Monday, December 10, 2007

Last Taste Of Freedom

This weekend I celebrated my birthday in Britain once again. After spending three birthdays and Christmases on the road their importance has paled for me and I don't see them as being any different from other days. In fact I was going out with some friends from the south America days of my trip on my birthday and didn't realise that it was my birthday until halfway through the evening. Personally I think the best present one can have is to spend time with friends (copious quantities of mulled wine, beer and cocktails just make it that bit better). Apropos of friends I got to see an old friend from school in France last week. Marina and Guillaume were flying off to New Zealand for a belated honeymoon and had a three hour stopover at Heathrow. Seeing as I hadn't seen them since 2002 I took some time off to go and snatch a few hours with them for some quick reminiscences and updates before they jetted off to to escape the European Winter for a few weeks.

I am trying to take advantage of my final week of freedom before my job starts next week to sort out my life a bit while I still have some free time. My main task (and it's one I won't be finishing for some time) is to get my pictures sorted. I've managed to get my photos that I developed from film annotated and put into albums (six of them). That covers my first year of travelling before I switched to digital. I've gone through all my other pictures on my computer and touched them up where it has been necessary and now I'm sifting through them to pick out which ones to actually develop. I took my first six months' worth in to be processed today and gave the girl behind the counter a bit of a fright when she saw I was developing 1162 photos (that's all that would fit on my memory stick). I thought it would be funny to get them done in 1 hour, but then decided against it to give the poor girl some time.

My other main task is to try and get on top of my finances (or lack thereof). I have come to realise that I now have 4 current accounts, 3 savings accounts, 2 debit cards and 3 credit cards. Maybe I ought to keep my cards apart in my wallet to keep them from reproducing! I mean just trying to keep track of all the different PIN codes and online passwords is a major effort in itself, not to mention trying to understand all the various accounts, taxes, pensions contributions, national insurance and other financial oddities. What strikes me as particularly shameful is that as students at school (both here in Britain and in France, and probably many other countries as well) we are not taught even the most rudimentary aspects of finance and so people are left blindly feeling their way alone through the financial maze.

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