Archive for July, 2009

Drink

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 | Humanism, Life

One of the perks of city living is the ability to walk to the pub and home again, finally removing my need to drive to Tuesday night socials.

It’s a bit of a walk up from my apartment though with the way back being down hill it feels a lot shorter at the end of the night which is always a positive. In any case it felt really good not having to worry about how much I was drinking for once, a great improvement on the situation.

George and Chris Zoltan and Tom Norm and Liz

Thoughts of a young adult

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 | Thoughts

I bought a laundry basket tonight.

It’s a wicker basket style one, with a dark brown wood effect which is constrasted by some light linen trim which goes round the top and inside, hence the name “dark lights.” It was kind of a treat for myself, to ease the current stress I’m under with moving and other things though I’m sure there was a day when I would treat myself with someone far more exciting.

In any case, it really got me thinking.

On Monday, as I previously mentioned I went to Ikea with Si as he was buying a screen print. Dropping him off back at his flat he briefly talked me through where on the wall it was going and how he was aiming to achieve a visual seperation between kitchen, dining and lounge areas of his living space.

On Tuesday Tom arrived back in Leeds and on showing him round the apartment I explained where I thought the furniture would work best at, how we could have a dining area over the far side, a work area so he could fit a desk in and plans for the entertainment section of the room.

This follows on from last Friday’s visit to Ikea with Rich in which we discussed which sets we thought would work well in his new flat and which of the various items would complement each other well while at the same allow the furniture collection to be built up in stages.

But my question is this. When I did I become the kind of person that discusses interior design with all his other trendy city living friends? Is this what my life is from now on? Have I completed the current level of the game and moved on to the next?

Perhaps I really have become the man in Jack Allsopp’s lyrics as I spent my weekend nights watching what I call Saturday Night Circus, feeling so safe up here in my shrine to Ikea, away from the shouts and the louts and the girls with the over-painted pouts.

Of course, the plan is nothing so mellow. I moved back to the city centre so I could rejoin the action once again – I’m not ready to move to the suburbs so my soon to be arriving family can ride their bikes up and down the street without fear of being taken out by taxi drivers. But time will tell I guess.

Getty strikes again

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 | Tech

stock_xchng Having taken over iStock a while back, Getty have now aquired by other favourite stock site, stock.xchng.

Granted the quality of iStock has not dipped since Getty took over but the prices have certainly seen a significant rise since they did. It will be interesting to see what changes they bring in to SXC, they have already replaced the Stock Expert premium links with iStock ones though so far little else seems to have changed.

Ikea

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 | Reviews, Thoughts

Ikea I ended up back at Ikea on Monday to pick up some more stuff.

I have to say I really don’t like the place though. Aside from the main reason which I will come on to, they charge £30 for home delivery which seems crazy, Tesco are delivering my bed – on a Saturday – for like £6 and a lot of the stuff they currently have in the show room isn’t even available to buy anymore.

The main reason I don’t like Ikea however is how smug they are about how awful their customer service is. As if it is something to be proud of. They have big boards up saying “we aim to serve you within 8 minutes.”

8 minutes? Are you having a laugh? Even if you hit those targets, that wouldn’t be something to be proud of. It’s not like they even really have a Total Experience Time, that 8 minutes is just the time you spend in the queue just to get your stuff scanned through a till.

I know McDonald’s is a world leader in such areas but do you know what the target time for a customer queuing before they get to the till is? 0 seconds. A lot of the time they hit it as well, and most of the time a customer will be served within the target Total Experience Time target of 3 minutes – and that is to provide a full meal, not just to take payment for a few boxes.

It’s not like they can’t cope with the demand either, they have had 3-4 tills open despite having over 20 tills they could potentially open, both of the times I have been there recently.

Not impressed.

Jokers

Monday, July 27th, 2009 | Life

Walker Singleton Back when I started my flat search I came across a beautiful one in Langton’s Wharf which I was most glad of given the standard of most I had seen. Having arranged a second viewing for everyone else we decided to take it.

By the time the agent had got back to the office his colleague had just taken the fee from someone else. I was devastated but luckily I soon came across another flat which was nice and cheap marketed by an agent named Walker Singleton. Thus begins my fantastic tale…

I booked an appointment to view the place. The guy that showed us round wasn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the draw. He had never been to the property before and didn’t really have any idea what was going on. He explained it was very strange that it didn’t have a washing machine. I explained to him it was probably communal. Because it’s perfectly normal to explain to the letting agent the setup at a perspective property.

He didn’t know how the parking situation worked either. Or the policies for the communal garden. Or the council tax band. He told me he would get someone at the office to phone me about the council tax band. They never did.

It wasn’t the best viewing ever, namely because there was no electricity so we couldn’t really see anything without using our phones as torches. Of course he didn’t know how why the electrics were out or how to get them back on.

Anyway we decided to go with it. They wouldn’t sign up up anywhere but their office though – which is in Halifax. So I changed my plans and arranged to go down there and get it all sorted on the Friday of the AHS Conference when I had to be out of my current house by the Monday. Not ideal but I recruited some hired help to get everything moved and ordered by BT line so we could get the internet up and running asap.

Thursday, the day before the move arrives and I get a phone call. It’s the letting agent informing me that there was a leak in the property and so I couldn’t move in. Brilliant.

I spoke to my current landlord and luckily he had another property he could give me for a month – so having got back from Warwick I spent the Monday night moving into this other property. Which is a bit of a nightmare in one night as I’m sure you can imagine.

Over the next few days and weeks I continue talks with the letting agent – as well as looking elsewhere unfortunately the only other letting agent with any suitable properties listed on Rightmove are also morons who have let all their properties but insist on relisting them – when I can of course because they don’t answer their phones, it just drops to voicemail almost immediately every time you ring them and I have never yet had them return a voicemail message despite rining them every day, often several times a day.

It turns out the leak is coming from one of six other flats but the people at Walker Singleton don’t know who the other flats belong to or who owns the building so they can’t get it sorted and they don’t know who to contact about it.

This goes on for weeks and they still can’t find out where this leak is coming from. How does that work? As a letting agent are you not concerned about such issues as your property flooding? I mean you just couldn’t write this stuff.

I phoned them on Friday and finally got through on the third time to find out they had another flat in the same building that I could have for a short period if I wanted until the actual flat was really. I suggested we just have that one instead, apparently that hadn’t occured to them.

They said I could look round it – how nice of them. But they couldn’t be bothered to actually show me round it, they told me I had to come to Halifax to pick the keys up! So Monday I sped over to Halifax on my lunch break and picked up the keys.

I had been prewarned that the place was a bit of a state – it only had two en-suite bedrooms but it had a communal bathroom so that wasn’t a problem and the smashed in windows were getting replaced. “Sounds great” I said. I also enquired if there was a code to the building and was told there wasn’t. So I got back in my car and headed back to Leeds. As I pulled off I got a phone call. From Walker Singleton. “Oh, by the way, there is a door code.”

I went to look round after work and tried the front door – but the code didn’t work. That meant I couldn’t check out any of the communal facilities but luckily the apartment can be accessed from the outside.

I went in and picked my way over the broken glass and piles of junkmail. It was suprisingly underground for a “ground floor flat.” That and it only had two bedrooms and a mystery door – which the handle for was lying on the floor and even when I reconstructed it, it was locked. Was it a bathroom? A third bedroom? Who knows.

I phoned them back on Tuesday and told them about my experiences. I asked about another apartment which she said she needed to speak to her colleague about and would phone me back. She didn’t, so I phoned her and she said she had spoken to her colleague and it was still available but she needed to speak to her manager to see if they could lower the price.

I was desperate at this point so I said I wasn’t too bothered but she said she would phone me back later that afternoon to confirm the price. She didn’t so I phoned her back again on Wednesday morning and she said she was still waiting to speak to her manager. I replied “no, it’s fine, I’ll pay the asking price.” She responded, “well, I’ll speak to my manager and see if we can do it a bit cheaper.”

They weren’t answering their phones in the early afternoon but around 2-3ish joy of all joys – they actually rang me and said that it was available (no new information or anything) and suggested I come down to pick the keys up to have a look at it – again, they weren’t prepared to show me round or anything.

Also their contractor was coming to do some work on it tomorrow so I had to go to Halifax, picks the keys up, drive back to Leeds, have a look round, drive back to Halifax and give them the keys back so they could give them to the contractor and then drive back to Leeds in time to get my train down to London. In order to do this I had to change my train tickets which cost me £9.35 for the ticket and £15 in “admin fees.”

I get to work at 7:20 so I can make an early start and get away early. Except nobody else decides to turn up early today and I don’t have any keys – so I spend 50 minutes sat outside waiting for someone who does, to turn up.

I had out just before 12 and race over to Halifax and pick the keys up. Stepanie’s colleague informs me that she is out but has left the keys for me to pick up. So I take them and head back to Leeds to check out the apartment.

I get into the building easily enough and find apartment 31 – except the keys don’t work. I phone Stephanie who says everyone else has gotten in without a problem so I give it a few more tries, still nothing. I give up in the end after ten minutes of trying to open the door with these keys and head for the exit at which point I run into the caretaker of the building.

He offers to give it a go for me and on our way up there realises the problem – there was a leak and they don’t have any contact details for Walker Singleton and so couldn’t get the keys and so had to break in and replace the locks.

The caretaker manages to find the person with the keys and show me round (it was very nice) but also explains they have had some water damage and so currently it has no floor – and this won’t be going in for another week. Walker Singleton don’t know this because they don’t have any contact details for each other and also, thanks to the locks being changed, my letting agent no longer has a set of keys to get into the flat.

By this time it’s too late to run back to Halifax as I have an adjusted train to catch. I head down to London and back, my training arriving back into Leeds at around midnight and I’m not in the best mood because I got absolutely soaked in London with the rain despite having both a coat and an umbrella. At which point I have to drive to Halifax and back before I can go to bed.

I agree to take the place because it is very nice and finally make an apointment to sign up, but it isn’t until the week after because they don’t want to do it until the refurbishment work has been done. Of course by the time I actually sign up on the Friday after it still hasn’t been finished.

They do at least agree to sign me up at the property and I meet Adam there who seems to know a little more about the general situation though has no idea what any of the keys do. Or what the code to the building is. He promises he’ll get someone to ring me with the details that afternoon – which of course they don’t.

And despite claiming to have visited the apartment several times to run all their “checks” they seem to have failed to notice or ignored that the place is a right state with stuff still left by the previous tenants in the cupboards and random bottles of cleaning chemicals everywhere as well as the surfaces not being clean. Something I have extensively documented with my digital camera and will be returning the property in a similar state.

So that is my experience with Walker Singleton so far. I’ll leave you to make up your own mind. The scary thing is though, they’re probably all just as bad.

What a weekend

Monday, July 27th, 2009 | Life

Finally got the keys to my new apartment on Friday!

What followed was a long, long weekend. Being that it is a bit of a nightmare parking in town I had to move house overnight so having already done a full days work by the time I left work at 4pm, I then headed off to start moving stuff. Which went on for 13 hours.

This included a short break to run to Ikea at which point I managed to somehow – I really can’t imagine how though – pick out the shelves I wanted to buy and then walk though the self service warehouse without buying them. Accidentially. Honestly, how does that happen? I think I was rather tired by this point.

I finished up at 5am and went to grab some sleep however I ended up getting woken up by Brian bringing another potential tenant to look round so I didn’t get much sleep. This was followed by a full shift at work followed by more stuff being moved which I agained finished up at shortly after 5am.

I once again headed home to get some sleep before getting up on Sunday, finishing up a bit of freelance work I had to do then heading over again with more stuff and in an attempt to get the place sorted a little. Finishing up at around 9pm last night when I simply ran out of energy.

Never. Ever. Again.

Completely ludicrous situations

Monday, July 27th, 2009 | Life

I managed to get some desks off Freecycle for the new apartment. However, having already agreed to collect them I found I needed to pick them up this morning at 10:30 which I obviously couldn’t do as I was at work.

Therefore in order to solve said problem I rang round and arranged with a man in a van to go round and pick them up. I had already arranged with the people I was collecting off though so I didn’t get a chance to tell them I was sending someone else and the guy I was sending to collect them didn’t seem to understand I wasn’t going to be there but would only be there to receive the goods when he arrived at my office.

This guy phones me at 10:15 saying he can’t find the place and wanted some directions. I only have an address, I don’t know which place it is he is actually supposed to be collecting from but give him the general area.

He phones me back after finding it and says that nobody is there. So I tell him I will find out what is going on, explaining once again that I am at the destination, not the origin. I then phone Alex to find out what is going on who says he will phone Richard and find out what is going on.

I give him a few minutes then phone Nick back who says he can’t get through to Richard but gives me Richard’s phone number. I phone that but Richard doesn’t answer so I phone the van man back to tell him who tells them that Richard has turned up and he is collecting the desks as we speak.

Soon enough and he is on the road and delivers them to the office. At which point he insists on calling me Richard. I mean, it’s like a sitcom that is happening to you.

From across the pond

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | Life

Diane and Nick having arrived in Leeds (after a brief stop in London en route from Canada) we headed out for a meal last night. Being all the way over in Chapel Allerton already we headed to my old haunt, the Deer Park where we enjoyed rather nice meal. This was followed by a few more drinks back at my grandma’s before heading back to my parents where they were staying.

Early night was on the cards but we ended up getting talking and looking at a few photos and videos and next thing we knew it was gone 1am. So by the time I had got home and got all the work done I needed to do before this morning it was heading towards 3am! Never the less a very enjoyable night.

Deer Park

Hail to the chef

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | Life, Thoughts

I have to say I’m really getting into this cooking thing. I’ve just made myself another Pot Noodle and the other day I purchased a frozen pizza and put it in the oven for a period of time before removing and and then consuming it. I’m still not completely sold that it is a better alternative to microwave meals but it’s certainly a novelty.

Cooking

Long night drinkin’

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009 | Friends

On my way home from Aidan’s leaving do I decided to stop by The Library for a quick one just to say hi to everyone. Turns out that everyone was not that many people with none of the other committee being there, though apparantly Sophie had dropped by briefly earlier on.

So in the end to keep the party going I ended up staying there for a fare bit of time before getting a text with Nicola asking if we were still at the pub. I said we were going to be heading off soon but suggested we grab a quick pint down at the station so we ended up down there until nearly midnight, which didn’t really make for the early night I was hoping for but did give me chance to catch up with people which was good.

Nicola Nicola Chris