Thursday, February 21, 2008

As time goes by...

I'm slightly at a loss with what to call this... let's see if I get inspired.

I forgot to say something on week 1: for one of the first times I got a "benefit" for being a woman. Meaning: while I was preparing myself psychologically to get additional 2 kg of laptop by changing my Dell latitude 410 by a 600 and something, and I get the 430 - even lighter than my old one. Explanation of the IT guy: well, as a default we give the lighter version to ladies, since more than once we have had to change the laptops after a few days because it is just too heavy. Well, my back thanks the chivalry! :-P

Week 2 brought one of the most hated activities of moving in: house hunting. No way around it, I really don't like it - as much as I want to find a place to call my own and have my stuff around me (I'm almost out of books to read... and all those little trinkets that fill up all the available shelves and drawers and God knows what else actually have a purpose every now and then). Diane (the real estate agent, or one of my baby sitters) is quite nice and I think she got the feeling of what I'm looking for. We go for a walking trip (pity that she hasn't told me in advance, flat shoes would have been more appropriate... especially after 3 hrs!). A few problems, though: rents are incredibly expensive for the space you get. 575 GBP / week for 65 sq mtrs??? And the problem is that it is hard to get bigger apartments, even for higher budgets. I wonder how the bed is going to fit. Is it going to fit???? Easier to find furnished apartments, what is not what I'm looking for. And, biggest of all issues, I have to make my mind of where I want to live, which can be a bit difficult without really knowing the city...

Hummm... By the end of the day, my energy is drained and I'm reasonably down... Nothing that a good night's sleep and some reflexion doesn't solve. However, someone should explain current boss that I'm quite bad with mornings generically and that some days I just wake up on the wrong side of the bed - in which case, just leave me to it and I'll get over it, sooner or later. He was actually worried??!! Past boss didn't do a proper handover :-P

Anyway, after agreeing that we would look a bit around before trying to close down the housing issue (after all, i't has been less than 2 weeks!), things move on...

A bit of mom's wisdom in the process: when it comes to yourself, you hate choices. And she is right!

Thursday is pay day and also disappointment day with English banking. I finally get money in my bank account but I still don't have a pin to the debit card. Solution: go to the branch and withdraw money at the cashier. What????? I haven't done that in YEARS! Not in the Netherlands, not in Switzerland and in Portugal the last time that I had something to do with cash at a branch, was because I had to deposit something and the ATM was not working. In addition, the same system that forces me to use my two surnames because "that's what's in your passport", also messes it up for misspelling these surnames and merging them into one - reason for which the credit card got lost, was retrieved but too late and now needs to be re-issued - hopefully with the correct name this time. Bureaucracy? On the phone with the Credit Card Services and I ask to change an address that they changed without asking. No, we can't. Call your branch and have them call us with the changes. ??????????? Cherry on top of the whipped cream: I go to net banking and I cannot find the international transfers, so I call the help desk. Oh, there's no such thing. If you want to do an international transfer you have to go to the branch. OK, if I am a complicated person that's my own fault, I know. It's nobody else's fault (except probably the tax departments in Netherlands and Switzerland and the Unilever Company in Switzerland, all of whom have some pending issues with my finances). However, I do need to move money around and I don't really fancy 1 trip a month to nice NatWest New Bridge Street branch to fill in 2 or 3 forms..., between 9 and 5. Either is is solvable via the phone banking or soon I will be looking for another bank, with internet banking options as main criteria...

Now, I assume this sounds as an odd thing, a peculiarity for most normal people... but it is a peculiarity that CGD, Santander (Portugal), ABN AMRO (Netherlands) and UBS (Switzerland) all cater for - and these are the ones I know.

In the meanwhile, I get more proof about the country's obsession with food: there's a chef programme every night! Today I even zapped through two simultaneously - one of them being Jamie's at Home and may all of Jamie's fans forgive me (and him as well) but he must be half crazy... Either that or there is a new form of Red Bull made of Olive Oil and raw Peas and Broad Beans :-P Lovely!

One day to go until weekend... I should be working, there are some lovely Excel files waiting to be properly completed :-P


PS: found a title, at last... ;-) and if you got this far, you must be very patient!

PS2: talk about clouds with silver lining: little Tamas was born this morning in Hungary to a proud and healthy mom that less than one year ago was facing a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Shouldn't that be more than enough to put a smile in my face? It is! :-D

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