Thursday 30 May 2024

Almost the End of May Frugal Notes

 How did May go for frugal and thrifty? 

The income was the usual 2 pensions (both have gone up a bit so I await notification from HMRC to tell me my tax code will have changed and not for the better!)) and interest on savings bond and ISA.

Outgoings were the usual too - Council Tax, electric, charity, phones and broadband, 2 x diesel for the car, food, household needs. The biggest extra outgoing this month was the car breakdown insurance but there were lots of smaller things.

 I thought there would be no more garden expenses but then the strimmer cord ran out - it's lasted years so has done well, the silly thing is that the cheapest way to buy was in packs of  12. I found somewhere to buy just  4 but I reckon - I'll be long gone before they've been used! From a car-boot sale I bought a pot of Chrysanths to fill a space out the front and when I saw someone else had small Fig trees (first I've seen for ages) I bought one - just in case I decide to move!

The window cleaner came early in the month and I bought postage stamps and birthday presents were sent to Eldest Grandson who is now 8 years old and of course more wild bird feed again - although I've now had to stop feeding for summer as the starlings have about a dozen babies and when they swoop in the feeders are empty in 10 minutes.

On the personal part of the accounts, no flowers or  books were bought - a very good thing! I had a foot care lady round for the first time and went to the opticians where I paid the extra for eye pressure test (the basic eye test is free but they do an extra pressure test which is £20 ) but other expenses were smaller,  the exercise group, a cheap pair of sunglasses from a car-boot sale and I bought a new insulated cup to replace one that wasn't much good and a few other bits and finally on Monday decided to have a months subscription to Discovery+ TV (£6.99)so I could watch the French Open Tennis  - I just have to work out how to cancel the subscription to it before the month is over - it took me an age to find out how to get it in the first place - it's so frustrating to be so technically dense! 

Small things were needed in the kitchen, the regular delivery of Smol dishwasher tablets arrived and I looked several times for the cheap bags of dishwasher salt in Aldi and Asda - but the shelves were always empty and the local hardware place only had huge boxes of the expensive Finish and I was told there was a shortage -  like a year or so ago, so I sent for some and of course next time I was in Asda - there were the cheap bags, sitting there - full shelf! The filter needed changing in the water filter jug that I got for filtering water for the coffee machine so I  sent for a new stock up while I remembered.

 So, we are told that inflation is increasing more slowly and some foodstuffs are coming down in price .....really?? can't say I've noticed. My shopping just seems to be expensive each week . It doesn't help that I like to eat lots of fruit - 3 portions a day if I can - and fresh preferably . But at this time of year it's between seasons and I'm eating  an apple, slice of melon and canned pineapple. Nectarines are just appearing in the supermarkets and hopefully will be costing less than they are at the moment once the season gets going. And then BiL's strawberries and my raspberries will be ready- can't wait!  I always pick the biggest fruit or veg if they are priced up individually and the melon I found one week was so ginormous that it made the scales on the self service checkout bleep - the scales thought I had more than one! I had a big slice every day for 8 days.

Frugal things I can think of 

  • Mending my ironing board cover with new elastic
  • Mending leggings again - now all put away until autumn. I'm in shorts for the duration now
  • Home made white bread, malt loaves and granary bread - another recipe from the bread machine recipe book that I'd not tried before.

  • Reading library books and my own books
  • Made big batch of vegetable korma curry = 8 portions - about 60p each
  • Greetings cards from boot-sale for 50p each
  • Pick the biggest of individually priced fruit veg (cauliflower, melon, cucumber etc)
  • Made a batch of Thai Red Fish Curry = 7 portions, worked out at just under £1 each as I added green beans for a change. Curry in the freezer for several months now..
  • Only use 2nd class stamps

Found in the new Mind charity shop,  a good t-shirt for home wearing. It's a man's one - they are always so much better quality than women's and have a looser fit for hot weather.

Out of the house went a bag of old towels to the RSPCA charity shop and some new (won in the raffle) items to the church in Stowmarket (where the café is)where they have a sale table and a help-yourself-if-you-need-it shelf of toiletries. 
I briefly considered hanging onto things to do a car boot sale myself but I've been to so many, and they've been packed out with folk selling with the same old stuff week after week so I don't think people are spending much and anyway I vowed, after last time, not do one again EVER!

Looking forward to next month..................and June is often a low spend month with the only extra expense (hopefully and touching wood)being the bill from the District Council for the garden waste bin. I have plenty of meals in the freezer now and there will be strawberries from BiL so food spending could be low.

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Wednesday 29 May 2024

Colourful Food

Someone said they love to know what other people eat in different countries around the world so here  are a few days of main meals................

I like home made, traditional and colourful  with different textures............

Beige food would make me feel.................beige!

Home made two cheese pasty using home made shortcrust pastry, containing cheddar and parmesan, onion, spinach and peas.
With fresh carrots and green beans from the freezer and home made tomato relish.

Home made pizza. Using pizza base made in bread machine, home made topping using tomatoes, onion and seasonings. Topped with a few slices of salami + cheddar and parmesan cheese, ( thought I had mozzarella in the freezer but hadn't) Served with salad leaves and cucumber.

Treated myself to fresh asparagus. Served with a poached egg on home made granary bread.

Home made Thai Red Fish curry using Thai red curry paste, potatoes, onion, tin tomatoes, value range white fish and peas. Served with rice and one each of the party food items from the freezer- onion bhaji, vegetable samosa and vegetable gyoza. 

Belly Pork Slice in hoisin sauce plus stir-fry carrots, onions and peppers, served with noodles.

Home made Salmon and Broccoli bake with salad leaves and cucumber and a piece of home made focaccia bread

Cauliflower and green beans with cheese sauce and a few sweet potato fries from a packet in the freezer

Just need to say that my other meals in a day are much, much smaller!

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Tuesday 28 May 2024

The Church of St Peter, Yoxford

 The very last church in Suffolk.............. but only alphabetically!

Yoxford is a busy village, traffic passing through on two main roads and I've been through hundreds of times without stopping but as they were having a flower festival I knew the church would be open so went for a look round.

This old road sign shows that it's on a road to London 93 miles, Framlingham and Yarmouth

One of the Suffolk churches with a spire, this is a large church in the centre of the village. 

(Any spots on the photos are because it was raining - of course it was raining - it seems to be everlasting rain this year!)

Unusually it has no porch and the door is straight into the church, which is very wide and full of columns, arches and beams. The tables and chairs in the photos are because they were serving coffee and cakes. And I'd gone without breakfast so I could partake here.

The flower festival was different to the majority as it just had vases of flowers, no theme and no added extras. The font has good carvings

A lady was playing the organ which is in the very wide chancel, with quite fancy choir stalls on each side

Stained glass in the East window dates from 1920 and is also a war memorial remembering people from the village who died during WWI

Several of the original brasses have been taken from where they would have been - on the floor - and moved to the walls to preserve them

Side chapel altar in the north aisle

Lots of monuments to members of the Blois family

Many coats of arms and behind them under the tower you can see all the bell ringing ropes. The bells were being rung when I arrived but before I could get a photo they were ringing down each bell and finishing.

Some of the flushwork of flints making patterns by the door

Much more information on the Suffolk Churches Website

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Monday 27 May 2024

Following a Tree

 The end of May and time to take photos of the oak trees up the Quiet Lane for the Following a Tree 2024 posts

What a difference a month makes, this time in April the leaves were only just appearing, now they are all there, new green and lovely.

Was oak out before ash or vice versa? I think fractionally the oaks were first , but will the summer be a soak or a splash?  Jolly good question. I heard Monty Don at the Chelsea Flower Show, say twice that we are in for a very hot summer but I'll believe it when/if it's here, especially after the wash out of a Bank Holiday weekend we've just had.

What else is happening up the lane.

The field that had just been sown in April is now showing that it's sugar beet growing there.

Bet the farmer is glad he got the field drained, the water was running off after the huge downpours earlier in the week.

And on the other side of the road the Barley has ears

And dog roses are just appearing

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Saturday 25 May 2024

Another Saturday and A Bank Holiday Weekend.

 This week...............Yet another huge downpouring of rain for many hours on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday. Water across the road in many places again and with it being fairly warm the grass has gone crazy. I've been trying to keep it short so as not to need BiL with his petrol mower to come and rescue it again.  Other happenings this week were getting my eyes tested and looking after the nearest grandchildren for an hour and not much else. I'm struggling through a crime fiction library book by Amy Myers - it's not quite cosy but heading that way and is a bit boring but I want to finish it to see if all becomes clear at the end.

So............Today is the start of the end of May Bank Holiday weekend and it's the beginning of half term week. Usually I would be talking about going to the big Suffolk Agricultural Show on Wednesday but I decided to have a year off going this year and do some other stuff instead.

There's a church I've not visited that has a Flower festival going on so it's guaranteed to be open, then the 1940's days at the Middy railway museum that is just across the fields from my previous home, and car boot sales of course.

Speaking of boot sales these cards were all I came home with the other Sunday ............5 cards for 50p each. Although when I put my glasses on and read the words of the 'Sister' card I had to put it straight in the charity shop bag. Much too sugary and soppy!

This week I've been grateful for

  • Went to the opticians for an eye test and nothing had changed since 3 years ago - Good news
  • There was a bit of warmth among the rainy days
  • Trying out a different sort of bread in the bread machine
  • Discovering why the lights were flashing on my coffee machine (it needed routine de-scaling)

I wonder how long before they start building here? The harris/heras fencing has gone up. It's only a little way from home. When I moved here 3 years ago there was no mention of new houses on this bit of land, now there is permission for 28 and plans for 40 more later. I may have to move again!!

Back Monday

Friday 24 May 2024

Very Small Art Exhibition

 This art exhibition in a local village was much smaller than recent years. I reckon all the people who took up art during covid have now gone back to their normal jobs and don't have time for painting!

I didn't see anything that I loved and some not very interesting. About half the show was large framed photographs of birds and zoo animals - OK, but not my favourite type of art.

Just a short look at some of the work on show- too much reflection from windows for good photos I'm afraid

Helen Maxfield's Linocuts below - she exhibits at all the local art exhibitions. She seems to have some different pictures this year.

This one below is done with pastels - The sunshine on the meadow is well done

A watercolour of a Lotus flower

And These below ..........whatever they are! Not something I'd want on my walls!

These two below which are labelled as Digital Print - on a computer I guess, are they proper art?. One is called 'Cats in Windows' and the other ' Dogs in Windows'. Wouldn't want these either.

I bought a card featuring an avocet to add to the birthday card box, it's one of Helen Maxfield's, although I might keep it and find a frame for it to add to my 'art wall'

Didn't take long to look round and I was soon on my way home again. Another Art Exhibition has been noted in the diary for visiting in June.

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Thursday 23 May 2024

The New Constituency

 Well, well, well, we are to have a General Election sooner rather than later, that was a surprise. So six weeks of campaigning - Oh Great Joy!

 We are in a new constituency this time, the boundaries have changed to keep up with new building and changing populations so instead of being in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (where our MP Dr. Dan Poulter went from Conservative to Labour a few weeks ago but is standing down anyway) the village is now in the brand new Waveney Valley Constituency which straddles the border with Norfolk.

I think it's quite interesting in a nerdy sort of way as there is no knowing exactly what will happen, no sitting candidate - they are all new. I say they , but Labour and Lib Dems must have already given up as there has no information from them at all. The Green candidate has had his supporters delivering flyers for several months.

In all General Elections for as long as I've been voting, everywhere in Suffolk - apart from the occasional anomaly and bits of Ipswich -  have put Conservative MP's into Parliament.

This is what the latest leaflet through the door said "Labour and Lib Dems Can't win here"

In local elections Mid Suffolk became the first District Council to have a Green Party majority. But Suffolk County Council is still ruled by a huge majority of Conservative County Councillors.

The Conservatives have been in power nationally for several years now, maybe Labour will win - I have no preference.  It will be interesting to see what happens both here and for our country  but in the overall scheme of things it probably won't make a iota of difference to us common folk!

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Wednesday 22 May 2024

Red Dead Nettle and the Play Shed

  Lamium Purpureum is a small  common plant of wasteland, disturbed ground and road verges. It isn't in the Urtica family and doesn't sting like some other nettles.

 A plant remembered from childhood. Growing up in a builders yard, for many years without a proper flower garden, these were the flowers that we picked for our play-shed  vase - always a small jar.

They are very useful for lots of different insects like the red mason bee and bumble bees and the caterpillars of several moths feed on the leaves. 
This is what I found about ways they were used in the past..............

  • The leaves and flowers can be used, either fresh or dry, “to make a decoction for checking any kind of haemorrhage.”
  • Mash the leaves so they’re bruised, and apply them to minor skin abrasions and wounds.
  • Make the dried leaves into a tea and sweeten with honey, to help promote perspiration and urination.

Cecily Mary Barker has a Red Dead Nettle Fairy

This is the only  photo I have of our play-shed, it was never called  a play house - always a shed. With Dad being a builder he would have made this easily out of rescued asbestos/concrete panels, which could be drawn on with chalks. Inside we had an old table that had the legs cut down, some stools and an old wooden 3 sided clothes horse with a plank across to make the 'kitchen', with an old washing up bowl. The dolls cot that someone made was out there and a dolls pram and the shed was well used.

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Tuesday 21 May 2024

The Most Recent Vegetarian Taste Test

 I thought I'd tried enough various frozen vegetarian supermarket foods since October 2021 to put me right off for ever.  The last three tests were two things Lidl get in for Christmas, then a  fresh farm shop pie tried in February. 
Since then my veggie meals have been things I've made and frozen myself but the freezer was down to one Thai Fish Curry, one vegetable Korma curry, the salmon and broccoli bakes made last month, a couple of boxes of pizza toppings and my experimental two-cheese and vegetable pasties (and very good they are too but can't remember what I put in them!)

Because I usually go to Aldi on my way into town I rarely buy frozen things there but  a couple of weeks ago I was in town first and Aldi on the way home and I spotted these in the freezer at £1.69 for 4, and thought they were worth a try as they don't have any 'fake meat'  (quorn and soya protein) which I'm avoiding and aren't bean based either (can't eat chick peas etc.)

I added my home made tomato chutney, a smidge of mayo and some salad leaves and it made a very nice meal. Much nicer than the soya protein based Linda McCartney vegetarian mozzarella burgers (2 for £2.50) which I had tried in the past.

 I looked online to compare and spotted some Tesco burgers which seem to have the same ingredients but 2g less fat and are priced matched to Aldi (at the moment) so also £1.69 for 4.
Conveniently Aldi white and wholemeal baps are also in packs of 4  for 69p making a meal for  about 60p.
 I'll definitely be buying again and will eat with tomatoes and cucumber when I have my own.

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Monday 20 May 2024

St Botolph's Chapel of Ease, Botesdale

To understand the  reason for this small church being dedicated to St Botolph and being a chapel of ease to the church at the nearby village of  Redgrave would take several paragraphs but Simon Knott has already done this on the Suffolk Churches website. So it's much easier for me to direct you there!

The website explains the history of this building from Catholic times to Protestant and it's use as a school .

Botesdale itself is an unusual village as it joins directly to the village of Rickinghall and the chapel is even more unusual as it is attached to a house.

It's thanks to the website that I know this inscription above the door was given by a wealthy person to ask for prayers during the Black Death, probably in the 1470's, although it has a later window cut through it.

 It says in Latin Pray for the souls of John Shrive and Juliana his wife. Pray for the soul of Margaret Wykys.

Stepping through the door into a room with wood panelling, notice boards and chairs - it feels like the school it was.

To match the size of the chapel the font is much smaller than those in bigger churches.

Inside is small and neat with pews and woodwork from other churches dating from C19 and earlier.

A kneeler at the altar

From the altar looking back you can see the unusual gallery - very like a Baptist or Methodist church would have. The organ is up there but the door is kept locked so the gallery can't be accessed.

I shall try to go to the 'mother' church at Redgrave sometime although it is now no longer in use and is in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust and kept locked. The parish walked away from it when the upkeep was too much and hoped someone would look after it. People in Redgrave now have a 'modern' church in the village hall - all very controversial in the early 2000's.

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