I’ve just returned from spending a very pleasant week with my dad. While going through a few things, he came across a suitcase full of buses, planes and cars that I had as a child. I was absolutely obsessed with transport as a kid and buses were my favourite. I had a mat with painted roadways on it that I used to “drive” my buses around. Whenever dad went travelling abroad I’d always ask him if he could bring back a bus or plane – and I have quite an extensive collection of toy buses, coaches and police vehicles from Japan and Hong Kong as a result.

My grandfather Drake had built me my very own garage and parking playset (made out of wood and painted) which I’m not entirely sure where it is (probably in the loft), but that too also formed a very pleasant part of my childhood too.

The suitcase of delights..

Opening the suitcase and stumbling across all these treasures brought back so many happy memories. Many of the vehicles aren’t in too bad shape either.

A very small selection of my bus collection

Also amongst the collection were a few aircraft. My childhood holidays were mainly spent in the UK (Canvey Island for the most part), but when we went abroad, we usually flew Caledonian Airways (which is part of British Airways).

Then we come across a relic of the small screen back in the 1980’s: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century:

And finally..

My “lambo” collection

It’s genuinely pleasing to see the local high street make way for the unique restaurant that is not offering the usual fast food stodge. Where I live, the number of restaurants has been reduced to one Indian eat-in (and take-away) followed by kebab houses, chicken houses, fish and chips palaces, pizza take-away shops and multiple Chinese take-aways.

My father took me for an early birthday dinner yesterday at a Portuguese place that’s in the town where I grew up. The high street there is virtually unrecognisable now. But tucked out the way, behind one of the few remaining pubs in the area is a smartly presented restaurant that’s clearly very popular.

Grilled seabass and vegetables

It was a fantastic dinner. I started off with pork pieces and clams and potatoes, with a nice gravy to accompany it. This was followed by grilled seabass and veg. And it was absolutely delicious. My dad had clams for his starter and the same as me for the main course. This was accompanied by a light and fruity red wine which accompanied the fish well. We followed this up with coffee and a Portuguese brandy which was seriously smooth. I had a dessert (a chocolate mousse with Amaretto).

The Joys Of Commuting
(London Underground Edition)

After a great night, it’s a pity, then, that this morning I was greeted by the following scene at Notting Hill Gate in an attempt to see if I could sit down on the tube for as long as possible on the Central line before changing to the District line. Alas, Circle line problems were the cause of the delay. We were standing on the stairs to avoid having to stand with the rest of the crowd. Thankfully a District line train came 4 minutes after this and there was even a seat!

Isn’t commuting fun?

Due to work, I don’t get as much time as I’d like to meet up with my old school chums – but we got together yesterday to eat, drink and.. play shuffleboard.

We started off at Liverpool Street station, made our way to a local pub, had a couple of pints, then headed off to The Shuffle Club, Shoreditch.

Entrance to the Shuffle Club, London

Mid-game

Fire!

I scored more than my fair share of -10 points

More pintage was had at the Shuffle Club, in which I was resoundly beaten over and over again by scoring 0 points or -10 points. It’s also fair to say that us 40-somethings were perhaps the oldest people there. Oh, the irony.

We then headed off to Brick Lane for a ruby murray (curry). Brick Lane is an interesting place to visit, and you’ll also find many people attempting to entice you into their curry house. We ended up at the Aladdin after being promised a free pint each. Which was promptly delivered.

Interesting graffiti in Shoreditch

Brick Lane, E1

After the curry, we found another pub. Unfortunately I’m discovering that I’m not as young as I used to be and 6 pints is probably the limit I can take. There was discussion of going to see Avengers: Endgame at Leicester Square, but there wasn’t going to be any chance of me doing so giving the state I was in.

Got back home around 11pm. That’s when things got interesting…

The above happened while I was working from home, having started work at 6 am and was about to knock off for the day.

The problem is that this is a regular occurrence with my neighbours who leave their dogs in the house all day. I’d come home around 8pm and their dogs will bark and howl until about 10 pm when they come home. While that’s a perfectly normal thing for most dog owners, I’m sure the barking and howling isn’t – and is likely due to behavioural elements that could be improved with training.

I’ve said nothing so far, but I feel it’s about time I said something, as it’s entirely possible they don’t even know this is happening.

Could be worse, though. I remember when the former occupants were doing up the place and I had to suffer through the following (a remix from various sound that I turned into an iPhone alarm):

Yesterday, Hive Home suffered a major outage which prevented control of Hive systems remotely (from the app or the web site). Symptoms included being unable to log into the Hive web site and the app being able to control individual products.

Update: information on the recent outage can be found at The Register. I never received the apology email. No, it did not get sent to Spam. Checked G Suite’s email log. Nothing except the semi-regular updates which had been flowing normally since 14th March.

As you can see the Hive Home status page (which took them a while to update), it has been a rough ride. But thankfully the thermostat and the receiver continued to work manually. The lights? Not so much. Even now, the group of lights which I’ve allocated to my living room doesn’t appear in the circle view (yet they do in the list view) – but then again, I had to recreate the group because whatever is causing this problem nuked my groups.

Given the number of problems I’ve experienced with Hive Home over the past month or so, I am increasingly concerned that my decision to swap out my thermostat with the Hive system (which cost me £50 more than the quoted repair from British Gas) was a bad one.

Speaking of Centrica’s muck-ups, did I mention that I should have HomeCare with my boiler? I don’t appear to because:

  • No documentation was ever sent in the post, with the exception of confirming of cancellation of another HomeCare account which was created in error due to the circumstances of the thermostat being broken and they had to charge £99 for the call out first. It took Centrica THREE months to get that cancellation confirmation out.
  • No direct debits have been taken in respect to any HomeCare subscription, and never has any Direct Debit been established.
  • No options within my British Gas account as to any options relating to HomeCare.

The irony of all of this is that I’ve switched to a British Gas product with basic boiler and pipe protection and having had all this confirmed in emails, would suggest that HomeCare was never truly established on my account in the first place. Even worse – when the tarrif change was confirmed, the emails neglect to publish my address properly – having had previous British Gas correspondence sent to the wrong address in the not too distant past, this worries me.

In short: Centrica – sort your systems and processes out. They’re buggy, inconsistent, and horribly unstable.

In other news: I shall be shortly shouting big time at Sky who have charged me an early termination fee for Sky Broadband despite telling me by phone that I would not be charged an early termination fee for cancellation because (a) I was out of the minimum contract term and (b) I was eligible to cancel without penalty anyway because they announced price rises for their broadband.

Is it just me? As technology marches on, it gets buggier, less reliable and ultimately becomes a burden. It’s like a stupid SkyNet. Terminator 27: Stupid Day.