Part 150

Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on FIRE.  

Weekly Update

Apologies for this post being delayed, and for the previous post being a bit shorter than normal.  The truth is I’ve just not had the spoons for writing lately.  It’s strange, because this blog is normally an outlet for my stress, rather than being something that causes me stress.  There’s just been so much going on recently and navigating life has felt like battling the hydra; each time I deal with one problem, two more take its place.

On Monday we had to take Poppy to the cattery, as we were due to travel to Paris.  This should have been a simple matter but somehow Oana forgot to book her into the normal place we use (I will mock her relentlessly for this).  As such, we had a scramble to find a place for Poppy at short notice.  The cattery we used this time, is not one I would use again.  I found the people running it to be abrasive.  We nearly decided to just not go away.  We were not ready for this trip. The stress caused by Ikea has been awful, and we spent much of the previous weekend and Monday trying to get our flat in order. We more or less achieved what we wanted, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 

On Tuesday we set off for London. The coach journey went quickly as I spent much of the journey exchanging emails with Ikea’s UK CEO’s office. The person I dealt with lacked professionalism and courtesy, and she also got the basic facts of our complaint wrong. She insisted it was a complaint about a kitchen instalation (it wasn’t) and got many other facts wrong, as well as sending emails riddled with typos. I’m often fairly chill about typos in emails/messages as it’s easy to get things wrong on a small phone keyboard. However, this is someone representing the highest authority within a multinational brand, and you should at least get the basics right in this role.

After checking in to our hotel we showered before heading out to dinner. We had booked a Mexican restaurant that had a lot of great reviews, and as Mexican is our favourite food we were excited. The meal was awful.  We had tamales and tostadas for starter, but the food was bland. We ordered a taco tray for main, which is a selection of toppings from four types of taco, as well as a pouch of tortillas.  I’m not convinced that these pouches were cleaned between uses, and it’s not the most hygienic way to serve food.   

We chose pastor, carnitas, a beef taco, and something with chicken and chorizo. It was poor.  A traditional pork taco, like pastor or carnitas should be a celebration of flavour, spice, and vibrancy. This was the polar opposite. Tough chunks of meat, instead of pork that had been lovingly slow cooked. Everything had the feel of microwaved food. For a place promoting itself as authentic Mexican, it wasn’t. Very disappointed.

The journey to France was uneventful, and I have to say the organisation at St. Pancras was lacking.  We had a walk in the rain to the hotel, before heading out to explore the area.

Out of the European capitals I’ve visited (London, Amsterdam, Madrid, Berlin, Budapest, Rome, Bucharest, and Prague), Paris is the worst.  I’m not trying to tar all Parisians with the same brush, and I can only comment on my own experience, but almost everyone we had to deal with was rude as a minimum, and often hostile.  For example, we entered a restaurant for lunch one day.  It was quiet inside, with a few staff stood talking to each other.  They glanced over and we said, “hello”.  No response.  We repeated our greeting.  Nothing.  So, we just asked if we could take a seat.  One of the staff turned and in a patronising voice proceeded to lecture us about how to greet people.  I wanted to walk out, but Oana was hungry so we stayed.  Another time we stopped at a cafe for a drink, and I ordered a crepe.  The waiter repeated the order and just shook his head walking off, whilst chuntering to himself.  

The trip wasn’t all bad.  We saw plenty of museums, and visited the burial place of Napoleaon, and of Alexandre Dumas, amongst others.  There is a richness of history and culture in Paris, and it’s just a shame that the custodians of that history were almost always hostile towards us.

When we visited the Pantheon, the resting place of Dumas, there was the option of paying to visit the top of the building to get a view of the Paris skyline.  We asked for this type of ticket, and believed we had been given the correct ticket.  We’d had to queue for more than twenty minutes for this, and when we approached the steps for the roof, we were told we did not have the right ticket.  So, we went back to the ticket office but no one would speak to us unless we went to the back of the queue, which was much longer at this point.  We tried talking with the agent near the entrance and he told us we could wait in the queue or leave, but he refused to deal with the mistake his colleagues had made.  Unfortunately, this was repeated in most places we went.

Just as we were starting to wonder if we were doing something wrong, we got talking to a waitress in a cafe who was originally from Lithuania.  We told her of our experiences and she confirmed that she’s experienced the same, and heard the same from many other tourists.

For somewhere that is supposed to be a treat for foodies, Paris was sorely disappointing.  We ate at a range of places, all across the city.  With only one or two exceptions the majority of the food we had was woefully underseasoned.  Also, when we had pasta it was overcooked to the point it was mushy, and the steaks we had were cooked entirely through even when we’d ordered them medium.  Granted, it’s only a limited experience but of all the meals we had, there were only a couple that were good, and the best meal of the trip was in Searcy’s in London on the journey back from Paris.  

I didn’t feel like I wanted to go away, but as it had been booked and paid for some time ago, and because it was for my birthday, we felt like we had to.  I’ve come back more stressed than when I went, and in no way rested.  The journey back was exhausting.  We checked out of the hotel at midday, but our train back was not due to leave until 17:15.  We got to the station ahead of time just as my phone rang.  The hotel called to let me know we’d left our house keys in the room somehow.  I walked back to the hotel, picked up the keys and walked back to the station.  It was gone midnight by the time we made it back to our apartment.

We were supposed to stay in London for a night to break up the journey but decided against it due to recent events.  The last thing either of us wanted, as ardent anti-royalists, was to be caught up in the drama of London.

To add to what has been a crap few weeks, my physical health hasn’t been great.  My joints, all my joints, are getting worse.  My hands hurt when I try to make a fist.  If I sit for too long and then stand, my ankles, knees and hips feel frozen.  

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I love writing this blog, and I’ve met some great people because of it.  Maintaining a website costs money though, and if you want to say thanks for the content I publish, consider a donation to my virtual tip jar on the link below:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/davidscothern

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

1 – Reduce weight to 90kg.  (Current weight 125.4kg).

2 – Complete 10 “classic” books (4/10)

  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 (16/10)

  1. John Birmingham ✅
  2. Nicole Perlroth ✅
  3. Sabine Durrant ✅
  4. Luke Smitherd ✅
  5. Max Skittle ✅
  6. Harlan Coben ✅
  7. Jo Spain ✅
  8. Kate Elizabeth Russell ✅
  9. Kiersten White ✅
  10. Rob Hart ✅
  11. Edward Aubry ✅
  12. Marina J. Lostetter ✅
  13. S. J. Morden ✅
  14. C. J. Tudor ✅
  15. Greer Hendricks ✅
  16. Clare Mackintosh ✅

What Am I Doing?

What I’m reading: I’m between books. 

What I’m listening to: The Taking of Annie Thorne by C J Tudor. 

What I’m watching: MCU in timeline order. 

Hostage was good, if somewhat anticlimactic. There was an odd choice from the author towards the end **spoiler** where the main character is forced to confront her past and land the stricken plane. The fact this happens “off camera” just seemed bizarre. **end spoiler**. 

The Taking of Annie Thorne has been great; horrific and tense in equal measure. Richard Armitage does a fantastic job with the narration, also. I’m almost at the end, and I’ll be sure to check out more from this author. 

We’ve not watched any TV whilst away, and the last thing we watched was Guardians of the Galaxy. We’ll be smashing through more upon our return. 

Financial Update

Assets

Premium Bonds: £4,000.00 (-£4,200.00). 

Stocks and Shares ISA: £64,493.7 (+£3,360.08). 

Fuck It Fund: £1,000.00 (no change).

Pensions: £54,883.62 (+£1,185.81) 

Residential Property Value: £229,159.00 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Property Value: £147,876.00 (no change). 

Total Assets: £501,412.38 (+£345.89). 

Debts

Credit Card: £0.00 (no change).

Residential Mortgage: £181,721.51 (no change). 

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £105,301.46 (no change). 

Total Debts: £287,022.97 (no change). 

Total Wealth: £214,389.41 (+£345.89)

Investment Income in 2022: £3,848.48 (target £6,000).

I have now exceeded 2021’s investment income total, and there are still more than three months left of 2022. 

I’ve chosen to dip into my Premium Bonds in the short term to pay for the spending money for Paris, and for some things we needed around the home.  This was also motivated by the news our credit card provider is ending its rewards program, and so I’ll be closing that card down.

Unless something major changes we will not be taking another holiday for several months, possibly a year.  We will use that time to try and push our FIRE plans forward.  I’m also keenly aware that some of our mortgage rates are coming to an end in 2023, and I don’t want to get hammered by rate increases.  Over the next few months we’ll try to reduce those parts of the mortgage to mitigate the impact.  

I’ve not immersed myself in much financial news lately, so I don’t have much to talk about.  However, there was one amusing incident whilst I was away.  I got a message from a friend who was in Italy, telling me about a property he knew was about to go on the market.  For a moment, it was like being the Wolf of Wall Street discussing property deals across time zones.  


That’s all for now, and thanks again for reading.

Biolink and other links

You can now find all my social media pages by checking out my Biolink:

bio.link/davidscothern.

Also, check out Darren Scothern’s blog which talks about autism, being autistic, and general mental health:

www.darrenscothern.com

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