Golden lesson 3: It’s the life events – our house moves

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Policy makers like to talk about life events: birth of a child, marriage, change job, unemployment, change house etc.  At these times we all have to re-think our lives.  Re-think budgets, re-think priorities.  In transport it means we re-think our personal travel arrangements and our travel interdependencies: who takes the kids to school? what time do we leave the house to get somewhere at a certain time?

The first time I really thought about the concept was when i read something by Phil Goodwin ( some time ago.He was talking about churn in travel:  how people’s travel behaviour changes.  He noted that if it didn’t change regularly we’d see the same person every day and pass the same cars at the same time everyday.  I hadn’t really thought about this counterfactual before.


Six Cassidy Homes – by Tess as part of her A-Level Art Project.

I have moved house a lot: 11 times since 1988.

7 times in the last 10 (including 3 inter-country moves).  Ouch.

This car free year (well quite a bit more than a year now!) has really been made possible by my house moves….

Move 1: move to Edinburgh from Brussels.   What was going on in my mind??

I was thinking about giving up the car so I deliberately weighted heavily the importance of living close to a major bus route and close to work.  Thus I had a bus every 3-6 mins to get into work and the kids could easily walk to school.  I didn’t think too much about access to City Car Club and thus had to walk a good 10 mins for a city car.  Bit of  pain.

Move 2: move from first flat to second flat. What was going on in my mind?

I needed money to buy the flat and was quite happy with being car free.  Thinks: “If I can maintain car freeness I can spend the money I save on other things – like a deposit for my flat”.  Again, in my flat search, I made sure I had lots of buses going close by (every 2 mins now) and could walk to work, and also that the kids could get to school ok by bus.  Importantly I made sure I was near City Car Club Car as well.  There are 2 cars within a 2 mins walk of my new flat.  This was VERY important to me

I VERY MUCH realise I am lucky, compared to many, to be able to make these choices.  Though at the same time MANY people make moves over which they have a range of choices…

So how can we get people thinking “mmm maybe when I move house I should review my car ownership and use“?  If people were given the tools to help think about this maybe it would help people make informed decisions about what really is the best place to live and make lives cheaper, more simple etc


Penge, London – 1990-1996

Estate agents/rental companies: maybe they should become travel advisers too? Or at least partners  They are the people who are there at the flirt stage (thinking about forming a relationship with an area/place) and through to consumation stage (this is the place for me) and can give good advice and help.  Perhaps they could be incentivised to help people move to areas which suit their needs.

After reading Phil’s work I was excited, but then realised that people were talking and talking and talking about life events as an opportunity to help people think through choices, but really that’s all that happened.  Everyone talked.  No one seemed to catch these events.

PROBLEM: There was little in the way of really getting to people when they had a life events.

BUT HURRAH: social media changes this  - see “facebook life events” link.

BUT BOO: Not everyone reports everything on facebook or via other social media.  So how can we capture these life events to make life simple for people


Paris – 2000-2002

Some trigger sends a message to…the City Council…or mobility manager (see Golden lesson 2) when someone changes Doctor, or registers for Council tax, or registers a death?  Lots of difficulties with this – we may be waiting some time for this “joined-up” solution. Though if people could save money, have simpler lives as a result maybe it would be supported??

Or maybe by developing/using products and services and offers which are of interest and give value to movers, to those who have children etc, (and unbeknownst to them are re-thinking their mobility) – and using these to help people think about mobility decisions?

The “mobility adviser/manager/helper” should  REALLY think about what is important to people at life events and make sure they bring information and services together which at that precise moment in time are of real value.  It’s called product bundling.  And if they work with the right partners (eg estate agents -see above) -partnerships are key – they could make a difference to people’s lives.


Hootton Roberts, S Yorks – 2002-2004



Ravenfield, S Yorks – 2004-2006






So house moving was a biggy for me. Thanks Tess for your pics: there are a few life events ..especially in the small print…

Christmas Day in the Workhouse

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So on 25 December after a fusion cuisine Christmas dinner of Veggie Haggis, gravy, sweet corn and Yorkshire Pudding, a treasure hunt for more AAA batteries, our ritual reading of all 21 verses of George Sims’ poem Christmas Day in the Workhouse, and a few songs around the banjo, the Cassidy family’s minds turned to our 3 day Yorkshire Tour comprising the well-known Edinburgh-Sheffield-York-Northallerton-Edinburgh Loop.

You will of course be thinking that, following the post of 21 November, we would be walking 10 minutes down the road to pick up our City Car.  However, you would be wrong.  Instead we walked 3 mins around to Matt and Kirsten’s to take up their very kind offer of taking their car for the journey.  How kind is that?  Thank you Matt and Kirsten.  They even cleaned out the crisps behind the car seats.  It was certainly easier that City Car, as well as being much cheaper given their insistence that we pay nothing!  (Matt did graciously receive a fluid payment of petrol and alcohol.)

In fact Matt and Kirsten have made their car available again…super kind.  And another lovely neighbour has offered hers recently, as has another friend from a bit farther afield.  It has made me think a lot about sharing cars between friends, and the model you could use: have a mutual financial pot for servicing, only one insurance necessary, pay per mile…?????  It could certainly work well.  I wonder if many friend’s do have “formal” car sharing arrangements?  This said I am still sceptical of the formal downtime car sharing scheme which Whipcar offer – see the link.  I just think it is a slightly different proposition borrowing a stranger’s car (but maybe you soon get over this social barrier and it becomes a beautiful “car-share-relationship”).  

So back to Christmas.  Sims’ poem was first published in 1879 as a dramatic monologue to highlight the harsh conditions of the Workhouses, the impacts of the Poor Laws in England, and also the hypocrisy of the rich Guardians of the Parish visiting the Workhouse with their gifts at Christmas.  Double standards, hypocrisy.  Nasty stuff.

But wait a moment!!!  Wasn’t Car Free Family accused of being no better than these hypocritical Workhouse Guardians and patrons?  Yes – hypocrisy was the call in Sheffield at Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet. Everything seemed calm during an inter-family game of “Deal of no Deal” (with electronic telephone), but soon a mince pie and Stones bitter-fueled family exchange ensued (well mainly a discussion with my lovely nephews Matt and Simon – big Uncle hug to you both xx)  concerning our arrival BY CAR!

A small preview has been made available below suitable for all ages…..


Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet

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An annual event in the Cassidy-Edley Social Calendar is Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet. Held in Sheffield on (appropriately) Boxing Day, the Edley side gather for a light finger buffet and Christmas games and Stones’ Bitter.  We also meet for a ritual which involves my throwing discarded wrapping paper at Uncle Pete, and for my 18 and 21 year old nephews to call me Uncle Duck Egg (while siding with their Dad).

The last few years we haven’t been able to make it – nothing to do with being called Uncle Duck Egg or being beaten in the Wrapping Paper Wars – just logistics about getting from Brussels to Sheffield……BUT:

Good news at last in 2010: we now live in the UK!  We will eat prawns; we will drink Stones; we WILL compete in the Wrapping Paper Wars. (We’ll also go to York to see my Mum and Day, aka Chris n Aud, who will feed us Christmas cake and Cheddar Cheese (is that a Yorkshire thing?)

Travel arrangements:  Brenda’s Boxing day Buffet (Sheffield), Audrey’s Christmas Cake Cheese Feast).  Days away – not telling you in case you want to burgle us…but not too long.

Train (preferred Choice): impossible – no trains on Boxing Day;

Flight BMI Baby: £19 each on Boxing Day (with a thousand hidden extras) – but flight arrives after the cheese sticks have gone soft);

Commercial Car Hire: only available from the airport (booo) and coming in at £210 cheapest plus petrol plus insurance for most things that could actually happen;

City Car Club: £230 incl petrol and ALL insurance included and pick up 10 min walk away.

This makes us festively happy.

PS: apologies for lack of video footage – Flip camera has died

PPS: Photo Montage = Audrey pre-Christmas cake and cheese…and after.  (Audrey has kindly agreed to release these pics to prevent younger people from such indulgence.)

Ikea, City Car Club, Schoolboy Errors (The Lion, The Witch) and The Wardrobe

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It started off so well…..

Good news: I have learnt that blunt green pencils don’t work well on green paper in highly sunny climatic conditions.

Bad news: We had to extend our Booking by an our because we were so late in picking up the car

Good news: This was seductively easy over the phone.

Bad news: We went to Ikea again – vegetarians hate meatballs.

Good news: Cheap wardrobe – happy child.

Bad news: For Ikea to deliver it would have cost £35 and taken 2 days.

Good news: City Car cost £15.

….and it ended well.

Shopping at Ikea without a car


So we need a sofa bed.

In fact we need a settee; our old soggy one now having been destroyed by the cats, and the detritus of our lives down the back of the settee now starting to overflow.  Nice.

And the bed element will come in handy for visitors to our diddy flat.

Having slept on Dot’s and also snuggled under a blanket watching TV 5 abreast, the decision was made.  From the smorgasbord of sofa beds on offer at Ikea, it had to be the Manstad (L shaped to the right).

So, not having a car, what do we do:

1. Buy on-line.  NO – not an option in Scotland.

2. Ikea Direct (I didn’t know about this, but having called the Edinburgh store they said it would be best).  This involves emailing your request.  Then Ikea gets back to you and gives you a quote.  WE DID THIS.  But no reply and we just couldn’t wait!!  (Audrey and my nephew Chris are visiting this week, as are Chloe and Rebecca…can we have the Manstad sharpish please?)

3. Visit Ikea: Boo.  Not my first option – not even my third…But hey ho.  My main memory of Ikea is of Tess as a little girl throwing up everywhere, especially on Brian: a kind of aversion therapy.  Especially for Brian. Anyway, so we go to the website to find out how to get there…

Ikea website gives us directions BY CAR  - nothing by public transport.  Thought you cared about the environment Ikea? Tess had a look around the internet and found that the Lothian Buses No 47, which goes right past our house, goes direct to Ikea.  Oh joy.

Downloading the iPhone application “edinbus” we could see we had 20 mins to the next bus departure from the stop 5 mins away.

Life was looking up. Seamless lives.

So – we get to Ikea.  We order our bed settee (boo – we have to wait a week or so – Audrey and Chris wil be on the floor), and buy another £150 of “stuff” we don’t need.

Even us public transport users spend money Ikea!!!!!

(Interestingly – well kind of interestingly) when we came home there was an email from Ikea Direct quoting the same price as we paid in store plus £20 delivery.  I wonder if I will have to pay this for our new Manstad?

Smart Weekend -but not quite an egg laying wool milk sow…

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This posting is dedicated to all chickens who have just laid their first egg.A perfect long weekend: camping (well, soft camping in Dot’s garden), friends, turbo-nerf-ball-throwing, G&T’s, fantastic trip to an organic cafe, lager, craft fare, takeaway…

..and the City Car Club alowed us to do this.

And what a day Thursday was: getting our Car Club membership through( the smart card opens the car) and then the Annual (smart card) Bus Pass (courtesy of my employerl!).

Shame these cards are not on one lovely card though, which could do lots of things and provide lots of incentives and rewards for its use.  Just like the egg laying wool milk sow card (or should I say eierlegendewollmilchsau) that they have in Bremen which on one card delivers: car club, bus pass, electronic purse, tourist offers….(see link)

Can’t have everything.