Friday, 24 March 2006


Capital One

Capital One sent a credit card bill to the wrong address thus meaning I got charged for not making the payment because I didn't get the bill. When I phoned to tell them to take off the charges that resulted from their error they offered to take off some of the charges, not all, as a "goodwill gesture". I'm going to write to Richard D Fairbanks, the CEO of Capital One telling him exactly what I think of his "goodwill gesture", I'm thinking of charging him £20 to write the letter.

Moving swiftly on

A wise man once said "it's grim up north" and so, with a little trepidation and a lot of the symptoms of a rather bad cold I shuffled onto the train to Birmingham on Saturday morning. There is a school of thought that says Birmingham is in the Midlands, the argument they forward is based on the quack science of Geography and thus is not worth listening to. I was brought up in Somerset and I can tell you that the civilised world ends at Bristol, well quiet a bit south of Bristol if you must know but anywhere past Bristol needs to be treated with suspicion. Birmingham is way past Bristol and whilst I was looking forward to seeing all the whippets and Eskimos I was more than a little concerned, I took sandwiches.

My first impression of Birmingham, other than the funny accent, was good, the beer at the bar at the train station at the NEC was £1.49 a go, not that I had any but it was good to see anyway. You are lucky to find beer for less than £3 in London so instantly I was twice as rich, well half as skint really but I'm a bit of an optimist. The reason for my venturing off into the Northern Tundra was to pay a visit to the Outdoors Show at which I was giving a talk on Sunday afternoon. I was very nervous about this and had decided that the best way to avoid the worry was to pretend that it wasn't happening. One of the main reasons for being nervous was all the other people that were speaking; they were all like proper real grown up people who have actually done stuff. It was Rob who pointed this out to me, Rob is good like that, he said "those people have all done stuff, what have you done other than camp out in the garden for a bit?"

The outdoors show was great, I spent my time visiting the suppliers of all the bits of kit that I carry about with me and doing a bit of networking, a well worth while place to go. Then it shut for the night and there I was in the middle of Birmingham, an area not that well known for its high forest density but there was some suitable looking scrub land in which a ditch monkey could stay. After a couple of hours in a hotel bar having some food, writing my talk and discovering the beer cost at least as much as it does in London (back to being just as skint) I went to crash out. It was noticeably warmer than it had been for a very long time and I was soon comfortably lying down ready for sleep. You can imagine my delight when about an hour later I discovered that there were some warehouses about 100 meters from me when they started loading and unloading Lorries. After two hours of listening to boxes being dropped, glass smashed, metal poles thrown, and all manner of other bangs and crashes I'd actually had enough! So I went to get a room at the Hilton. No this isn't cheating, as regular readers (may they recover soon) will know I treat the woods simply as my home, I don't live in the woods 365. I act as I normally would but just happen to live in the woods. So if I stay out in London until 4am I'm likely to crash on a sofa rather than head all the way back to Oxford, that's what I would do if I lived in a house out where I live. Realistically then if I and stayed in Birmingham for a night I would have stayed in a hotel. I would have thought staying in a hotel would have been easy, it took about 20 minutes to get a room and when I got there it was so hot I had to turn the radiator off and open the window. There it was though, a bed, the first bed I've had to sleep on since I had bronchitis and I was looking forward to it. I had been looking forward to sleeping in a bed for a very long time so it was quiet a disappointment to discover that it was too soft and I couldn't sleep on it. I ended up sleeping on the floor.


steph said...

Can't wait to sleep out on june 21st,we've got some nice parks here in Cambridge; but are you sure that will be your last night? Sounds like you can't sleep inside even if you want to! Is a cup of tea nicer in the Hilton or in the woods? I think I know where it will be more appreciated.

Lexa said...

yes Brum is fun, and I find people are usually a lot more friendly than in London! I miss my home town from time to time - the accent is just so funny too.

BTW this might help you get down those late night country lanes

off to sit by the pool now!

sunshineonarainyday said...

still read your blog daily and am rooting for you. You're doing an amazing thing. Spring will be lovely compared to your cold winters and the evnings are getting longer from tommorrow - hooray! whats your plans for after its over? Where will you live?

Hugh Sawyer said...

there was something very nice about having a cup of tea from a tea pot whilst sat at a table. Eating breakfast whilst sat at a table rather than on the floor / at my desk at work was also good.

I am kinda looking forward to the 22nd, if nothing else I will gain two hours a day due to not having to travel so far everyday, the idea is to move back to London for a bit and write up all my notes and blog entries into a coherent structure.

Lexa, you go sit by the pool but don't get bitten my any mosquitos or tigers. It would be a shame.