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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.

An Expensive Week

As usual when things go quiet round here, it’s been a busy week – and an expensive one.  If this is the aftermath of holidays, I’m going to have reservations about taking them again.

While I was away, the Saab was (again) in the garage, getting a winter service, as well as checking out a couple of weird issues that only occur when it’s been standing for a couple of days (and thus are hard to get to happen once you’ve driven the sodding thing to the garage)  I’d hired a car to do the driving for the holiday, which was an expected expense.

On Tuesday, I dropped off the car at the hire company, collected the Saab from the garage, and drove into town to work for the rest of the day. All fine. When I drove it home afterwards though, the oil light came on, and the engine started sounding unwell. Bugger. With no back-up plan, it meant I had to sort out getting the car recovered back to the Saab garage, then collecting a new hire car, and doing it all in time to collect friends I was taking to a charity quiz night.  So, no pressure.

As it happened, it all worked out – the recovery wagon turned up earlier than expected, we got to the garage, and the car-hire guys met me there, to take me to the hire place, so I could collect the car and then collect everyone. Pretty stressful all round, and a lot of juggling and keeping people informed of what was happening, but it all came together.

By the end of it, we even came second on the quiz!

It’s made for an expensive post-holiday week though.  Paying for a new hire car, and whatever work the car needs etc. etc.  Oh, and then of course my Fitbit decided to fall apart as well – because why not, when everything else is doing the same?

Just one of those weeks.

Swiss Army Man

Last night, I went to see Swiss Army Man – and it’s definitely the strangest film I’ve seen in a long time. I’m glad I got to see it, though.

The first five minutes tells you pretty much everything you need to know – Hank (Paul Dano) is a man alone on a deserted island, trying to commit suicide, and a corpse (Manny, played by Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the beach. The corpse is loudly deflating, which disturbs his final moments, until he realises that he can use this farting corpse as an escape from the island, and rides him like a jet-ski out to sea.

And that’s just the start.

It’s worth pointing out that if you’re easily offended, just don’t even contemplate seeing this film.

But it’s not just gross-out fart jokes and weird stuff with a corpse. That would be too simple. There’s a *lot* more to this film. It’s strangely emotional, and says quite a bit about modern manners and squeamishness as well as about solitude, loneliness, and how people are.

In truth, I came out wondering what the hell I’d just seen – but also glad I’d seen it.  Even having seen as many films as I have, I really have no valid reference points for describing what it’s like.  And that’s an even harder task when also not giving anything away about the film.

I liked it, but I didn’t. I could see it again, and I’d come out just as confused as I currently am about it. There’s a lot of good stuff, and certain images will definitely last longer than they perhaps should.

I think it’s too much to call it ‘thought-provoking’, but it’s also not dumb, and there is stuff that keeps echoing back afterwards.

In short, I just don’t know about this film. I’m hard-pressed to recommend it, because it’s just *so* odd. But it’s also not bad, and if it weren’t so odd I’d say yes, go and see it.

A very Marmite “love it or hate it” film, I think.

Adding to Savings

About six weeks ago, I wrote about the changes to my intended savings plans for this year, and how it was affecting things.

Basically, I’d had a plan of how much I wanted to put into my savings account this year, and that hasn’t happened. There’s been a lot of other stuff going on instead, but all the same, it’s been a bit annoying to have not managed that target.

Since then, though, I’ve been adding in to the savings account, and making progress. I won’t get to the original target figure for this year – but putting some in is better than putting none in. So since that first post, I’ve put in the full amounts of a couple of invoices for work I’d done, but also a bit more than 10% of each piece of income has gone straight back out to the savings, so I don’t even really notice it’s gone.

In honesty, that’s what I should’ve been doing all of this year, but I was looking at it from a flawed perspective. (I can’t be bothered to explain that right now, but may do some other time)  I’m intending to keep doing the same for the rest of this year, and do the same but with more money next year, and see how we go.

Reduced Insomnia

During the week in Cornwall, I slept better than I have in absolutely years – to the tune of about 2 hours more sleep per night. It’s the first time since I started recording my sleep times with the Fitbit that I’ve had more than four hours in a night – and it happened all week.

So, it looks like the possible cure (or at least improvement) in my insomnia is :

  • Move to Cornwall (or somewhere with equally remote areas)
  • Walk at least six miles a day
  • Sleep in a house miles from anywhere, in absolute pitch-black darkness and silence.

At the moment, none of that is massively feasible. But in the future, it may well be. I need to look at how things work, what I do and what I want to do, and how to get to where that kind of plan might be possible.

So, that’ll be fun.

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.

Final Quarter

Somehow, we’re already nearly in the final quarter of 2016.  A lot has gone on this year, but yet again we’ve a dichotomy when it comes to time.  The year seems to have raced past, and there’s a feeling of not having done much. But if I list all the stuff I’ve actually done already, it’s hard to believe I’ve managed to fit all of it into that seemingly-tiny timescale.

In short, it’s all very odd.  I’m not complaining, but it’s still strange.


There’s a lot lined up for the remaining three months, but equally, there’s a bit more free time. I actually (currently) have a couple of free weekends! (And a weekend away by myself, which should be good)  I’ve still got some bookings to put in for December, but they can’t happen ’til the first week of October anyway.

What I’m hoping is that in this last section, I get to do some stuff that’s been lined up for a while, if only so I can get it all out of my head. Of those bits, the largest thing is my writing projects. I’ve started them, but I want to make more progress, take some time out and braindump things a bit – that’s the main goal of the away weekend next month, almost like a writing retreat for a couple of days.

There’s also the ongoing projects and interests of this year – finishing the year’s Solo Dining project and seeing more plays. I’ve got three or four lined up already, I’m not going to book any more – well, unless something spectacular comes up!

So yeah, plenty to do, but a bit of time to myself. Seems like a plan to me.

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