Sunday, 31 May 2015

New Love

view from the castle towards the Ashton Memorial
Over the past year I/we have very much fallen in love with Lancaster. It all started when we went to the vegan fair last year, prior to that I wasn't all that bothered. But the more we ditch the car (like most cities it is not fun to drive around) and we wander around the more a city that suits us very nicely unfolds. There's only so much you can learn by reading up and listening to other people, getting out on foot reveals the stuff that's tailored to you, and the more you see, the more that points you in the direction of something else you might like. 

In our case, the new centre of the Lancaster universe is Priory Hall, the home of Atkinson's coffee, I think I spoke about it last time. The coffee is so nice I ust drink it black, and very quickly. Yesterday we enjoyed our coffee with a cinnamon bun, made on site. You can watch the good folk making the bread as you enter the building. 

image via

A couple of streets away there is also The Music Room, which looks very nice and is on a quiet side street with space to sit outside, there's also a Landmark Trust holiday let above it, we have our eyes on that for some time in the future, even though it's only 45 minutes away from home. 

It's a great place to photograph, even though I didn't yesterday as we were just enjoying the stroll. There are plenty of ghost signs, especially in the castle area. And I would be hiding some of the facts from you if I didn't reveal that the Single Step co-op was a big factor in our decision to keep visiting. 

tastes like those green triangles from Quality Street
I tried to not eat it all in one go. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

Last Week of May Round Up

It's been a bit of a quiet week. 

Next month's budget is done and ready to go, the menu plan and shopping lists are written, car is booked in for the MOT, we haven't really bought anything and there have been no nasty surprises that lead us to spend. We had a healthy grocery budget of £18 to see us through to next Thursday, and even though I said we weren't going to, we used our final voucher for £3 off £20 at Sainsbury's and got a lot for our money. A lot.

This morning I've done some cooking for the weekend and chopped lots of salad to keep us going. We have a weekend at home planned - well when I say planned I mean watching Sky Sports. But we have some bourbon creams so that's as planned as it needs to be. 

Our first dairy free week is going really well. 

I don't think I have five things this week as it's just been normality all the way. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Detailed Domestic

We'll be on holiday from work in a month or so, I don't want to be doing too much housework during that period and I certainly don't want to be looking around and noticing things that haven't been done. So today I've been doing all those things I generally put off. 

Washing bins, repotting plants (hoping to get a lot longer from some supermarket basil), repairing some of Dan's ties, degunking that weird rubbery strip on the bottom of the shower screen, removing soap limpets from the bath bridge, soap dishes and other assorted places, washing tiles, making sure DVDs are in the right boxes, my least favourite task of all - cleaning the blinds, defluffing lampshades, swilling out plant pots, swapping thick duvets for thinner, defrosting the freezer and dealing with tons of laundry. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Thimbleful of Milk

I have tried on many occasions to give up the one final bit of dairy in my diet, I have always failed because of my first cup of tea in the morning, everything else has been fine (at home at least). As the weather isn't quite as cold as it has been I've been working on it by not having tea at all first thing .

I don't eat a lot of fruit so I have wanted to inject a bit of that into my diet too, so I have very much been enjoying a berry, banana and vanilla soy smoothie in the morning. I'm looking forward to picking up all the yellow stickered berries later in the summer, but for now I am very happy with the 2x500g packs of mixed frozen berries I bought from Sainsbury's. One is Black Forest and the other is Summer Fruit mix. 

Once breakfast is over, the rest of the day is easy.

I'm hoping that I'll be so used to it by the time smoothie season is over that my early morning cuppa will be plain sailing. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

June Plans

Thank you to everyone who wished me well regarding my leg. It feels a bit better today, hopefully it won't be sore for too much longer. 

I may have mentioned a number of times that this month has gone slowly and felt like a real trudge. It still is and both of us will be so glad to see the arrival of June, not least because there our family will be adding a member, my brother is going to be a dad again, the baby is due next week. 

We already know June will be quite expensive - we have a backlog of presents to buy, plus something for the new arrival, the MOT needs to happen and the car has been making a bit of a weird noise, we want to still put some money into savings, we're meeting up with one of Dan's friends and being introduced to his girlfriend for the first time, Dan needs some new clothes (and it is a need, he only has one pair of casual trousers and one pair of jeans after his alternative pair developed a large hole the other week). Dan's fortnight off work begins, and we need to set some money aside for our break in Berwick Upon Tweed in July. 

We are on a very basic menu plan, Dan wants plain and simple, so that's what we're having. A basic rotation of roasts, bean stews, curries, jacket potatoes, stirfries and salads. My main focus is to make the most of the pantry and make sure nothing lingers for too long, and to be exceptionally strict at the supermarket so any spare cash can be used for fun times when we're off work. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Feet Up

The weekend did not go according to plan. 

We arrived at Bloomfield Road and were immediately handed a free Cornetto and some other bits and bobs as we walked through the Fanzone, all was well. We watched the first two games, all was well. I chatted to some other fans about this and that. Then the third game started. It soon became clear that London were going to run away with it so we decided to go for a walk, so we got our hands stamped and wandered out towards the prom. We had in mind a visit to the new pub The Velvet Coaster (formerly the Lucky Star arcade opposite South Pier), we particularly wanted to have a look at the artwork by Bonkers Clutterbucks. We didn't get that far. 

We always see lots of ghost signs and other assorted old bits and bobs when we're driving around, but it's not really a part of town I'd find myself visiting often so I decided to take advantage of being on foot and grab some photographs. 

This is the only photograph I took, Dan shouted to me and I turned around quickly to see what he's spotted (it was a British Caledonian sign) when I fell over an iron canopy support. It shredded my leggings and dug into my leg. I'm afraid I wasn't very brave! So we had no real choice but to go home as it needed to be cleaned up and it was very painful.

By Sunday morning my leg had started to bruise and had swelled up quite a lot so we decided to not go to day two of the Summer Bash. It has also scuppered our plans to do some work in the garden too. So the weekend has been a bit of a write-off. You can't win them all.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Shopping Addict

All these extra shifts at the shop are doing me no good, I'm in the town way too much! On the way home yesterday I don't know why but I ducked into the British Heart Foundation shop. I only nip in occasionally because I find it to be quite expensive. The only other thing I've bought from there were some brand new wedge sandals. Anyway I went in, just to see what was what and as I was walking away spotted a book. 

It's the book to accompany the Grayson Perry exhibition The Vanity of Small Differences, we saw this exhibition in Manchester last year and I really enjoyed it but didn't have the necessary cash to buy the book at the time. I paid £3.50 for it, which considering the lady in front of me paid £2 for just a regular paperback made it seem like even more of a bargain (not really, it just made me think the paperbacks were way too expensive!) I don't think the original owner had even opened it, it's in pristine condition. 

I also picked up a very cute set of mini postcards from my shop, old images of Blackpool (as seen above). Speaking of Blackpool, Dan and I are packing our bags* and heading up there for the weekend, I know it's a long trek** but it should be worth it. We have a full weekend of rugby league ahead of us, not what everyone would like to spend a Bank Holiday weekend doing, but for us it's ideal!

* taking some sandwiches and a flask

** 5 miles

Thursday, 21 May 2015

May Week Three

This week was very normal. We went to Sainsbury's to make use of the money off vouchers, which lead to us spending too much so we've decided to abandon shopping around, it just doesn't work for us. Dan was away so he got to spend time with like minded people. We had a weekend of going out and about shopping and eating. Not really a very us week at all. So thinking of five things has been very hard!

1. I'd been after a kettlebell for ages and managed to get one from the charity shop for £2. 

2. Roasted a dubious looking pepper and some mushrooms to make a veg and bean thing to stick in the freezer. 

3. Resisted the temptation to buy loads of junk food while Dan was away and had proper meals instead.

4. Found a new plant in at the back of the garden, as mentioned yesterday.

5. Erm. Oh, if I can include another charity shop thing. I picked up some quilting templates, they were originally a freebie with a magazine so we don't sell them as such, they're just in a basket with "donations please", so I got them for 25p (it was all the change I had). 

I'm having my hair cut this morning, not cheap but it is gradually shaping it from a crop to a short bob. 

Also, if anyone likes Nakd bars the Banana Bread flavour are currently available at Home Bargains, a 4 pack for 99p, the best before date is mid-July. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Mysteries of Life

Wise people of blog reading, do you know what this plant is? 

It showed up this week, I've never seen it before. I assume the light we now have after the trees in the garden behind were chopped is enough to allow some new things to show their faces. Below is the foliage

We don't have any of that very useful green netting so our newly planted veg is in danger, Dan has been scowling at birds for the past few days, but lo and behold when I was out in the rain photographing the mystery flower I saw the first signs of life 

our soil tends to have a covering of sand

We're on our way!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Do It Or Don't

I'm having a conversation with a couple of my friends at the minute and I think my words are falling on deaf ears because of my voice. 

We're talking about saving money, personal budgets and saving. This friend knows I'm a bit of a tightwad, good at saving and like to get the most for my money, and I think that's what is leading to her not giving any weight to my words. She's fairly materialistic, or at least likes her consumption to be quite obvious - things with names on, big brands etc. Unless it's furniture I'm not really like that at all (I used to be). She translates this as me buying cheap stuff I think, I don't buy that much cheap stuff, I just buy what I like or what is good enough to do the job.

We were talking last night about make up. I mentioned maybe watching some vlogs, I'd watched a really good one via Ann's blog about applying highlighter, saying she might find out about some good products or ways to get the best from the products. She cut me dead saying she wanted a particular brand and that was that, which is fair enough but seems a bit odd. I think I just find it weird that if you're interested in something you wouldn't want to find out about that subject in order to make a good decision. 

When it comes down to it, I don't mind whether she saves money or not, I'm not interested in talking her into living more like me - I don't think my lifestyle is one that people should aspire to, it just works for me, I just found it quite funny that sometimes the messenger seems to be more important than the message.

Monday, 18 May 2015

The Power of Change

We've added an extra £20 to savings this year so far through saving small change, 20p and smaller.

Dan embarked on a course through work, it involved three residential sessions, prior to this we'd only spent three nights apart in the time we'd been together. Neither of us were looking forward to it, but we have both seen huge benefits from this time. Dan is like a new person. 

I made a huge mistake with my quilt, so I just put everything away. It's out of sight and hopefully will remain out of mind for the next few months. I don't need to solve the problem now and I don't want to. It's nearly summer, I would like a different way to occupy my time.

On Friday I did an extra shift at the shop again, after the shop bit of the shift I went into the stock room and helped process some stock for an hour or so, I don't get to do that very often, it was great. 

This weekend we had extreme saving fatigue (yes, we're still in the wading through treacle phase) so we had a normal weekend, not normal for us, just normal. We went to Ikea, we had a take away, we made holiday plans, and last night we drove up to Kirkby Lonsdale and sat in a pub for a couple of hours. It's not what I'd want to do every week, but it was really welcome.  

This morning I feel refreshed.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


new doormat, made from pink iPitch material
Thanks to everyone for your suggestions about possible weekend away locations, lots of food for thought. 

After the declutter comes the rebuilding. 

Dan came back from his course on Friday and helped me shift he last of the stuff from upstairs. We decided to get out and about on Saturday and head off to Preston to the Best of Britannia thingamy. So we did via the art gallery. I confess I am rarely inspired by Preston but occasionally it comes up trumps. The gallery was a massive disappointment, the main part of the exhibition consisted of three films and I was just not in the mood for it, so we left. 

We headed across the square to the BOB location and I just didn't feel inspired, we had a peek through the window and to the fence off bit of the covered market and I thought for £4 each it probably wasn't worth it to us, although it did appear to feature some very nice things, so we didn't go (admittedly I was in a bit of a strop by this point). Dan agreed so we went back to the car. After a brief discussion about how to turn the day around we ended up somewhere unexpected, Ikea in Warrington. 

So from innovation and individuality to mass produced and familiar it was. I confess I find Ikea very calming. We don't go very often but I enjoy it - all those places to sit down, and I get to play with the soft toys and pretend I'm Buster from Arrested Development with my awards... from army. Where was I? 

Secretly and deep down Dan and I knew the real reason we were going was to seek out the new veggie balls. I have never had Ikea meatballs, but I know people get excited about them so to know there are veggie balls was a very good thing. I'd never been to the restaurant there so it was all new territory. I have to say they were really nice! I'm glad Dan and I shared a plate because there was a lot of food.

I never photograph food, but I made an exception, this was a whole new world! The balls are basically veg squidged together, served with rice and a tomato sauce. A regular potion was £4.50, I think there were around a dozen veg balls and a nice amount of rice, a good size portion for two to share. We bought one coffee and one soft drink too (free refills) so the total cost was just over £6. 

Fortified, we headed off round the showroom for a sit down and a read of the books. Along with the pink Widnes Vikings tribute doormat Dan chose a lampshade, much to my surprise. We bought a lamp made from an old spindle from Shrewsbury a few years ago and it's just had a manky old lampshade on since then. We'd been faffing about trying to find the right shade for it so the fact that Dan has taken that decision out of my hands in quite a relief. 

not as wonky as it looks on this picture

It's a dark turquoise with a copper-look inner. Dan's a big fan of Tom Dixon lighting, but of course we don't have the budget for that so the copper is a little tribute to that, it also adds a nice warm light to the north-east facing room, plus it shows the spindle off nicely. It looked so cosy in fact that we slept in the spare room last night! 

Friday, 15 May 2015

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get

Yesterday I rather cheekily offered my friends the great chance to stay by the seaside and look after the buns so I could have a weekend away. I was a little surprised when someone said yes!

I sort of knew this offer was out there, but it was a pub offer, so you never know if it will happen. My brother's girlfriend made the offer - despite the fact she lives near the sea anyway so it holds no charm (not the pregnant one, the other one. I have two brothers each with a girlfriend, not one brother with two girlfriends). By cutting my brother out of proceedings arrangements were made in about 4 minutes. 

The thing is, we didn't think we would go anywhere so we have saved no money and have no idea where to go. Normally we'd think of Glasgow, London or Birmingham to see all those things we usually miss out on. But with how relaxed I was when we returned from the wedding last year I think maybe it would be good to go somewhere relaxing, where we won't fill our days with seeing things, we can just let the day unfurl. I realise I'm basically describing Lytham St Anne's.

Any ideas are welcome, not the Lake District though, we go there all the time. 

Oh dear, Dan's been away this week and it means I've forgotten to put the bin out. Thankfully he's back tonight to make sure I'm wearing the right shoes and shutting the door behind me when I go out. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

May Week Two

Whenever I talk about how we got out of debt and how we deal with money now I always say I'm a Dave Ramsey girl, and I am. I listen to his show whenever I need a boost and we pretty much follow the babysteps (we didn't stop retirement savings when we were paying off the non-mortgage debt). 

But that's not how we got started. I don't know what brought it to mind today, it just popped in there. When we were stuck and trying to think about our options we ame across a guy called Alvin Hall, he had a tv show called Your Money Or Your Life, I think it was on BBC2 in the early noughties. 

At that time we were really scared, we'd just bought a house, I had my mental collapse so wasn't working and we had a huge amount of debt. We saw this show and the kind but serious way things were dealt with made us listen. We bought the book of the same name and started working through it. That's when my job became working on the home economics side and Dan's was the work side. Early on we set a rule that we wouldn't talk about money in bed and that really saved us I think. That time and space was time to decompress and talk about other things. I don't generally hand out unsolicited advice but that's one thing I would recommend. 

Five things this week -

1. We spent the weekend at home, lounged and did a bit in the garden, so not much temptation to spend. 

2. We changed supermarket to take advantage of some vouchers. 

3. I let go of some things I'd been hanging onto for sentimental, aspirational, and financial remorse reasons. 

4. I sorted out the kitchen cupboard next to the washing machine and managed to reach the lid of a water bottle lost about a year ago. This is good as we're going to a sporting event where we can each take a small bottle of water.

5. Found a pound coin when I was tidying my wardrobe. 

There was nothing to tempt me at the charity shop, which was good, my admirer did come into the shop after "looking for me for weeks" and kindly invited me out for coffee again as well as offering to give me a call in the evening if I chose to give him my phone number. I declined. I also declined an invite out to lunch on Friday from my coffee drinking buddy. I didn't lie either, I just said "I don't have the money", I don't think she was best pleased but there you go!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

More Of The Same But Better.

It turns out the shirt was just the start. What started as a small peek into a few cupboards ended with rearranging the furniture upstairs. I sought out all the hidden clutter and dealt with it. It started because a friend was decluttering her kitchen so I started there too, then I did my wardrobe, the craft sideboard and the weird cupboard on the landing that doesn't really have much of a purpose, which makes it perfect for the odd stash and dash.

From the stash and dashing I found a top and a cardi that should have gone to the charity shop ages ago, two colouring books from the charity shop for the next time I see the children, loads of padded envelopes, a pen, a make your own crackers kit and some festive trim. If I had to guess I'd say my last stashing session was at the start of January!

on their way out

I didn't throw much stuff away, there was about half a bin bag of actual rubbish, a stack of recycling, I did break an energy saving lightbulb and seem to remember that's dangerous so both it and the lamp it was in are in a couple of bags in the garage awaiting something or other

lots of dust!

Dan jumped on board via text and suggested we try to condense the books in order to get rid of a bookcase in his dressing room. That really was the start of the upheaval. We only managed to part with another 27 books, but as we got rid of hundreds last year it wasn't too bad. Rehousing the vinyl freed up enough space to get rid of the big and quite unattractive bookcase, leaving just two unattractive bookcases.  

I kind of felt like one of those people digging a hole then filling it in again. There's not a lot of room to move so it was a case of shifting and reshifting everything over and over, lifting the bookcases and the bed, it was not unlike those sliding puzzles where you have only one space free to move. Almost everything is back in place now, I just have to make it look nice, but as soon as Dan saw it (even though it looks the same) he pulled a face "Do you think it looks depressing now?" I asked "Yeah" he replied. It turns out one ugly bookcase made all the difference. A chest of drawers has been added to the shopping list. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

My Favourite Shirt

I have just chucked out* my favourite shirt. I bought the shirt when I was at university, I think it must have been 1999 at the latest because I remember where I was living when I bought it. I love love love this shirt, I don't know why. It doesn't suit me - it's boxy, I'm curvy, the colours don't suit me, it's hot and sweaty to wear and it doesn't "go" with anything. And yet for the past however many years I've been wearing it. To be honest for large parts of my life I've looked a bit of a mess anyway so a shirt not suiting me probably wouldn't have made much of a difference anyway!

I think I was keeping it because I think it represents something about me, but what that is and whether it was ever true is open to question. Maybe it's about being visible and making a statement about myself, I would have to ask why it would matter that I looked remarkable to someone I don't know, I attract enough strangers in the street already without my clothes drawing attention to me! I am distinctly unremarkable as a person, I am kind of average on the face of it - I'm a suburban housewife after all. Obviously when you dig down I'm very subversive, maybe appearing average is a good disguise. I found out a while ago that my neighbour thought I was a nurse because no-one ever sees me, why a nurse and not a spy I wonder. Probably the glasses, if I was a spy I'd have contact lenses or something.

I also have a little bit of a mental block around anything that survived the big cull. When I got my house in order and stopped the hoarding I think I gave great importance to anything that survived this process, these things have been elevated to extra special status (for anyone who doesn't know, the junk I kept was all about remembering things, keeping a detail of any experience, no matter how mundane, so I could recall it at any time). That's what makes it really hard to get rid of the extra old items, I tend to fall into the "it must mean something now because it meant something then" mindset. Even if it does represent a time in my life, keeping the item won't enhance my memories or bring those times back. If I'm honest, I wouldn't want those times back, I was a bit of a prat. 

*chucked out means reused/donated/given to someone/handed back/sold, not just put in the bin.  

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Same, But Better

This photograph is what happened when I went out to plant some vegetables. I ended up pulling out most of a tree instead. 

We had a home based weekend this time round, we did nip out for crisps, a birthday gift and a very short walk along the prom in Lytham, other than that we were at home. So we just puttered around, but it lead to some breakthrough moments. 

I realised that having a relaxing weekend at home doesn't mean doing nothing at all. I did a few bits of housework/house improvement and it was fine - it didn't have to be an all or nothing pull everything out then put it back again affair. Dan realised part of the point of gardening. I've always have difficulty getting Dan to help me in the garden, the reason being that he's a straight edge kind of guy. He doesn't like leaving something unfinished, which means when he thinks about going into the garden it's a full day of sorting everything out. Obviously with gardening that's not possible, so he doesn't want to do anything! This weekend, something clicked and he said that being focused on a small area and making it the same but better was a good thing. HOORAY! 

So he weeded the veg bed and planted some tings out and I ventured into the back of the border and cleared out lots of old quince, brambles, plants growing in from under the fence, and other stuff. It turned out that a large part of the quince tree was dead so I got to use the saw and pull lots of branches out - I usually don't get to play with the saw so I was very happy!

So now a small part of the uglier side of the garden looks a bit different, it doesn't look great, there's just a bit more room. It's the same, but better. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

May Week One

There didn't seem to be much cash to go around this month. We ended April or started May (I can't quite remember) with they tyres, this month there are lots of birthdays and work expenses. But it is what it is. The cheque went into the building society, so no need to think about that anymore. 

Five things this week 

1. I bought a skirt from the charity shop for 59p, it was originally from Primark but was brand new with tags, so I thought 59p was a bargain. It's kind of depressing though that no-one wanted to buy the skirt when it was £1.69 even though it was new, I bought it when I saw it on the sale rail.

2. I used the £5 Faith in Nature voucher to buy some new shampoo and facewash, p&p isn't all that cheap but we'd have to travel quite a way to buy it from a shop so it's fine.

3. I finished the quilt top.

4. I had an idea to make my mum something for her birthday. 

5. The small change jar is nearly full. 

Friday, 8 May 2015

New Day

It turns out that I cook things for the freezer when I'm feeling a bit wonky. Today it's dhal. On my last pantry search I found a bag of yellow split peas, they were in danger of being ignored for a long time so now they're in a pan simmering away. I've never made dhal with split peas before, we shall see. 

If there's one thing I've learned, or maybe just reaffirmed, in the past few hours it's that I have to live according to my beliefs and act in the way I think is right. I know that's an obvious thing to say but I have lots of pulls on my resources and I need to say no when no is the right answer. 

Doing things gets things done, a little focus to my energy will get me closer to my goals, whatever they are. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Day I've Waited For

Not the election, I have many views about that, but it's been discussed at great length elsewhere. I have finally finished the pink quilt top.  Above is the very creased top. Below is the back, I may have pictured that before.

I received a little motif from my friend Em when it was my birthday, it was to remind me that getting older doesn't mean taking things too seriously all the time 

I thought the quilt was the best place for it!

I have no wadding so I don't know when the magic will happen. So today I'm moving onto the blue quilt, I've done some pressing this morning and hopefully can start to make some sense of it. Next time please remind me to make a note of sizes before I take a break, I'm all over the place with this one. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Magic And The Price Of Fame

It took Dan over an hour to get home last night, an hour to travel five and a half miles. It's the price of fame, the prom is shut due to the Tim Burton film. The cauliflower was pretty soggy by the time he turned up. But he's magical isn't he? Today he made it snow! There's snow all around The Tower. Exciting. 

It also looks a little bit like snow here, the cherry blossom is being blown all around, I wasn't brave enough to venture out into the wet and wild to get a proper snap, but you get the idea. 

I'm keeping my finger crossed that there are good biscuits at the charity shop today, we were distinctly bottom of the barrel last week. That's what happens when the manager is on a diet. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Wet Stuff

I bought this big refill pouch of laundry liquid a the start of the year and paid £14 for it, which did make me gulp I have to confess. So I decided to keep a tally to see how much I got for my money. I generally use two pumps instead of four for each wash, which seems to do the job and everything smells of Fresh Air smell. Anyway, I finally had to refill the smaller pot and it turns out I got 57 washes from the bottle (give or take, I probably forgot to mark it down or marked it twice on occasion). There should be enough in the pouch to refill the bottle twice more. Seems like good value to me. 

We did get some proper fresh air this weekend too, we went to Lancaster for a proper wander round, we usually just go to a few places but decided to have a proper poke. I'd been after some proper labels for my quilts for ages and got hold of some from Fabrix, I'd seen this shop before but we've only ever driven past. I was fairly restrained but will visit again when I'm starting a new project. 
Dan wanted to try a coffee place that we'd also only ever driven past (if you've been to Lancaster I'm sure you know what I mean) so we found ourselves at Priory Hall to try Atkinsons coffee, the place is understated but very cool and the coffee is delicious, well worth a slightly soggy trek.    

We finally bit the bullet and bought something we've been talking about every year since we've had a house. We bought a parasol! Our garden is so sunny in the afternoons, a real bonus, but we both like shade so it was on the wish list. The thing with stuff like that is there's never a good time to stump up the cash, we couldn't justify the cost of a fancy one, much as we would have liked it, so we settled for the second cheapest, and a nice heavy base. There was 15% off everything at Homebase, so we saved a little bit of money. Then we sat outside for a couple of hours. Happy times.                                               

Monday, 4 May 2015

April Final Week Round Up

April was harder. I'm not sure why. I think maybe because Dan had to spend most of our non-saved money on petrol for various work trips, the rest went on the vet bill. At least we added money to savings, it makes a couple of enforced quiet days worthwhile. 

Last week I was not all that happy, I trudged through the week. Dan and I didn't see each other all that much as he was up and out early most days and late home on most too. Still, it could have been far worse so I'm not going to complain. There was still time for an afternoon nap on Saturday.

Five things from last week 

1. Found a great gift for my brother at the charity shop.

2. Made lasagne and it was great, soy milk white sauce is very creamy and nothing to be scared of at all. We haven't eaten it for who knows how long. Not since we've lived here at any rate.

3. The garden is now full of flowers, the ornamental cherry trees are looking gorgeous and I have one red flower (don't know what it is) and one fritillary. I planted ten, but one is better than none. 

4. I've based myself in at the dining table for the past couple of days and the buns have followed me in and sat next to me. Considering they are not massive fans of people, it's very nice!

5. I found 6p.

We are off to a bit of a downbeat start this month after hearing the awful news that Keighley Cougars rugby league player Danny Jones died bat the age of 29 after a suspected cardiac arrest during their match yesterday. Danny had played for Halifax as well as Keighley and had represented Wales, he leaves a wife and five month old twins. 

Friday, 1 May 2015


So after all the planning and discussion of the past couple of weeks, we've changed our minds. Well, I've changed my mind and Dan is fine to go along with it. 

The menu plan is taking a healthier turn, although after looking at it it's more tweaks than a total change. The main change is my breakfast, I'm going to try smoothies, I used to have the for breakfast when I was a very healthy person, and we have room on the worktop for the blender so I'll give it a go. 

We have ditched some of the supermarket vouchers, I just went into the town first thing when Dan took the car in for the new tyres and bought the same stuff only from the discount shops. Good news - the tyres were £2.50 each cheaper than last time, that doesn't happen often does it? I received an email from Faith in Nature reminding me that I had £5 to spend with them, and I had a lovely chat with a few people in town. I was offered some free Snail Gel samples from the very lovely lady at Holland and Barrett but, of course, I had to decline, shame because I love a freebie. 

I did fall down slightly by not being prepared this morning. It was really sunny so I just put a cardi on over my dress, when I got out of the car it was freezing. So I went to the charity shop and bought a scarf for £1.99. Upon further examination it should be good as a sarong/ cover up/ dress type thing in the summer. Plus it's a terracotta animal print so it should clash nicely with all my other summer clothes! I also wanted to nip into the shop to find out about certain goings on I can't remember how much I said about my reasons for not volunteering on a Tuesday any longer, but it was in large part to the person I worked with, I found her hard to work alongside. She was let go yesterday. It's kind of sad and the manager feels quite bad about the situation but things had deteriorated so she had to do something. 

The end of April was a little bit of a winner, we ran out of soy milk but we did have some chocolate almond milk - it made for the best breakfast ever according to Dan, who had it poured over his Weetabix. We had also run out of lunch stuff so I made some dhal, using the very simple method from River Cottage Veg Everyday, it was very welcome. I'm mixing the rest with some freekeh tonight and using it to stuff some forlorn looking peppers. Savings are going into the bank today, we have another £2 in coppers to go into the bank too. The savings are less than we'd like but we had to pay for the tyres. I think we've talked ourselves out of a trip to mima this weekend which is probably a very good thing. After a few weeks of being desperate to get out and about we're now not all that bothered. We're just looking forward to a long weekend of relaxation whatever that ends up looking like. 

A little bit of bonus excitement is that the actor Samuel L. Jackson is staying in the town. Tin Burton is filming at Blackpool Tower this week and next so the cast and crew obviously need somewhere nice to stay. Fun times!