Drinking margaritas and dancing senoritas

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Running at 15 km/h on the treadmill is probably the same as 12 km/h in the real world. That’s what it felt like. The original idea was to chill at the hotel’s spa because of the rain. Unfortunately the spa was closed at the time. So I decided to cease the day and use the gym instead – conveniently it was right next to the spa entrance. Twenty minutes and five kilometers later, I left the treadmill drenched with what appeared to be the sweat of a thousand scrotums. Mhm, that bad! I went upstairs and knocked on Chinatown’s door to join the tribe.

“Can I use your shower?” I asked as the kids were enjoying their hotel room lunch. They probably enjoyed it a lot less after I joined – I think Mr Fox passed out as he couldn’t handle the smell… or the visual.

All showered up, I realized this was not my best look as my nasty sunburn was on display and I continued sweating. After a bit of chit-chat I had to go back to my AirBnB place to change clothes and have a second shower (my sweat glands didn’t get the memo that I was done running). Hey, it’s warm in Spain!

Neither one of my AirBnB hosts – Christina and Victoria – spoke much English. Consequently we didn’t talk that much as my Spanish is buenos nachos assessino caracas!

Two days earlier, I arrived in Barcelona and spent some time sightseeing. I checked out the Sagrada Familia (it’s the pointy tower building which shows up when you Google images about Barcelona), I checked out a few parks and a castle etc. There was a lot to see.

My first impression of Barcelona was: Wow!

It was so beautiful. I was falling in love with every other girl I saw. They are gorgeous!!! This place was heaven! I’m never coming back to London I thought. I will cherish that day forever and ever.

On Thursday, they had a beach party before the zouk festival. A few of my dancing friends showed up that day in Mataro as well (it’s an hour train ride away from Barclona). The plan was to go to the beach party together and get a cab.

I was told they’d pick me up in two minutes. My feet took me downstairs and across the street so the cab could pick me up. The problem was that the cab never arrived or stopped. I waited a full 10-15 minutes but no dice. So I decided to walk it instead (in all honesty it was only a 10-15 minute walk anyway).

Here’s what happened. Chinatown, The Girl from a Swiss Cottage, Mr and Mrs Fox and the Little Dinosaur hired a cab. They only had room for six people and told another girl at their hotel that she can’t share the ride as one spot was reserved for me. The cab got in front of my place but there was no place to stop, so the cab driver just drove past. They all tried calling/messaging me but I had no reception nor internet on my phone (I actually left my phone at ‘home’ anyway as I thought it’s rather useless here).

The taxi driver was a bit cranky I was told and he didn’t seem too eager to look around to find a spot to pull over. It doesn’t seem that he knew where the beach bar was and ended up stopping way past the actual place – all the kids had to walk quite a bit back.

The way I see it, nobody won that day. I got screwed over as I was left waiting for a cab which never arrived, the sixth girl got screwed over as she couldn’t join the taxi at the hotel, the cab driver was annoyed, the ride cost a lot more than it should’ve and all the kids had to walk back about a kilometer from where the cab stopped. It was a disaster.

One thing is sure I will never let Italians organize a cab again. Ever!

We had a bumpy start to the evening but it got better. A lot better. Picture this: a beautiful beach, with palm trees, warm weather, a light cooling summer breeze, surrounded with gorgeous chicas, good music and some amazing dancing at a beach bar. This is the place to be. It felt like a real holiday.

Next day, I had my first encounter with the local customer service at breakfast. It wasn’t great and my fellow breakfesteers thought the waitress came across as miserable. I couldn’t tell as I don’t speak Spanish and didn’t understand the conversation, The Girl from a Swiss Cottage did most of the talking. So I’ll have to take their word for it. Although I thought the service was OK.

I was impressed that the girl was able to memorize our orders. However, she charged us less than she should’ve and the bill was incorrect. This happened later that day too as the staff forgot to add my cherry beer to our bill. I guess they think throwing in a small freebie will keep customers happy or… they aren’t too fussed about doing things properly.

I did a few zouk classes that day as well and learned a move or two – nothing fancy. After grabbing some dinner we went all back for the social and did a bit of freestyling until 5 AM.

Green man

As you can see above, the green man is also dancing in Mataro!

The next day was a bit similar but this time me, Mr and Mrs Fox decided we’re too cool for school. We all skipped the first class, I did the second one and then a bit of the third until I quit. I walked out of the class because it felt like a lot of contemporary bullshit and I got really bored. Our alternative pastime was to head to the beach and drink some Sangria (red wine mixed with chopped fruit, something sweet and a small amount of brandy). I became best friends with Mr Sangria that day.

The social was way better on the second night. I thought I’d be too tired because of the previous day’s 5 AM finish… but no I actually felt much better this time around. I danced with the same amazing Swiss girl I wrote about in the post about Prague. Many times, you will meet the same people from previous zouk events (the world isn’t that big at all). I was also impressed by a German girl and most of the Spanish chicas.

I had another unicorn moment when I found out I was dancing with an Estonian girl. Man, she was out of this world. She was wild, she was young, she was chaotic, she was fun. Then I recommended Chinatown to have a dance with her to be part of the magic I encountered. He, however, said she was rubbish and completely out of tune and out of control. In her defense, she was a beginner but she moved like a pro. I guess what I’m trying to say is, she made a very positive impression. Disclaimer, this is a completely unbiased overview and has nothing to do with her sharing the same nationality with me.

I can’t leave out the London crowd and have to say they were entertaining to dance as well. The best, without question, was The Girl from a Swiss Cottage. I didn’t get to dance with Mrs Fox though but I saw all the kids show one fancy move after another one.

5 AM finish again. Next day, however, the sleep debt caught up with me and I spent the entire day sleeping and didn’t do any dancing whatsoever.

The day before leaving Spain, I was in Barcelona sightseeing. I checked out Park Güell and Castle Montjuic and other stuff. It was just as beautiful as my first day in Spain.

Park Guell

I took the train back to Mataro. A lot of teens joined me at the next station. They were loud and on their way to a big party (shower party or something). They couldn’t wait until the party started, so they were drinking their booze and smoking right there on the train. I’ve never seen something like this. It wasn’t just one kid smoking but more like 10-15. They also played loud music and were drumming loudly on the windows or train walls. It was quite a sight.

The next few stations we got extra people in to make sure the train was tightly packed with teens. Some guys were pushing other passengers off the train when they tried to board at later stations. It was wild, anarchy at its best.

Next morning I had to get to the airport and was greeted by a massive line of teenagers all the way out of the train station. Policemen were everywhere and during my wait I saw two or three kids being taken away by them. I was a bit worried that I might miss my flight.

It took me twenty minutes to get into the station and buy a ticket. Following this I was quite surprised that the train itself wasn’t packed at maximum capacity. There was plenty of room and I even managed to grab myself a seat. Not sure where the teens disappeared… they must’ve travelled in a different direction from me.

I’m very pleased with my first visit to Spain. It widely exceeded my expectations. I’ve always thought that travelling in Europe is a bit meh, but now I’m starting to realize that maybe it’s not that bad after all…

Yours truly,

Chicalover666

Brexit and a stinky fridge

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There’s three of us living here and our current fridge is tiny – about the size of a washing machine. We’ve been in need of some cold real estate expansion for a few months. However, nobody actually wanted to arrange it. We didn’t want to spend a fortune on it as our lease ends in April next year, so we kept putting it off.

It was a Sunday and Amazon was whining about our fridge situation. I amassed all of my negotiation skills and managed to empower her to take some initiative. She went on Gumtree and a call or two later had it all organized.

A day later we had our fridge delivered by some dodgy immigrants. There was a smell around the men when they delivered it. I thought the men smelled, but it was actually the fridge.

We were told not to turn it on for about two hours because of whatever lame dodgy fridge salesman excuse. So it just stood in the middle of the living room overnight.

Come morning time, and I switched the bad boy on. Immediate regret followed. The fridge was noisy as hell. I could not even hear my own thoughts when next to it. But it gets worse.

The inside of the fridge was quite smelly only to be surpassed by the stench coming from the back of it. That smell concentrated near my room and I was breathing all of that motor grease oily smell in whilst trying to get some sleep. I was worried I’d wake up dead.

First thing in the morning I unplugged the bloody thing and told my housemates we need to get rid of it. It was too noisy and made the entire flat smell. It had to go.

For reasons, which I don’t quite understand, Amazon did not share my sentiment and didn’t think the noise was excessive nor did the fridge smell in her infinite wisdom. I think she got attached to it because she picked it out and now has trouble coming to terms with making a poor consumer decision.

Anywho, I got my housemates’ blessing and listed the fridge on Gumtree for £50 (we bought it for £102). My ad didn’t attract any interest. Mr Chemistry said it’s not surprising and suggested I list it for free. I asked Amazon if she was OK with that and her words were “I don’t care”.

All my female readers will now think that “I bet he didn’t even know what that meant. It means precisely that this is going to be a massive issue if he “sells” it for free” and that’s exactly what happened. I got rid of the fridge today and my life was beautiful again. At least for a short while.

Before I went to bed I had a look at my trading portfolio which showed a small loss of around £50 because everybody thought the UK was going to remain in the UK. At least that’s what the money voted on. This is because all the bookies got a massive splurge of people coming in with bets for the UK to vote remain.

I woke up with an open loss of about £1,000. Not exactly the best start to the day! About 90% of the votes had been counted and Brexit was winning. I was quite surprised. I went for a run and couldn’t but help myself thinking that every other Brit is xenophobic and/or racist. This was a tough pill to swallow. I felt and still do feel quite unwelcome here.

The GET BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY mentality is strong. I thought this was something people were jokingly saying but the Brits actually meant it. How terrible is that? I found myself asking do I want to live in a country where more than half the nation doesn’t want me here. Well… it’s not much of a question really. The answer is: No!

Fuck no!

I would have never moved to England if it wasn’t for the EU. I was in New Zealand before moving here and I think I would’ve stayed there if I had a crystal ball (I’d also be fabulously rich with my crystal ball but that’s another story…). I think I’ve played my cards wrong. Two and a half years I’ve been here and worked here and paid my taxes, never been on benefits, never commit a crime etc. Now I’m suddenly the enemy.

In all honesty it’s the 50+ year olds who voted out, the younger ones mostly voted remain. So the people who were faced with the shortest time of living with the consequences got their way and the younger generations with up to 50+ years ahead of them will have to clean up the mess. Or maybe older folks are more xenophobic and long for a time when racism and hate were cool?

People at work didn’t quite want to discuss this topic with me. It’s painfully obvious why – about half of them voted out which clearly means they think I’m a threat of some kind or a moocher or another bloody immigrant. You can’t even trust the ones who said they were “pro remain” as every second person voted out. They’re lying and don’t even have the balls to expose their xenophobia. Cowards!

I am an immigrant and I think I’m a better person because of that. In my book Estonia (that’s where I’m from) is also a very xenophobic hateful nation. I’ve lived in five countries so far, I’ve travelled to many more. I’ve seen the world and experienced different cultures – not just as a tourist but lived amongst the natives. I’ve grown as a man and become more open-minded and understanding in the process.

not-aholes

Change the religions in the above picture to people with different nationalities. The message is the same.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain.

It’s a sad day.

And the best thing which happened was the moment the fridge was taken away. Sadly, this joy was also taken away from me when Amazon decided to make a scene about it. I don’t get it. I got all my housemates’ blessing to get rid of it, it was a horrible product – FFS there was brown smelly liquid stuff leaking from the back of it. Our financial loss was only £34 per person, which is peanuts. I just don’t understand her. Why are her precious feelings or emotional attachments so important? It was just a crappy fridge.

I would do the same again, any day. No regrets.

If you wanted, you could draw further parallels here. The fridge was the EU and I got rid of it because it’s a shitty product. However, the difference is that I know there are better products available which I can replace the fridge with. That’s not the case with leaving the EU, as there’s considerable uncertainty about the future. In fact, there is no leadership and nobody knows where this train of hate is heading to.

Sad Ivar

Tying the knot

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I remember like it was yesterday. Well, it was actually this morning but who’s counting?

Hot Chocolate came down the stairs with his suit on and in his new pair of shoes. Nervous like a little schoolgirl, he asked me if he should wear a tie to his first day at his new job.

“Obviously yes!” I replied. Then he gave me his tie and said “you do it!” By that he meant that I should tie the tie as he didn’t know how to. Luckily I was prepared.

tie

Just half an hour earlier I fixed my own tie. It was months ago when I last tied my own tie. I always keep the knot in because I don’t know how to do it properly. As the weeks progressed and it became more and more obvious that the skinny part of the tie was getting longer and longer compared to the fat part I decided that I should get this first world issue sorted.

It took me two YouTube videos, about eight attempts and 20 minutes until I was victorious. My triumph was staggering. I felt empowered. I could take on the world.

I took Romario’s tie and put a knot on it in twenty seconds flat… only to discover the horror on his face when he realized that his shirt had no proper collar and a tie doesn’t really work with it. I was deeply distraught but the fashion police inside me was strong. I said he looked fine. I tucked his shirt in, slapped that booty and off he went with a big smile to cease the day.

The whole scene was so funny, I felt like sharing.

Ivor the Salad

Posted in Fun

Another day, another diploma

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This time I actually woke up at 5:50 according to my alarm clock (phone) which is ten minutes ahead of the correct time. Normally I’d spend the next half hour or so snoozing even then it’s a training day. It was Friday and I went downstairs to put my running shoes on to do my usual 10-miler.

Somehow I managed to run the fastest 10-miler for this year, even though I was trying to be slow. I was dreading 8 AM because that’s when my AF5 exam results were released – FYI you need to log on to a website to get your results. Quick shower followed by a big breakfast which I purposefully took my time preparing. 8 AM arrived as I sat down to eat but then I remembered it was also my mother’s birthday.

I figured I’d better call her before finding out my results. Otherwise, if it’s a fail, I might sound depressed or something. I had a 10 minute chat with her until I ran out of Skype credit. It seems that Skype will cut off your call at the 10 minute mark if you run out of money.

Then I checked my result and it was a PASS. I did the usual victory dance every gambler does at a Las Vegas casino. Now I have completed my Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning and also reached Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society, which is the highest qualification you can get here in the UK for financial planning.

About two years ago when I first came to the UK I worked in an admin job, I was miserable and hated it. The only way forward was to get some exams under my belt. I took my first exam in June 2014 and was surprised when I passed it. I made a decision to take exams as often and as fast as possible. It took me 19 exams and a bit less than two years to get to Fellowship. I’ve actually kept up a bit of a study log:

R01 116H
R02 104H
R03   92H (passed on second attempt)
R04 102H
R05   96H
R06 106H (fail) + 40H (passed second attempt)
J10    14H
J05, AF1, AF3, AF4, 206H (took all exams over 3 consecutive days)
FA2, FA7, J12 40H
FA1, FA6 10H
FA4, FA5 56H
AF5 26H (fail) + 20H (passed second attempt)
Roughly 1,028 hours.

I guess it’s true what they say about 1,000 hours of study to become an expert in something.

Anywho, the joy lasted for ten seconds tops. It passed and was replaced with a feeling of emptiness. I didn’t feel accomplished at all. It’s very similar to my uni graduations – neither felt like a big thing. Another day, another diploma… and I found myself asking the question “Now what?”

another day

I didn’t even feel like sharing the news with my colleagues. I sent an email to my manager (we need to do this because the company paid for my exam) and she later shared the news with the office. A few “well done’s“ and “congrats” followed and it wasn’t news anymore.

What next? Surprise, surprise, I’m going to do more exams but this time with CISI – Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments. I think the studying will never end!

Ivar

One model, a mankini and the Prague Zouk Marathon

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A woman who looked like a supermodel was casually strolling down the pedestrian road and flicking her hair whilst talking on a mobile phone. All eyes were on her and people stared… some even took pictures. I didn’t think of that because all the blood from my brain was downstairs. Did I mention she was completely naked? Then she disappeared behind the corner just as suddenly as she first appeared. My friends, with that visual I welcome you to Prague!

Only a few days after running the London marathon I set myself up for another marathon. This one however was of a different nature – 5 days of lots and lots of dancing in Prague.

Day 1 – Arrival
The ATM said minimum withdrawal was 3,000. I thought to myself three thousand what? This clearly demonstrates the level of my unpreparedness for my stay in Prague. I had no clue what the exchange rate was for the Czech currency (CZK) to my beloved paper with the queen on it. Now I know it’s about 37 CZK for £1. I felt quite rich after walking away from the ATM.

Czech currency

Getting to my AirBnB place proved to be a challenge as well. I managed to get on two wrong buses until I finally found my way. I also put too much faith into GoogleMaps. Even though I found the place my app was telling me to go to I was on the wrong street. Luckily my host knew this could happen and he found me around 1 AM that night.

Even though it was a bit late I still decided to go to the first Prague Zouk Marathon (PZM) event. It’s a party guys, you can show up whenever you like. I arrived around 2 AM and had a few dances but wasn’t quite “feeling it” as I was a bit tired from the travel. I didn’t stay long and then went back “home” to get some sleep.

Second day
My room us HUGE. Think Donalt Trump huuuuge. It’s at least 5 times the size of my room in London. It’s wonderful. I discovered we also have a bubble bath in the property. However, it doesn’t work… or I simply don’t know how to operate one.

A vegan restaurant was super close to my accommodation and I went there for some late lunch. This was a very positive surprise. The food was delicious and I can recommend the place. I think it’s called “Vegan’s restaurant” and it’s on Nerudova street.

The main tourist thing in Prague is its castle. After filling mah belly with blueberry pie I set path towards it. Only a five minute walk from the restaurant until I reached the big gates. Someone was playing the violin nearby. So I sat down and listened to a few songs and enjoyed the view (the castle is on a hill and you can see the entire city and the river etc).

The weather was super sunny… although last night it was quite cold. I found myself expressing classic spring behavior – always trying to walk in the sun as it’s the only place which wasn’t cold. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I wandered about quite aimlessly and made my way to the river to greet some swans. I couldn’t but notice how clean everything was. It’s a very nice city.

I reached a bridge and that’s then I saw the hot naked girl walking around. There was a cameraman or two walking around her – maybe it was a photoshoot or something. Man, Prague is amazing!

As the day turned to night I started to head  back to the PZM venue. I walked past a big garden/vineyard and saw a rabbit hopping about. Earlier I saw an otter in the river. It’s quite a lively place here compared to London. The only wildlife in London you could see are mostly squirrels and foxes. I’ve also seen mice/rats in both underground stations and Starbucks coffee shops – it was nowhere as cool as seeing an otter. Prague 1 : London 0.

The PZM provided lunch, dinner and snacks in between. I got there on time for a buffet dinner. I think it worked really well – it was easy to fill my plate with vegan stuff although I had my doubts initially. I think the organizers deserve some praise in this area. Well done!

I didn’t do any dancing that night. I was too full and I think many others felt the same. There weren’t enough ladies to dance with so I decided to go home and take a nap and maybe come back in an hour or two if I felt like it. However, I woke up in the morning.

Day three

I was a bit bored in the morning and ended up booking myself a spot in the Paris marathon next year. This is one of the largest races in the world. It’s on 9 April 2017 and the registration is still open. Come join me!

I did the usual touristy stroll in the city and discovered these small islands in the river. They’re really nice and are basically just parks with flowers and benches and grass to sit on and have a picnic. I was chilling on the grass and looking at the water etc. Then a group of lads with one guy in a mankini got to the park to chat and chill and make fun of him. It was quite entertaining. It was probably some sort of a stag do ritual.

Prague islands

Back to the party for dinner. This time I decided to hang around after dinner (although it was a bit boring) until it got busier. I did a lot more dancing that night. My first victim was this Swiss girl in red. She was amazing!

I recognized a lot of people from the Zouk Libre Festival which was in Warsaw earlier this year. Norway (I think it’s Caroline?) was here again and she was very entertaining to watch. I didn’t dance with her – it’s dangerous for both of us as I never know what she’s up to. Anywho, she put on quite a show – just like in Warsaw. Very cool!

I think my Casanova skills reached a new low when I asked for a girl’s name and she said it was Laika – like the Russian dog who was sent to space and for all I know is still orbiting us. I couldn’t stop laughing for a few moments… she did not appreciate my sense of humor. We never danced again. Worth it!

I danced with many others (a lot of them were Polish) and left around 5 in the morning.

Days 4 and 5 – Afterparties

All that dancing and prancing was not good for recovery from the marathon I ran a few days earlier. I now have a blister between two toes and one of my toenails is about to fall off. Walking was a bit painful and it still is. The Prague Zouk Marathon was over but two afterparties were still on my agenda.

The first afterparty was at the TV Tower. The entire floor (96m up in the air) was reserved for the event. It had a wonderful view of the city. I didn’t realize that this was a “fancy” event – the girls had beautiful dresses on and stuff. I guess my crappy unironed white T-shirt, running shoes and dirty jeans didn’t quite fit in. I didn’t dance as much as I would’ve liked – things were hurting and I was a bit worried because of that.

TV_tower

Next day, my feet were still hurting and I decided that enough is enough. I needed to MacGyver a Band-Aid or something for the blister between my toes. I fixed it with a bit of tape and bandage. I felt like a doctor who got his degree online when I was operating the scissors etc. Now I can walk again.

The second afterparty was at a hotel and it wasn’t very busy when I got there. Things got better but I left around midnight to catch the last tube back home – I wanted to catch some sleep before my flight back to London as well.

Aftermath

Now I’m happily back in London and enjoying the rest of my day off. I think I didn’t get the most out of the Zouk Marathon – I only went to the evening parties and spent a lot of time sightseeing and stuff. The close proximity to the London marathon also didn’t help. I feel like I missed out on a lot and could’ve had a better experience.

However, Prague itself was amazing. The buildings are very symmetrical, detailed and refined – like a good wine. I’m obviously an expert in the subject matter of buildings and design because I once dated a girl who was into architecture or was it psychology? I’m not even sure.

Anywho, Prague is a city in which the crazy/unusual will find you if you stay too long in one place – whether it’s a hot naked woman, a man in a mankini or a film crew stopping you from going home because my street was transformed into a movie scene from the dark middle ages. Prague has Australia’s sunshine without the heat and Stockholm’s buildings without its price tag and reminded me of Amsterdam but without the bikes. Lots of trees and flowers were blossoming – it really was quite romantic. It’s well worth a visit!

Ivar

Touch here for POWER! – The Virgin Money London Marathon

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Benn said I better wear warm clothing today as the morning was very cold and it was raining. I was still in bed and thought today is gonna suck. He wasn’t joking – it was 5 degrees Celsius outside and quite windy.

I got to Greenwich park and continued to debate with myself whether I should keep my long sleeved running jacket on or not. The sun came out and the jacket came off. It felt like making a life and death decision back then.

10 AM and the marathon started. Previously I’ve always obsessed about pacing and running in specific heart rate zones. However, this time was different. I made the conscious choice to look around and take in the scenery, the people and the atmosphere. There was so much cheering around, many smiles and great effort by so many runners – man it was competitive. I though the runners would spread out after 5-10 km or so but no, there were always many runners around me.

A bit more than 39,000 people registered (however it’s not yet certain how many actually ran and finished).

My new pet peeve is high-fiveing kids’ little hands as I pass ‘em. I can’t do that every day you know.
All in all I think the crowd was amazing and they helped me heaps.

Some people made signs to encourage the runners. My favorite one read “Touch here for POWER!”  It made me smile.

It was roughly half way through the race when I reached my favorite stretch of the race –  the Tower Bridge and crossing the river. It was beautiful. And I didn’t even notice that approximately 20 km were already behind me. It all just happened effortlessly.

At the risk of sounding like a pussy I must admit I had a tear coming out of my eye at one point. But only one! I was thinking about everything that had happened in the last year and how I got to this point.  And here I was… running one of the world’s largest footraces. Nothing was hurting and I was enjoying myself. I was on fire!

My goal was ideally to finish around 3H 45 minutes but I greatly underestimated myself. That sign must have given me lots of power.

Half split was in around 1H 35 MIN and 20 miles in 2H 25 MIN. Not too shabby I thought. Then my pace dropped dramatically. I hit the wall between 20-23 mile – I should’ve timed the consumption of my energy gels better. I was so low on energy after 20 miles I took everything I could get my hands on – Lucozade energy drinks, Lucozade gels – even though I didn’t train with the stuff. My stomach is now a chemical soup of various isotonic gels and energydrinks. But that stuff worked wonders. I was able to pick up some speed again. Soon I passed the Buckingham palace and finished like a pro.

My time was 3H 21MIN 38 SEC, overall I was the 4939th, I was the 4384th man who crossed the finish line and I was the 2126th person in my 18-39 age category. I am very pleased with my performance as I didn’t train at all in March (I was sick) and April wasn’t that great either because of my exam. Anywho, below is the data from the marathon:

Category                     18-39

Runner no                   7932

Place (Men)                 4384

Place (Age Category)  2126

Place (overall)             4939

Finish time                  03:21:38

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/km km/h Place
5K 10:22:34 00:22:02 22:02 04:25 13.62
10K 10:44:40 00:44:09 22:07 04:26 13.57
15K 11:07:27 01:06:56 22:47 04:34 13.17
20K 11:30:20 01:29:48 22:52 04:35 13.12
HALF 11:35:14 01:34:42 04:54 04:28 13.44
25K 11:53:03 01:52:31 17:49 04:34 13.15
30K 12:16:13 02:15:42 23:11 04:39 12.94
35K 12:42:03 02:41:31 25:49 05:10 11.61
40K 13:10:11 03:09:40 28:09 05:38 10.66
FINISH 13:22:10 03:21:38 11:58 05:28 11.00 4384

Even though this morning was really cold I’d still give the marathon a 10/10. Or maybe I’m just high on endorphins.

Virgin Money London Marathon certificate 20160424_220127 20160424_220037

I had a nap at home and then decided to celebrate at ZoukOff – the best zouk event London has to offer. I was a bit sore but it was a great finish to a magnificent day!

More power,

Ivar

Before the race

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I and Romario were very poor. We really needed a third tenant. To make matters worse, Romario didn’t cancel his standing order and paid rent to the previous landlord as well. His bank account went over his overdraft limit and the bank charged him £5 for every day his account was above the limit.

Not-sure-if-everything-is-expensive

He said he’s never been this poor. Then his bank also blocked his card. I found the whole thing hilarious.

We told Amazon that she should look at other flats and give this one a pass. Even though I had about £50 in my bank account and Romario found some change in a drawer – it was all the money we had… However, after Amazon checked out 6-8 other properties she gave us a call and wanted back in. It’s funny how that worked out. Apparently the other flats had weirdos living in them or they didn’t have a living room or in one case she had to walk through a toilet to get to the available room etc. London is weird like that.

The Amazon merger improved our financial position dramatically. Things are looking good again. And she’s been an amazing flatmate so far.

Some other things regarding the rental agency have surfaced and I’m very tired of all the bullshit. I stopped communicating with them as I don’t want to deal with them anymore. Everything they’ve told us or promised has been a lie and I have no interest in interacting with people like that. I’ve got way better things to do with my life.

I took the AF5 exam about a week ago. It’s the one I failed by one point back in October. I’m not too confident about passing it this time around as my thoughts were a bit distracted when studying because of all the stuff I wrote in the last two posts. Anywho, I’ll find out if I passed in about two months.

The London Marathon is tomorrow. The mass start is at 10 AM and based on my training, I should finish within 4 hours. 3H 45 minutes would be a good result. I’m quite excited.

Wish me luck!

Ivar

SteveO

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One of my friends died.

He was a good man, a happy man – always smiling, always joking. I used to call him bald Steve. I was never able to spell his last name… I loved his humour and his laughter. He was one of the good ones. Why did he die and not some other horrible person? There’s plenty of them going around.

We worked together at my old job.

One of the last things I said to SteveO was “I will miss seeing my reflection from the top of your head. If I was female I’d slap that tight bum of your’s as well.”

SteveO drove me home that day and on other occasions as well (for example when it was raining outside or I needed a lift to catch my train).

He was kind.

He was humble.

I wish more people were like him.

He was a friend.

I will miss you,
Ivar

Surprise buttsex

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Today’s been a very angry day. In fact I can’t even recall the last time I was this angry. Dealing with the real estate agency has been horrible. They have been screwing us right between the buttcrack so hard that I’m starting to enjoy it. I stopped clenching and just bent over even more and gave in. Now I know what rape feels like.

surprise_buttsex

Sorry about the above mental picture. I believe I owe you dinner first before going down that road.

Here’s what happened. I and my housemate agreed to rent a 3 bed flat in Central London. The flat is da bomb. It is in a fantastic location and we love it. However, we ran into a few complications with the agency.

Our initial plan was to rent with a couple i.e. four people in the flat. We told this to the agent at our very first viewing and said that we haven’t yet found the new potential tenants. We were told that this is no problem and that we can do that. We agreed to make an offer for the property based on that.

The following day the agent (Blond Bimbo) called me again and said that we need to increase our offer (for the weekly rent) to make sure the landlord accepts it. So in order to sweeten the deal I reluctantly agreed to increase it by £10 pw… i.e. circa £43 pcm.

The next day the Old Hag (Blond Bimbo’s manager) called me and said that if we have a couple as tenants we would have to apply for some license because of health and safety reasons and that the landlord wanted to increase the rent by a further £40 pw i.e. £173 pcm because of extra “wear and tear”… so just like that the rent had increased by £216 pcm. I was told the license would cost about £500 as well. I immediately said we can’t afford that and asked what if we had just one person instead of a couple. She said that she’d get back to me and on a later phone call said that the rent would stay the same i.e. the plus £10 pw amount. That was acceptable I thought as this would also save the £500 license cost.

Our holding deposit of two weeks’ rent was taken and the referencing process began. I already wrote about that in my previous post – it was a nightmare as well.

We were still looking for a tenant and found a potential one but were not able to have a viewing because the landlord had the property rented out on AirBnB. We had to wait for more than a week to get that viewing (which was on 29th March – only two days before our move in date). They wanted us to sign the contract and pay way before we had the viewing in order to “close the file” and make sure we can move in on the 1st April.

The agency was charging us a £180 admin charge for the contract. I specifically emailed them to ask if there’s going to be another admin charge if we add a third tenant. It did not make sense to me to pay £180 now and then another £180 again the following week. Blond Bimbo’s email response asked me to call her to discuss this. So I did and she said that there will be no admin fee for adding the third tenant because they’ve always known we were adding another person. Following that I signed the contract and paid the agency all the fees, rent and deposit. This £180 fee is the key reason for my anger.

A week later, we managed to get a viewing for the new potential tenant (Amazon). She was very pleased with the flat and agreed to rent it with us. Things were looking good. Blond Bimbo took Amazon back to the agency’s office to scan her passport and take the referencing fee of £60. At least that’s what me and Amazon thought would happen.

Amazon said that when she went to the office with Blond Bimbo to pay and scan her passport, one of Blond Bimbo’s colleagues said that “you shouldn’t take that payment, what if it doesn’t work out and she can’t move in”. The license issue was news to Miss Bimbo as well and they didn’t take any payment from Amazon.

It was raining outside and Romario was on his bike – as you do when you’re Dutch. We decided to wait until the rain stops before heading back home after the flat viewing. That’s when Romario got a call from Old Hag regarding the license. She said that we need a license to have a third tenant. I spoke to Old Hag as well as we previously talked about this issue and that this would only apply if there were 4 tenants. She mumbled some crap and said that this was not the case and that a license was definitely needed for 3 people as well.

This was very bad news. We went home and were proper panicking. We discussed all kinds of scenarios about what we can do because we could not cover the rent between the two of us. We definitely needed another tenant to afford the place.

We sent a long email to the agency detailing our disappointment and concerns about the whole situation. However, we asked them to resolve this situation in a fair way and wanted to work together in the future.

We had a read through our contract again and found out about a massive exit penalty – almost £4,000. We were effectively in a position where we couldn’t afford to cancel or stay in the contract. That’s when we started to feel proper screwed.

The next day we received a response email from Old Hag which was very apologetic and said that they were not trying to hide any information from us on purpose etc. It was all bullshit. Later we got confirmation from them that the third tenant could move in if we applied for the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) license.

We decided that the least bad option for us was to pay for the license (it cost circa £600) and hope for the best. We are very broke right now. Please send me money.

Amazon went to the agency yesterday to get the ball rolling and then she was asked to pay they wanted to take the second £180 admin fee from her as well, along with the £60 referencing fee.

She called me and was very upset about it. I then called Old Hag and was proper angry with them because this is something I specifically discussed with Blond Bimbo previously. Old Hag said there’s no way we can avoid that fee. Amazon decided to walk away from this shitty agency and we fully support her decision. Sadly we are locked into the contract and can’t do the same.

That second admin fee was the last drop. We have been lied to so many times and the agency keeps changing their story and has introduced new hidden fees on multiple occasions. All the agency fees add up to almost £1,300 but should’ve been £504 following our very first meeting.

We have decided that we will only communicate with them in writing. I do not believe a word they say.

It is also possible that the property already has the license and they are trying to pass the cost on to us. I’ve asked them to provide proof that they applied for the license (we want to see receipts, applications etc) and that it indeed cost what they said it would. Same thing for the “inventory check” for which they charged us as well.

It’s been such a horrid day. The only good thing is that it can’t get any worse, right?

Ivar

I move again

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I’ve been sick for the last two weeks – ebola, bubonic plague mixed with the common flu – no biggie. It’s the sickest I’ve been in at least 5 years. At one point (or… uhm… many points) I even considered seeing a doctor – what a novel idea. However, my pride got in the way. I haven’t been to a doctor in many years and I ain’t going to no doctor now.

The other minor complication was that I don’t have a GP (general practitioner) here in the UK. I’ve never bothered to register with a surgery. I once tried to get it done… back when I was still living in Chelmsford. Unfortunately it didn’t get anywhere because they asked me for proof of address, which I didn’t have as I don’t pay any bills (my bills were always included in my rent). Also, at that time I had moved recently and the address on my bank statement was incorrect – I even went to an HSBC branch to get this sorted – but they didn’t want to co-operate and sent me home. They said I need to wait until the end of the month to get a new statement with the correct address in the post. And that’s the story how I almost got a GP. Why can’t this be easy? England is like that – ridiculously stupid, full of red tape and regulation.

One other thing: I’m moving house again. The landlady is moving in and everybody needs to move out by the 4th April. My ebola was pretty bad and I managed to outsource the majority of the flathunting responsibility to my housemate Romario.

Believe me, flathunting when sick is a very miserable experience. For example I went to one address and I was there at 6:15 PM – bang on the money. Romario was nowhere to be seen and my battery ran out on my phone. I wasn’t going to wait around in the cold hoping for Romario to show up, so I went home and proceeded with coughing my lungs out. Later my housemate said that the flat wasn’t that great.

Another day, we had a second viewing. Well… “had” is a strong word. This time the two of us were outside the building waiting but the real estate agent didn’t even bother to show up. Romario called him and demanded justice, but the fucker didn’t care and said he can’t make it. Real estate agents are scum.

Luckily we had a second viewing that day. This viewing was for me really as Romario already checked that flat out a bit earlier. The new place was amazing and we decided to rent it. It’s right between the Holborn and Chancery Lane tube stations i.e. only 950 meters from where I work.

Later that day I got home and my ebola took on a turn for the worse. I had a massive fever and I was very cold. I ran a hot bath and stayed in it until the skin on my fingers got all wrinkly and gross. Then I put on 3 pairs of trousers and 6 layers of T-shirts and sweaters because I was still cold. I tried to get some sleep under my duvet but that proved to be difficult because of a massive headache.

It’s a strange sensation to be cold and shivering with so many clothes on… I survived and now (about a week later) I’m a lot better – I think I’ll even go for a run tomorrow.

Coming back to the flat. Our real estate agent told us a bunch of lies about the property i.e. “the council tax here is one of the lowest in London” and that we could have four people in that three-bed apartment no problem.

The next day the agency called me and tried to increase the rent and they were successful. I foolishly agreed to a slightly higher price to make sure we got the flat. Agents are full of shit and will tell you anything to get more money out of you. Later on they tried to get even more money out of us (i.e. a 10% increase if there’s 4 people in the flat because of more “wear and tear”). We would also need to apply for some kind of license (which costs £500 or so) as three tenants is the maximum in that flat because of some “health and safety” regulation. None of this was mentioned to us when we first saw the property.

Later on we had to get our references done by a third company. This was such a headache – I had to send bank statements, payslips, proof of my savings etc. Then it turned out one of my bank statements wasn’t up to their standards because it didn’t show a salary being paid into my account (this is because my statements are generated on the 24th each month but I get paid on the 26th). In addition I had to sign stuff and scan and email to my company’s HR team and to the agency and the whole process made me feel like a criminal. To add insult to injury, I’m the one who’s paying for this referencing “service”. It was such a bad experience that at one point I didn’t even care whether I pass the referencing credit and whatever other checks they did. I just wanted this ordeal to end.

I sent an angry email to the referencing company and after that they became much more civil. The whole thing was stupid, unnecessary, unpleasant and a proper pain in the ass but we got there in the end.

MyButtHurts

We’ve signed the contract, paid a ton of money for one month’s rent and 6 weeks deposit and various agency fees. It feels wrong to pay more than £6.5K and receive nothing in return – all we have is a contract which is only signed by me and Romario at this time.

I hope it all turns out well. We are still looking for a third tenant as Pilar will not join us – she’s moving to Spain in May and will stay at a friend’s place in between I think. Anywho, we’ve had plenty of interest in the room we advertised on Spareroom and tomorrow will probably have a new housemate sorted out.

I’m not sure if I mentioned previously but I was supposed to run a half marathon race in Silverstone (it’s a bit north west from London) about two weeks ago. I didn’t because of my ebola. I haven’t done any running in the last two weeks and now I have less than four weeks to train for the London marathon. Things are not looking good.

On the bright side, I won’t be homeless going forward. We will move to the new place on the 1st April. I’m really looking forward to it as I’m confident in the new flat I won’t feel rain droplets falling on me through the bedroom window when the weather gets nasty outside.

I hope you had a good Easter holiday,

Ivar the Salacious