Settling in, some notes

Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.

Not much time to type up my thoughts lately, so here’s some scattershot points to fill in the time. On family:

  • Mum: we’re settling in fine and enjoying the place, I’ll call as soon as I have a working landline again. That’s up to 3 weeks away 🙁
  • (And don’t forget to sort out your passport.)
  • Yaël: Would love to come to The Windsor, bit far away though 😉
  • Kat’s family, if they read this: Kat will call as per the timeline above – BT/etc here are worse than Telstra!

On the new place:

  • We met the landlady, very pleasant Indian woman. Her and her husband have owned the place for about 20 years by the sound of it! She’s a teacher in London, her Husband is a Software Engineer in Sydney/Canberra (got sick of the English climate, picked up sticks and left.)
  • Landlady is happy for us to fit curtains/etc and will pay for any permanent fittings we put in. We picked up some decent stuff from B&Q this weekend, starting to look better already. And now I own a drill again! I am complete! Heh. What’s a dude without a power tool, eh?
  • Musty smells and tired airs seem mostly flushed after a week of open windows and heating, much nicer.
  • Made decent progress in the little garden, weeded the entire larger bed (it’s only about 5m by 2m.)
  • As soon as some weeding was done the bloody cats next door started shitting on the garden. Boy do I hate cats. It turns out that it is probably illegal for me to set rabbit traps for them, or otherwise end their miserable lives. So I have created a fence and draped netting over it, I’m not happy about this. Have plans to rig up a sprinkler with a solenoid tied into a motion detector – that should keep cats out without annoying fences/netting. No time right now though, plus it turns out that the place has no outdoor tap!
  • Took the bike out for a spin today, it’s been far too long – living on the 2nd floor and not commuting meant my bike became a dust collector. It takes me 15 minutes to ride to the Cannons gym in the neighbouring town, Letchworth, I should be able to get that to 10 mins pretty quickly.
  • Cannons is the closest “free” gym, I inspected the place and the free-weights are kind of minimal but they told me they had more stuff coming in. At least they do seem to have have squat-rack that isn’t quite a smith-machine. I’ve booked an appointment on Wednesday to go over the equipment I’m less familiar with. Gym membership should give me the incentive to get back with my program, if I get in there for 3 days a week it is free under my current health insurance.
  • Booked my bike in for servicing next Friday, the local bike shop seems to be very busy – Friday 23rd was the soonest they could do!
  • Finally put the BBQ together and had a couple of BBQed meals this weekend! I bought the thing for 30 quid at the end of our first summer here (half price, then with a friend’s employee-30%-discount on top of that, very good deal) but it sat in its box because we weren’t allowed to use it on our balcony. It takes an Australian to lug a 15kg gas bottle for 1.2km in order to have a BBQ.
  • The markets are great, three market days with a lot to choose from. Good local butchers and fruit and veg, both in the market and shops.
  • We visited the little Hitchin history museum on Saturday, the townsite has been inhabited for a very long time. We also met the local history officer, they were having a publication party for a little “Brief history of Hitchin” booklet he’d written – his partner took the photos for the booklet.
  • On Sunday we caught the train into Stevenage (one stop away) and went to the huge B&Q hardware store (aforementioned curtains, drill, and other tools and bits.) That’s a fairly doable trip, about a 15 minute walk at the B&Q end and we’re obviously limited in how much we can lug but we can lug quite a lot! I decided I’d order some of the larger items I want online, only to find out that most of them aren’t available online! Meh! Stupid B&Q, also stupid Homebase it turns out. I assume they have some logistical reason for not offering a lot of their produces for sale via their website.
  • I will try to make time to post some photos during the week, but probably won’t have any more time to write about things. Work, and further unpacking, will be keeping us busy.

On tech/work:

  • Straight back into work last Tuesday, with added fun of having to deal with a bug report while all my equipment was packed up and I had no reliable ‘net connection. Yay.
  • Lots of time spent sitting in the Hitchin Caffé Nero using a very flaky BTOpenZone connection, it sent me insane!
  • Gave in and got a 20-quid-per-month mobile-broadband account from O2. For an 18 month contract I get 3GB per month using an included USB dongle (that does everything from GPRS to HPUDA, crazy.) Also get totally free unlimited use of “The Cloud” hotspots, and can reach one of them from the Starsucks in town.
  • The 3G mobile broadband is excellent, and 20 quid per month for 3GB isn’t too bad – for cellphone networks ‘net that is, still very expensive compared to DSL. The connection is more reliable than the bloody OpenZone connection I had in the café. I get 3G almost everywhere here, though to get it at home I have to dangle the dongle out the window on a pair of 2m USB extensions, works fine.
  • The dongle apparently works fine under Ubuntu with just a little fiddling. For the sake of ease though I’m running it on my laptop under windows and using the lappy as a gateway with my Ubuntu desktop connected via it. This configuration works out fine.
  • The configuration has also prompted me to try our synergy – it is an excellent utility. I now use the mouse and keyboard attached to my laptop to seamlessly work with both the Linux and Windows machines. (Configuring the Windows version as a server is somewhat less simple than using quicksynergy on Linux though, the interface it a little obscure.)
  • Kat has “earlies” this week, which means waking up at 05:00. It’s actually a nice time of day to wake up. I walked Kat to her 05:58 train, then wandered home and hunted down all my bike bits before getting the bike in working order and cycling up to Canons. Signed up at the gym, back in town for coffee at 08:00, back home at 08:30 – so much done, think I might try to make it a habit! (Normally we wake up at 06:00 anyway, and this isn’t any different from back in Ricky, so it isn’t much of a leap to go to 05:00.)

There’s more, but that’s all I have time for right now.