Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Smaller Positions within the Portfolio ...

Not for the first time, I've been looking at some of the components that make up the very lowest weightings of my combined portfolio. 

I've mentioned the prospect of 'consolidation' in several quarterly reviews over the years.  However, apart from the absolute dog that is Dekel Agri-Vision (DKL.L, formerly DekelOil), and the well-documented freefall down the weightings by WPCT.L, I can't see any good reason to sell out of these other positions, however small they may now be in the grand scheme of things.

Based on the latest published September 2019 Review, there are eight holdings of less than 2% of the total portfolio valuation, including the two I've mentioned above.  These others were all bought some time ago, when the portfolio value was smaller and their relative weightings were therefore much higher.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Building a Garden Composter ...

This year, as is fairly typical, we've bought in excess of 700 litres of multi-purpose compost for the garden, usually when there were 3-for-2 or other special offers on large bags at the DIY chains or garden centres.  Even on offer, the costs add up over the year for such a large quantity. 

If 700 litres seems a lot, then to put it into perspective I've just started off next year's garlic crop, with each seed clove in its own 2-litre pot until the spring, and there's 25 of them so there's 50 litres for a start ...

So we use the compost for starting off seeds, filling tubs & planters for flowers, shrubs & trees (generally mixed with topsoil and or / grit and pearlite) and for the tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers and aubergines etc which we grow in large pots in the greenhouses.  When the greenhouse crops are finished in the autumn, we empty the compost from these pots onto the beds and borders as a mulch and to improve the soil structure.  The bed at the front of the garden sits on particularly heavy clay, and so every year we try to add more organic material.

But every year, we also need to dispose of large quantities of green and brown garden waste in the form of grass cuttings, hedge clippings, prunings, deadheaded flowers, fallen leaves and other dead plant material from all the vegetables and annuals.   We already have a small, upright plastic compost bin which can contain a couple of hundred litres of material, but it's certainly not sufficient for a season's worth of waste.

So, we decided to build a new two-bay composter in front of the large shed.

After looking over the location and producing an outline drawing, the first job was to lift some of the paving stones in this area into which the composter could be placed.   These are 450 x 450 mm flags, and we removed eight of them and cut another four almost in half to create a sunken composter base area of around 1,800 x 1,100 mm.

paving slabs lifted ....

Friday, 1 November 2019

Garden Layout

This is an orientation plan showing the latest layout of our garden.   I originally drew this up shortly after we moved in here, and it's been updated every time we've added or relocated a garden building, or made significant changes to the landscaping. 

The combined footprint of the house and garden is around 650 square metres in total.

click on the image for an enlarged view ...

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Cloning a Laptop Hard Disk Drive - Part 2

In the summer of 2016 I described how I cloned a failing HDD on my main laptop.

Three years later and I've repeated the process on the same machine, not because the HDD was failing again, but I wanted to increase the drive storage capacity.  Otherwise, the laptop is still fine, being a high-spec machine when it was bought more than six years ago now - checking current prices for a similar brand new laptop, I would still have needed to spend close to four figures to replace it.   

However, I was getting very close to the 1 TB capacity of the old hard disk, mainly because of the accumulation of an extra three years' worth of work projects.  Additionally, some of the engineering analysis software I use needs a lot of virtual memory space to write temporary files, literally many tens of gigabytes for larger models, so I couldn't allow the file storage to get too close to the disk capacity.

I suppose I could have archived some of the oldest projects to an external HDD to free up some space, but I find it very useful to have the data from these previous projects easily to hand.

I also decided to change the HDD to a solid-state storage device (SSD).  They've come on in leaps and bounds over the last few years, with available capacities now up to 4 TB or so, and the prices have been falling.  My laptop system architecture also allows data transfer at the maximum speed of the SSD - many older laptops will still work with a new SSD, but the data transfer rate may be limited by the motherboard design.

WD solid-state drive - there were other brands available,
 e.g. Samsung, but this was the best deal at the time ...

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Investment Review - September 2019

Greetings from the warmth and sunshine - we're currently on holiday in the Mediterranean for three weeks, and we've already escaped from some prolonged heavy rain at home.  I can see via the IP video cameras that it's still pissing down there as I write this post - I'm pleased I cleaned out all the gutters before we left ...

And fortunately we didn't travel with Thomas Cook although there are quite a few people in this particular hotel who did.  The younger generations seem a bit stressed out by it all, but the older ones aren't bothered, they're hoping for a few extra days in the sun - the benefits of not having to rush back home simply to turn up for work !

Anyway, here's the usual portfolio update at the end of September 2019 :- 

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Tax Planning for Retirement Savings

I've still no plans to 'retire' as yet, because I'm very happy to keep taking on interesting new work projects and therefore the earned income should continue to roll in for as long as I want it to, or at least for as long as the clients still want me to do the work ... 

But there's a looming problem with future work possibilities, in that the majority of the people I deal with in my core group of clients are, like me, also getting older and at some stage they may decide to call it a day themselves. 

This has already happened with two former clients but not entirely due to retirements - people also simply leave and move on to new pastures.  The senior guys and gals I dealt with at these places (senior in terms of their positions within the company) have departed and, although these companies are still prospering, I'm just not on the radar of the next generation of leaders now pulling the strings.  Luckily, in recent years, neither of these clients had been a particularly large contributor to my company's turnover.

So although my company has provided me with a decent income and also made a profit for twenty-odd consecutive years, it's prudent to be planning for a time when most of the work might suddenly dry up, which could happen whether I want to continue or not.