31 March 2010

More thoughts of September

As I said in a previous post, I've been thinking about our move in September. We haven't moved house in a few years, and since University we've lived in the same area. It suddenly dawned on me that there's a lot to do in preparation for the move; especially as we'll be taking a massive income drop. We can't afford to pay a month of extra council tax or student loan payments, so for once in my life I'll need to get organised.
In a bid to do this, I thought I'd have a bit of a brainstorm here:
  • Council tax - need to find out what we'll need to pay and whether we get any benefits or rebates. I know I'll get a discount as a student, but that's all I know so far. We also need to make sure Lancaster City Council know when we're moving.
  • Tenancy - need to notify landlord of intended move date and end of tenancy.
  • New house - need to sign a contract and find a deposit.
  • Removals - need to book some assistance with this - hoping my uncle can help here!
  • NI and tax - this has always been a mystery to me. I should probably check if there are any implications of my change in status half way through the year.
  • Student loans - I only have a bit left to pay on my loan, but when I become a student again, I won't be paying! Probably need to let the lovely folks in Glasgow know what's going on.
Then there's all the things I keep forgetting about:
  • Need to find a vet and register the felines
  • Need to find a dentist with vacancies (and fill in HC1 forms!)
  • Need to work out where the nearest doctors' surgery will be in Cambridge
I think I need to write these down and keep adding to them as I think of more! Once I start at Westcott, I don't think I'll have masses of time to faff around with this sort of thing.

30 March 2010

A calmer approach to Holy Week

For the last few years Holy Week has been a somewhat manic time for us. We've routinely spent Wednesday to Saturday at Loyola Hall in Merseyside, where I have helped by organising and leading the music. Whilst that sounds like a calm and peaceful way to approach this reflective time in the Church's year, it most certainly is not! Planning meetings coming out of your ears, trying to move people on from their favourite seasonal music (mostly from the 70s and 80s), and trying to get people singing in parts are all demanding tasks which take a lot of energy. With the arrival of LittleLanky, we decided that we would give our apologies this year in favour of a bit of down-time at home. 
One of the downsides of worshipping in the context of a University Chaplaincy is that there really isn't anyone around in the holidays. The Sunday services are reasonably attended, but trying to get people out during the week is very difficult! Combine this with the timing of Easter in relation to the vacation, and it is proving to be a very quiet Holy Week so far!
Having said that, we had a very successful 'workshop' approach to Christopher Walker's Passion on Palm Sunday, and I'm hoping for a smattering of people at my contemporary approach to Tenebrae on Maundy Thursday. Thankfully it's a service I used at Loyola last year, and I only need to make a few small amendments.

24 March 2010

Cricket Conundrum

I posted earlier in the year about the proposal to bring the Ashes into the 'Crown Jewels' of British sporting events. This would mean the tournament would be covered on terrestrial television once more. In my earlier post I sounded a note of caution based on the level of income currently enjoyed by the ECB from television revenue. I saw this article today on the BBC website which details the ECB's reservations on the matter. I'm sure everyone connected with this matter shares my dilemma: I'd love to see the Ashes on terrestrial TV again, but the Sky money has made a massive difference to the game. How do you choose between a massive amount of income and a massive increase in the armchair following of the game?

Here's one answer: when the government decides to make a sporting event one of the 'crown jewels', it should fund the shortfall between what Sky and the BBC can pay for the rights. Murdoch would hate it, but the viewing public and the ECB would love it.

23 March 2010

The A14 and the Sabbath

We've just returned from a very enjoyable weekend in Cambridgeshire; staying with family and going to Cambourne for a baptism on Sunday. The baptism was held in the new Cambourne Church building as part of the regular morning service. The sermon was one in a series on the subject of 'Sabbath', and focussed particularly on liberation as an aspect of sabbath.
I found myself musing on other aspects of sabbath observance as we sat in traffic for 2 hours following a diversion around a closed portion of the A14. It reminded me of something I had previously observed on a meandering train home from London; a lot of people travel on a Sunday. So why is it that Network Rail and the Highways Agency seem to assume that the Sabbath is a day of rest across the land?
I'm sure that the cost to the nation's economy is less if closures happen on a weekend, but for those of us who only do long journeys on a weekend it feels a bit like victimisation! Is there not some other type of value attached to an efficient leisure journey on a Sunday afternoon? There is in my book, though I'm not sure that will persuade anyone to think about a change of policy.
I suppose we're going to have to get used to the eccentricities of the A14 at some point soon. It will be a road we use frequently once we move to Cambridge, and its reputation precedes it.

17 March 2010

Thinking about September

As some of you will know, the Lanky tribe will be moving south (and East) in the autumn for a major change in our lives. I've accepted a place at Westcott House (Cambridge) to train for the priesthood, and we'll be moving down there in September.

I've spent some time this week lining up a meeting with our potential landlord, and it occurred to me the other day that we will have to give notice on our current house this month! That means we have to start deciding moving dates and end dates for my current work. It really is starting to become very real! 

At the same time, though, both MrsLanky and I are excited by the opportunity to start something new when many of our peers are settling down. We're daunted by the move away from our home of 10 years (we're going to miss Lancaster), but also energised by the leap of faith we have chosen to make. We have no real idea where we'll be in 5 or 10 years time, and it feels great!

My key reservations about Cambridge are as follows:
  • No hills in Cambridge - mountain biking a bit dull
  • Lake District very far away
  • I will be a proper offcomer (northern terminology) for the first time in my life (MrsLanky knows all about this, being a Southerner in the north)
  • Less rain than the Northwest of England; possible withdrawal symptoms from the damp
  • Distance from my family (again, MrsLanky knows all about this one)
  • Probable unavailability of 'Lancaster Blonde' in Cambridge pubs
If you can think of any more, please add them to the comments...

16 March 2010

The silent majority

Over the last 15 years there has been a massive expansion in electricity generation from onshore wind turbines. There have been several projects in Lancashire, and I have noticed a trend. When the public consultations open, the loudest voice comes from a relatively small group of objectors; some of whom have legitimate complaints about shadow flicker or reduced house value etc...

Given the presentation of 'public opinion' in the local media, I would expect that a large proportion of the people I speak to about the subject would bite my head off when I voice my support, but I don't! I hardly ever hear any objections. Is it because the 'type' of people I know are more likely to support windfarms? I'm sure that's part of it, but I'm convinced that there's a silent majority out there, who, by remaining silent, are helping to perpetuate a skewed rendering of public opinion in the press. I genuinely think that were we to hold a referendum for each project (with compulsory participation), wind energy projects would find a vast amount of support they never knew existed!

So why all the fuss from a LankyAnglican? Well my employer has submitted a planning application for the construction of 2 wind turbines which would provide 1/3 of the University's electricity requirements. The impact on local residents is relatively limited, given the site is adjacent to the M6 motorway and the massive university campus, and all the appropriate impact studies have suggested that the proposed site is a good one. Public opinion, however, seems to be going against the application. So here's my plea: if you're a member of the silent majority, please break your silence, and do so quickly! Local residents' voices will count for more, but please also add your comments from afar!

Lancaster City Council Planning Portal
More project information

5 March 2010

A cricket post

There's been a lot of comment about the England team's decision to rest key players (including the captain) during their tour of Bangladesh, and I'd like to add my insignificant vote of confidence to their decision. We've only just got through the ODIs, but I think it's possible to identify some benefits of this strategy already:
  1. Cook has been able to get valuable experience of captaincy. He is clearly the nation's captain in waiting, and as such he should benefit from more than the odd fill-in game. England players don't get the opportunity to captain their county sides, so the vast majority of the contracted players have never captained a team since their school days. Why do we expect them to pick it up immediately following their appointment to the job?
  2. Other players have been given the chance to prove themselves on the international scene. This has to be good for them and for the selectors.
One final thing I noticed on the scorecard from Chittagong is that KP has finally been allowed to turn his arm over a bit. This is something I would have liked to have seen over the summer when he was really scratching around for a contribution with the bat, and even in the field. I thought it might have helped if he'd felt a bit more involved in the game by bowling a few overs; he may even have taken the odd wicket like he did today.

All in all, I think England's approach to Bangladesh has been sensible. Let's hope the benefits roll forward to the coming summer.

Pringle jumpers

I came across this animation via Dave Walker. Very Good!