Saturday, 10 March 2018

Spring is coming along

Our seedlings are starting to make a bit of progress.
Second leaves on the tomatoes.  The hot mat under the seeds in the conservatory has been turned off now as the overall temperatures rise.

In the workshop the new kitchen cabinets are getting to the painting stage.
Bit more of the kitchen has gone and a new unit temporarily arrived.
We need to recycle more of the old cabinets as the recycling centre now wants £3 for every cabinet we turn up with. Not keen on bonfiring melamine wood stuff the old kitchen was made of - would it release toxins.

We are wandering about each day looking for signs of spring here. The snowdrops are coming to an end and the daffs are starting to show a tiny bit of colour. I found one tiny violet flower hidden in a sheltered bed today.  

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Thank you Frugal in Essex

Reading Frugal in Essex's blog regularly has finally filtered into my brain. We were just going to set off to T**co to put some credit on the cheap phone and get some shopping when I remembered how she checks for coupons before going out.  As the computer was already on, I leapt into action and printed off a £4 off coupon.

Pity our T**co is attached to a large Dobbies Garden Centre, while I was saving money and raiding the yellow stickers fairly successfully the husband had wandered off to buy "stuff" for the garden!  He refrained from buying a nice shrub and got some french bean seeds.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Metered water bill

Received our first metered water bill for 6 months.  We decided not to change any habits just yet to see what "norm" was. It has worked out to approximately £6 per week.  Un-metered it was just over £10 per week.  £4 saved per week, total £24.  I am sure we can improve with a few habit changes too.

Not our best saving though. In August 2017 we gave up our mobile phone contract and brought a £10 phone and £10 credit plus £10 free credit on joining. We had gone from 2 state of the art phones and 2 contracts 5 years ago (when working) to 2 years ago to 1 expensive phone and the cheapest monthly package of £10.  Which was a big saving in itself. But that £20 spent in August still has £2.64 credit to use.  So in 6 months instead of £60 spent out we have spent £18. Saving over 6 months £40.

I am going to use the savings to have some highlights put in my dull grey hair and have a nice cut.  Here is the before  - I may post an after!!

I am super excited tonight by the way as I have just made my first sale on my Folksy site GrandmaMakes of a handmade bag. All my costs so far have been covered by this one sale so I am excited to expand my market offerings and get on with some more sewing!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Window problems

Our bathroom is a single story 1970s extension that faces due east at the back of the house so not a great assert but functional.  We always have the window open day and night to prevent mold (previous owners had it fully tiled so moisture lingers from even the shortest shower) until this week.  With this extraordinary wind, so called Beast from the East, we wanted to close it tight but somehow the top opening frame had got twisted out of shape and would not seal!  The central heating is not on during the day I put the NHS free thermometer on the window sill where it read 10C in seconds. It went up to 12 C by the time I reached the kitchen table.

The solution last night was some plastic and some wide tape.

OK its not pretty but it cut the draft but still left us with a high pitched keening noise of the wind coming in the millimeter gap at the top of the window.  Not quite whistle, not quite a moan. We should record it for a background noise in a BBC spooky drama.

When the weather improves and we can look at the seals and the plastic window frame is soft (perhaps in August) see if we can adjust it to fit better.

I recall living in my parents 1950s council house with single glass windows and no heating at all upstairs.  The bathroom really was cold all the time especially in the bad winter of 1963! My Dad left the taps dribbling to stop them freezing up and the water puddling in the sink or bath froze solid overnight after the coal fire and paraffin heater downstairs were out.  Probably why I find this modern trend for laying in a bath with candles and wine so strange - "lingering" was not something I grew up with. Nowadays we have to wait for a luxury break in an overheated hotel when I get to fill a bath to the brim and spend time in there.

As the snow has melted off the back windows we have discovered the wind blown snow must have picked up a lot of dust or soil from the very dry conditions and the windows are thick with dirt. Glad its nearly all over with the setting sun.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

End of February

Sunday we went for a lovely walk by the River Nar.  Sunny and dry, if still a bit frosty under the trees.  Least we did not get muddy on the meadows paths as it was nicely frozen.
Monday we had a bit of snow. Don't know what happened to the Beast from the East bit we live right on the Wash on the east coast and we have had hardly any snow.  It all melted on the road by lunch time.

Tuesday and the very light powdery snow is lifted and blown off the fields.  Looked really weird bit like the photos I have seen of the dust storms in USA dust bowl in the 1920s.  Its blown inside our log store and inside the poly tunnel.  

Been putting out extra food for the birds.  The blackbird came to his "plate" of meal worms.

We looked round the house for things to do inside.  We have not had the estimate for the electrical improvements for the kitchen yet but my husband decided as they would need access to the ceiling anyway he would take up the laminate in the study above.

In the end it came up easily and we decided it could be re used to floor our conservatory later in the year.  So it has all gone in to store for a while.

We are scraping through the food cupboard this week like everyone else trying to avoid any need to go out shopping.  Lots of stews and curry's to help keep us warm.

Monday, 19 February 2018


A flash of brown went past the front windows and landed on the telegraph pole next door but one. Just about got a picture with my little digital camera of the local kestrel having a rest on the access ladder things near the top of the pole.
(Husband and better camera not around.)

Apart from that excitement I have been doing nothing much all day. Cleaning, dusting a corner and re arranging the Cds and player and some books. Its wet and foggy here.

Yesterday was mild and I managed a bit of veg bed digging over - I can do about 10 feet by 5 feet patch before needing a sit down. I hope I get fitter before the spring or nothing will get grown.

I was checking our food budget (including all household cleaners, basic toiletries  and loo rolls etc)  for the last 3 months we have existed on £40 a week for the two of us. That includes all costs in getting the food to the cupboard. If we have not grown and stored it, Supermarket delivers for £1 every fortnight or I cycle or bus(free) to shops.  I spent £50 on meat and fish last week and that should last a least two weeks. I had intended we have a few more protein rich meals but when we tried to have a full chicken leg or a generous pork chop each we were both bloated and a little sick feeling. So its back to sharing just about 200gms of meat or fish per meal between us. I shall be spending a little bit more on making the meals spicy or tasty. For example I  brought a bottle of BBQ sauce for 65p and used it to spice up some bacon in a roll and then some more to marinade 200 gms pork loin  cubed. This was acutely really nice. I added nearly half of one of my giant white onions from the store as they are very sweet and soft when cooked and took up the sauce really well.

I shall up the salads too. I really need to shed some weight and get fit for summer.  Meanwhile will be encouraging husband to plant some mixed salad leaves in the poly-tunnel for some early home grown.

Our weekend treat was to have a newspaper. Mostly for the big crossword which we delight in filling in 50% without using any reference books or the WWW.  I then scour the paper for interesting stories you don't get on the news. Two struck me. One about an energy company (French owned) reporting a good drop in domestic usage of electricity in the UK. Hurrah! All those SMART meters are having an effect; especially on the power company's income. The second was about de-cluttering or spring cleaning. It was actually a hopeless article except the bit by a journalist de-cluttering his phone. How did end up with 6 betting apps? The outcome that was interesting is that he de-cluttered his mind and went out side and heard the birds singing!!!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Hare's scream

OMG what a shock.   It was a nice afternoon so I thought I could just do a few things in the garden including cutting the long dead grass from around the autumn raspberries. My husband joined me ( he needed a break from the sports) and was cutting the canes down along side me.

As I poked the shears into a clump of long grass all of a sudden I could feel a resistance and there was a shrill screaming.  I had caught something in the shears blades.  There was a lot more screaming (me) while my husband searched the grass.

Eventually he found this.
A baby hare. He caught it and checked it and could find no damage or blood. But the poor thing just sat there for the next half an hour.

Later husband checked his nature/trail camera thing, and found that the mummy hare had been running around the fruit area of our field the previous night. I hope she comes back for it.

Spring is coming along

Our seedlings are starting to make a bit of progress. Second leaves on the tomatoes.  The hot mat under the seeds in the conservatory has...