Thursday 31 March 2022

March Financial and Frugal(?) Round Up

I said March would be an expensive month and Oh My Goodness it really was! I paid the water bill and the sewer bill (two different companies) all at once. I could have sorted monthly direct debit but the amount paid would still have been the same.
The regular phone/broadband  and charity direct debits and the 4 weekly Electric bill and worse of all ....the car service, tyres and MOT.......  which was huge but totally unavoidable, and diesel of course.
As everyone knows the price of fuel for cars has rocketed again this month, at my last fill-up of February diesel was £1.49 a litre I think, that was up from around the £1.30 mark last year. Then in the first week of March it was £1.67 at my nearest garage and then £1.77. The 5p a litre off fuel duty announced on the 23rd will not make a whole lot of difference. I'm going to have to cope with it because after the Covid years I really don't want to forego trips out.

The bill came for Council Tax for the next year. I opted for the 10 month direct debit this year, so that I'd get the £150 Government  "gift to help with price rises" automatically in April rather than having to claim it. That will cover one month.

Garden spending was a biggie too because I bought two water butts and fixings and sent for another water pipe connection for the other side of the greenhouse and a filter kit for the house down-pipe. That means I just need one more water butt and another filter kit and  Brother in Law to fit them, then all will be sorted so that I can ask for a water meter. 
There were small plants for the plant stand from boot sales and I have ordered some brassica plants to arrive in July and some enviromesh to cover them with.
Also splurged on some new clothes - much needed underwear and this will shock the kids......I bought a dress. I really need something to wear at things like WI when it's too hot for jeans and shorts are definitely not suitable. Then I had to send for a waist slip to go under it as the linen mix material was a bit see-through!
Much of my other spending was small things at boot-sales..... 50p here and a £1 there which adds up but not to too much plus a hair cut which has gone up by £2 since last time and my dual membership for Bacton WI (which is half full price).  I still owe for main membership for this village but they are thinking about  subsidizing it so it might be less than the £44.
Then just before month ended  the dreaded dentist check up - which isn't  cheap of course but at least I've not got to have anything done this time and finally I've paid my membership for the over's 60's club.

I've thought of a few things done this month that might have saved me a few pence

  • Dyed a pair of old beige shorts with some navy blue dye, they came out a bit blotchy because I forgot to stir them but will be fine for at home and more practical than a light colour - I'm a dirt magnet when working in the garden!
  • Home made bread
  • 1 Pensioners discount Fish and Chips
  • Sowed seeds of Aubergines, Peppers, Leeks  and planted onion and shallot sets, and the aubergines and peppers are now pricked out into their own pots.                              

  • End of the month I sowed seeds of tomatoes
  • 4 tins of fruit for £1 from boot sale
  • Noticed an ad for the occasional Co-op Freezer Deal , and bought this lot for £5(although I got the substitute ice cream which was Ben and Jerrys Cookie dough ice cream instead.) I don't usually buy fish like this but needed fish fingers for grandchildren and peas were on my shopping list anyway.£5 Freezer filler deals - The Big Co-op Deal Drop The fish was OK but I wouldn't bother with it at full price. I prefer my once a month treat from the chip shop.
  •  Lots of lovely library books for free
  • Gift of half a dozen eggs 
  • Used up the remaining unusual fruits from the jewelled Christmas cakes to make a small fruit cake (it was mainly angelica, crystallised ginger and mixed peel and was slightly odd...but edible!)
  • Made lemon and grapefruit marmalade with a tin of prepared lemons and a tin of grapefruit.

I knew February food spend was just too good to be true at under £80. It just meant that the March food spending was nearly £50 more than that although I bought a few extras including flour, butter, cooking oil and sugar(for marmalade) before they go up in price even more.

Out of the house this month went..............

A bundle of random card blanks and envelopes that I won't need......... to charity shop
Some various craft papers     .................To charity shop
Some children's books not needed  ........To charity shop
Pair of too short shorts.............................To charity shop (although I've just realised all the above are still in a bag on the back seat of the car!)
Next month can't be as bad can it? The House Insurance and  TV Licence are  due but no other big outgoings although we are having a family get together for Easter and birthdays and I've offered to treat us all to a meal out which will be lovely........ I hope!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 30 March 2022

The Church of St Mary, Bacton

 Another church local to me and not in the 100 churches book and for a change it's actually a church I've been in more than once - in fact almost every Remembrance Sunday through my years as a Cub Scout Leader and for a few funerals too.

Bacton is quite a big village now and growing, with 3 new areas being developed for housing in the next couple of years.


The church has been completely modernised in the last 10 years with areas for groups to meet and a room made for use as a mini cafe twice a month.

The church is wide with side aisles and clerestory windows making it light

The font is well carved

And several colourful stained glass windows

The one below commemorates a member of the Barker family from the 1850's. They still farm and own land around the village.

View back down the nave from the altar. The organ is reached by climbing a stairway to the right and was moved there fairly recently.

An eagle lectern, like they have in many churches and behind it is the narrow stairway which would have gone up to the rood screen maybe - not sure. There was a screen across between nave and chancel in Simon Knott's Churches website, there's a picture from 2019 which he says is a screen that was originally from a side chapel. It's now up behind the organ.



What I had completely forgotten since the last time I was in here is that the ceiling is still painted in places and there are the remains of wall doom paintings which were found relatively recently.

The Pretyman family are remembered here. They were once big landowners in the village and there is a Pretyman Avenue to remember them

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Tuesday 29 March 2022

West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village

 Only a couple of miles north from Lackford lakes in yesterdays post the landscape changes to Breckland  which is all pine forests, heathland  and sandy soils. West Stow Country park covers 125 acres and was bought by the council in 1886 when the eastern end was used as a sewage farm taking sewage from Bury St Edmunds over 6 miles away. Then sand and gravel was excavated and eventually it became the country park. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery was discovered here in 1849 but excavations began properly in the 1950s and found it had been occupied as a village for around 200 years between 450 and 650AD.  The park opened to the public in 1979 after the remains of the village had been found.

The play area and forest walks are free all year round but there's a charge for parking  and another charge if you want to go round the reconstruction village and museum but I knew on Saturday they were  having a special free open day with people dressed up and taking part in activities consequently everywhere was  crowded with families.West Stow reconstruction has been here since the late 70's but has grown to include cafe and visitor centre. It's always had a big play area which was the thing the children liked best! We used to stop here for picnic lunch on the summer holiday days when we were all out with Colin when he was bridge inspecting in the West of the county.

It was past time for a late breakfast so I stopped first at the cafe for a gi-normous cheese scone and a coffee sitting under the pine trees.

This board explains why the first settlers choose this place

If you go on a day when the Wuffa - the Anglo-Saxon re-enactment group are not there then there's not a lot to see so best go when they are there - mainly in school holiday time.

There were so many people there making it difficult to take good photos without getting children in the photo but you get the general idea.

This was the wooden spoon making

This lady was doing a type of weaving making decorative bands and used wool dyed with natural materials.
View through the village, some of the buildings show how houses developed through the centuries

The view inside  one of the oldest houses

This lady was explaining about bee keeping and using the honey combs

All the houses have these boards beside them but because of the sun and reflection I've only included this one


Some of the houses have items that would have been used at the time

Houses like this below were still being built through the next 1200 plus years. Timber framed and filled with wattle and daub panels.
Inside a weaving loom and a pole lathe
Another view of a couple of the buildings

In a marquee Suffolk County Council had a stand showing what they are doing at Rendlesham forest which is another area of heathland in the east of the county near Woodbridge. 

This puzzled me because Son used to work for Suffolk Archaeology until they closed the fieldwork department but the lady told me they are doing the excavations at Rendlesham each summer using volunteers.

Part of the gallery in the visitor centre

Then home again along a very busy A14.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 28 March 2022

A Book Sale - Wahoo and Whoopee!

 By luck I heard about the book sale at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust site at Lackford Lakes. I am much nearer now than the time we used to drive all the way there from the smallholding..........that was in the days when we were looking for country and farming  books to sell at The Suffolk Smallholders Show.

Lackford Lakes are old gravel pits North West of Bury St Edmunds and belong to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust who own interesting nature reserves all round Suffolk, this is one of two with a visitor centre and all facilities.


The books are all donated and most are bird, wildlife and  natural history books but there are a few others. I picked out these below.

 A couple for the grandchildren and two more old Ladybird books - I seem to be inadvertently starting a collection. (The Understanding Maps book was one of my favourite ever Ladybirds). Woodston was a library book I loved last year - nice to have a copy. Also got a book of 100 Christmas poems ready for advent posts this year perhaps. They ask for donations of 50p, £1 or £5 for some of the older special books.

I saw a man who is always at book sales, he once worked for Suffolk County Council Highways and Col would  catch up with him at all the book sales each year. He buys bagfuls  of books and sells on ebay, I said "see you at Colchester in October" - that's the huge charity book sale which is on again this year after Covid.

I didn't stay long because I wanted to get to a place not far away that was having a free open day and I knew it would be very busy.

 Sometime I need to visit and actually walk around the lakes and do a bit of bird day. 

Back Tomorrow with lots of photos

Saturday 26 March 2022

This Week and Coping With Price Rises

Thank you everyone for comments on Thursday when two posts got published by mistake and Big apologies for not replying..
 I was so pleased that my spotting of a Reed Bunting was confirmed and others had had them in their gardens too. Maybe the very cold winds we had brought them into sheltered gardens - Mid Suffolk is not well known for it's reed beds, so no idea where they would normally be in the area. I'd been thinking that buying the bird feeders had been a waste of money but now I shall persevere...... just in a small way, as it can be a very expensive hobby.
Which leads me onto talking about the way prices of everything are going up by the minute. Being old enough to remember the same sort of thing happening in the past means it's not such a shock and as far as I know there are just two ways to cope with any price rise crisis........... either you have to earn more or spend less (guess you could rob a bank and then get free board and lodgings for a few years but probably not a good plan).
Our way through all the various spells of rapidly increasing prices in the past was to spend less as I'm basically lazy so working more to earn more has never appealed.
The best thing to do is to make a list of everything that money is spent on each month and then look at each area in turn work out a way to spend less.
The Money Saving Expert website  is a good place to start. I wrote a list HERE   of my outgoings in January 2019. Since that list moving has really helped to cut some expenses - even if during the actually moving process I began to wonder! 
(and I'm now planning an alteration to the bungalow that will take a chunk of the downsizing money but will save in the long term)

It's the fuel prices at the pumps that have been immediately  noticeable for me....... I took a short detour on my way home during the week to fill up with diesel where I thought is was still cheaper but that had gone up too, otherwise there is only one garage within 5 miles - not a lot of choice.
Better stay at home then ......which I mostly have done because I wanted to save fuel for an adventure today.......and it's not a boot sale!

So it's been a quiet week - not much to write about - and that's the second quiet week but next week there's something in the diary almost every day. Unfortunately the first of those is a dentist visit - just a check up - but he's sure to do X-rays and find something. When I had all the appointments last year he said that several of my old fillings will need replacing sometime.

This week I'm grateful for
  • Living in a peaceful country (it's not looking any better for Ukraine - just heartbreaking)
  • Wonderful Spring sunshine
  • The seedlings are still alive
  • Being able to choose what to watch on TV and what to read
  • The magnificent  Magnolia

Hope you have a good weekend, clocks changing ready for Sunday and forecast for next week is cooler.
Back Monday

Friday 25 March 2022

Watching (or Not Watching) and Reading

What a surprise I got yesterday afternoon to discover 2 posts had been published in one day! User Error obviously! The bird spotting post was meant for today.
So better think of something else.....................
  I've no idea if I'm claustrophobic or not - I know I don't like lifts but that's because  the idea of being stuck in one is terrifying rather than them being too enclosed but after watching the series Vigil  last week I shall never ever go in a submarine!
Vigil was on TV months ago but must have been on at the same time as something else because I didn't watch then so a bit  late getting around to it on iplayer.
I'm enjoying the Ipcress File on Sunday nights, which is an adaptation of a book by Len Deighton and came across a really silly crime series called Sister Boniface  and something even sillier which had three crime writers solving crimes for their police officer niece (I think- didn't actually watch much).
Not at all sure about the series that's been made from the Graham Norton book 'Holding'. Set in Ireland and about the finding of a body that brings out secrets from all members of the village. Described as Dark Humour. The juries out.

Did anyone see the thing about people living as the Amish do, but in Devon, through 6 months of last summer. I started and managed half an hour on Tuesday then thought ENOUGH! What a load of rubbish, what a load of odd people thrown together. Supposedly it was some sort of scientific project.
Do I have a another look to see if it improves  or not bother.
First book read this week was 'Merry Hall' by Beverley Nichols. This was originally written in 1951 and is the story of the author making a garden after buying an old Georgian Manor called Merry Hall. Beverley Nichols was a name I knew because he was quite a prolific author and journalist through the 70's when I was working in libraries. This was the ad that drew him to the house...........
"Easy Reach of London. Charming Georgian Manor House in quiet leafy lane. Five acres. Outbuildings.Excellent condition. Freehold. "

This is the description from the library website...............

First in a trilogy, Merry Hall is the account of the restoration of a house and garden in post-war England. Though Mr. Nichols's horticultural undertaking is serious, his writing is high-spirited, riotously funny, and, at times, deliciously malicious.

Some of his ideas about his staff and  about women now seem awfully dated and would have been tut-tutted at a few years later but I really enjoyed this and have ordered another - Sunlight on the Lawn.

Then I had a few hours sitting in the warmth of the greenhouse through the week and read 'What They Knew' by Marion Todd.The library website says.....................

It's the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay when Alison Reid admits a caller to her home. When her death is later reported, DI Clare Mackay attends the scene. The initial evidence doesn't rule out murder, but it's not possible to say for certain if foul play was involved. Yet when the pathologist informs Clare about a post mortem of a young woman found in the Kinness Burn, and with some similarities to Alison's case, it seems there's a strong chance that there's a killer on the loose in St Andrews. Clare and her team will have to look past the obvious conclusions and delve deeper into the lives of the victims to get to the truth. But who else risks meeting the same fate while the clock is ticking? 

This is the 4th book in the series, and the 3rd I've read this year  after someone in Blogland mentioned the author last year. The 5th will be on the Library Van for me next month and the 6th out sometime later this year.
Finally I've just started this from my shelves, it popped up as something I would like and my cheap, well used copy is an ex-library book all the way from across the Atlantic from Duberque IA.
I'll let you know if it's any good and will probably pass it on to someone who would like it later.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 24 March 2022

Bird Spotting

 This week I've forgiven the people who put a flowering cherry in the back garden rather than planting something edible.

My header was taken last week before the temperature rose and all the flowers opened, then this week in the sun the flowers have all opened and standing underneath it was completely covered with buzzing bees large and small.

But what's this I see hopping about from the Flowering Cherry tree to bird feeder?

First thought- Sparrow, the wings were sparrow coloured but then it turned round and had a much blacker head.

Moving very slowly I reached for the camera and zoomed in..................

So not a House Sparrow (picture below from internet) or a rarer Tree Sparrow

House sparrow

I managed to get the 2 photos and it stayed a while and then I searched through the bird book but the only thing sort-of similar was a Reed Bunting, so  looked on line and found this picture below on The Wildlife Trust website of a Reed Bunting.

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting photo from Wildlife Trust website

Are Reed Buntings seen on bird feeders in village gardens? The book says yes in winter they can be.

So I've decided - this could a Reed Bunting - which I've not knowingly seen before. 
I once read about someone - a while ago now- who said that they didn't know the names of birds or flowers or trees and weren't really interested in finding out.
Imagine seeing something different and not wanting to know what it is!
Please let me know if I'm wrong about my bird spotting.

Back Tomorrow


 My sunny spring display on the bookshelves gave me an idea for a post about Daffodils especially as the few WI bulbs I helped plant on the grass verge in front of  the bungalow are just beginning to look good. I did query the plan of planting any here because the council come along and cut this bit several times each summer and if you cut the leaves off daffodils too soon they come up blind the next year.......or not at all. We shall see.

More WI bulbs were planted by members on the very oldest graves in the churchyard and they've all come up and should spread to make a good show in future years.

And sometime in the future perhaps they will look like these, planted on the bank outside the churchyard several years ago.

Of course there is a Daffodil Fairy in the Cecily Mary Barker book

whoops - a bit fuzzy- sorry
Then  I thought I'd delve a bit deeper............
 In my little book called 'The Folklore of plants' it says that people used to think that daffodils brought into the house while poultry eggs were hatching was bad luck and meant nothing would come of the eggs.
Never point at a daffodil - it will stop it blooming ......(?)
At the investiture of Edward Prince of Wales in 1911 there was an attempt to replace the leek with a daffodil as the national plant of Wales.......... it failed.( Are both are used anyway?).
Thought I was going to find more but apart from Robert Herrick weeping to see how quickly the daffodils haste away and William Wordsworth wandering and spotting a host of golden daffodils, I couldn't find anything else in my books.

Back Tomorrow


Wednesday 23 March 2022

Of Course I Found a Few Useful Things!

There were more people selling at Needham Market boot sale last Saturday than on many of the Saturdays last year. I went all round but considering the huge amount of 'stuff' I didn't find many things to come home with me. .

 Barbie doll's clothes and the unusual find of a Barbie wheelchair can be ticked off the list. The plate is for the summer display on the bookshelves. (I searched for summer in the box while looking for spring and could only find the Summer Haze Lilliput Lane cottage). There is another Johnson Brothers cereal dish that I use everyday and two small cross stitch kits that can be made to be gifts.

The book is Laurie Lee's Village Christmas - I dithered about this as I'm sure it was borrowed from the library sometime in the last few years but couldn't remember reading it and it's not listed in my 'book of books read' so it's a good thing  it was brought home. Total of £5 spent on these.


There were so many plant stalls  I could have gone crazy! but restricted myself to a Saxifrage and a Red Cactus for the plant stand.


After the stand crashed over last week I moved it back into the corner but it doesn't get enough sun or light there - probably the reason two plants died over winter - I've now potted up the new plants into clay pots and moved it  further out on the patio but tied to the trellis. That should sort it.

I also bought a pot of 3 Hyacinths for standing on Col's Mum and Dad's grave. I took the Christmas wreath thing off several weeks ago. Col's sister has some faded plastic flowers there in the flower holder - which I think look a bit ugly! Might ask BiL to ask his sister if the plastic flowers can come off and I'll put something fresh on regularly now I'm only 3 miles away. I tucked the little wooden remembrance cross with Col's name on it by the headstone so it's a place to remember him now I've moved away from his birthday wood.

Back Tomorrow