Another week rushes by even when you live in the countryside

by James Wallis
Updated: March 18, 2024
13 minute read
flowers on a tree in west sussex

Anna and I always talk about not having enough time. We always wonder how we’ll get everything done that needs getting done and how other people manage everything. This week was no different to any other, yet still as unique and significant as any other.

Monday 11 March 2024

Implementing time saving measures

Today was a blur and seemed to rush by with lots of emails sent, work done and a quick cycle to MSSL and back in the drizzling rain. When I say quick. It was at least 4 hours of cycling, maybe more.

It’s funny how the thought of cycling to MSSL and back is much worse than actually doing it. Once you’re on the roads going up and down all of the hills it’s not too bad.

I like how Anna describes the ups and downs of life and compares them to cycling. I think this is how it’s described: When cycling it’s always best to have down hills followed by up hills on a consistent basis so that you can carry momentum up the hill climbs. Otherwise, you might get complacent if it’s always easy going along the flats and down the hills. Carry momentum allows the uphills in life to be easy to deal with. Hopefully, this makes sense the way I describe it.

Monday involved a long working day and night with debates on implementing time saving measures to help free up our valuable time with money (the finite resource vs the infinite resource).

lifting our bikes over the style
Tuesday 12 March 2024

Some things work better than others

Anna woke up super early to finish off a specific stage of a website project we’ve been working on before heading to MSSL with her colleagues in a classic red Mini Cooper like the one from the Italian Job. I always loved the way the cars in that film raced through the streets of Turin, Italy with $4 million of gold bullion weighing them down.

Our kettle also arrived today meaning having the luxury of tea without needing to boil water on the stove was such a lifestyle improvement.

We spent the night messing around with EE to order a new Google Pixel 8 phone. Eventually, the only solution to get the personalised deal was to cancel our current broadband contract and set up an account in my name which is a hassle because it will need activating again and sending the old router back. It seems like a lot of work for nothing but I guess that’s how big businesses work. Lots of cogs working away without really knowing what the other one is doing.

I guess some things work better than others. The 60 year old Mini Cooper works much better than the modern day call centres of EE. However, I would say that once it’s all working EE is a great network in terms of their network service.

red mini cooper
Wednesday 13 March 2024

Communication made easier

It’s funny how quickly the phone came. It arrived about 9 hours after we placed the order. It does make you feel like they’ve got 1000’s of them sitting waiting in a warehouse somewhere just waiting to be purchased. It kind of devalues their worth a little bit. I’m sure EE and Google made 70% profit on this order but I guess that’s capitalism. Plus we have two phones that work so we can communicate much more easily. Not to mention receiving one time codes to log in to at least 500 different apps that we regularly need to do between us.

I can’t really remember what else we did other than worked on some business projects and carried out PhD research. Actually, a lot of the day was spent researching car insurance quotes and taxing the anticipatedly awaited new car.

Anna did go to the pub after work with 1st year PhD students and then arrived home for posh beans on toast, a specialty of mine. It’s basically beans with cheese mixed in on a toasted white baguette with Lea & Perrins, paprika, mild curry powder, basil herbs, chilli flakes and salt & pepper Sometimes we have an avocado on the side. It was slightly harder to make without a microwave but I got there.

anna in the pub toilet
Thursday 14 March 2024

Punctures and lots of dedication to getting from A to B

We woke up ready for our last day of essential cycling to get Anna to MSSL safely but unfortunately my bike had a puncture so Anna had to make the one hour twenty minute journey through the West Sussex and Surrey countryside alone whilst I stayed behind to fix it.

We sent pictures of mornings to each other. Anna’s morning involved struggles with styles (the picture says it all) and mine was lots of oil all over my hands in an attempt to look like a mechanic.

Once the bike was fixed there was only about 2 hours of solid work that got done during normal working hours mainly due to the fact that EE still required my attention due to them sending me a PAC code to switch my current EE pay as you go number to the newly contracted EE sim card, as well as, needing to change my name on the account from Willis to Wallis. It’s funny how after all the fuss and hassle of needing to cancel the broadband so it matched my name for the mobile phone contract it was created wrongly anyway and kind of defeats the point of everything that they said was impossible if we didn’t do it the way they wanted. Also, a quick note – it turns out you don’t need a PAC code when switching numbers between the same network provider which you would assume the people that work there would know.

It all makes me question how everything in life works when you can ask the same questions but get completely different outcomes.

Now the bike was fixed I could cycle to meet Anna before the styles so we could cycle home together on our last essential cycle before the arrival of our new car. We also met Bob, an avid hiker on our way home who knew a lot about the area and had some common acquaintances. That’s one thing we’ll miss about cycling. Meeting all the interesting people you bump into along the way – like Jeremy Bullard who stopped his car one day on our way up Holmbury Hill to give us a book he wrote called Life On The Line about his adventures motorcycling from North America to South America and back.

I think we had a nice night involving cooking lasagne together and doing a bit of business together.

annas bike on the style

Friday 15 March 2024

No more cycling unless we want to

We woke up early and before we knew it our new car had arrived. A car was a very much essential item to make living in the countryside much more possible.

Without the car we would have to walk, cycle and get all kinds of public transport for hours and hours of the day to just do even the most basic things like get to a shop or get to work. Now we only need to cycle if we want to as a form of enjoyment rather than necessity.

Although a car is an added expense to our lives we think it will pay off because we’ll save time to be able to get the things that we need to get done – done.

After a quick test drive, bits of work and education and a bit of house work including a quick vinegaring of the walls and sorting of clothes and washing, we thought at about 16:00 it would be great to go to the local laundrette to wash or mountain of clothes as the washing machine in our new place isn’t great and there is no drier meaning it takes clothes all week hanging around the house before they’re even remotely dry.

The laundry experience was a nice interruption in the day now we have a car and allowed us to go for a walk around Horsham whilst we waited between washes. However, one thing we didn’t quite like is that you still needed to insert pound coins to pay for the machines which meant with the exchange (thank you to the local convenience store) of notes and self-service laundry service it cost us £32 to wash most of what we needed. A fair amount more than in Thailand, plus they have a bit of a better system out there too in terms of inserting tokens rather than coins. All in all we have nice clean clothes, however, it does seem cheaper to buy a washer/drier in the long run.

visiting the laundrette in our car
Saturday 16 March 2024

Resting and sleeping

Saturday was a day we intended to do so much but all we could do was rest. We wanted to get ahead of next week by doing all of our business tasks/projects, home organisation and painting, and university reading and research. In the end we just rested at home which involved a nap each during two different times.

One thing that Anna did whilst I was sleeping was watch Alien with Sigourney Weaver. Anna described it in a way that most of the people onboard the spacecraft constantly put themselves in unnecessary danger almost as if to create a more thrilling film with action scenes.

We notice this a lot with James Bond movies, especially Daniel Craig ones. He will constantly do something completely stupid in the attempt to create an action scene for a movie. Growing up I always thought James Bond was meant to be smart and calculated by using his mind to solve situations intelligently but I guess the movie industry just wants to blow things up to entertain their audience with mind numbing car chases and stunts just for the sake of them. Don’t get me wrong, if stunts are done well with a purpose and not just randomly put into a film for no reason they can be great. Maybe I’m biased as I don’t really like action movies anyway.

Whilst Anna was asleep I was just watching YouTube and resting by experimenting with html, css and javascript without any real intention. My main teacher was ChatGPT and it knew everything as long as the inputs made sense.

flowers in the window in west sussex
Sunday 17 March 2024

Seeing a celebrity

An emergency trip to Tesco was needed today as Anna was craving lots of fruit and vitamin C.

Supermarket shopping is one thing we like to do, although it does take a lot of time out of the day, especially when it’s a busy Sunday and we could be doing something else. Anna wisely stayed at home to rest.

During the stroll around the supermarket I noticed a celebrity and her family. The celebrity was Katie Price (aka Jordan). It’s funny how you can feel the energy of the whole supermarket being aware that someone famous is nearby.

It reminded me of my days growing up in Wilmslow near where a lot of the Manchester United players had houses. I remember seeing Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke outside Hoopers whilst riding my bike. I remember seeing Ole Gunnar Solskjær walking past Kwik Fit. I remember seeing Peter Schmeichel and his son Kasper outside Safeway, Tim Howard in the Bollin Fee, Beckham in M&S, Brian McClair watching his daughter play basketball during an away high school football match, Paul Scholes waiting outside a school, Forlan in Sainsburys, Di Marie in a Prestbury Co-Op and Rene Meulensteen in the Coach & Four.

There’s probably many more times I’ve seen a celebrity a famous person (not always just Man Utd players/coaches) in random places all over the place and I always instantly recognise them and have that sense of familiarity even though they have know clue who I am.

It’s funny how this parasocial relationship works and then you just carry on with your day safe in the knowledge that no matter how famous or rich that person is they pretty much do the same things as everyone else with a similar amount of time available to them.

anna in bed with fruit

Another week has rushed by with so much accomplished but with always more needing to be achieved. It’s nice knowing that we don’t need to cycle anymore even though at times it was enjoyable. A car brings so much time saving and freedom, especially when living in the countryside. Even if we don’t use it that much it’s nice knowing that it’s there for when we do need it which I’m guessing will be at least 14,000 miles per year with all of the adventures and journeys we will need and want to go on.

There’s something comforting about knowing that here in the UK and many other places around the world most people do similar activities no matter who they are. The diverse tapestry of lifestyles, where individuals from various backgrounds coexist within the same environment. While some may reside in grand mansions, others call modest flats home.

Despite these differing circumstances, there’s a shared thread that binds everyone together: the common spaces we inhabit and the opportunities available to all whilst we live here on earth hurtling through the universe with the possibility of exploring some of it one day.

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 11 of the year (11 March – 17 March 2024).

11 Mar – 17 Mar 2024
One week of rent of a one bedroom house in West Sussex but near Surrey Hills, plus waste removal
This week its the first month and half of council tax and broadband bills and mobile phone contracts
Annual Car Tax and Monthly Insurance – Still need to fill up with petrol and pay the PCP lease
Some shopping and snacks.
Amazon purchases and Le Chameau wellington boots for Anna
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