Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Looking Back at April

Where did April go for goodness sake, the month started cold and grey but eventually warmed up with several sunny days here,  and now we are " at average temperatures for the month" according to the weather men. This morning I heard that we might be short of rain all through May which seems really silly after the months of wet.
I've had a few thoughts about our month on the simple Suffolk smallholding and these are our ups and downs. Achievements and things not so good.
1.We earned more than we spent which is always a good way to be. Helped by having the guys working on the Sizewell Outage staying on the campsite - one lot go and another lot arrive. Its the first time we've ever had any here before so I don't know where they stayed in the past.Also Him Outside got paid for the big shed-shifting job and some other gardening work he had been doing throughout March and April.
2. I finished cross stitching another small present for Christmas. BUT I've not picked up my needle since then.
3. I worked out a recipe for onion bhajis which will be a regular part of our home made curry meals from now on.
4.The garden gave us our first of this years crops,- Radishes, Lettuce,Rhubarb,Purple sprouting Broccoli, Chard and Asparagus. The cool spring meant that we still had Leeks, cabbages and onions too.
5. We got the campsite shower done and made a recreation room out of the end of the shed.
6. I found a pair of comfy walking boots for £20 - thought I was going to have to spend more than that.
7.Started blogging and found its lots of fun with many nice people.
8. Kept the food spending under my budget - JUST ! even though its a bad month for stuff of our own.
9. I had another birthday with lots of presents and pretty cards from family and penfriends.
10. Earned an unexpected £30 from the 30 money saving tips thing.
11. Found several things we needed from carboots for finishing off the campsite.
12.Got the new poly tunnel frame up
13. Got my self-employment Tax form done.
14. New chickens now all laying so about 8 dozen a day to sell which they do most days.
15. Had good germination on most things for this years crops.
Had to buy a new hoover when I set fire to the old one!
Had to buy a new better doorbell so we could hear campers coming to the door.
Him Outside had a big spend on a new hay turner as the one we've had on permanent loan for the past 19 years has finally got un-repairable. ( Hay making is a good source of income for us so this in an investment for future years.)
With trees now coming into leaf it's obvious that nearly all the 100 Ash trees that we planted in January 2011 have the Ash Die back disease and will have to be desrtoyed. So Sad.

That was April for us. How did your April go?

Monday, 29 April 2013

It's going to be an odd sort of week

Lot's of different things happening this week. Starting this morning when I took Him Outside to catch the train at 8.15. He is starting his regular 3 days a month of doing his old job. So he goes to the big town to pick up a van which he will use for looking around Suffolk at things that might fall down!
 Then tomorrow I have to go out for a training session so that on Thursday I can have a VERY long day out sitting in a village hall.
Friday evening our son and girlfriend, who live in Bucks., arrive for the weekend  so that they can go to a wedding of one of his school friends.
Then it is also Bank Holiday weekend with some extra campers on site, so more cleaning, emptying bins etc will be needed, and there will be 2 Car boots to go to - weather permitting, ( goodie! extra one on Bank Hol. Mon.)
Which reminds me that we did go to a car boot on Sunday morning. (There is one every Sunday through the summer, alternate weeks in two different places just a 5 or 6 miles from home) Not many booters out at this one but we did find two sets of darts to go with the dartboard that we already had, which we've put in the campsite 'recreation room'.
I also bought this cup and saucer for £1, it will be a Christmas pres.which I shall fill with goodies to give to our friend who buys eggs from us and always brings a pile of newspapers for lighting fires and some farming magazines for us to read.( it's OK she doesn't have a computer so she won't see this!)
While I was in town for the station I thought I might as well do the May big shop at Tescos. ( Yes I realise it is still April but Mays house keeping was here and it will save me a trip later in the week.) Once again I noticed HUGE price hikes on things- especially bread flour. I like Alinsons flour best but it has gone from £1 a bag to £1.72 - I couldn't believe it - what a huge jump from one month to the next. So I bought Tescos own which was £1.21. Their value tinned pineapple which I got for 25p last month - GONE. Only own brand at 65p for a smaller tin. Value  packs of spaghetti was back at 19p a packet - they haven't had that in stock for several months and their value cooking chocolate also gone, though I did find same price cheap chocolate in the sweets aisle. Whole Earth Peanut Butter ( I find the value jars everywhere to be too sweet and too salty for me) was on offer so stocked up with 4 months ( 4 jars) supply and they actually had their refill packs of coffee back again, which were missing last time I went so got two of those as we were getting low. One thing I hadn't seen before was packs of blanched peanuts,Him Outside will be pleased as I will be able to make his favourite peanut biscuits. Haven't made any since Julian Graves closed down - still much missed by me as their spices, nuts, dried fruit etc were such good value and quality.
So what with those extras, normal stuff like milk, O.J. cheese (tesco value mature is always good we find) etc. fresh fruit for the week ( health issues means I must have fresh fruit) and stocking up my  tinned toms shelf -vital ingredient that was running low, 4 cans of Mild for Him Outside and a couple of special things for our weekend meal with family the total was again a lot more that it was a few months back. And no meat at all on my list and no Willow spread either - that was another thing completely vanished. Shopping round here in the country with not much choice of shops is so frustrating. And I can hear a whole load of people thinking - blimey, she's not very frugal at all. So I'll just say we are frugal in other ways so that we are not so penny pinching on food!
Must just add a thank you message to Trudie, compostwoman, Karen and Pam for comments yesterday and last week. Also to whoever had the link to BBC news page re living on less. I copied it over to Word, deleted the pics. shrunk the whole lot and squeezed it together and then printed out to read properly and to pass on to my Penny Pincher friends. I still find it much easier to read things on paper than on a screen- another sign of old age I guess!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Lazy Sunday Afternoon.

Hi folks in frugal blogland. This is a post of Thank you messages to Everyday Life on a Shoestring, Karen , Pam, Scarlet, Bridget, Dc and Frugal in Derbyshire, to say thank you for reading all my ramblings and especially to Sft who caught up with the weeks blogs yesterday and put a comment on every one! That's comment dedication I reckon! Sft said she thought I probably lived in a rural part of Suffolk and Yes we certainly do. The picture at the top is taken by walking out of the front gate and crossing the road and looking over the hedge. Field as far as you can see. If I walked up to the top of our field at the back the picture would be much the same except for the giant pylons that stride away across the country taking electricity from the Sizewell power station to everyone.To our right we have another field then a wood and to our left we have ........another field although there is a house ( Londoners Second Home) just in view. We do have two neighbours over the road just to the right of the above picture.
I enjoyed my cherry yoghurt today and someone mentioned I could use the pots for plants, but I don't do that, for the very good reason that I have hundreds of proper flower pots that I get just by putting a sign outside saying " Flowerpots Wanted". I then find bags of them left for me everytime I open the door. If I only have 1 yoghurt every six months it would take rather a long time to collect what I need for plants !!! Plus there is another good reason and tha'ts because if you are selling \to General Public then it is better to have things in proper pots. If you sell through a market of any sort then things must be in clean pots with proper labels. When we first moved here I bought 1000 plant labels for almost nothing from a garden supply warehouse and I'm still using them. The ones that are not in pots that get sold are scrubbed clean with a scourer and re-used. So I don't have to cut up plastic containers for labels either - leaving me more time to sit in the sun in the conservatory. Which is just what I plan to do for the rest of the afternoon.
Hope you are able to have a Sunday rest too.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

This time it REALLY WASN'T MY FAULT - makes a change!

Early this week we heard that there was a problem in the bank as  people hadn't been able to get money out because the computer systems were down. Then Him Outside was working for one of his customers who said they had been having real problems getting connected to t'internet all week, and finally it was explained by the computer shop man, who told us that EVERYWHERE in the area was suffering some sort of major problem with connections, so probably all my struggles to find out why my photos wouldn't upload  was nothing to do with me at all !
The reason for being in the computer shop was because a couple of weeks ago Him Outside bought me a new camera for my birthday as the one I've been using all month really belongs to his employer who he now works for just 3 or 4 days a month. (There is no knowing how long this temp. work will go on for so hence the need for a camera of our own.) The new camera was a mystery as it seemed to be stuck on a night vision thing - letting in too much light and no way to get it right. I thought it was my complete ignorance of techi things. So we took it back to our local computer man who had a look at it and eventually decided it was  rubbish, sent it back and will not stock that make again. I've now got a Canon which should be better and he let me have it for  £20 more than the rubbish one instead of  the £40 more that it should have been.
I spent the morning sorting out all the pots of herbs that I have for selling. I've always loved growing herbs as they are very easy and don't need much looking after and I've been selling pots of herbs on a small scale as long as I can remember. First just to Mums at playgroup when the children were little, then at a pick-your-own fruit farm near where we used to live, then at the gate on a slightly bigger scale, and finally, when it was running, at the once a year Suffolk Smallholders Show. Now I just do a few each year to sell in May and June at the gate. This year I just have some lemon balm, chives, thyme, oregano, a few fennel and some mint to pot on and put out on the stand. I've also got parsley which was very slow to get going this year. But Basil was a complete failure. Every autumn I pot up any seedlings that appear in my herb garden and divide up the bigger clumps of things. Then they sit in pots all winter waiting for their April tidy up. Last year I also took cuttings of Rosemary, most of which survived but will need another year before being big enough to sell. I also look out for people selling herbs off cheaply at Car Boot sales because I know if I can buy them for 50p I will be able to sell them for £1 the following year or £1.50 the year after. it's only pennies profit but every little helps. By the way I never buy new pots and I also don't use  yoghurt pots or similar. Instead I just put a sign out the front " Wanted - Your Old Flower Pots " and before you know it I'm inundated with pots of all shapes and sizes. People are so glad to find someone who wants them so they don't have to throw them out. I wash all pots with hot soapy water to discourage any nasties, and then they are fine to use.
Him outside has been carrying on with the new polytunnel preparations - in between the showers, rain and hail today.
And Once again there should be a picture here but it wouldn't upload - least I now know why. The computer shop man said he heard it could take ages to sort out as no one can find the problem.
So in the meantime heres the picture of those books again taken from the blog file.
4th from the left in the bottom pic is interesting - A Fenland Smallholding by Pam Bowers. It was originally written bit by bit for Practical Self Sufficiency Magazine which was one of the REALLY early simple living mags ever published, way back in the late 70's. I still keep a few of those early copies and look back at how things were then - much simpler I think as there were NO COMPUTERS to go wrong!!!!!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Now Heres a strange thing

Once again I tried to transfer a photo from the file to the blog and it wouldn't work. I've tried a few times today with always the same result - nothing. Then all of a sudden everything suddenly clicked. The "add selected" bit went from pale blue to dark blue and the uploading bar started off  and there was the picture HOW VERY ODD.
 The picture is our woodburner which I had to light this afternoon after a few days not needing it. I wanted to sit and finish the |Rory Clements book and got really chilly. We were 10 degrees cooler here this afternoon than yesterday and then we had a storm with pea sized hail stones. Hope they didn't do any damage.
Bought myself a treat today - a 33p black cherry yoghurt. I reckon that's how you know if you are frugal - when a 33p yoghurt is a special treat ! My other regular treat is also not a lot, it's a sachet of Co-op Cappuccino Fairtrade instant  coffee mix with chocolate sprinkle bits = 26p. I really know how to live the high life!

Thursday, 25 April 2013


I now can't up load any pictures from my file onto the blog. they just get stuck and won't start uploading. Any ideas?? I've googled problems up loading pictures but it was no help as I didn't understand a word !!

Two Yummy things today

Quick, quick just time to blog before doing dinner.
I started reading one of the library books that I was looking forward to. It's the fifth in a series of historical crime by Rory Clements called Traitor. Very well written set in Shakespeares England and about political intrigues of the time. Very excited to find note in the back saying TV series is in production that should be good.
Thank you again to everyone who is reading this and apologies for not replying individually but enjoy you comments and also very much love looking at everyone's pictures of their good books.
We've enjoyed another lovely day here and best of all two first of the season yummy things. For lunch we had ONE SPEAR each of ASPARAGUS. Such a treat ( we eat with the seasons so rarely buy things we don't grow - celery maybe, carrots as they don't do well here or an occasional cauliflower or calabrese, though we had to buy spuds this year after our almost total crop failure last year). The second treat is for dinner tonight - THE FIRST OF THE PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI. So there was 1 good thing about the cool spring , leeks, cabbages and purple broc. have often run to seed by now and I still have good edible onions in the shed- often squishy by late April.
Should be pic here but it's frozen on the file I think.
Last night I was hopping from blog to blog and came across a couple of people who blog  about being on benefits and really struggling as things get tighter and systems fail. Made me wonder what right had I, who knows nothing about this to write about frugal living . Feel grateful to have married someone who has always had a job he enjoyed ( always average wage , not great wealth ) and to have found ways to live the way we want.What would we have done if we hadn't been able to buy that first house back in 1978, or if we hadn't been able to work on houses to do them up and sell again. Who knows?
Him Outside got the  ground for the new polytunnel beds sorted today with the rotervator and some boards for edges, we've got some old slabs around that will make paths in between.
Also filled some big pots with soil ready for planting out the climbing French beans. We LOVE the thin pencil green beans -and grow in pots so they can be right by the back door so we remember to water and feed and pick often. The first lot are hardening off in a sheltered spot and the second lot are just peeping through in their trays in the greenhouse.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

I was just planning to have half -an-hour sitting in the sun and it's gone behind a mass of hazy cloud so decided to do this instead. Welcome to new followers now numbering 21, when I started writing I told Him Outside that I wasn't bothered if no one read my ramblings, now every time I get excited by a new person he reminds me of what I said. Funny how he remembers some things and forgets others :-)
Thank you for comments re the campsite and ideas for more income but honestly we don't want the site to get too busy and definitely don't want or need to earn a huge income. We are frugal so can manage on a lot less than many people. We are in The Camping and Caravanning Club Big Sites Book and on their website and as we only take C&CC Members that's all we need really. Last year was exceptionally bad. I think my profit ( income minus outgoings) for the approx 200 days we are open worked out to £5 a day - that is not a lot ( taken as an average that is less £3 a day for the year) and just a little bit more would be good . And then when so many folks said they needed a shower to stay for even one night that's why we decided to spend a bit to do one. But we can't afford to do anything else and the shed we are using for Tourist Information leaflets, maps and a shelf of books is only small so no room for table tennis etc. If we were busy, busy,busy I wouldn't have time for reading, sitting in the sun, watching Countdown or Eggheads, dreaming, writing to penfriends, growing stuff or doing cross stitch. I have to get the priorities right !!
I've got lots more done in the greenhouse today - tomatoes are moved into bigger pots awaiting the new polytunnel. Now here's an odd thing - the plastic to cover this "new" tunnel is no more expensive than we paid to cover a smaller tunnel 8 years ago. Must be the only thing that hasn't gone up. Then I sowed a few more tommie seeds for a late crop and some more squash and pumpkin seeds too. Him Outside has been continuing to get the frame of the above mentioned P.t sorted and deciding how to have the doors and pathways.
I seem to have got people reading Hovel in the Hills after several people noticed it in the pile of books at the top of the blog. Here is another heap of good books, anyone got these on their shelves?

 I've been interested to see blogs mentioning 'no-spend-days'. We have lots of those - more than half of every month I reckon :-)
The new chickens are now all laying regularly and word has got round that we have more eggs, so they are all selling which is good news - lots more happy people eating lovely fresh eggs.
Well, it's still hazy so I'd better go and get the ironing done - shame, as I was looking forward to sitting out for a while. Forecast is for much cooler after tomorrow so may have to wait several days now.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


I'm very pleased that today we have finally got the campsite facilities sorted and declared open our "Tourist Information, Library and Group Room" . This sounds extremely grand but really it is just the end of the farm building that we have boarded out, painted the concrete floor and installed some shelves for books, tourist info leaflets and a table and chairs. This is something I've wanted to do for ages but it was only when we definitely decided that to keep goats again would be too costly and complicated that we were able to use the part of the shed that I'd been "saving just in case I keep goats again''. I kept goats for 18 years until 3 years ago we thought about moving and then I was ill for a while and that was when the goats went. I still miss them.
We've had our campsite since the year after moving here so  since 1993. We started a site because we were campers and had been to some good but a lot of really awful places and thought we could do better than some we had been to. We began with just the basics that you have to have to run a Camping and Caravanning 5 van site ( usually known as a C.S or a C.L). That is a tap, Chemical Toilet emptying point and a dustbin. Then we added a toilet and cold water washbasin for tent campers. Then caravans got more complicated and everyone needed electric hook-up points. For a while we couldn't do this without great expense as the power supply to the  house from the nearest transformer wasn't big enough. Then one night we had a bit of luck as lightening struck a telegraph pole zoomed along the wires and burnt out the transformer pole. When it was repaired the guys said that it had to be upgraded to a much more powerful supply and then we were able to run hook ups. We ticked over nicely for a few years and then found we were getting people who wouldn't come because we didn't have a shower.Then last year was our worst year ever with the weather being so horrible we had weeks and weeks with no visitors at all. So we decided that maybe adding a shower would be a good idea and had to figure a way to get electric to the building.
Now we are all done and just hope that we will recoup the expense before too long.
We've got a church group and a lightweight camping group booked in for later in the year so I hope they will find the room in the shed handy for evenings to get out of the weather if  (when) its wet. Hopefully we will have a good year, I'll keep you posted.

Some garden photos next. The Horse Chestnut leaves are just opening.
butterfly on a dandelion
There should have been a picture of the fruit cage with it's net over the top and the nice green gooseberry bushes - but it's vanished - who knows where?

Final picture is part of my baking session this morning. Some extremely delicious Chocolate Cappuccino cakes - recipe taken from the WI book of cakes and biscuits.I bake these quite often! but cut them into 16 small squares instead of 8 bars and they freeze very well. Always handy to keep in the freezer for visitors
and very good in the mornings with a cup of coffee for people who don't eat breakfast!!!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Monday Thank-yous

This blogging is fun, I keep getting some lovely comments and finding people with the same books on their shelves is good. So thank you to Karen, Mean Queen, Frugal in Derbyshire, Pam, sft and Dc  and  anyone I've forgotten for all the input. Still only one other person who has heard of The Penny Pincher Paper and that was buttercup do you have a blog buttercup? She asked ( I'm guessing a lady :) ) if I ever wrote for the Penny Pincher Paper ( see yesterdays blog) and the answer was yes. I wrote bits called "From a Suffolk Smallholding" every other month for a couple of years and was quite upset when John and Irma Mustoe gave up and the Paper stopped. Although I reckon it took a lot of time to put together a 30 page Newsletter every month. I have also been writing on and off for about 15 years for the Suffolk Smallholders Society Newsletter. I just love writing.
Yesterday I got on my soapbox and |I really shouldn't do that as I sound like a grumpy old person, But I think I'm only grumpy now and again. At least I HOPE its only now and again.
Watched the Countryfile  7 day weather forecast yesterday and they are saying we will be back to cold and frosts by the weekend which is a worry as the plants in the greenhouse are getting quite big. The cucumbers are in 4 inch pots and have teenie baby cucs appearing, so I shall have to get them out into the polytunnels soon and then cover them with fleece if it looks like freezing. Cucumber seeds are so expensive as because we sell them I only buy the F1 all female variety. The tomatoes will need moving into bigger pots if I can't get them out to the tunnel soon.

Yesterday we went a few miles up the road to a regular fortnightly car boot sale,  we took a shopping list as we needed to look for some things for the new campsite loo/ shower. Luckily  we found everything :- a rubbish bin with a swing top lid =£1, two pine-framed small mirrors =£2.50 each, a tall plastic jug for 50p which will do for the loo brush( that I already had), a mop bucket and mop = £3 and finally a pine shelf unit =£1. Unfortunately all this frugal luck was somewhat spoiled today as I had to order a couple of non-slip door mats and a 'slippery floor' sign from Viking- the office supply company. When running a business you have to - Think Health and Safety at all times!! - Our public liability insurance is one of our biggest costs.
I also found 6 sheets of peel -off stickers for cardmaking for £1 for all six, I could have bought lots more card crafting stuff but had to be very strict with myself. And my final purchase was a couple of sets of old but unused commemorative stamps - over £3 worth of stamps for £2. They just need making up to the right amount to post at todays prices with a few 1p stamps.
Him Outside got the best bargain as he found a complete set of really good quality drill bits for £5 ( about 15 various sizes in a proper case). A couple of weeks ago he broke a masonry drill bit while fixing the campsite loo to the floor and had to buy a new one which was £6 just for 1 !

Sunday, 21 April 2013

On a Sunday Soapbox

I was browsing in blogland last night while watching that programme " Should British people without talent be on TV" when I came across a blog where somebody was saying how they didn't want to join in the £30 for 30 tips thing because the things they did were not what other people did and they didn't want to be seen following the crowd and "making up" tips just to get the money. ( I couldn't find the blog again and not sure where it was)
Surely the whole point of Frugal Living is that everyone is different, everyone has different reasons to live the way they do and different ways to do it. Probably one persons frugal tip is another persons extravagance and vice-versa. But that doesn't matter, it is up to individual choice.
Our reasons for being frugal are over on the sidebar and so is the way we do things. We've often been told we are lucky for owning a smallholding but we are old and started way back when houses were cheaper and we were able to buy cheap, do them up and sell a few years later. We did this 5 times including living in a caravan for a year with 2 children under 5 and working late every night on a house that had been declared uninhabitable by the council. But we made choices to do that, like buying childrens clothes at jumble sales and not Mothercare as was the norm at the time. Later when the children were older we choose not to holiday abroad, even though they said all their friends were, and camped in this country instead. We choose not to have new or even newish cars and we were lucky because Him Outside can turn his hand to most practical things. Yes, we were lucky as we didn't have debts and a big mortgage and we were able to pay it off early but we choose not to buy things that we couldn't afford. Our first new sofa was bought only a few years ago and we've been married for 34 years! but that was our choice. Yes, we were "lucky" that my Dad died a few years back and left us some money to build a kitchen extension and to modernize the house to make it more fuel efficient so it was cheaper to live here, but we choose to do that rather than go on a cruise or whatever. We are so lucky to have a choice and I know some people will say they have no choice to do what they do and I'm sure that's true and that's the sad thing about the world. But we can only do what we do and as far as I know  we don't upset anyone doing it. So I shall carry on being frugal in our own way and enjoying it.

On a much lighter note I had a reply to a blog last week mentioning The Penny Pincher Paper and I was so excited to find someone else who had heard of it. ( Apart from my 6 PPP friends - Hello Sandra, Alison, Mary,Janet,Jill and Gill !) It was a small privately published newsletter that ran for  around 5 years. Produced by John and Irma Mustoe who appeared in the VERY early series of Scrimpers in around 1992 or 3. They then did a book and followed that with The Penny Pincher Paper. I have no idea how many people subscribed to it, but as lot's of different people contributed their own ideas on living better on less, it must have been several dozen at least. So is there anyone else who subscribed out there? The Mustoes  were frugal because they loved travelling, so they choose to live simply in other ways to afford their world travels. Everyone is different. Which is  a good thing as it would be a pretty boring world if we were all the same.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Beautiful Saturday

What a beautiful day here on the Suffolk coast, wall to wall sunshine. The kind of day that makes you think things WILL be OK. The wind was a tad chilly but we can forgive that. We got lots of jobs done outside and in the greenhouse. More seeds sown, small courgette and pepper plants moved into bigger pots, tidying up in the new campsite shower, clearing out the shed  where I'm going to put tourist information leaflets and a mini library, delivering the very last load of hay to a friend.Best of all Him Outside got the frame of the "new" polytunnel sorted. Its actually a very old frame given us by a friend who wanted it shifted, several of the metal pipes have rusty ends and wonky bits but he has rescued the best and it is huge. Plenty of room for growing dozens of tomato plants to make lots of tomatoes to sell. Now we just need to measure it and send for the plastic to cover it. I've also found I need a new automatic window opener for the greenhouse as after many, many years of use the one we have has broken and it's no good relying on my memory to open and shut the window!
Nice surprise in the post was a belated birthday present from our eldest daughter who works in the busy, busy world of textile design in London. She rang in a panic on the day apologizing for forgetting to post it as she has been so busy at work and with organising a friends hen party.
She sent this lovely tea towel designed by a small company called Beetroot Press.
Whoops........ seem to have uploaded all 3 pictures at once. 1st is the left-hand greenhouse shelf, lots of plants.2nd is the new polytunnel frame and 3rd is the lovely tea towel. Now the other day I'm sure I saw a way to turn photos round but of course now I don't know where I saw it. Any ideas?

Friday, 19 April 2013

A Quiet day

Today I am tired. We live in the middle of arable fields. Only 2 other houses within 100yds yet last night at 2am I was woken by noise and bright lights and looked out to see A TRACTOR AND ITS ATTENDING LOADER SPREADING FERTILIZER ON THE FIELDS- 2am !! What the heck? We have a new farmer farming land around us, they farm 1000s of acres from here all down the coast and right into Essex. They are efficient and produce a lot of food including vegetables to feed a lot of people and I've lived in the country, and been associated with farming, long enough to know some work has to be done quickly while there is no wind or before rain BUT 2 am??? So today I'm tired and as I'm a person who needs my sleep it will take me days to recover.
I did summon up the energy to cycle a mile and a bit down to the village for the library van which due to " cutbacks" now only comes once in 4 weeks. Came home with a good pile, most of which I had ordered on-line, but only a couple that I'm really looking forward to reading. Several are authors that I've not read before so shall see what they are like.
Yesterday I wrote about finding the blog of Shirley Goode, so today I got her books out to have another look and found, folded inside, cuttings from old magazines also about her ideas for money saving in the kitchen. The books are well thumbed I think all except the Goode Kitchen  came from carboot sales years ago. The largest of the books was one I didn't know about until I found it at our local car boot just a couple of years ago. Looking through the books was like visiting  old friends. They are well thumbed as they were used a lot when the children were small.
Dinner tonight was a frugal lasagne which uses ( for 2 people) three quarters of a tin of pilchards in tomato sauce which is mixed with some dried herbs and a squirt of tom. puree. The lasagne is made in the usual way, white sauce, value sheets of lasagne. Cover with foil for 20 minutes in oven the top with grated cheese and finish for 5 minutes uncovered. When I've described this in the past I have seen people turn up their noses but it is really  surprisingly tasty. The other pilchard will make us sandwiches tomorrow.
Just heard worrying thing on local news. A group of 5 traveler families moved onto a big campsite about 10 miles from us, refused to pay, refused to get off and when bailiffs and police were called they didn't make them move but let them stay until Monday. I've heard this happening in other places but never in Suffolk. It might be a big problem and we shall have to install some sort of way to stop them coming here but when legitimate  visitors to the site are coming and going it's difficult to know what to do.
That's my lot for today. Sleep well!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

£30 reward - yipee!

Thank you to Ilona at Life after money for the hint about the £30 on Moneysupermarket. Him Outside is well pleased as the £30 has gone into Paypal which is used mainly by him for bits and pieces for the smallholding !
If you read my list of 30 ways to save £1, you will notice several typing errors and spelling mistakes, my excuse is that I did the list in a rush and didn't proof read. Very embarrassing as I did my RSA 1  typing in about 1977 and I ought to remember, then I did proof reading as part of a City and Guild Library Assistants course in about 1979 -what a long time ago, in a different world.
Not a lot of gardening done today as it was too cold and windy, so I had a really good tidy up in my craft room/ office/spare room and made a space to spread out the paperwork for my tax return. Luckily the campsite never earns enough to pay any tax and is quite straight forward to do. I like to get it done quickly in case I forget and there are fines involved if it isn't done by October on paper returns.
I was playing in blog land and came across a couple of frugal type blogs by blokes which I thought would be interesting to have a look at for a different perspective on things. Then I found a blog done by a lady called Shirley Goode who wrote several books about living on less - especially cooking- back in the early 1980's. She also appeared on TV doing cooking. It was a surprise to find that she had her 80th birthday on the same day as my 58th.
My only frugal tip for today is if you need to make 6 sausages feed 4 people without looking mean, then twist them in the middle gently squeezing the meat, cut through to make 12 mini sausages and put into a Yorkshire pudding. Then you can dish up 3 half sausages each and it is plenty for even husbands and hungry 25 year olds.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

30 Ways to save £1

30 ways to save £1

1. Ask to pick up windfall apples if you see someone isn't using them.
2.ALWAYS try value range of supermarket brands most are good.
3.Don't start pets on expensive brands, if started on a cheaper one they will never know different.
4. Re-read the instructions for you washing machine, could you use a shorter cycle?
5. Buy refill packs of things if you can.
6. Have a look around local industrial estates and see who chucks what - pallets for wood, containers for water butts.
7. Christmas is the same day every year don't let it creep up on you, start shopping in January sales and carry on at car boot sales.
8. Swap an expensive hobby for a cheaper one.
9. Cut down on how much toothpaste, shampoo, lotions and potions that you use see if less will do the same job.
10. Before you buy anything new STOP and think if you already have something that could do the same job.
11.Invest in a flask and take tea or coffee with you on days out.
12. Don't waste money on bottled water- stand a bottle of water in the fridge and take it with you next day.
13. If you need more than 2 regular prescriptions a month always buy a NHS prepayment card.
14. Find out about free events at local museums or NT free open weekend vouchers etc.
15. If you have an answerphone set it on the longest number of rings so you get there in time to answer and don't need to phone people back.
16. Poundland and 99p shops are sometimes very good value but not always so know the prices of the things you buy - keep a little price book in your bag.
17. Make Xmas gift tags from old xmas cards or cut an 2 inches off the end of wrapping paper, stick on a piece of card and cut out to make matching gift tags.
18. Borrow recipe books from the library and see how many recipes you will actually use before buying the book.
19. Tip bottles up-side down and leave to drain to get the last bit  of things out.
20. Cut the end off tubes of toothpaste and creams etc. to get to the last bit.
21. Every time you come home put any 5p in a jar. They are so small they get lost easily, you won't miss them from your purse and they will soon turn into a pound.
22.Read your local and national papers in the library or persuade a friend or neighbour to save them for you.
23. Never buy notebooks for phone messages or shopping lists. Cut up cereal packets or similar into neat squares and keep them in a little box in the kitchen or buy the phone.
24. Grow something to eat - even one tomato plant in a pot can produce more than a pounds worth of tomatoes.
25. Never use 1st class post - get organised and post early with second class stamp.
26. Make you own bread everyone is doing it - it's easy and much cheaper.
27. Do you REALLY need to buy a book straight away - wait for paperback version or buy from amazon later or USE YOU LIBRARY.
28. Eat less meat- start by swapping one meal a week to veggie things then 2 or 3 a week.
29. Chutney is easy to make, the ingredients can be cheap and men like jars of chutney for Christmas presents.
30.Drive wisely - accelerate and brake slowly and don't carry more weight than you have to, take off the roof rack.competitions@moneysupermarket.com

Good gardening day

Yesterday our local TV weather lady said the temps here today would be up to 18 C but they were wrong 'cos we had horrible sea mist drizzle first thing and then a chilly wind for the rest of the day but at least it was fine and we got several more jobs done in the vegetable beds and I got more climbing french beans and pumpkins sown.( not outside, but in pots in greenhouse). The broad beans that we covered with two layers of fleece are OK and even a few early potatoes up under black plastic - now ridged up and recovered until the weekend frost is past then we will cover with fleece.
The most exciting thing happened an hour ago as I was washing up the dinner things, and glancing up outside saw 2 swallows on the wire. Rushed out to take pic. but even with zoom they are just dots,but they really are swallows ! Summer MUST be on the way. Is it 2 swallows that make a summer??
I expect most frugallers get the Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert regular Wednesday email. In case you don't - There was a message today about downloading a voucher for a free visit to most NT properties for this weekend. Could be a good day out for just traveling costs. It is for up to max 2 adults and 2 children.Our only near NT is Sutton Hoo but we've been a few times (when we still had an income that afforded membership!) so may go somewhere else except we've already used most of this months allocation of diesel money, so maybe just a trip to the car boot sale up the road!
My favourite thing about NT properties is their shops and secondhand bookshops = NOT VERY FRUGAL. When the children were small membership of English Heritage was very good value and we spent many happy holidays climbing castles which are more fun for kids (and me) than posh houses - although I like looking at the kitchens.
Must stop blethering on and  get my a book finished before Friday library van. Thanks to everyone for birthday wishes, my present from Him Outside - the camera that we couldn't fathom - is being looked at by the man in the local computer shop.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Now Spring is really here

Yesterday I saw a bumble bee, today I saw a butterfly and guess what popped up in the garden overnight - the first two shoots of ASPARAGUS! You have to look closely to see them- small purplish shoots but they are there, which means in just a week or two we shall be eating our first scrummy serving of this wonderful treat.
The lovely thing about having penfriends is lots of pretty cards for a special day, with books from the wish list from my children, I'm one year older  but a  happy simple Suffolk smallholder!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Moving seedlings and cutting grass

What a lovely day it's been here, lots of sunshine and a good breeze to get the washing dry. We seem to have gone from winter to spring at last. A few days ago the trees and bushes looked lifeless but today sticky buds on our Horse Chestnut and lots of little leaves on the gooseberry bushes

I put the bread to rise in the conservatory,which was fine while I was indoors to remember to look at it, but then when it went into tins for it's second rise I went outside to my potting shed and moved several dozen tiny seedlings of cabbages and calabrese from their seed trays into little modules, forgot to look at bread and it had gone mad overflowing the tins so that when I moved them to the oven they collapsed making flat topped loaves which will taste OK but look weird.
Him Outside is getting on well with the campsite shower and then he got the ride-on mower out to cut the campsite grass. We used to do it with the tractor and gang-mowers but when the mowers seized up he bought another set off eBay which appeared to be fine but actually were complete rubbish. So until we can sort them out he goes back and forwards on the small mower which takes an age. After that he moved a bit more chippings on to the campsite driveway and then his next job was to go and finish a bit of work on a shed for a customer which he thought he HAD finished but they found another little job for him. They've paid their bill so that's good.
I thought the schools were back today but maybe not as there has not been much passing traffic and there are still eggs left unsold, which is a pain. At least this dry spell means the eggs are nice and clean when I collect them.
One of my favourite things for dinner tonight - Pork belly slices done in Hoisin sauce ( With added ingredients of water, soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and Chinese 5 spice) 20 minutes in oven without sauce, drain off fat, add sauce mix, then another 40 minutes basting regularly. Lovely, sticky, Chinesey flavoured meal without leaving the house to fetch a takeaway. We will have with noodles and stir-fry veg - carrots( value bag from Tesco at this time of year) onion (home grown) and peppers( home grown last year, sliced, open freeze on trays and then tip into a bag, thaw in a sieve so they drain a bit then add to stir fry last.) YUM

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sunday rest

The world and his wife have gone to the seaside today ( we went too but got back before the masses arrived) from 3 miles away we can hear the constant stream of traffic down the A road, loads of motorbikes too they are sooooo noisy!
We fancied a blast of sea air and we certainly got that because at the time we went it was still really chilly with drizzle in the air. This is our cold grey north sea and the boats on the river behind.

This afternoon the weather was much improved so after doing one job outside ( putting some wire netting around the inside of the old goat paddock to give the chickens some fresh grass) we declared an afternoon of rest.We soon got our feet up in the conservatory and Him Outside snoozed while I finished my book. The library van is due Friday and all this playing in blogland means I still have 5 books unread. Better get reading :)  although maybe not ALL 5!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Forgot to say.....

Back again! I forgot to say thank you to everyone who is now reading the blog, I'm enjoying writing it. Youngest daughter tells me 9 followers in a two weeks is quite good?
I will try to answer comments hope the right bit is working and you are able to read them.

A good busy Saturday

As usual another busy day. Him Outside was off on his tractor quite early this morning. He was going to plough a part of a field that is to be used for allotments in one of our local villages.It has been delayed for weeks  because someone in an office somewhere has sat on legal documents for the owner of the field to pass it on to a newly formed allotment association.Hopefully all the eager people waiting to get started won't have to wait much longer. This afternoon he changed the plough on the back for the loading shovel on the front and shoveled up some shingle to put on the muddy bits of the campsite driveway. Then he cleaned out a chicken shed! Which is why he was really ready for this good plate of home made curry, home made naan bread and home made onion bhaji.
The total cost of this big yummy meal is not a lot really. The curry ingredients are 2 small leeks (home grown) half an onion ( home grown), 1 apple (reduced at Tesco). Knob of butter, 1 desert spoonful of curry powder, 1 desert spoon of flour, teaspoon sugar, 1 Tablespoon of home made chutney and some cooked turkey that's been in the freezer since Christmas( given to us for helping some new smallholders with some work and advice).
Rice is not as cheap as it was once but still good value bought in a big bag from Asda.
Home made naans are flour, yeast, baking powder,milk, an egg( our eggs are the ones we can't sell because they are too big/small/odd shaped) and lemon juice and pinch salt. ( I make a big batch and freeze and will do the proper recipe to post next time I make them).
Onion bhaji is a new recipe using the ingredients list on the back of a packet of bhaji mix sent to me by my Penny Pinching Friend Sandra. ( she got them from approved foods, and we tried the ready mix last week ) This was interesting to work out and try and I nearly got it right except for making them a bit too wet. The main ingredient is Chickpea or Gram  flour (50g = 12 pence) plus tiny bit of turmeric,cumin,chilli powder, bicarb,baking powder, coriander, garlic powder and salt. I didn't have dried onion, black onion seed and dried jalapeno pepper which are also listed but figured that wouldn't matter. You mix this powder with a little water and then a sliced onion and then deep fry 'til crispy golden.  Result according to Him Outside was that they were better than the original packet mix  as they were not quite so hot - making a different flavour to the hot curry.
This morning I got small courgette seedlings moved into bigger pots, sowed some squash and pumpkin seed and did a big heap of ironing - HATE THAT JOB! - but don't like crumpled clothes and tea towels so has to be done now and then. At least I don't iron undies and socks like my late mum did!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Plants moved out at last

Finally after days of carrying all the veg. plants ( 6 big trays full) backwards and forwards between the kitchen at night and the conservatory by day, I have shifted them all out and squeezed  them into our small greenhouse. Where- fingers crossed - they will be OK until their final move into the polytunnels. We've got 2 small tunnels, like many smallholders we know, we started with one then found it is best not to grow cucumbers and tomatoes together as the cucs. like it hot and wet and steamy and the toms. prefer hot, dry and airy. When Him Outside worked full time we grew for us plus selling the excess at the gate. Now he is employed 3 days a month at his old job and self-employed for the rest of the time so we've increased what we grow for selling. Last year we were given another polytunnel frame and some time in the next couple of months we need to get it sorted. That will be fun! I shall definitely post pictures of  struggling with the plastic cover.
Then I made some tomato and herb bread rolls and this is where I would have put the recipe and picture but we couldn't get the new camera, bought for me for a birthday present (as the one I've been using really belong to Him Outside's employers) to work properly, so that will have to wait for another day.
I also started sorting out the things that have stood in the middle of the small spare room since last summer. ( good thing we didn't need the room for visitors) I dragged them out of the roof cupboard ready to sort for taking to a car boot but then of course last summer it rained nearly every car boot day. This year we MUST get them out of the way.

Weather report - some bits of sunshine then huge downpours of rain and hail. Oh Wonderful! 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Quiet day

After a few  busy days  today was much quieter and I even had time to start my book that I've been trying to get around to for days. Tomorrows job list looks like I need to be busy again.

Weather report: very dirty rainfall over night, our bedroom window was horribly smeary this morning and when I wiped a corner with a tissue to see what it was, it seemed to be nasty black something. I wonder if the strong east winds recently have brought dust from the Ruhr Valley - I'm sure this is something I heard once before. Note to self :- Clean windows as soon as weather is better. Now weather looking not so good for Friday and Saturday, and not as warm as they thought for Sunday -what a shame. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Potting plants

This morning I potted up some tomato,aubergine and cucumber plants into bigger pots. This has been a good year for getting things started in my little windowsill propagator, but a bad year for putting them out in the greenhouse. It's been much too draughty and cold out there, so all the trays of plants have been in the kitchen at night and out into the conservatory during the day. This involves much carrying backwards and forwards twice a day as there are 8 cucumber, 8 aubergine, 70 tomato and 36 pepper plants! BUT whats this I hear?! 18 degrees C on Sunday and no more cold east wind! AT LAST! spring might be here. Perhaps I shall finally get those pots out into the greenhouse. That will just leave the next round of seedlings to prick out - cabbage, calabrese, basil and another lot of things  to put into bigger pots -courgette and squash. Hopefully by then we will be able to start planting in the polytunnel.
This is some of the small plants on the kitchen windowsill a few weeks ago.
Note the foil on cardboard to give some reflected light which stops the plants getting too "leggy"

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Shopping for shoes and daffodils.

Shopping for shoes is almost my least favourite activity, but needs must and as, due to foot problems, I'm unable to wear wellies now I've almost ruined my very old pair of Brasher walking boots by wearing them for splodging around the smallholding all through the wet winter. So time for a new pair to wear for just walking in (rather than collecting eggs, gardening, chopping kindling etc. etc.) First stop giant Sporty type out-of-town place. No one "serving" until I'd walked around and up and down searching. I have quite wide feet so not much choice. Then he trotted off to look for my size and of course they didn't have them. So we went into town and thankfully discovered Millets/Blacks still there - I thought they were one of the companies that had gone under this winter. Success! and IN THEIR SALE at half price - Hooray! Now I really must look after these. (Poor old well worn boots on right look better in photo than in reality, still just about OK for working here)
Hopefully no more shoe shopping for many months.
Before we started searching for shoes we called in at Sainsburys because someone on a blog had mentioned their Value Range Bacon ( whoever it was - thankyou!) We rarely visit Sainsburys as it is 25 miles from us at the wrong edge of town. Bought two packs of bacon and then divided it up when we got home before putting in freezer- 2 really good size bacon chops and 4 packs of rashers. Very good value.
A few days of sunshine have at last persuaded a few daffodils to open here, yet in Ipswich there were several out in gardens, it really is several degrees warmer in town compered to us on the East coast. We had a bed of daffs for selling at the gate but last Autumn decided that they were getting very crowded and not producing many flowers. So we dug them up and replanted the biggest bulbs in a new bed. These means not so many to sell this year but hopefully a good amount from next year onwards.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Just a usual busy time.

Thank goodness for that bit of sunshine on Saturday, Sunday and today. It made getting the campsite ready for the season much easier.The signs that direct people in, tell them the way to the house, describe what goes in each bin,tells them which is the drinking water tap and where the toilet disposal place is are all up so we are ready. Yes, we do have lots of signs! but you would be surprised how lost some visitors get.
We put up all the pitch markers on the caravan side ( we are allowed 5 caravans or motorhomes) but the ones for the camping bit needed a coat of paint ( room for 6 tents) as did the FIRE bucket, so that's what I've been doing today - as well as baking bread, collecting, cleaning and boxing eggs, writing a shopping list for one of our rare trips to the "Big Town" ( Ipswich), hanging out washing and getting it in again and making a pie for dinner.
Him Outside has also been working for one of his gardening customers, clearing away some of the scrap-wood that we have here ready for the wood-burner, doing more work on the new shower, delivering a load of horse muck from one neighbour to another neighbour, finishing the job of sealing a shed roof for another customer  and moving some shingle to fill some of the mud spots on the campsite driveway.
Just a usual busy time!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

A Foreign Language!!!

Thank you to everyone who has commented on the blog and suggested how to add things like a list of which blogs I follow. Unfortunately this is like talking to me in a Foreign language!
So until I can work that out, the blog will have to stay just a simple diary or I fear it will all end in tears!
Mind you, if someone could explain to me in words of one syllable  why the times I post a new blog are all wrong  and how to change them it would be much appreciated.
Meanwhile the weather report for today is:-  at last sunshine and less of that cold east wind. Still not what you could call warm though.
I've been busy in my potting shed sowing seeds of calabrese, red cabbage, more courgettes, squash, leeks and climbing beans. The broad bean seeds sown two weeks ago and put in the greenhouse still show no sign of emerging from the trays so the things I've sown today have been squeezed onto the kitchen windowsills along with the pepper  and tomato seedlings.
Him Outside has been busy preparing the campsite loos and shower for the new holiday season,  we have one or two very annoying leaks in the new pipework that will have to be sorted before he does the non-slip flooring in the shower.
Another sign of things to come today when we were able to eat the first few radishes of the new season. These were sown in the polytunnel several weeks ago but worth the wait to liven up a scrambled egg sandwich at lunch time.

Yesterday I managed to SET FIRE TO MY HOOVER!!! I think there must have been a hot piece of ash or wood on the hearth when I whizzed round cleaning not long after Him Outside had lit the woodburner. I suddenly realised I had smoke coming out of the bucket part of my cylinder - an ever so reliable Vax Pro. I rushed it through to the kitchen and back door but forgot to unplug so had to put it down, rush back, unplug, rush back to kitchen, open back door and get it outside. By the time I could lift off the motor part and haul out the smoking bag it had burned a hole in the plastic bucket.  The smell left indoors was HORRIBLE! I have an awful feeling that although the motor is still OK the filters etc. smell so bad that even though H.O mended the hole with mastic, I may not be able to use it again. I bet any new cleaner I buy won't last so many years. So very annoying and something that could have been avoided. Oh well- that's life.

Friday, 5 April 2013

 I still can't decide which blog is best, simplesuffolksmallholder on wordpress or frugalinsuffolk on blogger. The wordpress site is simpler to post onto.
If anyone can find it, please have a look and tell me which site you prefer. Thanks.
 The following is a post that I put on my wordpress site on Tuesday 2nd April for new readers on blogger to find out a bit more about our simple Suffolk world.
Lots and lots of lovely little eggs out for sale today – our new hens are doing well. The good news was that even with it being school holidays, the whole lot sold bar 1/2 dozen. I hope some new buyers have found us – people who have been buying for years always  say “love your eggs”. I tell them its because they are so fresh and have only traveled a few yards from the chicken to the box and then to them.
I ventured out in the icy cold east wind to our “new” Tesco, although it’s almost a year old now. I had a £5 voucher off £40 worth, so did the months big shop there. As its only a small shop they sometimes have a value range of something and then next time – it’s gone. Never any bargains on the reduced shelf, but I did find some 1/2 price organic apples, which was only a saving of 50p over the non reduced, non organic. One good buy is their value range tins of pineapple chunks for 25p – a good big tin too. They are doing their 3 for 2 on home baking products, so I got 3 bread flour this week when only two were on my list.
 I bought a tiny piece of  peperoni sausage off the deli counter, just 50p worth- bet the girl thought I was odd- but I needed it to top home made pizza for a change from our usual 2 cheese variety. Even with the bargains my big shop came to much more than it would have done a year ago, but we have to eat something and I refuse to live on value beans!
Came home and made 2 loaves of bread and did lots of floor washing – not very exciting.

Photos from my old blog

I started blogging on a site that my eldest daughter set up for me when she was here at Christmas, then I couldn't get onto it and then when I found my way in and started a regular diary, no-one could find it as it was on wordpress which didn't come up on some search engines. So I started a this blog on blogger as it seemed to be what other people were using and easier to access.
To catch up on March here are some of the photos posted on my old blog.
 Some of the cards I've been making this winter,
various things cooked  during March

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Third blog - still trying!

I love books! We have several hundred here and once a month I bike down the road to the mobile library van and bring home a bagful that I've ordered via t'internet.
 Here are  3 that I have currently on loan. On the left is the third in a series of modern crime set in West Scotland. I've enjoyed this new-to-me author. Centre is the second in a series of historical crime set in 18th century Preston. I read the first a few weeks ago and shall start this tomorrow. Third I'm not sure about- it's not my usual sort of read but a penfriend is cousin to this lady so thought I would give it a try.
Weather report - Blinkin' freezing with horizontal sleet.
Todays jobs - keeping warm, making a vegetable curry and not a lot else - it's a simple frugal life!

new blogger 2nd post

This is a picture of our very first new season rhubarb, cut yesterday and made into a rhubarb fool. So now I know how to add photos from file but what is this strange line below that I've added and now can't get rid of?I've been posting on wordpress simplesimplesuffolksmallholder for a month and no one is reading it. I can't find out how to make it more interesting but it is easy to write on and to put photos on. So now trying blogspot, have worked out how to make it look good but don't know how to add photos or to get people to find it and read it.

New blog on blogspot

Well, here I am on blogspot trying to write a new blog about a frugal and simple life in Suffolk and getting very annoyed when I can't work out how to do things right.


The blog here has now finished please add my new blog to your list instead                               You will find it here at    ...