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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Catch up time

Oh dear, now I'm going to have a big gap from the last post to this one, but it's going to be too time consuming to fill it. So sorry if you have missed me, but I've had terrible problems with my computer, again, seems it had picked up all manner of gremlins, was even hijacked. I had a computer expert here this morning gasping in amazement at how it was infected with every imaginable bug. I watched as he zapped through the lot, cleaned it all up with his little stick, put a new anti everything programme in it, then he left me to watch it scan for over an hour and a half. It is now declared squeeky clean, cost me £30 but well worth it. It's thanks to Mark at http://www.barton-computers.co.uk/ that I am still here.


So what have I been doing these last few days? Well, I have actually been to work. Last year I did a few jobs for Timberland Motorhomes, collecting and delivering them to and from shows. This weekend they had about 50 at Peterborough, they rang and asked if I was available, so 15 of us went in a mini bus to bring them all back. I call this my hobby job, as it's more like a day out, the guys are good to work with, we have a laugh, and I get to drive some really smart top of the range motorhomes.


I was pleased to see they had bought us a brand new mini bus. Previously we had a basic school bus type box on wheels and the seats were awful, I always had to take a cushion it was so uncomfortable. It seems the sales of motorhomes have not been hit by the recession, possibly more people are electing to do their own thing rather than fly off abroad somewhere. Some of the interiors are luxurious, I can picture myself touring around in one of these, but at almost £40,000 for a newish small one, or £60,000 for the deluxe with garage, I think it will have to remain, 'in my dreams.'

It's countdown time to my party, the guest list is growing, I need to plan the buffet, and decide what I am to wear. I have decided not to look like a conventional 60 year old, but to look like a bright and crazy chic, so I have been scouring the charity shops for something totally outrageous, can't wait to see the gobsmacked look on everyone's face.

I am going to cease puttting my daily spend on here for the time being. I have been doing it because I thought it might give inspiration to others and illustrate that it it possible to live on very little money. I will make a mention of the bargains I get from time to time, just as a reminder that I am keeping to my strict rules of searching out the best that I can get for my money. My frugal shopping has become a way of life with me, I have got my food shopping down to a fine art. Must go, I've got a dog here that is waiting to go out.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Cat latrine?

The border around the lawn just outside my back door is looking a bit messy, so it's time for a makeover. Get the kneeling pad out, (a piece of foam cut from an old settee) and hope my knees stand up to it after all that work on Janet's lawn yesterday. I am trying to pick out all the weeds with their roots, but after struggling with a trowel and getting a blister on my hand, I got the spade out and attacked it.

I have some plants and bushes in pots that I am putting in, to cut down on the watering when it is hot. The wild birds round here are very tame, a blackbird came hopping along and started searching in the soil a couple of feet from me. I gave him a helping hand and threw two fat worms in his direction. Freddie cat is watching me closely, I know exactly what he is thinking, oh look, she's building a lovely new toilet for us! Wrong sunshine, I knew I would find another use for those blue plastic trays that I get out of the bin at the takeaway.
Daily spend - £1.20 milk and bar of chocolate.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Lots of cats

Imagine living and working in your own business, surrounded by lovely gardens, with fields full of horses as your neighbours. Get up in the morning, no travelling to work, start when you feel like it, coffee breaks and lunch anytime you want to, maybe sit down and watch the world go by. Sounds wonderful doesn't it? This is the life for my friends Janet and Alan, who have a cattery near Selby in North Yorkshire, I love to visit them and enjoy the tranquility of their place, it's 45 minutes drive away and I arrived just after 2pm.

After catching up on our news in the conservatory, I went for a stroll around the gardens and to see the cats in their chalet's. Janet is like a mother to them, checking and playing with them, making sure they are not getting too homesick. She has seven of her own as well, but all the cats get her equal attention.

I noticed that the stepping stones across the lawn were disappearing underneath the grass and the tidying instinct in me kicked in, I asked her for a sharp knife and a bucket. I like to do a job where you can see a difference, here are the before and after pictures.











Janets helper, Laura, turned up at tea time and they proceeded to serve the guests their evening meal, then there was some pruning to do around the bushes which Janet got on with while Alan set to in the kitchen to make us all a meal. Afterwards there was time for me to trim round the edges of the lawn with the long handled shears, once I start a job like that I have to keep going untill it's finished. I ran out of time and had to give up as darkness approached. I could quite happily go back there tomorrow and find lots more to get on with, I enjoy working in other people's gardens.

Now just to re-cap on what I said at the beginning. It is nice to live and work at your own business, but Janet is on the go all the time, there is a lot of work to do in a cattery, she has had two days off in the last eighteen months. The gardens need constant attention, they have just painted the exterior of the house, Alan has cleared the pond out, sealed the bottom and got it working again three ponds with cascading water. Alan is also a cat photographer and has made their own signs, and he makes signs for other people, also prints business cards, and of course cats are coming and going all the time. Phew what a lot of work to do, I feel exhausted just thinking about it, even so they love it there. If you want to look round click on the link at the side.
Daily spend - nothing

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Stranger in the churchyard

Are we in spring or summer, because it's a glorious day. I was walking through the churchyard with Ben this morning and came across a man sitting on the bench reading his newspaper. Oh dear, I seem to be in the habit of chatting to men I have never met before. You know how you know straight away, when you meet someone for the first time, that you are going to get on with them, well it was like that. We both couldn't stop talking, we had quite a lot in common, both being unemployed and heading towards retirement, enduring similar experiences at the job centre.

I felt we had been mates for ages, so I gave him an invite to my party next month. I don't know what his wife will think when he gets home and tells her a total stranger has invited them to a party. I like doing spontaneous things like that, makes life fun.

I've just been out in my car to my friend Karen's paddock, with a dozen plastic boxes, and filled them up with stinking rotten hoss muck which is full of worms. It must have been there for a couple of years. She only lives round the corner, but it's too far to trundle up and down with my wheel barrow. I've got some raised beds I want to dig it into. I'm all set up now for veg growing, just waiting for my plantlets to come along. My kind neighbour gave me six tomato plants, his are way ahead of mine, mind you I will probably be giving him some back later on in the year, when I am overrun with them. I'm off outside, some more work to do.
Daily spend - nothing

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A good start

I like to get a good start to the day by eating something that is going to keep me going for a few hours and keep my mind alert, this was very important when I was on the road at 4am with a hundred or more miles ahead of me. I have never skipped breakfast, even then. Most drivers starting at that time would grab a cup of coffee and a cigarette, and make a stop at around 10am when they pulled into a transport cafe and filled up with a full fried breakfast. You've only got to look around you to see retired truck drivers struggling with excess baggage and wheezing like they have just run a marathon, which none of them could ever hope to do.

So, without trying to sound too preachy, a good start to every day is very important. This is how I do it. I have an assortment of seeds and nuts, which I vary from day to day. I try and include sesame seeds, linseeds, and pumpkin seeds every day, with any nuts, walnuts, almonds, cashew nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans. These I crush with a pestle and mortar, and add to my cereal. I don't like packets of ready made muesli because there is too much sugar and salt in them.

I have either bran flakes, oat bran, or porridge oats. Sometimes I will cut a banana up on top, or mix some dried fruit into it, then I pour soya milk over it. I never seem to have problems with my digestive system or my waste disposal, so I think this diet is right for me. It's a matter of trying different ingredients to suit yourself. I haven't got round to the detox yet as I mentioned earlier, but if I carry on tweaking my diet I feel I am on the right track.
Daily spend - £11.50 cat food.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Now my feet are sore.

Another day another walk, this time my main purpose was to have a look at the damage the youngsters are doing to our woods. We have a problem with youths who congregate, generally on a Friday evening or Saturday afternoon. They chop down young trees, drag pallets into the woods, dig the ground up and build ramps for their bike games, have parties and leave the place littered with bottles, cans, and food wrappers, such a mess. No one seems to be able to catch them at it though. I have flattened the ramps, and I know other people have as well. A few years ago when I moved to the area there was only one path through the woods, now there are dozens. It seems such a shame that our young people are intent on destroying everything. Anyway, I think I'll give the walking a miss tomorrow, I have got two sore blisters, one on each foot, ouch!

I started a new ten week free college course tonight, Health Psychology. There are about 25 in the class, some of them I knew from the previous courses I have done. We talked about all the different reasons why people become stressed, next week we are discussing stress management. It made me think about my own situation, I am so laid back I can't think of anything to get stressed about, except going to the job centre every fortnight, and I've only got four weeks left of that. The course sounds very interesting.

Afterwards of course, I called in Tesco for my reduced price food. I am pleased to report that I got three huge leeks for 10p each, a large swede for 25p, a tub of mushroom pate for 25p, two large brown loaves of bread for 11p each, three boxes of chocolate rice crispy clusters for 15p per box, and ten boxes of Mr Kipling sponge slices for 10p per box. Most of the cakes I will give away I might add, far too much sugar for me, but a nice treat for somebody else.
Daily spend £5.63 Tesco

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Man on a horse

I haven't had a good long walk for a few days, getting withdrawal symptoms, so as soon as I had my breakfast I was off. A couple of minutes and I am at the back of the church turning right onto Burton hills. It's a lovely morning, slightly cool, but as I am in the mood for getting some excercise I stride out keeping up a brisk pace. I soon warm up. This is the view after about half a mile, looking down over the River Trent. I love it up here, fantastic views, on a clear day you can see York Minster, but not today, it's a bit hazy. I crack on towards Alkborough. A bit further along I see a glorious sight, the most beautiful horse coming towards me. I stopped for a few minutes to admire this handsome boy, the owner said he used to be a racehorse but wasn't very good, too laid back, so now he is retired. What a bonus to come across them this morning.

At the end of the path I emerged through a gate at Julian's Bower, a maze cut into the turf. The view from here is spectacular, looking down over Alkborough Flats and across to where the rivers Trent, Ouse, and Humber meet up. I came here a few weeks ago on my bicycle. Before I set off back I had a quick walk down the steep bank onto the Flats, and some huffing and puffing back up again, all good for the old ticker.

On the way back I came across the horse again, this time he had stopped for a snack and was happily munching away on the grass verge. A good opportunity for a close up photo, as we chatted some more. Isn't he a beauty!

I feel set up for the day now, just got me in the mood for some gardening, and the sun's come out. Aint life grand!
Daily spend - nothing

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Let battle commence

If you see something suspicious in my back garden at about 10pm at night, don't ring the police, it will be me searching for big fat slugs and snails, with my wind up torch. It's that time again to do my nightly patrol. Their favourite spot is the compost heap, especially when I have added some fresh veg peelings. They also come out from under the hedges, so I usually find a few along the edges of the lawns, spotting them is made easier by regular mowing.

What to do with them once you have collected them? A famous TV gardener once admitted to stabbing them. I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I take the cowards way out and send them off in the brown (garden waste) wheelie bin, and let the crusher in the machine do the deed.

Sorry snails, it's time you were leaving. I grow my veg for me to eat, I shall continue my patrols throughout the summer, no doubt there will be plenty more where they came from.
Daily spend - nothing

Friday, 17 April 2009

Artistic talent

There is artistic talent in my family, pity I didn't get some of it:-( By artistic I mean painting and drawing. My father was a whiz with a pencil, he could copy a photograph and it would look ten times better as a drawing. I have tried, but failed miserably, I can't get the hang of shading, lighting, smudging, and shadows. My trees are like a bunch of sticks.

My uncle Stan, dad's brother, has been painting all of his life, oils, pastels, pencils, acrylic, you name it he can do it. His pictures have been exhibited all over the place, even top galleries in London. Stan has an exhibition at the moment in the Library at Burton upon Trent, my home town. Here is a link to the story in the local newspaper.

http://www.burtonmail.co.uk/burtonmail-news/displayarticle.asp?id=406433

I have been to see the exhibition and spend a few hours with my uncle. He has 35 paintings on display and the money he raises from the sales is going to the Air Ambulance. While we were there someone bought one, making a total of eight sold. At 85 years old, I think this is a fantastic achievement. Stan keeps himself very busy with his painting, gardening, and haircutting. He was a hairdresser for most of his life, and still has cusomers coming to his house for a trim, all the money he takes also goes to the Air Ambulance. I am proud of my uncle Stan, I had a lovely day out with him.

Daily spend - £16.48 diesel
Pub lunch, too much, my treat, just forget about it :-)

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Goodbye old bag

I really like this bag but it is getting a bit tatty now. I bought it many years ago from an Army Stores, didn't cost much, and it has been very useful. I like the size of it, big enough to carry phone, camera, purse, keys, sandwiches, drink, map etc, but not too bulky and heavy. I prefer shoulder bags because it leaves both arms free to carry shopping bags. So goodbye tatty old bag. Guess what! I've made a new one to replace it. I have a lot of upholstery samples that my brother gave me about 20 years ago when he worked in a furniture store. Using the old bag as a pattern I made this one exactly the same, it's turned out really well, but my fingers are a bit sore from stitching such thick fabric. It doesn't need a lining, I just hemmed the edges. I have sewn through buttons to attach the strap, and put a button on the front for the elastic fastener. It's fab.

Hang on a minute, I'm just going to retrieve the old bag, can't bear to throw it away. It will come in very handy for my dog walking duties, just right for the poopascoop and doggie biscuits.
Daily spend - £5.27 Sainsbury's
£1.80 Wilko. 50p charity shop

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

A proper haircut

I had a job interview today, felt quite apprehensive about it, don't know why because I am normally an outgoing person. Maybe it was because my last job interview was five years ago, and that was only a formality as I had already been told the job was mine. My interview previous to that was eight years ago, so I guess I'm out of practice.

I sat in a small office with two ladies, it wasn't like a proper interview, more like an informal chat. They didn't give me a grilling, just told me a bit about what would be expected of me, and asked me a few questions.

They asked me if I had any previous experience in this type of work (catering) and I delved into the depths of my memory to recall my job of working in a cafeteria on Blackpool Promenade in 1967. I also mentioned my abysmal attempt at running my own catering trailer parked on an industrial estate, explaining how had to give it up because of the early morning starts and the smell of fried food made me feel sick. I await their decision.

Walking down the High Street I saw there was no one waiting for a haircut in the Barber Shop, so on a whim, I went in and had a trim. It has been a few weeks since I last gave myself a DIY haircut, so I thought it was about time I had a proper job done. I was asked to sit in the chair and the hairdresser asked me how I would like it, as we got chatting I discovered that she was the owner of the salon. I was dead chuffed, you can't do better than having the boss cut your hair can you, that was a bonus!

We had a great conversation, she was a similar age to myself, and it was quite entertaining. The hairdresser at the next chair also joined in, as did her customer who was getting her hair blowed dried. It goes against the grain a bit for me to go into a salon and pay to have my haircut, but on this occasion I think it was well worth the seven pounds, to pass a pleasant half hour with such nice people. I might pop in and see Betty and her daughter Jackie again, when I am passing.
Daily spend - £7 haircut. £2.61 Aldi

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Treemendous Trees

Just when are these trees going to stop growing? They are at the bottom of my garden, just over the fence in the garden that backs onto mine. This is the autumn view.
They were big when I moved here 12 years ago, now they are huge. At first I thought they are giving it a lovely country feeling, but now I am beginning to feel hemmed in. They also block out the sun in the mornings at the bottom of the garden up untill about 12.30pm. This is the winter view from my upstairs office window.
I asked the people living in the house if they would consider taking a third off the top to allow the sun to reach my veg garden, they said they might consider taking them down when they could afford it, as it would be very expensive. My friend, who is a tree expert, says that cutting some off the top would kill them as the weather would get into the main trunk and rot them. Don't get me wrong, I love trees, but these are much taller than my house. Ah well, it's a waiting game, it's not worth falling out with people over it.
Daily spend - nothing

Monday, 13 April 2009

Ironing plastic

I'm juggling inside and outside work at the moment, dashing outside in betweeen showers to get the veg garden organised, and dreaming up new projects in my crafty workshop. I have been trying out some ironing carrier bags techniques and this is what happened. If you want to try it protect your iron by sandwiching the plastic between two pieces of paper, I used brown baking paper, which incidentally also doubles up as tracing paper. The iron needs to be on a medium setting and it's best if you iron both sides. I used eight layers of bags.
The pieces went a bit wavy because I swept the iron from side to side, I now know you have to also go up and down and round in circles to get a flatter more square piece. You can trim the edges if it is the wrong shape.

For this I used a charity sack, only the white part with no lettering, then I added some other coloured pieces. Fresh and simple comes from a bag of spuds, but you can also use bread bags.

This is a bigger piece, I added different colours, and types of plastic. The cats heads did not stick well as they were thicker. Also the eight layers did not bond too well because of the size, it needs more ironing along the edges, or reduce the size, smaller pieces are easier to work with.

I have yet to work out what to use them for, the finished piece is very strong and could be stitched together, they could also be welded together with more heat. Maybe a bit more practice is needed.
Daily spend - nothing

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Quietly pottering

It's lovely and quiet outside, that's why I am at home, because most of my neighbours have gone off down the motorway, to sit in a traffic jam, on their way to goodness knows where. I much prefer staying at home on bank holidays, can't stand queues of any sort. I like going out during the week when everyone else is at work.

It's a pottering day today, there are jobs to do in the garden, if I don't get a move on and sow some seeds, there will be no food on the table this summer. I've made a start.

There's peas, broad beans, runner beans, courgettes, lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes. The blue crates I picked out of the takeaway skip come in very handy for keeping the plastic drinks cups tidy. I have also got radishes, beetroot, carrots, and sprouts sown in the plastic storage boxes. The spuds are also planted in the raised beds now.

I shall be inspecting these closely every day, in anticipation of little green shoots poking their heads out of the compost. I will need to sow a few more seeds, but I will try not to go mad this year, yes, honestly. I don't think I really needed 88 tomato plants last year, perhaps I was a little OTT.

These are three fruit bushes I bought a year ago from the £1 shop, they are coming on well. At the moment they are in tubs, because I have a cat who sprays all the bushes, a pain I know, but I love him. I will make a designated fruit bush area and surround it with some protection, when I can figure out the best place to have it.


Ssshhhh, listen.....the silence is bliss.
Daily spend - nothing

Saturday, 11 April 2009

A walk over the bridge

I'm not sure what the weather is going to do today, but I might as well take a chance and get my boots on and join the seven mile walk, starting at the Waters Edge Visitor Centre at Barton upon Humber. This walk is warden led and I'm pleased to find Sarah is to be our leader and she is busy organising the twenty or so people who have turned up. John is here again with his bare feet, I am amazed at how they stand up to tramping over rough terrain. When you think about it, it's a very frugal way to save money, no boots to buy and no socks to wear out, but I think I'll stick with my £4 car boot sale boots, thank you very much!

At the foot of the Humber Bridge we are met by a photographer from the local newspaper, we all gather in a group and say cheese for her:-) then we climb the steps to take the pedestrian and cyclists path over the bridge. Thankfully the rain is holding off and there is very little wind, but the slightly fuzzy overcast day doesn't make it easy to take a nice photograph.

It took eight years to build the bridge and traffic first crossed it on the 24th of June 1981, it has a life span of 120 years. We have a campaign in the area at the moment to try and abolish the tolls, because although it was meant to join North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, to encourage people to work and play on the other side, the toll charges often prohibit this. Some people have to cross regularly for hospital treatment which is hardly fair, especially if they have a lengthy stay and relatives have to travel to visit. For more info on the Humber Bridge here is the link.

On the north bank we explored the country park, this is the roots of a tree which were growing over the edge of the rock face. We stopped for a pub lunch, well lets just say everyone else had lunch inside, I opted to eat my sandwich and banana outside, with another frugal couple, on the bench. I did however venture inside to have a drink, I didn't want everyone to think I was anti social, but shock horror, £2.25 for a bottle of J2O and a packet of crisps.

When we got back I had a look around the craft fair which was on at the centre, mainly to pick up some ideas. The goods on offer were very pretty and imaginative, but a bit pricey. I chatted to a lady who was selling her top noch face creams and lip balms, she was horrified when I said I use aqueous cream at £1.45 a tub. Then she lost interest when she realised there wasn't going to be a sale forthcoming.
Daily Spend - £2.25 lunch
£14.48 Tesco. £1.25 eggs

Friday, 10 April 2009

A bit of tinkering

I'm all excited, I've been doing a bit of tinkering, I can be a mischievous little imp sometimes. My friend has been on a bit of a downer, working hard and not getting much of a social life. It was her birthday recently and she got far fewer cards than she normally gets, due to the fact that her job and her college course have been taking up so much of her time. She hasn't been able to go out as much as she would have liked. As a single girl she also has not had time to meet a prospective gentleman friend if you see what I mean :-(

I have another friend who finds himself in the position of becoming single again, something he never expected to happen, a bolt out of the blue. He is coming to terms with his situation and is considering the possibility that there may be someone else out there for him.

You know what's coming next don't you? Yes my tinkering. I have fixed them up with a blind date for next week, and both of them are looking forward to it. Of course I shall be there to break the ice because I know them both, and I am as excited as they are.

A few years ago I started an introduction agency in my area, I ran it for three years and it was very successful. We had a social meet up every week, people made friends, went out with each other, moved in together, and some married each other. I loved making it all happen, it was a great feeling to see everyone enjoying themselves. When they came along for the first time they were very nervous, over the weeks I saw them blossom, their confidence grew and they got their social lives back. I remember the first wedding I went to, a lovely couple in their sixties, they were made for each other.

Now I can't get out of the habit of matchmaking, I do it all the time, the little cogs in my head keep turning, hmmmm, now who would they click with!
Daily spend - nothing

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Good for the soul

In order to jump start my brain and search for that elusive inspiration, I decided a long walk was needed, so I got on the free Asda bus at 10.45am and got off it at 11.10am at the store. I think the bus drivers brain was also not working properly, as we had to tell him he was going the wrong way, a quick u turn got him back on track.
I set off to walk back home, a distance of about seven miles. As I was passing a young man waiting at a bus stop, he yelled across the road to me, I couldn't hear him properly so I walked towards him. He repeated himself, 'Have you got your boys pants on?' A big grin spread across his face. Anyone overhearing that may have thought he was being abusive, but I stopped to chat, a great conversation ice breaker I thought. Of course he was referring to my appearance in the television programme, Hunt for Britains Tightest Person, I'm amazed that people still remember it, and recognise me.

I am shocked at how much booze people drink at home, me being a bit nosey, I look in the recycled boxes which are awaiting collection outside people's houses. Either the few people in the house drink a lot, or they have about thirty people living under one roof.

I passed the grot spot, looks like more new rubbish has been added, why do some people have to be so disgusting. It's such a shame that our countryside is being spoilt.
Further on, I passed the tall fir trees, almost home now.

Two and a half hours later and I'm back. I needed that walk, sometimes I just have to get out, the urge to get my boots on is overwhelming, and all else has to be put on hold as I stride off. Walking is good for the soul, it's just got to be done and I love it.
Daily spend - nothing

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Key Rings

I've got a bit of a mental block at the moment where craft work is concerned, waiting for a flash of inspiration. It will come, I know it will. I'm surrounded by piles of stuff, plastics, cans, wool, fabric......just looking for a good idea. In the meantime I have made these key rings from the vinyl offcuts. They are very easy to do, but the downside is that I have broken a few sewing needles, they just snap in half. Daily spend - nothing

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Spoilt for choice

I am so envious of people who don't need spectacles, because they don't have to go through the nightmare experience of choosing new frames every few years, when they absloutely hate wearing them, like I do. My specs have been the cause of most of my insecurities, my shyness, and at times my total lack of confidence and self esteem.

It all started when I was eight years old, I couldn't understand why I didn't know the words of the hymms we had to sing in assembly at school. I thought we had to learn them and I couldn't remember them all because there were so many. I told my mum so she took me for an eye test, it was then that I found out that the others were not learning the words, they were reading them from a big chart on the wall, and I couldn't see them.

Of course when I got my new national health specs I became a target for name calling, which I had to endure untill I left school. We couldn't afford the newer nicer frames that were becoming available. It was one of the first things I saved up for when I started my first job, I was determined to ditch those horrible monstrosities that had given me so much grief.

All through my teenage years I hated my specs, I would immediately whip them off when someone came near me with a camera. The taunts then were 'Boys don't make passes at girls in glasses', which was certainly true in my case. I tried to manage without them and put them in my handbag when I went out. Of course I had to give up and put them on when I couldn't see who I was talking to. Anyway, I finally had some respite when I reached my mid twenties, it was my brother I had to thank, because he came out with the statement, 'You look bloody awfull, why don't you get some contact lenses?' Although the remark was very hurtfull, I looked in the mirror and thought, he's right, I do look bloody awful.

My confidence soared when I got my lenses, it was like a miracle, at last I was like most other people. I didn't have to look through a window to see the world, people didn't know my eyesight was so bad, I now looked normal. I had a lot of years of happiness with my contact lenses.

Now they have have gone because I need reading glasses, and it seems silly to wear lenses and put reading specs on top, so I have changed to varifocals. Technology has moved on a lot now, and I no longer need to suffer with my bottle bottoms, I can have ultra thin lenses giving me a much wider choice of frames.

So, today I have been to Specsavers to have an eye test and order my new specs. At this point I have to say a big thankyou to the super young lady assistant, Jo, who helped me chose the frames, she has the patience of a saint. It wasn't easy, I was in the shop for three and a half hours, and this is what I have chosen. Thank goodness I won't have to do that again for a few more years.
Daily spend - £11.50 cat food. £4.10 Sainsburys
£135.30 Specsavers

Monday, 6 April 2009

Free night out

I've just had a free night out and it was a lot of fun. A local womens country club asked me to go along to their meeting in the village hall, and show them the things I have made out of re cycled materials. I took the bags, some cards, beads, and pen holders, they were fascinated by them. I explained how I had made them, they thought the knitted bags were fantastic, and asked me to how to turn plastic bags into yarn. I think they want to have a try at making some themselves.

I went on to tell them about my simple lifestyle. Now some of these ladies could probably tell me a thing or two about frugality, but I'm sure they were a bit surprised at my extreme money saving ideas. There were roars of laughter when I confessed I use my urine as fertiliser on my compost heap, and no, I didn't go down the bottom of the garden and drop my drawers!

They were a bit unsure whether to believe me when I told them about my habit of using the same pan for cooking two or three meals, and the same dish for my bran flakes three days on the trot, to cut down on the washing up. They thought I was kidding.

I think some of the ladies actually saw the logic in what I was saying when I explained some of my less extreme ways of saving money, I noticed they nodded in agreement. My method of getting the message across is to lace it in humour, that way it sticks in the mind longer. As you've probably guessed, I don't take life too seriously at all.

I think if I get asked to do this again, I will take some jobs in progress with me, then I can show people how to make things out of rubbish for themselves. I also got free coffee and biscuits, and at the end of the night they gave me the biscuits they had left over, to take home. People just want to give me free stuff!
Daily spend - £19.24 diesel. 36p packet of mints
£4.50 second class stamps

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Babysitting Henry

What a busy day I've had, I agreed to look after Henry whilst his owners went to Wembley. Just look at this 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' face, I can assure you it would! He has been full of energy for almost the whole time, from when I picked him up at 9.15am, to when I left him locked safely in his house at 9.45pm.
On arriving here I took him a short walk and he had a pooooo on my friends lawn, good job she wasn't in. Then I gave him some breakfast. I thought he might settle for a sleep so I put a sleeping bag on the floor for him. No such luck. I tried to read a book but Henry had other ideas, like wouldn't it be fun to jump on me and rip the sleeves out of my sweatshirt. I thought my best defence was to stand up, then I got a bit of peace, but he was sad that I no longer wanted to play.

My cats had scattered, two of them made for the garden, and the third took refuge on the window sill in the bedroom. It was essential to keep doors closed between them as I didn't want to take Henry home with a bloody nose. Freddie is no coward where defending his territory is concerned. I managed to get myself some lunch, which was eaten at the table with Henry sitting next to me, his nose resting a few inches from my plate. No mate, that sad look in your eyes does not wash with me, sorry, this is mine.
I rang Sue, my friend, to see if she would come and help me walk both Ben and Henry together, because I was also looking after him as well. She came round at 1pm and we collected Ben from his house. It was a gloriously sunny day so we walked to the new allotments to see what progress is being made. I decided not to let either dog off the lead, even though it is rare to see Ben with his on, he is such a placid old man.

Back at my house, after taking Ben to his, Henry eventually fell asleep, ah pure bliss, twenty minutes of calm. Not for long though, he thinks it is a good idea to rip my carpet up, and finds a loose wooden batten in the corner, it's in his mouth and I have to retrieve it. By 6.30pm I thought the best option was to take him back to his home and stay with him untill he settles, he might calm down in his own familiar surroundings. Surprisingly he is very good at car travel, happy in his harness, and dozes on the back seat. I left at 9.45pm, Henry is sprawled out in his bed, after a particularly vicious attack on it, his toys scattered the length of the kitchen. He looks so innocent.

My day was still not finished, I had to take Ben for his last walk before bed time, he is staying with me for three nights and is not a bit of trouble. I felt exhausted, my goodness, Helen has to look after that little whirlwind every day!
Daily spend - nothing

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Can't think of anything I need

I sometimes wonder if I am taking this frugal thing a tad too far, for saying I have so very little income, I seem to be making a marvelous job of living within my means, even to the point of having a little bit to spare. Anyone else might rush out and spend it on a big treat, but as soon as I try and think of something, I come to a dead end, nothing, no ideas at all!

I am an expert at deciding why I don't want something, and happily walk away feeling pleased that I haven't given in to consumerism. I think my brain has been rewired, and it's worrying. I fear growing old, with a house and loads of money stashed under the matress, living in near poverty. I want to spend it all eventually, but have forgotten how, and what I would buy with it.

I haven't been in our local village shop for six months, because when I did go in, a newspaper would lead to a bag of crisps, a bar of chocolate, a can of cider, oh my god, before you know it I have spent £5, shock horror, and on what, stuff I didn't actually need, junk basically. A short term fix is no good for long term happiness.....or is it?

I remind myself of what is important to me, and at the top of the list is always mobility. One day my car will need replacing and I hope I can afford something decent and reliable. Also my cats will need looking after in their old age, they have given me so much pleasure, it's the least I can do. Anything else is of secondary importance, but one day I might blow every last penny, when I can think of something I absolutely need.
Daily spend - nothing again!

Friday, 3 April 2009

Spring Walk

It was a dull start to the day, mist and fog hanging about, I met my friend Helen and we took her dog Henry a walk. He is such a sweetie, growing nicely and learning his green cross code, waiting at the kerb edge before crossing the road. The puppy training classes she takes him to seem to be working.

It brightened up a bit this afternoon so I took Ben a walk. We walked across the village green, I couldn't resist taking some photo's of the flowers, they look lovely. Isn't Ben a handsome boy?

The pretty pink blossoms on the trees hanging over the daffodils.

We went onto the hills and came across Karen and her two dogs,
so we walked with them for a while.

When we came back along the road we saw a pretty
flowery yellow bush.

I love the spring when everything wakes up from it's winter sleep and starts growing again. Life is good.

Daily spend - nothing

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Form Filling

I hate filling forms out, yet another one arrived in the post today, the Inland Revenue want to know about my forthcoming pension. There seems to be no ending to all the questions, we must fill millions of forms out in a lifetime.

The worst ones are job application forms, what a nightmare, I have been filling a lot of those out in the last few months. Whichever job you apply for in the council it is always the same form and it's sixteen pages long. Of course all the questions are not relevant to all the jobs, but you have to plough through it to check you have filled in the right bits.

Why do they always want to know about where you went to school when fortyfive years have passed since you were last there? We didn't have GCSE's then so I suppose my seven credits and four passes for my County Leaving Exam don't count for anything, even though I have the certificate to prove it.

The bit about past employers always fill me with dread, who in their right mind has recorded all their start and finish dates for every one of their jobs, along with their salaries and reasons for leaving? What business is it of anyone else how much money you were earning, what a cheek to ask. I have changed jobs loads of times, I get bored, I move on, end of story. A calculated guess is the best I can do, well I was there for about a year, I think!

Then they ask for two referee's, how embarrassing to ask people if they will say something nice about you if they are contacted by the company advertising the job. If you are applying for lots of jobs do you put the same two names down over and over again? They are soon going to get sick of all the phone calls coming in and letters to answer.

I suppose there will be a lot more forms to fill out in the forseable future, you'd have thought I would be used to it by now, but I still hate it.
Daily spend - £13.36 cat food. £2.75 charity shop.
£4.93 Health food shop.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

We have a windfarm

We've got a brand new windfarm two miles away, and I think it's great. At the moment there are only four turbines, not sure if we are going to get more but there is plenty of room. I know a lot of people are against them, saying they won't be able to produce much electricity, and they are ugly to look at, but I think they are beautiful, majestic works of art. They are not connected up yet, I'm going to love watching the blades go round everytime I pass them on my way to town. I might even park up and sit and watch them for a while, I think they are fascinating.
Daily spend - nothing