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Pizza delivery

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there had been a few occasions when takeaway delivery drivers had incorrectly tried to deliver their wares to my flat, and I questioned whether I should just accept it. (Just to point out here that I never have.)

Fast forward to this week, and a couple of days ago I was sat at home and the doorbell rang. I wasn’t expecting any deliveries so I was surprised when the man announced that he was delivering pizza. Expecting him to have the wrong address, I told him so, but then he read back the address and it matched mine.

It is a pizza chain I’ve used before so they do have my details, but I wouldn’t have expected a national pizza chain to make this sort of admin mistake (and I had never heard of it happening before). Had I somehow managed to pocket order a pizza on my phone? But that was unlikely and surely I would have had some sort of confirmation message. Had someone done a random act of kindness and just ordered me a pizza? I’m not against that idea if anyone does want to do that, but I would probably have expected someone to say something first.

So there I was, with these thoughts running through my head and a man on the doorstep trying to give me pizza which was definitely addressed to my flat. Could I accept the food delivery this time? I had already eaten, but there’s nothing wrong with cold pizza and it definitely wouldn’t be wasted.

Unfortunately at this point, the delivery driver decided to phone the contact number for the order. It turns out my next door neighbours had just put the wrong flat number and there went my free pizza…

Should I just have taken the pizza straight away? Should I just accept every incorrect delivery? Would you have accepted it?

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Discussion

Walking From Home

Last week I walked the 125 miles of the North Downs Way (the southern route). Because of lockdown restrictions, there’s currently no accommodation available so I couldn’t do it as one long continuous trip. Instead what I did was to get the train to the start, do a day’s walk to finish at another station and get the train home. The next day I got the train back to where I started and repeated until I got to the end of the walk. I did the same thing last year when walking the Vanguard Way.

Previously though, I have walked the Hadrian’s Wall Path and the Cleveland Way stopping off at hostels and B&B’s on the way (although camping could be an option for future walks). I thought I’d do a comparison of the two approaches. (Note: I’m talking back-to-back walking days here, rather than some walks like the London Loop where I’ve just done sections on random days over a number of months/years.)

Walking distances

Both methods have similar problems in that a walk can only start or stop at a suitable point, whether that’s accommodation or public transport within a reasonable distance of the path. The accommodation or transport options also needs to be reasonably spread out throughout the length of the route with no large gaps. Ideally there should also be multiple options. This is probably the hardest part of planning a walking itinerary.

Winner: Tie

Flexibility

Once the accommodation is booked, the route is pretty much fixed. It could be possible to adjust or rebook, but this would have knock-on effects on other overnight bookings. However, unless train tickets are booked in advance, the transport approach provides a much more flexible option. For example, last week on the North Downs Way, my legs were sore and I decided last minute to take a rest day halfway through the week. This was fine as I hadn’t pre-booked anything. Another day, I chose to walk further to the following station because I knew the next day would be wet and I could then walk less far in the rain. That’s just not an option with fixed accommodation (although it does rely on their being a “next” station to walk to).

Winner: Transport approach

Carrying

With the accommodation approach, everything for the whole walk has to be carried for the whole walk, even if it won’t be needed until the last day. With the transport approach, things can be left at home if they won’t be needed that day. For example, there was a wet day last week when I decided there was no point carrying sun cream. I was however grateful that I kept my waterproofs on the “sunny” day as a surprise thunderstorm would have caught me out otherwise. Walking with less weight is definitely a good thing.

Winner: Transport approach

Cost

Accommodation can be expensive. There’s also the additional cost of meals (normally in a local pub) and beers (why wouldn’t you, if you’re already in a local pub?). However, trains are also surprisingly expensive, especially when you have to get two a day, and you probably can’t get a return ticket because the return journey is the following day. It’s probably not as expensive as accommodation, but it does all add up.

Winner: Transport approach (just)

Time

When you have to add on two hours in the morning to get to the start of the walk, and two hours at the end of the day to get home again, there’s no way that the transport approach is going to do well here.

Winner: Accommodation approach (easily)

Convenience

As well as being able to leave things at home on days when they’re not needed, there are other benefits to staying overnight at home. You can sleep in your own bed. You can do laundry. There are downsides though. All the usual household tasks such as cooking and washing the dishes are all still there. It definitely isn’t as much of a break as being away from home. On balance though, being home is a good thing (although some accommodation can be quite nice too).

Winner: Transport approach

Distance from home

Whilst the transport approach could be used for any walk, there’s only a reasonable distance that can be travelled every day. I guess it could be possible to operate from a friend/family member’s house or to rent a holiday home, but then that’s not what I’m comparing here. The accommodation approach can be used geographically anywhere (assuming there is accommodation available).

Winner: Accommodation approach

Other

I mentioned it already, but visiting local pubs is one of my favourite things of doing a long-distance walk. Whilst I could stop off at pubs on the walk itself (which I have done once or twice), I’m really talking about going for a meal (often a pie) and a pint in the evening once the walk is done. Especially in some of the more remote pubs, there’ll often be other walkers around who you can compare journeys with, or local people who will want to share some of their local knowledge. You just don’t get that when you’re spending the evening on a train and then in your own house.

Winner: Accommodation approach

The other part of being at home is having to leave again the next morning, knowing that whilst you have been at home, you haven’t really had much free time there, and it’s quite an effort to force yourself to go out again first thing in the morning day after day. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s not a problem I’ve ever found when staying away from home.

Winner: Accommodation approach

Results

On my fairly arbitrary scoring system, it’s a tie between both approaches! (I may have fixed it slightly.) But I think that both options have their advantages. I personally think I prefer the accommodation approach, mainly because it feels like more of a break as it gets away from home more. But I’m not ruling out doing another walk from home in the future.

What do you think? Have I missed anything out from either of these comparisons? Have you tried either of these? Let me know in the comments.

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Discussion

Missing

I completed this new straight-out-of-the-box jigsaw at the weekend.

Van Gogh – Sunflower jigsaw

I say completed but it’s clearly missing three pieces. Either, it was already missing three pieces when I opened it, or I’ve managed to lose three pieces.

I’ve had a quick look on the floor but I’ve not been able to see any obvious pieces. My living room is a bit of a mess (I’ve not had any visitors for over a year), so they could easily be underneath something. But I would have thought I would have found at least one of them.

If I have dropped them, I’m sure they’ll turn up sometime. But this jigsaw is taking up valuable real estate on top of my table. How long do I leave this mostly assembled jigsaw in place, hoping that these three pieces will turn up?

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Discussion

Travel 2020

Having returned to work after my week off, I took in some biscuits as is customary after being away. Normally this is some sort of local delicacy from where you’ve been away to, but in this case, as I had been at home all week, it was just something from the supermarket on the way into the office. Anyway, it started a conversation with a colleague about how no-one has really been away at all this year, and particularly not overseas.

Looking back through my calendar for 2020, I’ve surprisingly been away for around 33 nights, which at 10% of the year seems very high. But the majority of those were in three distinct chunks with a large proportion of those nights being work related, and about a third were staying with family or friends.

But none of those trips have been overseas, in fact I’ve not even left England this year. By my estimation, I should have travelled abroad 5 or 6 times this year, both for work and for fun. My travel has fluctuated over recent years, with a spike in 2015 and last year where I managed 5 trips abroad spending 45 days out of the country (although mostly for work). This is the first year in a long time where I’ve not been out of the country (I can’t remember what happened prior to 2013).

Number of days abroad (solid bars). Number of trips (line)

There’s still over a month of 2020 left, but it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be travelling abroad this year at all. Hopefully things will be back to normal for 2021…

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Discussion

Looking Forward

Next week I’m sitting some university exams. With the new lockdown rules in place, you might think they would be cancelled. But no, they’re still allowed within the rules so are still going ahead.

The week after that I was planning to take a week off work as a semi-reward, semi-recovery thing. With the new lockdown rules in place, of course that’s no longer going ahead as I hoped.

I was looking forward to having some time away from work and getting out of London and maybe doing something different. I was keeping it flexible as I knew things might change so fortunately I hadn’t booked anything but I had quite a few ideas. Now though, it looks like I’ll have to be at home the whole time without even being able to go out anywhere (other than for exercise/essential shopping).

I could go running everyday, but I’ve already done that. [Side note: Just seen that I’ve written one post titled Run Along and another one titled Running along. Not confusing at all. Sorry about that.] I could go walk all my local heritage trails, but I’ve already done that too.

So that’s my question for this week: what can I do in my week off that I can look forward to after the exams are done? Why is it all the fun stuff that’s cancelled? Is it too early to look forward to Christmas or should I expect that to be cancelled too?

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Discussion

Our survey says…

Whilst writing last week’s post, I was reminded of another similar thing.

Many years at university, I signed up for a survey website. It was a very simple premise, complete a survey and earn two points. When you get to 10 points you could trade them in for vouchers.

The system starts off by giving 6 points for signing up and proving that you’re a student, so after only 2 surveys you qualified for your first voucher (at least that’s how I remember it – it was several years ago).

All of the surveys started with a disclaimer that depending on your answers you could be selected out. The first questions were all about demographics. If they only wanted 10 males aged 18-24, and you happened to be the eleventh, you got kicked out of the survey and didn’t get any credits for taking part.

After receiving a lot of complaints (I may have done), they changed it so that if you got filtered out, you went into a prize draw. I don’t remember what the exact prize was (possibly an iPod) but I wasn’t particularly interested and the odds were so low that I probably wasn’t going to win.

Sometimes you could get even further through a survey before getting kicked out. One of the surveys I did was to do with gin-makers and their marketing campaigns. After various questions on drinking frequency, location etc, as soon as you answer that you didn’t drink gin, you got kicked out of the survey.

After a few times of being sent the same quiz, I realised that if I said “yes” to drinking gin, and a few thoughts on whether I had heard of their products, I could make it all the way through the survey.

Yes, it possibly skewed their survey results, but it’s their fault for designing such a terrible survey where the only way of getting a reward is to tell them the answers they want to hear. After spending several minutes of answering questions to only get a chance of winning a prize draw, who wouldn’t go for the more immediate reward? Particularly as I was simply trying to get to the next voucher qualification level so I could close my account down (which I did do eventually).

So what’s the moral of the story? If you’re going to have people filling in most of a survey (or going all the way to give blood), give them sort of actual reward for that, maybe just one point. But probably also don’t give them two points if they just answer “yes” to everything in your survey.

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Giving blood

Today I could have been to give blood for the 25th time.

I say “could have”, because I don’t really know. Technically I *could* have given blood around 67 times if I had given the maximum possible number of times.

But, surely you know how many times you’ve given blood?

Yes, but this is how many times I’ve *been* to give blood. Today I went, but I didn’t actually give blood.

Because of COVID they’ve introduced some new precautions when giving blood. Primarily this is an additional person at the main door who asks whether you’ve had a persistent cough, a high fever or loss of taste/smell (you know, the classic symptoms). She was about to let me in, but then asked if I’d had a cold sore.

I had indeed recently had a cold sore. It’s almost healed now, but you can still see the mark. I had checked the cold sore guidance before I had gone: “If you are not taking any oral medication and have no other sexually transmitted disease or problems with your health you may give blood if the cold sore is dry and not tingling.” So that implies that I should be fine.

The woman checked her COVID sheet and told me that I needed to wait 28 days after cold sore symptoms before I donate. I hadn’t heard of that but I was happy to accept it was the new COVID rules. I checked this when I got home, and the coronavirus pages do indeed say: “In addition, currently have a cold sore, please do not attend.” Yes, it doesn’t mention the 28 days for cold sores here (which it does for the other symptoms), and that it’s not as detailed as the cold sore page, but I’m not blaming the woman on the desk as the rules appear to be complicated and it’s better to be safe than sorry. [Side note: This is the only place I’ve seen any link, albeit vague, between cold sores and coronavirus.] But the intention of this post wasn’t to talk about cold sores or coronavirus…

So you’ve *been* to give blood 24 times previously?

Well, as I said before, I don’t know, mainly because I’ve never counted. There was a long string of appointments that kept getting cancelled shortly before. On one of these occasions, I had already left work to get the train to the appointment before I got the text saying it was cancelled. Should that count as me *going* to the appointment? What about the time I went to give blood but had been abroad recently and so was ineligible? I could have probably checked that one before I got there, but I didn’t actually give blood and so it doesn’t actually count on my record.

So what does your record say?

It says I’ve given blood 18 times.

That wasn’t so hard was it?

Well actually, I’ve only given blood 17 times. Last time I went to give blood, my iron levels were low – still well within normal levels, but just not high enough to donate. This is one of the few criteria where it’s possible to turn up, not actually give blood, but still get credit for doing so (but with a three low iron strikes and you’re out for good). Would my iron levels have been high enough to donate this time? I don’t know because I didn’t get that far in the process. What I do know though is that today almost certainly won’t count as a donation credit in my blood donation record.

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Discussion

It’s not right

I spent a long time thinking about today’s post and drafted quite a few versions, but I decided that the straight-forward option would be the best.

I’m a white male who has grown up in a predominately white community. I’ve had certain opportunities which have not been open to every person in our society. Living in multi-cultural London has made me much more aware of the differences and the struggles that others have faced that I’ve never had to.

Last night I was talking to some friends who were telling me their stories of the racism they’ve experienced. A guy the same age as me has been stopped by the police over 50 times, including five times in the same day, just because he’s black. I’ve never been stopped by the police once. Yes, he grew up on a South London housing estate, but we now live in the same area. He still gets stopped. I don’t. His wife said that she’s been stopped too, even when just going to the newsagents to buy a paper for her parents. Again, it’s just never happened to me. Another friend told a story of how some people followed his car and tried to attack him, again just because he’s black. My friends went on to explain that they have to work three times harder at everything, just to get to the same position as a white person. I’ve vaguely been aware of these sort of stories, but it was certainly an eye-opening conversation for me to hear it directly from people I know.

Talking about it is a good first start, but we all need to do much more. I know that I haven’t always been the best at recognising the unfair advantages I’ve had, and this blog post doesn’t go nearly far enough, but I intend to do my best to rectify it where I can.

#BlackLivesMatter

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Discussion Money

Was it worth it?

The other day I received a nice letter from the Students Loans Company (or whatever they’re called these days) reminding me that I now owe £27,056.05 on my student loan.

And it got me thinking.

I spent this money on four years at university and the ability to put the letters “MEng(Hons)” after my name, but what else could I have spent it on? I had a quick look.

  • A second-hand armour plated jaguar (From £25k+VAT). I would love one purely to say that I owned a bullet-proof car. In fact, I might get this one anyway.

  • A meeting with Nick Clegg (£25k/year). This one I will pass on, and not just because it’s an annual fee.

  • A 1 bed house in Manchester (£25k). It’s already been reduced by £22k, but it’s quite possibly the ugliest house I’ve seen. (Does it have any windows?)

  • A lock of Justin Bieber’s hair (£25k). Too late for this one, it was sold last month and no doubt it’ll cost more when it’s back  on the market.

What have I missed? What would/could you have spent this money on?

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Discussion

Discussion: Phones on the table

Here’s the background:
I was out for a meal with my parents tonight and I saw a guy with his iphone lying out on his table [Note: I didn’t actually see him using his phone at all, it was just out]. I then saw another woman with a basic non-smartphone samsung phone out too and it got me thinking.

So here’s the discussion:

Is it permissible to have a phone out at a mealtime, especially if it’s at a restaurant?

My view:
I think it says that the person has more important things than the meal. On the other hand they may have been waiting for a very important message/phone call. Personally I kept my phone in my pocket and resisted the temptation to read the three emails I got until after my meal (they weren’t anything interesting anyway).

What are your views? Should it be acceptable? Is it wrong to pre-judge? Leave me a comment.