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. :-)

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!  :-)


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.


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!  :-)

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.


Thursday, 20 October 2011


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.


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.