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David's diary: August 2008

Wow, four days into August and only just writing here? I guess it has been a reasonably busy last few days. My main project at the moment is developing a secure members' area for a website. So far so good, and I am happy with what I've done so far, but progress is being a bit slower than hoped (and that I quoted on the basis of) but that's 90% motivational factors I fear. We're both a bit wiped out at the moment, and although it was nice to get out to breakfast and to Ian and Jo's on Saturday, we were also feeling somewhat cooped up into the bargain, so ignored the forecast and headed down to the coast yesterday morning for some fresh sea air. We'd stopped at Emsworth briefly on a walk one time my mum and dad came to visit, but decided we'd give it better justice yesterday, especially with our usual destination of Hayling Island likely to have been somewhat bleak in the intermittent drizzle. So we paid for four hours of parking and found something akin to a breakfast at our favourite café there, took a short stroll along the sea wall, getting back just in time for a one-hour trip on the solar-powered boat operating from the village. OK, it wasn't particularly sunny, indeed quite the opposite, but our captain assured us it had enough reserves for eight hours, and although hardly "wow" it was a delightful way to pass the time and see the world from a slightly different angle. It was lunchtime by the time we moored up, and then our four hours were just about up and it was time to wend our way home. Back to work for both of us today, obviously, and both finding it a little hard to get back into gear, but hey at least we did something with our weekend!

Getting on a bit faster with this members' area thing now, to the point where I've almost got something I can show to the client. It's all taken at least twice as long as hoped, but on the other hand if I had quoted any higher I doubt I would have got the work at all. Beggars can't be choosers, and so forth, and very little if anything I have done is too client-specific so this will certainly be useful library code. My head's been a bit woolly all this week, sinus problems I suspect, but for the last day or so it has been a bit better, helping me along with getting said head around this sometimes quite mindboggling work. Hmm, very dark skies out in one direction at the moment, hopefully trundling Farnham-wards. We watched a distant storm last night, as we did the other evening indeed, but it would be nice if one came our way for a change.

I had the members' area development pretty much wrapped up by close of business on Friday, and it's now in the hands of the client for evaluation. Consequently, yesterday I was able to move straight on to my next bit of work for them - creating a facility to allow their Outlook calendar to be imported into WordPress's de facto standard but frankly rather bare-bones EventCalendar plug-in, providing access to much-needed functionality like event recurrence and so forth. And by late lunchtime yesterday I was able to pass that over for evaluation too. I'm just too darned efficient sometimes! A couple of other bits of work are hanging in the air at the moment, 99% likely to come my way in the end but just being held up by factors beyond anyone's control really, but I'm back to twiddling my thumbs a little otherwise.

Incredibly, pretty much exactly when I posted that last entry, I got the go-ahead to start on one of those "hanging in the air" bits of work, and some progress seems to be being made regarding the other bit too. So having twiddled my thumbs for all of about five minutes in the end, it's been a pretty busy last couple of days, and apart from a couple of things I need the client to confirm, that first bit of work is done, dusted and looking pretty decent. Once again, it all took a little longer than hoped in terms of my actual time spent, but a fair chunk of that was improvements to the core of my website system, so a good investment in any case.

Anyway, now signing off for a long, sociable but hopefully not too shattering weekend! The lamb's happily marinading in the fridge and Susy should be here any minute to kick things off.

Thursday evening was good, even if we did spend a bit longer talking dull things like websites than intended, at the expense of more relaxing things like playing games. Yesterday we drove up to Reading, to see Darren, Ceryn and Ruth for the day, Lois yet again turning us down in favour of more exciting company. But we took up Lois's plan for the day anyway, and went for a picnic and accompanying fun by the river in Marlow, before slobbing out with (too much) Chinese take-away. A much-needed quiet day today as planned, brunching on bacon muffins and Nutella waffles, with ready-meal lasagne for tea, and quite a lot of medal-rich Olympics interspersed. Tomorrow we're supposed to be going for another picnic after church, but barring an overnight miracle of recuperation it's really not going to happen, which is a shame but although we've had lots of fun so far this weekend, we need to look after ourselves, and we doubt we would have the energy to be sociable even if we made it along in body!

No miracles, and even doing next to nothing yesterday bar going to church in the morning still didn't leave us with bags of energy for the start of a new week. Hey ho. Got a bit of work done today, taking a little longer than expected due to my ineptitude (so not all billed by any means!) but again now finding myself stuck waiting for decisions and contributions from others. Not that anyone's not pulling their weight or anything; these kinds of fits and starts are par for the course with a small business. Frustrating for sure, but that's just the way it goes. Hey ho again.

Glad we're not needing to go anywhere by car, because the long-awaited roadworks going on at the entrance to our close are probably impassable. A bit noisy too, but they seem to be making reasonable progress with a new surface actively going down when I had to pop out on foot for a little while. The road is scheduled to be closed (during working hours at least) for the next fortnight, but if they carry on at their current rate the disruption could be much less. There are still the revised traffic calming measures to be installed, but hopefully that won't be too lengthy a job. Believe it or not, in agreement with the consensus of opinion, we do actually want the humps - or "cushions" as the council insist on calling them, despite not being remotely soft or comforting - just not quite as vicious ones as those they wasted so much money on putting in originally. So lots of disruption for a few days, but it's long overdue, and will be worth it. They put in the nasty humps and other traffic calming measures about five years ago, but didn't bother to lay a new surface, despite it being years old already. Since then, some of the squeeze points have been removed, but the rest of the road is simply falling apart and collapsing - and since this current work was scheduled to be done at some point, repairs needed were at best bodged and in many cases neglected altogether. We had to wait years for them to put much-needed traffic lights and a pavement on the narrow railway bridge round the corner from here, but they did an excellent job there in the end; hopefully this will prove the same!

A week on, and there's been a bank holiday weekend in between. Not that we did a colossal amount with the extra free time but definitely needed it. Work's inevitably been up and down, in fact perhaps "up" rather more than might have been expected at the peak of holiday season, and it's a bit quiet again today unsurprisingly, as I wait for people to get back to me on various matters. We had one of our regular sociable breakfasts on Saturday, and on Sunday we had Rachel, Mark and Daniel over for the afternoon, but that's really been the extent of it. Oh, apart from bumping into George and Kit while doing a little bank holiday shopping in Aldershot, enjoying a much needed catch-up over an equally much needed coffee! The roadworks mentioned last week seem to be progressing well, possibly even ahead of schedule. In the end there has only been one slight hiccup in getting into the close, when they were physically tarmacking across the entrance, and they practically had Katy sign in blood that she really was a resident, having had the last motorist lie through his teeth before driving straight through. All nice and smooth, at least until they re-install those speed humps cushions!

We woke up to a big thunderstorm and torrential rain this morning, and it's not got much brighter all day, but we've had a good and mainly outdoor weekend otherwise - involving not one but two picnics to round up what is apparently officially now the end of the meteorological summer! Friday we had our long-awaited picnic out with Lisa, Elliot and Phoebe, driving out to Frensham Little Pond armed with lunch bits, ball games and the best imagination we could rustle up for den-building and generally keeping the youngsters amused on what was otherwise a bit of a gloomy day. Nursing a few aches and bruises, yesterday Katy and I took a distinctly leisurely cycle ride up to a surprisingly quiet Alice Holt forest park with the remnants of Friday's lunch, enjoying the last of the somewhat limited-edition August sun. Today we've been to church, then had a mooch around Farnham and did a little food shopping in between the showers, and are now enjoying a pretty chilled afternoon, with crispy chilli beef on the menu for later.

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