Life event

Gas Gas Gas

Last December I noticed a strange smell in my kitchen but I couldn’t work out what it was or where it was coming from. A few days passed and I still couldn’t figure it out. I did wonder whether it could be gas, but the internet suggested that gas has an obvious smell, plus it had been several days and my house hadn’t blown up.

Anyway, just to be sure I went on Amazon and bought a gas leak detector. My order was still on its way when I walked past some roadworks and I thought “maybe it is the same smell”. So when I got home I phoned the gas emergency number just to be safe.

Let’s just say the person on the other end of the phone wasn’t convinced it was a gas leak, mainly because gas should have an obvious smell and it should really have been obvious to me if it was a gas leak and I shouldn’t really be wasting their time. After checking a few things (did the smell go away when the gas was turned off? etc), he did agree to send someone out though.

The engineer arrived about three hours later (I got a priority service as I live in a block of flats, but it was still 11.30pm by this time!). I told him the story and how I wasn’t even sure if there was a leak. After asking me to turn the gas back on, he waved his tester around where I thought the leak might be: “Slightly higher reading than normal, but nothing to suggest a leak”. He then stuck his tester behind the cupboard and it immediately starting beeping. “Yep, there’s definitely a leak here”.

That was a relief. I was justified for having called him out and felt less like the boy who cried wolf. After inspecting, he advised that one of the joints had come loose. The gas had been slowly leaking through and then filtering through the cupboards which explained why it was such a weak smell. As a free service, he could only make it safe and I would have to call out someone else if it actually needed fixing. Fortunately in this case, making it safe was tightening the joint and since that seemed to do the job, he went on his way.

The next day, the Amazon gas leak tester arrived. Oh well, at least I have it just in case I need it…

Fast forward to this week, and there’s a strange smell in my kitchen which I can’t work out what it is or where it’s coming from. Ah, I’ve got just the thing for this! So I find my tester, but nope, all negative, not detecting anything at all (I’ve tested it directly on the hob as in the instructions so I know it does detect something). Maybe I don’t have a gas leak at all.

A few more days pass and I still can’t figure it out and I know it can’t be gas because my leak detector would have told me. But last night, I decided that maybe it was the same smell as before and it possibly was a slightly stronger smell nearer the cupboard, but again, it was so weak that it was hard to be certain. Like before, I tested turning off the gas supply at the meter and the smell did seem to reduce so it might have been gas, but was I certain enough to phone for help?

This morning I decided that it was probably safer to get it sorted. Rather than going via the emergency number, I went straight to a local gas engineer. If it’s happened before, it probably needs more than just tightening, and I’ve already shut the gas off at the mains so I don’t need the emergency phone person judging me again for not knowing what gas smells like. However, by not going for the free service this time, I have to pay a £160/hour charge just for the call-out so there had better be a leak!

The engineer arrives and I direct him to the cupboard where the previous leak was. I turn on the gas and he waves his tester around, but there’s no response. Was I wrong this time? Did I waste £160 for nothing?

But then he moves his tester to a different part of the pipe and it frantically starts pinging. That was a relief. I was justified for having called him out and felt less like the boy who cried wolf. After inspecting, he advised that the test point connection was faulty. The gas had been slowly leaking through and then filtering through the cupboards which explained why it was such a weak smell. He didn’t have the replacement part, but he would have to order one and come back. In the meantime, he made the pipe safe by capping off the connection and he went on his way.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from my experiences:

  1. A gas leak doesn’t always smell obvious, whatever the internet and the man on the emergency helpline say. Maybe because my leak wasn’t big enough. Or maybe my nose isn’t very good.
  2. A gas leak detector doesn’t always pick up everything. Maybe because my leak wasn’t leak big enough. Or maybe I was just testing in the wrong place.

Will it happen again? Hopefully not, but I’m feeling slightly more paranoid about it happening and me not noticing.

Life event

Challenge completed

When I said in my last post that I would update the following week, I hadn’t intended it to be a month, but here we are…

Anyway, I did it! I walked 100 miles in less than 48 hours! (Technically I did it in 46 hours 26 minutes.)

The worst part was the lack of sleep. So many times I wanted to stop by the side of the path and have a nap (which I knew would be the end of my adventure). The final morning was very much a struggle not to fall asleep, even whilst walking. Despite being in a terrible state after finishing, I felt absolutely fine after a good sleep.

Other walkers told me of their previous (or current!) terrible experiences with getting blisters or other foot problems. I just relied on my trusty Darn Tough socks and Merrell shoes (and a bit of tape on the hotspots). Absolutely no problems for me.

Here’s some things I learnt:

  • Walking with other people is easier. Joining with a couple of other people for the final 25 miles made it much easier.
  • It’s also easier when one of those people has already practiced the route and knows which paths to take where.
  • Every checkpoint is further away than it feels it should be. Especially once my GPS watch battery had died and I had no way of knowing exactly how far I had gone.
  • 100 miles is a really long way to walk.

Will I do it again? I’m not sure. It definitely wasn’t a “fun” experience, but I can say that I have now completed the challenge (and have the certificate to prove it). But I could also become one of those people who has done the event twenty or thirty times…

Let’s see what happens next year.

Life event

Challenge reactivated

Remember last year when I talked about the challenge of walking 100 miles in 48 hours? And then I tried it and managed to complete 75 miles?

A year later and the event is back on again, but as an actual in-person (not virtual) one this year. If everything goes to plan, I should be walking 100 miles between Friday morning and Saturday evening/Sunday morning.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to familiarise myself with the route (by just studying the instructions and the maps), but it’s quite hard not being able to see it for real. That’s the main disadvantage I see compared to last year when I knew the route well and could do it without looking at any maps at all. This year I’ll be trying to navigate completely new territory in the dark which will be testing in its own way, let alone with the walking. But the main advantage I see of an in-person event over the virtual one is having frequent checkpoints with actual people who can cheer me on and provide food (so much less weight to carry).

That’s not to say that it won’t still be really hard, but I’m trying to think positively. And if you want to track me, you can do so here (walks starts 10am on Friday). I’ll let you know how it went next week…

Life event

Red Moon

An unofficial sequel to the Super Blood Moon.

On Sunday evening I was out for a walk to pick up some milk and looked up to see an almost-full (96.2% illumination) moon. What was different though was that the moon was red. I took a photo with my phone, but it turned out so terrible that I just deleted it.

I rushed home to get the proper camera out. My longest lens is only 250mm so the moon is still very small (1000mm would be better), but I took quite a few photos. Looking at them now, they don’t quite seem that sharp. I’m not sure if it’s just not quite in focus (a longer lens would help) or if it’s blurry due to camera movement (I had to use my smaller tripod as my balcony isn’t big enough for my more sturdy one), but here’s a couple of the better ones:

The moon was definitely less red by the time I finished taking photos and much less red than when I had first seen it when I was out. I imagine that it would have been back to normal not too much later, so definitely a thing of being in the right place at the right time.

(And if you’re wondering why the moon was red, it was probably because of the Saharan dust.)

Life event

Under Pressure

Aka Car Troubles part 5(?)

About a month ago, I had to go away for a week and the easiest option was to drive there and back. Shortly after pulling onto the main road, the car gave a warning noise and a “check tyre pressure” light came on.

I definitely didn’t have a flat tyre, because I know what that’s like. It could have been a slow puncture (which I’ve also had before) or could it have been that I hadn’t checked the tyres recently and they had all just got low. Thinking it through, the last time I filled the tyres was before Christmas, and I’d driven about a thousand miles since then so it could be that. But my car had also been serviced more recently and I’m sure they check the tyres then. What if the garage had inadvertently done something to the tyres?

Anyway, I turned the car around and headed to the petrol station. I didn’t particularly notice any of the tyres were low when I topped them up, but the car was parked in such a way that I couldn’t see the pressure gauge. This seemed to fix the problem and I drove off on my way. I was however concerned about what would happen if the warning came on again, particularly if I was on the motorway. Fortunately this didn’t happen and I made it home at the end of the week fine (if you count having COVID as being fine).

Fast forward to this week and I had to take the car out again (although only for a local journey this time). The warning light came on again. So this time I decided to take it to my nearby garage.

“Do you know which tyre it is?”

I really didn’t have a clue. “I think it’s the front right. But the pressure should be around 30, except for the dodgy tyre.”

He pulled out his pressure gauge and stuck it on the front right tyre. “19 and a half.”

Clearly my intuition on which tyre was correct. The mechanic looked for punctures but didn’t see anything. He then noticed that pushing on the tyre valve let out a load of air.

Turns out there was a small hole in the valve stem so every time the tyre went round and the valve wobbled, a very small amount of air leaked out. A short time later and a replacement valve stem had been fitted. Much cheaper than a new tyre and the warning light has now gone off. Problem solved!

Life event

London Marathon = Done!

I’ve posted quite a lot recently about running, but last Sunday was the London Marathon, so this will (probably) be my last post on this topic for a while.

I had three goals in mind when taking part:

  • Complete the marathon ✔

I’ve walked an approximate marathon distance before a couple of times (even ignoring my 75 mile epic challenge walk), but I’ve never run a marathon before. And this would be an official event with a timer and crowds, rather than just me on my own. So I knew I’d be able to cover the distance even if I had to walk it. It wasn’t in too much doubt, but I made it over the 26.2 mile distance on Sunday. Goal completed.

  • Complete the marathon without walking ✔

I know there’s nothing wrong with walking in a long race, and some people even recommend a walk/run method (and say it’s faster than just running). But I know myself and I knew that if I started to walk, I would never start running again. It was tough, but I knew that I had to keep trying to run. And I did. Goal completed.

  • Complete the marathon in less than 4 hours ✖

I finished in 4 hours 2 minutes and 58 seconds, so just outside my target. But three minutes over four hours/26 miles of running isn’t too bad. And it’s only my first marathon so I had nothing to compare it to. I’m still very pleased with what I achieved. And I now have a target to beat for my next marathon…

Life event Money

Halfway there!

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post on how my student loan amount had decreased in the ten years since I finished university. My plan was to not revisit the subject on this blog for another 7 years until it was paid off (assuming I’m still updating it by then). However…


It’s been almost 15 years since I started university and just under 10 and a half years since I started paying it off. I don’t have the exact numbers (because the website takes a few days to update) but I think I’ve now paid off £13,684.38, leaving me with around £13,371.67 to go.

(Note: some years have interest added monthly (where known), whereas other years only have interest added annually, therefore the slight increases each April can be ignored from the trends)

The next half should take much less time to pay off because that’s how interest rates work and also my salary is higher than it was when I first started working. Assuming that things stay the same as currently (interest rate and salary), I reckon I only have another 6 years to go…

And if you missed my previous post on what else I could have spent £27,000 on, you should go read that too.

Life event

The tale of the bathroom light

Back in May, my bathroom light stopped working. The light itself worked fine, but (almost) every time I pulled the cord to turn it off, the lighting ring main for the whole flat tripped as well. Cue a call to the landlord who sent round the electrician who replaced the pullcord and the light fitting. Everything worked fine after that, although the extractor fan would sometimes turn off straight away with the light, rather than staying on for another minute or two like it should do, but I didn’t really consider that a problem.

And then I got back from a few days away at the end of July, turned on the bathroom light and the extractor fan just started making a clicking noise. What’s worse is that the pullcord then stopped working so I couldn’t check whether the extractor fan was a one-off or whether it was actually broken. Fortunately the light was off when the pullcord stopped (I mentioned showering in the dark in my recent post). I duly called out the electrician again and he replaced the pullcord again.

The extractor fan was working when he left (I don’t know if he actually did anything or it just happened to be working when he was there), but over the next couple of weeks it was very temperamental – sometimes it would turn on fine, sometimes it would turn on fine but then randomly stop for a second or two every now and then, sometimes it would just make a clicking noise, and sometimes it wouldn’t do anything at all. I decided that I could probably live with this and it would probably all work fine again when the electrician came. Then last Saturday I noticed this happening when I turned off the light:

It’s not the best quality video (blame the autofocus), but essentially after pulling the cord, the light flickers for about 10 seconds before eventually deciding to turn off. Strange, but again, it didn’t seem quite worth the hassle of getting the electrician out. That video was filmed at about 10pm on the Saturday evening as I went to bed. Three hours later I woke up to a light coming in under my bedroom door. Going to the bathroom I found the light doing this:

If it’s not clear, the light switch was turned off and yet the light somehow has power and is flickering (quite brightly)! I turned off the lighting ring main at the trip switch and went to bed, making a mental note to contact the landlord on the Monday.

On the Sunday evening I was sat watching TV and I could hear a dripping noise. The cold water tank sometimes drips, but this was louder and more frequent so I went to check it out. And then I found water coming in through and around the light switch pullcord and the shower pullcord.

You can’t really see the water, but you can see the orange stains left where the water was (the almost brand-new cord was white to start with!)

I instantly turned off the lighting and shower ring mains (I had turned the lighting back on so that I could have lights in the other rooms of the house). I then went up to my upstairs neighbour and informed them of the leak.

Skip forward a few steps and their plumber came round on Monday morning and apparently found a problem with the waste pipe from their bath. It does seem like there must have been some underlying reason behind all these problems over the last couple of months, so hopefully that was it and it’s now hopefully sorted.

The electrician then came to my flat yesterday afternoon but found that the wiring was still too wet to safely to turn it back on. Apparently they will need to replace both pullcords (again!) and the light fitting (again!). Hopefully he will be coming back tomorrow to do the work, but until that happens I’m sat in the dark and unable to have a proper shower.

Life event


Last week I got my second pfizer jab. I booked them both as soon as I was eligible to do so, with the second around 11 and a half weeks after the first one. The only location listed when I booked was a hospital about 7 miles away. According to a friend, there were more possible locations if you clicked cancel and then reloaded, but anyway I had booked and didn’t want to change it. However, when they started to recommend second jabs at 8 weeks (rather than 12 weeks), I looked to see if I could change the location of my second jab. Which I did, with my second jab at my local council’s Civic Hall.

I thought I’d do a comparison of the two experiences:

First jab: NHS hospital COVID vaccination centreSecond jab: Council COVID vaccination centre
I arrived about 10-15 minutes before my appointment because that’s what times the trains were and I didn’t know exactly where I was going.
The signs said don’t arrive more than 5 minutes before your appointment, so I sat outside and checked my phone for a bit before wandering up to the security guard who just waved me through to the single reception desk.
I arrived about 10-15 minutes before my appointment because I walked there and I didn’t know exactly where I was going.
The signs said appointments only. There were a couple of people sat outside but I just went in anyway. I told the volunteer in the jacket that I had an appointment but they just waved me through and told me to follow the arrows.
After following several arrows and corridors to the main hall, the man on the door asked me if I had my card from my first jab. He then pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab and that they must have written it down wrong. He then told me to go to the third reception desk (out of three).
The woman on the reception desk took my details. She gave me a load of paperwork which I wouldn’t have time to read and then told me to follow the long corridor round. There was no-one else around and despite the woman calling “next” there was no-one behind me.The woman on the reception desk took my details and then pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab. I commented that they must have written it down wrong. She gave me a load of paperwork which I wouldn’t have time to read and then told me to go to the next set of desks.
The woman on the next desk took my details and asked a few questions about whether I had any allergies and such things. She pointed out that it couldn’t have been five months since my first jab. I commented that they must have written it down wrong. The woman corrected my card and told me to join the queue that was behind her.
I got to the end of the corridor without seeing a single other person waiting to be jabbed. I was then directed to one of the nine pods that they were using.A man directed me to join the queue of about 12 people before directing me to one of the three pods that they were using.
The man in the pod said “you must be Adrian” and then checked a few details and asked if I had any allergies and such things. I was then jabbed and he filled in my vaccination card and a piece of paper with a time on it and told me to follow the next corridor round to the waiting room.The woman in the pod checked a few details whilst the man in the pod did something on the computer. I was then jabbed by the woman, and the man filled in my vaccination card and I was told to move into the waiting area behind.
I was told to take any seat in the waiting area until the time on my piece of paper. I was then free to depart, leaving my piece of paper with the time on on the chair so they knew it had been used and needed cleaning. I left as soon as my fifteen minutes were up.I took any seat in the waiting area before being told there was a system and got moved to a specific chair. As the last person in the row, my time defined when the rest of the row could leave. I was allowed to leave as soon as my fifteen minutes were up. Everyone else in the row also had to wait until my fifteen minutes were up.
I got the train home. About 2-3 hours later, my arm started to feel a bit sore. The next morning it was very stiff, but by about 24 hours after the jab it was all back to normal. I walked home. About 2-3 hours later, my arm started to feel a bit sore. The next morning it was very stiff, but by about 24 hours after the jab it was all back to normal.

If I had to do a third jab, I’d probably go back to the hospital, even though it’s further away. Although that may just be because it wasn’t as busy. That’s a question to ponder for another day (if it ever happens).

Life event

Duvet Day

Two weeks ago was Duvet Day.

Duvet Day, noun. The day at which I switch from using a duvet and duvet cover to just using a duvet cover.

Duvet Day happens every year, normally towards the beginning of June. When it gets too hot overnight for a full duvet, I switch to just using the duvet cover by itself. There’s normally a delay between the temperature increasing and Duvet Day, mainly because removing a duvet from its cover is awkward, as everyone knows.

Yesterday was Re-Duvet Day.

Re-Duvet Day, noun. The day at which I switch from using just a duvet cover to using a duvet and duvet cover.

Re-Duvet Day happens every year, normally towards the beginning of September. When it gets too cool overnight for just a duvet cover, I return to using a duvet inside the cover. There’s normally a delay between the temperature dropping and Re-Duvet Day, mainly because inserting a duvet into its cover is awkward, as everyone knows.

But this year is one of those with an early Re-Duvet day as the temperature has dropped early. Here’s a graph showing the temperature this month:

(Taken from Accuweather)

The first half of this month (bar the 4 June) has been well above the average temperature for this time of year. However the last few days have been far below average, hence the return to a duvet. It does look like the temperature is rising again, and I’m sure there will be a second Duvet Day in the next few weeks. Until then though, it’s back to my trusty 4.5 Tog.