Archive | June, 2012

Today: What Natwest Nearly Did

27 Jun

So imagine this, you have a guarenteed first home with the live of your life, today is a Thursday and you are expected to be paid.

You have to pay £1350 in cash to guarentee the moving date and the flat, you already have the amount in your account before being paid, but the extra months pay is an extra security blanket.

Checking your account in the morning you haven’t yet been paid, odd, but you expect it to be there after midday, its not.

Mass Google sessions reveals a technical issue, and I am advised to go into the bank. Which when I have finished work at 4 I do.

I’m not worried about getting paid as much as getting this deposit. So imagine arriving at the bank to be told that you can only withdraw a maximum of £300.

My heart stopped, on phoning the estate agents I was greeted with a rather short in helpful person, who said that I couldn’t pay on card, it had to be cash. And that I couldn’t use a bankers draft because that isn’t a confirmation of funds ( I’m pissed off a lot at this point, this person is stupid) so we couldn’t get the keys it the flat if we didn’t have the money.

I was first in line at the bank Friday morning, expecting to have to put up a huge fight and probably cry at what I was expecting to be people who could do nothing for me.

And you know what? I was wrong. They were assessing people on individual circumstances, by this point my pay had gone through and I had an overdraft to cover me as well. So they agreed to give me the full cash value. They were helpful, pointed me to places to make a complaint if I wanted to, and said I could ask for compensation if I was put under any stress.

My online transfers are a bit messy still, but I can’t fault the service natwest employ. I’m now in my dream flat with my dream man and I am part of an extremely helpful bank.

I know everyone is having problems still, but its the first problem in 10 years… And they have admitted they cocked up. Which is more than others have done. Thank you natwest for being helpful.

> Cheltenham branches anyway!!

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Today: The Start of Something

25 Jun

Today is a Monday, it is the evening, we have radio one on, Charlie is playing F1 2011 and I’m sat in my PJ’s with Orange squash and a whiteboard on the floor with a laptop on, well, my lap.

Today I am writing this because on the Friday which has just passed, Charlie and I got the keys to our very first flat. It’s top floor, 2 bedrooms – one being a box room, 2 bathrooms – one being a shower room and a large living/kitchen space.

This is THE start of a new beginning. I have a new notebook, a new park to run round and a new energy. I like it.

My aims I have for the coming weeks are not to different from what I have had previously, but I have Charlie with me to keep me on track, something I’m quite (I lie, exceedingly) chuffed about.

The aims for the next few weeks are as follows:

  1. Consume no more than 1800 calories a day
  2. Run 5km in less than 35 mins
  3. lose 10lbs
  4. Continue to not have sugar in my tea/coffee
  5. Touch my toes

Point 1 is going well, today I had less than 1500 and I’m quite stuffed!

Point 2 is erm getting there… I can do about 2.5km at the moment on the treadmill without stopping, but only running outside will help me understand just what my fitness is all about, and where it is at!

Point 3. My current weight is: 168lbs So I want to be 158lbs. Then will move on to smaller numbers to get down to my desired weight of 130lbs!

Point 4 I started last week, when I worked out I could save 200 calories a day if I just cut the sugar out my tea and coffee, I can instantly tell if someone puts sugar in it now!

Point 5 is to increase my flexibility, in the hope that it improves my recovery from any injuries I get from running.

I have new running socks and new running clothes, and I do feel better than when I started at Christmas,  however a loss of half a stone isn’t really fantastic! Not the result I am hoping for anyway

As soon as I lose these 10lbs I will allow myself to have a takeaway curry. That is my treat! It will probably take more than a month to do, but I’m determined to get there!!

I’m tempted to start my graphs up again, and When my running gets better, start up the sponsored diet again, except enter myself for a 5km or 10km race… But those adventures are still a little way off!

Wish me luck, heaven knows I need the motivation

Today: Cheltenham Science Festival

15 Jun
Mike Gascoyne at the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix.

Mike Gascoyne at the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Cheltenham Science festival, somewhere I have never been, something I have never heard of, with someone I didn’t expect.

I moved to Cheltenham in November 2011, and the festivals they hold annually were all becoming an interesting adventure. Adventures I didn’t really have tome to go on. Until my fiance Charlie sprung surprise tickets for me and him for the science festival.

Expecting an obscure lecturer talking about a new exciting subject, I was thrilled. But I never knew just how thrilled I would be. Sponsors GE Aviation were there, and as i approached the tent the familiar noise of an F1 car filled my ears.

It was none other than Caterhams Chief Technical officer Mike Gascoyne being interviewed by BBC radio 5 lives F1 commentator James Allen.

I loved it, I honestly couldn’t fault the interview. We found out how he effectively lucked his way into what turned into a very lucrative F1 career, how he met a long-haired 18 year old Spaniard called Fernando Alonso, and how the mute button at Jordan Grand Prix was a useful tool when dealing with Eddie Jordan.

There was even time for a Q&A session from the audience, and I’ll run through a couple of questions that I remember, as not only did I find the questions interesting, some of Mike Gascoyne’s answers were very telling of an incredibly intelligent man.

Question 1 was about more woman on F1. Not only drivers, but as team members as well. The question came from a woman in the front row, who obviously (or what seemed to be) was trying to get a generic “well boys are stronger than girls” answer. But his response was different, far from a political answer about fairness and equality, he went down the ‘hired on merit’ route. Which is correct. The fact of the matter is, there are more male’s doing engineering than females, more males who prefer motorsport, and so the odds are stacked against us in making up any form of majority.

James Allen also pointed out that there are plenty of girls in karting, but it is a challenge to get to the physical fitness, and to get the sponsorship. Something that is a struggle for both sexes.

The next question i remember was regarding innovation and the budget cap. Mike Gascoyne lis in favour of this budget cap, however the person asking the question also asked if he was in favour of scrapping all the limiting technical regulations. Something which Gascoyne said no to.

“…all regulations are to do with speed. The drivers body may survive a high speed impact but his internal organs would be scrambled…”

Seems legit to me.

Another question related to the one above, about the budget cap, but was related more along the sponsors route. This flustered Mike Gascoyne and from what I could tell there was no actual answer to the question. He skirted around it whilst mentioning resources from GE aviation and the resources of RedBull and Ferrari.

My opinion? GE are providing alot of ‘in-kind’ contributions if the budget cap goes ahead.

The final question was just annoying because somebody hadn’t done their research. It mentioned specific formula one degrees. Which there are none, there are motorsport degrees, which won’t become redundant after 1 season, which is what she was suggesting. Someone just wanted to ask a question…

i loved it all. I’m gutted I didn’t get to ask my question regarding tyre testing and practice sessions, but my desire to work in science and engineering has been re-ignited. Thank you Cheltenham Science Festival!

Today: Preparations

13 Jun

Soon to be in a new flat 🙂

Soon to have rooms to organise 🙂

Soon to have Wedding prep to do 🙂

Soon to have my fully fledged kick started diet going again.

Lots to look forward to in the coming couple of weeks, I’m excited for it all 🙂

Playing house is something I have been excited about since I moved to Cheltenham, making it mine and Charlie’s own 🙂 cooking what we want, cleaning when we want… I really can’t wait!

I also get to start the diet plan in preparation for the wedding! 14 months left till the big day and I really can’t wait until I can plan meals BEFORE i buy the food, instead of looking in the freezer and seeing what’s about.

I was hoping to start a new gym routine this week, a pretty intense one at that, but I have had a day of interruptions and then after today, I have another interruption 😦 I’m gonna get really into it all when I have *just* that little bit more control over what I can do/eat.

I’m going to have my bike back here so I can cycle from home to the gym, instead of getting the bus everywhere!

Lots to look forward to, and lots to blog about. CAN’T WAIT!

Today: The £9000 Niggle

7 Jun

Tuition fees go up to a maximum of £9000 a year, and it has raised quite an important question:

Is it all really worth it?

A good question, however it is one that has been raised before, in the 2006/7 entry year the fees went up to £3000, this was the year before I went to university.

Alot of my peers decided they would go, on account of all the important people telling us that it was worth the money. I have to say that I agree with the prediction, it was worth the money – overall.

There are many of my university colleagues  however who thought it wasn’t worth it. Many who only get 3 hours of contact time a week, 36 hours of contact a semester, 72 across the whole of one academic year.  £42 (ish) per lecture attended. This is mainly speaking for the BA people out there, yes I know you had to put as much work in as I did (in your final year at least) but we are talking about financially worth it.

See, doing a Physics and Astronomy degree, I had about 20 contact hours. With lab time. so in one month I had out stripped the BA people for an entire academic year. So in the 12 weeks of one semester, I have had more contact time than they will get in their entire degree. Worth it?

One of the things that a recent report has brought up is that the teaching hasn’t improved.

No Shit.

I was lucky, I had a spectrum of different lecturers to give me a great insight into my degree, I had great ones, I had shockingly uninterested ones and I had those who just gave enough to get enough.

Now the shockingly uninterested ones really couldn’t charm a prostitute into bed, they dragged on and made the lectures feel like they went on for about 4 hours (5 if you were hungover).

I had lecturers who were really knew their stuff. Like they knew more about it that the wikipedia article could ever explain. But they just wanted to talk… alot… and we didn’t really learn much, we ended up having to question spot. Which was unfortunate because I really really enjoyed the subject that this one lecturer taught.

The lecturers who could get me to do the work for the lectures I hated (Maths… any maths and horrific particle Physics. ) I admired. I found it interesting that they left parts blank, meaning I asked questions, which got me to do the work. I hated it, please don’t think I enjoyed it, but I found it interesting and satisfying when I could finally answer a question.

The great lecturers took what I was already interested in and  blew it out the water. They really mixed up what I thought was happening and it was like they opened up a whole new world.

I’ll name my top 3 modules for my degree and why I like them. This is purely on how it was taught to me, and how I reacted. even if I hated the subject – and what’s surprising is that none of them are practical ones:

3. High Energy Astrophysics – I had heard ominous predictions about the lecturer of this course, but it turned out to be one of the most interesting lectures I have ever been in. The topics we covered were all brand new to me, and every question that I asked I got an honest answer back. I didn’t get a watered down “Well.. you know what a photon is” lecture, I got a scientist to scientist response. Any help I needed all I had to do was ask. It definitely wasn’t my best mark. But it was an enjoyable to lecture to sit in. Even if the lectures were on a FRIDAY BLOODY AFTERNOON.

2. Statistical Mechanics – I hate maths. I really don’t understand what the hell went through any of the great mathematicians minds when they came up with the crap we have to learn, but for me I was sleeping. I can do applied maths stuff, I can use maths to solve a real world problem, but as for maths for maths sake? No thanks. So this lecture course was a struggle for me. With one difference. I have no idea how this guy did it, but I was fascinated in how many things this one bloody method could be used on.  I was panicking like mad before the exam, but I came out of it with a high 2:1. That is the result I am most proud of. I managed to get 50’s in my other maths modules, and high 60’s in this. I just enjoyed figuring it out!

1. Physics of Stars – This was a module like no other. It had all the Astronomy you could ever imagine, and it was taught like a maths module. Wait – yes I am aware that I said above that I hate maths, but this was astronomy maths. This was maths that you could build from the base up, you could build from addition all the way up to calculating the gravitational strength of a star. So much information was suddenly opened up to me from this one module, it was honestly like I had absorbed a book by fusion. (Was going to say osmosis, but thought I would stay on-topic).

So is university worth it?

I can say that 60% of my modules I enjoyed enough to remember them.

The rest I just turned up to to pass, whether this number is the same for others out there I’m not sure on. But I didn’t just get a degree out of my university experience. There are more things to life.

£9000 doesn’t count against you, the 4 x £9000 some will pay won’t count against them. I’m currently in £27000 worth of debt, and I don’t even pay off the interest I earn on that a month. Which is a failure of the Students Loan Company, as well as the Govenment for mot regulating it properly. A graduate tax? Maybe, but My debt should be getting smaller. Not bigger.

That is another blog entirely however.

Go to university, If you want to expand on what you know, or get the professional qualification you want, then go. It will build a hell of a lot more life experience than you expect, much more than living with your parents will for 3 years.

As Nike would say: Just do it. 

 

Today: Just one of those days

5 Jun

Have you ever just woken up and just not been able to cheer up?

Today I had everything I have wanted for the past 3 months. Charlie to wake up to, bottle of water by my bed, bacon sarnie and a cuppa for brekkie and I had nothing planned for the day. This to most people [replace charlie with appropriate partner, this one is MINE!] is perfect.

And it was. blissful, gorgeous and just relaxing. I just couldn’t bring a smile to my face.

I think it has to do with a few reasons, all of which exasperate my panic disorder. which is shit.

  • We can’t do anything today. It’s a bank holiday so us doing house viewings or bank stuff has just been thrown out of the window [I now have a stupid furrow on my forehead and am progressively getting angrier]
  • There is stuff that needs to be done before the house viewings and we can’t. (see above)
  • We can’t look at furniture because we don’t know how big our flat is going to be because we can’t view any flats because we can’t sort a joint account out because it’s a bank holiday.
  • We can’t sort bills out
  • We can’t move out
  • We live in a little room to escape songs of praise
  • We can’t do wedding stuff because we haven’t sorted our house out yet
  • Today is a fat day
  • The BBC are ruining the jubilee (seriously… EVERY CHANNEL?)
  • I just want to feel like I’m doing something
  • I can’t possibly comprehend eating cous cous and salad for an entire week again because I will go mad.
  • My tummy hurts.
  • I think I have an intolerance to something because it’s only after bread and pasta that my tummy hurts.
  • I really REALLY want a McDonalds. Large meal, chicken McNuggets, large fries, and a diet coke.
  • Every little thing is annoying me

Weight loss is stagnant at 11st  7lbs. And it is not shifting. Soon I will just be having meal replacement milkshakes for every meal. So I’m also sad about that. But the mirror teases me, it makes me think I’m thin, then if I’m out I will catch the size of my tum/bum/thunder thighs and then feel like having a burger.

Charlie has said he will help me plan tonight, I will hold him to it. I will also secretly start a count as to how many cups of tea I get given, since we are now together in the same place I wonder if there will be more than the one I have to beg for on saturday mornings…

Point of this post was that I am genuinely just a miserable tit today. However blogging has helped. I think I will do this more often. Gym post tomorrow probably, got many plans for blogs, just none have appeared, it’s also the Canadian GP this weekend. Wonder how many pointless student protests there will be at this event.

This week has to be better. It’s only 3 days long. THREE DAYS. I can survive that right? I’ll also talk about my meal plan for the week tomorrow, and tell you all about how wonderful I feel about MORE SALAD. Lunches are fun…. nooooot.