tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Leamington Spa day five

My contracting work continues and is going pretty well. I felt very rough and tired this morning and while I think I've tracked down the PHP commands I need to wrangle, I'm leaving the actual coding until tomorrow. Instead I concentrated on churning out the more basic form-handling ColdFusion code needed for user account handling. Necessary but uninspiring stuff, at least with the spec. I wrote it's relatively quick to write. If things keep going well I should be able to finish this module faster than I thought it would take, which is always good.

Walking back to the hotel tonight I saw my first Big Issue sellers. Being away from home, I'm noticing the many differences between where I'm working, Royal Leamington Spa, and where my home is, Brighton. I must admit, I hadn't noticed the lack of homeless people around, although I did last time I went to London, but I think it is one of the things that I'd noticed subconsciously and has been reminding me that I'm not where I'm used to being.

In Brighton there is a large homeless problem, one of the worst in the country. I couldn't go to the shops at lunch time in town without being asked for money, passing at least one Big Issue seller, and probably have a fundraiser try and sign me up for a regular donation by direct debit (these people have now picked up the slang term of 'chuggers' or charity-muggers and I personally find them a lot more annoying than homeless people asking me for money.)

There are so many people taking up pavement space that there are special spots given over to Big Issue sellers, their small patches marked out in a white spray of stencilled Big Issue logo. They have to be a certain distance apart, so an area doesn't feel swamped, but in Brighton, especially in the summer, this makes little difference as someone else is asking you for money in the gaps, they're just not trying to sell you a magazine.

In Leamington Spa I haven't seen any particularly homeless-looking people, until today, and even then the woman I saw looked well dressed, so hopefully she's in a hostel somewhere rather than sleeping rough. Even though I've been out to the shops in the middle of town every day and evening for lunch and dinner, I haven't had anyone ask me for money at all. This is a pleasant change from my normal life, but lends a kind of unreality to the place, like it's just not normal for there not to be people begging for money on every street corner.

Another slightly subtle difference is the amount of traffic. Brighton is very congested, almost constantly, and has very busy but slow moving traffic. Leamington Spa has very broad roads, and although it has a lot of traffic lights, the cars do seem to have a chance to move much faster, partly because there are less of them. This means I do have to look out a little more when crossing the roads near the shops, as I'm just not used to cars being able to travel more than about eight miles an hours in town, and they can bear down on me from quite a long way away by the time I've crossed the much broader roads.

Still, tomorrow I head back home for a few days, and I'll be very glad to. My cold is staying at a low level, making me tired and slightly croaky, but at least I'm not streaming at the moment. I'll be glad to get back to my own flat, in a bigger bed that doesn't creak when I move around in it. And I'll be glad to get back to cooking for myself. I'd forgotten how I actually like the habit of getting home after a hard day of concentrating on solving niggling problems and having the simple break of cooking some things.

On the thoughts of flats, I went past some local estate agents last night and discovered that for the cost of my flat (about £140,000 give or take a few Pounds, or at least that's what another in my building cost) I could buy a three bedroom house up here, at least a small one. Still, Matt, a chap I'm working with, assures me there are stupid house prices around and someone near him recently spent £300,000 to buy a house on a corner plot that they're knocking down, so it appears people up here are just as silly as they are on the south coast.
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