Monday, 19 December 2011

Shh............its oh so quiet

Its very quiet in the dub household at the moment - T is currently staying at his Nanny's house for a few days and beloved and I really notice his absence, we are missing him terribly. He will be back in the middle of the week, a day at his cousins and then I will be at home with him on Friday. We will then be getting ready to go away. We are going to Cornwall on Christmas Eve to stay with my family over Christmas, we will be back home in time for New Year and spending time with Beloved's family. While I love seeing our families, I sometimes wish that we could just be tucked up in our own home for the duration. We have managed to slash our Christmas budget this year, we only buy for the children, no adults and this has made a big difference. Everyone agreed that over the years we have all spent too much and if you desparately needed something, why wait until Christmas.

I have managed to get T's presents - all are either second hand or greatly discounted in price. Feeling quite proud of myself with this achievement. I am off work from Thursday until the beginning of January when T goes back to school, I cant wait until I'm off, I really feel that I need the break. January is likely to be a busy month with beloved planning to work on his mum's bathroom which needs some repairs. I'm planning to sell more items on ebay and I also plan to sell some jewellry and other bits and bobs that I no longer want or need. What is the point of keeping them -taking up valuable space! For now I'm looking forward to Yule celebrations x

Monday, 5 December 2011

Frosty

We had a considerable frost this morning, de-icer just doesnt cut it, you need a scraper and plenty of elbow grease. It appears that winter has finally stepped in through the door and made itself comfortable. We are managing at the moment to have the heating on for an hour in the morning and a hour in the evening. Even when it has gone off, the house remains warm for at least an hour afterwards. I suspect that if the weather becomes colder, then we will have to have the heating on for longer. Last year, I was turning the heating on without thinking about the impact on the cost/bill. I hoping this year, it will be a lot less! Bar a couple of bits, I have got all our christmas presents and these have all been either second-hand or the best deal I can find. We have slashed our budget for christmas presents, which I'm really pleased about.

a weekend walk


On Saturday whilst beloved was at work in the morning, T and I took the dog for a walk. T wanted to take some photos of the walk, these photos have all been taken by him, except for just a couple.
We stopped and looked at these tracks and wondered why they were there, going nowhere!
An example of the bodgit and legit landscapers used by the local council. Everything gets massacred.
Looking up the secret alley as we call it.
You can see a bit of T's thumb, this photo was not taken at the end of the day, but at 10am!!
Another alley near to us.
After our walk, I came home and made this - carrot and potato soup (more carrot than potato).

Monday, 28 November 2011

A coat, no savings and Christmas

Firstly, for Campfire, yes it is a beetle under the tarp - beloved has spent a number of years restoring it by himself, using reconditioned or second/third hand parts when he has some money to buy them. Its a long process. Today I bought myself a new winter coat, I found one reduced from £29.99 to £19.99, its ok, probably not the warmest coat, but ok. I have been looking in charity shops but without luck - there is only one near to me and it has very limited clothing. Visiting any other local charity shops means a car journey and unless I'm passing I wouldnt do the trip just for one shop. I also looked in the shopping centre, but couldnt find anything new for under £60. I found my coat (new) in a shop called 'Store Twenty One', not sure if this is a chain or not. The coat is cheap and looks it, but I can get several layers under it.

Over the last couple of months, we have been putting some money aside for Christmas, however this is now pretty much all gone - we have had several unforeseen things we have had to pay out for and this has wiped the savings. This now means using December's pay to cover Christmas, far from ideal. I have had to revise the budget for Christmas, we also have to factor in travelling to my parents for Christmas. We dont have to pay out for anything there, but we will need money for petrol. Whilst I know that we are far better off than many other people, but sometimes I just get a bit fed up with the times we seem to be getting somewhere and then something comes along to set us right back. Things will get better and there will be opportunities to build up the savings again.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sold!

Yes, the bag sold for £20. The buyer got a real bargain, a mint condition Ted Baker designer handbag which would probably retail for around £50-£60. Many thanks for the comments on my previous post, they are very helpful and I will bear them in mind for my next ebay sale. Life in the dub household is ticking along in a mundane but comforting way at the moment aside from my horrible itchy red rash. I have been diagnosed with pityriasis rosacea. Little is know about it's causes, but my doctor stated that it is likely to have been brought on by my body's response to a virus. It can last up to 8 weeks and the itching is very uncomfortable at times. Its not contagious or infectious thankfully, so no time off work. In fact I feel very well, just unpleasant to look at.

I have mentioned before that I am setting up my altar, well I have started on what you could call a mini altar in the kitchen. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so it made sense.
I know this photo is dark - I took at the end of the day last week, but you get the general idea, it is still a work in progress. There is a conker, a little mushroom, a hag stone that beloved found, a small dish with a number of stones that T has given me from his travels. The goblet I found on a second hand stall at the market, its not perfect and I like that. The wooden spoon is hand painted, I bought it some time ago and then put it away as I didnt know what to do with it.
This is the design on the spoon, appealing to my witchy side.
You can see the design up the handle as well. There were all manner of pictures on the spoon, but all of a fantasy/fairy/pagan theme. Oh and we have finally given in and had the heating on, we have had a couple of really cold mornings over the weekend.

Monday, 7 November 2011

My first ebay listing

We have sold a lot of items on ebay over the years, but it has always been beloved who has listed the items and dealt with the sales. Today, I listed my first item on ebay - a leather handbag, which I no longer want. I'm a little excited to see how much and if the bag sells. I hope so, we need the money. Beloved has recently sold a number of items of his and I hope we are on a roll with this. We've had several unexpected things to pay out for this month and the ebay money will help. Given that we dont have any savings at the moment, we could not rely on this to bale us out.

I started writing this post on Monday after I had listed my handbag and thus far (Wednesday) there has been no interest. I hope it sells, it is brand new, unused, designer handbag, which was given to me. I'm wondering if the starting price is too high. In terms of the winter prep, I have now got T a new winter coat, which given that it is a little big, should last him a while. I have also been washing some winter bits and pieces and I think we are as ready as we will ever be. I am now thinking about Yule and Christmas and how we are going to fund Christmas. We will be staying with my family at Christmas and although we dont buy any presents for the adults, there are a number of kids including T that will receive presents. As it is we were paid 10 days ago, so not even half way through the month and aside from the money for food and petrol for the rest of the month, we are now broke! I thought our money management skills were improving, but I fear not. We havent been frivolous with our money, just spending it on unexpected outlays. Ah well, we have shelter, food, clothing and warmth. Talking of which we have still not had our heating on, we will hang on until the absolute last.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Samhain ( Halloween) /Birthday

For those who asked on my last blog post, it is pronounced sow'een/sow'ein. Today is also beloved's birthday. He has been throughly spoilt with presents, money and a large cookie cake - he's already snaffled at least half of it! He says he has had a great birthday. Samhain is a significant festival in the pagan calendar (I use this term as an umbrella term) and represents for many the new year, rather than 31st December. It is the time that the veil between two worlds is at its thinnest, with Samhain being the time to think about life and death and those who have died, with the opportunity to honour our ancestors, family and friends who have gone before us. For some, an extra place will be laid at the table for dinner for those who we wish to remember. I didnt do this tonight, mainly because we didnt sit at the table today - on our laps-special birthday meal. I did stop earlier and remember my grandmother and my father-in-law and the times I shared with them.

This time is also the time I consider to be the new year and as such I contemplated the year that has been and the year that will start and my hopes, dreams and expectations. We dont really 'do' Halloween in the commercial sense. I have carved a pumpkin with T, mainly as this is fun and T enjoyed it and I think they look great with a candle in glowing merrily away. Thats about as halloween as we get in this house. I did try taking a photo of the pumpkin when it was dark - it is sitting on my kitchen windowsill, but the photos didnt come out very well. I look now to the coming year and all that this will bring.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Half-term

I have been at home since yesterday with T for the half term - we have not done a great deal. Just been at home, walking in the park and curled up on the sofa. The weather has been dismal with rain, rain and more rain! I am getting through my winter preparation with washing the fleeces etc. I still need to get a winter coat for T, but we get paid at the end of the week and so I will get him one then. It is Beloved's birthday on 31st, we are not doing anything particularly special, but I will cook him a special meal - whatever he wants and I have bought a present for him and got him a cake. I want to make 31st special, not only for his birthday, but also as it is samhain. This is my new year and a time to remember those who have passed - the veil thins between the two worlds. I will also get some treats in - we might get trick or treaters, I hope so, I always like seeing the kids dressed up. At the moment, I am making an altar and will post some pics once its done.
Blessings for Samhain

Monday, 17 October 2011

Winter preparation part 2

After my last post, I was all fired up to work my way through the house and garden preparing for winter. It seems that winter will be hear early with the weather forecast predicting a freezing downturn as of tomorrow. Unfortunately this past week I have been unwell with a stinking cold and have not had the energy or inclination to do much. Unforeseen circumstances have meant that the money I intended to use to buy T a new winter coat, wellies and slippers has now had to be spent on something else. As the coat is the priority, T is going to have to wear his old coat until we get paid at the end of the month. I've stuck it in the wash and it has come out ok, decent enough for T to wear. I'm slowly working my way through the other winter washing, such as the fleeces and I'm hoping to get out in the garden this weekend. We have not yet had the heating, although beloved has switched it on to check it works. We are planning to keep the heating off for as long as possible, with the rising prices due, I'm dreading what our energy bills will be next year!
Bright blessings x

Monday, 10 October 2011

Winter preparations

The brilliant weather we had at Brighton Breeze seems a long time ago now and there is a chill to the air. On many blogs and forums there is much talk of winter preparations, my attempts over the years have always been haphazdous and this year I would like to be more organised. I am making a list as to everything that needs doing ( I know I am a bit late, but I still have time before the big freeze that is predicted - I hope!!).

Clothing
  • Wash winter coat and repair - there are several small holes in my coat I'm hoping to patch-up - I wont have enough money to buy a new coat, although its been washed so many times, I think the warmth has been washed out of it!
  • T needs a new winter coat - this takes the priority over mine. I will buy something that is big enough to go over several layers.
  • Wash my fleeces - I have two which have plenty of life left in them
  • Check we all have hats, scarfs and gloves - need to check T's still fit him.
  • T needs a new pair of wellies - grown out of the old ones.

House
  • We have loft and cavity wall insulation already
  • The heating will be on a timer. probably a couple of hours in the morning and a couple in the late afternoon/evening. At the weekends, we still stick to the same timings and just wrap up more when the heating is off, unless we get artic conditions.
  • Leaving the heating off for as long as possible, we havent had it on yet and trying to aim with it off for at least the rest of the month.
Car
  • Beloved will in the coming month do a mini-service and a through clean and check things like the antifreeze.
  • Check all the tyres are legal etc
Food
  • I am planning to start stocking up, especially on things like UHT milk. Last year there were a couple of times when I couldnt get to the shops.
Garden
  • Finish tidying/weeding
  • Store the garden furniture
This should not take that long to do, over the next couple of weeks. There is nothing more I can think of and if it is that cold then we will just have to tough it out!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Brighton Breeze

There has been a distinct lack of the VW scene in the dub household this year. We did go to the show at Stanford Hall in May, but nothing since. At the weekend, particularly given the fantastic weather, we decided to go the Brighton Breeze. Its one of the last shows of the season and all the vehicles line up along the seafront. We have been before in 2009 and always wanted to go back. For pedestrians like us it is free, took a picnic and only cost us our petrol. Here are some photos.
Brighton was glorious in the brilliant sunshine.
Check out this cute little caravan being towed by a camper.
Beloved and I loved the tiki inspired artwork on the bonnet and the fake wood detail on the sides of this beetle.
There is always at least one 'Herbie' beetle at any given VW show.
Great paintwork on the front of this van.
I love beetle cabriolets and this was the perfect weather for them.
Vans were the vast majority of vehicles present at the show, this seems to the norm at the moment in the VW scene. Everyone wants a camper van = extortionate prices!
We all agreed on the paint job on this van - very cool.
This was one of my favourites.
Beloved was smitten with this van - bit too 'bling' for me if you know what I mean.
Beloved was also taken with these 'chopper' style bikes, the one on the left particularly as parts of the bike were painted to look like wood. dont fancy the set on the bike on the right!
This bike got a lot of attention from everyone. In all a good show and I think one of the highest turnouts of vehicle, in large part due to the weather, although it would cost you £40 to show your vehicle! If you click on the photos you will get greater detail.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Birthday/Anniversary

Yes it was my birthday and mine and beloved's first wedding anniversary. We had a lazy day and I put my feet up and watched Downton Abbey and several other programmes I had recorded. My mil took us out for dinner later and beloved bought me this for my birthday.
It is a lovely box with the green man on the lid, sorry for the blurred photo, it is supposed to be for tarot cards, but its not big enough for mine.
I decided to fill the box with these - incense cones, also a birthday present - lavender and dragons blood. This was the incense burner that I received -
A lovely mini cauldron and I have already been burning some incense - love the dragons blood - supposedly to repel negativity and for protection. Today it was T's birthday - 6 years old, I cant believe how quickly this time has gone. Aside from the visit to the natural history museum, T had a friend over on Saturday and spent a number of hours playing inside and outside with what it seems likes all T's toys!! T and his friend had a wonderful time and T is already talking about a sleep-over. A great weekend and little if any mony spent.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Dinosaur

Firstly, I wanted to say thank you for all the very supportive comments on my last post. Beloved and I have been discussing the issue of pensions and have decided that we want to make some headway with the debts first and focus on getting rid of the debts asap!! Its T's birthday soon and he wanted to "see the dinosaurs" for his birthday and this has resulted in trip to the Natural history museum at the weekend. T has been desparate to go for some time and had a great birthday treat. The museum has changed a lot since I last went, which was a long time ago as a child and it is now far more interactive for kids. You can even have a sleep-over there, how great would that be!

The great thing about this museum and many others is that it is completely free to enter. We took a picnic - there was a picnic area in the museum and it cost us £40 to get to London on the train. We got a family travelcard which lets you travel on the train, tube and bus. This was all part of the adventure for T. This was the cheapest deal we could find and yes we saved some money for this day out. We all enjoyed the museum and are already talking about saving up to visit the science museum next year.
www.nhm.ac.uk - the dinosaur exhibit is the best, particularly the animatronic T-rex.

Monday, 12 September 2011

back to reality

Well it is back to the comfortable routine of school and work. Autumn has been knocking on the door for a while and now its well and truly come in. The trees locally are all well on the way of their change to warm and rich autumn colours and T has already begun collecting lots of conkers, its one of his favourite autumn past times. I have mentioned before on my other blog that autumn is my favourite season, partly as all our birthdays fall in autumn. This year T has talked consistently about wanting to see dinosaurs so we will be paying a trip to the Natural History Museum for his birthday. We are sourcing the cheapest rail prices and the museum is free. We will take a picnic and hopefully it will not be expensive.

We are still on our path to try to keep saving and live as frugally as possible. In the coming months, I plan to put some money aside for the car tax which is due in October as well as Christmas, never too early to mention it!! I was very pleased this week as I managed to get the shopping in for £40, which has been unheard of recently, I have struggled to get it below £45, which I think is due to the rising cost of food. We recently filled the freezer and this does indeed help to keep costs down. I also got a 6p off a litre of fuel voucher and when I did fill up I had accrued enough points to get a £5 food voucher. I will buy a fivers worth of extra food this week. What I now need is some way of being able to pay all our outgoings and the debts quickly as well as being able to both pay into a pension, which is something we are not doing at the moment. This does worry us both, but we can not seem to find a way forward in this respect. We want to pay off the debts as quickly as possible, but losing more income to the pensions mean a longer time to clear the debts. Not sure what to do, I know we need pensions, but the way things are going we will have to work beyond 65 anyway!!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Buckinghamshire Railway

As I mentioned in my last post, we came back from Cornwall with some money left over in the saving account and last weekend we went to the Buckinghamshire Railway near Aylesbury, this is a steam railway, run by volunteers as a charity and has a number of engines being restored as well as others running on the track. We managed to get a deal on the entry costs and took a picnic. The only other costs was a book for T from the second hand book shop - a Thomas the tank engine book.
T liked the idea of being a train driver, like the Jones the steam from Ivor the engine, does anyone else know these stories, T loves them.
This engine was from South Africa and was huge!
Of course, we went for a ride.
There was also a vintage vehicle rally going on as well.
I love Morris Minors.
This Buick was incredible.
There were also lots of great vintage motorbikes. This Norton was my favourite.
There was also this showmans van at the centre.
I tried to get a shot of the interior of the van, its amazing how much was crammed into these vans.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Holiday

We are back from Cornwall. T has spent two weeks with my parents and family who are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. Beloved and I joined T last weekend. Its been a relaxing week with a few days going out and about as well as spending lots of time with the family. I am really pleased with this holiday as for the first time ever that we had saved for over several months and we still have money in the saving account! That is a first for me. Anyway, we spent time on the beach. We visited Talland Bay beach, which is out of the way and secluded.
As you can see lots of rockpools.
A bit of an overcast day, but this does not stop us!
We also went to Falmouth and visited the Maritime museum - well worth a visit.
A trip to Boscastle, we really love this place, even more so with the museum of witchcraft, one of my favourite places to go to.
Also Tintagel, we have already been to the castle, this photo (above) is on the top of the cliffs nearby, there have been settlements there long before the castle was built, fascinating place, albeit a long climb both up and down the steps!!
There was a trip to the Barbican in Plymouth
and a tour of the dockyards with a number of warships in dock for repairs and re-fits. This was a popular excursion for the men of the family.
Lastly a trip to Mevagissey - this place has grown on me and it is very picturesque.
The harbour was bustling, plenty of tourists, but also still a working fishing village.
In all another great holiday, we always have a wonderful time in Cornwall, I feel that my heart is there, partly as my family are all there. I do dream of living in Cornwall, beloved and I have talked about it many times, unlikely in the current economic climate, both our jobs are a bit fragile at the moment, there is talk of my job potentially being privatised - I work in the Probation Service and we still owe too much on the mortgage to make much if anything of a profit, if we sold the house. Oh well, keep dreaming!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Lazy, hazy summer days and freebies

Hi to one and all, it seems to have been a bit of a gap between now and the last post. We are now on the 3rd week of the summer holidays and so far it has gone well. Beloved and I taken alternate weeks off with T in order to avoid the astronomical costs of summertime childcare. This week T is at his grandparents in Cornwall and on Saturday beloved and I will be joining him at my parents for another Cornish week. I cant wait. Between us, beloved and I have managed to keep the last couple of weeks entertaining and frugal. On the occasions when we have gone out, we have managed to keep costs low by sourcing cheap deals, vouchers etc, especially for things like the cinema.
My neighbour kindly gave us these courgettes from her allotment and very tasty they were too.
She also gave us these yummy plums - they have all gone now!
I've been given this bag by my Aunt who is a total shopaholic, but I'm not complaining! It will be great for work.
She also gave me this one, which I love, she has more bags than anything else. Click on the picture and it gives more details and the brightness of the colours.
Sorry for the blurring, I was trying to get a closer photo of the bright colours on the bag.
Whilst in the loft looking for something else, beloved found this framed print, I had forgotten I had this, but love it. It was a car boot find, I love any prints/paintings of the sea/coast etc. SOrry the photo is at a weird angle, I was bending down, dont know why I did move the picture! x