Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Complaining vs Moaning

I struggled to come up with an appropriate picture for today's post so I found a 'Moaning Mini'! Geddit?   Actually this car looks quite jolly and I've always had quite a soft spot for these little darlings in spite of a propensity to cut out in heavy rain that  meant I nearly missed a French holiday

I am still sick.  Moving causes violent coughing so, in the main, I've been staying put, except to crawl downstairs for cups of tea.  My appetite is down in my boots but I'm putting a brave face on that and viewing it as good for the diet.    In a few hours during yesterday morning  before I resorted to napping I fired off three complaint emails.  They included one to the council because the bins haven't been collected and another to a big national company who think that they're perfectly within their rights to regularly bring a town on my commute to a complete standstill in rush hour with their lorry moving shenanigans.  It's been getting my goat for some time.

As so it's this second example that has made me  come to realise that there's a difference between complaining and   moaning.    I've been going on about those bloody juggernauts for ages.  That complaint seems so empowering, taking positive action in the face of something causing unacceptable annoyance.   Even if it comes to nothig at least I can say that I didn't roll over defeated without a murmur.   It has been done  too in a nice dignified way where no rag has been lost.  Whereas  I admit the odd bout of ineffectual moaning  can be cathartic if the same tale of woe is repeated over and over again, it's another matter. It seems to serve no purpose other than increasing feelings of helplessness and lack of control.

Monday, 21 May 2018


I set myself a challenge yesterday to see if there are 100 things that I do to save money. To be honest I thought that was quite a big ask.  But about an hour later I'd came up with my list which I'll share below.  It might give others ideas.  

My financial life as a single mum with a mortgage is much more of a juggling act than I had to perform when I was part of a couple in my married life.  There's still things that I'd like to do better, save more, get rid of the credit card balances that built up when I moved into my new home.  And there's little tweaks where more money can be saved.  But I'm pleased to say that everything is going in the right direction.  And I have lots of fun.  'I don't know how you do it.' is a comment that my friends sometimes make.  Here's how:

Food and Drink
  1. Using up leftovers
  2. Making packed lunches
  3. Shopping at the cheaper supermarkets
  4. Looking out for yellow sticker goods
  5. Filling own water bottle
  6. Making use of cheap foods such as rice, vegetables, pulses
  7. Good value wine rather than expensive stuff
  8. Buying supermarket own brands rather than branded goods
  9. Avoid expensive ready meals.
  10. Limit takeaways.
  11. Doggy bags in restaurants
Health and Beauty
  1. Only buying toiletries and make up that I use on a daily basis
  2. Choosing generic  rather than branded medication
  3. Cutting own hair
  4. Minimal hair products
  5. No tattoos!
  6. No beauty salon/therapist visits
  7. NHS treatment rather than private

  1. Book buying is now rare
  2. Choosing cheap hobbies
  3. Cooking for each friends instead of eating out
  4. No smoking
  5. Saving eating out as a treat rather than a regular occasion
  6. Seeing less well known bands rather than big acts.
  7. No magazine subscriptions
  8. Making presents for friends
  9. E-greeting rather than birthday/Christmas cards
  10. No gym membership
  11. Rare coffee shop visits
  12. Actively looking for free/cheap attractions on days out
  13. Sneaking sweets drinks into cinema
  14. Use of 2 for 1 deals to atractions/cinemas
  15. No pets
  16. Volunteering at festival rather than paying for ticket (a new one this year -watch this space!)
Shopping Habits
  1. Impulse purchases rare
  2. No present buying agreements with friends
  3. Spotify rather than paying for music downloads (I was historically e a big music buyer!)
  4. Take pleasure in getting rid of things rather than buying
  5. Remembering that however much something seems a bargain it is only one if you use it
  6. Only buying craft supplies needed for my current project
  7. Replace consummable goods with longer lasting replacements e.g my cleansing cloth, microfibre clothes instead of J Cloths.
  8. Avoid designer
  9. Avoid shopping as a leisure pursuit
  10. Admire things for what they are rather than having to own them
  11. Buy in bulk if it's going to be used up
  12. Buy single items/small amounts rather than a pack if I'm not going to use the lot - fixings, spices
  13. Finding good deal on mobile phone
  14. Not having the latest up to date electronics
  1. Charity shop clothes
  2. Dye clothes to extend life.
  3. More expensive but longlasting shoes bought in sales
  4. Leggings rather than tights
  1. Choosing cheap small car with good mpg
  2. Avoiding car parking charges
  3. Multitasking on car journeys
  4. Eco Driving
  5. Finding cheaper filling stations
  6. Avoiding parking tickets/speeding fines
  7. Keeping my tyre pressures at the correct level
  8. Not carrying around a lot of weight in the car
Household etc
  1. Shopping around for insurance, utilities
  2. Shopping around for big purchases
  3. Lidl/Aldi for larger purchases
  4. Turning off heating when I'm not in the house
  5. Doubling up on oven use
  6. No tumble drier
  7. Having a protective case for my mobile phone
  8. Using the freezer wisely
  9. Low energy lighting
  10. Dry cleaning rare
  11. No ironing
  12. Seeing furniture as purchases for life rather than fashion items
  13. Keeping warm in winter by wearing more clothes, insulating home, blankies
  14. No printer at home!
  15. Making do and mending when possible
  16. Cutting down on washing by not changing clothes daily
  17. 0% deals on credit cards
  18. No garden watering
  19. Actively monitoring water consumption
  20. Not overfilling kettle
  21. No fancy TV package (although we do have Prime for movies)
  22. Check Quidco for cashback on new purchases
  23. Not buying expensive insurance policies for gadgets
  24. Checking if I can get a free alternative rather than paying for an app
  25. Quick showers
  26. Low dishwasher use
  27. Buying  secondhand whenever possible
  28. Accepting  freebies from friends gracefully
  29. Borrowing  rather than buy tools that you're not going to use often.
Travel and Holiday
  1. House swaps and staying with friends
  2. Holiday loyalty scheme at French campsite
  3. Flying with hand luggage only
  4. Shopping around for airport parking
  5. Shopping around for cheap flights/ferry deals/trainfares
  6. No new holiday wardrobe
  7. Multitrip travel insurance tailored to what is planned for the year
  8. Avoiding  taxis
  1. Saying no to child
  2. Limiting Christmas/birthday presents to child
  3. Limiting child's regular activities.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Consistent Gratefulness

I am still meditating every day without fail.  And giving thanks for ten things that happened the day before and writing them in my little book of gratefulness is also part of my daily routine now.  I'm sure that these habits go a long way towards keeping me well.  Even if that's a load of bunkum,  they're a great start to the day.

I thought I'd leaf back through the pages of the posh notebook that Louis bought me for Christmas.  I'll close my eyes and point  to find ten  random things I've been grateful for.  So here goes:

  • Our free NHS
  • A no spend day
  • Finding my lost water bottle
  • A perfect avocado
  • The crinkles at the corners of Louis' eyes when he smiles
  • No painkillers (must have been when I was emerging from the back pain episode
  • One  of the people that I work with got well
  • Finding the washing up brushes that I'd been after a Lidl
  • Eggs!!
  • The different view when glancing sideways out of the car window
What a mixed bunch of inspiration of things to be thankful for!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Reflections From The Snot Monster

Morning all!  I've been more tired than usual all week and I think  the cause is now clear.  I am home to a virus breeding station.  Yesterday the signs were there - the tickle in the back of the throat, the first signs of an annoying cough.  This morning I am a fully fledged snot production factory.  Bah!  At least there's a good chance that the bloody cold will have receded before next week's Breton holiday.

I had so many things planned for this weekend, lots of work on the business,  a meal in a nice restaurant, gardening, work on restoring that old '50s cupboard and a walk with one of 'My Other Boys' around the castle where his husband works.  Yes really!   Don't I have to hole myself up in bed with a gallon of lemsip and a tissue mountain instead?

Well hang on a cotton pickin' minute!  What I've found with colds is that I feel bloody awful in the morning, enough to make me want to stay in bed.  But it's not good for all that muck that my body's producing to stay put.  Actually I feel better if I get up, cough and splutter and move gently.  I  might have a few extra sit downs and a longer afternoon nap than usual.  And of course experience tells me that I'll tend to wane by the evening but there you go.  There is a chance that my plans won't go too awry.  Finger crossed for me.

Friday, 18 May 2018

The Chase - Essex Style

At the weekend  I was talking with Calamity Jane, who has only recently moved to rural Cornwall.  We discussed the wealth of urban wildlife in her old haunt of South East Essex. where we grew up together.  There are loads of foxes that mill around the street in broad daylight near my parents home as bold as brass.  They're not such a common sight in Devon towns.

Jane told a funny story.  Her daughter was home from university, went for a run one dark winter's evening and nearly tripped over a badger!  The animal interpreted this as an attack and  pursued her, intent on revenge.  She escaped but could not get away with a light jog.  Full on sprinting was necessary.  I've just read that, over a short distance badgers can move at 16-19mph.  That's some pace.

The idea that a bulky animal with short little legs can move so fast heartens me in my own running endeavours.  After  all I hardly have the build of a racing snake!

Thursday, 17 May 2018

The Worst Day Of The Year

Yesterday was the date that  Klaus the Knaus'  annual motorhome service and MOT was scheduled. Six years ago when I first took sole ownership I found a lovely garage where a kind man called Steve, who's more accustomed to looking after poorly HGVs, looks after Klaus and me very well.  But it's a twenty mile journey from the rural campsite where I store Klaus.  I have to coax him into starting after a long period of sitting still, a procedure that has involved the RAC.  If he needs work I have to get back to my car at the storage site via two or three buses or beg friends for lifts.  It's a right palaver and then there's the potential cost of work on an ageing motorhome.  No wonder I've built it up in my mind as the worst day of the year.

But this year I decided it would be different.  I was determined to turn this into a day that I would enjoy, at least a little bit.  Klaus started on the first turn of the key.  That's because the kind men at the campsite had charged his battery for me.  He went like a dream down the A38 and I enjoyed driving him after such a period of absence.  When I got him to  the  garage I popped into Newton Abbot on the bus.  My three and a half hour wait wasn't at all unpleasant.  Two hours were spent in the library where I had coffee and cake in the cafe and then I settled down into a cosy armchair for a read.  This was where this picture was taken.  I think I was sitting next to the carousel holding the Western genre!  I had a stroll around the shops and availed myself of the toiletries in Wilko.

Back at the garage the damage wasn't too bad.  Knaus had passed after the addition of some shiny new brake pads.  Then I took him to a local caravan supplier who deduced that his leisure battery was completely shagged.  More forking out but it couldn't have been a lot worse.  Back at the campground Alan and Rob have decided that they'd like a little project and will fit it for me.

I spent the evening with friends in a pub celebrating a birthday.  The food was delicious, it was lovely to catch up and there's the remains of a Thai banquet in my fridge for lunch.  So not a bad day altogether.   A conscious decision to make the best of things really did seem to help smooth the path.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Soaps

I adore beautiful bars of soap, one of my favourite treats.  To receive a present of the stuff makes me a very happy bunny indeed.  This stuff from Provence, commonly sold in French markets is a favourite.

I've even made my own  for a project when I was an occupational therapy where we had to analyse an activity.   I'd love to do it again if I ever get the time.  It's proper alchemy in action.  I made three types.  Orange and clove was my favourite.  Honey and oatmeal was another but that was less successful.  One person that I gifted a bar to said  that when they bathed with it, it smelt gorgeous but left them with  porridge around their pubes!

I was really surprised to hear that bars of soap are becoming less popular.  Many youngsters believe they're unhygienic and go for liquid soap instead.  But I've done a bit of reading and it seems that there's little risk if your skin is hale and healthy.  And I've just come across all sorts of soap savers too, to keep your favourite bar dry and scum free and make it last longer.  Google if you're interested.

The big plus is that soap bars are usually way less heavy on the packaging than all those liquid soaps and shower gel.    That's got to be a plus in the plastic waste conscious world we've recently been plunged into.  So get a grip youngsters.   Choose a bar over a bottle.  Remember what doesn't kill you will make you stronger!