Return to sender

One of the things about moving house fairly often (and in rented accommodation at that) is receiving post addressed to previous residents. I normally just stick it back in the post box with “return to sender” on it and eventually the post for the previous residents dries up. I’ve now lived in my current place for almost three years, so I was surprised when this week I got three pieces of post all addressed to a name I hadn’t seen before.

I do have new neighbours upstairs from me and possibly new neighbours across the corridor (this is London, of course I don’t know my neighbours). Two of the pieces of post were about over 50’s life insurance (although they were from the same company), and I’m sure that none of my (new) neighbours meet that criteria.

There have been a few times recently when takeaway delivery drivers have tried to give me food that’s meant for a neighbour, even though the address they have clearly isn’t mine (it’s the same flat number, but the next block over, which is even a different postcode). [It’s not every delivery, just some takeaways, so whatever takeaway app this is really needs to sort out their database/mapping. It’s tempting just to accept the food, but I haven’t done. Am I allowed to knowingly accept a wrong food delivery?] But these letters are definitely addressed to my flat and are being delivered by the normal postperson. They’re just not addressed to a person who currently lives here.

Which brings me to three possibilities:

  • There was a previous, previous(, previous?) resident by this name who has recently turned 50, or whatever age you have to be get letters about over 50 life insurance, and this has triggered companies sending him post again.
  • One of my (new) neighbours has put the wrong address on something they’ve signed up to and some of their items are going to me by mistake.
  • There’s a 50 year old man sharing my flat with me who I never knew about before.

In the office

Whilst I was going through the data for last week’s post, I noticed that most of my journeys where travelling to or from work, particularly in 2020 when travelling for fun wasn’t allowed. It seems quite obvious that I’m now working from home more often. But in previous years I would have had more days out of the office: on training courses, on business trips, on leave (yes, I have taken some in 2020, but not as much as before). So just how many days do I normally spend in the office each year? To be clear, this is just talking about how many days I’ve been *in the office*, not how many days I’ve been *working*.

Some days it’s easy to tell when I went to the office, I made a morning peak journey in one direction, and an evening peak journey back in the other direction. Some days it’s more complicated as I come back a different route, or get off at a different station to walk a bit further, but it’s still generally obvious that I’ve been into the office. Other days it’s more complex as I’ve gone somewhere else after work, but I generally always head home afterwards. Although strangely I have travelled to work more times than I’ve come home, mainly as a result of occasionally running home instead. There’s also the possibility that I’ve travelled into the office and then gone elsewhere for the bulk of the day, and there’s a number of half days which I didn’t count specifically, but hopefully it should all balance out. Suffice it to say, these values are all very approximate.

I think there should be 222 possible days in the office per year (365 – 52 Saturdays – 52 Sundays – 8 bank holidays – 31 days leave). Yes, I’m ignoring leap years and that some years may have extra weekends or bank holidays. As I said this is approximate.

So, counting up all my journeys, here’s what I get:

YearDays in
% of working
days in office

And whilst 2020 is lower than 2019, it’s not dramatically lower. But is quite a bit lower when compared to the high of 2014. It’s hard to tell if this is a general downwards trend, or is just related to some jobs/time periods having more business travel. For 2021 I’m currently at about 61% in the office, but given that we’re only six weeks into the year this could obviously go up or down before the end of the year.

And coming back to my initial reason for looking into this, I spent approximately 25% less last year on travel around London than in 2019, but I was only in the office 14% less than than the previous year. I’m not sure what the point behind those calculations is – I’m sure I could draw something else out, but that seems like enough for now.

But with a dataset of all my journeys for the last seven years there must be more that I can discover. What else would be interesting to know? My longest journey? My day with the most journeys? How many stations I’ve been to? Let me know in the comments.


Spirit Animals

I was at a group (online) event yesterday, and the ice-breaker question at the start was:

“What animal best represents you?”

Other people in the group came out as meerkats, dolphins, octopuses and bears. Having only had a minute to think about it, I could only come up with “Mountain goat”.

My rationale behind this was mountain goats are hardy creatures and don’t mind being outdoors in all weathers. They’re happy climbing up steep mountains and jumping between rocks.

Maybe I could have come up with something better if I’d thought about it more. Today I found an online quiz that aims to find your spirit animal in only 10 questions. This suggested my spirit animal is a condor, but it’s likely they don’t even have mountain goat as a possible answer.

So do you think either a mountain goat or a condor represents me? Is there something better? What animal best represents you? Let me know in the comments.


Full Speed Ahead

Over the last few weeks, there’s been a series of roadworks at the bottom of my road to do with the sewers (I’m not sure exactly what, but they keep appearing and disappearing without any notice). What it has meant is that they’ve completely closed off the road part-way along with ROAD AHEAD CLOSED ACCESS ONLY signs at either end.

Whilst it can probably only save about a minute, quite a few cars seem to use my road as a shortcut as it cuts out a whole junction with a set of traffic lights. I hadn’t ever really noticed that before as it’s still a relatively quiet road. But the road closure is definitely inconveniencing some drivers as I have now noticed quite a few cars speeding past the ROAD AHEAD CLOSED sign until they actually find they can’t go any further and are forced to turn back and go all the way round.

Today I saw a car get to the first ROAD AHEAD CLOSED sign, slow down as he read the sign but still carry on driving past. He then must have realised he might not get through so did a 180 degree turn in a side road before clearly deciding to change his mind and turning another 180 degrees. He then drove another 50 metres further down the road until he was forced to turn around (rather more awkwardly) at the ROAD CLOSED sign and leave back the way he had come.

At the weekend I had to drive to another part of London. Knowing there was also roadworks on one of the railway bridges, I would have to detour down to the next bridge that crossed the railway line. But unexpectedly my detour route also had roadworks! Fortunately this was just temporary traffic lights and not a full road closure and barely added any extra time to my journey.

As I approached my destination though, I saw another sign saying ROAD AHEAD CLOSED. I had no idea where this road was actually closed, but the diversion sign said to turn off. My plan was to park my car on the next road following the diversion sign, but instead I parked on the road before. As I walked to my destination and past the ROAD AHEAD CLOSED sign, it was obvious that the road wasn’t closed and I could have parked where I had originally planned. It’s possible the road was closed further ahead, but I just couldn’t see where. Plenty of cars were still just driving straight past.

So that’s really the question for this week: Do you take the risk and drive past a ROAD AHEAD CLOSED sign only to get forced to turn around, or do you take an alternative route even though the road might still be open? And why are there so many roadworks at the moment?


Personalities (Revisited)

Ten and a half years ago, my two brothers, my sister-in-law and I wrote co-ordinated blog posts looking at our Myers-Briggs personalities. My older brother was an ISTJ [Blog no longer available], his wife was an ENFP [Link] and my younger brother was an ESFJ [Again, blog no longer available]. I too was an ISTJ, a “reliable realist” [Link].

Since then, I’ve had various jobs, lived in various places and had various life experiences, so why not see how my personality has changed since then? In order to keep things the same, I did the same personality quiz from 41Q.

As a reminder, here’s how I came out last time:

And here’s what I got now:

So slightly less introverted, slightly more sensing, slightly less thinking and quite a bit more judging. But considering there are only 41 questions to work out the personality, one slight difference in response is probably going to have a fairly substantial change in outcome. But putting it all together, I still come out with the same overall outcome of “reliable realist”!

I could post what that actually means, but I’ve already done that ten years ago (and it still describes me pretty well).



My aim when I restarted blogging was to post something once a week on a Wednesday evening. However, this week I’ve again been too busy to write anything.

A couple of months ago, I had a small stockpile of posts so I always had something ready to go each week, but now I’m just down to a handful of ideas.

Once a week seems like a sensible level to blog at. Not too frequent, but still on a regular schedule. I could reduce the frequency to once every two weeks, or even once a month which would be much easier for coming up with content, but would make blogging much less routine. I could post on an ad-hoc basis, but that’s even more likely to make me not do it.

So that’s the options: a. Weekly posts where a substantial number are short/not very interesting, or b. Less regular posts but there’s a strong possibility they just stop at some point. Vote now! [I would put an actual voting thing in but I can’t because I’m doing this on my phone]


High Rise Living

Sorry, this is a quite a conceptual post this week. I’ll try to be more interesting next time.

I was lying in bed the other night and I realised that I lived in a block of flats. That’s not a new thing and something I was already aware of – I’ve lived in several flats since I moved to London. What I realised though was that the flat above me and the flat below me have the same room layout. And the ones the other side of them do too. That means that there’s several bedrooms directly above and below mine. If my neighbours have their beds in the same positions as me, there are several people all sleeping in a parallel orientation, separated only by a couple of metres and a solid concrete floor. In mathematical terms, we’re at the same x and y coordinates, but differing in the z-axis.

Additionally, I have neighbours on either side of me. And although one is two kitchens away, the nearest is only the other side of a concrete wall. Possibly even closer than the two metres recommended for social distancing.

But what’s happening in their parallel flats? Do they have the same internal room layouts? What decorations do they have? What do they get up to in their flats? What are their lives like?

I live in London so of course I don’t actually know any of my neighbours. I think the new couple downstairs have young children, possibly including a new baby. And the people upstairs may also have a young baby. But who knows? I’ve never met any of them other than in passing.

The other day I received this letter (and I’m assuming all my neighbours did too):

I don’t normally hear my neighbours, although I do often have music playing or the TV on. I’ve never noticed a noisy neighbour. Does that mean that I’m the problem? I feel like my volumes are kept at a “moderate level”, plus I’m normally in bed between 10pm and 7am. And is it saying that they’ve had *complaints* from a number of flats, or that they’ve had *noise disturbances* from a number of flats?

Either way, it has made me wonder what my neighbours can hear of me. I can sometimes hear their activities but can never make out anything distinctively. So can my neighbours hear me? Maybe sometimes, but probably nothing significant. But Alexa, she hears everything.


Back in the olden days

Over 4 years ago, I wrote a blog post speculating what people did before they had mobile phones. Well, this week I’ve been finding out…

On Sunday evening, my phone had an argument with the floor and it came out of the fight looking like this:
(Don’t worry, the floor came out undamaged.)

I’ve been without a mobile phone for 5 days now whilst it’s off being fixed, and here are the things I would normally have done using my phone:

Phone calls/text messages This is obviously the main one. I’m not a prolific caller/texter but it is a problem when I can’t. Alternative: None (excluding using the phone at work)

Emails Although I can still read emails on my laptop, I have to go get them, rather than have them delivered to me. Alternative: Computer

Social networking Again, it can be done on a laptop, but not as convenient or accessible on the move. Alternative: Computer

Mapping It’s much easier to find a location when you check where you are and where you’re trying to get to. Not as big a problem in central London but it is more annoying in the suburbs. Alternative: Planning ahead and reading directions/signs (where available)

Bus/train times I often use my phone to tell me when the next bus is due to arrive at a bus stop or to let me know if there is any disruption on the trains. Alternative: Waiting around for ages at the bus stop/station

Alarm clock This was the hardest one to find a substitute for as I couldn’t think of anything that would do this, and obviously I need to be up in time for work. Eventually I remembered my fitbit one has built in alarm functionality. Alternative: My fitbit

Random searching/thoughts Those random thoughts/questions that just pop into your head that you have to look up or you’ll forget them. Probably not the most essential of missing items. Alternative: None

Shopping list I often make notes on my phone of what I need to buy when I head to the supermarket. Alternative: Pen and paper

Weather Do I need to take a raincoat to work or not? Alternative: Paying attention to the weather section on TV

Games I like to play Sudoku on my phone before bed. Just one of those things I like to do. Alternative: None (without buying a puzzle book)

I’m sure there are lots of other things I use my phone for, but ironically without my phone I’m unable to check. Most of the activities do have alternatives, but it is more the convenience of accessing things when I need to that is the most annoying factor, and the thing I miss most. Hopefully it’ll be back soon.

Have I missed anything? I’ve definitely not included taking photos, but mainly because I don’t often do that on my phone.


Working on Saturdays

For the last few months, I’ve spent my Saturdays in the office due to high workloads. Now we’re in August, the workload has reduced, so no more working on Saturdays.

Since I’ve had today free, I thought I would detail some of the pros and cons of working on Saturdays. Some of them are interlinked, and some of them are just as easily put on either side of the list.

Additional pay1-day long weekend
Only person in the officeNo-one to run thoughts past
No distractions
(No emails/telephone calls/questions)
No distractions (All day is spent staring at the screen/working)
More productive daysDays are more intense and mentally draining
More relaxed than weekdays
(Getting in at 11am is much nicer)
Working later than normal to make up for late start
Cake/biscuits (The agreed morale booster for working on Saturdays)Eating too much cake

In low quantities, I don’t mind working on Saturdays but it’s nice to have longer weekends again. What should I do with them? Suggestions please, or otherwise I’ll just keep blogging about not doing stuff.


Supermarket savings

I recently got a loyalty card for my local supermarket. As a reward, they sent me some vouchers off either shopping or petrol (on alternate weeks) if I spent £20 per week over 4 consecutive weeks. If I spent all 4 vouchers, there would even be some bonus points.

Having used some of these vouchers, they then sent me some more vouchers if I spent £30 per week over the next 6 weeks. This felt like a very sneaky way to get me to spend more money. Were they trying to get more money out of me? Would spending more money actually result in bigger savings? I decided to try and find out…