Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Quick note

Hello. I am writing this on the hostel computer, sorry this post will have no photo's because £1 for 20 minutes would not be enough time to insert them and the words as well. And I am too mean to buy any more time, ha ha. Photo's will appear when I get back.

What have I done today. I stopped off at Matlock to have a look around, climbed the hill to Riber Castle, then it started raining so I had a bite to eat, then went for another walk, up High Tor this time. The views from here were fantastic, looking down on the main A6 road, the river and the railway line. It's a pity the weather wasn't too good.

Then I went a bit further to Matlock Bath and had a look around there. It was starting to get dark then, at 3.15pm, it was very overcast. The hostel looks like a posh hotel inside, I will take some photo's. There are a few people here, I am in a room sharing with one other. Guess what, I was recognised from Super Scrimpers, my fame follows me, ha ha.
My time is nearly finished, catch you later.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Lets have a cosy chat

Hi, I seem to be getting a little bit behind with replying to your comments, so why don't we sit down with a cuppa, and have a little natter, and I'll fill in some of the gaps. I'll be working backwards through the posts, so if you've asked me something hopefully all will be clear quite soon.

Dartford Warbler asked if the last photo on the Brigg walk was the Angel Hotel. Yes it was DW, here is a bit from the Brigg Market Town Website.

Brigg Town Council is justifiably proud of the Angel Suite, which was officially opened in 1995, following the final phase of renovations to the old Angel Hotel.
The Town Council Office is located in the basement of the Angel Suite, but the main function of the building is to provide Brigg with a Community Centre which lends itself to any type of function. The building is also regularly used by a number of local organisations.

Welcome to the new Annonymous contributor, who used to live in North Lincolnshire, and who now lives down south, good to hear from you. I can imagine how difficult it must be to lead a green and frugal life in a part of the country where everything is expensive. Up here in the sticks is recognised as one of the cheapest places in the UK to live. Try not to get too disheartened, you are lucky to be near your family.

Hi lizzie, no I have not tried making my own yogurt. I sometimes buy the plain which is cheaper, then add my own fruit. Fast forward 20 mins and I have just been reading a web site called http://www.makeyourownyogurt,com/ and watched three videos, and now I feel ready to have a go. So maybe a project for next week. Thanks to you, and PP, and Sarina, for suggesting this.

Hi PP, you ask how much I spend on food each month. I am in the process of monitoring it. There is a seperate page for this which you can access from the link at the top of this page. Total for the first month was £55, I am monitoring it over a six month period, some months will be up some will be down, I am looking for an average figure over the six months. I grow vegetables in the summer only. I want to keep it as an enjoyable hobby, not as a chore which I have to do, so I take the winters off. I don't want to keep chickens, the two main reasons reasons being, there is a big initial outlay of time and money to build a fox proof henhouse and run. And I don't want all the responsibility that goes with looking after them. Letting them out each morning, getting them back in at night, dealing with red mite, prolapse, and any other chickeny ailments. I dont want the commitment. No thank you very much.

Anonymous has commented with some price comparisons, thank you for your input. Your Lidl bran flakes are a good buy at 69p. Mine are 77p for a 750grm box of Value at Tesco. As you say, just as good as the branded one, and half the price. I must admit I tend to do the bulk of my shop at Tesco, but will call in any other supermarket when passing. I have tried the Value yogurt and it was horrible so the next step is to try Sains basics, that's if I don't start making it myself.

There has been some comments on re heating food. I don't always re heat the whole pan. If I am taking some out to eat I microwave just that portion. If I am adding something to the pan and it needs cooking first, I steam it seperately then add it, and warm the whole lot up on a low heat. Or if I add a tin of something I chuck it straight in the pan and reheat the whole lot. It seems to work ok for me, but I wouldn't advise anyone to do the same if they have meat in their stew. Oh, and I ought to mention that you won't be struggling to erm, 'go', if you do as I do, ha ha.

Anonymous in Australia asks if I will be doing any bag tutorials. I am not sure if the Anonymous readers are all the same person, perhaps if you could add your preferred name to the end of your comment I could reply to you personally. I think I have done a couple of tutorials, I am never sure if people actually want to copy the bags, or just read about them to give them some ideas, either way is ok. I must start sewing again, and adding some tutorials.

I think that's covered most things. It's been a tad cold here today, but I still haven't any heating on. I'm sitting here with a fleece dressing gown on over my clothes, as long as I keep moving about that will keep me warm. I did an hour of litter picking this morning, my goodness that was cold round the old lug holes. I need to get my wooly hat out.

It's mobile library day today so I changed my books. Got six more to add to the five I already have out, we can have a total of twenty. I like to have a selection lying around the place so I can dip into them at any time.

I've picked up a massive book with just under six hundred pages, The Good Book, A Secular Bible. Inside the front cover it says, 'The Good Book is a book of insight, inspiration, wisdom, solace and commentary on the human condition drawn from the great humanist traditions of thought and literature of the world. It's principal concern is how life - the good life - should be lived. Stimulating, thoughtful, rational and rewarding, it makes essential reading'. It says it is made by philosopher A.C. Grayling, not sure if that is the same as 'written by'. I reckon this will send me off to sleep a treat :o)

A couple of bargains I got yesterday. This is the sort of shopping I like. Cheers me up no end when I find cheapo's like this.

And this makes me fed up. Now beans are 31p, they were 26p four weeks ago.

My lunch for today. Plate piled high with iceberg lettuce, half a tub of potato salad, grated cheese, spinach, with a blue cheese dressing. Fabulous.

I'm off now to brew up another three day stew to take with me to Derbyshire tomorrow. I'll take the net book because they have internet at the hostel, so I'll be keeping my beady eyes on you. Toodle pip.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

A localish walk in the Brigg area

Howdy folks. It was a lovely morning so I decided I had better take advantage of the sunshine and go off for a localish walk. My starting point was the market town of Brigg in North Lincolnshire, a short drive of 25 minutes away. After parking my car in the centre, I took a long street through a housing estate which came out across the fields, to Kettleby. I have a friend who lives there, so I called in to see her. Unfortunately she was getting ready to go to work, so we only had time for a short chat. Nevertheless it was good to see her again. After a quick coffee I went on my way.

Just up the road on the A18 towards the motorway is Wrawby Postmill. It's not open very often but when it is it's a very popular place for visitors.

The windmill looked lovely against the clear blue sky. There was a sharp wind blowing, but you have to come on an open day to see the sails turning. If you want to read about it,


I really don't know why I cannot copy and paste a link in here. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Close by is a small holding with lots of ducks and poultry.

The porch at St Mary's Church Wrawby gave me some shelter to eat my sandwich. The wind was really strong at times.

I did a big anticlockwise circle, walking along the side of the motorway for a while and came back into Brigg. I popped into Tesco to check the reduced sections and found two pots of potato salad at 7p each, and a packet of six wholemeal bread rolls for 19p. Never miss a chance of a bargain.

It was too early to finish so I set off again through the industrial estate to join the River Ancholme. Blimey look at how many different languages we need on our factory gates now.

A small marina on the opposite bank, at the place where the old river splits from the new.

Heading northwards, the next bridge along is Castlethorpe Bridge. It's a wooden footbridge.

Down stream a short distance this pipeline goes across, looks like they are doing some maintenance work on it. The New River Ancholme goes all the way to South Ferriby, and joins the River Humber close to the Cement Factory.

It's starting to get dark as I arrived back in Brigg, it's only just after 4pm. Mind you even with a short day I have managed to walk 10.5 miles, and that's with a stop for a chat. Toodle pip.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

It went a sort of murky green

Look what came through the letter box this morning with the free paper, I hope the delivery person got paid extra for carrying all this weight. What a waste of paper. I had a quick glance through them to see if there was any bargains in the food departments that I should rush out and buy. There wasn't.

I wonder if people read them and then decide to go and buy something they have seen advertised. I wonder if they do boost sales, and are worth the cost of printing and distributing them. How can the shops tell if their leaflets are bringing in extra revenue. I suppose some of it must work or they wouldn't cough up the money for it. I could use them for wrapping paper, it's so colourful, but I won't be buying any presents, so I'll put it in the recycling box.

My lunch today, two boiled eggs, pasta, sweetcorn, and peas, in Mayo on a bed of lettuce. Very healthy.

Bobo has gone into a pen at Sue's today, he seemed quite happy. It will be much better for him, he will be able to look around the garden. He was getting a bit sad and a bit fed up at being in a little room by himself. At least he has some pals now.

I have at last finished the week long stew. I added a tin of mushy peas tonight and it went a sort of murky green. All I can say is that's it's a good job I live alone :0)

I went to Tesco tonight to get some food in, stocks are running quite low again. I was shocked at how expensive everything is, even I am struggling to find bargains now, and I'm a flippin expert. My usual six yogurts have gone from 90p to £1.12, so I bought another brand in a big tub for 89p. Just have to make sure I get six servings out of it and not scoff it all in one go, ha ha. It's all quite depressing really, just when I think I have got the frugal shopping sussed, the items I normally buy have gone up, so I have to look for cheaper alternatives again. It's all about keeping ahead of the game, but each week it gets more difficult. I can see a time when we won't be able to afford to eat at all.

I am usually quite a fighter, I have always said that they will not beat me, but it does start to worry me when I see prices rise on a daily basis. Anyway, I did my usual trick of pestering the woman with the ticket machine as she was marking things down. At least I managed to get a few bargains. I live to fight another day. I'll update my food diary tomorrow.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Tonight I have added.......pasta

Here are a few daily pics. This one was taken last night, from the same position as the previous night, only this time the sun is a big red ball.

Here is big boy Bobo, awaiting a kind person to take him home. He is so handsome, I hope he doesn't have to wait for too long.

And my everlasting veggie stew. Tonight I have added wholewheat pasta, a stock cube, and half a cup of Blueberry Juice.

It was delicious. I did extra pasta so I can have it for lunch tomorrow with sweetcorn and mayo. Toodle pip

A nice cat story


You may or may not remember the lost kitty I spoke about a few months back, Smokey escaped from the cattery down the hill. His owners were devastated and put up posters all over the place. Their little girl was very upset, and for a while everyone was keeping a look out for this lost cat.

I thought I had seen him in the woods a few days later, and for several weeks the owners kept coming back and looking for him. They live about seven miles away and turned up most weekends to resume their search. As time has gone on it seemed there was little chance of ever finding him. The posters had faded, and it had slipped from peoples minds.

Anything could have happened to him, did he find somewhere else to live, was he killed on the road, did a fox get him? All questions that no one had the answer to. It's the not knowing that is the worst, for anyone who has ever lost a pet it can be agony.

But hey, as the title at the top says, there is a good end to this story. Smokie has been found five months after he went walkabout. He was spotted living in a stables about a mile from here. The woman who owned the horses contacted Cats Protection, and luckily his details had been posted on their web site at the time he went missing.

I rang the owners to say how pleased I was to hear this news, they are over the moon that they have got him back. The moral of this story is to advertise lost pets in every possible place you can think of. Microchipping will help find the owners more quickly, once the animal has turned up away from it's home. Smokie wasn't micro chipped, but thanks to the internet he was reunited with his owners. Brilliant news.

I've just booked myself into Hartington Youth Hostel in Derbyshire for a couple of nights next week. Might as well as it's so cheap at £8 per night. Lets hope that this nice weather keeps up because I'm a comin for a walkabout in them there hills. Insert big grin here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cooking is an adventure in this house

Here is a nice recipe that you might like to try. Awesome Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, plucked at random from Jamie Olivers site here http://www.jamieoliver.com/ You will find it in the vegetarian section. Or it might be in his book.

• 2 knobs of butterolive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
• a large handful of fresh marjoram or oregano, roughly chopped
• ¼ of a nutmeg, grated
• 8 large handfuls of spinach, thoroughly washed
• a handful of fresh basil, stalks chopped, leaves ripped
• 2 x 400g tins of good-quality plum tomatoes, chopped
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• a pinch of sugar
•400g crumbly ricotta cheese
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 16 cannelloni tubes200g mozzarella

For the white sauce
• 1 x 500ml tub of crème fraîche
• 3 anchovies, finely chopped
• 2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Then find a metal baking tray or ovenproof dish that will fit the cannelloni in one layer so it's nice and snug. This way you'll get the right cover of sauce and the right amount of crispiness on top. When I cook this at home I just use one pan to cut down on lots of washing up! Take your metal tray or a saucepan, put it on a high heat and add your butter, a drizzle of olive oil, one of the sliced garlic cloves, a handful of marjoram or oregano and the grated nutmeg. By the time the pan is hot the garlic should be soft. Put as much spinach as will fit into the pan. Keep turning it over; it will wilt quickly so you will be able to keep adding more spinach until it's all in. Moisture will cook out of the spinach, which is fine. By cooking it this way you don't lose any of the nutrients that you would if boiling it in water.After 5 minutes, put the spinach into a large bowl and leave to cool. Place the pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil, the other clove of sliced garlic, your basil stalks and the tomatoes, then fill one of the empty tomato tins with cold water and add this too. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, add a pinch of salt and pepper and the sugar, and simmer for about 10 minutes, until you get a loose tomato sauce consistency. Then take the pan off the heat and add the basil leaves.By now the spinach will have cooled down, so squeeze any excess liquid out of it and pour this back into the bowl. Finely chop the spinach and put it back into the bowl. Mix it with the liquid, add the ricotta and a handful of the Parmesan, and then use a piping bag to squeeze the mixture into the cannelloni. You can make your own piping bag by getting a sandwich bag and putting the spinach mix into the corner of it. Then twist the bag up and cut the corner off. Carefully squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes so each one is filled right up – really easy.Lay the cannelloni over the tomato sauce in the pan. Or you can pour the tomato sauce into your ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. To make the white sauce, mix together the crème fraîche, anchovies and the 2 handfuls of Parmesan with a little salt and pepper, then loosen with a little water until you can spoon it over the cannelloni. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and the mozzarella pieces, and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

I am using this recipe purely as an illustration to get my message across. No doubt it is a very tasty dish, Jamie is one of the best, and this would be the ideal meal to serve up at a dinner party.

It is thanks to ladyhawthorne who commented on my last post, which has given me the idea for this post. She said, 'adding whatever new veggies and meat that comes along', with reference to the everlasting pan of stew. I thought, yes she is right, this has to be the ultimate frugal food, because you are in control of how much you spend on ingredients, and not buying what some recipe book tells you to buy. If you can find reduced or free veggies, all the better. Frugal cooking is about using what resources you have available.

Lets take a look at the ingredients for Jamies recipe, I see that I don't have any of them in my cupboards at the moment. I do have a tin of tomatoes, but it is Value quality, not sure if this qualifies as 'good' quality. I would have to go out and buy every ingredient to make this. Oops sorry, I have just spotted it, I do have a pinch of sugar. Some people might have three or four of the items in their cupboards if they keep them well stocked, but my minimalistic approach means that I do not store lots of different ingredients, I have a few of the basics to get me by.

So, if I bought these items, and produced this mouth watering dish, what would I do with the rest of the the ingredients left over. The fresh ones would have to be used up quickly, and I suppose the dry ones would be put in the cupboard and saved for next time, if there ever is a next time. And we all know what happens every five years or so, we have a sort out and some of the old stuff gets chucked. What a waste of money. This meal could end up costing quite a bit to make.

On the other hand, inventing your own recipes using the food you already have, or can buy very cheaply, or you can get for free, has to be the way forward to less waste and a healthier life. Tonight I will add some more potatoes and onions to my stewpan. I will grind up some pumpkin seeds and walnuts and throw them in, and peel a couple of cooking apples, of which I have loads. It's apples with everything from now on. Maybe a tad more curry powder and another stock cube would perk it up. Served with a chunk of crusty seeded bread, bought for pennies, it will go down a treat. Very little preparation and no oven use. Ooooh, can't wait, a cheap and delicious winter warmer. And if anyone comes a knockin on my door there is plenty for them as well.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

A walk in the park and bowl of stew

I went for a walk this afternoon with my friend Irene, to Normanby Park. She drove us there and I walked back. It's just starting to get dark.

I love these red sunsets.


Tonight for dinner is day five of the veggie stew, which started life in the slow cooker on Saturday. Last night I perked it up by adding a tin of tomatoes and a bit more garlic. Tonight a tin of chick peas went in, with some more spices and a sprinkling of cous cous. Who knows what I'll put in tomorrow night. Beats cookin any day :0)

I thought I saw a pussycat

Anybody would think I don't feed this cat. Mayze brought me a present this morning, I don't know if she was planning on eating it, but she was a bit put out when I took it off her. She had dragged it through the cat flap and carried it upstairs to hide it behind the desk. It was the trail of feathers that gave it away. Poor little pigeon, naughty Mayze. This is the first hunter cat I have owned, have been lucky up to now that my other cats don't feel the need to do this. Oh well, she is only young, she might grow out of it.

I can't seem to get on with any jobs this morning. I have two pairs of jog bottoms which need lengthening. I bought them from Matalan a few years ago and they've shrank slightly, oh well I suppose that's what you get from cheapo gear. I've cut some strips from an old skirt, (I don't do skirts any more), to add to the bottoms. As you can see, cat has brought the job to a halt.

Oh well, I'll pop upstairs to do a bit on the computer. Oh no, now Lily wants to park himself on my knee, and he won't give up trying. I haven't the heart to shut him out of the room.

Now he is on my knee, come on Lily, I'm going to have to get up, I've got things to do. He is a silly old sod, going a bit senile I think, just wants lots of love. Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Shopping, just get what you need

First of all I would like to say welcome to Lizp2000. She is ploughing her way through the whole blog and at the moment is somewhere in the seven hundreds. Liz it's great to have your company, I am reading your comments, even on the older posts, as they always come up at the top of my list on the dashboard. I think you might catch us up around the 2nd of January, ha ha. Keep going girl.

I was in town today, walked there and bussed back to save the petrol, and I see we are getting a new Poundland. Whoopeee I am so excited, says me tongue in cheek :o) They are moving into the old Kwiksave store, it was a shame when that went bust, it was quite handy for popping in there, next to the bus station.

Our town centre is suffering just the same as any others with shops closing. We've lost our TJ Hughes, Coffee Republik closed about six months after it opened, Marks and Sparks popped it's clogs, and a long established cafe has gone as well. Of course all these closures wont affect me, there are very few shops I visit anyway.

I was listening to something on the radio the other day. People were saying that they should limit the amount of charity shops they have in town centres, because it brings the place down and people don't visit any more. I say, lets have a High Street full of Charity Shops.

Today I paid my credit card bill into the bank, I bought six eggs for 89p and four tins of cat food for £1.10 from B & M, a wall calendar for 99p from The Works, and a book token from WH Smiths, for Alex as a thank you for hanging my new second hand door. Just opposite the bank is a Thorntons shop, now I absolutely love their Treacle Toffee. I found myself drifting towards it, shall I shan't I. You would be proud of me, I managed to resist the temptation and I am happy to report that I didn't go in. Boy was my will power strong today.

I am watching the pennies at the moment because I know I have my car road tax to pay at the end of December, car insurance is due in the middle of January, and anytime now a gas and electricity bill will be dropping through the letter box. Not that I am bothered too much about that, I still haven't put the heating on, so I don't expect the bills to be very high.

I think I am going to be giving the town a miss from now on till after Christmas, it's not very pleasant at all there now. Far too many folks barging around with plastic carrier bags loaded up with seasonal booty. The normal stock in the shops has been put away in the back to make way for the all the Christmas junk, so there's no point in looking for something because it won't be there. I shall be glad when it's all over. Bah humbug.

Monday, 21 November 2011

One decision and it might have all been different

Here is a true story from the archives.

Getting chatted up was a regular occurrence when I was a trucker, only to be expected given that most of the people I came into contact with while working were of the male species. The young ladies of today go to great lengths to to get noticed by the opposite sex, they tart themselves up, stuff their bodies full of botox and silicone, and stagger around town on a Saturday night wearing very little clothing. I didn't have to do any of that. A pair of rigger boots, a hard hat and a big truck was all I needed to get them flocking around me.

I was unloading my cement tanker at a brick and block factory in Essex one afternoon, when another tanker pulled in from a rival firm, and backed in alongside me. After the driver had connected his hoses up and had started to unload, he came over to me and started chatting.

He was pleasant enough, quite a bit older than myself, nothing special, not the sort of man I would normally go for. My tanker was empty first so I switched everything off, disconnected the hose and put away my equipment. Brian carried on chatting to me, following me around the lorry as I was working. He asked if he could have my phone number.

‘Here we go again,’ I thought. “No,” I replied, “I don’t give it out to anyone.”. He was persistent and asked the same question several times, I was getting a bit irritated. In the end he asked if I would have his phone number and give him a ring sometime. I took the scrap of paper from him and shoved it in the bottom of my bag, promising to phone, and drove off.

It was about 6 months later when I was loading up at St Neots in the afternoon, for a delivery near Folkestone the following day. I knew I would have to have a night out, probably in Kent, then I remembered Brian, he lived near Rochester. I rang him from the cab phone, “Hi Brian, I’m on the M11 heading your way and I need to have a night out.”

“Great,” he replied, “There’s a layby a mile from my house, I’ll pick you up from there.” I knew where he meant because I had parked there when I used to take machinery to a power station on the Isle of Grain. He was waiting for me as I pulled in.

That night we went out to a cosy country pub for a meal. Surprisingly he was the perfect gentleman, considering how much effort he had put in to get my phone number. ‘He’s not so bad’, I thought, not exactly your Burt Reynolds, but a decent sort. Maybe if I got to know him I would warm to the kind heart he obviously had.

After a few months, things were going well. He was a widower, with a nice bungalow, two cars, one for work, and a Range Rover with a private plate, for leisure. He didn’t seem to be short of a bob or two. Since his wife died, Brian had made a very good job of looking after himself. His bungalow was immaculate, everything tidy and in it’s place, not a speck of dust anywhere. I started spending my weekends in Kent, and Brian treated me like a Princess.

He was a qualified chef and spent hours in the kitchen preparing a meal for me when I arrived, often with vegetables from his own garden. I met his family, and was invited to spend Christmas with them; everyone was very kind and made me feel welcome. I could see that Sugar Daddy, my pet name for him, was becoming very serious about our relationship.

Now at that time I was still a free spirit, my independence meant a lot to me, but I was beginning to feel trapped. It was very nice being treated like a princess by someone who obviously thought a lot of me, but I started to get panic attacks. ‘Let’s get married’, he would say, ‘You won’t have to go to work, you can ride around in my Range Rover all day’. I must admit I was tempted, but only for about five minutes.

Me, not work, but I like working, I can’t play the stay at home wife, clean the house, cook the meals, do the washing. The thought of it filled me with horror, not work! It was like a death sentence, the end of life as I know it. Besides, I didn’t like Kent very much, not sure why, just had a feeling about it, it’s too close to London.

When I said I couldn’t marry him because I loved my job, he offered an alternative, “Just come and live with me then,” he pleaded. I struggled with my conscience, I could probably take this man for all he had, and live a very comfortable life. All I had to do was go along with his dreams, act out his fantasy. Sugar Daddy was my passport to a better life, he adored me, and would do anything for me. But would it be a better life? It might be for a while, no mortgage to pay, no worries about earning enough money to meet the bills, it was all offered to me on a plate. Some women might jump at the chance.

But I couldn’t live a lie. My feelings for him were not as strong as his were for me, it wouldn’t be fair. I was very fond of him, a true, kind and honest man, but there was no spark, no madness, no spontaneity, it was all too predictable. I tried to explain, but I’m not sure he understood, he was of the old school, when women were grateful for the security of a good, hardworking man. The trouble was, I was a good hardworking man!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Making my chair last a bit longer

I saw an executive office chair, a bit like this one, in a shop window the other day, and thought it would be lovely to relax in a little bit of luxury while I am blogging. This one costs £183 from workingchairs.co.uk. No I am not endorsing the company, just acknowledging where I borrowed the picture from.

I am not about to shell out for something I don't need, however tempting it might be, after all I do spend hours bashing away on the ketboard, surely I am entitled. Well no actually, I am not. I have already got a perfectly useable chair, although after ten years it is getting a bit tatty.

When I aquired my chair it had already had a previous owner, it was given to me when a new replacement arrived. My then boyfriend could well afford something like the posh chair above. He was about to chuck out his old chair when he asked me if I wanted it. Of course, thank you very much.

It came with a broken back. My hunky fella had leaned a little too far backwards, and with a crack the backrest wobbled and went all floppy.

Oh dear, not the best of typing positions to be in. I might be laid back but not that laid back.

I have managed with it by using a plastic coated washing line, tied to the arm rest on one side, taken across the back several times, and tied off on the other side. This has supported my back for the last ten years. I had to redo it once as it had stretched.

So, something better is needed. I have a spare ratchet and a short piece of belt, the bit left over from the dog collar I made. So, with the same principal of going from one side to the other, it makes a much better job of it, and easier to attach.

The next job of my refurbishment was to fill a hole with some foam and sew a patch on to cover it. My dear cat Lily is constantly reaching up with his front paws to sit on my knee, which is where he is now. I must say he is lovely and warm. As you can guess, his sharp claws have pulled holes in the corner of the seat cushion, but now it is mended.

One last thing to do, is to drape a very thick and huge bath towel, folded four times, over the back of it. The metal spine inside has started to stick out a bit and it feels lumpy. This will give it a bit of extra padding.

I must say, it feels quite comfortable, even though it has gone through the wars a bit. There's quite a lot of wear left in it yet, I simply cannot justify replacing it. Not bad at all for saying it was given to me free in the first place.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

This slo cooker is just too darn slow

Today I decided to use my slo cooker, it hasn't been out of the cupboard for about five years. Before that I was using the inner as a plant pot holder for one of my money plants. They can be a bit top heavy so the brown pot was ideal to stop it toppling over. Anyway, the plant has gone so I can use it again for it's original purpose.

First of all I soaked the split peas and beans overnight, then this morning I added carrots, brussel sprouts and onions to it, with some bulgar wheat, garlic and any spices that jumped out of the cupboard. Everything went in the slo cooker.

It was taking ages to warm up, so I transferred it to a pan and put it on the gas ring, and let it simmer for half an hour. Then it went back into the slo cooker, where it remained untill 5pm.

I did a taste test to see if the beans were cooked, they weren't, and I was hungry. It went back in the pan and more simmering on the stove, about an hour. Then I could wait no longer, I had to eat. Yes it's very tasty, the beans are better than they were, could probably do with a bit longer, but hey, I have to eat now.

I'm not sure I like cooking in this way, it all seems a bit long winded even though the food is supposed to cook itself. Anyway, now I have the basis for a week long stew. The beans need more cooking, so tomorrow I will add some spuds and by the time they have cooked the beans will be soft. Should be able to keep it going till the middle of next week by adding more to it :o)

Friday, 18 November 2011

My doodling

I've still got this postcard I sent to my mum while I was on holiday in Majorca in 1972. The flamenco dancers pretty costume has been embroidered onto the printed picture on the card. I'm thinking it has been done by machine, but I'm not sure that they had the computerised equipment then. The design is far too intricate to have been stitched by hand, and if they were they would have needed hundreds of young girls to churn them out. They don't make them like this any more.

I quite like the idea of sewing directly onto card. You may remember this picture I posted a year ago from my visit to London. The artist has used a photograph of a young child, and very cleverly stitched over the top of it. I am fascinated by this.

This is my own attempt which I have been playing with today. I knew there had to be something I could do to alter the way I look, on those awfull passport type photo's. What do you think, maybe I'll do another one, different colours, different design. I like playing, ha ha.

Toodle pip.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Our cats are happy cats

Do you remember Elmo, he looks very sad here. He spent a week in my cat room and then we put him in a pen at Sue's. He perked up a bit because he had other cats around him and he could watch what was going on over the whole garden. Well, a bit of good news, a nice couple came to see him last night and they fell in love with him, and he is due to go to his new home tomorrow night. He was very happy to have some visitors and went straight to them to say hello. I am so pleased, their home is just perfect for him.

The man paid us a nice compliment. He said he had been to look at some cats at the RSPCA, and was saddened to see how they were kept in rows of pens which were nothing more than a cage. He said the cats looked nervous and frightened. He liked the fact that our pens are full of toys and our cats are so friendly and confident. We told him that's because Sue spends hours with them, stroking them, and playing with them. Also both me and Janet visit regularly to see how they are. We don't have many cats, but I think we are doing things right by keeping them happy while they are with us.

Our next job is to get our mum cat spayed, give her a days rest away from her kittens, and after that there will be a space to move big boy Bobo across to the pens. He is a little bit sad at the moment because he sees cats in the garden and he wants to go and join them. He won't have to wait much longer.

I got my hair trimmed this morning at my friend Julie's house. She had booked a hairdresser to come and cut her and her husbands hair, so I asked if she would have time to do mine as well. It just worked out nicely I arrived five minutes before it was my turn. I hate going to the haidressers, hate waiting, I want to be in and out. So ten minutes later and £5 lighter, I was dun. Julie and hubby are going to Spain tomorrow for a couple of months, they are driving there, with Jessie blind dog on the back seat. The dog is well used to travelling she has been many times before. There is a special deck on the boat for dog walking, with cleaning equipment provided for tidying up after them, if you get my gist :o)

I spent the afternoon walking, helping my friend Helen deliver the Parish Newsletters around her village. Some of the letter boxes are quite difficult to find, wouldn't you think it makes sense for everyone to have them on the front door. No, they are on back doors, on posts, on wooden gates, set in the wall, anywhere. Some houses don't even have a letter box, I gave up looking for it at one house and shoved the newsletter through the cat flap.

I nearly had my fingers trapped a few times. Some of them have a flap on the inside of the door as well as the outside, you try and push it all the way through and find your hand is jammed as you try and withdraw it. And those with brushes fitted in the box to supposedly keep the draught out, are a flippin nuisance. Anything you try and push through gets crumpled and creased and ripped. What a daft invention that is.

The terraced houses in a row are easy to do, just zip along them, but the big posh houses with long driveways, and those set on a hill with loads of steps to climb, take ages going up and down and in and out. I try and cut across garden to garden if I can, and hope no one sees me, ha ha. At least it keeps me fit, and although I might moan a bit, it is surprisingly good fun. I wouldn't want to do a regular paper round though, or be a postie, or do door to door catalogue selling, now that would be boring.

A quick and cheap dinner tonight. Two big spuds in the microwave, two grilled veggie sausages, with half a tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce over it. About 50p, and I'm full. See ya. Toodle pip.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Seeing eye to eye

I went to Tesco yesterday to check out the prices of their specs, and browse over the frames they have, to see if there were any that took my fancy. It's that time again. I had an eye test at Specsavers in July but didn't purchase any at the time, preferring to do it when I was ready. It takes me two or three visits before I can make the decision on which frames to have, and I will not be rushed into anything.

I have £58.50 worth of Tesco vouchers, and with the promotion they have at the moment I can double that in the specs department, so worth a look. I picked out a frame which appealed to me, and showed the optician my prescription. My eyesight is very poor so I need quite a strong prescription, and because of that I pay extra for extra thin, varifocal lenses. This limits the style of frames I can have.

The optician couldn't give me a definate price because she didn't seem to know which type of varifocal lenses would be best for me. Choice of four from £45 Basics, to £159 Made for you. Or whether I needed Thin and Lite, Supathin, or Ultrathin lenses, ranging from £40 to £90. Then they have a 2 for 1 offer, but that makes it a whole lot more complicated, I won't bore you with that. Another thing I was surprised about is that the frames on display are the only sizes they do. They don't measure the distance across the bridge of your nose, and can't order them, so if you try a pair on that you like and they don't fit, tough.

I decided to go away and think about it, but my instincts tell me to go back to Specsavers. They have a lot more choice, and you get measured, and the specs can be adjusted to ensure they are right for you.

I've been having a sort out today, and look what I've found, my old specs from many years ago. Look at the difference between those from the early seventies, to the present day. What massive Deidre Barlow bottle bottoms I wore, like a couple of saucers on my face.

They were heavy, plastic, no nose pads, and thick lenses. I could never stop them from slipping down my face. I hated wearing them, they have come a long way since then thank goodness. Compare the then, and now.

You can see the thickness in the lens in this shot, like the bottom of a beer bottle, I got called all kinds of horrible names. I often wanted to chuck them away.

Those who don't have to wear specs will never know how lucky they are. I must have paid out a fortune in my life time for specs, then later contact lenses. Yes we had the National Health specs when I was at school, but there was a stigma attached to wearing them, everyone knew you couldn't afford a nice pair. Then when I started working I saved up and paid for some more fashionable frames like these.

Then I went onto gold rimmed ones, but they were very heavy and the pads made dents on each side of my nose.

Eventually technology moved forward and thinner, varifocal lenses came in, what a relief that was. But of course they came at an extra cost, these were £300. I couldn't really afford it but at last I felt they were ok and didn't mind wearing them.

These are the specs I wear now, small and lightweight. They are starting to look a bit jaded, it would be nice to have some new ones.

My next plan is to take the specs I had before these back to Specsavers, and ask how much it would cost to change the lenses to the new prescription. I've got some checking out to do before I part with any cash.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Putting the boot in

I have a confession to make, I have a boot fetish. I simply drool when I see a chunky, rugged, macho, tough looking pair of boots. If the wearer is also tough and rugged, all the better. And wow, rigger boots are the bees knees, a guy with his jeans tucked in the top, well what can you say, pure hunk. Providing his beer belly doesn't get in the way of him being able to see his own feet, ha ha.

I have a good collection of boots myself, can't resist taking a look in the charity shops or car boot sales for the next pair. While most women would kill for a pair of Jimmy Choo's, I am quite content to pick up a second hand pair of bovver boots for a couple of quid.

These are my bestest walking boots, and the most expensive. Bought them in a sale, £55 instead of £110. They have to be good, and comfortable, because you know how many miles I walk in them.

Next we have a pair of very heavy CAT boots. The soles are several inches thick, they are waterproof and will never wear out. Great for sloshing about in the mud and puddles, but I couldn't walk more than about five miles in them. Cost £4.00 from a car boot sale.

These were also from a car boot sale, cost £3.00. They are waterproof up to a point as long as I don't wade through a stream in them. I need to wear two pairs of thick socks with them and can walk up to about seven miles in them.

My cheapest boots yet at £2 from a charity shop. The left one leaks so I can only wear them when it's dry, but they are comfortable with thick socks. I often go to town in these.

These are very soft bootees, they feel like slippers they are so comfortable. Waterproof with a thin pair of socks. Not for rugged walking, best on tarmac. I did a sponsored walk of 13 miles wearing these, they were only £3 from a charity shop. Fantastic boots.

My sister gave me these boots, they were too tight for her, but they accommodate my bunions quite nicely. They have a small wedge heel so they are a little bit fashionable. Good for wearing with a smart pair of trousers when I need to look respectable. Thanks sis.

I must have had these boots at least 25 years, some cheapo ones I seem to remember. They are not suitable for walking a long way, or on rough ground, more like a town boot.

These were all the fashion many years ago, again about 25 years ago. Loose round the ankles with a small heel. I wore them with a skirt or trousers. Yery comfortable.

More charity shop footwear, shoes this time. Cost £2.50. The good thing about second hand boots and shoes is that someone else has already worn them in. I have been to town in these this afternoon.

Charity shop shoes again. Dead comfortable but the sole is starting to come away from the upper. I have tried sticking them together with hot glue but they have come apart again. They were only £2, so when they completely disintegrate I will chuck them and get another pair. I should get a few more years out of them if I only wear them when it's dry.

I will finish off the collection with my current pair of slippers. As you can see they look like they have been into the casualty department for some treatment. I have made some repairs with gaffa tape. In the past I have had to rescue them from the jaws of Henry choc lab, he is rather partial to ripping out the insides. However, I am determined to get my moneys worth out of them and I can see them lasting a few more years yet, just need to wrap some more tape round them.

I haven't been in a shoe shop for years, lots and lots of years. There's nothing worse than buying a new pair of shoes to find they hurt after only wearing them a few times. You may have guessed I don't go for fashion, I go for comfort. You wont catch me tottering about on foot crippling high heels, I now wear sensible footwear.