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Posts posted by acidreign

  1. Wonder does HPC count in the findings? :lol:

    When does a harmless hobby become a weird and irresistible compulsion? Sophie Hannah describes crossing the line

    It's 1.54am. My husband is asleep. I closed my eyes and pretended to be, and then, as soon as he started to snore, I tiptoed out of bed to pursue my secret hobby. This happens maybe three out of every seven nights. Will I confess in the morning? Probably not. I did once, and he called me a weirdo.

    Actually, my hobby is a full-on addiction. If that sounds dangerous, it isn't. Not physically dangerous, anyway – my liver, lungs and skin are unharmed by it, though God only knows what it's doing to my psyche.

    The loneliness is the worst part: I have an addiction for which there is no 12-step recovery programme, no support group, no celebrity sufferers known to have come out on the other side.

    It's embarrassing, too – not because there are naughty body parts involved but because it's eccentric to the point of being hilarious, to everyone but the sufferer (since it's so eccentric, I suppose that, by 'the sufferer', I mean none other than my crazed self).

    You watch, I'm about to confess, and nobody will feel sorry for me.

    I'm addicted to property websites. Rightmove in particular – visually, it's the one I find most appealing. I spend a minimum of an hour a day looking at houses I have no intention of buying. Sometimes, if I'm stressed, it's more like three hours. I know by heart the floorplan of every house for sale in Cambridgeshire at the moment.

    How many people can say that, truthfully? Farmhouse or town house, show me the RICS diagram and I can tell you the address. I'm also pretty au fait with all the homes for sale in Norfolk, Suffolk and Northamptonshire. And Rutland, let's not forget Rutland, even though it's small. And tonight, for the first time, I investigated Devon, Cornwall and Dorset.

    At a certain point my eyelids start to droop, and one kitchen island starts to look much like another. Do I log off at that point? No. Never. If I stop I'll fall prey to that awful hollow feeling I'm so scared of. I know I need to stop eventually, but it has to be in the right way – when I'm ready.

    I say to myself, 'Just one more. Just a quick shufti at this Tudor manor house in Worlingworth and then I'll quit, change, pull myself together. Just one more PDF brochure, for old time's sake, for the road – the one on Street View with the farmland on one side and the interwar semis on the other …'

    It's worth repeating that I have no intention of buying a house at the moment. I actually bought a house last year, which is how I got sucked into this iniquitous habit. The trouble is, when I start to look on Rightmove it's a bit like those magic lands at the top of Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree.

    Different rules suddenly apply. Do I want to buy a house? Am I sure I don't? Actually, why not? A holiday home in Shropshire – ooh, look a converted barn. What a brilliant idea! Look, all I have to do is click here and I can request the details.

    I fill in the online form and press send. Two minutes later an enthusiastic woman rings and asks if I have a property to sell. No, I tell her – all I want (because I don't ask for much from life) is a bolt-hole in the Cotswolds, something with a paddock and stables. (In my magic Rightmove land I am someone who knows what to do with a paddock, and could, theoretically, ask someone where one buys horses and whether they can live mainly on takeaway Indian food.)

    Yesterday I spoke to my accountant on the phone. I asked him if I could afford to buy an architect-designed riverfront eco-home complete with mooring for the boat I neither have nor want (I could always try to start wanting a boat if not wanting one becomes too inconvenient).

    He confessed he'd had no idea I wanted a second home. I don't, I told him – I just want to buy one. Once I've bought it I won't want it any more, obviously, because then it will be part of my real life. It would be crazy to buy it – and by 'it' I mean the Stour Valley longhouse I'm viewing next Tuesday.

    I'll stop myself in time. I'm almost sure I will.

    Lasting Damage, by Sophie Hannah, is published by Hodder & Stoughton at £12.99

    Ahh the penny drops, just a shameless plug :angry:

    Edit to add link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/8369047/Confessions-of-a-property-website-addict.html

  2. Latest:


    More on that press conference from Japan's nuclear safety commmittee on the No.3 reactor at Fukushima:

    - Water level has been increased, temperature lowered within the reactor

    - Trouble occurred with the pump so they switched the water source to sea water

    - This injection of sea water was unstable in the beginning, which initially caused the water level to be lowered significantly, but was eventually raised after a thorough investigation

    - A high level of hydrogen was generated when the core of the reactor was not fully cooled down

    - The hydrogen level is being monitored at the upper level of the reactor so it could be likely that hydrogen is being stored there

    - Measures are being taken to prevent No.3 reactor from exploding

    Taken from http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/asia/japans-twin-disasters-march-13-live-blog

  3. A good chance to pimp my own thread at this point which seemed to have gone down like a lead balloon (or the equivalent Q4 2010 GDP figures)


    And here's an 'unexpected' use of the word 'unexpectedly' from yesterday. No nothing of the source, mind you.


  4. Britain's construction activity shrank in December as the snow disrupted business, marking an end to nine months of growth and disappointing hopes the sector could stay in recovery mode.

    Growth in the building industry had been slowing even before the bad weather hit, creating conditions that made outdoor work extremely difficult.

    However, the deterioration month-on-month in the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index (PMI), was worse than expected at 49.1 – where any figure below 50 indicates contraction.

    Economists had expected the sector’s to slow from November’s modest 51.8 but to stay in growth territory, with the consensus forecast for a reading of 50.9.

    Jeremy Cook, chief economist at currency exchange broker World First, said: “This isn’t really a surprise after the ‘snow-apocalypse’ which we experienced last month - coupled with the typical Christmas slowdown. However it is still a cause for concern.

    “Construction spending has formed a significant part of the strong GDP figures we have seen recently, and it sets the UK up for a slip in the fourth quarter figures.”

    The sector, although only accounting for a little over 6pc of GDP, helped drive the UK’s strong economic growth in recent months.

    The building industry accounted for 0.4 of a percentage point of the second quarter’s 1.1pc expansion and another 0.2 percentage point of the overall 0.7pc growth seen in the third.

    Since that rapid expansion, which came as the sector recovered from the deep contraction experienced during the recession, construction has been in slowdown.

    The latest PMI showed a small rise in the number of new orders, which was taken as confirmation that the bad weather was to blame for the dampened levels of current activity.

    However, there were also signs of continued underlying problems.

    Employment fell sharply as companies kept cutting jobs, at an accelerating rate, and confidence about future business prospects stayed relatively weak.

    Of the three sub-sectors, only commercial construction saw activity increase in December, and it was at the slowest rate in the last 10 months.

    Civil engineering and house building both shrank, with residential construction falling at the fastest rate since April 2009, indicating the knock-on effects of a stagnant housing market.

    Businesses will be hoping they will enjoy a “catch-up” effect when the thaw sets in, as they did following the last harsh winter.

    However, conditions look more challenging this time around, as government cutbacks hit spending on public building.

    The disappointing performance was in marked contrast to the recent manufacturing PMI, which showed the sector had its strongest performance for 16 years in December, as exports drove new orders.


    Tough winter so far and that is a serious drop in numbers when comparing the GDP influence that construction has :ph34r:

  5. Seen this on todays Belfast Telegraph website and just had to have a nosey:


    I didn't realise there were so many huge mansions back home. Obviously huge price tags to go with them.

    Really like 3, 9 & 13 - I could see myself living in any of those :lol: But favourite has to be 50.

    Don't know how 38 (energy efficient?) nor 49 (location?) made the list.

  6. Has been discussed before so everyone is well aware.

    Personally speaking it is near to disgusting but I've worked on one of his jobs on the Jamnagar Refinery so really can't complain too much.

    Paid the mortgage! Or that is what I would have said if I owned... ;)

  7. There was a very similar article written plus posted here about 6 months ago IIRC.

    It's a sad state of affairs but seems to bear alot of truth.

    I am in my early 30's and have been away from good auld Ulster for 6 out of the past 10 years. So thankfully I didn't get caught up into the buying mania that swept over the North & South, then the burst that has ensued.

    I have friends at home still working (in various industries) however in Construction, it has apparently been a series of paycuts and no long term security for the last couple of years. None of them in that field expect it to get any better, anytime soon.

    Think I have been very fortunate to up sticks and leave when I did. Would love to return home again someday but between family and friends telling me how bad it is there, I don't think there is any point for a few years yet...

    We shall see how it all pans out.

  8. The currency fight not over yet, it seems:

    US and China to clash over yuan fall

    China is on a collision course with Washington after steering its currency sharply lower to protect its export industries, despite a near record trade surplus of $29bn (£19bn) in July.

    The yuan dropped at the fastest pace in almost two years last week and is now 1.8pc lower against a basket of currencies than in June, when Beijing announced the end to its fixed peg against the dollar.

    Western economists had seen yuan liberalisation as a sign that China is abandoning its mercantilist policy in a step-by-step move towards a floating currency, which was expected to rise. They misjudged China's motives badly.

    Beijing still controls the yuan, so last week's drop reflects a policy decision. It is certain to infuriate hawks in Congress, who have called a hearing on China's currency in mid-September.

    Sander Levin, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the US may have to consider retaliatory sanctions. "We must ensure that the international trading system ensures fair rules of competition. There is no real question that China's deliberately undervalued exchange rate is unfair, contributes to global trade imbalances, and costs the US jobs," he said.

    Many on Capitol Hill suspect that China fiddled trade data with a "one-off" deficit in March when the Obama administration was preparing its verdict on whether Beijing is a currency manipulator.

    The fact that China is willing to defy the wrath of Congress may indicate the degree of concern in Beijing over the sudden slowdown in the Chinese economy as credit curbs bring the property boom to a shuddering halt. Industrial output has slowed abruptly.

    Jim O'Neill, chief global economist at Goldman Sachs, said China's exchange policy was becoming a concern. He described its as "most odd" for Beijing to weaken the yuan at a time when US data has been weak and China's trade surplus has reached the highest in 18 months.

    "It is not a great week for those of us who believe the big era of US-Chinese global imbalances is behind us."

    Tension between the US and China is escalating on several fronts. China has restricted exports of rare earth minerals by more than 70pc in the second half of this year, cutting off the world supply. China produces 97pc of these minerals, used in a wide range of high-tech industries, from hybrid engines to computers, mobile phones, radar, navigation and precision-guided weapons.

    The US is to conduct naval manoeuvres with Vietnam in the South China Sea in response to live fire exercises by China, which has stepped up its claims to total sovereignty over a region disputed by a ring of countries. The US is also conducting manoeuvres with South Korea, prompting accusations of "gunboat diplomacy" in the Chinese media.

    Lots of comments at the link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/currency/7947089/US-and-China-to-clash-over-yuan-fall.html

  9. Home repossession orders down 29 percent year-on-year

    (Reuters) - Courts in England and Wales made 29 percent fewer mortgage repossession orders between April and June this year than a year ago, the Ministry of Justice said on Thursday.

    There were 13,389 orders for home repossession according to seasonally-adjusted second-quarter data, down from 18,813 a year ago and 7 percent fewer than the 14,385 orders made between January and March.

    However, 46 percent of the orders were suspended, the same proportion as in the previous quarter, meaning the total number of actual home repossessions is likely to be lower.

    Only 9,800 properties were actually repossessed in the first quarter of 2010, the last period for which data is available.

    Low interest rates for existing home owners and the absence of a big surge in unemployment to date have meant there has been far less of a surge in repossessions to date than in the aftermath of Britain's previous recession in the early 1990s.

    (Reporting by David Milliken)


    And what has been suspended will be the water first through the cracked dam...

  10. The first article I've found regarding repos in NI:

    More than 1,800 Northern Ireland properties repossessed

    More than 1,800 properties were repossessed in Northern Ireland in the last year, it has been revealed.

    The number of people ordered to surrender their keys after defaulting on mortgage payments emerged after figures showed that more than 80,000 householders and almost 19,000 business owners failed to pay their rates in 2009/10.

    The total owned in rate arrears at the end of the last financial year in March was a record high £157 million - nearly two thirds of which was owned by the business sector.

    In the same period, 3,658 writs or summons for repossession were issued, according to the NI Court Service. Of those cases, 1,804 resulted in possession orders being made.

    The rate arrears figures, which were released by the Land and Property Services (LPS), highlighted the major impact the recession is having on local businesses.

    John Wilkinson, Chief Executive of LPS said: "The length of the current recession has put financial strain on a number of local businesses and this has been clearly shown by the growth in rating debt in this sector.

    "Despite an increase in the rates collected by LPS, difficulties for local businesses has led to a growth in the figure of uncollected rates.

    "The figure of uncollected debt stood at £157 million at 31 March 2010, but over £30 million of this has been collected in the last three months. The fact that nearly two thirds of the end-of-year figure relates to non-domestic customers is a cause of concern. This proportion has grown over the past year."

    Mr Wilkinson appealed for businesses to contact LPS, if they were in difficulties, to discuss payment options.

    Despite the level of arrears, last year saw a record level of rates collected in Northern Ireland - £961 million.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/uk-ireland/more-than-1800-northern-ireland--properties--repossessed-14887090.html#ixzz0uVEiRX3C

  11. Brighton have a variation on the "no change given" parking meters. Lets say parking is free from 6 pm until 8 am. You arrive at the meter at 5:40 pm and put in the minimum £1 for a one hour stay--no change given. They extend your time to 8:40 am the next day. Utterly useless to the driver but it appears Brighton are getting ready to defend some law suits for charging for an hour when the customer only wants 20 minutes.

    Are you referring to hospital parking here RB?

    Reason I ask is that about 3 years ago I used to live in Brighton with a BN1 postcode. If you know the area you will know very well what a disaster it is to park around there (within 5 min walk to the train station). Anyway, the quote above also applies to city parking which I thought was rather useful. Especially when I had 'eventually' got the car parked up, it saved me getting up too early to top up the next morning if my ex-girlfriend and I were out that night :P

    For any free parking I had to leave my car over past Grand Parade which was a right royal pain. Then after 1-1/2 years the residents parking finally come through, 2 months before we were due to leave... Typical.

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