This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Monday, October 29, 2012

I've given in.  We had the CH on for an hour yesterday and the halogen heater on for 1.5 hours in the living room and 1.5 hours in the bedroom.  I got to the point where I had four layers on (inside the house) including my really warm gilet - and I was still shivering and miserable.  Enough is enough.  The washing was so cold that I could not tell if it was dry or still slightly damp so I put it along the radiator racks to warm up so that I could decide.  My husband says I am ridiculous but we spent the best of £1.75 on heating yesterday. When it gets colder and we need more heating and then multiply up the cost across the winter......

I've been considering the cost of retirement.  I was reading somewhere (MSE or The Motley Fool most likely) that the cost of living goes down when you stop working.  I thought that this was not true at least for us.  We still need clothes and I will continue to buy them mainly in charity shops.  I have all my "work" clothes and my "at home" clothes and will wear them out before getting more.  The food bill will go up because we won't get a free sarnie for lunch any more.  My husband has a sarnie and and apple and I have a sarnie and a bowl of custard.  The custard is filling and means that I can leave half my sarnie for tomorrow's breakfast.  So we will have to start paying for weekday lunches and my weekday breakfasts.  The heating bill will rise because on weekdays, we only need heating in the evenings if it is cold enough.  Then we would need a great deal more heating and all day in cold  That bit worries me because with the cost of heating rising, that bill is scary enough already.  Travel costs won't change much.  It is a 3 mile round trip to school each day so we might save a litre or just over of diesel per week.  I always try to go shopping on the way home from school to minimise the fuel costs so that shopping trip will negate some of the fuel saved by not going to work.  We won't pay national insurance - yes but we also won't be earning any income to pay it on.  We'll still have to pay income tax on my husband's pension.  We'll still be paying at the vet, dentist, optician, hairdresser as always.  Once past a certain age, prescription charges will go unless they decide to drop that perk of being older.  Currently, bus fares drop during certain hours once in receipt of a state pension but they are talking of stopping that and the state pension itself is getting further away.

Hmmm.  If we leave work, I think living costs are going to increase and income will plummet.  I can see lots of budgetting ahead - far more than now. Isn't it a good thing that we like homemade (and homegrown) vegetable soup!

By the way, Tesco have lots of their baking ingredients on 3 for the price of 2 at the moment.  Time to stock up on enough dried fruit and flour for a few months.  I'm thankful that there is enough in the coffers to be able to go and spend a bit more now in order to get some longer term savings.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

We haven't had dry weekends for ages so I'd been stockpiling the dirty laundry and just washing the essentials as it is so hard to get things dry.  So I've got the washer on again this morning to try and catch up in the only two dry days of halfterm.  The sun has come out and there is a little bit of a breeze today which means that things might dry.

It was cold last night.  My husband had left a bucket of water halfway up the garden (for reasons known only to himself) and it has at least an inch of ice on the top now.  It was perishing cold coming home last night from the party. We were the party poopers who were the first ones to leave.  We were there about 3 hours so we didn't do bad but my husband had developed a headache from all the noise so we gave up and came home.  There was a couple singing and playing and they weren't bad but I'd never heard any of the songs and couldn't really listen because of all the background chat.  I'm not good at hearing with a lot of background noise.  I can't "force" my voice to talk over lots of background noise either.  I've had lots of throat problems in the past and know that trying to talk in such situations only leads to misery.  Still, I had a good cuddle with my  new little granddaughter.  My daughter had prepared lots of food but people didn't seem to want to eat.  She had made loads of cupcakes and they looked lovely. She is a good cook, my daughter.  Actually, all three of our kids are good cooks.  Don't know where they get that from and they certainly didn't help when they lived at home : )


Friday, October 26, 2012

It is the end of half term.  It has been so damp this week.  I've got two loads of washing out on the line and the sheets are drying as there is a little bit of a breeze.  Even the towels are looking promising. The weather forecast says it will be dry tomorrow too so there will be another two loads out on the line.  We still haven't had any heat on in the house so the washing just will not dry inside.

Tonight, we are going out gallivanting.  It is my son-in-law's birthday and as he is moving into a new decade, they are putting on a party.  There will be about 60 people there and I won't know about three quarters of them.  I'm not a big party person and my husband is even less so.  There is bound to be somebody I can hide in the corner and chat to.

My husband is down at the allotment.  He popped home for lunch and apparently the slugs have been having a free lunch off plants that we thought could sit in the ground and wait a bit before harvesting.  Grrr. The leeks are doing quite well and I love leeks so I foresee a leek-ful winter.  Soup, stir fries, just as a veg, tucked into all sorts of dishes.  Yum!

The hens are still producing some eggs.  One pair (Warrens) has given up for the winter but surprisingly, the two Bluebelles who are the oldest hens by far, are still laying about 5 eggs a week between them.  The youngest ones (Warrens again) are still laying 5-7 eggs a day from 7 of them.  They are scruffy looking urchins, that group, but seem happy enough or they would not be laying so many.  The trio who came from school, are laying 1-2 eggs a day with the occasional 3.  There are still enough eggs to keep all my customers happy.

I'm off to do a little bit of ironing and then I'll go out and give my hens a bit of corn.  A little reward for laying such nice eggs for me.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Well, I have tried to upload a photo and failed miserably.  I've tried to copy and paste from two different places, tried to upload from where I had the photo saved on my computer, tried to give the url from where it is on the internet - and all I get is error messages saying that it can't be done or that the photo is not there at that address.  Lots of people have photos on their blogs so it can't be very difficult.  I just must be thicker than most people : (

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

We're still eating our homemade ready meals from last week.  It is so nice to come home from work and just have to reheat something (microwave) and there is dinner on the table.  Maybe cook some veg and that is it.  When we have eaten a bigger hole in the food that is in the freezer - all that meat we bought this year - then I'll step up the production of ready meals.  We've always cooked enough for two days at a time but never had enough to go in the freezer as well.  Not only is it easier to have our own ready meals but it is also cheaper in fuel costs.  I'm very conscious that fuel costs are going up and up and up and I am desperate to keep them as low as I can. 

We haven't had any form of heating on yet.  I called in on my friend for a few minutes at the weekend and they had their woodburner lit.  I really didn't want to leave and go back to our cold house.  Our house is a semidetached which faces north east-ish  and the back therefore faces southwest-ish.  If the sun is shining, we get the sunshine in the front for 30-45 minutes about 7am in the summer and in the back of the house for 30-45 minutes about 4pm as it has to get past next door before the warmth reaches us.  Very nice but not enough to warm the house much. I'm having a problem getting the washing dry now we are well into October. On Saturday, I pegged out a whole load of cotton items (including lots of socks) bright and early and by teatime they were not dry.  On Sunday afternoon, I ended up putting them in the tumble dryer as we needed some of them for Monday.  They only needed 45 minutes drying to finish them off but I had hoped to avoid the use of the tumbler for a bit longer. This is the first time that I've had to use it for many months.  I do try hard to avoid using it but it is there as a backup if absolutely necessary.  I HATE wearing clothes which smell musty because they dry so slowly in our cold house.

My friend with the woodburner doesn't have a problem drying the washing...

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Friday, October 05, 2012

I've been very thrifty this week.  Actually it is all because of other people's generosity.  I was given a chicken carcass a few days ago by a friend who already had four carcasses in the freezer and stock from a fifth in the fridge.  She is on a special diet and is very limited in what she can eat.  She had taken the breast meat off and nothing else as she only likes the white meat.  I had brought home cooked peas, carrots and potatoes left from a church meal on Sunday, so I got cooking.

We had:
  • pieces of chicken in a sauce with vegetables and served with couscous from my Approved Food stash
  • one of my husband's favourite meals - cold chicken and fried potato served with peas and carrots.  Left to himself, I think he would cook some form of chips with every meal : )
  • 3 chicken pies with pastry bottoms and potato tops made with white sauce and leftover veg with some onions, mushrooms and bacon from the fridge
  • 2 meals of chicken and veg soup
So we have eaten well this week and there are several homemade ready meals in the freezer.  And it has cost us very little money.  Given the number of family birthdays coming up in the next month, that is A Good Thing.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Life never goes along smoothly for very long, does it?

New granddaughter is getting along fine - no funny allergies to milk like her big brother.  No funny skin problems like her big brother either.  Her mum is a different story.  Poor girl has been rushed into hospital four times in the last two weeks with gall bladder problems. At one point they starved her for 42(!!!) hours as they could not decide whether or not to perform an emergency op.  No problem about losing baby weight here...

They kept having to give her morphine which meant that she couldn't feed the baby again until 24 hours after the last dose. The baby fed from mum one day and then two or three days of infant formula in a bottle then back to mum and then back to infant formula again.  Poor thing has grizzled a lot in the last couple of weeks and who can blame her? 

Currently my DIL is at home again and waiting to go back for even more scans so that they can decide what to do next. Most doctors have not talked to her about the problem or given advice on diet.  Twice, doctors woke her up in the middle of the night to examine her after she had finally fallen asleep, exhausted, when the agony had abated. I'm not sure how they expected to get sensible answers to questions or for her to take anything in.

My faith in our local hospital has not increased with recent events.