Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Review of both August and September

I didn't get around to doing a review for August, so here's a quick catch up, it seems a long time ago already.
Both lists have the good, the bad and the ugly all mixed together!

  • Plenty to sell at the gate during the first two weeks before things started to slow down.
  • The campsite shower broke down but we had the spare ready to fit.
  • We were busy with campsite visitors all month
  • Money put aside for winter
  • Round bale hay delivered 
  • Straw baled and brought home
  • Plenty of library books
  • C got down some dead trees from the field hedgerow.
  • Wheat, for chickens  bought off ebay for a good price
  • Approved foods delivery, stocked up on noodles,lasagne,bread flour, powdered milk.
  • Went swimming for the first time for years :-)  but haven't been since :-(
  • I went down with flu like symptons which turned into pneumonia and finished the month with a couple of nights in hospital.

   And September
  •  An expensive month but all budgeted for.
  • We were able to put some money into savings
  • A lovely warm month with dry weather, so plenty of work for C moving the irrigation stuff
  • My health and strength returned as the month progressed
  • Good income from pumpkins
  • Lots of good books again
  • A terrible apple crop from the 2 cooking apple trees, some apples rotting on the trees and others falling too soon 
  • Sold our old greenhouse and got it moved to it's new home.
  • I only got to 1 boot sale all month which is both good ( less spending) and bad (I might have missed lots of bargains!)
  • We've been given 3 large bags of cooking apples
  • A lovely family get-together with all C's side of the family 
  • And good news on my side of the family as my sister and bro-in-law are going to move closer to us.
  • Lots of pears from the 1 old and 2 young trees put in the freezer
  • Campsite not as busy as it is sometimes for September. 
  • I did my first ever Giveaway for the 500th post and posted off some books to the person who's name was drawn out - and never heard a word to say if they got them or not! 
  • I asked if Home farmer Magazine would like me to do a review on the blog and they said Yes.
 That's about all I can think of. August and September seem to have gone in a flash.

 Thank you for lots of comments yesterday, so many, I shall make a list!
Countryside Tales
Out my window
The reason I save
Bovey Belle
A Suffolk Girl
The saver of Suburbia

 Starting a craft club is something I couldn't do, as I've said before, because of where we live I've never got to know many people even though we've been here 22 years. We only have two neighbours! So many other houses around are second homes, standing empty most of the time, and villages are over a mile away. For instance-- I bike to the library van where it stops in Friston our nearest village - just over a mile away, I am the only person who uses the van there, I sit in the bus shelter to wait and never see a soul walking about the village. There are no shops, no post office, no pub. So many villages in Suffolk are like this.
 The children were already school age when we moved here so the friends I made through playgroups and Scouting were all left behind in Mid Suffolk.  Once we moved here they went to school by school bus so I never got to meet people in the playground.  I'm not a great joiner of clubs and all our energy went into the Suffolk Smallholders Society when we were involved ( C was vice chair and chairman for several years, I did membership for yonks and we helped to organise the shows too)  so the friends we made  through that tended to be spread all over the whole county. The Society no longer has a social aspect to it - sadly.

Anyway,I shall write the date of the  first needlecraft group in my diary and see what mood I'm in on the day!

Back tomorrow

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

An expensive month.

I've done the September accounting and it's very obvious that September was an expensive month. My walking boots, the septic tanks pumped out, paying for having the hay and straw baled, a NHS prescription pre-payment card,  a half lamb for the freezer and 2 gas cylinders all pushed up the outgoings. But luckily all were budgeted for, so no overdraft, no credit cards, no borrowing.
 I'll do a proper review of the month tomorrow.

I was all ready to make a double batch of Sweetcorn Relish this morning until LUCKILY, last night, I looked in the cupboard and found the bottle of distilled vinegar wasn't full, as I thought, but almost empty.
So it was off to do Octobers main local Tesco shop a day early. Bargains? yellow stickers? In our Tesco? You've got to be joking! the only good buy was a big -  5Kg - bag of gran. sugar and that was only because they had sent me  £1 off voucher, which made it 5kg for £2.85.
C heard on 5 Live News ( that's the only radio station he can pick up when he's in the big tractor moving the irrigation stuff) that Sainsburys have stopped comparing against Tesco when they do their money off voucher at the checkout because everything is now more expensive at Tesco so there's no point in comparing. I thought that sounded a bit unlikely so onto My Supermarket website where I did a small check with the things  brought home from Tesco today and I couldn't find anything cheaper at Sainsburys except for tins of plum tomatoes which they have on offer at 4 for £1.

There was one thing I had to buy this morning that I don't remember buying for years and that was a pack of Bic pens. Usually we get enough free pens in the post from the Red Cross or Damart and if we were searching for one in the past we could always go and rootle around in Cs work van, where he was bound to have acquired some from the office. However in the last month or so it's been  "where's the blinkin' pen?" when the phone rings and "where's the blinkin' pen?" every time we need to book in a camper. So I've given in and bought a pack of 10, at least they were on offer at £1.50 and they  have a label on for using one up and sending it in for a £10 voucher. I may have to get scribbling!

While I was gallivanting in Saxmundham, C was over the road working  at our neighbours. This afternoon he worked on our field clearing some more weeds from the pumpkin and squash area.
We have sold 50 pumpkins so far, that's an income of £75 and there are still some to sell. Not bad for a few pounds outlay on seeds and a bit of work, as mostly we just let them get on with growing - which is why there are so many weeds this year. He later brought round 33 butternut squash of varying sizes and put them in the shed ready to sell. When I've finished this post I shall have a look to see how much they are selling for in the supermarkets. There are more still on the field but less than we grew last year as the plants from the later sown seeds have plenty of green growth but no squash.

In town I noticed a poster for a new craft group starting at the refurbished wool and needlework shop. It's the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 10 am - 12 noon and is £4 a session which includes a cuppa and a cake. This sounds expensive to me ( although most things seem expensive to me!) but is it? I'm not getting any needlework stuff done at the moment so going there would make me pick up my cross stitch again. But £4? I'm  sounding like a real mean  tight-wad!

Hey hey! Guess what was in the post this morning.......... The new issue of Home Farm Magazine. Ruth and Paul, the editors, must have been happy with my review of last months issue that they have sent me another to review. How lucky am I?
I shall read it and report back as soon as possible. It's arrived at just the right time as the library books had all been finished until the mobile library comes on Friday. Hoping to bike to the van I thought I'd better have a trial bike ride having not cycled anywhere for 8 weeks due to that blasted pneumonia, so hopped on my bike and went up the road for 10 minutes and back again without any ill effects. Good.

Goodbye to someone on Bloglovin who has un-followed!
But for everyone else I shall be 
Back Tomorrow

Monday, 29 September 2014

Frugal in the bathroom.

A couple of days ago I said that I wanted to try to think of more frugal type posts so here goes with one to start with.

In our downstairs bathroom, which is actually a shower room, upstairs bathroom or en-suite you won't find loads of lotions, potions and products. Shampoo, soap, shower gel, toothpaste, deodorant  that's about all we need.

Buying fewer different things  is one of my ways of saving money. I don't bother with make up..

 I buy a medium priced  Shampoo, stocking up from Poundland on our rare Ipswich visits or if it's on offer and use it sparingly.Very cheap shampoo or washing up liquid turns my very thick hair into something akin to straw. I don't wash my hair every day and  no longer buy conditioner as  it didn't seem to make much difference. I've got my hair really short -  another way to save shampoo.

I use a moisturising shower gel and stock up from Poundland when we are in Ipswich or if I see it reduced in the supermarket. At the wash basin we use soap, it's cheaper than hand wash in a bottle and one less thing to go in the bin. The soap we use is Pure which is Morrisons own brand un-perfumed and is £1.35 for 4. It lasts ages, no perfume to make me sneeze and no colourings either. I use it on my face and it's fine. C uses it for shaving and says it's OK for that too. When we get down to a sliver the bits go into the utility room and get squidged together  and used for quick hand washing between jobs.

Toothpaste is always Sensodyne, whichever sort is reduced from Approved Food, bought in bulk  and we use Sensodyne toothbrushes too because they are small and quite soft. Dentists recommend a soft toothbrush, brushing too hard with a hard abrasive brush is about the worst thing you can do to your teeth. I use just a tiny amount of toothpaste, not all along the brush like they used to show on adverts, less than pea sized is enough. Sensodyne is not the cheapest but it works well. When the tube seems to have run out, cut off the top to see what's left and then cut off the bottom too. I use floss  but not as often as I should, according to my dentist.

I use a roll-on deodorant, cheaper than a spray as none is wasted going everywhere.  Stored  upside down, to get everything out and buy whatever is on offer, preferably perfume free. 

Toilet rolls are the Everyday Value double length ones from Tesco, 400 sheets per roll, 6 rolls for £1.95. I would like to buy Nouvelle which are made from recycled paper but they are very expensive. For a comparison table go to Lidl actually come out best for value for money. That's fine if you have a Lidl closeby. We don't and going to one specially for loo roll would cost us more for the diesel. They also don't compare the Tesco Double length loo rolls on this comparison chart.

The cheapest bath sponges I can find are  20p each  from Wilkinsons. When we go to Ipswich I usually buy a couple to put in the cupboard. Soak a sponge in hot water with vinegar in every now and again, is good for cleaning it.

For cleaning in the bathroom I use bi-carb for the basin, Ecover Limescale stuff for the glass shower screens and, because we have REALLY hard water,  Harpic in the loo and stock up when it's on special offer. I've tried all the cheaper things but nothing works like Harpic.

Bath towels  are hung over the banisters at the top of the stairs where they dry quickly and are used 2 or 3 times before they go in the wash. After all, when you've had a shower you should be clean so surely a towel shouldn't be dirty and need washing after one use.

Best of all savings is that our water is heated by the Rayburn using wood or by the solar thermal thingy on the roof. When we had the new kitchen built and the bathroom moved, the builder wanted to put a pump on the shower. But because the hot water cylinder is upstairs and the bathroom downstairs  ( that's how it was before too) we had never had a pump and just used gravity. The builder predicted problems with pressure but it's been OK. One less thing using electric.

*            *          *          *          *

Thanks for all the comments about Aldeburgh yesterday. The sad thing about the town is that 30-40% of the houses are second homes and holiday homes, most of the shops are top of the range posh clothes shops or deli's. House prices are crazy and in winter the place is dead, while in summer it's full of the rich and posh - that's why we rarely go in the summer!
There is a comment from Frugal in Essex, a new blogger, welcome to frugal blogland!

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 28 September 2014

We went to see the sea

 Before I forget I must welcome Simple Living and Astrid on the Google Friends pictures. Also thanks to everyone for comments yesterday and the day before. I'm glad I'm not the only person who enjoys Strictly even if Cro dismisses it as only dancing! So it maybe, but I couldn't do it!

Instead of going to a boot sale we drove down to Aldeburgh to see the grey old North  Sea. It's just 5 miles away but we rarely visit. Cornish Chickpea had some lovely photos of the beautiful Cornish beaches that made me want to see our bit of coast  It was misty at home but clearer on the coast and the sun was just coming through the clouds.
Aldeburgh has a small fleet of fishing boats - 3 or 4, and the fish is sold from huts on the beach, the boats are towed down the beach by the tractors or rolled on rollers.
The tide was right out which is the only time there is a bit of sand to walk on. Walking on the deep shingle is really hard work! It was flat calm this morning with the sun just coming through the clouds, but even with the sun shining the sea is still grey and never the lovely colours of the Cornish coast. I took the photo from the top of the first shingle ridge.
Plenty of gulls on the shingle, the height and width of shingle is the only thing protecting the town from the sea, although the main risk of flooding is from the river which runs alongside and behind part of the town.

There's a Map here
Standing on the low tide line looking back up the beach to the houses along the prom gives some idea of the amount of shingle - the houses are three or 4 storeys high! Walking up the beach is like mountain climbing.
The very old Moot Hall. The Aldeburgh town council chamber is on the 1st floor and a museum below

Read about the Moot Hall here- if you want to!

When we got home and after a coffee C did  some garden tidying and I washed the rest of the pots that I started yesterday- another job finished and then spent AGES trying to get these 5 photos to load onto the blog. You wouldn't believe how slow our connection is here sometimes, drives me nuts!
The sun came out and the temperature shot up after lunch, so we sat out for a couple of hours, making the most of the late September sunshine. All the time I could hear a squirrel pinching the walnuts off our tree. I've picked up a few to bring in a dry but the blasted bushy tailed rat has had the majority.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The only thing that's still the same price after 2 years?

We thought about going to The Food and Drink festival, an event we've never been to, that has gradually got bigger and bigger since it started. It's only 4 miles down the road and there are over 80 local producers showing off their 'artisan' products. Then I looked on the website and found it was £8 EACH to get in. Yes, you get a free cotton shopping bag and the chance to try lots of free samples, but £8 is a lot, well, it is to us anyway.

Then we thought about going to a charity second-hand book sale that we've been too several times before, especially when we were buying country/smallholding books to sell at shows. That's only 50p to get in and includes a free cuppa. But last year I spent nearly £10 and looking back I can't remember what I bought, and its 20 miles away....... that's several pennies worth of diesel.

In the end we decided to just go and get some new propane gas cylinders as we had two empty ones here. Now we only use gas for the hob, a 47kg cylinder lasts quite a while and it's two years since we bought one. Amazingly they are still the same price - £65 each. Is this the only type of fuel that's not rocketed up in price? In the countryside, where there's no mains gas, lots of people use oil or propane gas for heating. Oil, electric and mains gas prices have all gone up so folk with propane gas heating must be feeling quite pleased.( We combined our trip out with a look round some charity shops in a different town but no treasures.)

Before we went out C spent a while sorting out some of the old tomato plants in the poly tunnels and I got started on washing all the flower pots that we bought from our friends "closing down the smallholding" sale way back in June. They were still in the dustbin that we had brought them home in, so it was about time they were sorted.
This afternoon I've been doing a bit of mending, writing a shopping list for Octobers shopping, deciding what jobs I'm doing next week, sorting eggs and a few other jobs.
C filled up the big water tank for the chickens up the field and cut a few pallets while he was waiting for it to fill. He is planning to move one of the electric fences later to give the chickens some fresh grass.

More Strictly tonight - good, good.

I really must find some more frugal, money saving ideas for posts. The problem is everything we do is just second nature to us now  and I forget there are people who are new to the whole frugal, simple living thing.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 26 September 2014

Busy doing nothing much

I went to get the hoover to run it round the living room but then...........

I saw some egg/pumpkin money  had come through the letterbox so went into the porch to pick it up........

While there I noticed there was only 1 campsite handout leaflet left on the shelf so............

I went into the craft room to photo copy a few more as we have some bookings for this weekend and next week.

While I was waiting for the copier I noticed I had 2 cards half started on my desk so.......

I finished making one,changed my mind about the second but added the finished one to my card box..........

That made me wonder who I had to send cards to in the next couple of weeks so............

I had a look in my birthday book and then found 3 cards to send..........

That made me think about when our new penny-pincher letter group person had a birthday so.........

I found my letter with the information............

That reminded me to look and see when it was my turn to write a penny-pincher letter so......

I  looked at when I did my last one then........

I spent a few minutes reading through my last letter which reminded me I ought to do the back exercises that I had written about............

By which time almost an hour had passed and I had completely forgotten about the hoovering!

Meanwhile back in the world of really busy people, C was cutting his way through the dead elms, loading them into the little trailer and adding them to the wood pile in the shed. ( If you want to know more about the dead elms, there is a long reply to a comment left on yesterdays post)

It's been a while since I last did a list of "what food grown or produced we have available here today" so on the 26th September the list is
Onions ( in storage)
Runner beans
Autumn Raspberries
and the last of the sweetcorn
In the freezer we have
Cooking Apples
Broad beans

Home made eaten today
Apple Pie

No chance of going hungry today 

After 4 nights with an empty campsite we have 4 caravans/motor-homes in tonight including one staying for 9 nights, so just as we were thinking we wouldn't be taking much more money this season we  will be able to put another £204 in the savings.

Welcome to Catherine, a new follower on Google Friends and thank you for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

PS am I the only person excited to see the return of Strictly on TV tonight - even if I haven't got the foggiest as to who most of the " celebs" are.
PPS My new boots took me for another energy restoring walk today, just a wee bit further than yesterday and back again. Not a pheasant to be seen anywhere today.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

On my walk I saw............

 My new boots have had a small try out, just 10 minutes up the road and back, I'm starting gently!

 On my way I saw about 2 dozen young pheasants. They were on the field and on the road and C said later they were all over our field. The people who organise the shoot in the local woods must have just released them.

  I saw that the farmer hasn't reinstated the footpath across a field like they are supposed to do after cultivating.

 I saw a long bit of fallen branch so I dragged it  home and added it to the wood heap.

And then I saw this, which means the hole in the road outside our house is going to be repaired at last. It's quite deep and everything has been going lump, lump through it for weeks.

 *       *       *       *       *       *

We were given another bag of cooking apples today so I decided to turn some into a couple of pies straight away, I also mixed up some crumble topping to store in the freezer and tackled the kitchen windows, they had got so bad it was embarrassing. 

C was working at our neighbours this morning, clearing out her poly-tunnel and cutting back her summer raspberries but before then he had already been down the road and moved the irrigation stuff. The job will probably come to an end soon as the carrots are almost ready to be lifted.

This afternoon he started to cut up the dead elms that he cut down a few weeks ago, they can go straight into the wood shed. I need to start cutting kindling wood again soon, there are only 2 sacks in the shed and once we start lighting both the Rayburn and the wood-burner everyday we will soon use them up.

Thank you for all the comments about the expensive walking boots and cheap meals out. We shall be eating at home for the foreseeable future! Our youngest and her bloke came round for dinner tonight so we tried the first of the "proper" lamb joints  from the half lamb pack bought earlier this month.
With roast potatoes, parsnip, runner beans and carrots- all home grown. That's what you call a real meal!

Back Tommorow