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w/e 2020-01-05

We started the new year, and the non-pedants’ decade, with our move.

The first three days of the week were mostly spent packing belongings into boxes and tidying up for our friend who will be lodging in the flat. Because we’re moving to an already furnished holiday home, and are leaving ourselves the option of moving back to London after 6-9 months, and we’ll be back occasionally, we didn’t need to take everything. Which is easier in many ways but did require repetitions of the question, “Will I need this in the next few months?” Having thought, “We won’t need to take much,” the piles of boxes and bags soon looked worryingly large.

On Thursday morning we picked up a Transit van from a very nice man at Enterprise near Tower Bridge and, after three hours of ferrying boxes between it and the flat, were relieved to find that what seemed like an impossible quantity of stuff fit inside.

A photo of boxes, bags, two office chairs and a bike in the back of the van
The back of the van, on Flickr

The drive to Herefordshire went smoothly and we then further filled our new home with our belongings. It already has too many things, being the kind of place that otherwise unwanted furniture and appliances and ornaments and everything else accumulates, so we’ve currently over-filled it.


§   On Friday morning we dropped the van off at Enterprise in Hereford, picked up a hire car, and then set out to buy a cheap second-hand car, a process we know next-to-nothing about.

We were after something smallish and reliable that we wouldn’t lose lots of cash on if we sold it later in the year, either because we move back to London or because we decide to stay and want a better (probably electric) car. A Honda Jazz seemed a good option, with ~10-year-old ones going for £2-3000. The difficulty was that we wanted to buy a car as soon as possible, rather than have to rent a car for too long.

We spent nine hours of Friday driving around west England to look at two Jazzes we’d identified on Autotrader both of which were underwhelming in different ways, even for cheap, old, unexciting vehicles. This didn’t seem a very good use of time. So we changed tactics and, rather than try to buy a specific kind of car from anywhere we could feasibly reach, we’d look for an OK, affordable car from somewhere local.

On Friday evening we found a couple of likely cars at a place in Hereford, booked an appointment to see them, and by lunchtime on Saturday we’d paid a deposit on a 2008 Nissan Note from a man who seemed relatively less car-dealery than the previous day’s men.


§   The rest of the weekend has been spent unpacking and setting up our home offices. Our own rooms! This isn’t the most exciting aspect of moving to a house but it’s still pretty exciting.

A photo of a lawn with a small field and trees in the background, under a cloudy sky
New home office view, on Flickr

So, three days in and the move’s gone well so far. “Too well,” my pessimist brain keeps saying. Maybe I can work on keeping that brain quiet this year/decade.

Our internet is currently running through the air, over 4G, using a Huawei HomeFi. It’s workable so far, but variable. There’s no phone line here and we didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting that set up for, probably, a very slow broadband speed. At some point, in theory, fibre will reach the house. That was due to start, in our large and sparsely-populated area, at the end of 2019 but I get the sense it’s not happening as quickly as planned (surprise!).

It’s very quiet here. Around 9am on Saturday morning I went for a run/walk (my Couch to 5K has tipped over from walk/run to more of a run/walk) and over the thirty minutes I saw two friendly cyclists (“Morning!” “Morning!” “Morning!”), lots of sheep (“Morning!” “…”) and no motor vehicles at all. I may well start craving some more hustle and bustle at some point but at the moment this is fine.


§   While being driven around England it struck me that humans are currently like the filling in a sandwich between one slice of machine — the satnav — and another — the car. Before the invention of sandwiches the vehicle was simply a slice of machine with a human topping. But now it’s a sandwich, and the two machine slices are slowly squeezing out the human filling and will eventually be stuck directly together with nothing but a thin layer of API butter. Then the human will be a superfluous thing, perhaps a little gherkin on the side of the plate.

While we were driving I was reading the directions from a mapping app on my phone, with the sound off, checking the upcoming turns, and giving verbal directions to Mary, the driver. I was an extra layer of human garnish — perhaps some chutney or a sliced tomato — between the satnav slice and the driver filling.


§   Before we left London I read Square Eyes by Anna Mill and Luke Jones, a hefty hardback comic I got out of Barbican Library, which Warren Ellis recommended last year. It was good and it is beautifully drawn and coloured. Every frame made me want to start drawing again.

We’ve started watching both The Trial of Christine Keeler and Dracula on iPlayer, both of which are excellent so far. Recommended.


§   That’s all. If you haven’t already gone back to work then have a good first week back. I’m assuming I haven’t forgotten how to write code.

Let us all count our blessings that there won’t be any more “Here are all the [movies/programmes/books/games/music] to look forward to this year!” articles for another fifty weeks or so.