Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bye bye 2014, it's been good knowing you

Hello, it's countdown time. Not long to go now till the midnight hour. Don't know if I can stay awake that long. I'm back home now for good, my house/dog sitting duties are done. Henry is with the other sitter and his mummy comes back on Friday. I think he has had a good time on his holidays, walking different routes, and playing with Guinness and Angus, his doggy pals. Got to be better than going in kennels. At least I will be able to sleep comfortably in my own bed tonight, without a choc lab next to me. He is as long as me when stretched out, a big lump to shove over when he is in the middle, ha ha.

Ah, it's nice to be back in my hovel, erm spacious yet comfortable semi, only joking, ha ha. I tried to get on with some sewing while I was there, but I couldn't get in the right frame of mind for it, the place was just too neat and tidy. I can't be creative if I am not surrounded by my mess. I need to be able to lay my hands on piles of fabric, cottons, and all the other paraphernalia needed to make something. Artists just cannot live in tidy places and produce artworks, they need mess.

Anyway, I'm back now and hopefully can get on with things. Twiggy asked about my walking trips. Anything in the pipeline? There will be some, but not just yet as the days are too short. I'm itching to get out on a long one again. Every time I finish a walk I say that was the last, but a few months later I want to go again. It's a matter of working out the logistics.

I must make a start on a bit of spring cleaning tomorrow so I haven't it all to do when spring finally arrives. The place is looking a bit tired, needs tarting up a bit. A wet rag to wipe down the paint work, get rid of stuff I don't want, clean the windows, slap a bit of paint on, that sort of thing, nothing too drastic or strenuous. The outside lavvy could do with a lick of paint, and the sheds want sorting out.

Right, that's about it for this year. I'll pour myself a tot of port and put my feet up with Last Tango in Halifax, on the catch up channel. Happy New Year to you, and I'll see you in 2015.  

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Trying to keep up

Hello, not long now and 2014 will be gone. It's been a good one and I am chuffed. Not doing a look back over the last twelve months, can't be bothered, I'm living for today, and looking forward.

I was wondering just how much of our lives will be taken over by computers in the future. After handing £180 over the post office counter, I'm a bit peeved that they didn't give me a tax disc to put in my car. I took the MOT certificate with me but Hilary the PO lady didn't even look at it, says it's all computerised now. There was no mention of an insurance certificate on the renewal form either, she said she didn't need to see it, good job I didn't take it then.

Having everything about drivers and vehicles on a computer is supposed to be a step forwards, but I think it will create lot's more problems. What about all the vehicles that come into the country from abroad, will all their details be on a computer as well? Will the authorities like the police be able to trace every one to make sure they have paid their tax and insurance, and the vehicle is roadworthy, or the drivers have passed their test? They already let lots of people enter the country illegally without the proper checks, how are they going to police millions of cars with no road tax discs in the windscreen? I can see the computers going into meltdown.

I think it's really strange to see empty windscreens without a disc, I'm thinking of making my own. It could be multicoloured, maybe a flower design, I'll have a think about it. Could make a fabric disc, or even a knitted one. There needs to be something in the space.

I was in the bank the other day, and the man in the queue behind me was getting a bit agitated because we weren't moving very quickly. As we were getting near to the front, I said I wouldn't be long at the counter. He had his phone in his hand and said he had made a ticket purchase on the internet, and the money had to be paid into a bank within half an hour, to get the special deal price. He showed the bank lady the details on the screen and she processed it. I've never heard of that system before. Amazing. Is that how shopping is going to be in the future.

I wonder sometimes if we are all going to lose the power of speech. You see lots of people walking around looking at their hand held device, tapping away at it. Never looking up, ear phones in, totally lost in their own little world, oblivious as to what's going on around them.

When you go into a doctors surgery you don't report to the receptionist, you tap a few details into a touch screen computer. When you go to a supermarket there is no need to have any human interaction at all. You can go to the self scan checkouts. If you want to you can take a scanner around with you and check in each item as you take it from the shelves, then just hand over the dosh at the end.

You can pay for your petrol with a card at the pumps, no need to speak to anyone. You can play scrabble or chess with someone at the other side of the world. You can scan your books in and out at the library.

I don't think I can cope with much more automation. I wish it was all going backwards. Wish there was more smiley people to talk to. Wish people would go back to speaking on the phone rather than texting. I hate texting, it's alright for a quick question and a quick answer, but useless for long conversations.

Spose I must try and keep up with the changing trends, but it's sad that the art of conversation is dying. Ah, well, must get on. It's clocking off time and I want a mug of hot choccy, and the last mince pie. Toodle pip.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Getting on with it.

Moving swiftly on........Dontcha love a good laff. While bimbling around on yootoob I found this funny vid which is sure to titillate the chuckle buds. I challenge you to keep a straight face. You will fail.

If you like that, take a look at how it was made.

I am back at the holiday home, with two doggies by my side. The TV has been switched off, nothing else I want to watch. Don't think I will be getting a tele and a licence, it's a complete waste of time and money.

I only had time to pop in the craft club this morning and say hello. Last night I realized I hadn't paid my credit card bill because I had put it in a drawer and forgotten it. I wrote a cheque for the car tax, but there was no stub for the card payment. Oh dear, only two days to get it in, so I did a dash to the bank in town. It was only £31, but I didn't want to pay interest on it.

Thank you all for your comments and emails yesterday, and your support. Publishing the troll comment has really wound her up, her expertise is mind games. There have been more today. Sarcastic, smart arse comments, she's the sort of person who always likes to think she has the upper hand. I won't inflict any more of her vitriol onto you. I see some of you asked questions, if you want to email me I will answer them. There are two short answers I can give here. Yes, you are spot on, and yes, you are correct.
Now let's just get on with it and say.......... STUFF THE TROLL.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

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I resolve to......

Hello on this sunny and frosty Sunday morning. It's looking very inviting to go out for a walk, but I'll give it an hour or two before I step outside. Enough time to tap out a few words here. I woke up thinking YEAH! a new year will soon be here, a time for making plans, thinking about the future, thinking about where I want to be in a years time. No, I'm not wishing my life away, but I want to get the best out of it. 
Picture source, Free Printable Calendars.

As with any plans you make, success is down to how determined you are to carry it through to the end. A halfhearted attempt at making New Year Resolutions without putting serious thought to it, will most likely result in failure. Ideas emerging on a whim without a concrete reason to follow them up, will eventually fizzle out. What seemed like a good idea on the first of January may not stand the test of time as the months go by. And go by they will, very quickly, if you keep putting off the start date to your plan. Before you know it summer will be here, and nothing has changed.

I won't be making any new resolutions, because I like to assess the situation month by month. My needs change throughout the year. I did not join in the sealed pot, putting money away religiously every week, then finding a nice lump sum when the time came to empty it a year later. Well done to those who find that kind of saving useful. I do save throughout the year, but I prefer to watch the figures rise on my bank statements.

Here is an example of how a one year commitment worked out really well. Louise from Ramblings of a Roachling took a photo of the same tree from the same spot, every month for the whole year. Take a look at the result, it's fabulous, I love it. I am inspired to do the same, but can I make the commitment to go out and do it? Not sure, so maybe a halfhearted attempt won't work.

So, a question. How many people are going to make resolutions only to see them bite the dust after a couple of months? Or have you got the will power to see it through to the end, circumstances permitting. It's a huge commitment to say you are going to do something for a whole year. Perhaps you are like me and won't make any new resolutions, and choose the month by month option.

I don't know if any of you read Down the Lane forum, but a year ago Richard introduced a new category, 'Frugal Diaries'. It was a place for people to record their frugal journey, to share their experiences, and to support and inspire others who may wish to take that route. It was also for people starting out, their struggles and successes. My frugal journey is right here, you already read it, but I joined the forum diary, and now almost one year on, the stats are quite interesting. Diaries are for looking back on what happened before, to help bring some clarity into your life, and to assess where to go next.

My forum diary is at the top of the stats, because I made the commitment to carry on. It helps me to keep control over my finances, as does this blog. When I write things down I can see things more clearly. Rather than muddling through I would rather see the words and figures on paper or on the screen. I often look back at old hand written diaries, and see a picture of how my life has panned out. I can see patterns emerge, I can see where I came from which gives me a better understanding of where I'm going.

Sadly some of the frugal diaries didn't make it past January, some made it to March, one to July, and two of us have reached December. What I'm trying to say is it's ok to start something with good intentions, but not much point if your heart is not in it. Don't be drawn along with everyone else, you don't have to be one of the crowd, better to make your own decisions because it's what you want to do.

I'm going to bang on about another related topic now. Faddy diets don't work. I know I've said it before, look away if you don't want to read. Controlling your weight is for the long term only, this is one area where a long term commitment is essential. No cutting out junk food for a month, no stopping boozing for a month, no stopping takeaways for a month, if you want to lose weight it won't work. Re educating your taste buds and recognizing which foods are good for you and which aren't, is the way to go. Now that the Christmas stuffing of faces is over, (yes I had a bit of naughty stuff),  maybe now is a good time to take stock. I will strive to keep my eating on track every day of  2015. Are you going to make that commitment? I already do it so it won't be too hard for me. One step at a time if you are struggling, and good luck.

Tell me your New Year Resolutions, I'm interested. Write them down somewhere, in a book, on a blog, anywhere but write them down. Will you make one big annual resolution, or will you make lots of monthly resolutions? Have you got any fantastic plans you want to commit to? If they are just pie in the sky don't bother, just stick to the smaller ones which have a better chance of coming to fruition. Yes, it's good to stretch yourself, fantastic if you succeed in fulfilling your dreams, but sometimes it's better to have several smaller achievements. It's entirely up to you what you do. Whatever it is, I wish you well.

Enjoy your Sunday. Toodle pip.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Aaaah, there she is.

Hello, nice to see you. No snow here yet, guess we are lucky going by the pictures of disruptions in the transport systems caused by an arctic blast sweeping over the country. It has yet to reach the east coast. We've had a dry day, but it's raining now, I am snug back in my own house tonight. 
Has anyone got cats that love to play hide and seek? Mine seem to find hidey holes all over the place and sometimes it takes me ages to find them. When it starts to get dark I like them in. They are in the habit of popping in and out all day, but at about 5pm I start looking for them. If after several attempts to find them, walking around the garden with a torch calling their name and still no sign, I make another inspection of every nook and cranny in the house, just in case I missed them first time around. Can you see a cat here? No, I didn't at first, but looking closely there seems to be a bulge underneath the cover on the settee. 
Ha ha, she's made a little tent. Mayze you are supposed to lie on top of it, not burrow underneath it.

Henry choc lab is with the other sitter tonight, when I left the house I went to make a check on my friends rental house on the way home. All was ok, I picked the mail up, and made sure everything was secure. The new tenants move in next month, luckily the previous tenants have left it in good order. They have papered some of the walls, not my choice of design but the new people are ok with it.

While I was passing I thought it would be a good idea to check out the three shops for any reductions. I haven't much food left apart from frozen and a few tins, and I can't be bothered to do a full shop. I was lucky to find enough to keep me going until after the new year. Half price mince pies from the Co op, at 50p. I'm not that keen on them to be honest, wouldn't buy them unless they are reduced.

Also from the Co op, reduced diced chicken and cooked sliced chicken for the cats. Brussel sprouts reduced to 29p at Tesco, and I also bought cauliflower and broccoli, not reduced but at 49p a good price. The Spar shop had six eggs for 50p, have to eat them in the next few days. Also a pack of 8 scones 50p, milk 30p, and sliced ham 50p.

Well that's it for another year. Christmas has been and gone. I get more excited about the start of a new year. A brand spanking fresh new year. Love the idea of leaving the old one behind, and making plans for the new one. There will be no New Year Resolutions, just oodles of optimism that things are going to turn out fandabidozi brilliant. No if's, but's or maybe's, it will be chuffin brilliant.
Catch you tomorrow. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Friday, 26 December 2014

For the love of dogs

Hello, and Happy Boxing Day. Thank you for your Christmas wishes, I hope you all had a good day. Henry was well chuffed with his pressie. He knew straight away that he had to rip the paper off to get to the goodies inside. 
Oh yum,just what I wanted, a jumbo bone. It was demolished in five minutes.

Rocky needed a little help with his. 'I can't get at these chickeny things'. Oooops, maybe I should have taken them out of the plastic pouch first.

The pussies had chicken and tuna fish, they were well chuffed. Even Garcia from up the road called in to claim his share.

I watched a bit of TV but somehow managed to loose the signal on the set in the kitchen. I'm not familiar with the workings of these digital things, must have pressed the wrong button on the remote. Not to worry, help appeared on Skype. John from Don't unplug your hub blog, was able to talk me through re setting the channels. Fortunately his handset was exactly the same so following his instructions I managed to get it back again. Thanks John.

There hasn't been much on that took my fancy. I enjoyed Call the Midwife, Paul O'Grady For the love of dogs, Julie Walters about her life on screen, and Victoria Wood. One programme I really liked was Portrait Artist of the Year, on Sky Arts. Three finalist had to capture the likeness of Ian McKellen at London's National Portrait Gallery. It was fascinating to watch them paint, and to see the works they had created in the rest of the competition.

Another programme I enjoyed was Cirque Du Soleil, also on Sky Arts. The skill of the performers was amazing, I see it's on again tonight at 6pm will try and catch it. Pity programmes like these aren't on mainstream TV.

Hang on, I've got to go. A pair of large brown eyes are staring at me, I think Henry is trying to tell me something. Now he's parading round the kitchen, It's that time, another walk. Catch you later. Toodle pip.  

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Couldn't be better.

Hello, from my holiday cottage, on this bright and sunny Christmas Eve. I am sitting at the wooden kitchen table, looking through the large conservatory, out over the back garden. I filled the bird feeders up this morning, my friend likes to encourage visiting wild life. In the summer the pond is full of frogs, and hedgehogs scuttle around the lawn foraging for the scraps she puts out for them.

I agreed to do this house sit six months ago, my friend wanted to be sure that Henry choc lab would be well catered for before she went ahead and arranged the holiday. He has never been in kennels, I think he would feel abandoned if he was left, he is a sensitive soul. I am sharing the duties with another sitter, so I'm coming and going a lot. Back home, which is only three miles away, my friend Janet is sharing cat duties with me, we have a rota, so all the animals are being cared for. The morning duties here are that Henry gets a one hour long and fast walk, he is a big boy with loads of energy, which suits me because I like striding out at a fast pace. After breakfast Rocky gets a more sedate stroll and sniff round the village. I don't walk them together because their needs are so different.

The layout to this house is a bit different to my own, whereas I am facing the window looking out over the street when I am sat at the table, here I have a wonderful view of the long garden and the wood beyond. It is lovely and peaceful here, I am using this time to escape from the madness of Christmas, it has all the ingredients you would want for a retreat. I find that the weeks leading up to Christmas is a time when I reflect a lot about my life and the role I play in the grand scheme of things. As I sit back and watch the world going crazy, I feel a sense of calm, a sereneness wraps itself around me.

I have always preferred being on the outside looking in. I like to see people enjoy themselves, but I haven't wanted to be the middle of the scrum. It's easier to sit on the sidelines and be happy for others. I am happy when they are happy, I don't need to join in.

I was reading an article in the BBC magazine, 'The people who choose to be alone at Christmas.'  Reading the comments I see I am not alone. Many people enjoy a quiet Christmas on their own. Here is a quote.
"I try to be as vague as possible when people ask me what I'm doing for Christmas," she says. "From past experience, when I have said I plan to be alone, some people have actually been quite hostile about it".
Yes, I have done that. I get invited to family do's, but I really don't enjoy sitting around for hours eating and drinking myself silly. It's a relief that they don't ask any more.

Another quote.
"Trite as it sounds, Christmas is what you make it. For every individual filled with the ardour of spending the day with family and loved ones, there is someone who might have no inclination or responsibility - be it familial or religious - to do "something special".
I don't feel that I need Christmas to do something special, every day is special to me. I am blessed with nice friends, we help each other.

I sincerely hope that you all have a lovely Christmas. I have two dogs and three cats to share mine with, couldn't be better. Lots of love xxxxxx

Monday, 22 December 2014

A long day

Hello. Long day. Just got back. Sister is well, brother in law is well, uncle is well, auntie is well. Still got roadworks on the M1 between junction 28 and 31, 50 mph, when will they ever finish it. Slow moving traffic round the Derby Ring Road from the A6 to Markeaton roundabout, took ages to get through it. Came back faster than when I went. B & Q night trunkers out, brought back memories, I was doing that job before I retired.

Meter reader has been, he's coming back in the morning. The gas meter is on the outside of the house, but he has to come inside for the electric meter. Don't know why he came, I have been sending the readings by email.

Been windy here, a conifer in a pot has blown over, I will have to move it to a sheltered spot. A job for tomorrow.
Toodle pip.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Bye bye blondie

Hello, on this blustery Sunday night. I trust you had a good weekend, I've done the housework, boring but it's got to be done. My hair is getting a bit floppy in my face, really annoys me when I have to keep brushing my fringe to one side. Time for a trim. I do it outside the back door, didn't want to spend too much time on it so it was a quick chop all over. I wasn't going to take any off the neck, but thought, go on then, just a bit. 
Oh chuffin heck, the brush broke in half. I've got another one somewhere, if I can find it.

Next, on went the colour, a light brown shade, £1.50 from Home Bargains. Fancied a change.

Thirty minutes later, after using a conditioner and a waft over with a hairdryer, here is me bonce, now with a brown mop. I'm not keen. Darker shades don't suit me with having a pale complection, I didn't think it was going to turn out this dark. Not to worry, after several washes in a few weeks time it will lighten up.

Erm, excuse me Miss Heidi. The bath is not for cats to clean themselves in, it's for humans. Now stop licking your fanny and try to be a bit more ladylike. 
I've started my Christmas celebrations, I'm sipping a small tot of Port. Very nice. Tomorrow is family day, I have timed my visit to fit in with everyone else. I hope the motorway is not too clogged up.
Toodle pip

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Elvis is still alive

Hello. I've seen Elvis, not bad is he for saying he will be 80 next month. He has been reincarnated as a  security guard from Yorkshire. I went to the Arts Centre today to see 'The Kings of England' exhibition, a photographic collection of lookalikes, by Graeme Oxby. This Elvis who was appearing in the flesh is the subject of one of his photographs. 

Graeme Oxby is the man on the far right of this picture, he was talking to someone so I didn't like to interrupt.

Mr Oxby has a web site. He tracked down the impersonators at conventions and tribute concerts across the country. If you want to see a short video he made while doing this click here.   If you want to see some more of his work click here.  I have had a look through it, and to be honest, nothing grabs my attention. I see on the 7th of February they have an Elvis party, with live music and a bar, plus impersonators. That sounds like fun, don't know how much it will be, no mention of prices.

The battery in my watch packed up a couple of days ago, I was a bit lost without it. The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is look at the time, it is always on my wrist. Even if I wake in the middle of the night I want to know what time it is, that's why I keep a wind up torch next to my pillow. I am constantly checking the time. I lost count of how many times I looked at my bare wrist, then remembered. I got a new battery put in today. It hasn't cost me much, I found the watch about 15 years ago and have only changed the battery three times. It's a Casio, a bloomin good watch.

My specs broke today, they are half rimmed and the cord snapped and one of the lenses fell out. I had to drive home with one eye closed. Luckily I have an old pair to wear to go to town. I went to Specsavers, where I bought them from, and five minutes later they were returned to me, repaired. While I was waiting I was chatting to a young sales assistant, and mentioned that my old specs had discoloured nose pads and didn't look very nice. He said, I'll change them for you, and off he went leaving me all blurry eyed. A few minutes later I got them back, they look a lot better, like new specs. The staff always seem very helpful when I go in there, so praise for Specsavers in Scunthorpe.

I did a bit of shopping while I was in town, just to stock up on pet food and a few essentials to tide me over the Christmas period. I think I have enough to last me until it's all over and the shops get back to normal. I haven't bought any different food, just more of what I usually buy, bananas, eggs, quiche, cheese, cucumber, mushrooms. I looked at some treats, chocolate, cake, and ended up with a packet of jaffa cakes. That will do me nicely. Not bothered about Christmassy stuff, I stood in Aldi looking at the festive food and thought, I wonder if I should get a trifle, or a box of mince pies, or some Frerro Rocher (is that how you spell it). And then I thought, why am I bothering to look at this, stop wasting time, just go home.
Toodle pip.

Friday, 19 December 2014

It's a dogs life.

Hello. This broadband is o h  s o  s l o w tonight, I'll keep it brief. These two chaps are tired out after a hard days walking and playing with their toys. Rocky is staying with me for his Christmas holidays, he gets on well with Henry.
I'm going to have to go, a pop up keeps coming onto the screen, 'The page has become unresponsive', do I want to kill or wait. I'll give it up as a bad job, and say goodnight.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Not getting hooked on tv

Hiya. Let's talk TV. Simplesista asked what I watched. During the day I had it on in the background while I was sewing. Escape to the Country, looking at loadsa money houses that people were considering buying, like going house hunting but without the effort of making the journey to have a look. I've had the TV on today as well, but switched off, once you've seen one posh house you've seen them all, gets a bit boring. A Place in the Sun is another one, couples look at houses nearer home and abroad, usually France. They've done very well for themselves in a fast pace work life, now want to get out of the rat race and grow veg and keep chickens. Nothing wrong with that but I think people have a romantic idea about it. The Good Life, an old sitcom on has a lot to answer for.

Last night I was channel hopping, my attention span is low, ten minutes of one programme and I want to move on. Saw a bit of The One Show, a magazine type programme, Got bored with people promoting their books, and new films they have just finished.

Tried a programme called Living on the Edge, but knew I wouldn't last long with that. It was about reindeer making a long journey across remote Norway. A heartbreaking scene of a young reindeer who wasn't going to make it, then as soon as the Sami people talked about using every bit of the animals they killed, that did it for me. Can't watch that.

I saw a bit of Coronation Street, that is getting dafter by the episode. Someone from Emmerdale is in it now, she takes the part of a cougar, a middle aged woman who goes after a younger bloke. Nick fell under her spell and had to snog her. My goodness, she was plastered with makeup. That's one drawback with a big hd screen, everyone has tons of slap on. Looks like they have piled it on with a trowel.

At 8pm I watched All Aboard : East Coast Trains. That was quite interesting, a documentary about life on the railways. Saw most of that. Then it was over to BBC 1 for The Apprentice. I haven't been watching the whole series so I had no idea who the finalists were. This week the five of them were grilled by Alan Sugar's entourage. They all presented their business plan in the hope that they would secure a £250,000 investment if they won. To be honest, even though most of the contestants are pretty hopeless at business, you've got to admire them for their balls to put themselves through the millstone over the ten weeks it has been running. The interviews were pretty grueling. Someone was found out for lying on their CV, someone else made claims about their sales which were a bit suspect, and their business plans were pulled to shreds. I felt the interviewers were unfairly cruel. If someone spoke to me like that I would tell them to stick it.

Following that I put on Crazy Christmas Compulsives, a programme about people who take the festive revelry to extremes. Someone was snowman crazy and had hundreds of them all over the house, every surface was covered. It was at this point I dozed off and missed the rest of the programme.

I am struggling to find anything to excite me. Maybe tonight will be better.

Thank you all for your comments on the 'Brilliant', post. Most of you do understand the reasons why I live a frugal and simple life. To say I put myself on a pedestal is totally untrue. I tell my story as it is. My plan when I left school was to work and provide for myself. Not to take money from the state, not to get married and have to ask my husband for money but to earn my own. That's exactly what I have done. I've been lucky with my health, possibly a good gene, but I think some of my wellness may be down to diet and exercise. I can't be held responsible for those who have not been so lucky, or those who have lost jobs, or those struggling on a low wage. Of course I feel sympathy for people who find themselves in those positions, but it is not my fault. I can only write about my experiences in the hope that there might be something there that will be helpful. Thank you for reading.
Toodle pip

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Sorry ;o(

Hi. Sorry no post tonight. I've been watching tele.
;o))  ;o))  ;o))

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Brilliant? Surely not!

Hello. Once again I thank one of my readers for giving me an idea for a post. Hi Sally

Read often about pensioners who say they can either "heat or eat", whilst on a pension. As this is what you have to do too I wonder how you can say its "a brilliant life, on a pension" when obviously the pension isn't enough to live in comfort and dignity.

Surely you should be campaigning for an increase in the state pension instead of suffering it and saying it's fine. You would be a good campaigner I'm sure.

To be honest this comment took me by surprise, and I felt a trifle peeved about it. Sally thinks I am not living in comfort and dignity, and says I am suffering. Maybe I ought to address these assumptions, because that's what they are. Assumptions without knowing the full facts. Those of you who have been reading my blog for some time will have a good understanding of my lifestyle, so you might want to skip this bit because I will be repeating myself. 

Let's take the key points one at a time. it is widely reported in the press that pensioners have to make the choice whether to eat or heat. I'm sure there must be some in that position, but I am not one of them. I can afford to eat anything I want, whatever it costs. I can afford to eat out, I can afford to fill my trolley with all manner of expensive food from the poshest supermarkets, but I don't. Why should I pay inflated prices, when I know, with a bit of organisation and planning I can have a healthy diet at very little cost. Why pay more when I don't have to? I can't understand those people who stick to branded goods, must have Kellogs, must be Heinz, when there are perfectly good alternatives with a supermarket own label on them. Keep your Kellogs bran flakes, Value at 88p are just fine. Keep your Heinz beans, Value at 25p are fine. 

About the heating in my house. I don't sit here huddled under a blanket with my hands wrapped round a mug of hot coffee. I get up and move about a lot. Yes, I am well wrapped up with layers, but isn't that the sensible thing to do rather than have the heating on all day and dress in teeshirts and skirts? My cats are in and out all the time so the draft comes in through the cat flap, all my internal doors are open so that we can all wander around. I don't get damp inside because the temperatures of both outside and inside are similar. I am a tough old bird, having spent 32 years working outside in all weathers. I am not ill, I have no aches and pains, I am 65 not 85. Yes I could afford to put the heating on for most of the day, but I don't need to. I have short blasts when it gets a bit chilly. An hour or two at night. Besides, if I am too long in a centrally heated house I start feeling tired, I get a headache and have to leave, I don't know how fit and able bodied people stand it. Yes, the sick, the very young, the very old, and the less mobile, probably need more heat, but I am fine with just a blast now and again.  

The next point. 'When obviously the pension isn't enough to live in comfort and dignity.' It might not be for some people, but it is plenty for me. I have explained what I need to be comfortable, the pension is supplying me with that. But I am confused about this thing called 'Dignity'. Are you saying I am not dignified because I buy cut price food, pick items out of skips that have been thrown away, buy second hand clothes, accepting hand me down clothes from friends? I am aghast at this assumption. The world would not be in the mess that it is today if everyone stopped paying top prices, stopped buying new, and managed with what they have. Everything should be re used and re cycled. Nothing should be dumped in landfill. It is because of this thing called 'Dignity', that is preventing this from happening. If I had my way, everyone's bin would be inspected before it is loaded into the dustcart and taken away and dumped in a big hole in the ground. Sadly that won't happen and we will continue to buy more crap that will be chucked without a thought of the earths resources which were used to make that item. Stuff dignity. 

The next point. How can I say, 'It's a brilliant life on a pension'. Because for me it is. I have worked my arse off over 45 years, sold twice and bought three times, and have been virtually skint three times with a long period of recovery each time I moved house. Now I have no mortgage, I pay no rent, and I have a reduction in council tax. I get up every morning knowing the day is mine, I can do with it whatever I like. I don't even have to get up if I don't want to. I have no one to fall out with, and I can come and go as I please. The pension goes into the bank every week, and I have managed to build up an emergency fund  to cover for things going wrong. That's how I can say I have a brilliant life.  

When I look at people who are better off than me, I don't want more. When I see people who don't have as much as me it makes me realize how lucky I am. I spoke before about living with an attitude of gratitude, and it's true. No point in being bitter, better to put a smile on your face and be thankful for what you have. 

If I'm going to campaign, it won't be for people to have more money, it will be for people to make the most of what they have. To get the best out of their lives, to help them make choices which are best for them. I read on the MSE forum, I want a new car, I want a foreign holiday, I want a big wedding. Have it all if you can pay cash for it, but don't go into debt. It's not worth all the years of heartache afterwards. 

I will finish off with a little insight into my brilliant life. I don't do moods, I don't do anger, I don't do sulks, I don't have strops, I don't do jealous, and I don't do revenge. All those emotions are negative and have no place in my life. What I do do is, smiles, cheerful, laid back, let things wash over me, in one ear and out the other, so what I don't care, happy most of the time tinged with a little bit of sadness and concern for fellow human beings and animals. I have a strong sense of what is fair and what is not. Basically, life matters. 

Hope that's cleared a few things up. Thank you Sally, for the inspiration for this topic. 

Toodle pip

Monday, 15 December 2014

Anything worth watching?

Hello. I'm amazed. I'm sitting here browsing through the TV Guide I bought today, looking for programmes I might want to watch over the Christmas period, and I'm really struggling. I do keep up with what's on, on the catchup channels, and I often struggle to find anything on there.

The amount of channels listed in this magazine is mind boggling, it's that long since I watched a TV, I wouldn't know how to access it all. There are nine pages for each day. The normal five channels, turn the page and there is Freeview, Sky, Virgin, and Freestat. I don't know how many channels I will be able to watch, I think they subscribe to most of them, my problem will be trying to find them. Which remote will I need to use, which buttons will I need to press. It's going to be a flippin nightmare.

I see that one of my favourites is back, Last Tango in Halifax. I will be on a rota with another sitter, and unfortunately it's on a day when I will be back here, so I won't be able to catch that on a big screen, it's my night off, ha ha.

George Clarke's Amazing Christmas Spaces will be one to watch. Also marked down is a programme about lottery winners, how it has affected their lives, might watch that. I see Victoria Wood is on, and Julie Walters on the same night, love those two. A treat will be Call the Midwife, will watch that, and Paul O'Grady, For the Love of Dogs. Love that man. I see Morecambe and Wise are on, a show which hasn't been on the TV for 30 years, will be worth a watch.

I'm sure there must be more, I'll have to work out how to get the other channels.

Going through the TV programme guide used to be my ritual every week when I had a tele many years ago. That bluddy box in the corner ruled my life. I used to have a video recorder and set it to record things that I wouldn't be home for, or watch one programme and record another one at the same time. My goodness I was so disappointed if I missed something. Looking through this magazine now has reminded me that 99% of what's on is of no interest to me at all.

I shall be taking my sewing with me, that will keep me busy. And of course I will be chatting to you.
Toodle pip.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Not cooking

Hello and good evening. It's cold and blustery outside, but me and the pets are cosy. I have got my many layers on, and I'm treating us to a bit of heat, one bar on the gas fire is on. I made an adjustment to my clothing to enable me to take this photo. Remove dressing gown, a sweatshirt, and a fleece, and put on my nice new to me Christmas jumper, or sweater if you so prefer. It's black and white, size 12, and a perfect fit. I went round to my friends house this morning for coffee, she saw me in the street a week ago and said you must come round for a catch up. Today I had a spare hour. As I got up to leave, she left the room and came back with this, said she had only worn it twice and didn't like it, and I could have it if it fits. Yep, just my size, perfect. I'm so pleased, it's lovely. Nice friend I've got.

I was half way through my dinner tonight when I photographed it. Another no cooking day. Spinach, cous cous salad, beetroot of course, a quarter of a quiche, and grated cheese. Lunch was the soup warmed in the microwave. I think I can afford a bit of heat if I am not using the cooker very much.

I had an idea the other day, when I boiled the eggs. Why not used the hot water to wash the pots. It came to me in a flash, don't pour it away, put the dirty pots in the bowl with some cold water, top up with hot, and a splash of soap. Probably only saved a couple of pennies, but it all helps. I don't wash up very often, mostly I rinse with a brush under a dribbling cold water tap. Don't fry food so there is hardly any grease on the plates. I used to pile them up and do a load in one go, not any more. Now everything gets rinsed as soon as it is finished with. At this rate a bottle of wash up liquid will last me about a year. 
Time to switch the gas fire off now, we've had our rations. Might have an early night. Cheerio, catch you tomorrow. 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas trees close up

Hiya. I was hoping to have some Elvis pics to post tonight, sorry to disappoint, he didn't arrive. I rang the Arts Centre this morning to ask what time he was due, they said, sorry, not coming, family bereavement, it's been put back to next Saturday. Ah well, I went to town anyway, needed to get a few things. It was fairly busy, kids roundabouts and street traders in the High Street, queues at the checkouts. After half an hour I was thinking oh gawd, I can't be bothered with all this. I just did what I had to do and got out. Dosh from the bank, pet food from B & M, and dropped some curtains off at the Age UK charity shop. I also bought two green teeshirts for £1 each, need green for the project, oh and I visited the Arts Centre.  Picked up a few essentials from Aldi, bananas, cheese, cream crackers, yogurt, quiche, bran flakes, cat food. 
I called in to see Joanne in the 1939 house on the way back, I had a copy of Mrs Beatons cookery book to give her. It's an old copy and I didn't want it. She was chuffed. I didn't dare give it to her in a plastic bag, she wouldn't have approved of that, so I put it in a cloth bag, She invited me in, her gentleman friend was there, I call him George, as in George Formby. A paraffin lamp lit the room with a candle in it's holder on the wall, and a roaring fire in the range with chestnuts roasting. The dog was laid in front of it and the cat sat on the sideboard. Although I have been there before it was a different atmosphere in the dark. Just like stepping into a 1940's film set. It was lovely and cosy, and a tot of whisky warmed me through. 
The pictures today are from the Christmas tree exhibition. A few close ups to show the hand made decorations. 

I thought this was interesting. Looks like the wool was wrapped around something, possible a balloon, and smothered in PVA glue or maybe wallpaper paste. Looks quite effective, a great idea to make baubles on the cheap.  

Wool wrapped round a circle of silver card, and a lantern.

This looks easy to do, you could use toilet roll middles for this, slap on some paint and glitter.

Even make decorations out of newspaper if you wish. 

Tomorrow is the last day for this, so last chance to see it.

Cheerio for now. I hope you have a lovely Sunday.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Starting an art project

Hello. Can you guess what this is. It's an A4 plastic pocket, with an outline of a landscape picture of Sugar Loaf mountain, it's on the front cover of Country Walking magazine. I wanted to draw it on a sheet of greaseproof paper, but I couldn't see enough detail, so I copied it onto the plastic with a marker pen, then onto the greaseproof paper in pencil. The original picture is here. 
Then I transferred it to a piece of A4 paper, and marked out a grid of two inch squares.

I wanted it twice as big so I stuck two pieces of A3 paper together, and marked out a grid of four inch squares, and copied it across.

Now I need to transfer the design onto a piece of fabric, so I used a much bigger piece of greaseproof paper for that. I penciled it in on both sides so it would be the right way round. 
My piece of fabric is an offcut from the Scrapstore. It's a brown hessian, the type they use on the underside of three piece suits when they make them in the factory. It's got to be pretty tough because of all the stitching it's got to take.

So, my idea is to make lots of these cords and couch them onto the fabric to create the picture. Making the cords is simple, cut lengths of fabric about one inch wide, start twisting at one end and trap it under the foot of the machine. Then sew the length in zigzag stitch, twisting as you go. I don't know if this is going to work, but I fancy trying it. It could be a complete disaster, or it could be really exciting. I've got an itching to give it a go, if I don't try I'll never know. I'm going to use the original picture as a colour guide, it won't be exactly the same, but my interpretation of it.

Lunch today was another salad. Only had half the tub of potato salad this time, with two boiled eggs, and spinach, radishes, spring onions, and lots of beetroot. 
Tonight I made a big pan of lumpy soup with two packs of chopped onions, sprouts, potatoes, carrots, and spinach. It's loverly. Some for lunch tomorrow and some for the freezer.
Tomorrow I'm going to see Elvis, there may be several of him, at the Arts Centre. Should be fun. Over the next three weeks I'm going to be doing some house and dog sitting. My friend has gone on holiday and I shall be staying at hers. Not the whole time, but sharing it with another sitter. I will be posting on here, just the same. I will be commuting back and forth as it's only three miles away. Central heating and a big tele to watch will be a bonus. Hope I don't get too soft. :o)

Catch you tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Need some stuffing

Hello. Thank you all for your responses yesterday, it made for some interesting reading. I see there are some new people visiting, forgive me for not welcoming you earlier. I do take note of what is happening on my sidebar, honestly. I'll go and have a look at your blogs as soon as I've finished this. 
I have made a couple of cushion covers out of men's shirts, started at college, finished at home, but I don't have any cushions for them. The easy way would be to go to a cheapo shop and spend a couple of quid and buy them, but you know me, have I got anything in the house that would do the job? Yep, surely have. A garden recliner that I just don't recline on any more. The frame is metal with some elasticated panels, and is not comfy at all. Must be some stuffing inside the cushions. Let's have a look. The fabric is faded anyway, so it looks a bit dull.
Aha, lots of foam crumbs. Just the jobby, now I need to get a big bag and empty it all out.

Turn my back for a minute and a cat takes up residence. Ha ha.

Once it was emptied I discovered that the inside is still quite colourful. I shall remove the plain backing and this will come in useful for another project. 
Remember this cover, the photo's I took previously turned out a strange colour. Yes, it is blue, now with a cushion inside. Barry gave it to me as a shirt, now he has it back as a cushion.  
I bought a shirt from the Age UK shop for £1, to make the second cover. This one didn't have pockets which makes the job a lot easier. I suppose you could leave the pockets in place, but they would be on the back of the cushion, and as you have to cut the shirt across the width just under the armpits the pockets would get in the way. If you are going to do this choose a shirt without pockets. Doesn't matter if it has short sleeves or long sleeves. 
I'm not sure that sewing a lot of buttons on a cushion cover is a good idea, it might be a bit uncomfortable against your back. I think this one is more for decoration purposes, it's pretty but not very practical. 

You know me and rooting in bins, ha ha. There is a big one in the sewing room at college. Look what I found. One of the students is making a fancy dress costume. This will come in useful.
They have been making pompoms, I'll have the offcuts, thank you very much.

This week the teacher showed me how to make a corsage out of teeshirts. There was only me who wanted to know, everyone else was doing their own thing. Two ways, you can cut circles in different colours and different sizes, and layer them with a button holding it together. Or cut long strips, fold in half lengthways and cut into the open edge all along the length, then roll it up like a catherine wheel in a box of licorice allsorts.

Sew a pin on the back, if you want to fasten it onto your clothes.

What did I have for lunch yesterday? Salad, ha ha. A big plateful. I ate the whole tub of  lentil and bean salad. They put it in a big plastic container to make you think you are getting a lot, but the container is narrow at the bottom and wide at the top, and it is only half full. The cost of it is £2.15. Even if I split it in half over two meals, it would still take the cost of the meal over my limit of £1. Glad I only paid 1p for it. 
For dinner yesterday I made a pan full of veg curry stew with the chopped onions, potatoes, and carrots. I ate one portion last night, froze two portions, and had the last portion for lunch today. Tonight I have had another salad, instead of lettuce I had the spinach, and in the middle I had potato salad. Boy was it lovely. My pee is now red with all the beetroot.

It's very cold and windy here. I am treating us to a bit of heat. Bugsy gets a hot water bottle underneath the duvet, he is camped out on the bed. I am working on an idea for another picture. I fancy making some cording, where you cut long lengths of fabric, twist it, and machine over it with a zigzag stitch to hold it together. Then sew it onto a canvas. Never tried it before, should be interesting.

Must go, I've got a cat still out, need to go and look for her.
Toodle pip.