Monday, 28 July 2014

Five year review.

I have just discovered that I am rich. I have a few bob in a current account which is my emergency fund, this will come in useful should I need to pay out for something that breaks or wears out, or I want to go on holiday. I don't have to worry, because I am not dead skint, I have got some money. YAY :o)

I've been going back over my bank statements to see how I have been doing financially since I retired five years ago. In fact my statements go back further than that to 2001. It certainly makes interesting reading, especially around the time of November 2005 when I was getting fed up with driving, cutting my hours, and running a small business trying to make up the shortfall. I was riding by the seat of my pants then, down to my last £300 in the account, and no savings to fall back on. I still don't have any savings, because I don't need any. I can't see the point in having money lying around in accounts doing nothing except earning a piddling bit of interest. I can do without all that bother. The less I have the better as far as I'm concerned.

I'm not saying I want to live on fresh air with no money at all. If the government went bankrupt and my pension suddenly stopped, I would go back to work, But as long as they are paying me enough to cover my living expenses and a few treats, I am happy. I read a lot about poor pensioners who can't manage, but to be honest, I have a pretty good life on my pension. In fact, as my header says, it's a brilliant life.

I made the decision a few years ago to cut my working hours, which cut my pay. I decided I would learn to manage on less. When the going got tough, I simply stopped spending, that was it, full stop. Can't afford it, need money to pay mortgage, council tax, utilities, food, car, one cat, none left for other stuff.

I scrutinized my bank statements, got the calculator out, worked out a plan. The plan was not to buy anything I didn't need. In 2007 I did spend some money, I needed a new kitchen because the one I inherited when I moved here was disgusting. I had put up with it for years because every penny I had went into buying the house, there was none left for anything else. So for £514 I bought a new kitchen from Homebase. I ripped out the old kitchen, put the cupboards together for the new one, and paid a plumber to fit the sink, cut the worktops to size and screw the cupboards to the wall. I wanted some electrical work doing, new sockets, but the electrician said I needed a whole house rewire. So I didn't have the sockets, and I manage with the two double sockets already there.

Once I had got back on my feet again, after years of cutting back, cutting down, and being super frugal, things started to get easier. By then I had living within my means down to an art form. Nothing more has been spent on the house, it is still standing, and I have the same decor that the previous owners left me, except I put a lick of paint on the living room walls.

I saved enough to be able to change my car, adding some cash to the pay off I got from the insurance company when the last one was written off. I was able to save up a bit extra from my pension and get rid of the mortgage.

In 2009 my total annual pension was £7,925.84, now it is £9,590.23. Yes the cost of living has gone up, everything has gone up, but I am still managing. My quarterly utilities bills have hardly changed at all, their prices go up, I use less, I will beat them. I have no mortgage to pay now. I don't pay as much council tax as I did when I was working. I negotiated a better deal on my house insurance. I cut Bugsy's insurance. A little tweak here and a little tweak there, and I don't have to worry about money any more, as I have enough.

So, I'm feeling pretty flush at the moment, but that isn't a cue to do anything rash, like going out and buying something I don't need. I don't have to scrimp every penny, but I probably will, ha ha. It's in my nature to be cautious with my money. There's no way on earth I could go out and flash the cash.

There is another reason to keep on with the money saving, and it's far more important than me living within my means. The worlds population is growing at an alarming rate, and if things keep going as they are there is going to be a massive wakeup call. There will be no gas, no electricity, no water, it will all be gone, used up, nothing left. Me using the bath water to flush the toilet, and buying second hand clothes, is unlikely to save the planet, but it makes me feel better knowing I am doing a bit to help.

Anyway, as long as that pension keeps appearing in my bank account I will be OK. I'm sure of that.

My stomach is telling me it's time for dinner, so I'll say toodle pip.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Will it work?

I woke up this morning with an idea buzzing around in my head, as I often do. I need to capture ideas as and when they happen, try them out. Before I made a coffee, and before I fed the cats, I laid a few beads out on the picture, will it work? 
I am quite liking this project, it's easier than painting because I can try ideas out first before I fix anything permanently. If you splodge the wrong colour paint on a picture, or put it in the wrong place, you have to redo stuff, and cover up the mistakes with more paint. Piecing things together bit by bit you can move things around and try several options. Working with fabric is a lot easier. So yes, I think the beads will work well here, all I have to do is sew them on.  
I've found some small white butterflies in my bit box, they were joined together in a strip and I have separated them. They will work well here among the green flowers.

I'm having an easy day today, gave keys back to the owners of the gardens I have been watering. Stopped for a natter and a coffee at one of them. Replied to a couple of comments here, will reply to emails later. Just eaten a bowl of strawberries and vanilla yogurt, lipsmackin good. Now I'm off out for a dog walk, Lady dog will be wanting a piddle. Come back, bit of sewing, lounge in the bath later. Love Sundays. Enjoy yours.
Toodle pip.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

A very nice village

It was such a lovely day today, I went a walk. I found a lovely little village. As I was passing the church a wedding had just taken place and the bride and groom were having their photo taken. The church bells were ringing to mark the happy occasion. 
Next to the church is a pretty little cottage, almost being swamped by the masses of lavender in the tiny front garden.

Round the back of the church are more cottages, each one has it's own parking space. I think these buildings used to be barns, a long time ago.

The old vicarage looks splendid, a beautiful period house.

In the High Street is a quaint B & B, someone is looking after the gardens at the front of the house.

Further up the High Street, another cottage.This one is at right angles to the road, and so has it's own drive in parking space.
This looks like a row of cottages, but is in fact one big house.

A detached cottage stands on it's own on a corner plot.

This is the road into the village. It's tree lined with wide grass verges and lots of big detached houses.

Long sweeping driveway to this house. One gate for going in, and one for coming out.
I really like this one, it's called The White House, had to be didn't it.

The churchyard looks neat and tidy.

This is the front gate of the church, leading out onto the road.
There are steps up to the front door of the pub.

The fragrance as you walk under this tree is divine. I could stand here for hours.
It's a shame the tiny flowers won't last forever.

Then I walked along a footpath behind the church.
It opens out to give wonderful views across the fields.
I didn't have to walk very far today to find this lovely village. It is my village, it's where I live. It's a place where I can walk about and chat, people are very friendly. The little black cat in the wedding picture is called Nicknack, it always comes to greet me when it sees me. The leaves growing on the detached cottage turn red in the autumn, a spectacular sight. The tree with the heavenly scent is at the end of my road, I can smell it in my garden. I know the lady who owns the B & B, and the lady who lives in the cottage next to the church. Round the back of the house that looks like a row of cottages is a public footpath. The people who live there have planted lots of raspberry bushes, and people can help themselves. I often pick a few to eat.

It's a smashing place to live, I am very lucky. Have you had a nice Saturday. Hope your Sunday is brilliant.
Toodle pip.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Visit to the 20 21 Arts Centre

I've had a lovely stress free leisurely day today, unlike the woman who rang me this morning, wanting to find a rescue that would take her bothers three cats because he was off on his travels. He is vacating his house in a week or so, and needs to find new homes for them pretty quick. Why do they leave it so late? I spoke to Sue about it as she looks after the cats we have in pens. She said this lady contacted her weeks ago, and was told to send us an email with their photo's so we could put them on our web page. Has she done it, has she heck. We get a lot of this, People think they can get their unwanted animals into a Rescue with just one pone call. Then they realise, after making many calls, that they are all full.  
Only last week I took a pone call from someone needing to rehome a cat, I said send ,me an email with a photo and description. I am still waiting. Wish people would get organised in time. Oh well, we try our best. 
Talking of cats, my two girls were late in last night, Naughty Heidi didn't come back till almost midnight, I was about to give up and go to bed and lock her out. The time now is 8.15pm and Heidi has just come in, Mayze is already in. I couldn't shut the back door quick enough YAY, they are both in, no waiting up tonight. 
I went to town today to get some bits and bobs, mainly cat food. I did a top up shop at Aldi while I was there. Bananas, strawberries, melon, cheese, yogurt, and quiche, and a carton of unsweetened soya milk. I got one last week to try, because Tesco has put theirs up from 59p to 75p. Anyway, the Aldi version is fine so I'll be getting that from now on. 
I hadn't been to the Arts Centre for ages so I thought I would go and browse the exhibitions. It's the Open Exhibition again, the one where anyone can enter. I didn't bother this time. A couple of artworks caught my eye, most of the entries are paint on canvas, but these mixed media are interesting. This one is called Fallen Angel. It's described as Mixed Media with mod-rock, wire, and paint, and the artist is Steven Jessop. 
It's really spooky, the torso and head are distorted, it doesn't have a face just a lot of screws. The lacy wings and dress have been painted a dark grey, and the roses have also been spray painted. It has been adorned with chains. It's wings are bent and it looks mummified. I think it looks very macabre, and I can't imagine what was going through the artists mind when he created it. I would like to ask him. 

This piece is a lot prettier. The Secret Garden, by Gabrielle Harris. It looks like she has taken two square pieces of fabric, a back and a front, stitched them together and put wire around the edge to mould it into a bowl shape. Then added simple embroidered and beaded tree shapes, with a pond in the middle. I like this piece. The colours are vibrant, and the embroidery detail is attractive. 

Remember I said my letter 'n' was playing up on the keyboard and driving me nuts. Well tonight it's the letter 'h'. I struggled on with it, thinking I would have to get a man to come and look at it, but no, I won't have to, I found what the problem was. A small black bead was rolling around between the letters, ha ha, silly me. Those pesky tiny beads get everywhere. All is fine and dandy now.

Welcome to Beverley in California who has just sent a comment to a post published in March last year. I get to read all the comments no matter how long ago the post was written. Beverley is working her way through the whole blog, she will catch us up soon I think.

Talking of comments, did you notice what I did recently. The post on Tuesday, In answer to an email, had a couple of spam comments, sent anonymously as most of them are. They were very complementary about the blog, I thought it's a shame to dump them, so I doctored them to remove the link, and re posted them, ha ha. So one in the eye for the spammers, turn a negative into a positive, and get yourself some extra comments.
That's all for now. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.