Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Years Eve

Where I come from in Devon we would normally call today Old Years Night rather than New Years Eve, and actually I quite like that as it seems to me to be more about summing up the year that is leaving rather than racing towards the new year and forgetting the outgoer.

Tonight we are home with just the three of us. Eldest son is at a party of course. We usually go to a party but with my cold I dont feel like leaving the house. And if I am honest I like the parties less each year. So we had a nice dinner together and now we must try to stay awake for another 4 hours!

Tomorrow is a new day, a new year, clean slate, new plans, new diary even. A time of infinite possibilities. For us we plan to concentrate on paying off our debt/mortgage. We hope we can keep the swim school breaking even or at least not losing too much, through the hard times to come, ready to work for us agan when the economy recovers a bit. If we can find cheap flights then we visit the Crete house in the summer but otherwise our plans are fluid.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

I'm the 39,123,480th richest person on the planet

Reading through Sharon's post yesterday, Lucky Me Lucky You, reminded me about the rich list calculator that I found on the Internet once before. If you are feeling sorry for yourself try inputting your annual income into the global rich list calculator and seeing if you as hard up as you think. I'd be surprised if you actually are.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Someone was listening to us...

Food needs a fundamental re-thinkA sustainable global food system in the 21st Century needs to be built on a series of "new fundamentals", according to a leading food expert.
Tim Lang warned that the current system, designed in the 1940s, was showing "structural failures", such as "astronomic" environmental costs.
The new approach needed to address key fundamentals like biodiversity, energy, water and urbanisation, he added.
Professor Lang is a member of the UK government's newly formed Food Council.
"Essentially, what we are dealing with at the moment is a food system that was laid down in the 1940s," he told BBC News.
"It followed on from the dust bowl in the US, the collapse of food production in Europe and starvation in Asia.
"At the time, there was clear evidence showing that there was a mismatch between producers and the need of consumers."
Professor Lang, from City University, London, added that during the post-war period, food scientists and policymakers also thought increasing production would reduce the cost of food, while improving people's diets and public health.

"But by the 1970s, evidence was beginning to emerge that the public health outcomes were not quite as expected," he explained.
"Secondly, there were a whole new set of problems associated with the environment."
Thirty years on and the world was now facing an even more complex situation, he added.
"The level of growth in food production per capita is dropping off, even dropping, and we have got huge problems ahead with an explosion in human population."

Professor Lang lists a series of "new fundamentals", which he outlined during a speech he made as the president-elect of charity Garden Organic, which will shape future food production, including:
Oil and energy: "We have an entirely oil-based food economy, and yet oil is running out. The impact of that on agriculture is one of the drivers of the volatility in the world food commodity markets."
Water scarcity: "One of the key things that I have been pushing is to get the UK government to start auditing food by water," Professor Lang said, adding that 50% of the UK's vegetables are imported, many from water-stressed nations.
Biodiversity: "Biodiversity must not just be protected, it must be replaced and enhanced; but that is going to require a very different way growing food and using the land."
Urbanisation: "Probably the most important thing within the social sphere. More people now live in towns than in the countryside. In which case, where do they get their food?"
Professor Lang said that in order to feed a projected nine billion people by 2050, policymakers and scientists face a fundamental challenge: how can food systems work with the planet and biodiversity, rather than raiding and pillaging it?

The UK's Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, recently set up a Council of Food Policy Advisers in order to address the growing concern of food security and rising prices.

Mr Benn, speaking at the council's launch, warned: "Global food production will need to double just to meet demand.
"We have the knowledge and the technology to do this, as things stand, but the perfect storm of climate change, environmental degradation and water and oil scarcity, threatens our ability to succeed."
Professor Lang, who is a member of the council, offered a suggestion: "We are going to have to get biodiversity into gardens and fields, and then eat it.
"We have to do this rather than saying that biodiversity is what is on the edge of the field or just outside my garden."
Michelin-starred chef and long-time food campaigner Raymond Blanc agrees with Professor Lang, adding that there is a need for people, especially in the UK, to reconnect with their food.
He is heading a campaign called Dig for Your Dinner, which he hopes will help people reconnect with their food and how, where and when it is grown.
"Food culture is a whole series of steps," he told BBC News.
"Whatever amount of space you have in your backyard, it is possible to create a fantastic little garden that will allow you to reconnect with the real value of gardening, which is knowing how to grow food.
"And once you know how to grow food, it would be very nice to be able to cook it. If you are growing food, then it only makes sense that you know how to cook it as well.
"And cooking food will introduce you to the basic knowledge of nutrition. So you can see how this can slowly reintroduce food back into our culture."
Waste not...
Mr Blanc warned that food prices were likely to continue to rise in the future, which was likely to prompt more people to start growing their own food.

He was also hopeful that the food sector would become less wasteful.
"We all know that waste is everywhere; it is immoral what is happening in the world of food.
"In Europe, 30% of the food grown did not appear on the shelves of the retailers because it was a funny shape or odd colour.
"At least the amendment to European rules means that we can now have some odd-shaped carrots on our shelves. This is fantastic news, but why was it not done before?"
He suggested that the problem was down to people choosing food based on sight alone, not smell and touch.
"The way that seeds are selected is about immunity to any known disease; they have also got to grow big and fast, and have a fantastic shelf life.
"Never mind taste, texture or nutrition, it is all about how it looks.
"The British consumer today has got to understand that when they make a choice, let's say an apple - either Chinese, French or English one - they are making a political choice, a socio-economic choice, as well as an environmental one.
"They are making a statement about what sort of society and farming they are supporting."
Growing appetite
The latest estimates from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) show that another 40 million people have been pushed into hunger in 2008 as a result of higher food prices.
This brings the overall number of undernourished people in the world to 963 million, compared to 923 million in 2007.
The FAO warned that the ongoing financial and economic crisis could tip even more people into hunger and poverty.
"World food prices have dropped since early 2008, but lower prices have not ended the food crisis in many poor countries," said FAO assistant director-general Hafez Ghanem at the launch of the agency's State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008 report.
"The structural problems of hunger, like the lack of access to land, credit and employment, combined with high food prices remain a dire reality," he added.
Professor Lang outlined the challenges facing the global food supply system: "The 21st Century is going to have to produce a new diet for people, more sustainably, and in a way that feeds more people more equitably using less land."

Most of us already knew this but I quite like the idea that someone with some power might have finally cottoned on.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Not quite Christmas Yet

Jackie, my niece, by the skating rink.

Okay, I got a little bit behind in my blogging. I will get to Christmas but before that a couple of photos of our trip to Ostend. I hired a coach and filled it up with friends, family and colleagues and we took off to Ostend for the day. Unfortunately we choose the day that Dover police decided that the port was too busy and 'stacked' most of the incoming lorries on to the motorway. This gave us 1 hour less in Ostend than we should have had and also meant we didn't get home until 1.30am!

My youngest son queuing for toffee grapes.

The toffee grape stall

Toffee grape close up. I took so many photos in and around the 'toffee grape' stall that the stall holder was beginning to think I was a stalker I think.

Anyway we found that we had a lovely time and we would like to do something similar from time to time. I would recommend this to anyone who is sticking to a budget, for whatever reason. We took a picnic of bacon sandwiches and water for breakfast, but other went one better and brought flasks of coffee. We choose to eat out but it would have been easy to bring along lunch as you can leave your bags on the coach and don't need to carry heavy stuff around with you.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Shopping conundrum

I have lovely photos of Ostend and hopefully have time to post about our trip yesterday. It was fun but would have been more so if police had not decided to 'stack' the trucks going into Dover. We were a hour late arriving in Ostend, which gave us just 3 hours in town. We had to wait an extra hour at the boat on the way back as well. A very long day.

Last week my husband spent £98(ish) in B&Q. After he had paid, the cashier said 'you know if you had spend £100 then you could have had a £15 voucher' & laughed. My husband found that most amusing as you can imagine. I would have returned the goods at this point and then re-bought then plus some batteries to get my £15. Grrrh!

Today we ordered a handbasin for the guest bathroom in B&Q (all in all a good shop even if some of the check out staff have an odd sense of humour). It was £105 but i think it was previously £197, from my investigations. It will arrive in two weeks time but I can cancel at any time. We were not offered the £15 token again but we asked and it was given. A few hours later I was window shopping and found the same hand basin on eBay for £48 with free delivery.

My question is - is it wrong to cancel the B&Q basin and buy the eBay basin instead ( not even sure where this leaves me with the £15 token but I am inclined to say - about even). Any thoughts????

Cheap v Frugal

I started to write a post about cheap v frugal but remodelling this life has beaten me to it! Check hers out but here is a bit form me too!

I think I am frugal & I think there is a world of difference between frugal and cheap. I have a friend who is frugal and she is married to a man that is cheap. He amuses the rest of us when we discuss him but not in person, we tend to avoid him as he is also a bit of a misery.

I don't like waste (or intolerance or snakes but we are here to talk about my frugalness!). I prefer other people to have my 'no longer required' stuff. Charity shop, Freecycle, friends, eBay, Amazon. I don't mind where they go as long as someone will make use of my stuff. I also think EBay & Amazon are just as valid a way to pass things on as they are going to someone that needs them plus that someone is a little frugal. I receive from Freecyle, buy from charity shops, eBay and amazon marketplace so I help the second hand market to go around a little bit.

My frugal friends cheap husband has plans for them which basically involve sponging off other people. Always visiting at mealtime so as to get a free dinner but when they last invited us to visit they were fasting for Santa Marias day. Hmmm, what a coincidence!

Are you one of us or one of them????

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Credit Crunch Shopping

Today I went shopping. I know, it could be considered a moment of weakness, but I did good!

I was preparing for the trip to Ostend on Saturday. I started off by buying some Euros at Thomas Cook. That was my worst deal of the day with a £1 buying just 1.02euro.

I then went to buy camera batteries. I went to the Robert Dyas, which is a chain of hardware stores, and found the front third of the store was reduced. All of the potential Christmas presents I guess. My batteries were on BOGOF, which was good for me as my camera is seriously heavy on batteries. Only Duracell's lasts any time at all and if I use rechargeable, as I do for most everything else, I have to change batteries every few pictures.

Next door again to the ladies cloth shop. There was several rail of sale clothing of the type you would be surprised that they could sell at all rather than surprised they are still knocking around. However I did spot a shelf of leather boots reduced by 70%. I normally buy a single pair of boots each winter but last years were a bit of disaster. Secondhand from eBay, they didn't live up to expectations, like staying up my leg. So I am mostly wearing the boots from the previous winter. I decided to spend £20 on a £60 pair of boots (not 70% I know but perhaps it said the famous 'up to ...%'). Good bargain I think. I also decide to spend an astonishing £20 on a pretty jumper as my Christmas treat. My total bill came to £31 and I cant made head nor tail of the receipt, by there was 25% off the whole bill, as far as I can see, so my boots actually cost £15. Ha! Great fun. On top of that there was 2.5% reduction for something else, maybe the VAT reduction but really I cant tell from the receipts.

Tonight I watched Nigella cooking for Christmas followed by Jamie cooking for Christmas. I dont know why these two are coming in for so much stick at the moment but both programmes were enjoyable viewing and I got a few ideas from them. I quite like the fact that they are both a bit greedy, as I am a bit of a piglet myself!

and on the subject of my pigletness,I have struggle with my weight for years. I read yesterday that some medication, which I have been taking for 11 years, causes weight gain & migraines, the two biggest negative issues that I have. I am making an appointment to see my GP over the Christmas break to see if there are alternatives for me. If this could be my escape from them then I would be ridiculously grateful.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Are we simple enough?

It occurs to me, as the rest of the bloggy world declutters, that I am a bit (too)selective in my decluttering. In 46 years on the planet I have only parted with about 20 books, and only then because they were truly dreadful. I have never sold a DVD or CD on eBay, unless they were duplicates. I don't collect ornaments, handbags or shoes but I have more books than is probably entirely necessary. We also own a lot of DVDs & Cd's (and MP3 players). I have thought long and hard about whether they should go but a couple of things have made me conclude that they are here to stay.

Our financial advisor came around one evening to see us (we don't have him anymore but he was kind off hard to shake off.)and said he loved coming around because the house always looked so welcoming as he approached, with the lighting and all the books & Cd's.

Second thing is when I used to babysit as a teenager I couldn't find a thing to do all evening if people weren't book readers. The house seemed really dull. The babysitting was for actual sleeping babies so no real work to do.

Thirdly, I suspect family would go a bit nuts if all the movies disappeared, we are a family of movie buffs.

So I am continuing to de-clutter but my own way.

This to me just looks like the best office ever. I wish I knew whose it was. I could while away a happy afternnon in there no problem.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Mortgage, debt and more 2

After I posted my blog last night I downloaded a snowball calculator from here, to help me prioritise my debts. My mortgage is in 4 different chunks, with four different terms and conditions, rates etc so I need to consider my options.

Second activity is to make the most of eBay. I have lots to sell but I don't do it very well. I am going to follow Laura's guide, stop rushing and do it properly.

Third activity is to do a 'buying book' through January. I will record everything I buy, why I buy and how I was feeling. The idea is to uncover if I buy things to make me feel better or if I buy because of need. I will be most disappointed in myself if I buy for pleasure. Time will tell. Its an experiment for January only as it is too much upkeep for all the time.

Lastly though, I mustn't lose my new found freedom in the decision to try new things, I just have to be a bit sensible about cost. A balance is required.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Mortgages & debt

We have a mortgage with Abbey. At the moment I would guess that we have negative equity but I don't want to pay to have my house valued in a falling market so it is just a guess. I read last weekend that Abbey have a clause in the mortgage contract which says that they can ask borrowers to repay on demand any amount greater than the value of the house. I would assume that this is in the the very small small print. They assured the interviewer that they would not consider using this clause at the moment however they reserve the right to invoke its use in future.

Normally I wouldn't be worried about my house value as its not relevant to my everyday life (although my husband considers it important for some vague reason)but if I am asked to cough up huge sums of cash at short notice because of it then my opinions might well change.

2009 is looking very much like the year of debt clearing. I have some outstanding loan balance for work on the Crete house, plus the balance of the mortgage. I ran various scenarios through the mortgage calculator.. I also mentioned it to my husband. We haven't discussed this in a any real detail yet but it would be a foolish person to say that its not a good idea to pay down debt, especially the secured debt of a mortgage,in the current economic climate.

Its possible that my plans for 2009 might have to be a bit more detailed that normal. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of Daizy's book and have it the end of debt planned to the last month. It is something to think about. I guess I don't think about it at the moment because it is such a high amount and if I did think in detail then it would frighten me. However I don't scare easy (as long as we don't talk about confined spaces or snakes) So I am making a plan!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Christmas Traditions

I read this idea on Beyond my picket fence. and quite like it,so I pinched the idea! (but I linked back so not actually pinching it exactly)

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. Bags are kept within the family and re-used but I always buy some reduced paper in January, which I also use for birthday wrapping the year.

Real tree or artificial? Artificial. I looks just fine and we have had it for years.

When do you put up the tree? When the mood takes me. This year it was the 14th. Decorations are taken down on 12th night.

Do you like eggnog? No, it tastes all eggie and horrid ( i like almost everything so this is a surprise).

Favourite gift received as a child? Sewing box, full of cotton, needles, darning wool and all sorts. Still have it and use it. Came form my favourite uncle, who died in 1998.

Hardest person to buy for? Husband. I usually go for an air ticket to visit his family but as he was there for three months in the summer I don't think that's a good idea this year.

Easiest person to buy for? All the others are fine. We know each other well.

Do you have a nativity scene? No, not really our sort of thing.

Mail or email Christmas cards? Only send to people I wont see and then generally email.

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Shoe cleaning set from my husband. I was almost as impressed with the iron too!

Favourite Christmas movie? Die Hard - Its Christmassey, honest!

When do you start shopping? November for gifts but I buy wrapping paper, decorations etc in January or late December.

Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas dinner cooked by my mum. Best meal of the whole year. Roast turkey, little chipolatas wrapped in bacon, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, carrots, red cabbage, dried peas, parsley stuffing and sage and onion stuffing. Then if there is any room left, Christmas pudding and clotted cream (we are from Devon, no brandy butter for us)

Lights on the tree? Yes, and around the picture rail.

Favourite Christmas songs? As of today, Macy Grey singing...about Christmas. Cant quite recall the name of the track. Aues & Kirsty McColl.ll time favourite is the Fairytale of New York, The Pog

Travel at Christmas or stay home? Christmas Eve the family come to our house, Christmas day to my parents house (2 miles away) and the boxing day back to my sisters house (1 mile away).

Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Nope. Donna & Blitzen, and I guess Rudolph. That's it.

Angel on the tree top, or a star? Hippo!

Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas afternoon. Lunch, then walk, then pressies.

Favourite ornament theme or colour? Eclectic. There are a lot of wooden animals & the main colour is burgundy.I buy one new things each year, so it grows rather then gets bought in wholesale. I like it lots!

What do you want for Christmas this year? AN electric mincer/sausage stuffer. I have found one on eBay for £37, now I just need to direct my husband this way....

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Photo Tag

I have been tagged by Sharon at Finding Simplicity. If tagged you must show the sixth photo is your sixth photo folder. Of course for me this means being entertained for hours as I start looking at old photos! Our photo is from 2005 and is my husband and sons waiting at the bus stop in Winchester. We were catching a national express coach to London to visit London Zoo. It is very early morning so everyone is still half asleep. We had a lovely day though.

I would like to tag;
Cathies Capers
Frugal Freedom
Move to Portugal
Early Retirement The Middle Way

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Just time for a quick post tonight!

We are such an organised family! (not, obviously). We are part way through building an extension on the house. We live in the extension but its not exactly finished. There is a partially complete guest bathroom on the ground floor. We have everything we need to refit the kitchen, except time. My husband does some work on the house every week in between his actual work. So now we have discovered that there is a leak form the upstairs bathroom. Sometimes when someone showers the water comes through the sitting room ceiling, but at other times it doesn't.

My husband started to investigate where the water was coming from. He found what might be a gap, and removed some tiles, and then some beading and a bit more tiling. Then he took down the curtain and pole, two massive mirrors, and removed a few more tiles. I said I would tile the problem areas and he agreed. However I know nothing about tiling and have been worrying about cutting the tiles all day. When I come home the tiling was started. The extension, kitchen refurbishment and the guest bathroom are waiting in line. Now we just have to make sure we don't start yet another project until something is finished.

Tomorrow I will be decorating for Christmas. There will be a lot of fairy lights to help distract from the fact that we are living in a building site (for about the third Christmas in a row, actually). Oh well. if Jesus could handle a stable then I guess a building site isnt so bad.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Personal development-just a little more to add

My personal development on a budget was going well until I checked out horse riding. £47 for 45 minutes! It was actually more expensive than a flying at £120 for a 2.5 hours session. I don't just want taster session of these things, some of them are activities that I want to include in my life going forward. I am looking for short term , quality, affordable training sessions that can then lead onto practice without an instructor or as part of a group. At the moment I am sticking with my photography, salsa and maybe skiing. Once I have had my initial activity I will decide what progresses and what gets ditched. I wont be continuing any that I don't find I enjoy or benefit from. I may be considering spending a small amount of cash but I am certainly not considering wasting it!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Personal Development

I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do. I want to be careful with my cash, look after the environment, look after my family but I have other personal goals which I would like to achieve.

My headings have been ( I need structure to focus on my ideas);-
Things to learn.
Things to create.
Places to go.

Things I would like to have (pleased to say this is a very short list).
Things to do more often.

Things to learn has already got a few entries
1) Sing
2) Skiing – 28/12/08
3) Flying lesson
4) Salsa dancing
5) Architectural drawing
6) Take better photos
7) Ice cakes
8) Ride Horses

I am not sure if number 1 is even possible but I would love to be able to sing.

I have turned my back on a lot of activities which would have sat very comfortably in my life, in the interst of saving money. This may well have been the right thing to do but now I need to aim for some balance. I wont be spending thousands to indulge myself.

For number 2 I could have spend £500 on a cheapish skiing holiday in the Alps but I have opted for a £15 tester skiing lesson at the local dri slope. Beloved has agreed to come with me but I have the impression he doesn't think that skiing has a place in our future.

For number 5 again I could have gone for an activity holiday in a European capital. In the first instance I have ordered a second hand book from Amazon for £2.49 plus postage.I would like to be able to draw from life and from my imagination. I have ideas about design of buildings and landscaping but I am not currently able share with others and it is frustrating. This may help.

I have found a 5 week course at local evening classes to help me take better photos. A £55 this is my most major financial indulgence.

To balance up the additional expenditure I have sold three things on eBay and one on Amazon. Perhaps my photographic course will help with my ebaying. My photography can only get better.

Monday, 8 December 2008

I've been tagged

Daizy at Frugal Freedomhas tagged me to tell 6 things about me. Hmmm, let’s think....

1) As I was leaving senior school I wrote to NASA and asked about joining the space program, I think as an astronaut. They didn’t tale me seriously (wisely?) and I never heard from them.

2) I went on holiday with a friend to Greece for two weeks in 1987. I stayed almost two years and came back with a Syrian fisherman. The home office gave us 28 days to get married but we did it 24!

3) Despite marrying a Syrian fisherman (and everyone saying that would last 5 minutes) we will have been married 20 years next month, and have two teenage boys to show for it too.

4) I come from Devon and have traced parts of my family back to 1650. We are farming folk through and through, but have links to France & Spain. Might explain my love of growing useful plants.

5) I can make stained glass panels. My mum classically once said, after being dragged up to look at the stained glass close up in a Cathedral, 'oh, but it isn’t any better than yours up close!'. She had never seen stained glass panels close up before and thought mine were not graceful enough with their solder joints.

6) I am way too easily bored and continually seek new information, new skills, and new abilities. Because of this I have hundreds of books, CDs and DVDs, which are definitely not clutter. I was born to be a part of the internet age.

So that’s me. Oh, oh one sneaky extra one. I, and my husband and kids, love roller coasters. Scarier the better!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I need more lists!

I read yesterday, and I cant remember where as I had a bit of bloggy overload, that goals are more attainbale if you document them and kep them in the forefront of your mind. With this is mind, and because I am a big shameless copy cat, I am poaching a few ideas from the Early Retirement the Middle way blogspot, which I discovered yesterday.

What I am up to and/or
What I am working on (not sure these are sufficiently differnt in my head to separate into two).
Where I'm Heading
Goals (this may be split down into categories)

I am also going to re-visit my Net Worth Calculation- although I am not sure that this means anything at all when house values & even pension values are changing on a daily basis. At the least though it should be intersting.

The approach if the new year always effects me in this way and its a good time to think about paths to the future.

Saturday, 6 December 2008


Laura at Move to Portugal introduced me to a very inspiring new blog.

Its called Early Retirement the Middle Way. A bit of a pedestrian title for a very un-pedestrian site. Written by a woman who really seems to have got a handle on life. I read it from end to end this afternoon (no, of course I shouldn't have been doing housework). I am inspired. I love travel, books, art, and a myriad other things, and often I am inclined to leave them out of my life as I economise & simplify. Hmmm. I need to have a re-think.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Todays saving!

Beloved took his laptop to the computer shop last week because it wont boot up. I have tried to fix it night after night over the last 4 weeks but I just cant. Finally he got bored with waiting. It would be £40 for the check-up and re-install of the operating system. A call left on the answering machine says now it is £60 because they found a problem (yeah, really). By the time he got to the shop it was up to £80. By the time he was ready to leave it was up to £120!!! What! Alarm bells are ringing by now. I know the machine is 13 months old because i gave it to him for his birthday last year and bought it a couple of weeks earlier. Obviously it would be out of warranty because I didn't take up the offer of extended warranty. Bugger!

Then i discovered something really cool about Dell laptops. They have a little registration number on their bottoms (wouldn't it be useful if we all had the same). I logged on to the Dell website and keyed in the reg number. Ha, we have a fourteen month warranty. I didn't even know such things existed. I then spent 40 minutes on the phone to a nice young lady with a heavy accent (that was a riot with my awful hearing). Someone is delivering a new hard drive to us on Monday. My new friend will phone back on Tuesday and will talk us through the software process. Ha,ha! So how much did we save £40, £60, £120 or maybe £200 by the way the price was going up.

Way to go Dell!

PS My husband apparently got the charge cancelled because he pointed out that they had done exactly the same to me when I brought my laptop to them when he was awy in the summer. He tells me they have agreed to refund my invoice too since all they did was tell me it was unfixable, even though I am still using it today. I am quite impressed.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


We had a lovely evening last night. Home cooked dinner and then we watched an excellent DVD (not the usually B stuff.)

We have had to cave in with the heating. Without any heating the house was just so cold that it was beginning to feel damp. I haven't yet used the central heating but we have had the gas fire on low in the sitting room. The new door curtains and the double insulated window curtains are pulled as soon as we get home in the evenings & then we warm that room up. The cats are also very popular suddenly because they keep our laps nice and warm. I am managing to get all of my boys to wear a little more clothes indoors this year(they are the type who would expect to wear jeans and t-shirt in December and then stick the central heating on full blast to make it bearable).

My husband is still feeling the cold though. He lost 31 kilo in the last 18 months & today he wore a vest, t-shirt, long sleeved t-shirt, sweatshirt and fleecy jacket (plus fleecy jogging bottoms). He most often wears sports clothes as he is a swimming teacher. He also gets really cold when he finishes work and has been in the water for hours. We have plan. Somewhere in the house we have thermal long sleeve vets and thermal long sleeve underwear! Very sexy! Hmmm.

I sit with my lap top on my lap (lap top - must have been made for keeping my lap warm)to make sure no heat is wasted. I have also found the shawl which I wore at our wedding. It is around my shoulders as I type. It is works quite well except that i feel about a hundred years old!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Birthday Treat Time

My husband will be 44 tomorrow. Four times each year we have an indulgent and cholesterol laden dinner of steak in a cream sauce with chips (there may also be veg but that is incidental tot he overall plan). If there was no such this as cholesterol, fat, finance etc then we might have it more often but four times a year is actually just fine, keeps us wanting more!

His special treat is to cook for us. Bless him! Really he likes to cook for us but he especially doesn't like the idea that his meal of the year might be any less than perfect. So when he comes home from work tomorrow his treat is too cook for us all.

After dinner we will watch B movies together. He has a definite weakness for movies where the script and acting are dire. So what better way to spend the evening.

On a different subject entirely Beansprouts made me feel better about my occasional tumble drier habit but then got a bit of a telling off from half her readers. Just as well she didn't admit to the occasional bath (like me). When I was a teenager and wanted to be a bit wild, have a bath or drying my clothes would never have struck me as a possibility.

My life

My wonderful husband has died. He was in hospital for some weeks but this was very unexpected. I won’t be reading or writing for the foresee...