Some guy just left after showing up to help us switch electricity providers so we can lower the bills. We haven't even gotten a first bill yet--that is supposed to come next week--but I have read in various places that the thing to do is to switch providers every year. They offer discounts for switching, so you sign up with one, then move to another to get their discounts. He showed up today and there seemed no reason not to go ahead and change. In the process of doing this, we learned where our meter is and how to read it and we have a key for it. Turns out that Electricity Supply Board only read the meters twice a year and they estimate the rest of the time. We can now opt to send an exact reading each month instead of getting the estimate. We also learned exactly when peak and off-peak hours are. We'll get the bill from Electric Ireland next week and then when we get a bill from these new people, we will see whether we do save anything. Not knowing how things operate here, and not being able to rely on my common sense ideas about how things work, it's always tricky to know what the best thing to do is, but we have 2 weeks to opt out.
This morning we had to go to the bank to pay the rent. We had to go through what we both thought was a ridiculous procedure in order to be able to access the bank website. You would think that this online banking stuff could have been done at the same time the account was created, but that's not how it works. It does seem that things must be done in the most inefficient way possible, so we each had to call separately, be asked questions, and be issued different log-in codes. Then we had to create PINs. Having done that and being authorized to use the website, Bill began the process of setting up a standing order so that the rent would be transferred from our account to the landlord's. Last month we went in with cash and deposited it, but they would rather you create a standing order so they can charge you the fee. The woman did it, but begrudgingly. He had to have an IBAN number created for the payee's account, which he did. He had to provide all of the necessary information--payee name, amount, date each month that the money should be moved, and any note he cared to add. Then they wanted to know whether he wanted the necessary security code sent to him via mobile phone or post!! He chose the mobile phone option and this is where he discovered that our phone was not registered with the bank. We gave it to the woman who set up the account. Bill gave it to the guy who set up his online banking account. I gave it to the guy who set up my online banking account. But they didn't have it. To register it, he would've had to start over, so he just clicked off "via post." Who the hell knows how long that will take. In the meantime, the standing order remains unfinished, so we took some cash to the bank again. I explained the situation to the woman behind the counter. Then I explained again--step-by-step--what Bill had done. Then she got it. I asked her if, when he finalizes the standing order, they will go ahead and transfer the money even though it will be after the 10th. She told me they will not--when the date is missed, it's missed and it'll begin next month. I have no idea why I bother asking these kinds of questions because as I listen to the answers, I find myself thinking, "Well, who knows whether this person knows what they are talking about." I am certainly learning to believe it when I see it here. It was suggested to us that a credit union would be a better way to go and when we go elsewhere, we will certainly look into that. I have no doubt that simply closing this account would be easier than trying to switch branches. On second thought, maybe I should not be so certain. If there is one thing I've learned it's that Bank of Ireland can make the simplest of tasks into the most convoluted process one can imagine.
On the way from the bank to Tesco, we passed the health food store on Main Street and went in. I'd looked in from the sidewalk in the past and it looked like they had all pills and candles and stuff. But Bill was running low on the Clif Bars he keeps in his backpack in case he gets hungry when we're out and about. No Clif Bars to be seen here, but we hoped to find something. Grocery stores have a couple of kinds of granola bars, but that's not what we were looking for, so the health food store was our last local option. They had a few different kinds of bars that looked promising and when we walked in the back, I found the food. They have organic jumbo oats for less than the grocery stores, so I picked up a bag of those. Here when something says "oats" or "porridge oats," which is what you see all over the place, it means this oat flake dust kind of stuff. It's not powdery like oat bran, but it's really small flakes which do make great, creamy porridge, which I love, but are not good for making the muesli-style stuff Bill likes in the summer or the toasted oats I like. I learned that jumbo oats are what I want for that and there was only one kind of those that I saw before today. I also found some herbs and spices in little bags instead of those jars--yay!--more herbs for less money and less packaging waste. I grabbed some oregano. I do miss the bulk buying I used to be able to do, especially for herbs and spices, but this is as close as I'm gonna get. We got a jar of pesto as well. I will miss making my own this summer and watching my freezer stash grow, as I have done in summers past, but with no food processor and no good supply of basil, the jar will have to do. I was thrilled to see a decent selection of teas--best I've seen since we've been here. And they had baked tofu, something I used to buy all the time in Oregon and Alaska and could never find in Maine. They had Italian, plain, and some kind of interesting kind with seeds and stuff in it. I picked up a few things, but will go back. I am always glad to be able to support a small, local business!