Part 126

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE. This week I look back on a busy week, with a trip to Manchester and some developments on my BTL. Also, more information on my efforts to help my friend in Kyiv. There is no Quote of the Week this time, so let’s just get into it…

Weekly Update

It’s been a long, busy week, and as Saturday evening draws to a close I am exhausted.  My social battery has dropped to 0%.  I’m not complaining though, as it’s also been a great week.

It started last Sunday as we travelled to Manchester for a gig that has been pushed back several times due to Covid.  We were seeing Avi Kaplan, a former member of Pentatonix who has since gone solo and transitioned to a folk-country style of music.  His voice is fantastic and there was no drop in quality when seeing him live.  So many times I’ve been disappointed when seeing singers live as, without all the studio production tricks, they struggle to match expectations.

We left Sheffield early Sunday morning and stopped by a new cafe for breakfast, South Street Kitchen, which is in the Park Hill area of the city.  It looked great from the outside, and there was a nice-looking selection of cakes at the counter.  The service was not great.  Normally when you enter a cafe or restaurant you wait to be seated.  It’s a simple move from A to B.  Getting seated here was more like, A to B, to C, before ending up at D.  Not a very smooth process being told to wait here, and go there.  It put us on the back foot right away. 

The menu sounded good and we both opted for mushrooms on toast, and I had extra halloumi and my girlfriend had poached eggs.  The mushrooms tasted sour, almost like they’d been drenched in vinegar.  It was a strange flavour that did not go with the idea of breakfast.  The service for ordered food and drink was also bizarre.  The waitress came over and asked for our drink order.  We ordered and said we were ready to order food as well.  We were told we could only order drinks and would have to order food separately.  It was just weird.

A strange plate of food.

Manchester isn’t my favourite city.  I find it a bit dull most of the time, but we enjoyed our one night stay this time.  I booked us a table at a nice-sounding restaurant for an early dinner before we went to the concert.  We arrived at Sugo, an Italian pasta kitchen, and the smells as we entered were incredible.  We ordered starters;

The food was excellent.  We are fortunate enough to have eaten in some fantastic restaurants around the world, and the food here was right up there.  It was fresh, vibrant and tasty, and this was only the starter.

The main course was simply the finest plate of pasta I’ve had.  The orecchiette was freshly made, and the ragu was deep and full of flavour.  The shredded beef shin and pork shoulder added to the depth of flavour, and the nduja gave a little kick of heat at the end.  It was fantastic.

House Sugo – Orecchiette with a slow cooked beef shin, pork shoulder and nduja* ragu, parmesan

We arrived at the venue, Band on the Wall, about half an hour before the doors opened and there was already a queue.  We had debated whether to arrive a little later, or watch the support act, Toria Wooff.  I’ll admit to not having heard her music before but we played a few of her tunes a couple of days before and we enjoyed it.  She has a folk-rock style, which is not something I’ve heard much of before.  I’m so glad we got there to watch her perform as her voice was also great, and she has a sweet, humble personality.  We would happily pay to see her again.

Avi’s gig was amazing, and both my girlfriend and I were buzzing for days.  He opened with Born in California, and then Aberdeen (one of my favourites).  Some of his songs had a lot of crowd interaction and the atmosphere was fun, happy and energetic.  It Knows Me, Otherside, and Change on the Rise all got the crowd going.  We also discovered the talents of Kaleb Thomas Jones; singer, songwriter and guitarist for Avi, also acting as supporting vocals.  

We finished our Manchester trip with brunch the following morning at Federal, a cafe near the Arndale shopping centre.  We discovered Federal on a previous visit and really enjoyed it.  I had French Toast with white chocolate mascarpone and strawberries.  It was so good it was almost spiritual.  Oana had Turkish eggs, which she liked.  All in all, it was a great couple of days of food and music.

Ukraine

I’ve posted before about my thoughts on Ukraine and I just want to share a little about my good friend who is trapped in Kyiv.  I first met Yara on Reddit a few years ago as we talked about our shared love of books.  We exchange messages most days and have developed a real friendship.  When war broke out both my girlfriend and I tried to help in any way we could.  Yara is patriotic and loves her country.  She doesn’t want to leave but now feels like she has little choice.  I’m acting as sponsor for her, and two of her elderly relatives, to come to the UK.  The only issue is that they are struggling to get up to date passports.  Hopefully, she’ll get this issue sorted and be able to leave the fighting behind.  

Sweep and Bobby

Bobby
Sweep and his good friend, the Cookie Monster.

Regular readers know about my two old cats.  This week saw the first anniversary of the passing of Sweep, who was my best bud.  I still think about him every day, and my home office has pictures of him all along the wall.  He was the best cat and was so affectionate.  He helped me through a very tough 2020 when I was at the lowest point I’ve ever been.  I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I hope I see my friend again.

Also, this week was three months on from Bobby’s sudden passing on Boxing Day 2021.  He was sitting on the sofa with Oana petting him, and he had some sort of seizure out of the blue and passed.  It was awful.  He was the sweetest, gentlest boy.  He was so pure and innocent, and I miss him too.  Sweep and Bobby never met each other, but I think they would have been friends.  We’ve been looking to adopt another older cat for a few weeks now without success.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to give another cat a loving retirement soon.

A Brief Interlude

I’ll never hide this blog behind a paywall, but it does cost money to run the site.  I spend a minimum of six hours each week writing the blog, and maintaining the other parts of davidscothern.com.  It is a labour of love.  However, many of you have asked how you can show your appreciation.  I set up a Buy Me A Coffee page but the main feedback was that you couldn’t pay by card.  Well, now you can!  My page now supports card payments and Apple Pay.  So, if you want to show your support and appreciation for the content I create, please buy me a coffee.

2022 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2022

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 121.4kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books.

  1. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)
  2. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)
  3. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
  4. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
  5. The Iliad by Homer (8th century BC)
  6. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) ✅
  7. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1867)
  8. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
  9. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)
  10. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1605)

3 – Read 10 authors I’ve not read before.

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. 

What I’m listening to: The Radleys by Matt Haig

What I’m watching: Star Trek: Picard, & This Is Us, both on Prime Video.  Electric Dreams on Netflix.

I’ve had to temporarily give up on Moby Dick.  I wasn’t feeling it.  I’ll try again later in the year.  I have been listening to The Radleys by Matt Haig, and it’s very good so far.  Matt has a way of taking the supernatural, or sci-fi, and almost inverting it and making it seem human.  He is one of my favourite authors and I’m looking forward to seeing how this story ends.

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £8,000.00 (no change from last update).

Stocks and Shares ISA: £44,502.47 (up £299.77 from last update).

Fuck It Fund: £4,200.00 (no change from last update). 

Pensions: £51,334.92 (up £489.27 from last update).

Residential Property Value: £213,900.00 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £138,030.00 (no change from last update).

Total Assets: £459,967.39 (up £789.04 from last update).

Debts

Credit Card: £394.96 (up £394.96 from last update).

Residential Mortgage: £164,858.62 (no change from last update).

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £92,903.78 (no change from last update). 

Total Debts: £258,157.36 (up £394.96 from last update).

Total Wealth: £201,810.03 (up £394.08 from last update).

Investment Income in 2022: £525.03 (target £6,000).

No major changes with my assets, and my credit card took some hammer in Manchester.  It’ll be reduced to zero again by next week though.

BTL Update

I met the builders at the property this week and they walked me through the work they’ve completed.  The house looks much better, and the kitchen especially is a huge improvement.  The previous tenant has a lot to answer for, but the improvements made should increase the rent we can charge.  The agent has also visited the property to get photos and floorplans, and the property should be listed at some point next week.  

Once we have a tenant we can pull some of the equity out of the property and use that to put towards our next venture.  

There was another property-related development this week, which pissed me off.  It’s something that happens all too often and it doesn’t seem to get as much hate as it should.  Imagine you are looking for a new car.  You see an advert for a great car, awesome design and price.  You phone up the dealership and they state it’s still available.  You make an appointment to take the car for a test drive.  You turn up and find that the car is older than described.  The tyres are worn, and flat.  The engine is less powerful, and the fuel efficiency is terrible.  In short, it’s nothing like the advert.  This would not be acceptable for a car, so why is it seemingly acceptable for property?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve viewed many properties that have no resemblance to the listing.  I don’t know what agents hope to achieve with this.  I understand that they will try to dress up the properties they are selling, but when you go too far all you do is annoy the person viewing the property.  You waste their time, and your own time.  Surely if you list a property accurately you will only get interest from those who are willing to buy the property as listed.  I don’t see how a person would look at a listing online and think, “looks good” and then turn up and find it’s a shithole but still make an offer because the advert looked good.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, back to what pissed me off.  Someone I know is looking for a new place to live.  They found a property that looks great; the location, size, price and layout all fit the bill.  They viewed the property and made an offer, which was accepted.  However, the agent then decided to reveal that the property was currently occupied by a tenant and they could not leave until November.  Nowhere on the listing does it state the property is tenanted.  At no point in the viewing was it mentioned.  When this person mentioned they were looking to move as soon as possible, it was still not mentioned.  Why are so many agents so utterly and completely incompetent?

On that note, thank you for reading and I’ll be back next week.

Biolink

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink at bio.link/davidscothern.

Please show your support

I spend several hours each week writing this blog and make it freely available to all readers.  I do not hide my content behind a paywall.  However, maintaining a website incurs costs.  If you can afford a small donation, it would be gratefully accepted.  Click on the Buy Me A Coffee image to be taken to my supporter page.  You can either make a one off donation, or sign up to a monthly subscription.  If you can’t make a donation, please share my blog on your social media.

You can still see Sweep’s Instagram @sweep_the_kelham_island_cat.  

Finally, have a look at Darren Scothern’s fantastic blog at darrenscothern.com. 

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