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w/e 2024-01-14

This week M was visiting from Italy – it was his and K’s wedding we went to last year – and we enjoyed satisfying his cravings for English things he missed: pubs, fry-ups, pork pies, stilton, crumpets, etc. As a host one must make these awful sacrifices.

We’ve done four long (for me, > 1 hour) walks this week, none as high up as we’d originally planned, due to the low temperature and breeze earlier in the week: -12ºC-with-windchill up on the Cat’s Back, for example. Nope.

A photo inside a cathedral, the pews just visible at the bottom of the frame, looking up to an illuminated ceiling high above. It's all grey stone, lit with yellow lights, big arches on either side supporting arched windows above.
We also had a look round Hereford Cathedral

We re-watched the first seasons of both Detectorists and Ghosts, because M had seen neither and it feels like a duty to show them to someone in such an unfortunate position, especially the former. Both stood up well to second viewings.

§ A photo of a black plastic compost bin sitting on four paving slabs

We’ve got one of those Dalek-like plastic compost bins in the garden. A while back rats – or something – got into it by burrowing in. So we tipped it over, got all the compost out, and put some rodent-proof steel mesh underneath it.

Recently rats – or something – got into it again. Maybe by burrowing under the mesh, which meant that it sagged, leaving gaps for the critters.

So this week we emptied it again and put four concrete paving slabs underneath with tiny gaps for worms. Will that be enough? Keep reading for an indeterminate number of months or years to find out! Maybe.

§ We’re thinking of getting a second car and so are slowly making many decisions in an attempt to narrow the possibilities. We’ve managed OK with only one car so far, especially for the first couple of more Covid-y years here, but it’s getting harder now that we’re doing a bit more. And taking our only car to the garage four miles away for a service/MOT/repair is a pain, even if we can collect it later the same day. Only having one car here does not feel very resilient.

(The public transport options: The nearest bus stop is a mile away. There’s one direct bus a week to each of Hereford and Abergavenny, where you have a couple of hours before the one direct bus back. Other times the journeys require two buses, or else two miles of walking and one bus. It takes 2-3 times as long as driving and the buses stop running early evening.)

We’re planning to get our first electric car and for a while have pondered new ones with a good range (> 250 WLTP miles), for around £30,000-£35,000. Which is A Lot, especially when none/few of them actually excite us. Ideally we’d like something like our Fiat Panda 4x4: small and capable. But 4x4 EVs are either crazy expensive and/or for going really fast, rather than over pot-holed country tracks. The Jeep Avenger is nice but even that’s only two-wheel drive (and £35K).

So we downgraded ambitions when I realised that the EVs with a decent range that I’d initially looked at a couple of years back are now available second hand, after peoples’ leases have expired. e.g. a used Kia e-Niro without a load of miles on it, and 280 mile range, can be had for “only” £22,000 or so now. And it has the added bonus of having loads of buttons, instead of hiding all the controls behind a klunky UI on a tablet.

But that also seems like A Lot. So maybe this is very definitely going to be a “second” car, only needed for our usual short journeys, instead of cross-country trips. And so we’ve started looking at things like Renault ZOEs and Nissan LEAFs. A few years old, fairly low mileage, with ranges a bit over or under 100 miles, for around £8-10,000.

Which isn’t nothing but is less than ¼ of where we started. All the various battery sizes, charging types and speeds, trim levels, etc, are annoyingly complicated (especially for the ZOEs) so I’ve been doing a lot of reading reviews and forums, and watching YouTube.

I find the different styles of YouTube presenters interesting. There are those who are like conventional TV presenters, with the same rising and falling delivery, and scripted jokes (like Nikki Shields). There are those who sound like they’re really trying to be like conventional TV presenters, with etc. but aren’t very good at it (linking would be mean). There are those who don’t have that TV presenter style and manage to sound both polished and “natural” (like Jonny Smith). There are those who just sound like entirely normal people (like Andrew Till). And that’s just in a narrow range of car-reviewers, ignoring all the variations of unbearable over-the-top, extremely excited YouTubers who I don’t see. Anyway.

Any EV-related thoughts appreciated.

§ Via Ian I bought the little Sleeve app by Replay Software for macOS: it shows your currently playing music (from, Spotify or Doppler) in a little configurable panel. It’s very like an app I used for years, Synergy, that stopped working several OS versions ago so it’s nice to have it back. It’s rare that I use an app and don’t find a single annoyance or niggling “I wish it could…” thought. And it can scrobble, so I don’t need to use the aging app either. 👍👍

§ That’s all. It feels like I’m only now about to get back into a routine again, so Happy New Year!

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  1. Can't speak to all the other options, but we've had a BMW i3 with Range Extender (REX) for 7 years now and love it. We get about 80 miles on the main battery and another 70 with the REX (it's a 2-stroke petrol engine that charges the battery as you drive. Really handy if the infrastructure round you is lacking.) And because the battery is small, we just charge overnight on a 3-pin socket in the garage.

    We've done a good few cross country trips in it with no bother. It's only ok on country roads mind, because it's got _very_ skinny tires. If you've a lot of muddy lanes around, give it a miss.

  2. I've had an e-Niro for a few years on a lease, and now I'm about to replace it with a second-hand equivalent. It's really nice to drive, very practical, lots of boot space and has that 280-300 mile range that means we can use it as our only car, including holidays around the UK. Also a 7-year warranty on repairs I think. I did get to use a Hyundai Ioniq for a couple of days recently and that was almost as nice, but only gives you 180 mile range, but a bit cheaper.

    We don't have a proper home charger but have lots of public chargers nearby. Occasional charging off a 3-pin plug works OK, if slowly, but check your electrics are up to it.