Saturday, 31 January 2015

There's just one problem with spending most of our time at home....................

...............when we do go out there are so many errands to run that it takes the whole morning.

We've found that if we start early enough on our rare trips to Ipswich that it's actually better to go on a Saturday - no school and less work traffic. With a £5 off voucher that needed using before the end of the month it was today or waste it. So we got away just after 8am, first stop the Pet place for a sack of cat litter. Second  Sainsburys for their bargain bacon ( 6 chunky bacon chops and 4 x 8oz of slices/bits for £3.45 + 4 belly pork slices for £2.21 minus the £5! = not a lot). Aldi for quite a lot of shopping ( Feb shopping a bit early) that only came to just over £20 BUT drastic news - NO bread flour - darn it - I shall be forced to get it from Tesco where it's several pence dearer.  Next stop the town centre where I had £10 off spending at The Grape Tree and £5 off voucher for Lakeland and finally a quick dash round  Poundland. Then Wyevale Garden Centre on the way home with another  £5 off. Home by 12.30 and collapse in a heap vowing not to go back to Ipswich until March!

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I see several comments on other blogs about the Eat Well for Less programme on Thursday night, I watched 5 minutes decided that YES it was just another programme that would make me cross and switched off. Not keen on Gregg Wallace anyway. I don't need to watch a load of idiots wasting money!

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No book shelf pictures today, just a book review of one of my library books
book cover of 

The Zig Zag Girl

The Zig Zag Girl

(The first book in the Zig Zag Girl series)
A  new novel by

This is what it says on Fantastic Fiction website
Brighton, 1950.
When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar's. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. 
Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. 
Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another 'trick', the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer's sights...

Elly Griffiths previously wrote a crime series featuring Ruth Galloway, an archeologist, set in present day Norfolk. With this new series she has gone back to the 1950s.
I found this a very quick read, nowhere near as much detail as her other books. I wonder if she will do more of the Ruth Galloway series?

 What a lot of lovely comments were left on yesterdays post. Thank you to everyone and apologies for not replying individually.

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Friday, 30 January 2015

Frugal Friday and Finding Pleasure in Small Things

I've said it before and no doubt will say it again, but the best way to be frugal is to be happy at home. If you are forever having to go out ( I'm not talking about going to work obviously) just for entertainment then it's bound to end up with money being spent.

We often spend four, five or even six days in a row at home and we both find plenty to keep us occupied. Our reasons for going out are usually to buy milk or fresh fruit and this will be combined with other errands such as paying a bill, sending a parcel, collecting chicken feed or needing an item from the hardware or DIY shop.

Today has been another stay at home, doing things for ourselves and saving money day. Col spent a while trying to find the puncture in the tyre on the mower trailer, cleaned out the small chicken shed, and cut some more of the conifer hedge, he's round the back now on the campsite, doing the sides little by little. I got 3 loaves of bread made, my bread costs less than 30p a loaf, did some cleaning and chopped kindling in between times. The other semi final from the Australian tennis was on 5 Live Extra on the radio so I listened as I worked.We refuse to spend extra on television channels so manage without, there's enough choice for us.

Because we stay at home we can wear old clothes, often from charity shops, we don't need to buy new clothes very often. Because we stay at home we can use the Rayburn for cooking and heating the kettle - we are here to put on our free wood to keep it going. Because we stay at home the washing can dry out on the line - I'm here to get it in if it rains so the tumble dryer doesn't need to be used.
It's good to be happy at home.

Here are the other things that have saved us money in January.

Homemade compost spread around fruit bushes
Biking to town twice instead of driving
Repairing a zip in a pair of jeans
Cutting free wood and kindling for free heat
Eating our own apples( until the 10th) onions,potatoes and beetroot from store. Brussels sprouts,leeks, parsnips and swedes from the garden. Apples,pears,apricots,plums and peppers from the freezer.
Knitting dishcloths
Making Christmas cards from my craft stash
Reading free library books

Finding pleasure from small things in January.

 Mabel -our very shy outside cat - following me all round the field as I go to collect the eggs.
Seeing more of our son and future daughter in law now they are back in Suffolk.
Being able to share ideas for books and lovely comments from strangers and friends on the blog
Crocuses in a pot on the kitchen windowsill.

 Thank you for comments about the books and bookshelves, I will be back with more pictures next week. I had a count up and there are around 50 pictures still to be taken before I get to the end! Forgot to say yesterday that there were 119 books on those shelves and 68 from the day before so the total so far is 307. Yes, seems  we do have over a 1000 books.

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Yes, you guessed, more book pictures.

No snow here yet but quite a bit colder, I watched the 1'Oclock news with all the pictures of disruption in the North of England and younger part of me would love some here and the older half of me say's No - too much bother.

We got the big chicken shed cleaned out today, one trailer load into the compost bins and another trailer load spread around the fruit trees. Fresh chicken muck is too hot to use in most places but round well established trees it should be OK. The blackbirds will have a whale of a time sorting through it and the rain will wash all the goodness onto the tree roots.

Later this morning Col took our son to Ipswich to pick up his car that was supposed to have been sorted out, but M later phoned to say that he had lost power, with loads of smoke, he pulled over turned off the engine, re-started and got home with no more problems. This is what the garage should have cured.

I suddenly thought "Tennis"! and managed to catch the final 2 sets of Andy Murray's semi-final in Australia, and he's looking back in form, winning through to be in the final Sunday - on BBC1 just after 8am they said. Must remember.

Now some of my favourite bookshelves - does everyone have favourite bookshelves or is it just me?

I only have 2 books about goats now but it was having a collection of 10 goat keeping books that got us into buying and selling secondhand books at country shows. Something we did very successfully for several years, until it became too difficult and expensive to source country/livestock/smallholding books from charity shops and the price to have a stand everywhere rocketed so that we were forced to give up. I'm not sure why I still have all these livestock  keeping books - nostalgia for the years we kept animals I guess. The majority of these are secondhand except for the lovely collection of Self sufficiency books that came from The Book People. They still have them - 12 books for £9.99 - bargain.
Lots of lovely, favourite books on this shelf above
Why, you might well ask, have I got 2 copies of Hovel in the Hills by Elizabeth West? Well, one is very very old, ex library and the other is a more recent re-print in which she has an update about what happened after the books. Beside them are her other books about her time in the hills - Garden in the Hills and Kitchen in the Hills. Below are more special books about smallholding and growing.
The two with Homesteading in the title are from the States, but they were both found at a car boot sale in Suffolk just after we moved here, when there were still USAF bases close by. I always wonder if the Air force family who sold them ever managed to have a homestead when they were posted back home.
More country books above. In the centre is a book called Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn. I think she has a blog about there Australian garden somewhere.

Below are more on the same theme. The Family Smallholding by Katie Thear is interesting. She and her husband David started a magazine called Practical Self Sufficiency from a shed on their smallholding in Essex. They had open days and Col and I went to one in 1979, it was so popular the roads got jammed and they couldn't do anymore. This was just after John Seymour wrote his self sufficiency books and the idea of doing your own thing was at it's peak. The Magazine kept going for several years, changing the title until the Thears sold out and it became Country Smallholding. They also had a book publishing company called Broad Leys Publishing and not long ago Home Farmer Magazine bought out all the titles that Broad Leys had, and are editing,updating and reprinting. ( Two of the titles are on the top shelf)
Hugh FWs River Cottage Cookbook was a bargain - an ex library book - because it's falling to pieces - for £1!

All the big self-sufficiency books are on the bottom shelf, I honestly have no idea how I came to own so many beautiful books. None of these are going anywhere except with me when we downsize!!

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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Wild Wednesday and more bookshelves

The day started fine but windy but by 11 the wind was wild with rain and the temperature dropped away.
I had to nip to Saxmundham first thing for a few bits, and because of the weather it was a driving day rather than a biking day. Col needed to go to a hardware shop so he came too and while it was still fine we went round the charity shops and he found a pair of jeans for £3.50. Coming out of the bank I noticed a sign - New opening times - they are going to be closed all day on Thursdays. Is this the beginning of the end? A small town in Mid Suffolk recently lost their only bank, that must make life difficult for all the businesses in the town. Saxmundham still has 2 banks, most of the other small towns nearby only have one. We shall see what happens.

Now more book shelves photos. Here are the bottom 2 shelves of the first bookcase. Lots of random books here that have been collected over 20+ years. Several are ex-library books and from charity shops, secondhand book sales. Nothing new here. My favourites from these shelves?

 2 books about Arthur Ransome and his Swallows and Amazons books. 
The Helene Hanff omnibus including her well known book - 84 Charing Cross Road. 
 Dear Mr Bigalow - by Frances Woodsford

The bird book and the road map book are falling to pieces and where on earth did the giant London Road Atlas come from? There is another recipe book  here because it's too big for anywhere else, it could go really as I've not looked at it for years, and some of Cols Fred Dibnah and railway books are down there too.

If I had to get rid of some books because we were downsizing it would be several of these from the bottom shelves that would go. Maybe I'll sort through them before we do a car boot sale.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Tuesday and the next lot of books

Welcome to Pixiepoppet, Amber and Diana who are all new followers on Google Friends, and Laura following via Bloglovin'.
Thank you to Karen, Happening on Happiness, Dave in Ireland, The angry parsnip, Simple living, Jan, MendingMakingCrafting, Gill, my friend Mary in Bath and Diana who is overseas somewhere for all the comments about my books and bookshelves. Dave has suggested some more books by Tom Hodgkinson for me to add to my library request list. Gill suggests leaving a tin of polish and a duster laying around so that if anyone calls in it looks as if you were just about to start cleaning, that's a better idea than using candles so you can't see the dust.

 The reason I have  the books tidy is so I know where to find each one and we always used to have them level with the front of the shelf when I worked in libraries. I do the same now to stop the layer of dust that would soon collect in front of the books. Having the books forward means the dust is behind them Out Of Sight!

Right, now the next photo is down on the proper bookshelves and under the Miss Read  we have

 my books about money saving and penny pinching. ( Probably would have saved money by NOT buying them!) I think most of these have come from Amazon over the last 15 years, several are from the States. 'Swimming with Piranha makes you hungry' by Colin Turner is a book that really gets to the heart of the matter.

 On the same shelf are my overflow cookery books. The rest are in the kitchen.

Below the money saving books are the first of my WWII collection, these are the most recent acquisitions, Amazon and charity shops again and some are presents from the last couple of years.

Then, laying down on the other half of that shelf are the Oxford Dictionaries and a few  other recently acquired large books. The dictionaries come from my late Dads house when we cleared it out. These are all sitting waiting for a more permanent shelf. Somewhere?

Standing up at the end are my books about books and reading. Two books by Anne Fadiman are brilliant - At Small and At Large and Ex Libris.
That's another 50 books ( running total 120)
 Then below are the other two shelves of my WWII collection, which have been gathered, mostly secondhand, over the last 20 or so years. There are so many good books here it's hard to pick out favourites.

There are a few amongst these that have not been read, one day I shall get round to them. If I was forced to pick one as a favourite then probably 'Few Eggs and no Oranges' by Vere Hodgson is a really good read.
Add those up and that's another 64 so 184 so far, and I'm not even to the bottom of the first bookcase. Maybe we do have more than 1,000 after all.

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A lovely bright Tuesday morning so two lots of washing were out drying on the line today as the forecast is for colder, nasty weather later in the week.  ( And Who left a tissue in a pocket?!! I blame him for not checking before he puts his clothes in the dirty washing bin, he blames me for not checking before I load the washing machine, Hmmm!) The day turned grey just after lunch and the washing was put to dry over the Rayburn.

Col was out for an hour doing some odd jobs for someone up the road and I was in the kitchen doing a bake of cakes for the freezer to keep him happy over the next few weeks. This afternoon he has been doing more of the conifer hedge. He has got round the  ban ( caused by the hardly-a-heart-attack) on using a hedge-cutter by borrowing a lightweight one that has a strap so it hangs over his shoulder like our strimmer. He says this is much easier to use than something that requires being held up in the air with both hands. I just hope he is right, I really do NOT need him stuck in hospital again. - Or worse!

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Monday, 26 January 2015

First book shelf pictures and Monday diary

Posting pictures of my bookshelves every day is going to be an easy way to fill up my posts, it will make me lazy!

Anyway, here is the first of my book shelf pictures, these are actually right on top of the bookshelves. I have most of the Miss Read series published between the 1950s up to the 1980s. I read  most of these while I was working in libraries between 1971 and 1980 and decided to look out for them from charity shops a few years back when I wanted to re read and found the library hadn't got them all. They were surprisingly easy to find secondhand.

 and on top around the corner are Gervase Phinn's brilliantly funny school inspector stories which are being propped up by some of the Narnia tales by C.S Lewis. Nothing bought new here either.
Then also on top of the shelves are my collection of Christmas books, alongside some Arthur Ransome. Almost all these are from charity shops etc except for Keep Calm at Christmas which was a gift a couple of Christmases ago. To the right and out of the picture beside Mr Ransome  are my only 2 Observer books - Architecture and Glass. I don't know where they came from. That makes a total of 70 books on top of the tall shelves in the alcove under the stairs.

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We cut some wood yesterday and a bit more today, it's frightening just how much we get through. Thank goodness it's free. I like helping with wood cutting, its a very satisfying job, really getting back to basics - apart from the fact that Col is using an electric chainsaw!

 I've been reading a library book by  Tom Hodgkinson called How to be Free.  Here is what is says about the book on Amazon

'How to be Free is Tom Hodgkinson's manifesto for a liberated life.
Modern life is absurd. How can we be free?
If you've ever wondered why you bother to go to work, or why so much consumer culture is crap, then this book is for you. Looking to history, literature and philosophy for inspiration, Tom Hodgkinson provides a joyful blueprint for a simpler and freer way of life. Filled with practical tips as well as inspiring reflections, here you can learn how to throw off the shackles of anxiety, bureaucracy, debt, governments, housework, supermarkets, waste and much else besides.'

So spend less therefore you can work less. Every THING that's bought requires maintaining and later replacing. Gadgets don't really save money or time. All a person needs is food, warmth and shelter and mental stimulation. He forgets to mention the bills that arrive whatever, like the Council Tax! I like his idea of lighting the house by candles so that you can't see the dust......I could go along with that idea.

Welcome to some new followers on the Bloglovin' button, they are Suzanne, Gareth and John Gray - thought that Man From Trelawnyd was already on the Google pictures but maybe not. I think someone has gone from Google-I'm sure there were 251 there the other day.

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

25th January- St Paul's Day Weather Sayings and RSPB Bird Count

There seem to be lot's of weather sayings connected to Saint Paul's Day. It must have been an important day in the country calendar. Variations of the following rhyme can be found in several parts of the country.

If St.Paul's Day be fair and clear
It doth betide a happy year
But if, by chance it then should rain,
It will make dear all kinds of grain,
And if the clouds make dark the sky,
The neate and fowls this year shall die.
If blustering winds do blow aloft,
Then wars shall trouble the realm full oft

The Shepherd's Almanack of 1676 predicts 'if the sun shines it betokens a good year; if rain indifferent; if misty it predicts a good dearth; if it thunder, great winds and death of people that year'.
( By the way, neate is an old English word for cattle)

I'm happy to say that we have had blue skies and sunshine for most of the day, a bit chilly but that's not a problem. It was perfect for a walk...... just around the track across the fields from us and back up the road. We have done around 2 miles a few times now so next time we hope to do one of the longer circular walks that we can do from here.

To do the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch Col wrapped up in extra layers and sat outside for a while and then came in and sat near the back door. He had put all our feeders in one area during the week so as to be able to see everything at once.
The amount he saw was incredible. I never see this many of anything at any one moment during one hour because I haven't got the patience to stay still long enough!
6 Blackbird, 24 plus Blue Tit, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Coal Tit, 10 Chaffinch, 4 Collared Dove, 4 Dunnock, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Goldfinch, 24 plus Great Tit, 2 Greenfinch, 2 Jackdaw, 1 Jay, 8 Longtail tit, 1 Magpie, 4 Robin, 1 House Sparrow, 1 Mistle Thrush, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker,
4 Wood Pigeon, 4 Wren, 1 Sparrow hawk.

It's odd that we have just one Fieldfare as they usually go round in groups, there were a few more a while back but this on seems to have got left behind. He was lucky to spot the Bullfinch as it is more often out along the front hedge and if you stand up by the workshop and Campsite driveway you can often see several Goldfinches but they rarely come down near the house.

I wonder what we would see if we moved to a different part of the country?

Thank you to everyone who commented about our beautiful family bible. I'm going to start with book shelf pictures tomorrow. I shall just do one shelf at a time as it sometimes takes an age to get pictures to load - the joy of country living!

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