Sunday, 29 June 2008

Getting ready to travel

I havn't been here much for a few days. Fistly my laptop is still away. Not leaving home but going back to the manufacturer as it is apparently covered by warranty. I hope they are better than the shop it has been at for the last month, who declared it comepletely dead and not worth putting back togther again. I asked him to put it back togther again anyway and found that it works when I got it home, as long as you dont move and the power cable starts playing up, just like before I took it to the shop and wasted £35 and then a further £55. If I was more organised then I would be £90 better off but also my lapotop would be back to me by now. Must get more organised...

Secondly I am preparing for holidays. I normally take this in my stride. I have a list of things which needs to be packed, there is a little variation form year to year but not so much, and then we just pack it. The main thing is ensuring that all washing is washed, dried and folded, so even if they dont know what they want to take until the last moment then there is no chance of a panic.

This year things are entirely differnt. This year we are going to our new house for the first time. I need to pack bed linens, dishes, mugs, everything! I dont want to buy in Crete what I already have available from here so its a bit of a fine line. Anyway today we start putting stuff in the actual cases so we know what comes with us this time. Hopefully by the end oif today we are in a better place with our packing.

Okay, I am off to the attic , speak to you later.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

If you could have anything you wanted.....

As you may have heard me mention (yes, i know I have boring on the subject) Beloved is away for 3 months. When he left he also left me instructions to do the lottery on a weekly basis. £1 each. I had done this every week but why? Well because I was asked to yes, but also because its a little bit of fun. I don't seriously expect to win but it would be a giggle if we did.

So if we won then what would we do with the cash. I am happy with my home but I would like somewhere with a little more garden (yes, I am on about the chickens again! So depending on the amount then I would either pay off my mortgage or buy another house. My house of choice wouldn't actually be much bigger than this one, certainly nothing ostentatious, but with a couple more bedrooms, a laundry area and some land. I would finish off the Crete house as well and have a pool. We are a swimming family and I am sure we would benefit from this.

So what else do I require. Well, having had a good think about it, not actually very much. We have two older cars but they work fine and generally I keep a car until it dies of old age (or someone crashes into it and writes it off!). Our house has old furniture but I like old furniture so that doesn't need changing.

Fine wines and gourmet foods are wasted on us but I do like a nice glass of red wine and a good home cooked meal. We can already manage this without our big win.

I always thought that I would like to give money to the special care baby unit where my youngest son was when he was first born. I could pay off the mortgages of my friends and family, depending on the payout. That should give my nearest and dearest the chance for a little financial freedom without ruining their lives.

So I think there is a pretty chance I am buying my lottery ticket each week to win money to give away.

I feel very blessed to not be able to think of anything much that I really want and blessed even more to realise that although there are a few low level wants there really isnt a single need.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

A life more satisfying

The sub title of my blog.

A journey towards a life more satisfying and financially secure by a happy and rather chaotic woman, with her family and animals.

So how have I fared in the 6 months since I started to write.

Well, actually pretty good.

I love travel and understand that the journey is far more important than the arrival. A journey through all of my life will be just fine with me. My biggest self criticism was my inability to relax into the moment and actually enjoy what I was doing. I was always rushing to finish and get on to the next thing on my list. I have that pretty much concerned unless I get really busy and a bit stressy. I read on Down to Earth that there is no point in rushing your house work to finish it as it is unfinishable. And of course it is true but I needed someone wiser to point it out to me. I am getting a little stressy at the moment as work is still so busy and we are coming up to holiday time, but otherwise I have it sussed.

What about being more financially secure? My salary is certainly higher but the falling value of houses will effect my balance sheet, no doubt. On the other hand it may make it almost possible for the next generation to get onto the properly ladder. Or are they too smart to fall for that trap. In September we will re-launch the swim school. On the flip side I am working on habits which will make the money we have go further. Meal planning (in a relaxed way), cooking from scratch, continually re-visiting the cost of utilities and the like, using Freecycle and buying second hand. Recycling, re-using, renewing and revitalising old articles. We would like to shorten the term of our mortgage and if we are serious then we must be sensible.

Happy and chaotic? Certainly very happy. I generally am and indeed cant see the point of being anything else but I am not so sure I am still so chaotic. I think I might finally be getting organised. It has only taken me 45 years (less if you take out the time I was a baby!)

With my family and animals. Beloved is away from us for another 2 1/2 months but otherwise we are here or hereabouts. This might be his last really long holiday. Once the boys are older and have moved away ( I cant imagine them ever being this mature but presumably they will) then I wont want to be left home alone. I could have more animals. I could have chickens in my garden. A lovely big dog for walks. Fluffy bunnies for the cook pot ( I don't think I could do this - I am such a big girl!). However my other big love is travel. Not package holidays but actual travel and taking part is the daily events of another country. The cats and the bird are not best pleased with us travelling but they forgive. So dogs and chickens, goat maybe?,must wait until my travelling days are mostly behind me.

So actually, I don't think it is going bad at all.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible

Hi Laura & Cathy. Not laptop blues, laptop less! Thank you for noticing I had dropped off the radar though, its very comforting.

So,I am laptopless. My laptop has apparently died. However it is under warranty still so I should get it, or its cousin, back at some point(and if I do then I will be writing in praise of the Hewlett Packard VIP support package).

I have occasional use of this lap top but it doesnt have any of the right programmes and I cant use my camera.

Blogs will continue to be short and unillustrated for a little while yet but hopefully soon back to normal. I miss my nightly chats with the blog. The house is looking not too bad with all the de-cluttering, re-arranging and general sorting out. Once I can take phots again then there willbe plenty to show you!

I had one little I wanted to blog about (brag about??). We are off to the other house on hols shortly. My dad has been worrying about my little party will get to the airport. He wanted to drive us all up in his car. He & my mum will catch the train up when the fly a week later because dad is a retired train driver, so free tickets. However the train is too expensive for the rest of us (we all come back togther). We check out the bus. It would take 5 hours and cost a little over £100. Still a bit ouch for me. So I check out the airport parking on site. We used this last year and it cost £150. We didnt really have any other way of doing it last year but it was pretty pricey. However I checked out the Gatwick Parking website, just in case, and lucky I did. Summer special prices have given me a bargain parking deal of around half the amount I paid in the shame car park as last year. Which is cheaper than even one way on the bus. So we will take our own car up. It runs on LPG so minimal fuel cost (if you can ever say that in this country - petrol being £1.99 a litre for a while this week)and now minimal parking cost. Also we can be home and into our little beds in a more sociable time than the bus or train would allow.

One last chuckle before I go. I emailed my friend Sue in Crete to ask her if she can get the key to our house for Georgios the builder. That way we dont get in when we get there not adter we have tracked the builders down. Dont worry, says Sue, I saw your house today, you dont have any windows or doors yet so you really wont have any difficulty getting in!! I feel my friend Georgios the builder nmay have been involved in the building of the Olymipic stadium in Athens, which was also finished jsut in the nick of time.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Missing my laptop

I have two lovely new pieces of software to load and my laptop is still in the shop. I am currently using my husbands laptop as he is away on hols. However I got it for him for his birthday last year so that he could watch films and listen to audio books when he was away form home (he is dyslexic). I didn't really intend for it to be used for anything more complicated, so it doesn't have Microsoft office installed - which means I am not keeping up together with my to do lists or with money monitoring spreadsheets. I have decided not to load my new software onto it as it can barely manage to open AOL.

So my new software. I have purchased a copy of Microsoft money. A colleague recommended it to me when I talked about monitoring expenditure. My second disc contain four programmes. The first one is called Envelope plus. I have no idea what this is but I will experiment. The second programme on the disk is called Home Inventory. I believe it is an access based programme to list your material possession. I assume this is in case of needing to make an insurance claim. The third is called shopping assistant. I will wait and see the details of this one. The final one is called My Favourite Recipe Collection, which I hope is a way of me collecting all of my favourite recipes and being able to index them by type, ingredient etc. This is my reason for buying the disk. It was very reasonably priced though and included a 50% gift to charity, so I can have a nice warm glow at the same time.

I haven't much to report back about my weekend as I had another migraine and took to my bed like an old Victorian lady. My migraines are so often at weekends, I think they are telling me it is time to give up work. It has taken me until Sunday night to be fit enough to think. I have just realised that my home inventory software will be suitable for monitoring the DVD collection. I know it is a funny thing for someone who aspires to the simple live to have. As I mentioned, Beloved is dyslexic and films are his books, so he will watch the same ones many, many time over the years. He buys them at charity shops or I order them online for a bargain price for a treat for him sometimes. I have my books and it would be mean not to allow him his 'books' too.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Price Book

Following on from yesterdays fright I have been reading Laura (Move to Portugal)discussing her Supermarket price comparisons.

I started work on a price book some time back but its all dreadfully out of date after the recent meteoric rise in prices. I have decided to copy Laura ( I do that quite often I notice - she's a very good role model and much more sensible than I am.) As soon as my own laptop comes back from the shop I will start over with the price book. I buy mainly basic foods; meat, veg, fruit, rice, flour, milk and the like which means that my best value shop might not be the same as another persons ( i do buy sliced wholemeal bread and pizzas as well because my breadmaker is hiding somewhere in the shed)so I have to do my own comparison rather than cribbing from somewhere else.

Before that I am making my weekend plans. Tomorrow is all of the usual cleaning jobs, washing and drying. After that, later Saturday or maybe Sunday I will spend some time in my garden. I need to get completely on top of things this weekend because I then have to get the suitcases out of the attic to plan what we can take with us to the Crete house. There wont be a spare inch in the cases if I have my way!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Reality Check

Today I had to fill both cars up with fuel. Eeek. I may have to sell the house next time. My car is the smaller and is quite fuel efficient. The tank cost £50 to fill up today. The other car is bigger but runs on LPG, better for the environment and for my purse. All the same it cost £38 to fill the tank. However if I had filled up with the same amount of petrol then it would have been nearly £80! This will keep us getting to and from work for just under two weeks. I am driving it at the moment as beloved is away and I prefer to use the most efficient and cost effective.

However it more the shock of the price that I am writing about today. I know that petrol prices are rising,its the forefront of the news. However actually handing over the cash really brought it home to me. Prices of things like this never seem to go down again after this. So we will have to get used to it. I had to drive about 70 miles today,on business and there is no public transport available, & I believe that the roads were noticeably emptier. I don't know if people are car sharing or finding other ways to travel or just avoiding moving about entirely. You can do this if the driving is leisure but of course on business we are stuck.

So, prices of fuel are going up, prices of food are going up, i assume prices of anything which comes by road (and what doesn't ?) is also increasing. It has never been more important to think about expenditure. The time has come for a spending diary.

At the moment I am spending quite a lot of money. But don't worry, Its all budgeted. I have to spend money here because I need to sort a few things out, decorate the sitting room,re-seed the lawn, various bit and bobs. But I have saved up for what needs to be purchased. I need to buy quite a bit for the Crete house of course. It is completely bare at the moment. Not a stick of furniture of course as the building is barely finished (fingers crossed it is actually finished.)

When we come back from Crete then the spending will be over until the next trip to Crete (more furnishing - this is going to take time). So the spending diary will start when we come back from Crete & continue for one month. I will analyse where I need to cut down. Where we can make ecomonies. Its an adventure but it's an unavoidable adventure , so be it.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Just chillin'

I haven't done anything frugal, simple, old style or anything else today.
I went to work, bought cakes for every for my birthday - should have made them but just didn't seem to have the time. Stayed at work until 6pm and then went out to dine with my colleagues. Once a year we dine together on the proceeds of our lottery wins! Some years we wine enough for a meal and dessert, sometimes just a few chops. This year we went for Mandarin Buffet. The food was good but it was also nice to have a chance to talk with everyone. We work together all the time but sometimes we just work too hard and get too caught up in our work to remember we are pretty friendly as well as being colleagues. So there was a lot of talking and a lot of food.


The dishes which were my favourite I could actually have cooked quite easily myself. The dishes were too numerous to mention individually. We ordered something each for starters and main course (15 people) and then shared what came. My main course was king prawn with ginger. Scrummy.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Preparing for the Crete house


This is the view from the Crete house. Enough to lighten anyones heart.

In a few weeks time we will be going off to our house in Crete for a little break. We have been to visit twice whilst it is being built but this is the first time it is anything like inhabitable. The downstairs on one side will be finished. This is comprised of two bedrooms, a bathroom and a large sitting room and kitchen combined. Upstairs I have a big bedroom with a storage room inside and a bathroom, an even bigger balcony. I cant use upstairs even though it is almost finished as there are no stairs! Not the builders fault but beloved changed him mind half way through the build. My next year there should be another big downstairs room and two more bedrooms with another bathroom. Enough room for my whole family, us four plus mum and dad and my sister and her husband, to holiday together. We do gone on holiday all together quite often. We all get on really well and never fall out so this will suit us just fine.

We have lots of garden at the Crete house. 2000sq metres in total. My husband is planning the social area but I get to choose what we do with the rest. I will save a patch for vegetables but otherwise it will be mostly fruit trees,with a nice patio of grape vines. My mum is having an area of garden to cultivate too. I don't think she will be able to do much in the summer sun but when we visit out of season then she can enjoy herself. I wonder how many cuttings she can get into her luggage

My dad is rustling through the attic looking for old curtains and sheets to take with us. I am going through the utensil drawer picking out all the doubles of things (spare ladle anyone!)so that we have the beginnings of a household around us. We have bought a second hand gas cooker top and some pots and pans from someone who sold up and moved home again. Unfortunately there is not much of a second hand market in Crete so we must ships things from home or buy new. Neither of which is my favourite option. Beloved is quite handy so hopefully he can make quite a bit of what we want in furniture, assuming that wood is affordable. I don't know well enough the kinds of shops that we will need to frequent over the next year or so as we make this place our home.

On our plot there is an house, which we originally hoped to renovate but found that it is too dangerous. The bricks were home made and everything is sadly crumbling around us.


This is the oven in my old house


This is the kitchen.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

46 today.
My babies brought me breakfast in bed, eventually. I did have to feign sleep a couple of times though as preparation was a bit slow. I had card and flowers from my boys & a lovely orange tree for my present. My husband phoned up to say happy birthday also nice and early. Then a birthday call from my mum. Its sad that so many of my family are away for my birthday but nice that they called. My mum bought me a book. Michael Palins 'New Europe'. Such lovely presents.

My youngest son and I pooped into town for a couple of hours. He needed socks and knickers so we stopped by TKMaxx. He was very pleased. My husband phoned again and wishes me happy birthday again, which I thought rather odd. Just as I was ringing off he asked '[what should I do for a temperature'. So that's the problem. He is away from home and feeling poorly. I guess it is because he is in a new country and so all the bugs going around are different ones. Apparently they called the doctor out for him in the night, because of his temperature. The doctor wanted to keep him in hospital for a few days for tests, suspecting appendicitis. Surely this cant be. He is only just out of hospital. More worries. Afterwards we popped around to my sisters house to 'borrow' some screws. They have there own fixings company so always very handy for goodies like screws and washers. My sister was just wrapping my present but finding it rather difficult so I was happy to receive it without. She had planted me up a lovely strawberry planter full of really healthy looking strawberry plants. I am very spoilt today.

This evening we all went out for a meal together. I was a really long time coming but very nice food. We appreciated it even more for waiting almost an hour! Then back home. I phoned beloved again, after worrying for half a day, only to find that the temperature ahas broken and he is feeling much better! Lucky he was strong enough to say no to the doctor who wanted to take him away and open him up! I think I must have sent him to a nest of hypochondriacs! Never mind, only another 12 weeks!!!

I am not being very productive at the moment. I am unsettled with my husband away & also thinking about our upcoming holiday. The first time we have ever been away without him. Tomorrow I will start some smaller lists (lists of smaller tasks I mean, rather than written in smaller writing) that I can work through. Hopefully it will inspire me.

Friday, 6 June 2008

My day off!!

I had another day off work today. I was planning to write about how productive it was, but it wasn't and so I am grumpy. SO I am writing about it anyway to clear it from my mind.

I had planned two things for today. My son had a job interview at 10am and I also wanted to go to the doctor. I phoned up at 8am for an appointment (that's how it works. You can make an appointment on the day or over 1 month in advance but nothing else - too strange)My appointment was for 5.10 in the afternoon. I also needed to be at the swimming pool ten miles form the doctor at the 5pm to collect the cheques for banking. So already I know things are not planning to go my way today. I took my eldest son to his interview. Popped into the shop to buy some washing powder and envelopes. I expected him to be out after 3/4 of an hour. As I had said I would wait then I didn't like to drive off (especially as he was wearing a smart but uncomfortable suit and smart but uncomfortable shoes)but I wish I had as I actually waited there for over two hours. I was hot and ratty by this time.

Then I should meet some friends for lunch. They have a good deal at the local pub which they take up every Friday and I take up once in a while. I was late of course because everything else overran but no problem because the food was late too. However our fun was spoilt by a family at the next table, in the garden, having a heated argument in the most awful language. It was embarrassing and unnecessary and prompted one of my colleagues to shout. I was astonished as he is so gentle and easy going normally.

After lunch my friends went back to work and I to the Post office to post a friends birthday gift. Nicer to give in person but she lives in Holland so a little too far to travel this weekend. Of course the bag I bought to finish the package was too big so I had to buy parcel tape to make it fit. Still grumpy.

Then to visit another friend for a cold drink and a nice chat. I nice quiet hour for us both before I was off again. This time to the swim school. I couldn't wait until the end of the lessons to collect the cheques because of my doctors appointment so instead i made stamped addressed envelopes for one of the teachers to post them to me. I then have to drive off again to the other side of town., My mileage today has been awful. The petrol I have wasted will need to be replaced at a cost of £1.20 per litre! Can this be for real?

The doctor can't help me. I need to see an optician. More wasted mileage and a day off work for nothing. Back home for a while but just a fleeting visit. I need to go to my parents house. They are house and dog sitting for my brother. So I have to pick up the vegetables etc that they wont take, plus a nice bunch of roses from my dad, and of course spend some social time.

The day isn't over. Can the eldest son have a lift to a party. There are no trains or buses (he is right, there aren't) and its too far to walk and anyway too dangerous so late at night. I agree because then I can also pick up the youngest child. I get home to get the eldest and find that he wasn't allowed to sleep over so he cant go, because there is no transport home in the middle of the night. I leave to pick up the youngest and arrive back having missed a phone call from my husband!

So to some up, an entire day and a about 10 lites of petrol disappeared from me for nothing today. Next time I think I will just stay at work. Lets hope that I got all of my grumps out of the way and that the weekend will be really good. I think it will!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Monster on my shoulder

I seem to have the lethargy monster on my shoulder at the moment. Not so long I would leap out of bed when the alarm went, or before, regardless of whther it was a work day or rest day. Now I am making excuses for an extra 10 minutes even when I have to get up for work. I having been reading on line but the first site tells me that it is probably a sign that either - your current medication isn't suiting you, you have an underactive thyroid, you are diabetic or you have depression. So obviously I feel much better now!

I think I may have put my finger on the problem though. I am 46 on Sunday. Is it just my age?? Am I daft to expect to keep my energy levels the same? Anyway my brother in law has now got me started on a higher dose of cod liver oil capsules. I will make an effort to ensure I am getting a good healthy diet as well. Its always difficult to get enough excericse when you are stuck at a desk all day. I must make more effort to take the stairs instaed of the lift.

If anyone else has any ideas to up my energy levels I would delighted to hear then.

To manage my desire for inactivty on a more operational level I will be making a day by day list of what I should be doing. Hopefully ticking off tasks will help me.

Okay, I am off to sleep now to try to get my 8 hours in! Night night

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

I have decided to open a shop!


I have always wanted to have a shop. I find things all the time which I think are useful or beautiful (or hopefully both) which I think should be shared with others. In an ideal world I would have a funny little shop that you could spend an afternoon poking around in, with a little teashop, including home made cakes, in the corner.

Also a book section with books you could read whilst you have you tea and cake. I have the idea of Shakespears book shop in my mind there somewhere I think.


So, a shop it shall be. Sadly a virtual shop for the time being but perhaps I can move on to a real bricks and mortar shop one day. I am not sure how it will 'stock' my shop just yet but I hope it will be interesting & of course economical.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Work Life Balance

I am not sure I am getting my work life balance quite right at the moment. I seem to just want to be at home. This isn't good as there is a lot more mortgage still to pay and anyway my job is important ( to me, of course, but also i think it matters in the grand scheme of things.)so I need to take myself in hand. I think my problem is just that I need a proper break from work. If I still feel the same way after my holiday then I need to take myself in hand. For the next few weeks I will indulge my 'housewife who happens to have to leave the house quite often' notion.

To set me on my way I have a days leave tomorrow. I intend to have a hair cut and to visit the doctor. I also plan to make a real start on my task list. I need to take my laptop to the shop too. In the afternoon I will make a couple of vats of different pasta sauces to keep us going for lunches and dinners this week. I will also buy a hippo bag to carry on the clear up operation in the back garden. Hippo have a really good reputation for recycling what they collect so all my old broken concrete and the like is going off to a new life. I also need to buy some batteries for the TV controller. We don't normally watch TV but without Beloved there is a quite long evening between end of pottering and beginning of sleep time. I will also patch the sofa covers. They look lovely now that they are dyed blue and they will look even better when the holes are patched! At least I had the sense to dye a cushion cover at the same time so I have a perfect peice of patching material available.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

The Summer of Keeping Busy

Beloved has gone of on his plane. We wont be together again for 94 days. Its very strange to think of things so far ahead and know that they will happen before he gets back. Baby will leave school, we will holiday at the family house in Crete, Baby will start college! So, I am staying calm by not thinking about it and kidding myself that he is just at work at the moment. It sort of works but sometimes I get a feeling of rising panic in my chest. From time to time there will be tears. Its actually not so bad since the children are now old enough to take care of me. I no long er worry about burglars attacking us as my babies are big strong men now, not vulnerable infants.

And so, the key to my success for the next three months will be keeping busy. I have a lot to do and a lot to think about and I am making lists and also planing to introduce new habits. Tonight's I will be starting on a super sized 'to do list'. So far it divides into a number of categories -
1) Personal one off (such as hair cut)
2) Personal new habits (remember to take cod liver and vitamins every day rather than every now and then).
3)Household-one off = Repaint sitting room
4)Household - new habits - organise household paperwork process and time for action
5) Work etc etc
6) Swim school

and so it goes on. I have been banned from painting any rooms with 'funny colours' by which he means pink, yellow and anything faintly colourful. He didn't like my washable cream paint everywhere idea when I first suggested it but he has got used to it over the years and is now a fan. I am hoping that painting the chimney breast in the sitting room with a different colour will be acceptable but I wont mention it and hopefully it will be already a part of the house when he gets back and maybe he wont notice(some hope). I am, though, allowed to get rid of whatever I want! I have made sure to have understood this correctly and will be taking the opportunity to rid my attic of ancient clothing that has obviously shrunk over time, equally ancient video recorders and all manner of other weird things.( none of my stuff is junk - obviously!)

Lets talk about something good!

I went to the other house and it was lovely! My dad came with us, with my youngest son, for the first 5 days.  Its his first time since ...