Monday, 4 July 2022

This Weekend

Weekends these days tend to get off to a leisurely start, which is nice. After several years of working most Saturdays, it's nice not to have to go anywhere, unless I want to that is.

OH tends to take the dog out on a Saturday morning and I get to wake up in a leisurely manner and and ease myself into the weekend. Today, I decided to do some paperwork for the new small business I am hoping to start very shortly. I'm not going to say too much about it here, but I'm hoping it will be profitable eventually. I'm taking my time and getting organised, ordering and preparing stock and packaging, etc. It's not a huge outlay in the scheme of things, but I may as well give it a good go if I'm going to bother at all.

Going forward, I'm intending to have several forms of income. I'm done with just earning a wage from a job and being reliant on one source of income, because as I found out to my cost, when that goes kaput, you are left with no income at all, which is where I find myself now.

Working in a charity shop, I wasn't allowed to sell online in my spare time, as this was considered a conflict of interest, but now I have no such restrictions on my life, so I can do what I like. It's kind of liberating in some ways.

I'm still looking for a job, part-time only, but I'm being careful and I am not jumping into anything that I might later regret. I won't be going back to Charity Shop work though. Been there, done that. Too restrictive; can't sell online, can't express opinions that don't reflect the charity's values, can't behave in ways that may reflect badly upon the charity, even in your personal life. Can't really be yourself, just a bot bound by organisational dogma. I'm happy to be free of that, not that I want to do or say anything outrageous, might I add.

Back in the free world, I can do and think and say what I like, when I like, where I like (within reason, of course) and it feels good. I'd almost forgotten what it was like.

Now that my time is my own, I can use it to seek out less expensive places to shop, go to the gym, enjoy culture and my community, not that I'm doing much of that at the moment. Still finding my feet. I've not really unfurled my wings yet and explored life outside the home, but I do intend to in my own good time.

I've discovered that there are classes for over 50's at my local gym (I'm 55) and they cost just £2 per day Apparently, you can do aerobics, pilates, go swimming, go in the sauna or use the gym, all for this sum, so I'm hoping to start doing that soon. I just need to go in and find out how it works and how I get access. 

This should dramatically cut down the expense of gym classes and I can walk or cycle there and store my bike in a locked room. I might have to re-organise my week a little, but a change is as good as a rest, as they say and I could probably do with shaking things up around here to be honest.

Anyway, stepping off my soapbox, on Saturday, I spent some of the day making a new batch of jam from the gooseberries and blackcurrants from the garden and the allotment. There are still a few gooseberries to pick on the plot, they seem endless this year, and more blackcurrants to come from there too. I currently have multiple scratches all over my arms from picking the gooseberries, I guess that is the price you pay. The fridge is slowly filling up with jars of jam and pickled beetroot. I also made some more jars of this on Saturday too. 

We've been having trouble with the fridge being too cold this week and freezing the lettuce. It transpires that we had it on too cold a setting, but it took us a week to work out what we were doing wrong, as it seemed very counterintuitive. It's back to normal again now though, but it was frustrating to have to throw good food away because it had been frosted.

Our paths at the allotment have now been weeded, so we are all set for the inspection this week. One less job to worry about. I'm up to date on washing and the ironing basket isn't too onerous for once, which leaves me with time to focus on other things, which is good.

On Sunday, I finally got around to vacuuming and mopping the kitchen floor. It was long overdue, but I just haven't been motivated to do it for a while. Later, OH and I went up the road to our local Sunday Market. We very rarely visit it, but today we went there to eat. There are lots of lovely food stalls and there are tables to sit out and eat at. We listened to a busker playing guitar in the sunshine. It was so relaxing. It felt like we could have been somewhere on the Med.

Talking of which, OH booked some accommodation for the second half of our holiday on Sunday. There was very little choice left, but we managed to find a very nice place in Portugal, with a pool, that is dog friendly. We now just need accommodation on the last two nights before we catch the ferry home from Bilbao, but we'll probably just book into a hotel or two en route to the ferry. It's very exciting. We haven't had a proper family holiday outside the UK for nearly 3 years now and without wanting to jinx it, we're really looking forward to it.

The remainder of Sunday, I divided my time between walking the dog and doing a little bit of work in my new office (i.e. the spare bedroom), on planning and research for the new business. Not sure when I'm going to officially start it, still thinking about what online platform is best to use.

On the dog walk, I had a bit of luck and found some metal drawers that had been thrown out and put near some bins. Unfortunately, it was at the beginning of the walk, so I ended up carrying them around the park with us. People must have thought I was mad taking a set of drawers for a walk, but they were just what I needed to organise some of the stock I've bought. When I got back, I cleaned it and put everything tidily away in it. Very serendipitous.

Friday, 1 July 2022

Goodbye June and Good Riddance

I have to say, that I'm glad to see the back of June. It's been a difficult month. I've got through it okay, but at time's it's been a struggle mentally and I'm ready for a new month and a new start. It may be another challenging month, but hopefully the challenges will be different.

This week got off to a good start financially on Monday, as I was able to utilise £30 worth of vouchers at Lidl to get free food. Of this, £20 was the scratchcard win from the week before and £10 the Lidl plus voucher for spending over £200 during the month. Definitely worth having. I used them to stock up on a bit of extra food, before they expired.

On Tuesday, I was feeling motivated to do some cleaning. I had a good clean of the two reception rooms and the hallway. It felt good to clear away the dust and dirt of the past few months and get the rooms back in order and then I cleared the energy with a white sage smudge stick. 

I'm big into sage at the moment. Clary sage essential oil I combine with water to use as an air freshener, I regularly use White Sage incense sticks and then there's the White Sage smudge stick too. It's supposed to be good for clearing negative energy, which is useful at the moment. Who needs any of that.

On Wednesday, the weather was a bit grey and rainy. OH unfortunately tested positive for Covid, so wasn't feeling too good. I'm okay so far, but we had to cancel a visit to Yorkshire, that we were planning for the weekend. We'll just have to go another time. Not sure if I'll get Covid too. We'll just have to wait and see. Better now than just before we are due to go on holiday.

After cleaning the living room this week, I was reminded that I need to make a cushion cover for the armchair that I made loose covers for a while back. I've decided to use up what was left of the fabric from the patchwork throw I've been making.  The throw just needs the backing to be attached and it will be finished. I think I'll use it as a lap throw for that particular armchair, for when I want to sit and read. 

I'm going to make the cushion to match the throw. I think there's just about enough of the grey fabric left and I'll use one other fabric to make just one diamond on the cushion.  Keeping it simple. That will give me something to occupy myself with over the next few weeks. It shouldn't take long and I have one cushion insert in the sewing room that I can use, so it won't cost anything. It's good to have a project, especially when you're on a super tight budget.

Talking of which, I went into my bank account on Wednesday and cancelled any direct debits and standing orders that I no longer want to continue with. This included a gym membership that was due to start next month, which I have changed my mind about, a small insurance policy that I no longer need, and a standing order into my Premium Bond account, which I can no longer afford to maintain. As such, I have reduced my outgoings to the minimum that I possibly can, in preparation for no longer receiving a monthly wage. On the plus side, my final wage from my previous employer, which was due to be paid into my account on Thursday, was slightly more than I anticipated, so that was a small bonus. 

If I'm honest, I feel a bit like I've leapt off a cliff financially, but I'm hoping the landing won't be too hard. From Friday, I'll be trying to earn my own living and be my own boss, with the kind and patient assistance of OH, of course, (at least in the first few months) and any savings that I have. Wish me luck.

Monday, 27 June 2022

A Productive Weekend

This weekend felt little more productive than some lately. On Saturday, I treated myself to a leisurely morning painting my toenails. It's a small thing, but I haven't done it in a long time. At least I now feel summer ready, especially when I wear flip flops or sandals.

After brunch, OH and I headed off to B&Q and ASDA to get a few things we needed over the weekend. I needed some more houseplant compost, to pot on some small plant babies and top up the plant I'd potted on the day before. I also wanted a small rosemary plant for the garden. OH needed some bits of wood to use for DIY and he also bought us a new 210 litre waterbutt, as our old one had long ago sprung a bad leak and was taken to the tip a few weeks ago.

From ASDA, I needed a few toiletries, and some bits and pieces of food, but was tempted by a dress, which I ended up buying. It was £16 and I thought it might be nice for our summer holiday. I'm afraid I couldn't upload the picture after several attempts, but it was a zebra print shirt dress.

Other than the few groceries we needed, we bought a new kitchen bin, as the latch on the lid of our current one has broken and it was difficult to open. I'll use the bottom half of the old one for potting on a tree or shrub. OH has already drilled some holes into the bottom of it for me.  He also set up the new waterbutt. We just need rain now.

The new kitchen bin isn't quite as big as the old one, which is good, as it will encourage us to create less waste and also takes up less space in front of the washing machine, making it easier to access. It also has a much simpler opening mechanism, either swing or lift up, with no catches or springs that can break easily.

Here's a picture of the new bin:

On Saturday afternoon, I took a bowl of water and some kitchen towel into the living room and dusted the leaves of some of our bigger houseplants, that were looking a bit dusty and neglected, but now look nice and shiny. I potted on a couple of plant babies and I'm hoping that they survive the separation from the mother plant.

In the garden, my dahlias in the raised bed are starting to flower. I particularly like this lovely red one.  Talk about sacred geometry. It's so beautiful. The mulberry tree is now producing quite a few berries too. They have the most amazing taste. Quite unlike other berries. I enjoy picking them off the tree and eating them.

On Sunday, I did some more ironing and put away lots of laundry, which cleared some of the clutter in the dining room. In the evening, I enjoyed watching Glastonbury again, especially the Pet Shop Boys and Years and Years.

Saturday, 25 June 2022

This Week

This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Monday wasn't a good day for me. I didn't sleep well on Sunday night, so I woke up feeling very tired. I headed off to the gym for my class. It was good and did energise me, but by the time I had done the weekly shop, got home and put it all away, I was feeling exhausted.

I decided to go back to bed for an hour or two to catch up on sleep. Next thing I knew, I woke up at 6.30 pm. I really must have been tired. Anyway, it was then time to walk the dog, so I headed out. Whilst I was out I checked the scratchcard that you earn when you shop using Lidl plus, to find that I'd won a £20 off voucher for use on the weekly shop next week.  It was a nice surprise, not to be sniffed at.

Tuesday was a better day, mainly because I'd had a good night's sleep. I got up, showered and then headed out with the dog in the morning and we had a nice walk around an old disused golf range close to where we live. It's very natural and wild and a real tonic to stroll around. Lots of butterflies and bees and a river running alongside.

When I got home, I decided to make some long avoided financial changes. I've had some shares for several years that really haven't been performing well. I chose and bought them myself, on one of the many share buying platforms that have sprung up in recent years. I hoped they would perform better, but several of them just haven't and don't seem likely to in the near future.

As a consequence, I decided to sell some of the shares and cut any losses. It's just too depressing watching them continue to drop in value. I have kept the shares that were doing well or that were due to pay out dividends in the next month or so, but some of them I will later sell and just keep profitable shares going forward. I'm also not going to buy shares for the forseeable future. I just don't have the knowledge to choose them successfully. I think I'd be better off buying into funds that are professionally managed, rather than buying individual shares again. It was an interesting experiment, but ultimately one that partially failed. Sometimes, you are better off just sticking to what you know. 

Later on Tuesday, OH & I went down to the allotment where I picked some gooseberries to make more jam. OH had already started using one of the jars I made last week, so I needed to make more.  I spent some time weeding the paths around the plot, as inspections are coming up at the end of this month. I also harvested some more beetroot, which I pickled once I got back home.

On Wednesday, I woke up feeling the need to get serious about doing more exercise. I decided to use my Lockdown exercise routine and do a few weights and floor exercises. I always feel better for doing them and it was the same on this occasion. It gets the day off to a positive start.

I had a good walk with the dog this morning, but the rest of the day wasn't that productive, which is okay. In the late afternoon, I headed out to meet some friends at a restaurant. It's the first time we've all got together this year, so it was lovely to spend time together.

On Thursday, I woke up to rain, which felt good after all the hot weather. I took the dog out on an urban walk, as I was notified on Whats App the day before, that there has been a predatory male, who has preyed on multiple women in our neighbourhood open spaces in recent months. It's very disturbing, I'm hoping the police catch him very soon.

I made another batch of jam today, almost four jars, except I spilt some. I had to run LB to work this afternoon as she'd hurt her ankle. I got a message to say that a suspected predator had been arrested - he was 16yrs old, which is quite shocking. Not 100% sure if he's the culprit or not. Two other teenagers have also been arrested in the area this month for groping incidents.

Friday was a slightly cooler day, which I was thankful for. I managed to do a bit of ironing in the morning before it warmed up and by early afternoon, it had cooled off again and clouded over. A bit of light relief from the heat.

Later in the afternoon, I ventured out into the garden and picked some more blackcurrants. I also did some pruning of some shrubs and trees that were getting a bit out of hand and smothering other shrubs in the garden. I also potted on one of our larger indoor house plants, as it was getting a bit tall for it's current pot. I then continued with some more ironing, so I was a little more productive today.

On Friday evening, we watched some of the artists performing at this year's Glastonbury festival on TV, which was a great end to the week.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Looking Forward

It's been a month since I left my job and I thought I'd post an update on my progress.

I am much happier since I left. It's not been without it's difficulties. I have good days and I have bad days. But the good does outweigh the bad on the whole.

Very soon I won't have any income, which is not good. I do have some savings that can tide me over for a while, so things aren't desperate. 

I've been constantly looking at jobs, but I'm not sure that jumping into another job is the answer at the moment, not a permanent one in any case. I don't want to have any sort of relapse and let anybody down.

At the moment, I don't know exactly what I'm going to do going forward, but all I do know is that I have to move forward into a different future.  I don't quite know what that looks like just yet although I do have a few ideas of a few things that I'd like to do.

I've reflected a lot on my recent working life and the conclusions I've come to are that it shouldn't have been so difficult or exhausting. It was a part-time job. I should have had time to relax and have a life outside of it, but somehow I found that I didn't. I've mainly put that down to the pressure that I put on myself.

Going forward, I'm not going to put myself in that position again, that would just be foolish.

For the moment, we're doing okay. Yes, I will have to cut my spending back to virtually nothing, but we have everything we need, much more than what we need if I'm honest. A bit of austerity in our household won't do us any harm. It will make us more resourceful and grateful for what we have.

The most important thing is that we have each other and some time to spend together and just enjoy our lives before things change again later this year when LB goes off to University.

I'm trying to use the experience to propel me towards something positive. I thought my job was positive, that I was doing someting positive in the world, until it turned out that it wasn't positive for me. Now I need to find something else that inspires me in a positive way. I'm sure I'll find it and I'll let you know as soon as I do.

Sunday, 19 June 2022

A Super Chilled Weekend Out and About

We had a super chilled weekend this weekend. It began for me with a bit of pampering and self-care whilst OH took the dog out on Saturday morning. When he got back, he coaxed me into going out for Brunch.  LB was out at work and the dog had been walked, so it was just the two of us. He persuaded me to get back on the electric bike and we cycled over to the Olympic Park, a couple of miles from where we live.

I hadn't been on the bike for nearly 3 months after an incident on my way home from work a few months ago. Some of you may have read about it on here before I deleted the post. Anyway, I was glad that I did get on the bike again. It was pleasant and relaxing to ride it through woodland paths on the way to the park, instead of riding it through the streets of Central London. It was raining lightly intermittently, but it didn't dampen the experience.

We walked through the commemorative garden for people who died of Covid during the pandemic, where they have planted trees in their memory. It is a lovely peaceful little part of the park.

We stopped off at a popular bakery in a residential area of the park and sat at a table outside, eating foccacia and drinking tea/coffee, before taking a little ride around the park and then cycling back home along the canal. 

It's been a while since I've been to the Olympic Park and it's actually 10 years this year, since it officially opened for the 2012 Olympics. I was reminded of how we would cycle over during the games to attend the different events that we had tickets for. A nice memory, that doesn't seem as long ago as 10 years, although a lot has happened since then.

On the way home, we stopped off at a local independent grocery store and I bought a few bits for the weekend before coming back home.  There was a pile of small parcels for me when I got back. I have spent a bit of money online in the last week. Only small items from different independent sellers, that will be very useful in the coming months. It felt a little like Christmas opening all of the parcels when I got in. That is the wonderful thing about online shopping, but I don't want to make too much of a habit of it, especially now that I'm not working.

On Sunday, we were up early to head off to our favourite Car Boot Sale in Hertfordshire. I decided to take just £20. After paying the £1 entrance fee for both of us, that left £19 to spend. I had a lovely potter around the stalls, picking up lots of bits and pieces.  The most expensive purchase was this lovely vintage Lapiz lazuli gemstone necklace. I love this stone. The stall holder, a lovely lady, who made some of the items on her stall, offered to reduce the price to £8, but I was happy to pay £10 for such a beautiful thing.

Most of the other items I bought were very practical and included this vintage PIFCO Magnascope or illuminated magnifier. I thought it was so interesting and might come in useful as I get older and my eyesight deteriorates!

A new cheese grater with attached container. I wanted this to grate a bar of Marseille soap to make hand or body wash. At 50p, and brand new, it will fit the bill perfectly.

Eco friendly dog bags made of cornstarch for £2, as we are currently running out of the bulk supply I bought way back.  These will keep us going for a while.

A vintage J&P Coates wooden cotton reel for 50p. I have a large collection of these and the cotton is good quality.

Two natural beeswax star shaped tea lights, a long handled refillable candle lighter, some garden twine for OH for 50p and two packs of black gel pens for 50p each, which always come in useful.

A nice little haul, everything of which will get used at some point.

When we left the Car Boot Sale, we headed off to Colchester, where OH was entered into an outdoor track cycling race. I had some lunch in the cafe while he raced and took a few photos for him. It was a lovely afternoon out.

Friday, 17 June 2022

A Pottering Kind of Week

This week has been one of the pottering kind. I have been taking it easy, doing a bit here and a bit there. There's still lots of cleaning to do in the house, but I'm doing it bit by bit, here and there, as I feel motivated.

I don't think the hot weather has helped. I just don't want to get all hot and bothered working up a sweat inside, when it's so hot outside.

Instead, I've been harvesting lettuce and fruit from the garden/allotment and pickling beetroot and red onion for my daily salads and I've been making jam using the fruit. 

I've also been making some homemade air freshener sprays for the house, using boiled cooled water and essential oils.  They seem to work as well as any bought air fresheners and I know exactly what is in them. Plus, it uses up the essential oils that I have had for ages and which must be almost going out of date by now.

I've also been catching up on washing, as there were piles of it in LB's bedroom. Just one or two more washes to go and it should be up to date.  When/if the weather turns at the weekend, as forecasted, I'll probably try to catch up with the ironing, but at the moment it's currently way too hot to even think about doing that.

I've been feeding and watering my houseplants, which was long overdue, doing small little jobs about the house, using up things that have been sat in cupboards for ages and watching a beautiful young fox that ventured into the garden. 

I've been taking leisurely walks with the dog, wearing summery dresses and skirts. Pulling things out of my wardrobe that I haven't worn in ages and making decisions about whether they suit me and whether I want to keep them.

I've also been changing my gym membership. As from next week, I'm going back to doing more classes through the week and at a different gym too. It's time for a change. This particular gym has no parking, so I'll have to get on my bike to go there, which will be good for me. I'm investing in myself again and towards getting myself strong, fit and healthy. 

I'm listening to inspirational people on YouTube, following inspirational people on Instagram and reading inspirational books and trying to figure out where I go from here. It's all good. I'll let you know when I know myself. 

Wish me luck.