Friday, November 29, 2013


I received a letter in the week to inform me that the price of my Virgin Media services was going to increase by £4.50 per month. This is pretty annoying as I had renewed only last month after negotiating a discount.

Money Saving Expert had done a 50% discount on SKY for an entire year, this would have been significantly cheaper than Virgin  so I was all geared up to cancel the service. However Virgin offered a new deal including a price match. That was great until this price rise (which starts in February).

Fortunately Ofcom have recently decreed that price rises inside contracts represent  "materially detrimental" to customers.

This Guidance sets out that:
  • Ofcom is likely to regard any increase to the recurring monthly subscription charge in a fixed-term contract as ‘materially detrimental’ to consumers;
  • providers should therefore give consumers at least 30 days’ notice of any such price rise and allow them to exit their contract without penalty; and
  • any changes to contract terms, pricing or otherwise, must be communicated clearly and transparently to consumers.
Therefore I have 30 days to find a better offer, or suck up the price rise.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Disappear here

I was awoken early this morning by an engineer from United Utilities. I had done a survey on their website after advice that I am spending too much on the water charge from the Coop bank. It appeared that having a meter could save me £150 per year, and given installation of the meter is free seemed like a good idea.

I called United Utilities last week and asked for an installation. They sent me a message saying that they would come and do a survey. The guy arrived at 9, and after checking outside comes back to inform me that I already have a water meter, and not just that the reading on the meter is pretty low. He installed a different meter apparently the new ones have some sort of circuity to allow easier reading.

The meter is sat out on the road next to the water stop tap I never lifted the cover as its not on my property. When I moved in they could have told me that I had a meter! Surely they should know what buildings have meters? I am going to write to United Utilities and see if I can get the meting backdated as the engineer helpfully gave me the reading and serial number.  The reading was pretty low so it helps justify getting a meter.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


I have just finished reading a book Jono gave me called Abduction, by Mark Gimenez. It follows the abduction of a young girl. It was quite entertaining, especially the first section which focuses more on the effect of the abduction on the family and the response of the FBI. I must admit the larger plot and eventual ending was a bit much for me to stomach however the characters were very well drawn especially the mother Elizabeth and Vietnam veteran grandfather Ben.

Interesting to compare the drunk character in this to Jo Nesbo's Detective Harry Hole. Nesbos character seems more realistic, whereas Ben is an all American hero who cant stop drinking to save his marriage but suddenly stops to save his granddaugher. In the plot itself is somewhat better done than I lay out. The action plays out in an exciting and interesting way coupled with several story arcs to keep you entertained.

Indigenous Britons face a bleak future

According to this telegraph article British citizens have generally worse literacy and numeracy skills than immigrants. It appears that schools must be failing to instill the most basic skills. Odd given that A-Level and GCSE pass rates have risen for over a decade. What is really happening here, is the general population suffering from a lack of skills, or are people with the skills not applying for the jobs forcing employers to look abroad?

Mind Your Manners

Kath was over this weekend, she arrived Thursday evening, I picked her up from the airport after work. After a quick stop off at home to drop off Kath's bag, we headed out ont he train to Wilmslow. The aim was to catch the early evening buffet at the Samsi. We walked in on a Thursday night at 6.30pm. The restaurant was nearly empty when we entered but the waitress insisted on going through the rigmarole of checking how many reservations there were (I can tell you there weren't full up at 8.30pm when we left). Service was pretty good once we sat down though it was difficult to attract their attention. The banquet started with Miso soup, followed by a choice of 4 pieces chef's choice sushi, Gyoza, Karage Ginger and Garlic Fried Chicken or Vegetables tempura. I took the sushi and Kath took the Vegetable tempura, it was really good, the batter was light and crisp and the teryaki sauce was lovely. The main course was a choice of Chicken or vegetable yakisoba noodles, Yakitori grilled chicken skewers with rice, Pork Katsu curry with rice or Crispy chicken curry with rice. I had the chicken katsu curry and Kath ate the chicken skewers. Both were very nice, the skewers had a really nice flavour, while my chicken was succulent, the curry sauce was lovely not too spicy but flavoursome. Finally there was ice cream. The banquet was excellent value at £12.95 per person, the drinks were a little more expensive £5.50 for a can of Sapporo beer. After the meal we headed to the Bollin fee for a drink before catching the train home. It was ages since I was last in Wilmslow drinking, it used to be a regular thing but things change. On Friday Kath and I went to visit my aunt Jean*, unfortunately we managed to miss her. The chairs had been broken so we decided to take a trip to Ikea to look at tables. We wondered the huge expanse of furniture, trying to decide on things like all the other people on the Conveyor belt drifting from soft furnishings to kitchenware. In the end we bought a new table four chairs and after finding its impossible to get replacement parts from Ikea we bought a replacement shoe cupboard. Spending the rest of the afternoon putting everything together. Then I made a stir fry dinner to christen the table. Saturday we relaxed built the shoe rack (which oddly took longer than both the tables and chairs). I made dinner of tuna steak, using our new blender to whip up a fish sauce. The weather was cold and wet so we decided to mostly hide from the world and enjoy each others company. A lot of people ask what Kath and I are going to do when she is over, and often we do try and do special things together. Sometimes thought its just good to be with each other, I think a lot of people don't realise the value of spending time together, not just the special event time but the normal everyday time together. For Kath and I we spend most of our time apart so we miss those moments. Making dinner together, lounging on the couch watching TV these are precious times. *she isn't my actual aunt rather a close relative.