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Saturday, 31 August 2013

The way to town

Hello there. I spent the morning doing a few chores, cleaning windows, and washing nets. Mayze will insist on jumping up onto the window sill in the kitchen, every time I clatter a few pots about. I'm sure she can here me when she is at the other end of the garden. She has a saucer permanently on there, and sits by it waiting for me to fill it with some lipsmackin morsels. The nets were filthy where she rubs up against them. Many a time I find she has pulled them down altogether. They are on one of those telescopic extending poles, and she gets them wrapped around her, and down they come as she twists and turns.  
After an early lunch I decided I had better get some walking practice in, so I walked to town and back, a total of 11 miles. I could see a lot of dust blowing across the track in the distance. The cause of it was a combine harvester getting the grain in and depositing it into the trailer. There's no way I'm going to walk through that lot, the wind was blowing it across in front of me. Five minutes later the driver had finished, and set off to gather another load. I waited until he was at the other end of the field before I carried on walking. 
The last part of the route is pretty boring, passing industrial estates, and walking along busy roads. But this bit is quite nice, past the big pond, or should it be a lake. The council have installed a new tarmac cycle track, it takes you away from the road, which runs beyond those trees on the left hand side. They have also put in some handy benches to sit a while if you so wish. I sat down on the way back and ate my sandwich. The sun was shimmering on the choppy water, whipped up by the wind, and the ducks were foraging around the edges.   
I need to get on with printing the maps now, and making a list of what I need to put in my rucksack. I bought some new socks today. I remember last time my feet were a bit uncomfortable because I was wearing old worn out socks. Not much fun if your feet hurt.
There's a party going on tonight in a back garden round the corner in the next road. They have a live band and it's blasting out. They only have it once a year, and nobody seems to mind. I don't get an invite because I am not in their circle of friends. I've shut the windows and taken my hearing aid out, ha ha.
Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Join the club

The visit from Fran on Tuesday prompted me to look through all my Lady Truckers Club memorabilia. We were searching for some photographs that Fran wanted copies of. Amongst the pile of paperwork, I have the master copies of all the Newsletters I wrote for the club, and I thought it might be a good idea to post some snippets here.
I started the club in 1986, when I had already been driving for ten years. I hadn't met many women on the road, so the whole idea was to find some more, and offer my support to those who were having difficulties getting a job, and dealing with the discrimination and bullying, mainly from other drivers. The monthly newsletter was a way of passing on stories and information to the members. Starting with just a handful of women, after ten years we had over 300 members nationwide.
Truckfest Peterborough is one of the biggest truckshows in Europe, they were very supportive and gave us free space to set up our stand. This served the purpose of providing a meeting place for us, and to recruit more members. This is me and Fran at one of the shows. 
There were several other truckshows around at that time, and we attended most of them. Often I had been working all week, then going home and packing my car up, and heading out to a show on a Friday night to get set up for the weekend. Before we got our own teeshirts and sweatshirts printed, we got sponsorship from Keltruck, a Scania distributor from the West Midlands. Here we are at one of our earlier meetings, with a free space for our stand, from the Shell Diesel Drivers Club.  
I had loads of ideas to promote the club, even writing to royalty. This is a reply I got back from the secretary to Princess Anne. I made a collage of some of the members, to put in our scrap book. I took photographs at every meeting we had.

I've picked out a few snippets from the Newsletters, I hope you find them interesting.
MARCH 1986
Hi Girls, Have you all got your copy of March Truck and Driver magazine? If not go out and get one, we are on page 13, quite a good write up about the club. Up to now I have had five letters, four of them are prospective members, and the other one is from a future possible member. She is 15 years old and is mad on trucks, and dreams of becoming a driver. She asks if some of our lady members could please write to her telling her about the jobs they do, and she would be grateful if anyone could send her photo's or posters of truck to put on her bedroom wall.
MAY 1986
First of all let me say what a great time I had at the Truck Racing at Brands Hatch. I was very pleased to meet the other members who turned up, there was twelve of us. Val and Alison had their photograph taken with Barry Sheen, and we all had a group photograph taken for Trucking International magazine. I was interviewed for a feature on the club which should be in the next edition.
JUNE 1986
At the last meeting at Truckfest we had a total of 17 members turn up over the weekend. A few new ones that I hadn't met before, and some that were at Brands Hatch. Our next meeting will be at the Truck Racing event at Donington, meet at the Trucking International tent at 1pm. On Sunday there will be food and drink provided.
JULY 1986
We go from strength to strength, we now have 34 fully paid up members. and I am still waiting for some application forms to come in. Our next meeting will be at Silverstone on 16/17th August. Meet 1pm both days at the Shell Diesel Drivers tent.
AUGUST 1986
We are now up to 51 members, brilliant eh! My firm B R S, are kindly lending me a rental truck to use for the meeting at Silverstone. I will chuck some bedding in the back if you need somewhere to kip down for the night. I will have stickers and badges for sale if anyone needs any extras.
OCTOBER 1986
Did you get your copy of this months Headlight magazine? I was dead chuffed to see my letter printed. I met the editor recently at Findern Truckstop, we had an enjoyable evening with the Headlight staff. Congratulations to three of our members who have passed their class 1 test this month. Well done, Jane, Chris, and Annette.
DECEMBER 1986
Our first Christmas party was a huge success. The lounge bar at Findern Truckstop was the venue and we easily filled it. The furthest distance travelled was Valerie from Hastings, and KT from Seaford. John and Martin from the Observer newspaper were snapping photo's for the Sunday Supplement, January edition, so look out for that.
JANUARY 1987
I have recently managed to obtain quite a lot of publicity for the club. My interview on Radio Derby seems to have started a chain reaction. From this recording I was invited to appear on Womans Hour. I went to the Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, and I enjoyed it very much. Next I had a phone call from a guy who wants to do a feature for the Sunday Times. John from the Observer was at the party, and so was Radio Derby. I recorded an interview with Julia which went out the following Monday morning. Look out for a programme on BBC 2 called Night Moves, it's on Friday night. I am on it, and so is Dee, Christine, Angela, and Jenny.   
There's a heck of a lot more, I think I'd better stop. I might carry on with this another time, something to write about if I am stuck for ideas, and nice for me to look back on my time running the Lady Truckers Club. Hope you're not too bored, but hey, it is my blog, I can write what I like, ha ha. 
Toodle pip.

A lesson well learnt

That's strange, I published this post last night, it had two comments, then went back to draft all by itself. I hope you didn't think I missed a post yesterday. Silly blogger.

Thank you so much for all your comments on the previous post. I am chuffed that you took the time to send me your messages. It is all beginning to sink in now, and I still have a big smile on my face. I am rather hoping that the rest of my life, the years that I have left, will all come together nicely.

I have my mother to thank for the way things have turned out for me. She was a good, strong, hardworking, honest woman.  She taught me what was right and what was wrong. There was one valuable lesson which I remember well, you can't always have what other people have.

When I was about 8 or 9, me and my brother used to play with the kids across the street, in their front garden. They had a lot of dinky toys, we thought they were wonderful because we had nothing like that. They were expensive to buy and mum didn't have enough money to get them. One day our friends were called in to dinner, and left us playing by ourselves with their toys. So consumed with jealousy were we, that we decided to steal some. After all they had such a lot of them, they wouldn't notice a few missing. A few hours later after we had come home, their father came across and spoke to mother. We were questioned about the missing toys, and denied all knowledge.

Our mum wasn't daft, she knew something was going on, and she eventually found them where they were buried, in our garden. Well you can guess what happened next, we got the hiding of our lives, and sent to bed for the rest of the day with no tea. She was a very proud woman and we had let her down badly.

Envy is a terrible thing, wanting something that other people have, but is out of your reach. It isn't fair, why can't I have one if she's got one. It drives people crazy, and leads them into crime. Thank goodness my mum gave me a good smack when she did. I have never forgotten the rule that if you don't have the money to buy something, you don't have it.

On a lighter note, I have my rail ticket for my trip next week. I shall be getting the train to Newcastle on Tyne and walking back to the Humber Bridge. For those not familiar with the area, I shall be starting out from South Shields on the North East coast, and following the coastline as much as I can. Then to Sunderland, Peterlee, Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Redcar, then picking up the Cleveland Way to Whitby. From then on I have two choices, whether to come inland from there and come over the Yorkshire Moors to Pickering, Malton, Driffield, Beverley, and down to the bridge. Or, carry on to Scarborough, then down to Driffield. I have just spotted a third option, carry on down the coast to Bridlington and come into Hull on the east side. I need to study maps a bit more before I print off what I want. I probably won't decide untill I am actually on the walk. I like to have a couple of options. I reckon about 130 - 140 miles, should be about 7 or 8 days. Computer is coming with me so I will be posting as signals allow.  Getting excited now. Whoopeeee, going walkabout :o)      

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

It's my house

Today is the end of a very long journey, one that I didn't want to take when I first set off in 1976. When I signed on the dotted line I felt as though I was signing my life away. That it would be the end of freedom as I know it. I felt that I would be carrying a massive burden for the rest of my life, that it would weigh ,me down, and I would be trapped with no way out.

But now, 37 years later, I have found the way out, I carry that burden no more, it has gone. Now I have my freedom back, and it feels pretty darn good. Chuffed? You bet I am. Chuffed that I stuck it out, chuffed that I worked hard, and chuffed that I never missed one payment in all that time. Today, I made my very last mortgage payment, and the house I sit in belongs to me.

I don't care that nearly everything in it is second hand. I don't care that my furniture is old fashioned. I don't care that I don't have a massive TV or a leather sofa. I don't care that the chair I am sitting on was given to me. I don't care that I wear second hand clothes, or cut my own hair, or buy out of date food. I don't chuffin care that my house is ex council, and not in the posh street on the other side of the village. It is my house.

These walls that could do with a lick of paint are my walls. This roof which has a few tiles missing is my roof. The old tumbledown garage which needs updating is my garage. The crumbling driveway with weeds poking through, is my driveway. The light that doesn't work in the kitchen, the guttering that leaks when it rains, the bath that isn't sealed properly around the edge, the shower that doesn't work, the toilet seat that is broken, the single glaze window which needs replacing, the front porch where the wood is rotting, and the small window in the outside store that is about to fall out, are all minor details that I can live with. They may or may not get fixed, I don't care.

Tonight I am proud to sit in my house.
Lots of love, Ilona xxx  

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fran, my trucking friend

I switched the computer on this morning and found an email from my old trucking buddy, Fran. She was one of the first few women that joined the Lady truckers Club in 1986. A smashing Yorkshire lass from Huddersfield. Fran used to come to all the parties, and all the truckshows when we had club get togethers. Always the life and soul of the party. A lady with loads of trucking experience, she often put the men to shame with her 'can do' attitude. She would have a go at anything, even the dirtiest jobs would not faze her. I class her as one of the all time greats, she worked hard and gained respect from her truck driving colleagues.
I remember this party we had at Penrith Truckstop. We had a competition for the best dressed table, and as it was close to Valentines Day, Fran chose red hearts to decorate her table. Of course she won.
Today, we got all the photo's out, the magazine clips, all the trucking memorabilia, and had a right good natter about the good old days. And they were. We remembered all the fab times we had, all the laughs and tears, all the people we met, all the trucks we drove, all the jobs we had. I am so glad that Fran called in today, we will keep in touch, and I hope we can meet up again soon. We spoke about having a Lady Truckers reunion party. That's something to think about, you never know. Maybe, possibly, might do that. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

At Epworth Show

 It was a glorious day for the Epworth Show today. This show is well established, it first started in the 1940's, and every year it gets bigger and better. The funfair was there of course, plenty of entertainment for the children.


And this one is for Dave. Every time I see a funfair I always look around the back to see the lorries used to haul the equipment to the site. Remember the old Foden Dave, weren't they just pigs to drive, eh. Ha ha, those were the days, twin splitter gear box, sounded like stirring a box of nails. I played many a good tune on one of those.  
The Bernese mountain dogs were there. They each have a wooden cart decorated with flowers, and go walkabouts on the showground.

 Here's one getting hitched up to it's cart.

There are a lot of horsey people in these parts and pony clubs for the youngsters.

 I love to see Alpacas, aren't they lovely, would like some of these in my back garden.

 The hobby of restoring old tractors is very popular in this farming community.

 Here is Janet looking after our stall, while I go walkabout. We were in the shopping marquee, boy was it stifling hot in there. It's a good job I took two tables, we were able to double up on the depth.

I had a look around the produce, handicrafts, and horticulture tent next to ours. Lots of home baking on display. Delicious pastries, made my mouth water.
 Lovely flower displays.

 A fruity piece of artwork, melon, small apples and red currants.

 My favourite colours.

 Someone has been busy making a miniature garden.

And a miniature kitchen.
These are fabulous.
 Gorgeous colours.

We had a smashing day. When we first arrived we realised we had rather too much stock, but as the day went on and things were sold we were able to fill the gaps from the boxes underneath the tables. Eventually all the boxes were empty. It was great to take back a lot less stuff than we brought, and a very full cash box.

I spotted a famous lady ambling through our tent, and she stopped to look at our stall. 'Hello Lesley', I said. Epworth is the home town of Lesley Garrett, the opera singer, she likes to come back and visit. I told her I remembered the time when she bought a salt and pepper pot from my stall at the Christmas Market, ten years ago. I admitted to her, that I didn't know who she was at the time, until someone told me later. She remembered, and said the salt and pepper pot were a gift for her music teacher. Blimey, Lesley Garrett has a music teacher, who would have thought it, she has a lovely voice. Check out her web site here.

There you go, edited to add a video of Lesley.


After the show we took the stock we had left to Sue's house, for storage till the next event. The cats we have in are lovely, we could do with some kind new people to give them a home. Hopefully now the holidays are coming to an end, perhaps people will think about adopting a cat. We'll keep our fingers crossed.
Catch you tomorrow. Toodle pip

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Stay at home Bank Holiday

Hello, is there anybody out there? It's gone awfully quiet in blogland this Bank Holiday Sunday. It's the tradition to go out somewhere, plenty of events to choose from, pictures in the paper of festivals, and all kinds of frivolities. This old bird prefers to stay at home though, prefers not to throw oneself into the chaos and confusion of motorway madness, and pushing through the throngs trying to get a glimpse of whatever visitor attraction has been chosen to visit. No Siree, I've been pottering around the village.
The party last night was a rip roaring success. A nice mix of people, a massive candle lit marquee in the garden, fairy lights dotted about, and a fantastic curry to tuck into, followed by some fancy posh ice cream. Very enjoyable to spend a couple of hours sipping wine and chatting with friendly folk. This kind of do is much more to my liking than going out clubbing and pubbing in town. It's nice to be with people you know and see around the village, more of a community spirit than getting blotto with a load of strangers. Not that I did get blotto of course. Mind you, I had a fuzzy head this morning, ha ha. 
I picked up the stock from Sue's house and Janet's house, for the stand tomorrow at Epworth Show. It's all loaded in the car ready to get off early in the morning. I've put a couple of tables in there, we might be able to squeeze an extra one in depending on the space we are allocated. I have only paid for 6ft, but if they are not fully booked, we might be able to spread out over two pitches. We won't know till we get there, but it's best to be prepared. Of course, if all the space is taken we will have to fit into the standard pitch.   
I won't bother photographing my dinner tonight, you know what a veggie stew looks like. I've just noticed that this meal, day one of a three day stew, has cost me virtually nothing. Potatoes, runner beans, and courgettes from the garden. A tin of sweetcorn from Helen's hamper, and for the seasoning I added a packet of spice mix that you are supposed to sprinkle on potato wedges when you cook them in the oven, also from the hamper. As you know I don't use my oven, so I thought this would work ok adding it to the stew. And it does. I also added a teaspoon of curry powder, three desertspoons of porridge oats, and a secret ingredient, a slug of port. No I didn't buy it, Helen found it in her drinks cupboard as she was sorting out some glasses for us to sell on the stand. She said it was left over from Christmas, and no one liked it. I must say, it perked the stew up no end. It's lipsmackin good.

I'm plodding on with the patchwork. I'm not calling it a quilt because I don't want to end up with a thick heavy piece that won't fit in the washing machine. It will have a backing and maybe something thin in the middle, more like a throw. I don't need a quilt, as in the winter I have two duvets on top of me, that's enough to keep me snug and warm.

I'm just off back in the kitchen to get seconds of this lovely stew, so I'll cut you loose. 10 10 till we do it again. You truck 'em steady now, I'll catch you tomorrow.
Toodle pip

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Ausperity - book review

I suppose it was a bit too much to ask to expect a riveting read when I picked this book up, but it sort of jumped out at me as I was passing the display, on my way to the map department. Worth a try I thought. Would be good if there was some fantastical money saving tips in there, some little gems that have passed me by. I am always open to new ideas to help me better manage my money.

The title of the book has completely baffled me, what does Ausperity mean anyway? Can't find it in any dictionary, it must be made up. Lucy Tobin is a personal finance editor at the London Evening Standard, where she writes a weekly column. The blurb on the back cover says, 'Lucy Tobin shares the secrets to living a prosperous life on an austerity budget.' Now that doesn't quite add up with me. I am assuming she has a high flying job in the city, and assuming she has a  decent income from her journalism as well as the sales from her four books. I was under the impression that austerity means you haven't got much money so you have to cut back on your spending. So I am a bit confused as to why she needs to be austere.

Other blurb on the back states, Want to eat out at the best restaurants without denting your wallet. Err, no actually, maybe this book isn't for me. Another blurb, Looking for ways to make money rather than spend it. Err, no actually, I have enough. Oh dear, not going too well up to now, is it. Never mind, lets dip inside.

The first part of the book is about spending money, but as she explains, we still want to have nice clothes, fun nights out, and buy a new car or oven, so the first few chapters are about getting what we want, for less. Fair enough, we all have different needs and wants. The book mainly caters for those who have a regular income and can afford nice things, rather than those who have a very limited income, who are struggling to make ends meet, and are skint most of the time.

It's all about finding deals, the buying stuff through cash back sites, holidays, flights, hotels, insurance, etc. She talks about going to a comparison site to find the best deal for utilities and switching suppliers. There's a food shopping section which told me nothing new. Something bugs me when people write about living a money saving, tight, frugal, scrimping life, when they have no need to follow their own advice as they have enough money to live on.

Basically the book will be useful for those who find they have a drop in income and have to adjust their spending to suit. It is not much use to me, who has had a lifetime of living within my means. It doesn't tell me anything I don't already know. As Nellie would say, stating the bleedin obvious, ha ha. Save yourself 7.99 and get it from the library, or read Money Saving Expert, it's all on there.

Miserable day here, lots of rain, I'm going to a party tonight, Paul is having a little birthday celebration. Whooopeeeee.
Toodle pip      

Friday, 23 August 2013

Saving a few £'s on cat food

Shopping day today, not a lot needed, in fact I won't need to buy hardly any food for myself for the next few months, I am well stocked up. I went in search of cat food. I only buy this when it is on offer, the supermarkets seem to take it in turns and play one off against the other. I see 2kg bags of Whiskas dry are two for £7 in Morrisons, but across the road I got four bags from Pets at Home, for £12. All three of my cats eat it so I get through a fair bit, and if I can save a few bob by shopping around I will do.
I checked various web sites before I went out to see which shop has the best prices. Couldn't find a special offer which was cheap enough on Felix pouches. Some places advertise two boxes of 12 for £6, not bad, but still not the cheapest. There is a big box of 44 pouches, used to be 48, and these are sometimes on the shelves at £10, but the shop that was advertising them had sold out. I happened to look in Wilkinsons, now called Wilko's, on the off chance. I find this shop quite expensive for most things, I very rarely buy anything there. Worth a check though if passing. I found some boxes of 12 Felix foil trays for £2.50 each, that's more like it. There isn't much difference between the pouches and trays, product wise, and the size is the same, so a good buy. I bought as much as I could carry. Didn't take the shopping trolley, because I usually buy from places where I can park my car close by. Wilko's is in the town centre, so whatever you buy from there has to be carried.
Next I called in at Poundstretcher. I've been stocking up on cat litter, ready for the winter. They have some clumping litter at 99p a 10kg bag. I've got fifteen bags in my downstairs lavvy. Just wait for the cold wet weather when the cat's won't go outside, ha ha. I shall be ready for it.    
I called into Aldi as I was passing, to see what veg and fruit they had on specials. I got seven bananas for 68p, and a head of broccoli for 39p, which I thought was a very good price. In fact that's all I bought, that's all I needed.
A quick eyeball in the Cash and Carry on the way home, nothing much in there, sometimes they have reduced cheese, but not today. I picked up eight of these Maggi noodles for £1. The little packet of spice mix inside is too hot for my liking so I add my own flavourings.  They are quite nice, a bit like Super Noodles only a lot cheaper, and handy to have some in for a quick lunch snack.
I will update my food diary, not that there is a lot to put on it. Have a nice Bank Holiday weekend.
Toodle pip

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Don't buy new, try making it first

I use this small pouch around my waist to keep my camera close at hand when I am out and about. It isn't really big enough, but with a bit of pushing and shoving the camera only just fits inside. Sadly I have pulled it about a bit too much and it is now not fit for purpose. No point in repairing it, stitching it together would make it too small.   
I need another pouch, but as always, I try and make one first before I resort to buying a new one. First I removed the strap and fastener.
Then made a new pouch from a piece of thick fabric. I put a gusset in the bottom, it's all hand sewn.
I found a zip, previously removed from a garment I cut up. And there you have it. A new pouch in which the camera easily fits into.
Here is an update on the sunflowers. They are towering above the garage, at 9 feet tall. They are the size of small trees. A few more flowers have appeared.
I had to climb a ladder to get some pictures.

The flower heads don't seem as big as some I have seen, but mine have more leaves than others. There are still more flowers to come.
It's been a nice day today, very warm in the sun. Time for a haircut, so I placed the two mirrors facing each other and chopped away at it. A bit of guess work round the back, but it looks alright. Saved about a tenner at the hairdressers.
Me and Janet are off to the Epworth Show on Bank Holiday Monday, we have a stall in the craft tent, selling odds and sods, making some money for the rescue cats. We have been given a big walk in dog kennel which has been converted to a cat pen. We have six cats in residence at the moment. Rehoming is a bit slow as people are busy with their holidays, but hopefully it will pick up next month. Sadly we get far more requests to take cats in, than we can cope with. All the rescues are the same, full up. I just wish people would take responsibility and get their cats neutered. Someone gave me some glasses to sell today, they have been in the loft for 30 years. It was very interesting to read the newspapers they were wrapped up in. The newspapers are probably worth more than the glasses, ha ha.
Catch you tomorrow. Toodle pip

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Room for a pudding

When I was a little girl my mum used to say to me, 'if you don't eat your dinner, you won't get any pudding'. And I had to eat whatever she put in front of me. Sometimes I didn't like it and had to swallow it quickly because it tasted awful. Just so I could get my pudding.
I used to like puddings a lot more than I liked dinners. These days I like my dinners, and very rarely have a pudding because I am too full after eating a big plate full of vegetables.
Tonight I thought, why bother with a dinner, when I have some juicy fruit in the fridge. So here is my fruity dinner. Melon, nectarine, apricot, and grapes, topped with plain yogurt.
Now I am bursting with fruit, no room for a dinner. Eat what you like when you like, provided it's healthy food of course.
Toodle pip.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The agony of it - guest post

Aye up chucks, it's your old battle-axe Nellie Knowitall here, you know, the gobby one who really does know it all. I'm back from my jaunt in Vegas, and I have to report that Elvis is well and truly deceased. All those blokes you see prancing about wearing his clothes are not Elvis at all. Ok, I'll admit I was taken in for a while, I did really believe that the King was alive and kicking, but when you see Elvis in every bar you go to, you begin to get a little bit suspicious. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the real Elvis is dead. All you see nowadays are fakes, and most of them don't look anything like the real thing, let alone sing like him. Sad, I know, but we have to move on.

Right, so what's the topic today? A thought crossed my mind. You know that old saying, 'I wish I knew then what I know now'. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were all born with the wisdom which comes with living a long time. It would save a lot of hassle. We wouldn't be making so many mistakes, and sometimes making a complete hash of our lives. Wouldn't it be great if knowledge was already built into our brain, so that we didn't have to learn anything because we already knew it. It would save a lot of heartache because we could avoid getting into situations which were going to cause us grief.

I must admit that although I know it all now, it wasn't always the case, and I have made my fair share of cockups. I feel for the young ones of today, if they are going through what I went through. Maybe I could do something to help, through this column, and with the benefit of my wisdom, I could advise those of you who are stuck in an intolerable situation. My advice is, get the hell out of there. You don't have to put up with it, just skidaddle. If you are in a place where you don't want to be, for whatever reason, the simple answer is pack up and go somewhere else.

If you hate your job, get another one. If you are fed up with your partner, swap them for a better model. If you can't afford to buy things, earn more money. If you've got no friends, go out and find some. If you've got too many friends, dump some. If you feel rotten when you get drunk, drink water. If you are overweight, eat less. If you are underweight, eat more. If you cough a lot when you smoke, chuck the packet away and never buy any more. If you are unfit, run up and down stairs a few times. If you can't afford a car, get a bike. If you don't like housework, don't do it.

Oh, I could go on, but I think you might get the gist. Whatever is not working for you, change it. So, if I can help you in any way, all you have to do is to post your problem here, and I will share my wisdom and tell you what to do to improve the situation. I am your friend, everything you tell me is in confidence, I promise not to laugh, or tell anyone else. Don't forget, a problem halved is a problem shared, or something like that. Don't bottle it up.    

I have been around a long time, seen a lot of life, and know how things work. You may not always agree with what I am saying, but I won't give you any bullshit. I tell it like it is.
I am your friend, Nellie.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Food fit for a Queen

That's better, feeling more positive today. Been to craft and chat club, given away a few courgettes, had a good old natter, and all is well in the world. Thinking about my trip next month, must get on and organise it. Not that it will take much organising. Pick a date, check train times, print maps, and go.
This morning I got my recycling boxes ready for collection. Tins and glass in one, been a good girl, only one empty wine bottle and two empty cider cans. Quite good for one month. Although it's collected every two weeks I only put it out when there is enough in it to warrant the bin man stopping his truck outside my gate, which is usually once a month, or sometimes it goes to six weeks. The other box is for paper recycling, I don't have much of that either. Junk mail, the odd directory when a new one comes out, that's about it. I had a sort through it making sure there was nothing in there to identify me and where it came from. A bit paranoid about identity fraud, you can't be too careful.
They don't like it if you put envelopes in there, because the recycling process can't cope with the glue or the plastic windows. I usually put those in the waste to go to landfill. Checking through it I found an envelope, it was junk mail so I had tossed it in the box unopened. On opening it I found ten money saving vouchers for forty pounds each. Oh my, have I thrown £400 away? They have been lying there since March, well past the expiry date. £400 down the drain, chuffin heck.
I checked the wording on the letter, hmmm, it seems it was a promotion for dfs the furniture people. It says, and I quote, 'You'll get half price savings off the striking Spring range and you can save up to an extra £400 when you use our exclusive DFS vouchers'. These vouchers can be used against every footstool, every chair. every sofa. and every individually priced seating unit. Every lamp table and coffee table. You can use them for dining, bedroom, and outdoor ranges. Blimey I could have got me a whole house full of new furniture.
Now lets get down to the small print, there is always small print. A £40 discount can be claimed on any individual item over £149. So, to use all the vouchers you have to spend a minimum of £1,490. Who on earth is going to be able to use all the vouchers, unless it is someone furnishing a whole house, and why would anyone get everything they need from one store. Nobody I should imagine. I bet this promotion didn't get many takers. Someone might have used one or two vouchers at the most, maybe someone splashed out on a new bed, or sofa. If they shopped around at all stores, they might have got a better deal elsewhere. I wonder if anyone would notice if I tried to sneak one through the self service till at Tesco :o) £40 off a £40 shop, ha ha.
My lunch today, My goodness I'm eating well at the moment. Salad, cucumber, tomatoes, scrambled eggs with yellow courgette and mushrooms. Food fit for a Queen.
A bit windy here, but quite mild. Cats dozing on the window sills, and all is well at Tightwad Towers.
Toodle pip

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Need a kick start

I seem to have gotten into a bit of a rut, my days are all a bit samey. Sewing, gardening, cooking,  nothing much to write about. Got to think of more interesting things to do. Don't like routine. Need to do more interesting stuff. Life is passing me by and I am standing still, not doing much. Get up, eat breakfast, put computer on, surf net, sewing, mow lawns, sewing, check forums, have lunch, trim hedges, read papers online, sewing, weeding, sewing, make dinner, more reading online, sewing, watch catchup tv, go to bed. I'm bored. Need to move about more, need to get on with stuff. Need some excitement.

Studying maps. Three ideas for long walks. Looks like it might be Newcastle to Hull, from the Tyne to the Humber. Easy to get a train to the start, then walk back home. Some coastal walking. Should be good. Need to kick myself up the backside and get on with things. Will do that.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A £1 charity shop, now that's cheap

Right, what's been going on today. My day hasn't been terribly exciting but I'll cobble something together as you've taken the time and trouble to click on my link. I know you do the rounds because I can see where you're coming from. I do the same, blog hopping, ooops, must go and have a look over there, and there, and there. Before I know it I've got a dozen pages open on my desktop. 
I've just stuffed my face full of vegetables, mainly from the garden, with some bought broccoli. I tried growing that once but it was very high maintenance because I had to pick off the caterpillars daily. Won't bother with that again. Tonight I had a few of the reduced mushrooms in a tasty garlic sauce. Easy to do, just add some soft cheese with garlic. I always save a few potatoes until the end, and mash them with my fork to soak up the excess sauce. Don't waste anything. Twas a very nice dinner. 
As I look out of the window I can see the sunflowers getting another battering from the wind. It's a wonder they haven't collapsed, but they are holding on. A few more flowers have appeared, still more to come. Talking of sunflowers and how much they drink, I've had my half yearly water bill this morning from Anglian Water. I thought it might be a little higher than usual, but it isn't. They have used an estimated reading and calculate that I have used three cubic metres, which cost the grand total of £9.31. Then I get charged for the disposal of the dirty water which is £4.91. This amount gets passed on to Severn Trent Water, who will be sending me a bill shortly for the removal of the rainwater into the drains. It won't be much, pity I don't have a soakaway to get it down even more. Anyway, I've checked the meter, and their estimation is over by one cubic metre, but I'm not bothered about that piddling little amount. I'm not going to ring them up asking them to take a couple of quid off.  
I did a quick dash to town today, wanted to get some maps from the library. I parked close to the shops it's free for one hour. Time to look in a couple of charity shops. I always use the hospice shop which is at the other end of the High Street, their prices are always competitive with a good turnover of stock. Today I couldn't be bothered to walk that far, so I went up a side street near the market to the Age UK shop. I was surprised to see it has turned into a Pound Shop, everything is £1. Quick look to see if there is any cotton fabric for my patchwork. I found this massive duvet cover, and I mean massive. It goes right down over the sides of my double bed. It's yellow on one side and pink on the other, with a floral pattern. I might use it as a backing for my quilt. There would be enough to cut some squares from around the edge and it would still be big enough. Keep a look out at your Age UK shop, has it turned into a Pound Shop yet? Loads of chuffin bargains in ours.    
Remember the sunglasses I found while out walking? Well, a young teenager came to mow the lawn for my neighbour the other day, he does it to earn a bit of pocket money. I thought, aha, I bet he would like them, and he did. He was chuffed to bits with them, and kept them on while he finished the lawn. He looked dead cool, ha ha.

The weather hasn't been too good today so I've got on with some sewing while being entertained with catch up programmes on the computer. I picked up a book while I was at the library, it caught my eye as it was on the New Book display. 'Ausperity, Live the Life You Want for Less', is written by Lucy Tobin. Apparently she is an acclaimed personal finance editor at the London Evening Standard, and writes a weekly column, 'How To Save It.' She shares her secrets to living a prosperous life on an austerity budget. The blurb on the back cover sings her praises, so I'll have a look at it and report back if I find some money saving tips to share with you.

Before I hop off, welcome to the new readers, I see my numbers have crept up a little bit. Nice of you to drop in, I shall go and have a nosey at your blogs.
Toodle pip


Friday, 16 August 2013

Well stocked up now

I had to laugh. The slip of paper handed to me last night as I went through the till at Tesco, states that according to their price comparison checks, I have saved £2.95, compared to Asda, Sainsbury's, or Morrisons.  Not true sunshine, I have saved a flippin fortune by shopping late, and by hanging around for almost two hours waiting for the last markdown of the yellow stickers to appear. Their price promise says that you won't lose out at Tesco. Too right, I never lose out at Tesco, chuffin brilliant shop.
I have put the shopping list on my new food diary page, link above. I jotted down all the prices as I put things in my trolley as I needed to spend £30 to be able to use the £4 off voucher. Everything was going well when I realised that I would struggle to reach £30 because of all the reduced I had. You need a lot of 10 and 20 p's to add up. Also, I had to do a bit of juggling because some of the items were being reduced in front of my eyes, so I had to put a few items back and pick up the cheaper ones. That mucked up my mathematics a bit. In the end I had to do a rough guestimate, thinking that I might just have enough in my trolley when I went to the checkout. Lucky guess it was £30.22p.  
I bought things that I don't immediately need, but will need at some point in the near future. Eight tins of rice pudding, you can't have too much of that. Other tins and jars that will keep. I bought a couple of boxes of bran flakes, though I have not bought any for months. I'm just about getting towards the end of my bulk buy from the Cash and Carry. A four pack of cider and a cheap bottle of wine went in the trolley. When I got to the bread counter I found a man marking down some of the baked instore cakes and tarts. Bugger, there goes my willpower out of the window. 10 and 20p, had to have some, though you will be pleased to know I have given some away. The postman was dead chuffed when I asked him if he would like a tart. A big grin on his face as he walked away.
I got cherry tomatoes for 10p, broccoli 25p, melon 10p, apricots 20p, bagged salad 17p, oh, and I got a full roast chicken for £1.62. A treat for the cats.  
I went to help Helen with a last tidy up today at the house. Her tenants move in on Monday. I was gobsmacked when she handed me this amazing gift.  
I never expected that at all, it was a total surprise. What a fabulous hamper she has put together, all carefully chosen because she knows what I like to eat. Even a card with sunflowers on it. I have enjoyed doing a little bit to help her, and didn't want anything in return. She had a big job on, the house was in an awful state, but she has worked hard to get it right.
It's the weekend again, I shan't be going far. Got to keep watering my sunflowers and veg, and watering for a friend who has gone away. I'll potter around the house, and do some sewing. Windows need cleaning if I can be bothered. Need to get the Dyson out, if I can be bothered. Need to think about my next big walk, will start researching that. Almost decided, need to check out distances and read maps. Might go to the library tomorrow. Have a nice weekend. Toodle pip 
  

Thursday, 15 August 2013

One is better than none

 I parked at Tesco this morning, not the one where I go shopping, another one, and walked to the dentist. It's only a few minutes away but easier to walk there as there is never any room in the street to park closer. It's a busy road with nose to tail traffic queuing to get through the lights. I was looking down as usual, thinking there is a lot of litter about, when I noticed a glove on the pavement in front of me. It looked in perfect condition, brand new in fact. Strange, I thought, why only one glove, where is the other one. I quickly glanced around, didn't want to draw attention to myself, couldn't see a second glove, so I carried on walking. I was still thinking about the glove when I got to the dentist, perhaps I should have picked it up, but what use is one glove.   

Sally the dentist was very nice. Why do all dentists have near perfect teeth, I admired her pearly whites. Where do they get their check ups done, do they go to another practice or do they ask their colleagues to treat them? She had a good poke around in my mouth, and declared that all was fine, no treatment needed, and see you in one year. I might not see her actually, because Emma my regular dentist finished today and is taking one year off. Her baby is due in four weeks. My appointment is for early September, so Emma might be back by then. I don't really mind which dentist I see to be honest. It's an all female practice, there seems to be more woment entering the profession these days. Go for it girls, that's what I say.

I got off lightly there, only had to pay for the check up. Keep on brushing and flossing. I was still thinking about the glove as I walked back to the car. Wondered if it would still be there, or if someone else had nabbed it. One glove eh, do I really need one glove? Do I dare to bend down and pick it up with all these cars passing, they will think I'm nuts. Then I thought hmm, one glove is better than none, so I picked it up.

Luckily it is a left hand as they are the first to wear out with me. I pull weeds up with my left hand, and this glove is pretty tough, it has rubber fingers. When trimming bushes I hold the twigs with my left hand whilst cutting with the right. It will protect me from the thorns.

So all in all, that was a pretty good decision. It doesn't matter that I only found one glove, because one is better than none. Don't you agree.
Toodle pip. 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A very large deposit

It's been a busy but enjoyable day today. Fabulous weather, just right for a dog walk. Paul asked me if I could take his boys out, who could say no to these handsome chaps. Ollie on the left, and Alfie on the right. Come on boys, let's have a bimble around the village.
Big dogs mean big poo's. Tesco Value nappy bags are no good for these fellas, plastic carrier bags needed for their molehill size deposits, ha ha.
Off we go boys, and no jumping in that mucky ditchwater. I don't want to have to give you a wash when we get back.  
It is Paul's 50th birthday today. Happy Birthday Paul, so when I got home I made him a card. Print the above photo and attach it onto some glittery paper with sellotape, then sew it onto a blank card. The card by the way is pale green, it doesn't show up very well on this photo. Then find two more bits from my stash of old cards, cut them out and sew them on with the same coloured embroidery thread. The '50 today' is fourteen years old, I got lots of cards for my 50th because I had a party. Still got them. Inside I have put a white paper insert to write the message on, and cover the stitching. Paul will get a surprise when he looks in the wine bottle bag. He won't find a bottle of plonk, but a bottle size courgette, ha ha. Well I've got to get rid of them somehow and I know he likes cooking.       
Now let's measure this up for size, am I nearly there yet. Erm.....no. Still a lot more to do. Keep plodding on. I reckon at least another six rows to do, it's going to take chuffin ages. Never mind, something to do in the cold winter days and long winter nights. 
Right, it's time for my bath, got to go. I'm getting my toothy pegs looked at tomorrow, so I want to smell sweet when I'm stretched out in the dentists chair. Must be awful for her if she gets a whiffy patient. I've got to see a new dentist because my regular one is on maternity leave. How chuffin inconsiderate of her to have a baby just when it's time for my checkup. I'll let you know what the new lady is like. 
Have a nice evening. Toodle pip.  

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Can you resist it?

How much willpower have you got? Would you eat the not very healthy cheese and onion crisps, or would you go for the fresh nectarine and grapes, topped with chopped mixed nuts and plain yogurt?
 
I had to make the choice this morning. I am in the habit of eating fruit around mid morning, there are some good prices at the moment so it makes sense to take advantage of that. Sorry about the messy bowl, I took the photo when I was half way through it.
But why did I have crisps in the house. I don't normally, because I can't be trusted to not eat the whole lot in one go, but on Sunday I bought a six pack while I was out walking. I fancied some as I haven't had any for weeks, and I do love Walkers cheese and onion. 
My will power is very good, I can happily not go down the cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks, chocolate and sweets aisle. I am not tempted to put a choc bar in my trolley when I get to the checkout. I can force myself to walk straight past Thornton's Chocolate shop, without stopping to lust longingly at the window display.
But very occasionally I can fall off the wagon, and treat myself to a bag of crisps, or a small packet of shortbreads, or a Magnum ice cream. And that's exactly what they are, treats.
When I bought the crisps in the Spar Shop, I spent ages mulling over which treat I should choose. I didn't want to spend more than £1. I wanted something that I hadn't had for ages. Something that I really enjoy the taste of. And something that doesn't have a lot of sugar in. I give careful consideration to all my purchases no matter how small they are. 
Buying healthy food is a lot easier for me than buying junk. I have no hesitation in choosing fruit and vegetables, because I know they are good for me. I eat wholemeal or seeded bread, wholemeal pasta, and brown rice. I try and reduce my sugar, salt, and fat intake where I can.  Monitoring everything I put in my mouth helps me to keep to the weight I am now, eight stone and a bit.      
The fruit was very nice. I have eaten the crisps today, so no more for another six weeks. A plate of vegetables for dinner, and more fruit for tomorrow.
Yesterday I made some courgette and potato soup. Haven't bothered with a photo, you can guess what it looks like. I had a tin of Value potatoes, reduced to 12p because it was dented, bought to take with me to the Youth Hostel. I didn't use it so I thought, make soup. I tried a potato straight from the tin, and I have to say I wasn't impressed, it tasted of nothing. It turned into a tasteless paste in my mouth. However, mashed up with the boiled courgette, with spices and herbs thrown in, it is ok. Nothing gets wasted here. Seven tubs of soup now in the freezer, and still loads more courgettes to go at.
I've been sewing and gardening today. More squares for the patchwork, and hedges have been cut. A few more flowers are appearing on the gigantic sunflowers. I'm going to have to climb a ladder to take a photo of them. Still having to water from the tap, need more rain.
Tattybyes for now.   

Monday, 12 August 2013

Rambling around Caistor

Aye up me ducks, I'm here. Chat and craft was good this morning, more people, and lots of friendly banter. I took some hand made stuff to show, and they were interested in what you can make from rubbish. Lots of ideas to share, I think one or two of them might have a go at something. Lunch was scrambled eggs and erm, courgettes, ha ha.
Yesterday I went off to Caistor on the edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds. It's a good place to start a ramble. I picked up the Viking Way, to Nettleton. A charming little village which I have posted about before. Here is another photo of the church. It must be popular if  the amount of cars which lined the roadside for the morning service, are anything to go by.  
I left the village along the main A46 road, good job there was a footpath as it was a bit busy. It wasn't long before I was leaving it and going off to the left through a field planted up with sweetcorn. Not ready for picking just yet. The kindly farmer has left a path down the middle. It was lovely to walk through that, the soil was all soft and sandy.  
I love the colour of the hairy tops of the corn growing amongst the lush green leaves. Pink hair is the fashion at the moment, ha ha.

Most of it was taller than me, like walking through the jungle.

For quite some distance I had the hills on my left hand side, while I walked along the edges of the fields on my right. This looks like a good place to rest my bum while I have a bite to eat. Sometimes nature has the knack of placing a ready made bench just where you need it. It was sunny but with a lovely cooling breeze.

On the map it says I pass a piggery. When I got near I could hear the most horrendous squealing, shouting, screaming noises coming from a big shed just the other side of a thick hedge. It actually sounded a mix of pig and human noises. Goodness know what was going on there, was a pig giving birth, or was something horrible happening? I don't know, and I'm not sure I wanted to know. As much as I love walking through the countryside, there is one aspect of it which upsets me, and that is the way people treat their animals. It just reaffirms my decision not to eat meat. I couldn't bear to think I might be responsible for some poor animal being treated badly.    
A bit further on I picked up a minor road into Claxby, another small Lincolnshire village. Very small in fact. As per normal, I had a look at the church. There was a cosy nook sheltered from the wind, with a bench where I parked my bum for another refreshment break. It was a little sun trap, I could have sat there all day. 
As I wandered around the back of the church I came across this sight, a magnificent house which was slowly being devoured by creeping ivy and all kinds of bushes and trees. There were wooden shutters on the insides of the ground floor windows, I wasn't sure if it was occupied. I half expected a crazy recluse to appear and point a gun at me as I was poking around. No one did, there was no one there.

It very much saddened me to see such a beautiful house standing proud and defiant, fighting against the elements in it's bid to survive in this tranquil part of the Lincolnshire countryside. I could almost hear it crying out, please won't someone come along and save me. The locked front door. In front of that the tarmac forecourt and driveway, now not accessible to vehicles or on foot. There is very little left of the tarmac surface.

Around the back, there seems to be some sort of sun room with windows on three sides. The views of the surrounding countryside must be fabulous from up there. I wish I could go inside.

Looking down over the brick built outhouses. There was weeds everywhere, still some items of garden equipment lying around.

The orangery is being swallowed up, but I didn't see any evidence of vandalism, all the glass is intact. The house is in a secluded place, almost a secret place, so I suspect not a lot of people know about it.
The plants which found their way through to the inside are now dead and brown due to lack of water. A few bits of kitchen and outdoor items scattered about.

The benches are all in good condition.

 Oh my, if I was rich I would buy it.

As I came away I passed the front gate, the sign is still there on the rusty iron railings.
This is the main entrance, now just a wilderness of overgrown trees and shrubs. You would need a hacksaw to chop your way through to reach the front door.

I am finding myself feeling very emotional about this house, I don't know why. It's the sort of place which oozes character. It appears to have a heart, a once living breathing being, now bereft of it's owners and left to a slow and lingering death.

As I walked away from it I saw a man tending his garden, I just had to ask about it. I mentioned how tragic it was that it was so neglected. He told me a little story.. A wealthy businessman bought it and he moved in with his wife and daughter. They were a happy family, then tragically his wife was diagnosed with cancer, and three years after they moved in she died. The daughter got married and moved away to Birmingham with her husband. The man couldn't bear to be in the house on his own, so he locked the door and walked away from it, and moved in with his daughter. That was five years ago. He told me it has a swimming pool. He also said that two people have shown an interest in  buying the house.

I've had a look on the internet, can't find any photo's of it, I would have liked to see it before it had been abandoned. I've looked on goooglie earth there is a car in the driveway and the gardens are tidy. There is a business registered to the address, but nothing more. I would imagine that he has ceased trading.  Someone needs to come along and rescue it, before it's too late.

I left Claxby and headed towards Normanby le Wold, where I picked up the Viking Way again. I have walked this section before, but it is quite pleasant. The path goes along Nettleton Beck in between two hillocks. I got so far along when I found I had to walk through a lot of cows. I am not normally nervous of cows, I had already walked through a field of brown beasts which didn't take a bit of notice of me and carried on chomping the grass. But I saw this next herd up ahead had some young with them, and the mums can be quite protective, so I decided not to push my luck, and veered off to the left and up the side of a corn field. My plan was to get back on the road, which runs parallel. I had to climb over a barbed wire fence to achieve this, but no bother, my lightweight body is pretty agile. My ankles and legs were beginning to feel like a thousand pins were sticking into them, with all the prickly bits of corn I picked up in my socks, and the nettles I waded through. I didn't stop and take them out as there was nowhere to sit, and it would take ages to get rid of them. So I soldiered on regardless.
  
Boy was it a relief to get my boots off when I got back to the car. I drove home with my soft shoes on and no socks at all. My poor legs were red and stinging when I bathed them, and for a few minutes after smothering them with moisturiser, I was in agony. It's much cooler to wear shorts when walking, but it has it's disadvantages, ha ha.

I did 12 miles, not a great distance, but an interesting walk. Toodle pip.