Saturday 30 June 2012

The National Coal Mining Museum for England

Whenever I plan on taking a trip somewhere I always check the map to see if I can find a place to visit which is on the way. A good source of information on tourist attractions is the library, with a good supply of books and leaflets. I have the Lonely Planet guide to England out at the moment, and found details of the National Coal Mining Museum at Wakefield, a perfect location to break my journey. I have always been interested in how people coped with working in such inhospitable conditions, sometimes miles underground. I also have a fascination with big man made holes in the ground, as I have mentioned before, especially quarries. So the coal mining story ticks the boxes for me.
So on Tuesday morning I arrived here. It's just outside Wakefield at Overton, the brown tourist signs point the way. There is a vast parking area which is free, and luckily it wasn't too busy, just a couple of prebooked school parties. Entry is completely free which is what caught my eye in the book, ha ha.

Here are some random pics.

There are two parts to the 17 hectare site, the Caphouse Colliery and the Hope Pit, with a nature trail between the two. There is a train which runs between them but it is not always open, not to wory though because it isn't far to walk.

The coal comes up the conveyor belt and is loaded into these big hoppers, which in turn loads the rail wagons below them as they are shunted into place.

Here is an old engine, I'm not sure when that stopped work.

This is the Steam Winder, dated 1876. A marvelous piece of engineering.

Inside the halls there are lots of exhibitions, this is a replica of the hydraulic pit props they used. There is plenty to see, which tells the story of coal mining through the ages. Lots of video films and photographs.

At this point I joined an underground tour which took us down in a cage 140 meters. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take anything down with us, and definately nothing which had a battery in it. Thank goodness I was allowed to keep my hearing aid in, ha ha. We were issued with a hard hat and a lamp. There was only five of us which was better because we felt we had the personal attention of our own ex miner guide. He was excellent and brought the whole story alive for us. The tour lasted 1 hour 15 mins. When you book it you pay £2 for a metal token, similar to the type issued to real miners to keep account of how many people were down there. You can give the token back when the tour is finished and get a refund, but I kept mine and left the money as a donation. It was well worth it.

This is the entrance to the showers and miners welfare building. There is a window where they collected their wages, and down the corridor a medical centre they could go for advice and treatment.

There are rows and rows of lockers, there must have been several hundred working at the time when the colliery was at it's most productive.

Soap and towels for sale or hire.

This reminds me of the showers we had at school, I hated them. I wonder if they washed each others back, can't see how else they could have removed all that black stuff from every inch of their bodies.

Any dental work needed was attended to here.

This model horse is outside. They also have two real ponies called Eric and Ernie, and a Clydesdale called Finn, which you can visit in the stable block. The horses are put out to the field when the centre is not open.

I love this model of the back door of a typical workers terrace house. The coal house, the pet rabbit in the hutch, and the washing draped about ready to slap you on the face when you stepped out the door.

Oh, and the outside privvy, we had one of these when I was a teenager, complete with sheets of newspaper hanging up on a nail. Not for reading mind you, ha ha. And the tin bath, we had one of those as well.

I really enjoyed my visit, there's a lot to see, and if you are planning to go and want to save cash you can take a picnic and do the nature trail.Of course if you are feeling flush you can always treat yourself in the modern cafeteria.

Here is a link to the web site

There was still a bit of time to spare so I thought I might visit the Hepworth Art Gallery while I was in Wakefield. I found it alright and went into the car park, but was disappointed to see that there was a charge of £4.50 to park. As there was only an hour and a bit before it closed, I didn't think it was worth paying this. If I am going that way at a later date I will make sure I go earlier and find a free parking space further away and walk in. Another on the 'places to see', list. I carried on to Earby and arrived at the hostel about 6pm. I seemed to hit the rush hour traffic, I had forgotten what all that was about, living in the sticks of North Lincolnshire. We don't get traffic jams here. Toodle pip, catch you soon with another report. 

Friday 29 June 2012

Yum, left over chips

Hi de hi, just poppin into say I'm back from my walkabout. Had a brilliant time, own room at the hostel, only the odd shower of rain and I was able to shelter so I didn't get wet, and I saw some new places in beautiful Yorkshire. I stopped off at Tesco on the way back, timed so I arrived just as they were doing the final markdown. I didn't get as much as I would have liked, but enough to feed me for another week and a bit, and I've stocked up the freezer with 12p wholemeal bread.

The kitties are all fine, thanks to Janet for looking after them. Mum cat was spayed while I was away, I'm just going to sit with them for half an hour before bed time. I've got some chips to microwave for supper, I got them last night from a chippy and there was too many, so I'll eat the left overs now, ha ha, waste not want not and all that. I'll catch up with you tomorrow with some pics. Toodle pip.

Monday 25 June 2012

Going for a walk

I've had a big think about this and I am not sure if it is a good idea to go camping untill the weather settles down a bit. I really don't fancy floating away in a tent, so, I have booked three nights in Earby Youth Hostel for this week. I stayed there for a night last year, when I was walking from Blackpool to the Humber Bridge. Earby is near Barnoldswick, though I don't think the locals pronounce it as it is spelt.

As usual this will be a cheapie holiday, the biggest cost will be the petrol to get there. It's on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, just past Skipton. My bed in a female dormitory will cost £11 per night, and I will be self catering and taking my own food. It's a smashing little cottage type hostel, home from home really. There's a bit more info about it here.

My plan is to set off tomorrow morning and stop off en route somewhere for a walk, arriving at the hostel about tea time. I'll have four days walking, but I won't be posting daily because as I remember the signal is not good in that area. I will take lots of pics, maybe a vid or two, make some notes, and post the whole caboodle when I get back.

I am hoping to do lots more walking this summer, and I've come up with the idea of offering to accompany anyone who would like to do a days walking following a map, but may not have the confidence to walk alone. Of course I wouldn't expect anyone to walk the distances I do, I would plan the walk to suit whatever level you are at, whether it be beginner or more experienced. If anyone is interested in this let me know via my email addrerss on the side bar. The distance I would need to travel to meet you would have to be considered. I don't mind shelling out for petrol because I would make it a two or three day trip, which would give me some time to do more walking. Let me know what you think, anyone up for it?

Anyway, I'm just off to chuck a few things in a bag and feed the kitties. I'll leave you with this........ 

Talk amongst yourselves while I'm gone, and last one out to turn the lights off. Toodle pip.

Sunday 24 June 2012

I'm sure there's something else I should be doing

My culinary skills have left a lot to be desired today, I have failed miserably in the kitchen department. I think lapse of concentration has something to do with it. I put a pan on the cooker and left the room to do something else, I hate waiting around for things to cook. Half an hour later the smell of burning drifts past my nostrils and I rushed into the kitchen to turn the gas off under a very hot pan. I had to open a window to get some fresh air in. Good job it was in a non stick pan and came out in a solid lump. I hope hedgehogs like the taste of burnt porridge. Oh well, toast for breakfast then, at least that pops up when it is ready.

Same thing happened again later, only it was the veggie sausages under the grill this time which went a very dark shade of mahogany. They looked like those tough meaty dog chews you can buy. Too expensive to throw them out for the hedgehogs, so I ate them, they were rather crispy, ha ha.

The trouble is I am always multitasking, with several jobs on the go at once. I am planning in my mind what I am going to do next, and forget what I am doing at that precise moment, hence I find myself walking from room to room in a daze and forget what I went in for. I think I need to make a list.

I have different jobs going on in different parts of the house. I can't sit still and just do one job before I move onto the next. I am wandering around doing a bit here and a bit there, then I end up with a load of jobs only half finished. It's very frustrating. My concentration is all over the place. Oooops, sorry, I've got to sign off, the kitties need feeding, the bins want putting out, the pots need washing, and I've got to get a bath. No time for a long post. Toodle pip.  

Saturday 23 June 2012

It's coming through

I suppose I ought to be getting excited now that an Olympic Torch is coming through my area, but I'm not. I call it an Olympic Torch, because apparently there is more than one ;o) there are 8,000 to be precise. They each have 8,000 perforated holes in them and they will be carried by 8,000 torch bearers on a journey throughout the UK.

If anyone wants to buy a second hand torch, they have all been used ha ha, there are quite a few for sale on ebay. They will set you back several thousand pounds however, if you have money to burn. Maybe an heirloom to be passed down to younger members of the family. I think in years to come as some of them find their way into charity shops and car boot sales, it might pay off to keep one in pristine condition in the hope that it will become a valuable asset when there is no longer any cash in the pension pot, ha ha.

Our local newspaper has done a big feature about this once in a lifetime event passing through on Tuesday and Wednesday, and urges us all to 'celebrate the arrival of the flame'. The essential guide suggests we get there early, preferably travelling by bicycle or foot as the roads will be congested, and advises of the best points to position oneself to get the best view.

Apparently Olympic fever is spreading through North Lincolnshire as we all gear up to welcome the torch relay. Businesses along the route are hoping for a boost in trade as it passes. The Bridal Shop proprietor said it will be a great advert for them, and the hairdressers said they will support the torch, and have cancelled appointments so they can watch it pass by. Oh well, best nip in and get a haircut then, that's after I have bought my wedding dress :o))

Lots of school kids will have fun with a few hours off to go and watch it. Fair enough, they have many more years than me to live, and it's good that they should be building memories and have something to look back on in years to come. I can vaguely remember waving a flag at the new Queen Elizabeth, as she passed by the crowds lining the streets where I lived. I can't see me sitting in my care home remembering the day the Olympic Torch came to town.

My goodness I am sounding like a grump, but I genuinely can't find any enthusiasm for the torch, or the Olympics. I have never been a sporty person, I hated having to take part in sports of any kind at school, and I have never been very competitive. Maybe I'll get a little more excited over the weekend, but maybe I won't, and if the weather is nice I will bog off somewhere and miss it all. Toodle pip.

P.S. Sorry I haven't put a picture of a torch here, but I can't be bothered.    

Friday 22 June 2012

Stocktaking in the kitchen

I received a lovely gift today from Barry, flowers, chocolate cake, and a bottle of wine, what more could a girl wish for. I was most chuffed, so now I am sitting here supping the wine with chocolate all around my chops. Yummy. Pity it's so wet outside, I could have relaxed on the decking. Never mind chocolate and wine taste good anywhere.

Today I had a sort out and a tidy up of my food cupboard and freezer, I like to do a stocktake every few weeks so I know exactly what I have. It's easy to push things to the back and forget about them. Last week I fancied spaghetti on toast, but I didn't have any in so that was a bit of a disappointment.

A few months ago I ate almost everything I had and my cupboards were bare, but now they look quite full. Here is my stock list.

In the cupboard
30 tins of rice pudding. I bought a lot while it was cheap because I thought it might go up. Instead it went down 1p.
15 tins of baked beans. I buy them when I see them at 25p a tin
39 tins of evaporated milk. Tesco was selling these off cheap at 30p because they were changing the label. I was looking for a cheaper alternative to soya milk which has been steadily increasing in price
15 tins of JW tuna steaks. I bought a case of these, it worked out at 45p a tin, which is a good price, even though they are several months out of date
7 tins of chopped tomatoes
6 tins of mushy peas
2 tins of mandarin segments
2 tins of peaches
2 tins of chick peas
2 tins of spaghetti
2 tins of sweetcorn
2 tins of black eye beans
1 tin of red kidney beans

10 cartons of pineapple juice. I have been getting this from the cash and carry at three for £1. I dilute it 50/50 to make twice the amount.

2kg bag of brown rice
2 bags of 1kg porridge oats
1 packet of spaghetti
half a packet of black eye beans.

In the freezer
2 bags of Quorn fillets
2 Quorn sausages
2 big bags of frozen peas
6 portions of peas
bag of mixed summer fruits
6 Staffordshire oatcakes
2 plastic tubs of home made veggie stew
2 plastic tubs of home made soup
1 small Hovis loaf
4 potato pancakes

I like to keep track of what I have, and by constantly checking, my cupboards and freezer stay tidy. Everything is stacked in rows so if I want to use something I can easily find it and don't have to root around underneath other things. Each time I unpack my shopping I make sure I stack away it in the right place, I hate messy cupboards. It saves time in the kitchen if I know exactly where everything is, and you know I am not a fan of slaving over a hot stove for longer than I need to, ha ha. Quick meals, in and out, that's me. Toodle pip. 

Thursday 21 June 2012

Wot I did 2day

I wish this bloomin weather would make up it's mind what it wants to do. After a sunny few days it's been raining most of today. I was planning on getting up early to watch the sunrise this morning, but I missed it. I woke at 5am and it was light, and no sun anyway, so I went back to sleep. Then woke at 6.30 and again went back to sleep. Then I woke at 7.30 with a thumping headache. That always happens when I pinch an extra hour of sleep. I feel as bright as a button if I get up early, but if I lie in a bit I feel yucky, serves me right for being lazy.

Barry came home today, I was out so I didn't see how Scruff reacted to his masters return. Apparently they were both overcome with emotion. Barry has got to take it easy for a while, no golf for a few weeks but he is allowed to walk Scruff, which will please them both.

I did a Meanqueen talk for the Townswomens Guild this afternoon. It was a very small group, only nine people, they enjoyed it. When they booked it I got the feeling they couldn't afford to pay very much, because they don't have many members. We came to an agreement that they would pay £15 as a donation to our cat rescue. Every little helps, and these kitties are getting through quite a lot of food.

Talking of cat food, Tesco have got Felix pouches on offer at £2.50 a box, and Whiskas pouches at £2 a box. I called in on the way home, and was disappointed to see the shelves empty of the adult version, none left. Then I looked at the kitten section and found loads there at the same price, so I stocked up. I will give kittens adult food, and adults kitten food, I don't think it matters what label is on the box. In fact my Bugsy prefers the kitten food, and he is 16 years old. If the pieces are too big for kittens I chop them up into smaller pieces.

I am hoping to get away next week for a few days. I'll be camping if the weather is ok, maybe a youth hostel if is it is a bit wet, or maybe I won't bother at all if it is pouring it down. Looking at North Yorkshire, will make my mind up at the last minute. I'm getting fed up of being in now. I think we are heading for a lousy weekend weatherwise, maybe it will pick up by Tuesday. Please let it be nice next week.

I still haven't done a big shop and it is two weeks since the last one. I picked up some bananas, and brocolli in Tesco, and stocked up on baked beans at 25p a tin from Asda, and guess what, Tesco rice pudding has actually gone down to 12p a tin, so I got the last eight tins on the shelf. I also got six eggs from Asda for £1. I've enough in the freezer and cupboards to last me another week. Still got potatoes, and loads of rice and pasta, so no need to rush out and get any more food. I will make do with what I have.

I've just had my half yearly water bill from Anglian Water. We also get another bill for water drainage from Severn Trent. So, we pay to receive the clean water, and pay to get rid of the waste water. I've done some sums, and it works out at £134.35 a year, or £2.58 a week, or 36p a day. I am on a water meter so I'm not sure how that compares to those still paying for their water according to the rateable value of the house. I think what I pay is pretty fair for what I use.

Well so much for the longest day, pity it wasn't sunny. Toodle pip.  

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Bimbling along the River Trent

There's no stopping me now, another little film. It's quite good fun playing with this. I haven't the foggiest how to edit them though, so what I see is what you get. I am not too keen on my voice, I sound like I am a bit sozzled, that's because I am speaking slowly and trying to find the right words. My deafness also plays a part in how I speak because I cannot hear myself as well as a fully hearing person can. I don't want to have to do retakes and work from a script because that would look staged, and that's not what I want. So you will have to put up with it being less than perfect and more natural.

It takes ages to post them directly on here, via the blogger hosting site, Picassa, quite often the whole download gets aborted and you have to start again. So now I am putting them on yootoob, which still takes a long time, but at least the download seems to run smoothly. It's all a learning curve for me, in time I might be able to tidy up the rough edges, as I get the hang of it. Anyway, without further ado, come for a little bimble with me.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Four furry bundles of fun

Aye up me ducks, thought you might like an update on the kitties. They are thriving, getting more inquisitive by the day. So far I have managed to contain them in their room, but they have been watching mummy cat climb out and now they are trying to do the same. I have to close off the passageway because mummy looks for a way out. You can hear her on the video moaning and crying, she has come into season again. She is still feeding her babies but will be spayed as soon as she has finished with them. 

Aren't they just gorgeous. When I sit in with them they climb all over me, I can see someones curtains getting shredded, ha ha. Mummy cat is very pretty and loving, she is happy to be stroked and made a fuss of. Hope you like my little film.

Monday 18 June 2012

Square eyes

Apologies tonight, I am a bit late and this is a duff post. Not been able to come up with any ideas, due to the fact I have become addicted to this
Television for me is a novelty because I don't have one, so when I am able to watch I'm afraid I get a bit carried away and don't know when to turn it off. I'm just back from Barry's house, my excuse is I'm sitting with Scruff to keep him company, but it's also an opportunity to become a zombie and sit in front of the goggle box. There isn't much of interest on but I zap across the channels like a woman possessed, trying to find something decent to watch. 
The programme I have just seen was about police sorting out problems across Lincolnshire. It seems I live in a county full of rowdy drunks who are intent on resisting arrest, but are persuaded to give in when they are face down on the floor. Not a lot of choice when they are handcuffed. 
I've watched the paramedics and air ambulance going about their business doing some wonderful work in rescuing people from smashed up cars. They really do deserve every penny they get for doing that job. 
I've watched people revealing some weird and yucky problems in that Embarrassing Bodies medical programme. How those people can drop their pants and display their genitals on national television I do not know. Surely it's better to go to your own doctor for problems of a delicate nature. Put me off my flippin tea. 
I can only stand 30 seconds of that wotsisname Kyle show. Good grief, four people on stage all argueing and sobbing, and threatening to kill each other. Do people really watch that codswallop?
On a more positive note I've watched my favourites, Last of the Summer Wine, Heartbeat, and Monkey Life, the documentary about Monkey World in Dorset. It's been wall to wall footie, and you can't get much more boring than that. Thank goodness I don't have a tele. 

Sunday 17 June 2012

My DIY decking

Progress has been slow with the garden tidy up due to bad weather, and cats and dogs needing my attention. This is the bit that needs sorting out. Up against the side of the garage I had a range of home made plastic covered structures which I used for sheltering plants from the wind and rain. I don't need them any more because I am not growing as much now. The garage itself is rather dilapidated and really needs taking down and replacing, but I haven't got the money or the inclination to make major changes, so it stays. It's full of all kinds of stuff I have collected which may come in usefull for the garden, mainly timber, and plastic crates, and other bits and bobs which you might find in a garden shed. 

All has been cleared away, wood which might be usefull has been stored behind the garage, and the rubbish is ready to be taken to the tip. The first job was to paint the side of the garage in this lovely yellow. I had half a tin left over from painting the living room 15 years ago. I knew it would come in usefull for something. Then I laid three pallets on the ground, putting timbers under the front of them to level them off.

Next I covered the whole lot with wood I scrounged for free from B & Q while I was working there. It's been stored in the garage for about five years. Some of it is dismantled pallets, other pieces have been returned due to slight imperfections. Nothing is perfect in my garden, ha ha. Everything in it is home made or given.

So there we have my home made decking. I just need to put the finishing touches to it. I want some fairy lights so I can sit out at night. All we need is some nice weather now.

Saturday 16 June 2012

Experimental food

There was a bag of five, red and green peppers on my shopping list last week. You will have noticed it if you read the list on my food diary. They were reduced from £2 to 20p. I don't do many stir fries so I needed a way to use the peppers up before they became wrinkly. Whenever I steam them with other veg, the skins always seem tough, and I hate tough skins on anything. Tomato skins seem to be tough these days and I don't enjoy them as much as I used to. I usually chew for a few minutes and spit them out. Yuk, horrible.

Anyway I came up with this idea to use up the peppers, because I do not throw food out, no matter how cheap it is. First chop them up into a pan. Add water, not too much. Then I added turmeric, garlic granules, black pepper, some other spices, and boiled them for ten minutes.

Then I zapped it with the stick blender, and put some in four plastic tubs to go in the freezer. I kept some back for my dinner tonight.

I steamed some potatoes and brocolli in another pan, again these were cheap from last weeks shop. Then I added these to the rest of the mushed peppers and put it on a low gas to warm through. Then added the last of the spinach. All the veg is nine days after the sell by date, perfectly edible. Just before serving I added four teaspoons of yogurt.

Result, a lovely tasty meal for a few pence. And more zapped peppers in the freezer to be used for soups and stews.

If anyone has picky eaters in the family this is the perfect way to get more veg into their diet without them noticing it. Be brave, experiment a little.

Friday 15 June 2012

It's showtime

This might look like it's a post for the gentleman readers amongst us, but no, giggle giggle, it's the Lady Boys of Bangkok, well four of them anyway. There was sixteen on stage last night at the Baths Hall. There was a photo opportunity during the interval where you could have your photo taken with them, taken with your own camera I might add, for the extra special rip off price of £5. Did I bother, no I didn't. I stood with everyone else and snapped away for free. Another thing I didn't buy in the interval was an ice cream. The price was £2 for a tidly tub. I went to the garage across the road and got my favourite Magnum for £1.60.

Here is a woman up for a laugh, and her legs are even skinnier than mine, ha ha.

My thoughts on the show? It wasn't as good as the one I saw ten years ago at Manchester. I think mainly because that time it was performed in their own Sabai Pavilion, which is like a massive marquee, fitted out with all the trimmings to look like a posh nightclub. The round tables were dotted all around the room, and you had your drinks and food served to you. It didn't quite have the same magic last night, performed in a theatre with the audience sat in rows.

As to the show itself, I felt it lacked something. The chappie who announced it had a Scottish accent which didn't really fit in with the theme. At times the dancing wasn't perfectly syncronized, some of the dancers weren't putting as much effort into it as they should have been, they looked bored. There was no scenery just black curtains, and these started coming away from the rail and had to be held together by people behind them untill they could get fixed during the interval. A technical fault. There didn't seem to be a smooth transition from one number to the next, the lights went out too soon at the changeover.

Some of the performers were not very feminine. Last time I saw it they all had womanly curves, this time some of them were quite flat. The grand finale at the end was spectacular but it didn't last long enough. In fact I think were were short changed as the whole show was only two hours, minus the 20 minute break. It finished at 9.40pm which I thought was too early. I have had a feedback email so I will be putting all this down on it. This makes it sound like it was a really rubbish show. Everyone else seemed to like it, maybe it was because I had seen it before in a different setting. Marks out of ten? Seven from me. It was alright, but not great. 

I went to see Barry last night, he is still in hospital and it looks like he will be in a little while longer. Scruff is fine, he has his pal Rocky to go walkies with.

I am putting off doing any shopping untill next week. I still have lots of potatoes left, and some brocolli and cheese, and spinach. I went to town today, and bought six eggs, a cauliflower, potato salad, and bananas. I can manage with what I have in the cupboard and freezer. I popped in Aldi because I park near the store and walk into town. I picked up two items and went to pay. They had two tills operating, and the chappie said could I go to the other till, so I did. Then some more people joined the queue and the cashier told them to go to the other till, the one I was told was closing. I was quite annoyed. They never have enough tills open, one of the reasons why I don't like Aldi.
That's all for tonight, toodle pip.    

Thursday 14 June 2012

Keep fit with Meanqueen

Hey, here I am with my baggy shorts on, keeping fit on my trainer. Blimey, look at my sparrow legs, ha ha. I could do with a bit more meat on them there bones.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Breakfast and supper fodder

I've just had a bowl of corn flakes, fancied a little something for my supper. I don't usually buy corn flakes but I thought a change would be nice, my usual cereal is bran flakes. The boxes look almost identical except for a different colour. I used to eat a lot of corn flakes when I was little, the posh ones with a big K on the front. I can't remember them making fake ones like they do now, they were the real deal.

I've always thought that anything with bran in it is better for you. Supposed to be good for the digestive system and good for bulking out the waste material as it passes through.

I'm trying to work out which is the best value for money, and the best for your body in terms of nutritional value. The bran flakes are 88p for 750grm and corn flakes are 31p for 500grm. There are more calories in the corn flakes, and more sugar and salt. There is more fat in the bran flakes and more saturates. The ingredients in both are almost identical, except one has maize in it and the other has wholewheat and wheat bran.

Now comes the tricky bit, working out which has the better nutritional value. They both have the same added vitamins and minerals, that's easy enough. The bran flakes have more protien, less carbohydrates, less calories, more sugar, more fat, more fibre, and less salt. So now I'm baffled. I think I'm going to go with my preferred taste. Corn flakes taste like cardboard, they are tasteless. Bran flakes taste much better. Both boxes are the same size but you get less corn flakes because they are made very thin and crispy, there is more air in the box.

One thing I never do is buy fancy and expensive cereals, they are a big rip off. I am not a snob, I don't need to buy brand names. The bog standard basic flakes does me just fine. I don't want my cereals coated with sugar, or chocolate flavour, or snap crackle and pop, or clusters, or mixed with dried fruit, or puffed up.

I think I'm going to have to stick with bran flakes whether they are better for me or not. The price suits me, and for a supermarket own brand they taste quite nice. Are you ditching the brand names in favour of value. Toodle pip.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Time is going toooo fast for me

Blimey I've missed a day, I don't know where the time goes. I see some more new people are posting lovely comments, welcome new people. Lets have a look at who has popped in. I am trying to keep up but you are all way ahead of me.

Hi lilyredcloud, thanks for your compliments, I feel a trifle embarrassed when people say nice things. I will drink a toast to you when I open my next bottle of wine, and pretend it came from you. I have two bottles awaiting consumption, given to me by my doggy friends for helping them out.

Hi Wimmera from Melbourne Australia. I hope your friends are having a lovely time now they have got off the treadmill and moved to a smaller home. Thanks for that story.

Hi Lucy, I admire your determination to read my blog from start to end, maybe we can have a virtual party when you finally catch up with the rest of us. Keep reading gal :-)

Hi Pam from Lincolnshire, nice to meet you. If you love your job keep at it, no need to retire just yet if you don't want to. As long as you are enjoying your life that's all that matters. The swing bridge you mention, would that be the one at Sutton Bridge? If so I know it well. I hope to visit Norfolk one day, I'll give you a shout as I am passing through and we can meet up.

Hi 50 and counting, thanks for that insight into the Canadian/American healthcare situation. It's great that we can learn about how things are done in other parts of the world on my lidl ole blawg. You've gotta say that with the accent.

Hi Samantha. You told us about how good neighbours help each other, doing favours and getting favours back. I like that idea. We all might need some help one day, so best to look out for others in case they need help. What goes round comes round.

Hi Marlene, I'm pleased you have discovered that being made redundant doesn't have to be the end of the world. Be happy with your five pussies, give them a hug from me.

Hi anyone I have forgotten, and thanks for the email Judy, much appreciated.

There has been some brilliant comments on the Getting off the Treadmill posts, read 1 and 2 to get the full story. Thank you all for your input, it has been very enlightening.

Right, what am I up to. I can't move too far from home at the moment. Barry is still in hospital, he should be home any day soon. The good news is that Scruff dog has perked up a bit. A week ago he didn't want to go out of his garden and wouldn't come for a walk because he was so sad. All he wanted to do was lie on the settee and wait for Barry to come back. Now, when I put the key in the door he jumps up to greet me with a waggy tail, and is happy to have his collar and lead on and go walkies. I feel like that woman what was she called, years ago, who did the dog training programme on tele. Her catchphrase was singing the word 'Walkies'. Barbara I think she was called.

Rocky came back on Saturday and he was jumping for joy when I fetched him for a walk. He has been across to visit and walk with Scruff a few times. I am sure it has done Scruff a lot of good, they are the best of pals.

The kittens and mum cat are doing really well. Janet came to visit today and between us we photographed them all individually. Not an easy task to get lively kittens to keep still for a nano second, ha ha. We will put these on our page on the catchat web site soon. Janet usually sees to that job. They all seem to be scoffing themselves silly. They are getting plenty of food down them, and of course this makes them quite productive at the other end. Luckily we have been given four huge bags of cat litter, by a friends OH who works at a factory which produces it. I happened to meet them yesterday while out dog walking, they were walking their two dogs Lulu and George. How kind people are.

I'm getting a bit restless, need to go walking soon, and camping when the weather picks up. Still busy this week, I'm also watering the plants in a friends greenhouse, they have gone away, back at the weekend. Still bits to do next week, it's looking like the last week in June for a holiday. Hope we get some sunshine. Ooops nearly forgot, I was on Radio Humberside this morning again. They rang and asked if I would talk about using coupons and vouchers when shopping, and getting discounts on the Groupon site. You could listen to it on the BBC iplayer, go to local radio stations. I was on just before 10am. Sorry haven't got the link to hand. Phew, got to go. My stomach is grumbling. Toodle pip.

Sunday 10 June 2012

My favourite recipe

Guess what I'm eating right now? Yep, it's 6pm and it's dinner time. I'll give you the recipe if you like. 1 potato. 2 carrots. Some butternut squash. A few spriggs of brocolli. 121 peas. 2 baby sweetcorns. 3 stalks of asparagus. Put these into a steamer thingy inside a large pan, to which an inch of water in the bottom has been added.
Steam on top of the cooker for about 8 or 10 minutes. Prick with a fork to check when it is ready. Add a large handfull of spinach and give it 30 seconds more.

I have houmous tonight as a dip. Sometimes I might put a bit of grated cheese on top, or a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil. Fabulous. If you want to make it you can substitute any of these ingredients with any other vegetables you have. Quick and easy, and only one saucepan and one plate to wash  ;0))  Me like very much.

Getting off the treadmill. part 2

Warning - this post might be a bit disjointed, I have spent a week playing around with it, and now I need to press the publish button and move it on. There is reference to another blogger here, but this is because she asked a question. Most of the post is not aimed at anyone in particular.

There was such a lot of interesting feedback on my 'Getting off the Treadmill', post, that I feel inspired to add a bit more to it  It seems to me that there are two main reasons why people might tighten their belt and watch their pennies. The first is that they have decided to get off the treadmill, reduce the stress of working all hours, and reduce their spending. A self imposed downshifting if you want to use the buzz words. The second reason is that their circumstances have changed and through no fault of their own, they find themselves with less disposable income. It may be the loss of a job, a decline in their health, or the breakdown of a relationship which has caused their financial difficulties.

I belong in the first camp, I chose to work less hours because I was no longer enjoying my job. After my operation in 2008 I lost my job because the depot closed, and I spent the last seven months of my working life on Job Seekers Allowance. This was reduced to £36 a week, because I had an insurance policy which paid my mortgage. It was a real struggle to make ends meet, I watched my bank balance shrink drastically. But to be perfectly honest I wasn't particularly bothered about my loss of income, I knew I wouldn't starve, I just had to be more carefull. Getting to 60 was a relief, the state pension kicked in and I knew I could afford my outgoings if I was very carefull with my spending.

Three years on and I am still surviving, thanks to all the practice I have had on managing on less. Wean, you ask if I have a secret or if I really am Wonderwoman. To give you the figures my state pension is £7985 a year. I qualify for the full amount because I had 41 years of contributions. On top of this I get a small private top up pension (taxed at source), which I paid into in the eighties. Net it is £968 a year, so just under £9,000 a year in total. I am also eligible for Council Tax Credit because my income is below their threshold, and I have no savings.

Reading your blog, Wean, my outgoings are quite a lot lower than yours. You are in rented accommodation. I pay £78 mortgage a month. I don't know how much you pay but I would struggle to pay the rents up here. I have stopped paying anything off my mortgage capital as the interest rate is low, and I want to spend any cash left over on days out/holidays, and to save up for my next car. Wean you have more cats than I have so you will be paying more than me in vets fees, food, etc. I am going to stick with two for a while because I can't afford any more.  You appear to be paying a lot more than me for your utilities. Maybe your home comforts are a priority for you, and heating is important. My house is a basic shell which provides me with shelter, I prefer to save my money for going out.

In answer to your question, there is no secret and I am not Wonderwoman. My good life is all down to the choices I have made and it works for me. It is also down to my attitude, to be happy with what I have, and not yearn for anything more. It is a mistake to look around and see what other people have, and base your own aspirations on what you see.

Right, let's look at the second camp, those who find themselves in difficult financial circumstances, through something that has happened to them in their life. The feeling that you cannot do anything about things which are beyond your control is not very nice at all. As an example, I let someone take over my life for a while, and it was destroying my confidence. I couldn't change him, but I could change how I dealt with the situation, and that was by taking back what he had stolen from me, my control.

It seems to me, and I am surmising here, that the people who have frugality thrust upon them are the ones who find it hardest to cope. They didn't want to lose their job, or have their marriage break up, or become incapacitated, it just happened. It's much more difficult to pick up the pieces and start again. To have enforced lifestyle changes is much harder to come to terms with than choosing to make the changes yourself. If you have had it all, then lose the lot it must be devastating for anyone to deal with.

This blog is to record my take on life, the way I look at it, with optimism and hope. It's about my methods of managing with less. Less of everything, stuff I don't need stuff I don't want. If anyone can pick up a few ideas from it that's fine. I am not saying do as I do because everyone has their own ideas on what works best for them. People should deal with their own situations in the best way they can. Wean, I didn't say, 'quit spending and you will have plenty of money'. If that's what you saw then you read it wrong, or maybe I didn't explain myself very well. The key word here is 'enough'. Quit spending on things you don't need, so you have enough for the things you do need. It's all down to what your priorities are.

I have said this many times over, only buy what you need. Think about every penny you spend, and I say this in general terms it's not aimed at anyone in particular. Say to yourself, do you really need this, before opening your purse. If you apply this strict rule to yourself you will find you will reach a point when your priorities change. What seemed so important to you before will get taken out of the, 'something I need', category and put into the, 'something I want', box. And those 'wants' should be what you are saving up for.

If anyone is really struggling I suggest you run your household incomings and outgoings like a business. Write it all down, every penny which comes into the house, and every penny you spend. Even down to the odd choccy bar or magazine. Don't anyone base their needs and wants on what other people have.

I have been rambling on long enough here. I'm going to take my lunch to sit with Scruff and watch the tele for an hour. Bye bye, catch up with you soon.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Shelling out

Take one 500g bag of peas, priced up at £2.50. Buy them on the day they are due to go out of date, and when they are reduced to 5p.

Remove the peas from their pods. My what a lot of pods you get. You could make peapod wine out of them I suppose, but I am not into wine making, so mine will go on the compost heap.

You end up with an average size coffee mug, almost full of peas. Not a lot for £2.50 but an absolute bargain for 5p. I am amazed that anybody would pay the full price.

Then the question arises of why anybody would buy a bag of these very expensive peas, when they can get a 1kg bag of frozen peas for 99p.  Image borrowed from Tesco web site.

I reckon they are sold in the pods because people think they are getting a fresher product, it's a trick to get us to cough up more money. Commercially grown peas are harvested, transported to the factory, frozen and packed within a few hours. You can't get them much fresher than that unless you grow them yourself.

It seems to be the trend now to sell vegetables while still attached to their stalks, with the idea they stay fresh for longer. I dont want to purchase a two foot long stalk full of brussel sprouts and have to lug that home. I don't want want the tops of the carrots or beetroot taking space up in my shopping bag. Next thing you know they will be digging up whole plants roots and all complete with lumps of soil. No thank you very much.

While not wanting my vegetables peeled and chopped up for me in a plastic bag, that is being lazy, I only require the edible parts please. Oh well, back to shelling these peas, three more bags to go. Spose I can put up with it just this once being as they were so cheap. Toodle pip. 

Loads of money saved on shopping

I've been trying to get back into the swing of things today, it helps that I have a lot to do. It seems strange that I don't have to look out for Lily any more, like there's something missing, which there is. One minute life is good and ok, then I remember his little face and I want him back.

Being wanted elsewhere helps to ease the sadness. Mum cat and the kittens need me, Scruff needs me as Barry is still in hospital, Rocky dog will need me when he comes back maybe tomorrow, and my own Bugsy and Mayze cats need me. Keeping busy is what keeps me going, I have no time to be idle.

Last night I went to visit Barry, he is waiting for a pacemaker to be fitted. He seems in quite good spirits apart from missing his dog, and being afraid to cough because it hurts his injured back.

After that I went straight to Tesco to get my reduced groceries. Sometimes I am lucky sometimes not, it depends on if they have bought in too much stock and people have not bothered to go shopping. Yesterday there was a lot of rain so that kept people indoors. Lucky for me because I got loads of crazy bargains. I have added my shop to the list on my Food Diary, link at the top of the page if people are interested. The trolley full of shopping came to £9.31. If I had bought it at full price it would have cost a massive £64.52. This has to be the best shopping trip I have ever had by far. A saving of £55.21. Every item had a yellow reduced sticker on it. For the next two weeks I will eat like a Queen.

Shopping like this is such good fun, I had a bit of a banter going on with the man with the ticket machine who was marking down the fruit and veg. He had a lot of bags of peas, and asked how much I wanted to pay for them. I said oh, 10p a bag would be good. He said, how about 5p a bag? Wow, even better, ha ha. I had four bags. Then he said how much for the apricots? I asked him if they were sweet as I don't normally buy them. He took the wrapper off and said, try one, so I did. They were reduced from £1.99 to 10p, so I had three punnets. The staff were passing the message to each other to mark down the price to what the customer wanted to pay, most things were 10p.  

If you notice there ain't a lot of junk in there. It is mostly good quality fruit and veg. What I shall do is first eat things that are more likely to deteriorate quickly, checking the condition each day to see if anything has to be eaten immediately. I will eat everything, nothing will be chucked away. I have given away two punnets of strawberries and a punnet of apricots to friends. When I got home I checked my receipt and found that one item had been scanned at the original price at the till, so today as I was in town, I went back to complain. Customer Services gave me a refund of £3.14, so even better.

Here is a photo of Scruff, patiently waiting for his master to return. I went to the hospital to see Barry this afternoon and he tells me nothing has happened yet and he thinks he won't get the pacemaker till Monday now. Oh dear poor Scruff. It's a good job he only lives up the road, I can keep going in to see him. Tonight I actually got him to go for a proper walk. He doesn't want to go far normally without Barry. He is a lovely gentle boy.

This is my dinner tonight, it cost a few pennies. The dearest thing was the tuna steak at 28p. The wine was a gift.

As a reward to myself for managing to get an extremely cheap shop, I have bought a ticket for a show next week at the new Baths Hall in town. I saw the Ladyboys of Bangkok about ten years ago in Salford Manchester, I absolutely loved them, so I thought a nice treat would be to see them again. I asked at the booking office if I could have a look at the seating before I bought the ticket, because I wanted to be sure to get the right seat. The young lady was very helpfull, she took me in and let me try the seats in different parts of the theatre. I chose one on the side balcony. I am so looking forward to this. Anyway, bed time. Toodle pip.

Thursday 7 June 2012

Cats welcome

What can I say. I am overwhelmed by your lovely comments. Many of you have gone through the heartbreak of losing a pet, thank you for sharing your stories.  I shed lots of tears each time I came back to the computer yesterday. I was reading your words on here, and your blogs, but was not able to comment myself. I had to walk away I was so choked up with emotion. Thank you, my blogger friends.

My dear friends Janet and Paul came to help me bury Lily, they are such a support. I'm glad I didn't have to do it by myself. I removed a long deceased conifer from the border in the back garden and asked Paul to dig a deep hole because I wanted to transplant an evergreen bush from a pot, to mark the spot.

I think it helped that I kept myself busy yesterday, I have the kittens to look after, and Barrys dog, Scruff. I can't bring Scruff here into the house because of the cats, but he lives so close I can keep calling in to see him. I think Barry will be back in a day or two, poor Scruff is missing him terribly.

I was doubly upset yesterday because of someone's unfeeling and uncaring comment. Foolishly I went to see Lily's previous owners who live round the corner, to break the sad news. I thought it only proper and right that they should know, even though they haven't shown any interest in him since he left their house and came to live here. I have always posted a note through their door each Christmas to let them know he is ok.

When Lily first showed up at my back door, four years ago, he looked very small, so thinking he might be a young cat prompted me to look for his owners, they might have been missing him. He used to pop by on odd ocassions on the scrounge for food, but then started camping out in the downstairs toilet next to the backdoor, there is access through the cat flap. I found out where he came from and went to tell the people. All they said was I should kick him out. They told me he has a dog kennel at the bottom of the garden to sleep in, and he is 13 years old. Next to the back door I saw two dirty looking food bowls. I felt I couldn't kick him out, he was obviously hungry, eventually I let him into the house, he liked it so he stayed. They have always know he was here, but never been to fetch him back.

Fast forward to the conversation yesterday morning. After I broke the news to the woman, she said I shouldn't have kept feeding him and he would have come back. She said he was an outside cat, and often went missing for several months at a time, staying at other peoples houses, but he always came back. I said he had the freedom to come and go, as my back door is open all the time for my own cats to go in and out. I didn't keep him shut in untill six months had passed, and then it was only at night. It was obvious he was happy here and didn't want to go anywhere else.

I felt she was unfairly accusing me of enticing her cat away, which upset me because it wasn't true. I believe that cats are free spitits and will go where ever they like. They say you can't own a cat, it owns you. I also believe that it doesn't matter who looks after them as long as they are loved and well cared for, and have a safe and warm place to sleep, with enough food. These are the things we need for ourselves and why shouldn't cats have them as well.

Just because a cat spends a lot of time outdoors, it doesn't mean that it should be out there in all weathers day and night. And at 13 years old, surely he deserved some home comforts. It's like sending your granny to live outside in a shed, you wouldn't do it. I am really quite annoyed with that woman and her attitude. Lily had a lovely four years with me, he put on a bit of weight, which he desperately needed, and looked a normal size after a few months of good living.

There are two more cats who call in ocassionally for a good feed up. I know where they live, and they don't want to move in, so that's ok by me. I cannot shut my door to any cat who wanders in asking for food. Perhaps I love animals too much, but that's how I am.  

Wednesday 6 June 2012

My lovely Lily

Lily died just before six this morning, peacefully on a cushion in the kitchen. I awoke at 3.30am, something told me to get up. When I saw him I knew it was going to be vet day today, but he slipped away. He knew I was there. This photo was taken on Monday, he is lying in the sunshine with ginger Bugsy. Goodbye my little friend, my lovely Lily.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Feeling a bit weary.

I haven't been able to put together a decent post for the last couple of days, there's been rather a lot going on here and I am feeling a bit weary. As you know my old cat Lily isn't too good so I have been nursing him. He can still get out into the garden and lie in the sun, but I have to constantly check his whereabouts as he gets a little confused. Yesterday I had to go into next doors garden and bring him back, I don't want him to go off and hide, I want him to stay close by, I need to know where he is.

Yesterday my friend Barry fell and bumped his head while out walking his dog Scruff. He went to the hospital in an ambulance, and someone brought Scruff back and put him in his garden. I went to get the house key from Barry so I could look after Scruff. Barry is still not back home, maybe tomorrow, so I've been in and out visiting Scruff and walking him. Poor dog is missing his master terribly.

Another emergency, the two black labs needed taking out so I've done that today, plus the kittens need three feeds a day and I like to sit with them for a while. It's a good job Rocky is away on his holidays because I haven't had time to take him out. He's staying with his owners relatives.

Not done much on the garden so no pics yet. Catch you tomorrow.  

Lighting up the sky for our Queen

Jayne was looking for me at the Humber Bridge last night, to see if I had turned up for the lighting of the beacon. Didn't need to go Jayne, we have our own beacon right here on our doorstep. Just a matter of walking for ten minutes along the hills. We are pretty high up here with some lovely views across the river.

Quite a crowd had gathered to witness the lighting of it, a task performed by Sir Reginald Sheffield. Here goes, the torch is applied to the bottom.

Now the fire is beginning to take hold.

And here it is fully ablaze.

Down below us at the bottom pub they are letting off their fireworks, and here is my pathetic attempt to capture the awesome display. More like a damp squid on my pics, I am hopeless at taking photo's of moving objects. I did a short video as well, but now I can't find it on this computer.

At the top of the hill we had 60 rockets to delight us.

Oooohhh aaaahhh pretty.

Glad I took my head torch with me for the tramp back home through the woods. It was quite exciting picking our way along the path in the dark. Can't wait to do it again ;o)

Monday 4 June 2012

A rockin an a rollin

Let's have a little bit of light entertainment on this Bank Holiday Monday. I'm a bit hooked on yootoob at the moment, revisiting my youth through all the old music videos, wishing I was seventeen again, ha ha. I love the rockin an a rollin stuff, the energy, and the leaping about the stage. I used to love dancing, still do, but haven't been to see a band for ages. Here are three of my faves I picked out, it was so hard to choose. What do you reckon?
Love Meatloaf and Cher, brilliant together.

Amazing Freddie, one of my all time favourites.

Love Creedence C R. Can't keep still when I listen to them.

C'mon get up and dance

Sunday 3 June 2012

Feeling patriotic

On the occasion of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I would like to say thank you to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11, for giving her whole life to her country. I salute you.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Diamond Jubilee Village Fete

The weather was dry but slightly chilly for our village fete today. It started out a bit warmer but half way through the afternoon I went home and got changed out of my shorts and teeshirt into thermal lined walking trousers and two sweatshirts, what a whimp I am.

There wasn't the drama of last year, when the barbeque burst into flames and the fire brigade had to be called. Shame really, it was so exciting :o) We were all standing to attention at 12 noon, as instructed. All the stalls were ship shape and ready for trading. This is our stall, with Sue and Janet waiting to extract as much money as we could from the punters.

This one was opposite ours, not sure what they are advertising.

The book stall was busy, they had managed to aquire lots of union flag boxes to display their wares in. They were collecting money for the Lifeboat Association.

There were lots of tombola type stalls, and people had fun trying to win a prize.

The bouncy castle was popular as usual.

Oh my, the yummy cakes. We just had to have a slice of sponge cake with a jam and cream filling. It went down well with the Rose wine we were supping, ooops, sipping.

Afternoon tea anyone?

The Allotment Association stall had home grown plants and veg for sale. That's Janet's DB in the stripey shirt.

Queueing for a burger at the barby. Always popular.

This was just a few of the things to see, there was a lot more going on. Exhibitions in the churches, fancy dress parade for the children, a band playing on the stage, and a man playing his bagpipes. It was a really enjoyable afternoon, nice to chat with all my village friends and neighbours. I do like living in a village. We did very well on our stall and made some money for the pusscats. Hope you are having a good bank holiday weekend where you are.