Wow, moving and home removals are hard graft. Even before I’ve looked at properly boxing things up I feel like I’m going mad.

There’s a gradually growing pile of boxes in the corner of my lounge, a notebook filling with letting agent phone numbers, fees and requirements. There’s an even longer list of people that I need to notify of my fast approaching move. Electric company, phone company, internet provider, bank, credit card company. Am I missing anyone? I have a sneaky feeling I’ve forgotten everything.

Then there’s the sensible things to consider: I’m going to need to find a new doctor and dentist – like the NHS didn’t make that hard enough to begin with. Familiarise myself with new roads and supermarkets.

Oh, I’ll need to change my car insurance and registration. And my driver’s license. This list is going to get bigger faster than the box pile.

With the temptation to pull my hair out over this growing already I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t be doing the move myself this time. Every time I’ve done it in the past I’ve said “next time I’m getting the professionals to do it” and as lives become more serious and the moves that go with them just as much, I can’t imagine not finding some removal services to take the stress out of it for me.

Having spent the last week waking up in the middle of the night worrying about what I may be forgetting, the last thing I want to do right now is load then unload a housefull of boxes on a van.


There’s something about Alfa Romeos that inspire a strange sense of pride in their owners. While the Italian manufacturer was once a bit of a marmite-like quality amongst dealers it’s really climbing in terms of popularity and car sales lately. Especially with the likes of the new MiTo taking it to a previously un-tapped market.

It’s a shame then, for us owners of Alfas, to find that two of the company’s models feature in Glass’s list of cars retaining the least of their original list value after 3 years. Top offender on the list was the executive contender that never really was, the doomed 166. Sadly, despite this vehicles many qualities it never really sold and dropped off forecorts in 2007. Which goes some way toward explaining why it’s top of the list, retaining just 14.4% of its original value. Given that this one used to go for around £30k… ouch.

For Just 15% of Original Price?

For Just 15% of Original Price?

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Anybody who’s caught half an episode a show like Grand Designs knows how great timber buildings can be in terms of architecture and stablility.

Thing is there’s been a lot of mixed press as to just how sustainable and green timber is as a building product. You can’t go anywhere near a building yard at your local garden centre without hearing about forestry regualtions but lately there’s been talk about how timber buildings aren’t that beneficial to the environment. Apparently when trees are converted for building purposes the CO2 is trapped and stored.

Now, though, a bit of good news. Using timber for large-scale commercial buildings is beneficial for the environment. The energy use over a 60-year life cycles of buildings constructed with concrete, steel, timber and ‘timber-plus’ has shown that the ‘timber-plus’ offers the lowest environmental impact.

Using timber for a building’s structure and fit-out produces 4,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivelent comparred to timber’s 5,454 tonnes and the close-to 7,000 tonnes produced by a steel built commercial building.

While this is probably massive news to those in the building trade or with an ultra-fine eye for eco details, to me it means two things. Firstly that at least these things are being considered and secondly that I can still watch Grand Designs and enjoy the timber buildings without worrying about how “green” it makes a building.

I’m constantly toying with the idea of moving to France again so I’m always following the news and keeping an eye on the possibilities opening up for moving overseas.

So today I found a news story about how, despite the global recession, Australia is still looking to grow and trying to attract overseas candidates to fill key positions. These are areas where skill sets are lacking locally and are outside of the key metropolitan areas like Melbourne and Perth etc. Though not exactly in Belongtamick.

The report stated that despite higer levels of unemployment in Australia, there is still a key skill shortage in many areas. Accordingly, they’re hoping that more people will consider moving to Australia to fill said vacancies.

If this is the case, and Australia are sincere about wanting more people to head Down Under, then perhaps they should consider their immigration requirements. As it stands, it’s one of the toughest countries to get into! You have to provide a wealth of information, have a fair bit of wealth yourself, demonstrate your clean records and levels of character and pass various stringent requirements. I’d quite easily pass said requirements but the sheer amount of red tape, for an ex-prison colony, is enough to put me off even thinking about it.

I genuinely wonder how many people with the skills they’re looking for have been deterred from contemplating the move simply because of the hassle involved in getting approved to move.

International removals are never easy, but the level of requirement makes Australia look like the trickiest there is, even excluding distance. While it’s surely a wonderful lifestyle available there, perhaps they should ease up on the restrictions before moaning they don’t have enough skilled workers.

I’m starting to wonder how automotive companies perceive the UK and our car-buying market. I was reading up on the dreaded “h word” and the various models now available to us. While there are more and more hybrids sneaking on to the market over here they all have a certain look about them.

mazda tribute

So my digging landed me on a list that came from the States, the best Top 10 Fuel Efficient SUVs and Crossovers for this year. It was topped by a car I’d never heard of – the new Mazda Tribute Hybrid. Apparently the new Tribute hybrid has the best mileage of the lot from this year’s crop of SUVs. Great, except that it’s not a car that Mazda think we’d want in the UK.

Why? We’re already quite into the hybrid thing, more and more manufacturers are throwing SUVs at us and MPVs have replaced the term “people carriers” as Toyota’s Previa and Renault’s Espace near elder-statesman like status in the market. So why don’t we get the Tribute?

Yeah, we’ve got a lot of congestion zone, higher tax things for owners of gas guzzlers but it doesn’t deter people. Isn’t the Range Rover a British car?! Not only that but this is a hybrid and shouldn’t fall prey to such regulations.

It can’t be the look of the thing, compared to a Prius I’d welcome being stuck behind the new Mazda Tribute on Kent motorways. Plus, it’s based on the Ford Maverick which went down pretty well here. It’s not exactly “wow” but it’s pretty rugged and tough looking, especially when compared to the usual crop of hybrids.

Same story as the Mustang I guess – any mass-production car over 2.5 litres is considered too big for us.

The E.U is a funny thing. I don’t mean that in an “oh isn’t it funny that Romania and Bulgaria still aren’t full members.” I mean that in a “ha ha, that looks like a ….” way.

Norway remain as non-EU members, sitting happily above Sweden and Finland who are full members. Accordingly, it’s not featured on the map of the EU Europe that graces the Euro coins. Not a problem for them, they have their own currency. But for Sweden and Finland, it makes them the butt of a joke. Well, not the butt exactly…

2 euros

As a regular user of the Euros I was surprised I hadn’t noticed this before. I even had to dig one out of my pocket to check but, sure enough. I have to wonder if this is the real reason Norway haven’t become EU members yet, as it means that Sweden looks like a different kind of member…

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