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life skills

th 31 Mar
world backup day

Life Skills No.44:  We've finally worked out how you get a bacon roll in Costa Coffee when you can't see it on the menu ... if there is one you pick it out of the display cabinet.  OK, you all knew that.

mo 14 Feb

Life Skills No. 43:  An OPEN sign that can't change to CLOSED is not to be trusted.

tu 18 Jan
Winnie the Pooh Day - AA Milne's birthday

Not the hard disc that wasn't deliveredLife Skills No.42:  Months back a £60 hard disc sent via a Royal Mail signed for service was delivered somewhere else than it's proper destination here.  The local post office was totally disinterested and the sender was getting pretty much the same response from the Royal Mail help line.  Adding the what3words to the address might have helped.

tu 4 Jan

Recycled bag 29pLife Skills No. 41:  In an East of England Co-op expected free exchange of a torn bag for life.  Later discovered we'd been charged 29p for recycling.  Seems bags for life are no longer immortal, luckily we have a nylon type bag with a cat motif that folds up dead small.

tu 12 Oct

Defibrillator at a college sports centreLife Skills No.40:  We're clearly a bit slow, we couldn't see how useful emergency equipment like a defibrillator is when it's locked behind a number pad.  What you do is dial 999 to get the code, though in our defence some cabinets don't make this clear.

tu 23 Mar
Life Skill 39
Temporary cable repairPC TipsLife Skills No.39: The first law of electronics is It's always the lead; the second law is the same as the first.  The cable bending where the strain relief ends (insert your own constipation joke) breaks the wire inside.  Tape tightly wrapped around the cable to stop the bending is a temporary fix until a replacement lead arrives which in time will also become unreliable where the strain relief ends ...
mo 4 Jan

Coins not accepted hereLife Skills No.38:  We expect you know it's a good idea to ask a service provider for a deal before renewing a contract?  What surprised us more after dickering with BT via online chat was not that it saved some £240 on the year but after doing the sums the deal worked out pretty much the same as Plusnet ...

fr 25 Sep

Vertical NS&I interest rates dropLife Skills No.37:  If you've have money in National Savings (prudent old you) at the end of October most interest rates are dropping to pretty much non-existent presumably in attempt to help pay for the coronavirus.

mo 21 Sep

Tooth-Fil Temporary Dental FillingLife Skills No.36:  Just after the lock down start we lost a filling.  Months of trying and eventually we got a dentist's appointment for November but the missing filling was feeling uncomfortable.  For £1 (it must be the last outstanding bargain in Western Europe) the Framlingham Chemists has a temporary filling paste for DIY fillings.  Put it in Tuesday and it's still there.

mo 22 Jun

13 amp socket with USB chargingOur grateful thanks to Tony Hutt for doing the sum we should have and calculating the standby cost of charging USBs on a 13amp socket is pence per year ... but then as our mother said (wagging her finger) when she got a £200 ex-gratia payment for slipping over sequence dancing It's not the money nearthecoast it's the principle.

mo 1 Jun

13 amp socket with USB chargingLife Skills No.35:  We were attracted by a short lived Screwfix offer on these 13amp sockets with USB charging, but you know how your USB charger gets warm even when nothing's connected?  That's because it's still consuming power and it's still going on your bill.  For these sockets it's less than 75mW but it is 24/7 so we gave it a miss.

we 22 Apr

The NHS AppLife Skills No.34:  To register on the NHS app you need photo id like a driving license or passport and be prepared to supply a video of yourself saying four numeric digits.  We registered over two days because after the initial registration the process got stuck and we completed the next day.

su 12 Apr
Easter Sunday

Dartford Crossing refundLife Skills No.33:  We do find it wearing how often you have to complain In the UK.  When the Dartford Crossing (a government website but seemingly a private business) tells you they are closing your account they don't offer to give your money back.  We got our £19.96 back but it took five emails and arrived as a handwritten cheque.  Now we need to get £29 (yes £29) parking back from the 02 in that there London for the cancelled Eric Church concert. ♫

mo 6 Apr

Life Skills No.32:  In the UK contactless card transactions begin in 2007 with a £10 limit.  Last Wednesday prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic the limit went up from £30 to £45 though it will take time for some retailers to catch up.

tu 17 Mar
St Patricks's Day

Tesco vouchersLife Skills No.31:  If you get absolutely soaked through, say photographing american football during Storm Ciara and your Tesco vouchers run so they won't scan there is a fix.  You can print them out online from your Tesco clubcard account, our grateful thanks to the very helpful woman at the checkout.

su 1 Mar
St David's Day

National Savings and InvestmentsLife Skills No.30:  Premium Bonds were introduced in 1956, you could buy a single one pound bond but had to wait six months for them to become lottery eligible.  In our recent memory the minimum buy was a £100, it went down to £50 recentlyish and last month reduced further to £25.

tu 4 Feb

nearthecoast on AlamyLife Skills No.29:  When in a shop run by posh people don't get your money out too soon, they'll keep you waiting before they take it ... it's something to do with the sordid nature of coin.

sa 28 Dec

How to make a silent 999 callLife Skills No.28:  It reflects how bureaucrats think that there are seven paragraphs to read on the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct) web page before it actually tells you how to make a silent 999 call ... here's how ... if prompted? ... you would hope that would be when prompted.  While we're in the area if you're deaf you can make a three nines call by text but you do need to register first.

th 12 Dec

Life Skills No.27:  We carried an organ donor card for over three decades until it disintegrated when accidently (who does it on purpose?) put through the washingOnline registration as an organ donor machine.  We've now registered as a donor online; comparatively straight forward, has a preferred name box, lots of gender options and if you select All (organs) you could help nine people or more.

fr 8 Nov

Life Skills No.26:  We first drank a Rombouts drip coffee at the charming Geffrye Museum in East London; it came with a matching cup and biscuit instantlyDouble coffee drippers besotting us.  As the popularity spread inexperienced staff (which seemed to be most of them) would overfill the dripper leaving the drinker to deal with an overflowing cup.  We bought our first drippers certainly for decades and found them sadly gutless, using two improved the situation a bit.

th 1 Aug

A postal order for people who don't have cheque booksLife Skills No.25: Postal Orders are cheques for people who don't have a cheque book.  We recently bought one for a friend ... not the friend with erectile dysfunction another friend.  We had to pay cash and we were a bit surprised that a £10 PO cost £11.25

mo 11 Mar

Life Skills No.24: Always staple a cheque to the paperwork.  We had a cheque that somehow at the Land Registry got separated from the application and suddenly we were dealing with two people, the person who had the application and the person who had the cheque ... not easy to sort out.

su 12 Jan

Private Passions presenter Michael Berkeley - pic contributedLife Skills No.23: If you enjoy hearing Desert Island Discs Sunday mornings you might like its slightly posher cousin Private Passions which follows on Radio 3.  The chosen music often has a wider range and presenter Michael Berkeley's musical knowledge and resonant voice add a further dimension ... just saying.

sa 6 Oct

nearthecoast on AlamyLife Skills No.22: We've noticed increasingly people see small change as an annoyance, especially non-drivers who don't need it for parking.  If so then next time you are in a supermarket with self-service checkouts use one, put all your change in and pay the balance with a card.  (Thanks to Big Al for this one.)

sa 8 Sep

Life Skills No.21: Fisher's Law:  If it works today there's no guarantee it will tomorrow ... get used to it.

th 5 Jul

Life Skills No.20: WD40 effectively helped remove a particularly determined sticky label and didn't affect the clear plastic underneath ... useful to know.

su 4 Mar

Tesco discount voucherLife Skills No.19: Just before Christmas we spent just over a qualifying £90 in the Saxmundham Tesco but had left the £9 discount voucher at home.  Just in case three days later on the way to see It's A Wonderful Life inbloody Christmas ... eh? Aldeburgh we went to customer services who checked the voucher was still in date and then gave us nine quid in cash!

th 25 Jan
Burns Night

Life Skills No.18: Transport for London made it clear that our quality of life would be similar to that there Ed Sheraton's if we had a free second generation Oyster card so we ordered one.  It arrived and on line we tried to transfer credit from old to new card but though we hadn't set up a password on the new card the software was convinced there was a password soSecond generation Oyster card we set one up, 48 hour wait for it to update.  Having managed to move £1.79 from old to new Oyster card we then credited the new card online for five pounds but for the credit to complete we had to use the card within three days, not much use.  Something then revealed that an Oyster card is no cheaper than a contactless debit card and a debit card can be registered with TfL so you still receive your use reports ... life eh?

th 14 Dec

Tesco discount voucherLife Skills No.17: Those Tesco discount off a big shop vouchers have a start as well as an end date, caught us out at the big Tescos in Bury St Edmunds.

su 20 Aug

BP logoLife Skills No.16: When giving your pump number to a petrol station cashier it might help to gesture towards or look at the pump in the hope that you won't be charged for somebody else's fuel like we did on the A14 a while back.  Yesterday at the same station when we told the female cashier that the gent's toilet stalls were about to overflow we got Mmm ... lovely.

we 5 Apr

The long defunct farthing, on quarter of an old pennyLife Skills No.14: Before closing a credit card account with a monthly direct debit cancel the direct debit first like we did our MBNA card, despite having zero balance MBNA is complaining it can't take the £25 direct debit.

mo 9 Jan

Life Skills No.13: When sending us a press release not for publication best to point out it's not for publication ... alternatively don't bother sending in the first friggin' place.

th 13 Oct

TSB tv advertLife Skills No.12: When opening a bank account online, say hypothetically a TSB cash ISA, check how you can get your money out again, you may be told you have to visit a branch and the nearest TSBs to near the coast are Stowmarket and Ipswich ... we do like the tv ad with the little dog though.

tu 14 Jun

Fire hydrant in an unmade roadLife Skills No.11:  Unless you live in the countryside there will be one of these near your house though the yellow paint will be long gone.  It's a fire hydrant.  When the fire engine's water tanks run out as the brigade try to put your house fire out they get more water from the hydrant.  If your fire hydrant is in an unmade road not a good idea to bury the hydrant when you're filling in the potholes.

th 31 mr 16
world backup day

The M25 doesn't changeLife Skills No.10:  Don't travel on a bank holiday, definitely don't travel on a bank holiday that's a nice sunny day and absolutely absolutely don't travel on a bank holiday that's a nice sunny day and the forecast says it'll be the only nice day of the weekend.  (Our journey last Good Friday took over eight hours rather than the usual four.)

tu 1 Mar
St David's Day

Spices in gherkin jarsLife Skills No.9:  Supermarkets that have a world food section (the Norwich Hartford Bridge Tesco has Nigerian 6% Guinness!) may have those large cellophane bags of ground spices at a pro rata one fifth the price of Schwartz refills.  We decant them into large one time gherkin jars and even then the jars aren't big enough.  Couldn't see any large bags in the Martlesham Tesco today but not surprisingly the Hackney Tesco does stock them.

mo 23 Nov

Life Skills No.8:  Proving identity can be difficult especially if it's your elderly mum in a care home and oddly enough she doesn't hold a firearms license.  Web printed statements from paperless utility accounts won't satisfy Barclays but surprisingly although a lot more than a few months old a council tax bill will.

tu 1 Sep

Life Skills No.7:  From today the maximum you can spend on a contactless tap and go card increases from £20 to £30 so now you can probably use it to buy lunch in Pret A Manger ... whatever that is!

su 21 Jun
Summer Solstice - the longest dayFather's Day - pic contributed by R Magritte

Halesworth phone boxLife Skills No.6:  When did you last make a call from a pay phone box?  (Yes, they do still exist, this one's near Halesworth station.)  We think our last time was ten years ago in Epping High Street and we put a pound coin in to be safe, nowadays it's a bit more complicated.

mo 26 Jan
Australia Day

Life Skills No.5:  If you find yourself in Long Stratton on a Sunday after 4pm the big Co-op is shut but the little one on the corner opposite the Shell/Lotus garage is open.  This knowledge is particularly valuable if you're travelling back to near the coast and haven't realised the new Spar in Stradbroke will be open.

UPDATE: The little corner Co-op is now an undertakers.

sa 25 Oct

Centre punch a scissors' screwLife Skills No.4:  Scissors with a screw that keeps loosening tighten the screw, turn the scissors over and centre punch the end of the screw so it expands just a little.

fr 3 Oct

Marmite jar on its sideLife Skills No.3:  Those large jars of Marmite which seem to be the default these days have flats on the sides.  No doubt something to do with how they pack in a box but it has the unintended consequence that you can put the jar on its side, leave for while and get the last couple of spreadings out a bit more easily.

sa 17 May

Life Skills 2:Life Skills No.2:  If going out (especially if going out out) and wine is likely to be taken don't wear your new glasses ... or when painting a ceiling.

tu 18 Mar

recorded deliveryLife Skills No.1:  When sending a letter (a letter not an email) to a big organisation use recorded (or special) delivery not because it's more likely to get there but because big organisations use the Royal Mail barcode to log the letter's arrival, without it they'll have no record the letter arrived.

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