This time last year, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding over in Madeira, and bought some travel insurance along the way.
Obviously it didn’t work out, because of Covid and the like, and the insurance didn’t get used for any other trips, for similar reasons. Thankfully, I’d had a good deal on it, so wasn’t too upset. Them’s the breaks, and all that.
This week, I got the renewal letter from the company, telling me what I’d pay this year.
Now OK, there’s been a lot going on in the world this year, and I assume insurance has taken a kicking (although I wouldn’t have thought it was a huge one, in comparison to travel companies, credit cards and the like) but still, the increase from last year to this is a 50% rise. And bear in mind, there’s no way I’d be using it ’til at least May/June, so it would cost me more to able to use it for less time.
Needless to say, they’ve been told to fuck off. I’ll buy travel insurance again as and when I need it – but that’s still not going to be any time soon.
I’ve been a fan of raspberry jam for a long time, and it’s usually part of my breakfast. I’ve tried most of the different brands and types over the year, although over the last few years I’ve settled more on Tesco’s “Finest” offering, which is pretty well priced and tasty. (Before that it was the Bonne Maman version, which was almost twice the price, and even now is £1 more expensive per jar)
On that 2015 visit though, I saw they had some interesting jams – in particular, a golden raspberry one, and a purple one. I couldn’t get them at the time (because I was doing a ton of walking and theatre stuff, so wasn’t going to be carrying other stuff as well!) but on and off they’ve been on my mind since.
They are also ridiculously expensive – six-ish times the cost of my Tesco one, for a jar half the size! – so it’s a bit of a jump to be able to justify that kind of cost.
Anyway, back in October, I’d been to one of my favourite restaurants for my birthday meal (a saga in itself of rescheduling, lockdowns etc.) which is also effectively just round the corner from Fortnum and Mason. So, having done an epic lunch, and needing to walk, I went in. And having just spent a silly amount on Lunch (as well as a couple of drinks) it was probably the only time I could rationalise the price of those jams. So I did. (Although I’m still gobsmacked at the price of them)
They’ve sat around since then, waiting to be tried, and it’s only been in the last couple of weeks they’ve been opened.
All told, they’ve been good, but definitely not worth the price. The golden one is noticeably sweeter and soft-of softer than standard raspberry jam, and the purple one is slightly different in taste (and very much so in colour) but certainly neither one is anywhere close to being something I’d eant to have on a regular basis – even if they were the same cost as the usual ones.
I’m really glad I got round to buying them and trying them, and to now know what they’re like. But I can’t see me getting them again.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve slowly been upgrading some things around the house. Nothing major, but a few things had started breaking or failing, so it’s made sense to replace them with better versions.
Among other things, a lot of my cookware was on the way out – my main frying pad had buckled (my own fault for thermal-shocking it too many times), my baking trays were grim and no longer non-sticking, and my wok had gone horrible with rust. So I’ve replaced them all with better things – and in fairness, none of those bits was less than a decade old anyway, so it’s not like I’ve not had my money’s worth out of them.
This weekend, I’ve also replaced the main lamp in my living room. I’ve had a (revoltingly cheap) uplighter for six years, that I bought while bankrupt, when the previous one’s halogen bulb died. I think it cost me £20, and it was ridiculously wobbly, but did the job – and has done the job for that six years without fail, and without any replacement bulbs.
However, during the week it started buzzing – not just from the bulb, but also from the switch, and to me, that’s not a thing where it’s wise to keep it going. So I had a look round for something new, and ended up with an interesting LED light that offers a range of white-balance colours, as well as being able to move lighting to my requirements and so on. It wasn’t the cheapest, and the lamps aren’t replaceable in the same way as a ‘normal’ bulb would be, but there’s also very little that can break, so we’ll see. Regardless though, I’m really pleased with it at the moment.
All told, I’m happy with how things are going – I’m not paying out stupid amounts for things, but I’m also not staying at the cheapest levels, because I simply don’t need to. Hopefully all these new bits will last me another eight to ten years minimum, and god only knows where we’ll all be by then…
This time last year, I didn’t really have any ‘slobbing out’ stuff at all. The
closet closest I really came were some tracksuit bottoms that I used for workouts and the like, but there wasn’t really much else.
Since then, with the Lockdowns and so on, I’ve expanded my collection a bit – after all, there’s not really any point getting “properly” dressed on the days you’re not even venturing out. So over the summer I had/have some thinner cotton trousers which are really comfortable, and for colder times, I’ve got some warmer ones that aren’t quite tracksuit bottoms, but also aren’t really fit for anything other than staying indoors.
My real concession though, and I’m not at all proud of them, are some slippers. I’d found that my feet were getting achingly cold, so it made sense to get *something*, and these horrors came up at just the right time. They’re unbelievably ugly, and I’d happily burn them if I ever got a partner, but for now they’re warm and comfortable, and that’ll do me.
But I can be sure that, no matter how warm and comfortable they are, they won’t be seen outside the house…
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…