Things happen in three’s

Last week was an eventful one. You’ve heard the phrase ‘things happen in threes’ I didn’t know this was meant to happen every few months! I’ll start at the beginning of this downward spiral.

Tuesday; Light bulb shenanigans

  • The day was going well;
  • Work had been uneventful
  • Had a nice dinner
  • Housemate had shown me her engagement ring, yes there were a few of the obligatory high pitched girlie giggles that only dogs could hear.

So far so good right?

bulbI’m all settled in bed getting ready to jot down a few blog ideas until I get a text message from the housemate to see if I was still awake as she could smell something burning. Naturally I got worried with visions of the house burning down.
Checked all the electrics, the cooker etc and can’t find anything but there is a strong smell of burnt plastic. Turns out it was this light bulb in the uplighter in the living room that had burnt out. It took about three days for the small to completely fade.

Wednesday; Car, vroom, vroom, cough

My car. What happened in a way was my own fault and for being a bit tight on the purse strings but I thought I had a bit more time. The car exhaust had been growling a bit, ok a lot but I was hoping she would hang in there until pay day at least, of course that didn’t happen. Had a reasonably calm drive to work until I reached the company car park and the engine decided to intermittently cut out. Upon recommendation I took the car to a garage close to work who were excellent. Though busy they hooked the car up to a computer and fortunately no error codes flashed up so I could breath a small sigh of relief. Though it did mean the mechanics had to investigate a bit, here they discovered the growling exhaust. Not only was part of the exhaust rattling around but in another part there was a blockage co0ntributing to the engine cutting out. My car did spend a night at the garage but was back on the road the following day.

There is more yet to come.

Wednesday PM; QWERUIOP

Up until this point my laptop had been working had been working fine, installed some video editing software; a new skill I’m trying to learn. Windows runs and update as it does every so often. Hadn’t needed to use my laptop until Wednesday evening I discover that apart from the letters TY the rest of the keys in that row no longer work. At first I thought it was linked to the updates, maybe a software issue. Downloaded the correct keyboard driver and still no improvement. Final conclusion is there is a connectivity issue with the keyboard. I could pay to have it repaired but for now am using a USB keyboard. It does the job with no problems.

To complete the week the NHS network was hit by a Cyber Attack!

Not part of my three but still worth a mention. Everything went down Friday afternoon as our excellent IT team worked to get things back to normal as more reports about other NHS trusts IT networks had been attacked. Fortunately come Monday things are mostly up and running again, things could have been a lot worse.

Fingers crossed this week is a quite one.

Being an adult is expensive

Shrinking Pound

Ever had one of those days, week’s months? It all started off with the car, something I already knew was on the cards and an expense that I was prepared for and had begun the search. Then there was one of the bedroom windows where the lock suddenly broke, the window itself is in good condition but considering it’s age there was the risk that I would have to replace the whole window including frame. Fortunately with a bit of thinking the problem was resolved, the window has a lock and is once again secure.

Could anything else happen? Daft question really when the answer is of course! I got bitten on the thumb by some a creature that resulted in my thumb doubling in size and feeling quite painful to touch, it was like my thumb had developed a parasitic twin! After four days of taking antihistamines and applying antiseptic treatments my thumb returned to normal size and once again functioning. You don’t realise just how important your thumbs are until you can’t use it.

You know the phrase; ‘things happen in three’s’, that isn’t the case here just when I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief and relax, the day I get my new car home the boiler decided it no longer wanted to work. No heating or hot water for 3 days, like my thumb you don’t realise how lucky we are to have basic things like hot water and heat until it is taken away.

I was hoping the boiler could be fixed but considering my recent track record that wasn’t going to happen. Repairs versus the cost of having a new boiler fitted, it made more sense in the long term to have a new one installed. The next topic of issue was how much it was going to cost me; you have to remember I have just bought a car and repaired a window. Not going to lie part of me did crumple and wanted to hide in bed but I wanted to be able to have a hot shower in my own home. I handed over the money that was necessary and it was installed relatively quickly. March has been an extremely expensive month for me, just glad I was fortunate enough to have had the money available for these emergencies.

There is silver lining among all of this, I have a new car that when I drive it doesn’t feel like I am going to lose part of the engine every time I drive over a bump in the road. The window is secure, my thumb has recovered and there is a new boiler that should last a few years. I had to wait until pay day to feel somewhat financially stable at least until next pay day.

Time for a new car

I love my car, I know some people choose not to humanise their vehicles, although my car doesn’t have a name I do think of it as a ‘she’. She has been through a lot with me over the years, the highs and the lows not once faltering, needing the general wear and tear repairs and replacements such exhaust, tyres, wheel bearing. Sadly now the time has come where she is struggling, the girl is a Peugeot 207 having done over 122,000 miles only needing a new clutch last year. At first I thought the suspension on the car was done in, but fortunately that wasn’t the case and she is still safe to drive. I would happily keep her longer but she will eventually need some new front engine mounts & possible suspension rods, all of which will be costly for my car, you learn a bit about cars over time, and a decent mechanic will always explain everything to you. So I have set about on the journey to find a new car, exciting in some ways but could also be compared to wanting to bang your head against a brick wall in frustration.

I have bought cars over the years and have not had any problem with the garages I have bought from but the some of the sales people I came across this weekend confirms all that is said about car sales men. One car didn’t even look like the picture, the engine was filthy and it would have needed four new tyres not forgetting and the worrying lack of paperwork considering the car only had one owner and some service history. It’s common sense to ask about the missing paperwork, the salesperson replied with ‘garages don’t supply paperwork these days when they do a service, they just stamp the book’. Don’t know what mechanic the previous owner used but the mechanics I go to always provides evidence of what work was done and which parts had been changed.

Onto the next viewing. The salesperson was just plain rude and arrogant, all the traits that puts off people dealing with car sales people, didn’t get a good vibe off him at all.

The third place was a breath of fresh air, salesperson was friendly, patient, not intimidating in any way. The car itself, you could tell the garage had taken the time to cleaning the car inside and out just a shame that after a test drive it wasn’t a car I was interested in buying but still a garage who’s website I will keep an eye on to see if anything I like turns up.

Summarising what I have learnt about car buying so far is;

  • Go with your gut instinct, if something feels wrong there probably is something to be concerned about.
  • Check for paperwork be that MOT, service, repairs done on the vehicle. This is the evidence to prove which parts have been changed and what is likely to need work in the future.
  • Do your research. If there is a vehicle you are going to view read reviews about the make, model and year of the vehicle. Everyone’s experience and opinion will be different but you always want to know a bit about the mechanics of the vehicle and if there are any common problems.
  • Stick to your budget. It’s easy to get carried away when looking at cars, try and stick to what you can afford it will save your bank balance in the long run.
  • Take someone with you. It doesn’t hurt to take someone else along with you, they may ask questions that you hadn’t thought of.

The search continues.

 

 

License Plate Update

Panic over, my 4 wheeled baby has her identity back, as in she now has new number plates!

The lazy owner that I am, I have not yet followed through on my promise to have her valeted and washed, in all fairness the weather has been completely rubbish and I’m having to drive through a muddy building site to get to work so all that cleanliness would have been wasted. Maybe it can be her present from Santa  for Christmas?

Will your next car be driverless?

cyberscooty-cartoon-carWe have mobiles, we don’t need to leave our homes to be social or be social on the go through our mobile devices, and we don’t even have to leave our sofa to change the TV channels! Soon we won’t even have to physically drive our cars, driverless cars will eventually be coming to a road near you.

Cars already have lots of sensors to detect just about everything from the emissions on your car to your car’s temperature. Your car breaks down, these days it will have to be hooked up to computers to find out what the fault is. It almost seems natural that a driverless cars would be the next step in the evolution of computerised autonomous cars.

Some driverless cars don’t have a steering wheel or brake pedals others still contain these key pieces of equipment that are essential to driving a car manually. Crazy I hear you say? Well it is hear, Google have done it so have Honda and BMW, with tests already being approved in America states California, Nevada and Florida. Similar tests will be carried out on UK roads from January 2015.

The idea behind this innovation is to cut the number of road accidents, majority are caused by human error whereas driverless cars would maintain the correct speed limits, safe distances from other vehicles and not become distracted. This level of safety should also help lower the cost of car insurance.

Using wireless technology cars would be able to communicate with traffic lights so they know when to stop / go. I was curious to know how these cars would handle zebra crossings, other than the blinking orange lights there is no wireless technology involved, right?

  • Driver sees pedestrian wants to cross the road at a crossing
  • Driver stops car until pedestrian has crossed
  • Driver then makes the car move again.

Don’t worry, you can still safely cross the road at a zebra crossing and not worry about a driverless car failing to stop. The cars will use a radar and a camera to detect if someone is waiting to cross, I wonder how the car will cope with someone who is just loitering near a zebra crossing. We’ve all experienced it, slowing down at a zebra crossing thinking someone is waiting to cross and they don’t move because they were just ‘hanging around’.

The driverless car is all very ‘I am Robot’, in the film drivers had the option to either manually drive their cars or switch to autopilot. Despite the positives I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel handing over complete control to a machine, I would be relying on a form AI to get me from A to B in one piece. These cars are essentially a computer on wheels, computers can be hacked or given viruses. If a car decided to go to the dark side can the human driver regain control of the car? Or if the car becomes too smart, stages a revolt and kidnaps its passengers until demands have been met? OK, the last part could be a little far-fetched but nothing is fool proof, especially technology. We only have to look at mobile phones, they at one point got smaller now are bigger and thinner and can be used as mini computers but do they last as long as the Nokia 8810? This phone only had a little chip in it and was used by me for a few years time, then passed onto a brother who then passed it onto the youngest sister when he had finished with it. It is unlikely some of the newer phones I have had would lasted for that same period of time. So what does that say about the predicted life span of an autonomous car?

Then we have the ‘robots are taking our jobs’ scenario. Will driverless cars replace our much loved and sometimes loathed taxi drivers who like to share little anecdotes and stories of who has been in their taxi? What about chauffeurs, who will open the doors for their passengers? It all just lacks a certain of ambiance that you can only with having a human driver. Until the time comes when you car can speak and have a conversation with its passengers.

It won’t be long before we are driving hover cars and roads will be up in the sky, imagine the disruption the roads works would be like! Until then prepare yourself for the possibility of being driven around by a computer on wheels.

Crash, Bang, Clean Car and Cake!

Though the sun was shining my weekend was 50 / 50.

No more than 10 minutes after leaving work I received a phone call my sister had been in a car accident! She is feeling the after effects now but otherwise is ok, she has been given some painkillers by the doctor at A&E.

We’re not sure about the survival chances of the car just yet. Everything is going through insurance so will see what the outcome is likely to be, the other party shouldn’t dispute anything as they were the ones at fault. They had not seen my sister’s car and continued to enter the road resulting in the accident.IMG-20140516-FarzanaCar[1]

Friday I had a case of the sneezes and watery eyes, I had hoped it was hay fever. I should be so lucky! Little did I know the sneezes and watery eyes were the beginning of a cold, no thanks to the evil air con that plagues my side of the office.

Despite my developing cold, come Saturday I still looked like I belonged to the human race (make up is a brilliant thing!) and a small miracle happened. Thanks to my youngest brother the inside of my car was cleaned. I forgot to take pictures otherwise you would seen just how bad it was. I can’t remember the last time the inside of my car was hovered, dust was wiped down, I honestly thought it was going to be an impossible task. But my brother took the hoover and did an excellent job!

In the process of car clean up I found

–          4 pairs of shoes

–          1 pair of boots

–          2 shawls

–          A pair of jogging bottoms

–          1 rain coat

–          The shovel I put in the car from the last snow we had in the UK

–          A pair of worn out, torn boxing gloves, these went in the bin

20140517_VeganCupcakes[1]While I was on a roll and craving something sweet I attempted some vegan chocolate cupcakes. For a first attempt they were ok, tasted much better with ice cream 🙂

Sunday the germs took full effect. I would have stayed in bed only the boiler guy was meant to be coming then I was going to my parents for a family barbeque. However the boiler guy didn’t turn up! I texted and phoned him then received a text message with a lame excuse, to be honest I think he forgot!

A builder was also meant to be coming to give me a quote for the shed, he was also a no show!

The boiler guy did come the following evening so I will let that go. The shed builder was meant to come that evening as well, again no show. I’m going to find someone else to come and give mwe a quote.

At the moment I am a recovering master of germs! The battle of the air con continues, the war will only be won when the evil spawn of cold and potential dusty, polluted air has been ripped out! I’m told this will be happening at some point this year, until then, I am going to have to dress like an eskimo for a work!

It’s sooo cold!

As the week draws to an end it would seem we did not have the week-long heat wave I predicted in Temperamental Weather, though it does look like I wasn’t too far off the mini hurricane.

EarmuffsIn a little known village of Tiptree, famous for its jam, Tuesday evening it started sleeting. Throw gale force wind into the mix (I’m small so it felt like gale force winds to me),  it was not a party I wanted to be at. I didn’t even have my ear muffs!

I’ve always thought Tiptree to be part of the Twilight zoneTiptreejam. Upon leaving the area and joining the A12, the sleet became more a torrent of rain. It didn’t help that I was / am harbouring germs which are currently fighting to take over my body, I’m retaliating with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. So I was cold and ill, can’t say I was a happy bunny.

Plus side, I got my car back from the garage – woo hoo! I no longer have to worry about various parts of my car falling off whilst driving. I think I will treat her by taking her to the car wash…if the rain stops, at the moment the bumper is the cleanest part of the car!  Yes my car is a ‘her’, if I’m not nice to her, like the weather she too can be temperamental.

Oh well, not long to go till the weekend, I’ll ply myself with plenty of medicine to get through the working days, with an attitude that sort of resembles politeness plus the obligatory fake smile, all depending on how much energy I have.

Last nights car journey…

By now I thought I would have grown out of being motion sick, but no. Some journeys I’m completely fine, other journeys I’m definitely not good; pale, headache, dizzy, gurgly stomach etc.

I’m the one my siblings teases when we have to use the train as most likely I will be the one who becomes ill at some point of the journey.

Cars I’m ok..if I’m driving. Usually I’m not too bad in the passenger seat, but yesterday on the way to a friend’s there was an accident on the M25. The stop, start motion did nothing but aggravate my motion sickness.

On the way home I was fine! I would like to think that my travel sickness was due to me feeling unwell during the day and housemate #2 has the sickness bug germs so I may have caught them, though I think it was more likely down to the two chocolate mini brownies I had before my driving friend picked me up, I was hungry!

Unless I learn to fly a plane, drive a train and drive everywhere I am going to have to look into ways of improving my ability to travel. 😦

I haven’t tried motion sickness tablets, not sure if they work but they could be worth a try. Or maybe it is just my need to be in control causing the motion sickness..maybe I will need to learn to drive a train after all. 😉

Twisted car keys & a Snowy Sunday

Friday / Saturday

My Weekend started on Friday when it was sooo cold my petrol cap froze shut. Me not knowing my own strength twisted my key trying to open the thing, oh, and it was my only car key. After running around getting the key straightened enough to drive the car, then trying to straighten it a bit more so then the key was completly useless I called the RAC to come rescue me. After a bit of removing this panel and fudging the brain of the car, it was in a position where it could be driven.

My car was sorted out the following day by a locksmith who also fixed the buttons on my keys. Since I bought the car the buttons had not ever worked until now.

I didn’t know that my car had an alarm and pressing the key buttons to lock the car also set the alarm. I discovered this when I had locked the car using said buttons, unlocked the car using the key in the lock then…this almighty screeching noise was emitted from car! I was pressing all the buttons to turn the thing off!

I’ve still forgotten a few times and set the alarm off. 😦

Snow

Snow hit the UK this weekend. Some areas were hit on Friday, my part of the UK was hit on Sunday.  Nevertheless, myself and housemate #2 ventured out to the local supermarket, after I had swept some of the snow from my footpath and cleared the snow off my car.

20130120_101352[1]

The snow may look soft, slip on some ice and that snow is anything but as soft as the fluffy cloud you were expecting to break your fall. After a few years of having to drive to work though snow the novelty had worn off for me. Housemate #2 is from Martinique, this was the first time she had seen snow; despite the cold was enjoying it. After the supermarket trip housemate #2 stayed outside to throw snowballs at the house and build a snowman, whilst I made some triple chocolate muffin-cakes. I used a muffin recipe but didn’t have  any muffin cases so used the cupcake ones.

20130120_135613[1]Whilst the muffin – cakes were cooking HM#2 decided she had, had enough of the cold and came in.

This was ‘Berto’, 20130120_115934[1]in the short time he was with us he was admired by many, passerby’s took photo’s of him and he was a Twitter hit…then some muppet ended little ‘Berto’s’ existence! There were discussions of rewinding the CCTV to find the culprit and publicising their act of cowardice, but by then the cakes were done and we were more interested in watching ‘Sister Act’ on TV.

Though there were plenty of triple choc muffin-cakes, I wanted to try out some peppermint flavoured cakes. 20130120_191041[1]I decided to make a chocolate, peppermint buttercream icing instead of just peppermint. The icing  got a bit out of control, I should have let the it set in the fridge for a bit as it had become a bit soft, oh well nevermind, it tasted good 😀

My next cupcakes venture is going to be with limes!

Snow is not my friend

For some snow is wonderful, fun, no school, and especially at this time of year it brings forth the image of a ‘white Christmas’.

For me the snow is not my friend, it is evil and frazzles my nerves.

As I left my house this morning, it was like a blizzard. This is the UK, we don’t do blizzards, or at least I don’t!

What normally would have been approximately a 45 minute journey to work took nearly 2 hours! For those of you thinking of  having botox, drive in the snow a few times. Your face will become taut enough from fear as your car turns into a giant snowboard of which you have no control over, knock those wrinkles right out!

Getting out of my area to join the main roads was the worst, uphill, downhill it didn’t matter, myself and other driver reverted to driving as if we had just passed our driving tests. Not going above speeds of 15 mph, it was a daring person who, wait for it, sped up to 20 mph.

The option to turn round and go home was there if I wanted to sit in standstill traffic for who knows how long. Traffic had ground to a halt due to an accident. It was quicker to continue my journey to work.

I finally made it to work, managed to reverse park my car into a parking space (brownie points for me!). Then remembered that Auto Glass were meant to be coming out to fix a chip in my windscreen, fortunately as I sat down to my desk the repair man phoned to say he was on his way.

Chip is repaired, snow has stopped. Weather reports have said there is meant to be some sun, no sign of so far and I have a cough that makes me sound like I smoke 40 a day. (I don’t smoke).

I hope the snow,  if not all of it then most of it disappears by the time I go home, then I just have to worry about icy roads.  The fun just keeps on coming 😉