Tuesday 31 March 2020

Last Day of March Financial Round-up

This is another tip for saving money for those with changed circumstances.......KNOW WHAT YOU'VE SPENT. If you keep records of what you spend you can see which bills are due each month, find where you've spent too much and see where you can save. I prefer pen and paper in an accounts book but if you are better than me at digital stuff then there's probably an app.

Well, apart from the first 2 weeks NOT a normal March at all. Most of the big money expenses were in those first 2 weeks  before all the restriction of staying at  home.
 I had a big dentist payment for my check up and x rays and they've started to take a £120 deposit when lots of work is needed (to make sure people go back I guess). So they've had the money but the appointment for that major work has been cancelled.
I also had the car serviced and MOT test done which was timely -  no problems there.
Other expenses were an order of wild bird food - I don't regret that one as I'm enjoying watching them being so busy while I'm home alone.
All the usual things - diesel for the car, food for me and the cat, phones and broadband and charity direct debits.
Also quarterly electric bill, window cleaner, the cat calming stuff refills (they work - mostly).
 I'd begun to prepare for the Easter get together before lock-down - all the family were going to be here - the cupboard with Easter eggs may need lock and key!

Income is just the same as usual - County Council spouses pension. Bits of interest from savings. Family loan repayments have been put on hold for a while.

The Frugal Bits and Bobs

  •  Electric bill down on same time last year
  • After 8 haircuts, I qualified for one half price - handy
  • Nappies from Approved Food to help out the family
  • Stocked up on stamps before the April price rise
  • Rhubarb from the garden 
  • The girls who live next-door-but-one are off school and  have been sorting their toys and left me a lovely bag of colouring and crafting books so I sent some to Florence and saved more for when Willow is older (by coincidence the youngest, who is 7,  is also a Willow).
  • Mixing whole milk half and half with water 
  • Last leeks from the garden

Looking Forward to April (have to look forward with hope)
There will be the bill for the boiler repair - he was here 2 hours and had to put in a new something because the rubber seals had gone. And here's an interesting fact.......... There is now a percentage of bio-oil in heating oil which reacts with rubber seals on pumps etc, so all round the country older oil boilers are leaking and having to have work done.
Looking at last Aprils expenses in the accounts book I can see that there was money spent on things that are not happening this year - holiday, Suffolk Show ticket, hair cut. Heating oil is still OK and I won't be shopping for shoes, clothes or at boot sales or spending much on diesel.
Just the TV licence due - looks as if it will be a very low spend month!

 You would think that after living here for 3 years I would know where things were round about but yesterday I discovered my nearest Post Office is not where I thought - nearly 5 miles away in Debenham, but down a couple of little lanes, through a ford (no water flowing luckily) in one of the villages that I never go through, in fact no one goes there unless they live there or are lost! It's one of the few remaining little post offices attached to a house and the lady running it has been there 40 years! So more parcels of "things to do" have been sent off to the two oldest grandchildren. I'm glad I collected so many bits and bobs from boot sales last year.
I fixed up the other "Clear up after your dog" sign and potted on the yellow mini plum tomatoes, then lit the wood-burner early again as it's still blinkin' chilly with pouring rain late afternoon. At least the grass isn't growing as the mower repair man is out of action all week again, so no chance of getting the ride on mower sorted this week.

I'll leave you with this thought.............If you think the noise you can hear while fiddling on the blog is just more rain on the conservatory roof, it might not be, it could be the carrots boiling dry in a saucepan!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 30 March 2020

Strange Times Week 3 Post 1 .....More Ideas For Saving

The third strange week and the second week of lock-down. Hope everyone is keeping well.

To save on energy bills
Go round the house looking at everything that's plugged into a socket.
There are quite a lot of things that use energy even if the are not being used. I now turn off my microwave at the plug and leave the door ajar after using it because it dawned on me that maybe the reason the last microwave went rusty was because the door gets shut when the inside is still steamy and damp. So the timer lights are now off all the time except when the microwave is actually in use.
The plug on my DAB radio used to feel warm even when the radio wasn't on, so that always gets turned off at the plug nowadays.
I always leap up and turn off the phone charger when it bleeps at me for full battery, if I don't do this it gets forgotten.
Now we're on BST it will be lighter later in the evenings so that should help - just stay in bed longer in the mornings so you don't need lights when you get up!
Turn thermostats down and wear extra layers, thick socks and a hat help too.
When you boil a kettle don't put too much water in or  you could tip excess into a flask for later.
Fill the oven when you cook
Use the coolest and shortest wash cycle possible and wear clothes until they are actually dirty then as you are at home you can pick the right day to do the washing so it can be hung it out  rather than automatically shoving it all in the dryer.
Actually that's a good idea for always saving money - THINK!  is what I'm doing wasting money? and could I do it differently to save instead?

There are loads of energy saving tips on line
Uswitch HERE
Energy saving trust HERE
Money supermarket HERE
and many other places.

Yesterday was a  horrible day here in Suffolk, a really cold wind with snow, rain and hail showers. In one of the sunny spells I got the bike out to see if the house down the road had eggs out for sale - and they did - handy. It was hard work biking home - head wind. I was glad to get in and light the fire.
Different people have been walking past the house and down the meadow footpath all week, and  I need to get the other "Please Clear Up After Your Dog" sign up on my new gate, I fixed one on a tree at the other end of the meadow months ago, but with lots of new people using the footpath I found dog poo on the meadow - Angry face!.
Col's sister and husband also live at the end of a lane with a footpath through the farm yard, H said it's been crazy with people walking and it's even worse for them as they have two dogs,who bark at strangers, she said they seem to be forever looking to see why they are barking and  having to call the dogs in as people walk by.

I brought in my first 3 Tulips - small but perfectly formed. This is the third year for them and I should have dug them up and fed the bed last autumn and just replanted the best bulbs, as now I've got lots of leaves and only short small flower buds. Note to Self.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 28 March 2020

Exercise Allowed

My Thursday exercise took me on my bike along the road, round some corners, down a hill, round another  corner until I came to the Mill House, with the church behind it

Once there would have been enough water running underneath to turn a wheel here, it would have been a busy place.

 Nearby is the village phone-box. No longer in use as a phone box it has become an information point for the 6 mile village cycle ride loop and has this wonderful stained glass. It now also contains a USB point for people to charge mobile phones.

Close by is this magnificent Magnolia - just coming into flower
On my journey I saw one other cyclist, one lady on her horse, two people walking and about 5 cars - which is just about normal for a sunny day in our quiet rural village.

On the way home I took a photo of the Horse Chestnut with leaves just opening and 'candles' just appearing, it was  very windy so a bit of a blurry photo.
Nature looking fresh and green all around.

But look at my cucumber plants. That B***** cat managed to pick her way over other things on the table in the conservatory to take some bites out of the leaves.......every year she does this, every year I think I've stopped her getting anywhere near them. It's only the cucumber plants and only when they are small and hopefully they'll recover. 
 She's a dear little cat but at the moment is being a right pain, I'm sure she's picking up the unsettled feeling from me - dogs do but can cats?.................. She's got in the habit of dashing round the bedroom and scratching the carpet just as it's getting light. I now keep the cat flap shut at night to keep out the cat that was coming in and pinching Polly's food so I  go down and unlock the cat-flap but she doesn't want to go out - she just wants me to get up. I've tried shutting her out of the bedroom but then she just scratches at the door and miaows plaintively.

This week I'm so grateful for
  • Social media to see photos of my grandchildren keeping busy
  • Ian, the boiler man who came quickly to sort my boiler when it started to smell 
  • A garden to grow things
  • The sunshine this last week

And Finally.................

Why does nobody tell you that when you have children you carry on worrying about them whatever age they are?

Back Monday

Friday 27 March 2020

Strange Times Week 2, Post 3

A few more ideas and tips for living on less, mainly for my Eldest Daughter who asked me for help. Apologies if this post sounds a bit bossy.
If you've written a list of all the things you spend money on in normal times now you can look at each item to see how to cut costs.
Treat saving money as your new job  - a battle - a war that you have to win.
So you are NOT out of work - you just have a new job - money saving.

This is somewhere where you really can cut down spending - there are lots of cheaper foods that are just as filling.
You might need to learn to eat a different way, and not buy things just because that's what you would have eaten. Yes that will be difficult.
Plan the weeks meals, stretch meat by adding vegetables, lentils etc. You have to realise that you can't afford meat every day. Most of the world manages with very little meat and waste nothing.

Have a look at websites that give ideas for thrifty food and use what you have.....
Janes Blog
BBC food
Thrifty Lesley
A list from 2015(and I know that's 5 years out of date but it's just an idea)
Jamie Oliver has a new programme, quickly made especially for Strange Times. Called Keep Cooking and Carry On. It started last night and was supposedly thrifty - although his idea of thrifty and mine are different, but his bread dough looked pretty good.
I could find more but that's enough to start with

Water and Sewer Charges
I think if you are on mains sewer ( as opposed to my septic tank drainage here) then you are charged for waste water based on the amount of tap water you've used - if you are on a water meter - please correct me if I'm wrong. By cutting down on water use you'll save in two places.

You might not like some of these ideas but remember you've got a battle to win.

  • Never let water run down the drain without thinking what you are doing - look at it as money. Catch cold water when you are waiting for hot, use it for loo flushing, soaking clothes or saucepans. 
  • I've never had a dishwasher so don't know if they really  do use less water than a washing up bowl, which is what the manufacturers claim but either way - don't use the dishwasher for just a few things. 
  • Rather than using a big washing up bowl - wash-up by filling the biggest thing you have to wash (ie saucepan) with hot water and W-up liquid and then use a brush to wash everything else from the soapy water in the saucepan. I always do this when I've used the bowl of my Food Mixer - it works.
  • Don't put more water than you need in a kettle, and don't then tip it back out again down the drain the next time you want to fill and boil it.
  • Share bath water and bath or shower less - you can't afford to be squeamish about this. If you are at home all the time you're not getting dirty. The majority of the world's population don't have enough water to bath or shower everyday, but they still manage to stay clean.
  • Always use the short flush on the loo and flush less often - as above don't be squeamish. Just use the loo brush more often after flushing.( the rhyme used to be - if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down!)
  • Use the shortest wash on the washing machine and DON'T wash things until they are dirty. If you are at home they're not going to get very dirty. Get everyone out of the habit of putting their clothes to wash everyday. (Obviously I'm NOT including knickers/pants in the wear more than once thing! although even that was quite common until around the 1950s/60s ) Now you are at home you can hang things like bath towels out to air to use again.
I'll think of some more ideas for next week but in the meantime turn off all the electrical gadgets that are normally left on and TURN OFF THOSE LIGHTS (constant shout in our house back when we had 3 children at home) and DON'T LEAVE THE FRIDGE DOOR OPEN. ...ditto and TURN THE TV OFF IF YOU'RE NOT WATCHING IT ditto again

The cat was due for her routine flu jab this week but that's been cancelled. The vets are emergencies only. The same with my expensive dentist appointment in April - they too are doing emergencies only.
The mower hasn't gone off for repair yet - they are still working as they can collect mowers and deliver without seeing anyone - but their repair bloke has an injury, so off work until next week.
I now have a boiler problem - it's working but smelling a bit odd. I rang the boiler man and he too is still working as he can work...... wearing gloves......on the boiler without getting anywhere near the house owner. I guess they are able to keep working as it would be dangerous for everyone if  boilers or gas or electric couldn't be repaired and were running when faulty. Hope he'll be able to fix it soon as the weather is turning colder.
I was surprised to see the window cleaner turn up - not an essential job really but he is self-employed, works alone, doesn't need to see anyone, has his hands in and out of soapy water all day and said he'd keep going while he could. He was only doing outside windows of houses out on their own not ones close together in town with  people around. He said (we spoke at a distance of  a lot more than 2 metres!) he's been moaned at for doing his job and had other people ring up to ask him when he is coming as he's overdue.......including a care home, full of elderly people,  who wanted him to do inside windows too! Like damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

Hope it's not too long before I can see the grandchildren again -  this serious little man, nearly 8 weeks old now, is growing up fast.
Back Tomorrow

Thursday 26 March 2020

Strange Times Week 2 Post 2

The first serious effect of the virus has hit the family. The Surrey family find themselves both out of work - Son in Law was in a new job in a new start-up company and has been told that as he is at the end of his 3 month trial they no longer want him as they are not carrying on with the company until they know whats happening. Daughter went self-employed and freelance in the fashion industry last summer and that has all stopped. Talk about bad timing.......So suddenly no jobs and no income except the £94 Universal credit  they can claim and no savings having spent a lot on modernising and extending their old cottage a year ago. Oh My Goodness.
Youngest Daughter's job at the opticians has finished for the foreseeable future and her Other Half has also stopped work as he does ground-works on construction sites. Another self-employed person. Another family with no savings. It's such a worry.
Thankfully DiL is on Maternity leave benefits but might not have a job to return to later as she works for a big brewery, Archaeologist Son has been doing paperwork from home and should be covered by that government 80% thing.
Hopefully something will be announced to help the self-employed later today.

Eldest Daughter asked me to share tips for money saving to help everyone who finds themselves in the same situation with no income. I suppose it's true that for a long time early in our married life we lived on very little money so maybe the things learned then should be shared.

  1. The first thing to do would be to straightaway spend NOTHING except on food.  This sounds straightforward but it is something that people who've always been used to having money wouldn't be used to doing.
  2. Look at the Martin Lewis Money Saving Website website - he has up to date info on what help is available.
  3. Write down everything that you usually have money going out of your bank for. You need to know this so you can look at each item individually. There is a spreadsheet available on the MSE website - see above.You've now got time to do this and you need to see it in black and white. Here are some ideas to start with............
  • Mortgage/rent
  • Council tax
  • House insurance
  • Electricity/Gas
  • Water/Sewer charges
  • Food
  • Car/fuel/insurance/MOT
  • TV/Broadband/phone
  • Clothes/Shoes
  • Clubs/societies/subscriptions/donations
  • Medicines/health/prescriptions
  • Laundry/cleaning/bathroom stuff
  • Birthday gifts/ Christmas
  • Personal stuff/Hobbies
  • Pets
  • Misc other things 

I think people with mortgages have been given a three month mortgage "holiday". Some of the other expenditure can't be stopped or changed straight away. But there are things you can work on immediately.

Over the next few days I'll try and list a few ideas.

BiL  had a weeks holiday off work this week and was planning to come and help me on Tuesday with  cutting some small wood ready for me to cut for kindling. I was going to cook dinner for us. Of course Monday's announcement put paid to that, unfortunately the news came  a couple of hours after I'd taken 1½ Gammon steaks out of the freezer, dug my last 4 leeks out of the ground to eat with the gammon and pulled a good bundle of rhubarb to make us rhubarb fool!

So the leeks were turned into soup and some portions put in the freezer, the rhubarb was turned into two crumbles and one put in the freezer and, because I only eat half at a time, I've got 3 days running of gammon steak - Much more meat than I usually eat.
I took a photo........ but thick leek and potato soup (I'll thin it down when I heat it up) is not exactly photogenic so I won't share it with you!

I went out to Post Office and Co-op food shop on Tuesday for fresh fruit which was my first outing for shopping for 6 days - I think this is allowed.
After all the fuss about people stacking their trolleys high over the last couple of weeks I didn't understand  when I heard on TV someone complaining that they had seen a person coming out of the supermarket with just a couple of things. Not sure how that was a problem perhaps they were leaving things for other people.

And I can now leave milk in the shops for other people because when an email from Approved Food popped up two weeks ago I looked to see if they had anything useful.......hadn't shopped with them for ages. They had nappies which I was able to give to Son and DiL for Willow and Arthur, another item which were disappearing from the shelves like crazy; sugar which was something I'd missed getting and these

Not good for cutting down on plastic but.................

I also got a pack of 6 bags of Wotsits - but don't tell anyone!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 25 March 2020

March 25th and Spring Flowers

Here's another cheerful post to avoid the new C word!

Today is Lady Day, the Christian festival celebrating the Annunciation of Mary and the Immaculate Conception and  today is also my sister's birthday.....Happy Birthday L.
 Lady Day was the day when servants and farm workers made an agreement with their employers that they wouldn't change their jobs in the next year.

 I found just one piece of weather lore

An East wind on Lady Day
Will keep on 'til the end of May 

 The primroses are still going strong all the way down my meadow, they've spread really well since we stopped cutting all the grass. In the first year here I bought some pots of cowslips but only one seems to have survived although I have got a couple of clumps of  what we always called Five Fingers but are really Oxslips.




Also growing are are few small clumps of Wild Garlic or Ramsons. These were also planted in our first year when BiL brought a bucket full dug from the woodland where he hauls out fallen trees.
Wild garlic/Ramsons
 They've taken a long time to establish because it's probably a bit too dry for them here but when I cut some to add a bit of flavour to an omelette on Monday I spotted some tiny leaves away from the main bits - so hopefully they will spread now they've got going.

2 Egg omelette, with chopped ramson leaves on a slice of home made bread - delicious
To celebrate the spring sunshine over the last few days, here's  another Flower Fairy Illustration from Cicely Mary Barker.

Enjoy the sun again - if you have it today  - we might get snow on Saturday Brrrr.

 Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 24 March 2020

LOCK DOWN and St Lawrence Church, Brundish

Well here we are as expected - LOCKED DOWN - but sooner than we all thought. I do understand it even though there have only been 20 or so cases in Suffolk.  There are hardly any police here (all small police stations closed several years ago) to check on us all so I bet rules will be ignored by many people!

I had a parcel to post and have no idea if the Post Office inside the Co-op will be open. The Welsh Minister clearly said that PO's and banks in Wales are staying open but no mention by Boris for England. So I will go out for fruit and find out and need to see about vets being open - I guess not.

Anyway here is what was originally planned for my post today................

 A church post from drafts.
This is the 50th church I've visited out of 100 in the book. There are a few left in Mid and East Suffolk to visit but most of the remaining 50  are many miles away and need a day trip out - something I won't be doing in the foreseeable future.

There was a problem with the 'treasure' that gets this church a mention in the 100 churches book.....I couldn't find it. But then I realised the Brass effigy of a priest and other brasses were hidden under large mats around the altar - to keep them safe and clean I guess. So no photos, but there was a framed picture on the wall of pieces of  some of the brasses.

Brundish is a tiny village in the middle of farmland,  perhaps that's why the Victorians didn't do much 'improvement'. So it is very plain and even the few bits of stained glass disappeared thanks to a stray German bomb in 1941. Apparently it has undergone quite a lot of restoration work in the last 20 years.

The tower seems very square and solid because it has no buttresses. It was originally Norman and the lower half survived a 14C rebuilding 

The view down the Nave towards the altar - a very light plain church. There are some box pews for the gentry at the front while the commoners had to sit freezing in the ordinary pews behind.

 The pulpit, with its C17 Tester or sounding board so that the preachers voice was projected forward

The pipe organ is almost new. I thought I'd taken a photo of the notice on the side, which tells it's story but found later that I hadn't...Duh. But I do know it was built in the last 20 years by Peter Bumpstead who was at Stowmarket Grammar School at the same time as I was although a year older I think.

In contrast to the new organ, the door is probably as old as the doorway. It is covered with studs, nail holes and pins where notices have been affixed for 600 years!

There is much more on the Suffolk Churches Website including photos of the brasses.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 23 March 2020

Strange Times Week 2, Post 1

An annoying thing...........................
It was a lovely sunny weekend,  and I started cutting the grass with the ride-on mower - when Clunk! and whatever it is that engages the cutter blade - belt? cable? - broke. Botheration. I'll ring up the mower repair place.......again. I did some cutting with the small battery mower until that went flat and needed charging, then some strimming with the battery strimmer. .... the joys of owning an acre............machinery is needed. Luckily the weeding and cutting back of the flower beds only needs a hand fork and secateurs.

An amusing thing..............
My BiL A (Col's brother) the one who comes to help me sometimes with wood cutting, is a 60 year old bachelor, who spends his spare time in a pub. So I texted him to ask what he was going to do now the pubs are shut? He said he wouldn't have time to miss the pub as he's spending all his time reading his phone. I asked what on earth he meant and turns out after all these years he's got himself a smarter phone and is now on Facebook. He got someone to help him set it up and now he's getting bombarded with friend requests! I did say that he didn't actually need to look at his phone every time it bleeped at him! 

Lovely things...............
On Saturday the postman brought me a parcel for Mothering Sunday from the Surrey family......Lindt Lindor.....very bad for losing weight ......but very delicious, I shall try to ration myself to one a day. They are 100 calories each!
My children rang and texted - not quite what we had planned but that's the world now. Son and DiL called round with a card and flowers and to pick up a bag of books for Willow - with libraries all closed she needed a bit of variety.

An ignorant thing..................
I see the computer generated comments about  Baby Boomers spreading the virus and needing to die have gradually got longer and more prolific, the authors must have even more time on the hands. It's so funny as baby boomers are presumably the parents of the people who've started off these nasty comments. I just delete forever.

Sunday Worship.............
I'm not particularly religious but love a good hymn sing so I enjoyed  a blast from the past.......a Sunday morning service on TV as well as Songs of Praise. It came from St Davids Cathedral in Wales - somewhere I regret not visiting on all our Welsh holidays.

According to TV news there is now 1 BILLION pounds worth of extra food in people's cupboards. I have an awful feeling that greed will mean terrible waste later on - it's frightening how greedy some people have been. Where notices tell people to limit to two items some are taking all family members shopping, so each have a trolley. Crazy. Then I wonder how I would feel if I had a big family to feed and empty cupboards.......would I be the same?

A quicker stitch............
My last cross stitch took me an age to get finished, this seagull just took a couple of hours as it was one of the little Mouseloft kits. I think it was a gift from a penfriend. I'll get it into a card blank soon.
When I cleared out lots of craft stuff I kept all the cross stitch charts, thread, aida and some of the smaller kits that had been collected over the years. I think I might be grateful for them in the next few months.

My neighbours down the other end of the lane popped a note through the door with their mobile numbers just in case I needed anything as they are both classed as key workers so will be out and about. More neighbours from down on the proper road walked by when I was outside and said to call in if I needed any help and I already have the mobile numbers of my other neighbours in the lane so should be OK I reckon.

Today's Saint is GWINEAR
When St Patrick was trying to convert the Irish to Christianity in C5 he was rejected by King Clito. But the King's son Gwinear was converted and left the palace and became a hermit (Yes another hermit!). Later he took 770 men and women to spread the Christian faith in Wales and Brittany. He was martyred by Teudar a Cornish tyrant  and there is a Cornish village called Gwinear named in his memory.

I've got a final Suffolk Church Posts in drafts for tomorrow.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 21 March 2020

End of Strange Week No. 1

I heard someone say "Keep smiling through" which is a line from from the famous WWII song "We'll meet again" and various reporters have mentioned "putting the country on a war footing" but all the Covid19 restrictions are much worse than back then. Although cinemas, football matches and theatres were initially closed/cancelled all reopened and restarted fairly quickly when it was realised that people needed somewhere to go and socialise. Wonder how long it will be before things are re-opened in 2020. Longer than in wartime I think and Suffolk libraries are the latest places to close.

It's not surprising that supermarkets have run short of stock. Very few have big stockrooms like they had in the past and they rely on regular deliveries at times set by how quickly stock usually goes off the shelves. So maybe the normal is one toilet roll delivery a week and of course if everyone suddenly buys loo rolls then the shelves will empty, it would be impossible to get a delivery earlier than the norm - hence the empty shelves.
As I said yesterday I've always kept well stocked food shelves due to Col using the one car we had and only shopping once a month and I remembered  back to our first years at the smallholding when the only places to shop were a small Somerfield and a Co-op and it was quite a common occurrence  for them to have an empty space with the one thing I'd run out of, so I got into the habit of buying double when it -whatever it was - was actually on the shelf. Once you are used to opening the cupboard and seeing it nicely full it's a difficult habit to change. Moving here and being widowed hasn't changed my preparedness - I'm a long way from a shop now.

This is the 3rd post in the first week about the Strange  Times but  back to the ordinary stuff and  the car was serviced and passed it's first MOT test - more expense but good news. I was thinking how ironic it is that diesel prices at the pumps are the lowest they've been for ages but there is nowhere open to drive to!

On Friday Youngest daughter had an important appointment and when the time was changed she asked if I could go over and take Florence to the final Ballet class before that too closed for the duration. Then home to stay in for the weekend.

I have a cunning plan for blog posts because when I went to Eye the week before last for the Weight Management thing, I stopped at the charity shop and found this, a quick flick through and it looks like every day of the year has a Saint.
So that's my plan,  prepare yourself to find out more about forgotten Saints than you ever wanted to know!

 And because of the book I found yesterday -20th - was St Cuthbert's day (some people might know why that's an important one for me😉) and today is the special day of St Nicholas von Flue who in 1481 was a hermit living in Switzerland and known as the wisest person in the country. He became a hermit after marrying and having 10 children!

This week I'm grateful for
  • Keeping well so far
  • The car passing MOT and it will save wear and tear if I don't go out far!
  • Cupboards stocked
  • That 48 loo roll delivery from the "Who Gives a Crap" company. 

Have the best weekend that you can, we've put off mothers day celebrations until this is all over. I'm not in the vulnerable groups It's only because being on my own I'd quite like to avoid catching anything if I can.

I've just seen a local weather forecast for next week - cold nights, chilly wind  but SUNSHINE - good news indeed.

Back Monday

Friday 20 March 2020

More From Strange Week No.1

Spring really begins today with the Vernal or Spring equinox, if only someone would inform the weather Gods!

I love a good list so I've been thinking of things I can do while staying safe at home, this is provided I don't come down with IT and feel very unwell of course.

Top of the list is Reading of course

Paint the skirting board in the kitchen (it's been waiting for 18 months)

Write a letter to my penfriend on a windy island🙋Hi W

Sort out the flower beds under the living room front window and by the conservatory

Cross stitch

Think of ideas for blog posts
Walk over the fields

Chop kindling wood

Sow more seeds

Plant out the gladioli bulbs

Get back on my bike

Write letters to other people

Find odd things to watch on TV

Some of the above need warmer/dryer weather please, yesterday was grey, damp and chilly and didn't encourage me to do much at all, although I did get that cross-stitch lighthouse into a card-blank.
On the growing vegetable front..................
In the conservatory seeds are turning into plants these are the things now out of the propagator - the cucumbers are already potted up into slightly bigger pots - a bit  early. 6 Ildi tomato plants are looking OK, but not many of the Big Mama have germinated. Peppers are a problem - just one seed germinated out of 6. I've re-sown. Basil is a fail, need to re-sow. 5 Aubergines germinated. I sowed Parsley thickly as sometimes they are a pain to get going but plenty germinated - centre left.

At night I cover all the above with various clear plastic lids and put the frost buster heater on if the forecast is for very cold.
Lettuce and leeks don't need heat so they are now sown out in the greenhouse. In a week or so I'll do another round of sowing in pots in the greenhouse - some of the things that go outdoors like courgettes, squash and beans.
I'm glad I ordered some brassica  plants from one of the seed companies as my first thought was to wait to spot some at boot sales - such a lot of people will lose out from not being able to sell there.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 19 March 2020

First Half of Strange Week No.1

Not an ordinary week for anyone anywhere and now the Eurovision Song Contest has been cancelled - what shall we do!! and Eastenders  stopping recording - that will upset some people - but not me....I've never watched an episode right through and the odd bits I've seen just made me  feel very depressed.....it's not a fun programme is it?

On Tuesday DiL had a trip to hospital  for a short appointment. Originally I was going to go with her and look after  Willow and Arthur there. But we decided it was safer and easier for me to look after them here. Last time I looked after 2 children under two years old I was only 27!
Arthur woke up when they arrived at mine and was OK for a while. I got some big smiles and he is starting to make a few baby-talk noises but he was tired and really needed to be asleep. And soon he started to cry. He has a loud cry.....a VERY loud cry. I tried rocking him in his car/carry seat and laying him flat in the carry cot (DiL brought everything!) and finally pulled his hat on and popped him in his fleecy sleeping bag with another blanket and cover on top and shoved him outside in the double buggy - it's too wide to get through the back door........... and after just a few minutes of rocking him back and forward he was asleep. Phew. Me and Willow watched cbeebies - anything for a quiet life!

Yesterday I had to go to Stowmarket to the bank and braved Tesco on the outskirts of town - 9 a.m and it was busy - I think about 5 times busier than it usually is at that hour. As seen on TV ......shelves in many areas were empty but unlike what I'd heard there was no pushing or shoving and everyone was being patient in the checkout queues. There were staff doing the online shop picking - heavens knows what they do with empty shelves.
Then into town to the bank and Asda - much quieter, perhaps only twice as busy as usual. I got all I needed which wasn't a lot, the only thing not available anywhere is yeast, but I've enough left for several loaves.
I've always kept a well stocked cupboard going back to the days when we only had one car which Col used for work so we only did a supermarket shop once a month and if something I needed wasn't available it would be several weeks before I could go back again.

So as to keep blogging my posts are going to get extremely boring - the minutiae of my days! but not what I have for dinner! that would really make for dull posts.
Speaking of which............The OneSuffolk weight loss management programme which would have been week 5 out of 12 is another thing cancelled although there is going to be something available online.

This was a sight not seen recently................it's just a tractor spreading fertiliser on the field over the track but everywhere has been far too wet for farmers to get on the fields until now and judging by the depth of the tram-lines this one was leaving I reckon the fields are still very soggy.

 Thanks for comment yesterday and I love the idea of an online blog quiz. The trouble is it would be far too simple to google answers!

Back Tomorrow with vegetable garden news and a fill-empty-days list - bet you can't wait!!

 (I've puzzled over what labels to use for blogging during the coronavirus days and decided on STRANGE TIMES)

Wednesday 18 March 2020

WI in March

This will be my last WI post for the foreseeable future as National Federation have advised no more meetings for a while - to protect all members and speakers- many are elderly.
I hope they (NFWI) decide to let us off some of next years membership subscription to make up for all the meetings we will miss! 

 Big WI don't meet in January and Small WI just watched an old film (not my idea of what a WI meeting should be). Then in February I was looking after Willow one evening and later in the month extremely tired so missed those meetings too. Finally got to both meetings this month.............

Big WI had Edwina Hughes from Norfolk who came to tell us about dyeing using natural materials. She had become interested in this several years ago and decided to finish working and go to Art College in Norwich to learn more about textiles, dyeing and print.
She told us how dyes can vary even using the same materials. Depending on time of year they are picked and even what side of the tree leaves come from. There are also big variations dyeing wool, cotton or silk and the mordant (Fixing the dye) can be alum, copper or rhubarb which also changes the end colour.
 She had sample books from her college days showing all these differences. She told us about all sorts of things used for dyeing in the past and how if  scraps of material are found in archaeological excavations it is often now possible to find out what plant was used to dye the material.
She has been invited to take part in Agricultural shows where they show how wool goes from sheep to clothes....all in one day........... which she says will be an interesting experience.
When her brother died two years ago she planned to sell up their family farm but has decided to start a new venture on some of the fields growing dye plants and drying and packing them to sell.
Next day I searched my shelves for an old book about Natural Dyeing which I knew I had so I could read more but then remembered I had sent it off to another blogger - although I can't remember who?

At first glance Small WI's meeting sounded boring. A speaker (not sure of his name as it was Latvian, although he was born in this country) talking about the life and poetry of Rudyard Kipling. But I know from past experience it's often more about the speaker than the subject. The man had been a teacher before retiring and got interested in Kipling many years ago, he has given this talk lots of times so was able to speak for 45 minutes without um-ing and eh-ing at all. Far from being boring it was very interesting.
All I knew about Kipling was The Jungle Book (much used in Cub-Scouting) the poem IF which was once voted The Nation's Favourite poem and the fact that he had many famous friends and relatives.
But he was an interesting person. Very well traveled and VERY prolific,as a journalist he turned out articles, short stories, longer novels and poems by the dozen every year.  At one time, while in Africa his bank failed and he lost all his money but later, back in the UK he became very rich and was able to afford £9,000 back in the 1902 to buy the house Batemans in Sussex - now a National Trust property.
During the first world war, he used his influence to get his son into the army - despite his son being turned down because of poor eyesight. When John was killed after just 2 days of battle Kipling blamed himself and never really recovered from it.
The speaker made us smile when he said that after talking to one  WI one of the members said "what a shame my husband can't be here as he is an expert on Kipling". The speaker said he was glad the husband wasn't there as he doesn't claim to be an expert - just  interested and admiring  of Kipling's poetry and life - he said knowing there was an expert in the audience would have terrified him!

No WI and no East Suffolk WI quiz next month which is a shame as they are good fun, no swimming, no church visiting, no boot sales,  and I'm worried about running out of ideas for blog posts. They'll end up all being  books-I've-read posts!
But I will keep blogging, it's something we can do to connect with other people without risk.

So Definitely Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 17 March 2020

Onions Are In

I haven't grown onions since moving here as it seemed silly to use the limited space when they are one of the cheapest veg to buy. Then last year my sister gave me a few sets she had spare and they reminded me how good it is to have different sizes and fresh too.
I decided there would be room for a few and ordered some of the heat treated ones as they - hopefully - don't go to seed so readily. We always grew heat treated at the smallholding as we had such dry weather there.

Heat treated sets need planting out as soon as they are received and the weather was perfect so now there are 5 rows across one of my vegetable beds. I was glad it was just one net as it's a bit of a back breaking job.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 16 March 2020

A Windy Sunday

On Saturday I arrived at the big Boot Sale at the same time as it started to pour with rain, so I turned round and went out again.....and so did everyone else.
Didn't even bother to try on Sunday as it was grey, chilly and very windy. Instead I baked scones and went out for a walk across the back field.

I have no idea if this video will work,  and because it was so windy you can't hear the skylarks that I could hear and most of my words were blown away too.

The footpath down my meadow and out onto the field isn't used much and mainly by local people, but if I'd done this walk just a while later I would have turned round and seen a large group of ramblers appearing - which would have been quite a surprise. I looked online and found they were Ipswich Ramblers group doing a nine mile walk in the area.

If we all have to stay at home and isolate ourselves at least I'll still be able to walk the path in the middle of nowhere.

Later I finished  this cross stitch, after it had been sitting half done in a drawer for about 2 years.  I've been right off stitching for all that time.
I used to stitch this design a lot when I was stitching to sell cards at the Country Market. It's quick and easy but looks quite effective especially when done on this marbled blue Aida. Just need to get it into a card blank......which mustn't take two years to do.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 14 March 2020

Nearly Halfway Through March

It's been a very windy week here and I've stood up the olive tree in it's pot about half a dozen times. I think I need to re-pot into a heavier ceramic one as soon as I can. At least there's been some sunny days at last.

No swimming this week  - the changing rooms are having a big refurbishment and everyone will have to use the 'dry-side' gym changing room - no cubicles - I may be trying to lose weight but not enough to reveal all while getting dried and dressed!

I've had the  quotes for doing the new sewer system - The first was  over £8,000! His idea of where to site the tank thing was completely different to the man from the second company,  Man 1 hadn't taken into account the overhead electric cables (danger to diggers). Man 2 said they wouldn't start it until the water table had dropped. Man 1 vaguely mentioned problems with the water table in the quote. Man 2 was surprised at how much I knew about using and renewing septic tanks as I didn't tell him I'd already had Man1 round, although I did explain that I'd lived with 'private drainage' and all it's problems for half my life. Man 2 wasn't so condescending and his quote was £500 less and not payable until the work is done - so that's what I'll be going for. Then when the time comes to sell my house it will all be "proper" and no worries for the buyer.

Last week I covered part of one of the veg beds with a plastic tunnel cloche to dry it out a little so this week I was able to plant out my 10 early potatoes. I've put the tunnel cloche back - just for a week or two. I've got 10 Charlotte second early spuds to go in later.

I hadn't realised the Mysupermarket price comparison website had closed down - what a shame - it was handy to compare prices. There doesn't seem to be anything now that does the same job.

It was difficult to think of reasons to be grateful this week............ too many things to worry about...............the sewer problems, a possible health issue of someone close, the big dentist bill next month, council tax has gone up a lot - a big chunk from my small monthly income and what is the truth about the virus - how will it affect my family, am I more at risk having had pneumonia once?
That's the trouble with being alone - no one to discuss problems with.

  • I have a lovely heap of library books
  • Some fine weather for gardening
  • I'll have no problem with staying at home if we have to, it doesn't bother me.
Hopefully fine weather for looking round a car boot sale this weekend, not sure what else is happening - maybe I'll go panic-buying at all the supermarkets!

Back Monday

Friday 13 March 2020

The March Library Book Photo

I don't know why lots of people first thing in the morning couldn't see the photos on yesterdays blog post about Badingham church. They were all fine on drafts and on the published post that I could see. A temporary blip I hope, difficult to know what to do when everything looks OK on my lap-top. And they came back later apparently - so that's good.

 Because of the mobile library van being off the road 4 weeks ago I was looking forward to collecting lots of books and there were all this lot waiting for me

There are 5 crime, including two by authors I've not read before and the most recent book by Tracy Chevalier. Then all the rest are non-fiction, a couple recommended by other bloggers. 'The Foragers Calender', 'Root to Stem' and 'Eat to Beat Disease' are all what I call looking at books, not for reading straight through.

These should keep me busy for a while. I got through 9 of my own books when I was without library books which have been added to my Books 2020 page and had started M for Malice in the Sue Grafton A,B,C series (one of my collections) but that's gone back upstairs while I tackle the library books.

 I've still got lots on order, some have long waiting lists and others still not yet in library stock but as the library man said "who knows if I'll be round in 4 weeks or if we'll all be shut down"! Oh dear.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 12 March 2020

St John the Baptist at Badingham

The reason Badingham church gets into the 100 treasures book is because of the seven sacrament font. Although there are fonts carved similarly in many other churches in Suffolk and Norfolk this is supposedly the best. The carvings are still crisp even though the font dates back to 1480 and it somehow missed destruction during the Reformation years.

 This panel below shows extreme unction. The dying man in his bed is being annointed with holy oil, while his wife weeps into a handkerchief. By the bed are his shoes and chamber pot

Badingham church is built on a slope - upwards towards the altar, which looks very strange when you first walk in. The is a two foot difference from west to east. There is scaffolding up in the church at the moment where some of the roof carvings are being repaired

Sorry I'm slightly on the huh - as we say in Suffolk -  with a couple of photos. (No alchohol had been consumed!)

Below is a huge tomb - unusual in a small village church. It is for a lawyer William Cotton and his wife, with life size effigies. It dates back to James 1st in the early C17

 One large stained glass window over the altar

And a couple of smaller ones

From the altar looking back you can see the steps down the slope

A strange cat corbel in the porch, dating back to the C12

Another porch where the flints have been used as decoration

Thank you to everyone for yesterdays supporting comments.

I'd had no problems with teeth in the last 7 months so thought I was getting away with just a check up but No, after X-rays he found decay under a filling so I'm going to have my first crowned tooth - costing a blinkin' fortune. An expense I could do without with the new sewer costs coming later this year.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 11 March 2020


Today would have been Colin's 63rd birthday. Cancer doesn't care how old people are.

I'm going to the dentist.  He never minded going to the dentist - I dread it.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Sure To Be The First of Many................

.............photos of car boot finds.

The weather was fine Saturday morning so off down the A140 to Needham Market  - 1st car boot sale of the season.

They've had lots of stone put down over the winter to fill many holes around the site but it was still very muddy in places. Quiet a lot of people there both selling and buying but nothing from my list except things for the grandchildren, I think arriving at 8.15 was too late for the best finds!

Sticker books, washable felt pens, a scrapbook and a magnetic doll dressing kit. This is similar to one I found for Florence for last Christmas although hers was princess clothes. Florence loved hers so I shall put this away for Willow for Christmas this year. I also found a few items of clothing for baby Arthur.

 Finally I bought a pack of 6 Sweet William plants and as the weather was good after getting home I was able to get them planted in my mini cutting garden. There were a couple of Hollyhock plants that hadn't lasted so there was room for the Sweet Williams. Just need to get the Gladioli bulbs in when the weather has warmed up a bit. The Alstromeria have survived the winter and the tulip bulbs have produced lots of leaves. I must remember to dig them all out this Autumn, sort the best bulbs, feed the bed and replant.

There were a few hours of sunshine on Sunday so I finished weeding the Veg. beds and potted up the cucumber seedlings (5 Louisa) and 6 tomato seedlings (Ildi). I brought the wallpaper/carboot table into the conservatory to hold all the plants as they get bigger. There's no electric to the greenhouse so all the early stuff has to be in the conservatory where I can plug in a frost-buster heater if needed - hopefully NOT needed - I don't fancy snow or hard frosts now things are growing.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 9 March 2020

Still Reading From My Shelves

 Lacking library books and the horrible weather means that in the last few weeks I've rattled through several of the books that I had for Christmas. Lots of the lovely Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middlebrow reprints and almost all about WWII...................wish I knew why I find this period of history so interesting.

Marjorie Wilenski -  Table Two. Dean St Press/Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint. Set in the London office of the Ministry of Foreign Intelligence in WWII with the Blitz going on all around. Table Two is where the translators work, nine women - some old and bitter but independent and capable. When pretty newcomer Anne Shepley-Rice arrives she is befriended by the middle aged Elsie. Enjoyed this look at office life, reminded me of my early days in the old fashioned library.

 Michael Gilbert - Death in Captivity; A Second World War Mystery. A British Library Crime Classic  from 1952. This is set in an Italian Prisoner-of-war camp for British Officers. A man is found dead in one of the escape tunnels, it's an impossible scenario and one of the Officers turns detective to find out who the spy is. This is set at almost the end of the war and finishes with the British Prisoners preparing to flee south towards the British invasion line as the Germans arrive to take over the camp. Another well written story - a different look at WWII.

Caroline Taggart - Christmas at War. Non Fiction -Published 2018. Memories of the food, presents, happiness and sadness of all the Christmases throughout the Second World War.From children in this country to prisoners of war. This is just short bits gathered together, interesting but similar to several other books of war time memories (forgot to add it to my photo)

D.E. Stevenson - Mrs Tim Gets a Job. First published in 1947. This author was extremely popular for many years and then nearly forgotten. The third in a series about Mrs Tim. Just after the war and Hester Christie's husband Tim is still overseas. With her daughter off to boarding school Hester is at a loose end until she gets a home and job with the formidable  Erica Clutterbuck who has opened a hotel in the Scottish Borders. I've read the first two in the series and this is just as good - very easy to read.

Kel Richards - The Sinister Student. 4th book by this author written in the last few years but as Golden Age crime and set in 1930's Oxford with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. Apart from the main story this one goes into the realms of Sci-Fi with a Tardis appearing and a student coming back from the future to study the two dons - very odd. The author wrote 4 books featuring the same characters. This one is the strangest. I skipped bits when he is writing about C.S. Lewis' theological discussions.

Eve Diett - Diary of a NAAFI girl. This is a biography written in 2012. After being a Land Girl during WWII and then working in a hotel, Eve and her friend Marge start working in the NAAFI (Navy,Army,Air Force Institute) at a camp in Devon where new recruits for National Service are trained. Everyday was different as she served the young recruits and officers at the camp shop.
Something I knew nothing about so it was very interesting. 

Barbara Noble - The House Opposite. Fiction. Another of the Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middlebrow collaboration. Actually written during WWII by someone who lived through the London Blitz.  Elizabeth is a secretary who has been having an affair with her married boss for the last 3 years. She has moved home to live with her parents during the Blitz.In the house opposite lives Owen, a teenager, waiting for call up to the RAF. Following their lives through  fire watching, sleepless nights, traveling across the damaged city, visiting relatives in the country and the end of the affair. A really good well written story.

My favourite was the last in my list, such a good story, feeling very real.

There was just one Furrowed Middlebrow reprint that I couldn't get into, embarrassingly it was the one Dean Street Press gifted to me. This was by Ursula Orange titled Begin Again. It's about 4 girls, all friends, just after they've finished university in the 1930's. Just couldn't enjoy it so I'm afraid I gave up after about 30 pages. The other two by this author that DSP have reprinted I really enjoyed. Oh well.

Just a few days left now until the library van is round. There are 8 books waiting for me to collect at the moment.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 7 March 2020

Practicing for the Coronavirus............?

......................................by staying at home!!

 Of course that isn't my reason for being at home a lot this week (as far as I know there have been no instances of the virus in Suffolk........... yet) - it was more to do with the weather, lots of gloomy days  and Thursday was just horrible.

Sunday was mostly OK and I got the raspberry/ gooseberry/asparagus  bed weeded and another started then Wednesday was fine and I could have got outside to get the weeding finished but it was the day after having to wear a 24 hour blood pressure monitor - which means waking up every hour during the night when the darn thing bleeps and  pumps itself up, so I didn't have the energy to do much at all.

This week I had my second  'harvest' from the garden.......... chives, chopped into scrambled egg, not quite as exciting as the rhubarb the week before. I've now had a second lot of rhubarb and moved the old dustbin onto another clump.

I decided not to spend the next few winters worrying about how much rain we have and whether I'll have problems with the septic tank pits not draining properly and hardly daring to put any water down the drains, so called up one of the companies who do replacement sewer systems. I want to get a quote from another company too. It will be a big expense (as in £1,000s)  but better to get it sorted and all legal for when it's time for selling.

I didn't need a big shopping trip this week so just popped to my nearest Co-op which is 4 miles away and picked up some fruit. Then I saw this in the fridge reduced price shelf and thought a Green Cheese must be worth a try. It's very tasty - what they call punchy I think.

 Since I got it I've been trying to dredge from my memory a children's song about the man in the moon and green cheese - but can't remember what it was.

Many thanks for all the comments yesterday.

This week I've been grateful for
  • A little fine weather to get some gardening done
  • A lovely quiet swim 
  • Time for lots of reading
    Have a lovely weekend
    Back Monday

Friday 6 March 2020

What Am I Looking For This Year................?

................At car boot sales is what I'm talking about. Weather permitting the big boot sales finally start at Needham Market tomorrow and then Wednesday as well from next week. The small local boot sale should also start this Sunday but knowing how wet it was there last October and how much rain we've had I will be surprised if they do get going.

So what do I need? as usual............I wrote a list................

Things for grandchildren
A couple of big mugs - have to be my preferred shape
A couple of short tumblers
Anything that I use in the house that will save me money later.
Clothes for Arthur as he grows
Some large big flower pots

I'm sure there will be more things when I think of them

 My conservatory is quarter full with grandchildren toys but all are for them up to the age they are now. So with no boot sales I've searched charity shops for some games for them as they get bigger. These are my finds so far

Jacob and I had a go at the  Memory game - all the characters from the Cars films - when he was here a couple of weeks ago.
These games need to be kept in a cupboard, which is currently out in the workshop and too big to fit on the sack-barrow, better get some help to bring it in sometime.

I spend more on the grandchildren than I do on myself which suits me fine!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 5 March 2020

All Saints Church in Eyke

This church features in the 100 Treasures in 100 Suffolk churches book almost because of what it doesn't  have..........A Tower!

Once the tower would have been in the centre of the church now the interior has the remains of  the Norman Crossing Tower - these 4 arches.

Seen from the rear of the church

and closer..........the arches are decorated with chevron or zig-zag patterns which are characteristic of Norman architecture.

 The stained glass East Window

These brasses commemorating  John De Staveton and Wife (with no name!) are from 1420

Once on the floor - this brass

is now on the wall

Beautiful stained glass roundels
The pulpit given  in memory of a parishioner

This big 15C  key hangs on the wall and is a copy of the original which is in the British Museum. The bit that goes in the door (called the 'ward') is cut in the shape of IKE for the village name - impossible to photograph well

The Rector here between 1893 and 1938 trained local people in woodcarving to make the pew ends.
All sorts of birds and animals are featured including an owl

and a penguin

Back Tomorrow