Way back when the first Lockdown was announced, I bought a set of hair-clippers, and it turns out it was probably one of the best things I did.
It’s already more than paid for itself – I think that since then I’ve only had two haircuts at my usual barbers, and all the rest have been done myself.
Of course, it’s also been a learning experience, but once I’d (sort of) figured out the hair length thing, it’s been useful.
I’m not perfect at using them – each use has ended up with a couple of return visits as I’ve discovered bits I’ve missed (or at least that feel like I’ve missed them) – but the results are at least passable, and I’m not worried about being seen out in public once I’ve done it.
Once sanity returns, I’ll still be happy to go back to having a barber do the job properly. For now, though, I’m just happy to be not looking like Cousin It.
Following on from the post about the car’s heating system having packed up, I finally got it sorted just before Christmas.
As usual my dealership was a clusterfuck from start to finish – although there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel on that one.
Initially, I asked them to have a look at what was wrong when I took it to get the brakes fixed. They ‘checked everything they could’ and couldn’t find a problem, but the heater pack is behind the centre console, and they hadn’t allocated the time to do that, so it had to come in again.
That happened on the 21st, at which point they told me it was “only a diagnostic visit – we’re just finding out what’s going wrong“, which was what I’d suspected might be the case, but regardless, my sense of humour started to fail. Because obviously that would mean a third visit for the same problem, which is just fucking ridiculous.
As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the heating system itself, but with a cracked/fucked radiator that was leaking at a good pace. (The mechanic actually brought me through to the garage to show me) Apparently it was only doing so once the system became pressurised (about 10-15 mins into a drive), but still, fairly serious. And because the leak meant it was losing pressure, the heating system wasn’t working. So we needed to get that sorted.
Then they told me it couldn’t be done ’til December 31st, and my sense of humour utterly failed. I wasn’t nasty, but I was quite obviously pissed off that they were happy to send me home (a not insignificant distance) with a close-to-broken car, and leave it that way for ten days.
Fortunately, at that point the light at the tunnel switched on, and one of their people (a sales manager) suggested to the reception that they move some stuff around, so that they could deal with my car the next day. Not ideal, but far better than waiting ten days. Even better, he’d come and collect it from my house, get the work done, and bring it back. (Which also meant it would be their problem if it went pop on the way there)
And that’s what happened. I filled the rad with water before he arrived, to make sure it was as good as possible. The car got collected, fixed, and returned. (They fucked up the costs too, but that’s another story) And since then, it’s all been OK, so it does appear that the problem’s been fixed.
Once he brought it back, we had a chat about how the service department had really let down the sales side on this – when it went in for a pre-MoT service, they noted that it was virtually empty of coolant, but never looked at why; they missed the leaking rad in the MoT itself; when the brakes were being replaced and they were ‘looking at everything’, they didn’t notice the rad pissing water everywhere; and the ‘diagnostic visit and then return to get it fixed’ was bullshit.
As it turned out, they’ve listened to my previous complaints about these practices, and that sales manager is now in charge of the service department, and has been tasked with making it run better, with a more customer-focused attitude. It’ll be a challenge, but it was good for him to have been able to see exactly why he was needed, and what the problems are with the current set up.
I hope it works – they’re at least aware of the problem, and trying to fix it – but only time will tell.
Over the years I’ve been here, one thing I’ve truly slacked off on is my electricity/gas supplier.
Some of that has been due to my landlord initially asking me to not change things on that score – fair enough, I guess – and just transferred the energy account name from the previous tenant to mine. Not necessarily ideal, but there we go. And so, because of that, and it being something I just wasn’t overly faffed about, I’ve stayed with that supplier.
Anyway, that supplier was nPower, and while they’ve been a sack of shit throughout my time here, they’ve at least been a reliable sack of shit.
However. Back in the first week of December, I logged in to the nPower website to send in a meter reading, and got a redirect page, saying “We’ve transferred your account to E.On“. Which is… shit. It’s been done with no communication, no warning, nothing.
The following week, I got a confirmation from E.On that my account had been transferred over, and containing some basic information. Although there was nothing in it about what they’d be charging, or for how long, or… well… anything else, really.
So the key part of the email for me was this…
If you want to switch supplier within 30 days of your account moving to E.ON Next, we won’t charge any fixed tariff exit fees, but we’d love you to stick around and get to know us.
So that’s what I’ve done. Over New Year I sorted out a second transfer, moving over to Octopus Energy (which has a fixed-term contract, but no exit fees)
Amusingly, E.On then emailed as part of the process, and asked “let us know why you’re moving”. Which I did, in no uncertain terms. (Nothing rude or sweary, but a fairly constructive ‘With that attitude, why would I want to stay?!?’ message)
The response from their representative today just went to show that moving on was absolutely the right decision…
I appreciate you providing us with your feedback this will be forwarded to the appropriate department for future assessment.
The migration process is an automated process, which unfortunately we have no control over.
Wish you all the best with your new provider.
A pretty convincing version of “Yeah, we don’t care, just piss off”
It’ll be interesting to see how the switch goes, and how things work out with Octopus…
So here we are, at the end of a true bin-fire of a year. Covid, Brexit, Lockdowns, it’s all been more than a bit bollocks, hasn’t it?
In many ways, I’ve been lucky this year – as I’ve said before, I’ve not been too badly affected. I’m still working, I’m still healthy, I’m still solvent, I’m still going.
I’m not saying that to be smug, or to belittle anyone else. I know that in many ways I’ve been fortunate, and that some of my privilege is probably showing. But equally, I’m not complacent about any of it, and I’m not going to tempt fate along the way.
In other ways, I’ve not done well at all. I’ve missed out on seeing friends, and on doing stuff – and again, I know that’s true for most people.
This year has definitely affected me, it’s left me with less motivation to do things, and with more loose ends than I’m used to. I don’t like not doing stuff, don’t like not having plans. I’m better at having plans changed last-minute – but that’s more because those things are outside my control.
I don’t know what 2021 will bring. (Obviously – no-one does. This time last year, no-one expected Covid) I do think there’s going to be a lot of hardships still to come, but I also hope it at least gets easier than 2020 has been.
Onwards and upwards, anyway. Have a good one, and let’s hope it’s a better one.
Having got back into my archery this year, the winter season brings its own interesting issues and problems.
Basically, everyone shoots at shorter distances – twenty to thirty metres, rather than fifty to eighty – and ideally indoors, for the wimps. And if possible, that means dialling down the power in the bow. Heavier/bigger arrows also help, as they’re slower than the usual ones.
Unfortunately, my bow is already dialled down to pretty much the lowest weight it can manage, which is around a 45lb pull. That meant at the short ranges my club uses, I was going to end up putting the arrows through the targets and into the concrete wall behind (indoors) and losing all the fletchings (feathers) as well. Which becomes very expensive, very quickly.
Having looked around a bit, I went back to my normal archery store in Newark (it’s a bit of a slog to get to, but worth it for their customer service, knowledge, and prices) and bought a second bow, specifically for winter/indoor archery. It’s a good little bow, from a Chinese company called Sanlida, and cost me £175 including the sight, arrow rest, and small stabiliser. That’s incredibly good value! Additionally, if I decide to use it all the time, I can also dial it up from its current setting (about 25lb pull) all the way up to 70 lb, which is pretty epic.
I bought it a couple of weeks ago, and have only used it a couple of times so far, but on that limited experience, I’m really pleased with it. It’s doing what I want, and the current power means it’s accurate enough, without damaging things.
But it does also mean I now own two bows – although that’s OK too, as I’m using both. If they’d gone back to sitting doing sod all, that would be a bad thing. But as it is, I’m OK with it.
Back in October when my car took its MoT, it came with a warning about needing new brake discs. Not urgent – it was a warning, not a failure – but still, it needed doing.
I was aware that, while still well within limits, they weren’t as good as they could be, so today I got the discs and pads replaced.
The difference is…. noticeable. I’m having to be a bit more careful with slowing down, because it’s all back to brand-new, and I was definitely used to the flawed and worn items.
I’m glad it’s sorted – it makes a big difference to things, and it’s something that’s not playing on my head any more, which is always a good thing.
Yesterday, for reasons I’ll write about some other time, I had to drive up to Newark.
It’s not a horrific drive, about 90 minutes usually, and pretty easy. Straight up the A1 , and then down the M1 to come home.
Yesterday though, was bloody vile. About halfway through the drive up, it started to snow – not super-heavy, but enough to make things interesting in the still-quite-dark winter morning.
It was at this point that I discovered that my car’s heating had packed up. Fuck.
By the time I stopped at Newark, it was snowing fairly heavily, and starting to settle.
When I came out to go home, the car had a good three or four inches of snow all over it, and the roads were full of it as well. The start of the drive home was emphatically Not Fun, although for me that was mainly because it was bloody cold inside the car, and no heating meant it was also steaming up a bit. The real Not Fun was more in the purview of other drivers who couldn’t handle snowy roads and/or hadn’t put lights on, and were generally utter fucksticks.
The M1 was OK – once I got down past Leicester the snow turned to heavy rain, and then it was just a slog through shitty weather and shitty traffic.
All in, the temperature (according to my car) rose by five full degrees (Centigrade) in the hundred miles between Newark and Home.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had a drive where I was actually thankful to get out at the end of it. But that was definitely one of them.