Car or mortgage?

I have a couple of hours to kill while my car is in for its second service. This is a major service – as much as any service on a car is major these days – so includes all the filters as well as the oil change and a poke around with an old screwdriver, or whatever a “vehicle inspection” constitutes.

This has given me an opportunity to reflect on the car and what I have to do with it.

I collected the car on 17th January 2013. That’s 317 days ago. The mileage this morning was, give or take, 35,000 miles. Which is an average of 110 miles per day. Every day.

The computer in the car tells me that, despite most of my driving being done on the motorway, my average speed since my last refuel is just under 40 mph. I know from experience that this is typical for a driver like me. This means that I have, so far in this car, spent 875 hours driving. 34 1/2 days, 24 hours per day.

In a typical year, of 40,000 miles, it’s about 1,000 hours.

I have been averaging about 49 mpg, which is pretty good for a reasonably big, reasonably heavy car like mine. So, that’s 715 gallons of fuel, at a rough cost of £4,500.

This is insane. Basically, I drive all these miles so that I can afford to drive a car that allows me to drive all these miles in comfort and safety.

What I really should do is work out the saving I would make on my motoring costs if I moved closer to work. If I only had a 20 mile drive to the office, for example, I would be doing 200 miles per week commuting, not the 500 miles now. With personal mileage accounted for, I could probably save 50% on my miles. That’s £2,500 per year in fuel alone. £200 per month, let’s say. In addition, there is the saving for not having to buy the car of a 40,000 per year lease – that’s probably another couple of hundred quid. Then there’s insurance, tyres, and everything else.

Let’s call it £500 per month.

£500 per month might buy me an extra £50,000 mortgage over a 10 year term.

So, the big question is, “Could I buy a house that I would want to live in, 20 miles from the office, if I added £50,000 to my mortgage”

The answer has to be “Probably not” **

Of course, the alternative question is “Can I get a job 20 miles from home, that pays me £500 per month, after tax, less than I earn now”. And, “What would I do with all that extra life?”

These are much more difficult questions to answer.

M56 it is then.

** Edit: Just had a look on RightMove. The answer is actually “Maybe”, but it’s actually much more complicated, when second incomes are accounted for…

Another new buddy link this week

The Lymphoma Association called me a couple of weeks ago asking whether I would be able to take on another buddy – a request to which I gladly said “Yes” – and my new contact phoned me on Tuesday. As with Buddy Nr 1, we had a really good chat and I am pleased to say that the feedback he has given the Association was very positive. It is interesting that I seem to be getting as much from these contacts as the people seeking a buddy and I regret not calling the Association and asking for a buddy myself when I was first diagnosed.

I have also been asked whether I would consider putting myself forward as a lay-member on a NICE Committee considering further issues relating to follicular NHL. This is something I would really like to be able to do. I enjoyed the small contribution I made a few years ago, when they were considering the use of Rituximab for first-remission maintenance and I think that I would have been able to make a positive contribution again. Unfortunately, they need people who are available in Cardiff every 4-6 weeks, for 18 months. There is no way that my employer would allow me so much time off work to do this, so I will have to set this aside, which is a shame.

Despite my “no looking back” policy, it is appropriate to look back just one year, to my son’s wedding. This time last year we were enjoying the wedding breakfast on a really wonderful day. So, Happy Anniversary to the still happy couple 🙂

Maybe at the end of the year I will allow myself a reflective post, looking back on a most remarkable 12 months.

And finally, I heard today that our multi-storey car park project in Blackpool has been shortlisted for The Lighting Design Awards 2014.  One of my goals for all of the projects there was to win some awards, so let’s hope that this is at least the first shortlisting of many. I need to get up there and take some more photographs of it in the evening now that it’s completed and open to the public so that I can record the lighting system in all its glory. It’s been a challenging project, but working with a good team, we have achieved a remarkable transformation of this old building. Time for another photo…

Car-park

Loss and found

It’s been a bit of an odd time since my last update at the end of October.

While we were in Germany, I was told that one of my only two Uncles (my Mum’s only brother) had died. He had been in hospital for a while, but had recently moved to a nursing home, so while the news of his death wasn’t entirely a surprise, it was obviously one of those sad occasions which put you in a reflective mood.

Then, no more than a week after we had returned to work, I had a phone call from my Dad to tell me that his only brother had also died a couple of days previously. Within the space of a fortnight, I had lost both of my Uncles.

Consequently, we have had two funerals to attend, both in the south of England. It has meant that I have caught up with my only cousins, whom I haven’t seen since my Grandfather’s funeral in 1987… 27 years ago. Can’t exactly claim to be a very close family, I’m afraid. But sitting there in the crematorium chapel on Friday, it struck me that my small family has just got a bit smaller.

But, what have I found?

I have found that winter tyres really are a good idea. Having experienced my car in the snow last March and the winter tyres on the German hire car, I have been umming and ahhing about having them fitted. They were delivered to the tyre shop in the week and were fitted yesterday. I’m glad I had them done. This morning I went to a stage of the Rally of Wales, where we were directed to a car park which was at the top of a muddy hill, at the end of  a long, single track, dead-end road. If I’d tried to get up the grass last week, I’d still be there. With the new tyres, however, despite the ESP system kicking in a little, the car just drove up the grass without any fuss. This bodes well for the winter – which looks as if it might be starting next week. We will see.

Incredibly, the normal tyres that I had taken off the car, and which are now in my garage, still have 5 – 6mm tread on them. After 33,700 miles. Thank you Mr Bridgestone…

I have also found that I am beginning to get to a stage where I am no longer thinking about being in remission. The news from the CT scan is starting to sink in – I was sort of unconvinced to start with, but I no longer worry too much about it. Which is good. I see the new consultant again in a month’s time, and I am hoping that he might propose that we leave it six months between visits from now on. Again, we will see.

The decision was taken to go to Istanbul for the Leica Forum Challenge next year. Not a city that was on my “list”, but I am looking forward to it now. We are having to combine it with our annual holiday this time, otherwise we would be away twice in two months – which is too much even for us. So, we will be flying there from France, where we will have been touring vineyards and gorges a couple of weeks before the weekend. It should be good.

The winner of this year’s Challenge has been decided – not me. I only got 3 points, but that’s fine. There’s always next year. The winning shot was very good, I thought.

And finally, my thoughts and love go to my Mum, who is in hospital tomorrow having an operation on her back. Get well soon Mum x