Monday, November 26, 2012

Counting Down

My detailed plans now slightly awry as B informed me that he is today working at the upholstery shop (maybe also tomorrow), so that means I have to fit in those few extra chores that I was hoping B would do for me (which he would have done had he been here).  Regretfully, this means that I'm almost certainly not writing a blog tomorrow to allow myself those extra couple of hours.
If - for any reason - today's work is completed with time to spare, then just may managed to write a few words tomorrow - it all depends on what time I get up.

Today's blog also brief the the same reason, but at least have time to reply to a few of the comments.  Thanks also to those who have not had a mention.  All comments have been read and enjoyed. 

A welcome to Imogen, and hope to hear from her again.  It is always good to know that 'names we know' are still with us.  When a 'regular' suddenly stops sending in comments, then I fear they have moved on to pastures new(aka other blogs)
As you say Imogen, there are many people out there who cry poverty when it comes to feeding the family, but are still able to find the money to buy the ready-made for their work lunches.  Possibly they may think differently if they can read an article like Prue Leith's.  But possibly they read other newspapers, or maybe just don't want to cook.L

Hope you are managing to keep warm Kathryn.  Although it is recommended that we turning the central heating down a degree or two to help save the running costs, myself wonder whether it would then switch on more often during the cold weather to keep a room up to the chosen temperature.  Presumably not or they wouldn't tell us to do it.   (I can visualise Les's fingertips twitching ready to let us know exactly the right way to keep our rooms warm without the heating coming on too often).
A good way to keep a house warm (if there is no double glazing) is to keep curtains closed in as many rooms as possible, and also close all doors (we all know that anyway, but do we all do this?).  This keeps the warm air 'trapped', and the house becomes much cosier.  We draw our thick curtains (over the one huge window we have that is NOT double glazed) in our living room around 4.00pm at this time of the year, barely dusk (the heating having come on at 3.00pm) and as all our radiators are thermostatically controlled, very shortly after they tend to switch themselves off until ready to give another boost.  This doesn't seem to help much with our fuel bills, but we have had notice of the extra heating 'bonus' us pensioners get.  Not sure exactly what we should get as both B and I are paid independently (although both paid into 'my' housekeeping account).  My letter said I'd get £100.  B's said he'd get £200.  Does he get more now that he is 80, or has there been a mistake?   Have to wait and see what comes into the account.

You certainly got some great meat bargains at Morrison's Kathryn.  It does seem that mid-evening is the best time to shop there.   Unfortunately we are usually snuggled into our respective armchairs at that time ready to watch the 'soaps', and very little would drag B away from those.
However, when we went yesterday (10.30am), I did manage to pick up a few fresh fruits from the reduced counter.  Also a bag of sweet chestnuts.  Did not need much else, but it was fun scooting around much of the store, and it surprised me how many people were shopping that early on a Sunday, and all as if they had to do the shopping in the fastest time possible.  At the end of almost every aisle I kept having to stop as people wanted to rush past me with their trolleys rather than wait until I had turned in.

Have read that there have been floods in Cumbria Cheesepare, but hope we miss the gales that have been forecast for this area.  Not that it matters much to me as I'll be indoors most of the rest of this week.
As we drove along the prom yesterday morning, the tide was in and there were a few white horses on it, but with a very overcast sky (quite black over Cumbria), remarked to B that Morecambe Bay never does look like the sea as it always looks 'murky' and brown due to the sand always being stirred up with each incoming and outgoing tide.  My idea of 'sea' is water that looks blue or green.
I know that this is often reflection of a blue sky, but the best colour comes from clear water, and this is something that Morecambe Bay doesn't have.

You shouldn't feel that you are having a 'frugal' Christmas Jane.  It sounds as though you will be providing a feast for yourself, family and any guests that may be there.  How much we spend should never be the be all and end all of a celebration.  So much more has to do with the love and care we give to whatever we make (be it presents or things to eat), and that part is 'free'.  Also by playing games, doing jigsaws, or family entertainment such as 'charades' gives an even more festive feeling. We don't always need TV or computers to enjoy ourselves (we love doing jigsaws all year round).

The latest 'fashion' when giving gifts (and it is a very good idea) is to arrange with family and friends that everyone should spend no more than (say £5) on each present (or even £1 for that matter). It can then be a lot of fun during the run-up to Christmas (and preferably keep an eye open all year for the right bargains) choosing a gift for that amount.  Charity shops, jumble sales, car-boots etc all have what were once very expensive items (clothes, jewellery, books, ornaments, bric-a-brac...) on sale for (sometimes) a very few pence.   So canny shopping can prove to be very worthwhile when it comes to giving gifts.
Another new idea is to buy and give just one 'Secret Santa' gift.  Each member of the family is given  a piece of paper with a name of another family member on it.  The gift is bought for them, and - on the day - put into a pile with others, so everyone gets just one gift, but not knowing from whom.
This means - with only one gift that needs to be bought (instead of say 10?) - a bit more money could be spent than might otherwise, making the gift worthwhile.   It's not unknown for people to be given many gifts, and really not like any of them.  One special gift - just right for them - is perhaps a much better one to receive.

The mention of selling nail-polish and other toiletries (unwanted gifts etc) at low price, reminded me of something Alan Sugar said in one of his books.   When a young man, he and a couple of friends made up their own shampoo, conditioner etc (using the correct ingredients), also some cleaning products (ditto) and they used to take a stall in a market to sell them.  Even though these were much cheaper (but much the same) as the branded products, people didn't trust them.  So very few were sold. 
After several attempts, the two friends got bored with selling, and Alan Sugar also felt the same but gave it one more try on his own, this time - fed up with laying them out in neat rows - he threw the whole lot (toiletries and cleaning products) together in a huge pile on the stall and lo and behold, crowds of people came over to rummage through and pick out what they thought was the best bargain. 
It seems that we humans prefer to sort through a pile of things rather than just be able to take from a shelf.  Know that feeling myself.   I see a big basket in a supermarket full of assorted tins all mixed up (all at one price) and just HAVE to take a look to see what's there, and almost always take a few tins - even if I didn't really need them.

Have done the same thing at car-boots - when I see a box marked 'everything £1 (or 50p) then again HAVE to pick everything over to find out the best bargain, then take it.   It could be a tattered book, or a piece of material.  To me it seems a real bargain.  And who can resist these?
So anyone who has a lot of things they want to sell (that no-one seems interested in) then worth copying the above idea. then having a table at a car-boot.  You could end up selling the lot.

B has now left for work, so I really MUST get on and try and beat my own record for 'tidying up'. Also have to sort the food needed for tomorrow (I put them all together in the fridge - or on a tray in the kitchen), and also remove anything from the freezer that needs defrosting, and then (hopefully) will be on track.
As I said, I may not be writing a blog tomorrow, if I do it will be short.  You'll just have to wait and see.  But will be back Wednesday at normal time (Norma the Hair coming late Friday again this week - due to Christmas and her other clients have had to re-arrange the usual appointment time most weeks until New Year). 

With 450 flood warnings and 800 flood alerts given yesterday, and scenes shown on TV of what seem like miles of fields under water (with a few houses in there as well), and more rain forecast, this looks like being a very bleak time for many households.  Goodness knows how the farmers are coping.  Those of us who still manage to keep our homes dry should be very thankful.  We are all too eager to complain these days - and although during this recession do have plenty to complain about, we could be so very much worse off.  Be glad of what we have, not sorry for what we have not.  
Be with you again a.s.a.p.  Keep those comments coming, and keep well.  See you soon.