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Archive for the category “Driving”

An evening at home

Tonight is the first evening this week that I’ve actually been at home, and not working. It truly has been one of those weeks, despite my best-laid plans for calming things down this month.

So what’s been happening?

  • Monday was in the South Bank Centre in London, seeing a talk by Stephen Hawking, and a small celebration of his life in the week of his 75th birthday.  When I got the tickets, he’d been supposed to be there in person, but ill-health meant his speech and question/answer session were conducted on video screen instead. Disappointing, but fair warning of this had been given, and it was still a good evening. It would’ve been great to see him in person, but there we go.
    Interestingly, the event was sold out, but on the night it was only about half full. I suspect that a lot of people decided to not bother going, once they knew it would ‘only’ be a video appearance. Anyway, their loss.
  • Tuesday was at home, but doing a bundle of work that needed doing because….
  • Wednesday was back in London, taking the parents to see the matinee performance of Amadeus at the National Theatre. Which was bloody excellent, and will probably be written about more in another post. Having seen it, I then drove the parents home, and got back to mine about 11pm. Looong day!
  • Thursday evening was at the cinema, seeing the truly ridiculous (and thoroughly entertaining) xXx 3 – The return of Xander Cage.  A film so bad and ludicrous that it went full-circle and was stupidly brilliant.

Even today has been spent on-site rather than in my own office, so it’s still been harder on the braincells than it could’ve been.

All told, a bloody long – but also good – week, and one where I’m really quite happy to have nothing lined up for the weekend, so I can spend some time vegetating. Seems like a plan to me.

Three Thousand

It’s six and a half weeks since I replaced the Saab with the Kia. And I’ve just gone over the 3,000 miles with it this morning.

Bear in mind, this year I’m doing far far less miles than I usually do (short commute, etc. etc.) and it’s still only taken a month and a half to cover 3,000 miles.

There’ve been a couple of longer runs with it in that time, so I know it’s doing OK, and that everything is – so far – running smoothly with it. And no, I’m not going to curse myself with the Gods of Fate any more than that.  So far, I’m happy with the car. It’s nothing glamorous etc., but it is doing its job of getting me from A to B without needing recovery, garage visits and the like.

Anyway, that’s the basic warranty ( three months, or 3k miles) blown away – but of course, it’s still warrantied for another 17,000 miles, so that’s something to be happy about.

Hectic (Again)

This last week has been (yet again) pretty hectic and chaotic.

Since Saturday’s half-marathon walk, I’ve been…

  • out for an Oktoberfest meal with friends on Saturday night
  • into London again on Sunday for a meal in the evening at Helene Darroze (with an added 5 miles of walking)
  • then cinema on Monday evening to see “The Accountant
  • into London on Tuesday evening to see “No Man’s Land” at Wyndham’s Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen
  • cinema on Wednesday evening to see “Dr Strange

Today is slightly quieter, Friday I’m in Chesham, and then for the weekend I’m up in Manchester.

I must be bloody barmy.

 

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.

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