Photo credits

The Embalse de Riano in northern Spain. The picture was taken by .... me!

Saturday, January 24

New work

My contract with my long-term client ends at the end of the month. It has been an anxious time wondering 'what next?'

I had an option to continue sitting at the same desk but as an employee of an engineering consultancy. Which would also have meant a 40% cut in income. At the last minute they nearly tempted me with an offer to sit at the same desk as a contractor of the consultancy on the same rate that I am currently paid, but that would only ahve been for three months.

Instead, I have taken up a contractor role working for a local authority. It is a slightly longer commute than I do now and will be more suscpetible to traffic., but not to bad in the long run. I will start on Feb 2nd. The role will move me from the design of sewage works to flood risk assesments and some drainage design. It also has potential to lead no to a role in site supervision for another larger client. In taking up this role I am accepting a cut of about 14% in my headline fee rate, but by the time I have accounted for changes in expenses and Student Finance, the difference in my wallet will be zero.

So, roll on, the future!

Wednesday, January 21

I still exist

It has been a turbulent three months during which I have not blogged.

We have now settled in our new town and feel very much at home there. But we have still not successfully bought a property, and have not fully resolved the question of church. On housing we had many failed attempts at purchasing, which fell foul of new rules making it harder to buy a property for mixed domestic and business use. So now we are buying a much smaller terraced house (still quite big by most standards) and a chalet on a holiday park for the business. But we are still waiting for the closure of the sale of our old house, whose purchaser has had her own mortgage difficulties. We are optimistic that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.

On church, I have settled for the razzmatazz cinema church, which is theologically too conservative for me but is the best for my son, and since we dragged him to this town kicking and screaming against his will we have prioritised his wishes in selecting a church.

But it is in the next town, and Mrs with her disability and lack of driving needs to be somewhere where she can get involved midweek. She also needs to be a person in her own right not overshadowed by me. And recently following the churches together group, I think she wants to be a member f the church in the town as a whole rather than just one congregation - a floater but in a positive sense.

Work wise, my contract only delivered 3 days a week of work during autumn which was very painful to the finances. This contract is now suddenly very busy again, but ends at the end of the month. senior managers have decided not to have contract staff as a policy decision, without reference to the service that these individuals provide and will be lost by that decision. Based on an interview this morning, I should start with a new client on the first working day in February - not quite a done deal yet but nearly there. With this I will be about £50 per week less well off, but that should be offset by unforeseen advantages.

Commuting has been bad recently. The 75 mile journey from my new town is a minimum of 1 hr 20 minutes, but that has been stretched to 2 hours by serious long term roadworks which should carry on for another 6 weeks. For my new client I will need to add 5 miles and some rush hour city traffic, but travelling after the worst of it I should not be too badly off.

So it is all change, but beginning to settle.

And one day the pain of the last year and the failed case may eventually start to ease, but it still feels very raw and it is still hard to distinguish between a cry for justice and a cry for vengeance.

Friday, September 12

Calm is trying to settle on us, but failing

we are beginning to feel settled in our new town.

But the peace keeps getting disrupted, firstly by the hurt and stress of the failure of Mrs legal case, and now by trouble with the flat we are purchasing for our son. he is back form his honeymoon, and it is still not available. the solicitor keeps finding new things to chase up and the date of completion is slippingbfurther into the distance.

So we have decided to abandon that purchase, and go instead for a rented flat.

So he is now rushing around with his new wife trying to find a flat they like, and we also need to sort references and everything like that.

So i keep getting texts and emails, which does not help me to do my day job!

Also, stranegly enough, this is tied in to decisions about my car. It is due for its MOT test on wednesday, and will need quite a lot of money spending on it to pass. Is it worth it? If we decide not to proceed with the flat purchase, Mrs wants us to use some of the money for a new car. in whihc case it is not worth doing the MOT test at all. But then I need the new car by wednesday - or at worst Friday - otherwise I cant get to work.

It's not really long enough to think about a new car, but the most likley option at present is a second hand Kia.

So we are having to make lots of decisions in a pnic and quickly.

Tuesday, September 9

The keys of a miracle

I arrived at the office park-and-ride just in time for the bus. So I grabbed my butties from the boot of the car and ran for it.

At the office I found I did not have my door entry fob, stuck on my key ring, which I realised I had left in the boot of the car when scrambling to get the butties from the back. So at lunch time I had to go back on the bus to get the keys.

I could see the keys in the boot, but the doors were locked.

I could call a breakdown van, but it's not covered by the policy and would cost me £80.

I could break a window to get the keys and then call autoglass to fix the window under the policy. But a Christian friend pointed out that the policy would be for accidental damage, not deliberatly smashing it to get your keys back. (Damned Christian ethics!)

So I decided I would have to leave the car there for the night and use the train to go home tonight and back tomorrow, returning with teh spare key which I could remember removing from my pocket thinking "I shouldn't carry this around or I will end up losing both keys at once". I have been meaning to try the train anyway. The ticket costs the same as my petrol; it's just the extra hassle of getting to the station and waiting for trains, probably adding an hour to the journey each way.

I went back to the bus stop for the shuttle back to the office for the afternoon's work. As I got onto the bus I noticed one of the previous passengers handing someone's lost keys to the bus driver.


Commuting from the new town

This has been generally very good. It is a longer journey than I am used to, but 75 minutes on empty dual carriageway through scenic countryside can be less draining than the 50 minutes I used to spend through urban areas.

Friday night was an excpetion. I set off earlier than usual and hit rush hour traffic which turned the motorway into a stagnant car park. That took me two hours to get home. Think I'll stick to going home late!

Case response

We had a card from ne of the wardens of the old church.

It was well-meaning, comiserating with our dissapointment at not getting ordained.

But of course, this is really not the issue at all! It seems that someone, and it can only be the Vicar we complained about, has been putting out the story that the reason we left was that alleged dissapointment. This is of course another lie to cover up for what he has done and to blame oters for the outcomes of his mess.

So, having decided to leave it to God, we now feel that through this card he is prompting us to write to the warden and to the PCC clarifying the reasons for our departure. There are good peolpe there who deserve to know that we did not lightly abandon the church suddenly. Of course we will have to admit that the authorities did not find in our favour. But as mentioned previously, this is part of the injustice that means that in our new town we are very unlikely to join an Anglican church.

We have done our first draft, and have at least three new points that we need to add. It is very ahrd to write it in a way that factually and accurately explains why we left without falling into childish name-calling and spiteful vengeance.

Please pray that we get it right.

Thursday, September 4

There is a big hole - engineers are looking into it.

I've just been on a visit this morning to a pumping station at the end of an interceptor sewer.

It is the biggest hole with pumps in that I have ever looked into: 40m deep. It has a lift to get to the bottom, with stops at the landings on the way. Impressive!

(Now it would be even better if the pumps didn't keep getting blocked and even better still if the engineers knew how to solve the problem. the problem has been there for 14 years, and i have three weeks to give my solution! Well, my solution starts with a £ sign and has seven zeros after the first number. Oh, and the screens at the top don't work either, and I have to solve that as well)

Wednesday, September 3

What next with the case?

We are still reeling from the shock of unexpectedly losing the case.

We feel very strongly aggrieved by this, though there is no official right of appeal.

The church describes it simply as a 'breakdown of the pastoral relationship'. This leaves my wife in tears, while her persecutor writes triumphant posts about 'defeating the enemy' on the church website.

Our intention is to allow God to provide justice in his time. But it has impossible not to compose (at least in the mind) all the angry and vindictive letters to the Bishop, the PCC, the press etc that come to mind.

At very least, if there has been a 'breakdown of the pastoral relationship' as they admit, and pastoring is what the Vicar is paid to do, then he should still be disciplined and sent for re-training.

Meanwhile, we here that one of his associates, a former curate of the church, has lost her job in the church. As curate she had to do what the vicar said to some degree, but we feel that the Vicar has probably blamed her for much of what went on. This lady was far from perfect in her behaviour towards us, but we would not want her to be his scapegoat.

So it feels as though, like some Mafia don, nothing will stick to him in the courts because he is always able to say taht it was one of his minions taht did it. He is not the Teflon Don, he is the Teflon vicar.

And my wife feels the way that women feel when they have been raped but the police drop the case because there is insufficient evidence, and blame the woman for dressing that way and having a drink. Or the way child abuse victims feel when they pluck up the courage to tell but their case is hushed up to protect people in power.

So what do we do?

First commute from my new town

It went really well. Left the house at 8:15, or probably 8:20 by the time we were in the car. Dropped my son a suitible short wlak from his first day at his new high school. The proceded, perhaps not the shortest route owing to the school drop, and arrived without any delays of any consequence at work at the normal time.

The views along the route were outstanding. I normally see this area by day or by evening. This time it was morning, with the mist and the hills glowing in the lightd form the east. Spectatcular!

The only downer was that just after I got onto the dual carriageway it became obvious therewas a police incident on the other side and as we passed we saw at least two lorries; one at an awkward angle up the embankemnt, and one with it's side smashed in and it's load exposed, and also a van with the cab smashed right in. Clearly a very serious incident: I would expect that someone died in the van. That side had been fully closed to traffic which was all being diverted off at the previous junction, with a tailback going for miles. But there was extensive professional traffic management in place so it must have happened many hours earlier.

Kids and schools in the new town

We have sorted our older boy in the town's main high school. he had an interview on Monday, and arranged his GCSE options yesterday. Today I dropped him off in his smart new uniform, and he will be met by a staff member who will allocate im his timetable and 'buddies' to show him the ropes. The school itself is architecturally magnificent. It is 10 years old, but still looks brand spanking new. I think that once he gets over his anger at being separated form friends in the old town he will be happy there. i hope.

The daughter is more of a problem.

It's not our fault: we have been trying to contact the available schols for weeks buyt they were all on holiday of course. There is an array to choose from, but many are full, except for the one that is under 'special measures'. Our favourites are a church school which is probablythe best in the town, and a non-religious school which is good if rather bleak and is located conveniently next door to the house we are buying. That practicality is a very important consideration for my non-driving diabled wife. The next choice is another church school whihc would require a transport solution, or an even more dustant Catholic school.

But none of them has returned out calls or emails - not even to say "Sorry, but no". So we have not been able to buy the uniform for her. So today she is doing 'home school' with my wife, who is a teacher anyway.