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Sunday, June 03, 2018

James Went To Madrid

Gosh was it really 2 weeks ago?  Erm...gosh was it really 4 weeks ago?  That is assuming I actually finish this post tonight.  5 weeks...OK 6 weeks ago.  Definitely finishing it this time.

Can I actually remember any of Madrid?  Oh yeah, I went with my family.

The Why

My father suggested a family holiday a while back, in celebration of his retirement.  I think I was probably 16, maybe 17 when I last went on holiday with my family, and I stated that I would never again go on holiday with my family.

Well, I've gone back on quite a few things that I said when I was young.  I may not have been the source of genius and wisdom that I am now.

My Dad's initial suggestion was Florence, but I was a bit hesitant as I've done Italy so much (I've since been told by several people that I really do have to go to Florence) and wanted to try going to different countries.

Like, erm, Spain.

I'm not quite sure how we settled on Madrid - I don't think I suggested it, maybe I did, but I've long wanted to go there...at least since they renamed a square after Margaret Thatcher.

The Journey

Myself and my sister flew from Harrod's airport, also known as Heathrow Terminal 5 with its array of super-expensive shops that common folk like me cannot even afford to step inside.

Curiously our flight wasn't listed on the boards, though we were assured that the flight was on, just a little delayed.  So we settled down for a beer and a £10 sausage sandwich.  Yes £10 for a fucking sausage sandwich, I shit you not.  Though it came with a free cup of tea.  I don't drink tea.

Our flight still didn't display, but we eventually worked out that it was listed to fly 30 minutes later with a different airline and slightly different flight number, but at the expected time.  Cue a slight rush.

And an upgrade - we had booked with British Airways (or so I thought) but flew with Iberia, on a proper long-haul jumbo with super-comfortable seats, loads of space - and the best thing - €3.00 beers.

The Apartment

We were staying in an Airbnb.  Quite impressed that my parents were comfortable on not only Airbnb but also using Uber.  I booked the Airbnb.  Myself and my sister booked the Ubers.

The apartment itself was just a decently respectable place - albeit no plug for the sink.  Drama.

However it had a little sun-trap of a patio which was just beautiful to sit outside in.

The Start

We just looked for somewhere near our apartment to grab a bite to eat, and the small bars nearby were closed - it was mid-afternoon.

But we found this cheap and tacky locals place, sat in the sunshine and had some beer, and the world's largest chorizo sandwich.  I was relaxed.  I was happy.


The City

I didn't know what to expect as I was far too busy in the run-up to do any research at all.

What I found was a really busy city - lots of traffic for sure!  Everywhere there were lots of people, lots going on - people were excited.

Of course we were in some of the most tourist-central zones and it was not short of tourists, especially in the squares.  We also found ourselves there on Madrid marathon weekend, Spanish Cup Final weekend, and a fairly sizeable protest about justice.  It was so busy.


Which I love.  I love Spain anyway, but there was just such a good vibe, a real buzz about the place.

The Weather

We of course went to Madrid when it was much hotter back in England - at times we had warm sunshine, but not always.  On the Saturday, when we had our guided tour of Madrid, it was decidedly chilly - I was in Spain, and I was cold.  Yes, I was wearing shorts.


The Tour

Easily one of the highlights of the holiday was having a guided tour of Madrid.  Having done one in Sevilla, I now don't think that I'll ever go anywhere and not have a guided tour - and the one I semi-randomly selected, as there were almost as many tours as tourists, was brilliant.

Our guide imparted lots of history - especially with regards the previous kings of Spain, he was funny, with great historical facts and unusual anecdotes - a really well-designed tour.

I really felt like I got to know Madrid, and Spain itself.

The Taste Of Hell

On Sunday we went to this small version of hell, which was thousands of market stalls and millions of people.  Like a large version of Blackpool market - punctuated by a scattering of hot Spanish women.  Rosa - why the hell did you recommend that to me?!  What did I say to upset you?!!


The Food

Food was a bit hit and miss.  I'm starting to think that maybe I don't like tapas as much as I thought.  Though on the first night we went to an excellent tapas place - guided by my personal Spanish tour guide.  The last night too, I had an awesome steak - and a real, proper restaurant experience.  I moan so often about the 12.5% service charge in London just for bringing my meal...this place was the definition of how to serve customers.  The steak itself was excellent, but it was all the extras that really made the experience.


At other places though, we had some distinctly average tapas.  And I had a disappointing meal one night too - for some reason I chose mini-burgers, and I don't normally do burgers.  The bread was stale and I wasn't amused.


The People

One of the reasons I love Spain so much is the people.  I remember when I went to Ibiza in 2004, DJ Mag had printed an Ibiza special issue, with an article "what annoys you most about Ibiza".  Someone had said, "the fucking Spanish".  I spent a fair amount of time watching someone go through 3 pallets worth of magazines, cutting the offending corner of said page out.  He finished by the end of our holiday - I gave him a little round of applause.

I, of course, love Spanish women.  I can listen to them roll their r's all day and night.  But in general, I just love the passion and the friendliness of Spanish people - their excitement and lust for life.


One of my dearest friends happened to have moved to Madrid, and she introduced me to lots of her friends, who were all such nice and interesting people - proper well-rounded people that had stories to tell, yet were just genuinely lovely people.  And spoke English to me - I felt so humbled.

The Return?

Madrid was the kind of place, like London, where I could visit repeatedly.  I just enjoyed the vibe and the feel of the place.  There isn't masses of things that you have to do, like say London or Paris, it is more just a place to go and enjoy life.  I could even live in Madrid - albeit not in July and August.

Of course, having a close friend there means there is extra reason to go visit - alas, I am not very good at visiting my friends...mainly due to financial constraints.  I'm sure I'll get that pay rise one year.

And yes, I might even go on a family holiday again one time.

Next up - Vienna

Friday, May 25, 2018

Calmness Has Returned

I was having a bit of a strop last week - eating loads of shit food, drinking too much wine and being a bit miserable and grumpy.  It happens.  I'm not one of those people that can pretend to be 100% happy all the time, as much as I do appreciate life.  Most of the time, I'm at least content - but I'm pretty demanding upon myself and life - I have high expectations.

Though at the core of it was some unhappiness at work.  It was a crap week, a tough week - I was feeling a bit displaced but mostly feeling underpaid and overworked.

That hasn't changed.  My days are 13+ hours long from getting up to getting home.  I am still paid exactly the same as I started, when taking into account inflation, enforced pension payments and a small pay rise.  I should be earning much more as a developer even with just one year's experience.  Yes I know that I could withdraw from my pension, but as I received a statement from one of my previous company pensions suggesting that at my current rate I will get a pension of £30.51 a year, I probably shouldn't.

However this week I've felt a sense of calmness return - though at the same time a sense of rabbit in headlights syndrome.

I've moved from coding in languages/frameworks that I'm comfortable in, to coding in a framework, AngularJS, that I know fuck all about.  Yes I've done courses on it, but I don't remember any of it.  This is my first time using it, and I stare at it pretty much like a virgin states at a vagina.

It's great on one hand, as I was starting to scratch around for work, and needed a big project.

But it panicked me when I realised that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

Yesterday and especially this afternoon, things started to come together - I could see how things were organised, and what I had to do to get things to work.  Baby steps, but it is exciting to be grasping new technology...albeit AngularJS is seen as an old framework now, and nobody would use it for a new project.  It's new to me - and proves that I can adapt to new frameworks.

I also have a new colleague who is super quick (I must stop comparing myself to him), and knows AngularJS really well...I am already learning a lot from him.

Which overall means that I am much calmer.  My "fuck this job" attitude...well it wasn't quite that, but I was on the verge of at least having a strop...hell I even responded to a recruiter's e-mail...though I said the role sounds great but no thanks.  The role did sound great too.  Like...perfect.

So I might be underpaid, and the days far too long, the commute tough on my well-being and working in a basement being horrid - with the added threat of the odd evening of customer service.

But I feel calmer, it feels right again.  There is purpose.

Most days I ask myself, have I progressed in my career goals?  And recently the answer was tending to be no.  This week it is emphatically yes.  I know I am there to do a job for Lovespace, and I think I have done a very good job so far - for a junior.  But I must be selfish too, I must develop as a developer.  And I am now developing again.

Like most people, I am now looking forward to 3 days off work (assuming nothing goes wrong on the website...bank holidays have a habit of causing problems).

Nothing special is planned, other than life.

Saturday I'm going to watch the Champions League final.  In theory it should be a great game - you can get better odds on 0-0 than 3-2.  Maybe I might go to the Spanish festival of queuing beforehand that I went to last year, if I can find anyone willing to accompany me.

Sunday I'm just going for a roast.  Going to meet a fellow blogger, which should be interesting.

And Monday maybe go out for something to eat.

I'm keeping loose plans as there is good thunderstorm potential, and if one is on the way, I'd like to be able to head somewhere with a good view.  Maybe Alexandra Palace, but they have a festival on.

And then the usual cleaning yadda yadda.  Oh if only I had had my pay rise that I desired and could afford a cleaner.  Hoping to start making a website for my weather forecasting page - Facebook proofing, if you will.

I'm getting boring now, aren't I?


Be done with you.

If you've bothered to read my latest ramblings I wish you a great weekend.  You know where I am if you are bored and you are not a twatt.  Rectum.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Do I Still Enjoy Living In London?

It's only Wednesday evening and I've already ditched the vaguely less unhealthy diet (ie less than 3,000 calories a day), and opened a bottle of red wine.  Actually it was already opened - I'm finishing it off.

I am questioning things at the moment.  Particularly in terms of where I work and where I live.

Why do I live in Harrow?  Am I still happy in my job?  Is the commute worth it?  At what point do I get fed up of being on junior pay?  Am I still a junior developer?  Should I start looking for another job?  Should I move closer to work?  Is living on my own worth it?  Do I actually still enjoy living in London?  Am I black?

I knew the deal from the off - moving to London for a new career wasn't going to be easy.  I knew I'd be much poorer.  I knew it would be hard work.

Yet as I get older, fatter and even less fit, doing the longest working days of my life with the longest ever commute is taking its toll.  I'm often tired, often resorting to Red Bull, chocolate, sausage sandwiches - just whatever I can to survive and make it through the day.

Once I get home, I have 2 hours before it is time to go to bed - 20 minutes to chill out and read, then maybe put TalkSport on or something for 20 minutes, then I'm normally ready to sleep.

There is no time to enjoy London.  There are all kinds of events at the office, all kinds of things I'd like to do - evening classes in Spanish, evening coding practice events - meeting other developers, finding new friends.  Having a fucking beer in the evening sun.


But I know if I don't get my 8 hours sleep, I am not as on the ball the next day - and I really need to be in my job.  I cannot do my job properly at even 80% - my old job as a credit controller I could turn up still fucked off my face having not slept and still turn in a decent day's work, as I didn't have to think.

So my dream of moving to London so I could do all these cool things in the evening isn't turning out to plan.  Not that I can afford them even if I had the time.

I have proven myself as a web developer, yet there is no sign of a decent pay rise.  I know I can get £5-10k more elsewhere - I regularly receive e-mails from recruiters and department managers requesting I interview for roles for £10k more, that I am experienced enough for.  I have actually started thinking about the e-mails I receive rather than responding with pages of GDPR compliance law.

In fact, I am actually regretting saying "no thanks" to one last week.  Maybe I am only thinking that as it has been a particularly difficult and miserable week for the whole tech team, but I do feel that I am edging closer towards the door.  The low pay, combined with all the bullshit like 4 hours of unpaid customer service a month, plus having more responsibility than most junior developers (at least from what I read online) is making me question my situation.

At what point does having a good boss and being able to wear shorts stop outweighing the feeling of being underpaid?

Also living where I do takes up a lot of my time.  2.5 hours commuting each day if it runs to clockwork.  Which is a big if - though it has been better recently.

Not only that, but living by myself means I have to look after a whole house - one of the reasons I wanted a pay rise was so I could afford a cleaner once a month, so I could then study more.  Plus the amount of time I spend washing up without a dishwasher.

But what if I move house to near work then I realise that my current disposition against my job isn't temporary?

The thing that most pisses me off is my belly.  But I don't have time for exercise and I'm often too tired to eat healthily - which is a negative virtuous circle.  And I know I have to do something about this.  I really do have to take this seriously - but I simply don't have the energy to do so.

So I don't enjoy Monday to Friday in London any more.  Long gone are the days where I get excited to get on the underground in the morning.  I'm closer to being arrested for biting someone that spends 2 seconds at the ticket barrier trying to find their Oyster card.

Saturdays I then tend to have to clean the house.

Sundays are the best day of the week - I have my roast dinner adventure.

And then it is back to Monday.

Don't get me wrong - I know a lot of people feel like this, and a lot of people have much more difficult lives.  But I worry that I am working so much that I am not getting time to enjoy my life.  I moved to London to fulfil a dream.

Yet it is just proving as difficult as other periods of my life, albeit just a very different type of difficult.

It is still preferable to Bracknell.

There are solutions.  Lots of potential solutions.  I best go to bed - it is approaching 10pm.  I didn't answer the question, did I?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Complaint: Sainsburys Cucumber

Dear Sir/Madam

I still have not worked out the point of cucumber.

It tastes of nothing.  It seems to be just water.  It is utterly pointless.

Yet I add it to my salad.  Why?  I have no idea.  Just one of the many pointless things I do in my life, like writing letters of complaint over something worth about 55p in the vague hope that I am making someone smile somewhere with my vague attempts at humour.

Anyway, I had a cucumber bought from my local Sainsbury's store the other day.  Other week, actually, I've been busy.

The sell-buy date was 19th August, if I recall correctly, but several days in advance if this, it turned totally loathsome, as if the bottom half of the cucumber had started sharing Britain First posts on it's newsfeed.

Yet the top half remained decent and I kept eating it - how long had the bottom half turned minging for (RIP Jade Goody) whilst I was still eating it?  I dread to think.

So yes, I have spent more than 55p of my time writing to you, and more than 55p of your time in reading and hopefully responding to my beautiful drivel, about a cucumber worth 55p that I still ate half of.

Though as dull and pointless as cucumbers may be, it is quite shocking just how disgusting they become when they go off.  Like proper Hitler-style.

Bye

ps When are you fixing your yoghurt pots?


******

Dear James

Thanks for your email. I'm sorry that the cucumber you got was so offensive. I struggle finding the point of cucumber myself, so I Googled it.

Apparently cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae.

There is 10 main amazing health benefits to cucumbers but due to limited Internet access, I don't actually know what these are.

I do know they shouldn't be horrible on one end, so I've reported the poor quality through to our supplier and also added 110 points onto your Nectar account.

​This is to cover the cost of the dodgy cucumber, with extra, so you can pick up a perfect one on us, next time you're in.

Your points will show in your account and be available for you to spend in the next 72 hours.

Thank you again for taking the time to get in touch. I hope that this has been helpful and we see you in store soon!
Kind regards

Saturday, May 05, 2018

My Favourite Foreign Cities

I wanted to create a list of my favourite cities.

I appreciate that it isn't easy to put them into context - those that I have visited most recently are most likely to be fresh in the memory and hold fond memories closer to hand.

Also I have visited the cities with different people and for different reasons - some cities I got to know much better than others.

24. Rome

I was only there for a short weekend, and with a couple (the female of which I rather fancied) so maybe this was never going to feature too highly - I also found the city rude and way too expensive.  This was before the days of Trip Advisor so it is highly unlikely that I have seen the best of Rome - and it hasn't seen the best of me.

23. Amsterdam

This was just a day-trip, and we spent it in the Red Light district.  It just felt overly seedy, too touristy and vaguely sinister in places.  Smoking weed probably didn't help.  There is, of course, much more to Amsterdam but I didn't see it, hence it is low down in my list.

22. Brussels


A recent trip on the wonderful Eurostar, but Brussels is a damn boring city.  Excellent for beer, but not an awful lot to do apart from that.

21. Venice

Another over-rated city, absolutely packed-full of tourists.  Plus it rained when I went, and I had very little money so I couldn't afford to go into the attractions.  Very pretty, and I don't doubt many people love it for good reason - but it was just too cliche and obvious for me.

20. Zakopane

A cute town in the mountains of south Poland.  Awesome sausages and very cheap drinks prices - I had a lot of fun the first night and then was ill.

19. Bologna

I quite liked Bolonga.  It seemed an under-rated Italian city with plenty of culture and history - I did it on the same trip as Venice and didn't have much money to spend, but found it enjoyable, if not a must-visit.

18. Bratislava


I'd booked a trip here just before I was made unemployed, so another holiday on a budget.  And it was -4'C - constantly.  We tried to find cheap/free things to do but the main conclusion was to drink cheap beer.

17. Dublin

Only there for 36 hours (awake all of them...oops), Dublin has a lot of energy and is definitely a drinking city.  We saw no culture - we were not there for that.  I even managed a few Tinder swipes - and boy people liked my mullet.

16. Maastrict

A random Ryanair flight in my early 20's and where I discovered Leffe beer - my life changed at that point.  I don't remember an awful lot about it, except drinking beer and remarking that everything was closed on the Sunday.

15. Stuttgart


This was back in the days when I used to enter competitions in my spare time - and I won a holiday to Stuttgart.  It was absolutely freezing cold, but had a great bar scene, good nightlife, excellent Bratwurst - a very functional German city.  And a huge Christmas market - if you like that kind of thing when it is -4'C by day.

14. Bucharest


My first visit to eastern Europe was interesting.  You could see just how poor some people were, yet it was clearly becoming quite modern too - though with many a dilapidated building.  Some amazing nightclubs - the centre of modern minimal techno, we had good food, good cheap wine - spent some time in a really nice park.  It is similar to visiting any western European city - but you know you are in eastern Europe.  Hot women too.

13. Paris

I've been to Paris so many times, probably more than any other city on the list.  It does have a certain pomposity and rudeness in places, matching the obvious tourist areas.  Yet there is far more to it than that, similar to London - stepping away from the main tourist areas is key.  I may have had my share of ultra-rude waitresses but I've also met loads of great people there too, and been to some damn cool parties.  I'd go again, but I've got far too many places that I have never been to - and far too little money.

12. Zurich


I was there for the Zurich Street Parade last year.  32 trucks full of nutcases dancing to a wide variety of dance music.  So much fun.  Probably would be really boring outside of then, it is very expensive too, and maybe doesn't justify being halfway in the list.  But hey.  It's my list.

11. Tirano


I was really touched by this little town in the Italian mountains - and the picturesque scenery.  I'd probably never visit again, and was ripped off for dinner, but it just felt really good being there.

10. Frankfurt


A load of us went here to go to Cocoon nightclub - what an awesome experience that was.  This was just such a fun weekend - one of my best weekends ever.  Was the city actually that good?  Well, I really like Germany and thought it had a good combination of surprise and impressiveness.  Doubtless it would not be so high in the list were it not such an awesome weekend.  Had my best Bratwurst ever here too.

9. Delft

We only spent one night here, but it is a super-cute town in the Netherlands - the people were really friendly, and we had a personal guided tour of the town.  Great beer again, too.

8. Milan


I enjoyed Milan more than I expected - I had this impression in my head that it would be of pompous, uber-stylish Milanese, though they were probably on holiday.  Great pizza, I discovered Gustav Klimt here, and the city itself seems to have more going on than the obvious, similar to Paris and London with some really interesting districts to explore for cultural events.

7. Lisbon

The first beer I had here cost 62p.  There is a theme here, isn't there?  I like places with cheap beer.  Believe it or not, there is nowhere in Scandinavia in this list.  Lisbon also had a hell of a lot of charm too - quite a beautiful city, with a gorgeous castle - we had some nice food - though also one really shit meal, like, truly shit.  I'd go back for sure.

6. Den Haag

I wouldn't have considered going to the capital of Holland - but I had won a competition to go on holiday there (I used to spend hours every week entering them when I was really poor).  Instantly I loved the feel of the place - a modern European city, lots of wide open space - one of the first things that struck me was the sheer volume of bicycles.  Wish the holiday had been in summer so we could have gone to the beach to...yes Den Haag has a beach.  Great city.

5. Sevilla


I went by myself here and really enjoyed it - I am sure that I would have truly loved it with others.  Gorgeous weather despite being the beginning of November, cheap beer, some very good tapas and a load of hot Spanish women to stare at.  Also where I discovered "free" tours...managed 3 nights on a strict budget too.  The city itself was just beautiful, I loved getting lost in all the tiny roads.

4. Madrid


The bigger the city the better.  And the more Spanish the city, the better too.  I just loved the vibe in Madrid, I loved the busyness - there was so much to do.  We had a great guided tour of the city and found out so much about the history of Spain.  Had an awesome steak dinner, some good tapas, and went to some really nice bars.  Plus sunshine.  Oh yeah and hot Spanish women.  I have a feeling I will be going back again - not in July or August though.

3. Barcelona

I was far too young to appreciate Barcelona properly, just being in my early 20's.  We stayed in a proper rough area, with crack dealers and prostitutes outside our hotel all day and night.  Yet in the 24 hours that I was there (I went just to buy a load of duty-free cigarettes to sell), I just loved the vibe and more than that, for the first time I discovered that buildings are beautiful - not just functional.  It taught me to appreciate architecture and was a more important trip for my future being than I expected.  I need to go back.

2. Ibiza Town


Were this a large city then it would probably be number 1.  I love Ibiza - the whole island, but I'm talking cities here.  The historic centre is so beautiful, the vibe (that word again) is captivating, I've had some amazing food here - in fact, all of the best tapas that I have ever eaten has been on this island.  I feel at home here.  I wish I could live there.

1. Berlin

What can I say about Berlin?  It is a magical place.  So, so much history.  So many brilliant parties.  I've been 3 times (I think?!) - once was for the Love Parade back in 2014, 1.4m people dancing to techno...it was life-changing.  Berlin is such a cool city - so much history that relates to me.  I love Germany.  I love Germans.  I really should go back as I haven't experienced it anywhere near as much as I want to.  Out of everywhere I have been - Berlin is my favourite city by some way.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Investing For The Future

I've always thought of myself as someone that can spot trends, and as such have long been keen to try investing.

The only reason I didn't before was a lack of capital.  When you get charged like £12 to buy shares, then you cannot really be investing £100.

My Easynet redundancy money had been sitting in my account, and I had managed not to spend it during my subsequent period of unemployment.  We are only talking 4 figures - nothing crazy - though that is a lot to me.  My, erm, life savings.

And then last January, I read in The Economist about a chip-maker called Infineon Technologies, that was trying to develop the next generation of computer chips, hoping to re-establish or even better Moore's Law.  They were £16 a share back then but I was unemployed, and didn't dare.


In September, I bought some at £21 a share.  They quickly went up to £23 a share, so I bought more - I put most of my savings in them.  They then rose to £25.50 quickly - easy money I thought, though they were volatile, and I could easily gain £300 one day, lose £300 the next.

Alas over Christmas, they went down substantially - though I was still breaking even.  Then in January they rallied, back up to £25.50 on my birthday - I thought about selling and taking the profit, it was around £600 - I knew how volatile they had become.

And then they plummeted.  From 10% gain to 10% loss in a few weeks.  Fuckity - and I couldn't even blame Brexit.

I had bought some shares in another company, Valeo, that produce parts for self-driving cars.  Their share price also plummeted to around 12% down at the same time.

This is despite both companies delivering healthy revenues and really good profits.  From looking into it further, it is the weakness of the dollar that is causing the problem with their respective share prices (they are both European companies that export lots).  How was I to know?  Clearly professional investors didn't know either, otherwise they wouldn't have sold when their profits were announced.

I have concluded that I have bought at the peak of the market.  Half of me wants to get out before I lose more, but the other half wants to stick, because I do believe in the company's potential - Infineon at least.

It is a lesson learnt.  But not at all off-putting - I have considered buying shares in both Norweigan and Nvidia earlier this year (not enough money), which have respectively jumped 40% and 20% since I considered them.  I have also considered buying shared in Facebook and Tencent which have remained broadly flat since I considered.  So I am not overly dumb - just not in control of all the information.

I've also got quite into crowd-funded investments, but just doing small £100 investments.

So far I have invested in a company called Movem, which are a passporting system for renting - something I've long wished for, a Chinese food delivery company called Zing Zing - and the company I work for, Lovespace.

This weekend, I'm considering investing in The Five Points Brewery Company, who seem increasingly on-point and there is definitely money in good beer, and Own The Look, who are apparently the next ASOS but their clothes seem too expensive to me and occasionally a bit out-there - certain for mass-consumption, but what do I know, I'm a man.  Any women reading want to tell me what they think, I'd be grateful.

What would Donald Trump do?

Anyway, I'm enjoying it, despite losing - it isn't money I cannot afford to lose, and even if you had invested in the stock market at previous peaks, you still would make more money than any other common investment.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Crappy Little Day

Well that was a crappy little day.

I woke up late, and tired.  Drinking Red Bull and eating shit food from the off.

I've said it before, but being fat is the one thing guaranteed to make me miserable, and putting on weight when eating healthy and doing some exercise like I did at the weekend has triggered me off on a run of eating lots of shit - approx 4,000 calories a day.  As opposed to 1,500 a day last week when I was happy...or a least content.

So, of course I've put even more weight on and am even more pissed off - 3kg since Sunday.  There is no reversing this any time soon either.  I'm stuck in a bad pattern and it will take a few days to start reversing it.

I just about made it through the day despite being my frustration bubbling under the surface...I did nearly snap at someone at work which would have been terribly unfair of me...then I snapped on the way home with another fucking Metropolitan line delay.

So I bought some wine.

And then I burnt my dinner.  So I cooked twice as many potatoes to make up for it, and to make myself fatter.  Plus had a load of chocolate and will have some more.

And then I had yet more problems trying to set up this website that I am making for someone...who's hosting company is just fucking useless.  But is so frustrating me.  I've wasted hours just trying to install WordPress on a server...it should take 5 minutes.  And this is over the course of two weeks.  I just want to get it finished so I can get the remaining invoice paid.  Not that I am going to be able to spend and enjoy the money as my shares are down.  Way down.

On my birthday they were £500 up.  Now I'm £600 down.  Most of it due to Donald fucking Trump.  Maybe they'll go back up - they have done before, but they've never been this far down and market sentiment seems bad.  The economy really doesn't look rosy.

I will need to recoup my losses somehow, so it may mean having to have a budget of £100 one month, just eat carrots and stuff like that.  No roast dinners.  I am going to have to start cancelling plans soon.  Bang goes the idea of going on holiday.  Not that I have anyone to go with anyway...though I'm kind of used to spending time by myself...I barely even spoke to anyone all Easter weekend.  I spoke to my parents on Friday, but the only other people I spoke to all weekend offered me a receipt.

Also I am fed up of working my arse off and still struggling.  I appreciate that I am not the only one.  I didn't relax properly all weekend as I was worried about the website for the company I work for, given that we've had problems in the week before.  I was technically on call - though escaped until late evening on Monday without having to do anything but testing.

Maybe I need to find some new friends.  But I don't have any time to spend with them anyway, as I need to spend my weekends working to make enough money.  And I don't even bother trying with Tinder any more.

And then I'm nearly 40.  I have no house - never will own a house.  No girlfriend, no wife, no kids, very little pension.  I've barely seen any of the world.

I don't expect sympathy - that would piss me off.  I appreciate that millions, if not billions of people across the world have things harder than me but that just pisses me off more because why can I not be happier?  Why am I not a source of joy?  People used to remark about how happy I was - granted some of them lived in Bracknell.  I don't get that any more.  I don't seem to laugh very often either.

I probably won't sleep well tonight now, and I am not happy about my standard of English throughout this blog post.  It barely flows, the paragraphs are so simple in construction, though I guess it gets to my hidden raw frustrations and emotions more.

Or maybe it is just half a bottle of red wine talking.

There's also a small chance that I may have fucked my liver up and will never be able to drink again.  I cannot see that being the case but it worries me.  As I don't enjoy life enough without alcohol to give it up permanently.  I'm probably worrying about nothing here, but hey.

At the end of the day, to make the English fucking worse, I need to sort my financial situation out.  I feel significantly underpaid, and cannot keep working the longest hours I ever have, plus longest commute that I've ever had, at the lowest wage I've had in 10 years, whilst having to do work on the side at the weekend, and pretending that London is amazing even though I never have the time or money to do anything.  I'm fat, ugly, lonely and skint, I'm fed up of these short but increasingly frequent miserable bouts.  It all kind of swims around in the same dis-virtuous circles, as now I'll be tired tomorrow and repeat the same circle of eating shit food, drinking Red Bull and feeling crap, put more weight on and be more pissed off.  At some point that will break, I'll sort myself out then realise I'm skint and be miserable, then at some point start eating loads of shit again.

I was hoping to have a holiday in June but I guess I'll just be repaying the money I lost on my stupid fucking investment.

At least I'm having a pie tomorrow night.

It seems like I'm always writing about being miserable, but a quick look at my recent posts suggests that isn't the case.  Though I don't actually post everything I write, believe it or not.

I'll post something more cheerful next time.  Sorry.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Detox Is Over

So it finishes.  3 months without alcohol.  Finished already.

I almost feel a little sad about it.  It's like the end of a holiday.  I expected to jump up and down in excitement about the upcoming retoxification, but nah.  I feel very nonplussed about it.

My 3 month detox was on doctor's advice.  There is nothing wrong with my liver per se, but it needed a reduction of the fat content otherwise there was a good chance that there would become a problem.

I've had my blood test today and now await the results.  Hopefully the doctor will say "party on", or words to that effect.  Though the other realistic possibility will be that he says that it hasn't improved as much as he expected and I need another 3 months off...I cannot see that being the case but worth being mentally prepared for.

Going out and not drinking isn't particularly easy, especially in the evening or when there is loud music. For a Sunday roast, which seems to be the majority of my socialising now, I'm not that bothered.  Sure it is nice to have a glass of red with a nice roast, but I can take it or leave it.

I'm also not bothered about having a drink at the end of the working week - I was always quite happy just to go home.  A few years ago I had to have a drink on a Friday.  A few years before that I had to be fucked off my face as soon as humanly possible come the end of the working week (or quite often the Thursday night as I just couldn't wait).

Which shows that I have gone from being pretty needy of alcohol some years ago, to not that bothered now.  At least in terms of need.

But I miss the feeling.  I miss the taste - a good pint of beer tastes so much better than a pint of apple juice, no matter how refreshing apple juice can be on occasion...like after a really heavy session.

Even more than that, I missed sausage rolls.  And bacon sandwiches.  And chorizo...I could labour the point but I think you understand.  I was also advised to cut down red meat, if possible.  Which I did - bar roast dinners.  And boy, the amount of times, especially at first, when I craved a sausage roll.

Believe it or not, I lost some weight.  Around 6kg from my peak in the new year.  I was aiming for 9kg, but I guess that was quite ambitious.

I did a lot of admin.  Sorting out music, going through piles of paperwork, clearing up old e-mails, fixing things on my blogs and websites that have been on my to-do list for over a year.

I saved money.  Well, I paid off my overspending from December, paid for a holiday that I've agreed to go on but wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise, and bought a new phone outright.

I also got my first full-on website client, and produced a website for him.  Just waiting for his hosting company to pull their fingers out of their backside and fix a technical issue with my client's account and it will be live.

Shit got done these last 3 months.

I was almost exactly as happy.  I keep a count of my happiness rating every day, and averaged 5.003571 for March this year compared to 4.992857 for March last year (when I was drinking).

And I have been told that I look brighter.  I was hoping that I'd feel 21 again, but alas, I don't.  I still get tired at times, especially if I have been consuming caffeine.

So, as it is my first post-detox evening so what am I drinking?

Summer fruits squash.  As normal.

I had a sausage roll for lunch to celebrate, just a cheap Sainsburys one and I cannot say it was that good.  I would have enjoyed a salad more.


And now I have just cooked myself some pork fillet in a BBQ sauce.  It wasn't that special - I overcooked the pork.  I am particularly looking forward to a bacon and egg sandwich, but that can wait until the weekend.

Alcohol can wait too.  I did consider buying some beer for tonight, but I've got loads on at work at the moment, and could do without an unnecessary fuzzy head.

Don't worry, I haven't become a Jehovah's Witness or anything.  I have booked myself a table for a celebratory pie at Piebury Corner.  They serve beer.  Thursday evening after work - you can come if you want.

Normal service then resumes.  Pending doctor's further advice.

And my taking notice of it.

I might do this 3 month detox again one year.  It was alright.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

I Have Joined A Gym

Yes, you read correctly.

I have joined a gym.


I figured that as I am nearly 40, exceptionally unattractive to women and still absolutely desperate to have multiple children - preferably to different women but the same one will do I guess, I should really do some critical analysis of why this is.

The question that I have been asking all year to myself after 1000's of unreciprocated right-swipes is why am I not attractive to women.  I mean, I have a mullet, after all.  And don't forget the shiny green meggings.

So I changed my gender on Tinder to female, and started looking through men's profiles.  And realised that I was clearly missing something.  Pictures of my muscles in very tight t-shirts.

Believe it or not, and I know I wouldn't, but I've had my induction training, paid my £500 annual fee in advance which is just such exceptional value - and I am lifting.  Lifting.  LIFTING I tell you.

Shortly I will be a #properrippedbro

Power to The Winfield.

I shall also be listening to infinite amounts of tech-house going forwards and doing fist-pumps whenever possible.  Yeah, Moorgate station - fist pump time!  No I don't have a Nectar card - fist pump time!  Hull City AFC have conceded another goal - fist pump time.  Yeah!

Right I'm off down the gym again - haven't been for 3 hours.  I shall post some gym-selfies later with my new bro's.  Yeah!  Fist pump, baby.

Anyone got any roids?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Work/Life Balance

As good as everything is at the moment, it would be ideal if I had more time for myself during the week.

I appreciate that people in other vocations sometimes have longer hours, but 9am to 6pm was a bit of a surprise when I started working at Lovespace - I hadn't asked about the hours during interview, it was kind of irrelevant - but they are the longest working hours that I have ever known.

Add on the journey to and from work, which is normally around 1 hour 15 each way - but can easily be more depending on tube trains and Tottenham Hotspurs.

I used to moan when I got home at 6:45pm when I worked in Bracknell and lived in Reading.  Ahhh.

Nowadays from when I get up and start getting ready for work, until when I get home, is close to a 13 hour day.  Don't get me wrong, other people do more, but this is the longest working day that I have ever known.  And then there are the extras like occasionally doing the customer service chat in the evening, sometimes being on Skype in the evening, being available in case something goes wrong with the website and I need to urgently fix it.  It isn't just a 40 hour week.  It feels like a 70 hour week - sometimes the tube journey can be a trauma that feels like a day's work in itself.

I am more used to it now - not completely but at least somewhat.  I struggled at first - partly also due to finding the work difficult - using my brain to code is such a change from not having to use my brain to argue with people that haven't paid their bills.  I think part of the reason that I have put on so much weight is down to being so tired from the long days - and eating more crap, drinking Red Bull, etc (I hear you saying "do more exercise" - but I don't have time - though I probably wouldn't if I did).

Still, I would like more time in my life.  2 hours in the evening to do everything I want to do simply is not enough - eating, cleaning, washing, ironing, blogging, etc.  And I don't function on less than 8 hours sleep so that cannot be negotiated.

Changing jobs is a non-starter.  This is perfect for someone at my level, I do a good job and normally meet fairly high expectations.  I have so much to learn and can do it here.  There is no guarantee that I'd work less hours at other jobs - in fact, one job that I interviewed for and came close to getting involved working well into the evening, apparently.  I could try to get a job nearer where I live...but nah.  I like being in central London.

Other jobs could involve working from home, I guess, but I'm not convinced that is a good enough reason to leave a near-perfect job.  I can work home from currently, occasionally, but anything regular isn't going to happen.  Having a cleaner would help give me more time on a weekend, but I cannot afford one.

The other reason I don't have so much time, of course, is my location.  I could move house.  I don't want to.  I have fairly cheap rent but most importantly, I live by myself.  I live by myself - I have a whole house to myself by some fluke.  Is this worth sacrificing for a shorter commute?

And this is really not helped by the fucking Metropolitan line which has been a disaster since October.  So many complete service failures - I'm delayed by 20+ minutes several times each week (more often in the morning than evening), I had to give up trying to get to work twice a couple of weeks back.  Timing my journey for when there are no signal failures is some form of lottery.

Anyway, moving house is the only real answer to improving my work/life balance.  But I hate moving house and like living on my own.  Moving house in itself takes up much precious time that I don't have, and worse - money that I don't have.  I think I need to think more about this option.  I may well need a spreadsheet.

Maybe there is an end point in 4-5 years time, where I either do a good amount of remote working, or I even move myself to become a full-time freelancer...the requests for work in my spare time are ticking up - I say no to them more than I say yes - partly due to time constraints...surprise surprise.

I knew how difficult this career and life change would be, and it has proven so - yet it remains so worthwhile.

But I just want a bit more of my time back.  Something has to give.  There has to be some form of improvement on my work/life balance this year.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 Goals

I have goals.  I started thinking about them in January and finished some point last month.  In no particular order of priority, bar the top 2.

Lifestyle

Lose Weight.  Shock horror, this is here again and my number one goal.  Last year I started at 90kg and aimed to get down to 82kg.  I finished at 96kg.  This year I start at 97kg and want to get down to 85kg.  And next year, no doubt, I will be aiming to get down to 90kg or something fuckwitty like that.

3 Month Detox.  No alcohol and limited red meat for 3 whole months.

Dating

Get a match on Tinder.  I last had a match on Tinder in 2016.  I'm not even targeting a message response or even a date - just a match.

Go on one date.  Fuck knows how I'll get said date, but go on one date.  I managed it last year.

Go speed dating or something similar.  Maybe I'll go play Dating Cards of Humanity or something Shoreditch-twatty like that.

Explore London/UK

Go to a new cricket ground.

Explore a UK city.  Spend a weekend in a UK city that I don't feel I have fully explored.  Oxford has been mentioned.

Go to 3 major tourist attractions.  Doesn't matter which ones - Buckingham Palace, Blenheim Palace, British Museum.  As long as they are new to me.

Go to one castle/palace/stately home.

Go to 20/20 cricket.  I keep saying this every year that I am going to go to a 20/20 game.  I live in London, Lord's is on my way home, my sister is up for it - there are two cricket-mad guys at work who are going.  There is no excuse this year.

Explore The World

Go to one of my top 20 want to visit places.  This is a list that isn't published, but I will eventually get around to publishing it.  Yes I write even more that I don't publish.  Yes I did write last year that I needed to publish the list.

Go to a random country.  You know, random country generator.  When I find someone game, the plan is for 6 countries to be selected - and the most realistic one chosen.

Go to 4 new countries.  1 is booked - 3 I need to decide upon.

Coding

Increase my earnings.  Either by a pay rise or through doing some freelance work on the weekend.

Learn AngularJS.  I have to do this for work.  I'd rather be learning React or Vue, as AngularJS is seen as more difficult and will become obsolete (ish) in due course.  It's a JavaScript framework, by the way.

Launch at least one AngularJS app.  Maybe I'll do something new, or maybe I'll just re-code a current website, but I want to have produced one AngularJS app this year.  I'm thinking that a 20/20 cricket scoring app might be interesting and the right amount of challenge.

Launch Sunshine Design.  This is my half-built Sunshine Design website which is going to be my agency if I ever get around to it.  I'll probably just do a simple website first before I finish this - it needs clouds, birds, trees - all kinds of pretty stuff.  Something else also on last year's list.

Spend Money

Give a minimum of £5 to charity every month.  This may not sound an awfully large amount - I don't have huge volumes of spare cash.  But the point is to get me thinking more about different charities and their work.

Replace my phone.  I think I've decided upon the OnePlus 5T.  My current phone is less coherent than Brexit, and takes longer to decide what it is doing than Theresa May does.  I'm buying it outright as it saves a lot of money over the long-term.

Buy at least one vinyl a month.  Maybe my DJ career is over, but I love music and want to buy more of it - I am aware that I have a couple of illegally downloaded tracks on my PC, so I'm going to ensure I buy minimum one vinyl every month.  I still buy CD albums by the way - I spend way more on music than the average person.

Increase my savings by 50%.  I don't have much savings, nor do I have much income.  And I certainly have no idea how I will achieve this.  Nor do I even know what I am saving for.

Blogs

Start Moorgate Munching - a blog/Instagram page for food around where I work.  I've half-started this, bought the domain name, half-written two blogs, but you guessed it - not published them.

Fame from Roast Dinners in London.  I want fame.  Actually, I don't - there is a reason why I am anonymous for Roast Dinners in London.  But I want the blog to be widely-known, widely-acknowledged - even if it is widely-condemned.

Maybe start another blog.  I have ideas, but guess what I don't have?

Other

Find out if I am still a Tory.  It is pretty difficult nowadays to support the Conservative Party, given Brexit, given the wrong-headed direction of government and the utterly useless, uninspiring Prime Minister.  Alas, it is a bulwark against socialism and the nasty, vile, bullying types that the far-left attracts.  But, am I still a Tory?

Decide if the DJ dream is still on or not.  Well the dream isn't on, but decide if it is worth pushing myself as an occasional DJ.  I'm never going to be as good as other DJs, I accept that.  I do think that I have a story to tell, but I'm not sure anyone is that bothered about it.

Read less.  Many people should read more - the internet is full of people that know fuck all (and think they know everything).  Yet I read far too much.  I enjoy reading and finding out stuff - I must find a way to curtail my thirst for knowledge as I simply don't have the time.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Highlights Of 2017

Yeah I know, the reflective period for 2017 is long over.  But I started writing this during said reflective period (in my head, anyway), so I'm going to finish it.

I normally do some kind of look-back at the year, more for my own purposes than anyone else's amusement.

You could call it a transition year, but I guess you could call many years for most people a transition year.  Though at the beginning of 2017 I was unemployed.  Quite happy about it at the beginning but it soon started to grate on me - I didn't mind too much being sat at home all day, I kept myself busy, I studied and I made as much progress with my portfolio as possible.

Towards the end of unemployment, I had had enough of the highs and lows, the hopes being dashed - and fucking recruitment consultants...of the bullshitting variety - I know there are good ones too, but the good ones weren't interested in someone with minimal experience.

And I finished the year as an accomplished junior web developer - exactly what I had been working towards in recent years.

Nothing really went wrong this year, thankfully.  No funerals, no job losses, no major health issues - hell I even had a date.  Though it was a year of relative financial struggle, which really limited what I could do.  My annual salary was still lower than the peak in 2010, and in terms of available spending money I had around 60% of what I had when I lived in Bracknell.  And still do as I write this - lets not pretend anything has changed!

Maybe struggle is too strong a word - limitation would be a better description.  I lost count of the amount of times I had to turn things down or had to curtail my enjoyment when out.  It isn't a complaint - I knew what I was going into when I decided to change career.

So, here are my top 12 moments of 2017 (I couldn't get it down to 10):

12. Seeing Martin A - It seems unfair to pick a meet-up with one friend over any other, but most of my very good friends are far more accessible than my wonderful weirdo over in Dubai.  It was just a Wednesday night, I was tired and had just a few cans of beer in my hand - but it was just so good to see him, for the first time in two years.  I wish I could see more of my friends that have moved away, but alas, same old story - I never have enough money.

11. Kew Gardens - A Christmas present for my closest friend, I think we went in May,  perhaps April, the weather was pleasant, warm enough for wearing a t-shirt, and we simply had a very nice day strolling around Kew Gardens.  Simple, effective, pleasant - with some pretty excellent cake.


10. Bratislava - I was unemployed and didn't really feel like going on holiday, I was having a bit of a miserable time - yet I had booked it just before I lost my job, so there was no turning back.  We tried to do it as cheap as possible, yet there wasn't a hell of a lot to do in Bratislava at a constant -4'C in the depths of January, but go into pubs and drink cheap beer.  It won't go down as one of my favourite places but it certainly had a charm to it.


9. Sevilla - I wanted one last spell in the sun before winter arrived, and decided that a trip to Sevilla at the beginning of November was probably the only way I was going to manage this - in the beautiful sunshine and 25'C temperatures, it has to be said that I fully appreciated.  My first proper solo holiday - I sure would have enjoyed it more with other people but I enjoyed my little break, and will happily go on holiday by myself again.  Maybe next time try to find a way to either meet locals, or other solo travellers.  There must be an app?  Besides Tinder?


8. Relegation - It may seem strange to pick such a dire outcome as a highlight, and I guess has much to do with who I am as a person and where I am from, that I can pick the positives of camaraderie from what was a dreadful outcome.  Football wouldn't be something that I would choose to get into now, but I still enjoy it and find the whole story fascinating - the ups and downs of my football club, Hull City AFC, I think perfectly show the emotions of the game.  3 of us Hull types headed to Crystal Palace one Sunday morning, knowing a defeat would relegate us, and a victory wouldn't even guarantee what was an unlikely survival.  The atmosphere between the fans was electric and the usual nutcases were doing their throwing beer everywhere thing which is so classy yet so watchable in a "visiting a council estate for viewing purposes" kind of way.  And after about 3 minutes, we were 1-0 down.  2-0 at half-time and everyone was resigned.  We lost 4-0 in the end, I think, yet there was a feeling of togetherness in defeat, which I kind of enjoy.  We topped this off with the most miserable roast dinner of the year, but later had a beer elsewhere with the most amazingly hot Portuguese woman serving us and flashing her cleavage at us.

7. Oblix - I had to put a roast dinner on the list.  And though not the best roast dinner in itself, the whole experience was exceptional.  Being up The Shard, with 3 top people for company, those views, the amazing service, the beautiful wine, the sumptuous meat.  I spent nearly as much in there as I did in 3 days in Sevilla, but hell, it was a damn fine experience.


6. Klimt - When my holiday accomplice and new-found mate, Dave, suggested going to see a Gustav Klimt exhibition in Milan on our last day, I wasn't convinced but I thought I should go along with the idea, for I wanted him to come to a big outdoor rave two days later.  Well, my eyes were opened to a new world, and I had a new favourite artist.  Plus - boobs.


5. Taking friends to Hull - 10 years ago I would not have dared take any friends to Hull.  5 years ago it was still a joke of an idea.  Then in 2017, Hull became the UK's City Of Culture, and finally, for the first time in my life I could be rightly proud of my home city.  The change to Hull is remarkable, the city centre has been vastly cleaned and spruced up, and there are many more events going on than used to be the case.  But more importantly, it has a sense of pride for the first time in decades - you can feel it walking around the city.  Hull - it isn't shit any more.  And yes, my two ace friends really enjoyed it.


4. Zurich Street Parade - This was just immense fun.  30 trucks going around the lake in Zurich, with hundreds of thousands of people dancing to an fairly broad spectrum of dance music, though more often techno.  It was not only a cacophony of different sounds but there was just so much to see, and so much entertainment.  The music was good - from minimal, to house, to bloody hardstyle - which was suitably hilarious.  Culminating in a visit to a church for shelter, an inability to walk and a game of ice bowling in the hotel corridor.  I would love to go again.


3. Being offered the job - I think I had been interviewed for the first time about 3-4 weeks earlier, and had pretty much given up any expectation on this one, but then I had a second interview with the MD, and continued to wait.  It still took a while to hear anything but finally I received a call offering me the job.  I couldn't believe it!i  And just 30 minutes before I discovered a track that I had been trying to ID for a few months too.  The job has, of course, changed my life totally - though very challenging at times, it is what I dreamed of and I couldn't have asked for any more.

2. Walking In Mountains - With a belly full of free breakfast and a fair hangover, the three of us set off to go walking to see what we could find in the remote town of Tirana in Italy.  No real plan but we headed upstream, well, up and alongside a river with various warning signs not to go anywhere near it.  It was a gentle incline upwards, surrounded by mountains and eventually developing rainclouds.  The scenery was stunning, I felt so at peace and disconnected to my usual world.  And the beer upon arrival at a cafe, just before it started raining heavily, was joyful.


1. The Bernina Express - You can tell I'm getting old, not only when I nearly forgot to write about my favourite moment of the year, but also the fact that my favourite moment of the year was a train journey.  Yes a train journey.  For some reason I had my heart set on going through the Swiss mountains on a train (the random country generator told me to).  It was every bit as stunning as I expected, the vodka flowed, the mountains passed - shamed it pissed down with rain, but I got to see a glacier and even a few snowflakes - in August.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Complaint: Memories & Yoghurts

Dear M&S

I remember when I was a child, hating every single minute of being dragged around Marks & Spencer in Hull.  All I wanted to do was go out and play football, and perhaps set fire to the odd rubbish bin if I could steal some matches.

But no, almost every Saturday, my mother and father decided that they would torture me by spending elongated periods in this infernal hell.  The only positive experience I ever had in there was when I found a penny on the floor.

As soon as I was old enough to buy my own fire-lighting equipment, I resolved that I would never step foot in Marks & Spencer ever again.  Oh how I laughed every time there were reports in the news about low sales.

Roll on 30 years, and I have somehow found that I quite like your food.  Very much like it, in fact.  Sadly, I am on a fairly low wage, so it is a rare treat for me to go into Marks & Spencer.

Recently I went in and purchased a pack of 4 M&S yoghurts, I forget exactly which but they were along the lines of blackcurrant, perhaps rhubarb, and two other flavours.  Around £1.85 maybe.

I went back to work and tried to break one off.  And tried, and tried.  And tried some more.  I simply could not get the separate the individual yoghurt pots.

What did however occur, was that all 4 yoghurt lids came off.  Helpful if you want 4 yoghurts or perhaps have 3 very attractive young ladies that you are going to lay on the floor with and spoon yoghurt into each other's mouths.

Sadly I was at work.  I did not want 4 yoghurts.  And I was going to the pub after, on the tube - open yoghurt pots were not going to be useful travel companions.

I was so disamused that I didn't even bother to eat one yoghurt.


Regards
James 'Yoghurt-less' Winfield

******

Hi James

Thank you for taking the time to contact us about the yoghurts you bought recently.

Like you, I have many memories of being dragged around my local M&S by my mum on a bleak Saturday morning. I can't say I had the same desire to get hold of some matches to set fire to a rubbish bin, but each to their own!

However, again, like you, I too have developed a kind of love affair with M&S food and I love treating myself every now an again. So I can only imagine how gutting it must've been for all the lids to peel off the yoghurts. I also agree, opened yoghurt is not an appropriate pub snack!

The standard of our food and the packaging it comes in means a lot to us, and we put a lot of time and effort into making sure it’s perfect.

The information you’ve given us about what was wrong has been very useful. I’ve reported this to my colleagues who work in our Food team, and they’ll be keeping a close eye on this range to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I'd like to send you a gift card to cover the cost of the yoghurts so you can treat yourself to something else from our store. So I can do this, can you send us your address please?

We look forward to hearing from you soon, James.

Kind regards

Retail Customer Services
Your M&S Customer Service

******

Dear Miss xxxx

I am touched to hear that I am not the only child to have suffered at the hands of weekly parental shopping decisions. Perhaps this could be the start of a beautiful friendship?

My address is below - I look forward to having 4 yoghurts for dinner shortly.

Have a nice day, new friend,
James

******

Dear James,

Thanks for getting back to us with your address, I'm sorry to have come between you and xxxx!

I've popped a £2 gift card in the post for you, to cover the cost of the yoghurts. This will be on your doorstep within 3-5 working days and can be used in any of our UK stores or online at http://www.marksandspencer.com/.

I hope you enjoy your yoghurts, with or without attractive young women present.
Kind regards

Retail Customer Services
Your M&S Customer Service

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Complaint: Tesco Avocados

Sometimes it takes a bit of work to get a refund...or just to find common cause with your refunder:

******

Dear Tesco

I am generally not a fan of your food quality - some will call me a snob, but I am from up north so not entirely sure that is something that can be aimed at me.

Anyway, I actually quite like your avocados, and go through several a week.  Well, I normally like your avocados.

Over the last month, I have had two pretty horrid, soft and close to inedible avocados from your Rayner's Lane store.

I will keep buying them from there, as the good ones far outweigh the bad, however I have not been left amused by the quality - I live in London and need my avocados.  Do you not understand?

Also, your store sometimes smells of poo.  Actual poo.  This has been only on occasion this year, but last year it was fairly consistent.

Any idea why?

Kind regards
James Avocado Winfield

******

Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for your email.
I am sorry to read of the problems which you have encountered, when purchasing advocados from your local store. I can appreciate how annoying this must have been for you, especially as the some of the advocado's have been of poor quality and the store seems to have an unpleasent odour.

We’re committed to sourcing our products responsibly and take the quality of all of the products we sell very seriously. Any complaint about a product is recorded which allows us to work with our suppliers to ensure that our products are of the highest quality.

In order for me to ensure that this is done, I’d be very grateful if you could reply to me with some details, which I’d like to pass on to our supplier with your permission. Could you tell me:

- Your full postal address - Your telephone number - Product barcode - Cost of the product - Use by/best before date - Supplier code -

Our technical teams work closely with our suppliers to alert them to any product concerns and ensure that the highest standards are being met. Unfortunately, it does appear that something went wrong on this occasion, but we hope you’ll be reassured to know the information you have given us will help us to stop this from happening again.

Upon receipt of these additional details, I would also be happy to send you a Tesco Moneycard to reimburse you for the cost of the product.

Also, please can you advise me which store you purchased the advocados from? As I would like to raise your complaint about the strong odour circulating the store.
Thanks again for taking the time to tell us about this. I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre

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Hi

Gosh I don't remember what date I bought them on, let alone what the barcode was!  It's a struggle to remember my name sometimes.

They were in the loosely supplied section, so had no sell-by date.  The store is the one close to Rayner's Lane tube station.  One occasion was a couple of weeks ago (they all felt out of date actually, the one I bought I hoped less so...alas), the other occasion in December.

My address is below and my phone number is xxxxxxxxxxx.  I hope that helps.

Kind regards

James

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Dear Mr Winfield

Thank you for your reply and please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in my response.

Sadly, I have been unable to reach the store by phone. I have therefore sent your feedback to the store, regarding the smell in store. So, hopefully this can be resolved as soon as posisble.

In addition, I am sorry that the packaging is no longer available for the advocado's. As you can appreciate that we would require the barcode number, in order to feed your comments back to the relevent Supplier and also provide a refund.

Going forward, should you experience any further quality issues with the products which you purchase from us, please return this to store along with your receipt.

Thank you for contacting me and for bringing this to my attention.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre

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Dear xxxx

I am not sure that you have understood my previous e-mail.

The avocados in the store are sold loose.  They have never had any packaging as such.  This is fine.

However what is not acceptable is when they are inedible - ie sold when they are clearly out of date.

This is surely a Tesco store management issue as opposed to a supplier issue?

Regards
James

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Dear James

Thank you for your email reply.

xxxx is out of the business so please allow me to respond in her absence.

If the avocados are coming into the store in this condition, then xxxx is right in believing it is a supplier issue.  Staff are trained to check stock periodically to ensure anything that is not fit for consumption is removed whenever possible.  Loose fruit and vegetables is certainly something the staff are able to keep an eye on as they don't contain any outer packaging as you've stated.

Usually even loose products will contain an Oval shape type sticker with some supplier details.  This would have been helpful to xxxx, but I realise you've now thrown everything away so this is not possible to take from you.

With that said, I can see that xxxx has made the store fully aware of your concerns and especially in regards to the odour you've experienced whilst shopping there.  This is being investigated behind the scenes to help ensure any future visit is a pleasant one.  If not, please do ask to speak with an in-store Duty Manager.

As we have no supplier details or product to have returned to the store, it is very difficult to refund you for these.  If you had photos of the supplier's sticker, along with any photos showing the poor quality, we would have been able to help.

Please rest assured that it's never our intention to frustrate or disappoint any customer at any time.  However, I do hope the above explains why I'm unable to meet your expectations on this occasion.

If you still feel a refund is in order, I would kindly suggest speaking with the store's Duty Manager on your next usual visit.  Please do take along your till receipt to help them assist you further.

Thank you for your time and if there is anything else we can do to help, please do let us know.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre

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A week or so later...

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Dear xxxx

I appreciate that you are probably thinking, "thank **** we shut him up", but just like a bad smell, or perhaps Nigel Farage, I am back.

So I've bought another avocado from the local Tesco Express store so that I can send you a photograph of the barcode.  I appreciate that it isn't exactly the same sticker as the two badvocados had, but I expect that it is exactly the same barcode.

I don't really know why I am persisting with this, but I do feel that there is a slight soon-to-be-denied lack of trust towards what I am saying, and that you perhaps feel that as I am a northerner, I cannot possibly be eating something as healthy as an avocado.  Don't worry, I will consume large volumes of bacon, beer and cocaine as soon as possible.

Alas, I am stuck with my morose feelings of incompleteness from two well below standard avocados - and now another one which I haven't opened yet, but should be ok.  But there is that element of trepidation.

I should probably just leave it here and not still be banging on about it, I could just avoid shopping at Tesco for a few weeks to give myself some vague satisfaction that I am sticking it to the multi-national corporation for allowing two bad avocados to be purchased.  I am sure that you will miss my average monthly spend of around £31.54 as much as we missed Nigel Farage not being on the news last week.

Anyway, photograph of barcode pointlessly attached.



I look forward to your corporate platitudes in return.

Kindish regards

James

ps If you get bored on your lunch break, I do a fine collection of roast dinner reviews on my blog - http://rdldn.co.uk/

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Dear James

Thank you for your further email and my profuse apologies for the week taken to reply.  I was offer for a few days and unfortunately the email wasn't picked up by a colleague.

With that said, I've now arranged for a £10.00 Tesco Moneycard to be sent to you in the post.  This should arrive within the next 5 - 10 working days.  I've also notified the supplier for internal purposes, sp rest assured that they've been informed of your experience behind the scenes.

It's been a pleasure to help and if there is anything else I can do to help James, please do let me know.

Kind regards

Tesco Customer Service
Tesco Customer Engagement Centre

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Dear xxxx

Thank you for your e-mail and your kind offer of compensation - I only wanted £2.20 but hey, I won't say anything if you don't.

Slightly bad timing though as I was fishing around for things to give up for Lent yesterday.

In previous years I have given up paper clips, zebra crossings and trimming my eyebrows.  It gets more difficult to think of suitable things to give up for Lent - it always kind of slaps me in the face when I'm not expecting it - and you'd have thought that they would have had it on a different week to Valentine's Day, but hey ho.  Hopefully they'll look into the timing issue for next year.

Anyway, so I was waiting quite a long time to use the self-service machines yesterday - not your fault, just some very slow people in front of me, when it dawned on me - I should give up Tesco for Lent.

Oh well, I'm committed to it now.  Though last year I gave up talking about Brexit for Lent, which didn't last very long.

I look forward to having a Tesco avocado feast in early April.

All the best
James

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Conclusion - all you need to do is show your contempt for Nigel Farage to get your own way.