Moving preparations

The estate agent came round yesterday and took some photographs – fortunately as they sold the house last time and I haven’t done any internal structural work they can re-use the floor plans and measurements, which saves a lot of time. They picked up a few minor issues which might put off some sellers, but these are all small jobs which hopefully should be fixed in the next few weeks.

Expecting the house to go on the market early next week, with any luck viewings will commence by the last week in July.

posted by Paul at 9:22am on Wednesday 10th July 2013 | Comments Off on Moving preparations

Moving back to Manchester?

I’m feeling a bit stuck where I am at the moment, and considering moving back to Manchester. Initially I thought buying a house in Bury would be the right move, but I’m having to spend the equivalent (and more) of a service charge on jobs such as new boiler, new garage roof etc. The property is also just too big for me—I don’t even use two of the rooms—and keeping on top of the two gardens is a bit much (I like gardening, but not the amount which is required to keep everything ship-shape). Location isn’t a problem most of the time, but in the evenings I often end up waiting for a bus or walking from Bury to my house (about 25 minutes—fine in summer but less so in winter).

The advantages of moving back to Manchester would be proximity to social activities (I’d be able to stay for a drink after meetings), reduced maintenance work (I’d probably buy a flat in the city centre or Didsbury) and access to a wider job market (Bury is too far out to commute to places like Stockport or Liverpool).

Disadvantages are the hassle and cost of moving, being a bit further from family, and having a smaller living space. The hassle of moving doesn’t bother me too much as I’m used to it, and the bulk of my possessions are books which can be boxed up in advance and moved to my parents’ house for a short time. Cost is a nuisance, but the interest saved by overpaying on my mortgage would absorb a large chunk of that. Distance would mean I couldn’t pop round to my grandparents’ for a cup of tea on a whim, but getting to Bury and back in a morning is easily achievable.

If I moved back and continued to work from ‘home’, I’d actually find a cheap office in the city centre and use that instead. It would cost a bit of money, but would allow me a wider choice of lunch venues and mean that I would already be in the city centre when it came to evening meetings. It would also create a distinction between home and work which I think is a good thing.

I’m currently pondering whether to put the house on the market as-is, and accept that I might not get as much as I’d hope and selling might take a while, or pay for pieces of work to be done in the hope that this will up the selling price by at least the cost of the work. House prices appear not to have moved much since I bought, and a new owner would have fewer jobs than I did.

posted by Paul at 1:55pm on Friday 28th June 2013 | Comments Off on Moving back to Manchester?

June geek socials

Below are the geek socials which I’m currently organising for June. They are open to all, and booking is only required for OtherCuisineBeer.

Saturday 1st June: Trip to Bletchley Park. Meet at 9am at Manchester Piccadilly, full travel arrangements can be found in the mailing list archive.

Friday 7th June: Currybeer – meet from 7pm at Hardy’s Well, we set off for curry by 8pm.

Friday 21st June: OtherCuisineBeer – cuisine to be decided. Meal starts at 7pm and is usually at a city centre location.

TBC Saturday: Geek Walks trip to Jodrell Bank, followed by pub lunch. Vote in the Doodle poll to help decide the date.

posted by Paul at 3:10pm on Monday 27th May 2013 | Comments Off on June geek socials

May Geek Walk – Uppermill

For anyone who reads my blog but hasn’t subscribed to the mailing list, the next Geek Walk will be on Saturday 25th May. We’ll be heading back to Uppermill for a walk, followed by lunch in The Church Inn.

Meeting point/time is 11:15 next to the self-service ticket machines at Manchester Victoria. When buying a ticket, the nearest stop to Uppermill is Greenfield (Uppermill station closed in 1917). We should be back just before 16:20. Hope to see you there!

posted by Paul at 10:12pm on Saturday 11th May 2013 | Comments Off on May Geek Walk – Uppermill

Politics and law

Several people have recently asked me why I’m not a Liberal Democrat, or to join the party, or just assumed that I’ve been a member for years. In fact, I’ve not been a member of any party since my first year at university, and I’ve never even actively campaigned for the Lib Dems. I have considered getting back into politics though, although I have ruled out being a councillor – the allowance is too low to cover my monthly costs – and life as an MP doesn’t particularly appeal either. I’d much rather operate behind the scenes, more advisor/strategist than front line politician or spin-doctor. The thing I find most frustrating is the stigma involved with being a member of a political party – it was particularly bad as a Conservative (EVIL TORY) and people I know in other parties seem to get it in the neck quite often as well.

The other avenue I have been investigating recently is the prospect of taking the Graduate Diploma in Law at MMU. This is effectively a conversion course which puts you in the same position as having completed a law degree. From what I can remember, you do the GDL, then the Legal Practice Course, and then join a law firm as a trainee and work your way up the ranks. For me, the safest option is do the GDL part time in the evenings, as that minimises the cost and means I don’t have to give up my job. The concept of becoming a solicitor specialising in company, insurance or technology law (the first two I have become familiar with through my job and voluntary organisations) is especially appealing, though my main concern is how long it would take to get there. There’s an open day at MMU next week, so I’m planning to attend that and get a bit more information, plus act on helpful tips from a long discussion with Richard (who works for a law firm, though not as a solicitor) after last week’s Currybeer to see what career opportunities are available for older entrants without a law degree.

posted by Paul at 10:27pm on Monday 6th May 2013 | Comments Off on Politics and law

Life update

Primarily for the benefit of people who I still keep in touch with but don’t see in person very often…

All the urgent jobs on my house are complete, including the unexpected expense of having to replace the garage roof when it started to break up (the original installers did a shoddy job, using straw instead of boards). The house still needs a rewire and a new kitchen, but I suspect it will be the end of the year before I can afford the latter.

Job-wise, things are very quiet. I’ve now reached the stage where I have virtually nothing left to do, as all the major programming projects have been completed.

More than anything, I feel that I’m just coasting along, and I’m not sure where to go next. I think I’ve reached the maximum of what I can earn as a developer in Manchester, but I have little commercial management experience to push me up onto the next level (most of my experience in that area is from the voluntary sector). At the moment I’m looking for things to do in my free day (usually Wednesday). So far I’ve had little success with the charities in Bury – either I don’t hear back or I find that there’s a huge personal liability involved (e.g. organisations which own properties and employ staff without incorporating).

posted by Paul at 11:28am on Wednesday 10th April 2013 | Comments Off on Life update

April Geek Walk

For anyone who reads my blog but hasn’t subscribed to the mailing list, the next Geek Walk will be on Saturday 13th April. We’ll be heading back to Entwistle – the location of the first walk nearly a year ago – for a walk round the reservoirs, followed by lunch in the excellent Strawberry Duck pub.

Meeting point/time is 10:45 next to the self-service ticket machines at Manchester Victoria. We should be back just before 16:00. Hope to see you there!

posted by Paul at 1:00pm on Sunday 7th April 2013 | Comments Off on April Geek Walk

Manchester Geek Socials

Last night Kirk reminded me on MSN that I hadn’t updated my blog for a long time – certainly not as often as I used to whilst at university. This is largely because not much has happened in the past few years, but I felt this was an opportunity to remind people of the geek socials I run for the residents of Manchester on a regular basis. If you want to meet new people and enjoy food with fellow geeks, please do come along to one or more of the events – they are open to all.

Currybeer runs twice a month. On the first Friday, we go to Hardy’s Well pub in Rusholme for some drinks, followed by curry. On the third Friday, we pick a different cuisine (using the ‘one man, one vote’ system of Ankh-Morpork) and go for a slightly more expensive meal out. There’s usually 10-15 people at the curry events, and 6-10 at the alternative cuisine.

Geek Walks are a monthly event on Saturdays which involve a train journey to a destination within one hour of Manchester where there are places to walk and decent pub lunches. The walks are more akin to gentle strolls, and tend to last 40-60 minutes. It’s a great way to get a bit of exercise and fresh air whilst talking tech (or trains, photography etc.). There’s usually 6-8 people on each walk, and you’re welcome to meet us at the pub instead.

Bletchley Park trips are organised once a year, usually around June/July. We all go down on a Saturday – I try and group people into cars where possible and the rest of us arrive by train. There’s a guided tour and then we break off into smaller groups to wander around the grounds and fixed exhibits.

If you’re worried about being deluged with emails, I can promise that Currybeer gets approximately one email a week, Geek Walks has two to three a month and Bletchley Park two to three a year. I’m the only person who can post to the mailing lists, so there’s no long discussion threads or people saying ‘please unsubscribe me!’.

posted by Paul at 8:26pm on Friday 8th March 2013 | Comments Off on Manchester Geek Socials

Another book clear out

I’m having another clear out of my bookcases to free up some space and have the following books free to a good home (all in excellent condition and paperbacks unless otherwise indicated):

As with previous clearances, I’d prefer to give the books to people who will be able to take them off my hands in person.

Post a comment or drop me an email if you want to claim anything. Anything unclaimed by Wednesday 9th January (though you don’t have to have collected it by then) will get donated to Madlab or a charity shop.

posted by Paul at 8:34pm on Sunday 30th December 2012 | 2 Comments »

Geek Walk Liverpool

For anyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter or subscribe to the mailing list, the next Geek Walk event will be on Saturday 10th November. We’ll be meeting outside Manchester Oxford Road station at 10:25 to catch the train to Liverpool, where we will have an urban walk (with the option to dash inside should the weather turn against us), a pub lunch and a trip to the Tate Liverpool.

The event is open to everyone, if you’d like to join us there is a Facebook event or you can just turn up on the day.

The December walk will probably involve a trip to the Pioneers Museum in Rochdale, followed by lunch at The Baum pub—the meeting place for the local CAMRA group so guaranteed to have some good beers on tap.

posted by Paul at 9:04pm on Saturday 27th October 2012 | Comments Off on Geek Walk Liverpool