Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Time to get back on track

Last week I downloaded a month of transaction from the bank and dropped them into a spreadsheet with columns for different expense types. It has obviously been a while since I did this. Ouch.

I found I was paying £8 per month for Sky breakdown cover. Not sure where this came from but I will be cancelling and having a full refund from the bank using the direct debit indemnity.

Worse than that my food bills had rather crept up again. I used to spend about £50 a week for all shopping but I decided last year that we could go a bit more upmarket with quality, organics etc. and raised my budget to £70. I seem to have added an extra £20 somehow without noticing. I think this is probably one of the penalties of a)shopping at a number of places depending on what is on the list (Waitrose, Asda, Lidl, Asian supermarket, market). b) Not recording my actual spends as I am sure I am within my budget, Oops.

There is worse to come.

This week I read the gas and electric meters and submitted the readings on line. The new dd is for £122 per month! Eek! This is £20 for gas but an astounding £100 for electricity. Although gob-smacked I do know what the problems are and I can address them. Two things cause the problem. I have an extra fridge. Drinks only in theory but it is also pretty big and so cooked food in serving dishes also go in there if a meal isn't finished. The seal is broken on the fridge and the door has started to drop and you have to be very careful to close it. Time for a replacement. Second thing is excessive use of the tumble dryer. I have loads of excuses but really it has just been too easy to use it. This must stop. I am ensuring an area of the conservatory is available for a large airer and hangers. Dry days mean the whirly washing line must be used.

What a waster I am. Not happy with myself at all. Looking on the bright side my hard working but hard spending son has had a road to Damascus moment and realised that if he doesn't waste his money on tripe then he can actually be quite well off. I am hoping that if he has got silly spending out of system by age 20 then he is set for life. He visited the bank recently to upgrade his debit card. They said he had an excellent credit history and would he like a credit card. Ahdel said the fastest 'no,thank you' ever, bless him. We learn from our children.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Lovin' it

No, not McDonalds, wash your mouth out!

Life! Not everything is wonderful: economy, the fact that the kids will never be able to afford to leave home, the garden still full of Fahed's rubbish as the workshop refurbishment takes an eternity, the constant fight to make the house even a little bit tidy and so on into infinity.

But the good things are more than enough.

Holiday trip to the Crete house in a months time. Nearly three weeks away. Lots of work to do so that we can let the house out but also lots of fun to be had. First 10 days with just eldest son and his girlfriend and the a week with my parents too.

My dad has successfully had skin cancer removed from his cheek, his forehead and his back, also cancer successfully removed from his bladder and prostate. He has also been given some new anti interrogatories to deal with arthritis caused by a motor bike accident that he had in 1950 (when he drove his Royal Enfield into a tree after being a bit indecisive at a road junction - the reason none of the rest of us are allowed bikes). He is looking pretty good & considerably more perky of late.

Mum continues to also be a picture of health age 81 and is looking forward to her holiday and hasn't mentioned the 38degree temperatures that worried her when she was a mere lass of 60.

Ahdel continues to have plenty of work as his boss sells another boat. They have 9 months to build three catamarans. Some days he loves it and some days he hates it but pretty lucky to have work at all at the moment.

Jamal has another year at college and has realised it is possible to actually do some work at college since his friend was chucked out last year. He wants to be a fire-fighter with Hampshire Fire & Rescue. I expressed some concerns that he only wanted to do it because you can retire early however he looked suitable shocked and explained to me that it was about making a difference to people and having an interesting job. They can be taught!

My niece had an offer accepted on a house this week.£210k for a three bedroom end of terrace. The only good thing to come out of recession is slightly more affordable housing. Oh to live in a country when you can buy somewhere to live for less than £100k.

Jury is still out on whether I should be happy with the bigger picture. It is possible that Cameron (call me Dave) might not be the complete arse that I thought as he removed the teeth of the more batty side of the HSE, gets rid of a load of quangos and restructures the NHS. God bless the NHS by the way, without it we would be bankrupt (Fahed's heart condition,Ibs,gout, anxiety, depression...the list is endless) and my dad, with all his cancer problems, would be pretty skint too. In fact I will trade living in the land of cheap housing, wherever it is, for living in the land of the NHS.

I have been reading this block a lot lately and loving the creativity. I found it through this blog also rgeat for creative inspiration. Life is expanding all around me.

This morning the sun is shining and I am off to the shops with youngest son if he ever wakes up. Cleaning, laundry, all the usual things but nonetheless life is good.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Honesty

I have been reading a few blog recently where it has been said that some other blogs are all summer and sunshine and nothing bad ever happens and others where the author is concerned that they have been too honest and have inadvertently exposed themselves to the world.

I think I am pretty honest generally in my blog (but without forcing that honestly on to family members and friends without them signing up for it). But i thought maybe an extra dash of honesty was over due.

I am 48, finance manager, I am generally happy unless made unhappy. To be made unhappy something bad has to happen, like someone dying, otherwise all is good. I have two sons, I almost had a third or maybe a daughter but it didn't quite happen. They would have been 12 now. I was quite ill when I lost the baby and missed three months of work (because of the illness which caused the miscarriage not because of the miscarriage).One of my sons is like me in this way, the other is the complete opposite (like dad). Obviously they are both adorable and I wouldn't change them for the world.

I have been married for 21 years to my husband. We met when I was on holiday in Crete in 1987. Fahed has a heart attack when he was 37 and since then he has suffered from depression and anxiety. I think he probably always had it but the heart attack certainly brought it to the surface. But we can handle it. Eldest son is the same. If there is nothing to worry about then he can worry about the absence of worry.

I am quite frugal with my money and I when I say I am skint then it means I have nothing left in the budget for something, it doesn't necessarily mean I haven't got a bean in the world. We drive quite old but serviceable cards, I don't shop for sport, we shop from car boot sales, charity shops, e bay and even 'real shops'. I give and received with equal enthusiasm on free-cycle.

In some ways we are quite well off financially. We have this house (and a mortgage), the big house in Crete, an old renovation property in Crete, a flat and some land in Syria. But in some ways quite hard up. We live on my salary and all of Faheds earnings go towards development of the properties. So we don't have cash to waste. The properties are our pension. I have a pension as well but pensions are not especially safe even when they are good ones. If all goes well my pension should pay 1/3 of my final salary for life. Just have to make sure I live long enough to appreciate it.

I am very easily bored. I am overweight ( I prefer the word fat)but not fat like the fat people you see on TV. Also not a fat as I was before I discovered I was allergic to bread and pasta, and cake. A lot less headachey and migrainy than before I discovered my allergy too.

I like travel, languages, reading, knowledge, cooking, new experiences, family and friends, Christmas, actually almost everything. It would be easier to say wont I don't like: reality TV (but do like documentaries)soaps, intolerance, prejudice, superiority, offal, weather that stays the same for too long, being bored, not being able to sleep, the unfairness of illness and premature death, the fact that pets don't last as long as we do,coffee cake, the appalling drama queens of the British press, small minds, snakes, litter, white rum, I could go on some maybe not so easy to please after all.

So this is me.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Is it summer?

I have had a cold and mild tonsillitis this week.Lost voice, the whole nine yards. What's going on with that? It is July, high summer, and it is actually summer with temperatures up to 30 degrees this week. I have evaded a cold for the last winter or maybe two so it had to catch me. I am going back to winter colds instead, maybe my imagination but a summer cold seemed a lot worse.

Fahed decided we had a dry enough spell planned to do the next stage of the house plan. Empty the shed/workshop, insulate and refit, sort, re-arrange and put back all that is needed before the next drop of rain. This is England, rain drops are not usually far apart. However he has been very lucky with the driest spell for 75 years (do they say that every year?). Today I am well enough to help so this afternoon when he comes from work we will start sorting the rubbish which is currently swamping my lovely garden.

This morning though Jamal, my baby, and I are off to the shops to buy something nice for lunch, pay in Ahdel's cheque and maybe have a little breakfast treat. Jamal also wants to sell some old video games. The boys are 18 and 20 now but still very much a part of everything (text from Ahdel last night saying where are you? we are home alone). I cant imagine what it will be like when they leave for good. Just way too quiet I suspect. So I am taking advantage of their company when I have it.I am a prime candidate for empty nest syndrome.

Summer Rain

The middle of summer on the sunny south coast of England, and the rain is falling heavily enough to keep us indoors again. We were hoping to...