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2015 – A Review (better late than never)

January 1st, 2017

So only a year late but the time to publish my review of 2015 has arrived. Previously I have used the entries over the previous 12 months to help me review the year but as is the case for 2015 very little was posted here.
2015 was a year of big changes for me, I had mentioned at the start of the year that I was planning on changing my car and I did set myself the following goals:

* Visit the Harry Potter Studio tour
* Go on the London Eye
* Visit Beamish
* Visit Portmeirion

I would also like to
* Renew my passport
* Lose Weight

I had also met a girl, Hannah and our first date was the 12th December 2014 and she did play a large part in my life during the year, in fact we spent the day together on 31st December 2014. So looking at my goals first, ashamed to say that I did not get to visit any of the locations I had planned to and yet again my passport remained expired. My biggest success was in losing weight, at my best I had lost just under three stone but unfortunately something happened in June that caused me to completely fall off the weight loss wagon and I never really got back on it.

Valentine’s Day
This was the first year ever that I had been dating anyone on Valentine’s Day, we went out for the day down to Carew castle and tidal mill and after having a walk around and being shown where Hannah had been brought up we had lunch in the Carew Inn. I had maybe gone overboard with flowers from a florist being delivered and a Pandora charm and pulling out single roses every so often. Also went to Tenby – it was a really good day and we were able to talk and get to know each other a little better.

New Car
I got my new car, a 61 plate Peugeot at the end of February; I had taken out a loan and had been lucky to have had some money from my grandparents for Christmas. Hannah had come with me to pick the car up and one of the first things she bought was a car seat for her youngest to use in the car – in fact on the way back.

Moving
During March I finally moved out of the bedsit I had been living (and I use the term living loosely) since 2002 and thanks to Andrew for helping my move and for cleaning up and painting the old place. I did get my deposit back which certainly came in helpful as I had moved into a two bed roomed flat with all the additional expenses I had not had to contend with prior. I would like to think that I moved because it was the best way for me to grow but in all honesty if I had not met Hannah I don’t think I would have moved. I know that where I was living previously was not suitable for entertaining as it was just one room so I wanted somewhere that I could invite people back for dinner or watch a film. Moving also gave me the ideal opportunity to:

De-clutter
One of my biggest successes for 2015 and this was one of the only years that I did not put de-clutter down as a goal. When it came to packing up my stuff from one room I decided to be ruthless and got rid of a lot of junk, my DVD and music collection has been thinned down. I do have the space to display all of my DVD’s but thinking of the future and a possible shared household (and being told by Hannah that most of my stuff would have to go up the attic)

Big Lunch
After going to the Eden Project for a Big Lunch Extras camp I felt a bit of a fraud that I had gone on this free weekend along with other people from all over the United Kingdom who all had ideas and projects for things in their community. My big idea was to re-spark community spirit in Llangunnor, something that has proven harder to do than I first thought. Anyway I wanted to put on a day for the community and most importantly for me was to make it completely FREE. I did not want any barriers for the community and pulling in a lot of favours a team of two people were able to organise a day enjoyed by the community.

Finances
The actual entries I did manage to post seemed to relate to finances and 2015 was a serious drain on my financial resources. I got to the point when I could not trust myself to live within my means and gave my two credit cards in a sealed envelope with a letter from myself to my good friend Andrew to keep hold of for me. He understood the reasons for my decision and it is embarrassing to admit if I had not done what I had then I would have eventually done what I feared most. So Andrew thank you.

Hannah
It feels fitting that the one major influence in my life during 2015 should be mentioned now, I have already said that I met Hannah at the end of 2014 via a dating website, weirdly enough 2014 was not the first time I had spoken to her, we had spoken briefly a few years earlier but she vanished. Anyway we seemed to get on well and it was a few months before I met her two boys (a twelve year old and a five year old). At my age I knew that any woman I dated was likely to have children and it has never really bothered me, I can remember what it was like to be a twelve year old and have someone dating my mother so I did my best to be aware of this.

It did make it interesting to get any alone time with Hannah as he would stay down stairs while we were watching television and if we were sitting together he would find some way to separate us. I however put up with this and with the way the younger one would speak to me and treat me – I was after all a visitor in their home.
Things were great between us and I suppose looking back now the so called honeymoon period hit its peak during May when I had been invited to effectively move in with Hannah – of course I still had my flat and a minimum six month tenancy but as Hannah and I had discussed moving in together at some point it was a good opportunity to see how the logistics worked. Generally things worked and me being me sat down with Hannah to look at the financial implications of living together. Hannah had made it clear to me that she did not want to be left poor and that any money she had for the children was not to be touched by me or included in any financial planning. She gave me figures and I entered them into a spreadsheet and was surprised to find that she had a lot more money than I had coming in and the implication of me moving in would be financially stupid for both of us. There was also something wrong with the spreadsheet it was not making sense and doubts started creeping in. This was something not helped by a pregnancy scare, no guy wants to be told that it is safe to have sex only to be told straight afterwards that she has made a mistake : Take my advice guys keep it protected!!

Things started to get a little distant between us after this point, and interestingly enough I notice that I started keeping notes in my diary about when I stayed over. We had planned on going to London with the children in July and because of my financial situation I had asked Hannah if she could help towards the costs which she agreed to – I only asked her to pay for one night at the hotel the rest I covered. Even after all of this when we got back I still treated Hannah to a meal out, just the two of us at Florentino’s in Carmarthen as her mother was looking after the children. After the meal she was dropped off at her mothers and I went home. The school summer holidays had started and me staying over became problematic as the youngest boy would walk up in the night and want to get into bed with his mother, instead of putting him back in his own bed either she or I would go to his bed and spend the rest of the night. She did see this as a problem and told me that when he turned six in September she had already spoken to him about his staying in his own bed.

September soon arrived and with it our first argument and not about the sleeping arrangement but about a house. In the first few months that we had been dating we had discussed many things and moving in together was one of those things, we had looked at rental properties earlier but in the year but nothing suitable was available – I thought her house was fine and it had proved to be big enough with just the one bathroom back in May. Anyway a bungalow was spotted in Cwmffrwyd she went to see it with the kids and thought it was great. I however had done what any reasonable adult would and check the costs and explained that we would not be able to move in as it was too expensive. I had also noticed when we viewed the property that decisions had already been made regarding the rooms. One room that I thought would make a good room for me to work I found out was set to be a music room for the children and it became clear that I would be the only person to not have my own space in the whole house.

I have no regrets about saying no, sometimes commonsense needs to take a firm grip of the situation. Regardless of anything else there was no way on earth that we could afford to live in that house.

Things were very strained between the two of us, of course since the start of September to the end of the year I only stayed over one night when the children were away, there were a multitude of very good reasons for me not being able to stay over – I still saw her but I was starting to get the feeling that she was doing what she could to limit the time I spent with her and the children. It almost got to the stage where I felt I was only there to bankroll activities or act as transport.

By the start of November I actually asked her outright if she still wanted to be with me, she did but things did not improve, we had discussed Christmas and what would happen – originally I was going to be staying over and leaving early while the children’s father came to watch them open presents, he would leave and I would return for dinner and spend the rest of Christmas with them. (I have no idea what would have happened when we moved into a house together!!)

Plans soon changed and again caused some friction between us, I would rather people be upfront with me that skirt around the issue – eventually it came to pass that it would be easier for me to not stay and easier for Christmas dinner to take place at her mother’s house.
Our anniversary came and I had booked a place down in Tenby, the children were being looked after so I thought it would be a good chance for us to have some alone time. One of the first things she told me was that she had a headache and it was that time of the month. I was more concerned with how distant she was the space between us in the bed that night answered any questions about our future together.
Anyway Christmas Eve came and I suggested going shopping to get food for Christmas as I had been told about what her family normally did between Christmas and New Years – so £75 later and a trolley full of buffet style food. I treat us all to a KFC and that evening she goes to the hospital to see a friends premature baby – she comes home and I leave as the children’s father is due over.

Didn’t I mention that the children’s father slept over on Christmas Eve?

I was called at 10.30 on Christmas Day to go over and I opened my presents and we then loaded my car to go to her mother’s – she was planning on staying there for a few days. Needless to say I left at 7pm, did not see her as she had gone upstairs. The last thing you really want to be doing on Christmas Day night is checking bedding for evidence of sexual activity.

Saw her next on New Years Eve, we went as a family to the cinema and for food I then took her to the mother’s house for us to see in the New Year – of course nowhere for me to stay so after the bongs it was home alone.

Friends
Hannah may have been a major influence on 2015 but my friends, Andrew, Hayley, Huw and Lydia all gave me a soundboard to speak my mind on a number of matters but mainly my love life and I thank them for being true friends in that they told me what I needed to hear and not what I wanted to hear.

So we come to the end of what had started off as such a promising 2015 ended on a certain note of uncertainty.

The Fanlistings – The End

September 27th, 2015

For some time nightmare-relm has been home to two Fanlistings CSI and Quantum Leap they have both been here for a number of years and last year the Quantum Leap one was removed from the Fanlisting Network as it had not been updated for over three months – I was not overly concerned as no new members had joined for quite some time and the same can be said for the CSI Fanlisting. The internet has changed a great deal over the years as does how people use the internet – why have a list of people who like a particular subject when a facebook page can be more interactive.

Last week I got an email from The Fanlistings Network advising me that I had not updated the CSI Fanlisting for over two months and that I needed to correct the problem and reply to the email (jump through some hoops) I made the decision at that time to update the fanlisting but not to reply to the email.

I checked my emails today and the fanlisting has been removed and to be quite honest with you I am relieved and truth be told I did like CSI at one point in time but I stopped buying the DVD’s after season 4 and stopped watching the show. People change as do their interests, as I have already mentioned no new member has joined for quite a few months and with a membership of 6162 I have no way of knowing how many are still active but it has been great over the years and has in a way helped to support the website (via advertising) and monies gained from advertisers who have wanted to target these 6000 people have paid for me to go on holiday etc – of course that all dried up years ago.

So the CSI fanlisting will eventually be taken down as it will serve no useful purpose the episode guides are old and can be found in much more detail elsewhere. The list of fans is a drain on my resources (database) and I no longer watch the show – I do believe that the original series is due to end shortly anyway so looks like a good time to call it quits!

Thank you CSI Fanlisting for giving me something to work on all those years ago.

A fool

September 27th, 2015

I have been a fool…

I have always considered myself to be good with money, I have even given financial advice to my friends on how to save and budget but I have not listened to my own advice. I currently have two credit cards – a Barclaycard and an American Express card and have had them for a number of years, originally I would use them during the month and pay them off in full when the bill came along – I suppose getting a little extra spending power, then something happened and I can’t really put my finger on it I assume some large expense came up and it was put on the one of the credit cards and I was not in a position to pay it off.

I ended up paying the minimum amount while I concentrated my efforts on saving, a rather backwards way of doing things but I suppose I rationalized it as being better to have savings so I could become less reliant on credit cards for unexpected expenses.

In fact I took out a loan a few years back and used some of that money to pay off what I owed so it is alarming to have found myself back in a position where I had racked up credit card debts and was only making the minimum payment each month. I should point out that the total debt has never been more than about £2000 over the two cards (I know that others would have debts a lot higher than this).

Each month the minimum amount was being paid which was about £21 per card and of this only half was actually paying off the debt as the other half was essentially only paying off the interest. I have had the money to pay off both the cards for some time but had been reluctant do to so.

Every month I have been able to squirrel away over 10% of my wages into various savings accounts, I needed to get a new car so checking what I could afford I took out a loan and was was lucky enough to have some money gifted to me from my grandparents, the car was purchased in February and it was also around this time that I made the decision to move from my £60 a week bedsit to something bigger. Purely coincidental that I met a woman at the end of last year as well.

Speaking to friends I knew the move would be expenses and maybe at that time I should have considered my finances and looked to amend things but I did not and moved in and have generally been able to manage the bills. In May I did make a decision to use savings to take a bite out of my credit card debts and paid £600 off the American Express card – which had the desired effect of reducing the minimum payment each month, however I should have continued to pay the higher amount – hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So today as I know I need to find £277 for my water bill I took money from my “car” fund and have paid over £300 off the American Express card which leave a balance that can be easily paid off next month.

This was my top priority debt to clear but still leaves me with the Barclaycard and the £1000 owed on that which needs to be cleared at the same time as ensuring I have enough money to live and that money can be put away for Christmas etc.

I suppose the poor interest rate here has helped me come to my sensible decision to pay off the credit and save on interest charges.

So next to look at my finances and reduce the amount I am saving each month to ensure my debts can be paid off quicker only then can I put all my efforts into savings.

Summer Update

August 19th, 2015

Where has the time gone?

I’ve never been really good at this blogging thing and truth be told very few people visit the site anymore but I do check emails and still have a presence online (just in other places)

A lot of time is spent over at Llangunnor Network my latest project and even that has suffered a little due to my hectic life. To try to write an update about everything that has happened since my last post in April would be very difficult but needless to say I am still sorting out my DVD collection.

I feel that I need to slim down my collection from around the 500 mark, don’t really have an idea of what figure I want to get them down to but after amassing this collection over a number of years I want to try to make sure that I get a reasonable return – something that is unlikely to happen.

I mentioned MusicMagpie in my last entry and I did eventually get a cheque off them for the last set of DVD’s I sent to them – they only refused to pay for one as it did not pass the quality control but it did take over a month before the money was finally in my account.

I’m currently looking at other avenues in which to sell more DVD’s.

My weight loss has stagnated, I did reach a record low at the start of June but feel that I have taken my eyes off the ball and certain foods have crept back into my diet – I will need to re-evaluate what I need to do.

Music Magpie and De-cluttering

April 11th, 2015

How odd two entries from me in the same day! As part of me moving I have had to seriously consider de-cluttering – something I have mentioned on here many times before and after packing over 500 dvds I thought I would weed out those dvds I no longer want. It did not take me long to get about 100 together and did consider doing a car boot sale with all the stuff I wanted to get rid of but realised that it would be quicker to get rid of things in bulk. I decided to try out Musicmagpie so downloaded an “App” for my phone which scans the bar codes on the dvds and gives a value straight away.

Not wanting to send things away I did go to a local cash-converters store but they would only pay £0.10 per dvd regardless of what the dvd was, so got rid of about 30 dvd’s here as I could not face taking them back home.

I had also boxed up about £17 worth of dvds (about 18 in total) to see how much luck I have with Musicmagpie I do like the terms and conditions regarding condition of the dvds as I feel it is open to abuse as if it does not pass the quality check they keep the item and you don’t get paid for it.

My book collection is also being reduced but I don’t seem to be having much luck with selling them so have given a box away and am likely to get rid of more in the same way.