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cannycat

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About cannycat

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    Geordie in exile in the overpriced West Country
  1. I am sorry to hear you won't be making the journey across the water though I understand your reasons - as I said in my previous post, Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland is very, very different from anywhere else I've ever lived. After the pink and fluffy, very "English post card" world of Somerset and Devon, I'm certainly finding being here has made me think about identity more than anywhere else. Though I've been here a year I feel as if I am only just beginning to be able to decode the place... Certainly by the time I come back to England I will know exactly where I stand on, well, just about everything.... The university also has its own very distinctive organisational culture, there are many people who have never worked anywhere else and may not be so aware of how unique it is. The offer of a PM remains! On a different note, I agree very much with the previous poster about soft and lovely Fermanagh and the wild North Coast - they're both very, very different from Belfast - both absolutely beautiful, but in very different ways...
  2. Hi, I moved here last summer from the West Country to take up an academic related post with no ties to the area - so do PM me if that would help. I have found things quite different here from the West Country and England in general (though I'm originally from the North East of England, so the climate and a lot of the culture in the city itself hasn't come as too much of a shock), and it took a bit of adjusting, but there is a lot that's good - including a lot of live music in the city and also slightly further out, some of the events a little bit out of Belfast are the smaller scale ones that sound as if they might be the kind of thing you enjoy. Most of South Belfast is very nice and green and leafy but the traffic does get a bit snarled up in the mornings and the end of the day (nothing compared to London). A lot of people do walk or cycle to the university, many people who live at the coast (Bangor etc) would get the train in, there's a station very close to Queen's. Good luck, whatever happens! (Oh, and bring waterproofs....
  3. Ooops, meant to start the previous thread with "should I post this over in the rental forum as well". From the lack of replies I'm presuming it's a) perfectly normal to have that clause in there and perfectly legal...
  4. Evening all, I'm not sure whether to post this here or in the Northern Ireland forum (or both...!). I recently moved to Northern Ireland from England because of work and am just about to sign a rental agreement with a private landlord. Since I've always rented in England until now and am used to the law there, there are a few clauses that I'm wondering about in the agreement that I've been sent. I should explain the landlord is an accidental landlord, having bought the house some years ago and only having had one tenant before me who's been there for 6 years. In that time, I know the law on deposits, for instance, has changed (and the landlord doesn't seem to be aware of this and I will be making sure I let them know). The clauses that are making me wonder are two in particular - one says I can give 2 months' notice on my tenancy to bring it to an end, but then a few clauses down there is another one which seems completely contradictory, which basically says if I leave before the end of the 1-year term I don't get my deposit back at all, "without exception". Can anyone advise on this? Is this common in NI, and is it legal? I will obviously be taking independent advice as well as soon as offices etc reopen on Monday but I really would welcome input from people on here, since I know you're a knowledgeable lot and I am finding many practices in NI VERY different. Thanks!
  5. Evening all, I'm not sure whether to post this here or in the Northern Ireland forum (or both...!). I recently moved to Northern Ireland from England because of work and am just about to sign a rental agreement with a private landlord. Since I've always rented in England until now and am used to the law there, there are a few clauses that I'm wondering about in the agreement that I've been sent. I should explain the landlord is an accidental landlord, having bought the house some years ago and only having had one tenant before me who's been there for 6 years. In that time, I know the law on deposits, for instance, has changed (and the landlord doesn't seem to be aware of this and I will be making sure I let them know). The clauses that are making me wonder are two in particular - one says I can give 2 months' notice on my tenancy to bring it to an end, but then a few clauses down there is another one which seems completely contradictory, which basically says if I leave before the end of the 1-year term I don't get my deposit back at all, "without exception". Can anyone advise on this? Is this common in NI, and is it legal? I will obviously be taking independent advice as well as soon as offices etc reopen on Monday but I really would welcome input from people on here, since I know you're a knowledgeable lot and I am finding many practices in NI VERY different. Thanks!
  6. Hi, I really feel for you, having been shafted by landlords over the years (I now have a very good landlord, but they're so rare). I hope your luck improves and you're moving somewhere nicer. The gas situation is really not good.... I've learned from bitter experience over the years that the following really helps when trying to get your deposit back. I hope I'm not breaking any forum rules by naming products, I don't mean to advertise, but these are the best I've found in over 20 years of renting. I have also learned the hard way about putting foil in the bottom of the oven to catch any drips and replacing the fabric fat absorber thing above the cooker hood. 1. If you can clean the carpets thoroughly that really helps - I'd really recommend R*g Doctor, which you can hire at lots of branches of the evil Mr T Supermarket, dry cleaners and the like. They are brilliant and well worth the money. You might be really shocked at how much muck it rakes up though... 2. Other products I've found absolutely brilliant for cleaning - there's a limescale remover called Via kal which is excellent and leaves sinks really shiny, especially if you live in a hard water area; and recently, after years of trying to find something that would shift mould and mildew (and even works, to some extent, on watermarks), I've found Dettol do a really good remover - it's in a bright green bottle and in my opinion it's better than bleach. (And yes, I have tried lemon juice and bicarbonate of soda. Sometimes only chemicals will do.) Make sure you leave the windows and doors open for a good while afterwards if you use the Dettol stuff though as it really is strong and the fumes can be a bit intense; depending on how old your kids are you might want to make sure they're out of the way first. I also found Weed and Feed (might not be the exact name) brilliant at restoring the lawn to lovely green-ness and that green weedkiller that starts with round and ends with up very good for weeds. Recently I've also discovered screenwash can be brilliant on metal surfaces and denture tables/baby bottle cleaning tablets can be fab at restoring things to super duper cleanliness too. 3. I've found that lettings agents check the following areas obsessively: showers/baths; loos; cookers, including grillpans and the grates in the cooker itself - I love brillo pads, is all I can say there; they also love to pull all the plugs out of sinks and make sure there's nothing nasty down there; they also love to run their fingers along skirting boards and they get obsessive about cup stains in drawers and cupboards (yes, I've had my deposit docked in the past for cup stains that were already there when I moved in - and this in a flat that was falling apart and so damp I could have grown mushrooms in it....!). Best of luck, and as another poster said, you sound like you deserve a change in luck! (Oh no, I'm sounding like an MSE-er!!!)
  7. With reference to the management leading from the front and volunteering to give up their 6 figure salaries, gold plated pensions, and general ability to spend hours making bizarre decisions about nothing that has any actual bearing on patient care.... I think the phrase is "not bl**dy likely'. For the rest of us in 'normal' public sector jobs, just trying to keep the place running, we face daily uncertainty about whether we'll have a job or not, and if we do, exactly who our next group of slavedrivers with metaphorical whips will be....the only thing that is certain is that they'll be just as self-centred, vacuous, greedy and immoral as the previous bunch. That's if they aren't the previous bunch, nicely TUPEd across with no damage whatsoever... For anyone who hasn't read the classic corporate tale of the happy little ant, the lion, the cicada, and various other little insects, please go to http://www.slideshare.net/charu.bajaj/the-story-of-the-ant-retold-in-a-corporate-environment - it explains a lot about our current bewildering western world!!
  8. At least you've all managed to actually get a line provided by BT.... after moving REALLY to the depths of the country in Devon, where they're my ONLY option for a phone line (if they EVER get it switched on then they're certainly not providing my Broadband, no matter how many flashy television campaigns they run) I've spoken to BT over 20 times over the last week and this time their catalogue of incompetence has even surprised me. Myy dad used to work for them, as a real engineer, when they were a decent company, and back in the last recession I worked for them for a few miserable months, and it just seems they have become even WORSE year on year. Which I didn't think was possible. And after 2 weeks I STILL don't have a working phone line. I have run out of words, Geordie, Anglo Saxon or just plain English, to express my hatred, loathing and contempt for that bunch of uncaring clowns that are, apparently, a 'communications' company. I don't know what planet they're actually communicating with, but it certainly isn't one I've ever visited...! Apparently the current chief exec, BT's current Chief Exec, fresh-faced Ian Livingston, has a room full of the latest BT gadgets which he enjoys playing with. Which might go some way to explaining why BT's service has got even worse lately.... shame some of the 10,000 going won't be the ones who should be kicked out! Back to mobile broadband - but only as long as the sky is clear, the modem is pointing in the right direction, and Daisy the local dairy cow hasn't crashed into the transmitter as she forages for grass....
  9. The nicest wedding I ever went to was one where everyone who attended did or brought something that contributed to the day - outdoor style barbecue/picnic as the reception, everyone brought something to eat with them in a pot luck style; the flowers were home grown; the cake was a very simple plain white iced sponge cake that had been decorated with flower petals, sweets and other goodies; the bride's outfit was made by a local dressmaker; another friend made the invites; a group of friends laid the tables and dressed the trees with flowers, banners, balloons, little favour type wrapped up nougaty things, disposable cameras etc, another friend did the music - and it was so nice as everyone felt they were part of it. It's the 'happily ever after' bit that's the most important; I'll be glad when the daft celebrity style weddings that have been the fashion for the last few years get put back in the trashcan where they belong. (And who knows, before too long the celebrities might follow with any luck....!)
  10. I can just imagine how much fun the down-to-earth Salford local types are going to have with some of these meeja luvvies.... (and yes, I have lived in the north west, though admittedly not actually in Salford!) Although this is the most excessive example I've heard of when it comes to relocation expenses, there are other government departments that also pay out far from negligible sums of money/buy people's houses from them when they're relocated from London to another part of the country, rather than (God forbid) actually recruiting local staff who could probably do the job equally well; the MoD, for instance, pays £8K and up to its civil servants for relocation 'if eligible'...
  11. http://www.nice.org.uk/aboutnice/jobs/jobs...obs_at_nice.jsp Are these type of jobs the real reason the NHS can't afford drugs for people?! (NICE is the organisation that recommends what drugs the NHS can and can't afford.) 'Associate Director, Accreditation' - £52-64K ' Programme Director - Engagement and Management' - £73,617 - £93,098 ' Programme Director-Content and Quality' - Band 9: £73,617 - £93,098 or Consultant Band MC72: £72,403 - £96,962 per annum Am I the only one that's amazed this ludicrous government gravy train is still on the rails?!
  12. I moved here in 2005 and was absolutely astonished at how shockingly high the house prices were and how bad the rentals in Exeter were - grotty, damp, overpriced; and down here, as in Newcastle in the 1990s, 'unfurnished' really means 'unfurnished', unlike in other parts of the UK where you often get the white goods. I do think the place as a whole has a terribly high and unjustified opinion of itself and is overdue for a SERIOUS price correction and will definitely need to 'get real' over the coming years. I know the grey brigade (Devon has one of the highest populations of retired people in the country) think they're going to be unaffected, but I think some of them are in for a wake up call or three too. Unfortunately the next nearest major cities are Plymouth, Bristol or Bournemouth, so to those who've never lived anywhere except Devon, Exeter is 'the big city'.... which was very apparent when Princesshay opened. I wish I'd had a camera with me to capture some of the expressions on people's faces that weekend - you'd have thought it was the Second Coming! I'm also looking forward to the reality check as the London brigade have to give up their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th houses and BTL empires, and unemployment hits the region.... I wish I had 10p for every time one of the 'locals' who's never lived anywhere else has insisted that 'everyone wants to live here'. About 10 years ago Exeter was voted one of the best places to live in the UK, and the local rag doesn't seem to realise 10 years have passed since that was the case. Within a couple of weeks of my moving here someone got murdered in the laundrette round the corner, and I was intrigued to see, my first week, that the local cinema has ultraviolet lighting in the loos.... (to stop drug users seeing their veins). I quite like Devon as a whole, and really like Somerset and Cornwall, but I really struggle with the opinion Exeter has of itself, for no good reason. The Met Office arriving seemed to really make Exeter think it was something it isn't and the city council still bang on about it, even though it was several years ago now and a lot of the employees moved from Bracknell. (Well, to be fair, if my choices were Bracknell or Exeter, I'd probably have chosen Exeter too!) If Exeter had stayed as what it once was, a small, pleasant, market town, I'd probably really like it; but it seems to be trying to be Chelsea, judging by the shops in Princesshay. This area has something like 60-70% dependence on the public sector, which people often conveniently forget. The redundancies have already started; anecdotally, conveyancing is down; I know several people who have had family members made redundant or had jobs evaporate; and the local very posh [expensive] Hotel Barcelona (beloved of lawyers and the like) is about to close for a whole year. It's making its entire workforce redundant on December 19 - all very odd - what retailer in their right mind closes just before Christmas and New Year, when they're likely to make one of their main slices of profit for the year? But that's the Exeter mindset! A bit like having the 'Christmas opening' fireworks on a Tuesday night, as they did last week - particularly bizarre as the place has 'late night shopping' precisely one night a week (Thursday) until the week before Christmas, when it's every night for a WHOLE WEEK!!! I'm not saying shopping is the be-all and end-all of life (shudder), but the lack of retail awareness is indicative of the superior mindset of the place. I can truthfully say this is the oddest place I have ever lived and incredibly over-priced when it comes to rentals or property. However, as everything here seems to happen about 15-20 years behind the rest of the UK, who knows, maybe it will escape unscathed....
  13. I don't have children or pets, as it happens, or a nicotine habit; and have no strong feelings either way though I think it's fair enough that professional fumigation should be stipulated at the end of a tenancy. I have had the delectable experience of living in a small terraced downstairs flat with next door's elephantine 3 children clomping about all the time. My point was that many landlords (DSS excluded) dictate that they are only happy to rent to those who have no children/pets/smoking habits; though I to some extent it depends on where you live and may, hopefully, start changing as there is over supply of rented accommodation.
  14. Things must be very different in your world from mine!! I've been renting since 2001 in various parts of the south/southwest, a variety of furnished and unfurnished, and before that in the north; and every tenancy bar 1 specified 'no animals, no children, no smokers'. (The unfurnished property that was fine about allowing cats in was because the landlady, who had owned the flat and lived in it herself before getting married, had had her own cat, the stipulation was that the flat was fumigated at the end of tenancy.) Some new build properties won't even allow you to hang your washing outside as it, er, spoils the aesthetics.... So I hope the original poster is lucky enough to find somewhere with a reasonable landlord who will accept children and pets.
  15. Not at all, I was talking about my bunker. (The one I haven't built yet.) The west country bein' a reasonably good place to have 'em.... with our relatively balmy weather, abundant cows, good solid earth, windmills etc. And as for the bird flu - it's not quite a guess; the establishment has been talking about it, and other epidemics for long enough, I'm amazed it hasn't happened yet. (Then again, I was amazed at how long it took for hpc2 to start, having experienced the early 1990s in not-so-glorious technicolour...) And does anyone but me remember that fake Panorama programme or whatever it was about Smallpox?! The point at which I really started thinking 'What are they really up to' was when they exhumed a Spanish flu victim - http://www.bbc.co.uk/insideout/yorkslincs/...week8_flu.shtml Or maybe I've just been spending too much time on this board...
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