2020 has been one heck of a year for me and pretty much every single person on earth. The Covid19 pandemic effected so many peoples lives from people dying to people having to operate around nationwide lock downs. People I know have had covid19 and a couple people are still suffering with the long covid19. From memory no one I know has died but I’m not certain.
The thing about the pandemic is its like background radiation. Its always there and it affects everything. Even if its small things.
Then in the middle of everything the police in American murdered a bunch of black people and the whole thing was captured. May 2020, was a turning point for many, finally we could talk about systematic racism and people were listening. Not to say they did a lot about it but in some places the light was shone and people finally understood what it means to be an anti-racist.
So with all that how was my year from the Quantified Self data point of view?
My average sleep duration has increased from 7 hrs 20mins to 7hours 50mins. Average deep sleep was 4.03 hrs now its 4.35hrs.
This year I started moving away from Gmail, so the numbers make sense. I had 32,601 conversations, have 20718 emails in my inbox and sent 7841 emails this year.
Have 114,564 photos and 4,269 photos albums in Google photos.
Tasks wise I have 304 open tasks and completed 3,315 over the year
Been on all of 6 trips including Manchester, Warrington, Lancaster, London, Alton towers, Blackpool this year.
Head further a field with the scooter
Even with Covid19, there was a brief chance to go on holiday to the Netherlands in August. I had planned to take the scooter across from either Hull or Felixstowe. I checked out the pricing got the emergency kit, arranged my stay with a friend in the Netherlands. But then Greater Manchester went into a tier where leaving become problematic. I push on but then suddenly the Netherlands become a country when I could need to isolate for 14 days after returning. At that point I decided its all too much.
Its a shame as I also considered Ireland too but the season had changed and didn’t fancy driving in Ireland in the rain.
Visit another new country This never happened for obvious Covid19 reasons. Maybe next year will be better?
Make some changes to the flat Lots of changes to the flat, from a new desk, a network attached storage, reconfiguration of some basic things. I still have a number of tasks related to this to go through for 2021.
Host film nights at mine This didn’t happen for obvious Covid19 reasons. Although my bubble might break this somewhat.
Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country Yeah Covid19 killed this but who knows what might happen next year
Find the others and connect them This has started to happen, but theres more work needed on this front.
Play a new sport somewhat regularly Another Covid19 killer, but I did spend a lot of time with the Diabolo.
Drink more fizzy water
This happened, maybe too much and I had to stop drinking copious amounts of fizzy water late at night. I’m not drinking so much that I needed a subscription but I’m getting through a bottle of gas every 3 weeks?
Look after myself better I believe this one happen starting with my focus on my sleep patterns. Being able to make that decision about working later has made a massive difference to the quality of my sleep, even with the background humm of the pandemic.
Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help This believe it or not had happened, from spending much more time sorting out what I can recycle. Tesco also have been delivering my shopping with bags so been using them for many things for recycling.
Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon This happened, I signed up to Pateon as there is a number of podcasts I regularly enjoy and gave them small amounts of hard cash to help support them. I also donated time and some money to other places like anti-racist, feminist, neurodiverse organisations.
Change my email signature with important information Done, my signature now includes my pronoun, my user manual and status. I keep thinking about adding my free/busy time but don’t really like the fact google calendar reveals your email address when doing so.
I don’t write this lightly and been writing it over the last week or so. I recognise I’m privileged owning a place in Manchester with a full time job but this needs talking about. I also get it will have an effect on housing prices in Islington Wharf but to be honest I’m so sick and tried of the way residents are being treated. Its clear from the amount of times residents have been lied to, this is most likely going to play out in the media. Even our MP (Lucy Powell) being involved hasn’t had the same effect as media attention. Its clear Waterside places like most companies don’t like media attention, especially when they have phase 4 on the line…
Imagine you live in a lovely flat in the centre of Manchester. Overlooking east Manchester and phases 2 and the new phases 3. great but like all modern flats there are problem. However the problems are not just problems but actually latent defects.
The lovely floor to ceiling glass walls on 2 sides are heating up the flat to such an extend that during the winter months there is no need for heating; but on the other hand during the summer months turning the flat into a oven with temperatures inside +2-5c on the ambient temperature outside. As its a modern flat, you imagine some air-conditioning, nice large windows, etc…
Lets talk about the heat
One window per room with a opening distance of about 7-9cms with the safety locks on and 40cms with locks off. Enough you can jump out, which of course is not recommended at 20 stories high. There is a thing called a Airvac which circulates the air around the flat but its very loud and if you are circulating hot air around its not great. Note as there is only one window per room, the only way you can have a proper draft is opening all the doors and windows.
The heat is painful but to be honest I can tolerant it to a certain extent because I face north east from the the sun rises on my flat and before it gets to midday its already gone. This of course doesn’t make much difference when the ambient temperature is high of course. Which is a general latent defect, as anyone can tell you having walked in Islington Wharf’s corridors which has the hot water pipes running along the celling of each one.
As mentioned I am actually doing well because of the position of my flat. Others including neighbours have to put up with +2-5c on top of mine. For example if its 25c outside, it could be closer to 28c in my flat, while my neighbours could be dealing with closer to 32c in their flat!
I have 4 fans in my flat and always have to take off the safety locks to circulate enough air with all the inner doors open. Having the garden is a thankful refuge from the heat. They offered us aircon units as a kind of acknowledgement of the problem with heat but as you can see previously they were the size of washing machines and suited to industry not a 2 bed room flat. You should hear it going!
The temperature modelling/algorithm (we have many) was made for people not working from home during the day (certainly not built for covid19). It was also setup for a professional different couple with no children. Although Islington Wharf has apartments ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 bedrooms duplex’s! Talk about bad data!
Its also clear the problem lies with the incredible floor to ceiling glass panes. Those apartments without the glass don’t have such a heat problem. We have found the glass seems to be different if replaced from all the shattering we have had (there has been too many, more than average). We have also noted some of the glass as been installed backwards (the kite-mark is different in different flats)
What about the water?
I said I am lucky, and I really mean it. Another latent defect is water ingress. In short there is water leaking from all over the buildings. There was a point recently when there was so much water leaking down the emergency staircase it was leaking into the lobby (wish I took a picture).
Others experience drips of water from there windows and there are many cases when it rains (and it does it Manchester a lot). There is water coming down the walls causing damp and unliveable conditions (aka they have had to put up plastic tarpaulin to separate the living space from the wall and in the end been rehoused.
I personally have seen spots of dry water droplets by the window but never experienced anything like the pictures I have seen from others. Theres a video of a patio with the paving stones pulled up and the rain water just gathering there. As you can imagine, most of the time the water leaks down into levels below.
The building isn’t just leaking, its flooding in parts every time there is rain. Its clear the building wasn’t constructed in a way to handle rain as this has been happening from day one.
The M.E.N. reported how Waterside Places had had to evacuate all the residents in its brand new Islington Wharf Mews developments earlier this year after the homes were found to breach fire safety regulations.
Residents at Islington Wharf, in New Islington, have been engaged in an ongoing battle to get their windows replaced after temperatures repeatedly soared in the summer months. At one stage they had threatened legal action.
Currently the window from which the pane fell in August is still boarded up and Waterside has handed out air conditioning units to the affected apartments.
What about insurance? Let me tell you about insurance!
There is serious thoughts about putting together a court case on this front but raising the money to start the case is a big problem
Where do we go from here?
After 10+ years of fighting with Waterside places about the latent defects, they sued the builders Laing O’Rourke, for some unknown amount of money. Now with some unknown amount of money and a judgement call Waterside places has to fix the residents problem (their term not ours) and Laing O’Rourke will be re-doing the work.
This should be great news but of course they are doing it in the cheapest way possible and ignoring the fact we have been fighting them about these latent defects for 10+ years. They actually feel like the savours not the problem.
However they are doing it in the cheapest way they can… in short
They plan to put a UV film on the outer side of all the windows including mine.
They plan to convert all the windows which open into 2 windows which open. For example my one window pane in the living room will be replaced with two windows one on top of the other which can be independently opened
I can’t get a straight answer out of them about what exactly they will be doing in my flat personally. I’m assuming not much compared to others.
Sounds reasonable right?
Lets add all the things you would expect.
There will be zero compensation!
This will take over 2 years and we will be expected to live in the building/site, no moving out temporally
On top of the previous one, we will be expected to share our key with Laing O’Rourke. No clarification of when and how long for.
Laing O’Rourke will turn our communal garden into their workers yard for 2+ years, meaning no garden access. Waterside places don’t want to use the site for phase 4, which was also used for phase 3 (Islington Wharf locks) because they have planning permission and don’t want anything holding up phase 4. So they are passing their lack of action on the latent defects upon us.
Oh and this all starts in the next couple of months!
With all that would you sign a contact allowing this to happen?
Didn’t think so…
I posed the question of not signing and they (Waterside places) was taken a back like why wouldn’t you sign it? After a while of that awkward silence on the Microsoft Teams conference call (don’t get me started about this), they have no idea what to say. Except there is a clause in our tenancy agreement giving them access in certain circumstances.
As mentioned at the start, this is on going and looking forward, I can only see going public as the way not to be steam rolled into a position which suits them and their budget but will end up massively inconveniencing residents for 2+ years. I’m sure other residents will write their experiences, I’ll be urging them to do it in the public rather than on facebook.
Head further a field with the scooter
Missed this last year, so its high time for a ride into Europe. I have plans to stay with a friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany for some coasting. However, more importantly if the secondment was to go ahead. I’d highly likely drive my scooter in the Netherlands.
Visit another new country Fitting with the previous one. Luckily last year, I finally got to Italy for the first time, but that was pure chance I think. There’s a lot of places I need to go including Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, etc in Europe. One thing I’m doing for sure is South Korea & Japan (again) in April with my partner this time.
Make some changes to the flat As mentioned previously, I have bought a few bits for the bedroom including a new desk. I bought a lot of my furniture when I first moved in and its time for a few changes now I’m much more settled in.
Host film nights at mine I have my new projector, the surround sound system and even the popcorn machine to go with it, so its time to actively do some film nights. For real this time!
Spend less time in the UK / Live in a new country As mentioned previously I’m putting together a strong case to move to Amsterdam for a year. Unlike previously its not just because of Brexit. There is a unique opportunity under the BBC to bring together other public focused organisations for a wider “public service centric network.“
This also fits with my previous resolutions around being a stronger advocate for New forms of Value/Public Service Internet/Team Human; and even more with find the others. Making this a reality is going to be difficult but if it works out its going to be amazing for many reasons I can only imagine right now.
Find the others and connect them Directly related to the previous one. I mentioned in my 2019 new year resolutions about #teamhuman. Its not so much team human per-say but a more non-perfect human outlook on the world. There was something which Eric Nehrlich wrote a long while ago. Find the others, its been echoed by Douglas Rushkoff here and here.
Play a new sport somewhat regularly I love Volleyball and could play it over and over again, but I know people around me don’t dig it as much. So I’ll try a new sport as long as its not Football, Rugby or Cricket. Mainly to bridge between people around me who may like to play something different. Currently Badminton, Basketball or Netballl are looking most likely. However with moving to the Netherlands,Korfball and Handball (which I played in the past) could be new options?
Drink more fizzy water I have fallen love with carbonated water. Maybe its the amount of time I spent in Berlin but regardless its great stuff and much more healthy than most of the stuff I use to drink. I decided to invest in a SodaStream after seeing the amount of plastic water bottles I was recycling. This year I’m going drink a lot more carbonated at work, home, out and about. Its 25% health related and 75% because cold fizzy water is just the best!
Look after myself better I’m going to start walking more, I noticed how many more steps I do when going for coffee with colleagues at work. Parking in the multistory and walking to work actually adds another 1500 steps daily. Manchester is pretty walk-able and public transport is pretty good to be honest. I’m still waiting for the UK transport laws to change to allow things like electric scooters. This also fits with my drink more water one.
Be even more aware of the environment and what I can do to help Following the fizzy water one too, I’m far more concerned by our lack of ability to recycle and reuse what we have around us. We recently had compost bins in our flats which were emptied into one large compost for the recycling. However if one person misused the compost, the compost would not be emptied and was left rotting. As you can imagine over 200 apartments, that compost wasn’t emptied for weeks.
So I’m going to see what else can be done from my end. Maybe theres somewhere else I can drop my compost? Maybe there is something else which could be done? Who knows but its worth explore.
Put my money/resources where my values are, with platforms like Patreon Theres a lot of things I like reading and listening to and its about time I started supporting their use and development through systems like Patreon. A few years ago I finally kickstarted the Pebble 2 smartwatch, till that point I never joined Kickstarter. In an ideal world, they would gain support through the public service network but we are a long way from that in certain countries. One example I keep thinking about is the Guardian which have lots of options for payment and will take anything to support journalistic freedom.
Change my email signature with important information
I’ve been thinking about adding pronouns to my different things for a while. I have already added them to my mastodon profile and will slowly add them to other profile information where I can.
Theres been a lot of talk about work life balance and self care recently and I agree with lots of it whats been said. But I also would add a level of self awareness can really be useful if possible; to this end I’m going start he-himby publishing a user manual for myself, which will be linked to in my email signature and elsewhere. Outlining all the meta things which can’t fit into a signature.
My sleep deficit over the whole year has massively decreased to 36 mins, My average sleep this year has been 7 hours 20mins (down from 2018). Average deep sleep has been 4.03 hrs now only 48% of my sleep.
According to Gmail I have had 54,325 conversations, have 33345 emails in my inbox and sent 7241 emails this year
Have 111,540 photos and 3,971 photos albums in Google photos.
Tasks wise I have 267 open tasks and completed 2,876 over the year
Been on 52 trips including Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Bristol, Guernsey, Madrid, Amsterdam, Venice (first time in Italy), Berlin, Helsinki, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Nottingham, The Hague, Bath, Newcastle this year.
Head further a field with the scooter
Again I missed this one and its very unlikely this will happen before the UK leaves Europe. Theres still an idea of visiting my friend in Rotterdam then drive around and maybe into Belgium & Germany. But this may change massively if I move to Amsterdam?
Ride a roller coaster in yet another country This also didn’t happen this year, although I did go to Madrid again and ride lots of coasters in the scorching 41c sun. Also I decided to give the rollercoaster park in Helsinki a miss this year. Next year I’ll be in looking out for coasters in other countries including South Korea.
Look after myself better Didn’t do so badly but theres a lot of room for improvement. I do a lot of walking when away from home but Volleyball isn’t as intense as it use to be due to not being in the team now.
Spend more time in the UK This happened I think and my partner agrees.
Enter the bake off at work This is a yes, I baked some banana bread with chilli chocolate inside and it was very nice except when I took it to work things didn’t quite turn out as expected. But I did get six peoples vote and there’s photos of the caroline reaper chocolate volcano cake here.
Explore more about the brain using neuroscience This needs some work, as I didn’t go to any events this year at all from memory.
Do more with my Estonian e-residency I did extended my e-residency another 2 years and I do use it as ID when entering some physical businesses. Its not quite what I was thinking about but it slightly counts. I did also look into using it as another form authentication for some services and finally setup a email address for it.
Explore the future of decentralised and distributed systems
I spent a weekend at IndieWebCampBerlin and the following days at Republica19. It was quite an amazing and my follow up to R&D with a lunch time lecture with this presentation.
Make some changes to the flat I finally started by finally removing the filing cabinet to the local dump, getting a large Billy bookcase in my partners new car (with the roof down in the Manchester rain). I bought a sitting and standing desk which is smaller but yet to put it up due to having the existing one still in place. I didn’t realise my Jerker desk is over 20 years old! I’ll be offering it on ebay in the new year if anyone is keen to have it?
Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine This needs to happen in 2020, I had a couple of evening with my new projector, but nowhere what I was hoping for. My partner and friend had not seen Inception so we had fun with that one evening. Another friend suggested she had never seen Kill Bill, so that could be a back to back session with the projector and surround sound system.
When it comes to the dinner parties front, theres been a bit. Likely the best was the chocolate tasting party which was great.
Work on the dating book Since Hannah offered her copy editing skills to help make it a real book, I have done what I can. She suggested ghost writing the book and we have agreed thats a way forward. When I last spoke about the book, I saw 11+ chapters of my previously badly written nonsense, rewritten and re-imagined. Its going to be amazing!
Be a stronger advocate for Team Human This is summing up so much of 2019 for me. Not only in daily life but in work. Its appeared in presentations, in talks I’ve given and the way I go about things. Ok its not really about team human but new forms of value or rather. Its one of the reasons why I’m considering a secondment.
Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
Back in September me and Kate took part in the listening project. I had hoped the recording would be on the site by now but instead I’ll say somewhere in the recording, we agreed to take each other out of comfort zone for a weekend.
Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
I bought a projector and about to fashion a projector screen out of ikea blinds. As the TV screen is lovely but not big enough for lots of people gathered around on my hopefully new corner sofa. I already have the cinema system for it but you can’t be a projector size screen. I also want to host more dinner parties for friends at mine.
Head further a field with the scooter
Where next is a question. I feel like a weekend in Ireland would be easy and good. Although further in to Scotland would be a good move too.
Stay better in touch with old friends
Jennifer emailed me after a long while of radio silence. She was interested in meeting up for a catch up. I thought it was a great idea… We met up and had a really good and productive catch up. I was a great idea and I’m going to follow by doing a similar thing in 2016.
Redecorate the flat
Same as last year, its about time and I might need to get some professionals in to help sort out things including network conduits and shifting radiators.
Work on the book/serialised blog
I have written about 26 chapters and shared a few chapters with close friends. I’m thinking about just realising it as a series of blog entries because I have had interest from others about sharing their stories too. I could even ask for contributions further a field.
See the Aurora (northern lights)
I have spoken to people and Brian Suda has done a great job sending me media about the northern lights. I’m thinking about going to Iceland to see it and of course him before summer. Iceland in April sounds like a great holiday for my birthday maybe?
Make some bold moves with my love life
I got to sort it out, its been a while since I did back to back dating and got really stuck in. It time consuming but in short bursts it can work. But it starts with refreshing my online dating profiles and trying out a few of the new dating services such as Bumble.
So many things I want to explore, which I summaries under the humanity title. Data ethics, going beyond systematic thinking, emotional angles, diversity, using our other senses and deeper conversations… etc etc…
They all deserve attention and focus in 2016 and beyond. Expect to see more focus in the future.
I know most of you are saying something like awwwwww…. but I see a dangerous animal with teeth and claws chasing somebody down.
I get most I’m most likely quite bias on the matter of dogs…
I’m terrified and hate dogs generally.
Having been bitten quite a few times over my life (luckily nothing which has caused a scar). Last time it happened I had it put down by the police. It was the only option for this little dog which walked calmly out of a garden while the owner was cutting the hedges, walked up behind me and took a bite out of my lower leg as I walked by.
If I had a pound for every time a owner said something like (feel I could turn this into a buzzcard bingo)…
He will lick you to death
He’s just be friendly
He’s just curious of you
Maybe he smells something on you?
He’s just saying hello
I don’t blame the dogs, but rather the owners for not keeping control of the dogs. Many times the things would have been much easier if they had kept the dog on the lead or in a closed door room.
But saying how much I’m terrified by them, its simply not fair… as there seems to be a trend for having small dogs in a flat. At least where I live it seems the dog ownership has shot up. Now there seems to be a dog on every single floor including mine.
I don’t really care about the bit of noise (there was a dog under my flat which barked when there was another dog out the window, which living next to a canel/path was all the time) but what I do care about is the them running around loose in public areas of the flats and frankly them being trapped in a 41c hot apartment all day.
Islington Wharf gets really hot, there is a lot of glass on the outside and in the summer its not unusual for the internal flat temperature to go up wards of 34c. We ran a small test a few years back with people recording the temperature and posting pictures. I think the hottest measurement was 46c! Of course this is getting sorted finally.
Regardless of it getting sorted, imagine a dog in the flat all day right through the midday sun. Its not on…!
Its worth saying I lived with a dog for a year, yes even with my massive fear of them. But we (me and Sarah) had to send him back to America as it simply wasn’t fair with us out of the flat for sometimes 8-9 hours at a time. Jack wasn’t even subjected to the extreme heat but he would go slightly crazy anyway.
Small dogs seem to be the ultimate the fashion item this season? Some people need reminding of the old christmas message – a dog isn’t just for Christmas day or rather a dog isn’t just to increase your ego.
There is something not right about keeping dogs in a small hot flat most of the day. Maybe the RSPCA needs calling?
Still can’t remember what prompted me to start blogging my new years resolutions but its become a good habit (as far I’m concerned) and I’ve always got friends, family and followers to keep on reminding me.
Go to a new part of the world I’m scoping Tokyo and think I got the flight sorted, some friends who maybe interested and I’m looking at Airbnb for somewhere to stay. My cousin has mentioned eastern europe is cool… regardless, I got to try going somewhere new and further east
Improve my circus skills
I have completely neglected my circus skills last year. This year I’m aiming to be able to perform a basic vertex. This will mean going to down to Quirkus or seeking out the Circus House. I’ll also be watching and practice in front of Youtube (i mean tricks like the vertax gunslinger have got to be tried)
Scooter into another country or new area Last years trip down to Bristol via Snowdonia was amazing and I got to go do it again but go further a field. The issue really is weather but I think early summer in Ireland or up through Scotland could be fun. I’ve also been thinking about how I have never been to East Anglia (except Kings Lynn), so maybe its time on the scooter?
Quantify more and make better use of my data exports Off the back of the last one…I collect quite a bit of data but its still in a lot of silos. When I was doing the metadating, it became clear how distributed it all is. So I’m going to do something about it. Maybe aggregate it all together under my own control. Also I’m going to sort out the Manchester Quantified Self meetup.
Do something for other dyslexics Another connection to number 4? I manage my dyslexia in a not bad way, yes there are better ways but everywhere I look there are still stories of people struggling to manage. Somebody once suggested I would be a great mentor and to be fair I have done a little ad-hoc mentoring. I’m not sure exactly what yet, but something.
Improve my health and alertness 2015 is 5 years after my brush with death. I’m forever thankful for the chance to change things and live the life I want. I’m not doing too bad, consistently at my lowest weight and feeling quite active. Of course I can always do better and that is happening. But I’ve been wondering about my alertness. I use to be quick and I’m seeing signs that its coming back. So I’m going to make 2015 about alertness. This may include the flu jab and better sleeping patterns.
Hire somebody to ironing my clothes I have a cleaner because although I do clean my own flat, there are things which I don’t have time for or simply forget. Likewise I usually keep my clothes in a reasonable state by shaking them and hanging them up when out of the washing machine. But I have a lot of cotton now and it just gets wrinkled and there is little you can do. I bloody hate ironing, so its time to just hire someone. Looking at you hassle.com
Try dating younger (and progressive) but central located women Recently I seem to be going out with women my age who live further a field and seem less progressive about their thinking. Its time to try something different, theres lots of single women in Manchester. I hadn’t really considered younger (don’t know why really), although most men do. My parents have a large age between each other and it works ok, maybe it could work for me?
Decorate the flat
When I first moved into my own flat in Manchester, I was told by the estate agent, the furniture would be easier for them to leave it there. Of course this was a lie and I had to run around in my recovery period getting furniture from IKEA. My parents and good friends (sheila/glyn) helped me put everything together. And the lovely Jane, rearranged my living room a while ago. I always said I would replace things like the sofas, but 4 years later its pretty much the same as most other apartments. Time for a new look, touches and some new furniture.
I still tend to read non-fiction type things but recently my instapaper and greader is getting quite busy as I’m certainly not finding the time to just sit and read. Thats going to change in 2015.
Discover more music via Djs and Podcasts Chris tweeted following my review of 2014 about my top music listening from Last.fm. I have to admit my music discovery last year was a little crap. I don’t listen to music radio or go out to clubs where trance or serious house is played, so don’t really get a chance to discovery new stuff. In the past I use to listen to Armin van buuren and gareth emery’s podcast because I use to walking alot. However I walk less now due to the scooter (can’t quite get headphones under the helmet yet). So you know what I’ll be listening to while working. Be interesting to see the difference next year.
What will I do with this much bandwidth? Well self hosting is a consideration along with being able to access all my media anywhere and everywhere with Plex. I’m also wondering if a more distributed model is viable, cutting out the 5 stacks?
I saw this on Ikea Hacker the other day while reading my Kindle.
A guy converted his studio flat into a one bedroom flat using the PAX sliding cupboard. The exact same one I got at home in my new place.
I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have their bed in their living room, so we started to brainstorm. We discussed ever type of foldaway bed and room divider. Then we found IKEA’s PAX sliding cupboard doors.
I wish I was better at the DIY but I’m rubbish. I had to pay a guy to put up my shelves in the kitchen the other day. But hey we can’t be good at everything…
We got a note in our letter boxes on Thursday that the window cleaners would be doing our block on the weekend. I did wonder how they were going to do it because the top of Islington Wharf is not level or very friendly for window cleaners. Actually after a talk with the window cleaning team, they are actually using the penthouse gardens on the top floor to tie there ropes, hardly ideal. The building is also a weird shape, making cleaning it even more of a challenge that say something like Beetham Tower. Although they did point out that the over hang certainly makes things tricky. Islington Wharf has lots of overhangs and angles, so it requires many “drops” according to the window cleaners.
So I’ve finally got the new flat about right, there was plenty of unpacking and even more putting together of furniture thanks to my great parents and lovely friends Sheila and Glyn (who traveled all the way up from London to see me and help me move in, I will never forget that)
I just last Friday put up the last piece of Ikea furniture (the Lack coffee table) and shifted things around in the flat. I expect theres plenty more shifting needed for everything to fit and work in the spaces I have put them in. I still have a ton of flatten Cardboxes in my main bathroom because the recycling is totally filled up and there too large to take somewhere else for recycling.
One of the best parts about the new flat is the amazing view I have in the main room. There is 2 walls of double glazed glass so you really get a fantastic view of North East Manchester (including the New Islington area aka Ancoats). I can easily see the Manchester City stadium, Chips (the weird shaped urban splash flats), 3Towers (another urbansplash set of buildings), Tutti Furti (the self build scheme), Royal Mills flats, the new east Manchester tram line and lots more. On a clear day, you can see the mountains/hills which are the start of the pennines which split Leeds from Manchester. The clouds are also pretty amazing at this height. You can almost see the rain clouds coming in slowly and the thunder storm we recently had was pretty impressive. You could almost see the lightning hit the ground in some places. Wish I had found my camera earlier, as it was simply stunning.
So if you didn’t know already, I bought this place. So I’m now a home owner again. I won’t say how much I got the flat for but its a very reasonable deal with the old governments homebuy scheme. Unfortunately I can’t recommend it much because the new government got rid of it on the 1st August. Its a good scheme no wonder they killed it off. Either way, my monthly mortgage is well below my rent for the other place, I’m actually quite shocked how low it is. Of course its fixed for the next few years, which should give me plenty of time to re-morgage at a lower rate in the future.
All in all, I’m really enjoying the new pad at islington wharf and friends of me look out for the flatwarming party which will most likely take place in the secret garden instead of my flat. If the weather keeps up, I might turn it into a massive bbq instead….
So this is the view I’ll be seeing a lot more of in the very near future. It is the view looking northward across the Ancoats, i mean new islington area which I learned on Saturday use to be the home of the italians who moved to Manchester in the early 20th century. Of course I’m nice and high in the islington wharf block of apartments. I would have like to have been on the other side but it was an extra £10k to be on the south side with a balcony. Hey at least I get to see the Manchester City stadium (sport city) and the rest of new islington including the planned beach which meant to be put in just next to Chips (the two tone block of apartments in the middle of the picture).
So to go with the floor to ceiling windows, is two bedrooms a nice large lounge with kitchen and two bathrooms. There’s also a huge community garden for everyone in the building. I took advantage of the governement scheme which is now ending this weekend. Basically its a interest free loan for 30% of the property while you put in 65% in a mortgage and 5% via a deposit. Its a good deal because the loan is interest free for 5 years then you can either pay it back via the sale of the flat or pay it back slowly at a low interest rate.
I get the keys on Thursday, so only a week now and everything seems to be swimming along nicely. Thanks in part to my sister (Sharon) and Billie Wilde (my estate agent and mortgage advisor). Billie kept trying to get hold of me on my mobile phone but couldn’t get through due to #mybrushwithdeath. So in the end my sister picked up the call and got back to Billie with the bad news about me being in hospital with the bleed on the brain. Billie informed everyone involved and held the mortgage for as long as she could.
When I was well enough to continue the flat buying process she came to my house with everything to sign before I went to Bristol. If Billie and Sharon had not done what they had, I would have lost the flat for sure or at least the mortgage which would have been a real lost. So thank you to both of them, I’m very happy to pay the small fee to Billie because she really did over and above what she needed, to make sure I got the mortgage and ultimately the flat. And of my sister for being my caring sister. I owe you one, hope you enjoy the flip camera I bought you.
One step closer to moving to Islington Wharf, now I actually have a deposit down on the flat I wanted. I’m just waiting on Plumlife to agree I’m able to join there scheme (which was ok last year, so not expecting any upset) and then I can apply for the mortgage (which shouldn’t be a problem this time due to the highly motivated mortgage advisor I got). After which I should be able to get everything going and maybe move next month or so.
On the computer front, I just upgraded my Dell Laptop from a 120gig to 320gig and then gave it a brand new Ubuntu install. Not only did I upgrade it but I also switched to the i86_64 version as my laptop runs a Intel Core 2 duo 2 chipset. No idea why I’ve never done it before but early indication says so far the resource control over the applications and switching is much better and I’m shocked at how smooth things are. Don’t get me wrong the x86 version was fine but there is certainly something extra about the 64bit version. What is strange is the amount of memory available to the machine, it still indicates there is about 3gig of memory available (3262meg) not the full 4gig. I also have a couple of problems with getting Dropbox and XBMC working. Plus settings for Firefox, evolution and gnome wifi networking didn’t transfer over so well. Which is a pain. I can still boot into my old 32bit partition using a usb enclosure which means if I knew where the correct files were I could drag them over easily enough.
Finally Orange are being a pain in the ass and I can’t now upgrade my phone till August, which means the HTC Desire isn’t the phone it is now. Even the HTC Incredible will be old news. Maybe the Dell Lightning and Mini5’s will be of interest? Anyway in the meanwhile, it seems Android running on the HTC Touch HD or Blackstone has progressed to a point where the screen does not always stay on and so the battery doesn’t die within a few hours. Actually if you turn off Wifi, it will last a day which isn’t bad. So most of the time I’ll have my phone running Android in the near future. I just need to get the settings for 3G/HSDPA and work out how to divert the sound to the headphones instead to the loudspeaker.