2023 Manifesto

As I said, these will need to be a little fluid, as I'm not quite out of the woods yet physically.

Recover Well

I strongly recommend you never break your shoulder. Prevention is better than cure, and all that.

I'm currently being quoted 80-90% range of motion in 2 years. I'm obviously going to aim for the upper boundaries of that, though good luck really nailing down what "90% range of motion" is defined as with regard to a shoulder...it's got 6 ranges of motion.

I'm going to go through the various ranges now as listed above, and note the results here so I can come back and compare in 3/6/9/12 months time. The "out of" score is the left arm for comparison (and it should be noted that pre-accident my right arm had more ROM, as the left shoulder has previous damage).

Right now, I have;

  • Flexion - 50-60% - 90-100' (out of 200')...able to get just above vertical, with some pain around upper arm.
  • Extension - 25% - 15' (out of 60')...hard to quantify. My left arm can reach my right armpit behind my back. My right arm can just about reach my waist at the middle of the back.
  • Abduction - 50-60% - 80-90' (out of 160')...able to rotate to just above the shoulder. Left arm can go past vertical and have the upper arm resting on ear.
  • Adduction - 80-85% - 25-30' (out of 50')...this one has improved massively recently. In the last week I've been able to wash my left armpit and reach the outside of the left arm
  • Medial Rotation - 90% - 75' (out of 75')...this one is fine...ROM is there, slightly tightening of the bicep at full rotation.
  • Lateral Rotation - 30% - 30' (out of 90')...a real weak one, and physio is focusing on this. Been caught out a couple of times catching closing doors etc.

In more practical terms, I need to be able to get a t-shirt on and off normally (flexion and abduction), and put something in a cycling jersey pocket (extension).

Get back to Healthy

This one starts tomorrow, though some pre-work has been done. I clambered back on the indoor bike 4 weeks ago, and the diet started today. I'm back onto a formal training plan tomorrow, and hoping to get the replacement bike for outdoors in the next week (it's currently at "In Picking" status at Canyons Germany factory...which should mean all the bits are there, it just needs to be assembled and shipped).
I want to be back to sub-70kg, and FTP of about 300w. Those are currently about 75-76kg, and 240'ish FTP. Eat less, Ride more.

I have 3 planned cycling trips, and I'd like to be healthy enough to enjoy them, even if I'm not at the level of fitness I had originally planned;

  • End of January - Gran Canaria (cheapest holiday ever, the original plan was to do a monster base-training weekend. Right now I'll be happy with a couple of hours a day)
  • End of February - Spain Coached Camp
  • April - Mallorca. I'd like to be able to do a "normal" Mallorca trip...maybe 20-25 hours riding, and pusing hard on a couple of big climbs.

Sort out the Mortgage

It's a bloody terrible year for a fixed period on a mortgage to expire...but thats what we have occuring at the start of June. Currently going through the options we have. We are not in a terrible position (over 60% equity in the house, plenty of savings), it's working out what is the best option for now and the next 3-5 years. We now both have remote-working contracts and long term tenure in companies (fun fact, in 4 days I reach my 25-year anniversary at Yell), which also opens up other avenues.

Listen to more varied music

This one is already in motion, but needs formalising. As I've noted, I was in a bit of a rut when it came to variety of music...pretty much having a 24-hour playlist on repeat. In the last month, I've increased my music library from ~5,000 tracks to ~22,000, and I've on purposely added in genres/artists that would normally not get onto a playlist. I've then stopped using Playlists, and instead using Plexamps Radio Function. This is pretty cool...you pick a handful of artists you like, and it then starts generating a non-stop playlist based on the genres/moods etc. I've given it a lot of freedom (3-degrees of freedom), and just let it go.

I've also been actively seeking new artists. I can tell I'm getting a bit old, as my tastes are reverting, and I've been listening to a lot of modern synthwave (if you like CellDweller, Klayton does a shitload of electronic genres, and runs multiple record labels FiXT is where CellDweller lives, FiXT Neon has Synthwave and more electronica stuff, and FiXT Radium is the more metal side of things). Lots of 90's game samples, sythesizer etc...good for working out and the like...plenty of energy.

Read a bit more variety

I've spent a lot of time illinjured, and in hospital this year...plenty of time for reading! I've not, however, really been reading much quality...more pulp fiction reads as comfort food. Thats all very well, but I'll aim to put some more quality in there, and maybe (don't hold your breath) move outside of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy tropes. I un-expectedly really enjoyed Richard Osmans Thursday Murder Club...it's not super-serious, but it's well-written, and with genuinely enjoyable characters.

I also have a metric butt-tonne of audiobooks that I can work through...

A long to-do list

There is some other stuff I'd like to do, but much of it is dependent on health, or secondary issues around recovery. These may get shuffled in/out as opportunity permits.

I have a phase 2 of tattooing planned (legs, shoulder), but need to be comfortable sitting/lying for several hours, and the shoulder scar needs to fully heal for repair work.

We are hoping to get back to the Maldives in autumn, and I'd like to get my advanced diver and Nitrox qualifications...but need to sort out mortgage first.

I'd like to re-work my office, but again mortgage and top-level financials come first.

I'd obviously like to not break anything this year...however that does not feel like it should have to be a stated goal.

I'd like to rationalise my bike collection...this is already partly underway. I have 2 bikes in a repair shop, with the intention that only one comes back (with lots of spares).

(this is going down a rabbit warren) I've been investigating how to rework my commuter a fairly old Planet-X London Road. In a shock to absolutely no-one, I've formed quite strong opinions on what I do and do not like about bikes, and I really don't like SRAM gear systems, and cable-operated gears generally. My commuter tends to spend long periods inactive, and is only ridden in bad weather or when I need to go somewhere and then walk (shopping etc), as the shoes/cleats are embedded. This means that it tends to rust. Right now it's got one gear on the rear, as the gear cable as rusted in the sleeve (replacement cable on order, but the age of the bike and the vagaries of SRAM supply chains means it's gonna take a couple of weeks). So my "good" bikes don't have gear cables...they are all on electrically actuated gears (aka Di2), which is;

  1. Bloody Amazing
  2. Bloody Expensive

Buying a full Di2 groupset for the commuter would be a couple of thousand pounds...way more than the bike is worth. Another option may be (and I've only just discovered this exists) getting a Di2 internal gear hub, having a rear wheel built around it, and then use some of those spares from the 2 bikes in the repair shop to build 1x8/11 bike up (with a 300-400% gear range, more than enough for a commuter). I'd only need one Di2 shifter (which I should have spare), and a cable set (which I should have spare), and a bottom bracket (which I should have spare). I think that the shifters will run cable-actuated disc brakes (rather than hydraulic, which would require a lot of extra money)...so I'd end up with a 1x8 all-weather bike, and only the chain can rust really, no sleeved gear cables🥳!

I'm going to speak to the repair guy about the feasibility of it all. If I can do that, I may be able to get rid of my (very very old) Boardman MTB, which is my spare spare bike.


A bit early, but next few days are looking busy.

We've obviously done a big jink in terms of the yearly goals. I'll keep the house move core stuff to this post, but some of the secondary stuff will spill over into here.

Recover Well / Get Back to Healthy

This is a mixed bag. The shoulder has really not been responding well to physio. I've had both NHS physios (who are awesome, but so busy that I only get an appointment every 3-5 weeks), and private (paid for by the drivers insurer...and have been awful, with 3 successful appointments, and 7 cancelled ones). I've also had 2 bouts of cortisone injections into the shoulder to attempt to release it, but to limited avail. The range of motion can be forced beyond what I'm able to do myself, however there is a serious pain limitation in this. Next steps will be decided mid-April, with optinos including;

  1. General Anaesthetic, followed by violent manipulation of the arm
  2. Local Anaesthetic, followed by a bucketload of saline pumped into the joint to hydraulically force the joint apart
  3. General Anaesthetic, followed by keyhole surgery to release the restrictive material in the joint

All sound brutally unpleasant.

I also still have the tinnitus, and I've now been referred to the NHS Audiology department. The main impact here is sleep, or rather the lack of it.

Mentally, I've struggled to get back to training. Partly sleep, partly a lot of things going on. I've resigned myself to not being race-fit this year, so the revised goal is keep some semblance of healthiness during the stress of the house move, and look to get outdoors once we are up north...hopefully the change of scenery will give me a motivation boost.

Sort out the Mortgage

That has been done, though not in the original expectation. If we estimate moving costs at ~£25k (stamp duty, fees, moving costs etc etc), and pumping in savings to the new house, the new mortage will be about 25% of the old one. The new mortgage is already sorted (of all the people we deal with moving house, our mortgage advisor is by far and away the fastest and most efficient). There is a possibility that once we move we actually increase the mortgage again to pay for an extension...however that will be at least 6 months after we move, and more realistically next summer (not chopping the back of a house off in winter!)

Listen to more varied Music

Done - I've completely transitioned from a static playlist to a locally hosted dynamic radio station (or a few of them actually). A quick estimate now shows that about 2,500 different tracks have been played this year. Huge success!

Read a bit more Variety

Yes, but no. I've actually been slowly working through William Gibsons back-catalogue, after having read (and watched) The Peripheral. Currently halfway through The Bridge Trilogy.

As an aside, in January I had my first eye test since ~1998, just after I started work. Old age is slowly catching up with me, and I now have occasional reading glasses (with orders to only use them towards the end of the day when I'm tired). It's a very mild prescription, but it's made long work sessions a little less draining. Apparently at longer range I have "better than pilot vision" (whatever that means...I was reading the smallest text on the boards they show).

A Long To-Do List

Well this has changed!

The tattoos have taken a back seat...until the shoulder is under a "no more surgery" flag.

I definitely need to sell the motorbike. I had a "we buy any..." company come round, and they really took the piss on changing offer, so sent them away again. I'm going to a bike garage tomorrow to arrange a pick-up, fix and MOT, then I'll list it privately.

We are currently going through the house and giving away, eBaying or Facebook Marketplacing as much as possible. I've done a first wave already (unopened Games Workshop boxes mainly), and this morning I've spent a load of time doing Wave 2 (boardgames, small electronics etc). Wave 3 will be bigger items, (mainly more boardgames). Stuff that cannot be posted is going on Facebook Marketplace. My office is starting to feel a little empty, but plenty more to go. It's very much a "are we going to pay someone to take this up north" for everything vibe.

We have a list of things that will need doing once we get up north. I want to run power into the garage, and add a side-door (as that will become the bike workshop and also probably training area). We'll need to put a basic fence up to keep the dogs out of the stream. The survey has advised us of some items that will need doing (nothing major...the gutters need clearing, and the moss on the roof could do with being cleared off).

My mountain bike is going to be donated to Reading Bicycle Kitchen...I ust need to work out when I can get there to drop it off (or more precisely how the hell I'm going to get back home after!)

As part of the eBay process, Gill has just found out how much some of my 40K models cost. She's just looked at the 10 packed boxes with a new level of disgust.

//added added
I've just totted up the "buy from new" cost of the 5 armies I'm keeping, and it's come to ~£4K. She may have a point.

babychaos's picture

I think WH40K is excellent value. Look at the hours you've enjoyed building, painting, playing and ultimately forcing the rules to change.

brainwipe's picture

There is probably a formula to determine the amount of misery I've generated per pound spent somewhere by means of system abuse and rules stacking.

My proudest moment will be having the only 4-0 tournament result in the event (with 3 tablings), yet failing to win as I got zero "favourite opponent" nominations 😂 with my filthy, filthy Grey Knights "Ride of the Valkyries" list. I believe it's no coincidence that the chap who ran that event is now Studio Manager at Warhammer World, and soon after he started many of the rules that the list abused were changed, effectively banning both the list and tactics.

My redemption ark was winning "Best Necron" at a massive event at Warhammer World after winning the tie-breaker against another player...that tie-breaker being "best designed army list". (as in, the bit of paper you submitted with your army list on...I'd named all my characters and provided some backstory for each 👌). That list was equally filthy, but at least allowed the opponent to play the game.

babychaos's picture

Another update...this year seems to be flying past, and yet it does somewhat feel like very little is getting done!

Recover Well/Get Back to Healthy

Recovery of the shoulder has been slow. I wasn't responding to physio or cortisone, and in May it was confirmed I had (coughs and clears throat) post-traumatic frozen shoulder. The answer was (clears throat and checks notes) an Arthroscopic Capsular Release with Manipulation Under Anaesthetic (fun fact, I can now spell "anaesthetic" without a spell-check...that sums up my last 12 months quite well). I had this done 5 weeks ago...it was actually fairly smooth running compared to previous operations I've had. I've now had surgery in 3 of Readings Hospitals (just missing the Independent), and Circle is by far and away the nicest. I've also learnt what I need to recover post-op...basically fluids...lots and lots of fluids.

I now have 3 more, small incisions in my right shoulder (camera, dremel, drain), and I had immediate improvement in ranges of motion. The consultant proved this in the post-op by immediately taking my arm out of the sling and yanking it above my head (I had had a nerve block, I coldn't feel anything!). A quick check compared to the numbers above;

  • Flexion - 75-80% - 150-160' (out of 200') - from 100'
  • Extension - 50% - 30-35 (out of 60')...from 15'
  • Abduction - 70% - 120' (out of 160')...from 80-90'
  • Adduction - 90% - 40-45' (out of 50')...from 25-30'
  • Medial Rotation - 90% - 75' (out of 75')...from 75'
  • Lateral Rotation - 50% - 45-50' (out of 90')...from 30'

I'm now also with a physio of choice (the wonderful Rebecca at Berkshire Physio) who sorted out my pelvis, and immediately said "what have you done to yourself?" when I walked in). Current weaknesses are rotation (which is a really important thing for shoulders), and the muscles that make the arm work above the shoulder have atrophied away quite badly...there is a lot of work to go, and realistically I probably won't get to 90%...the goal is getting the movements I need without massively impacting my quality of life. I have the 6-week checkup next week, and the legal examination just after. It's starting to feel like the beginning of the end of the process, though I'm going to be doing physio on it for months.

I have been able to ride my bike, though struggled to get the consistency that is needed for true improvement. I'm really enjoying track riding right now...I've done some local league races, and a few Opens (better competition), and it's helped massively with both fitness and handling confidence. There is something that is incredibly enjoyable sitting behind a derny at 50km/h

Sort out the Mortgage

Well yes...aren't mortgages fun? This obviously segues into the house purchase, so as a quick summary;
We have now accpepted our 3rd offer on our house. We've had a couple of collapsed chains below us, however we've been able to recover it both times, and (at time of writing) we are still aiming to move to Harrogate. The delays mean that our current mortgage ran out (end of May), however our frankly amazing mortgage advisor worted out a stop-gap to avoid going to default-rate. We might be moving in August (the new buyer is currently renting, and has a 2-month release), but probably a bit later. It does feel a bit like we've been in limbo for the past few months, hard to plan anything as not sure what end of the country we will be in a couple of months time.

Listen to Move Varied Music

Already done...Plex is still amazing.

Read a bit more Variety

I have totally not done this...I've now finished William Gibsons back catalogue (and bloody hell that guy can predict a lot...quite often I had to check publication dates, as you could well believe he had written a book last year, but actually it was written 20 years ago, he just nailed a lot of where we would be in terms of technical society). Which is worrying, as "The Peripheral" is near future, and it's looking _pretty shit_ for everyone in that!

A Long To-Do List

The tattoo is still on hold...more scarring, and I'm not quite in the 100% no surgery window yet.

I sold the motorbike! I initially looked at a "We Buy Any..." company, as it was listed as SORN, and had a puncture. They came round, had a mechanic check it out and he said to me it was in good nick. Their sales guy then tried to massively low-ball me (like 35% off the original offer) claiming that it needed loads of work. I told him to fuck off. I then had £250 work done on it (including having it picked up and MOT'ed), and sold it privately for double the "We Buy Any..." company within a week. Shisters.

I did a lot of eBay'ing, cleaning out about 2/3rds of my boardgames, a lot of older tech, and some of my boxed miniatures, as well as a bunch of nick-knacks. For about a month my room looked like a post-office, with parcels lying around with post-it notes on them...and I'm now on first-name terms with the Evri and DPD delivery guys (as I was doing pick-up from house). It was a worthwhile process, making about £2500 profit from a bunch of stuff that simply wasn't used.

I did indeed donate my mountain bike to Reading Bicycle Kitchen...they were happy to receive it (and surprised at the good condition). I also donated away an old carbon bike frame I had (that's gone to a Reading Cycling Club member...it has an interesting hertitage, so was uncomfortable selling it, and ensured I had full disclosure of it's condition), as well as giving away some un-used parts and components to the local cycling community. I still have 4 bikes, so I'm not struggling for transport!

All-in-all, while we wait for the house move to actually happen, we've made good on reducing clutter and junk from the house, and raise some money towards moving costs....turns out moving 250'odd miles is not a simple process.

babychaos's picture

Totally impressed with the clutter removal. Fingers crossed that the mortgage adviser manages to cut you a good deal.

brainwipe's picture

Sara is amazing (she has already got plans in place in case our current offer gets near expiry, which happens mid-September), and as we are chopping the mortgage in half any deal will be good! That, combined with a fairly healthy savings buffer mean that we are well placed to weather the current shit-storm. I pity people who are trying to arrange mortgages at the limit of their ability to pay right now, it must be hell.

babychaos's picture

There are lots of people in hell but if the shock is short-term then the banks have things in place. They don't want people to default because it hurts their liquidity. Instead, they'll actually try and keep you afloat for a long time. If it lasts more than 12 months then we're going to see problems.

brainwipe's picture

Delayed this for a few days, as really wanted to get the house sale over the line.

Recover Well/Get back to Healthy

Once we got back off the holiday to Norway, I went on a hard diet. I was pushing 74kg...whereas now I'm down to a more sensible 65kg, which has made me feel a lot better generally. The shoulder has probably regained as much movement as it's going to, and I've been signed off from further surgery. Physio is down to fortnightly, and is focusing on re-strengthening as much as range of movement. The right arm is really weak in various directions. Range of movement is around 91-92%, which a main limit in lateral rotation. I spend about half an hour every day doing various things with dumbells and resistance bands, working on getting the strength back.

The bike is coming together...I was able to get through most of the summer track league (I missed the last race as my bike had mechanical issues, and wasn't able to get them resolved in time). Track racing has been a huge benefit this year in terms of getting confidence back on the bike, and getting consistent workouts done. I'm going to really miss the riders...it's a very friendly, supportive group, and I don't think the same thing exists up north (there is a velodrome in York, however it seems that since Covid they have not restarted coaching sessions or league racing...fingers crossed for 2024!)

Sort out the Mortgage

Done, though we've had some wild times. In August we investigated the possibility of runing 2 mortgages for 2-3 months, in order to allow us to break the chain. Apparently this would be cheaper than a bridging loan, which is slightly terrifying. We did make use of the government mortgage scheme to move this mortgage to Interest-Only in preparation (as it improved affordabilty ratings, and we had already paid off more equity than we had done numbers for). What we were basically looking at was;
Mortgage 1 - £200k interest-only over 10 years
Mortgage 2 - £400k (with 10% deposit) interest-only over 30 years

The interest rates were obviously sky-high, as (waves hands vaguely, points at current country situation). We'd end up paying ~£4k/month in interest, and we'd have to pump in most of our savings for deposit, increased stamp-duty and all the fees from moving. Fortunately, we've ot had to go down this route, but it was a genuine concern for a while.

Listen to more varied music

I've mainly been listening to high-energy anger music for the last 2 months, to match my mood. I have moved the Plex Music library to a centralised server, but otherwise all done here.

Read a bit more variety

I've actually not read that much recently...I've been working through the 2nd David Brin Sundiver trilogy (starts off dull, as I don't like fallen civilisation stories, but improves dramatically in book 2). It probably doesn't count as reading, but I've been slowly working through Baldurs Gate 3. It's really a bit of a masterpiece of a game...I think what astounds me more is that while I'm experiencing a great story with my current character (a Storm-Sorcerer...very good at talking her way out of problems, and immediately resorts to dropping nukes if things go south), I'm aware that I have missed huge chunks, or massively branching alternative paths. There is an entire evil run-through in there. It's stunning...almost terrifying in scope.

A Long to-do List

Honestly, this gets a lot more focused now. We need to pack our life up and move in 2½ weeks. We've done OK on the de-clutter, but the general stress of the last 2-3 months has meant that we are a little behind track. This weekend I hit the garage hard, and then we start going room-by-room and preparing for the move.

We have a growing list of things to sort out once we arrive. I want to get the garage converted into a workshop ASAP (paint walls, put down flooring, run out power and have sockets and lights fitted, have a side-door put in). We know the house needs some work (guttering, a bit of re-pointing, excess moss removed from roof), and we have a lot of furniture shopping as well (we need to get the rooms properly measured first though). We need to secure the garden for the dogs (fencing put in at the bottom of the garden, and down one side). All things we would have liked to get done in summer, rather than late autumn.

Longer term, once we have settled down and got the basics sorted, we still want to look at getting the extension done, with some changes. That feels like a 2024/2025 thing to me.

I've already contacted a local cycling club up there to arrange membership and get on rides...and we will have a honeymoon period of cafes and dog walks as well.

babychaos's picture

Just staggered at how together everything is; Baldur's Gate sounds like a complete masterpiece. Fair play to them.

brainwipe's picture

Closing out the year...I'm working between now and New Year, as burnt all holiday movig house.

Recover Well/Get Back to Healthy

It's been a bumpy year generally for fitness and health...lots of disturbances in routine. At my best I was down to 66kg, however I'm not really into routine in the new house yet (a combination of atrocious weather and not quite having the indoor training area complete). The arm had a second operation in May, and that improved things a lot. Lets quickly go through the ranges of motion I tested at the start of the year;

  • Flexion - 170-175' (out of 200'). It's tight at the end of range, but a vast improvement over 60'
  • Extension - 40'(ish) (out of 60'). This has been the worst to recover, which is a bit of a pig as it's also the movement that a cyclist uses to get stuff out of kersey pockets. I cannot quite get into a rear pocket on the right-hand side (it also involves rotation). It is, again, a big improvement on where I was in January
  • Abduction - 140-150' (out of 160'). It's nearly there...I can not quite get the arm to the ear, and there is tightness and a bit of pain at the end of range.
  • Adduction - this one is probably at 95-99%. This was one of the least affected ranges, and once surgical swelling had reduced from the orginal operation I was OK (which is a relief, I've heard some horror stories about people unable to wash themselves).
  • Medial Rotation - again, this is at 95-99%. It's very much related to Adduction (movement of the arm close to and across the body), and both are at or near normal.
  • Lateral Rotation - 45-50' (out of 90'). This, along with Extension, are probably going to be the long term issues I have. As I said above, rotation is a key part of reaching behind you, and it's this rotation that is causing issues (to try it yourself, place your hand on your back...both palm-to-back, and back-of-hand-to-back). Your elbow and upper arm should be roughly in line with your shoulders...with me the elbow is about 45' behind the body, as rotation is not allowing the arm to work correctly.


The strength of the arm is poor. As part of teh physio I've been doing dumbell exercises, and weights that are very easy in the left arm are hard/impossible in the right (and we are talking 1-2kg weights here). It's also more lightly to sprain and strain, so I have to be very careful with it.

It's unlightly I'll see much more improvement in range (though they normally expect range to improve over the course of a year, so ~May). I'm then due another assessment for the ongoing legal case, and that will be passed to all parties for discussion. I'm also still struggling with tinnitus. I've been round all the houses (ENT at Royal Berks, Audiology at Royal Berks), and I've now been referred to Talking Therapies in North Yorkshire...initially for sleep hygiene and retraining. Their wait was significantly less than down south...there I'd been estimated a 8-12 week wait, North Yorkshiure TT did the initial assessment, detailed analysis and initial findings in 2 weeks from referral. I'm currently halfway through the course (which is not run over Christmas), and we'll review after that.

Get back to Healthy

As I noted above, I'm getting there, but it's been a year of interruptions (surgery, covid, moving house etc). Ths will be a big focus in 2024 as part of the settling process. A lot of the pre-work is done, or scheduled to be done. THe garage (new training zone) is now powered, and the door should be fitted by next week, which makes it way easier to get out there. I then need to sort out bike storage (rather than just a pile), and also sort out a Yorkshire-suitable winter bike (something with disc brakes, as rim brakes don't cut it round here).

Sort out the Mortgage

Done. In a very brutal way. The house-sale was vaguely traumatic, however we were able to leverage savings to offset the costs, so we've been able to half the mortgage (both outstanding amount, and monthly payments). At some point in 2024 we should be in a siuation to decide whether we clear the mortgage with savings, or do some work to the house (a lot will depend on how interest rates behave).

Listen to more varied music

Done ages ago, however the Plex server made the move with me, and is now working fine in the new house. I had hoped to have it connected to a high-speed connection, however it turns out that while CityFibre have added house boxes to this road, they were unable to connect upto the green box (the council did not let them dig up a newly tarmacced road about half a mile away, so they were unable to run a cable across to connect this side of the development). The CityFibre engineer who explained this said realistically they were not going to do it now, as many of the contracters they use in this area have ceased to trade. I think that means we are waiting on BT to install FTTP, which is currently scheduled for 2024/2025. We are on "good enough" broadbandm for work and most needs, but it's in the 40-50Mbps range rather than 900-1000Mbps.

Read a bit more Variety

Done less well here...the middle of the year was very stressful, and you tend to gravitate towards comfort reading. Probably the most notable thing I did was complete Wiliam Gibsons back catalogue, having bounced off him years ago (I'd just read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and had been astounded by it...went to Neuromancer and it all felt so...clunky, and uncool, that I just didn't continue). My older, wiser self now understands just what a visionary Gibson was (and is). He hit the nail on the head so many times, and reading books 10-15 years later makes you realise how much he predicted in society.

A long to-do list

Yes...yes I have.
The tattoo phase 2 is not done. I still want it done, and I want it done by the same guy. I'm planning to be in Reading in March for a weekend, so will try and call in on him and see if we can work something out. I'll probably need to be down in May/June for a shoulder assessment, so might co-ordinate it with that.

The Maldives never happened, we were too busy moving house etc. Still on the list, but we need to work out our plans with the mortgage.

I have re-worked my office significantly (moved it 250 miles north!). As part of the house move new got rid of old furniture, and I've got some more co-ordinated storage in here now, and some of the more utilitarian stuff is out in the garage.

With 4 days to go I have not broken any bones!

Bikes - I got rid of 3 9TT bike, mountain bike, old "Chinarello" road bike. I have actually bought a new one as part of a "proper winter bike" plan...however there is a fault with the frame (confirmed by the manufacturer), and they have forgotten to build in cable runs from the handlebars to the bottom bracket...this means I cannot install the groupset I had planned, so I think that is being sent back and I'll have to find another manufacturer. I'll probably go into the bike plan in more detail somewhere else, as this will be my first "from scratch" bike build. It's scarily similar to building a computer, along with all the "why is this not a standard??" challenges.

This will leave me with the Planet-X frame with no gears (again), so will need to work out what I want from a do-it-all commuter in hilly, hilly North Yorkshire.

The House

When I did the 2023 Manifesto, Gill and I had not yet had the "why are we living here" conversation. That quickly consumed the year. We are now installed, and I write this as I watch Oak Beck raging at the bottom of the garden (heavy rain last night from Storm Gerrit, and the water table is high already). So far, not once have I thought "this was a mistake" or regretted it. While of course I miss some of the social aspects af an area I've lived for 25 years, I struggle to see any way we have not upgraded our standard of living.

  • Our living space is vastly improved...we've been able to move the dog stuff to it's own room, have a much larger plot with more privacy and quiet (honestly, it's amazing how much we notice we can't hear the M4 and Heathrow flightpath...literally the only noise here is the water in the stream).
  • Much less traffic to contend with...so Harrogate has one roa which is a traffic nightmare (from the awkwardly named "Just Tyres" roundabout to the Empress), however nearly everywhere else is pretty quiet, and for cycling it's bliss...no rat-runs to avoid, and the roads generally are wider, so even when there is a car, it's a cleaner pass.
  • I thought the entire "Yorkshiremen are friendly" thing was a bit of a cliche...but no, everyone here is really friendly. Random conversations with dog owners, cyclists, people in shops and cafes etc etc. I was worreid we'd get a bit of "bloody southerners, coming up here and buying our houses", but had none of that. There is a general sense of pride in the town and county, and when people find out we are new the reponse is almost universally "you'll love it here".
  • So I have a long running theory about Reading (and much of the Thames Valley). It's very expensive, and as a result most businesses cannot take a risk. The end result is lots of big chains, and this is pretty much what defines the chain of Thames Valley towns....there are very few independent shops and specialist places (I also believe London attracts a lot of the "unique" places, as there is a bigger audience). Harrogate has a lot more variety generally. It has tonnes of cafes and small restaurants (and many of them dog-friendly it seems). It's got more niche shops as well....there is a geek cafe (Geek Retreat frnachise), a board games store (similar to Eclectic, though a bit more mainstream), independent butchers and bakers etc. Loads of tattooists, and it's own Department Store (Hoopers). It's got an Everyman cinema...we went to a Geeky Christmas Quiz there, and it's lovely. I think the combination of (relative) affluence, a strong tourist trade (driven quite heavily by the massive convention centre, as well as Bettys, RHS Harlow Carr and the Dales) allows more business risk to be taken, with the end result that smaller, more unique business can thrive.
  • The cycling is stunning. I've not had that much chance to get out yet (the downside of moving here in winter, and a very wet one at that), but there have been a few times on the Dales where the horizon has fallen away, and you can see for miles. It's also bloody hilly! I've joined a local club, and they have been very welcoming, even with my inappropriate kit!
  • It has a boardgames convention (Airecon). Unfortunately I'm going to miss this years as I'm away, but will attempt to make it in 2025.

So yes, it was the right move. I'm sure we'll drop out of the honeymoon period and have a few gripes, but I think we are in a position to control and resolve any issues that arise.

babychaos's picture

Sorry to hear your motion is not where you want it. And tinnitus is a fucker... I had it for a short while (2 weeks? ish?) after my air crash, it was stress related and dissipated - I hope yours does too.

Somewhat envious of your new gaff! It sounds and looks awesome.

If you're in Reading, I'd love to meet for pie/coke in a pub. I can assemble the "avengers" too.

Yorkshiremen are friendly

You don't sound like a southerner, Pete. You've always sounded to me like a Derbyshire man, south of Byrn's accent, North of Leamington Spa. Only going midlands when you're taking the piss. Try sounding like a Tory and you'll find a frostier welcome.

It's very expensive, and as a result most businesses cannot take a risk.

I think that's fair. I also think that as Reading is so large, it does have a lot of independent traders, they're just spread out and often have Halal in the title.

I think you've had a cracking year. To think that you decided to move and moved in under a year is nothing short of epic. It would take us a year just to pack.

brainwipe's picture

General opinion is that my tinnitus will not go away now. As I've had it explained, everyone has it, but your brain learns to ignore it...hence the councilling sessions to attempt to retrain my brain into filtering the tones out. General opinion is that the trauma of the entire thing knocked my brain-filter off-whack.

Fun Fact - Harrogate is Conservative - https://members.parliament.uk/member/3996/contact
It's a 2-horse race between Cons and Libs here, Labour are nowhere.

I still have to get my head around Harrogate town centre. It feels pretty much the same size as Reading (despite having about 1/3rd the population), thoguh with a much heavier tourism lean (both from the more typical tourism, and the convention centre "business" traffic). If you look at typical chains;
Starbucks - Reading 5, Harrogate 1
MacDonalds - Reading 5, Harrogate 1
Tescos - Reading 14, Harrogate 3

Cafes in General - Reading 21, Harrogate 20 (both these seem low to me!)
(these are based on noddy searches in Google Maps, and sould not be considered comprehensive, though are comparative)

It's a weird town centre as it hasn't grown around a central point (church, river crossing etc), but rather it was a late bloomer, and gre up around a number of mineral springs, which have then been linked by parkland (which has then been protected by royal decree). The end result is a quite open central area

I'd also say Otley feels far further away than Newbury did to Reading, though it's not obvious that there is a bloody great hill i the way!

babychaos's picture

How does the population density feel? Reading is at 350k, whereas Harrogate is around 167k but the density of Reading feels like central London rather than the sticks.

brainwipe's picture

The 167k population is for the Harrogate Borough, which is immense, including several other urban areas (including the micro-city of Ripon). The town urban area is more like 70-75k.

There are less roads out of Harrogate than Reading, and they are busy a lot (the A59 and A661 to the east of town are particular hotspots for traffic, as thats the main access to the motorway and south Leeds). There is a bit housing district to the north called Bilton, and anyone wanting to leave needs to join the A59). The town centre itself feels fairly sedate...I think this may be in part due to it's non-centralisation, and there are lots of smaller alleys alongside the bigger roads. We've been in a fair few cafes and the like, and they all tend to be busy, but not rammed. Most operate a sit-down service model, and have not yet felt uncomfortably full. What I did notice the first time we came here is that roads are generally wider, and buildings are set back from the road. That holds true for the north, west and south, however I now know the eastern area (High Harrogate) is a bit more "close", with more terraces, less front gardens etc. The roads are still wider than I'm used to, which helps with the less of lower density.

Away from there...it's super quiet. We walk through the Duchy estate a lot, which is a very posh pre-war development. Pretty much every house is £1 million+ (and thats up-here prices, not southern pricing). Big wide roads, virtually no traffic. Most locals are walking their dogs off the lead around this area. Going for a walk is much more of a thing here...probably due to all the open space centrally. Again, we spend a lot of times in Valley Gardens (think Forbury, but nicer, and bigger), and Pinewoods, and you'll wee a lot of people just out for a walk. A lot of dogs as well, but plenty of couple and families of all ages just taking in the air. It's similar at The Stray (think Central Park in NYC, only smaller) and the Nidd Gorge up to the north of town.

We are (technically) on the Jennyfields estate, which is a massive dead-end. Unless you live there, there is no point going in, as you cannot get out to the other side. In reality, we are on the very south-western corner of it, and quite close to hte entrance, though down it's own cul-de-sac on a cul-de-sac, and at very bottom, so we get zero traffic, and it's quicker to walk to 90% of places as there is a footbridge over the stream, while cars have to go round via the main road into the town centre.

Out of town, if you avoid the small number of A roads it's very quiet. If I comapre the Dales to the Chilterns, I'd say ~70-80% less traffic volume. It's simply not worth drivers trying rat-runs, the A-roads are simply much faster for A-to-B travel, so the lanes are for those who actually need them to get somewhere, and cyclists. The cyclists simply don't use the A-Roads (unlike down south, where often you have no choice), so it's all pretty lovely. It'll be even nicer when it warms up and stops raining. When we went to Gills parents over Christmas, we went out the "fast" route via B-roads, and came back via the less direct A-Road route, and the latter was hands down quicker and easier, even if it was further.

Facilities wise, Harrogate has far more per-capita than Reading. Each urban area has it's own large leisure centre (akin to Rivermead with an actual pool). There are 2 big cinemas (an Odeon and an Everyman). No bowling/ice rink etc, but does randomly have the same climbing wall company as Reading. Generally a lot of sports facilities and gyms (which goes a long way to explaining why Yorkshire have about half of Team GB's olympic medals). I'm assured schools are excellent...if we were 500m further south we'd have a £50-75k premium on the house due to the Harrogate Grammar cachement area (also we'd be in Duchy, and thus in a mansion). We have a massive conference centre...weirdly massive! According to the guy who ran the history walking tour we did on Sunday, this is a legacy of the mineral springs...Victorians would head up to be healed by the vaguely toxic waters, and craved entertainment...so a big Royal Hall (with more gold leaf than Buckingham Palaces dining room) was built for various shows. This still exists, and has grown some big halls over time....which work well with all the big posh hotels (also to house Victorians OD'ing on sulphur and iron). IMportant to us, we have a full hospital (with a cancer centre and operation A&E...so we are both covered!), as well as 2 private hospitals.

It's very difficult to list things that we have lost moving here. There is no velodrome (that is niche, and mainly for me).We don't have the quick access to London, however I very rarely used it, and we have Leeds about 20km away for most things. We don't have a John Lewis here (Hoopers is the local department store), Decathlon or an Ikea...both are all in Leeds. I think this would have been more of a pain 10 years ago, however online ordering is so easy these days...we had John Lewis fit a new dishwaster just before Christmas, and honestly I didn't even think that we hadn't been in store to check it out first.

We don't have Heathrow on hand, we have Leeds-Bradford about 20km away, and that covers all the european flights. For going further it;'s probably Manchester (about 1½ hours away) so it's basically Gatwick and Heathrow reversed.

We don't have Reading Festival...but we do have the Great Yorkshire Show, which has about the same attendance. We also get some proper english whackiness.

babychaos's picture