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Showing posts from March, 2015

Week Four Round Up

It's pay day, we made it!

Things continued to take care of themselves, thankfully nothing cropped up to blow the budget - I was a bit concerned about the strength of the wind last night, but everything is intact. We had a fantastic not-holiday and got out and about a lot, but we kept out of the shops and most of the expense was travel. I had £18.30 of the grocery budget left, the change went into the change jars, the tenner stayed in the bank. 

Five things from the past week 

1. We used the Art Pass to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibition at Tullie House in Carlisle for free. We looked at the rest of the museum (for free) while we were there which was very enjoyable. I didn't think I wanted to spend the afternoon looking at things to do with the Romans, turns out that's exactly what I wanted to do! Entry to the museum is usually £7.50 (which we would never pay, so it's not a genuine saving) and the exhibition alone is £3.

2. Bonus cash! Last month Dan moved our gas and electri…

Curry Curry Curry

Campfire asked yesterday how I make my curries. The answer is, it's a mix of things. 

For a quick and easy curry I use the Patak's paste, they're often available for around £1 and last a while, so they're good value to me. For Thai curry I use the big pouch in the bottom left, again these are on offer a few times a year for just over £1, we get 12 lots from a pouch.  I freeze the the paste in portion sized amounts, really convenient. I do have recipes for Thai-style pastes though so I might try making my own, especially as we have planted some chillies - although they are showing no signs of life. 

For the rest - stuffed mushrooms, dhal, lentil curry, potatoes, bhajis, rice etc I use spices. I've mentioned before that I really like Seasoned Pioneers, the pouches are small, but I wouldn't get through a bigger packet, and they last for yonks so I think they're value for money (although I know lots of people might wince at the cost). For the past couple of years…

I'm Not Eating That

There is no April menu plan, I'm over food.

As I've probably said before, if I didn't have to eat I would happily never do it again, but I do so I menu plan to make sure there's something to eat in the evening. It's not that I don't enjoy the taste of food, it's just that I don't see it as something to get excited about to the extent that a photograph would be necessary. 

So what are we doing in April? It's going to be simple. Dan loves food and loves eating but he's said many times that if we ate the same thing over and over it wouldn't bother him, just as long as we eat something. So that's what we're doing. 

I'm going to make sure we have lots of things in - fresh veg, some fruit, breakfast stuff, milks, soy yoghurt, all the usual pantry stuff and I'm going to work to this very loose plan - 

some kind of curry twice a week (I include the spiced stuffed mushrooms, Thai curry, dhal and all that stuff in with "curry")

Good Shot!

A really long time ago I started scanning in some of my old photographs, inspired by a book launch we attended (not as grand as it sounds). You may or may not know as well as being a fan of concrete I am a fan of football grounds. The photograph above is my favourite, taken in 2002 at The McCain Stadium in Scarborough. 
This, of Giant Axe (best name ever) in Lancaster comes a close second

There used to be the food and football one stop shop in Hull too

For the best football photographs (which are also a record of social history, terrible haircuts, advertising and fashion, if you're not interested in sport) have a peek at Homes of Football, it's fantastic. 


9 am

where am I? at the hairdresser

what am I wearing? a cape!

what's the sky like? grey, fast moving clouds

what's motivating me? a very deliberate image change

2 pm

where am I? at home

what am I wearing? amazing dress, pink slippers

what's the sky like? blue/grey

what's motivating me? cup of tea, digestives, nap, slow tv (Dan has been watching a train journey from Bergen to Oslo)

5 pm

where am I? at home

what am I wearing? as 2pm

what's the sky like? grey

what's motivating me? jacket potatoes, binkying bunnies, leeks, cosy

Rise And Fall

We went to Manchester yesterday. As is the way with all train journeys we'd eaten out packed lunch before we were even out of Lancashire. Delicious. I decided to leave my phone and camera at home and just to enjoy the day, and enjoy it I did. 

We started off at The Whitworth gallery, which is part of the University of Manchester, so a nice 20 minute walk along Oxford Road. the gallery recently reopened after a major tart up, but it's been well documented so I won't go on about that too much. The major exhibition there is Cornelia Parker - she of the exploded shed. I knew nothing about her work at all so it was all new to me. I'm usually the most awkward person in any room, but not yesterday - someone fell over one of the art works. Yikes! The irony being that the piece in question was a pavement! Neither the chap nor the art were damaged. 

We then wandered over to the People's History Museum, just off Bridge Street, where the talk with Michael Crick was held. What a …

Week Three Round Up

The past week has been a little bit more expensive as we're on holiday. We went to Sale to see Jon Ronson, although the tickets had been paid for months ago. On Saturday we went to Coventry as mentioned, we booked tickets to see Michael Crick in Manchester, and the train tickets to get there. But it was all in the budget so it has just gone to show us that if we choose to do things we really want to do over mooching around and spending on things we feel we get more for our money. 

Next month we won't be saving as much as we have a couple of birthday gifts to buy and we need to have something done to the car. So our mini challenge will be to not buy any food or drinks when we're out and about (unless we go for a night out). I just mean the coffee that it's easy to grab when we really want a sit down, or the cake we share when it just seems like a nice idea. It will be interesting.

The past week has prepared us for the quite well. Whenever we've been out Dan has made s…

Big Day Out - not too shabby

Dan's on holiday, and that can be dangerous for the budget! 

We went to Sale to see Jon Ronson on Thursday evening, a belated birthday present from Dan. I was very excited when we arrived as we were on the second row. It was a low spend evening. We did go to a bar beforehand for a drink and had to pay for parking, but we didn't buy anything when we arrived at the venue - even though we were very tempted by sweets, drinks and all manner of other things. Dan had also used some of the credit we got from the purchase of the Chromecast to pay for Jon Ronson's new book, so we weren't too tempted by the book signing table either. 

Yesterday was our big day out in Coventry. We had budgeted in advance for the cost of petrol, entry to the cathedral and the tour, we gave ourselves a budget of £20 for everything else. I made some sausage rolls and dhal pasties on Friday and Dan made up the rest of the picnic on Saturday morning so we weren't tempted to buy lunch out and about or…

Shop Stuff

I bought these seeds from the charity shop yesterday, they all have good plant by dates, some as far ahead as 2018, I also made a decision. I start my shift at 1pm and live around 12 minutes away from it. So when I found myself still in my slouchy clothes at 12.35 I thought something was probably a bit wrong. I just didn't want to go, but go I did. 

When I arrived I found the words "I don't want to work here anymore" come out of my mouth! I talked with the manager for a little while and we came to a compromise. To be honest, I think it suits me more than her but there you have it, yesterday was my last Tuesday and I'm going to continue with my Wednesday shift to see how it goes. I felt bad for a little while, until the things that I don't like about being there on a Tuesday started to happen (as they always do) and I felt better about my decision. 

As the summer will be here in the not too distant future I think, if things go well, that I might offer to fill in…

Week Two Round Up

There's not much to report from last week. Things podded on, as they do. 

Five things we did 

1. instead of nipping to the shop for Friday night treats we saved our cash by having had some chocolates left over from Christmas and making some spiced almonds instead

2. we swapped some plants with my parents

3. I didn't buy a couple of things I was tempted by at the charity shop, and I didn't buy a magazine when I foolishly did some window shopping at WH Smith. 

4. we managed to find three Christmas stamps to use on the cards for Mothering Sunday rather than buy some from the post office.

5. I picked up the binding for my pink quilt for 22p a metre

I can't remember if I said lat week or not that I received a £5 voucher from Booths, so we used that when we went shopping last Thursday, always useful. But that's about it, a quiet week all round really. 

This week will probably be more expensive. Dan has a week off starting on Thursday. The first thing we're doing is going to …

From My Seat

I'm cleaning today, and cleaning means having a sit down for a cup of tea as much as actual cleaning. It will become clear that I'm not yet finished. Firstly the bit of the room I rarely show, we had the rabbit pen made for this room so it could tuck in to the side of the stairs, it's 8ft x 4 ft x 2 1/2 ft, so it takes up a bit of space. It is handy for stashing stuff when cleaning is in progress though, I've cleaned the little magazine rack/table with good old cream cleaner, worked a treat. The tunnel is for the rabbits, not for us to play in.

Looking the other way, next to me is my quilting basket. That's about as tidy as it gets.

The other end of the room with the fireplace. Today I have cleaned the slate, removed and cleaned the logs (yes, they're just for show at the moment!), I don't think I've stacked them as nicely as Dan does though. The picture was a birthday gift from Dan, bought from Mostyn in Llandudno at the start of the year. The Victor Pas…


Plus - we went to another talk last night. This time to hear Heather Phillipson at The Grundy. We'd seen Heather's show at the Grundy in Blackpool last year, so it was very exciting to have her back again. It was a little less slick than it might have been, but the curator of the gallery has been struck down with the dreaded vomiting virus so obvious he couldn't attend. Poor lad. 
Minus - I have acquired a cold from somewhere and feel knocked off my feet. This is the second one this year, not like me at all
Plus - my best mate is coming to visit next week
Minus - my boots finally gave up the ghost 
Plus - there's a little more money to add to savings
Minus - the house is a mess
Plus - yesterday I wore a skirt that didn't fit two weeks ago
Minus - the rabbits are very quiet, this usually means trouble
Plus - We have a couple more talks booked
Plus - Dan has been offered a little extra job at the election count
Plus - bargain! A margarita mocktail for 20p (pictured)
Plus - fre…

Many A True Word Spoken In Jest

I want to make it clear that I am in no way upset about this, it was a little bit of an eye-opener but in the end I chose to find it funny.  

I went out for drinks with people from the shop at the weekend. It was interesting, well it's wasn't all that interesting. The first thing I noticed was that none of us really know anything about each other, so it was quite difficult to have a conversation about anything other than the shop, I don't mind talking about shop things when I'm there, but it's not interesting or important enough to me to spend my spare time talking about the same things over and over.

Secondly, the manager and deputy manager bought some sharing platters for everyone, which was very kind of them. After last time everyone remembered that I didn't eat any of it as it's mainly chicken and prawns, so they kept offering me the salad garnish and the lemon. It was fine the first time or two it happened, but the more the wine flowed the more the point…

Small Things

I was collecting up all the 2p pieces from around the house yesterday. We're hopefully going to the land yachting thing on Saturday so we thought we'd make an afternoon of it and spend some time on the pier too and use some of our change on the slot machines. I found a pot full of pennies too. Not all that useful in their current form, but I counted them up anyway and there was £4.58, that's not bad is it? Dan is going to the bank to collect some bags today so we can add it to the savings. I assume the bank will take it, if not we'll just have to take the hit by using one of those machines.

Here are a few other small things, I'm just as excited about these - leeks!

Looking Up

After our recent visit to Morecambe I was reading something or other and the trail lead me to reading about Ghost Signs, those old faded adverts you see from time to time on the side of buildings, or the old shop signs that appear when a shop changes hands. So we (well, I, but Dan drove me around) decided to have a look around the local area to see what we could see. I have to say I'm very disappointed with our town as I've only seen one so far (pictured above).

It's one of those things, when you start spotting them they become obvious. Here are a couple we spotted on a drive up the prom in Blackpool 

This sign for Lucky Star amusements doesn't exist anymore. I took this last month, we drove past yesterday and the remaining sign has been chipped away as the building is to become a pub.

A couple of shop signs in the Waterloo area. 

Looking up has revealed lots of beautiful and interesting things. You can draw attention to yourself though, so be warned!

Round Up

It's been a bit of a wonky week, so I'll be glad when it's Saturday. Normally I'd be happy for it to be Friday but I am going out this evening so won't get to relax properly until I get into bed tonight.

We saved £7 on the stock up shop and petrol purchase on Sunday.

Just in time for our shopping trip I received a £5 voucher from the supermarket. We also managed to snaffle a few reduced bargains, we saved just under £10 in all so £10 will be going into savings today.

We haven't bought anything other than groceries and petrol so nothing to report there. 

The exercise, although slack this week, is working as I can now fit into a couple of skirts that were a little tight before, so now my wardrobe is bigger for no spend.

The first signs of leek growth are there. I'm staying away from the garden centre, just planting the seeds we have. I think Father might have a couple of plants or some veg for me I will happily accept them and offer some chilli plants in return. 


A Man Spoke, I Listened

Last night we went to another public lecture, this time we headed up to Lancaster for a talk by former MP Alan Milburn who is now Chair of the Commission on Social Mobility and Child Poverty. We went for a few reasons - because we could, because it was so exciting to be in an academic setting when we went to Edge Hill and because Dan does quite a lot of work on Child Poverty at work, and not least it's a nice drive.

Neither of us attended Lancaster University so some of the preamble about Mr Miburn becoming the new Chancellor was a little lost on us as we don't know anything about the University itself. Well, I do know they've recently changed their logo from a rather cool Atari-style affair to something more boring traditional. (compare here)

We didn't actually get to poke around the campus as the talk was held at the Dukes Playhouse in the city centre, never to worry. A couple of things that stuck out for me from the talk

1. the amount of people wearing brown shoes. Of …


This is a bit of a rant I'm afraid.

I come from the standpoint of "your problems are your problems". If you're having a hard time then it can feel like the end of the world, even if people who have been through a similar thing know that it will be fine in the end - teenage heartbreak, smashing your favourite cup, having manflu, losing your job, just feeling a bit down.

I have "you are blessed" fatigue at the minute. I also have Marie Kondo fatigue, but there you have it. If someone is having a rubbish time then it's OK for them to say so, we all know there are people worse off than us, it doesn't mean we can't ever feel like crying, or feel that there's no light at the end of the tunnel. We're finally starting to get over the stiff upper lip aren't we, it's good to talk about our feelings and our struggles, at least in part to know we're not alone. Telling someone who is having a bad time they should be glad they're not in …



where am I? in the kitchen

what's the sky like? grey, shaking off the poor attempt at snow

what am I wearing? grey yoga trousers (never seen a day of yoga in their lives, I just had a moment in Hebden Bridge), black Burnley FC jumper (I have been to Turf Moor, also had moments there).

what's motivating me? washing up, wondering why I'm been stared at by two men in a white van, avoiding exercise, tofu


where am I? the town!

what's the sky like? really very blue, really very windy

what am I wearing? black jeans, black boots, grey jumper, black jacket, very springlike

what's motivating me? dental floss, avoiding a chugger


where am I? at home

what's the sky like? grey-blue, still windy

what am I wearing? grey jumper, black jeans, flip flops

what's motivating me? Dance Moms (highbrow), hay, pretending for yet another month that I'll keep up with the spending diary (this will be the 87th month in a row)


This isn't a post about alcohol, it's about habits. I don't believe that thing about doing something for 21 days/ a month/ 40 days and it will become a habit, in my experience it doesn't, maybe it does for some.

We didn't drink alcohol in January, as I think I mentioned at the time. It was easy. It didn't really occur to me that I wouldn't celebrate my 40th birthday with a glass of champagne (mainly because I'm too stingy and champagne is disgusting at the best of times). What did occur to me is how much of a habit it was to drink - when we went to football, visiting people, to "wind down" from work on a Friday evening, to try the local brew when we visited a new place. 

When I did have a bottle of beer on Dan's birthday it was horrible. I didn't get through it and was surprised at my indifference to try something else instead. I've concluded that I mainly like going out in order to have peanuts.

It was context related, there are cert…

Trolley Dash

Today we went to Sainsbury's. This doesn't alter anything, the menu plan is the same, the spending plan is the same, we just did a stock up. It all started yesterday when I half heard something on the radio about cheap petrol.

I checked online and the offer was 10p per litre off petrol when you spend £30, until Wednesday. Dan liked the sound of the offer as the tank was very low. Dan had a look in his wallet and found a soon-to-expire voucher for £3 off a £30 spend, so we got to work. We wrote a menu plan for the month, checked for any non-food items we needed and I checked the prices on the website. Done. 

This morning we decided we would like a little time out of the house, and we needed to go go the tip anyway so we combined the errands. I remembered to take the list and Dan had the calculator on his phone to help us tot up. The first minor annoyance was the trolley pound. We don't usually use supermarkets where you need a pound for the trolley. Luckily Dan had a fiver so…