Well, we didn’t wait until 10. Started at a little after 9:40. The exam felt a little tougher than the first one, but once I got into it, it wasn’t all that bad. For reasons best known to Microsoft, it was divided into two sections, each separately timed, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. As with the first one, no score was given, just the simple “Pass”. But hey, that’s good enough for me. I’ve upgraded my MCSE to Windows Server 2003, gained the MCSA certification in the process, and maintained my 100% record of passing Microsoft exams on the first attempt.
Right, back home now. And after a week of hotel breakfasts and sampling the delights of some of Manchester’s restaurants, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my weight hasn’t increased too drastically. On getting home this evening, I weiged 205.8 pounds (14 stone 9.8 pounds, 93.4kg).
 Tip: if you’re in Mancester, take a walk down Portland Street. Lots of restaurants – Chinese, Thai, Italian and Mexican.
 And if you’re stayting in Manchester, that’s a good street for hotels, too.
Went for a walk before dinner, ending up at the huge branch of Waterstone’s on Deansgate. This is a seriously big bookshop, with an enormous range in stock. I then wandered back in the general direction of food. I nearly went for the standard option of Pizza Hut, but was saved by the fact that the nearest branch had people waiting to be seated, and an apparent lack of staff to look after them. So, I did the sensible thing and went back to Portland Street. I wandered up and down for a while, looking at the menus, and trying to decide what I wanted. After a bit of dithering, I eventually decided to visit the Siam Orchid Thai restaurant.
The restaurant was busy, but I was immedaitely shown to a table, and service throughout was prompt, friendly and polite. I started with the Thai equivalent of spring rolls – small, crisp, very tasty, and served with a rather nice chilli sauce for dipping. That was followed by chicken cooked in chilli and garlic with egg fried rice. This was delicious. Definitely top of my list for my next visit to Manchester. I rounded the meal off with a slice of cheesecake. All good stuff, the house red wine was rather more drinkable than some I’ve had, and the total bill was just over £20, which seemed like a good deal to me.
One other thing I liked. Unlike most Chinese restaurants, Thai restaurants (the ones I’ve visited, anyway) are a little more friendly to klutzy westerners. What you get on your table is a fork and a spoon. If you want chopsticks (and you’re one of those people who can use them), they will happily provide them, of course.
 Unlike me…
Well, all the material has been covered. Just a little revision tonight, then the second and final exam at 10:00 tomorrow. A quick sarnie after that, then the rest of the day will be free
Wednesday’s dinner ended up being Mexican, at El Macho on Portland Street. Nachos to start, then chicken chimichangas. Had a couple of Margaritas, which were also rather nice.
 Very nice. Very generous topping
 Big rolled tortilla filled with chicken, deep fried, served with rice, beans and salad. Very tasty, very filing.
Late start today, so I’m sitting in Caffe Nero, using their wireless Internet thingy. Easy to set up, not too expensive (£20 for a week’s unlimited access), pretty quick. VPN doesn’t seem to like it, but I can live without that :smile:.
Able get to the websites I need, and check email that way, which works fine for me.
Espresso + Wireless Internet = :grin:smile::grin:smile:
 Talking of which, I understand that my home connection is going to be upgraded from 1MB to 1.5MB for no extra charge. Woo and indeed hoo.
Having been a bit predictable by going to Pizza Hut and Bella Italia on my first couple of nights in Manchester, tonight I decided to try the restaurant here in the Thistle Hotel.
Had one (large) glass of Shiraz, a tasty melon starter, pan-fried duck in the to be expected orange sauce with a selection of veggies, followed by a yummy whisky and honey chesecake. All very nice indeed.
Now what shall I have tomorrow? Chinese? Thai?
Well, what with there only being four of us on the course, we got through the material so quickly that three of us felt ready to take the first exam this afternoon. I hadn’t realised until I checked my MCSE transcript, but it’s just over two years since my last Microsoft exam. However, I got into the metaphorical groove quickly enough and passed without feeling much in the way of difficulty.
Plenty of time now to prepare for the second one, which is apparently slightly harder. We shall see…
Well, here I am in sunny Manchester. It’s lunchtime on the first day of the course and I’m reporting in with my trusty P900.
Looks good so far, apart from the funny keyboard. Good sarnies and drinkable coffee.
 Picture to follow
Normal service will be resumed on or around Saturday 1 May. I do hope you can all contain yourselves in my absence….
 For an arbitrarily “ab” value of “normal”
 All the thousands of readers