Welcome

Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been getting some thoughts & feelings, exasperations and the odd happy moment down on the blog which helps my sanity and, I hope, provides a little entertaining read for you for a couple of minutes!

Right now I am mostly concentrating on getting through a rocky financial patch which I really hope will be cleared (all being well) by the end of Summer 2013. In the meantime I need to concentrate on continuing to do well in my "new" job (actually got it in Sept 2011 but it still feels new!) and living my life as frugally as possible.

Thanks for stopping by and if you leave me an encouraging comment, it'll make my day. :-)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

All Over For Another Year.....

Hi there, merry post-Christmas to you all!  And welcome to my new followers as well.

There we are then, it's all done & dusted for 2011...only 363 days till we do it all again!


Well I think it went quite well here (and houmous, potato salad etc were all fine!)  But...how was it for you?

Mum seemed to enjoy herself, definitely better than last year anyhow.  I extended her stay another night as well so she could pop down the road (30 miles or so) to see other family and come back when she was ready whilst hubby & I visited his family and she was really pleased about that.  We waited on her pretty much hand & foot which was the plan.  I wanted her to have a relaxing time.


Boxing Day though was rounded off with moronic nearby 'neighbours' kicking off LOUD and obnoxious dance music at midnight which went on until after 2.00am.  This also happened last week which resulted in me banging on their door so hard I broke the skin on one of my knuckles before they could hear me!  It's also happened a time before that as well so it's not a one off.

Last night (or should I say early hours of this morning) it was hubby who went around after police failed to show up, which I can understand as there are no doubt more pressing things for them to deal with.  I'd called them though this time as last week one of the 'friends' got a bit verbally aggressive and I didn't want it to escalate further if hubby went around.....y'know blokes vs blokes and all that macho crap.  Luckily it didn't and they did turn things down/close their windows.  But I am so angry that they have to be told every time and refuse to take on board that this loud music is not acceptable in the early hours especially.

Anyway I shall be taking action about all this through official channels now as this can't go on.  I have lived next to noisy neighbours before and I know from experience it only gets worse if they are allowed to get away with it.  I need this nipping in the bud as soon as possible.  I am dreading New Year's Eve.  I do stay up for midnight and I appreciate people have a good time but I just know these people will take the p*ss.  Sigh.  Wish me luck!

Honestly though....the music.  It's loud but it's also truly truly awful.  As I said to one of my friends, you might as well just dance round a pneumatic drill which has set off a nearby car alarm.  Awful. If that was playing in my house this would be me:




In fact it's not far off that anyway!  (I can even hear it through earplugs.)   I know all this makes me sound about 124 years old but it's all true.  Glad I haven't got children as if they decided to play that crap I may have to turf them out.

OK rant over.

Any plans for the New Year then you guys?  If you do have special plans I hope it goes really well.  I don't think we'll be doing much except drinking a bottle of Cava I received for Christmas and watching the London fireworks which always makes me say "We'll go next year!" but we never do!

Any new year resolutions?  Do share!  I need some inspiration.

Well that's about it for me.  I wish you all the best for 2012 and I'll be back on here soon.

Take care.

xx

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

5 More Sleeps!

Hi there.  It's been a busy time of late! So apologies for the lack of posts.

Well now, I said I wasn't going to do much for Christmas this year......hahahahahahaha, well that went out of the window!  I have spent so much more than I anticipated, mainly on food, drink and such like.  But actually looking at it, it's pretty modest still, the pile of goodies we have so it just goes to show how much more items are costing now I guess.

Mum is coming to spend three nights with us.  Bless her, last year was her first year on her own as she split up with her husband (my stepfather) and I think she felt she couldn't be a burden on anyone (I have siblings with children) so she booked herself a trip away over Christmas 2010.  She did this before talking to any of us.  She didn't enjoy the holiday though and felt lonely.  It broke my heart to think about that so earlier this year I made it clear she could come and spend some time here.  I am a bit anxious about it but hopefully it will be ok and we can have a nice time and this Christmas will be more comfortable for her.

Hubby has done a 'dry run' of the Christmas dinner he is going to make.  As we're both vegetarian and hubby doesn't eat dairy products, it's not "easy" - it requires a bit of effort to find a suitably festive recipe.  We have found one which involves puff pastry with blended chickpeas, walnuts, breadcrumbs, leeks, sherry, mushrooms and a few other yummy bits wrapped up within it, which we'll have with roasted potatoes, parsnips, broccoli and carrots.  It's massively filling so no starter required but hopefully room afterwards for warmed Christmas mini lattice pies and dairy free cream or custard.  Mum's making a dairy free Christmas cake as well bless her.

We've got chocolates, nuts, fruit cocktail and other nibbles for the festive period...we're certainly not going to starve!  We're popping over to my parents-in-law for Christmas tea-time with my Mum as well, where there will be a feast laid out I am sure, should we feel like we're fading away...!  (As if.)

So all we have left to do now is buy the fresh vegetables required....we may venture out tomorrow night for those as they should keep till Sunday.  I can't go out Thursday night (unless I go really late) and I am not sure I can face Friday night or Saturday, I am sure the shops will be bonkers on those days.  I can feel  myself breaking out into a sweat just thinking about attempting to walk around a supermarket on either of those days.

How are you all getting on with your preparations?

I did get some shopping delivered tonight and I have had to put in a complaint to Sainsburys.  We didn't notice till everything was being put away that, some of the chilled items we'd ordered for Christmas tea-time i.e houmous for dips and coleslaw/potato salad all have sell by dates ranging from 21st - tomorrow!!! - to 23rd December!  I am so disappointed as it leaves me two choices:

1. Eat them and hope for the best (i.e. no 'off' mayo)
2. Waste them and spend even more money buying fresh ones towards end of this week. 

Hubby thinks they will be fine and I guess I am thinking the houmous probably will be (it'll all be kept in a very chilled fridge) but it's the mayo based stuff I am worried about.  :-(

Any advice?  It's a use by date not a sell by date.  The more I think about it the more annoyed I am!

I had to buy a new front light tonight for my bike.  The one I had got smashed tonight so I had to risk getting stopped & told off (and fined!) by a policeman and I felt like apologising to every other cyclist on the way home...wanting to say "Sorry...usually have lights....got smashed on way home....sorry...please don't hate me....sorry!"

Anyway had dinner then dashed down to Halfords and got another one....£16!!!  And that was a cheap one!  Things really have changed.  The one I had was a bulky bulb light that takes C (or is it D?) batteries...the chunky round ones.  Well you'll be lucky if you can find any more of those these days it seems.  It's all bright LED stuff.  Hopefully it will last a long time and it does seem pretty hard wearing and very bright for such a small thing.  My old fashioned back light is perfectly fine (fingers crossed).

I have to wrap things up here now (no pun intended honestly!) as my eyes are stinging and I need my bed.  If I don't get a chance to post again before the weekend I would just like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a very happy Christmas, may it be what you want it to be.  I also wish you a healthy and satisfying new year which I truly hope brings to you, what you need.

Take good care....and enjoy!

xxx

Sunday, 11 December 2011

A Night for Staying in & Battoning Down the Hatches!

Sunday night rolls around again and it's cold, windy and pouring down.  Definitely not a night for being anywhere but on my sofa!  However on the positive side my part of the country is "in drought" so all rain is welcome.  Mind you I do wish they'd fix the burst water mains a bit quicker round these parts, it might help the issue a bit too, whaddya reckon?

Welcome to new readers and commentors.  I have left a comment to the lady in North Australia in my last post, in reply to yours.  Very interested to hear how things work out with your solar panels.  And No Spend Days, it's good to know someone else knows how I feel at times (and it was definitely how I felt at the time of starting this blog!).  I hope you stop by often.

So it's the end of the weekend but I have a day off tomorrow which is lovely, I am meeting a friend and escorting her for lunch.  She has some health issues and currently can't focus properly so she can't drive and needs a helping hand getting about safely.  So I shall pick her up and I'll drive us to the nearest town (she lives in the middle of nowhere) and we'll get some lunch and have a chat.  I have about ten pounds to get me through a lunch date tomorrow which may or may not be ok depending on where we end up!  We'd mooted a Frankie & Benny's last time we spoke about it but I may have to knock that on the head as I think it would be quite pricey.  Just a sandwich and a hot drink or two somewhere simple would be great but we'll have to see what there is available. 

Changing the subject completely but I thought I'd talk about them anyway.....clothes!  Today I am wearing a lovely ruby red cardigan that was given to me last week by a friend.  She'd bought it and it was too big for her....it's a size 10!  And she had a baby this year!  Teeny tiny delicate friend I have (jealous).  Anyway it is just about the right size for me (I'd say it's a generous size 10 if being honest) and I do like it.  One of those kind of trendy ones with deep V neck and matching colour buttons and long cuffs on the sleeves.  Wearing it with a little black vest I got cheaply from M & Co last summer and a pair of Next bootleg jeans I got off EBAY about three years ago!  So all in all, I am a walking talking clothes bargain rail today!

We've had a bargain dinner tonight too.  We had a large potato to use up, some frozen baby spinach in the freezer, some left over mushrooms and an onion.  Plenty of rice & spices in the cupboard so a tasty curry was whipped up by hubby.  I now feel stuffed to the gills. 

Heating has been on & off today as planned (we did pop out for the afternoon to see Mother & Father-in-Law so that helped) so all in all quite a good day from a frugal point of view I think.

Well that's about it from me, I am looking forward to watching the second instalment of Charlie Brooker's "Black Mirror" tonight then I think it'll be bedtime after that with a hot water bottle.

Thanks for stopping by for my ramble today and I wish you a fantastic week.

xx

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

No *Really* I Truly Don't Know What I Am Doing!

I just ended up following my own blog!  Truly, what an idiot I am.

Anyway I have managed to untangle myself from that little escapade.  *Rolls eyes*.


WELCOME Aubrey Rose, my latest follower and, if I am not mistaken, my first overseas follower.  Lovely to have you on board.  I have had a little look at your blog and it's wonderful (more blog envy).  May I wish you good luck with all your goals and also mention, living without credit cards can definitely be done though it's sometimes not easy to start with.

So I don't know about you guys but I got rid of credit cards about a year and a bit ago.  I was going along just fine, then decided I wanted to use an Airmiles credit card so I could strive to get something out of it at the end of however long (i.e. a flight or a Eurotunnel trip at least) of using it for shopping, petrol or whatever else I needed to buy.  I am still a little way off a flight but not too far.

It does mean though that the old temptation of using a credit card is still there and I have to be so disciplined.  However having been debt free for a short while (I still have a mortgage and I constantly have to battle my overdraft even though it's approved:  I just don't want to owe anyone anything) I feel physically sick if I think about going back into debt for the sake of 'stuff' that I don't really need and can't really afford.  That part of my life, I hope, is over.

I read on the Martin Lewis's site that you should replace the word 'credit' with 'debt' - that stayed with me!  Very true!

Changing the subject somewhat, I did cycle to work today after feeling tempted to take the car "just this once" (yeah right) as it was so cold and windy this morning.  My God coming home at times was like cycling through treacle.  But I made it and that's saved me £2 on parking for the day.  AND I got the exercise.  I am however getting a lift from colleague tomorrow as it's forecast to be hissing it down all afternoon with 50mph gusts of wind.  Errrr no thanks.  I have offered her petrol money but she won't take it, she's so sweet.  Going to get her a little gift for Christmas whether she likes it or not!

Well that's it for tonight, I hope you're all wrapped up warm and cosy and not suffering too much with the cold.  We need to brace ourselves...this is just the start!  Yikes!

Take care & bye bye for now.
Edit:  I just learned how to do a link as per above!  This is exciting news people!  Whatever next??
x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

I Don't Know What I Am Doing!

Uh-oh.  Well I tried to do the Liebster Blog award thing and have to be honest, I got my knickers in a right twist!  I haven't a bloody clue what I am doing!  I tried...and failed.

HOWEVER I did end up having a good nose around (slightly overdue) on your blogs and I have to say, you all put me to shame with your interesting pictures and photos!  So, I would recommend anyone who is reading my blog, to nip on over to my followers list and take a look at them all.

I really have to gen up on this proper blogging malarkey.  I have blog envy.

xx

Sunday, 4 December 2011

An Award Winning Blog!?

Well thank you Mum for the award!  I shall take a look at your blog soon for the details and work out what to do next!  Very kind of you.

Well the weekend begins to wrap itself up.  I popped out on Friday night for a drink with a friend I haven't seen for some time.  I drove and just had one glass of wine right at the beginning of the evening and then soft drinks all the way after that.   Tea back at her place later after we walked back from the pub.  So an enjoyable evening and didn't cost a lot and I was home by midnight so no turning into a pumpkin for me.  (If I had, I hope hubby would have made a tasty pumpkin soup and frozen some individual portions for future frugal days...!)

Yesterday until mid afternoon was all about housework & conquering the mountain of washing I had - luckily it was clear & very windy in this part of the world so I got loads dry.  I did have to use the tumble dryer a little bit but not much - about an hour in total and it's not been on at all during the week. 

I then popped out for my hair cut & colour (come around quick don't they?) and cup of tea/chat with my hairdresser.  Whilst my colour was 'taking' we sat with her husband and two boys and WWE wrestling was on.  Her eldest boy (only 7) thinks it is all real bless him and it was so entertaining watching it and seeing his reaction to it all.  So funny! 

This morning I got up at a half decent time and after I hung out the sheet & duvet cover onto the line which I'd washed overnight, we had delicious warming porridge whilst another load of laundry was being done!  That is it for the time being.  I am all washed out.  But I do really love the smell of clean sheets and laundry in general.  One of life's simple pleasures.  Well, my life anyway!  How about you?

I had got up quite early today so I could pop up the road to another little town where they have some bargain type shops...I wanted to try and get a few little presents for younger relatives whom I don't see a lot of by still wanted to get a little token present for.  Unfortunately the road was closed due to a terrible looking accident so I didn't make it there.  I hope that they are ok and it's just the metal that got damaged.

I can't face going out again now, it's so cold.  We're sitting with the heating off at the moment - it's not due to come on till about 4pm.  It's too expensive to have it on all day so I have a huge body-warmer on, on top of  a long sleeve t-shirt and hubby has many layers on!  Unfortunately we don't have a fireplace and as it's a new/modern house, a wood burner is not possible.  So it's central heating or portable heaters, fleece blankets or nothing!  

I read that poor Scotland has been hit by snow & sleet now.  Does anyone know if gas prices are the same up there as they are down here?  If so I feel deeply sorry for the Scots as it gets so much colder than here where I am...I'm sure having the heating off is not much of an option.

Well I think I am off now to put the kettle on for a hot drink and then I may settle down under a fleece blanket to watch an old dvd (All About Eve) which I have been meaning to watch for weeks now.

I hope you enjoy what is left of your weekend, or, if the weekend is now over for you, I hope it was a good one.

Bye for now!

xx

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Winter Begins to Bite....

Evening all.  Brrrrrr, chilly today!  It's not going to get any better for a while and today really asserted itself as approaching Winter!  Officially it's not Winter till 21st December is it?  Someone tell that icy wind!

So, bit of an update then. 

The new job is, touch wood, going well.  I am enjoying it soooooo much more than the last one.  I am so grateful to have got the job and be having this opportunity especially as things are so rough out there at the moment.  I love being able to cycle to work and get a shower there so I'm fresh for the day and have a locker to keep my bike things safe in.  It's a real treat.  I am biking *most* days but as the weather gets worse I am realistic enough to know I will probably have to get a lift from a colleague who passes my street or ask hubby to drop me off if his shift is starting similar time to when I start (they vary for him & I am on flexi time).  But in the meantime I am not spending any money on petrol or parking AND losing a bit of weight too. 

I got the exam result back from my course - I passed it with an 80%+ result so that was great news.  Did I blog that already?  Not sure...am tired....forgive me if I did!  But anyway it should help towards an increment in salary in 2012, if I am lucky!

Re: Public sector strike yesterday.  I am not in the union (and haven't joined the NHS pension scheme....yet...if I do at all...) so I was in work yesterday but I do sympathise with the cause.  I saw the clip of Jeremy Clarkson on The One Show yesterday saying people who struck should be taken outside and shot in front of their families.  What a utter turd that man is.  I can't bear him. I can't even bear to give him any more of my time slagging him off so, let's move on.

I am continuing to try and save on every day stuff and we got an unexpected bonus today when the shopping was delivered today.  I do one "big" shop online with one of three supermarkets:  ASDA, Tesco or Sainsburys depending on who comes out cheapest with MySupermarket.co.uk because Aldi don't do much vegetarian stuff unfortunately.  Then all my weekly top ups & fresh bits generally come from Aldi or the shop over the road.    Anyway, Sainsburys were late delivering so we got a £10 off voucher to use next time.  Result!  I can use it any time up to February 2012 so no massive rush. 

I haven't bought those mince pies yet which I mentioned recently...I'd best get a wriggle on soon.

I have been feeling very tired lately.  I am not sure if it is a touch of SAD as I don't get out during the day at all.  I only get about 20 minutes of daylight when I am biking to work.  But I do sit by a large window...does that count/help? 

I have been looking at my diet and hoping I am not lacking anything that vegetarians can lack.  I believe I have plenty of vitamin B12, enough iron, folate/general B vits & plenty of zinc.  I think these are the usual culprits.  But I have started taking a multivit just in case (with iron) to see how I go.  I know that if you get too much iron it can give you similar symptoms as not enough iron so I won't leave it too long before I maybe go for a blood test to make sure all is ok.  Knackered though by about 10.00pm most nights so I am in my energy overdraft right now!  I'll pay in the morning....

Anyway good night peeps and have a fabulous weekend whatever you are up to.  What plans do you have?  Please do share!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Congratulations Are In Order!

A real quickie but as I am not sure if you will check the comments on my last post, I wanted to put it RIGHT OUT THERE for you you sl.tudor:  


CONGRATULATIONS!!

I am amazed and pleased and all those things!  Being in the forties club myself, I do think "YIKES!!" at such news but hey, it IS good news especially in the current atmosphere of doom & gloom.

Better start putting every single penny away now then luv!  :-)

Congrats again, and be assured I am smiling away here!

xx

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Hi there.  Welcome to my new follower and thank you Rainbowchild for your recent comment.  Nothing more has been said about Race for Life but that's not to say it's gone away!  I definitely will need to do some sort of training for it, though I am hoping the cycling I do now for work, will at least give me a better level of base fitness now than I had this time last year!

So here we are nearly at the end of November and Christmas is coming around pretty quickly.  I'll be honest and say I could do without it this year for various reasons but I won't be bah humbug! about it and will try to get into the spirit of things as best I can.

I have decided not to do Christmas cards at work and I will take in some mince pies instead.  I popped to supermarket today and coincidentally there were so many special offers on mince pies it was untrue!  However I was on my bike and couldn't get them all back without crushing them so I will have to pop back in the week in the car. 

I made a budget for Christmas presents this year, like I normally do as it's pointless going into debt over it.  I am of the opinion that those who love & care about you will understand if you can't afford to get them anything or maybe just a token gesture.  It's what you do during the year that matters most.  Saying that though, my budget is just about breached and I haven't got for everyone I want to get for yet so some creativeness is called for here! 

I have all hubby's presents and will enjoy wrapping them even though I am the world's worst gift wrapper.  Honestly, even a CD ends up looking like a football by the time I have finished with it and sellotape and me do not get along!  Someone created those user friendly sellotape dispensers with the cutters on and I still get tangled up with the bloody stuff!  Not my finest hour.

We're entertaining at ours this Christmas Day - should only be four of us but I am worried about it already!  It'll be a veggie Christmas so that's easy enough but I am only used to cooking for two and usually only one course!  What fun it will be on Christmas Day then eh.  Might just cheat and make a big soup a day or so beforehand for starters which can be heated up easily and after main course (whatever that's going to be) have something easy to nibble on for dessert.  I've never ever claimed to be a domestic goddess and life's too short to pretend to be one now!


Have a great rest of weekend....

xx

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Foggy Soggy Sunday

Hi all.  Thanks for your comments on the previous post, it is is good to know that I am not the only one who feels at odds with the modern world (or at least it's tv!) at times.  And also pleasing to read that others are using freegle type websites.

Urgh it's horrible out there!  It's been misty or full on foggy around these parts for what feels like weeks now.  Getting washing dry outside has been impossible and the house is constantly damp through drying on radiator airers.  So yesterday I had to give in and use the tumble dryer a few times as we had a mountain of "big" laundry (sheets, bath towels etc).  I was so miffed about using it!  I did leave one use of it till late at night so I got the cheaper electricity bracket but still, I don't like having to use it.  On the other hand I suppose you could say if I only do have to use it once in a very rare while I am not doing too bad.

I've had a good weekend - went out on Friday to a local gig where tickets were cheap & purchased months ago and the money for drinks and a taxi home was budgeted for.  I also brought some cash home!  So that was good.  A good friend visited me yesterday and I passed on some bits & pieces to her as she's strapped for cash....some clothes and make-up and a few other odds and ends she could make use of, were happily taken away.  I felt pleased that the stuff was going to a place where it would be used rather than gathering dust at my place.

Stayed in last night and made a yummy lentil & vegetable curry which was so cheap to make and I will definitely make it again.   Tasty and healthy, a winner all round.

Got up stupidly late today.  I have been so tired since the course....no way could I ever become a full time commuter to London!.  I haven't gone out or spent any money at all today.  Or yesterday in fact.  Heating has been on and off, curtains closed to keep what heat in we can and I am sitting here wrapped in a, erm, wrap, to keep warm whilst listening to football on the radio (yes I like football).

So the weekend has gone in a flash.  It'll be "up time" before I know it and back on the bike to work.  I hope it's not foggy tomorrow morning, it is one thing I can't bear.  It's horrible to be out in.  If you are driving and it's foggy, please take care.  You just don't know what's ahead of you.

It's pay-day on Friday and I have about £7 in my purse and a budget of £12 to get fresh fruit, vegetables and whatever else we need to see us through till the end of the month.  Hopefully should be ok, we've got a few tins of pulses left in the cupboard, some chopped tomatoes, frozen veggie mince, veggie burgers, tofu and 3 boxes of Linda McCartney sausages!  I am sure I can cobble together some decent meal plans for the next ten days.

How about you?  Do you find it a struggle to get through to the end of the month or are you super organised and have you learned to budget accordingly these days?  I'd be really interested to read your stories!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Bleak Times

Evening all.  Be prepared.  I may rant tonight.

How depressing it is today with the news that over a million young people are unemployed and unemployment as a whole is at it's highest peak for seventeen years.  No growth predicted for a year or two.  Petrol prices set to rise again and I don't suppose much else will come down in price will it?

I remember life in the 70's (I was a little kid) when Mum was on her own raising three of us and times were hard then.  I recall it being really cold with ice on the inside of the window in my bedroom because we didn't have central heating fitted.  Actually even if we did Mum wouldn't have been able to afford to put it on.  She couldn't afford any kind of heating apart from the fire in the living room, the occasional burst of the gas fire in the back room (if there was no money for coal & wood for the living room) and a paraffin heater at the top of the stairs for the whole of the top of the house.  God it was cold.

I remember lots of people being out of work and I remember strikes...,.specifically the bin men strike as all the rubbish had to be piled up on our local recreation ground in black bin bags!

Anyway to me it feels a bit like those times again....this time with internet and skinny jeans instead of flares.  But once again, bleak and depressing.

I really don't understand the stock market and banks and all that - and part of me really doesn't want to.  Because I know I would probably explode with the unfairness of it all and the greed that goes on in the financial markets.  I know though that someone somewhere is getting really rich (or will get really rich at some point) off the back of the struggles "normal" people are facing at the moment.  Because that's how it works...isn't it?  Peaks & troughs, buy low sell high and all that malarkey. 

Changing the subject slightly but still on the topic of money, I saw a snippet of a programme about Tamara Ecclestone, on Harry Hill's TV Burp the other day and then she was on the front of a newspaper I glanced on the train yesterday.  Now what I want to know is this:  why for f***s sake, are people watching this crap?  This person from what I saw, could burn twenty pound notes to keep warm all this winter if she wanted to.  She didn't go to a meeting with a client because she had a SPOT so she went to a private doctor.  Excuse me?  How is this relevant to the massive percentage of the population right now?  Why do people want their noses rubbed in it?  What has happened to people in this country that they would choose to watch this drivel and give this extremely rich woman even more publicity and ultimately, probably more money?  Why why why?  I don't understand and it's making me angry!  Reject this b*llsh*t!

And changing the subject again I would also like to ask people to reject something else....self service check outs in supermarkets.  Not only are they a royal pain in the arse most of the time, but they are also helping do yet someone else out of a job.  Jobs are scarce enough as it is and some people are grateful to work in retail (even if the Tamara Ecclestone's of this world wouldn't even know one end of a barcode scanner from the other) and they need their retail job to put food on the table and keep the roof over their head.  Please.....think twice before using one if you do choose to shop in the big supermarkets.  Just go to the shortest queue and help that human being stay in a job. 

I guess you could probably look at quite a few things in your community to see if you can help out.  Believe me I do want to save money but saving a few pennies at the expense of something greater (meaning, my community) seems a little selfish right now.  For example, petrol at the local Tesco is £1.329 per litre (or something like that) but it is £1.339 at local garage/shop/car repair place who also employs extra staff.  My car takes 35 litres (it's a little 'un!) so I would rather spend the money with the local garage every time for the sake of saving 35p if I feel up from empty.

If I need a few little bits of fresh veg or some teabags or whatnot, there is a little shop a stones throw from my house.  Definitely more expensive than one of the big four supermarkets and Aldi but, I would spend the extra on petrol to get to those cheaper places and probably end up spending more on impulse buys anyway.  So I am happy to use the little shop and hopefully help keep the young people that work in there (as well as some middle aged ladies!) in a rare job.  No I don't do my "main" shop there but I don't think they expect anyone to...it's there for bits and bobs and essentials.  You know the sort of place.

I have my windows cleaned bi-monthly.  I did go through a phase of cleaning them myself but do you know what?  It was a bloody nightmare.  I can't be bothered to faff about with the hard to reach upper floor windows and the pole bends all over the place, so £9 every two months for the local guy to do it, is fine by me.  (And he hasn't put his prices up in three years bless him!)

I supported the local firework display this year, I sometimes say "sod it" to making a hot lunch at home and walk down to the local chippy a mile away and have delicious fresh chips with salt & vinegar, we sometimes treat ourselves to a Chinese takeaway in the area and tip the driver a quid, I source local tradesmen if there is a job that needs doing in the house that we can't do, I used a nearby independent computer repair shop recently instead of "those other" PC global giants and he was probably a bit more expensive but you know what?  He knew what he was doing and got it right first time and didn't try and sell me anything else I didn't need.

I can say these things because I am in a job, I am not in debt any more and I make sacrifices in other areas of my life, so that I can budget accordingly.  I know that if someone is out of work, struggling to pay the rent or put food on the table then they probably won't care about window cleaners.  Quite rightly.  I am just speaking from my own experience and hope that people in the same or similar situations can see the picture I see at the moment, of supporting the local community, as well as yourself, during these tough times.  God knows Buttock Faced Cameron won't help them out.

But there is one thing everyone can do which won't cost a bean.  If you don't already please do check out Freegle or Freecycle in your area.  If you have got anything at all that can be of use to someone else, I really hope you'll put it on there, then wait a short while for your responses so you can choose the person you believe needs the item the most.

I absolutely love my local Freegle and you just don't know how helpful you are being.  We had an old king size mattress to get rid of - clean, very clean, but just old and not massively comfortable.  But we advertised it and were honest about it not being the most comfy thing in the world...........a fella took it who had split up with his wife and had a single mattress on a king sized bed frame.  He was so grateful he had something to tide him over till he got back on his feet. 

There is obviously the desire to donate to charity shops and that is fine, but, if you can, please offer up useful things from time to time for those who just need a break.

I think I need a paracetamol.  I got so wound up about Tamara Ecclestone's zit that I have given myself a headache.

Thanks for reading, I really needed to get all that off my chest. 

Take care.
xxxx

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Sleepy Update

Hi everyone.

The course is going ok, last day tomorrow with an exam at 3pm, if you see this before that time, positive vibes please!  I really don't want to have to repeat this as getting up at 5.30am is horrific!  Yeah yeah I know loads of people do it all the time but I'm not loads of people and I like my sleep!  LOL.

Still I have my battered old mp3 player to keep me sane on the train in the morning and evening (don't worry I am not one of those annoying people that has it playing REALLY LOUD) and I am getting to learn new things on the course so it's good really.

On my stats I have noticed I have some Russian viewers...well привет to you!  How exciting.  I recently found out I have Russian ancestry would you believe.  My great grandparents emigrated to England in the late 1800s and settled in the East End of London.  It is all really new as my Mum was adopted as a child and all this has only VERY recently come to light.  

Anyway enough of the genealogy lesson for now.  Bedtime soon as my eyes are getting very tired.  

Roll on the weekend I will certainly be ready for it this week I can tell you.

Goodnight.  Or if you prefer...... спокойной ночи
(I really hope that's right!)
x


Thursday, 10 November 2011

Just a Quickie...

Hello!  Thanks you guys who commented on the last post I made re: cycling. 

I am going to on a course with work for a while meaning getting up at stupid o' clock for a train to London and getting home late (no money for staying overnight....possibly quite rightly as it's the tax payers money after all) which means I may have zero energy for anything apart from the basic life functioning necessities until the mid to end of next week!

But I wanted to let you know that the rides home in the dark are far from pleasant but do-able for the moment.  Wet slushy leaves all over the cycle paths will become treacherous going around corners on the bike once it starts falling to zero so I will have to reassess. 

Other hazards include other cyclists with no lights (idiots), pedestrians in black clothing walking in the middle of the cycle path when there is a perfectly serviceable path to their right (idiots) and overgrown spiky bushes hitting you in the face as the council have ignored your email to cut them back.  Sigh.  I shall persevere...carefully!

TTFN.

x

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Enjoying My Last Day of Holiday

So back to work tomorrow.  I feel a little sad as it has been a lovely few days away from the office but, I must remember that I am going back to my new job and not the old stressful one! 

I definitely think I have a 'hangover' from the last job as I had dreadful Sunday night blues previously and end of holiday depression when the time came.  I feel like my brain got rewired in that job and now I need to undo that wiring and remind myself when the old feelings set in, that it's a new and happily, different job, in a better environment and is a lot less stressful!  (Plus, if all else fails, I can always just start planning the next long weekend!)

Well it is a typically yucky British weather day today with endless grey skies and drizzle.  I haven't gone out anywhere today (except to do a few checks on my bike in the back garden which doesn't really count) so I have done loads of bits & pieces around the house.  I watched Kim & Aggie again today (How Clean Is Your Home) and that always sets me off!

I am making a mushroom stroganoff tonight for dinner which I hope turns out ok, then it will be time to relax before an earlier night tonight.  Getting up well before dawn tomorrow is going to be a shock to my system!

The last few days have been seriously lovely though, meeting friends, doing a little shopping, having a bite to eat with them, coming home and relaxing with hubby, pampering myself a little in the mornings because I've had a bit more time to spare....oh it's been wonderful. 

Wish me luck for tomorrow and indeed for the bike ride home as well as it will be the first time cycling home in the dark since clocks went back.  Sickness & holiday have meant not having to bike in since then so, tomorrow is first time!  Can't say I am looking forward to it but from a visibility point of view, I have stuck a load of reflective strips on my bike, my bike helmet, my rucksack and even my trainers as well as polishing the bike lights and reflector panels.  I just hope the cycle route home is sensibly lit...and that it's not too cold!  What am I going to do when proper Winter gets here eh??  Freeze, that's what! 

x

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Fireworks!

Happy Firework Night to those who enjoy this night of the year.  I personally love it.  We are hoping to go to a display at a local school and then come back for mulled wine and veggie hot dogs with onions and potato wedges....yum!  It depends on the weather though.  Yesterday they forecast teeming rain...if that turns out to be right, we won't be going.  But now there is talk of just drizzle, which is more bearable.  We shall have to see.  But the hot dogs & wine are still on the menu whatever happens!

Hubby & I went out for our meal last night and we really enjoyed every morsel.  Fortuitously the restaurant has an offer on at the moment of £10.95 per person for poppadom & pickle tray, a starter, a main course and one portion of rice or a naan with it, which we didn't know about till we got there so that was a pleasant surprise.  We had a really good chat about things and just enjoyed each other's company.  It gave us a boost I think.

We came home and watched a favourite film on DVD together and had a few more drinks and generally felt happy & contented before retiring like fat beasts, to bed.

This morning I am doing some chores & laundry and later will pop out for fresh vegetables and to pick up my re-soled work boots then can settle down for the afternoon at home before making a decision on the firework display. 

Tomorrow I am meeting another friend for a good chat and a couple of cups of tea I am sure which I am very much looking forward to.  She's one the best friends a girl could have and I don't see enough of her as it is so, a lovely way to spend an afternoon of my time off.

I hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are up to.

xxx

Thursday, 3 November 2011

It Slips Through Your Fingers Like Water....

Money that is!

Hi everyone, I hope you are well today?

I am on some annual leave from today until next Tuesday inclusive which is lovely after having been ill this week.  Some legitimate time to myself and luckily I am feeling heaps better.

So yeah, money.  So one week I have 50p in my purse and I can make that last literally a week, and the next, I have £40 in my purse in the morning and come 7.30pm in the evening I've got £3.40 left.  Argh!!

Do you ever get days where no matter which way you turn, you need to get your purse out?  I have had one of those days today.  Admittedly one part of it was meeting a friend for lunch and I well & truly pushed the boat out with a panini and a hot chocolate! Everything else has gone on mundane stuff like petrol, groceries and the like.  I have also put some boots in for re-soling (not included in the £40 mentioned above) and I am having the Timpson's "Rhino" soles put on which aren't cheap at £21.95 BUT:

a)  it is cheaper than a new pair of decent boots suitable for walking around a large site at work

and

b) the soles are guaranteed for the life of the boot.  And seems they are decent boots, that should be quite some time!

Hubby and I are going out for a meal tomorrow.  It's our first meal out for.......umm....ages?  That long ago, I cannot actually remember.  I remember being *out* but I couldn't tell you when it was.  We went out for a free film at the cinema about 6 weeks ago and that was the first time we'd been out for a very long time too.  It may be my imagination but if I listen really intently I think I can hear the cracks of extreme boredom setting in.

I hate not being able to do much socially I really do.  And I live in a really boring part of the country too so it's not like we can even go and walk by the coast or the river or a lakeside or up a mountain (you get the picture) for free.  I know I have to be sensible and I know I don't want to get into debt again but Christ on a Bike I want to feel like I am living sometimes.  There's only so much of the same four walls you can take.

Anyway I know there are far far worse things happening all over the world for people so I won't go on about it cos it's trivial really but...just in case you wondered.....I'M A BIT BORED!!!!!!!!!

What have you been up to lately to keep you out of trouble?

Monday, 31 October 2011

Today's Silver Lining

Well I haven't made it into work today as I am full of cold.  Also someone needed to be here for the British Gas engineer so that was another reason.  My boss has been really understanding - phew.  I haven't been there quite 2 months yet so I was feeling anxious about it but I think he could hear on the phone how bunged up I am and let's be honest, who wants to be without a boiler at this time of year?  And you'd have to be pretty mean spirited to cause a fuss if someone with a boiler issue needed a bit of time off to deal with it wouldn't you?  He said I could take the day off as sick or holiday, it was up to me.  But seems I woke up feeling pretty crappy anyway I elected to take it as sick.

Anyway the British Gas engineer arrived and he actually listened to what I had to say when I explained the problem and what I thought might be the issue after reading forums and the troubleshooting manual I have for the boiler!  Wow.  Some of the engineers just pooh pooh what you say and don't take the time to listen but this guy was fab!  I made him a cup of tea and let him get on with it once he'd taken what I'd said on board and....it turns out my suspicions were right and it was a faulty PCB board on the boiler!  It had scorched and a fuse kept tripping it out.  Luckily I have boiler cover care so the part was replaced with no extra cost to me and they're worth about £200 I think.  Along with the cleaning of the heating exchanger this year, I certainly seem to have had my money's worth this year and for the first time in a very long time, I am not going to say anything bad about British Gas!

He stayed around for a while after the PCB was fitted to make sure everything was ok, ran various tests, checked all radiators (and bled one of them for me!) and generally was bit of hero today.  I think I might email British Gas with some positive feedback for him.

The radiators were scorching and the hot water was hot even at quite low temperature setting on the boiler so that's great.  I think that we won't have to have the heating on very long with the amount of heat they were throwing out and the thermal curtains/Radflek in place which hopefully means a lower gas bill in December.

So that's my silver lining today when I do feel quite grotty...all dry scratchy throat and streaming nose.  Yuck.  I have been taking extra zinc and odourless garlic capsules, both of which seemed to help me fight off any summer colds this year so I am hoping they help me fight this off quite quickly.  Finger's crossed eh?

How about you?  Any silver linings today you would like to share?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Oh Great!

So....come down with a crappy cold overnight and then have the boiler fail.  No hot water and no heating.
Engineer booked for tomorrow. 

The annoying thing is though, this is a repeat fault for something that's been happening on & off for months.  This will be British Gas's 4th visit.  They have refused to replace a part, just kept "cleaning it" (the heat exchanger). 

This time they will have me to deal with when they visit....and with a head cold, it won't be pretty.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Winter Prep

It's been a very long week indeed.  7 weeks into the new job, I found myself on my own for 3 of the days due to holiday & then sickness.  People from other teams were helpful when I had questions but to say I was relieved when 5.30pm came on Friday is an understatement!

Anyhow, after a blissful lie in (till 8.40!) today, I headed off to get my bargain price professional cut & colour which is always welcome by the time it comes around.

After that I headed to Matalan for some new socks as all my work socks have decided to produce massive holes in the heels and toes at the same time!  Well for £5 from Tesco about 3 years ago (for a pack of 5) they've lasted pretty well!  So anyway I bought my new socks (and a couple more pairs of sports socks for cycling too) then had a look at the knitwear for men as hubby doesn't have too many jumpers or cardigans.  With the colder weather coming and sky high gas prices, I thought some inexpensive additions may be in order.  I found two ideal items, both in blue (he looks good in blue!) for £22 total. 

I came home and he's chuffed with the gifts so that's good.  I popped out after a quick lunch for some fresh fruit & veggies and also a carton of Tesco's own Rose wine *may* have fallen into my trolley too.  Ahem.  I also got a half price tin of Quality Street for the imminent trick or treaters.  Now all I have to do is hope they don't turn up and that's me sorted!  Haha - only joking.

After that whilst hubby was preparing a favourite dinner - a warm, hearty veggie casserole with kidney beans (yum it really is a favourite and really cheap to make too) I hung some new curtains I had found on EBAY a couple of weeks ago.  All three pairs have blackout & thermal lined backing and I am hoping that along with the Radflek, they will really help keep the rooms warmer.  They do look fab actually, they are all very soft and touchable.  The bedroom ones are a deep red wine colour and look fantastic.  I got matching "stone" coloured ones for the lounge window and patio doors...the latter I bought intentionally longer so that they act like a draught excluder and they look lovely as they drape softly.  I am so pleased with them.  Our ageing lounge double glazed window has been taped up with draught excluder tape so I think we've pretty much done what we can for now.  We also have big wrap around fleece blankets for when we're snuggled on sofa.

I took meter readings today for the electricity & gas as I want to keep on top of what we use and know what costs we're accumulating.  I made hubby watch when I submitted them so he could appreciate just how expensive fuel is.  I pretty much look after all the bill paying so, he hasn't been as exposed to the price rises.  So far, since our last bill at the beginning of September, we've used £53 worth of gas and that includes that really warm spell at the beginning of October and most days the heating is not on actually that much...just enough to take the chill off in the morning and evening.  £53.  And we're not even started with Winter yet.  It's terrifying.  Hubby was pretty shocked.

Electricity was about £56 which is also pretty bad.  It's no wonder I am obsessed with avoiding tumble dryer use (speaking of which....3 loads of washing dried on the line today....result!)

So we've got at least 4 months of cold, dark miserable days & nights to get through....I am pretty scared of the financial impact this will have.

Suffice to say, tonight, as it is pretty mild for the time of year, we're sitting here with the heating off!  I bought a cardigan a long time ago, in the sale in John Lewis, which has cashmere in it.  I don't have many luxuries (by Western standards!) but this feels like one...and it is so warm.  Hubby has a thick t-shirt on, with a cardigan on top.  We're feeling warm enough so definitely no expenditure on gas tonight.

How many people out there are going to have to make the choice between food & fuel this Winter?  I am deeply concerned for those who are struggling to make ends meet right now.  And how is it going to get any better?  The other thing that concerns me is the amount of farm land being sold for housing so the importation of food becomes essential.  Doesn't take a genius to work out what is going to happen in the future especially when climate change incidents affect crops - which it will, it is only a matter of time.  Well it's already happening for some poor buggers obviously.

On a more positive note, tomorrow will be nice with the extra hour and as I have got so many chores out of the way, it will feel more relaxed.  Hubby's making a veggie cooked breakfast in the morning so that is something to look forward to.  The only pressing things I need to do are hanging some washing out, pumping my tyres up on my bike and checking batteries are fine on my bike lights.  Not too demanding  eh?

I hope you  have had a good weekend so far and that you enjoy your Sunday too. 

Here's to bracing ourselves for Winter.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Another Quickie.....Hello!

I recently discovered the stats page which tells me that people from the USA, Australia, Canada, India, Turkey, Germany and some other exotic places, sometimes take a peek at my ramblings.  Well I would just like to say Hello to you all and of course to the people here in Blighty as well.

Even if you don't 'follow' or comment I am thrilled to know you're out there having a little look - and I wish you all the very best!

To those who do comment and follow, I know we're a small & select bunch but such high quality I like to think!  :-)

xx

I'm So Excited...And I Just Can't Hide It!

Just a quickie to say whoopeeee!  Last month I got heavily taxed (as my new employers "lost" my P45) however I have just found out that my pay for tomorrow is higher as I have not been taxed as much this month.  By the tune of about £125.

This is such a relief as I desperately need to get some new socks, put some petrol in the car and basically have a bit more next month than £2.60 once all the bills are paid!  It's also my younger sister's birthday coming up and a niece so I can hopefully get them both a little something now, nothing major but a gesture at least.

PHEWEEE!

Anyone else had any good news today?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Day For Me...

Hubby is out all day today and I have the whole day to myself.  There's a plethora of things I would love to do with a day like this (if I was loaded) but the options open to me are suffice enough really.

I had a massive lie in yesterday (ummm, 9.40am...!) and today I got up not much earlier than that!  I've been knackered so I've not fought it.  It'll soon be Monday morning and up before the dawn every day for 5 days again.

Anyway, I got up and sorted out some overnight washing and got it out on the line.  Yep not particularly self indulgent but I am NOT wasting the sunshine and wind.  I guess you all know me enough by now that you'd probably not have expected anything else from me anyway!

Once that was done I enjoyed a big bowl of cheapo brand honey nut cornflakes and a cup of tea, watching Gok Wan's "How to Look Good Naked" followed by "Supersize vs Superskinny".  I have seen both of them before but I still watch them! 

Then after the washing up, I had a mosy upstairs again and administered some home pampering.

A have a little bit of a Dermalogica face pack left (bought in a 'former life') which I squeezed enough out of - and I think still have enough left for one or two more if I am lucky! - and slapped that on.  A quick tidy up of eyebrows after inspection!

Then I washed my hair with a very gentle shampoo followed by a deep conditioning hair mask which got combed through my unruly towel dried hair.  That needed leaving on for at least 15 minutes so I then used my Soap & Glory foot file to buff my heels.  I can't bear having rough feet!

A little file of my fingernails before removing the facepack then into the shower for a good exfoliation with my exfoliating sponge and a posh shower gel, bought with gift vouchers when I left the last job. Hair was rinsed and then out and into a fresh towel - bliss. 

After applying leave in conditioner (yep, that's needed as well for my rebellious hair!) and mousse, hair is teased into curls using my fingers and left to dry naturally.  I can then apply some matching posh body lotion to compliment the shower gel (also bought with the vouchers) and massage my feet with some cream too.  Nice soft tootsies. 

Put on a little make up so I don't scare anyone who might pop around and then I'm done!  I feel pampered and smell pretty great too even if I do say so myself.  And I had all the stuff already so no cash spent.  Fab!

After that it's back to reality when I realise the shower curtain really needs a wash...sigh.

Well I'm off to have a frugal lunch of some crumpets (bought for 25p at the end of a day and frozen!) and the rest of the chocolate from Aldi.  I couldn't resist and had some yesterday and it's delicious.  It is their Fairtrade Belgian milk chocolate for 99p....absolutely lovely. 

I think I may put a film on (as the phone call with friend happened the other day instead) and just relax for a while before embarking on making a hearty veggie hot pot for dinner.

Here's hoping you have had a lovely Sunday with some time for yourself too.

Ta-ta for now.
PS.  50p is still 50p!  :-)
xx

Friday, 21 October 2011

And relax.....

Well it's Friday!  For a 4 day week, this week has felt like a long 'un!  I think next week will be even longer as there are only 2 people to do 4 people's jobs.  EEEK!  Still it'll keep me out of trouble.  Hopefully.

Hello to Atilla and your DH sounds very sweet!  Enjoy the blooms.

I don't know if any of you others follow Frugal Queen but I am really concerned about her post tonight; saying she is contractually not allowed to say why she's not posting.  I hope she can come back.  I love her blog.  She won't have a clue how much it's helped me not to stray too far from the straight and narrow over the Summer, but it really has.  But really and truly what is most important right now is that whatever it is that is going on, let's hope they're all OK down Cornwall way. 

In other news....I didn't spend a penny of my 50p today, it's still nestled in my purse (2 x 20p and 1 x 10p piece!). 

Happily it's warmed up a bit in my neck of the woods and on Sunday could get up to 18 degrees AND windy.  Me being a line-drying-of-the-washing freak, this pleases me no end.

Not much else to report unless you're amused at the thought of me keep sniffing my arms tonight as I showered after work using Aldi's moisturising soap (69p for 4 bars).  It reminds me a bit of the green Palmolive soap you don't seem to be able to get any more (or is that just my area?) and I really liked it.  So as far as I am concerned I smell gorgeous!

OK time to go...going to put a film on soon and enjoy the Friday night feeling.  And ohhhhh a lie in tomorrow....bliss.  Not for too long though....got laundry to do!  :-)

Bye for now.

xx

Thursday, 20 October 2011

50p!

I have 50p left in my purse.  I get paid on Tuesday.  That's all I have to last me till then.  Luckily I have made a meal plan and bought what we need for it so that's the food taken care of.  I am cycling to work so no bus fares or petrol to worry about.  I have my own cup of tea supplies at work so no need to buy from the restaurant (and of COURSE I will be taking my own lunch in tomorrow!).

I don't have anything planned for the weekend except getting washing done & dried in the windy sunshine that is forecast and a home pampering day on Sunday with products I already have.  I will literally be scraping the product out of the bottom of the packaging but hey!  I won't be buying anything new.  Hubby is out all day so I plan to just indulge.  I bought some Fairtrade milk chocolate from Aldi on Tuesday night (damn them and their extremely reasonably priced treats!) so I will probably be indulging in some of that whilst lounging on the sofa chatting to my best friend on a free phone call, 'apres' face pack. 

So, 50p.  Do I need to spend it?  Will I need to get any more cash out of the bank?  I hope not. Anything I take out, this side of pay day, sends me into the red next month.  My budget shows me being in the black my a whopping £2.60 next month if I stick to budget!  You gotta laugh!

Anyone got any nice plans for the weekend?  Feel free to share...just because I am on a zero budget, doesn't mean everyone is.  If you're off to Paris for the weekend...enjoy!  :-)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Monday Monday

Well I am not at work today, I have a day off and it was lovely to lay in till 8.30 this morning!

It's turned really chilly & drizzly overnight here but I am still not putting the heating on!  I have however dragged out a halogen portable heater and have turned that on in the living room to take the chill off.  I won't be leaving it on much longer though as it'll probably have the electricity meter whizzing around.

I have the back curtains closed - Keshling are you listening? - to try and retain what warmth the heater produces and I am enjoying my first cup of tea of the day so that's warmed me up too. 

Popping out later to see a friend and along the way I think I will be doing a few chores including paying some loose change into the bank (if the sorting machine is working) then picking up some moisture traps from the discount warehouse I have to go past....it's that time of year now where come the morning the windows are covered in condensation and the moisture traps help a bit.

I have also got to do a full inventory of what food we have left in the house and see what meal plan I can come up with.  I don't get paid until next Tuesday and I have a budget of £24 (yes, not £23, not £25, but £24!) to get us through to the end of the month, or actually, ideally 2nd November (long story) for fresh fruit & veg, milk, bread, fillings for home made sandwiches for lunch, stuff to make evening meals out of etc.  £24.  Good job we don't eat meat!  I'll see what I can come up with.  I am sure Aldi will help me out.  It's going to be tight though. 

Luckily I have plenty of washing powder, fabric conditioner, washing up liquid, household cleaning products, shower gel, hair stuff, hand soap, loo roll, body lotions & potions & dental hygiene products so no spends on that kind of stuff.

Well I should get stuck into it shouldn't I?  The sofa is toooo comfy though...very tempting to just sit here for another half an hour daydreaming. 

OK bye for now - hope you've had a good Monday.

xx

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Here I Go Again!

Well howdy!  What an age it's been since I last posted.   So what's been going on then, I hear you cry (hmmm!).

Well as you know if you've read my other posts, I left the old job & started the new one.  And it's kept me REALLY busy.  Last week was the end of my 5th week and I feel like I have been training pretty much constantly.  I know I haven't really but when it's all new and you are learning all the time, it's bloody exhausting.  I am also cycling into work & home again (more on that in a moment) so I am mentally tired and physically tired too. 

So pretty much I have been working, coming home, doing the necessary and then vegging out/going to bed early to get up & do it all again.  Happily I feel like I am adjusting a bit more now and I feel a bit more energised.  I guess it just takes a while to adapt to a new routine and the older you get, the longer it takes.  I had quite a few jobs through my twenties and it was a breeze!  Not so any more.....another reason to want to stay in this one till I retire I think!!

So anyway...the cycling.  The hospital charge a small fortune for parking there - an annual ticket about £450.  If I have £450 spare, I can tell you, it would not be going on a parking space.  It's about a 20 - 25 minute ride there (and another 20 - 25 minutes home) and a pretty cycle friendly route most of the way so I cannot justify spending that sort of money on a car park.  That would be insanity.

So, I have kitted myself out with some appropriate cycling gear (which makes all the difference believe me) and I have spent money on getting my bike checked out/serviced/new, slicker tyres & mudguards fitted.  I have spent money yes (taken from money that was supposed to be going into a pension but that's another story) but I am still at least £150 better off than I would be if I had of coughed up for the car park.  And the money I have spent should last for AGES as the clothes are good quality and the 'hardware' for the bike isn't going to need replacing for years & years.  The tyres are - touch wood - puncture resistant.  Finger's crossed!

So I am feeling great about the cycling as not only does it let the endorphins loose and thus make me feel happier, but now, going forward, it's 'free'  and it's eco friendly AND there will be no scraping of an icy car in the mornings come Winter.  Yes I might be cold for the first 5 minutes on a bike but it's not exactly a warm glowing feeling scraping a car and waiting for your heater to kick in whilst you sit in slow moving traffic for fifteen minutes either.  Then you have to do it all again when you come OUT of work, by which time I will be half way home, yipeee!

(OK I say all this now, we'll talk again in two months when I have actually had to cycle in with icicles on my nose.  Nice.  But I do remain optimistic!)

The love affair with Aldi continues.  I am there pretty much every week, feeling amazed every time I walk off with a big box of goods for about £11 which I know damn well would cost me at least double that in the Sainsburys across the road.  I am really having to pull in our belts now.  There's just not a lot of money left at all at the end of the month once all the bills are paid and if I want to try and save some money too.  My pension money is dwindling away to nothing as life and it's challenges sucks it dry.   So Aldi has been an absolute God send and I love it.  Yes some of their stuff is not great but you have to try it at those prices.  Not really anything to lose.  I just wish I'd shopped there sooner. 


This weekend I have been spending more of that said pension money, to try and get us a bit better prepared for this Winter.  Gas bills are just f***ing insane and we simply can't afford big bills like last year...and they will be big because the crooked b*stards have put the prices up again since last year obviously.  So....I have bought some thermal & blackout lined curtains for the bedroom and also the living room.  The living room has a front window and patio doors so two pairs for that room.  I had to get curtains about 6 inches longer than the patio doors but to be honest, I can get them taken up if they look really ridiculous but I am hoping for a) a romantic, drape-y look as the curtains are (apparently) quite soft and b) that the extra length will just function as a draft excluder if nothing else!  

I have also purchased on-line some radiator heat reflector panels (Radflek) which gained rave reviews on Amazon from most people so finger's crossed they work and do reflect lots of heat back into the room instead of just heating the outside wall.

What else have I bought.....oh yes, two more indoor drying rack things for washing if it's not dry outside...I just cannot bring myself to use the tumble dryer unless I have to. 

A wind up lantern - good for emergencies (we had a power cut recently and only had one torch!) but also good for when you just want a bit of light in the evening and switching the light off will save a bit.  Not much, granted but it all helps.  Two minutes of winding gives over one hour's light apparently.  Sounds good to me.

Another hot water bottle also purchased which will be good not only for bedtime but for cuddling on the sofa on really chilly nights, under the fleecy wraps things I bought a year or so ago, once the central heating has gone off.  Cos that will not be staying on all night I can tell you.

Finally, some draft excluder tape for our ageing windows for £2.99.

Hopefully that will all arrive this week in time for next weekend and hubby & I can tape up windows, fit reflector panels and hang new curtains....whilst washing done overnight for cheaper electricity is drying outside obviously :-)

I really hope it's snugger & cosier after that else I shall cry.

I have got washing drying outside at the moment actually (and yesterday) thank goodness for a better weekend this weekend than last.  I have managed to get about 4 loads done & dried which is heaven.  Last weekend it wasn't supposed to rain - just be cloudy - so I set off washing overnight on Friday and hung it out on a gloomy Saturday morning, only for it to start p-ing it down 5 minutes later after I had set off the stripped bedding in the washing machine.  Reluctantly I had to use the tumble dryer - gutted.  So this weekend I have made hay whilst the sun shone (so to speak) and got a fair bit done.  I know it's only simple stuff but it makes me happy.

Well that's me up to date.  I hope you're still with me and if you feel the need to share in my joy of line drying or ways to keep warm this winter in a house that wasn't built to accommodate a wood burner or anything that requires a chimney then feel free!

Take care, bye for now.

xx

Monday, 29 August 2011

Are the Seasons Changing Already?

Howdy all!  How are you today?  I hope you are well.

Well here we are on the last Bank Holiday before Christmas - eeeek!  I said the 'C' word.  Sorry.

Anyway it's still officially British Summer but doesn't it feel like Autumn today?  Well it does where I am!  Windy, chilly, cloudy with the occasional bit of sunshine.  I refuse to put the heating on yet - it's chilly enough to warrant having it on a bit later in the day to take the edge off but, no way!  Heating on in August is just wrong.

So I've got thick socks on, jeans and a long sleeved top and am drinking lots of tea today.  Haven't really got a great deal of funds to get out & about on this Bank Holiday which is a shame but with it being so uninviting out there I don't feel like I am missing out on much.

To keep me out of mischief today I've shampooed the spare room carpet (again) to make sure the borrowed Vax is ok before I give it back later.  I've also vacuumed all of downstairs, washed up & given the kitchen a once over, I've shopped locally for a very few essential items and I've cleaned some windows on the inside.  Also caught up on some correspondence with friends.

I finish my despised job this week then I have the time off between jobs that I am so so so looking forward to!  Wish me luck though people.  I really don't want this new job to fail. 

Oh....Aldi  I have been buying more bits & pieces from there to see how things go.  Really pleased with some stuff i.e. bread, strawberry conserve, chocolate, fig rolls (yeah - essentials here!), kitchen cleaner & all the fresh veg / fruit I've bought.  Not so keen on their honey nut cornflakes but at 99p a box you have to try these things!  I will definitely be using them for my weekly top up shops though and hope to save a bundle.

I had a massive piece of luck last week in that I ordered some salon hair products off EBAY (shampoo & conditioner) in a dual pack, each bottle being 280ml.  The guy shipped me ONE LITRE BOTTLES of each....and two of each!  I emailed him to let him know his mistake but in a nutshell he said keep them but thanks for your honesty!  So I now have enough shampoo to last me I don't know how long (I am going to give one bottle away to a friend as I will never get through two litres of shampoo before it's past its best) and the conditioner will last me about 6 months I think (my hair drinks conditioner).  Result!  That's going to save me some serious money for the rest of this year. 

I also got severely overpaid from work in my last pay packet which I 'fessed up to straight away (honesty is always best policy) but unfortunately they weren't quite so generous so I have to give the difference back tomorrow by cheque!  Oh well, better to get it sorted now rather than when they realise however many months later eh?

That's about it from me, not a very exciting update today but at least you know I'm still here!

Bye for now - thanks for reading!


Sunday, 21 August 2011

Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon....

Hi everyone, how are you?  I do hope everyone is well and enjoying the sunshine today.  I've been out sitting in the garden for a while and enjoyed it.

It feels like ages since I last posted anything.  I have been completely knackered from the early shifts this week and after getting home, eating and doing whatever needs to be done, I've not had much energy for anything else so apologies.

But here we are at the weekend again and I feel rather more energised!

Well what a mixture this weekend has been.  Yesterday I was up fairly early (after a week of early starts at work, 9.00am felt like a disgusting extravagance!) and did loads of things around the house.  Last weekend was a busy one too after I borrowed a carpet cleaner and cleaned all carpeted rooms in the house...which saved a lot of money as all it cost me was a bottle of carpet cleaner and the water/electricity to do the job itself.

This weekend was just general stuff to do like usual cleaning, washing, food shopping & stuff like that.  Apart from the groceries I have not spent any money so that's a good thing.  So yesterday was mega busy and today was more laid back.  Got up early again and lazed on the sofa watching Gok Wan and Supersize vs Superskinny till midday & hubby made scrummy porridge (the sun didn't come out till later so it didn't feel too weird eating porridge on a summer's morning!).

I am feeling a little hypocritical today though as I posted on the wonderful Frugal Queen's blog earlier today about the giving away of things and it is something I do regularly one way or the other, but I am currently selling three pairs of shoes on EBAY!  In my defence, I listed them last weekend before that post.  And I would have given two pairs away gladly but only two of my friends are the same size shoe as me.  One doesn't wear high heels any more and the other already has loads of shoes too and, without wanting to sounds bitchy, isn't exactly in need of hand outs. 

I have sold one pair to someone in the same city as me so she is coming to collect them tonight.  The other two pairs finish tomorrow and next weekend respectively. 

One pair of these pairs to sell are frankly way too good to give away.  They are a well known shoe designer name and I bought them about a year ago and have never worn them.  Idiot that I am.  They're gorgeous.  I'd be an even bigger idiot if I didn't try and get something for them.  Pretty much the same with the other pair too though they're not quite as mouthwatering but they've only been worn once (same designer but bought in 2009 for wedding).

I do have one more pair of shoes that I didn't list on EBAY which are high high high heels and I think I will pop them into a charity shop.  You never know, they may well be someone's dream going out shoes and they can get them for a song.

I'm really rambling aren't I?  About shoes.  How boring.  If you've made it this far through the post I think you deserve a medal.

In other news, I finally popped into Aldi in the week just gone and was very pleasantly surprised at the cost of things and the quality of the bag of parsnips I bought!  I asked a frugal friend I have if she has ever shopped and Aldi and she told me she's been shopping there for years and recommended some particular things (and advised me to steer clear of certain others) so that was good feedback.  I am planning to pop back in this week for any fresh stuff that we need so I'll have another nosy around to see what they have for when I need to do a "big shop" and stock up.

I'll be doing an inventory soon of what tinned stuff we have to see how long we can make meals for before another such big shop though.

What else, ah yes.  I failed on the Chinese Takeaway desire.  I gave in last Friday and we had one delivered in to celebrate it being the end of the week and my not having to work a crappy late shift.  It was delicious but unfortunately they delivered meaty spring rolls instead of vegetarian ones and refused to believe me when I rang to complain so I swore never to use them again!  Perhaps it is someone up there giving me a big clue that I SHOULDN'T BE SPENDING MONEY ON CHINESE TAKEAWAYS!

I have walked past the Body Shop though and am using up the dregs of all shower gels I have before going out to purchase anything else.   And when I do I'll be looking for BOGOFs in Tesco no doubt, not the Body Shop's finest!

The pizza is a work in progress though.  Seeing a friend at the beginning of next month for a pre-arranged lunch and I am pretty sure we'll be either popping out to the deli section of her local Sainsburys which apparently does great "build your own" pizzas or we'll be dialling one in.  But, call me weak if you like, as it's a social meeting and I will have been paid and budgeted for it, I am not beating myself up too much about it.  It'll still be cheaper than going out for lunch somewhere I'm sure!

Right well that's me done for now.

Wishing you a happy week and thanks for taking the time to read today.

xx



Monday, 8 August 2011

Resist! Resist!

Isn't it interesting how different we all are?

There are some people out there, who, when faced with my current financial situation (trying to stop overdraft from spiralling out of control...it is not allowed to get over the free £250 overdraft I have!) would batten down all the hatches, pull out all the frugal cookbooks, burn their credit cards (or at least freeze them in a block of ice) and then inspiringly & creatively they would build their bank balance up again and then write a worldwide best selling book about it thus lifting them out of the situation altogether.

But what do I do?  Get a massive yearning to go shopping, go out for lunches with friends, treat myself to crap I don't need and generally stick two fingers up at the bank balance.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Now don't get me wrong, I have been very very good in the past, shifting thousands and thousands of pounds worth of debt from loans, credit cards and TWO massive overdrafts that make my current £250 look like small change, and my naughty spending ways have been curtailed immensely.  But my God does that little spending devil on my shoulder still exist. 

I am drooling over a Chinese takeaway I desperately want (I am taking notice of that word "want" rather than "need"!) from a fantastic place in our village.  I am also yearning for a vegetarian pizza....it's been I don't know how long since I had a pizza.  Maybe 5 months?  Actually that's not that long ago but it was a rare treat meal out with a friend and doesn't count.  I am thinking lay-about-on-the-sofa-with-pizza-from-box type pizza.  Yes readers I also have a sluttish lazy side!

I want to go out and splurge some cash in The Body Shop....how I love the vanilla range and the Neroli range.  I have run out of both, all bar the few washes of Neroli shower gel I have left.  Oh woe is me!  How dreadful life is that I can't afford my favourite body lotions and potions!  Ahem.

Ah well.  I just have to keep on resisting for a while.  Damn it, it's hard sometimes though!  Anyway readers, don't judge me on my yearnings....but you can judge me on my success or failure to resist them...I guess time will tell right?

On the positive side, I am back to a normal shift this week....fabulous!  This time last week I still had half an hour to go at work, this week I have been home, had dinner, washed up, cleaned the bathroom, started a load of washing off, cleaned the kitchen down, sent some emails, made my lunch for tomorrow, polished all of upstairs and the coffee table!  And still two hours or so before bed time.  I feel quite virtuous. 


I think I will sit down and watch an episode of Supersize vs Superskinny that I recorded yesterday.  That'll keep me out of trouble.

Bye bye for now!








Thursday, 4 August 2011

Time Drags When....You're On a Dodgy Shift Pattern

Oh for the love of God is it not the weekend yet?  Not enjoying this week at all and will be ecstatic when it is over!  Thank the stars I am leaving soon!

Well my leaving date has been fixed and my start date of new job also fixed - and it leaves me with some time off in between which I am looking forward to immensely but the worry is, it is unpaid.  Well I guess I have the choice of asking if I can start the new job a bit sooner but the truth is, I think I would rather eat beans on toast all the way through October (cos Septembers pay will be minus 7 days worth of pay) if it comes to that as I am gagging for some more time to myself!  Hubby might take some convincing about the beans on toast thing but he's welcome to try some frugal creativity in the kitchen if he likes!

We've got one thing planned for the weekend after I finish work though...we're going to an exhibition (free!) in London and I booked the train tickets tonight in advance...£36 return for the both of us.  Certainly wouldn't cost as that much to drive & park but frankly I can do without the hassle and he would hate driving in London too.  So train taking the strain it is then.

I have got to be careful at the moment as I just feel somewhat giddy at the thought of leaving my job and I want to have so much fun, do lots of social things and enjoy myself after a year of feeling miserable.  I have to be careful not to go crazy...I do get swept up in the whole "you only live once" state of mind at times and it's at those times that the plastic gets flashed.  Regrets?  I've had a few.......and I'll have a few more of a financial nature if I don't keep a check on things!

Well what else to report this week....I did my first ASDA online shop and feel I got a lot more for my money with them than I have done in the past with Tesco or Sainsburys.  Hopefully I will like their range of own products and will use them again.  Although should I still be checking out Aldi or LIDL for things like tinned tomatoes, pulses etc?  Does anyone know how they compare to ASDA smart price stuff?

Oooh I know what else....I got the gas & electric bills in yesterday too.  Gas was down about £3.50 and electric was down by....about 30p!  Unfortunately, as I suspected, due to all the rain and having to use the tumble dryer, I couldn't manage it down really.  Still - at least it didn't go UP eh?  Only about 2 more months till water meter gets read and I will find out if I have managed to get the monthly direct debit down on that too.

Something has got to help pay for my fun times!  ;-)

Right then, I had better start thinking about bed time. 

How's everyone else's week going?  Feel free to tell me about any money saving things or fun things you've done or are planning for....I love a bit of inspiration and hearing other's tales me!

Bye for now.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

And ain't that the truth!  Where did my time off go?

And goodness me it is almost a week since I last posted.  I was back to work today on a weird shift which I am on all week.  So my 'evenings' are everyone else's getting ready for bed time!

Well where to start.....oh yes, David Tennant and Much Ado About Nothing.  Good grief I haven't laughed so much in a long time believe me.  He is hilarious and so is Catherine Tate.  I had an absolute ball on Saturday afternoon and my ultra generous friend who purchased the tickets did too.  We spent a long time chatting before and afterwards and also had several 'pit stops' in cafes (which were very welcome as we walked a long way round the streets of London town to avoid packed, hot underground stations and save money!) and we both agreed the show was a complete winner.  Definitely recommended if you have the money for a treat and there are any tickets left.  I think it runs till September.

I also met up with a couple of other friends last week and I didn't blow my social budget and I even brought some cash home from London too so I am quite pleased about that.  I have put a fiver's worth of petrol in the car to see me through till I can top up properly towards the back end of the week and completely wasted £1.05 in the vending machine at work on rubbish today but I was starving!  We had b*gger all in the house to take to work apart from a banana and a sandwich.  When I popped into a shop before work to buy something sensible for extra, I just wasn't hungry at the time and looking at all the food made me feel a bit queasy.  So I made my exit!   Obviously regretted that later on.

I have had the formal new job offer letter now subject to my CRB check coming back ok and the Occupational Health Department not causing a fuss over anything on my Health Questionnaire.  I would hope this means I can start mid September.  I am having a small amount of time off between jobs which will be unpaid unfortunately but I am prepared to pull the belt in even tighter in the Autumn to enjoy a bit of time off when the weather will still be good as who knows when my next time off will be?  Maybe Christmas.


Well that is about it for now - I have come over really snoozy and can't concentrate so instead of waffling on about nothing I shall bid you good night and hope that you all have a good week.

Bye for now! 

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hump Day Already?

For those of you just joining....hump day does not represent anything rude...it just means you've got over the middle hump in the week and it's downhill all the way to the weekend now!

So why does hump day seem to take an eternity to come around when you're at work but a blink of an eye when you're on holiday then, eh?  Anyway I hope you've all been having a good week so far?

I have felt ok since Saturday and have been enjoying the week.  I met my friend for lunch yesterday and we had tasty chip shop chips for a treat and I had a mooch around some second hand shops before & after meeting her but I didn't find anything I wanted.  Never mind - sometimes the pleasure is just in browsing. 

Today I went for a bike ride to seek out a route to the new job and I found one that takes probably about 20 minutes....which is about double what it will take me in the car unfortunately.  But I am hoping that I will see people queued up at the traffic lights waiting to get onto the main road out of the works site, which I will be able to sail past on my bike going home and maybe be about a mile home before they even get past the lights!  I know that sounds mean and I don't mean it horribly really as I know some people have no choice but to drive but I am just trying to talk myself into cycling rather than taking the easy option.  I guess I need to keep telling myself I will be saving money on parking & petrol too!

I think it will be difficult in the winter though as the route is mainly cycle paths which will not get gritted in the snow & ice and I also have to push my bike over a railway bridge which definitely won't get gritted and it will be a bit scary when it's dark (no lights there) but I need to be brave!  Hopefully there will be other cycle commuters coming home that way at the same time.

I think I will take another bike ride out before my week off is up to check the route and look to see if there is another 'leg' I can take as part of it was a bit confusing going through housing estates that all looked the same!  Maybe I just need to to it again and make some mental 'markers'.


Anyway I did enjoy the bike ride which was good as if I had hated it, there would have been nothing to encourage me to even try it.

So my treat for the weekend is a journey down to London (train ticket booked ages ago in advance for cheap) to see a show with a friend who bought the tickets as a gift for my 40th birthday this year.  How generous is that?  It's the Much Ado About Nothing show with David Tennant and Catherine Tate which is very exciting as I have a soft spot for David Tennant shall we say!  Anyway I shall meet my friend and we'll go for some lunch (money for this has been budgeted for some time) then head off to the theatre.  I am booked on an early evening train back from London so no hanging around being tempted by expensive shops, bars or restaurants!  However I may pop into a pub on the way home (right next to train station) where an old colleague/friend is having a birthday get together but I think that depends on how much ££ I have left over.  But I would like to.

I don't want the weekend to get here too quickly for a change but at least when it does I have something brilliant to look forward to eh?

Thanks for reading today and I wish you a happy remainder of the week.

x

Monday, 25 July 2011

First Day of Week Off!

Thanks to those who wished me well from Saturday when I was feeling poorly and Sara I have added another comment re: your daughter.  If anyone is reading this and has some HR experience I wonder if you would mind having a read and contributing some knowledge?

So here I am on a Monday, feet up on the sofa doing some internet browsing after a busy morning in the home. ....I had a lie in but nothing too obscene!  I got up and had some breakfast then watched "How Clean Is Your Home" in my PJs....that programme makes me cringe in disgust but also fascinates me at the same time and I love to see the houses at the end.  I am pretty clean & tidy anyway but after watching that programme I am always inspired to do a bit more!  So I:  

  • Washed up
  • Cleaned the kitchen down (including the sink & floor)
  • Hoovered everywhere & removed all cushions off the sofa and hoovered up underneath them
  • Cleaned the bathroom floor
  • Wiped down everywhere in the bathroom (it had a deep clean on Saturday!) including skirting boards
  • Made the bed 
  • Emptied bins! 

Sat down for 10 minutes with a cup of tea reflecting on a few things.

I then did my nails & toenails and applied a facepack before jumping in the shower. 

I have had a frugal lunch of a banana and two slices of marmite on granary toast as we haven't actually got much in the house at the moment.  I am trying to eke out everything we have before I do another 'stock up' shop which means there isn't much to nibble on between meals...which is a good thing really!

I've logged on to check all ok with bank account & credit card - does anyone else feel compelled to log in every day to check in this day & age of fraud?

Been reading a bit more about Amy Winehouse and Frugal Queen posted about it this weekend on her blog, which pretty much encapsulates how I feel, although I don't have a daughter myself.  The news this weekend has been awful, so many dreadful stories.  The world is a brutal place at times.

Well it is time to go and do a few more useful things now and as Mum said, I can enjoy taking my time over them and having gotten them out of the way I will be able to do the other things I have planned this week guilt free. 

I am meeting a few friends over different days for drinks at lunchtime, I am also hoping to get out on my bike to see how long it would take me to cycle to my new job to save on petrol and parking fees (it's not a free car park unfortunately), am going to pay the loose change in our jar into the bank tomorrow and perhaps pop into the charity shops too to see if I can spot any bargains.  I have one evening out planned on Thursday which is just a couple of drinks with a friend to celebrate the new job but I will drive there so won't have to fork out for taxis.  It'll just be nice to be out and chat with my good friend as I don't see her that often these days.

I do have one big thing to look forward to though on Saturday - a trip to London to see a show!  But more on that later....

Have a good day and I hope your Monday wasn't too bad!

x