Three hours to midnight. I would like to wish all my blogging friends a
Happy New Year.
I hope all your dreams come true and 2010 brings you lots of
joy and happiness.
Thursday, 31 December 2009
Three hours to midnight. I would like to wish all my blogging friends a
Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Monday, 28 December 2009
The lawn is covered in a white sliced loaf of bread torn to shreds and offered as bird food, along with fat balls, rotting apples, and a scattering of bird seed. The frying pan/bird bath is now visible and even though it is filled with fresh water, our feathered friends are not in a hurry to hop into it.
As I followed Ben round the garden for his morning stroll I noticed that two of the raised beds have been used as a feline toilet, several little squiggly mounds are laid on the top. Despite my attempts at putting barriers over them, they have managed to squeeze under and between the branches I laid on top of the plastic trellis covering the surface. They must have given up trying to bury it, which I suppose is a good thing, because at least I can see it to scrape it off with a trowel, rather than sticking my hands into it in the spring when planting time comes around again. :-(
My defences need to be reinforced, I gathered up the plastic tubs, pots, and pieces of wood that were scattered around and placed them on any bare sections of compost which might be the next target. I lifted a piece of wood which was laid over the join between two of the beds, there is a gap of a few inches here, and underneath I found a prickly ball. Horace the hedgehog was asleep.
I quickly replaced the wood, not wanting to disturb him. I though hedgehogs buried themselves under piles of leaves and twigs, this one did not seem adequately covered. Not wanting the poor little mite to freeze to death, I got some plastic sheeting and made a tent over his hideaway. I do hope him and his friend survive and come back next spring. They came onto the lawn every night last summer because they knew there was a feast to be had, it was lovely to watch them.
Saturday, 26 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
Ben was well impressed with his steak, there is enough left for tomorrow, and the cats were equally thrilled with their grilled chicken breasts. I will open a tin of tuna for them tomorrow for their Boxing Day treat. I only have to say the word 'fish' and they immediately rush to the kitchen.
No Skyping today, I don't know what happened to my brother who was supposed to call me, he hasn't been online at all. Anyway, one last short crunchy walk through the snow and ice for Ben before bed time. I hope we wake up tomorrow morning and it has all gone, it's getting a bit of a pain now having to tread very slowly and carefully trying not to fall over.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
We had a big snowfall last night so I expected to wake up to snow halfway up the doors, but I am pleased to say it has started to melt. I like to keep my driveway snow free so I don't drag it into the house on my boots. My friends Alex and Irene are on their way to Edinburgh as I type, I hope they get there safely. It's not a journey I would like to undertake at this time of year, especially as the weather forecast is not good, predicting snow and ice. They have a large family and they all like to meet up for the Christmas celebrations.
Thank you for your good wishes, I hope everyone has a lovely time. Cyberkim, I can remember working at Christmas, and I didn't mind at all. In fact the best New Years Eve I had was tucked up in my bed in my lorry, night heater humming, down south somewhere, listening to Big Ben at midnight. Ace!
I shall be blogging when the fancy takes me, my computer stays on most of the day. Not very frugal I know, but it's my bit of fun. Catch you soon.
Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Ok, so I am getting on a bit, no geezer in tow, no inlaws, and no kids that are going to turn up on my doorstep with their kids, but for goodness sake, I have been living alone for nigh on 42 years. I couldn't wait to strike out on my own when I reached 18, I was off. So I reckon I have kind of got used to being alone at Christmas, it's no big deal.
I feel a touch of bar humbugs coming on. The build up starts earlier every year, and by the time December arrives I just wish it was all over. People ask me if I am ready for Christmas, and I want to scream, I have to stop myself from going off on a rant. I politely answer, 'I don't do it.'
Why do people feel the need to go on a shopping frenzy, it's a trick, Christmas is for shops to make money, that's all. And what happens in January, everyone asks if you had a good Christmas, I smile sweetly and say yes.
Anyway, I have the company of my pusscats, and Ben dog, perfect. Today I admit I did join the throngs at Tesco, to get a few treats for us. Steak for Ben, chicken for pussies, and smoked salmon for me. This happy and contented spinster will have a lovely day, and I hope you do too.
Monday, 21 December 2009
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Ben is now here with me, laid down besides my chair. Lilly is on my knee, Bugsy laid next to Ben, and Freddie on the bed, I'm surrounded by animals, it's great. You're never lonely with a pet.
Saturday, 19 December 2009
The whole thing is rather clever, more toys to play with. I had to do a couple of tests to make sure I was working ok, test that my voice was beaming out and my speaker is working. I could hear my own voice coming back, weird. I sound just the same as when I was on the tele, a bit posh but rather intoxicated.
I discovered I have four people already in my email address book who are on Skype. As soon as I imported the list across, I tried contacting Jonathan as a test. Lo and behold he was online and answered, magic. We had a lovely conversation, most of it was me laughing though. I haven't spoken to him for nearly thirty years although we ocassionally email each other. Isn't it just amazing that we can now chat.
I have added another two people to my Skype list of contacts, so maybe later I will get to talk to them. I'm not sure what the time difference is between here and India, so when my brother gets out of bed, or gets logged on, we will have a chat. I will leave the computer on for the rest of the day, because it will tell me as soon as he is around.
I'm chuffed that I can now chat to people all over the world for free, it will be a boon when I get shunted into an old folks home. As long as I can take my computer with me I will be happy to sit in my little room chatting to all my geriatric pals. :0)
Friday, 18 December 2009
Thursday, 17 December 2009
Talking of cats, there is a lovely big ginger cat with a massive bushy tail around here, when it sees me it meeows like crazy and follows me. I was talking to my friend Sue about it who fosters cats, she has seen it as it hangs around the medical centre where she works. We are not sure where it lives or even if it has a home.
I used to see it a few months ago, always in the garden of the house on the corner opposite the medical centre, but then it vanished. Now it is back. I think it has been in my house and stolen some food from my cats dishes. I was at the top of the stairs and caught a glimpse of a bushy tail disappearing out of the back door, I always leave it open so my boys can come and go as they please. At first I wondered if it was a fox, but I reckon it was big puss.
It followed me last night and I picked it up, it seemed keen to stay with me. The fur underneath it and round it's back legs is a bit dirty and matted, but it wasn't skinny, as far as I could tell. I put it down and it followed me again. I was going to bring it home and ask around if it belongs to anybody. Not that I really want another cat though, but Sue would find a home for it if it is homeless. Anyway, big puss jumped up a six foot high fence and down the other side into a garden. I went back later to look for it but the paddock was awash with people carol singing around the tree, so I suppose puss was keeping out of the way.
I spoke to Sue later on the phone and we couldn't decide if it belonged to anyone, so we thought we would ask around first before we catnap it. Sometimes people go out and leave their cats to walk the streets all day and night, which I think is terrible. I got my Lilly because his previous owners didn't care about him, he lives a life of luxury here with me now, compared to the dog kennel at the bottom of the garden he had before. That reminds me I must send them a Christmas card, from Lilly, or Smartie as they used to call him. They will probably be surprised he is still alive.
Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
The cats are getting used to him now, Lilly even lets him lick his face, Lilly is a boy by the way :-) There was a bit of commotion this morning though, Henry had followed me upstairs and I was in the bathroom, he stuck his head round the door of the office and didn't notice Bugsy asleep. Such a kerfuffle, yelps and hissing, Henry knows when to back off though.
He is becoming a very clever boy now, I can talk to him and he listens. There are some words that he understands, and if I spend a penny he knows it must be walk time and he sits looking at my jacket hanging on the hook behind the door. Helen forgot to bring his ball so we didn't have anything to play games with, then I remembered he picks up plastic pop bottles in the street and tosses them around, and I had an empty squash bottle in the bin. This did the job of entertaining him perfectly.
He was here for 24 hours, just to give Helen and Paul a break, at just over a year old he is very demanding, needing four walks a day and plenty of playtime and fun. It disrupts our routine a bit when he comes, I have to move the cats food dishes upstairs and put a barrier up at the bottom of the stairs, so Henry can't get them. I sleep on a camp bed in the living room, with Henry on a chair, because he wants to be near me. It's nice to have him here for visits, and to help Helen out.
Saturday, 12 December 2009
The sun was setting as I left, I wasn't sure if photo this would turn out ok but I think it's nice.
Friday, 11 December 2009
In fact I tell a lie, there is two empty cartons of soya milk in there, squashed flat. If I want to recycle those I have to drive ten miles there and back to the council dump, not a good idea. Most of it is cat food pouches, bits of plastic wrapping that can't be used for anything else, and one or two labels off tins which I don't have to remove but do, after washing and squashing. Any smallish plastic bags get used for dog poo picking, things like bread bags, insides of cereal packets, and frozen peas bags. As I don't hand pick, I use a small plastic spade, any bag will do.
I recycle all my plastics where I can, you have to check on the number in the little triangle that is stamped on the bottom. Sometimes it is so small I have to look closely over the top of my specs. This gets put in the burgundy wheelie bin along with the cardboard. The biggest filler of this bin is the boxes that the cat food pouches come in. I think that is such a waste, why can't they just put 12 pouches in a small plastic bag, then I could use it for dog poo.
My plastic boxes for paper, and tins and glass recycling get collected once a fortnight alternating with the cardboard and plastic, but I only need to put these out once every six weeks. I might have a few cans and a couple of wine bottles, maybe an odd coffee jar or honey jar, but that's about it. My newspaper box has junk mail and the free newspapers, so not much there to collect.
So the biggest creator of everyday rubbish in my house is the cats, the other bag that goes into my grey bin is their dirty cat litter. I use the clumping type and try to keep it to a minimum by using the plastic spade to lift out the soiled material, then top up with fresh. Every week I run it down and give the boxes a good scrub out and start again. In this weather they tend to stay indoors more, but in the summer their use of cat litter dramatically reduces and the hedge bottoms get well fertilised.
I think my lack of rubbish is down to my frugal living, only buying what I need, and buying simply. Of course the packaging that goods come in is beyond my control, but a lot can be recycled these days, and if you don't buy junk food that cuts a lot of rubbish out. Can you get your rubbish down to one carrier bag for two weeks, like I can?
Thursday, 10 December 2009
I just happened to look down, being carefull trying not to lose my footing on the wet leaves and twigs and fall buttocks over chest, to put it politely, ha ha. I spied a coin, a very dirty coin it must have been there for a long time. I picked it up, how lucky that I had looked down at precisely that moment in that particular spot. I must have had an angel guiding me, perhaps I have an inbuilt radar which was picking up the signal from this coin.
I had been selected from the many people who walk through the woods, to be the one who would have this lucky find. Perhaps it's an omen, fate that I found the coin, perhaps there is more good luck coming my way, how exciting. Maybe tomorrow I ought to go to the shop and put the ten pence coin towards a lottery ticket. You never know, this could be my lucky break.
Wednesday, 9 December 2009
The programe featured two similar stories of hardship, one a single mother bringing up three children on around £800 of benefits a month, and a pensioner also living on a similar amount. They both have debts of £5,000. They were advised to start writing down every penny they spend in a notebook, so they can see where their money is going, something I think everybody should be doing regardless of whether they need to or not. Even people who earn a lot of money can easily find their spending spiraling out of control if they don't monitor it.
The camera followed the mum of three as she did her shopping, and she talked about seeing things she liked but couldn't have them because she couldn't afford it. She picked up an aerosol can, looked at it and put it back on the shelf, to illustrate her point. I thought that was a good sign, at least she was trying to keep her spending in check. But later she said she spent £300 on each of her children at Christmas, and got them a large present as well. Now I can see how she got herself in debt.
One thing that baffles me is why some people don't understand the difference between luxuries and necessities, because if they did they would be halfway to solving their problems. If you see something and think, I wish I could buy that, wouldn't it be better not to look in the first place? If you can't afford something and it causes you a lot of sadness and you think you are being deprived of a fundemental right to own that object, you are close on to becoming a slave of consumerism.
When I say look at the nitty gritty of spending, I mean an indepth conversation about why you want to buy objects that you could well live without. To discuss each individual item, what makes you want to buy it, is it because everyone else has one, is it because you are in the habit of always putting it in your shopping trolley just because it's there, is it pressure from other family members to get one, or is it because the supermarket with their, 'in your face', displays make it scream out, 'buy me'.
Another thing to look at is the value an item has for you if you buy it. Will it make your life 100% better? Will it give you many years of fun and entertainment, or will you get bored with it in six months and give it to a charity shop? If it is a large purchase you could also work out how many hours you have to work to cover the cost of it, will it be worth all the toil? Or if you live on a pension as I do, how many weekly payments will I have to forfeit in order to pay for it. It's all about balancing the value of the item with how much pleasure it will give you, and how much pain it will inflict on your finances. Is it worth it?
It has become second nature to me to question all my purchases before I part with any money. There has to be a good enough reason for me to open my purse, and the biggest reason is that I need it. It's not good enough to think, 'that would be nice', or 'I fancy that'. I know some people would eat chocolate every day, but for me it is an ocassional treat. Yes I did fancy it, but I savour the sensation, it gives me an uplifting experience and makes me feel good about life. So you see you don't need to deprive yourself from all life's little pleasures, just work out exactly what you need and what you can afford.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
I know I'm not a teenager because I don't like their music, and I don't go out on a Saturday night to drink myself silly and throw up everywhere. But I know I'm not old because I don't wear cardigans and pearls, and play bingo down the club.
What's brought all this on you might ask. Well, I went out today to the DHL Retired Employees Christmas Dinner, very nice it was, in a local pub. It's the first time I have ever been, they meet three times a year for a meal and a natter. Everyone was very friendly, they made me feel most welcome, but I can't get my head round the fact that I am a pensioner. Looking around I realised I was the youngest person there, and I felt completely out of place.
So where do I go to meet people like me? People who do daft things on a whim, unconventional people, outdoor type people with a sense of adventure. Footloose and fancyfree people who are up for a challenge and not afraid of making a fool out of themselves. Where are they all, or am I the only one?
Monday, 7 December 2009
Most of my housework consists of a quick whip round with the Dyson once a month, but today I decided to do my thorough six monthly job by getting down on my hands and knees and using the hose with the attachment, to get right into the corners. When you get your face down near the carpet, especially a dark coloured floral carpet like mine, you can see all the bits you have missed when Dysoning standing up.
I put the table and chairs back when I had cleaned underneath, and put the items on a tray on the table rather than have them scattered everywhere. By this time I was getting fed up of cleaning and decided to leave the rest of the room for another day.
Last week I bought a bag of plastic shower curtain rings from a charity shop for 50p. Today I got my spare curtains out of the cupboard and used the rings to hang them on top of the curtains already up. This gives it an extra thickness, hopefully keeping it a bit warmer inside, well it would be warm if I actually put the heating on. I am determined to soldier on without it, only flicking the switch if I am absolutely freezing cold. At the moment I am back to my old habit of last winter, of wearing loads of clothes indoors, including coat, scarf, and gloves.
This morning I washed my hair in the kitchen sink with two kettles of hot water. The rinse water was still quite clean when I finished so I got a floor cloth and got down on my hands and knees and washed the kitchen floor. Might as well get some more use out of it before I pour it down the sink.
I've just remembered, I'm getting a free Christmas dinner tomorrow, only I shall be having the vegetarian option. I'm off to the Black Horse to meet up with all the other Exel Logistics pensioners from this area, our 'Christmas works do', you could call it. Should be fun.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
It reminds me of an incident some years ago, my brother in law had an elderly aunt and uncle in their late eighties living in a care home in Lancashire. They wanted to move to the Midlands so that my sister and her husband could visit more often. A place was found and a date was set to move them. My brother in law hired a box trailer and I went with them to help with loading and unloading the furniture.
I remember it clearly, we were ready to leave, checking we had picked everything up, and the elderly couple settled comfortably in the car. I was shocked, we only had half a trailer load. Surely there should be more, went through my mind, is this all you end up with after living on this planet for almost ninety years. It made me very sad that this small pile of possessions was all they had left to show for a long life. That image of the half full trailer has stayed with me, will that be all I have left as well.
Now, several years later I see things differently, I look around my house and think someone else will have to remove this eventually, so why not make a start now. Don't put the burden onto whoever is left, they will probably throw most of it in a skip anyway, but gradually wind it down, sort it out, and pass it on to someone who will make good use of it. Recycle now before it is too late, this could be the answer to save the planet. When all the shops have nothing left to sell and close their doors, and I do believe that will happen eventually, that's when we start reusing all our old stuff. Then everyone will realise why we are all here. Pity I won't be around to see it happen.
If I can end up with half a trailer load that will be fine, that's my bit done After all, we don't own actually own anything, it is all borrowed and we just give it back. A bit sombre this post, but not to worry, now I have a whole lot more living to do.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
Friday, 4 December 2009
6 pieces of frozen salmon for £4.50, that is 75p per piece, so I should be able to keep within my £1 per meal limit if I add some veg.
6 pieces of frozen tuna steaks for £3.69, that's 73p per piece so again it keeps it down to £1.
2.5k potatoes for 99p.
A savoy cabbage for 29p
A huge butternut squash for 49p
Pack of six custard tarts reduced from £1 to 65p. One thing that bothers me about them is that I don't think they use free range eggs. I will have to cope with the guilt but I wouldn't buy them at full price.
2 frozen fish pies at £1 each. I don't normally buy processed ready meals but they are handy to have now and then if you don't feel like cooking. I put extra frozen peas or sweetcorn in them before I microwave them, to bulk it up a bit.
2 large pots of organic yoghurt at £1 each. I normally buy six small pots for £1, but I got the large ones because they are probiotic and are supposed to be better for you. I will try and spin them out into six portions per pot so it won't be any more expensive than the single ones.
A small cheese and tomato pizza for 46p. A bit sparse with the topping but I shall add a few extras to make it a meal for under £1. Pizzas are never usually on my shopping list.
A packet of choc digestive biscuits for 33p, Tesco Value brand. Don't tell me off, I never buy biscuits, but I fancied a bit of chocolate and the biscuits are a cheaper option. I will try and make them last me the week.
Wholemeal loaf reduced from 66p to 46p
Packet of 6 oatcakes for 39p. These will make 3 lunches, fill with cheese and tomato and microwave, scrummy.
Packet of 6 potato cakes, reduced from 43p to 25p. I haven't had these before but they were cheap. I will toast them with a topping for lunch.
Litre of soya milk, sadly full price £1.26, no special offer this week.
Small vegetable quiche for 95p, it will be over the £1 if I can't find something for 5p to add to it. Just had a thought, I have some cuppa soups which were 5p each so that would just about do it then.
Most of my shopping was cat food, Tesco have a special offer on, Felix As Good As It Looks for £3 instead of £4.34, so I stocked up with a few boxes, the cats get better fed than I do. I usually buy this from the market at £2.99 but they have run out, when Tesco put theirs back up again I shall be back to the market to see if they have had a delivery.
My next shopping trip will be in about two weeks when I shall use a £3 off voucher for my tins and packets, I will be needing some more bran flakes by then.
I also had a little treat today, I wanted to get the Susan Boyle CD, but couldn't justify buying something I didn't need. So I got round my little dilema by using my points vouchers which I had saved up, after all they were given to me and I still have plenty left. The CD cost me 65p plus £9 in vouchers. I've just been playing it, it's lovely, so pleased I got it.
I remember many years ago I was shocked and horrified when someone I knew said he had done exactly the same thing to a car which had parked quite legally outside his house. It had annoyed him so he thought he would teach the owner a lesson so they wouldn't park there again. He got his come uppance though, several months later we met up and went for a coffee. On our return to the car park someone had scratched the side of his car. He was quite annoyed by it, I kept my mouth shut, muttering under my breath, you reap what you sow. Now he wasn't a dodgy character at all, in fact he held a very responsible position working in partnership with the police force. His behaviour was not what you would expect from someone who was held with high regard. It just goes to show, you don't know what is going on in someone's mind.
Anyway time to move on, no point in crying over spilt milk, there are people who have many more worries than I do. I just heard on the news about a young man who who was also the victim of a violent act yesterday, only he paid for it with his life. Someone had tried to grab his laptop, he tried to stop them and was shot in the stomach by the assailant, he subsequently died. A tragic story. It puts everything into perspective, I may be £100 lighter, but I still have my life. So sorry for the young man and his family.
Thursday, 3 December 2009
What goes through someone's mind when they do that? Why pick on my car? I was parked at the back of the Scrapstore after unloading some stuff I had collected from a couple of businesses, doing my bit of voluntary work. I had a cup of coffee and a chat and came out to find that some pathetic excuse for a human being had decided to land me with a bill for £100 and an insurance claim. I feel as if I have been personally attacked myself, I feel very saddened that there are a lot of evil nasty people roaming about, and I do despair at what is happening in the world.
Thank goodness for cats. No matter how angry or upset I am, I still have Lilly and Freddie both trying to sit on my knee as I type this. I have already given up my comfortable office chair for Lilly to sit on and I am on a hard dining room chair, but no that isn't enough, he has climbed onto the desk, gone round the back of the computer, and is now balanced once again on my knee. He makes me laugh with his determination to succeed and get what he wants. What would we do without cats eh! Oh well, onward and upward.
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
It sounds all very romantic, living off your own means without the burden of modern day stresses and strains, but I'm sure if you asked homeless people living on the streets, they wouldn't think it was an ideal situation to be in at all. If you have no money coming in you have to rely on the goodness of others to help you out, which to me sounds a bit selfish if your situation is self imposed. If you plan to barter your services in exchange for food, light, heat etc, then that is more acceptable, but there are bound to be people who feel sorry for you and donate something out of the goodness of their heart. At what point does this turn into begging?
As you know I do believe you can live off very little money, but I would not like to live off no money at all. I tried living in a caravan once, though I did have a paid job, my house was sold and the money was in the bank waiting to buy another. It was quite nice not to have to pay utility bills, council tax, or mortgage. My job was a short pleasant walk down the road to the cement works, I could shower there when the day was finished before I walked back to make my dinner.
The downside was that after a few months I ran out of clean clothes and bedding, no launderette in the middle of the countryside. I got fed up of the cramped kitchen, no room to make decent meals, no fridge, and the condensation inside made everything damp. It was also very lonely, I used to go walking a lot just to get out and meet people, and then it got to November and it was so cold I went to bed as soon as I had my dinner at 6pm. Then I bought another house.
As an experiment, I believe living without money is something everyone should do for a while, it certainly makes you think about what is important in life. I could easily not buy anything for a week, or even maybe a month, I would have to stock up on cat food though, my boys have to be fed. Another experiment I would like to see is for all the shops, cafe's, restaurants, and retail outlets, to close one day a week, let's go back to six day trading. Wouldn't it be nice if families did something together on a Sunday instead of traipsing round Tesco's. Can't see it hapenning though unless the whole world goes bankrupt.