Friday, 31 July 2015

Gardening in the Fens

 Just because I wanted a photographic record of how my garden is growing at this point in the summer, I mooched around the garden late this afternoon and took some pictures on my phone.  It then took about three times as long to transfer them to my laptop......enough said about that!

Just to "keep it real" here and show you that not everything is great, the courgettes have got the lurgy. They are perhaps the worst courgettes I have ever had the misfortune to grow, and the leaves are covered in this horrible black stuff, which UJ reliably informs me is the poo of some insect. Lovely. The courgettes themselves are edible, but strangely bumpy.

The Ferrari French/dwarf beans are doing well and I had a good harvest off them today. A little sit in the sun armed with a pair of scissors and they were topped and tailed and ready for storage in the fridge [for this week] and the freezer [for the winter].  

We do have wildlife in the garden - some of it pretty!

Tomatoes ripening up nicely. Probably Gardener's Delight but UJ gave me the plants and he couldn't quite remember. They taste good!

Peppers in the greenhouse. A dozen plants from Aldi, growing well. Three large peppers are already in the fridge and there are more coming along beautifully.

Raspberries continue to ripen.  We lost a lot in the damp weather as they just rotted off before we could pick them but these look like they will make it from plot to plate nicely!

A few self-seeded runner beans are winding their way around the old swing frame again. The ones I actually planted around a wigwam are not doing quite as well - typical.......

These are six really special tomato plants. They were self-seeded from some tomato plants I had in one of the veg beds last year. UJ potted up these plants and put them in the greenhouse until they got big enough to put out and now they are flourishing.  They were Sweet Million, I think.

And my gorgeous sweet peas.  I have to go out there to inhale their lovely scent several times a day.  Love it!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Another Queen?

I'm sure you've met Frugal Queen, and then there's MeanQueen, but are you aware of the Budget Menu Queen?  I've been following her over on Facebook for a little while, where she pops up occasionally.  This week she has shared a week's worth of recipes, provided a shopping list and costed it for four supermarkets [Aldi was the cheapest] which I think could be really useful for a lot of us - me included.....

Can I confess?  Our food is lacking inspiration lately!  Lack of time and that inspiration has meant that the YFG and I have been eating from the freezer and fridge, in a rut - I grab sausages, chicken, fish occasionally, and I serve it with a heap of veg, and that has been that.  We have had risotto, baked potatoes, beans on toast [for her], scampi and chips [again, for her] and even, in dire emergencies of no time at all - rice and jam!  And no, that isn't rice pudding and jam but just plain boiled rice and a good dollop of jam........not often though, and probably better than ordering in a take away, so I am not feeling TOO bad about it.

The EFG cooks for herself now that she is a vegetarian, as even when we have a veggie risotto, she doesn't like rice!  She has become more adventurous than I ever thought she would, and has embraced lentils, chickpeas, black beans [not too keen - too much wind produced!] and all sorts of other stuff like halloumi which was beyond the realms of our experience a few years ago.

So, I have to give myself a bit of a kick up the behind and get some of the recipe books earning their keep - especially with two students to feed from the end of next month.  Between the Budget Menu Queen and Feed your family for less than £20, I am intending things to improve around here......

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

End of the month offers

Well, not so much offers as temptations, I think.  I have noticed over the last couple of months that around this time, my internet pages are littered with advertisements for "payday weekend" offers in the shops.  It seems that the retailers realise that most of the month, people are being quite careful about s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g every penny but they hope that when the bank accounts are topped up with the wages, they might hope to part us from some of that hard-earned cash with a tempting treat or two!

We aren't falling for it here, and I doubt that you are, too, if you are the kind of person who comes to read my ramblings!

I said yesterday what a spendy month we have had, but every expense has been planned for or seen coming!  When I look back at the month, I have spent a heck of a lot of money [for me] but it has been careful spending, not treat spending and certainly not reacting to some adverts!

For example, the oil purchase was done after careful monitoring.  Monitoring of the usage of the oil in the tank, so that I knew how much we were using each month, and was able to roughly estimate when we would need more.  We don't actually Need more yet, as I would estimate that there is still about eight  months' worth of oil in the tank at summer usage rates, but we are coming towards the autumn and winter when usage will increase, and we have to also keep an eye on the cost of the oil itself.  I'd been tracking the prices, and was confident that the prices were good enough to make the purchase now. They may still drop further, but being of a cautious nature, I was satisfied that they were low enough!

There is no way that I would have just got up one day and said, "Hey, let's order some oil!" the way that the advertisers seem to expect us to say, "Hey, let's spend a grand on a new sofa!"

Planning, tracking, monitoring, saving - some of my favourite words!!  These are the words that are keeping us out of the red and firmly in the black.

Monday, 27 July 2015

A thrifty kind of day

We've been waiting around for the plumber to come today to install the shower over the bath for visitors/guests/girls ie anyone other than me!  It will be a boon to not have other people traipsing into my ensuite shower room.  He was planning to be here mid-morning, but that turned out to be plumber-speak for noon in the end, and then he was sans shower.....the plumbers' merchant hadn't unloaded it so he came and did some of the pipework and will come back in the morning to install the actual shower.

Frugal? Yes - more showers and less baths, I hope, and the money has been set aside for some time, so no debts incurred in the process.  He is taking the water from the hot tank so there is no expensive mile of cable to wire in an electric shower either.

I had to take the Skoda for its MOT this afternoon.  It passed - thank goodness - but the mechanic did make a comment about the miles on the clock: over 165000!  She's going very well and all he could find fault with is some corrosion on the silencer, and some weird wear on one of the tyres, which I shall get checked out this week at the local garage.

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Frugal? Yes - keeping her going another year is saving me money yet again!  This lovely old banger is doing remarkably well for her age, and mileage, and I shall do whatever it takes to look after her and keep her on the road for another year. I had the cam belt changed in January and we think she's good for another few years at least.  I feel safe in her, which is worth a lot to me.

I dropped the car off and walked the half mile into town and I spent 95p on a stamp to send in the girls' bus pass applications.  And that is all.  I actively avoiding mooching around the shops by going in to the library and reading for half an hour - and then I picked up two books to check out and bring home to read for the week.

Frugal?  Not spending money and then borrowing two books from the library? How could it be anything else!

Supper is all thought out too - beans fresh from the garden and corned beef hash.  Tinned tomatoes from the stores, onion, pepper from the greenhouse, potatoes from the garden.  Home-grown less only metres from the stove so it has got to be fresh and frugal!

I am looking forward to the end of this month as it has been an extraordinarily spendy month and I am planning on a super-saving August!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Money to burn

I don't like seeing my money go up in smoke, so the news that home heating oil had hit a five year low, according to Boilerjuice, was fantastic news.  I can remember paying over 60p a litre for the precious stuff, in the past!  

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This week, the price dropped to around 32p a litre, so it was time to stock up!  I have been watching the prices tumble for sorme weeks and day after day, the price had dropped. Then, it seemed to start to waver, with some days' prices being higher than the day before, so I decided to bite the bullet and order 1000 litres.  I also told an older lady at church about it last night - she doesn't use the internet and when she runs her oil down, she just rings up and gets more delivered, so I thought it was worth mentioning it to her. She didn't think she had room in the tank for her usual 800 litres, so I did encourage her to think about getting 500 litres whilst the prices are low.  She was glad I had told her, so I was pleased I had thought to mention it to her.  I know that she doesn't haggle with the oil company the way I do because she hasn't got the ammunition from the internet, so she just pays whatever they quote - whereas I saved £30 on the original price that the local company quoted by being able to say what I could get it for from elsewhere.

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We have lots and lots of wood stacked up in the woodshed and the workshop - the "proper" logs are in the woodshed and the rougher stuff which is chopped up bits and pieces and pallets, is in the workshop. The rough stuff gets the fire going and then the proper logs hold the fire in, especially if we are nipping out for an hour or two, or I want to keep the fire in longer overnight, perhaps to get some washing dry.  The good stuff cost me £80 for a load earlier in the year, and there is still half a load of last year's there, so we will be using that first.  We don't stack it around the wood burner like this picture, though!  Next thing will be to organise the chimney sweep for the annual brush-out of the flue.  That was £30 last year, so I am hoping that that cost hasn't gone up too much either.  Got to be done, though.

The realisation that it will be August next week makes me wonder where time is going but I do like Autumn, so I am sort of looking forward to September in a way!  However, I am trying to make the most of Summer whilst it is here, and I am looking forward to all the flowers opening on my sweet peas this week and putting on a good display!  

Hope you all have a blessed Sunday xx

Friday, 24 July 2015

Our weekend away

 This write up has been a long time coming, as I have had to wait for the EFG to download and send me the pictures from her camera, and then we had to negotiate who was going to use which photos on which media sites, which then left me with a few to choose from!  The EFG shares some on FB with her friends, whereas the YFG puts hers on Instagram.  You get to see my choices here!

We spent a lot of the mornings watching these little chaps charging around the area, nicking the toast that the neighbours had put down for the birds, and being generally very inquisitive! 

The caravan park is beautiful, and the YFG and I went for a walk on the Saturday afternoon, when we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of a muntjack deer in the undergrowth. Sadly, by the time that the YFG had got the camera out and worked out how to get the lens cap off, it had jumped off into deeper cover!  The squirrels just seemed to love to pose in contrast to the more timid deer.

We went to Sheringham on Saturday, and enjoyed mooching around the shops and what was left of the market by the time we got there. I bought a couple of cheap secondhand novels to read, and the girls bought odds and ends.  We headed along the coast road to Cromer later on, and nipped into Morrisons for provisions as the shop on the site is rather expensive.  

Sunday morning we didn't move very quickly at all and it was lunch time before we got going!  We went back to Cromer and walked around, and got caught in a rainstorm on the pier.  I had a lovely chat with a lady with two small children as we hid from the rain under some cosy shelters on the pier. She was telling her children that they probably wouldn't go to the beach baptisms that night if the rain carried on, so I thought I would ask a couple of questions about that - full immersion baptism in the sea sounded exciting!  It turned out that she and the family had just moved to Cromer in April, and only from Peterborough - they loved Cromer so much and were spending so much time there that they thought they would move there!  What a great sense of adventure.  The children were excited to be living right by the beach and having their first holiday-at-home by the sea!  I have to say that I was a tiny bit jealous....

After the rain eased off a little, we went back into the town towards Mary Jane's fish and chip shop - the best in Cromer.  The YFG had the traditional fish and chips but the newly vegetarian EFG had to settle for onion rings and chips.....

An evening back at the caravan and we all settled down to relax.  The EFG and I both did some knitting whilst we were away, and I read some books - it was very relaxing, and I loved it!  I can completely understand the lure of the holiday home industry there as I would snap up a country retreat by the sea if I could afford to buy it, and had the time to nip away a couple of weekends every month.  Not at the moment though!  Now that we know that the site caravans are so well maintained and reasonably priced out of season, as well as having secured information about the one that my Dad and MB had stayed in, we shall definitely be going back.  Highly recommended x

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Quite rare for me

but I am posting a book review tonight!  I had a Book People catalogue come through ages ago and I thought a set of books looked intriguing, and then when the next catalogue dropped through the letter box last week, they were still in there, and I decided to go for it and get them - and I was SO glad that I I have read all three of them already!

Tessa Hainsworth Collection - 3 Books - Collection - 9780099598558 - Tessa Hainsworth
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They are by Tessa Hainsworth, a Body Shop high-flyer who gave up the rat race to go and live in Cornwall. She needed a job to make ends meet, and was the only applicant who turned up to the interview for a position as a postie, so she got the job.  The three books tell the story of how she and her husband, Ben, settled into life in Cornwall, and the ups and downs of rural life.  They are well written and tell a gentle story - full of humour and kindness.  As I finished each one, I couldn't wait to start the next, and now that I have read all three, I am looking around and wondering whether she has written any more - but unfortunately, it seems not!  Her endearing stories of making a penny do the work of a pound and getting used to getting by on much less do hit the mark, and I was impressed with her determination to fit in and get on with the job at hand.

Tessa Hainsworth has a website HERE which tells you more about her and her life, and also links to some more wonderful photos.  I was fortunate to get these three books in a bundle from The Book People for just £4.99 and I consider that money well spent for my holiday reading, but perhaps you will find them in the library.  I'd highly recommend them - and although I have mentioned that book shop several times in this post, this is NOT a sponsored post, because I don't do them!  

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Scurrying around today

It's been another one of those busy days today. 

It didn't start off on the best foot when the EFG nipped off to catch the train to her foodbank volunteering to find that the barriers at the train station were stuck in the down position and she was unable to cross the track on the road to get to the other platform - cue a snappy call to Mum to come to drive her three miles round the village and over another crossing to get to the other side of the station!  The train was in the station when we got there, but she was able to board and make her journey successfully.

Four of the five lawns got mowed today, long overdue and hard work!  The fifth we just ran out of time and energy to tackle, and the compost wheelie bin was full anyway, so we abandoned all that at about 7.45pm and the YFG and I wandered up the road to water our friend's pots and garden whilst they are away.  We took along another bucket so that I could help, and an old plastic milk crate to stand the watering cans on whilst they fill at the tap as the tap spews the water out at an odd angle and one can't just leave the can on the floor as it doesn't catch the water!  It is arm aching work to hold the cans whilst they fill so we took the crate along to raise them up to tap level whilst they fill. Our friends kindly left a hosepipe reel out for us for when the water butts were emptied, but sadly, nothing to attach the hose to the tap with, so we shall have to persevere with the cans........more exercise for us, which is fine in this lovely weather.

Dad took MB to the hospital for a scan this morning and that all went well - they were home again by 9.30 am and very pleased at how smoothly it all went. She has another appointment in a couple of weeks.

Off to bed - early start for the Leavers' Assembly at school in the morning, so I had best be off!

Monday, 20 July 2015


One weary girl is home from Latitude festival.  She headed straight for the bath, and then filled the washing machine - twice...when she had hung out the washing, we had to nip to town to fill up the cupboard and fridge with some food that she likes!  She's home - brown as a berry from all the time she has spent outdoors, and I think we are going to be listening to her tales for a day or so to come.  Very good to have her back xx

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Super Saturday and Special Sunday

Yesterday was a cracking good day in many respects.  The table top sale went well and we had a relatively good turn out - and I sold some bits and pieces from the great stash!  The evening was lovely.  Finally, I am an accredited Local Preacher......five years in the making, but last night was the culmination of it all. There was a good turnout at the service, of people from our own chapel in the village and folk from about six other chapels in the circuit as well. It was lovely to see our wee chapel so filled with people, and we sang our hearts out. It was good.  My dad managed to come along for the service, although he didn't stay long afterwards, because he wanted to get home to MB.  UJ and my sister came along, as did the YFG, which I was pleased about.

Today, we have a christening at the chapel, and then we will be taking some friends and going this afternoon to a leaving service for one of the circuit ministers.  He is off to London [or just outside, I think] in his next appointment, so there is a special time this afternoon for sharing with him and his family, and I think that people from his last place are also coming - they had a fantastic choir which came when he arrived, too - so it is going to be a sad event, in that he will be leaving us, but also very joyous as I know that the music and prayers and singing will be filled with the Spirit. We've loved the chap at our chapel, but I know that he hasn't got on as well with every congregation, unfortunately.

I shall almost be glad to get back to work on Monday for a rest!  But then the EFG will be back from her Latitude adventures and we shall have tales to hear from there - the text messages are not telling half the story, but I am getting a picture of sunburn [she left her sunhat here], people getting drunk ["we carried a paralytic girl to the welfare tent"] and dodgy hygiene ["I've managed to have a shower at last"]........Her big brother seems to think that festivals are a good life experience but they have come on a lot in many respects since he and a few mates organised one with rock royalty in the dim and distant past!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Catching up and welcome

Karen - lovely to have you here and thanks for commenting. I first mentioned the church job back in February and I haven't actually explained much more about it since then, although folk have been very supportive and encouraging.

The circuit are employing two lay workers to help with outreach and I have been blessed with one of the positions.  I am sure that I shall be telling you much more about it once I actually start it in September!  
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In the meantime, I have today negotiated a reduction in my phone hours from 15 to 10 from the middle of August after I have a week off, which has been booked since January. It will allow me some breathing space to get some work done around the house and get straightened out for when the students arrive at the end of August.  Ten hours can be quite easily done over about three days if necessary so it will allow me a little bit more flexibility than fifteen does at present.

The YFG and I have been to the cinema this afternoon to see True Story - which is a bit strange but very absorbing, and more than a bit mysterious.  We sat in a cinema which would have held probably 150 or so people - and there were 6 of us in there!  Plenty of room to spread out, for sure.....That was the YFG's treat whilst the EFG is away.  We have heard from her a couple of times, but she has limited access to electricity at Latitude, so she is conserving her phone battery and just texting occasionally.  We've heard from her today and all is well.

I know that it is getting late, but now that the temperature has cooled down, I am off to do some baking for the table top sale that we are having at the chapel tomorrow afternoon, and for the refreshments after the service in the evening.  Lemon cake, chocolate slab cake and some cheese scones, I think.  Hope you all have a lovely weekend x

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hours in the day

I'm struggling to find enough of them!  From last weekend's pure relaxation and rest, this coming weekend is set to be mayhem and madness.......a table-top sale in the afternoon, my LP recognition service in the evening on Saturday, a Christening on Sunday morning and a leaving service for one of the circuit ministers in the afternoon.

There might just be time in the midst of it all for a meal or two, but not a lot else.  Ahead of the weekend, I have to source more communion glasses as we are expecting more people to the recognition service than our church has glasses to accommodate - but then we do only have about 20 these days - and might need to make a trip to borrow some from another chapel.  And then there is the baking for the table top sale's refreshments, and digging out some "stuff" to sell to support the cause.......

I am SO glad that we had last weekend.  It was a peaceful, quiet, relaxing, mooching-about with no fixed plans kind of time, and involved lots of sitting around, sleeping, wandering around familiar places, and no deadlines, urgency or hassle.  We took some great photos of squirrels which came to visit the caravan too, but they are on the EFG's pc and she's gone off to Latitude festival as a volunteer now, so I shall have to wait until next week to show you those.  We thought one or two might be suitable to submit to the Countryfile calendar competition - we are rather impressed with the EFG's new camera!

We were so impressed with the caravan and just being at Kelling Heath last weekend again that the YFG would like to go back with her friend, and I have said that I will do what I can to fulfill that wish one day - perhaps not this year though.  A little savings pot will have to be set up to keep some "holiday fund" money building up in, as for now, I have other expenses staring me in the face!

We need to have a refill of the oil tank [approx £350], I am waiting for the plumber to come back to me with an installation date for the over-bath shower [about £350-£400] and I need to pay for the YFG's school bus pass [£480] this month too.  Seems funny that although the kids are supposed to stay in full time education, we still have to pay for post-16 transport, even to their nearest post-16 education you can see that we are having to keep a tight rein on the pennies at the moment with all that to sort out.  I haven't heard from the plumber for some time, so I shan't complain if that moves over into August!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Invalid update

Whilst we were away at the weekend, MB was called into hospital for an operation on her arm to have plates and pins inserted.  This was rather unexpected and not in line with what she had been told at the clinic on the Thursday, but evidently someone else had a look at her x-rays and made the decision.

She was whisked into the private suite at the hospital, where there was a spare bed, and had the op done on Sunday. Dad fetched her home this afternoon.  She's feeling a bit groggy and the pain is still rough but she is managing.  I had a quick word with her on the phone tonight and she seems relieved to be back home, which is always where we want to be!  I also think she wants to keep an eye on Dad as she was worried about the strain all this had put on him.  

She's got to go back to the clinic in a couple of weeks to have it checked over again but they are not anticipating any problems.  Thank goodness!  She still has the big boot on her foot to support the broken bone there as well, so she is a bit of a walking wounded type at the moment, but she is quite positive about it all, bless her xx

Monday, 13 July 2015

I just want to SHOUT

but apparently I am only supposed to whisper this at the moment......cos not everyone who needs to be in the know knows, if you know what I mean!  But........I got the job!!!!!!!!!  

I am sure you guys won't go telling everyone yet, now will you?!  I am so e-x-c-i-t-e-d  I just can't say!  Thank you all for the good wishes, prayers and support.  Thank you xxxx

Friday, 10 July 2015

The News

The news about the invalid is that MB has bones broken in her arm and her foot and went into the hospital yesterday.  They have sent her home with her arm bandaged and a giant boot on her foot. Her foot isn't giving her too much pain and she is able to hobble around. Her arm is more painful but she feels able to manage the pain.  MB sounded in good spirits when I spoke to her on the phone twice yesterday.  She has an appointment to go to the fracture clinic in two weeks to see how things are healing.  Otherwise, all is well - her daughter has got them some shopping in, and my dad had a long nap in the afternoon and was feeling more rested.  I think some quiet days are on the cards for them this weekend.

My interview seemed to go OK. The panel didn't give a lot away whilst I was doing the presentation but I did get some more positive feedback from the minister on the panel later on. They asked some interesting questions, which were quite challenging to answer - I shall have more empathy with the teachers and teaching assistant candidates I interview at school in future now!  The other candidate had come from some distance and is moving closer to the area this week, but won't actually live within the circuit.  Thank you for all your prayers and support - I shall tell you the outcome as soon as I know.

And today we are off to the coast for the weekend - and I am very very ready for a break!  I'll be back after the weekend - we do not think we will have internet access whilst we are away, so it is likely that we'll just read, relax and potter around in real life!  I hope you all have a good weekend, and I'll catch up on your blogs next week too xx

Thursday, 9 July 2015

A few thoughts and prayers for someone else?

My summer holiday weekend away starts tomorrow, and we have a caravan booked at Kelling Heath on the Norfolk coast, not far from Sheringham and Cromer.  My dad also managed to get a caravan on the same site, but he went on Monday and the caravan was booked for them until next Monday so that they would be there nearby and we could spend some time together at the weekend.  It's one of our favourite places!

I had a phone call from Dad last night to say that they were home and in a bit of a bad way. He took MB out to lunch yesterday and she took a tumble on some steps in the hotel that they had gone to for lunch, and she was injured.  Paramedics took her to Cromer hospital, and then released her to come home, as long as she was taken in to the local hospital where they live.  Dad drove her home and they arrived back at about 8pm last night. One of her daughters has gone over to help Dad to look after her, and to take her to the hospital this morning, as the hospital here did not want them to take her last night. She is very shaken up, and has hurt her ankle, her head and her elbow as she fell.

Dad is 86 and she is a decade younger.  He is shaken by it all and exhausted by a two hour drive last night to get her home. They had been intending to share the driving but of course she was not able to help him.

They abandoned the caravan and their belongings, just calling in there to pick up Dad's medications, so we need to sort out picking up their things when we are there at the weekend, but that is a minor point.  I am so hoping that MB will be OK, and that the hospital can patch her up and sort out her problems today.  I have promised to ring Dad tonight after I get back from the interview, to see how she is and what has happened.

Blogger isn't playing ball this morning or I would have shared some pictures from the camp site that I have taken in the past.  There are some in the link above so you can see how peaceful it is there!  We are looking forward to a relaxing weekend but we will be thinking about Dad and MB too.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Big day tomorrow

The day I have been waiting for since about February will be here in just over an hour - I'm up late tonight!  The interview presentation is ready, but I still have no idea what to wear.......

I'll come back tomorrow and let you know how it went - thank you for all your support, love and comments xxx


I know that a lot of people are heading to bed in this country, scared of what George Osborne's budget will bring for us all tomorrow.  I'm apprehensive too.  I'm one of the lucky ones, as I have got enough income from other sources at the moment that even if he smashes the Tax credits system to smithereens, I'll survive.  We won't be as comfortable, but we'll survive, for now.  If he raises that income tax threshold, perhaps I'll get to keep a little more of what I earn to make up for some of what he takes away......

But I am painfully aware that that money is an absolute lifeline for some families and that they are going to be queuing up at the foodbanks and struggling to pay their bills without it.  Hard working people are not going to be able to make ends meet and provide for their children with cuts such as the ones that are feared.  I don't get too vocal about actual politics and the politicians, as I haven't got time to study it enough to be properly informed.  I see the impact though, and I read about the problems.  I marvel at the strength that some people have got as they get through in appalling situations, and I wonder at their resolve.  

Tonight, we don't know for sure what will happen tomorrow.  We don't have the information to make reasoned debate about it yet.  That lack of information doesn't stop people worrying about what might happen though.  It will also take some time for the actual impact for each family to be realised.  

What can I do about it?  I can't do anything at all about the possible cuts, but I can be there to support those who find themselves in dire straits as a result.  I can sign petitions, I can make donations, and I can support the local foodbanks and charities which support those in need.  I can share what I have. I will be asking to go on a CAP money course if I get this outreach worker position in the church, so that I can help people more.  I would love to help more people access wonderful, helpful websites like Frugal Queen, Life after Money and Moneysavingexpert.  

I can go down on my knees and pray for all kinds of people all over the world who do not have enough.  I'm grateful for the blessings we have too.

Monday, 6 July 2015


On this Monday morning, the 7th of July last year, at the start of another week of hot weather, under glorious blue skies, the FH left us.  We knew it was coming, that it wouldn't be too long, but we didn't think it would be that morning, or even that week, perhaps.  We thought we had some time.

Turns out time is short.  

We're now a year down another road, a slightly different road, and one we didn't have a detailed map to guide us along.  We had a rough idea how the road would twist and turn, but we had no idea of the exact route.

But God's grace is beyond measure.

A year on, no one else has died, the EFG has shone through a year at university and life 585 miles from home, the YFG has solidly worked her way through her GCSEs, and been an amazing support to me at home.  The house is still standing despite my lack of DIY skills.  We aren't bankrupt and we still have some savings, despite my fears about how we would survive.  I have been gainfully employed for 10 months in a job I have grown to tolerate if not actually love!  And I have hopes of a new position this week.  The FH's son has done his time and come out of prison a slightly different version of himself.  The chickens have gone, but we are still growing veggies.  I finished the Local Preachers' course and will become an Accredited LP this month! We found out the depth of the love and support of others by which we are upheld.

We still miss him.

We are looking forward to the future.  We still have plans for moving forward, moving on, making strides towards another future, perhaps a bit different from the one we thought we had back then.  The FH died believing that the YFG had plans to be a midwife, perhaps, for example but now she has moved from science/medical ideas to anthropology.......the EFG is considering a fifth year at uni in order to spend a year abroad, and we are opening our home in September to EF students. In some ways we are going forward but in other ways we are going full circle, back to the hosting of horticultural/vocational students we did back in Cupar!  

We give thanks for the memories, for the skills he taught us, the wisdom he shared with us, and the love he gave us.  In his death, we have become more confident, more determined, better team players, more reflective about how we are treated by others, and more aware of the opportunities we have. 

We look forward to what the next year might bring.

Saturday, 4 July 2015


Propping my eyes open to wait for the YFG to be brought home from a party - we did the taking and another mum is going to collect the YFG and her daughter - at 12.30am so I have a while yet to wait.

I have been researching for the presentation I have to make, so not wasting time!

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(image from

Friday, 3 July 2015

Exciting news

I had a phone call last night, inviting me to an interview for the church job next week.  The slightly challenging part of it is that I have to prepare a powerpoint presentation, of about five minutes, to answer the question, "How would you share the gospel with unchurched people?" 

Emotions are running riot here this morning - I have been awake since before 6am thinking about it, but I am nervous, apprehensive and excited all in one little bundle!

The hospital trip went well yesterday: the consultant did a very thorough examination of the YFG's wrist, sent her for an x-ray, and then concluded he couldn't find a reason for her pain, so he has decided to arrange an MRI scan to look more closely into the wrist itself.  Now we wait for an appointment....

The weather in the Fens was much more manageable yesterday but it is looking like today might be another scorcher.  I was up early so I took the opportunity to water the garden before it got too much sun on it - I love the early mornings when I manage to see them!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Keeping cool

As the nation swelters in a heatwave here, I am fascinated to see that in Australia, members of the Winwickmum Sockalong group are rather chilly - and if I am honest, perhaps I would prefer to pop over there for a spell!  I have long been someone who prefers cooler weather, based on the premise that I find it easier to get warmer than I do to cool bottles and warm rugs hold far more appeal to me.

However, we shouldn't moan when the sun is shining, and that it is here this morning again.  I don't think the thermometers are going to hit the heights that they did yesterday today, and the forecast is indicating a few drops of rain this afternoon - that will freshen things up nicely.  The garden is loving the warmth, and I am watering everything regularly, so the tomatoes are growing like triffids in the greenhouse, and the lettuces will be ready any day now.  We have a cucumber ready to be plucked, and there are more courgettes getting longer and filling out beautifully!  UJ gave me six tomato plants which are in the greenhouse, but there are six more in a trough by the verandah - he potted them up from the veg bed where they had self-seeded from last year's plants.  We have no idea what will happen: they may have been "real seeds" so they might come true - they were tiny little tomatoes there last year, so I have my fingers crossed that we get more of those this year and not some weird throwback tomatoes!

I'll have to take some photos of the garden to share this week.

In other news, we are off to the hospital this afternoon to see the Orthopaedic team about the YFG's sore wrist - so I am really hoping that they can actually track down the source of her pain and do something specific to help her as she has been taking painkillers and wearing a support for long enough.  She's only 15 and it isn't good to be laying on your bed crying with the pain.

Financially, the updates from the end of June show that the savings are doing well, as we are still being ultra-cautious with all spending, but I know that this month is an expensive one coming up: there was an advisory on the MOT on the Skoda last year for corrosion on the rear silencer, and I need to get my garage here to check that that is either still OK [just] or deteriorated to the level at which it needs replacing before the MOT.  I also have to have the MOT done by the end of the month, pay the annual line rental on the phone to BT to get that discount, and pay my NI.  We have a weekend away booked next weekend, so there will need to be some pennies available for ice creams and fish and chip treats, as well as a little extra diesel to get us there!  And the tax credits forms still need to be done.......

Hope you have a lovely sunny day, wherever you are - keep cool if it is warm, and if you are somewhere chilly, stay warm!!