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Archive for the category “Driving”

An Expensive Week – Part Two

Following on from the whole car kerfuffle last week, I’ve made a decision – it’s time to get rid of the Saab. It’s been decidedly iffy this year, and with the latest issue, I just can’t rely on it when I need to. I’ve still got a thousand-ish miles to do by the end of this month, let alone the stuff for the rest of the year, so need something I can trust will get me from A to B without the need for recovery, garages and the like.  Basically, that’s it.

The Saab no longer fits that bill, so it’s time for it to go.  I know I still won’t qualify for a car finance agreement etc., so it’s been a case of sorting out a transfer of funds from the savings account. It means a fixed budget, and see what fits that bill and those funds.

I spent some of the weekend looking at new (to me) cars, and have one sorted, to be collected on Wednesday.

It’s a diesel Kia Ceed, so fairly crap. But it’s only 70,000 miles, and came in well under budget. I’ve wangled a service and a year’s MOT out of the dealer, as well as a parts guarantee for a year (or 20,000 miles, whichever comes sooner)  The deposit has been paid with a credit card, which covers me under Section75 for the full price of the car, should it turn out to be a lemon. (That’s something I didn’t know ’til recently – so long as you pay more than £100 on a credit card, S75 covers the whole amount, not just whatever was paid by the card) In short, I’m as covered as it’s possible to be.

In all, it’s not a bad deal. The price is good, and having checked further since, I reckon it’s going to be saving me about £100 per month. Yeah, per month.  The road tax is £30 for the year, rather than the £25 a month I was paying for the Saab. (It fell just outside the newer emissions regulations, which I didn’t know at the time I got it) and the insurance is £30 less a month.  With the reduction in fuel costs as well – diesel vs. petrol, and so on – it stands to be a significant saving.

Then there’s what I got for the Saab – I took that back to the Saab garage on Monday, transferred the ownership, and basically got back what I initially paid for it. It’s still cost me money over the three years, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

I’ll see how things go with the new car – I’m not expecting lots from it, just to be reliable and to do what it should. It’s going to have a busy couple of weeks once I’ve got it, including longer runs to Dorset and Manchester, so by the end of the month I’ll know more about how it fits my requirements, and hopefully that it’s generally reliable.

Home From The Holiday

So, after a week in Cornwall, I’m back in the land of the living.  It’s been a good week away, with a lot done, and a lot of thinking out of the way. (Still more to go on that score, but it’s been good)

I’ve driven over a thousand miles in the last seven days, visited a bundle of places, had a great time, and even managed to build up some sleep.  (That’s one of the things that needs some thought for the future, but it’ll take a while)

A rough itinerary of the last week is :

  • Saturday 24th Sept – Head down to Oxford to meet the friend I was going with, then down to Truro. A four-hour drive door-to-door from Oxford (about 5½ from home). Having made good time, an exploration of Truro city (and their Cornwall food festival)
  • Sunday – visiting the Eden Project. First time I’d been there, and found it thoroughly interesting. Well recommended
  • Monday – visiting Newquay. Another place I really liked.
  • Tuesday – down to The Chocolate Factory, a craft-based place with a whole range of different things, including (unsurprisingly) a chocolatier, but also galleries, glass maker, jewellers etc. Then on to St Ives for an explore (including seeing a seal in the harbour) and then back to Helston to meet up with other friends.
  • Wednesday – Lost Gardens of Heligan.  I’ve been here before (about ten years ago, admittedly) and it’s grown and improved significantly since. Again, thoroughly enjoyable, and a lot of walking
  • Thursday – St Mawes and Falmouth – two more places I’d never been before, we went down to St Mawes, and got the ferry over to Falmouth. It’s somewhere I’ll go back to, and want to explore more, although it was full of bell-ends on the actual day, but I suspect being a bit more out-of-season, or earlier in the day, and it’ll be better.  St Mawes is lovely, a much smaller place, but somewhere I could happily stay for a proper visit
  • Friday – Wheal Martyn China Clay museum, which was interesting. I didn’t know the history of china clay in Cornwall, so it made for an interesting morning. Followed up by a visit to St Austell (frankly, never again – it’s like the retirement village of The Damned) and then a much better visit to Charlestown, which is really pleasant and attractive – another place I could happily stay longer.
  • Saturday (today) – Driving home, again via Oxford. Another good run, four hours door-to-door to Oxford, and then onwards to home.

As well as driving that 1,000 miles, we’ve walked about 40 miles all told, visited a bundle of places, and had a good time.

I’ve got a bundle of stuff lined up now for the next three months, as well as a load of stuff to think about for the future. Next year’s looking interesting already.

A busy week

Suddenly, it’s a week since I last updated anything here – and there’s a good reason (or ten) for that.

Mainly, the good reason is that I’ve been sodding busy.

Since last I wrote here, there’s been (in no particular order)

  • Driving to Marlow for a late lunch at the Hand and Flowers
  • Driving to London (Saturday at ungodly o’clock)
  • Visiting Meatopia – on the Saturday, along with several friends
  • Seeing The The’s “Infected” film at the ICA in London on the Saturday evening
  • Staying overnight in London
  • Visiting Meatopia on the Sunday, just me, but ended up meeting several other people, as well as starting some business discussions (Win!)
  • Driving home from London, having walked 20 miles over the two days
  • A vaguely normal Monday, with added shopping and faffery
  • A normal Tuesday working, then meeting friends and going to the cinema to see Hell or High Water – heartily recommended
  • A semi-standard Wednesday, and then cinema to see Morgan – also recommended, for different reasons, and thoughts on both films will follow
  • And tonight, being at the Milton Keynes Geek Night, just to top things off.

So yes, not much going on at all.

It’s been pretty positive all round, but it has left me feeling like a stunned monkey. So there’ll be more writing as and when I get round to it.  I’m back in London this weekend, but look like having one day that’s (currently) quiet, so that’s at least vaguely promising…

Mislaid Plans

Back at the start of the year, one of my stated aims was to put more money into savings.  I’d finally finished my bankruptcy’s payment plan at the end of 2015, so the plan was that I’d put that straight into savings instead of into the payment plan.

That aim has kind-of worked, but not to the extent I intended to.  Road to hell, Good intentions, and all that rot.

I looked back this week – coming to the last third of the year, I wanted to review where I was.  I’ve certainly added to the savings, but it’s not been to the full extent that it could/should have been.

There’s some reasoning behind it, when I looked into it and thought about it.  Primarily, it’s the first time in way too many years (certainly far preceding the bankruptcy) where I’ve had disposable income – and I can’t deny, I’ve been taking advantage of that this year.

It’s been one heck of a year, with a lot going on – as I’ve written about before – and some of that has been funded by the money that “should” have been getting funnelled into savings.  I can’t – and won’t – deny it, I should have been a bit better, a bit smarter about it, but well, I haven’t.

I’m already making plans for 2017 to be much calmer, to not be going quite so barmy about having time, space and money. From January, that money *will* be going to rebuild savings.

2016 has been a mad old year, with lots going on. 2017 is going to be a good year, but a bit more relaxed, a bit more sensible. Not perfect – I’m never going to claim that – but I know what needs to be done, and I intend to be doing it.


It’s fair to say, the weekend just gone was pretty varied. Busy too, but definitely varied.

Friday evening was spent with friends seeing a small gig by Professor Elemental – very silly all round, but also very late, as he didn’t go on stage ’til 22:30 in the end. It meant I didn’t get home ’til nearly 2am…

Saturday morning was spent at the cinema, seeing the new Ghostbusters film. (Small review : Enjoyed it a lot, far more than I expected to, and it’s just entertaining silliness) Then in the evening I was over in Cambridge, going for a thoroughly enjoyable and fantastic meal at Midsummer House.

Then on Sunday I was awake by 6am, and generally too warm. So one “oh sod it” moment later, I was on the way down to Whitstable and Tankerton, and spent the day by the beach, roasting quietly.  Happily and fortuitously, it turned out that Whitstable Castle was having a food fair, so that was lunch sorted. And then mid-afternoon driving home, looking at all the queues on the other side of the road and thanking God I wasn’t involved in it all, considering how hot it still was.

Finishing off with a quiet evening catching up on recorded TV etc., it was a very pleasant weekend – but definitely surrounded by all the random…

Another Culture Weekend

The weekend just gone turned out to be another of my more “Culture”-based ones, and was thoroughly enjoyable.

Saturday involved a drive down to Bray in Berkshire, for a meal at the Waterside Inn. Having been quite disappointed earlier in the year by the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Dorchester in London, I’d decided I should try another one for comparison purposes, and opted for the Waterside, as it’s had those three stars for thirty years now.

Safe to say, I’m very glad I did – I had a fab time (including getting to meet and have a quick chat with Michel Roux) and really enjoyed the entire meal. Sadly – although understandably – they don’t allow phones/cameras or photos in the dining room, so I couldn’t do my usual of taking a pic of each course, so you’ve been spared that ordeal, but it was definitely still brilliant.

Then on Sunday I went down to London, and saw Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Globe – and thoroughly enjoyed that, too. I’m still very much a newcomer to Shakespeare in general, so can’t comment on how it’s been done this time in comparison to other staging etc., all I can do is say that I found it great, and a brilliant production. The weather wasn’t the best, so I was glad to be in the galleries rather than the standing area – although the seats were still bloody uncomfortable due to other people spreading themselves wide, and I ended up standing instead for the second half.

I’d done some other food/burger-based bits either side of the main play, so ended up walking about 17km during the day, but that’s just me and my own idiocies and preferences.

All told though, a decent weekend – and quite quiet/easy by my standards, with less driving and so on. An all-round win, in my opinion. 🙂

Slack Data

In the car I hired last weekend, it had a load of built-in tech – Ford’s Sync system – that was quite interesting, not least for the fact that it worked really nicely and easily. Connecting my phone to the car was a doddle, the satnav worked well (and better than my usual stand-alone device in several ways) and it all just seemed pretty easy.

However. It’s obvious that it was designed for a standard “family car” scenario, rather than a vehicle that would be hired to many different users. Which makes sense, but leads to an interesting longer-term problem…

Basically, people are lazy – and don’t think about their data. So the convenience of connecting one’s phone to the car system for hands-free calls etc is great, as is the simple download of the phone’s address book to the system. But if you then don’t delete it when you take the car back to the hire place, it’s all available to the next user. The same applies to the satnav system – ‘recent destinations’ is a goldmine of activity, right down to house number and location. (And I suspect, with a bit of work, one could connect the destination to a phone number in that downloaded phonebook)

It just interests me, how little people care (or understand) about their information. I cleared down the whole car system before I returned it, which took less than five minutes all told. So it’s not much work, but it’s still work, which most people don’t seem willing to undertake.

I’ve suggested to the hire company that it should perhaps be part of the car sanitising process when it’s returned (or before it’s hired back out, whichever) although I realise that makes it more hassle for them, and there’s a lot of different setups in the various cars.

Of course, it’d be better if people cleaned up after themselves – or the car tech had a “forget everything” button/process (although that would still be too much effort for most people) that did the job. But that won’t happen until people realise how important this shit can be, and sadly that tends to only happen by negative paths/occurrences/events, and will always be learned too late.

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