Thursday, 28 August 2014

Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink

My girls have been nominated by their friends to do the Ice Bucket Challenge which is doing the rounds on social media.  One of them then nominated me, but I am not going to do it!

I was nominated on FB, so I posted a message on FB to explain why I wasn't going to get wet.

Basically, I don't follow trends, and I don't want to be pushed into doing something which is just a stunt, when all is said and done.  If other people want to do it, like the girls did this morning, I'm fine with that.....I just prefer not to do it myself.  I also like to choose where I donate what spare cash I can manage to donate. I've thought a lot about this, and have donated to the Water Aid charity in respect of all the people in the world who cannot afford to waste water - because it is very expensive, because it is scarce, because what there is available is dirty and contaminated.

Aldi voucher

(image from

Don't forget to pick up a copy of The Mirror today if you would like to save £5 off a £45 shop at Aldi this week.  I tend to use these to stock up on tinned goods and long life items to last through the month to the next voucher opportunity.

Edit to say that I think the last one was for a spend of £45, but this one is even better - we only need to choose £40 worth of goods, to benefit from the £5 off.  Bought my paper too late today - had to go to three shops to find one that still had copies!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Today I have been....

Peeling and chopping apples, cooking them up and making apple sauce.  

Investigating the courgette patch and finding all the rogue ones, hiding under the foliage.

Selling yesterday's eggs to a neighbour who popped in.

Washing.  Lots of washing. 

Stoning plums ready for the freezer - 9lbs stashed away in 1lb bags ready for lots of winter crumbles and stewed fruit.

Admiring the cat, sleeping among the tomato plants in the sun.......

It has been a good day, weather wise, and the EFG is home from her shopping trip.  All back together again tonight.

Lucy Locket

I took the girls to the cinema yesterday afternoon [on our Clubcard tokens] to see a film called "Lucy" starring Scarlet Johansson.  I thought she was very good in "The Other Boleyn Girl" but I felt that although she acted very well, the storyline of this film was too far fetched to be taken seriously.  At the end, there was a serious "magic porrige pot" moment, when she dissolved into a sea of black gunk which oozed all over a lab, and I just knew that I would dream of it - and I am sure I shall.  I can't stand the thought of oozing porrige all over the place and hate that story, so to see this black stuff everywhere just brought that all back!!  Weird the things which stick in one's mind, I know....

Scarlet Johansson as Lucy
(image from

At UJ's house, we picked runner beans, Victoria plums, and cherry tomatoes, as well as picking up a few windfall apples.  They will all get processed today for preserving - the apples will probably go into jars as apple sauce, but the beans and plums will just go in the freezer as they are.

After that, I dropped the EFG off at her friend's house for the night so that they can go off shopping in the morning, and then came home with the YFG for what remained of the evening - it was past 8 when we left the EFG.

Today is going to be an at-home day until we have to pick the EFG up later on.  Time is ticking onward relentlessly, and she has managed to get together most of the bits and pieces that she needs.  The days are mostly getting allocated to things now, and there are just a couple of days left when we have nothing to do.  The latest insertion to the calendar is that my sister is taking the girls to London next week to see War Horse on Wednesday.  The YFG will go back to school on Thursday and the EFG will be off to Scotland on Friday.  Then we will be looking forward to that midwinter time of rejoicing, the name of which I cannot quite bring myself to mention just yet!

(image from

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Bank Holiday Monday

It was an English Bank holiday, so it rained solidly all day.  Sometimes drizzle, sometimes heavier stuff.  But it rained.  We're hoping for better weather in September - let's live in hope and be positive, after all - it usually improves once the holidays are over and the children back in school!

Today has mostly been spent with my Dad and MB - they came over for lunch and stayed for the afternoon in a sort of companionable sitting around, chatting, reading the paper, comfortable sort of way.  We served them toad in the hole, lots of veg and then a choice of puds - rice pud or Rhonda-Jean's self-saucing chocolate pudding.  Dad said he enjoyed it, which was kind of him.

We found out today that the EFG has accommodation for the first week [hooray!] and will be moved in to her permanent accommodation by the uni on the 12th.  The temporary accommodation is very plush - a private hall of residence which is all en-suite and goes for £140+ a week, compared to her more basic £90 a week for where she will be permanently.  She can enjoy it for a week and then come back down to earth - but she will only have to pay £90 to stay there, thank goodness!  No bank holiday in Scotland today, so the accommodation office was open.

I have had a couple of hours tonight on Ancestry since they had a free access weekend - I could look at as many original documents as I wanted to without paying!  I found the FH's great uncle's children - it helped that I worked out a way of looking for them with their mother's maiden name in the search and it found them, but two of them were born in Warwickshire in the second world war, so it makes us wonder why they went there from the Fens.

Tomorrow [today!] we have a busy day scheduled with a school meeting, a trip to the cinema with our Clubcard vouchers, a visit to UJ's house to water his garden and greenhouse whilst he is away and then dropping the EFG off to stay the night with a friend so that they can go to Cambridge shopping the next day. Better head off to bed, I think!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Making do

In the frugal household, there is a need to be flexible, adaptable and somewhat creative - I'm sure you will agree.  In that spirit, I have got a table lamp doing duty in the kitchen because I am not sure how to replace the fluorescent light, I'm using an electric two-ring hob instead of our gas hob because we could smell gas last night so we turned it all off, and the extractor fan hasn't worked for the best part of three years - so what's wrong with just opening the windows?!

I am sure that the hob is safe and we are not going to die in the night, because I do know how to turn off the supply at the bottles, so don't fret over that.  I will manage with the wee hob through the bank holiday today and then I shall call someone out who knows about these things, but probably not the muppet who installed it in the first place, even if he has the certificates and all.

We had a good day yesterday - the sun was shining and I took the girls off to Ely to Sainsbury's when I came home from taking the morning service.  The YFG needs a new pair of black school trousers and she is really hard to find them for - if they fit around the waist, they don't fit on the legs, and vice versa.  We had heard that there was a 25% sale on TU clothing, so we went to see if the trousers there were a better fit - thank goodness, they were!

When we came home, I was able to enjoy my lunch sitting under the verandah in the FH's favourite old perch, and then I read a book there [The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeust], and eventually even had a wee nap - well, that's what Sunday afternoons are for, aren't they?  Unfortunately, when I woke up, I was summoned to climb the mountain that is Student Finance with the EFG - trying to help her work out budgets and income/outgoings - sort of like her cash flow.  Bit challenging, if I am honest - she seems to think it is going to be a struggle to manage on £25 a week for food, even though I think that is generous.  She's got to learn to be economical......but she may have to learn the hard way.

Last night, we watched a silly, girly film, and I did some knitting - perfect.  The girls were giggling over Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde!  Then they watched Bizarre ER, which was a step too far for me, so I went off to tackle the washing up.....

Sunday, 24 August 2014


The paperwork generated by the FH's death seems to be never-ending.  It is still coming - and a lot of it is duplicated.  Take yesterday - I filled in an R27 tax form at the end of July, and the department replied asking for more information about one aspect of his affairs, and I responded on 11th August.  I keep photocopies of everything!  Another R27 arrived on Saturday I had to phone up and find out if there was a problem.

Also in the post yesterday were three brown envelopes from the tax credit system.  Two of them I could understand as they were winding up our joint claim, but the third one was relating to a joint claim for now, until next April and referring to sums of money I am not in receipt of.  All very confusing - another phone call, and profuse apologies from a lady in Lancashire somewhere, explaining that my single claim is up and running and I could ignore this.

And then there is the new funding for our situation.  I think I am entitled to a Widowed Parent's Allowance whilst I am getting Child Benefit for the YFG.....but it hasn't turned up yet.  I phoned them on Friday to see what was happening, and was told that it had been turned into a "manual claim" and would have to be processed by hand somewhere, and so would be delayed somewhat. "But don't worry," the kindly sounding woman said, "you'll get it backdated to the bereavement date."  I'm lucky that I am in the fortunate position of being able to manage until it does turn up, but I do feel for those for whom this lifeline is essential and they need it now.  A lump sum in six weeks' time won't feed the children now, after all.  I can see how easily people fall into debt when they have no cushion of savings to fall back on in these situations.

I have received a Bereavement Payment, which has paid a good chunk of the funeral expenses.  We had prepared, as you know, for funeral expenses and for an emergency fund.  The "average" funeral costs are supposed to be in the range of £4000 at the moment, so we were fortunate to come in well under that amount.  I'm going to do a post about funerals in the future, as I feel that they are an area where we need to plan in advance, as we are so upset and distracted at the time that more money is sometimes spent than we realise.

I hope that our situation will be sorted out by the end of September and we can start to get to grips with our new regime, and I can sort out some work for myself one way or another.  If I can't get a suitable job, I shall just have to ramp up my self-employment activities somehow.......