed her how to do backups of the Psion.
In the evening we headed back to the cinema. It was a little less busy today and we watched Scary movie 2.

Sat Sep 08 2001
Nicola's starting University next week, so today we went with her Mum on a big shopping trip to get loads of things like saucepans and cutlery, and food to get her through the first week.
In evening we headed down to Medway Valley Park. The plan was to have some food and maybe go to the cinema, but when we got down there everywhere was busy, so we decided to have a night in instead. We ordered a pizza and hired out Maybe baby from the video shop.

Fri Sep 07 2001
Nicola's back from her holiday! :-) I drove down to Kent after work to meet her. She'd said that she didn't know exactly when she'd be back and didn't know if she'd be at her Mum's or her Dad's. As her Dad's place was closest, I headed there first.
I arrived around 9:00, but no one was in, so, after waiting around for a while, I headed over to her Mum's place to see if she was there instead. Her Mum told me that she'd phoned to say they'd be there shortly and that I was to wait there for her. While I was waiting I helped her Mum and Dave eat their pizza as I was starving! :-)
Shortly after, Nicola, her Dad, Caroline and Helen arrived, and they all stopped for coffee and a chat. Nicola's bought me back a nice picture frame with dolphins on it and some After Eight mints. :-) I think I'll put the picture frame on my desk at work with a picture of her in it. :-)

Thu Sep 06 2001
I went back to one of the mobile phone shops in Banbury today to try and buy a Nokia 8210 on the Orange everyday 50 contract, but the only proof of address I had with me was some of the paperwork from the Toyota garage, and they said they couldn't accept that. I'll need to go back at some point with one of my bank statements.
Nicola tried to ring me again tonight, but my sister was using the Internet at the time, so she couldn't get through. When my sister did eventually go offline, the phone rang almost straight away and Nicola gave me the phone number of the payphone she was using so I could ring her back. When I tried it though, I couldn't get through. I rang the operator, but she couldn't help me either. I knew she might have her mobile with her, and rang that, but got diverted to her landline, and her Mum answered. I explained the situation, and her Mum happened to mention that she'd received a text message from Nicola's Dad, so I knew then that he must have his mobile with him. I asked her Mum for his number and tried ringing that. There was no answer, and eventually I got diverted to the answer phone. I left a message, then rang Nicola's Mum back and asked her to send him a text message too. Then, just on the off chance that someone might answer this time, I rang his mobile again... And got a reply! I think I must have woken him up, and he said he thought Nicola was in bed too, but he went to check, and I did get to talk to her for a few minutes! :-) It was costing me about £1/min though and her dad was getting charged 50p/min, so we kept it brief, but it was really great to hear from her again! :-)

Wed Sep 05 2001
I had a really nice surprise today. Nicola rang me up at work from Holland! :-) She couldn't talk long as it was quite expensive and she didn't have much money, but we had a bit of a chat, and it was so good to hear her voice again. :-)

Tue Sep 04 2001
I went to Banbury at lunchtime today and spent a while looking round all the mobile phone shops. I'm thinking about getting an Orange everyday 50 contract like Nicola, so when she's at Uni we'll be able to talk to each other for just over an hour and a half per day for free. I've got my eye on one of the small Nokia 8210 handsets. :-)

Mon Sep 03 2001
A few of us from work went to ECTS today. Nik, Brian and Di made their own way down by train. Juan and I got a lift down with Rich in his car. We parked in an NCP car park near Bond Street tube station, and caught a train on the Jubilee line to Canning Town. Here, we got on the Docklands Light Railway and travelled a couple of stops to the show, which was being held at ExCeL this year.
We arrived just after midday, and after meeting up with Nick and Di, went and bought some sandwiches for lunch. We split up and all looked round the show separately. It was nowhere near as good as last year. There were no really interesting games, and nothing stood out as being particularly revolutionary. After about an hour and a half we decided we'd seen everything we wanted to see, and Juan, Rich, and I met back at the entrance and headed back to work.
When I got back to Coventry in the evening, I packed up all my stuff into the car, and drove down to Northampton.
Web Hoster have fixed their mail server, and my email is working again now! :-) They sent me a quick message to let me know it was all sorted out, and to apologise for the inconvenience caused.

Sun Sep 02 2001
I updated the website stats this morning and noticed that it was only generating information for today. When I checked the log directory I found out what the problem was... The old access log had been gzipped up and a new one started. I thought this might happen at some point, as mine was getting huge! Luckily Wusage can cope with multiple log files, and what's even better is that it can cope with gzipped files too, so all I had to do to fix the stats was to change one line in the configuration file. :-)
Web Hoster's mail server is broken. Since this afternoon it's been rejecting all mail sent to it with an unknown user error, so none of my email is getting through! :-( It's not even queuing it up, which wouldn't be so bad. It's simply rejecting messages. :-( I've left a message with their technical support department, and hopefully it'll get sorted out soon.

Sat Sep 01 2001
I dropped my old car off at the Toyota garage first thing this morning, and they gave me a Corolla as a courtesy car to drive until my new one was ready.
I headed back home and did some website updating. I uploaded the macro shots I took in Shorne Wood country park the other day, and the boomerang photos which had been hiding away in a directory on my desktop and forgotten about.
I got a mail from Nicola today! Wheee! :-) She'd found an Internet machine near where she was staying, and managed to send me a quick message. :-)
The Toyota garage rang me in the afternoon to say that they'd swapped the CD player over OK, but that they couldn't swap the satellite navigation system over until they'd got some new manuals, as apparently the wiring system has changed since my old car was built, and they're not sure how to do it. They said I could have the new car now, and take it back when they're ready to fit the navigation system, so at 4:00 I drove the courtesy car back, did the final handover paperwork and collected my brand new Yaris. Complete with a bouquet of flowers! :-)
Although it's exactly the same model as my old one, there have been quite a few changes. The major difference is that it now comes with air-conditioning, so I'll be able to keep lovely and cool on hot days. The other changes are little things, like the fuel consumption average and average speed, which used to be just on a per trip basis, but can now be reset when you want them to be. The seat adjustment controls are slightly different, and the fog light switch is now on one of the stalks.
When I got home, I thought I'd take a few photos of it while it's still showroom clean! :-)
In the evening, I ordered a pizza, uploaded the pictures of the car, and put together the time-lapse movie of the room tidying, which looks really cool! :-)

Fri Aug 31 2001
There was a message on the answer phone today from the Toyota garage to say that the transfer of the satellite navigation system and the 6 CD autochanger from the old car to the new one would take a lot longer than they had first thought... Up to 8 hours! I arranged to take my old car in a little earlier, at 8:30 tomorrow, and they said that they could probably get it done by the end of the day then.
On the way home from work, I stopped off at the chippy to pick up some food, then went home and watched the second half of my Pitch black DVD.
After the film, I cleared out all of my personal belongings from the car, then set up my computer in the bedroom. I had my really long telephone extension cable with me, and started to set up the modem for Internet access, but then I found a really long network cable downstairs that just about reached from the hub to the bedroom, so I got to use the ISDN. :-)
I've uploaded the Heather Nova pictures, and also spent a while tonight submitting my POV-Ray pictures to the Your Ten Best Images project.
I realised just now that today is the first day I haven't spoken to or seen Nicola for over 4 months. :-( I can't wait till next Friday... I miss her so much already!

Thu Aug 30 2001
Nicola's going on holiday to Holland tomorrow for a week with her Dad, Caroline and Helen, so this afternoon she had to pack. We then drove over to Shorne Wood country park and had a sandwich from the cafe (We couldn't have bacon as they were just about to close and had stopped doing hot food!) before doing the long walk again. I took a few more macro shots of various interesting things we found on the way round.
Nicola's stopping over at her Dad's tonight because they're leaving very early tomorrow morning, so in the evening, we drove back to Nicola's, collected our stuff together, then headed over to her Dad's place.
We had food from the chippy, then Nicola and I went online for a bit while Helen, Caroline and Nicola's Dad packed. I had to drive Nicola back home partway through the evening as she needed to collect her E111, and also decided she'd take her mobile phone with her too.
At about 11:00, I said goodbye, left her Dad's and headed back to Rich's place. When I got in, I found all of my stuff in the hall, because they're having a house inspection tomorrow. As I'd decided I was probably going to leave at the weekend anyway, and the stuff was all packed up neatly ready to move, I thought I might as well do it now, so transferred it all into the car and drove on up to Coventry.
I'm probably not going to have any contact with Nicola for over a week now. I'm going to miss her so much! :-(

Wed Aug 29 2001
It was the Heather Nova concert today and we had a fantastic time! :-) Early afternoon we went back down into Strood so that Nicola could get her new bank account sorted out, then we bought some baguettes from Three Cooks to eat while we were walking to the station.
We caught a train to Victoria, and then took the tube to Shepherds Bush to see if we could find the Shepherds Bush Empire. The doors didn't open until 7:00, but we wanted to make sure we knew exactly where it was so that we didn't panic later! Once we found it, we hopped back on the tube and headed over to the Moon Under Water in Leicester Square for some food (chicken wraps and curly fries) and a few drinks.
We wanted to get as close to the front as we could at the concert, so we made our way back to the Empire at around 6:00, and after making use of the toilets in a nearby pub, joined the (Still very short) queue for the concert. We got there just at the right time really, as, just after we arrived, a massive queue formed behind us!
At 7:00 the doors opened and we headed into the stalls. We managed to get a very good position... Right at the front, just off centre. I'd noticed a sign on the door on the way in that said Cousteau (The support band) were due to play at 8:00 and that Heather Nova was on at 9:00.
So we waited for another hour inside the hall, then Cousteau came on stage. They were quite good really... A lot of their songs had electric guitar solos and they had an amazing electric guitar player. At 8:40 they finished their last song and the stage was cleared and prepared for Heather and her group.
The concert was amazing! There really is nothing like listening to Heather sing live. Her voice is incredible! And the way she held one of the notes in Heart and Shoulder for what seemed like eternity was just unbelievable! She sung all the favourites from the older albums (Including Widescreen during the encore), and a few tracks from the forthcoming South album. The crowd cheered so much when she went off stage after the encore, that she even came back on a third time and sung Island!
I managed to get some great photos despite it being very dark and not being able to use the flash. The stewards were stopping people taking photos, but I got away with it as I was just holding the camera at waist height, and looking down onto the screen to aim it so it didn't look like I was taking a photo at all! :-) The concert finished shortly before 11:00, and on the way out we saw that they were selling T-shirts so we bought a couple. :-) Then we headed off home, and got in just before 1:00.
Yep... today really was brilliant! :-)

Tue Aug 28 2001
We walked down into Strood today so that Nicola could sort out a few things. She needed to have some passport photos taken for her bank account application, and we went to the mobile phone shop so she could get her new phone. We also went to Starburger for lunch.
In the afternoon, we drove to Lower Upnor and went for a long walk down by the river. Then we had a few drinks in the pub and a couple of games of pool. I won the first, and Nicola won the second. We chose not to play a decider, preferring to call it a draw. :-)
Afterwards, we headed up to Upper Upnor... :-) And had another wander round the castle. It was a really nice day, and we spent ages just relaxing on one of the seats in the castle grounds.
In the evening we went to the cinema and saw Heartbreakers.

Mon Aug 27 2001
It's a bank holiday today! :-) Nicola's Mum had asked us to do a bit of food shopping for her, so at midday we headed down to Safeway. We bought the stuff her Mum wanted, and got a little bit of bacon for ourselves! :-) When we got back, we made bacon sandwiches, then Nicola spent some time going through and trying on all her old clothes to see what she wanted to keep and what she wanted to chuck out.
We had wanted to go and see Heartbreakers at the cinema tonight, but we'd missed the early evening showing. There was a later showing, but we wanted to eat too, and there wasn't enough time for a meal before the showing, and after the showing, the restaurants would have been closed. We decided we'd see the film tomorrow, and went to Chiquito for food instead.

Sun Aug 26 2001
Nicola's Dad had planned a birthday barbecue for today, and we'd decided to get there by 1:00, so we left Coventry just before 11:00. We ran in to very heavy traffic on the M25 though, so while we were stuck in one of the jams, gave them a ring to let them know where we were. It also started raining very heavily, and when we eventually got to Nicola's Dad's place, found that the barbecue had been called off, and the food was being cooked inside.
In the evening, after all the other guests had gone, Nicola and I stayed for a while, and we all played another game of Balderdash I didn't think I was particularly good at it, but I seemed to do OK this time... I won! :-)

Sat Aug 25 2001
I took Nicola on another mystery trip today, but this time, to stop her guessing where we were going, she wore a blindfold. :-) We left the house around 9:45, and after dropping off the insurance certificate for the new car at the garage, set off on the drive to the mystery location.
I'd decided to take Nicola to Drayton Manor Park as I hadn't been there for ages, and I saw on their website that they had some really cool-sounding new rides. I also hadn't realised that it was so close to Coventry... The drive only took 35 minutes. I'd probably have been back there a lot sooner if I'd known.
Although when we got there Nicola couldn't see where we were, she guessed it was a theme park before I took the blindfold off, as she could hear the screams of people riding on the roller coasters! :-) It was quite busy at the entrance, and we had to queue up for ages to buy the tickets, but once inside the park it was a lot less crowded, and surprisingly, hardly any of the rides had much of a queue at all! :-)
I think my favourite ride of the day had to be Shockwave, the stand up roller coaster. We also went on most of the other new rides... StormForce 10, the new log flume which rotates you so you're facing backwards half way round the ride, The Haunting, which is an almost identical ride to Hex at Alton Towers, just with a different storyline, and the Klondike Old Mine, which is a small, but surprisingly fast and furious roller coaster. The only new thing we didn't go on was Apocalypse, a vertical drop type ride, but unlike Oblivion at Alton Towers, this one isn't a roller coaster... It just lifts you up into the air and then drops you.
There were a number of fairground style challenge stands dotted around the park, and one of them was one of those steady hand tests where you have to get a metal loop on a pole around a curved wire without them touching. This one rotated too, but I thought I might be able to do it, and wanted to win the giant teddy, so I had a few goes. I almost did it a couple of times, but gave up in the end after my 9th attempt. The weather was really nice for most of the day, and although it did cloud over and start to rain towards the end of the afternoon, by that time we'd just about finished anyway.
In the evening, we watched a couple of episodes of Friends on DVD. Then a little later on, we ordered a pizza from Domino's and settled down to watch Run Lola run.

Fri Aug 24 2001
I was running quite late this morning, and didn't have time before work to pack for the weekend, so I came back to Rich's place at lunchtime again to do it.
The email system at work was playing up today, and it took until about 3:00 to fix it. When it finally got sorted out, a whole lot of messages came through for me, including one from Nicola that she'd sent 2 hours previously. I would have liked to reply to it, but by the time I got it she'd already set off for Northampton. :-(
I left work at 5:15, and picked Nicola up from the station soon after 6:00. When we got back to Milton, Mum told us that Martin and Gran wouldn't be arriving until 8:00, so while we waited we went and had a chat with Gran next door for a bit, wrapped my birthday present for Nicola's Dad (The beer glasses), and had my hair cut. We were going to wait until Martin and Gran turned up before we had our baked potato and salad, but it got to 8:00 and there still wasn't any sign of them, and we were starving, so we ate without them.
They arrived soon after we'd finished eating, and they finally got to meet Nicola. We stayed around for a chat and a coffee, then later on, at about 10:00, we headed up to Coventry.

Thu Aug 23 2001
I went into Chipping Norton at lunchtime with Scott, and we both paid our cheques into the bank. Hopefully the BACS system will be sorted out next month, and we won't have to do it again.
I hadn't realised until today that it's a bank holiday next Monday. I've already got Wednesday and Thursday of next week booked off for the Heather Nova concert, so I thought it would be nice to book the Tuesday off too, and have a nice long 5-day break.
Google has never wanted to index my guestbook, probably because it's a cgi page, so today I made a Server Side Include wrapper page, put it in /guestbook/, and changed the links on my site to point to it. Hopefully now Google won't ignore it.

Wed Aug 22 2001
I thought I was the last one out of the house this morning when I left Rich's place for work. I'd seen Scott leave, and there was no answer from Rich's room when I banged on his door, so I set the alarm and drove to the office. When I got to work, Rich wasn't there, and Andy told me that he'd taken the day off, so I realised I'd set the alarm with him still in the house! I headed back, and thought that I might be able to get there and turn it off before he got up, but I was too late... When I opened the front door and didn't hear the beeping of the alarm, I knew he must have already set it off and had to disarm it. He was OK about it though, and said not to worry about it. He told me that he had been woken up by something (probably me banging on his door) and when he went to investigate, triggered off the alarm. :-)
When I got back to work there was a parcel waiting for me on my desk. A couple of little things for Nicola, and a new Sapphire torch for myself to replace the one I lost, from Firebox.
I got my first pay cheque today. And it actually was a cheque! :-) They hadn't quite sorted out the BACS system in time for this month's pay, but they said it should be ready by next month.
My new car's going to be ready on September 1st! :-) The garage gave me the new registration, and I've rung the insurance company to sort out the change over. I'm going to take the old car in at 10:00, they'll swap the satellite navigation system and CD player over during the day, and I'll pick the new car up in the afternoon.

Tue Aug 21 2001
You touch my hand
I live for you
Because your eyes they understand
I live for you
In my life
You come through
I live for, I live for
I live for you

You hear my soul
So deep in you
Nobody knows the things you know
I live for you
In my life
You come through
I live for, I live for
I live for you

from I Live For You
by Chynna Phillips

Mon Aug 20 2001
I had to drive to work from Kent again this morning. I managed to leave slightly earlier than last week, but the traffic was still just as bad. Arrived at the office around 9:20.
Went shopping in Banbury at lunchtime and bought myself an electric razor. It doesn't shave as close as a wet shave, but it's a lot quicker, and a lot less hassle, so it's great if I'm in a hurry.
One of the estate agents rang me up today to say that she had a one-bedroom house that I could see, so I arranged to go and view it in the afternoon. It was an unusual half-prism shaped house, and it was quite a nice place, but I'm wondering now if I actually want to rent at all or if I'd be better off trying to buy a place of my own.
I read something this evening that made me so happy, I cried. Thank you Nicola... Thank you for everything... I Love you.

Sun Aug 19 2001
We went shopping in Coventry today for a present for Nicola's Dad's birthday. We bought a photo album, a mouse mat and some beer glasses, and decided that Nicola would give him the album and mouse mat, and that the beer glasses could be from me.
In the evening, we watched The game on DVD, and then drove down to Kent. We got there at about 10:00 and I didn't really fancy driving for another two hours back to Rich's place, so I stopped the night.

Sat Aug 18 2001
Today was a mystery trip day. We went to Alton Towers, but I was keeping it a surprise for Nicola. She began to suspect once we were about half way there and started seeing signs to it, but I'd set the location in the satellite navigation system and was sticking to the route that it had worked out, so there were a couple of places where we didn't follow the signs, and that threw her off the scent for a while! :-)
The weather wasn't brilliant and we did have a couple of light showers while we were there, but we still had a great day out. They'd built two new rides since I went there last... Submission, that can best be described as like a pirate ship type ride that goes all the way over and suspends you upside-down at various points, and Hex, which is one of these strange rooms where a whole lot of you sit in a giant swing type thing and as well as that rocking backwards and forwards, the whole room rotates too, giving the impression that you're swinging a lot more than you actually are, and, at some points, makes you think that you've turned all the way upside-down. :-)
We also saw two great caricature artists as we were walking round the park, and while we were queuing up for one of the rides towards the end of the day, decided we'd go back and have ours done, but unfortunately they'd gone by the time we got back there. :-(
We drove back to Coventry in the evening, and ordered pizza from Domino's to eat while we watched Scary movie on DVD. Then we mixed a couple of Black Russians to drink before bed.

Fri Aug 17 2001
I overslept slightly this morning. It was about 8:50 when I woke up, and I didn't have time to pack for the weekend or shave before going to work. At lunchtime, Andrew suggested we all go to the pub, so we headed over to The Boar in Chipping Norton and had some food. I then drove straight over to Rich's place to pack, shave and shower, before going back to the office for the afternoon.
I was supposed to be meeting Nicola at Northampton station just after 6:00, but I left work in the evening a little later than planned, and got held up by traffic on the way, so I was running slightly late. Half way there, I spotted a pay phone, so I stopped and gave Nicola a ring to let her know where I was. I eventually arrived at the station at about 6:35.
Gran was very pleased to hear that Nicola had got into Brunel, and when we popped in there for a chat, she gave her a card and a little gift to say congratulations.
We went and got Chinese takeaway in the evening, and had a meal for two between the four of us (Mum, Dad, Nicola, Me). There was still plenty to go round!
Nicola brought the rest of her A-Level notes with her today, so after the meal we went up the garden and had another bonfire to burn them all. We had a fantastic time up there! :-)

Thu Aug 16 2001
Nicola got her A-Level results this morning. She tried to ring me at work, but the line was engaged, so she left a message on the answer phone... She's got the grades she needs to get into Brunel!!! :-)
The ISDN in the office has been playing up today, and we've been using a modem and the phone line for Internet access, which is why it was engaged when she tried to ring me. I couldn't use the phone at lunchtime either, so I drove back to Rich's place and rang Nicola from there to congratulate her. I'm so proud of her... I knew she could do it! :-) I phoned Gran and my parents too, to let them know the results, though Mum was out, so I had to leave a message on the answer phone.
In the evening Rich, Scott and I walked over to The Bull pub and had a few drinks, and then when we got back, I gave Nicola another call.

Wed Aug 15 2001
I drove back to Milton this evening to give Gran her birthday card and presents. I bought her some notepads, some marshmallows, and a CD of choir music, which she seemed very pleased with. :-)
Mum made baked potato and salad for dinner, and then a little while after we'd eaten, I headed back to Rich's place.

Tue Aug 14 2001
I phoned around all the estate agents again this morning to see if they had any more properties available to rent. None of them had any one-bedroom houses, but one of them had some two-bedroom houses and I arranged to go and view three of them in the afternoon.
They were all quite expensive. Two of them were really nice, and one of them was really nice. I was very tempted, and almost went and put down the holding deposit, but at the last minute I had second thoughts about the cost and decided against it.

Mon Aug 13 2001
I had to drive to work from Kent this morning, so I had to leave very early. I got up at 6:30, and left Nicola's place just after 7:00. I thought that the M25 might have been OK that early, but it was still quite busy, and it took about two and a half hours to get to the office.
In the evening, I uploaded all of the outstanding photos to the website, and later on had a nice long chat on the phone with Nicola.

Sun Aug 12 2001
We got up late morning, and after making some toasted sandwiches for lunch, spent the rest of the afternoon doing more tidying in Nicola's room.
In the evening we sent to see Final fantasy: The spirits within at the cinema in Medway Valley Park, and then drove over to The Copperfield near Gravesend to try and get something to eat. Unfortunately, they'd stopped serving food by the time we'd got there.
Nicola's mum had recommended another pub (The Sea-ho) to us a while ago and we knew it was nearby, but we weren't sure exactly where. Luckily we knew the name of the road it was on, and we found it very easily with the aid of the satellite navigation. We had some great food there. Nicola had the chicken curry, and I had the green Thai chicken curry. Very nice! :-)
When we got back to Nicola's place I felt very tired and didn't feel like driving all the way back up to Rich's place, so I stopped the night.

Sat Aug 11 2001
Nicola wants to get her room completely tidy by the time she goes away to Uni, so we spent most of today doing that. We thought it would be really cool to make a time-lapse movie similar to the one I made of the office move around at my old job, so I set up the camera on the tripod (Though I had to tape them together as I'd forgotten the quick release bit that screws into the camera), and took a photo every 5 minutes as we were tidying up.
In the evening we went out for a meal at Chiquito.

Fri Aug 10 2001
I left Rich's place for work at about 8:45 this morning, but I had a little problem on the way... I ran out of petrol! I'm not sure how I managed to overlook the flashing petrol gauge light for so long, but one thing's for certain... I'm not likely to do it again! Luckily I wasn't too far from the petrol station. The round trip there and back to pick up a petrol can full of petrol was about one and a half miles. Once I'd emptied the petrol can into the tank, I drove back to the garage to fill it up completely and then drove on to work.
At lunchtime, I picked Nicola up from Rich's place and we drove down into the centre of Charlbury. We had lunch at The Bull pub... A BLT baguette each! :-) And very nice they were too! We popped in to the local shop before we headed back, for some snacks for the afternoon, then I dropped Nicola back at Rich's place and drove on to work.
In the evening we packed up our stuff for the weekend, then, as the food had been so good at lunch, tried to go back to The Bull for dinner, but they weren't open so we started the drive down to Nicola's place. On the way we passed a very nice looking pub on the corner where the B4437 meets the A44, and we decided to stop there and have a meal, before continuing on our way down to Kent.

Thu Aug 09 2001
We based ourselves back down near Oxford again today as I knew I might have some house viewings, and if I did, Nicola wanted to come along too, so she needed to be a bit closer to work than Coventry. We were up at about 7:40, and after collecting our stuff together, drove down to Banbury. I dropped Nicola off to do some more shopping, and then continued on to work.
At lunchtime, I went back to pick her up, and then we drove over to Rich's place. I showed her how to use the DVD player, the satellite TV and the audio system, before driving back to work via the garage to get some lunch.
I phoned the estate agents in the afternoon. The third nice house I'd seen yesterday had been taken, so I arranged a viewing of the two bedroom house she'd mentioned. I drove back to Rich's place to collect Nicola, then we headed over to Bicester to meet the agent. We weren't too impressed with the house. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't particularly nice either. I'm sure I can get a much nicer one bedroom place.
In the evening we cooked chicken kiev for dinner and watched American beauty on DVD.

Wed Aug 08 2001
I left for work from Coventry soon after 8:00 again, but I took the M40 route this time and got there a lot quicker. Arrived just after 9:00.
At lunchtime, I drove over to Bicester and had a look round the outside of some of the properties I'd liked the sound of in the property listings I picked up the other day. There were three really nice looking one bedroom houses to the north of the town centre, and as soon as I got back to the office, I rang the estate agents to try and arrange a proper viewing. Unfortunately two of them had already gone, and the last one was being viewed this afternoon, but she said that she'd give me a ring if the people viewing it today don't want to take it. She also suggested a two bedroom house that wasn't much more expensive, so I'll probably arrange to view that too.
For food tonight we went out to The Farmhouse.

Tue Aug 07 2001
I left Coventry for work just after 8:00, and it took about 1:15 to get there. I probably should have gone back down the M40, but I went along the Fosse Way instead and got stuck behind a few things. I think I'll use the motorway tomorrow.
Nicola stayed up in Coventry during the day, watching TV, doing Internet stuff and eating pizza. It was only when I'd got all the way to work that I realised I'd forgotten to pick up any of the cold pizza myself! :-(
At lunchtime, I phoned up the Toyota garage and talked to them for a while about finance and my options. I've decided to get a brand new Yaris of the same model as my current one. It now comes with air-conditioning as standard, and they said they'd transfer the satellite navigation system and the 6 CD autochanger over to the new car free of charge. I'll be paying roughly the same amount each month, and the deposit for the new car comes from the difference between the value of my current car and the final payment.
I also booked a table at the Old Orleans in Coventry during my lunch break, and after driving back to pick Nicola up after work, we headed into the city centre and had a meal.

Mon Aug 06 2001
I got up at about 8:30 this morning. I turned the computer on and logged in so that Nicola could use it when she got up, then headed off to work.
At lunchtime, I drove back to Rich's place to pick Nicola up, and we drove into Banbury. We wandered around the town for a bit, then found a small sandwich bar in the shopping centre and had some lunch. After we'd eaten, I had to head back to work, and I left Nicola in Banbury to shop all afternoon.
I picked her up in the evening after work. She'd bought some new clothes, some of which she said she'd keep a surprise until later, and had a hair cut which looked really nice. We drove back to the office so I could show her around, and then headed back to Rich's place to pick up our clothes and stuff before driving up to Coventry (My final car payment is due soon, and I needed have a look at some of the documentation to check some details).
We went straight into the city centre first to have some food. We ate at Pizza Hut and got a very good deal because they made a mistake with the order and brought out the wrong pizza the first time. They replaced it for the correct one, but they let us have the other one for free! 2 for the price of 1!:-)
We headed back home (Via the petrol station to get some petrol and ice-cream), then went through all the mail and answer phone messages, and I checked my car stuff. We went online for a bit, and then Nicola showed me what she'd bought from Contessa. :-)

Sun Aug 05 2001
Nicola was working a full day again today, and so we had to leave Milton fairly early this morning. We got up at 8:30 and left the house soon after 9:00. On the way we stopped off at a service station to get some petrol, and we were quite hungry, as we'd skipped breakfast, so we bought some BLT sandwiches too! :-)
The traffic was fairly good and I got Nicola to work on time, then I headed back to her place. I spent most of the day updating the website. I had yesterday's photos with me on the card in the camera, but had no way of transferring them to the computer, so I looked up where the nearest PC World was, and headed over there to buy a CompactFlash card reader.
At lunchtime, I met Nicola at work, and we went to the Exchange Bar for a meal.
While Nicola worked in the afternoon, I did some more website updating. I installed ACDSee so that I could easily sort through the photos, but I can't upload them to the website yet as I need Photoshop and my batch processing macros to scale them all.
After picking Nicola up from work in the evening, we were deciding what we were going to do, and I was thinking about when I'd go home. I wanted to stay with her as long as possible, and I thought perhaps I'd stay until the morning and drive back to work then. Nicola didn't really want me to go either. I suggested that maybe she could come with me to Oxford, and she seemed to like the idea. I phoned Scott (Rich is away on holiday this week) to check that it was OK if she stopped over and he said it was, so we decided to drive back tonight rather than very early tomorrow morning.

Sat Aug 04 2001
We had a nice long lie in today until midday. When we got up, Naomi washed my car again to earn herself some cash, and we were planning to have a bonfire in the afternoon to burn some of Nicola's A-Level notes, but the wind was blowing towards the council houses, so we had to postpone it until the evening.
Instead, we relaxed in the garden for a while. I took a few photos of Domino, we had fun playing around with the tire swing, and we found the last tiny strawberry in the fruit cage. Then we heard the sound of an ice-cream van driving round and we decided we'd try and catch it, so we went for a walk round the village. We found it down Stockwell Way near the garages, and after buying a couple of giant ice-cream cones, wandered over to the swings in the park.
In the evening, we went up to the Greyhound for a drink and some food, before heading back to the house to have the bonfire. Mum had quite a lot of garden waste to burn so we had quite an impressive blaze going by the end. We burnt all the notes Nicola had brought with her, but she couldn't manage to bring them all, so we're going to have to have another fire at some point.
After the bonfire, we drove Naomi into town (She's going out with some friends), then came back and Mum did salad and baked potato for dinner. When we'd finished eating, Nicola cut my hair again, then we had coffee and cake before heading back up to the Greyhound for another drink.

Fri Aug 03 2001
We all went out for lunch at a pub in Wootton today. Andrew treated us! :-) After we'd finished eating, Rich drove me to Bicester and we went round all of the estate agents getting their lists of properties to rent. We then headed over to Oxford so he could pick up a book that Andrew Tate had borrowed from him.
I left work at 5:00 this evening and drove straight to Northampton station to pick Nicola up. We popped back to Milton briefly to drop our stuff off and say hello, then drove to Sixfields. We got cinema tickets for Dr. Dolittle 2 and then went to find somewhere to eat. We tried T.G.I. Friday's, but they were full again, so we did what we did last time and went to Frankie and Benny's instead. :-) Afterwards, we watched the movie, then drove back to Milton.

Thu Aug 02 2001
I forgot to bring my alarm clock with me, but I have my Psion to check the time on, which I left by the side of the bed, and this morning I managed to wake up naturally at 8:20. I'm glad I book marked the location of work, because I wasn't quite sure of the route this morning, but luckily the satellite navigation system was! :-)
Drove out to the nearest garage at lunchtime to get a sandwich to eat, and left work at the end of the day at 5:30. Phoned home and had a chat with Mum, then a little later on, while I was cooking myself chicken kiev for dinner, phoned home again and talked to dad about how the job's going.
I had a strange email from Matthew's girlfriend tonight asking me to encourage him to get a new job with more money so that he can take her on a trip to Disney! :-)

Wed Aug 01 2001
Today was my first day at the new job. I left Milton just after 8:00 and, as the place is in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't find it in the satellite navigation system, I was following Rich's instructions on how to get there. I found it OK, and arrived shortly after 9:15. The first thing I did was bookmark the position in my car! :-)
I spent most of the day setting up my computer and installing software. At lunchtime, Rich came with me and directed me back to his place so that I could drop off all my stuff. I book marked his house in my car too! :-) We then drove to Witney to get a spare key for his house cut for me, and got some sandwiches, crisps and a drink for lunch.
In the evening I went with him to the supermarket to get myself some food, then came back and cooked myself a pizza. Rich said I could have the phone from his room in my room so that late night calls (Or ring backs) don't wake him up.
I uploaded the photos from the weekend, and then phoned Nicola.

Tue Jul 31 2001
There wasn't a cloud in the sky when we woke up this morning. It began to cloud over a little by lunchtime, but it was still a very nice day, and we thought we'd try going to Trosley country park (The one we'd tried to find yesterday) again. We were driving in from the A2 on the north side of it today, and managed to find it OK this time.
We bought ice-creams and then found the park map which showed the route of two walks. They're both the same length, but one of them is flat, and one of them isn't. We decided to do the flat one! :-)
There were some nice views all the way along the walk, and at one point we found a little path that led down the side of the hill to a fantastic open area that seemed the perfect place to take a panorama shot.
We finished the walk, had another ice-cream and a drink, and then headed back to Nicola's. It's my first day of work at my new job tomorrow, so after driving Nicola to Gala in the evening, we said goodbye, then I drove up to Northampton.
Rich is letting me stay down at his place while I sort out where I'm going to live next, so tonight I packed all of my computer stuff, my clothes, and the Z-bed into the car, ready to take down there tomorrow.

Mon Jul 30 2001
We decided we'd try and find a new country park to go to today and have another picnic there, so just after midday, we went down to Safeway and bought some food, then came back and searched around on the map to see if we could see anywhere to visit. We found a couple of nearby places, and, after preparing the picnic, decided to look them up on the Internet to see if we could find any information about them. One of them was in a woodland area and had a cafe, so we decided we'd go to that one.
We found the address, and tried to enter it into the satellite navigation system, but it didn't seem to know about it. We found a road in the system with the same name near Maidstone, but after driving for a bit, decided that it must be the wrong one, so we tried navigating by map. We were heading along the M20 wanting to come off at junction 2, but after passing junction 3 and travelling for miles, the next one we came to was junction 1 and we were on the M25. We decided we'd try and find it another day, and instead we headed back to Shorne Wood country park and had the picnic there.
While we were eating, a hoverfly came and landed on the empty doughnut bag, and I managed to get some cool close-up photos while it stood still to eat the sugar.
We got an ice-cream from the cafe, and then went for a walk. We started to do the medium walk again, but this time in reverse, then, when it met the short walk, followed that round back to the car park. The short walk went past a large pond, and there were quite a few dragonflies darting around near the edge of the water. One of them stopped on a twig long enough for me to be able to capture it on camera, and I also managed to get a great close-up of a butterfly near the end of the walk.
We were feeling a little hot after the walk, so bought another ice-cream from the cafe, then headed home. Nicola had to work again tonight, but we decided we'd do something afterwards, so when she'd finished, we went for a walk up Broom hill in the dark, and I took my camera so I could get some cool night time shots. After we got back, I took a few photos of Nicola's cats, as (Unusually) all three of them were in the same room together!

Sun Jul 29 2001
July must be the month for birthdays! It was Caroline's birthday today, and we had another barbecue at Nicola's Dad's. We were supposed to be heading there at 1:00, but Nicola's Dad rang up late morning to say that he was having trouble putting the gazebo up, and could I go over there (Because I'm tall) and help him.
We arrived just after midday, and after we managed to get the gazebo sorted out, Nicola's Dad got on with the barbecue. It was excellent weather for it. Almost too hot really, and the thunder flies were out in force.
Nicola was working tonight, so late afternoon we drove back to her place, she got changed, then I took her over to Gala. It stayed very hot and humid all night, and after picking Nicola up at the end of her shift, we decided that it was too hot to stay in the house and went out for some fresh air. We drove to a nearby garage and got some drink and ice-cream, then headed down into Strood, and spent some time down by the river.

Sat Jul 28 2001
It was Caroline's Dad's birthday today and we were invited over for a barbecue. Had a great time... Did some cushion juggling, kebab skewer fighting, ice torture, and Helen entertained us for a while with some impressive head banging! :-) The food was good too. Especially the birthday and Christmas cake! :-)
Nicola's Mum had her birthday last week too, and tonight Nicola and I took her and Dave out for a meal at The Hollywood bowl. When Nicola had booked the table she'd told them that it was for her Mum's birthday, and they brought balloons out to the table. :-)
Nicola and I ordered fajitas. Her Mum and Dave had a rack of ribs each, and when the waitress served them, she fitted them both with fetching red plastic bibs! :-)
We had dessert (I had a really nice lemon sorbet), and then just as we'd finished, they brought out a (Fake) birthday cake and got the whole restaurant to sing Happy Birthday to "Mum"! :-)

Fri Jul 27 2001
I love you always forever
Near and far closer together
Everywhere I will be with you
Everything I will do for you

from I Love You Always Forever
by Donna Lewis

Thu Jul 26 2001
Nicola had work all day today, and she's working all day again tomorrow, so I thought today would be a good time to head back to my parents' to sort out various things.
Drove her to Gala just after 11:00, and then set off for Northampton. The journey took a bit longer than usual as there were quite a few hold ups on the M25 due to road works, and it was another really hot day today, so I stopped off at a service station on the way to get a drink.
I've got a painful blister on the back of my left foot. I banged it this morning on the sharp corner of the thing at the end of Nicola's bed, and although it was painful for a few minutes then, it seemed to be OK after a while. But when I got out of the car at the service station and tried to walk, it really hurt, and when I got back to the car and took my shoe off to see what was up, I noticed that a blister had formed and burst, and was rubbing when I walked, causing the pain. :-(
I have the contract for my new job now. The most interesting thing I noticed when reading through it is that my working hours are quite flexible. I have to work 7½ hours each day, but I can do those hours whenever I like between 8:00am and 8:00pm.
I've been doing a lot of website updating this evening. I uploaded the photos from the Monopoly bar crawl, uploaded the few photos I'd taken on the day out we had in London for Nicola's birthday, and stitched together the panorama and uploaded the photos from the trips we've had to Shorne Wood country park.

Wed Jul 25 2001
Shorne Wood country park is a really nice place, and we had such a great time yesterday, that we decided to go back there for a picnic today. We drove down to Safeway just after midday to buy some stuff for packing up, then headed back to Nicola's place and made some sandwiches.
After driving to the park, we wandered over to the picnic area and found a table in a nice spot to eat our lunch. It was another hot day today, and after finishing lunch and dropping the cool bag back at the car, we bought a couple of ice-creams and then set off on another of the walks.
We did the long (4 kilometre) walk this time, and it was slightly more interesting than the one we did yesterday. It went a lot deeper into the woods and we found loads of cool logs and trees to climb on! :-) Half way round the walk there was a nice big clearing on top of a hill, and it seemed like the perfect place to take a panorama shot. After finishing the walk, we had another ice-cream and a drink, and then headed off home.

Tue Jul 24 2001
Decided we'd try and find somewhere new to go to today. None of the satellite navigation system's suggestions for nearby places looked very interesting, but we found a fairly close country park (Shorne Wood country park) on the map, and decided to head there.
The weather was really hot today, so the first thing we did when we got there was to buy an ice-cream from the park cafe. Near the cafe was a map of the park, which showed the routes of three walks through the woods, and we decided we'd do the medium (2 kilometre) walk. Most of the route was in the shade of the trees, and so we were fairly cool on the way round, but we still felt like another ice-cream when we'd finished! :-)
We were quite hungry by this point too, so we decided to have some food from the cafe first (They'd run out of bacon, so I had to settle for a cheese burger instead of a bacon burger!), and then found a nice shady spot to go and eat our ice-creams.
We then had another little walk... Around the fishing lake, along an unmarked trail we found through the woods, and back to the car park via the edge of the woodland.
After driving back home, we were feeling quite hot again, so we walked to the corner shop and bought some more ice-creams. We also found that they sell huge bags of pistachios in there, and couldn't resist buying one. :-)
I drove Nicola to work at 4:45, and did some more website stuff. I'm a bit worried that my monthly bandwidth usage (even after discounting the one off picture search site crawls I've had) is getting quite close to my 1 gig per month limit. I noticed today that about 12% of my bandwidth is due to the Shockwave Flash animation on the Micro Maniacs page, so I've removed it for the time being.

Mon Jul 23 2001
We made a really nice pasta dish for lunch today. Nothing very complicated about the sauce... Just tomatoes, onions and bacon. But we did use lots of onion, and lots of bacon (5 rashers), so it tasted very good! :-)
It's Nicola's Mum's birthday on Wednesday, and Nicola needed to buy her a present, so in the afternoon we went to Chatham to do some shopping. Nicola bought a foot massager for her Mum, and some trainers and a cool blue star-shaped cushion for herself.
We were feeling a little hungry, so before driving back to Nicola's place, we went to Three Cooks and bought a chicken tikka baguette for me, and a vegetable pasty for her, and went and found a nice spot on the grass near the car to sit and eat.
I drove Nicola to work in the evening, and then did some more website updating. I've removed the background noise image from the main page and the diary page. It made navigating the pages feel sluggish on slower computers and it was hardly noticeable anyway, so I thought it would be better if it went.

Sun Jul 22 2001
We'd run out of bacon and bread this morning, so we couldn't have any bacon sandwiches when we got up! Nicola's Mum needed a few things from the supermarket too, so early afternoon, we drove down to Safeway to do some essential shopping. :-)
In the evening I drove Nicola to work, and while she was there I did some website updating. I got a shock when I checked my stats today... The bandwidth usage for yesterday was about 400 meg! It looks like picsearch has been crawling my site for images, and it must have done it four times, once for each domain...,,, and I would have been over my bandwidth limit for the month, but luckily it looks like yesterday was the day my Web Hoster bandwidth counter was reset, so I won't be charged for excess usage!

Sat Jul 21 2001
We went to London today for a Monopoly bar crawl. Got up at around 8:10 and once we were ready, walked down to the station and caught the train. We were supposed to be meeting everyone at The Green Man pub in Old Kent Road at 10:30, but we were about 20 minutes early, so while we waited for people to turn up, we went and got a couple of baguettes from a nearby sandwich shop for breakfast.
The pub looked a little run down and some of the windows were boarded up. We weren't sure if it would actually open at all, and we were getting a little worried as it got to about 10:45 and still no one else had turned up. A few minutes later though, Dave arrived, shortly followed by Keith.
We decided that rather than wait around to see if the pub would or wouldn't open, we'd make our way over to the second pub and try our luck there.
Outside the tube station, we met Lucy and Alex, and then got on the tube and headed to The Raven pub in Fenchurch Street Station. Alex (Another Alex) met us there a little while later, and after having a drink and a chat, we left for the next pub.
The next one on the list was the Royal Exchange in Whitechapel Road, but we ended up going in the Old Blue Anchor instead, as we had walked for ages down Whitechapel Road and still hadn't seen any sign of the other one, so we decided to just go in the first pub we came across.
After finishing our drinks there, we caught the tube to the next pub, the Hamilton Hall, in Liverpool Street Station. We spent quite some time there as we were feeling a little hungry by this point, so we ordered some food, and while we were there Nidhi and Steve turned up. Nidhi and Lucy have also had birthdays recently, and so a number of presents were exchanged and played with while we waited for the food to arrive.
The next pub on the list was Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street. It was closed when we got there though, so we crossed the road and went in The Tipperary instead. Nicola decided to have some fun with my digital camera and we played a game of "Guess who it is from their hair photo". :-)
On the way to the Strand, we met up with Jase, and then headed over to The Wellington pub. As it was Lucy's birthday last week, it was only fitting that she should be given a cement mixer. It was quite a disappointment though, as nothing seemed to happen when she did it. We even made her do it twice, but it just didn't work. It must have been the wrong sort of lime. Still, she did look quite funny doing it anyway! :-)
Steve and Alex tried out another strange drink while we were there. Steve loves brown sauce, and Nicola suggested that he should try brown sauce and beer! :-) I think it probably tasted as foul as it looked, but Steve said it didn't taste that bad, and even managed to persuade Alex to try some!
In Bow Street, we went in The Globe pub. It was very crowded downstairs, but upstairs it was quite empty, and they had a very nice pool room. We had a game, with five of us playing on each side, and then gave up the table to let a couple play. The guy was very good, and I suggested to Steve (Who's also very good at pool) to challenge the guy to a game. After a bit of persuading he agreed, and the other guy accepted. It was a very close match, and Steve was doing very well to start with, but the other guy made a comeback towards the end of the game and won it, leaving Steve with two balls left on the table.
We took the tube to Kings Cross Station and went to the pub there called Coopers, and after having some drinks there, walked a short distance along Euston Road to O'Neils pub. Here we had the first spillage of the bar crawl. Keith's beer was knocked over, and most of it ended up all over the table.
After clearing up the mess and finishing the rest of our drinks, we took the tube to Angel. Steve, Keith and a few others thought it would be fun to run up one of the non-moving tube station escalators rather than use the working one, but unfortunately this didn't seem to agree with Keith and the alcohol in his system, and he felt rather ill by the time he got to the top. He said he thought he'd be OK if he could rest for a while, so we found somewhere to sit him down, and we waited there until he recovered.
After a while he said he was feeling a lot better, and said he wanted to carry on to the next pub, so we walked down the road to the Angel in Islington High Street. By this time it was getting on for about 9:15, and Nicola and I were feeling a little tired, so after having a last drink in the Angel, we said goodbye to the rest of the group and headed home.

Fri Jul 20 2001
We had put the apple juice in the freezer yesterday to get it colder more quickly. Today, when we came to have some apple juice for breakfast, we discovered that we'd forgotten to take it out of the freezer, and so we had a nice solid block of apple ice! :-) Rather than waiting for it to melt and then drinking it, we decided we'd cut it up and eat it instead! :-)
In the afternoon we drove over to Capstone Country Park. After parking in the car park, I decided to bookmark the place in the satellite navigation system, and while I was fiddling around, noticed the language options, which I'd never really paid any attention to before. It turns out that as well as changing the language of the written text on the display, it also changes the language, accent and voice of the spoken instructions, and we had great fun testing out the different settings. :-)
We had lunch in the cafe (They do a great bacon burger!), and then went for a walk in the woods. By the time we got back to the main area of the park, it was about 5:30 and we had plans to see a film at 6:10 with Natalie, so we headed back.
We picked up Natalie from her house, and then briefly stopped outside Nicola's place so she could collect a few pieces of birthday cake. Natalie had one bit, and we drove over to her Dad's place to drop the other piece in there. Then we headed over to the cinema and watched High heels and lowlifes.
After the film, we drove over to Chatham, and met some of Natalie's friends in the Tap 'n' Tin for a few drinks. Just before 9:30, Natalie left to go to the Manor club. We headed off home as we've got to be up early to get to London tomorrow morning for the Monopoly bar crawl.

Thu Jul 19 2001
Walked down in to Strood this afternoon to do some shopping and get something to eat for lunch. We went into Woolworths and Nicola bought a miniature Zippy from Rainbow soft toy for Lucy for her birthday, then we headed over to Wimpy and had some food.
On the way back we popped in to Safeway to pick up some apple juice. Nicola got a bottle of champagne for her birthday, and rather than have the usual champagne and orange, she wanted to try champagne and apple.
It tasted quite nice really. We had fun opening the bottle too. We were being very careful, but still ended up with the cork flying up in the air at a ridiculous speed, bouncing off the ceiling, bouncing off the draining board and landing on the floor, and half the champagne fizzing up out of the bottle and into the sink!

Wed Jul 18 2001
Just after midnight this morning, Nicola opened her presents. I'd been hinting for a while that I'd got her a quite a few things, but after I'd wrapped them all up individually, I put them in a box and wrapped that up too, so it looked like just one big present. :-)
I think she was pleased with what I'd got her... A Canned Heat radio controlled Mini, AutoRoute for her Psion 3a, an external power supply for her Psion 5mx, a lava lamp, a Procrastinator, a box of Guylian chocolates, some perfume, her own proper web space with Web Hoster, tickets to go and see Heather Nova in concert in August, and a little something else to go with one of her outfits. :-)
We decided to spend the day out in London, so late morning, we walked down to the station and caught the train. The weather started off really nice, so we headed over to Hyde Park first, and spent a while there. We had an ice-cream and relaxed in the sun for a bit, then took a rowing boat out on the lake.
When it started to get a little cooler, we walked out of the park, and decided we were a little peckish, so we took the tube to Leicester Square and had a meal in Chiquito there. We were quite lucky, as it started raining soon after we got into the restaurant, but stopped just before we finished the meal! :-)
We walked to the larger Moon Under Water pub and had a quick drink there, then walked the rest of the way to Oxford Street and bought a few items of clothing for Nicola as an extra little birthday present. :-)

Tue Jul 17 2001
I was woken up soon after 10:00 today by Mum shouting up the stairs and telling me to get up as soon as possible. My Gran is in hospital for an eye operation, and there was a phone call this morning to say that there had been a few complications.
After getting dressed and rushing downstairs, I drove Mum and my sister into Northampton to the hospital. We eventually found a space to park in the hospital car park, and headed into the eye department to see how Gran was. The surgeon who'd performed the operation explained to us what had gone wrong and said that she'd need to be transferred to Addenbrooke's to fix the damage to the eye. He said that the repair operation was quite routine, but that they had to transfer her because they could only do it at Addenbrooke's.
We left Gran just after 12:30, and I needed to get a few last things for Nicola's birthday, so we walked into the town centre to do some shopping for an hour or so.
Later on in the afternoon, I drove over to Coventry. Something else I'd ordered for Nicola's birthday had been delivered there, as that's where my credit card is registered. I needed to pick that up, and I also did a bit more shopping in the centre of Coventry, as I'd tried to buy something for her in Northampton, but couldn't find it. Luckily I found one in Coventry. :-)
After driving back to Northampton and wrapping the presents up, I drove down to Rochester and met Nicola as she finished work. She was dying to open her presents, but I wouldn't let her till the stroke of midnight. :-)

Mon Jul 16 2001
My old ISP used Wusage to generate the stats for my website, and I was really impressed with them, so when I moved my site over to Web Hoster and found that their stats weren't nearly as good, I installed Wusage myself. I've been using it to generate my stats for a month now, and the trial usage period has just finished, but as I'm so impressed with it, I paid the $75 and registered my copy.
I have to sort out and wrap Nicola's birthday presents before Wednesday, and some of them are at my parents' and some of them are in Coventry, so I drove up to Northampton tonight, just before 11:00, so I can get things ready tomorrow. :-)

Sun Jul 15 2001
Woke up very late today, and it was almost 12:00 by the time we got up. We had some bacon sandwiches for breakfast, and then, as the weather wasn't particularly good, decided to stay in for the afternoon.
Nicola played around with her Psion 5mx a bit more. She's now got all of the data transferred over from her old Psion 3a. Unfortunately she didn't have a data cable for the old Psion, so she had to do it all by hand.
It was her first day back at work today after having taken a week off, so in the evening I drove her over to Gala.

Sat Jul 14 2001
It's Nicola's birthday on Wednesday, and today she had a surprise birthday party that her family had organised for her. I'd known about it for a while, but all she'd been told was that she was having a family barbecue at her Dad's. Little did she know just how much of her family would be there! :-)
All I had to do was to make sure she was there at 1:00, which I did, although there was a slight panic moment yesterday when she mentioned to Caroline on the phone that we might pop over slightly earlier, but everything went according to plan in the end, and we arrived just after 1:00.
Nicola's dad was waiting in the garden to meet us (With his umbrella, because it was raining a little), and he ushered us round to the side of the house where everyone was waiting to surprise her.
It wasn't fantastic barbecue weather, but the rain did clear up a bit soon after we got there. Nicola's Dad does a great barbecue, and the food (as usual) was excellent.
After eating, we went inside, and Nicola opened the presents from her family and friends. Then, the candles on the cake were lit, and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to her.
A while later, Nicola, Helen, Natalie, Steve, Keith and I headed over to Chatham to the Tap 'n' Tin. We had a few drinks and a couple of games of pool, and then dropped Natalie home and headed back to Nicola's Dad's place.
Nicola got a Psion 5mx for her birthday from her Dad and Caroline, and when we got back we played with that for a while. Then later on in the evening, we headed out to another pub with Helen, Steve, Keith, Caroline and Nicola's Dad.

Fri Jul 13 2001
Went back to Riverside Country Park today, as the weather was really good. We had a meal in the cafe first, and then went for a walk out along the path that sticks out into the estuary, which we didn't do last time, as it was a little chilly. After the walk, we got a couple of ice-creams and sat by the pond near the cafe for a while.
In the evening we decided we'd go and eat at the Exchange Bar down in Medway Valley Park, but it was quite busy when we got down there, and they said we'd have to wait 45 minutes for a table. We tried Frankie and Benny's next, but they were just as busy, so we ended up eating at Chiquito where we only had to wait a few minutes for a table.
When we got back we ate the jelly we'd made yesterday for dessert. We'd made it a bit weaker this time, as it was a little on the strong side last time. It was still too much for Nicola's Mum though! :-)

Thu Jul 12 2001
I started to upload the photos this morning. There are quite a lot of them, and they weigh in at just under 21MB in total, so they took some time to transfer!
While we waited, I decided I'd have my hair cut as it was getting a bit long again. Nicola wanted to have another go, and ended up doing most of it. She's getting quite good at it now, and mum only had to do a little bit of finishing off at the back.
I'd promised Naomi last week that she could wash my car to earn herself a bit of cash, so I let her do that today. She did a pretty good job, although she missed out the wheels, and by the time I'd noticed, she'd put all the cleaning stuff away, so I had to give her another 50p to finish off! :-)
In the afternoon Nicola and I went for a bit of a walk round the village. We went via the post box to post off my job acceptance letter, and stopped in the park for a while, before heading back to the house.
Dad arrived back late afternoon. I gave him his tie from Disneyland Paris, which he seemed to like, and showed him some of the photos from the trip.
Early evening we headed back to Rochester, after stopping off at Tesco first to get a few things for the evening. We bought some mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers for pizza toppings, and all the ingredients we needed for vodka jelly. :-)
When we got in, we made the jelly (Which won't be set until tomorrow), and prepared, cooked and ate the pizzas.

Wed Jul 11 2001
We headed up to Northampton this afternoon. Took the holiday presents for the family from Disneyland Paris with me. Mum liked the mug I'd got her, and Gran was especially pleased with her mug. It's got white daisies on it, which she loves. She says she's going to put it on show on top of the TV! :-) Naomi had said that she didn't want me to bring her back Mickey mouse ears, so I didn't. I bought her some Minnie mouse ears instead! ;-) I think she likes them really. :-) Dad's away in Portsmouth at the moment, so he'll have to have his present when he gets back tomorrow.
My new monitor has arrived! :-) Had quite a shock when I saw the size of the box it came in. It's huge! I wondered for a while if I'd have enough room for it on the desk, but the monitor itself wasn't actually too big once it was out of the box and all of the packaging. After connecting it up and turning the computer on, I thought there might be something wrong with it, because the BIOS screen came up in black and white, but it once it had booted into Windows it was fine. Now I can run my desktop in 1600x1200! :-) And I can see red again! Yay! :-) I'm really pleased with it.
In the evening we sorted through all of the Disneyland Paris photos, and started getting them ready for putting online. The two panoramas stitched together very well, and in total, we ended up with 184 photos. :-)

Tue Jul 10 2001
We headed over to Chatham today to do some shopping. Nicola bought some clothes, and I got a couple of DVDs... Scary movie and The 6th day. For lunch we went to KFC and discovered that they've brought back the popcorn chicken, which is very nice.
In the evening, we drove down to Safeway to get a few things. We bought a fruit strudel, a bottle of Tia Maria, some coke, some mini ice-creams (similar to Soleros, but half the size), and some bacon for tomorrow morning.
When we got back we cooked chicken supreme, and then the fruit strudel. We also mixed a few Black Russians and watched Fantasia on video while we ate.

Mon Jul 09 2001
Today was our final day at Disneyland Paris. We dropped our bags off at reception in the morning for delivery to the station, and then spent our last half-day in the park. We finished off the last few little bits we hadn't done, and watched the main Disney parade. Then we did a bit of holiday present shopping before heading over to the station to catch the train home.

Sun Jul 08 2001
We had breakfast in the park today, at a cafe in Fantasy land. We had a continental breakfast again, but this time we were sitting outside and got to share some of it with a group of very friendly birds. :-)
After eating we went round the rest of Fantasy land. One of the attractions there is Alice's curious labyrinth. From the top of the castle in the centre of the maze there's a nice view of Fantasy Land and the surrounding park, and I managed to get a great panorama shot.
We headed back to Adventure land to do some of the bits we'd missed on Friday. We found the place where they did the live Tarzan show, but we'd just missed the start of one of the performances, so we checked to see when the next one was and decided we'd come back then. While we were waiting, we bought a couple of toffee apples and took a ride on the train that circles the park.
There was quite a queue for the Tarzan show when we got back there, but we didn't have to wait too long as they were getting people into their seats fairly quickly. The Mulan show yesterday was excellent, and the Tarzan show was pretty impressive too, with lots of well-choreographed routines and aerial acrobatics.
After the show, we looked round the animal farm, and then headed over to Frontier land and took a trip round the lake on the large paddle steamer, before heading back to our hotel room. We decided to go swimming again, and although the pool was temporarily closed when we went down there the first time, they'd opened again when we headed back a little later.
In the evening, we headed over to the Disney village for some food, then at about 11:00, headed back into the park to watch the light parade and the fantastic fireworks show.

Sat Jul 07 2001
There was quite a heavy thunderstorm in the early hours this morning, and when got up it was raining quite heavily. It was a good job I'd brought my umbrella! We walked over to the main reception building in the rain, and had a continental breakfast in the other restaurant there. The rain was beginning to ease on the way back to out hotel room, and by the time we'd got in and were deciding what to do next, it had stopped completely, so we headed out to the park.
We realised this morning that the hotel was a lot closer to the park than we'd first thought. The bus trip yesterday had taken ages, and we thought that it was miles away, but this morning, during our walk over to the reception building for breakfast, we heard sounds from the park, so we knew we must be fairly close and decided to walk there rather than catch the bus.
We did most of Discovery land and half of Fantasy land today, including the very cool Honey, I shrunk the audience ride, and the impressive Mulan, the legend stage show. We also discovered, on the way back to our hotel room in the evening, that Nicola's hands are exactly the same size and shape as Demi Moore's! :-)
We relaxed in our room for a while, then just as it was getting dark, headed back out to the Disney village for a meal and to admire the night view across the lake.

Fri Jul 06 2001
Today was the first day of our Disneyland Paris trip. We drove to Ashford International Station early morning, parked the car in the multi-storey car park, and walked over to the main Eurostar terminal. We checked in and then found somewhere to sit in the departure lounge while we waited for the train to arrive. We didn't have to wait too long. At 10:30 (About half an hour later), they announced our train and opened the gates to let us walk down to the platform. A few minutes later it arrived and we got on.
The train travels direct to a station inside the Disneyland Paris complex. The journey took a little over 2 hours and we'd come prepared with some drinks and snacks! :-) On the way, they came round and gave us some forms to fill in for the hotel, our Disneyland passes, and some coloured tags for our luggage (When you arrive you hand in your luggage and they take it to your hotel for you so that you can go directly into the park).
We got to the park, after dropping our luggage off, at about 2:10 local time (1:10 UK time). We spent about 4 hours in the park today, and managed to see most of Frontier land and Adventure land. We had lunch in an interesting little restaurant in Frontier land that served fast food Mexican!
At about 6:00 in the evening, we decided to head over to the hotel and check in, so we caught one of the busses from outside the station (There's a regular bus service from the park to all the hotels). After checking in at reception and collecting our luggage we went to find our room. We're staying in the Sequoia Lodge which consists of a number of separate fairly small buildings dotted around a picturesque wooded area.
We'd eaten lunch quite late, and didn't feel too hungry, so we decided to work up an appetite before dinner by going for a swim. The Sequoia Lodge has a really nice heated swimming pool, most of which is inside, but there's a little section of it outside that you can get to by swimming through a hole in one of the walls. It also has a water slide and a Jacuzzi, so we spent quite some time in the pool enjoying ourselves! :-)
After the swim, we headed over to the main reception building, and had a meal in one of the restaurants there.

Thu Jul 05 2001
It was my last day at work today. I spent most of the day finishing off and tying up the loose ends. At lunchtime, the whole team headed over to The Blue Lias pub for food and a farewell drink, then, when we got back to the office, Andy presented me with a few presents from the team... A Space projector and a framed Micro Maniacs poster signed by the whole team! :-)
Straight after work, I headed down to Kent to see Nicola. We're leaving for Disneyland Paris fairly early tomorrow morning, so after making sure we'd got everything packed and ready, we had an early night.

Wed Jul 04 2001
I was looking at the registration page on angelfire today to see if I could work out what the next part of the Miss X URL is, and I noticed that there were only a couple of possibilities. I guessed that "super" was the most likely one, and got a reply back from Miss X confirming that the first part was indeed... "". She also told me that my next challenge is to record a dream, and make a Freudian analysis of it.
Later on in the day, I was hunting round for more clues, and happened to go to I was surprised to see that it actually gave me a listing of all the /super/ sub pages, and after scrolling down to the ms, it wasn't too hard to guess which one belonged to Miss X. :-)
So, who's Miss X then? I'll give you a clue. :-) I knew who it was almost right from the start. There were little clues, like the IP address the first mail came from... I started pinging it as soon as I got the mail, and noticed that it stopped returning pings just as she went offline. Then there were the big clues like the word documents she sent me for a few of the challenges... Some of them had her name in the author field in the document properties! :-) I chose to ignore these, as I was quite enjoying the challenges and wanted to see them through to the end. :-)
I'm going down to see Nicola/Miss X tomorrow. :-) And we're going to Disneyland Paris on Friday! Yay! :-) So tonight I did my packing, and then had a nice long chat on the phone with Nicola.

Tue Jul 03 2001
I had another meeting with Guy and the head of HR first thing this morning. I hadn't changed my mind about saying anything, and told them that I wasn't going to tell them where I was going. I think they would have asked me to leave there and then, but Andy (Who had been away yesterday and missed everything that had happened) came and had a chat with them. I think he was a bit peeved at the way they'd handled the situation. He wanted me to stay for the whole month's notice period so I could finish off the section of code I was working on. The three of them had quite a long meeting, and then called me back in to let me know that they'd come to the compromise of me working till the end of the week (Which, as I'd already booked the Friday off, meant Thursday).
I did the gargling challenge for Miss X tonight. I chose to do the chorus of Widescreen, and although it's fairly short, it took loads of attempts to get it right. The main problem was trying to last through the whole chorus without losing all of the water over the floor! You have to keep your head right back to keep it all in, and then you find that it's quite difficult to actually sing because you're straining your neck so much!
I got it done in the end though, and she seemed to find it quite amusing! :-) She sent me the next three letters for the web address, which brings it up to... ""

Mon Jul 02 2001
At work today I had an interview with Guy about my resignation. He was very keen to know where I was going, but I'd decided from the start, for various reasons, that I wasn't going to say.
Later on in the afternoon I was called into another interview with both Guy and the head of HR. They explained to me that unless I told them where I was going, they'd have to consider me a threat to the company and send me home. I've got until tomorrow morning to decide what I want to do.

Sun Jul 01 2001
As we'd bought bacon yesterday, we just had to have bacon sandwiches for lunch today! :-) After eating, we walked down into Rochester and headed over to the castle. We bought an ice-cream and some drink from the kiosk, and spent the afternoon relaxing in the castle grounds.
Nicola had to work tonight, so shortly after 4:00, we started to walk back to the house. We were feeling a little peckish and fancied a bit of a snack, so we popped into the garage on the way and bought two new flavoured peperami type things. One tikka, and one chili. Very nice! :-)
I drove Nicola to work, then headed back to the house. I've decided which new monitor I want... A Hansol 900P. It's the same one as I use at work, and I'm very impressed by it. They're also quite cheap at just over £200. I tried to order one online tonight, but both of the companies I'd found that were selling it that cheap would only deliver to the address where the credit card is registered. I want it sent to my parents' address, so I'm going to have to get my dad to order it for me.
One thing I did manage to order tonight though is a pair of tickets to go and see Heather Nova play live at the Shepherds Bush Empire in London on September 29th. I'm not going to tell Nicola about it though. I'll keep it a surprise until her birthday! :-)
After picking Nicola back up from work, I spent the rest of the evening with her, before heading back to Northampton at midnight.

Sat Jun 30 2001
We went food shopping in Sainsbury's with Nicola's mum today. We made sure she bought the essentials... like bacon! :-) After we'd finished and packed everything into the car, we headed back into the shopping centre and went to KFC for some lunch.
In the afternoon we went for a walk up Broom hill, and spent some time up there relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. On the way back, I gave Nicola a piggyback till we got about halfway down, and then we were both feeling a little hot, so we popped into the corner shop to get an ice-cream.
In the evening we decided to try and eat at the Exchange bar again, and this time they weren't quite so busy, so we managed to get a table. After the meal we headed over to the cinema to see Shrek.

Fri Jun 29 2001
I handed in my resignation letter today. Andy wasn't in when I got in, so I left it on his desk. He arrived about 10 minutes later, and after he'd read it, we went into one of the meeting rooms for a chat. He explained the leaving procedure, and told me what would happen next.
After work, I drove straight down to Kent to see Nicola, and we went out to Chiquito in Medway Valley Park for a meal.

Thu Jun 28 2001
I picked up a copy of my contract from HR today. I've decided I'm going to hand in my resignation tomorrow, so this evening, I spent some time writing a resignation letter.
Miss X has sent me her latest challenge. I've got to gargle along to a Heather Nova song! I've also got to put it on my website for download and link to it in the diary! Hmmm, this is going to be... interesting. :-)

Wed Jun 27 2001
At work today I told Andy I was thinking about leaving. I think it came as a bit of a shock to him, but I explained my reasons, and he seemed quite understanding about it. He told me I should probably speak to Guy too, which I did just before lunch. Late afternoon, I also requested a copy of my contract from HR as I seem to have misplaced mine. They said I can go and pick it up first thing tomorrow.
I did the coding for Nicola's guestbook tonight. I added the two new fields she wanted, and put in some code to remove those fields from the entry if they're left blank and to make sure that the URL has "http://" at the start.
Miss X sent me a mail to let me know that I'd completed the misheard lyrics challenge successfully, and I now have some more clues... She doesn't live in London, she loves reading but rarely finds the time to do it these days, and she's still in education. She also sent me some more letters and I now have this much of the big clue web address... "http://www.angelfi". I mailed her back asking if the first part of the address is "", and it is, so I at least know that the page is stored somewhere on angelfire. I tried searching the site for things like "Miss X" and "xlcus", but didn't find anything.

Tue Jun 26 2001
Back to work today. It was very hot and humid again and the air-conditioners are still playing up so the office was like a sauna!
During my lunch break, I played around a bit with NOCC. It's a webmail client written in PHP, and I thought it would be useful to set it up on our accounts so that both Nicola and I can access our mail from anywhere with web access.
In the evening I set up the webmail, and also started making a guestbook for Nicola's website. It's going to be based on mine, but she said she'd like a few extra fields for people to fill in their email and website addresses, so I need to add a bit more code.
I finally got round to having a go at Miss X's latest challenge tonight. It was quite tough, and although I got most of the songs on my own, I did have to do a bit of Google searching to work out what a few of them were.

Mon Jun 25 2001
We were up late again today. We headed over to The Farmhouse for lunch, and then, as it was such a nice day, sat outside and had an ice-cream.
We'd packed our stuff in the car ready to drive down to Kent, but we had to make a trip back to the house again as we suddenly remembered that we'd left the drinks we'd bought yesterday in the freezer. We didn't want them to explode or anything, so we went back to the house to pick them up and took them with us.
The weather has been very hot all weekend, and today was even hotter... It was 33 degrees driving down the motorway! We fancied a drink, and the frozen bottles had started to melt, but we had no cups, and as we fancied a bit of a break anyway, we stopped off at a service station to get something to put the drink in.
When we got back to Nicola's place, I installed LeechFTP for her so that she can upload her web pages, and configured Outlook Express to download email from her ragingpistachio account.
In the evening I drove Nicola to work, then came back and did a bit of web browsing until it was time to go and pick her up again. We were both quite hungry and so we made ourselves some ham and cheese sandwiches.
At midnight, I headed back to Northampton.

Sun Jun 24 2001
We had a nice long lie in this morning, and didn't get up until after midday. Nicola spent the afternoon playing around with her new website, and I installed Wusage for her so that she can view her stats. We had a break half way through the afternoon when we got a little hungry and walked over to The Newlands for some food.
In the evening we drove over to the 24-hour garage to get some drink and ice-cream, and then cooked ourselves a pizza for dinner. I got a bit of a headache later on, so went upstairs for a lie down. After sleeping for a while, I felt much better, but by this time, it was about midnight, so we just went to bed.

Sat Jun 23 2001
My parents are back from Switzerland. They got back late last night, though I'm not sure what time. We'd already gone to bed. They brought me back a nice box of Swiss chocolates. Mmmmmm! :-)
I had my hair cut this morning. Mum started doing it, and had done about half of it, then Nicola decided she wanted a go and did most of the rest. :-)
Because Dad was away on Father's day, Naomi and I decided we'd have a bit of a celebration today instead. We told him we were taking him out for a meal, but we wanted to give him a bit of a surprise, so we didn't tell him exactly where we were going. I drove us all (Dad, Mum, Naomi and Nicola) into Northampton, and we went to Buddies for lunch.
When we got back, I asked Dad if he'd have a look at my monitor, and see if he could see what was wrong. He took the cover off and prodded around a bit, but nothing seemed to help at all. I think I'm just going to give up on it and buy a nice new monitor.
I moved all of my computer stuff into the kitchen and set it up there, then Nicola and I headed up to Coventry. Soon after we got in, Nicola asked me straight out if I'd registered the ragingpistachio domain, so I had to tell her about it. I gave her all the details about exactly what I'd bought her, and showed her how to use it all.
It was a warm day again today, and we decided it would be nice to go out for a bit of a walk. We went to Hearsall common, and took the boomerang Naomi had bought me with us. It came with detailed instructions, and we tried for ages to get it to work, but no matter how we threw it, it just wouldn't come back! On the way home, we were feeling quite hot from all the walking, so we popped in to The Newlands for a quick drink.
In the evening we ordered a pizza from Domino's and watched Liar liar on DVD, then had some fun playing around with my camera. Managed to fill up all of my CompactFlash cards. :-)

Fri Jun 22 2001
I picked Nicola up from Northampton station early evening. I had quite a surprise when I saw her... She was wearing a new pair of high-healed platform boots, and she stood very tall. Almost as tall as me! :-) We drove back to Milton, and we had a bit of time before we were due to meet John and Sarah up the pub, so we went online for a while.
Miss X has sent me another challenge. I have to identify 13 songs and their artists from a list of misheard lyrics. Some of them are pretty obvious, for example... "I hate No Doubt, but I get over it", which is Tubthumping by Chumbawumba. Others are a little trickier... "Drink like a chicken drinking cola".
We headed up to the Greyhound and expected to find John and Sarah already there as we were slightly late, but there was no sign of them. We had a few drinks and waited, and were beginning to wonder if they'd forgotten about coming, but eventually they arrived, with Ian too, about 40 minutes late. Apparently, they'd got lost on the way from Towcester to Milton! :-)
It was quite a warm evening, so we found a table outside and ordered some food. Ian had some stuff he needed to do at home, so after we'd eaten, he headed off, but the rest of us stayed there until about 10:00.
By this time it was getting a little chilly, so John gave us a lift back home to save us the walk, before he headed back to Towcester with Sarah.

Thu Jun 21 2001
Wow! I'm impressed. It didn't take Nicola long to decode the competition message at all! I was expecting it to take at least a couple of days. I'm going to have to think of a new challenge for the next part of the competition now. I've mailed Nicola a new set of login details which will be used to access a second secure area on the fake website once I get round to deciding what the next part will be.
Naomi helped me to complete the logic puzzle tonight. I mailed Miss X the answer and got a response back within a few hours. She's given me two new letters to the big clue, and I now have this much... "http://www.ange"
Nicola is coming up to Northampton tomorrow. I'm looking forward to the weekend so much! We're going to have loads of fun! :-)

Wed Jun 20 2001
I got a new challenge from Miss X today. One of those logic puzzles you find all the time in travel puzzle books, where you have to generate a grid of associations between different objects. I know my sister's really good at them, as she used to do them a lot every time we went on holiday. I might ask her to help me out a little.
I've created a secure section on the ragingpistachio fake website with the first part of the competition in it, and mailed Nicola the login details. It's a substitution cipher encoded message, like the one I gave her before, but there are no obvious clues like web addresses in this one, so it should take her a bit longer to decode than the last one.

Tue Jun 19 2001
It was Nicola's last exam today! :-) She's so relieved they're finally all over, and I am too! She can finally relax a bit and take it easy for a while.
I've decided to run a competition on the fake website to win a mystery prize (The mystery prize being ownership of the ragingpistachio domain), and posted a note up onto the site asking people to send an email if they were interested in entering. Soon after lunch, I got a mail from Nicola requesting details. Hopefully I'll be able to split the competition into a number of parts, and time them just right so that Nicola wins the prize on her birthday! :-)
The road outside work has just been resurfaced, and, as seems common these days, it's been done with those awful loose stone chippings. I'm sure it won't be long before I get a few more paint chips driving into work now. :-(
I installed Wusage on my Web Hoster account tonight. It's what my old ISP used to use to generate the stats for the website, and I wanted to see if I could generate the same stats for the new site. It was very easy to set up and configure, and I do now have almost identical stats to the ones I used to have.

Mon Jun 18 2001
I was slightly worried that Andrew might have trouble contacting me with news of the job, seeing as the phone line is tied up quite a lot at the moment. I rang him tonight and gave him my email address, to use if the phone line is engaged.
Nicola's found the ragingpistachio domain already! I'm not sure if she suspects me or not. She sent me a mail this evening saying how unfair it was that it had been registered, and she sounded quite upset. Hopefully, on her birthday, the surprise of realising that it's actually hers will make up for the disappointment now.
I finally got round to replying to Miss X's challenge tonight. I got a response from her quite quickly, and unfortunately I got two of them wrong! :-( Surprisingly, she gave me some clues anyway for the ones I had got right. The next letter in the big clue is "a", and she assures me she is female, and not some big fat hairy bloke! :-)
A little while later, she sent me two new distorted pictures of the celebrities I'd got wrong. They were pretty easy to spot this time. I sent her my answers and got another letter for the big clue, which means I have this much so far... ""

Sun Jun 17 2001
It's Father's day today, and as Dad is away on holiday in Switzerland at the moment, I decided to stay down in Kent. Early afternoon, we drove over to Nicola's Dad's place and we had a Father's day barbecue.
After a great meal of steak and sausages, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing Balderdash. Whatever you do, don't mention giant vampire rabbits! :-)
In the evening, I took Nicola to work. Then drove back to Northampton. I uploaded the photos from Thursday night, and designed a fake website to put on the ragingpistachio domain. That way, if she happens to look at it, she won't think I registered it! :-)

Sat Jun 16 2001
We decided that we wanted boiled eggs for breakfast today, but we didn't have any, so, soon after we got up, we headed to the corner shop to get some.
Nicola revised all afternoon and all evening. I headed down to strood while she was working to buy some drink and get some cash, and we ordered takeaway pizza to eat between revision sessions.

Fri Jun 15 2001
I was rather hung over this morning. Surprisingly, my stomach didn't feel too bad, but I had a thumping headache and every time I sat up to try and get out of bed, my head spun so much, I just had to lie down again. It took until about lunchtime before I was feeling reasonable.
We walked to the corner shop to get some bacon, and then came back and made bacon sandwiches for breakfast. The walk in the fresh air made me feel a lot better, and so did the bacon! :-)
In the afternoon we watched Tarzan on video, and in the evening went to see Get over it at the cinema.

Thu Jun 14 2001
Andrew has been back in England for a few days, and today we all had an evening out in London. We'd arranged to meet at the Moon Under Water pub in Leicester Square at 6:30, but Nicola and I arrived slightly earlier at 5:30, so before the others arrived, we had a few drinks and some food, then had a bit of a walk round the square itself.
Just before 6:30, we headed back to the pub and waited for the others to arrive. Half an hour later we were getting a little worried that no one else would show, but then John and Andrew turned up. Andrew has changed his hairstyle since I saw him last, and now has an interesting quiff. :-)
We waited a while longer for the rest of the group to arrive, but no one did, so we decided to phone John and ask him where he was. We got really confused because he told us that he was in the Moon Under Water too, with James and Andrew. They definitely weren't in the same pub as us, so we got them to describe exactly where they were. It turns out that there are two Moon Under Water pubs near Leicester Square! We had to decide which group would move to the other pub. They had just bought themselves some drinks, so we headed over there.
The other Moon Under Water was quite small and very crowded, but we stopped there for a while and had a few drinks because, shortly after we arrived, it started raining quite heavily. It was still raining when Roxanne phoned Andrew to say that she'd arrived at the Moon Under Water and couldn't find us. We decided that we'd brave the rain and move back to the larger pub to meet her, as it was getting so packed out in the smaller one.
We spent half the evening in the Moon Under Water (Where we had some more fun with Sidekick towers), and the rest of the night in the Slug and Lettuce. James brought along his video camera and most of the evening was captured on tape. Hopefully, at some point, he'll digitise it and put it online.
I can't remember exactly how much we all had to drink, but I know I had quite a lot of spirits. Then, at the end of the evening, someone decided that my last drink should be a pint. This was a bad idea. I felt fine for a while, and we made it all the way back to the station without incident, but once the train started moving, I began to feel a little ill. All I can say is, I'm glad we had a carrier bag with us!
I must thank Nicola for doing an excellent job of getting me home safely, and making me drink lots of water before we went to bed. I don't know where I'd have been without her. Thanks honey!

Wed Jun 13 2001
I noticed today that Web Hoster are doing a special offer on domains at the moment... £59.00 for a *.com, a *.net, a *.org and a *.uk. I decided I'd register, and I already have so I had to think of something else to register instead for my *.uk option. Nicola had mentioned a few days ago that she's always wanted a website of her own, and we had talked about what domain she would have if she ever had one. was one of the them, so I decided to register that and order some web space to go with it as a present for her birthday.
I wondered if the DNS for would swap over to Web Hoster today but it didn't, and it'll be at least tomorrow before the DNS for the domains I ordered today gets sorted out, so I'm still not able to view the new website. I got them to enable telnet access though on both the xlcus and ragingpistachio accounts, so when I got home from work, I was able to unTAR my web pages and sort out the paths in the cgi scripts. Now, when the DNS swaps over, the change should be seamless.
Miss X has sent me a card. It has a Cool Dude picture on the front, and on the inside, with letters cut out from magazines and stuck in, it says... "Hi jOnatHaN, You'LL fiND Out wHo I AM soON EnOUgh. MIss X". Very mysterious! The postmark is London South, but I'm guessing she probably just went there on a day trip or something!
I ripped all the tracks off Naomi's recording studio CD tonight and compressed them to APE files. When I get a chance, I'm going to MP3 one of them and put it on my website for people to download.
Nicola's invited me to Disneyland Paris with her! :-) We going on July 6th and will be there for four days. Yay! :-) I'm really looking forward to it!

Tue Jun 12 2001
I phoned Web Hoster today to see what was going on with my account. They said they'd tried to contact me but couldn't because I'd given them as my email address. I'm not sure why that caused them a problem because the DNS is still pointing at my old ISP. I gave them my work email address and they sent me details of the account there. They also sent instructions on how to transfer the domain to them, which I passed on to James.
Halfway through the day my old website went down, and I suddenly panicked as I hadn't finished backing it up, but luckily it came back up later in the day!
I drove to Coventry after work to transfer the website over to Web Hoster. I finally had the account details, so rather than continue the backup of the old site to my local machine and then upload it again, I TARed it up and FTPed it to Web Hoster. Once it had finished transferring, I packed up my computer, loaded it into the car, and drove back to Northampton.
I showed Naomi the latest Miss X challenge tonight. She thinks she knows who the remaining 3 unidentified people are. I hope she's right, because I don't have a clue!

Mon Jun 11 2001
Naomi came back from her round the world trip yesterday. I saw her briefly in the morning before I went to work as she was still jetlagged and had got up at around 6:00. She's had her eyebrow pierced!
Miss X sent me a new challenge today. 8 pictures of celebrities distorted and blurred in various ways and a clue for each one. I simply have to work out who they all are. I've identified 5 of them so far. The remaining 3 are quite tricky.
I thought I might have heard back from Web Hoster today about my new web space, but they haven't sent me any details so far.
Naomi brought me back a boomerang from Australia. It's a proper flying one too... Not just an ornamental one. It says on the packaging that it's guaranteed to return when thrown correctly. I'll have to find a nice wide-open space to try it out! :-) She also showed me a CD she'd had recorded in a professional recording studio of one of her own compositions.

Sun Jun 10 2001
While Nicola did revision today, I washed my car! :-) It was very dirty as I hadn't done it for ages, so it took quite a while. Looks much better now! :-)
Nicola phoned up Gala in the afternoon to tell them that she wouldn't be in work this week because of her exams. She'd phoned them up last week to check if it was OK, and they said they'd get back to her, but they hadn't. Today, when she rang up, they said that they couldn't get people to cover her shifts so she'd have to come in, but she told them that her exams were more important than a part time job, and that they'd have to make do without her.
In the evening we drove over to Medway Valley Park and went to Chiquito for food.
Mum and Dad are going on holiday to Switzerland on Tuesday, and I'm looking after the house this week and next week, so when I left Nicola's just before midnight, I headed back to Northampton instead of Coventry.

Sat Jun 09 2001
Late morning we headed down into Strood so Nicola could post a letter and so we could get some stuff to make vodka jelly with from Safeway. After we'd headed back home and prepared the jelly, Nicola got on with some more revision and I went online for a while.
In the evening I helped Nicola out making a nice potato dish, and after we'd cooked and eaten that, we started on the jelly! :-) We didn't manage to get through it all though, as it was a little on the strong side!

Fri Jun 08 2001
Drove down to see Nicola for the weekend after work. Took with me another little surprise for her... An interactive Gizmo. It's an animatronic version of the Mogwai from Gremlins, and it's made by the same company who make Furby. It does similar sorts of things to a Furby and can talk to them too! :-)
In the evening, we went out for a meal at the Peking Chef Chinese restaurant with Nicola's Mum and Dave. We had one of the set meals between us so that we could try a bit of everything, and the food was excellent.
Nicola and I have decided that we're going to make a vodka jelly tomorrow. I haven't done one in a while, and it should be fun! :-)

Thu Jun 07 2001
Got a new computer at work today. Same hardware specification as my old one, but with Windows 2000 installed on it instead of Windows 98. Spent most of the day getting everything set up the way I like it and installing all the applications I need.
Looks like my current ISP is in a bit of financial trouble and might close down any day now, so I decided to order some new web space from Web Hoster. Decided to go for their Platinum Hosting package, giving me (for £64.95 + VAT)...

250Mb Web Space             1GB Transfer per month
50 POP3 Accounts            Dedicated CGI Bin
Unlimited Aliases           Phone & Email Support
Control Panel               Auto Responders
Unlimited Email Forwarding  Full Web Statistics
SSH/Telnet Access           SSI Support
24/7 FTP Access             MySQL Database
PHP4 Support                Wap Support
Free Domain Transfers       Multiple POP3 Accounts
Played a few rounds of Go Fish on Yahoo! Games with Nicola.

Wed Jun 06 2001
I had some more delayed email arrive today. This time some imood update messages. As these come from a completely different mail server to the one Nicola's mails come from, it must be my ISP that's having the problems. :-(
I completed Miss X's Haiku challenge today...

Wanted cough syrup
Drank laxative by mistake
Need to go badly

It made her laugh, so I got a couple more clues! :-) She's an avid Simpsons fan, and the next letter in the big clue is "p". I mailed her back asking if the first 11 characters are "http://www.", and they are, so I now know that the big clue is going to be a web address! :-)

Tue Jun 05 2001
These past few days, quite a few emails from Nicola have been delayed on their way to me, some of them for over 48 hours! Looking at the headers, I can see that they're getting stuck at the hop just before they reach my ISP, but that doesn't tell me if it's the fault of my ISP or if it's the fault of the machine trying to give my ISP the mail. Wherever the fault lies, I hope it gets sorted out soon as it's quite frustrating!
Nicola's exams have gone fairly well so far, which is good! :-) She's said I can visit this weekend too as long as I make her do lots of revision again. I'll try my best! :-)

Mon Jun 04 2001
My love
You know that you're my best friend
You know I'd do anything for you
And my love
Let nothing come between us
My love for you is strong and true

from Hold On
by Sarah McLachlan

Sun Jun 03 2001
Nicola did some more revision this afternoon and I did a bit more website updating. I was quite amazed that I do actually remember some A-Level maths, so I managed to help her out a bit with a couple of the questions.
In the evening we went to Frankie and Benny's for food. We had the garlic pizza bread for a starter, shared another large 15" bacon and mushroom pizza, as they are just so nice, :-) and we were still hungry enough for dessert, so we shared a banana split! :-)
As we were driving back to Nicola's place, the sun was just going down. We decided to see if we could catch the sunset, so when we got back, we walked up to the top of Broom hill. Unfortunately, by the time we got up there, we'd missed it, but we had a pleasant evening walk anyway.
Nicola's got another exam tomorrow and I've got work, so just before 11:00 I headed back to Coventry.

Sat Jun 02 2001
While Nicola revised this afternoon, I went online and did a bit of website updating. Early evening, we fancied a bit of a break and went out for a walk and some fresh air. We headed down to Rochester and had a quick drink in one of the pubs. Then decided it'd be quite nice to go back to The Hollywood bowl for some food, and maybe try the Pig's trough sundae...

Feeling Porky? Then this is the one you you. We take a big bowl, put in everything we can lay out hands on in the kitchen, top it off with a wafer and then wheel it out to your table. There's plenty for two but it you wanna tackle it on your own... feel free! If you manage it we'll award you with a certificate to prove you really are "King of the Trough"!! we walked back to Nicola's (via Safeway to get some drink and some Twiglets for later) and drove over to Gillingham. Unfortunately, when we got there, they were very busy and said we'd have to wait at least an hour and a half for a table. We decided that the Pig's trough sundae would have to wait for another day, and instead, we drove over to a nice Brewers Fayre restaurant near Gravesend called The Copperfield.

Fri Jun 01 2001
I left for Nicola's straight from work at 5:30. I had almost a full tank of petrol in the car, so I didn't have to stop to fill up on the way. The traffic was pretty good too, so I almost made it down there in 2 hours. Arrived at 7:35.
She was very pleased with the Furby! :-) I had already fitted some batteries before I wrapped it up, so when I gave the present to her, I told her to make sure she kept it upright and didn't shake it while she opened it. I didn't want it to wake up and spoil the surprise! :-) It had already gone off a few times in the car on the way! ;-)
After playing with the Furby (who's name is DahLohLah) for a while, we headed over to Medway Valley Park and had a meal at Chiquito.

Thu May 31 2001
On the way home from work, I headed over to Toys 'R' Us to buy a little something for Nicola. She seemed to like James' Furby so much at the weekend, and I thought I'd get her one of her own. :-)
Played another game of Literati with her tonight. She beat me this time, but it was another very close game. Only a few points in it.
After we'd finished we had a chat on the phone. She said it would be OK for me to visit at the weekend as long as I make sure she does lots of revision and don't distract her too much. I think I can manage that! :-)
I'll be leaving straight from work tomorrow so I had to do some washing and some packing tonight. While I waited for my washing to finish, I watched a bit of Pitch black on DVD. Didn't get very far into it though as it was getting very late and I wanted to get some sleep. I'll have to watch the rest of it some other time.

Wed May 30 2001
Nicola introduced me to Literati on Yahoo! Games today. It's basically an online version of Scrabble and it's really cool. One very good feature it has is that if you get disconnected, for whatever reason, when you reconnect, it lets you carry on from where you left off. Very useful if you have an unreliable Internet connection or if your ISP kicks you off every few hours.
It takes quite a while to finish a game (Just like real Scrabble), so we only had time for one tonight, and a very close game it was too. I won, but only just...  by 2 points!

Tue May 29 2001
Back to work again today. It came as a bit of a shock having to get up early again after having had 5 days holiday, and I felt quite tired all day.
Got a mail from Miss X to say that as the web page background challenge is rather a big one, she's now going to make it a bonus challenge, to do if I have time. If I complete it, I get 6 letters towards the big clue! She's given me a smaller challenge to be getting on with... I have to write a Haiku on cough syrup! :-)
The web server went down during the afternoon and is still down now, so no one can access the site, and I can't do any updating. Quite annoying! Hopefully it will be fixed by tomorrow and I'll be able to update the site in the evening.
Played Psychobabble again tonight with Nicola. We're getting quite good at being able to identify each other's phrases now! :-)

Mon May 28 2001
We had a long lie in today. Didn't get up until after midday when Nicola's Mum shouted up the stairs that Steve was coming round in a bit. He brought with him the motorbike helmet and the rest of the gear he'd just bought as he's going to be learning to ride a motorbike soon. He let Nicola try on the helmet to see if it fitted. It did, so she can get herself one and ride on the back of his bike when he gets it and passes his test.
The weather has been nice all weekend and it was still very warm today, so we decided to take a walk down into Rochester. We wandered over to the castle, bought a couple of ice-creams and found a nice shady spot under one of the trees in the castle grounds to eat them.
After a while of relaxing there, we found a nearby pub to have a few drinks in, and we were feeling a little peckish by this time too, so we ordered a big bowl of Nachos to share.
Nicola had to work again tonight, so early evening we headed back to her place so that she could get ready. Then I drove her over to Gala before heading back home to Coventry.

Sun May 27 2001
Finally got up at about midday. Nicola had to work tonight so we didn't have much time left to do stuff in Coventry. We headed over to the Harvester for a meal, and then after briefly popping back to the house to pick up our stuff, drove down to Rochester. Nicola got ready for work and then we headed over to Gala. Since it's a bank holiday tomorrow, I decided I'd head back to Coventry then, so while Nicola worked I joined her Mum for bingo.

Sat May 26 2001
Got up soon after 9:00 this morning. My hair was getting a bit long again, so I got Mum to cut it. Nicola and I then headed up to Tesco to get some food and drink to take to Rich's barbecue, including a few more Sidekicks (Grapefruit).
Next we headed over to Oxford to Rich's place and arrived shortly after 12:30. I had thought that there wouldn't be anybody there I knew apart from Rich and Scott (who, as it turned out, wasn't there because he'd had to go back to Cardiff), but Andy and Helen were, and it looks like they're expecting a baby! :-)
The barbecue was really good. We had the usual burgers and sausages and things, and we'd brought some nice spicy chicken wings, which were really tasty. Later on, someone barbecued some bananas, which sounded like a bit of a strange thing to do, but they were actually quite nice!
We headed back to Coventry late afternoon. We were still quite full from the barbecue so decided we didn't want to eat for a while. We took a nice long walk over to the Phantom Coach and had a few drinks, and then later walked on to the New Varsity and spent most of the evening there.
We got a taxi back to the house from the taxi rank just outside the students union, and then decided we were hungry enough to eat, so we ordered a pizza from Domino's and watched Groundhog day on DVD.

Fri May 25 2001
We got up late morning. It was very hot and we fancied going out and getting an ice-cream, so in the afternoon we headed over to Capstone Country Park again. Spent a while there, lazing around until 4:00 when we set off for Northampton.
We were making good time until we'd just past Milton Keynes where we ran into a huge traffic jam on the M1. We were almost stationary for over 40 minutes and it took until just after 7:10 to get to Milton. Phoned Paul to let him know we'd be slightly later than expected, and then Dad gave us a lift in to town.
Paul has just bought a new barbecue and this was his first attempt at doing one. Apart from a few slight mishaps with food dropping where it shouldn't, it was quite successful!
After all the food had been eaten, we moved indoors and drank and chatted for the rest of the evening. Mark and I got a chance to show off our juggling skills and we had quite a lot of fun with silly string! :-)
Paul and Adam had said that they weren't going to open their presents until it was actually their birthday, so I thought that I might not get to see them open them. When it got to midnight though, Nicola pointed out that it was their birthday and so they could. :-) They both seemed quite pleased with what I'd bought them, which was good! :-) Paul set up the Super TV Boy III and we spent a while trying out a few of the different retro games. Very cool! Might have to get myself one! :-)
Soon after 12:30, Adam, Nicola and I got a taxi back to Milton.

Thu May 24 2001
No work today, but no lie in for me either. I had to be down in Kent by 12:00 to pick Nicola up after her second exam. The traffic was slightly heavier than usual, and as I wasn't driving to her house I had a bit further to go, so it took me until about 12:15 to get there. She was out of the exam by then and was waiting for me by the gates. She seemed quite happy, and doesn't think she's done too badly! :-)
We drove to her place for a bit and then headed over to Chatham to do some shopping. I needed to get Adam something for his birthday. Eventually decided on the latest Terry Pratchett book: Thief of Time, and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Also bought a couple of Euphoria CDs for myself and we bought some Tia Maria and some Sidekicks (Apple) to drink later. After shopping we were feeling a little hungry, so we went to Three Cooks in Chatham. We bought a couple of chicken baguettes to take away, then found a grassy spot near the car to lay down and eat them.
Nicola had an appointment with the policewoman dealing with her malicious phone call today. After eating, we drove to Rochester Police station, and spent a while chatting to her. She was very helpful, and gave Nicola loads of useful information and contact numbers.
In the evening we went to Chiquito for food and discovered that the 15% discount card we'd been given last time wasn't just a one off thing. It's 15% off every time we go until the end of November! Cool! :-) I can see we're going to spend a lot of time there! :-)
After eating we popped over to the cinema and watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Nicola had remembered to bring her pay slip with her this time, but they almost didn't give us the 50% discount, as it wasn't her current slip. After repeatedly telling them that they could phone up Gala if they didn't believe she still worked there, they gave in and let us have the discount! :-)

Wed May 23 2001
The weather was very hot today, and unfortunately the air-conditioning at work broke down during the afternoon, so it was quite uncomfortable in the office and I found it quite difficult to work. All the heat just made me feel really tired! I hope they get it fixed soon...
I'm taking Thursday and Friday off work this week. It's a bank holiday on Monday too, so I have a nice long 5-day weekend! And I'm going to spend most of it with Nicola! :-) I'm driving down there tomorrow and we have lots of things planned, including visits to Northampton, Oxford and Coventry! It's going to be a great 5 days! :-)
Finally sorted out the .htaccess file problem I was having. It turned out that the users file, which contains the passwords, was in a directory that had the wrong permissions set on it, so the web server couldnt access it. Doh!

Tue May 22 2001
It's Paul and Adam's birthday this Saturday, and Nicola and I are going to be popping in to see them on Friday night. I ordered a little present for Paul today... A Super TV Boy III. It's a PlayStation style joypad that you plug directly into your TV and it lets you play over 100 classic retro games. It's very cool! (If you like that sort of thing!) :-)
Played some more Psychobabble with Nicola again tonight. Wasn't doing quite as well this time though. Only won a couple of rounds, but it was still good fun! :-)

Mon May 21 2001
Went snowboarding with work again today. Left my parents' house at about 7:40 and arrived at the SnoZone in Milton Keynes just after 8:35. It took slightly longer than expected because of the rush hour traffic. I was supposed to be meeting up with the rest of the people going at 8:30, but it didn't matter that I was slightly late as they were too. They'd got a bit lost on the way! :-)
The company had tried to book a 3-hour lesson, but couldn't get it organised in time, so we just did another single hour. It had been a long time since the last snowboarding lesson, so it took a little while to get used to doing it again, but once I had, I learnt a few more things, and was really getting into it by the end of the hour. Hopefully the company will get the 3-hour lesson sorted out soon. It's really good fun! :-)
Nicola found out yesterday that someone at her work is willing to swap shifts with her so that she can come to Rich's barbecue. It also means she'll be able to come up to Coventry for the first time at the weekend too! Yay! :-)

Sun May 20 2001
We got up at about 11:30 this morning, and just as we were getting ready to go out, Nicola got a phone call from Caroline to see what time we'd be over for the barbecue. We finished getting ready and then drove over to Nicola's Dad's house. I met Nicola's sister Helen again, and met her Dad and Caroline for the first time. We had a drink and a bit of a chat, and then headed outside so Nicola's Dad could start cooking on the barbecue.
A little while later Nicola's brother Steve returned from his trip to the supermarket with supplies, and it reminded me that I'd left my DOA Cyanide sauce in Nicola's fridge. Steve wanted to see a demo of my car's satellite navigation system and this was the perfect opportunity to show him. Nicola, Helen, Steve and I piled into the car and headed over to Nicola's to pick up the sauce. Steve seemed quite impressed... with both the satellite navigation system and the strength of the DOA Cyanide sauce! ;-)
Back at Nicola's Dad's place, the food was just about ready, and I must say, Nicola's Dad does an excellent barbecue. The food was really good. Caroline had made a fresh fruit salad for dessert too, which was also very nice! :-)
After eating, we headed inside and chatted for a while, until just before 4:00, when we had to head back to Nicola's place so that she could get ready for work.
After driving her to work at 5:00, we said goodbye and I drove up to Northampton. I'm staying at my parents' tonight because I'm going snowboarding in Milton Keynes tomorrow at 8:30, and it seemed silly to drive all the way back up to Coventry, when Northampton is only about 20 minutes drive from Milton Keynes.

Sat May 19 2001
Had to get up just after 10:30 when the engineer arrived to change the phone line in Nicola's room back from Telewest to BT so she can have free Internet calls again.
After he'd gone, Nicola got on with one of the timed essays she had to do this weekend, and I did some website updating while I waited.
When she'd finished, we were both feeling a little hungry, so we walked down into the centre of Strood to find somewhere to eat. We were considering getting something to takeaway from Three Cooks where Nicola used to work, but in the end, we decided to have a burger in Wimpy. After we'd eaten we wandered back to Nicola's place.
Late evening, we drove over to Medway Valley Park. We were going to go back to Chiquito again and use our 15% discount voucher, but by the time we arrived, it had just gone 10:00 and they'd stopped serving food. Luckily, Frankie and Benny's were still open, so we had a meal there instead.

Fri May 18 2001
I'm going to be meeting Nicola's Dad on Sunday, and he's going to be putting on a barbecue for us, so I'm spending the whole weekend down in Kent again! Yay! :-)
Nicola wasn't working tonight, so I drove straight to her house as soon as I left work. We were both quite hungry, and we decided to head out to Chiquito for some food, as we hadn't been able to eat much there the last time we went. This time we were hungry enough to manage a starter, a main course, and a dessert! :-) They gave us a 15% discount voucher off our next meal too, so I'm sure we'll be back there soon. :-)

Thu May 17 2001
Nicola got a few malicious phone calls on her mobile today... Probably from one of the immature Rainham Mark students who were giving her grief on Monday. Stupidly though, they actually left a message on the mobile's answer phone, and since the police are now involved, they're going to be in a lot of trouble!
Phoned Nicola from work when I heard about it and we had a quick chat, and we had another longer chat when I got home. It's quite disturbing what certain people are willing to do to hurt someone else. They're not going to get away with it this time though. They've gone too far, and they're going to have to face the consequences of their actions.

Wed May 16 2001
Nicola was feeling a bit down tonight. I was a bit worried about her as she kept changing her imood every few minutes. I tried to ring her, and eventually got through. We talked about things, and she was feeling a lot better by the end of our chat. Managed to get her to relax a lot too. In fact by the time I put the phone down she was very relaxed! :-)

Tue May 15 2001
Left Nicola's soon after 7:45 this morning. The traffic was quite slow on the M25 and it took a lot longer to get back than usual. I arrived at work just after 10:30.
In the evening I spent quite a while fiddling with apache .htaccess files. I was trying to get a particular page on the website password protected (At the moment it only has security through obscurity). But as much as I tried, I couldn't get it to find the password file. I think that the machine the web server process runs from must have the websites' partition mounted in a different place to the machine I edit the website from. Either that, or I'm just doing something silly! :-)
Nicola found out yesterday that she's been given a shift to work on the 26th, which means that she wouldn't be able to come to the barbecue that Rich is having. :-( She's going to try and get it swapped with someone else's shift though, so she might still be able to make it after all!

Mon May 14 2001
Some immature Rainham Mark students found Nicola's online diary recently. Today it turned nasty and they were all being rather cruel. She was getting hurtful comments thrown at her all day, and some people were leaving unpleasant messages in her guestbook. They were just generally being unkind, and she was really upset. She sent me a couple of emails before lunch, but then her account got disabled. I managed to find somewhere private with a phone in one of the spare rooms in the new office building at work and gave her a ring on her mobile to see how she was. She sounded, understandably, quite upset on the phone, and we spent a while talking through everything that had happened. She decided that she wasn't going to go back, and would spend the rest of the time up to her exams revising at home, which, looking on the positive side of things, could be a good thing as she'll probably have more time, be more relaxed, and get more done.
She sounded a bit better when we got off the phone, but I was still worried about her. Just before work finished, I decided that I wanted to go and see her, and I asked Andy if it was all right if I was slightly late in the next day as long as I made up the time. He said it was OK, so after work I headed down to Rochester. I picked her up from Gala and drove her home, and we spent the rest of the evening talking about stuff. I'd asked Andy if it was OK to be late because I didn't fancy another late drive back home, and I stopped the night at Nicola's.

Sun May 13 2001
We both had a bit of a hangover today, so we didn't get up till quite late on in the morning. Had some bacon sandwiches for breakfast, and then, a bit later on when we both felt up to it, went for a walk to the top of Broom hill to get some fresh air. Soon after 2:30 we headed back to Nicola's place for some food... Her Mum and Dave had cooked us a nice mini-roast.
Nicola had to go to work in the evening. She works in the diner at Gala, and her Mum and Dave play bingo there a few times a week. They asked me if I'd like to come along tonight instead of heading back home, and I decided I'd give it a try! I didn't win anything in the end, but it was quite enjoyable nevertheless. :-) Nicola's Mum and Dave stayed on to play the late game, but Nicola and I headed back after she'd finished work.
Drove back to Coventry soon after midnight. It's quite good driving back at that time of night as there's hardly any traffic on the roads and I can make the trip in about 1 hour 50 minutes.

Sat May 12 2001
We headed over to Capstone Country Park today. The weather was really good, and we did a nice long walk around the park. On the way we took a panorama shot from one of the high points on the hills above the park.
After the walk, we were feeling quite hot, so we stopped at the cafe and bought two ice-creams, and then found a nice spot in front of the lake to lay down on the grass and eat them. After a while we decided that we'd probably get very sunburnt if we stayed there too much longer, so we moved to a shadier spot.
Later on we got a little peckish and headed back to the cafe for some food. We had some bacon rolls and a couple of slush drinks.
In the evening, we walked over to Nicola's friend Natalie's house. Her brother gave us all a lift over to Chatham where we met up with Natalie's boyfriend, and spent the night in a really cool pub called the Tap 'n' Tin. Drank quite a bit, played some pool, and generally had a good time! :-) After last orders in the main part of the pub, we headed up to the top floor, which stayed open later. We had a couple of drinks there before deciding to call it a night and head home. It was quite a long way, but we decided to walk, and although we were quite drunk, we did manage to find our way back OK. :-)

Fri May 11 2001
Got up slightly earlier than usual today so that I could pack up clothes and things for the weekend. Going to be spending the weekend with Nicola again! :-)
Headed down to Rochester straight from work at 5:30. Quite slow moving traffic on the M25, but I guess it was rush hour sort of time. Took about 40 minutes longer than usual, but I had also stopped to fill up with petrol on the way.
We decided to stay in to eat, and Nicola cooked us a nice pasta dish. I had brought my DOA Cyanide hot sauce with me, so we mixed some of that in too! :-)

Thu May 10 2001
Here's an interesting fact I learnt today... When referring to only one species of fish, the plural is "fish", but when referring to individuals that include more than one species, the correct plural is "fishes". Just thought you might like to know that! :-)
Nicola introduced me to Psychobabble this evening. If you love word games, you'll love this. Go and take a look!
Had a mail from Miss X today, checking to see if I was getting on OK with the challenge. I really do want to start it! It's just finding the time is quite tricky right now, and it's quite an open-ended challenge, so it could take some time to finish anyway. Hope she doesn't mind waiting too much!

Wed May 09 2001
Got a mail from Rich today inviting me (and a guest) to a barbecue at his house on the 26th. Sounds like it should be fun, and even better... Nicola thinks she can make it too! Cool! :-)
Spent quite a lot of time in the evening updating the website. I've added my imood indicator to the diary, so if you scroll to the top of the page and look at the top right hand corner, you can see what type of mood I'm currently in.
Hmmm... I still haven't had a chance to start Miss X's latest challenge yet. Sorry Miss X! I've been so busy recently I just haven't had the time. I will get round to it eventually... I promise!

Tue May 08 2001
I took today off work to extend the bank holiday weekend a bit. Got up fairly early and gave Nicola a lift into school. Then headed back to Coventry. Although the weather did get worse later on in the day, it was still really nice in the morning. Clear sky, and it was very warm, so I had a nice drive back with all the windows and the sunroof open. :-)
In the evening I had my first taste of DOA Cyanide hot sauce. I'd ordered some from HotHotHot! in America, but wasn't sure how long it would take to arrive. I'd had it sent to my parents' house in case I'd moved out of Coventry by then. It arrived last week and so I picked it up at the weekend. It's very strong stuff! Just the tiniest smear on your finger is enough to set your tongue on fire! :-) And it has a deceptively weak smell too, which gives you no idea about how hot it really is. It's evil! ;-) I put just one drop into the pasta dish I was cooking tonight, and it certainly gave it a kick. Made my eyes water! :-) I wonder if James will like it. ;-)

Mon May 07 2001
A bank holiday Monday today. We didn't get to bed till quite late again last night, and I was very tired this morning. Didn't get up until about 11:00.
After moving all the boxes I'd packed up on Friday out of my car and upstairs into my room, and having another chat with Gran, we headed off down to Rochester. The traffic was pretty good, so we made good time.
We stopped off at Nicola's place for a bit first, and then drove on to Riverside Country Park. We had a nice long walk alongside the Medway Estuary, and then headed back to the park cafe for some food. It was very sunny, and although there was a strong wind, which made it feel a little chilly, in the sheltered bits it was quite hot, and we found a nice spot on the grass to lie down on for a while.
When we got back to Nicola's house, we had another few games of cards, and I finally beat her at that game! Woohoo! :-)
In the evening we went out for food at The Hollywood bowl in Gillingham. We both had the HUGE burger they serve there called the Empire state burger. Here's the description from the menu...

         You have been warned!
13 floors of gut-bustin' fabulous food!
  3 Quarter Pounders, Bacon, Cheese,
  BBQ Sauce, Tomato, Onion, Lettuce,
 Mayo, Dill Pickle, the Kitchen Sink.
(Ok, so we were lying about the sink!)
...and you get a free "I've toppled the Empire State Burger" T-shirt! :-) It was quite a struggle but I managed to eat mine and Nicola managed hers too. Needless to say, we didn't have any dessert afterwards! ;-)
Gran asked us a question yesterday, just before we left, about whether or not we were together. I think she'll be pleased to hear that as of tonight we officially are! :-)

Sun May 06 2001
I got up at about 9:30 this morning. That's quite impressive for me on a Sunday! :-) Offered to make Nicola breakfast in bed, but she was still quite tired and said she wanted another hour of sleep. We had gone to bed quite late. About 3:00 in the morning!
Mum did a nice roast for lunch, and then in the afternoon I took Nicola on a tour of the village. The weather was really nice, so it was a pleasant walk, and we spent quite a while playing around on the swings in the park. :-)
Late afternoon, we headed back to Sixfields to go bowling. The wait for a free lane was about an hour, so we had a drink at the bar and played some pool first. The bowling itself was really fun, even though I'm not too good at it. We had two games, and won one each, which was cool. :-) After we'd finished, we felt a little peckish, so ordered a couple of burgers from the Wimpy inside the bowling place.
We decided to wander over to the cinema to see if anything was on. We bought tickets for The Mexican, but the showing wasn't for another hour. The bar upstairs was packed out, so we headed back outside. We were thinking about going for a nice walk, but it was getting quite chilly by this time in the evening so we went for a drive around instead, before heading back to the cinema for the film.

Sat May 05 2001
Nicola rang this morning to say that her train wasn't going to be stopping at Northampton station because of engineering works and that they were laying on a bus service from either Milton Keynes or Rugby. I decided that it would be simpler if I went and picked her up instead, and that it would be quicker to do it from Milton Keynes.
So at about 11:45 I set off in the car to pick her up. Arrived in Milton Keynes at about 12:15... about 5 minutes after her train was supposed to arrive, but it had been delayed a bit, so we both got to the station at roughly the same time.
We headed over to Wicksteed Park, near Kettering, for the afternoon, and had lots of fun going on all the rides. The weather stayed dry, and for the most part sunny, but it still felt quite chilly at times due to the strong wind. During one of the slightly warmer periods, we took one of the boats out, and had a nice relaxing row around the lake.
In the evening, we headed back to my parents' and Nicola met Mum and Dad. We spent a while looking through my Dad's old photo collection on the computer. Nicola wanted to see lots of photos of me when I was younger. :-) She was particularly amused when we found one of me sitting on a cannon when I was very young! ;-) After that, I took her on a tour of the garden, and then we popped in next door to see Gran.
Later on in the evening, we drove to Sixfields to find somewhere to eat. We hadn't booked, and it was quite busy. We tried T.G.I. Friday's first, but they had a waiting time of over an hour. We tried Frankie and Benny's instead, and they had a much more reasonable waiting time of just 10 minutes. We decided we'd eat there and had a drink at the bar while we waited for our table. The food was really good. We shared a four-cheese bake as a starter, and then shared a large 15" bacon and mushroom pizza. Mmmmmm... bacon! :-)
After the meal, we headed back home and watched The sixth sense on DVD.

Fri May 04 2001
Well, the weekend is almost here. And it's going to be a fantastic one! Nicola's coming up to visit! Yay! :-)
I'm back at my parents' house in Northampton now. I'm slowly moving my stuff here little by little, as I've got to move out of my house in Coventry at the end of the month. I'm bringing a bit back each time I visit.
Packed up about four boxes worth tonight after work. Then had some food and did some washing before setting off for Northampton at about 8:30.
Nicola has been busy doing an assignment to get it out of the way before the weekend, so we only got to chat for a short while tonight. I don't mind though because she'll be here tomorrow, and she's staying for the whole weekend, so we'll have loads of time to chat then! :-)

Thu May 03 2001
Decided to register with imood today so people can find out what sort of mood I'm currently in. As I write this, I'm in a Silly, Bouncy happy mood, and you can probably guess who's making me feel like this! :-)
Thought we might go to Wicksteed Park at the weekend. I emailed them to check that they were open on Saturday, and I got a mail back earlier to say that they are, which is cool. Should be a fun day out! :-)
Got sent my latest challenge from the mysterious Miss X. I've got to design her a background for a web page on the topic of tranquillity. I've no idea what I'm going to do for it yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something! :-)

Wed May 02 2001
It was Ben's last day at work today, so we all went to the pub for food and drinks at lunchtime. Met Rich and Scott there too.
I had a new challenge from Miss X waiting for me when I got home and checked my email. An interesting logic puzzle involving potion bottles and trying to work out which one was the right one to drink. It was quite tricky and it took me about 40 minutes to work out the correct solution and double-check it.
Miss X was quite quick to respond, and I got two clues this time... The next letter is another "t", and she also told me that she's younger than I am.
Nicola wasn't working tonight, so I spent most of the evening having a nice chat to her on the phone. She's coming up to Northampton this weekend, and she's checked the train times, and reckons she should arrive by 12:30 on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to it! :-)

Tue May 01 2001
Finally got round to sorting out the photos from the weekend tonight. Finished stitching the maze panorama and then uploaded everything to the website.
I now have my second clue from Miss X. My next letter is "t". I'm guessing these letters aren't in order since there aren't any words that start "ht"!

Mon Apr 30 2001
A quick diary entry for Miss X...
"Mahaba ni tongo" is a Swahili phrase from Tanzania meaning "Love is blind"

Sun Apr 29 2001
Can't recall what time we eventually got to sleep last night, but it must have been quite late because I didn't wake up until about 12:00! Got up and Nicola made me a cup of tea and some toast for breakfast.
Later, we decided to go out for a Sunday afternoon stroll. It was quite a nice day and we headed up to the top of Broom hill.
After the walk we played cards some more, but I still didn't manage to beat her at that game! Grrrr, maybe next time I see her! :-)
Nicola had work in the evening, so she had to leave just before 5:00. We said goodbye and then I drove back to Coventry.

Sat Apr 28 2001
Spent another brilliant day with Nicola today. Left Coventry at around 8:40, and arrived down in Strood at about 11:00. The traffic on the way down was slightly heavier than usual, but I still made pretty good time.
We spent the afternoon looking around Leeds castle and the grounds, but unfortunately we didn't find any cannons to sit on! ;-) Mmmm, the bruise I got from last week's little adventure is still there, though I think it's starting to fade a little now.
We tried our luck in the maze and did manage to get to the centre in the end, but only after having to change strategy when our plan of simply following the left hand wall failed! At the centre I took a panorama shot of the whole maze, which came out pretty well considering I had to move quite a few times during the pan, and that the weather changed from sunny to overcast half way through!
From the centre of the maze you descended down into an underground grotto, which took you all the way under the maze, and back up to the surface on the outside.
We had some food in the nearby coffee shop before looking around the grounds some more and finding a nice spot in front of the castle to lie down on the grass for a while.
On the way back to the car, we popped into the gift shop and bought a thimble souvenir for Nicola's mum's collection.
Back at Nicola's house, we played cards for a bit. She taught me a new game, which it seems I'm either not very good at, or she's very good at. She beat me every single time! :-)
Also took a few photos of Izzy looking very cute.
In the evening we went to see the very funny Bridget Jones's diary. After the film we tried to get a table in each of the three restaurants near the cinema, but they were all packed out, so we headed back to Nicola's place and she cooked us some pasta.
I had planned to drive back to Coventry at the end of the day, but Nicola wanted me to stay, and she can be very persuasive. It's quite difficult to drive a car wearing handcuffs! :-)

Fri Apr 27 2001
All the fear has left me now
I'm not frightened anymore
It's my heart that pounds beneath my flesh
It's my mouth that pushes out this breath

from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
by Sarah McLachlan

Thu Apr 26 2001
I grieve in my condition
For I cannot find the words to say
I need you so

from I Love You
by Sarah McLachlan

Wed Apr 25 2001
Miss X sent me the first clue as to her identity today. Well, a clue to the clue. It looks like there'll be just the one clue, and for each challenge I complete, I get a letter from it. The first letter is "h".
Sent a large version of my eye close-up picture to Nicola for her to use as a backdrop. I hope to get a close-up of her eye at the weekend too so I can use it as my backdrop. :-)
Tonight she had the night off work so we were able to have a nice long chat. I can't wait to see her again on Saturday! :-)
Visited a few websites just before I want to bed. I'm even happier now, than when I got off the phone. :-)
I've just had a thought... I wonder if she's any good at hangman...

Tue Apr 24 2001
Heather Nova's Siren album has a cool image printed on the CD... A close-up of her eye. I saw it again today and suddenly had the idea of trying to get a close-up of my own eye. My Nikon Coolpix 950 can focus down to two centimetres, so I managed to get a really clear image. The other day Nicola commented that my eyes had quite a bit of green in them, and she's right... They're not as brown as I thought they were. I also took a slightly smaller version of the image with my webcam. Helen must really like it. She's already got a link to it in her diary! :-)
Hanny came back and signed my guestbook today. She left a really nice comment, so I went and signed hers too.

Mon Apr 23 2001
Well, the guestbook got fixed just before lunch today. I mailed Hanny to let her know it was back up, in case she felt like trying to sign it again.
Hmmm... I still haven't finished my distributed rendering app yet. The tulips render is complete now, so I don't have much motivation to finish it. Perhaps when I have something new to render I'll write some more lines of code for it.
Wrote about 100 lines for something different instead.
No clue yet from my secret admirer, Miss X. I wonder if my response to her challenge was acceptable. Perhaps she's just very busy right now...

Sun Apr 22 2001
Finally got round to designing a logo for the webcam page today. I then added a link to it from the main page and the menu bar.
There's been something slightly wrong with the web server tonight. It's been serving pages OK, but it doesn't seem to want to execute any cgi stuff. Therefore the guestbook is broken right now. :-( Someone wanted to sign it tonight too. She took the time to mail me and let me know it wasn't working. Hopefully it will get fixed tomorrow morning.

Sat Apr 21 2001
Had another fantastic day out with Nicola today. Set off at around 8:45, and arrived at her place just before 11:00. I'm still very surprised that I haven't had to face any bad traffic so far. The M25 has been relatively clear every time I've been to see her.
In the afternoon we headed to Lower Upnor. We had lunch in one of the pubs by the river, and then took a nice walk along by the water's edge. It was a really nice day... The sun was out and it was quite hot.
Next we headed to Upper Upnor and had a look round Upnor castle. We had fun sitting on cannons again, though at one point I did manage to slip off and ended up in an unusual position on the floor! Nicola found this most amusing! :-)
We then went back to her place for a bit, before walking up Broom hill and spending some time in the park at the top.
In the evening we drove down to Medway Valley Park. It was about 8:00 and we first went and checked the closing time of Chiquito to see if we had time to catch a movie first. We did, so we went to see The wedding planner. Unfortunately Nicola didn't have her pay slip with her to get a discount, so the tickets were full price.
After the film, we wandered back over to Chiquito and had some food. I still didn't feel too hungry, so didn't eat much. We shared a big bowl of Nachos and some BBQ chicken wings. Also had a nice non-alcoholic strawberry cocktail.
Drove back to Nicola's house and had another drink and a bit of a chat, before saying goodbye and heading back to Coventry at about 12:30. Izzy managed to escape 3 times while we were standing in the doorway. Had to keep chasing down the road after him to round him up. :-)
Arrived home just before 2:30.

Fri Apr 20 2001
The mail server is back up again today, so I've managed to download all of the emails I couldn't get last night. Lots of interesting messages, but the most interesting one has to be the mail from my mysterious secret admirer, giving me details of my first challenge. Apparently, I only get to find out who she is if I follow her instructions, and follow them to the letter. If I complete a challenge successfully I get a clue as to her identity and what she wants.
This sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun, even though I do have a strange sense of deja vu about the whole thing!
The first challenge is a fairly simple one, but I can't really say what it is or she might spank me. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing...
There were two parts to the challenge. The first I've completed already, and the second I should have done by the time I've finished writing this diary entry.
I guess I'll leave it as a challenge to you to work out what the two parts of my challenge were, but to help you out I'll give you a hint... it involves a certain word and a certain number of other words.
Hmmm, I wonder if smileys count as words? I wouldn't have thought so, but then again it looks like the word count feature of Microsoft Word thinks they are. I'd better leave them all out, just to be on the safe side!

Thu Apr 19 2001
I have a smile
Stretched from ear to ear
To see you walking down the road

We meet at the lights
I stare for a while
The world around us disappears

from I Love You
by Sarah McLachlan

Wed Apr 18 2001
Oh dear. It looks like the SnoZone is booked solid for the whole of the weekend when Nicola's coming to visit. I was looking forward to going snowboarding again too! :-( Oh well... I'm sure whatever we decide to do together instead will be fun. :-)
Decided that I should keep all of the webcam pictures I take, rather than just overwrite the old one with the new one every time. The page now has links to all of the previous images.

Tue Apr 17 2001
I've decided that I'm going have a webcam section on the website. I'll stick random pictures from my webcam on there whenever the mood takes me. Why? I'm not sure really. Might be fun! :-)
Got a couple more comments about the tulips today...

"A beautiful image, and well worth the wait."
        - Steve Lenehan

        - Andrea Ryan

Rang Nicola tonight at about 8:00 after seeing her latest diary entry. She was so worried that the stuff she'd told me yesterday would ruin things between us, but she has nothing to worry about. I explained to her how I felt about the situation, and she seems much happier now. Chatted to her for the rest of the night. Time flies when you're having fun, and it was about 2:00 in the morning by the time we got off the phone! :-) I love talking to her...
I bet BT love me talking to her too! ;-)

Mon Apr 16 2001
Got an interesting mail today from a secret admirer, and I have just one thing to say...
[MissX] Yeah
I'm up for a challenge! :-)
Had a very cool talk with Nicola tonight about some stuff. She told me some things, I told her some things, and I think we now understand each other a little better. I'm really happy... things are gonna be OK! :-)

Sun Apr 15 2001
Went to the Mini show at the National Agricultural Centre in Stoneleigh today with Dad, which was quite cool. Had to get out of the car on the way in and stomp around on some disinfectant mats because of the foot and mouth crisis. I can't believe those things are effective at all. I mean, if you were carrying it, wouldn't it still be around on the inside of the car, which you're just about to get back into?
Spent a quite a lot of time hunting round for a new gear stick knob for Lewis. Mum had also asked us to bring her back a present. I suggested some fluffy dice, but Dad didn't seem to go for the idea! ;-)

Sat Apr 14 2001
A quick cryptic diary entry today...
It's like I'm piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, but I don't yet have enough pieces to be sure what the big picture is. There's no box to refer to, so I'm having to take guesses as to what each piece means. Will the big picture scare me? Well, if it's gonna be what I think it's gonna be from the pieces I have so far, then definitely not. In fact it would be wonderful, but I need to wait for more pieces, to be sure the picture isn't something completely different...

Fri Apr 13 2001
Had a fantastic day down in London with Nicola today. And also got even more cool comments about the tulips render...

"That has to be one of the most photo realistic images I've ever seen!"
        - Anon

"Awesome pic."
        - David Fontaine

"Really nice."
        - Jari Juslin

So this morning... I set off at about 9:15. Took a taxi to the station, and then caught a train down to Euston. I had planned to get the 10:07 train, but because the taxi turned up a lot quicker than I'd expected, I managed to make the 9:37
Unfortunately there were loads of delays on the way down, so the train took about 45 minutes longer to get to Euston than expected! I guess it was a good job I'd made the earlier train, and was only 15 minutes late. I searched around for Nicola for a few minutes, but couldn't find her. Then I saw her walking over from the underground entrance. It turned out that her train had been delayed too. We were both late, and both arrived at the same time! Spooky! :-)
She gave me a cool little teddy bear in a pink and blue costume. She's got a matching one too. I wondered if hers would have the pink and blue colours swapped over, but they're identical.
We took the tube to Hyde Park and wandered over to the lake, where we had a go on the pedal boats. Then we had an ice-cream, and walked over towards Marble arch. It was quite a nice day, so we lay on the grass for a while, chatting and playing with the little fluffy chick I bought her, which I think she's now named Archie.
We were meeting Gavan and Lucy for lunch, and when they arrived we left the park and hunted around for somewhere to eat. We'd decided that we wanted pizza, but couldn't find a pizza place anywhere. We eventually came across a small Italian pasta restaurant, and had a nice meal there.
After we'd eaten, Gavan and Lucy headed off home, and Nicola and I took the tube to Leicester square. We went for a drink in one of the nearby pubs that Nicola knew, then wandered over to the cinemas near the square itself to see what was on. We were going to go and see Bridget Jones' diary, but took one look at the queue for the cinema and decided against it. We wandered back to the tube, stopping on the way to watch one of the street performers, and headed over to Westminster.
We wanted to go on the Millennium eye, but again, the queues were massive, and the wait would have been too long. It was a shame as it would have been quite cool to get a panorama shot from the top. Maybe we'll get to do it another day. Took a few shots of the Houses of parliament and Big Ben, and then headed back across the bridge. We passed a guy on the bridge making names out of wire, and got two made... one for me, one for Nicola.
We walked around Westminster some more. Past the Abbey, and on through St James Park towards Buckingham Palace. We stopped at the fountain outside the palace for a while, before heading towards Trafalgar square where we caught a tube back to Euston. We had a few drinks in the pub in the station, and then it was time for me to catch my train back to Coventry, so we headed down to the platform and Nicola saw me off.
The journey back was delayed almost as much as on the way down, but at least this time they were giving out complimentary crisps and drinks to make up for it! Got in to Coventry at about 10:50 and took a taxi back home.
Had a couple of emails from Nicola waiting for me when I got in, thanking me for a great day out, and checking to see if I'd got back OK. Had a quick chat with her on the phone, before uploading the photos.
Thanks Nicola for a brillant day out! :-)

Thu Apr 12 2001
I'm really happy. I had loads more great comments about the tulips render today...

"Most realistic 100% procedural image I've ever seen by far."
        - Francois Labreque

"Already serves as my desktop wallpaper."
        - Jim Kress

"Absolutely great!!"
        - Robert Günther

"Looks good."
        - Dan Ritchie

"Absolutely SUPERB."
        - Jon Hoskins

"Very nicely done. Its awesome!"
        - Teri Hoskins

"That's freekin amazing looking."
        - Jay Bone

"Fantastic image."
        - Scott Bragg

        - Don Allen

Mmmm, Operation Flashpoint player texture bitmaps. Can you spot me? :-)
Also, this was doing the rounds at work today. It's well worth checking out. Moooooooo!!! :-)
Rang my parents tonight to let them know what my plans are for the weekend, and to check it's OK for Nicola to come and visit in May. Mum said she'd try and clear out some of the boxes in Naomi's room, and so Nicola should be able to sleep there.
Well, I'm off to London tomorrow to see Nicola. Chatted with her on the phone for a while and sorted out what we're going to do. I've got to catch the 10:07 train down to Euston, so I think a fairly early night is in order...

Wed Apr 11 2001
Finally managed to record a couple of episodes of Danger mouse for Nicola today. I didn't realise that there are actually three episodes on per day, back to back, so I should build up quite a collection in no time! :-)
Well, my monitor's OK again, for now at least. I tried bending some of the pins on the connector slightly, and it seems to have done the trick.
The tulips render is now finally finished! :-) Uploaded it to the website and also posted it to both the povray.binaries.images newsgroup and the Graphics Extreme mailing list. I've had some great feedback already. Everyone seems to love it! :-) Here are the comments people have made so far...

"Stunningly photo realistic!"
        - Peter Popov

"Wow! Very good image."
        - Rick Pemberton

"That! is! impressive! <sound of jaw hitting the floor>"
        - Børge Berg-Olsen

        - Jim Kress

"Wow! This is a really neat image!"
        - Duncan Gold

"Absolutely gorgeous."
        - Angela Logan

Had a chat on the phone with Nicola. Managed to get so engrossed in the conversation that I forgot my dinner was in the oven. I only realised when she reminded me. Luckily it was still edible... Just! :-)
Yay! I'm going down to see her in London on Friday! Really looking forward to it!

Tue Apr 10 2001
Well, I slept through my first alarm. Just about managed to get woken up by the second alarm 10 minutes later. Had to try very hard not to crawl back into bed and fall asleep. Made it to work on time though. It's a good job the kids are off school and the traffic's relatively light this week.
The tulips render finshed today at 16:00. 7 weeks, 5 days, and 7 hours after I set it going way back in February. All I need to do now is wait for the new improved bush to finish rendering (which will probably take till tomorrow evening), paste it in to the image, and then I can upload it to the website and the POV-Ray news server for the whole world to see! :-)
My web stats are back online again... at least partially. They've been broken ever since the web server was moved across to a new machine. That was about a month ago now, so I have a whole month of stats missing. It's good to be able to see the referer logs again... See what interesting sites are linked to mine, and what wierd and wonderful search keywords people have used to find my site! :-)
Arrggghhh!!! I spoke to soon about the monitor being fixed. It's back to being blue again. Trying the same thing as yesterday didn't seem to help either. :-(
Got to bed at a reasonable time tonight. Did have a chat with Nicola, but only till about 1:30 in the morning this time. :-) Just before going to bed, I popped out to the post box with another little package destined for ME2. Cheep, cheep! ;-)

Mon Apr 09 2001
My monitor seems to be working again properly now, but I don't know why. Today I tried connecting up my old 14-inch monitor to the computer to check that it wasn't the graphics card at fault. It seemed to work fine, so I reconnected the other monitor again, and guess what? The blue tinge has gone! It's weird, because I'd already checked for a loose connection, and no amount of cable wiggling made any difference before. Oh well, at least I don't have to fork out for a new monitor just yet.
Yay! Nicola said she can come up to visit on May 5th! She doesn't have to work the next day either, so we can do stuff on both days. I'm really looking forward to it. It's gonna be great fun! :-)
Andrew Harmsworth mailed me today. He's the editor of the Computers : Systems : RISC OS section of dmoz and he was wondering if I minded adding some anchors to my software page so he could link to each application separately. I was just a quick job, so I was happy to do it.
Spent a record four and a half hours on the phone with Nicola tonight. I didn't get to bed until 3:15 in the morning. Mmmmm, and I've got to be up at 8:00 tomorrow morning for work. Eeeep! :-)

Sun Apr 08 2001
On the way back to Coventry this morning I popped in to PC World to buy a copy of Black & White. It's a very cool game, and I've been playing it most of the afternoon.
In the evening I did a bit of coding on the bush in the tulips render. It needed sorting out because it was too regular and you could notice that it was just a fan of branches. I've randomised it a bit and set it off rendering just that portion of the image.

Sat Apr 07 2001
Drove into Coventry this afternoon to get a few things sorted out... Did a bit of shopping first, and then headed over to the post office to get a parcel weighed and sent off. It's a surprise for someone, so I can't really reveal the contents here yet. :-)
Went and got the car filled up with petrol, before setting off towards John's house.
We had some food in one of his local pubs, and then did a bit of a mini pub-crawl for the rest of the night. We even found a new pub we'd never been in before. I forget the name (we'd had a few by this stage), ;-) but it was quite nice, and even had a pool table, despite being relatively small.

Fri Apr 06 2001
I've had a really good day today, and I'm extremely happy. Everything's going great. Had a chat with Nicola in the early hours this morning, and things seem to be looking up for her. She's much happier now, and that makes me happy too.
Today was Warren's last day at work, so at 12:30 we headed off down the pub for an extended lunch break. Later on we presented him with a few presents and a Micro Maniacs poster, which we had all signed. It was one of our team's in-jokes that Warren's rumble code was forever going wrong and leaving the controllers continuously rumbling, so we'd also printed some of his rumble code on the poster as a little reminder ;-). He seemed to like it. :-)
The tulips render is almost finished! It could be finished by Tuesday! Yay! Two months render time... Nice! ;-)
When I got home from work I made a virtual tour of the house for Nicola. Basically, I set my digital camera on continuous shooting mode and wandered round the house. I then took all the photos and converted them into an mpeg movie, playing back at about 5 frames per second. It came out pretty well.
Don Allen signed my guestbook again today. It reminded me that I was going to send him some slightly larger thumbnails for his web page. The ones he had been using were simply the thumbnails from my page scaled up, and they didn't look too hot.

Thu Apr 05 2001
And it's hard watching
'Cause I'm part of you
And it's hard not to...
Not to know what I can do

I'm powerless to change your world
I'm powerless to stop the hurt
I'm trying hard to be your tower of strength
I'm trying hard to bring you back to joy

from Heart and Shoulder
by Heather Nova

Wed Apr 04 2001
I sent Nicola my work email address and phone number today so she can contact me more easily during work hours if she needs to. She rang just before I left for this morning to let me know how she was coping.
Work today was mainly meetings. We were discussing how the physics and collision systems were going work in quite some depth. Didn't get back to doing any programming till the middle of the afternoon.
Nicola sent me an email during the day explaining more about the situation, and another one at home in the evening. After she got back from work we had a long chat about it on the phone.

Tue Apr 03 2001
I read Nicola's diary just before lunch. In her latest entry, there was a message for me asking if I could ring her as soon as possible. Something was wrong, and it sounded quite serious. I couldn't ring her from work, so I checked with Andy to see if I could leave slightly early for lunch. Andy was really cool about it. I partially explained the situation, and he said I could have the afternoon off if I needed to. I headed home and gave Nicola a call.
She was really upset, and we talked for a while about what Gavan had said to her. I wondered if I should go and see her and suggested it, but she said she'd be OK. At about 1:30 I headed back to work, but it didn't take too long for me to decide that I just had to go and see her, and check she was OK in person.
I drove to her house first. I didn't think she'd be in as it was a bit early for her to be back, but I thought I'd check anyway. No one was home, so I was about to drive to the station and wait for her there, when I caught sight of her in the rear view mirror. She recognised the car, and hurried over. I got out and I gave her a huge hug. I had been worried on the way down that she might not want company and that I'd be driving down for nothing, but she seemed so pleased to see me, I'm glad I did.
We went inside and talked for a while, and then just sat quietly holding each other. I really hope she's going to be OK. It's so painful seeing her suffer like this...

Mon Apr 02 2001
Back to work today, and we're now in the new office. The team moved over last Thursday while I was on holiday. I'm quite pleased with where I've ended up in the room... I'm one of the few members of the team with a window seat! :-) The layout of the rest of the room is pretty good too. I spent most of the morning setting up my stuff, though it took a while to find some of it... One of my boxes had gone walkabout in the move and had ended up hidden behind one of the partitions.
After getting home from work in the evening I found a nice card from Nicola waiting for me. In it she thanked me for my help and support and for being such a good friend. It was quite moving. Thank you Nicola. :-)
Tonight's episode of Voyager was quite silly, but amusing nevertheless... To avoid capture by some alien race who don't like holograms, The Doctor gets transferred into Seven of Nine's cerebral implants, and effectively takes over her body.
Rang Nicola to have a chat and thank her for the great card.

Sun Apr 01 2001
Went to see Nicola again today. Left Coventry just after 11:00. The traffic wasn't as bad this time, so I made it to Rochester just before 1:30. I bought her a little fluffy blue toy with eyes that makes cute chirping noises when you squeeze it. :-) Thought it might cheer her up a bit.
I took my digital camera with me to get some photos, but when I came to show it to Nicola, I discovered that I'd forgotten my CompactFlash card. Arrrgggghhh!!! I would have been so disappointed, but then I remembered that I had one in my Psion 5 with some space on it. Problem solved! :-)
We went on a walk to Rochester and Nicola showed me the sights. We looked around the castle grounds before taking a look around the castle itself. We got a few photos of us in the castle, and the cathedral, and then walked up to the top and took a couple of panorama shots. After heading back down into the castle grounds we found an old cannon, and took a couple of photos of each other sitting on it. :-)
We headed to a nearby pub for a meal and some drinks, and after the meal I finally got my photo of Nicola wearing a red nose. ;-)
Back at Nicola's house I took some photos of her cats. We tried to get a few more of us, but the batteries in the camera ran out, and my spare set hadn't been charged. We wanted to see if, standing back to back, her high-healed sandals got her anywhere near as tall as me. I don't think they did. :-)

Sat Mar 31 2001
Nicola rang at about 10:45 this morning. I was in the shower at the time. When I got downstairs I found she'd left a message on the answer phone telling me to get out of bed! :-) I'd tried to call her last night because she'd been working late, had had a stressful time, and was feeling down, but when I rang, she was already on the phone talking to Gavan.
After getting up, I returned her call and we had a bit of a chat. She invited me down to visit again. Said she'd give me a tour of Rochester and show me the castle. Sounds like fun!
They're showing the special edition versions of the Star wars films on Sky movies this month. Today we watched Return of the Jedi, and ordered in a pizza from Domino's in time for the start of the film. Mmmmmm pizza. :-)
Just before 10:00 I got a phone call from Nicola. She sounded quite upset about something, but I couldn't seem to get her to explain what was wrong. She said she'd sent me some emails (which I hadn't read because I was watching the film) and I said I'd better go and read them and then call her back.
I went and read the emails and her latest diary entry, and got really worried. She sounded so stressed out about the assignments she had to do, how she couldn't get motivated to do any work at all, and that she felt so useless. I rang her back straight away and tried my best to help her. We talked for quite some time, and I hope by the end of our chat, she was feeling at least a little better about herself. Perhaps my visit tomorrow will give her the break she needs to get back on track.

Fri Mar 30 2001
Nicola really likes Danger mouse, so I had a quick hunt around on the satellite channels to see if any of them were showing it. I found a new cartoon channel called Boomerang, and it looks like they're showing it every day! :-) She doesn't have satellite TV so I shall have to record some episodes for her.
I went through all the BT friends and family numbers today. Quite a lot of them must have belonged to Joseph so I removed those, and added both of Nicola's numbers. Made her my 'best friend' :-)

Thu Mar 29 2001
I think my monitor is on the way out. It's got a distinct blue tinge, and every so often it turns completely blue. I've checked all the connections and everything seems to be plugged in firmly, and whacking it on the side doesn't seem to help either. :-(
Spent about three and a half hours on the phone with Nicola tonight. I think I'm going to have to add her to the BT friends and family list! :-)

Wed Mar 28 2001
Had a great day today. I went down to Rochester to meet Nicola. Set off at about 2:00, aiming to get there by 4:30, but got stuck in a couple of bad traffic jams on the A2, so ended up arriving about 50 minutes late. I found the house OK with the help of my trusty satellite navigation, but had to drive quite a way down the road to find somewhere to park. Nicola must have spotted me driving past, because by the time I'd got out of the car, she was waiting at the door to greet me.
I bought her a little present... Heather Nova's Siren album. It's one of my favourites at the moment, and I hope she likes it as much as I do.
I got to meet her three cats, Izzy, Pandy and Zebby. Pandy and Zebby are almost identical to each other and look so much like Domino, though they haven't got quite as much white on their faces and they're both quite a bit larger. And I thought Domino was big! :-)
We went to Frankie and Benny's for a meal. The food was really good (though I wasn't hungry enough to manage all of my main course), as was the company, and we had plenty of time to chat.
After the meal we headed over to the cinema to watch What women want. Nicola got us a 50% discount on the tickets because the cinema is in the same leisure park as where she works. The film was really good, though one scene in particular got me thinking about how different things might have been, and how lucky I am to have such a great friend.

Tue Mar 27 2001
I decided to take a few days off work this week. Mainly because I have 5 days holiday carried over from last year which need using up before April. Hopefully I'll now have to time to finish off my distributed rendering app, and all the other half finished projects I have.
The karting photos from the 4-lens camera are now online. Quite a lot of them were either under or over exposed, but that's not surprising really. I took the better ones and turned them into little 4-frame animations. They work pretty well I think.
The tulips render is still speeding up, which is really good news. Matthew mailed me a progress report from work today. The ETA is now 10th April. That's only two weeks to go! Yay!
I've been listening to Siren by Heather Nova quite a lot just recently. It's a superb album. So many great tracks, and the lyrics of a few of them seem so relevant right now...
I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. It's Nicola's day off work and I'm driving down to Rochester to see her. I wonder if the package I mailed to her yesterday will have arrived by then. :o)

Mon Mar 26 2001
Lately I've been slipping down
Thinking I'm the only one
Drifting in and out of blue

But destiny's a state of mind
And today I'm doing fine
Rolling through the afternoon with you

And it's a widescreen world around me
And I'm lying on the backseat of my mind
And it's a widescreen, you beside me
We're just riding on the backseat feeling fine

from Widescreen
by Heather Nova

Sun Mar 25 2001
Went out for a nice Mother's Day meal at the Red Lion pub in Kislingbury. Had vegetable soup for the starter, roast beef with all the trimmings for the main course, and fresh strawberries and cream for dessert. They were giving all the Mums a pot of flowers at the end of the meal too, which I thought was a nice touch.
Drove straight back to Coventry from Kislingbury. Spent quite a lot of the afternoon playing a game Nicola introduced me to... TetriNET. It's multiplayer Tetris, but you can play it over the Internet with up to 6 people per game. It's quite cool in the way that it works almost like IRC... To join a game, you join a channel, or you can create your own game by creating a new channel, and you can chat with the other players just as you would with IRC.
Rang Nicola shortly after midnight. I had planned to ring her earlier in the evening, but got sidetracked. And then it was getting quite late, so I was going to leave it till Monday, when I noticed that she'd updated her diary and said she wanted to be pestered. :-) I did feel a bit guilty, because I think she'd already fallen asleep when I rang, and I woke her up, but she sounded quite happy to hear my voice. It's quite soothing she says. :-)

Sat Mar 24 2001
Mother's Day tomorrow. I've bought Mum a nice basket of flowers and I have a matching card too. Well, they're not the same type of flower, but the colour matches :-)
Arrived in Milton at about 5:30. Gran had thought I was going to be home for lunch and had prepared a meal for me at lunchtime. I had it for dinner instead.
Dad's now back from Australia. He had taken his new digital SLR camera with him on the trip, so had lots of photos to show me.

Fri Mar 23 2001
When the night just cuts you through
And the dream is lost to you
When you're worried and confused

I will give you my heart give you my shoulder
I give you my heart
Give you my shoulder
Over and over

from Heart and Shoulder
by Heather Nova

Thu Mar 22 2001
You can now download the music from GL Excess in MP3 format. GL Excess is an amazing OpenGL demo I found a couple of weeks ago. It's one of the best demos I've seen in a long time. Technically impressive, and well put together too. If you haven't seen it already, it's well worth the download. The music is pretty cool too.
Simon let us know today that he's recently handed in his resignation. He was a great member of the team, and we'll all be sorry to see him go. :-( The drip, drip, drip of people leaving is now turning into more of a flow. :-/

Wed Mar 21 2001
Snow! Lots of snow! It was like a blizzard this morning when I left for work. I almost couldn't find my car it was covered so thickly. The roads were full of slush, even on the A45, so the traffic was moving very slowly. Got to work about 15 minutes late.
Scott showed me this really cool desktop enhancement program. It's called Drempels and was written by the same guy who did Geiss. It makes your desktop background animate with psychedelic, swirling patterns and textures. It's fantastic... I can just sit and watch it for hours on end. :-) Check it out!
Had a nice email from Nicola thanking me for Sunday night. Tried to phone her at about 10:30, but her landline was engaged for ages. Rang her on her mobile. She was online, sending me a couple more Earthlight pictures, as I'd loved the ones she sent the other day. They're really cool satellite photos of various places on Earth. My favourite so far is a fantastic shot of the river Nile.
Rang her again after she'd finished sending the mail, and chatted till about 1:30. I was really chuffed to hear that she's using my Sunset render as her backdrop, and she says she wants to use my tulips render when that's finished too. :-)
About three and a half weeks to go I reckon. It's sped up slightly these last couple of days. It's down to the second close-up tulip and doesn't have so much of the background to worry about.

Tue Mar 20 2001
The Buddies photos are now online. The web server problem seems to have been fixed. Bob mailed me to let me know that his photos and video footage would be on his website within the next couple of days or so.
The Flashpoint demo was released today. I brought it home from work on a Zip disk, and played it for a while, to see if I could find myself in the game. :-) I think I have, but I'm not 100% certain. It's very difficult to tell, because the faces look so different when mapped on to 3D models. I'll see if I can get anyone on the Flashpoint team to confirm whether or not it is me tomorrow.

Mon Mar 19 2001
Nicola rang at about 1:30 this morning, just after I'd gone to bed. James was still up and answered it, and let her know that I couldn't come to the phone. About half an hour later, the phone rang for a second time. It was Nicola again. I knew something must be wrong, so I got out of bed and rushed downstairs to talk to her. I won't go in to detail why, but she was very upset, and almost in tears. I tried to comfort her as best I could and persuaded her to try and get some sleep and see how things were in the morning.
Just before lunch I read a rather worrying entry in her journal. I rang her straight away to check she was OK, and to let her know that someone did still care about her. I was really worried, but when she answered the phone, she sounded much better, and had calmed down quite a bit. I couldn't stay on the phone for long, but I told her we'd have another talk later in the evening.
By 10:30, when we chatted again, she was much happier, and we had nice long conversation into the early hours of the morning.

Sun Mar 18 2001
Had a nice roast chicken dinner for lunch with Mum, then drove to Birmingham to do a bit of shopping. Bought a few DVDs... X-Men and Doctor Who - Remembrance of the Daleks.
I tried to upload the Buddies photos when I got back, but couldn't because the new web server machine appears to be completely full. Looks like they haven't enabled quotas yet, and someone's got a runaway perl script filling up the hard drive. Very annoying. :-(
Thought it might be a good time to take another backup of the website instead (up to 56 meg now).

Sat Mar 17 2001
Awoke to find it snowing fairly heavily this morning. Quite a bit had settled, but it didn't last too long as the snow turned to drizzle after lunch.
Paul and Vikki drove down in the afternoon and gave me a lift back to their house. Bob and Emma were already there, but Adam was still at work, so while we waited, we watched the first half of Me, myself and Irene on DVD.
When Adam arrived, we headed into town and had a meal at Buddies. Then we headed over to The Fish for some drinks, before returning back to Paul and Vikki's to watch the end of the film. The evening's activities were too much for Bob who fell asleep on the sofa. :-)
At around 12:30, Adam and I took a taxi back to Milton.

Fri Mar 16 2001
Back in Milton Malsor tonight, as I'm going out with Paul and co. tomorrow. Dad's in Sydney, Australia on business, so just Mum and Gran here right now.
Had some food, got my hair cut, and then headed up to the Greyhound pub to meet John for a few beers. Ian was supposed to be coming along too, but said he couldn't because he didn't have any money.

Thu Mar 15 2001
Phoned Nicola tonight and we had another nice long chat. It's Red Nose Day tomorrow, and I told her to make sure she gets her photo taken wearing one :o)
She's got a photo of me on one of her web pages that's actually hosted on my site, and I'd changed it to a picture of me wearing my red nose. I think it's only fair that I see her wearing one too ;-)

Wed Mar 14 2001
Well, it looks like we're going to be moving office at work soon. That'll be fun. :-/ At least it'll give me the chance to make another time-lapse movie like the one I made last time we rearranged the office. :-)
Signed Marcus' leaving poster today. Instead of a card, we're all going to sign one of the Micro Maniacs promo posters, and put it in a nice frame for him. Quite a neat idea really.
Also learned today that Warren's handed in his resignation and will be leaving in a month.
The website's been down all day. :-( The web server machine has been having major problems recently, and today it just died completely. They're going to replace it with a new machine, but I might loose any changes made to the site yesterday. That includes the guestbook, so if you've signed it recently and your comment mysteriously vanishes, could you please re-enter it? Thanks :-)

Tue Mar 13 2001
Finally got round to doing a bit more work on the distributed rendering app. Not much, but I tidied up the network initialisation code a bit, and sorted out a bug in the parameter parsing code.
Got my 4-photo camera photos back today. The karting ones came out pretty well. The ones taken in the pub didn't. :-/ Not surprising though really, seeing as it doesn't have a flash. I shall try and get them up on the website soon. I might also try turning some of them (or, if it doesn't get too tedious, all of them) into 4-frame animated gifs.

Mon Mar 12 2001
Been playing around with a new 3D package tonight... Amapi 3D. It's a commercial package, but they're giving away an older version of it for free right now. It's quite different to 3D Canvas and I'm still trying to get used to it, but it looks like it could be quite powerful.

Sun Mar 11 2001
Bought some more DVDs today... The abyss special edition, Independence day special edition, and the Scream trilogy.
Updated my APE statistics program to display the file sizes in gigabytes if they're 1000MB or over (to prevent the columns getting too wide).
Tried to convert Nicola's Works documents to Word for her, but discovered that I don't actually have the Works word processor installed. I bought Works in a bundle with Word, and I guess they thought there wasn't much point including it.

Sat Mar 10 2001
What do you get when you cross All your base are belong to us and Am I hot or not?...  You guessed it...  Am I all your base or not.
Treated myself to a nice big 80GB hard drive today. I needed some more space for my ever-increasing Monkey's Audio collection. Before installing it, I copied all of the data from my old, now full to the brim, tiny 8 gig drive, across the network to Misty (James' PC). It took a while (about 2 hours), so in the meantime I watched Snatch on DVD. Great Film!
Then I installed the new drive. I thought it was going to be straightforward and easy, but in the end it required two bios updates to cope with the large size. Seems to work OK now. I've started copying all the data back from Misty, but it's going to take another two hours and it's getting late, so I'll leave it going overnight.

Fri Mar 09 2001
I've almost got enough referrals to get my free fleece from 9feet. Only 2 more to go now. If you haven't done so already, and want to help me out, click here and register, making sure you enter as the referrer. Thanks. :-)
Oh, and perhaps you might also want to start playing CashWars too... Fight, steal, and drill your way to riches! :-)
No sign of the uboot photos yet. They did say allow 28 days for processing though, so I guess I can't really complain. It's only been a week.
Had another nice chat on the phone with Nicola tonight. Ended up talking for two hours or so. She's really easy to get on with.

Thu Mar 08 2001
Cool... My lunar eclipse gallery is now in dmoz (in the Science : Astronomy : Eclipses and Occultations section). That also means it'll be in the Google directory soon too.
Hmmm, the mail server at IS4B is down again. I want my mail damn it!
The tulip render has just got down to the top of the second in-focus tulip. It's started to do areas of the grass now, so it's even slower than before... :-/ About 15 lines per day. 807 lines left to go, and the current ETA is 21st April. I really must get round to finishing my distributed rendering application.

Wed Mar 07 2001
Budget day today. Looks like the tax on petrol has been cut by 2p per litre, but only until June.
Travelled down to Bicester (near Oxford) this evening with Ben and Tom to meet up with some old friends I used to work with... Scott, Rich, and Damian. Had some great food in Damian's local, and spent the rest of the evening there catching up with all their news and gossip. :-)
Got back at about 1:00am. Quickly tried to fetch my email, but one of the servers at IS4B is down so I couldn't. Very frustrating. I wonder if there's a mail from Nicola waiting for me. I won't know till tomorrow now :-(
Oh... James just told me that Nicola tried to ring me while I was out earlier. Damn... it's way too late to ring her back now...

Tue Mar 06 2001
Oh dear. They're making a live action version of Scooby-Doo, with Freddie Prinze Jr. as Fred, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne, Matthew Lillard as Shaggy, and Linda Cardellini as Velma. The question you have to ask is... why? :-)
My APE statistics program is basically working now. Uploaded the first set of stats to the website, and designed a nice Monkey's Audio logo to go with them. Nothing fancy really. Just the official monkey logo made slightly 3D, along with some coloured text.

Mon Mar 05 2001
Moved the tulip render to Toby's machine today. It's a nice 512MB 733MHz PIII and he's away until the 19th, so I should get two weeks of fast, uninterrupted rendering :-)
Only 849 lines to go now! ;-)
My own machine is now nice and fast again, and isn't swapping like crazy all the time, so I was able to play CashWars at lunchtime (it didn't like being run along side POV-Ray, so I haven't been able to play it for a few weeks).
Discovered an excellent OpenGL demo... GL eXcess
It's really well put together and highly polished. Check it out!

Sun Mar 04 2001
Woke up to find that I had huge bruises on the insides of my knees and my left elbow from the karting. Hadn't noticed them yesterday for some reason.
We all went to the Newlands for lunch. They've redone the place recently. It's now more of a food type pub than a traditional pub, and the food is really good.
Drove John back to the pub to pick up his car (He'd kindly driven us to the pub last night and left his car there), took Glen and Chris back to the station, and dropped Joseph back home.
Posted my 4-photo camera film off. Not sure how long it'll take to get it processed (if at all) as it's a place in Zurich. Well, I can't complain really, it's all free :-)
Uploaded the photos I had taken with the digital camera to the website, and a few of Glen's too, since I won't have any karting photos of my own until the 4-photo camera pictures get done.

Sat Mar 03 2001
Karting day today. James and I drove to the station at about 11:30 to pick up Roxanne, Andrew, Glen, Chris, and Ben. Ben and Chris were delayed, so James took Roxanne and Andrew home, while Glen and I waited for Ben and Chris to turn up. By the time we got back, everyone else had arrived, so we headed over to the Harvester for food, and then on to the karting place.
I found that the batteries in my digital camera had run out, even though I'd fully charged them a few days before, and had only taken a few photos in the Harvester. I guess they're on their way out. I had my free uboot 4-photo camera with me though, so all was not lost.
After we'd got kitted out, we were taken over to the circuit for the briefing, and then had a few practice laps to get used to the karts. We were doing a Grand Prix style event. We all did five races of five laps each, starting from a different grid position every time. The points from this first round decided the grid order for the two semi-finals, and the first four from each of the semi-finals went through to the final, which was a ten lap race.
I came 1st place in my first three races (starting from 3rd, 2nd and 1st on the grid), 3rd place in my fourth race (starting 5th on the grid), and 2nd place in my fifth race (from 4th on the grid). This put me at the top of the leader board, and first on the grid for my semi-final...

03-03-2001   LEADERBOARD AFTER 11 HEATS   16:38:18

   POS  NUMBER  NAME                  POINTS

     1     5    JONATHAN   HUNT          34
     2     6    JOSEPH     HEENAN        28
     3    11    JOHN       WRIGHT        28
     4     3    JON        RIBBENS       24
     5     2    GLEN       MONKS         22
     6     8    ROXANNE    RADOSTA       21
     7    10    ANDREW     WHITE         20
     8     7    CHRIS      LLOYD         20
     9     1    JAMES      PONDER        17
    10     4    BEN        DOOKS          9
    11     9    GLEN       WATTS          8
I won my semi-final and so was first on the grid for the final, and came 1st in the final!!! Woohoo!!! :-)
03-03-2001          FINAL RESULT          17:11:04


 1    5  JONATHAN HUNT     0:27.79   2          8
 2    6  JOSEPH   HEENAN   0:27.50   2  01.36   6
 3    3  JON      RIBBENS  0:27.92   5  02.78   4
 4   10  ANDREW   WHITE    0:27.10   9  04.71   2
 5    7  CHRIS    LLOYD    0:29.61  10  25.25   1
 6    8  ROXANNE  RADOSTA  0:30.53   9  28.39   0
 7    1  JAMES    PONDER   0:28.94   4  30.69   0
 8    2  GLEN     MONKS    0:29.05   3  - LAP   0
I won a nice trophy, a bottle of champagne, and two tickets to go and watch speedway racing at the Coventry International Motor Speedway circuit.
In the evening we went to the Varsity for some food, and drank there till closing time. :-) The highlight of the evening was Glen's amazing tower building using empty Sidekick containers.

Fri Mar 02 2001
Started work on my APE statistics program. Got the basic structure and directory recursion bits sorted out.
Had a really nice surprise today. I got a phone call from Nicola. Chatted for ages about life and stuff. It was great to hear from her.

Thu Mar 01 2001
Grrrr... Gritter lorry... Grrrr... Throwing grit all over my car... Grrr!!!   Can't tell if there are any chips though because it's too dark to check properly. I'll have to have a good look in the morning.
Compressed another CD... Talk on corners by The Corrs. Haven't got any statistics for it yet because I have to work them out manually at present, and I can't be bothered tonight. :-) I'm going to write a little program to automate the process. It'll recurse through directories full of Monkey's Audio files and produce a nice html statistics page.

Wed Feb 28 2001
I compressed my first complete CD in Monkey's Audio format today.... Heather Nova's Oyster. I'm quite impressed. An average bitrate of 814 kbps. That's a compression ratio of 59.12%  I intend to put some track listings and statistics on the site at some stage, so people can see how Monkey's Audio fairs on different songs.
Paul let me know that Bob might be coming down on March 17th. Asked if I would be interested in joining them for a night out. Sounds like fun. It'll be just like old times. :-)
Hmmm... I still have loads of messages in my inbox I need to reply too, but I'm really tired and need to get some sleep, so they'll have to wait until tomorrow evening now. Sorry folks!

Tue Feb 27 2001
I had a splitting headache at work this morning. Couldn't focus on my work at all. Took a break outside hoping it might go away, but couldn't shake it. Had some paracetamol which helped a bit, but it wasn't until late afternoon that I felt 100%
The Babel fish script is back. Take a look! Or should I say... To the seen game birds one! ;-)
Had a NetMeeting with Dad tonight. My parents have relatives staying over for a couple of days, and they wanted to see me and see where I lived :-)

Mon Feb 26 2001
I decided to completely rewrite the distributed rendering app this evening. I was doing it with message passing using files on a shared filing system because I'd never done any network code before, and the message passing by file seemed loads easier. :-) Today though, I found a cool introduction to sockets programming, and I realised that it was simpler than I'd thought.
I'm still having portability issues between Windows and Unix compiling. I've already had to use a few #ifdefs (which I didn't really want to do) and I'm sure I'm going to have to use quite a few more. :-(
Nicola's really upset again tonight. Thought about ringing her, but she said she was on her way to bed, and I didn't want to disturb her, so I decided against it. I'll mail her tomorrow.

Sun Feb 25 2001
It was quite sunny today. Most of yesterday's snow had melted away, so no pretty photos. :-(
Hmm, I'm getting annoyed with Windows/Unix C compatibility issues. I'm trying to keep my distributed rendering application compiling on both Windows and Unix, and it's proving very difficult. I spent most of the afternoon trying to find a way of getting a list of files in a directory that worked with both compilers. I failed. I guess I'm going to have to think of a different way to do it.

Sat Feb 24 2001
Made a backup of the website today. It's getting to be quite large now. Almost 50 meg! I checked the bandwidth usage too. Averaging about 30 meg per day. :-)
It's been snowing! It's stopped now, but it was falling quite heavily earlier in the evening. Enough to start settling. I wonder if there'll be more overnight. If it looks picturesque enough tomorrow, I might go out and take some photos.
Did some more on the distributed rendering app. Not very much though, because I got distracted and watched the first few episodes of Doctor Who - Spearhead from Space on DVD.

Fri Feb 23 2001
Had the photos of my head taken for Flashpoint today. Didn't take too long at all. All they needed was a front view and a profile shot. Didn't get to see how they turned out though. I guess I'll just have to wait and see if I make it into the game! :-)
I asked on the Graphics Extreme mailing list if anyone knew how to weld vertices together in 3D Canvas. Someone replied saying that perhaps I should ask in the 3D Canvas discussion forum. I hadn't spotted it before, so I had a quick search around for possible solutions. One message seemed to imply that all you had to do was position the two vertices you want to weld on top of each other. I've just tried it though and couldn't get it to work. :-(
Designed the program flow and file formats for my distributed processing application. I intend to get most of the programming finished by the end of the weekend.

Thu Feb 22 2001
Started my distributed processing application today. Doesn't do much yet except generate a 64 bit random application ID and decide if it's a slave or a master depending on the command line parameters. The random ID generation was tricky. I'm trying to make it as portable as possible, so I didn't want to use anything except standard ANSI C functions. What I ended up doing was writing quite a complex function to generate the random ID from a combination of current time and guestimated machine speed. It seems to work quite well, though one unusual thing I found is that clock and time reading functions seem to be so much slower on the 2 other Windows machines I've tried my program on (Windows 98 and Windows ME) than my own machine (Windows 2000). I'm not really sure if it's actually the difference in OS though, because it wasn't slow on my Windows 98 box at work. Oh well... It doesn't really matter that much. It would just be nice to know why! :-)
I might be a character in a game! Well, my head might anyway. :-) Yeah, a guy from one of the other teams came up to me today and asked me if I minded being photographed for the game he's working on. Apparently, they need textures for the heads of people with short hair. :-) They're going to take the pictures tomorrow. Should be a quite a laugh!

Wed Feb 21 2001
A month is just too long. Yep, I've decided that I just can't wait that long for my render to finish. After failing to get pvmpov to work in Windows, I had yet another good long search on the Internet for an alternative distributed rendering solution. And I found one... well... almost. A Google search unearthed what looked like the ideal software. It was called cmaster, and from what I could see, looked like a distributed POV-Ray rendering system for DOS. I say was because it looks like the page doesn't exist any more. :-( The only traces of it are the few bits that Google has managed to cache. But it got me thinking about writing my own system, and I don't think it would be that hard. I know nothing about network programming, but I reckon I could do message passing between clients using files to pass information over a shared file system. If it works, I could have this thing rendered in a matter of days rather than weeks using the machines in the office at work! :-)
I finally finished the html version of my logo tutorial and uploaded it to my website. I haven't linked to it from anywhere yet. Just mailed the URL to the Graphics Extreme mailing list. I will get round to making a proper tutorials section for the website at some stage.
I also sent the mailing list a "Top Tip" about splitting a gif logo into multiple gifs to improve its appearance. And I think tomorrows top tip will be about how to make a cool backdrop image using your desktop shortcut icons and a bit of polar coordinate shenanigans in Photoshop. :-)

Tue Feb 20 2001
Well, working on the same machine as my render didn't prove to be too bad today. Yes, the machine swapped like crazy every time I switched between different applications, but it was certainly usable.
I added an ETA calculation to my render progress spreadsheet based on the last 10 results. It's still quite inaccurate at the moment because I haven't taken that many readings, and it's still using results from the first day (which was much faster, as it was mainly rendering sky). Anyway, for what it's worth (and I'm sure it'll take at least another 3 to 4 days before the ETA value settles down), it reckons the render will be finished at 3:56am on 02/04/2001. Hmm, not long to wait now then! ;-)
Programmable calculators have come a long way since I was at school. Matthew showed me this one at work today, and apparently someone's even written a Spectrum emulator for it! Can you imagine being able to play all of these classic games on a calculator? :-)
Saw Meet the parents at the cinema tonight. It had its funny moments, but I was quite surprised that it got as much as 7.3 in imdb.
Did a bit more work on the html logo tutorial. Not as much as I'd have liked though. Spent ages trying to get the logo to blend into the animated background properly. In the end I had to make it a gif with a dithered transparency fade out. It would have been easy with alpha blending, but gif doesn't support it, and although png does, Internet Explorer doesn't render alpha blended pngs properly. :-(
Got a nice long email from Nicola earlier, but I haven't had a chance to read through it all properly yet. Sorry Nicky! I'll will try and reply soon!

Mon Feb 19 2001
I installed Cygwin at work today. It's come a long way since the last time I last used it. There are loads more packages included, and it has a setup program which works in a similar way to the IE5 installer. You select just the packages you want, and it only downloads those.
I really surprised myself. I managed to get the unix version of POV-Ray, pvmpov, and pvm compiled under Windows with Cygwin. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to get pvm working with any external pvmds yet. I need to get hold of a version of rshd for Windows.
The render is down to about 20 lines per day now. :-( And even worse than that, the nice fast machine I was running it on is now going to be in use, so I've had to move it back to my own machine. This will probably mean I can only run it when I'm not in work, as it claims so much memory, it makes the machine unusable for anything else.
Didn't get any more of Energy Ed done tonight. There was so much good TV on. A new series of Voyager, an episode of Stargate SG-1, and two episodes of Red Dwarf. Managed to do some screenshots for the logo tutorial though. I'm putting together an html version, with pictures of each stage. Hopefully I'll get it finished tomorrow.

Sun Feb 18 2001
Created a spreadsheet on my Psion 5 so that I can track the progress of the tulip render. Yes, I do think it's going to take that long! :-) When I've got a few more values in there, I'll make it calculate the ETA, but for now it just shows me two graphs... "Lines left to do" and "Lines per day".
Did some more work on Energy Ed. I can't seem to find a way of welding vertices in 3D Canvas, so I'm having to rely on its "Union" tool to join the body parts together. This seems to work fine when I can line them up exactly, but if they're just slightly off, it goes crazy and adds loads of unnecessary polys which muck up the smoothing tool. And since the legs have to be at an angle to fit the skeleton, it's proving very tricky.
Wrote a quick tutorial for the Graphics Extreme mailing list on how to make my coloured, metallic looking logo. It ended up being quite a bit longer than I expected. I just hope people on the list can make sense of it. :-)
I posted a message to one of the POV-Ray newsgroups asking if anyone had tried to compile pvmpov under Windows. Then I spotted that someone has got the unix version of POV-Ray running in Windows, by compiling it with Cygwin. If I can get this working myself, it should be much easier to get pvmpov working, as all of the pvmpov patches and makefiles are geared towards a unix compile. I've downloaded and installed the latest version of Cygwin, but haven't had a chance to play around with it yet.

Sat Feb 17 2001
People were coming round to look at the house today, and James didn't want to be here while they were, so we decided to go to the cinema and see Hannibal. Quite good, but nowhere near as good as The silence of the lambs. Oh, and if you're at all squeamish, use your brain and don't go to see this movie ;-)
Went to the office after that. Got a chance to check up on the render progress while I was there. Up to 869 lines now.
It was really foggy on the way home. Down to about 5 metres visibility in places.
Did some more work on 3D Energy Ed when I got in. I think I've got it sussed now. Making the body out of cubes, and then using the smoothing tool to round them off seems to work really well. I'll have to have a good go at getting him modelled tomorrow.

Fri Feb 16 2001
759 lines of 2048 completed when I got to work and checked on the render progress. Only 88 since last night. Ah well... Good things come to those who wait! (I hope) :-) I can see about 1/3 of the top of the bush on the left of the picture now, and I'm not sure I'm happy with it. It's way off in the distance and it's heavily blurred, so I thought I might be able to get away with a simple fan of grass objects. I thought they would get blurred into an unrecognisable blob of green, and they did on the small test renders I did, but on this large one, you can clearly see the regular spacing of the fan shape. It might not be too bad when it's finished and you're considering the image as a whole, but I've got this horrible feeling I'm going to have to redo that bush. I'm hoping it's not going to be too tricky (or slow) to just re-render the area of the image containing the bush. I don't think I could stand to re-render the whole image again! When I left work it had done 786 lines. That's 27 lines in 9 hours. Hmm, 3 lines per hour... 72 lines per day... 1262 lines left to do... 17½ days. Oh dear... :-)
Someone sparked off the gif/jif pronunciation argument in the office this morning. What fun that was ;-)
Now, back in the days before Uni, I always used to pronounce it "jif". I hadn't heard or seen anything that said how to pronounce it... that was just the way I said it. Most people at Uni, however, pronounced it "gif" and were really puzzled when ever I said "jif". So I started pronouncing it "gif" instead, and that's stuck with me ever since. Well, since then, I've found out that the proper way to pronounce it is "jif". And that's according to the people who invented it. It says so in the gif documentation. So if you pronounce it "gif" you're wrong! So there! :-p It's just a shame I can't get back into the habit of saying "jif" ;-)
Did an evil version of Squeakie for James' website.

Thu Feb 15 2001
I've just finished and uploaded the logo for the diary. Looks pretty cool I think. I really like that text effect, and I'm sure I'm going to overuse it if I'm not careful. :-) The diary is now linked from the front page, and also from the menu bar, so it's now officially "gone public"!
I've started the final render of the tulip image at work. I decided to render it at 1536x2048 so I can scale it down to remove any focal blur noise and anti-alias it a bit. I've got no idea how long it's going to take though. I'm hoping for something less than a week, but it could quite easily be more, even on the 512MB 733MHz PIII I'm using. It had just got down to the top of the first tulip when I left work at 6:30. That's 9½ hours after I'd started it! :-) During lunch, I fiddled around with manual bounding boxes in POV-Ray to see if I'd be able to speed up the rendering of the tulips or the grass. I managed to get quite an impressive increase. The render time for a single tulip fell to 1/3, and the grass blades to 2/3, so I stopped the render, added the new code, and let it continue. I'm really glad POV-Ray has a resume trace option now! :-)
MP3 is dead! Long live Monkey's Audio! After a discussion with James tonight, we decided that hard drive sizes are increasing at such a rate, that within a year or two there'll be no point compressing music to MP3 or any other lossy compression format. You might as well keep the uncompressed data. This led to a search for lossless audio compression software, and it turns out that there's quite a lot of it out there. Monkey's Audio seems to outperform most of the others in terms of compression ratio. I'm going to download it tomorrow to have a play around with. If I'm happy enough with it, I may just have to ditch my MP3s and re-rip all my CDs to Monkey's Audio format. And after I'd almost got my whole CD collection MP3d too...

Wed Feb 14 2001
I think the render is almost finished. Got the lighting all sorted out now. 100 point lights, all at random positions on a plane high up in the sky. It works really well, and looks quite natural. It has that radiosity feeling to it. Of course it now takes hours to render and claims about 200 meg, but hey, it looks good! :-) The windmill's in there too. I didn't need to put much detail on it as it's way off in the distance, and will get blurred quite a lot by the focal blur. Final thing I added was the greenery in the background which breaks up the sky line a bit.
OK, so I just tried to do a test render with all the lighting, focal blur, and objects turned on. It's very slow! I'm currently trying to render a 24x32 sized version, and it's taken 25 minutes so far to render just 15 lines! It's times like these that I wish I was back at uni with my 30 machine render farm. :-) I think I'll set a render going on one of the spare machines at work tomorrow, and see how it looks at the end of the day.
Nicola was happier today. She liked the card... "Very sweet" she said. I'm glad it cheered her up.
I must have another go at to trying to model 3D Energy Ed tomorrow. My first few attempts didn't come out very well, but I've thought of a few other methods to try. Oh, and I still need to get a diary logo done. There just aren't enough hours in the day...

Tue Feb 13 2001
Did some StudioX64 logos for Paul. Both variations on his main logo. One fiery one, similar to my guestbook logo, and one soft metallic one, which I really like. Might use the metallic style for the diary logo when I get round to making it.
Nicola seems to be a bit depressed again today. I hope my mail will cheer her up a bit tomorrow.
The tulips render is coming along nicely. Arranged the field itself today, which, amongst other things, involved picking random seeds over and over again until I found a random pattern I liked. :-) Added a grass layer underneath the tulips, and did some preliminary textures. The lighting is still a bit odd. I've only got a single spot light in there right now, and it looks quite false. I hope it will look more natural with a light array, but that will have to wait till later.

Mon Feb 12 2001
Did some more work on my latest POV-Ray image. Haven't decided what it's going to be called yet, but seeing as it's got lots of tulips in it, I'll probably just end up calling it "Tulips". :-) Added the tulip stem, but haven't got its texture sorted out yet. Fiddled around with the depth of field settings a bit. I have a feeling that it's going to take days to render the final thing!

Jonathan Hunt