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(no subject) [Sep. 22nd, 2017|03:15 pm]
Ben
Rachel arrived last night, which was wonderful. After we'd said our hellos and were about to start on dinner I fiddled with her laptop to find out what the speed of her RAM actually was after all, and if I'd bought the wrong speed. Turns out I had, which was annoying. There's a whole debacle I could go in to about it, but at the end of the day, I could have saved my money and used a DIMM I found surplus at work. What's going to happen is the RAM won't arrive until next Thursday, but it'll be matched, which I suppose is a good thing. Or I could send that RAM back too, I guess...

Anyway, other than that we got up early this morning so we could do a fairly gentle run before work and Rachel's Skype call with someone in Kenya. That went off without much of a hitch, although I wince every time the shower is on now that I'm pretty sure it's adding to the damp issue whenever it's used. I'm about to head home to meet a friendly builder who might have some ideas about how to fix/repair the issue, as well as give advice/quotes on other things we want doing in the house. Rachel's there working from home today, so she'll be able to start asking/answering questions if I don't get home before him. Other than that, today I finally got a motherboard installed in a server that actually works, although that lead to a whole other run around with regard to network interfaces being renamed by udev, MAC addresses needing deleting from configuration files, and out-of-band service processors being given incorrect network addresses. Everything is now, I hope, fixed, but it's just another in a long line of 'making things harder for myself' things that've been happening to me in the last few months. I'd really like to put a stop to them if I can. Or at least have a few fewer.

This weekend Rachel'll be heading off early tomorrow morning to play hockey while I go to parkrun. She'll spend a bit of time at home catching up on the things she needs to do before coming back to mine again. We might even go for a burger on her way back from the train station. On Sunday we'll be doing a really long run (3 hours) and then if we can manage it, attempting the first round of wallpaper removal with a steamer. That should be interesting.
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(no subject) [Sep. 21st, 2017|04:50 pm]
Ben
Things I discovered last night: The temperature sensor under my heated floor thinks the floor is at 50 degrees centigrade. It is broken. To get it replaced would be a flat fee of £250, plus potentially a broken tile (of which I don't have spares). The out of hours service/support line told me how to shift the system into a mode where it will still heat the floor (which it thinks is already too hot), but I was disinclined to use it before, now I'm seriously not interested. I guess I might have to if the floor gets as cold as I think it might in the depths of winter. It's a shame it takes about ninety minutes to actually do anything noticable, whilest gobbling up electricity in the meantime. I also discovered that the mermaid panel on at least one side of my shower room's shower area is letting water through to the brickwork behind it. I think it has been doing it so long that the outside brickwork is damp. At least, that's what it looks like to the naked eye. I've also discovered a small amount of swelling on a mermaid panel on the inside due to water ingress. It's probably down to an insufficient amount of usage of sealant, I think. In any event, it's just more stuff to add to the reasons I'm feeling unhappy about my house purchase. Of course, the house isn't going to fall down, but it seems likely that a noticable amount of money is going to need to be spent to put things right. Some of it I can put off, potentially indefinitely (like the temperature sensor for the underfloor heating), but the damp thing needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. I've just had a text from the previous owners with the mobile number of the person who did the work back in 2013, and I've left him a message asking for a call back. Hopefully he, the builder I have coming around tomorrow for other reasons, but potentially this too, or my favourite plumber (who hasn't responded yet) will be able to fix things. Of course, the place where the mermaid panels were purchased from have told me that that particular design of panel isn't available any more, so if I need it replacing, I'll need to replace both panels. That'll be between £360 and £500, plus potentially VAT, and definitely labour by whoever does it. Then there's the shelving I want done, the floors (mainly upstairs) that are bowing when walked upon, not to mention the extension I seriously won't be able to afford for years. And I still need to do the wallpaper stripping, and then sanding and repainting whatever I find underneath it all. Oh, and a wardrobe, and a chest of drawers (unless that's dealt with by the bespoke unit I want installed in the bedroom I'm using as mine).

All in all, things could be going better. And they will, once Rachel arrives this evening. I hope she's not too delayed by work. She works so hard, I try to help by getting her useful things, like a laptop sleeve, and a spare power adaptor, and more RAM. She's working from home tomorrow, which will be lovely as it means we can run in the morning before work, and then she'll be there when I get home. As I have a builder coming over tomorrow, and I was in early this morning to resize a VM's hard drive, I'll be leaving in time to get home before she has to entertain him for too long. But that's tomorrow. Today I've mainly been doing the above, and trying not to bothered by the new additions to the office who smell of cigarette smoke or body odour whilest putting out the usual amount of small fires. Tomorrow morning should be about another go at an engineer replacing a motherboard in a remote server room with me for company, and whatever else crops up in the usual run of things.
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(no subject) [Sep. 20th, 2017|04:50 pm]
Ben
Today was, if not a 'normal' day, then very close to being one. I woke up early, got up, went for a run, came home, had a shower, made lunch, had breakfast, and got to work before 09:00. I've had a morning of doing normal work-related things, called the council and squeezed out contact details for the company that cladded the exterior of all the council-owned council houses (mine is, obviously, privately owned), had lunch, scored some free lunch from a conference, done an afternoon of work, prepared for an earlyish start at work tomorrow morning, and even found and printed out the manual for my central heating RF remote control.

I should head home now to move the steamer wallpaper remover from behind my bins where it being delivered as I write this and into the house.
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(no subject) [Sep. 19th, 2017|05:20 pm]
Ben
Well the day didn't start well when I discovered that the RAM I'd ordered which had arrived apparently didn't match what Dell's web site said Rachel's laptop was shipped with. And yet I was sure I remembered what it actually said on the DIMM itself. I've arranged for an RMA number to return the DIMM and order the 'right' one, but I'm going to wait for Rachel to bring her laptop back on Thursday evening and I can open it up and confirm what I was sure was printed on the label on the DIMM itself before sending the delivered part back. I was in a bit of a state over the course of the weekend, what with all the stress of the house collapsing in on me finally, and then thinking I'd bricked the laptop when I didn't reseat the RAM properly. But to be so forgetful as to see what was printed on it, then immediately buy the wrong thing... well, that'd be a bit silly. Anyway, I've got a few days before the RMA procedure expires, and it'll be freepost and a full PayPal refund, so either way nothing'll be lost other than a bit of time waiting for the right stick of memory to arrive. In other news, the spare power adapter and the protective sleeve/case have shipped, so might arrive before the weekend, which would be nice.

Work wise I got in in good time and set to work on a number of small but useful jobs over the course of the day. Mostly upgrading various bits of software, doing firewall and load balancer changes, and making people clarify what they actually wanted in both cases before I actually did anything. Some of my previous exhortations bore fruit this morning with regard to disk usage on a few servers, so that was good too. During all of this I was on the phone with my old utilities provider, trying to get them to take over the gas and electricity supplies at my new home. I probably should have just stayed with the company already providing at the new house as I'd closed my old account and had to fire up a new account for the new house anyway for the time between moving in and my prefered provider taking over. However, I've spent so much time on it now I was damned if I was going to let the situation beat me. In the end it turned out that I couldn't get the tariff I wanted without having them tear down everything to do with taking over the supplies at the new house and me actually applying, on my own, without someone on the phone, online. This I eventually did and it looks like things are finally on the right track. I'll have some readings to take, etc. in two and a bit weeks, but otherwise I think we're good to go. Once that's done I can then start asking for smart meters. I'm extremely interested in how my gas and electricity consumption are going to stack up next to how much I used in the old house. I'm of the opinion things are going to be somewhat more expensive per month and year.

Over lunch I went out and did a slowly speeding up 10K, rather than sprintervals, as I just couldn't face pounding around a track and getting really exhausted. Now I'm going to go home, have a quiet evening, and think about whether or not I want to run a little longer than today tomorrow morning before work. Oh, and I also put up some curtains last night. Well done me.
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(no subject) [Sep. 18th, 2017|06:00 pm]
Ben
For the most part it was a fabulous extended weekend. Rachel arrived on Thursday evening and there was much rejoicing. We looked around the house together and she set my mind at ease about a few things, we had dinner, and then went to bed as we were both knackered for different reasons. On Friday we didn't get up too early, but were forced to when the guy from the water company announced he was 30 minutes out from being able to install my water meter. He duly arrived on time and the fitting of it (in what I thought was a fairly cramped location) went ahead without any issues. So that was one useful thing done. I can't quite remember what else we did that day, but I'm sure there was handing over the house's ex-owner's passport, which arrived in the post, going for a short run together with Rachel, and having lunch with Shaun to thank him for helping with the move. Oh yes, and we went out to do some shopping for various useful things, but couldn't get a laptop for Rachel as they didn't have the one we wanted in stock, apparently. Anyway, by the end of Friday we were very ready for bed again. On Saturday we got up horribly early so we could get a train to London in the hopes of doing the original Bushy Park parkrun before meeting other people for a run along the river near Richmond Park. Unfortunately the trains were just late enough that we couldn't make the parkrun start in time, so we wandered around the park itself for a short time, then headed to the meeting point to meet some of the other people doing the marathon in Kenya next month. A run of just under ten miles was duly had before we went our separate ways. Rachel and I were famished, so ended up eating a nice eatery a few streets away, and then we got trains to our respective houses (most for Rachel to check her house was still in one piece, drop everything from her trip to Kenya, and get herself a few moments to herself). Rachel then arrived back at my place later on in the evening, in time for us to have a very nice dinner together. I did have a little bit of a meltdown on Saturday evening (or maybe it was Sunday) owing to my piling stresses (both real and imaginary) on myself over the last few days, weeks, months (and in some ways, years). Luckily Rachel is amazing and helped me put everything in perspective. I'm still worried about lots of things to do with the house, but I'm not quite so freaked out about them. On Sunday morning we decided to go for a longer run (time, rather than distance) so I took us on a route I'd run with the local triathlon club a few weekends before, which was rather nice. We showered in my new shower room (with plastic bags up to protect the plaster from getting wet (I don't know how the previous owners managed not to damage the plaster long term)), had a nice lunch, and then headed out to get Rachel's new laptop and a switched 4-gang for me. For the rest of the day I indulged in setting it up for her whilest she indulged in optimising my kitchen. While she had great success (the kitchen looks great, and there's more room for everything I need), I managed to briefly brick her laptop by taking the back off to check I could do a RAM upgrade and didn't reseat the single DIMM in there properly. That caused a bit of swearing. As a reward for fixing it again, not to mention everything we'd done over the weekend we treated ourselves to a sampling of the new-to-us local Indian takeaway and were very pleased with the results.

And that takes us to this morning. Rachel's first cycle to the train station from the new house (we went to London using the new station closer to the house, but it was a serious hassle getting home again, so I don't think we'll do that again any time soon), her wearing her new cycle helmet which she bought over the weekend, and my first Monday in the new house, with getting to work. I have to say that leaving the house a bit earlier certainly made the new part of my cycle commute a lot more pleasant, so maybe I'll become more of an early bird again. I spent most of the morning trying to get my utilities moved from the old address to the new one as they had stubbornly refused to change despite me using the online form to do so. Then I managed to steamroller myself into choosing the wrong new tariff on the new account, so had to spend more time getting them to tear down and then recreate a new account such that I can move it to the right tariff. I'm going to have to wait until tomorrow to get that finished. Then I had to actually call the new house's current utilities provider to get them to create a short-term account (at a horrendous tariff) between the time I moved in and when my provider of choice takes over the metering. Even more annoyance. Good news came in the form of getting a response from a carpenter/joiner/builder to come and look at the things I want doing (not immediately, but at least I got a reply), probable confirmation that I don't need new filters for my kitchen extractor fan as it's not a recirculator, and someone will be able to lend me a steamer wallpaper stripped in a little while so that I can remove the 'feature wall' wallpaper in three rooms (and maybe the staircase). Workwise I dealt with a lot of stuff that is normally spread over a few more people (who're on holiday or needed to be at home for other reasons), helped an engineer replace a motherboard in one of our server rooms (which didn't work in the end as there was a DIMM slot failure on the new board), and coordinated some server VM disk space reconfiguration actions, which probably won't happen tomorrow, but might have to happen on Thursday rather than me doing a before-work run.

Right now though it's home time. I'm pooped.
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(no subject) [Sep. 14th, 2017|06:35 pm]
Ben
Another night in the new house. I got home after going to John Lewis for some bits and bobs and forced myself to head out for a short run rather that simply go home and eat. Happily, one of the things I bought was my housewarming present from my parents; an induction-compatible grill/griddle pan. This meant I was able to cook one of my favour go-to meals, which includes ostrich steaks. I did also use the shower in the house for the first time (other showers were had at work after running). That was interesting, and leads me to believe I may need to get some more waterproofing done in the bathroom to both wall and floor (tile grouting). But that shouldn't need doing straight away.

After another night when I woke in the middle of it, and therefore didn't want to get up at 06:00 for a run I eventually got up and headed to work. I'm discovering that the junctions I've crossed over on a Saturday morning to get to parkrun are a lot busier on a weekday morning and evening. I really need to be careful when going over them on the cycle path. But I survived getting to work today and have spend the day trying to reduce the number of issues being flagged up by our monitoring system. An exercise in futility for the most part as many of them are things I just can't do anything about.

At lunch time I went into town and got spare parts for one of Rachel's bikes in Croydon, went and got my "so you're now over 40 years old" health checkup (which left my arm pretty sore after the blood draw) and went back to John Lewis to return something which I bought last night. What's more important is that Rachel arrives home from Kenya to my local train station in about forty minutes, so I need to head off, find her bike at the station and then cycle home with her to show her how I'm settling in. We're not going to work tomorrow, so we'll have some time to reconnect, do some unpacking, go for a run together, and perhaps even have some lunch with Shaun in one of the local pubs to thank him for helping me move. It'll also be the first time Shaun has met Rachel. Oh, and in the morning I hope to be getting a water meter fitted, although there's a chance it won't be as I think the stopcock is in a really problematic place. Here's hoping if it can't be fitted close to it, it can be fitted elsewhere on the property, like the one in my old (rented) house was.

Anyway, see you on Monday. Over the weekend we'll be going to London to do some running with some of the other people going to Kenya with us next month, and probably some other stuff I haven't thought of yet. Mostly it'll be doing things with Rachel, which is all I really care about.
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(no subject) [Sep. 13th, 2017|04:50 pm]
Ben
Second night in the new house and I slept a lot better, thank you. I even managed to get the oven to work (there's a manual). However, the wind blowing a minor gale this morning, plus still feeling absolutely shattered in the morning meant that I didn't end up running before work. I also didn't get to go running at lunch time either as I got Chris to give me a lift home to check that my broadband was up and running and that the delivery from Yodel was going to be accepted. In the end the broadband worked first time and the delivery actually fitted through the letterbox, which was great.

Back at work this afternoon I've been faced with a few issues I haven't had to deal with in a long time as John's been taking care of them. Also a few issues have cropped up which would have been my problem if I'd been associated with them. Happily I wasn't, so I get to go home on time. And by home I mean to John Lewis to buy an induction hob compatible non-stick grill/griddle pan and a similarly non-stick sauce pan.

Rachel arrives tomorrow!
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(no subject) [Sep. 12th, 2017|05:25 pm]
Ben
Well, I'm moved. I'm in, and now the process of unpacking and adapting myself to fit this new shape of house begins. It has been an interesting few days. On Saturday I went out to parkrun and ran pretty much as fast as I can at the moment. This netted me a reasonable, but not extraordinary 5K time. 25 seconds off my PB for the same course, 43 seconds of Rachel's PB for the same. Still, not too bad for my age, I guess. After that it was back home to shower and do more packing and cleaning. Most of the afternoon was spent paying the help I was going to get on Sunday forward by helping Shaun's brother-in-law move house. Just a bit of lifting. Not all that much. Saturday night I ate fairly well, I think. I don't remember much about it, but I tried to get a reasonably early night.

On Sunday morning I just couldn't sleep past about 04:00 so got up around 07:00 and after having breakfast decided to go for a run to work off some stress. In the grand scheme of marathon distances, 16km isn't all that much, but it helped. When I got home I had texts from Rachel, my landladies, and the seller of the house. Rachel had had her laptop and Garmin watch stolen from her hotel room while she was at breakfast, so I spent a useful few minutes changing all of her Google-related passwords for her (luckily she'd had her passport and smartphone with her). My landladies had some queries about things, and the house seller wanted me to arrive a little later to learn how the house worked. When I eventually went over there we spent about an hour going through everything, which was remarkably helpful (although still need to sit down and spend a good period of time working out how the under floor heating and the remote controlled central heating actually work). After that I went home, did some more packing, including packing the van once Shaun had delivered it towards the beginning of the evening, and then tried to relax with a delivery pizza before bed.

Naturally I didn't sleep all that well, although perhaps that was down to my left hand next door neighbour's smoke/fire/carbon monoxide alarm going off at midnight. It went on so long I actually got dressed and broke into their back garden so I could look into their windows and see if there was a fire. I even called the emergency services, but they told me that unless I could see either smoke/flames or people in black and white striped jumpers having it away on their toes with a television set I'd just have to try and ignore it. About twenty minutes later the alarm stopped, but I don't think I got much more sleep. Moving day went fairly smoothly in the end. I had keys from Sunday's meeting, so once Shaun and Fran arrived we drove over there and did the first unload. After Cormac arrived we went back, had some packed lunch (courtesy of Fran), then loaded up the van with stuff for the tip (my old sofas (used to be Shaun's) and some DVD/CD stands) and furniture. After that it was just bikes, bookshelves, and the mattress. Once everything was in the house Cormac, Shaun and Fran went home and I attempted to start unpacking a bit. It turns out the new kitchen has significantly less storage space than the old one, so I'm definitely going to have to rationalise/slim down what I own. After a few hours of emptying a few boxes I got fed up, made the lounge presentable, accepted delivery of the fridge freezer, ordered a curry, and literally made the bed (framel). The food arrived as I was finishing the bed (perfect timing) so I settled down to watch a film for a bit and ate. Around 22:00 I figured it would be OK to cycle back to the old house and empty the fridge freezer there. So I cycled over (ten minutes), stuck everything in my panniers and cycled back to load up the new appliance.

I don't know if it was first night nerves, the two slices of leftover pizza I ate on the cycle back from the old house, the curry, the second naan I had to order to qualify for free delivery (cost more than the naan), the new house sounds (including traffic noise), the shot of whisky I had to celebrate moving in and surviving, or the air (temperature), but I had a horrible night's sleep and woke in the small hours with a headache like I haven't had in more years than I can remember. It persisted all the way through my cycle into town to get my fridge freezer warranty card filled in, my two bank account home addresses changed, and the cycle to work. I can still tell it's there now, even after a morning of work, getting my utilities notified of all meter readings at old and new properties, helping my landladies help the water reader guy read the meter at the old property (over the phone), a fairly relaxed run at lunch time, and an afternoon of work. I'm about to go home, take stock, go to the new very close Tesco, and then consider doing another box or two. I might even learn how to use the induction hob and work out which of my pans work on it. I really need a non-stick griddle pan that does. Hopefully my home broadband will come on tomorrow, too.
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(no subject) [Sep. 8th, 2017|04:35 pm]
Ben
A somewhat quieter today, thank goodness. I almost decided to get up and run this morning as the residual stress meant I was awake and staring at the ceiling at around 04:00, but decided at least trying to doze was a better use of my time. Given Rachel's probably not getting to run much I can claim it's a form of solidarity not to be doing so either this week (and potentially next week, too). Nothing really happened at work today other some useful administravia and my line manager finally getting on the case to get some really, really old servers (and their virtual guests) decommissioned. I don't think it'll happen any time soon, but at least it's not just me banging my drum on my own any more.

I began packing the kitchen up last night and rapidly discovered that I'm at least two moderately large boxes short of what I need to finish packing everything. All of my glassware, crockery, and cutlery is unboxed. I think what I'm going to have to do is unpack a few boxes at the far end and bring them back. This shouldn't be an issue at all and means, in a way, that I'll already have started unpacking! See, this is me being positive about something. Anyway, there are enough odds and ends remaining unpacked that I'd need to bring back some boxes for that stuff, so it's not like I wouldn't have had to have done it for another reason. What I might use is the collapsable crates, even if they are much smaller than most boxes, and I only have two of them. Maybe the crates and a box or two. In any event, I think I've got a handle on what's required.

The plan for the next three days is as follows: Tonight I go home and do very little. Maybe watch a film and make dinner from things in the fridge and freezer. Saturday morning I cycle to parkrun, warm up a lot (including lots of abdominal stretching), run hard to very hard (depending on how my abdominal area responds to doing so), cycle home again, shower, and then consider what I can squeeze into already closed (necessitating reopening them) boxes. Dismantle the bed and put the mattress on the floor. Some time on Saturday perhaps head over to help Shaun move his brother-in-law to a new house. Hopefully eat a little more from fridge/freezer/unpacked cupboards. Sunday morning I will potentially go for a long run early on so I can be showered and cycling to the new house in time to arrive around 11:00. Learn things about the new house from the current owners, and take away a set of keys. Sunday afternoon I'll do some cleaning and box arranging near the front door. Some time later on Sunday Shaun drops off the van and I pack it as sensibly as I can without straining anything. Monday morning Shaun arrives and we drive to the new house, I read the meters, we unpack the first load, I empty a few boxes, and we drive back to the old house and maybe do another run before lunch. Shaun potentially drops me off at the new house with a bike (or I cycle there) and I move boxes around while he uses the broadband at my old house to work from home until John Lewis deliver my fridge freezer. I wait a little bit, maybe we do a run with the van to move the majority of the furniture and my mattress, and then plug in the fridge freezer. I wait a little more and then we shift whatever I have left in the fridge and freezer, I read the meters at the old house, do E.ON's online moving house procedure and then I lock up and post the keys through the letter box. I then go to my new house, maybe assemble the bed frame, or maybe sleep on the mattress on the floor for some silly symbolic reason, and head to work on Tuesday morning. Somewhere in there I'll be buying Shaun and Cormac some food and drink.

So, that's my next three days. I hope you have a pleasant few. More news when I return.
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(no subject) [Sep. 7th, 2017|05:10 pm]
Ben
I had another Day today. Herewith roughly what happened. This morning I was still a significant amount short of the money I needed. I transfered it from one account at 06:00, then went for a run as I couldn't sleep. This didn't seem to cause any hernia-related discomfort, so that was a positive, at least. Once I got back I check the next account in the chain and the amount was available. I duly FasterPayment'd it over to my account at 07:30 - as one lump sum, having seen on both bank's web sites that this amount was acceptable to transfer in one go. Come 12:00 and while it has gone from the sending account, it was not showing in mine. Cue more stress. Rather than wait and wait and wait and perhaps see it bounced back, I called another - amazing, wonderful - friend and got the cash from them... although only half of it was reflected in my online banking balance (of course it was). After stressing some more I went in to the bank, had to sit for 30 minutes for an appointment - during which time I at least ascertained that all of the money had finally cleared - and then began the CHAPS process. It was at this point that (not having been told this on the phone) I found that having my bank card, knowing the PIN, and details of transactions on the account wasn't enough ID. Would my driving license do? Why yes it would. Wait, that's not the address on the account. No, that's my parents' address because I was due to emigrate so changed it to what amounted to my "address here", then didn't, and have been in rented accommodation since. Ah, well, that might be a problem for IDing you... Even in this day and age, it appears that pleading with the bank/branch manager (by proxy, the person doing the CHAPS transfer for me went to see him 'upstairs' and was very much in my corner) is still a thing.

Long story short, CHAPS transfer approved.

Counter to my previous experience with getting money out of my other bank, the other CHAPS transfer went perfectly well over the phone, although the callback took significantly longer to happen than I was comfortable with.

So there you have it. Both CHAPS transfers to my solicitor are - apparently - in motion. I owe two people a lot of money and a great deal of thanks, this morning's transfer had finally arrived in my account when I made it back to the office so I was able to pay that back immediately, which took a little bit of complication out of my current financial situation.

I don't feel happy, or excited, or even relieved. Just numb. There's still lots to do and unpick now. Although much of that won't happen until next Thursday, when my held up money should appear, somewhere, in some account. Probably.

I'm going home now. Not to celebrate, but to do some more packing, and then hope to get a full night's sleep without grinding my teeth.
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