Friday, 30 November 2012

St Andrew

Today is St Andrew's Day, patron saint of Scotland, and a host of other countries too.

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The girls were both born in Scotland, so I did tell them this morning that it was "their" saints' day, but neither were terribly interested.....I thought it was a shame, but perhaps when they were rushing around getting ready to go to school wasn't the best time to tell them!

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The West Port in St Andrews, Fife, where I attended the university, years before Prince William!

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And this is the entrance to St Mary's College Quadrangle, where the Divinity school is situated.  It is a lovely area to work, in very old and historic buildings.  There is a room in the library complex in this college where I used to study each day - and the Scottish Parliament used to sit there.  It is called Parliament Hall, surprisingly enough!

St Andrew has a whole page on Wikipedia, so you can pop over there to read more about him.

Happy St Andrew's Day!

End of month financials

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I still have to find £699.84 for the savings challenge I set myself this year, and now I have just one month to do it.  I am fairly confident that I can do this, knowing roughly what money I have coming in, and what expenses I have to cover this month.  It is still least I am thinking positively.  I have done some of the things on the plan to achieve that figure, and some of them are being more successful than others.

The spending in November went a little haywire.  It wasn't helped by odd things like the optician's appointment I made because I am convinced that my eyesight has deteriorated.  The optician agreed with me, charging me £27.50 to tell me that although he agrees, he thinks that because I have had a cold, the likelihood is that a virus has affected the muscles in my eyes, and he would rather re-test after Christmas than  have new glasses now.  Mmmm - that sounds like risking another £27.50 to be told that I am OK, perhaps. I'll see how they go over the holidays and into January before I rush into another appointment.

The house insurance, although a lot cheaper than last year, also had to be paid in November, and I have bought some things in for Christmas.  It is likely that I have actually done the bulk of the spending in November and that December won't be that bad.  I have had an AF delivery, I have stocked up on shower gels from Boots, and now also on shampoo and bubble bath since Tesco had offers on both today, and the house is pretty well stocked up again.

The Winter Fuel Payment came in for the FH this week, so we are likely to order some oil soon.  The tank is half full, so I am keeping my eye on the prices.  We need oil, but we are far from desperate, so no need to pay ridiculous prices for express deliveries.  We also have heaps of wood in the workshop, so the house is pretty cosy - not hot - but with the fire, hot water bottles, cosy rugs and hot drinks, we are all staying warm in these cold evenings.

I am also "banking" rewards which I may not use until after Christmas - I have £24 in yougov which will not pay out until it reaches £50, so still some way to go with that one.  Shop-and-Scan has so far paid me £19 which I can convert into vouchers when it gets to £20, and I already have a £10 Amazon voucher sitting here, waiting to be used.  The Shop-and-Scan will probably become Amazon vouchers as well, and then I will have £30 to spend.  I am hoping to get some more books for the Faith & Worship course which would be useful as I already have my eye on a little prayer book that I have seen a copy of and have been hoping to get one of my own.

I am reading the electricity meter weekly and submitting the reading to Scottish Power online each time, which is helping me to keep track more accurately of how much power we are using.  I know that we are "high users" but they have us on a DD which amounts to £19 a week, whereas we are currently [sorry!] using about £14 a week.  I will track it for a little longer and then I might try to ask for the DD to be reconsidered.

I am waiting for some parcels to arrive from BzzAgent.  We did the Dove shampoo and conditioner campaign and now we have been asked to review some other products - a Knorr gravy or stock pot, and J20 fridge packs of juice.  The girls are looking forward to the juice, and the FH to the gravy.  I doubt I will personally be able to use either.....

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Wednesday again

I cannot believe how fast we are ploughing through the days!  Here we are, and Wednesday has just about been and gone.

Welcome to my latest follower, and anyone who has popped through from the link on Angela's blog at Tracing Rainbows - lovely to have you all here.  Thank you all for the lovely comments on our anniversary yesterday - you are all very kind!

Today has been busy, but I have good news to share tonight: my uncle is home from hospital, thank goodness.  He has to return to the cardiac clinic at the local hospital in a fortnight, and wait for an appointment to go to Papworth Hospital for an operation on his heart, probably early next year.  He has some new medication and his heartbeat seems to have returned to something approaching normal, at least normal enough that the hospital let him come home today.  He can get some rest now, as the ward was very busy and noisy overnight, I'm told.

I need to go and do some more reading for my service preparation for Sunday, so I'll say Goodnight, and thank you all again xx

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


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Today has been our 16th wedding anniversary, which we have commemorated in our usual style, by doing nothing different whatsoever!!  We don't do a lot about anniversaries, to be honest, and we usually remember the day afterwards, but today, I remembered in time to comment this morning that today was the day!  

Wikipedia suggests that the traditional gift for this year would be something made of porcelain.  Best not, here, as porcelain wouldn't last five minutes....

I don't feel hard done by in any way, because, actually, we didn't make that big a deal over the wedding: we had a registry office do with some friends and neighbours [no family made the journey], and then went home to a shared lunch which I prepared, and a cake which I had made and a lady in the street had iced for me.  We had a snooze in the afternoon with the baby, the EFG, who was 12 weeks old, and then some more friends came round in the evening for a chat and a drink and a few nibbles.  And more cake!  My outfit came from the Save the Children shop in St Andrews, and cost £10 for the two piece.  I wore some shoes I already had, and the FH wore his suit.  The rings came from a jewellers in St Andrews as well, and whilst the engagement ring was new, the wedding ring was second hand.  It is a lovely ring, though.

I feel that it isn't the wedding that needs the time and the effort, but the marriage, and we have certainly done that.  We have been through a lot - lots of medical upheavals, house moves, two children, family woes, financial cramp [as the FH calls it] and still we can say we love each other and are happy to be together.  That, to us, is worth everything.

Time or money?

I sat knitting last night for a while, and I was thinking about the scarf I am knitting [whole other post there - must take a photo of it] which I think may be a test run.  I want to use the pattern for some little boys' scarves for the Christmas boxes next year as we were very short of knitted items for little boys.  It would have to be a little narrower than the pattern though, and I don't know how to alter the pattern - waiting for expertise from other knitters on that one.

I have spent £4.40 on two balls of lovely wool to make this scarf, which although not cheap, is not an exorbitant sum.  It is going to take me many hours of knitting to make each one, though, so my time will be a greater donation than my money in this case.

Cybher 2013

I do help to sponsor a child through the ShareNiger project [see button in sidebar] but that is the only thing I do which is pure money.  I feel quite put out sometimes when I see the continuous advertisements in newspapers and on tv which urge us to donate "£3 a month" or some other small amount, to their cause.  Surely they realise that these small amounts add up, and we can't all be donating £36 a year to all the causes.  I certainly can't.

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The annual Macmillan fundraising which I lead in the chapel, the work I do for the chapel itself, the Christmas boxes, work at the gym and the school, and small financial donations to good causes I support when I can - that is what I do.  It is all I can do, because we don't have the financial resources to just give cash, so I have to make the money go further by injecting it with my time, so to speak, to make more of it.  I do feel bad sometimes when I walk past someone with a collecting tin and don't stop to put anything in, but I think I have to get past this feeling of guilt, and worrying what they will think of me, and just come home and knit another few rows of a scarf and remember that we all do what we can, and we can do no more than that.

Monday, 26 November 2012

A weird kind of day

Not in a bad way, but today has been a bit different!

I pottered around doing housework after the girls went off to school at 8am, and then the chickens were next on the list.  I came in for breakfast, and then rang a friend to organise fetching a bale of straw from her field, which was set for 11am.  In between, I did several loads of laundry and did a bit of Faith & Worship reading but couldn't settle to do much.

I went to get the straw and delivered the ironing back to the chapel [tablecloths!] and came home - by which time it was nearly lunchtime, so hanging some more washing and dealing with some emails filled in the time until I ate.  And then, do you know what, I had a nap!  I was reading some books from which I was hoping to draw some inspiration for the Sunday service, and I could feel my eyes getting heavy, so I curled up on the sofa and slept - for a good 90 minutes, too.

The FH had gone to his friend's house, to cook him some lunch, and he didn't come home again until just after I woke up.  The F&W work did get done eventually, but not quite in the volume I had hoped.

Tonight, I have spoken to my cousin and my aunt because my uncle was taken in to hospital this morning with irregular heartbeats, after collapsing.  He is in there for the night at least, and the doctors are trying different things to get his heart beating normally again.  I hope to hear more positive news from them tomorrow; this uncle has a history of heart problems, and had a heart attack some years ago.  He has just celebrated his 70th birthday this month.  I'll be praying for him and the family.

Do check out our blogging friend from Cornwall who has been in the Daily Express today - congratulations, Froogs!  She is an inspiration to us all.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Afternoon glory

This afternoon has been absolutely glorious here in the Fens.  I drove to town with the YFG and came the scenic route home for a change.  The skies were blue, the sun was shining and we could see for miles in the crisp, clear air.  The windmill were busy twirling to make electricity, and the wind had died down a little.  It was just lovely.

The chicken shed made it through the day.  I let them out this morning before chapel, and shut the door so that nothing untoward happened whilst we were out, and then I opened it up for them once we got home again.  They have had some of the AF couscous today - about 10 packets emptied into a bucket and a kettle full of hot water poured over it and left to stand.  They were very happy to have something warm and filling in their tummies before bedtime, which seems to come earlier and earlier these dark days!  I will be very glad to get past the 21st December and start the lighter evenings coming our way.

In honour of Stir-up Sunday, the preacher at chapel this morning gave each family a Tesco Alcohol-free Christmas pudding [no alcohol on chapel premises] because he had thought of actually making puddings as part of the service for us to take home to cook, but had then decided that would take too long, so he bought them instead.  It was a lovely gesture, and we have plenty now: in addition to that one, I also have two I made and a small one I bought from Lidl's.

I have been watching the news and seen the devastation which the flooding is causing; I am thinking of people whose homes are inundated yet again, and who must be feeling very low in all of this upheaval.  We have friends in Bridgwater in Somerset, and are keeping a close eye on their updates on Facebook so that we can see how they are faring - they are all OK at the moment.

Wild and windy

The weather here this morning is rather wild; the wind is blowing hard and I am a little concerned about the chook shed - once I open the door to let them out, the wind will be blowing directly into it, as it is coming from the west-ish, and might take the roof off....but I can't let them out and then shut the door as they will want to be in and out to get some shelter, lay their eggs, and get out of the rain, if it rains........what a pain this weather has become.

But I should be counting my blessings here, instead of moaning!  We live in one of the most well-drained areas of the country, where flooding is rare to any great extent, and contained where it does usually happen.  We do expect certain places to flood each winter in this area, but they are "washes" which are areas of land where the floodwater is allowed to go, and it is contained within the washes by banks.  A few roads are affected, but the diversion signs go up very quickly and locals know whether the route is likely to be flooded based on the recent rainfall

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There are areas of land where the Fen skaters used to practice each winter - the land would flood and then freeze solid in the winter, and people would go out and skate - some of the greatest Fenland speed skaters came from areas I know.  The FH went with an old friend to a cemetery on the Cambs/Norfolk border only last month, and there was a grave there of a speed skater called "Turkey" Smart, and he had skates on his grave!  The friend had a family connection to the area and wanted to revisit old haunts, so they went on a day out and spent some time in the area.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Drying dilemma

more details on Living Compact 3 Tier Indoor Clothes Airer.
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I posted some weeks ago about my frustrations with the damp November weather meaning that my washing wasn't getting dry in the verandah, because that largely relies upon sunshine to heat the area and heat the washing up!  Inside I have only two airers which the FH made, which take a load between them.

So I went to Argos and spent a little money - £26 odd.  A little, compared to the lot I had slightly considered spending at Lakeland on a heated airer!!  I bought two of these airers, pictured above.

They will hold about a load each, depending on what I have washed.  If it is a load of towels, or trousers, they have to share the load.  One is near a radiator in the lounge, and the other is on the landing, again near a radiator, but also at the top of the stairs, taking advantage of any rising heat from downstairs.  Now that the weather is definitely colder, we are using the central heating for about an hour in the mornings whilst we get up and moving!

And are they helping?  You bet!  In conjunction with the original airers, and an over the radiator type of rail which is actually over a door where I can hang items on coathangers, we have the washing dilemma sorted out here.  Most things are dry within two days, and the washing heap isn't getting too big these days.  

Bearing in mind that I am drying all this stuff indoors now, I am aware of the need to prevent condensation, and I have several windows open a crack on the first notch to allow air to circulate.  When the weather is fine and dry outside, windows are thrown open for at least 15 minutes a day to get some fresh air.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Christmas craft

Merry Christmas Bunting
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This photo doesn't do the "Merry Christmas" bunting I have seen in the Lakeland catalogue justice at all.  It is quite a bit nicer than it appears in this photo, and something I think I could make a version of!  

The original in the shop is £12.99, which for 14 triangular pieces of material and some letters attached to some stringy stuff seems rather expensive.  I'm not buying it, don't worry.

I think that I may have enough Christmassy material [or at least red, green and white material] stashed away somewhere that I could make it.  If I make judicious use of pinking shears to reduce fraying, and quite liberal use of glue, I may even be able to get away without much sewing......I am not that great at sewing.

This weekend may well find me digging out the fabric and having a look to see what else I might need.  We are lucky to have had a Boyes shop open up relatively recently in one of the nearby towns, and they have a fairly cheap haberdashery section, so I could get a few bits in there if need be.

Can any of you expert seamstresses out there offer me any advice or top tips?

Linking for Lesley

For Lesley and anyone else interested in the hobnob type biscuit recipe - the original is here on the MSE forums.

I double the amounts and it makes a good batch.  They freeze very well if you want to bake a big batch and save some for later.  If you don't freeze them, be sure to hide some or they will all be gone in a flash!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Update on the day

The mince pies have turned out well, as this recipe always does, but it was late in the afternoon before I had time to make them!  I had forgotten this morning that I had to go and help to clean the chapel, so I had to go and do that first - I got home at 3pm, and had to rest for an hour as I was so tired from all that cleaning as it does involve a lot of humping furniture around to clean around it - chairs and stuff.  The lady with whom I was doing it and I were shocked and saddened to find woodworm in the altar table today, so we treated it with some goo in a bottle, and will have to keep an eye on it.

Five dozen pies have been made, as well as some hobnob biscuits, and I have two Christmas puddings in the slow cooker where I am going to leave them overnight.  It is this wartime recipe from Rationing Revisited, and it smells lovely.  I didn't have any marmalade, so I used honey.

My Approved Food order arrived nice and early this morning, so I was able to use some of the Mincemeat with Dark Chocolate in some of the pies so that the FH could do a taste test.  He had to eat a few to make up his mind, you understand, but he quite liked the new mincemeat.  It is by Duerr's, but I haven't seen it in the supermarkets, so it is a good job I ordered four jars....

The wind is howling round the house tonight and the rain is really lashing down out there - I have been thinking about all the people affected by floods and by damage done by the winds today.  I hope everyone keeps safe and dry tonight, and I wish our American readers and friends a very happy Thanksgiving.

Baking day today

Tomorrow is the annual Christmas Coffee Morning at the chapel, and several dozen mince pies have been requested....some will be eaten as refreshments and some will be packaged for sale.  That will be today's job, then.  I also need to dig out a few books and cards to have on a stall, in the hope that someone might want a few little presents, and I probably need to make some  kinds of cake for the refreshments too.  I am the refreshments lady at Coffee mornings, although one of the other ladies usually makes a chocolate log concoction which people rave over, so hopefully she may have time to make one of those this week.

The amazing mince pie recipe is here because I shared it last year.  I will try to add in some photos later when I have made the pies. 

I have been reading recipe books lately and had an idea for a modification of the recipe, which is to grate some orange rind into the pastry.  It sounds like it might add another dimension to the taste.  Alas, I can't try it today as I have no oranges, but perhaps I will try it in a later batch - there will have to be more, for the Songs of Praise afternoon, and for the family here.   

I still haven't spent any thing on groceries, but today might be the day!  I also know that there will be money to pay for the YFG's piano lesson, and for the new Grade 2 pieces book that the teacher gave her last week.  Once I drop her off at the lesson, I have to go to the shops for a few bits like fruit and some chilled items. I am confident that I will spend less than £20 which is the challenge for the week.  I will report back later!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Spending update

Since I posted on Monday about the Grocery challenge I am doing this week, I haven't spent anything on food yet.  In fact the only spending at all has been £1.05 on some photocopying for the church!

Tonight's slow cooker meal is going to be some of the rabbit I bought in Holt whilst we were on holiday last month.  I have popped it into the slow cooker with a tin of chopped tomatoes and some garlic, and it will cook slowly until about 8pm tonight.  The aroma is already appetising!  I know that the girls probably won't want rabbit, so I have got some meatballs out of the freezer for them.  I still have enough vegetables between fresh ones and frozen to last another couple of days at least, so we are good to continue with the challenge.

Slightly disappointed with my Approved Foods delivery which was ordered last week and scheduled for delivery today - I had to get in touch because there was no delivery slot on the DPD website, and apparently the package is so damaged that DPD have decided not to deliver it to me but to send it back.  AF are sending another one out today, but sans the Matthew Walker Christmas Puddings that we were looking forward to - I was going to use a couple of them for Christmas hampers for gifts and a raffle prize for the chapel on Friday.  Never mind - I shall have to change my plans a little.  I could always make a couple as I think I have everything I would need, apart from the pudding bowls...

All wrapped up

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My gift wrapping is not up to Martha Stewart standards, but they say practise makes perfect, don't they!?!

This week I have been finalising some gifts that I needed for various people on my list.  One young lad I know didn't know what he would like, so I asked him 20 questions last weekend and I have ordered something I know he will love, and well within my budget too!

A baby boy will be getting a home made fleece blanket, using some IKEA fleeces I have left from last year; the girl that I made the fleece blanket for last year loves hers, and I think this little boy will be snug and warm in his.  His sister is a tricky one, though - what do 3 year old girls like these days?  This particular one does like books, so that may be OK.

The teenage girls are under control.  Sorted!

The adults - my dad and my uncle, for example - are probably going to be getting foodie items!  That is still that plan.  And all I need to do in advance for that one is sort out something to deliver them in...

The teachers and TAs at the village school will get the little chocolates and mock Rochers that I tried earlier in the season, and the cellophane bags are here, and I bought some very cheap but Christmassy ribbons last weekend, so that one is also under control.

The little stash of items for the girls' stockings is also developing nicely.  Nothing too extravagant, but little bits and pieces that are either beautiful or useful. 

The FH has a couple of items we know he loves...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I don't know what I am saying, but I am so pleased and humbled that people keep joining the blog as Followers - another one has come on board tonight.  Thank you, all of you.  I'll try to keep wittering away with interesting stuff.....

Menu planning for the week

So many people do a "Menu plan Monday post" that I thought I would be different and leave it to Tuesday!

Today I leave the family to fend for themselves whilst I am the gym club, so they need to be able to make something fairly simple that ticks all their boxes.....they are having cold corned beef with mash and veg and pickles.

Wednesday is another tricky situation this week where I have an after school club to run, and then have to get home and get people fed before I have a meeting at 6.30pm and the EFG has Guides at 7.30pm.  This is where something in the slow cooker could come in very handy - quite what I don't know, but I will raid the freezer and get that sorted later.  At least I know the basic plan.

Thursday is easier because I will be home once I have dropped the YFG off at her piano lesson.  This is quite often a day when we have a more traditional meal with meat, potatoes and veggies.  Today will be roast chicken portions with gravy and Yorkshire puds as well.  I will be making use of the oven on Thursday night to make mince pies for the church coffee morning on Friday, so it will be good to make the most of having the oven on.  I might even do the FH one of his favourite crumbles.

Friday is a day when the kids like to do their own tea.  They will be freezer delving when we get back from gym, and they could end up with meal portions which I have frozen earlier, or hot cheese sandwiches with soup, or even beans on toast.  It will be quick and simple, that is for sure. [And I won't be cooking it...]

On Saturday, I am looking forward to spending the afternoon at home now that the YFG has stopped doing ballet due to scheduling hassles with the teacher, and we have nothing on this Saturday.  I will be popping some baked potatoes into the mini oven and leaving them to it for about an hour.  They'll be served with beans, cheese, salad, tuna perhaps, whatever is lurking in that storecupboard and needs using up from the fridge!

And on Sunday, I think I might have a bit of a cooking session.  I know that I have chicken breasts and mince in the freezer, so will be planning to make some portions for meals that we can just take from the freezer on nights when there isn't a lot of time.  Tea will be portions of something I make - or some of Froog's lamb faggots which have been in the freezer a couple of weeks now - there aren't many portions of those left!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Mid month finance update

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Before I start, I just want to say two things - a warm welcome to the latest followers who have joined up, and that I am thinking of all those people who have been affected by flooding today - some people haven't got over the last floods and now here they are inundated again.  Particularly thinking of people in Perthshire because I know that area a little.  

So, the mid month finance update - a bit late but better late than never.

I have been a little too keen with the savings this time!  I know I told you about the £1123.45 that I want to put into savings before the end of the month...well, I thought I would get off to a flying start, and I moved £400 out of the current account into savings, and I am blowed if I am going to put a penny of it back.  That is a one-way street...but it means that I have to squeak through the next week until we get any more money paid into the bank, and I have bills to pay with what is in there.

"No problem," I know you will shout - "you have all that food in the storecupboards," you will remind me!

And I will agree.  But I do need to buy fresh fruit and veg each week.  You know I have a strange diet of my own and that I am supporting the EFG with her weight loss, so I do need to buy a few items.  And pay for a piano lesson.

So I just opened the latest Sealed Pot, and we have cash!  With the pot's money, and the other bits and bobs I picked up from here and there, I have about £80 in cash.  More than enough for the week.  Thank Goodness for sealed pots.  And it means that I am ready to start SFT's new Sealed Pot challenge in December with an empty pot, hungry and ready to be filled again!

Overall this month, we are getting along quite well. The total amount put in savings so far this month amounts to £600, and the amount I need to save before the end of the year has consequently gone down a little to just  £739.92, which I believe is very do-able.  I would like to get another £150 in there this month, which will leave about £590 to go.  

I know that I have the gymnastics after school income to come when I invoice for it in December, and the first of the book sales is coming up at the end of the week.  Every penny counts!  Another will be on the 1st December [to be confirmed] and the last will be on the 9th December.  Between the three sales, I hope to exceed my £100 target for those.

This week is definitely a Grocery Challenge week so that should help to s-t-r-e-t-c-h things out a little longer.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

One for the morning

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At the concert on Saturday at chapel, one of the ladies taking part shared a prayer, which I liked and have been pleased to find on the internet, so I can share it with you all.  I hope you like it too - it is funny, but so real.  I found it here

Morning Prayer

Dear Lord,
So far I've done all right.
I haven't gossipped,
haven't lost my temper,
haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I'm really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, God,
I'm going to get out of bed.
And from then on,
I'm going to need a lot more help.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Happy Birthday!

The FH has celebrated his 75th birthday today with

  • Breakfast in bed
  • Toblerone [one of his favourite chocolates - just a small bar]
  • The latest Andre Rieu DVD - Live in Maastricht - which he watched before he got up, so I am told!
  • Attending a concert at the chapel this afternoon, with his mates, which he enjoyed.  We shared a cake with the others attending, and they sang "Happy Birthday"
  • Speaking to his sister on the phone tonight.  His younger sister.  He has another sister, and she was very fond of her big brother, so I guess that she might have thought of him today - we don't know where she is, after a family falling out over 16 years ago.  We wish her well, where ever she is.
  • And tonight, he has had such a busy day that he is contemplating retiring to bed already and watching the DVD again...then again, perhaps he'll stay up for Casualty...such an exciting life we lead here!!
  • Planning now to get his free bus pass to add to his free TV license.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Traveller

We saw him again today.  I think I have told you about him before.  We see him roughly every 6 - 8 months perhaps, usually walking northwards; somehow we miss his southerly journey, and we are probably not catching him every time he goes north.

Tonight I dropped the YFG off at her piano lesson with her friend and decided to take the EFG and head further north than we usually go, to a town which has an Aldi.  I wanted to get one of their four-bird-roasts for Christmas as I have heard very good things about them.  It was definitely getting dark, just after 4pm, and all of a sudden, we caught sight of him on the other side of the road, facing the southbound traffic.  

Now he is wearing a high visibility coat [thank goodness] and he is carrying bags, just a couple, but that is more than he had last time we saw him - perhaps someone has given him a blanket, or he has bought one somewhere....

By the time we returned along the road at about 5.15pm, he was nowhere to be seen, and we both wondered where he could have gone - has he holed up in a shed somewhere for the night, has he reached a destination somewhere in that area, has someone given him a bed for the night?  We had bought some food that we could have given him if we had found him again, but of course, we don't know if he would have accepted it.

He is an older gentleman of the road, with a grey beard and a weather beaten face. 
He feels to me like a Fenlander, at home on the road, travelling where he will, and answerable to no one.  He is mysterious and intriguing, and I would love to know his story, but I don't suppose we ever will.  Each time I see him, I am glad that he is still here, alive and walking, but I do wonder where he goes.

Voucher success

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As I said here, I was inspired by Sue to go and use some of the vouchers I have which are about to expire.  Yesterday afternoon in Boots, I bought 10 of those same shower gels, and 2 packs of Boots hair dye which I use, which was also on a "Buy 2 for £6" offer instead of their usual £4.07 each.  Then I let the YFG choose a little gift for a friend who is having their birthday tomorrow, with the remaining £4 on the voucher.  Voucher well spent, and thanks for the inspiration, Sue!

Unexpected blessing

When my Dad visited on Sunday, he brought me a CD that one of the family has had made from an old tape of my great grandfather preaching in Cottenham Methodist Chapel in Cambridgeshire. 

It was the service to mark his 70th year as a preacher in that circuit.  What an achievement!  He was about 91 years old.

I listened to the CD yesterday afternoon whilst I was ironing, and it was inspirational. So much of what he said then is still relevant today.  

It dates from about 1959, we think: he also wrote a pamphlet of about 50 pages in 1949 to mark the 60th year.  There is a copy of the pamphlet in the county archives, so I hope to be able to go to read it after Christmas.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Crunching numbers


That is THE number in question, and represents the amount I need to save or acquire in extra income to put in savings by the end of the year to hit my target of saving £5000 this year.

That is quite a lot of dosh for only about 6 weeks of time remaining, but I really want that sense of accomplishment of a goal achieved this year!

I have some income that I can expect:

£150 from after school gym club which I will invoice at the end of term.
Sales of books at two village events in the next few weeks - probably totalling about £100.

So that is £250 down, £873.45 to go........

What can I do?

  • List some books on Amazon as I sold some on there last Christmas.  Price them to sell!
  • Have some "£21 challenge" weeks where I cut the costs of our groceries back to the bone.  The savings from that can go into the pot.
  • Continue to save from our regular income - I have already put £250 in this month already.
  • Look around and see if we have anything we can sell on Ebay that is mine or the FH's.  No use selling anything that the girls have finished with for this goal as they will have the money for their things.  What could I part with? [Must look at my clothes now that I have shrunk a little - perhaps there are some nice items there I could part with...]
  • Be controlled and creative with the Christmas spending.  Like Sue over at Our New Life in the Country, I have some vouchers to spend, so I can use them instead of real cash.

There may be other things that I come up with, but that is a place to start.

Do you have annual goals?  How are they shaping up?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Cream crackered

There's a rhyming word which means absolutely shattered and that is what I am tonight!  

Housework, ironing, hanging washing, shopping, gymnastics, cooking tea, knitting....done enough for one day today.

See you tomorrow - sweet dreams xx

Monday, 12 November 2012

Not quite but almost

I've now been tagged twice in the eleven random things/questions/etc thingamydodah, and so I had better Do something about it.

It wouldn't be fair to answer one of the set of questions and not the other, so I am going to answer neither, and nor am I going to think up 11 fresh questions - there aren't enough hours in the day to do it all!!  All that I will contribute, whilst thanking people for tagging me [very kind of you both to think of me!], is to try to find 11 random things about myself to share.

Here goes:

1. I've learned a lot of languages - I have GCSEs in French, German, Russian and Latin (all As except the Latin which was a C - I started it two years later than everybody else in the class!), and then I studied Hebrew and Greek in university.  I think that may be enough!

2. There is a 35 year age gap between the FH and I.

3. I don't eat wheat, corn, soya or dairy products.  To say why would be TMI.

4. When the EFG was born the paediatrician asked me why I hadn't stopped smoking when I became pregnant, as it was my fault that the EFG was such a wee thing at 5lb 8ozs.  I took  pleasure in telling her that I hadn't [and still haven't] smoked a single cigarette in my life, so she needed to think again.

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5.  My all time favourite film is the original Dr Zhivago with Omar Sharif and Julie Christie.

6.  I've come to the conclusion that I love collecting recipes a tiny bit more than I actually love to cook.  It is in my nature to collect information of all kinds!

7.  I don't want a Kindle.  I prefer real books.

8.  I'm quite a procrastinator when I have to do something I really don't fancy doing - I will fill the time with all sorts of things in order to not get around to doing whatever it is I don't want to do!

9.  I wish I could crochet.

10.  I miss my mum every day - she's been gone nearly 15 years and I think of her every day.  But I see her in myself and in the EFG....she's not far away.

11.  I love to drive - it is definitely in my blood - Mum and Dad could both drive buses.  Perhaps I will be able to drive something sizeable one day!  I used to love driving the motorhome.

That is my contribution - thanks for reading xx

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Today we are planning to be at the morning chapel service, but there will be another one later in the day, bringing the village together for Remembrance Day.

The FH did his National Service in the RAF, and we have many friends who have served in the RAF too.  My grandfather, I have learned, fought in the First World War, and the FH has cousins who were in the Royal Marines in the Second World War.  We come from fairly lowly backgrounds, both of us, and have a lot of agricultural workers in our family trees, so a lot of our relatives were engaged in agriculturally based reserved occupations.
We still remember those we know who have served, though.  I also think of the young soldier I wrote to during the original Gulf War, when I was a teenager.  One of the FH's uncles was on HMS Repulse during the war, I believe.  He was a radio operator, and knew Morse Code - clever man!

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The FH watched the Festival of Remembrance from the Royal Albert Hall last night, and I was listening to it as well.

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We give thanks for all their sacrifice and service, and must never forget them.  In current times, we also remember those who have received life-changing injuries whilst carrying out their duties, and I think that charities like Help the Heroes deserve our respect, support and admiration as well as the more traditional organisations like the Royal British Legion, which does amazing work.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A day in pictures

Today has been a good one - lots done, and plenty to enjoy!

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First of all, I dropped one of the older ladies from the church off at another church in town, along with the 28 shoeboxes which the craft club has filled for the appeal, and with £70 to send them off.  We think that they might be going to Belarus, but we aren't sure yet.

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Then it was time to go to the gym with the YFG for the Saturday morning training session.  The Olympics has really inspired a generation here, and we are inundated with little boys in particular wanting to have a go!  A busy session today....

Then the YFG and I dashed off to Tesco with my Clubcard vouchers burning a hole in my purse!  I had saved up £30 worth, which I doubled up and spent on some clothes.  All for nothing, really!  My weight loss has meant that I needed some new trousers, so I treated myself to two pairs of cheapish but smart black trousers, and a pair of jeans.  We got a couple of things for the YFG and two pairs of the PJ trousers in warm flannel fabric which the EFG loves.  And some socks.  We always need socks.  There is a sock graveyard here somewhere!

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This afternoon, I spent a little time on the computer, and did some washing too. I had an email from a lady who is distantly related, and she shared her tree with me too, so I spent some time looking at that.  This genealogy is fascinating.

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The YFG made pizza for tea for herself and the FH; the EFG and I did some freezing delving.

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Louis stunned us with a glorious waltz tonight, to the tune, "Moon River" - and we just loved it!  He's our favourite to win...

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And we love Merlin, so we watched that too!

Hope you have had a good day.

A further welcome to the latest follower - hope you say "Hello" in a comment one day!