Nov
19
2011

Idiots guide to buying a house

In the summer of last year myself and Demelza started house hunting. In the December we had put in an offer and then finally in the February we finally moved into our first home. During this time we learnt a huge amount about how to actually buy a house. I am putting some of what springs to mind here in the hope that it will save others the sharp learning curve I needed just to keep up with the whole process. Questions more than welcome.

Step 1: Get some money

It doesn’t really matter how you get a deposit, but one way or another you will need one. Mortgage lenders seem to want between 10% and 20% of the value of the property at the moment. Clearly this means you need to know how much you are going to spend, but a quick check on something like Rightmove won’t take long. Words of caution, if your money is coming to you via a Will then all is fine. Same too if you are saving it all yourself, however, if you are being lent or given it by say close family then be careful how much you get. I think the limit is 12k per year that you could have received from someone else before anti money laundering laws kick in. Basically, when filling in your mortgage they will want to know where that money came from. And if it happens to have come from someone else they will want details about that person. The best thing to do if you are being given it is to ‘save’ it is smaller chunks over a little while so you never tip over the threshold and get lots more questions than you want.

Step 2: Work out what you have to play with

Once you have a deposit you need to work out how far it will go. You could setup a meeting with a mortgage broker at this point, or you could just look up the numbers on the many mortgage calculators that exist on the lenders websites. I think I used the one on Nationwide and the one on Santander. There is nothing wrong with talking to a broker at this point either; there are no obligations, they will be more than happy to talk to you about their options. I also think they are worth going to even if you didn’t think you would be using one. They have access to a lot more deals than the set the high street offers. They also make comparison of a lot of options a damn sight simpler. They might also help give you a better understanding of how mortgage work if you are unsure.

Step 3: Go hunting

Now comes the fun part, time to actually look for a house. There isn’t much to this really… Find houses, talk to estate agents, look round houses, nod and smile when they make jokes. They don’t seem to generally make jokes though, just stand and look solemn and point out the bleeding obvious like “this is the kitchen”… really. I actually think the best way to go about visiting houses is having done your homework on them first. Thanks to the internet getting lots of detail is normally fairly easy, but there will always be something missing. For example, a lot of postings miss out floor plans. Write down the list of things you want to check when you are there, such as layout etc. If you are seeing more than a couple of places in a day then make notes the same day about each one… On one day we saw 4, 2 in the morning and another 2 early afternoon and it was surprising how quickly you forget the details important to you. By the evening of that day it took a bit of thought to drag out the pros and cons.

Most importantly, remember to ask questions and have a good poke around… this can be a little hard if the owner is the one showing you around… just try to be chatty.

Step 4: Show us the money

OK, so you have found the one. It fits all the requirements; you love it, see potential in it, whatever it may be. Assuming at this point there were no clear turns off’s like damp or huge cracks in the walls… time to put in an offer. The best tip we heard on this was never start at the asking price. This may seem obvious, but there is a good reason for it. If you were to offer the asking price straight away then the seller is going to think maybe they have undervalued their home if you are so willing to go for the asking price. They may hold out; seeing how high you will go and how badly you want it.

The key to this negation stage is two part, firstly you want them to think they need you and not that you need them. With your first house this one is easy, you have no chain so can move when you want. This is a very powerful bargaining chip. The second key is to lower their expectation.

It is also worth noting that as you get closer to a deal you can put things like appliances, fixtures and fittings on the negotiating table.

Step 5: Things start getting serious

At this point you need to start getting the paperwork to catch-up. That means two things, getting a solicitor involved and getting a mortgage. Generally estate agents and mortgage brokers are happy to make recommendations for solicitors they have worked with.

Applying for the mortgage is the slightly scary bit, but it isn’t too hard. Once you have your solicitor on side you begin the long and arduous job of keeping everything moving forward. It is surprising how much work there is to get everyone doing their jobs… At peak I was speaking to the solicitor and or estate agents at least once a day.

It is worth noting that when you have a mortgage the solicitor is acting on not only your behalf, but that of your mortgage provider. If you think about this it makes perfect sense, they are buying a greater stake in the house than you are most of the time. The solicitor will do searches to find out the details the local council hold about the property. They will confirm boundaries, do environmental checks (things like if there is an old tip nearby, or a river or even in the south west checks for Radon). The seller will provide a detailed list of what they will and will not include with the property. Check this sodding carefully, it is important. Once you exchange contracts you can’t go back on things. It is up to you to make sure everything is as it should be.

The mortgage company will normally sort out a basic survey if they feel they want one, but you can get a more thorough one done. It is very normal (hell, expected) for you to request more visits to the property during this time. Even if you have nothing to check, I would still recommend this. All this pushing back and forth of letters takes time and it may have been some time since you saw the property. Never hurts to keep in fresh in your mind. We actually got Demelza’s parents to come with us to give us a second opinion and sanity check. While it will be expensive to pull out at this point, better to be sure.

Step 6: Exchange

Once all the contracts have been sorted out, the paperwork in place and the dates for everything agreed you are almost ready to exchange. To exchange you need to have fulfilled any requirements your mortgage lender might have (house insurance is the big one), you need to give your deposit over to the solicitors and you need to be sure with what you are buying. Once you exchange you are committed. It is worth noting, if you are transferring over 10k to the solicitors, you will need to pay for a CHAPS transfer (about £25).

Step 7: No man’s land

Once you actually exchange you enter a contractual point where you are legally responsible for the house. At this point you sort of own the house. The lenders transfer your mortgage amount to your solicitor who combines it with your deposit. They transfer this over to the seller’s solicitor. They update the deeds of the house and hand them over to you. This period between exchange and completion can take between 3 days and about 2 weeks.

Step 8: Completion

Finally, day of completion arrives! You can collect the keys from the estate agents and open your front door for the first time! Now the fun part of moving all the services over…

Nov
18
2011

Let's try this again

Hello, I’m Craig and this is my blog…

Some of the more observant of you may have noticed it isn’t the most well tended to in the sphere, but I’m hoping to change that.

Back in the good old days when I had more spare time and life was less interesting I harped on chapter and verse about whatever bugged me at the time, but since becoming less of a child and more of an actual functioning member of society I seem to have transitions away from blogging.

Personally I don’t see this as a good thing and I certainly see it as something I want to change. Who knows if I will be successful, but it seems worth a shot.

To that end I feel a little catch-up is in order. Since my last real blog post the following have happened (in order):

  1. Proposed to my girlfriend
  2. Blew up the engine on our (well, technically her) car
  3. Bought a new car (my first)
  4. Went on holiday in France (and a little Switzerland)
  5. Spent epic amounts of time planning a wedding
  6. Went house hunting
  7. Had Christmas
  8. Bought a house (harder than you would think)
  9. Decorated a fair bit of said house
  10. Got married (Up to June 2011 so far)
  11. Went on our honeymoon to Athens
  12. Went to the wedding of our friends Nicola and Michael
  13. Lost my job
  14. Got a new one

Over the next little while I plan to have a proper catch-up of some of those events, but I thought I would start with the cliff notes.

For anyone actually interested, the other reason I have been so quiet for so long was because I was rebuilding my whole website from scratch, new design, new front-end code and new back-end code. It is the largest overhaul my site has had since I’ve had one. With everything else going on it took longer to do than planned (clearly). As part of this build I was putting in an admin which allowed me to post to my blog and Livejournal at the same time, categories replicated over, edits happened in both places etc. All of this took a little while, but hopefully this post will prove it works.

A new beginning? We’ll see…

Zzzzzz

Jul
28
2010

Computer Upgrade

Long time no blog, but no matter, I’m here now.

Over the last week or so I have been slotting into place a plan I have had for some time to upgrade some of the core hardware on my computer. Last night this plan culminated in me sitting down to put it all together. 4 Hours later it was done and below are the photos to prove it.

First the new case, all closed and read to go. For those interested this case is huge and detailed here: http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product/product06.php?pr_index=212&cl_index=1&sc_index=25&ss_index=61

Opened up there is a lot more space for cables and disks. It also has space for the PSU at the bottom which was a big part of my plan to keep good airflow around the CPU.

New PSU, CPU cooler, DVD drive and a few cables to go with it all.

This new PSU is modular (also a part of the plan to improve airflow).

PSU installed.

Front panel being done.

Front panel complete.

Old case with machine squashed inside.

Side panels removed and motherboard tray being removed. Starting to clear out the way some of the cables.

The lounge with the rebuild just starting to step up a gear as I move onto the CPU cooler.

All the bits out of the old case, CPU cooler off and CPU cleaned. Just about to put the new cooler on.

Turns out the new cooler was a tight fit to say the least. Note where I have had to cut away at some of the plastic on the fan to get the heatsinks to sit next to each other. Thankfully plastic was not important.

Harddrives mounted in new case.

Motherboard tray clipped in, as is the DVD drive. Just starting to do the power cables and alike.

All cabling complete. Not a very neat job and there is a lot of room for improvement, but at this point I just wanted to get it all and working.

Its new home (note lifted off the floor to reduce carpet dust).

Apr
22
2010

Google maps is lost

It seems myself and Google are at odds over the best alternative route…

(click to view a bigger version)

Mar
08
2010

Food for thought

This is a subject I am always ranting and raving about, and this week is no different. I present two cartoon/workflows which make my point rather well me thinks.

I live in hope that one day the entertainment industry will come to the conclusion that to get people to pay they have to offer more, not irritating paying customers into not staying paying any more.

Originally from: http://lifehacker.com/5475113/remains-of-the-day-why-piracy-works-edition

Originally from: http://www.bradcolbow.com/archive.php/?p=205

Feb
24
2010

Broken me thinks

I consider this to be quite impressive given I have a sync speed of a little over 8Meg…

Speed test  result

For reference, the reason I am running the speed test is to gather more information as I am n the process of bitching to Virgin Media that my connection is too slow (getting around 300k if I’m lucky during normal “peak” times and not much more than 2.3Meg off peak)

Feb
08
2010

Computing misconceptions

As many people know, I know a thing or two about computers. If anyone asks my industry or my field I normally say computing. I say that for simplicities sake, because otherwise it leads to too many questions. However, of late I have come to realise that is akin to calling a shelf stacker at a supermarket part of the food industry.

While technically correct, it avoids the detail that makes the difference.

As soon as someone hears that I do web development and “build websites” as I put it, they want to know if I can help them with their computer. While as it happens I often can, in reality the computer is just a tool to me in my industry the same as it is to a secretary in an office. While you would expect them to be able to use the machine, you would not expect them to fix it when it went wrong.

People seem to think that everything to do with computers is all the same and that if you can do one thing in computing you can do them all. If only it was as simple as this.

To illustrate my point I’m going to explain something I was asked to explain the other day. I was asked how websites work. Remember to keep in mind as I explain what a tiny tiny fraction of computing this is.

Most websites begin with a database where all the data in the system is stored. This is accessed through SQL (1 language) which I then connect to with in my case PHP (2 languages) which then does all the processing of that data. In my environment I use CodeIgniter (1 framework) to do the main calls, process and validate the data and then pass it to Smarty (1 mark-up) to be displayed.

From there the Smarty template contains the HTML (2 mark-ups) which describes all the components of the page and what order they are in. That HTML is sent to the browser along with the CSS (3 mark-ups) which describes to the browser how all that HTML should look. The page might also contain graphics which need to be made in a graphics package of my choice (Photoshop for me). Once on the page there is then one final layer which is the Javascript (3 languages) which sits on top of the data, the HTML and the CSS and allows direct manipulation of that data including sending things back and forth to the server. As an added twist I write all my Javascript using jQuery (2 frameworks).

So all in all to create a simple website for me it requires knowing 2 Languages (PHP, SQL and Javascript), 2 Frameworks (CodeIgniter and jQuery) and 3 Mark-ups (HTML, Smarty and CSS) as well as one graphics programme on top of that.

Then for good measure I need to understand some Unix (operating system), some Apache (a web-server) and all the other techs that go with each of those. Oh, and having a good understanding of XML, JSON, IMAP, POP etc all help day to day too.

Now consider that each of these sections could be several years of learning and trial and error in their own right to truly master

So all this covers a small part of web development and all of this is evolving and changing on a quite literally daily basis and people wonder why sometimes I can’t be bothered to fix their computer.

Jan
31
2010

Time honored tradition

As it my custom it is time again to look back at the year just gone. I say custom, I did it last year, the year before that and the year before that too.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Moved in with someone that I haven’t planned to move out with afterwards.

Oh, and Go-karting… that was epic fun.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I didn’t make any, so yes, very easy to keep. By far the best kind when it comes to keeping them. Given that plan has worked out thus far, I plan to keep not making them and ably achieving the.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope. This said, we are all getting older and a lot more people seem a lot closer too it (not in the fat sense)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Again, thankfully not.

5. What countries did you visit?

Just France I believe on Family holiday.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

Time.. lots more spare time. Money would be good, sleep would be too, but time more than anything else.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Moving in, the many epic trips to Ikea that were required, Holiday, Thanksgiving is always quite an event and actually, Christmas was really nice too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finding somewhere nice to live and actually starting to live there. OK, so I know it is a simple thing, but it is always the simple things that mean the most.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Uni work and alike continue to be a constant source of failure, one I have yet to fully work out how to deal with. Im trying not to put it into that “one day” bracket, but it is going that way.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Im sure my pride has taken a beating from time to time and colds and alike have hit me, but in general, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A whole pile of furniture, turning a few rooms into a home.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

The countless charities I know of or help from time to time who despite everyone tightening their belts still managed to do good in every way they could.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

The music industry, the film industry (US and UK) and the government and some large companies for their onslaught against privacy. Their belief that everyone is a criminal and that making a copy of something for free is the same as taking a physical item.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, followed by the car, followed by food, followed by furniture, followed by plights and tech maybe…

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Again, like a true stuck record, moving in with Demelza, starting a new job, get out and making my own way a little bit more…

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Kasabian – Underdog

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a. Happier or sadder?

Happier

b. Thinner or fatter?

A bit thinner.

c. Richer or poorer?

Richer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Sleep, my own projects, spending time with Demelza.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Work, driving, spending money.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Driving mainly. This was a lot better that is first sounds. We did both the parents in the one day doing the morning and lunch with Demelzas family and then drove all the way over to my family for tea. We actually really enjoyed it, despite it being quite a day.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

Over and over, same girl though…

22. How many one-night stands?

None. I should really remove this question, but it will mess up the numbering.

23. What was your favourite TV program?

Still the legend that is Top Gear. Also very much been enjoying SG1 again.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Nah, hating has so been done.

25. What was the best book you read?

I still don’t really read. In fact, I have little choice what I’m going to put here, I only read one book. It was The Last Lecture and I highly recommend it.

26. What did you want and get?

Somewhere nice to live and a job.

27. What did you want and not get?

A degree would have been nice…

28. What was your favourite film of this year?

The new Star Trek film. A nice mix of the new and the old into something enjoyable.

29. What was your favourite game of this year?

As I said before, Burnout 2 on the GameCube, still. I still play it more than anything else. That said, Boom Blox is really cool. As is the free PC version of TrackMania.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 23 years old and Demelza came up from Cornwall and at best guess, we went to the cinema, but I honestly don’t remember.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

All the filling being done sooner and automatically… Sad isn’t it.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Same as the year before with more t-shirts.

33. What kept you sane?

Demelza, despite the bloody Ryanair music trying to push me over the edge.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy/respect the most?

None. I am growing tiered of celebrity in general and few warrant respect.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

As stated earlier, piracy and privacy annoyed me the most. They still do mainly because I see little intelligent thought going into them. Every study has come out against the government and the industry, but instead of realising how wrong they are and innovating they are pushing back… but they are pushing back against a public that will win.

36. Who did you miss?

Hello stuck record. Demelza for the first half of the year, and then for the second half of the year, a good number of friends I’m now a bit further from.

37. Who was the best new person you met?

Since moving down to this part of the country I have met a lot of good nice people. I won’t name names, but there are many who I am happy to have met.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

Just because the car says it has oil doesn’t mean it knows what it is talking about…

So, same time next year… No, you’re right, a month earlier…

Jan
27
2010

Not Banking on it

I have been using on-line banking for not much less the time it has been around. It is more than just a useful tool, for many it is almost their only contact with their money

I understand people still have some security issues, but really, with a little common sense applied and the current tech that goes into banking like key generators you should be fine.

There is one thing however that I don’t understand. It feels like it is being held back for no good reason. For something that has been with us on the web for some time, it feels no different.

I admit my main experience of this is NationWide, however from what I have seen, others are no better.

For example:

  • Why do we not have nice shiny interfaces?
  • Why can I not tag payments by type and draw graphs of them?
  • Why Can I not put in regular payments and forecast savings?
  • Hell, why are the views so cryptic and the interface so clunky?

I know there are a number of these tools on-line which address most of my issues, however they require you to give them your sign-in details which not only breaks the TOS with the bank, it also just feels wrong and breaks my common sense rule.

Where is the Gmail of on-line banking?

Jan
25
2010

Make do and Mend

I can’t help but feel a sense of achivment and a sense of sadness this evening for something that seems to be a dying frame of mind these days.

Since I have been home this evening I have repaired 3 pairs of trousers and am working on my fourth. Nothing major, a couple of seems coming appart, a button come off and a hem that has come out in the middle.

All of these trousers are perfectly fine except from a few stitches coming undone in some fairly important places. One of them I will admit is quite worn, but I like it that way. The total amount of money it would have cost to replace these particular trousers would be somewhere around the £100 mark (one pair is a fairly long standing and hard living North Face pair I have had for a long while which don’t come cheap).

I will admit to using a cheap small sewing machine Demelza got a year ago or so to do all this, and while I could have done this even more cheaply by hand, my hand stitching is not quite up to par in some places (what is it about a straight line that is so complex!). The point is, even using a sewing machine, in this one instance we have in effect saved £80 (£20 sewing machine for thoese who can’t keep up).

A few years ago with rationing still ringing in their ears the general public at large would have considered this not only easy to do, but also the only sane choice. These days people seem more than willing to part with yet more money to replace something which was far from gone.

I will admit that several years ago I was probably the wrong side of the line, but a couple of years living with Dan (who is one of the ultimate “Keep Calm And Carry On” people I know) and I was soon on the right path.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting spending all waking hours tending to the vegtable patch or clothes with more patches than sleeves, but just a little more bias towards mending and making do.

This of course does not just apply to clothes. Never would anyone in their right mind in computing let an old dead machine go to waste. Of course it will be thrown out, but first it will be stripped for parts, anything that might come in handy and save a trip to PCWord and the land of silly prices.

Jan
25
2010

Housewarming (the event that wasn’t)

So on Saturday we had our house warming party. I say party, I use that term as loosely as it can be used. It was not so much a party, but a small collection of people that met up in a single location for some time and food.

Let me begin with some background.

Demelza has grown up in Cornwall, she went to Roehampton for university and then she moved back home. A year later we moved in together in Plymouth. I on the other hand have grown up in Horsham, Brighton and the south east of the country in general.

The majority of our friends are in and around the London area which as I can tell you from doing a long distance relationship from Cornwall to Brighton is no small distance from Plymouth. This is a journey that requires the better part of the day whichever method of transport you take. Trains can take upwards of 5 hours door to door and the car is not much better. Plymouth to Horsham on a fairly clear day takes about 4 and a half hours.

With this in mind we began to organise our house warming party. We knew not everyone would come and to that end we probably invited a fair few more than we felt we could cope with on the basis that a reasonable number would not be able to make it. We spoke at great length to some on how to get down here and we encouraged people to book their tickets early.

We seemed to have a fair number coming or saying they would come. Some people let us know early on that it would not be possible to go for various perfectly good reasons. This was fair and to be expected.

As we approached the day in question more and more people seemed to be dropping out. Some for, again, perfectly good reasons. Others it seemed had looked at the travel and decided it was quite far to go and they had not noticed quite how far or how long it was going to take. I think some cited costs which of course could have been reduced by booking early.

By the time we got to the day in question and phoned more people to check they were still coming we heard a few more reasons why people were not coming. Again, some of them good.

At this point we had whittled our numbers down to the glorious total of 4. Had some people not already been on their way we would have cancelled there and then, but it was too late.

While no one person had anything but fairly honourable intentions, the net result of so many people pulling out was we both felt rather upset and let down. Admittedly my upset surfaced mainly as anger to start with, but that soon turned to a fairly sombre thought of does anyone actually care.

It seems that most people took the view with regards to their travel that it was just something that could just be sorted out nearer the time. However as stated earlier, this is not a small journey and requires planning and thought. The longer you leaving booking the more expensive it becomes and if you fail to plan it it can easily drag on a lot longer than you first thought (as Thomas found out). As people realised their travel was going to be more complex that first believed, they dropped out, relying on others to take their place. Unfortunately when everyone relies on everyone else and no one does it you end up with the workforce of mangers, a well structured façade with no support behind it. Or in our case a table full of food and no-one to eat it.

Thankfully we don’t choose our friends as people we don’t get on with or don’t like so while this whole episode has been fairly upsetting, I do not for a second believe it to be an act of malice or spite, more an act of carelessness, thoughtlessness, a bit of bad luck and a reliance on others.

This all being said, for the few that did turn up I think a nice time was had. It was not quite the atmosphere we had aimed at but it was a nice gathering nonetheless.

One final question I feel myself compelled to answer (like a child of the national curriculum), given the chance would we do it again? There is a part of me that feels never again. The part of me that put a fair bit of work in for not that much gain. But there is another side of me that must accept that these things happen and to stop because of one bad experience is an even greater tragedy than the event itself. With that in mind, we probably will do this again, but not right now.

Nov
16
2009

Lost in translation

Take a classic track such as Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. A priceless track which has never gets old.

You have it on CD which has a bitrate of 1411.2 kbit/s

This is a nice quality recording. OK, not the quality it was recorded at, but the best you will get.
Actually, to be fair this is the two channels for stereo, so really it is 705.6kbit/s.

But you can’t play a CD on your iPod or better MP3 player so you have to import it onto the computer first.
This gives you maybe a 128 kbit/s or 192 kbit/s file in something like MP3, AAC or WMA. These apps can be set higher, but they are default settings, it is always best to go with those… right?

Then you add it to your iPod or better MP3 player through something like a USB cable (no fear, data can’t leak out of the cable).

You could play it at this point, but if you want to hear it you are going to have to connect it to some speakers or earphones.

Are you still using the earphones that came with your player? Were they nice and white and did they look pretty and stylish? Did you ever think about the audio quality on them? No, you were just too busy standing out from the crowd with the same earphones as everyone else.

Maybe you want to listen to your music at home too. These speakers with iPod docks seem to be everywhere and don’t cost too much, I mean, they are a little steep, but they look good right?

Of course you never notice that the cones on this stylish player are about 10cm’s across and have about the same output range as a dead rat.

So, what have you paid for the privilege of listening to sub standard music?Next time you want to listen to some music, do yourself a favour, consider a cheap CD player, cheap AMP and a couple of bookshelf speakers, if only for the sake of the music!

(Blog inspired by: some video on the BBC site that I now can’t find…)

Nov
16
2009

Broken by design

I have just had one of those days. You know the type, where everything that can go wrong not only does, but likes to break everything else with it.

What follows are a couple of screenshots from my browser at work. Note I am running a plug-in at the bottom of each window called FireBug which allows you to edit the page live. Anyone who does any decent form of web development will be more than aware of this plug-in and should be using it everyday.

What is it not meant to be able to do is change parts of the browser itself… and thus i present evidence to the contrary.

broken_ff_1

broken_ff_2

Nov
02
2009

The fluffy side of living together

I admit that as per usual my plans for keeping my blog up to date have not quite worked. Let’s face it, everyone is used to this by now, moving on…

Life has been too busy. It is always too busy and I wish it would stop. I know a lot of it I bring on myself and that is fair enough, but I also could do with a break. Just a chance to catch my breath.

Last weekend I went back home to Horsham (not sure if Horsham counts as home anymore… maybe I have two homes…). It was the first time I had been back since the summer. I went back for two reasons, first to tidy up and clear my room so my little brother could take it over as his own and secondly because the weekend before was Nik’s Birthday and in the time honoured tradition we were planning on going out for a meal.

Meal was good, drinks were good and still the purple rain cocktail shines on as the house favourite.

Sunday I did the epic drive back home to Devon. 5 hours 30mins non-stop. Boring and annoying, but it had to be done. Unfortunately given the length of the journey I had to leave Brighton far earlier than I wanted to. Then again, I spent nearly two years living with those guys, so it is always going to feel like I’m leaving too early.

The week that followed my trip back was not quite as I planned it. I can only assume I had been holding off illness for that trip. Almost as soon as I got back I wasn’t feeling so great. It is no great surprise, everyone around me has been on and off ill a lot of the time. It finally caught up with me and that took me out of work for 3 days. I did try and go in on the 3rd day, made it in, one meeting 2 e-mails and then back on the way home again. On a plus side that seems to have gone now.

That brought us round to the weekend. Cunning plan was to have a nice day off on the Saturday and relax a little. Unfortunately a recent discovery in our bedroom put a stop to that. Turns out when we moved into the flat there was mould in our room on the walls. At the time we didn’t realise it was this. My best guess is someone brushed the walls down to make it look more presentable. Had we known when we moved in we would have dealt with it there and then.

It had been growing behind the wardrobes and down by the side of the bed against the wall as well as around the window. Hence Saturday was spent trying to find a decent cleaner which wouldn’t stain the paintwork and Sunday morning was spent moving EVERYTHING out of our room and cleaning the walls.

Suffice to say it smells like a swimming pool in there but the stuff is dead and gone.

We haven’t yet moved our stuff back in as we are letting the room air for a while, but that was one headache we could have done without.

Maybe next weekend there will be that time to relax… I live in hope.

Oct
10
2009

Down but not out

My clarinet teacher once told me that the key to practice was little and often. My retort at the time was “I’ve done the little, but not the often”.

I think it would be safe to say this rule works for many things, blogging for one.

I have been meaning to get back into keeping my online persona and blog alive for some time now, but for one reason or another other things have taken precedent.

A lot has happened to me of late and as is always the case, it is hard to know where to start.

Last time I wrote anything here I had recently moved out of the house in Brighton. I was back home living with my parents with a bit more summer still ahead of me, hunting for and applying for jobs and looking forward to a nice Holiday in France.

That holiday has since been and gone (and if the temperature in the mornings is anything to go by, fairly long gone). The job hunting has also come to an end as I am now gainfully employed by a small company called RPM.

Living arrangements have changed too. No-longer am I filling a small room at my parents house, nor do I take up far too much room in a house in Brighton. I am now living in deepest darkest west country Devon with Demelza in a nice little first floor flat.

Suffice the say in my online downtime things have been very busy. To begin with I was busy house hunting (although, as luck would have it that didn’t last long). Then I was busy with planning and taking all I could down to Cornwall to Demelza’s parents house. After that came a nice holiday and a short time to relax (although even this was filled with writing lists of things we needed to do/get). Then finally a quick trip to London and then down to Cornwall to begin my job.

During the first week of my new job we got the keys to our flat, I spent my days working and my evenings moving stuff in. Then on my first full weekend down here we moved in for good. Well, I say moved in, we did, everything else was just a big pile of stuff on the floor.

What followed was a series of trips to Ikea, Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, Argos and anywhere else you might find all the things you need when you move into a new place. The big things were, well, big, but at least we knew what we wanted. The small things took the real time, the wooden spoons, the cheese graters, the hand towels. You only ever realise you don’t have them when you need them.

All the while with this backdrop of sorting the flat came work (for both of us), sorting out of bills, more calls to the rental agency than I care to even think about. I could have written 100 blog entries on the trials and tribulations of moving in, but as is always the trouble with the interesting things in life, you are always too busy to talk about them.

Suffice to say, it isn’t all done, we have already had two visitors and still the weekends have long lists of things that need doing. We are however slowly getting through them. More importantly I feel like we are getting through them.

In other news, my computer is on its last legs, I have a new phone and the world still spins…