bEAching ~ drip, drip, drizzle

Raining all day here today – the forecast was right, but it was not heavy rain more a constant drip and drizzle so it didn’t sound like we were sitting in a tin can as caravans often do in the rain, in fact we hardly heard it at all.

We had a lazy day.

In the morning we made tomato soup ready for tomorrow and then realised we didn’t have a blender here or tomato paste. I spent some time catching up with a few blogs and realised how many have fallen away recently – pressure of time, nasty commenters and some just run their course – but they are missed.

We made egg and cucumber in cheese rolls for lunch with ‘leaves’ on the side – a nice change as we hardly ever have egg sandwiches at home.  I say ‘we’ but actually DH made them.

After lunch we listened to the Archers and then drove into town as we needed fresh bread and more milk.  We overcame the lack of blender too – we bought a cheapish one from Argos and then a tube of tomato paste from Tesco.

Whilst in Stranraer we drove out to the local garden centre on the other side of town and bought a few ‘filler’ plants mainly for the empty pots but others to put in the gaps in the borders.  It is essential here to fill all the spaces to prevent the weeds and wild flowers taking over in our absence.  DH told the shop assistant we were buying rabbit food – we might well be if they get a whiff of them – I am rather hoping the plants I chose are not caviar to the rabbits.

More wire netting might be called upon.There is nothing so lovely as a few raindrops and I just had to take one or two quick snaps.  I absolutely love these little cones on this pine tree they are like tiny raspberries.

After a leisurely look around, stopping to chat to some friends we bumped into from the village, we had a cup of tea in the cafe and our treat for the day, some dark Scottish fruit bread, buttered of course.

The garden centre also sells cards, a few gifts and pots.  I solved a birthday present whilst browsing and bought a mug for my friend and former colleague Miss T – and that is what it says on the mug – it is identical to the one she bought me last year that says Miss V. It was always our greeting.   She would call out to me on arrival at the office ‘morning Miss V’ and I always responded with ‘morning Miss T’ – it stuck over the years and everyone else always addressed us as Miss V and Miss T like the shop assistants were called back in the day.  Some things I still miss about working!

To catch up on the gardening – yesterday I did no more than tidy the border by the gate.  A bit of a dark corner that the sun hardly reaches – perfect for the ivy but little else.  I was so pleased that the hydrangea I planted last year seems to tolerate the shade and damp well – it is filling out nicely and I have added a clump of pink geranium and ground covering periwinkle.  So far the rabbits have left them alone but I have to cover the roots of the hydrangea with large stones to prevent them digging and nibbling them.  I think the ivy needs a bit more of a trim tomorrow then, weather allowing, I will be moving on to the trellis border.

There is quite a bit to sort out here – a shrub to move and a lot of weeding.

A lot of weeding.

The valerian has grown well now so I am also going to remove the netting and the stones that edge the border.  It has been difficult to weed inside the netting and also difficult to mow up to the stones….. we are left with a bit of a grass fringe.  I will just edge the grass instead.

Ah well my cocoa has arrived now….coutesy of the catering department (as DH calls himself).

Time for bed x

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bEAching ~ taking the high road

It is 8 o’clock in the evening and I feel like I am in heaven – I am sitting here in the caravan with a piece of Walter Burnett’s famed Kirriemuir gingerbread (only to be found over the border) and a cup of tea, the tide is in but the sea is quite calm and has faded to a beautiful silvery grey colour and there is a general hush outside – not even a little twitter.   It is so still  even the feather light plumes on the Pampas grass, which are usually dancing about on the sea breeze, are still and the only movement is the odd cow in the field to the side of us that cannot decide where the best grazing is…..and of course Rag, Tag and Bobtail hopping around on the hillside.  The only thing that could make this moment any better would be if I were sitting in our cottage, but that still seems like a distant dream.

As the weather man is forecasting rain here tomorrow we thought we would make the best of the warm sunshine this afternoon; so after lunch we downed our garden tools to take a stroll into the village along the beach, as the tide was well out, and returning by the high road………..stopping at the local store for frozen peas and a Magnum each as a treat.

A visit to the village is often the first thing we do when we come up to the cottage – I like to see if there have been any obvious changes.  Sometimes after only three-weeks between visits things have changed and not always for the better.There is plenty to see along the beach, gulls flying in, gulls flying off…mysterious footprints in the sand and part buried objects and I spend some time searching our pieces of sea glass. I love this rusty sheet of metal it is quite a work of art.

We left the beach by the hidden path to the cottages on Shore Street – one of my favourite places – there is always a seat or two along here for passing the time of day beneath a Palm tree.  The carpet of daisies is like a light covering of snow. At the far end of Shore Street is the Harbour master’s office in this little cottage.  I have a feeling it is no longer used as there used to be a sign on the door.From Shore Street and the harbour we have to climb up the hill into the centre of the village.I just love this ladies garden (I admire it every time we pass) and in particular her clever use of the Japanese Quince edging the full length of her whitewashed wall.  I might just have to pinch this idea for myself though I don’t have any painted walls and without the contrast with the white it would not have the same impact.

Once we had bought our ice creams and read the notice board of What’s On in and around the village we took the high road back home.You may think that I have come away on a Mediterranean holiday with the Palm trees and blue skies but I assure you this really is down on the Mull of Galloway today and the photos have not been enhanced in any way.The high road looks over the beach and harbour – such a beautiful view from up here.

The hedgerows are full of bluebells.Just as you leave the main stretch of houses and before the doctor’s house that stands alone at the junction of the low road (which is now only a path and closed to traffic) is the Community Garden kept neat and tidy by volunteers.  The scarecrow was part of the village Scarecrow Competition last summer but was so well liked it has remained in the garden since.  Once past the doctor’s house we are nearly at our cottage – we are the last house in the village, the secret cottage hidden by the wood – I hope you will keep that quiet.

It is now 9.15pm and just going dark enough to need a light on and late enough for cocoa – then time for bed and a long read.  What bliss – surely this is retirement at last!

dEAr diary ~ taking the long road

Sandhead beach

We have arrived in Scotland at the caravan.  It was a long journey as we went up the A1M to Scotch Corner and cut across on the A66 to Penrith rather than take our usual route up the M6.  The reason for this was I needed to meet with daughter No2 to show her some sketches and discuss ideas and fabrics for the Christening dress for Sweetie because when we go back home there will be less than two weeks to cut a pattern and make up the garment in time for the big day.  For new readers, Sweetie,  granddaughter No2 is growing so fast she has already outgrown the family heirloom Christening gown – so I volunteered to make a new one.

We met just outside Knaresborough in the St James retail park – it was convenient and had a Costa so we could get a drink and break our journey.

Of course as soon as I had said I would make a Christening gown the party preparations got in the way but I am not too worried about the shortage of time as I can sew quite fast – I used to have a wedding dress business making bridal and bridesmaids dresses.   Once I had the pattern made I would cut out a bridesmaid dress or two in the morning and have them completed by tea time, net petticoats and all – no pins or tacking either, and I would be going slower than normal to take extra care over the finish.   Of course a brides dress would take me a little longer because of the boning and net petticoats.

I learned to sew quickly when I took a summer job in a local dress manufacturers workroom in Cheltenham during my Fashion and Textile course.  We were expected to make around 100 dresses or skirts a day on high-speed sewing and overlocking machines – we could not pin or tack any pieces together and even zips were put in without being pinned in place.  All the cutting out of the pieces was exact and so you held them in place with your fingers as you stitched them together making sure that any side seams did not end up with one piece longer than the other when you got to the bottom.  Sleeves could be tricky as you did not run a gathering stitch around the head like a dressmaker or tailor would to ease it in – though I did do this for my bridal wear to get a nice even gather.  It was working on a fast paced production line that helped me to combine traditional couture methods with the faster trade methods and in the trade you either got good at it or you were out.

Tonight I will finish the unpacking, make up the bed and then relax and read.  It is too dark to see the garden – that will be tomorrow’s surprise and I hope it will be a nice one, though I am sure the weeds will have grown knee-high in our absence.

On the way down the peninsula by the coast road to our cottage I saw one or two seals on the beach and then a deer bounding through the woodland.   Then I spotted ‘bunny no mates’ (the white bunny that the brown ones won’t play with) in the farmer’s field to the side of our cottage.  As we had not seen him all winter we thought he must have been a gonner!

Even though I did not grow up in this region I always feel a little bit like I have come home when we reach the border at Gretna and turn the corner.  Not quite like DH does as he was born and lived in Stranraer so for him it really is coming home, whereas I grew up around Sheffield and spent many a weekend in the Derbyshire country side, which I love just as much, but there is something about being close to the sea that always gives me such a sense of peace.

When I was about twelve years old I came up to Stranraer on holiday with my mum, dad and little sister in our touring caravan.  We loved this part of Scotland and stayed on sites all around the area and often went into Stranraer, the main town here, to buy groceries and go to the bank (no cash machines back then!).    It is odd to think that I would have no doubt walked past the places where my future husband and his relatives lived – and unknowingly at that time they were to become a big part of my life eight years later.  I even wonder if we may have passed each other in the street!

 

mEAndering ~ galavanting in Glossop

As the party was on Easter Sunday, we spent Monday tidying up and putting things away – I was really glad I had hung on to a lot of my large entertaining dishes and had not got rid of them in a fit of decluttering earlier this year when I was reviewing all the little used items in my cupboards.  I had taken an inexpensive ice bucket to the charity shop for that very reason; I didn’t think I would be hosting any more big summer parties now until maybe our 70th comes along and by then I reckon I could buy another cheap one if necessary.  Well a lesson learned I really needed it last weekend.

By Tuesday I slumped into exhaustion and felt so lethargic I had to drag myself to Yoga class.  I was pleasantly surprised that it actually boosted my energy levels considerably and afterwards we decided it was time to get out of the house for a while and just go for a wander somewhere – so we packed up, jumped in the car and went out with a picnic.

We were headed for Derbyshire  – our usual route over the Strines but at the last-minute decided to go up over by Holme Moss across the valley from us.  We stopped in the little car park beside the mast and admired the view below while we ate.  It was a very hazy day but the view from here is glorious and looks out over the tiny village of Holme to the left of the reservoir – you can just about see almost centre of the photo, and to the right and behind the reservoir you can just make out the market town of Holmfirth (Last of the Summer Wine fame) – our village is  nestled in the valley just beyond the hills on the left.  If you do not know the Pennine area then this is how high you have to climb to be able to see over a hill around here.View from Holme MossHolme Moss mastWe drove down the steep winding road from Holme Moss to meet the notorious Snake Pass and then along the valley bottom and over to Glossop, a small old mill town in the High Peak enjoying a bit of a revival, where we stopped and rang an old college friend of mine who lives close by on the off-chance they might be at home.  She and her new partner came to meet us and we enjoyed a lovely relaxing afternoon with them in a local cafe chatting and catching up.

When they went home we had a wander around Glossop town centre – I was amazed at some of the lovely old buildings and the fascinating and rich history of the town.  We will be going back to visit again soon and next time we will walk up to Old Glossop which is the original village and has some delightful old cottages clustered around the church.

We began our walk down the main street – this was the first indication we had seen all day that it was St George’s day.Venturing up one or two of the side streets we came across this fine old building – the Glossop Gas Works which is now home to a few new business enterprises.  Before Gas became available the mills like everywhere else would have been lit by candlelight through necessity to work 24 hours a day.  This was expensive and so the textile mills were one of the first places that were used to develop this new technology and demonstrate it to a very sceptical public. Glossop Gas WorksWe crossed the road and began our walk back, once again exploring a few of the side streets as something caught our eye, and discovered this unusual church building – The Central Methodist Church.Central Methodist Church GlossopI tried to get a photo of the light flooding the inside of the chapel through the windows around the back.  Perhaps on another visit we might be able to go inside. On the corner of High Street West and George Street we came across the Oakwood. This site has a long and chequered history since 1844 when originally it was an inn owned by George Pye and remained in his family till 1875 when it was sold and demolished to make way for a very grand hotel complete with balcony and flagpoles at a cost of £6,000.  In fact there are many balconied buildings around Glossop. During its time the spire has been removed and in 1901 it was bought by Robinson’s Brewery and had a major renovation in 1991.  Today it is still with the brewery and is a popular place to eat and drink.

Glossop would have grown in size very quickly as the mills were built so the streets are lined with rows of terraced housing and here and there are dotted a few lovely little independent shops.Graceful GlossopThe Flower Room GlossopIt struck me that the streets here are unusually wide compared with a lot of mill towns – hence the name dark satanic mills because the mills were tall and the streets narrow and  claustrophobic.  Here it felt much lighter.

In a mill town you are never very far away from a stream or river as the water was used to power the machinery for the different processes in the mills.  It was vital that the area had a heavy annual rainfall to feed these streams and Glossop fit the bill with over 60 inches a year on the surrounding hills.The mills around Glossop mainly produced cotton, as more mills were built more people had to be ‘imported’ in to the area and the town grew in size – a town hall with adjacent market hall and shopping arcade, now one of the popular attractions here, was built in 1938 by 12th Duke of Norfolk at a cost of £8,500 – not quite as glamorous as the shopping arcade in the centre of Leeds but none the less it has some handsome architectural merit and is currently undergoing extensive renovations and covered in scaffolding and sheeting so I wasn’t able to take a picture of the front of this grand domed building but here is a peek inside.

Opposite the Market Hall is the town square – so very well kept with borders running along each side that are a riot of colour and a credit to the Council.Glossop Town SquareIn the centre of the square is a war memorial with a statue of an angel gracefully holding a laurel wreath – it is quite beautiful and a fitting tribute to the many men of the town who gave their lives in the war.Glossop War Memorial There were some very wealthy mill owners in the area which generated rather a lot of rivalry between them.  This in turn benefitted the local people as each of the mill owners built public buildings such as the public baths, parks and libraries for their workforces.  Mrs Wood, wife of John Wood donated four drinking fountains to the town of which I believe this could be one of them.

Edward Partington owned one of the paper mills and as he was a Liberal laid the foundation stone of the Liberal club.  He also built the library and a convalescent home. The former Liberal club I think is one of the finest buildings on the square with yet another small balcony – it was turned into a small theatre in 1957 and became a new home for the Partington Players. …..watched over by a statue of Hamlet…

Just off the back of the square past the Theatre is a rather grand flight of steps up to the station forecourt.  The mystery little cottage to the right of the photo above built into the slope has a cute little garden, now overgrown but with signs of herbs and vegetables being grown up to very recently.  To one side it has a wooden first floor extension which from the other side resembles some kind of ticket office – but as yet I have no clues as to what it might have been use for. And this is where we finished our little stroll – I hope you enjoyed your visit to this lovely little mill town – sadly many of the mills have been demolished now but a few survive with a new lease of life as shopping centres and businesses.  It was a hard life in a mill town,  the mill owners were quite entrepreneurial people in their time as the industrial revolution took hold and they  became very prosperous  mainly due to the hard work of the people who toiled long hours day in and day out in these noisy, dust ridden buildings.

I remember when as a young girl we moved from Sheffield and the steel works to Huddersfield and the giant woollen mills the effect it had on me with the tall chimneys everywhere rearing up against the skyline – dark dreary Victorian stone buildings stained by the many years of soot.  Like in Glossop not all have survived, some have disappeared others turned into anything from student accommodation to shopping outlets but the heritage of these places live on.

 

 

 

 

sEAsons ~ celebrating Easter

Hi there – just dropping by to say I am still around but for some reason still very busy – this is not what I expected when I gave up working, I feel I am working twice as hard now as then.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter enjoying the glorious weather we couldn’t have timed our party better and of course it ended up as a real garden party (I needn’t have cleaned the living room quite so thoroughly after all!).Many of the plants had started to grow quickly in the warm sunshine  – we are usually quite late in this area being high up and I was willing my pretty Aquilegia plants, which have self seeded all over the garden, to open in time for the party….. but sadly they didn’t.  But no matter there were plenty of the bulbs and Primula still blooming and the blossom….hasn’t it just been delightful?

The party took some preparing in the end – for new readers this was a party for my son-in-law’s 40th birthday combined with an Easter party as it fell on Easter Sunday, we held it at my house because my daughter’s house is so much smaller.

We had Easter eggs and decorations amongst the party decor.  I spent some time covering polystyrene eggs with tissue paper which I hung from twiggy branches supported in a pot of sand hidden with a topping of moss, then added a few fluttery butterflies with my glue gun. I also had fun making these Easter food ‘flags’ to help guests identify the different sandwiches, salads and quiches. And of course we planned an Easter hunt around the garden for the children though the eggs had to be hidden well in the shade so they did not melt in the heat.

We had a day or two in the garden beforehand – setting out all the pots that had been in winter hibernation and adding a few inexpensive pansies and primulas for a touch of colour.

We removed the covers from our garden tables and chairs and brought out the large parasol, then hung out the white solar lanterns from my daughter’s wedding a few years ago – they had been stored in the loft and I was quite surprised they still worked. We also bought some Festoon lighting and DH made a great job of stringing it across the garden using the clothes prop and an old piece of aluminium tubing he found in the garage.At night it looked so magical……Our guests were handed nibbles and cocktails on arrival….. I had spent four days making a mountain of ice cubes in readiness – and ice-cold drinks were very much in demand.

The table was laden with food – sandwiches, mini wraps and four different salads all ordered from M&S by my daughter.   For the true meat eaters her MIL bought a selection of pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs from a local award-winning butchers and my contribution was some small quiches and of course the cake.

The cake was certainly one project too many – it nearly didn’t happen when twice the ready rolled icing stuck to the kitchen work top despite the oodles of icing sugar I had sifted beneath.  I am no cake decorator and it was very rushed so this is extremely wobbly and the icing a bit cracked in my desperation to get it onto the cake!   And exactly what is it you may ask……a circuit board of course – as son-in-law is an electrician come electrical engineer and is always playing about with circuit boards.  I had to have precise instruction for this from DH as I had no idea what I was doing.For desserts we kept it simple with profiteroles, a huge bowl of mixed berries with crushed meringue and double cream to make Eton mess and some tiny party cheesecakes and chocolate bites.

Although not everyone was very impressed!!!

….but all in all it was such a wonderful day.

And the best bit…..Libbie (Little L) had made me an Easter present from some DAS clay a beautiful little pink heart – of course I will treasure it.It has taken me a while to straighten the house up again after the party – putting dishes back and packing bits and pieces away – I am feeling quite exhausted now – I could barely drag myself to Yoga on Tuesday morning and somehow I need to gather up a little more energy to start on the Christening dress….we need to do a bit of fabric hunting in the next day or two and celebrate yet another birthday, but on a much smaller scale this time, before we can finally escape up to Scotland for a well earned rest.

dEAr diary ~ in preparation for the party

Yesterday we had a trip up to North Yorkshire to see my mum.  We took her out for lunch at a large garden centre near Northallerton, mainly to be undercover and avoid the biting cold weather.  The queue in the restaurant was long because of the school holidays and the staff had been taken unawares so there was a 30 minute delay for food orders.  Luckily we were not in any rush and didn’t mind the wait – it gave us a chance for a good chat.  Mum and DH had cheese and chutney sandwiches which were rather like doorstops and I chose a jacket potato – all came with coleslaw and salad but like many places these days the portions are very large – too large in my mind and not helping the obesity problem and we end up paying for a proportion of the food we cannot eat – I do wish these places would offer a smaller sized portion.

Afterwards we had a wander around the ‘shop’ part, they sell decorative homewares, gifts, clothes and crafts as well as gardening products – a bit of a mini shopping centre.  It was too cold to take mum outside and look at the plants so we  moved on to Northallerton town centre.  I love this market town – it has a good balance of independents and chains and you can find most things here.  We ended up as we always do in Boyes for a mooch around while mum stocked up on a few heavy items like washing powder.  We had to go and warm up again in a nearby Costa before taking her back home.  She was so grateful that we had taken the trouble to drive up and take her out for an hour or two as my sister is away at the moment – it is a costly hour or two though when you add both the fuel and eating out costs but well worth it to see the smile on her face.

Today I felt quite drained from the car journey and a little stiff so I decided to take it easy and sit and make a list of what I need to do this week for the 40th birthday party preparations.  There is a bit of cleaning to do, a bit more tidying in the garden and a bit of this and that to decorate the place.

Did I mention I am also going to attempt to make the celebration cake – if my oven doesn’t work then I will have to put the cake mixture in the car and drive round to my daughter’s house to use hers.   DH thinks the problem with the oven might be a faulty element that surrounds the fan at the back of the oven.  If we could fix this it would make meal planning and baking the birthday cake so much easier.  He managed to buy an element and tomorrow he will have a go at replacing it.

Fingers crossed.

After all the listing and planning we went to town this afternoon to do our weekly shop and had a go at the self scanning system, new to Sainsbury’s – it was slow especially as I kept forgetting to pass the items over to DH to scan before putting them into the trolley.  I think it will get quicker as we train ourselves to the new process.

On the way to town we had a detour down a country lane to some nearby woodland so I could get a small branch for my Easter display that will hold the eggs I have decorated.  I will post a picture once I have something assembled.

I thought some outdoor Festoon lighting might be nice for the party – a bit of an investment perhaps as it is not very cheap – we cannot decide between some from IKEA that we saw on display or the cheaper ones in Dunelm which are in a sealed package so I cannot see the quality but they are a little bit longer.

Decisions, decisions.

Tomorrow is Yoga again – maybe it will iron out some of my tight muscles.  If the oven is fixed I will bake the cakes – if not it will be the garden tasks as my daughter is out for the day.

A day of plentiful planning and skillful scanning. x

trEAsury ~ the March tally

The figures never lie – but surely I didn’t spend THAT much….did I?

I thought I had March under control as far as our spending went but sometimes the reports tell a different story.

We had similar trips to last month and trips = petrol which in turn = cost.  Our grocery bill stayed at the same average weekly rate which was disappointing and cards and gifts came in more expensive due to a special birthday gift and Mother’s Day. The most expensive categories appear to be eating out and home and garden – could they have been better…let’s find out…..

Transport and fuel costs

Almost exactly the same in March as February – not surprising as we had a visit to Scotland and North Yorkshire yet again.  We also spent £6 on the park and ride fare to Leeds for the financial seminars.

The MOT and car service for our estate car was actually done in April so a bit of a reprieve here on the March costs.

Total costs for gadding about and a ticket to ride: £185.65

Health and wellbeing

I never mind spending on this category if it keeps me fit and well. Bendy I am not at the moment – still there is hope.

Total cost for my flexible foray: £8

Utilities

We switched our electricity provider from Scottish Power in March to a dual fuel contract with SO energy who provide us with our gas.  They are a hit with us on two counts; good customer service and extremely clear statements, which come in on time every month so you know how much you have spent.   Without the benefit of the good weather we had in February, March was a much cooler month and our gas bill reflects this but only by a few pounds.

Total cost with a toastie transference: £78.00

Grocery and housekeeping costs

The total bill for groceries and whole foods alone was much the same this month as last, £314 with the average also remaining the same at £78.  I liken my weekly shopping costs to a Slimming World weigh in – I was convinced I had spent less but in truth I had not,  though as with a weigh in remaining constant is better than gain and obtaining a constant average of £75  since the beginning of the new year is I think worthy of a prize.

I have managed to build up a bit of a stock of some items – not intentionally, not for Brexit even, but in order to take advantage of the items on offer – so my figures reflect stock rather than foods eaten.  I do have in the back of my mind that when Brexit happens we may face shortages so maybe it is no bad thing to have a bit of a stockpile.Neal's YardIncluded in this category are toiletries and this month I bought another Neal’s Yard frankincense serum.  They offered me 20% off and I had just run out.

I heard on the news that the price of stamps was going up so I called in to our local post office and bought 12 first class and 24 second class for £21.96.  As I don’t use many stamps other than at Christmas I will now have them ready and at the old price.  I usually prefer to buy the Christmas design stamps for my cards but when you are on a pension needs must.  I will decorate the envelopes with some pretty rubber stamps instead.

And I confess to three magazines £10.99 Country homes came with Woman and Home as a deal and Simple Things – who can resist a bit of a spring fling and the ideas contained in them have sparked some creativity.

Total cost for putting away for a rainy day and keeping my furrows at bay: £419.14

Home and Garden purchases

I had no frivolous purchases this month for the house but as spring got underway a few replacement tools were needed for the garden – anvil loppers, secateurs and a very useful small hand fork for tight spaces.

Our one expensive impulsive purchase was the small corded Dyson – not a planned expense at all, bought more out of necessity from thinking ahead. Our Dyson at home is quite heavy now to manoeuvre and carry up and down the stairs, while the one we have at the caravan is so much lighter (the downside being that you have to empty it more often).  Presently you can still find old stock in the shops but soon both the corded vacs and the small lighter models will be obsolete.   Surprisingly, the exact same model we bought for the caravan in April 2017 with the insurance money was £50 cheaper and came with a larger selection of tools.

Total cost of a moments impulse replacing some cool tools : £340.32

Cards and Gifts

I had two special cards to buy this month – a 70th birthday and a Mother’s day card, for the rest of the birthdays I was using my old stock of bought cards so managed a bit of a saving here.  I bought mum a basket of plants £10 and spent another £40 for my friends 70th, a theatre voucher to share with his wife who will also be 70 in May.  They like going to see musicals so although this will not buy them a seat each it will go someway to the cost, or if they are hard up too she could sit on his knee!

Total costs to include a musical interlude £55.50

Crafts and Hobbies and Books

Crafts and hobbies don’t come cheap and knitting is one of them. I spent a whopping £15 on patterns – generally they seem to be £3 each in the shops – but I have now enough to keep me going a while.I like to be able to read the pattern before I buy it so I can tell if I might be able to understand most of it. The King Cole Cottonsoft wool for my next project came from Boyes and was a reasonable £12.30 for 3 balls.I came across some cotton lace for the Christening dress from Boyes £8.60 for quite a few metres. I bought two books on knitting for £7.99, a novel called The Bookseller for £8.99 and a much-needed road map of Great Britain £7 to replace our old one that was now so far out of date some of the new roads are not shown.  As we don’t have sat nav, a map is essential.

Total cost of my homespun hobbies and a : £63.87

Leisure and Entertainment

It seems that even though we have been here, there and everywhere during March we have not actually paid for any entertainment or leisure activities; they came free.

Total cost of a leisurely life – bingo a healthy: £0.00

Eating Out

The most disastrous month so far this year and not because I had eased up on the packed lunches.  If I break the figures down it has been a heavy month because we saw my mum at the beginning and end of March and even though we packed picnics on our days out we still managed a whopping £120.49 in the tea shops and cafes and buying a meal in Saltburn on our last visit in lieu of a Mothering Sunday lunch.  But how can I begrudge her a little enjoyment.

We also had the extra expense of eating out for the day in Leeds when we attended the financial seminars – although the seminars were free the food needed to keep us going all day was not!  So with other drinks out over the month we managed to hit £63.

Total cost for stuffing ourselves: £193.12

Clothing and Footwear

I have done even better than I thought in this category and spent hardly anything. I bought two more long-sleeved t-shirts, one white and one black, they are so versatile and I had to buy them before they disappeared off the rail and replaced with the summer short-sleeved ones but that was all I bought.

Total cost for a modest attire: £17.00

It is interesting how what you do through a month reflects on how much you spend.  Having a visit to Scotland, and visits to see my mum and younger daughter are expensive trips – not only getting there (fuel costs) but eating out during that time.

I notice too that the weather has some bearing on expenditure – now the sun is shining the garden needs maintenance and gardening like crafts are not cheap pastimes.  Any outlay now should set us up for the year, or will it?

So I will endeavor to muddle through another month – I know April is going to be harder to keep a tight grasp on the old purse strings as we approach Easter and a family party at the same time as well as numerous birthdays to cope with.

Anyone wishing to read the previous monthly tallies click below

January tally

February tally

crEAting ~ simple Easter cards

Before I begin apologies for the photo quality – I was losing the light by the time I took the pictures.

If you remember from one of my previous posts (click here) I had covered a number of blank cards in a variety of pretty papers from my craft pile to try to use them up.   I set aside one or two to finish as Easter cards.  This time, rather than buy the preprinted ‘greetings’ labels, I made my own on the computer and printed them out onto some card.

If you want to make your own I use a Microsoft word document where you can select a text box, a font design and a suitable size of type for the card.  I then add a border around the greeting and once printed cut the labels out carefully, almost but not quite, to the border line leaving a small white edging.

I selected colours to match in with the prints and used different typefaces.  I also added a ribbon decoration to some of the cards to finish them. Extremely simple and easy to make but I quite like the simplicity.I was then left with these little card motifs in my craft box of embellishments… Cute little cut out Easter pictures… I am not even sure where they came from but I have had them for years now and they have escaped going into the give away box once or twice.  So this time it was either use them or lose them.

I stuck the rabbit, chicken and sheep onto the Easter egg shapes and then placed them onto a small square card blank.  There was no room to add a printed greeting so I decided to use my little alphabet stamps and just stamp straight onto the card.  There was no need to be too exact  – I actually like the lettering more when it is a bit wonky!Once dry I stuck the little motif in place and voila….…these little bits have now made four delightful little Easter cards for the children –  Libbie, Sweetie, Freddie and my great-nephew.On the back of each card I make I have a little stamp to say it is home-made.  This one is my favourite from Vista print and given to me by my daughter one birthday, but I do have some rubber stamps too.Remember the birthday card made from a piece of decorative packaging I found – it may have been an old Panettone box from Christmas or something – I followed the design and embellished it with some of those stick on jewels in golds and rich purple colours. As well as stamping on the back of the card I often make a printed slip for the inside with a message.  I think it gives a more finished look to a card and although I didn’t have time for this one, as I had to get it in the post, they do look lovely if you add a print too using a rubber stamp.So even if you do not have any expensive equipment you can make some really simple cards using any decorative paper or card, a Pritt stick, some double-sided tape and a sharp knife.  If you do not have a printer you can buy sheets of greetings labels; but equally you could get a rubber stamp and stamp onto some plain card and then add a border and cut out.

I am enjoying doing a few more creative things when I have the time and it does reduce the mountain of crafty bits and pieces I have been storing all these years  – I was thinking of getting rid of some of it but that seemed a shame when in an afternoon I can make something useful.  I like the challenge of creating something from very little so I think my next project will be using up scraps from junk mail, magazines and even the decorative parts of the inside of an envelope to make some cards.

 

A day spent creatively sticking and stamping.  x

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ a day of ideas

Hello there – it seems a while since I was here in my little space and I can’t even remember now where I have got to so apologies if what I say here has already been said once.

You might have guessed I have been busy – what’s new!

We had a weekend at home and to ourselves – if I remember we were both in the garden and I also did a few more cards – but more about that later.

This week began with our usual shopping trip on Monday, first into town for a few bits and pieces and then round to the big Sainsbury’s on the ring road for the weekly food shopping.  I say bits and pieces which they were individually but the cost collectively was surprisingly a bit much for one day.

I went to Primark first to look at jackets.  I have a brilliant hooded jacket I bought from Primark for £6 in 2004 when we bought the cottage.  It is so useful in the garden in Scotland – an all-weather coat – it has a light waterproof nylon fabric on the outside, so no bits of vegetation or the like sticks to me, with a warm fleece lining and the hood is small so doesn’t blow off with the first puff of wind – absolutely necessary when you live by the sea.  It is still going strong after many washes.

The reason I want to find a similar jacket is because I have recently taken to bringing it back down home with me to wear in the garden here but I know the day will come when I will forget to pack it when we go up to the cottage and so I thought it would be a good item to duplicate.  I looked in the ladies section of Primark but their lightweight duvet style jackets have no hoods and are very fitted; then just as we were leaving I noticed the men’s display ah ha …idea….I went to the men’s section and they had a perfect one with a hood and just a little bit more roomy which is much better for gardening.  I came away with the extra small but I will need to go back and change it for the small size for a little bit more ease so I can wear a thick jumper underneath should I need to!   Cost – a cosy £15

Then across to Wilkos to look in the gardening section for Tomato food to feed both the bulbs and the tomatoes (when I get them sown) – it was much cheaper here than anywhere else at £3.25. White DicentraOn the way I noticed (as you do) a white Dicentra for £2 hung in the packaged bulbs display – I was tempted as I have wanted one for the garden at home for a long time but in the garden centre the plants are £10 which I thought a bit steep.  I bought one and have planted it in the garden but I am doubtful about it growing as it just looked like a bag full of dry peat but I thought for the price I would give it a go – I also treated myself to a white indoor plant pot for £2.Before leaving the store I had a rummage in the crafts section as they have a lovely range of inexpensive Easter crafts to keep the kids busy. I came across these garden signs for £2 which will be useful for the Easter egg hunt we intend to do for the children at the party on Easter Sunday, weather permitting of course and, for Libbie, a sew your own felt chicken Easter basket £1.50.

I then popped into the Works as I had a £0.50p voucher and wanted to buy some polystyrene eggs  – ten for £0.50p with the voucher – I have an idea to cover them in printed tissue papers for Easter decorations for the party.  It goes against the grain to buy polystyrene but I will be keeping them for a long time to reuse – had I got more time I would have done some hand painted real eggs – but that will be another year.  I also bought a pack of stronger dowels to attach the garden signs to for £1.  The bamboo basket in the photo above was a great find in Sainsbury’s for £2.50.

The final stop was one of our local independent whole food / health shops – I often alternate between the two as I like them both and would hate to see either of them close down.  I prefer them to Holland and Barret as they sell more organic foods and are often cheaper.  Here I bought Almond oil which I use as a face cleanser and for massage, my high dose Solgar Vitamin D capsules, some Omega 3 oils and two packs of Kalo tomato stock cubes for the soup and to add flavour to rice – a grand ‘sit down’ total of £39.03.

The food shopping was pretty normal and came in a bit cheaper than usual at £52.38 this included a few extra salad bits and some nice breads for the lunch I prepared today for my sister and brother-in-law when they called in on their way up north.

I made sure to carefully whiz past the clothes and magazines – but I did buy these.I bought myself one for my desk at the beginning of the year and I love it (see here).  Now you might be wondering what I would want with five more calendars that are all for this year especially now we are in April…..well I had another idea ( I think they must have put something in the water recently!!)…. Sainsbury’s had reduced them down to £2.10 and the metal stands which are gold or black are very sturdy and allow you to remove each calendar page by unscrewing the little nuts – my idea is to keep the stands and attach my own version of next years calendars using photos DH and I take throughout the year and give them as presents to my friends at Christmas.

It could well be a gift that keeps on giving because you can use the stands over and over again so in following years I could keep giving a new set of calendar pages to  my friends to fix onto their stands.  Each year I might choose photos of a different theme such as seaside, towns, gardens etc.

Did I mention last week I bought this cardboard Peter Rabbit egg from an old-fashioned sweet shop in Saltburn.  I then bought a £1 Cadbury’s chocolate Easter egg and my idea is to remove the wrapper and decorate with little iced flowers and Libbies name to put inside.  If the chocolate egg is in two halves then I will put some of those tiny shell coated eggs inside.Easter EggSo as you can see I am full of ideas – oh and they don’t stop there  – oh no – nothing that simple – somehow I am now doing the 40th birthday cake for my SIL’s (son in-law) party on Easter Sunday …..mmmm…how did that happen…..retirement – exactly what is that??

A day of dazzling ideas and bargain buys. x

Before I go welcome to my new followers.  I will be back with more on my craft cards, the March Tally, the cottage update and a host of other things.

 

fEAsible ~ April intentions

What a lovely month April is – like a bridge between winter being well behind us and the promise of a warm and sunny summer to come.

As we are already six days into the month and we have a family party coming up on Easter Sunday me thinks my intentions this month will have to be limited and swiftly executed.

sEAsons

Another season upon us and another time of celebration coming up with Easter being near to the end of the month…a time for swapping a few decorations and accessories around in the house; putting away woolly hats, gloves and scarfs (I keep trying and then have had to bring them out again) and a few winter ornaments and bringing out something more colourful that reflects this season more.   I have in mind to do some Easter decor this year as it looks so pretty in the magazines; a twiggy branch maybe with painted or decorated Easter eggs and a host of flowers.  I have ideas (then I always have ideas – just not the time!).

crEAting

I really must complete the little hooded jumper I started before Sweetie has grown out of it, and she is growing fast (nicknamed pudding for the moment, but not in earshot).

  I have in mind to do some more cards and finish the Easter cards I started.  I am going to try to print my own Easter greetings to stick on this time as I have not found anything appropriate in the shops.    I only send a few out to family that I know look forward to receiving them and one or two friends that I like to keep in contact with more than just a card at Christmas.

My next big project will be to make some progress on the Christening gown for Sweetie.  I have some ideas for the design – my daughter would like it to be similar to our traditional vintage family gown and we have already bought the cotton lace, I just need to find some fabric and cut a pattern.

fEAsting

I am assuming that by the end of April we will be enjoying salad once again and some lighter meals.  I have put on a few pounds recently over the winter months and I am ever hopeful that they will drop off once we are not eating the calorie dense winter foods.  That is my theory anyway…if the change of diet doesn’t work I shall have to do something more drastic.  I have already swapped back to the fat-free yoghurt for breakfast and soon with a change of menu we will be eating fewer potatoes and starchy veg.

Don’t ask me how (it wasn’t exactly at gun point) but I find that I have agreed to hold my SIL’s 40th birthday celebrations at our house as theirs is even smaller (and if you remember has all new cream carpets laid!).   It will be mostly family… approx 20 people but even so I shall need to make the house and garden presentable, not perfect …it would never be that, but presentable.   My daughter is going to order most of the buffet food from M&S, because I cannot guarantee that our oven would be working, and MIL is chipping in with pies and scotch eggs.  I may have mentioned before that sometimes my oven heats up and sometimes it doesn’t but certainly is not reliable enough to cope with getting food cooked on time for a party.  His birthday coincides with Easter Sunday so we will be doing an Easter egg hunt too for the grandchildren, and nephew.

It is looking like the new pantry is going to be put on hold yet again!

homestEAd

At least with the appearance of Spring I can escape into the garden for a while to release the stress.  I have a few new plants to put in that I bought with my voucher.  There are a few gaps to fill in and I would like to add a little more colour.   I have seeds to sow too, tomatoes and courgettes, hopefully this weekend.  If the weather is right I will also be treating the lawns with some feed and weed; for one reason or another we didn’t get it done last year.

clEAn and lEAn

DH, under careful supervision, will be getting underway with the outdoor spring clean and painting the front door (in time for the party) …. and if it has dried out the new shed. Meanwhile I will be having a thorough clean in the main rooms, tracking down cobwebs and wiping down the woodwork to freshen the place up ready for the party.  Last month I had begun clearing and cleaning the office but that will have to wait now as no-one will be going in there – I will just do that old trick of closing the door.

mEAndering

Looking at our agenda for the month I think there will be little time for any trips so our Scottish visit will now have to wait until after Easter as I really don’t feel I can squeeze too much in.  My sister is away again next week so I may be called upon to go up and see mum for a day or two as she is not getting out by herself now other than across the road to the little shop for her paper and the Deli for a morning coffee.  Last Saturday while we were up in North Yorkshire at my daughters we took her out to Saltburn for lunch and Sandsend for a drink and a Yorkshire curd tart (they were delicious) and she was so grateful to get out for a while.  We had a lovely day.

Most importantly I have to look for suitable fabric for the Christening dress – Fabric shops are rare now but there are places in Bradford and Harrogate so we will treat it as a nice day out at the same time and see where we end up.

hEAlth

During the time I am at home I have in mind to give myself a bit of a spring clean with a juice detox for a day followed by a brown rice and vegetable diet for a few days as this is very cleansing and full of vitamins and minerals.  My system feels a bit sluggish after the winter.

I will be keeping up with the Yoga, it has proved beneficial and I intend to do extra sessions at home.

trEAsury

No big plans for this month other than to mind the spending and buy nothing that is not a considered purchase.  DH has already been doing some utility switching with the fuel companies; he has also been preparing to leave BT when the contract ends in May.  We have been looking at a new company with a good customer service record.  It is not the cheapest but sounds reliable and is far cheaper than BT can offer us to renew.

We will be seeing the financial advisor after which we can make some serious headway with investing the money we have saved towards our retirement and make decisions about the cottage.

Meanwhile we are still working out ways to save as much money as we can or should I say ways to spend less money.  I will talk more about this more on my March tally post.

 

So that is my list of intentions for April – it is always interesting for me to see what I managed to accomplish at the end when I look back over the month.  I keep trying not to pack too much in and keep a balance of rest and play but then find I am caught up in other people’s agendas…. but when it is family that need a helping hand I do like to help out where I can.

How are your plans going?