Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A good day for a catch up

All Saints' Day was the patronal festival of the church in which I grew up, so it does mean something to me for that reason, if no other. It's hard to sort all these saints out, and sometimes easier just to think of them all!

This past month has been a challenging one.......the YFG has been to Aberdeen to have a look at the geography department, and loved the uni, but thought it would only be ideal if it were closer to home. It's on her list, but UEA at Norwich is looking as if it might be the favourite.  She went there for a Geography Summer School in July and got on really well, so hopefully she might score a place there.

The EFG came home for the weekend and just went back yesterday - we had lunch with Grandypops whilst she was here, and we generally had a good weekend together.  She's doing well, and has to keep her nose to the grindstone for another 7 weeks now until the Christmas break.

The FH's best mate died at the end of the week before last, and we have his funeral this week.  He was an amazing old gentleman, who lived almost 86 years but his last days were spent at home, as he wanted, in the busy household with his daughter and her family. I have had the privilege of supporting them through this time, and taking the funeral.  He and the FH went on all sorts of adventures together, and we are sure that they are together again now.

The FH's son has been and FINALLY taken the FH's old banger of a car away!  That feels like a major achievement in life, and the old car is no longer cluttering up the gravel driveway at the back of the house. Next step is to get a skip in and clear out some more rubbish.......whether he will ever clear out the tools and machinery that the FH left him from the workshop is another matter...

Financially, as we approach the end of the year, I am relieved to see from the charts that we are just over £2000 up in addition to the new-to-us car which I bought in March, so doing very well at saving again this year.  Frugality has its moments, and we are looking ahead to the time next August when the bereaved parents' allowance, the child benefit and the tax credits all end as the YFG will turn 18, and making sure that everything is doable within the income that we will have left, so we are saving as much as we can now, not only as a cushion for then, but also to prove to ourselves that we can live on less.  The YFG will have much less than the EFG in terms of income, as Aberdeen has a very generous financial package for low-income English families, which the YFG will not get elsewhere.

Keeping our priorities in order is a significant part of that - the post has just arrived with a £22 text book which the YFG needs, so that has been put in her room, but the Boden catalogue which arrived at the same time has gone straight in the bin.

We have also reclaimed the dining room as a usable room in the house - the girls are thrilled and I am looking forward to Christmas lunch in there this year.

I hope that you are all well - I do have a nosey around your blogs occasionally when I sit down for a cuppa.  Toodle pip for now though x




Thursday, 13 October 2016

Another day

The blog roll hasn't reappeared yet, so if anyone does know how to get it back, I would be very pleased to hear from you.......

In other news, the EFG has sacked one driving instructor in Aberdeen who was incredibly rude and unhelpful, but has found another, who comes highly recommended.  Good sign - he also has a waiting list, but she got onto that before she sacked the woman she is leaving.  She had had to pay the woman for a block booking in advance, so she has lost about £10 for the last little bit of time she has not claimed, but she is not worried about that - far better to be clear of such a negative personality, she feels.

Continuing with the roads, the YFG has passed her theory test in the last couple of hours and is on her way home from the library where she took the test, and we will shortly be off to see my dad.

He's had a health scare and is a bit fragile. It was his 87th birthday on Monday, so we suddenly became conscious that we hadn't seen him since the EFG was at home, and thought it was time we made the short journey across the Fens to see him - but then quite by chance, the YFG's driving instructor took her to his town yesterday on quite a route. Unfortunately, they did not stop in to see him but he would have been thrilled to have seen her behind the wheel!

Work? Manic. Too many hours last week......  Love it though, and the people!

Toodle pip - see you again soon xx

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Where have you all gone?

You were there the day before yesterday, but I popped in here tonight to say something and now I am too worried about where the blogroll has disappeared to to post about what I was going to say!  All my favourite blogs were there, easily accessible for me [and you] to dip in and out of - and now they are gone!  

If anyone knows what is going on, do share!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Phew!

It seems that life is just keeping me away from blogging at the moment. I have really appreciated the support that this blogging community has given to me over the last few years, and whilst I am not closing this blog down, I am coming to the conclusion that aiming to post regularly is just not going to happen.

Each day is split into three sections and I am only supposed to work two of them each day, but at the moment, that's rare. It's not killing me, though, because when I have a late night out at a meeting, I tend to have a morning the next day when I can have a later start. There are days when I am out and about all day, but others where I maybe just have to pop somewhere for an hour, or I can just work at home on paperwork for most of the day. It does balance out in the end, but what with the house, spending time with the YFG and on the phone with the EFG, visiting my dad occasionally and just attempting to keep up with friends, I'm not spending time on blogs now.  Have to say that I do miss your news, though.

I have launched a new choir in one of our town churches, and we are meeting each week - we kicked off with nine members on the first night - and we were thrilled to be able to sing a Joseph song by the end of it - given that it is a choir to enable people who "can't" sing to benefit from the health aspects of singing, we were chuffed with ourselves!

Our bereavement support group in one of the other smaller churches is also working out very well as we have had a couple of new people coming along in the last couple of months. There are two sisters attending who have both been widowed in the last 18 months, and they have just had another blow in that their third sister has just died after a long struggle with cancer.  We are spending time in prayer for them all.

We are looking forward to seeing UJ today - it was his birthday yesterday and the YFG has made him a beautiful chocolate cake for tea today.  I am also going to be doing some baking for a local MacMillan coffee morning this Friday, so the mixer is busy this week - ginger cake has been requested.

The EFG has settled very well back into Aberdonian life - she loves the situation in the new flat. There are four of them in the flat, although there are five rooms, but one hasn't been let. One of the other girls never actually sleeps in the flat, so most of the time there is only the EFG and two others there - so quite relaxed and calm. They are having weekly Sunday or Monday meals together and she is getting on with the other girls very well: the two she is spending most time with are both doing primary education, but all of them have their own groups of friends and do not depend on one another for friendship, which is rather more healthy than the last flat group which was heavily dependent on one another - and made life uncomfortable when they fell out.

September has been as cost-effective as I could make it - but I had to go and buy some new boots yesterday: as I have said before, my winter boots are 11 [black pair] and at least 16 [brown] years old. The black pair sprung a leak and I had wet feet on Monday.....I wear black a lot of the time, so it was time to get some more. I went into Clarks and asked the lady for all the plain black boots they had in size 8 to try on - and she brought out three pairs. I bought two of them!  I thought that I had definitely had my money's worth out of the others, since the 11 year old pair cost me £50 and I have worn them so much!

I have kicked off the school governor year by announcing that this is my last year and that I WILL definitely be retiring at the end of the year - and we have further put plans in place to designate the next chair in January so that I can spend 6 months handing over to the new chair before I retire. I am thrilled with the school and the way it has moved forward and developed over my time as a governor, and it is time to let go and move on now.  It will be one less responsibility too!

Enough for this morning - need to go and get the day moving!


Friday, 2 September 2016

And we're off with the challenge!

We were severely limited with financial challenges when the EF girls were here last year, and so spending was at a level which we could sustain, but not a lot was saved, if you see what I mean. Now that the September 1st has arrived and I feel like a new beginning again - and it is the start of the school and Methodist Connexional years - so here we go again!

Why? Because we have a big bill coming in from March when the chimney was fixed, because the girls want to be insured to drive when they have had more lessons, because there is more work on the house that I want to do, including replacing a shower unit and some decorating, because we need to save up for some new carpets! I have to make a contribution for fuel to the cousin who is taking the EFG back to Aberdeen.  And I want to do all of those projects this year, before the income drops as I mentioned in the last post......

So for this month - we are doing back to back weekly spending challenges where we only buy what we absolutely need, and I reckon we can manage on about £25 a week for the two of us. That is for FOOD only. Hopefully we might spend a bit less.......we'll see. We kicked off yesterday with a no-spend day so we still have £25 in the pot for this week.


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Waving goodbye

I shall be seeing the EFG off on the train this morning as she makes her way to Leicester for a conference, from which she will head to Aberdeen for the next term and the beginning of her third year.  She will be coming back from Leicester to Peterborough, where cousins live, and I shall meet her there on Friday with her luggage; a cousin is taking her back to Aberdeen from Peterborough, and they are leaving at about 6am on Saturday, so it makes sense for her to stay with them on Friday night and make their departure on Saturday as smooth as possible.  We hope that her third year at Aberdeen will be good, and a little less stressful now that she has new flatmates who are hopefully a little more balanced than one of the ones she had last year who was rather volatile. I can't believe that she is 20 years old now and half way through her degree.......makes me feel old!

She's been here since mid-May and we have again to get used to being without her - but we are getting more practised at it now, so it should be OK!  We haven't got the foreign girls this year, so it is going to be quiet here, but the YFG will have to knuckle down and work hard in her A level year, and I have gone from 20 to 30 hours at work since last September, so we are both going to be busy and well occupied! The YFG has a pediatric first aid course to do this term, which will complement her gymnastics qualification, and she also has to do the actual Duke of Edinburgh expedition in September.  I'm hoping the decent weather continues for them as I think they are heading to the Lake District....

A new financial challenge starts here tomorrow on the 1st September, so we are also looking forward to getting started on that - we have had so many financial drains this summer that we really need to boost the coffers. The EFG will turn 18 next summer and all our bereaved parent and family-related benefits will cease [as they should: I am not complaining] but there is a real chance that she will stay at home and take on more study or an apprenticeship and so I will continue to support her financially without those benefits, so we are already looking at living on that amount.

God continues to bless us and provide all that we need, but we do have to be good stewards of that provision, and we are looking at what we really need and what we choose to buy sometimes that might not really be necessary.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Phew!

It's been really hot here today - the temperature gauge in the car read 31C this afternoon when I had to get back into it reluctantly!  I had been at the office with my colleagues, redecorating it, and we had the good luck to be in a room which faces northwards, so we weren't bothered by the heat whilst we were busy but when we finished and came outside again - wow! It was hot!

Since getting home this afternoon, the YFG and I have had a clear out of one of the freezers, since it is rubbish day tomorrow - we have thrown away food which we realistically know we are never going to eat - and I found ratatouille dated 2006.......so past time it was moved on!  I hate to throw stuff out but sometimes, it is the only thing.  We run three freezers, and came to the conclusion this weekend that we should be reducing that down by at least one, so we have probably cleared out enough room in the largest one to move the contents of another smaller one over - but I am not doing that until the next bin day as there will surely be stuff  in the smaller one that we decide to discard as well!

I've also been cleaning some windows and doing some washing. Too much activity for one day - I am off to have a shower and read a book now.  Hope you are all well and I am trying to keep up with my favourite blogs, so if I haven't commented for a while, sorry, but I am still reading a few times a week xx