Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Penny Drops

Doh, I finally worked out why the house still looks full even though most of its contents are now elsewhere. Three main reasons:

1)My husband and sons are the most untidy people on the planet (but very clean, just messy) which means any space I make is immediately filled with sometihng unnecessary which wasn't there before.
I have now jsut starting get of what they fill the place up with as well. Eventually they will realise they have no possessions left. Haha.

2)My expectations change so I adapt to the emptier house and get used to it and then i notice the next level of contents, if you see what I mean.

3)This is a biggy. I tend to sort out drawers and cupboards so I have plenty of storage space but loads of clutter still on the surface. I am working on this now I have identified the problem. Yesterday I gave my 'preserving dresser' a clear out then moved all the rest of the preserving stuff in their from the larder. That left room in the larder for all manner of equipment from the kitchen worktop. I would say the kitchen looks a lot less crowded. This afternoon I have a chest of drawers to empty so that we can use it to store all of the electronic games equipment.

Three weeks today until we leave for holiday.





Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Accidently, the new intentionally

I know 'intentional' is the big thing at the moment. Everything must be deliberate, planned etc
However I am functioning on auto frugal. I just came in from work and made dinner for all. As I was clearing up in the kithcne I noticed;

Pork fillet - Sainburys reduced because of date £3.92 down to £1.50
Value onion
Half a value green pepper
Pot of cream reduced from £1.92 to 42p.
Chicken stock cube ( may have actually paid full price for this)
Served with a packet of spagetti from Approved foods. Bonkers cheap website for food nearing its best before date.

My frugalness is now hardwired.

Edited to say; I forgot to say how it was cooked.
Chopped onion and start to fry, add in pork which has also been cut into chunks. Stir fry until meat is almost cooked, add chopped green pepper. Stir in a tablespoon of clotted cream and the stock cube. Add the cooked spaghetti and a little of the cooking liquor. Super speedy, super yummy and very economical. Just don't have the cream too often

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Fruit better than veg.

Every yer I try to grow veg. Tomatoes, chilies, cucumber, sometimes a courgette plant or aubergines. When we had the allotment I had success. Fahed built us a poly tunnel and we had some many of those little Lebanese cucumbers that we could barely cope (but of course we did, my family are mad for cucumber). We had wonderful raspberries, good crops of potatoes. We were all involved and it was great. When we moved to our current house we gave up the old allotment as it was too far to travel.

We had a closer one for a year or so but it was a new allotment and we just couldn't keep on top of the weeds even with help from the rest of the family. The council built houses on the local allotments and then set up new ones on horses field. All we could grow were 'dung weeds' in the three inches of soil that topped the mounds of clay. My dad, who has been gardening for about 65 years, told us we should get rid of it and he was right. It was unmanageable.

We dug up the fruit trees and currant bushes and divided them between us. My share of those fruit plants is still about the only thing I can grow. This year I plant tomatoes and peppers. I also planted a massive planter of Italian Parsley. The tomatoes look 'okay' but no more than that. The peppers look like they have survived some kind of nuclear attack. The parsley didn't even show its head about the parapet.

I had a good crop of red currants and even more of black currants. The cherry tree is on a quiet year but usually crops more than we can eat. The apple tree is heavily laden.

I have two questions. Why cant veg grown on trees? I seem to be well better able to cope with trees.
Shall I just give up on the vegetables and stick in a couple more fruit trees?
Actually maybe three questions. Is it worth buying a greenhouse? My preferred vegetables, the salad type, need more comfort than my garden offers.

I do like fruit. My black currant crop was fantastically delicious. My love of veg is even greater. Doh!




This is me

I am so like this

I have been cutting my own hair, forgetting to dye it until I look like a badger. I had to stop wearing make up for a month when I had my eye lasered but that was back in March and I sort of forgot. Same thing with moisturiser. My skin fares quite well without moisturiser but it does much improve if I make the effort to slather something onto it nightly. I think its highly unlikely I will be attending weekly hair and facial sessions, not to mention manicure and pedicure (never had either) but I have made a start by having a hair cut yesterday. I might make myself a little sign to stick on my wardrobe for a couple of weeks saying - night cleanse and moisturise, morning make up. You can get away with being a bit slack on maintenance when you are 25 and glow with health , not so much at 49.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Some structure required

I had some thinking time this week (for thinking time read: blog reading time)and decided to adopt a couple of new practices. These are things I previously did but can wander from the path if I don't lay it down in black and white.

Shopping once a week. No one will die if we run out of salad. Once a week shopping is perfectly doable. This almost automatically keeps me within my grocery budget. The thing which causes me problems is popping to the shop, especially the local Waitrose, because I need one thing and each visit racks up £30 in 'bargains'.

Back to my new eating regime. I feel very lethargic with this weeks opportunities to eat when bored. This also means taking my food with me every day and not popping to the shop or down to the sandwich van 'just this once'.

Monday to Friday as no spend days except for Zumba on Thursday. Note to self: the non spend cop out for Thursday is limited to Zumba not to anything else I might fancy buying.

Fuel to be purchased as required and does not break non spending rule. Every attempt must be made to keep mileage to a minimum and to use most economical petrol supplier. I have a weekly email keeping me up to date on local prices so really no excuse. I have signed Fahed up to the same email for LPG and will badger him to ensure he used LPG and not petrol.

Something I also want to look at. I have a number of accounts with the same bank. I want to move all of my outgoing payment to the other current account so that my zero account, which can be used overseas, has just my pocket money, petrol money and grocery money in it. I am not sure how easy this is or whether it will lose its zero account status. I don't think it will as the money will still all go through here, it will just move to the other account in one lump instead of disappearing in dribs and drabs.

Okay, time to go cook. I am feeling something Anglo Mexican (well my idea of Mexican but probably nothing like real Mexican). I must have been spending a lot of time on blogs close to the border this week.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Day 5

So last day of my holiday and finally I am getting used to it. I am learning to structure my day. Apparently a lack of structure doesn't sit as well with me as I thought it did I am still learning about myself even though I am nearly 50. Not sure if old dogs can learn new tricks but we can certainly identify the old ones that we are not so keen on.

I did a little spending today but only from my allowance. I had my hair cut. It took nearly an hour (I have a lot of hair) and cost a horrifying £20.50. That is despite being in the cheapest salon in town. My hair is not as big as Rebecca Wade but I feel it could have easily got that far if not tamed and I was sick of seeing her locks, and the rest of her, after all the phone hacking news this week. So News International cost me £20.50.

I also sprung out a small fortune to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Thoroughly enjoyed it but wont need to go to the cinema again until the next Indiana Jones film.




Tomorrow I am off to B&Q to buy myself a small set of wooden shelves for my study. Fahed is keeping the ones he has in the shed as they were too big and all together too ropey to bring indoor. That should make my study all together more user friendly.

For the weekend I am planning some time in the garden to sort out the millions of weeds which popped up in the non stop rain this week. I will sweep the hard floors. I budget £100 per week to shop but I tomorrow I just need to top up the vegetable supplies. Lidl is my best bet for price and quality.

I bought myself some Birkenstocks on eBay this week. They are really good and it was an excellent price. Today I noticed they had Birkenstocks in TKMaxx but I swear they were fakes. I don't suppose they could be but I have more pairs of Birkenstocks than anyone I know, five in every day for a start. Surely I should be able to tell the differnt and these just looked like really bad fakes.

Now I am getting used to being home and I relly dont want to go back to work on Monday. Whatever is wrong with me?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Day 4

Improving. Sun briefly emerged a few times. Jamal is starting to feel better and has stopped puking. And more importantly for my sanity I got some things accomplished. Not necessarily the ones I had on mind but any accomplishment makes me feel better. Apparently I am not especially good at not achieving anything. Fahed cant stop smiling as his reports are all finished and he is trying to feel sympathetic to me but the big grin on his face is giving the game away.

Today I;

Took Jamal to the doctor and picked up medication. he is feeling much better so it is good that we went.
Visited Mum & Dad to send mum off to the doctor too. She has, I think, the same as Jamal. She also needs a cortisone injection in her shoulder but has read up on the internet that it can go wrong and is no unnecessarily nervous.
Sorted out the paints in the shed and disposed of anything which had completely dried up. I didn't find any paint which is useful for the stairs and landing so I know I have to colour match my new paint purchase.
Sorted all the garden equipment etc from the shed and packed it away in my new mini garden shed box.
Made a fish pie.
Booked a hair cut for tomorrow morning.

Biggest thing I did was to spent some time in blogger & google and opened as ad sense account. I also set up a blog for Fahed. He's dyslexic but very creative and can fix or build anything. I am hoping that if he starts to take some photos and then write about what he does then he will be less afraid of writing. I tell him all about spell checker and syntax checker but he worries. Maybe if he sees what he can create then he starts to lose his fear. Actually fear is not the right word, its more like inhibition. I don't think he is afraid of anything except he sometimes has nightmares that he goes back to the middle east to visit family and then he isn't allowed to come home to us. Bless him.

I shall sleep a little more contented tonight.

Day 3.5 (it is morning so not Day 4 yet)

I visited my sister last night and everyone asked are you having a good holiday,. Um, no, not really. The non stop rain and associated greyness, Jamal is poorly and he is usually very entertaining, Fahed is still working so we can't do anything that isn't over by about 3pn, loads of work needs doing in doors but it really does some work by the poorly/working boys before I can do my bit. I really cant afford to spend a load of money on anything as I have so much that needs doing in Crete.

So last evening I made a few plans to make my last couple of days worthwhile
Attic - got to get my lazy arse up into the attic to clear out more junk
Bring a chest of drawers out of my study and freecycle it.
Empty some shelves in the shed and cut them to size and install in the study (this will lead to moving a couple of filing cabinet to the shed but not just yet).
After the furniture move I can sort out my study.
Also need a trip to the Asian supermarket to top up on chillies.

It is still grey and rainy, Jamal is still ill (and we are off to the doctor in ten minutes), Fahed is still working but I have found something I can do without help or great expense so its all good.

I was going to paint the stairs this week (the walls etc not just the stairs) but since my menfolk fixed them last week by moving the wall (eek) there is a lot of extra bits of wood and plastering required before we get to the painting stage.

I am not sure how I feel about early retirement today. It should be good but is it worth having a much lower pension to get it? Maybe or maybe not.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Day 3 - home truths, ouch

My third day at home, excluding the weekend when I am always at home. Is the place shining and almost empty? All washing clean, dry and put away (well it is all clean and dry). Delicious dinner simmering away on the hob. Well no. Nothing is looking like it should. Actually there is a delicious dinner simmering away but that is all.Its raining like hell all day every day and I am not appreciating being at home in the way I imagined. I suspect I might benefit from having slightly less time on my hands. If I have a weekend or an extra day than I am busy the whole time but I haven't been to work for 5 days now and am fast losing momentum. I am disappointed in myself. What is the point of looking forward to retiring if I cant retain an interest for five days.

There are a few things which might be adding to the problem. I have been doing Fahed pupil reports all week (he is dyslexic but dictates, it would just take too long if he did it himself) which is never fun. He also has work every day so we cant actually go anywhere. We don't have any spare cash as everything is going in the holiday fund.

So maybe i should re-think my retirement plans. I'll take another week off in November/December time and see how that feels. Oh dear.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Day 2

Went to Argos to buy some 1/2 pasta plates - sold out. Shopping fail but frugal success.
Went to Matalan to buy a couple of new T-shirts for Fahed - nothing suitable. Shopping fail but frugal success.
To the Works - Buy one get one free on packs of cards. These are really nice and suitable for birthday. I spend £4 total on forty cards. Also bought some little silvery stickers which say Happy birthday, Happy Anniversary etc. Birthday cards sorted for some years - Shopping and frugal success.
Re-joined library - hopefully frugal success.
Finished all Fahed reports for end of term - not frugal but certainly a stress success. Not our favourite job at all.
Result of heart monitoring - All good but we got told off for waiting two hours before calling ambulance. Heart is fine or as fine as it can be however occasional irregular beating is something he will need to get used to because of damage to his heart all those years ago. Again stress success.
Full laundry basket and cool bag of bits, bobs and books to Salvation Army. Organisational success.
I am hoping Fahed will be more relaxed now he has his heart results. Tomorrow we have to go to one of the swim schools and hand in the reports but otherwise the day is really ours. I think we cant avoid the dreaded attic tomorrow.

More unrelated photos which I came across during my clean out.
Annual Saints Day party in our village

Waiting for a Greek christening to start

Fahed

Ahdel

Jamal

Monday, 18 July 2011

Day 1

Well day 1 was lovely. The day actually passes so much quicker than the work day, mostly I suspect because I am ready to stop working at 3pm whereas in real life I don't get home until 6pm.

We ran little errands this morning and visited a friend for coffee and chat. That might sounds scivey but as well as enjoyable it was very useful. Our friends have renovated and seven houses between them and had an excellent idea for our stairway at the Crete House. We will pop over again at the end of the week with photos to make some paper plans.

I made a carrot cake, which is already half gone, and a toffee cake. I did a bit more to my wardrobe review and completely re-wrote my address book in a lovely new book. I down loaded Picasa3 and began a bit of a sort out of my photos. Aren't these amazing. I remember this day so clearly. I keep reading about not keeping photos but I can't think I would like to be deprived of these memories. As I get older I need to see the photos to bring the day back with any clarity.




Sunday, 17 July 2011

Go through your wardrobe - make do and mend

Sunday morning, coffee and blog reading. On My Year of Shopping Detox I saw this lovely image over an article about learning new frugal skills. I am always up for some new frugal skills but not having any idea what Gater Aid is therefore not needing to make my own (juice and salt does sound gross) I was inspired to have a review of my wardrobe.
weheartit

I already have an unusual structure to my wardrobe loosely called the rule of the right. Everything I use I put back on the right hand side. This means once a year or so you can pick up the whole left hand side of the contents and ditch them. Being overweight this gets mucked up by the desire to hang on to clothes i will fit in again 'one day'. However since I am now 30lb down and showing no signs of getting stuck, I think I probably am right to hang on to it. As my clothes get too big I am taking them in rather than ditching and replacing because I am still losing. They are all fairly easy to make smaller as they are simple shapes but I do have one tailored skirt in a larger size which I am nervous of chopping about. as I get smaller I have more tailored stuff in my wardrobe, from way back when it was normal to wear suits to work. That could be a problem but I will worry when I get there. Maybe I can take it to the shop for re-sizing.

Anyway before I need to worry about that, I am going to create a spread of what I have highlighting what can go and what i will be able to wear soon. I will have all the usual categories jackets, skirts, jeans with a work, home, going out category, colour category and size category.

This is the kind of thing you can do when you have a week off for no particular reason!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Quiet as a mouse




This morning is dark and gloomy. Yesterday was summer and all brightness and lightness. Today the sun has been up, in theory, for 4 hours already and I still need an indoor light on to find my toothbrush. No wonder us Brits talk about weather so much. We might not have too many exciting extremes but its not especially predictable either.

The house is in silence and I am quietly reading the BBC news up in my bedroom. Jamal went to a party at the pub last night for his mates 18th birthday. His friends house is difficult to get back to so they are all asleep here in various parts of the house. I bought bacon and bread so Jamal can do bacon sarnies for all when someone finally stirs. They were really good and came in and settled down nice and quietly so I don't feel I can vacuum or set the washing machine going until I have seen a sign of life. It is all very surreal, like I am being made to have a lie in.

I am going to take a nice quiet shower and then maybe have a little sort out in my study. Pretty sure the room is not big enough for anyone to be sleeping in there. I need to go shopping this morning but I will wait to see if Jamal is spending more time with his mates because if not then he likes to come shopping too & he makes it a lot more fun with plenty of laughter.

Its lovely to know I have 8 more sleeps to wake up and not have to go to work.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Nine days

Last weekend I fell asleep on the sofa. Not for five minutes but for 1 1/2 hours. That never happens to me. I might be pushing fifty but I am not to the mid day nap stage yet. I was day dreaming about our up coming holiday. Then I realise i would miss most of the first week by sleeping morning, noon and night. When I checked my holiday planner I still had 20 days to last me until end of March 2012. I don't get huge amounts of holiday but I brought forward 8 or 10 days from last year. I decided to sacrifice four more days, and a flexi day, for some battery recharging. I am going to sleep in until nine every morning next week. I let Fahed make the lsit of what we are going to do in the days.Now I now he is rally on board with what I am doing. This is what he chose.

First hour or so of each day - up in the attic grouping things into charity shop/freecycle,ebay, keep.
Near the end of the week - massive ebay session
Sort out the study so that we can use it for craft and studying in September (post hols).
Hard landscaping the garden.
A bit of a pickling session, especially our favourite chillies.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, A tour of all the local builders merchants to find the best price in pavers and slabs for the next stage of garden work.

That is pretty much what I would have chosen to do. Brilliant. I love that he is on board with everything,

On top of that he & Jamal cooked today so that I didn't have to when I got home from work. And they got most of the laundry washed and ironed. Bless them.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Holidays - or actually just new plans

I haven’t yet been on this year’s holiday and already we are planning next years. Next summer is my fiftieth birthday. We want to celebrate by visiting either Syria and Jordan or Jordan and Palestine. We can't do both as Syria won't let you in if you have an Israeli stamp on your passport so we are stuck, there being no such thing as a Palestinian stamp. Where we go will depend on how settled everything is out there. I am not quite ready to get blown up yet, no matter how interesting the area is. Twice in my life I have come close. Once in Paris (remember when Marks and Spencer’s was bombed, I was there earlier that day) and once in Singapore, when the hotel I should have stayed in fell down. I don't want to push my luck any further.
So that is the plan. We will all be there for two weeks. Then we all come back home except Fahed who will spend a couple of months with family but also sorting out his ‘pension’. He wants to sell the land and the flat we have, buy some more land and start building work. Our current land should have increased well in value but not sure that it will have with the unsettled atmosphere out there at the moment. By next year we should know if we should sell and make an escape or sell and by the next thing. We need to plan based on buying more land. SO I have approximately three quarter of a year to save up £12,000. I don't know if we can do it but we will try our hardest. Everyone is on board with the idea so that makes things a lot easier.
Fahed has two jobs and the money from one is included in our normal monthly expenditure. There is room for economy here but not much. SO the plan is based on additional income.
£3600 from Fahed’s other job
£1950 contribution from Ahdel (instead of housekeeping)
£1000 fahed tax refund – as he has two jobs one of the jobs is always taxed on emergency and he normally gets around this much back.
£2500 Liz mileage – I do quite a lot of mileage at work and claim it back annually. This is an estimate but probably pretty close.
£2000 ebay – Only if we can sort ourselves out and really get into it.
£3000 – income from letting the house in Crete. This is what we could potentially earn, after tax has been paid over, for long term rental of the house. We can't do short term rental as the house is not of the standard necessary to get a license for holiday accommodation. Anyone want to stay in my house in Crete? It is lovely and will be even more lovely after the work we complete in the summer holidays.
I can't think of other ways to raise income at the moment. Any suggestions gratefully received. Of course we will work on the flip side of bringing down costs but that is an ongoing battle anyway.

Monday, 11 July 2011

I know I haven't said anything about my weight lately



and usually when I don't say anything it means I have forgotten but....this time it means...I haven't. According to my 'fat spreadsheet' I have now lost 29lbs.I seemed to have moved from Kg to Lbs because lbs sound like more. Whoop. Rather like the house not getting any emptier as I get rid of everything though, I don't look any less chubby. I am, and I can tell because my skirts are all failing down. People have commented but to me I just look the same. I assume this is how I got fat to start with, not having an especially negative self image. I remember going to weight watchers years ago and being astonished when everyone talked about being laughed at by school kids etc. Seriously, never happened to me or I am too thick skinned to notice it. Anyway. I don't want to be fat anymore. its only a matter of time before it impacts on my health,even though I am generally the least sick person you could come across. But I don't want to push my luck and I am benefiting from my back not aching so much, which means more walking, and more exercise means more weight loss. Yaay, protein rocks!!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

It's not yet 8am and already.....

I have sorted through the first aid kit. Oh my god, appalling. The box is now only one third full because the other two thirds were seriously out date. The oldest thing went out of date 1995, which I am pretty sure was before i was even grown up enough to have a first aid box.

As I could do this from my bad I was inspired to do a couple more 'from my bed' things. Top drawer of my bed side cabinet. More 'in date' meds than the medicine cabinet but at least I have a home for them having already pretty much emptied that box. The rest was mostly just a ton of old junk.

Next drawer down. More junk but the odd useful thing. These just need moving to somewhere I look if I wanted them. A lot went into my sewing box and so reminded me that the sewing box is on the to-do list.

Basket beside my bed. This contains Rupert, my little laptop. A small pile of paperbarks that I am working through. This year for the first time I realise I don't have to finish a book if it is rubbish or just not my thing. I enjoy that freedom. I am sure it must be easier to get published now as I very often come across books which have a lovely theme and/or cover and are truly dreadful. Also in that box is my 'going on holiday file' where i collate all the paperwork, passports, scuba log books and printed internet pages. Another file containing the manuscript for a recipe book I started to write in the early 90's. I had a fairly positive response from a publisher but it took me a few months to get my act together in the days before computers. When I came back with the first draft my man had been fired. I can't help thinking it was for giving false hope to budding cookery writers. Anyway I still have a herd copy of the manuscript and I was thinking of reviewing and updating it, just for my own entertainment. Other basket items include my birthday and address book, my Crete house book (all measurement, notes, phone numbers, everything about everything), my UK house book (plans) and finally a map of Sardinia. No idea why.

Since I stared getting rid of things I can;t sit still for five minutes without going though a drawer, a box, a handbag. I even did my make up bag, which was very slick anyway I have to say, when I first woke up. The more I do the more I notice. So much junk in this house though that it was be 20 years before anyone else notices.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fahed makes an effort

Fahed was having a little moan about never having any money yesterday. I offered him some options, pay less mortgage and don't not seven to ten years off the repayment time, sell Crete house and be mortgage free and then some, spend some of our savings. He said a grumpy no to all of those and decided there must be something I am doing wrong instead. Well, cheers. I grumped off to the loo and by the time I had come back he was already feeling sorry for being mean. We came up with a few ideas.

Install Solar PV Panels and sell power back to the national grid. Costs seven to ten thousand pounds. Saves around £100 per year (yaay, we pay for the system in 100 years). At the moment you can also sell £800 back to the government. Recovery time is then ten years. Also I am not sure that this is guaranteed. If it evaporates then we are back to ten a century again. Still under consideration but probably not.

Wood burning stove - actually not wood burning but multi fuel. Idea abandoned as we have a back boiler with a lot of life left in it.

New cover for the hot water tank - Jamal's bedroom is always hot as the airing cupboard is in his room. We figure more insulation will be less loss heat and colder bedroom for Jamal. That will mean he can shut his bedroom window in winter. Yes, need to measure up.

Drive the car on gas instead of petrol. Half the price and better for the environment. Fahed can't be bothered to fill up with gas when he still has petrol left, then he moans how much it costs to fuel up.

Home gown vegetables - Fahed says, rightly this time, we don't have time for an allotment. I saw lets make more effort in the garden. That's what we are going to do. I am waiting a while before I mention that I want a greenhouse.

Chickens - Cute. little, fat, fluffy chickens. I tried but no chance.

Ebay-we will get on with it instead of just talking about it.

Library - Haven't been for ages. Dust of the card and get a card for Fatso. This would be useful for Fahed to access audio books.

Bit of a mix of ideas but some good ones. Another thing that drives me nuts I thought of today. The down stairs bathroom has an out side light switch. Some of us are able to switch it off but a couple of family members don't seem to be able to. I am planning to buy one of those time delay light switches that European hotels always used when I was a kid travelling with my parents. You get a limited amount of time to get to your room before everything goes dark. I am finding the idea of plunging the loo into darkness after 10 minutes highly amusing.

Monday, 4 July 2011

What about a change?

Look at this. I really want to live here since our trip overseas yesterday. Isn't it gorgeous. We could all fit in here and the noise would be easier to live with than it is in this little place.




It would take 1.5 hours to get to work. I have a friend at work who comes from a similar area, slightly further away, but he does work 2 days from home every week. Maybe that is the answer. Some work life balance for a few years.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

That's what weekend should be like??

Out until 4am, four hours sleep and then off to an all day party. I haven't gone all rock n roll though. We were at A&E until 4am as Fahed had a bit of cardio scare (its called an incident apparently). We got home at 4.30 and I had to be up again within a few hours to pick up my parents and take them to a 90th birthday party of a friends mum that we were attending today. Couldn't go late as the boat was booked. I had chocolate and an energy drink to stay conscious. However it was a lovely sunny day and we had a super time under the gazebo with a delicious selection of home made quiches, salads and cold meats. My favourite dessert ever, Eton mess. Then fruity and highly alcoholic birthday cake. As well as being fun I picked up some good ideas for the garden landscaping and learnt all about wood burners.My parents had a great time too and it really did them good to be out and be socialising with friends. My dad enjoyed talking motor bikes and I am pretty sure he would have jumped out for a ride on a gorgeous



old Royal Enfield if his leg was better

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Plans for the weekend

Sunday I have my exciting day out. A trip on the boat over to the Island for my friends Mums birthday. Hopefully time for some catching up too. Mum & Dad are really need a day out. Since my dads knee problems they don't go very far whereas previously they were always off to somewhere in Europe or within the country.I think my mum is going a little stir crazy. She is trying to persuade him that a week in Tenerife would suit them but in the meanwhile I think a day on the Isle of Wight will be a good change. Hopefully he will have a new lease of life when he gets his new knee. He really cheered up when they said he needed one. Makes him feel less old too when he knows they think it is worthwhile doing the op. He was in his 80's already when he was told about his cancer. The guy said to him if you were old we wouldn't bother operating but since you could last another 15 years then we should get on with him. he cheered right up. Clever doctor.

Saturday must therefore be my dad of work. Loads of laundry. The rain finally stopped so I hope to get it all done, dry and away.
Fill a laundry basket with stuff for the charity shop.
Fill a large bag of clothes for charity shop.
Dye a door curtain to take to the other house.
Vacuum - didn't do this last week and it looks just awful here. I will wait for kids to wake up first though or else it is just mean.
Cut the grass and re-arrange pots etc where the palm tree died.

Fahed hasn't been feeling so well for a few weeks (physically he is fine) but yesterday he started to pick up a bit. He tries not to let me know when he is down but I can read him like a book after so many years. So today we might work on a list of things for him to do next week.

Jamal has finished college (triple distinction - well down, can't believe my lazy little baby could work so hard). He is looking for some temporary work & taking another exam this year as he is trying hard to get into the merchant navy, In the meanwhile he is also helping his dad with renovations here. Maybe the end of the building work is actually in site.

We were briefly looking for work for Ahdel too this week. He works for a landscaping company whose site is about 20 miles away, 5 miles from the nearest station. He needs to get to work at 7.30am. Up to now they have always been allowed to bring their vans home. He doesn't have a car as he is saving for a new one (yeah success, they understand to save up front and not get into debt when they want something). Someone got a parking ticket on one of the vans but would not admit to it so they all were to have van privileges taken away. So no van means no way to sensibly get to work. The blokes weren't happy and everyone knew who he was. Finally he admitted to it but because he lied for two weeks and got really nasty with all the other workers they fired him. Stupid man, if he just admitted it and paid £30 in the first place it would all have been fine. So everyone was to be banned but now at least they get their vans back on Monday. It does mean I need to give him a lift out there at around 7am on Monday but at least its all back to normal after that.

So highlight of today could well be making them a work list for the next few weeks!! Ha ha, I feel good about doing some delegating.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Net worth - for what its worth

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I used to calculate my net worth every six months or so until the global economic nosedive brought home to me what a pointless exercise this is. Thanks to the exchange rate and later the falling UK house values (which were ridiculously over stated anyway) tens of thousands we knocked off our net worth within a few months. That is when I realized it is just numbers. My house and my Greek house were just as valuable to me as ever. Not to my bank though, who now wont let me fix my mortgage rate as they don't consider my equity sufficient. I am overpaying my mortgage every month to get ahead of the game (hence - always skint).

So this is the story but obviously it is no better than a fairy tale now we know what can happen to values. Its interesting when you see patterns though so I will probably continue to monitor.

UK house - Down £20k according to online valuation
Overseas house & land - Up £22k - all thanks to exchange rates
Pension fund - had a letter through to say how much I was get and how to value it up. It is actually worth almost £210k more than I originally calculated. Obviously I don't actually get any more pension, I was just doing to calculation wrong before.
Mortgage. I am waiting to see my statements I have overpaid irregular amounts but I have overpaid by about £250 per month so I am expecting a good result.

All in all my conclusion - Our net worth is much better than I thought, but only because I was calculating my pension wrongly before. Net worth might be a useful indicator of how you we are doing but exchange rates and values vary so much that I wont be taking it too seriously.

Current net worth is £794,580, at least until I find I have done some other part of my calculation wrong too

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...