Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Small but Useful DIY

For a while now, I've wanted to try to find some kind of storage solution for all of the condiments that I keep next to the stove top in the kitchen.

For many years, I had a small plastic tray that I stood them all on, but during a purge on unnecessary clutter in the kitchen earlier this year, when I first embarked on using the Flylady system, I decided to donate the tray.

Instead, I started using a small wooden box with two compartments and a handle, that I had previously used to store stationary in my kitchen office area. Having disbanded this kitchen office, the box was freed up and put to good use.  I think I'd bought it at a car boot or CS originally and had painted it with white eggshell paint, but it was now looking a bit chipped and tatty and didn't really fit in all that well with the kitchen scheme, so I was on the look out for something more permanent to replace it.

After a couple of months looking in TK Maxx at possible solutions, I came to the conclusion that everything I'd seen was a little flimsy and what I was already using was probably my best bet.  The wooden box was solid and sturdy, just the right size for everything I needed to keep in it and was easy to carry across to the table at mealtimes, as it had a sturdy wooden handle too.

The only problem with it, aside from the tatty paintwork, was that it's bottom was a bit scratchy and I was concerned it might scratch the kitchen table.  As a consequence, I got to thinking how I might resolve both of these things in giving it a bit of a makeover.

As is often the case with my makeovers, I forgot to take a before picture of the box, but I proceeded to repaint it using some black chalkboard paint that I had left over from other projects. The paint has a nice matt texture and should fit in with any potential future kitchen scheme. It was also pretty quick drying too, which made it a very quick DIY, as I just painted it straight over the eggshell without any sanding necessary.

To resolve the scratchiness of the bottom of the box, after giving it a coat of paint, I glued some wool fabric that I had in my stash onto the bottom of the box, so there'll be no more scratchiness and no scratched kitchen table.

It's not perfect but the makeover cost me nothing save a little time, and I'm very happy with the results.  Just goes to show that what we think we need can sometimes be right there all the time waiting for a bit of inspiration to transform it.

Here's a picture of the finished box and it's contents both on the table and in it's usual place on the kitchen worktop:

Friday, 22 September 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 16

This last couple of weeks I haven't had too much time to concentrate on living frugally, as I've been out of the house for most of every day, working at the CS.  However, a few frugal and not so frugal things have occurred, quite a few with a timekeeping theme to them.

Frugal Measures and Freebies

1 - I got a free ride to work the other day as the Oyster reader on the bus wasn't working.  Result.

2 - I used a £4 off a £40 spend voucher at Tesco this week when grocery shopping.

3 - I received a bunch of £8 off a £40 spend vouchers from Waitrose through the post, so I may be diverting part of my weekly grocery shop there for the next few weeks. Having said this, I do find this store to be more expensive for many things, so I shop very selectively there.

4 - After another watch failure this week, I managed to dig out an old Swatch watch which had stopped working after I'd worn it to the gym and it had got sweaty.  As it was a nice watch in otherwise very good condition, I stored it away and when I got it out again, it seemed to have dried out and once a new battery was put in it, it worked a treat, so I didn't have to buy a new watch. I've learned my lesson wearing watches at the gym.  I take them off now to preserve them.

Frugal Fails

1 - I needed to order a new natural concealer last week and the only place I could find the one I use was on Amazon.  Unfortunately, my usual source, who doesn't charge for postage, has stopped selling the brand I use, so I was forced incur Amazon's £2.75 postal charges which hurt. I think that I will either have to find another brand to use or a new supplier in the future.

2 - Three months after purchasing a lifetime watch battery warranty from Timpson's for £20, it has been rendered useless. After two months with a new battery, my watch stopped working again.  I got the battery replaced under the warranty, but was told that if it stopped working again, the watch would have to have a service (costing who knows how much!).  Anyway, lo and behold two weeks later my watch stopped working again. As I only paid £16 or so for the watch, I'm not paying out more money to get it serviced, so I'll be disposing of it.  The up side to this story is as previously mentioned in the Frugal Measures section. The moral of this story - don't buy cheap watches!

3 - OH ordered an alarm clock from Amazon over a week before we went on holiday to France.  It hadn't come by the time we went away, so we thought it would get left with neighbours.  Sadly, the delivery agent left it on the doorstep whilst we were away and someone helped themselves to it.  I then had to buy another alarm clock, as I needed one for work.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Two Lovely Days at Home

I've spent Monday and Tuesday at home this week, pottering around.  It's been bliss and I feel human again. I feel like I've been living in some sort of twilight zone for the past week.  I don't want to have to experience that again.

I had to rely on OH a lot to keep things running smoothly at home.  I was fortunate that he works from home, otherwise we'd have been eating at 9pm every evening, the house would be a tip and no one would have been able to attend a meeting at the school nor make sure LB got home on time in the evening. 

Even so, it did put a strain on family life at times and caused stress over silly little things. I guess I've got my first taste of how difficult it is for families, where both parents work full-time, to keep all the balls in the air. It doesn't take much for them to drop to the ground.

What I really didn't like is that for all of my daughter's 14 years, I've been fortunate enough to be there for her after school and in the holidays, and during this last three months I haven't and it didn't feel good. I know I need to let go and let her be more independent and the job forced me to do that, but at times I felt like I was letting her down.

The only upside to last week, was that I lost 6lb in weight just through sheer busyness and lack of time to snack.  Not an ideal way to do it, but it's nice nevertheless.  I will probably put all or some of it back on now that I'm not working quite so crazy hours.

Anyway, that said, these last two days have been lovely. The first day was mainly taken up with food shopping and cooking us a nice joint of roast beef, that we hadn't had time to cook in the previous week.  That felt satisfying.

The second day, I got down to some blog writing, dealing with my personal finances and also had a nice long walk with the dog before embarking on starting my Flylady Weekly Home Blessing. I only managed to complete downstairs, but it felt so good to restore a bit of order and cleanliness to our home. It's amazing how much dirt and dust gathers in the corners in just a couple of weeks.

I finished my two days off by putting a wash on and catching up with the ironing.  It wasn't too bad as I'd emptied the ironing basket before starting my full week of working, so there were only 3 or 4 loads to iron, which didn't take too long.

Friday is my next day off and I'm going to try to use it to finish off my WHB upstairs and then do some Zone cleaning in Zone 4, the Master Bedroom. I had to consult Flylady Diane's videos to figure out where I was up to in the Flylady stakes, so much have I lost contact with the programme in the last few weeks. There's not a lot to do in the bedroom, just change the bedding and a bit of dusting really.  I may use the opportunity to get out my winter clothing and put away some summer clothing now the weather has turned colder.

I hope you've had a good and productive week this week.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

A Couple of Upgrades for Our Home

As mentioned in yesterday's post, after a week of intense work, I indulged in a little bit of recreational retail therapy yesterday whilst out doing the weekly grocery shop.  Now I know that this is a dangerous habit to get into, but most of the items I bought were Christmas presents, along with a couple of natural make up/toiletry items for me and the following two items for our home.

Both items are upgrades in that the first, this lovely plastic tray with a coastal houses scene on it, replaced a much larger tray that I had previously donated.  We don't use a tray that often, but it is handy to have one and the previous one was so large that it didn't fit in any of the cupboards. As I'm trying to keep counter clutter to a minimum, it wasn't working for me, so I sent it to the Give and Take. This one however is smaller, lighter and easier to carry with the handles and can be tucked into one of the cupboards.

It also goes quite nicely with the only artwork in the kitchen, this lino cut print of  coastal houses and at £3.99 was also good value.

The second purchase (or purchases) was a set of three glass storage jars that I bought to replace the previous IKEA jars that I'd been using for a while to hold dog food, treats and biscuits.  I really liked the simplicity of these, with their silicone stopper type lids. They weren't cheap at £16 for the three, but I think they make the dog food corner of the worktop look a lot better and allow very easy access to the contents.

The IKEA jars will now be returned to their original home in my sewing room to store various sewing notions.

Here's the before

and now the after.

It has been nice to have a little spare cash to make small but satisfying changes to the house.  As we may be redecorating the kitchen soon, I think these items will enhance the finished look eventually.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Back in the Land of the Living

Well, at last, I'm back in the land of the living and not virtually living my life in the charity shop. It's such a relief to finally have a day to myself at home, to do whatever I want and trust me, I'm only doing what's absolutely necessary and thus giving myself time to recover from the exertions and stresses of the past week.

My week in charge of the CS didn't get off to a very good start.  I woke on Sunday morning, my first day of a seven day stretch feeling distinctly unwell.  I had a headache, felt dizzy and nauseous and could hardly lift my head off the pillow.  I contemplated still going in and doing what I could, but I knew I would spend the day with my head on the desk, trying not to fall over. I had no option but to call the manager and ask him to cover for me and then take the following Sunday as part of his week's leave instead.

He was very gracious and supportive and as he didn't have any plans that particular day, he went in. I then spent the day in bed dosing myself up with paracetamol and trying to sleep off whatever lurgy it was that I had. (Vertigo or some sort of virus I thought, but it was in fact vertigo after all) I wasn't even well enough to get dressed or walk the dog.

By Sunday night I was feeling better so my week started proper on Monday.  Monday itself wasn't a great day, Tuesday got worse, but from Wednesday onwards things settled down and I got more into the swing of things.  I still had vertigo for most of the week, but managed to work in spite of it and it ended up being a busy week. Every day was pretty busy, in fact, and as a consequence I ended up on the right side of the sales targets, although I was pretty exhausted by Sunday night. The terrorist incident on Friday led to my receiving a concerned phone call about some of the staff from overseas.  It was a strange day.  Needless to say, we didn't hang about that evening.

OH came to pick me up from work on Sunday night and brought the dog with him. We sat outside a pub and had a drink before walking back to the car through the park and heading home. It felt so good to be free of the shop for a couple of days.

Today, I've had to do a big food shop as we were running low on food, I had a nice leisurely walk with the dog and have pottered about at home. I have to admit to a little splurge at TK Maxx whilst out shopping, but mostly on Xmas gifts and a few things for the house.  I'll do a little post on what I bought in the next few days.

Tomorrow, I'm hoping I feel a bit more recovered and can start to do a bit of cleaning in the house.  It's tidy enough, but has got a bit dirty over the last couple of weeks, so needs some attention.

Although I learned a lot about what I was capable of this week, with regard to the CS, it has made me more sure that I really don't want to work full time in the field for the time being. If a part time job in the right shop became available I might apply, otherwise, I'm back to volunteering and I will have a whole new appreciation of the freedom that brings in comparison to being paid to work there.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

An Afternoon on Sanibel Island

By way of a show of support for all of the people currently recovering from Hurricane Irma, I'm posting this post that I wrote about part of our holiday in Western Florida a couple of years ago. It never got published at the time and has sat in my drafts box as a reminder to me of our wonderful holiday. What better time to post it and show the beauty of the this part of the world.  My prayers and good wishes are with everybody affected both in Florida and the Carribean and I wish everyone well in aftermath and with the forthcoming clean up efforts.

The first Sunday we were in the US, we visited a very beautiful place near Fort Myers called Sanibel Island.  It is one of a number of islands off the west coast of Florida, and part of it is a nature reserve.

You have to drive over a long bridge to get to the island, I think there might have been a small toll, there are quite a few toll roads and bridges in Florida, but it was well worth it.  The island is beautiful, definitely worth a visit.  At the end of the island is a lighthouse which we drove up to visit.

The beach here was beautiful.  A mangrove beach with beautiful white sand and clear water.  As soon as we set foot on the beach we saw dolphins frolicking in the water, I think there were two or three of them, but I didn't manage to catch a photograph and anyway my phone camera probably wasn't good enough to pick them out.

We settled down in the shade of some mangroves, taking in the view, reading our books and swimming in the ocean for the afternoon.

A sea anenome washed up at my feet. I'm not sure if it was still alive as it didn't seem to cling to anything and kept getting swept this way and that by the ocean as it lapped at my feet.

Apparently this is good place for shells, I saw the odd interesting one, but didn't take it off the beach.

There was also a small fishing pier and lots of families spending Sunday at the beach. A beautiful place, we were glad that we'd taken the time to visit.

Visiting places like this and seeing the wildlife and nature are one of the things I love most about the US and other places we have visited. It costs very little to spend the day somewhere like this, but when you do it is magical.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Getting Back in the Swing Again

It's been a bit of a roller coaster of a week at the CS since I got back from holiday. I had good days and bad getting back into the swing of things on my return. I still am having bad days, especially this week as a couple of issues have arisen, that are testing my patience.

I had my first mini meltdown last week on account of frustration over the non co-operation and team spirit of some members of the staff.  A similar situation with regard to the same members raised it's head yesterday as well and I'm starting to tire of trying to deal with the same issues over and over. It is so time consuming and makes it very difficult to get on with any actual work.

I have to try to keep everything in perspective, difficult as it may be, especially as my Manager is off next week and I will be left to run the shop on my own.  I'm not particularly looking forward to it, I have to admit and it will mean working quite a few more hours. I'm just going to have to get my head down and get on with it.

Talking to other shop managers when they call on the phone regarding different things, it seems like everyone in the area is stretched at the moment, so we're all in the same boat.  It's not much compensation, however, when you're in the thick of it.

I'm trying to stay positive though and just do what I can.  It's all you can really do at the end of the day.  If some things don't get done and sales targets aren't met or surpassed then so be it. I'm not super human and can only work with what I've got, both in terms of resources, hours in the day and manpower.

As a consequence of the above, I might not be posting too much in the next week or two.  Sorry about this, but normal blogging business will resume as soon as my hours get back to normal.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Loving Lately

Well, I thought I'd do one of these posts, as I haven't done one for a while, mainly because I haven't been buying all that much lately (save for since I've been working and have had a little more income).

The first thing I've been enjoying is this perfume that I bought from Primark.  The packaging is a little bit 'Jo Malone' ish, don't you think? Nice and simple anyway. This one is Mandarin and Basil and smells pretty nice.  It's just to wear for work really and at £8 for this 100ml bottle it was a bargain. (I know, the natural product preference has taken a back seat for a while, until the overdraft is paid off!)

The second thing is also from Primark and is this rucksack in pale grey PU. My previous rucksack that I've been using every day for the past six months was from here too, it's similar but is black and is starting to show serious signs of wear and tear.  As they don't do a black one anymore, or not in the store I looked in, I thought I'd have a change and go for grey this time.  At £10, it was also a bargain, especially if it lasts 6 months again. It's a great size for me as it has enough room in it to carry my lunch and water bottle to the CS and has several good pockets inside and out to allow quick access to all my bits and pieces that I carry around with me every day.

Talking of water bottles, I'm liking my Klean Kanteen too, which I bought from the CS. I don't use it all the time though, as I don't want it to get all dented and bashed around. I will probably use it for the gym when my current bottle, which is one LB doesn't use anymore, has given up the ghost.  The only thing with the Klean Kanteen, is that if you try to drink from it on the go, the neck of the bottle is so big that invariably water splashes out and down your clothes.  I found that out to my cost. Not ideal, but it's only water.

I'm loving my new domed transparent umbrella that I bought when I was in Yorkshire to replace the one I left in the Nike shop.  With all the rain we've had in recent weeks, it has come in useful.  I like the fact that it is domed and doesn't blow inside out easily, and I also like the fact that I can see through it and see where I'm going.

Finally on a media front, we've just finished watching a Spanish crime series called 'I Know Who You Are' which was broadcast on BBC Four recently.  It was quite complex in terms of the plotlines, but enjoyable. I'm currently watching 'STRIKE - The Cuckoo's Calling' and enjoying that too when I get the chance to watch it.

On a daily basis I'm loving listening to BBC Radio London in a morning, when I'm sat on the bus on the way to work.  It's useful for transport news in London and for just generally keeping me up to date with news stories in the capital. Vanessa Feltz's is great in a morning with her phone in talk show about London, life and topical issues in the news, which is entertaining. I put on my earphones, switch on the radio app on my phone and I'm in a little world of my own for the hour's bus journey. Bliss.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Book Review - The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

One of the books that I read whilst on holiday in France, was this book that I have heard quite a lot about on YouTube and have always been interested in reading.  I ordered a copy from eBay for a couple of pounds and took it away with me as a holiday read.

It is quite an old book, first published in the 1950's/60's, and is quite small and thin too, so didn't take too much reading, but I'd argue that it's contents are still as fresh and pertinent today as they probably were then. 

The book uses allegorical stories of characters living in ancient Babylonian times, to encourage the reader to take themselves to task over their finances, to enable them to live a good and prosperous life. It is almost biblical in tone, but it was a very interesting read and the main ideas that I took away from it were as follows:

The Seven Simple Rules of Acquisition:

1 - Start thy purse to fattening
2 - Control thy expenditures
3 - Make thy gold multiply
4 - Make thy dwelling a profitable investment
5 - Guard thy treasures from loss
6 - Insure a future income for yourself and your loved ones
7 - Increase thy ability to earn.

The above rules are all pretty self explanatory and Glason goes on to talk about and give examples of how these rules and the Five Laws of Gold can help anyone to accumulate wealth and maintain it going forward into the future.

The Five Laws of Gold

1 - Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put aside not less than one tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.

2 - Gold laboureth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as to the flocks of the fields.

3 - Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.

4 - Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in business or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.

5 - Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

The stories that Glason uses in the book to illustrate these laws are interesting. In his final chapters of the book, he uses a story to encourage the reader to make work your best friend.  Do good work, he argues and it will bring you good things.  You will not get ahead by shirking.

Simple words and rules, but they are ones that we can probably all apply to our finances and lives in some way, if we are not so doing already.  I hope you find this review helpful and I would recommend anyone to read this book.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Donated - August 2017

I'm still finding it tough to find things to donate, so once again the list isn't that long this month. Here's the items I have managed to find that will be leaving or have left the house this month.

1) Black collarless jacket - I don't like how this looks on me, so it's time to say goodbye.
2) One pair of size 12 black jeans bought in Yorkshire due to being wrongly labelled - Lets face it, I'm unlikely to ever be this size again, much as I might want to be.
3) One penguin silicone ice cube tray - replaced by regular cube-shaped ice cube trays.
4) One fabric storage basket - a gift that I don't have a use for.
5) One pair of very worn denim dungarees of LB's - recycled for the fabric.
6) One pair of salad servers - I've only kept these for when guests come.  They never get used and we rarely have visitors these days, so they're going. I have some metal tongs we could use for the same purpose should we get any visitors.
7) One book - I've read it, but don't want to keep it.
8) One half empty bottle of conditioner I no longer and will not now use - thrown away.
9) One gym top that I rarely reach for.
10) One lightweight coat that I have now replaced, as it was getting a bit tatty.
11) One DVD I borrowed from the Little Free Library that will be going back there.
12-14) Three plastic storage boxes I don't have a use for any longer.
15) One glass candlestick - surplus to requirement - I'm less interested in excess decorative items these days.
16) One decorative ceramic vase that I no longer wish to keep.
17) One Ryvita tin that I no longer need.
18-23) Several unused toiletry items from a gift set that aren't wanted by anyone in the household.
24) One plastic case - no longer needed, but may be of use to someone.

When added to last month's total of 575, I've now donated 599 things this year and am officially lagging behind with regard to the target of 1000 items for the year.  I am, however, hoping to make better headway next month as I am intending to do some more decluttering in the spare bedroom/sewing room, which is long overdue.

I'll keep you up dated on progress.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Back to Work with Flylady

We had a lovely relaxing week in France, beautiful hot weather, great accommodation and wonderful scenery, but when all's said and done, I'm always happy to come home to my own house and get back to work keeping it in order. 

Call me crazy, but we miss our home and our little dog when we're away and it was strictly no dogs at the rental property, so unfortunately she couldn't come with us.  Our dog trainer/carer did keep sending us photos of her, so we knew she was okay, which is always reassuring.

Anyway, once home there was a lot of catching up to do Flylady wise.  I couldn't get started for a few days as I was at work for three consecutive days when I got home, but first chance I got on Sunday, I was back on the Flylady bandwagon doing a Weekly Home Blessing, which hadn't been done for at least 3 weeks. It made a start.

I'll be trying to catch up on a zone by zone basis over the next few weeks, probably doing a slightly deeper clean than has been done in recent months, to get back on top of everything, but it's going to be a busy two weeks as I'll explain in another post.

It was interesting visiting France, the French people do seem to have a very good lifestyle and enjoy the finer things in life. It may have just been the weather, but life seemed very relaxed and unhurried.

In spite of visiting a few of their very nice cookshops, I didn't really buy very much at all whilst there, as there just wasn't really anything that I needed.  I did buy a jam strainer, a pair of steel stud earrings and supply of Marseillaise soaps for general use, in a couple of scents that I really like, but other than this, I spent very little other than on food. Our holidays definitely don't include much shopping for souvenirs or other items.

On the contrary, living out of a suitcase on holiday always inspires me to get rid of more things when I get home and this holiday was no exception. A bit of distance from my belongings always help me to recognise things that are surplus to requirements at home. This mindset was aided by reading Marie Kondo's 2nd book 'Spark Joy' whilst away too, which is helping to inspire another round of decluttering now I'm home. (More in another post)

I'll keep you updated on Flylady progress.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 15

After a few splurges, documented in my round up post recently, for the past two weeks I've been quite frugal, mainly as a consequence of working quite a bit and not having any time to spend any money on anything and secondly as a consequence of going away for a week to France.  Here are the Freebies and Frugal Measures from this period:

1) I called London Transport on a day I was due to travel by train again and got them to activate my £7.20 refund on my Oyster card.  I used it when I was invited to a little gathering at my old CS and had to take the train there. The refund covered the expense of going and buying a Big Issue from the seller I used to regularly buy it from when I volunteered at the old shop.

2) I found a five pound note whilst walking the dog.  I always feel a little guilty picking notes up off the street, but I know that if I didn't the next person to come by would. Anyway, I put it to good use topping up my Oyster card for fares to work.

3) I used a £6 off a £40 shop at Tesco to stock up when we got back from France. I've got a couple more of these vouchers to use during the remainder of this month.

4) I got a small pay rise this month so my wage slip was a nice surprise. Part of it was due to the pay rise and part due to working my first full month. (I didn't start work until 6/7th July so my first wage slip at the end of July was a bit lighter)

5) I bought a great Christmas present for LB from the CS yesterday.  It was a brand new copper coloured angle poise lamp for her bedroom, at half the retail recommended price. I think she'll really like it. It will be a surprise for her anyway and buying some presents now  when I see them will spread the cost a little.

6)  Free seeds this month with my Kitchen Garden subscription: Kale and Spring Onion.

7) My passive income from investments and savings increased a few pounds again this month.  It's going in the right direction, but is a very long way from making me financially independent.

Frugal Fails have included:

1) I bought some shares, then the very next day they dropped in price by 20%, when their half yearly trading report was issued, which wasn't very positive.  They were very inexpensive shares, but I lost a small amount of money just the same. Hopefully, some of the other shares I bought will make up for the loss if these don't rise in price again. Such is the nature of buying shares. I just have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

2) I bought a drink whilst doing the weekly shop this week because I was so thirsty and hadn't bothered to fill up my water bottle at the gym before I left.  I don't do this often, but sometimes needs must.

3) I had to spend £3.85 on my lunch for the first day back to the CS after our holiday, as we got home at midnight after a nightmare journey starting out at 8.45am.  We just didn't have any appropriate food in the house, so I bought a sandwich and snack on the way to work. Actually, this was a double fail because I could probably have got better value if I'd got a meal deal instead.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Monthly Roundup - August

Back in London and it's reconciliation time with regard to the finances. It's been an exciting month this month, what with getting my first wage from the temporary job at the CS.  It has made things a lot easier all round and I have to admit to a few indulgences as a consequence, but I'm hoping I can be forgiven those.

All told, I was overspent again in most of the budgets, save for Food, in which I was £136.91 under budget.  This was mainly because the first and last weeks of the month we spent away and OH footed the bill for most of the food.  The surplus then became my spending money for both holidays, some of which was spent on food, but I don't keep track when I'm on holiday, because I'm on holiday! I just spend my spending money and nothing else.  In fact I didn't even do that this last time, as I came home with nearly 20 euros to spare, which is all good.  They'll go towards our next European holiday, whenever that might be.

Household expenditure was over by £24.33 this month, mainly because I had to buy some of the expensive shampoo I use and I bought two bottles which was more economical and which came to £20 or so.  I also had to purchase a large box of doggie bags as we ran out, but these will last a good few months now.

The Misc. budget went over by just £5.09 which was an improvement. No big expenditures here, just small expenditures on gifts/cards/gym car park tickets/a magazine and a new umbrella

My personal budget was over by £42.42 due to buying some new underwear and socks, a new rain mac, sweater, jeans and bag, plus a book too.  This was by way of a treat to myself for all my hard work at the CS these last two months really.

LB's budget was even more overspent at £55.96 over.  This was mainly due to uniform and other clothing purchases, plus I gave her an extra £30 pocket money to spend in the summer holidays when she was out and about with her friends. OH usually gives her pocket money, but due to having a bit more money myself I gave her some too. It's expensive being a teenager!

I did go £10 under budget on travel expenses this month though, which was a bonus, mainly due to two weeks of not being at work due to holidays/being out of London, etc.

Finally, the home budget was overspent by just £1.96, which was acceptable.  I bought a new casserole dish and some other small bits and bobs for the house this month.

The best thing about this month though, was that I was able to pay over £300 off my overdraft, which was wicked.  There's just under £400 left on it and I'm hoping to break the back of it this coming month. With no extra expenses planned this month and whilst still working at the CS and getting slightly more this month as I completed a full month there, I should be able to pay a fair bit off the balance. (Hopefully all, if I manage keep on track with spending)

I've still got uniform to buy for LB, namely trainers and a few other bits and pieces. There's a few more bits I'd like for the house, but only small things and more new gym gear for me if I can find any I like. I also do need to stock up on a few toiletries that I've run or am running out of, but otherwise there's not a lot I need or want.

If I can hold it all together and keep my head down, I might even be out of any debt by my birthday in October.  Wouldn't that be great.  I could start my 51st year actually living within my means and hopefully continuing to do so from then on.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac

On Friday, during our holiday here in South West France, we ventured into the Dordorgne region to visit the medieval town of Sarlat and the beautiful gardens the title of this post refers to.

I just had to make a post of our visit, as they were very beautiful and well worth a visit, with something for everyone.

Our first stop was the Chateau which is 'an early 19th century luxury residence' of very simple construction.  The roof fascinated OH as it was made of limestone slabs or tiles and weighed more than 500 tons!

There were a few rooms open to the public that were interesting to view.

From here we ventured along some of the garden's walkways.  Thankfully the walkways were largely shaded by beautiful trees, which provided relief from the heat of the sun.

At the end of this one sat the Poets hut which marked the furthest point of the garden.

The Cliff walk and Belvedere (a viewing point) allowed beautiful views of the surrounding countryside of the Dordogne Valley.

There were playgrounds for younger family members and a netted path suspended from the trees called the Aire de Jeux, which is over 100 metres long.  It looked fun but we didn't  tackle it, as it was very busy at the time of our visit.

Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the garden were the boxwoods which were pruned into 'complicated vegetal forms' and are cut using hand shears twice a year.  They were spectacular.

A fantastic garden to visit and very reasonably priced at 9 euros for adults and 4 euros 50 cents for children aged 10-17.  Children under 10 go free.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

On Holiday

A rare post from me whilst we're actually away.  We're staying in a house on the outer edge of the Dordogne in South Western France. It's a lovely part of the country and a part of France we have never explored before.  Having said this, we're doing more relaxing than exploring on this visit, despite the amazing historical places of interest in the vicinity that will require another visit sometime.

We arrived in France early on Wednesday morning, and after a 10 or 11 hour drive (including several stops) we got to our destination.  The house we have rented is very nice and very spacious and there's an indoor pool to enjoy the benefit of on the lovely hot days here.

On account of the journey and the build up to coming away, whereby I was working three days solid, our first day was one of decompressing and hanging around the house and garden. We did the obligatory supermarket shop, to get provisions for the week and find our way about the nearest small town.

The following day, we ventured further afield to the medieval town of Sarlat and after a wander around the town, an enjoyable Plat du Jour and the perusing of a fabulous French cookware shop, we headed on to a very special garden called Les Jardins Suspendus de Marqueyssac.  I'll do a separate post on this visit as it was very beautiful.

Yesterday, was Saturday, and after a wander around a local market in town, we bought a rotisserie chicken (a traditional treat on our visits to France) and headed home for lunch, followed by an afternoon in the pool and sunbathing in the garden.

OH needed to get to bed early, as today, he is cycling in a race in Albi, an ancient town about two hours from here.  LB and I didn't join him getting up at 4am this morning and instead we are having a lazy day here, pleasing ourselves. Lazy being the operative word.  As I sit writing this, it is 12.15pm and I am still in my nightdress, something I only ever do on holiday, never at home.  The sun is just coming out from behind the clouds and it's going to be another steaming hot day. Probably time to make a move and get dressed.

I hope you're having a good week.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Going Back and Getting Packed

It's been a strange old week this week.  Work has been intense and very busy for the most part, and completely exhausting, but enjoyable nevertheless.

On Thursday, I managed my usual class at the gym before heading off to a meeting at my old CS. It was lovely to see everyone again and interesting to see how things were going there. I did get into a slightly heated interaction with one quite forthright volunteer, who launched into some fairly serious criticisms of the previous manager.  I wasn't impressed and felt someone had to step up and defend her in her absence.

Besides not being very appropriate, seeing as many of the people present hadn't even worked with her, it was unnecessary and irrelevant in many ways to talk about her at all. Obviously, some people still have an axe to grind, and I'm not really interested in having to listen to their views in that particular situation. Sometimes, you've just got to let things go and move on. I think people probably found me a bit more forthright than when I'd been there last, but I don't really care all that much.

I have to admit that this left me with mixed feelings about going back to the shop when I finish this job. Sometimes, in my experience, going back can be a mistake, but I do feel a degree of loyalty to the new manager, who put me forward for the opportunity of a paid job. I'm just playing it by ear at the moment and will decide one way or the other nearer the time.

It also made me notice how different the energy and the dynamics are in the previous shop, and at the moment, I'm finding the atmosphere at the new shop much more positive, despite it's difficulties on occasion. This may be the fact that it is too busy to engage in petty politics and I do realise that this could change over time or that I might just be oblivious for the moment.

Sometimes, when you go back into a situation as an outsider, you can see the reasons you were happy to leave in the first place and things that you did notice, but chose to ignore, can seem amplified and less tolerable. I don't want to seem ungrateful or give the impression that I feel superior or anything, because I don't, but I just felt a lot less comfortable in some respects going back.

Anyway,  I was back at the new shop on Friday and managed to get a few things done.  I've now got my objectives from the manager and I was largely working towards achieving the with the help of a little delegation, which he is encouraging me to do more, although I can't say it comes naturally to me. (I do like to be a hands-on manager.)

I've had a day off today (Saturday), before I begin a solid three day stint of working tomorrow, prior to us going on holiday to France early on Wednesday. I've been trying to pack, iron, do laundry, shop for food for the next few days, catch up on financial/admin tasks, read and write blog posts, harvest at the allotment, pickle excess produce, etc. 

I decided to put the cleaning on hold completely for this week, as there's just too much else to do. I'll pick up where I left off when we get back from France. I'm definitely not giving up on the Flylady system, as it's been working well for me, I've just got a bit too busy between holidays.

In September, I should be able to get back to normal, especially once LB is back at school and by which time the allotment will be making fewer demands on my time. I'm hoping to get back into a regular routine quite quickly, without too many interruptions and I'm almost looking forward to getting back before we even go away. (Well, not entirely.)

I hope you've all had a good week.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Allotment Update/Harvest

Monday night, I popped across to the allotment.  It had been a week since my last visit, after getting back from Yorkshire.  Just enough time for more things to grow to their full potential, but not quite go over and get too big.

Sadly the climbing beans had gone over, so I didn't harvest any more.  It's the same scenario in the garden beds.  I harvested a few from there on Sunday and we had them with the roast dinner, but the remaining ones I'm going to let develop into seeds and sow them next year, as this years harvests have been pretty prolific.

Although the climbing beans are now over, there should be some runner beans to come, from a self seeded plant which has grown quite big and wrapped itself around some sunflowers.  There are lots of flowers on it at the moment and the beans will probably be ready to harvest when we get back from France.

I'm afraid I didn't take my camera to the plot, so no pictures of the plot itself, but it is producing quite a bit of food for our first year there.  It does seem to be working out so much better than the old plot, as harvesting is so quick and easy. Here's what I brought back with me this week. (This is not intended to be braggy, just an update on the productivity of the new plot compared with the old one!)

Maintaining the appearance of the plot is still quite a challenge, as the weeds seem to grow back quite quickly and when you go away, there's always lots of stuff to catch up on at home, before getting the chance to go to the plot.  I know that I'm going to need to do a lot of work on it when we get back from France, but it will wait until then, as I just don't have the time before we go to do anything other than harvest.  To be honest, my plot is probably one of the tidier ones on the site, I just hope there aren't any inspections whilst I'm away, but I think it's probably too late in the season for that now.

We've been doing our best to eat our way through everything that we've grown, but the cucumbers are a challenge as there's just so many of them.  I might try to pickle some, which is something my mum always did, as it might be nice to have a pickled cucumber sandwich from time to time. I've been pickling the beetroot and enjoying eating it. This week's beetroot are small though, so it's just as well I won't be harvesting any more for a couple of weeks as it will give them chance to grow bigger.

The rhubarb has gone mad both at the plot and at home in the garden.  I will need to buy some crumble mix (I don't make my own) and freeze some to use it up.

The kohl rabi I tend to put in casseroles or stews to bulk them out and the potatoes we've been eating as wedges or mash. I just dig a couple of plants up each week and use them up before digging up any more.

I've learnt a lot about what I want to grow on the plot in the future this season.  I will be growing bought tomato plants in there next year and try to be more successful at successional salad sowing.  Potatoes are a good option too, as are the cucumbers and courgettes, but maybe not quite so many of the courgette plants are necessary.  Beetroot, radish and kohl rabi have been great this year but I haven't used the kale or the chard as we don't really eat it in our house.  I may try to make some kale chips with the dehydrator in September, otherwise it will have been a complete waste of time growing it. 

I've now got mustard leaves growing and some fennel, so they should be interesting later in the season. I'd love to get some raspberries onto the plot next year, but will have to buy some to do that, so it all depends on the finances really. I will be trying to grow more spring onions next year though as I didn't really have much success with them this year and I am partial to them in my salads from time to time.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with progress on the plot this year and hope to do even better next year. I'll post some pictures when we get back from France and I have more time to work the plot and tidy it up.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 14

This last week or so we've been back in London and getting back to our normal lives. Having been paid from the CS, I was feeling a little less broke than normal, but have still been trying to stick to my budget and pay off my overdraft as soon as I can.

Frugal Fails in recent weeks include the following:

1) I bought a pair of black jeans whilst we were away and I was sure they were my size, as the label attached stated they were.  I didn't try them on as I'd bought previous pairs and knew the fit but when I went to put them on, to wear them to work the other day, I realised that they were a size 12, which I haven't been able to wear for a decade.  I was a bit disappointed to say the least.  They didn't cost much, only £8, but I can't return them, as there's not a shop anywhere I know of in the south, so I may have to donate them.

2) I got access to my wage slip on returning to work and was slightly disappointed to see that I don't actually earn quite as much as I had been led to believe.  As I haven't actually received my contract yet, I don't know if there's been an error or I was just led to believe the pay was better than it actually is. I'm not too worried, as I'm just grateful for a paid job really, but it's always nice to earn a little bit more and see the overdraft go down a little quicker.

3) I did splurge a bit this week both on a few items in the H&M sale online and at Primark whilst picking up the H&M order.  One of the items I bought online at H&M was another school skirt for LB though, which was on my list of required purchases.

Freebies and Frugal measures on the other hand have included:

1) I received a few more vouchers from Tesco to use on my grocery shopping.  The first was a £4 off a £30 spend, which got used our first week back in London.  There were also lots of extra points vouchers for things that I regularly buy, so I used quite a few of those on this shop too to gain a couple of hundred extra Clubcard points, which will go towards renewing some of my free magazine subscriptions through the Clubcard scheme.

2) I moved some more savings into a savings bond this month to get a better rate of interest.  The sum is now for all intents and purposes committed for 3 years, to get the interest rate offered, but I can sell the bonds should I need the money out. I've been meaning to commit to this particular bond for a while, but was waiting to see if I needed the money for our new kitchen.  That project has now been put on hold for a while, so I've moved the money to get better returns over the next few years. This will increase my monthly passive income from investments a little bit more, which is always nice to know.

3) I also transferred some more funds into my share trading account and bought some more shares this week too.  The returns on them are better than the interest offered by the banks at the moment.  I know they are a bit riskier, but it's a risk I'm comfortable with, as I'm committed for the long term. Again, this is something I've wanted to do for a few months and I've had the shares I want to buy earmarked and have been watching them for a while. I don't think I'll be increasing my investments much more for the time being though.

4) Whilst looking for shares to purchase, I came across a list of shares that offer extra perks to shareholders and was pleased to see that some vouchers should be coming my way in January on account of my holding some M&S shares.  Not sure what value or how many I will receive, but anything is something.  The shares of one company on the list, that offer such perks, is now being watched with interest, as buying shares with them could save me extra money on something that I'm already paying out for every month.

5) I paid £1 instead of £2.50 for parking when I went to collect a parcel from our local Mall.  It involved a much longer walk to get to the shops, but it was worth it and cheaper than getting the parcel delivered to our home address (although I wouldn't have spent the money I did in Primark if I had done).

I hope you've had a frugal few weeks if that is what you have been aiming for.

Monday, 14 August 2017

This Weekend

This weekend wasn't a particularly productive one at home.  On Friday I did manage to do my Zone cleaning in the kitchen, but failed to do my Weekly Home Blessing, due to doing a more thorough job on the kitchen than I had intended.

Saturday, I was at the CS.  The day didn't get off to a good start as I had to walk the dog, which I don't normally do on a Saturday morning, and as a consequence, I ended up being a few minutes late after getting on the slower of the two buses that take me to work, due to it being the first one to turn up at the bus stop.

It wasn't a big deal as one of the interns had the keys and had opened up, but it did mean that I started on the wrong foot and then due to communication issues, I ended up doing some work that wasn't really a priority for the first hour or two.

The remainder of the day was spent trying to make inroads into a donation mountain, that had accummulated in the two days since I'd been in the shop.  I did my best, but there was still a lot left to sort. It was physically tiring too, so I was pretty exhausted by the time I got home. I had had to spend 10 minutes before catching the bus, trying to find somewhere to top up my Oyster card, as I hadn't had time to do it in the morning and didn't have enough on it to get me home unless I did.

By 10pm I was in bed asleep, after almost falling asleep whilst watching a Spanish Crime Drama on BBC 4.

Sunday, I was up and walking the dog, then out to my usual class, followed by my weekly grocery shop at Lidl and Tesco. By the time I got home it was 2pm, so I didn't get an awful lot else done that day, save for a bit of washing, the ironing and cooking a roast chicken for supper.

Today, I had to drop in to our local mall after my class at the gym to pick up some items I'd ordered in the H&M sale. I tried them on whilst there to save another journey if I didn't like the fit, but they were okay thankfully. 

I did have an extra little splurge in Primark whilst in the Mall and bought a large bottle of perfume for daily use, as I'm almost out of the small one I bought from there a few weeks ago.  I also bought a new back pack, as my current one is suffering from some serious wear and tear, and a new pair of black jeans to replace the ones I'd bought whilst we were away that were the wrong size. Some of my older pairs of black jeans are now looking very faded and a bit scruffy for work, so they'll be relegated to cleaning and gardening wear. I spent £25 in total, but they were all things I needed for everyday and work use.

This afternoon, was my only opportunity to go ahead and buy the new shares that I wanted to purchase, as I'm working or otherwise occupied on the other weekdays this week when the Stock Exchange is open, so I prioritised this task over cleaning.  I think I'm going to roll over all the cleaning to next Saturday, when I've got a full day for cleaning and packing before we go to France for a week next Wednesday. The house isn't especially dirty, so I'm not worried about leaving it for a week. Sometimes life happens and you've got to put it on the backburner.

I'm working Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week I think and on Thursday there's a little gathering at my old shop in the afternoon, that I'm hoping to attend.  It will be nice to see everyone and catch up.  I spoke to my old manager on the phone last week for the first time in a month, as I needed some help with something and he was very kind and patient in assisting me.

For the rest of today, I'm hoping to pop to the allotment to harvest some crops and then have a bath after supper, ready for work tomorrow. I hope you've had a good weekend.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Errand Day

Thursday here was Errand Day, which is the only part of the Flylady system that I got completed on this particular day. As usual, I'm pretty tired after a couple of days at work, so I don't always feel like full on cleaning.  My first day off is usually about resting and decompressing, so I'm hoping to get on with some cleaning tomorrow, namely a Weekly Home Blessing and some zone cleaning in the kitchen or Zone 2.

After my class at the gym in the morning, I had a parcel to pick up from the Post Office Depot, which contained some silicone ice cube trays that I'd ordered on eBay weeks ago, to replace our current novelty shaped ones that I'm now donating.  (They did come all the way from China!) I was  happy with them as they were pretty sturdy, unlike some floppier ones you can buy, which spill water over the sides when you try to carry them to the freezer. They were good value too.

I also needed to do a top up shop for some groceries we were out of, which necessitated calling in at both Lidl and Tesco, but some things weren't available in one or other shop.

When I got back I spent most of the rest of the day doing some personal financial stuff. I've decided to move some of my savings into other investments, as the interest rate where they are is diabolical.  Some are going into some bonds for a few years and some are going to be used to buy some more shares, so I was transferring monies, checking bank statements, that sort of thing. I probably won't do this again for at least another six months, as I don't want to take too many risks with my money and I don't want too much of it tied up for too long either.

The main reason I did it on this occasion, is that we've decided to put the kitchen extension on hold for a while, as building costs are going up and up at the moment and OH wants to concentrate on paying as much off the mortgage as possible for a while. I'm very happy with the decision, as I wasn't too sure about spending the amount it was going to cost and I wasn't looking forward to the disruption either. We'll probably just do some minor renovations ourselves instead for the time being.

I did manage to do a load of washing too, but other than this, not a lot got done around the house, but it isn't too untidy due to us being away.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Back in the Swing of Things

It's Wednesday evening, and we've been back in London since Sunday night. I was pleased to get home and positively looking forward to getting back to work.  I worked Tuesday and Wednesday this week and will be working again on Saturday.

Tuesday was a bit of a shock. There'd been a massive influx of donations in the week I'd been away and the sorting room was piled up everywhere. I can't complain, as it was possibly partly due to my being away, but then we're all entitled to a holiday. The manager hasn't been there most of the time for the past two days, so I've been getting back into the swing of managing the shop myself.

My first day back was a disaster, as there were problems with the card machine which took a while to resolve and took up lots of my time, in addition, I spent a while getting the shop back to how I like it to look and making a few changes to the clothing/accessories displays. 

Today was better, as I felt I actually did some of the bread and butter work that needed doing, although there were still lots of interruptions. I'm looking forward to Saturday, as it tends to be a little quieter without the interns to manage and I can just get on and do whatever are the day's priorities.

I have to say, that some of the interns have improved in my absence and are easier to manage. Others have become a little more difficult, however. There were a couple of absences through sickness today though, which left fewer hands on deck, but I guess this is just part and parcel of any workplace. Having spoken to other managers today, it sounds like everyone is in the same boat.

I'm definitely enjoying being back though and getting back up to speed with shop life, lets hope this continues.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 13

Frugal Measures and Freebies this last week or two have included the following:

1) I decided on a very quick visit to T K Maxx one day a couple of weeks ago, and although I realise this is quite a dangerous thing to do for someone who is trying to stick to a budget, I did manage to find something from my wish list at a very good price.  This set of two Kitchen Aid kitchen towels came home with me for the great price of £3, as opposed to their usual price of £5.99 in the same store.  I love this brand as they are very good quality (I have some already). I'm still sticking to dark colours as you can see, to help disguise any accumulated food stains. It seems to be working as a strategy.

The only other thing I bought was a Christmas gift for someone, which was also on clearance.

2) More free seeds - Perpetual Spinach, Lettuce and Sorrel.

3) I used another £3 off a £30 spend at Tesco voucher on the grocery shop. 

4) I defrosted the freezer, so that I could freeze lots of this year's allotment and garden produce, which saved it going to waste (although some of last years produce from the freezer did have to be thrown away). I'm going to try harder to use it up this year, so the same problem doesn't recur.  I also pickled some beetroot too which I took with us when we went away and have been eating in my salads this past week.

5) I gave a small leather satchel that I had bought for myself, but only used once, to my niece as a birthday gift.  It was in immaculate condition, but I just know that I will never use it again and she loved it, so that saved the money I would have spent on her gift. I did buy her a few small gifts to go with it too.

6) We got a free week's break in Yorkshire this week, by volunteering to housesit for some relatives that have lots of animals that needed taking care of. It turned out to be very peaceful and relaxing, which was just the antidote to our normal everyday lives in London.

Frugal Fails have included:

1) Being overcharged for travel on my Oyster card, which I had a rant about in a previous post. TFL still owe me £7.20.  If I remember, I'll try to claim it back next time I travel on a tube or train.

2) I forgot to take my water bottle to work the other day and ended up buying a very nice donated Klean Kanteen instead.  I don't regret it though, as these stainless steel bottles are beautiful items and seem to keep the water nice and cool.

3) When we went up to Yorkshire for a week, LB forgot to take anything suitable to wear for her cousin's 21st birthday party, so I had to buy her something whilst we were there. I tried to keep spending to a minimum though.

4) LB also needed a wetsuit for a short break she is taking soon with some friends, so I had to purchase one for her, as I didn't know anyone who had one that would fit her that I could borrow from. This cost £25, which was a bit of a blow to last month's budget, but I'm sure it will come in useful occasionally and I can always resell it at a later date.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Visiting Helmsley Walled Gardens

On Friday afternoon, we spent an hour or two in the Market town of Helmsley, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  The town itself is very pretty, although I didn't take many photos of the market square and surrounding areas, but here's a picture of the pretty beck that runs alongside the town square, which is the other side of the bridge.

After having paninis for lunch at a cafĂ© just off the square and stocking up on a few bits of food at the market, we headed off to take a look around Helmsley's Walled Garden, which sits in the shadow of Helmsley Castle. I can never resist a walled garden, they just intrigue and fascinate me.

You could get a great view of the castle from the garden.

The gardens themselves were beautiful.  They had a lovely relaxed feel.  Not too manicured, with a bit of wildness to them. Some of the borders were beautiful. I just love the contrast of planting with bare walls in this type of garden.

I particularly liked some of the views through the garden, created by the footpaths, doors and other ornamental features.

This wild flower border was exquisite.

I also admired this bug hotel, which actually looked like it might be quite easy to replicate.

There was an area given over to community garden plots.

Made up of multiple raised beds that I assume are loaned out to local community groups and were used to grow all manner of flowers and vegetables.

There was an orchard and vegetable beds growing lots of different edibles.

The greenhouses were also worth taking a look at and incorporated some beautiful floral displays of less hardy plants.

It was a wonderful place to visit on a lovely summer's day and the dog could along come too. Definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Still Housesitting

We're still housesitting here in Yorkshire and on Wednesday I finally out to a local fitness class. It was a class that I haven't tried before called Fitsteps, a kind of ballroom fitness class.  It made an interesting change to what I normally do, but many of the steps were similar to those you do at Zumba classes, so it wasn't too difficult to pick up the routines.

I combined this with a quick trip into a local town to check my bank balance and do a couple of errands.  I was pleased to see that I have in fact been paid for the month of work that I've just completed at the CS, which is good news.  Hopefully, it will help me pay my overdraft off a little quicker.

Later on we headed out for supper to a local restaurant, which was enjoyable and I got to have a night off cooking on a very unfamiliar to me Aga. When we got back we watched a movie online before retiring for the night.

Thursday morning, I got up early and took a turn at walking the dogs around the fields. It was quite nice to be up and out for a change, instead of lying in bed reading. (I still did a bit of this). After yet more very changeable weather, including some torrential rain showers, we took our dog out to the beach at Barmston, near Bridlington in the afternoon which was very enjoyable to be able to breathe in some fresh coastal air as we walked along the sands. It's a lovely spot and the wind turbines there look very majestic and graceful as they turn.  The dog loved it too, as she doesn't get to go to the beach too often these days.

Today, we head to the North Yorkshire market town of Helmsley for their weekly market and possibly lunch out. I may try to take some photos whilst there for another post.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Family Visit and a Trip into Town

Tuesday, during our week of house sitting, turned out to be a bit of an errand day. The day started in a leisurely fashion.  I had a bit of a lie in reading a new book.  This current read is an autobiography/memoir by Fay Weldon. I devoured her novels in my early twenties and read many of them.  This book 'Auto Da Fay' is very entertaining so far. Her family background is a very interesting one.

Anyway, after a leisurely breakfast and the completion of a few tasks, we eventually headed out for the afternoon.  We stopped in at OH's parents house for a couple of hours of chatting and catching up with news.

Unfortunately, I found out that a family friend of my family had died recently and the funeral had been that morning.  I contacted the deceased's sister and offered my condolences, which was all I could do at that late stage of finding out and promised to put a card in the post.

In addition, I found out from my sister, that her daughter, whose 21st birthday party is on Saturday had had a rough morning, having woken up with a trapped nerve in her neck, rendering her unable to move.  After some pain relief, she was feeling a bit better, so hopefully she'll be fully recovered by the weekend and her party will go ahead as planned.

The errands that I needed to do on this day, were to purchase her birthday present and to ensure that LB had something suitable to wear for the party, which meant a trip into town in Hull. I decided to compromise on LB's clothes and to buy her a school skirt that could double as part of her party outfit. I bought her a couple of different tops in the sale at H&M to go with it and she was sorted taking me just £10 over the budget, which seemed reasonable enough. I still need to purchase another school skirt for her when we get back to London, but I can probably leave it until September, as I'm most of the way to completing the purchase of her uniform now and she's got at least one of all the items she needs to return to school.

Once the shopping errands were completed, we headed the 30 miles or so back to the house and the animals. There are so many different jobs to do in looking after them, that it is quite tying and disappearing for a whole day is quite difficult. It makes a big change from our normal everyday lifestyle in London though, which is good and the country air and quiet surroundings means that I sleep well and wake up feeling very refreshed and rested, which is just what I need at the moment.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Settling In

We're currently in Yorkshire and settling into our home for the week.  The family members, for whom we are house and animal sitting, have departed for a week's holiday in the Ballaerics and we now have their huge house and garden to ourselves. It's very quiet and private here, so it's wonderfully peaceful and restful. I'm looking forward to doing lots of reading and dog walking, of course.

Talking about dogs, our dog has also come along, and is enjoying the freedom here, compared to life in London and is making herself very at home. Needless to say, none of the chickens dare come into the garden with her around, as she has been known to chase them, having not been brought up with them and trained to live in harmony with them.

We spent our first day housesitting just rattling around the house. In the morning, we headed into a nearby market town to stock up on food for the week and do a few other errands. In the afternoon, we just took it easy, settling into to our new accommodation.

OH and LB are getting used to the routine of feeding and caring for the animals here, namely two ponies, two dogs, chickens, fish in the pond and one cat. I'm responsible for the house and food, although I will probably help with the animals.

I don't like to post any photos of the house on the internet, as it's not our house, but here are a few shots of the garden and some of the animals.

(We're not looking after the sheep, this field is loaned out to a local livestock owner)

The weather here is incredibly changeable, with sunshine one minute, heavy rain the next, then sunshine again. It's not prevented us from doing anything thus far and we're enjoying the peace and quiet and the change of scenery.  Who wouldn't?