Pack it up, pack it in

Let me begin

If you’ve ever moved house, you’ll be familiar with the chore that is packing. If, like me, you’ve moved eight times in the last four years, you will be so intimately familiar with it that the mere mention of packing sends you into a whimpering foetal position.

Packing to move house is easy though, really. You get a load of boxes. Put your stuff’n’things into said boxes. Hire a van, lorry, or friends & relatives, and cart it all off to your new place. It’s laborious and tedious work for sure, but it’s not rocket science.

Moving countries is a little more complicated. Especially when you have nowhere to live at the other end.

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Cruise Noob

Memoirs of a cruise virgin

If you’ve ever cruised before, skip this post. Otherwise, read on.

As I write, we’re docked at the pretty little town of Charlotte Amalie, on the beautiful island of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. It’s Stop #3 on our 8 night cruise and I thought now was as good a time as any to recap some of the first days at sea and in the Caribbean. Plus, this being a US territory, there’s data here so I can post.

I’d never been on a cruise before, but always kind of fancied the idea. I like seeing new places, and the idea of being shuttled around in what is essentially a big hotel, visiting some of the most amazing places on the planet, seemed like one I could get on board with (pun fully intended).

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BMW 116d SE

Do BMW actually make a bad car?

After my brief tango with the Mercedes C220d at the start of June, I found myself in need of another car for August, to move my things from London to Wales in preparation for their ultimate shipment from the UK to the US.
I rebooked with Sixt, choosing as I did before the Mercedes A-Class ‘Prestige’ option, for just north of £200. That gave me the car from mid-morning Thursday to early morning the following Monday, with full insurance cover.

I was pleased when I found out that they had a BMW 1 Series for me, instead of a Merc A-Class. I was less pleased when I saw, written on the receipt, what model I was being given.
Whereas last time I was upgraded to the pretty-swish and pretty-loaded C220d, this time I was being given a 116d SE. Or, pretty much, the bottom of the range.

There were a few options installed – a quick check of the BMW configurator reveals that the car currently sat on the driveway would cost just a shade over £28,000 to buy outright – but the initial impressions were pretty disappointing. After owning an M135i, and having spent the weekend riding in and photographing an M140i, this was a big step back.

Or so I thought. Continue reading “BMW 116d SE”

Visas before Breakfast

Tuesday June 25th 2017: Visa Day

My appointment was scheduled for 08:00, so I knew I needed to be up early to get there with plenty of time to spare. My alarm was set for 06:00, but by 05:40 I was in the shower, thanks to a terrible sleep.
I always sleep poorly when I know I have an alarm set for a particular time outside of my usual sleep pattern, and this day had particular significance.

I took the bus, Overground, and Jubilee Line to get to Bond Street, with Grosvenor Square and the US Consulate just a few minutes’ walk away.

As I write this paragraph, I am sat in the large blue-seated waiting room (“waiting hall” might be more appropriate nomenclature) with Number 9 stuck to my DS-160 form. There are 11 windows lining the right hand side of the room, so if everyone shows up to work on time I might not be here too long! Continue reading “Visas before Breakfast”

US vs UK: Sockets & Switches

Where Ed wonders why nobody is buying American if everybody is buying American.

There’s a lot of Nationalism floating around at the moment, in both America and the United Kingdom. I’ve stayed inoculated against the disease by avoiding the rightwing press and staying informed, but it’s a risky business.

One of the big topics that’s been beaten to death by both sides is how ‘imports’ are ruining our lives, how everything would be so much better if we just ‘bought American’ or ‘brought our skills back to England’. Now I’m not going to delve into the whole globalisation argument, but I did find that an odd thing for Trump to be banging on about, especially when everything in America is the same.

Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic, but hear me out.

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British Airways

When I started my job three and a half years ago, I defaulted to flying British Airways because other colleagues did. However after getting rapidly tired of being put on a creaky old 747 for the trip to Boston and back, I switched to Virgin with their nicer planes, better in-flight entertainment, and overall better quality of service.
I’ve not flown BA since this time last year, when I hopped over to Italy. On that occasion, we were delayed by 60 minutes whilst sat on the tarmac …

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