Sunday, 20 October 2019

My Birthday Gift(s)

Since my retirement 3 years ago (doesn't time fly) I've been hankering after a dog.  We had a family pet  up until 17 years ago, a Jack Russell called Harry.  He passed away aged 16.5 years leaving a huge hole in our hearts.  We've always made excuses for not getting another and we certainly couldn't have handled one during the renovations. But over the last 6 months we have spoken at length about the commitment of having an animal.  We even spent 3 months looking at rescue homes but very few non shedding dogs came up.  I have  asthma which I didn't have until we got a dog. I have a few triggers, cat hair being the worst as it also makes my eyes swell, so we had to choose carefully. We finally agreed that if hubby chose the breed using the criteria laid down, I could choose the name. 

On Sunday 13th we headed 193 miles north to have a look at a litter of Welsh Terrier puppies.  They are considered a rare breed as the numbers have dwindled to an all time low and hubby has always wanted one.  We had to wait for the 'birth information' via the KC club who are keeping tabs on the number of breeders and subsequent litters. He becomes our fur baby on my birthday 23rd. 

I  know a puppy is hard work and extra expense but when the rental property sells we will be able to make some serious decisions about our retirement. Hopefully hubby will agree to give up work. We will travel a lot more as so many hotels, cottages and B&B's take pets now, Bertie will travel everywhere with us, even abroad. When he can't come, my eldest daughter has agreed to look after him. 

Another early gift, was from my  friend who kindly gave me some tickets to a comedian at a theatre in Ipswich.  His name is Jonathan Pie and he is currently touring the UK. He pretends to be a political correspondent and his current tour is called 'Fake News'.  We went for a meal and then on to the show which we thoroughly enjoyed despite the swearing which was necessary and in the right context. He is a very clever man, well educated and extremely knowledgeable about politics, tv coverage, social media  and the press. We were still giggling in the car on the way home, which is always a good sign. Bye for now. Tx

Thursday, 17 October 2019


I'm hopeless, my freezer doesn't seem to be reducing at all so the 'Yellow Sticker' shopping will only take place as and when I find a bargain and know I have the space to for it. Sunday saw me take advantage of the Lidl weekend special on 830g Extra Mature Cheddar @£2.69 instead of £3.99, that's £3.24 a kilo. I bought 4 and cut each block into 4.  They were wrapped and 14 went in the freezer. Although the cheese tends to be crumblier when defrosted it still has the flavour and I don't mind that.

When my pension payment drops into the bank next week I fully intend to utilise some of the grocery budget to stock up on 'personal hygiene' and 'household' stuff.  The toothpaste we alternate between is usually around the £3-4 mark. Tesco have Oral B Pro Expert on offer at £1.90 instead of £3.80 until the 5th November. They also have our deodorant at £1.40 (250mls) instead of £2.80. Lidl have a weekend special on non biological laundry gel 888ml @ 99p instead of £1.99, which is good for our everyday clothing. Its only hubby's work wear that needs biological and stain remover every now and them. I'll do a toilet roll, shampoo and hair dye stock take too and add were necessary. Fingers crossed Tesco send me some 'money off' vouchers or the November Clubcard coupons arrive promptly. Both would be very nice but doubtful. (Lidl leaflets are available to view online)

Our rental property will be vacated at the end of the month and we will assume responsibility for it on the 1st. The tenant has been there for 6 years and gave notice last month.  We  know it will be in a worn condition its the nature of the business. I've set up appointments with 3 estate agents who all sound keen to have the property on their books, although they each said would we consider renting it again for £800 a month!   I feel its time to unlock our pension pot before the new 'landlord' tax laws kick in, in April 2020. 
Ilford, Container homes

The problem is the government aren't building adequate numbers of council houses or enough new affordable homes. Nor are they providing any incentives for landlords. Since we've been a landlord they have chipped away at the tax allowances year in year out. Hence, social housing 'container' homes are popping up everywhere. They are aesthetically pleasing but very small, unbearably hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Residents have complained about noise levels due to the lack of insulation between properties. You can see why Jaywick has its attraction, at least  properties there have proper walls, a seaside location  and a small  garden. 
The banks are also to blame, as there are people who can afford to rent but can't afford to save as well. In many, many cases the rental payment is more than a monthly mortgage payment if only they had a deposit to secure a mortgage. More and more children are relying on parents to provide a deposit. Thank heavens my 2 girls both got onto the property ladder before things went mad!  

I don't know where the Government gets their idea of affordable housing from when all that is built around my area is homes in excess of £300k. Most builders preferring to buy small parcels of land so they haven't got to hand any properties over to Social Housing. With no rent coming in I'll have to temporarily tighten my belt as we will have to pay Buildings Insurance which is due and Council tax on the property until it is sold. As well as  standing charges for the gas and electric. The water can be switched off and the system drained if necessary. I know this is all tax deductible on my final submission but you still have to find the money in the first place. 
My MOT is due, car insurance and I need new tyres, that's not going to be cheap. I also have last years tax bill to pay by December. While there's no negotiation with the tax man, I'll be hunting out deals with regards to the others. 
Bye for now. Tx

Monday, 14 October 2019


Hi, I can't believe how long this post on Jaywick has taken! I completed it last week and when I went back in to edit something the whole post was missing......vanished into cyberspace. I could have cried. I still don't know what happened. Anyway here goes. 

It was a beautifully sunny day when I ventured out on my walk in Jaywick,  which now seems like n age ago after all the rain we have had. Looking back at the photos I took on the day, they do lighten my heart during this particularly dreary, grey, extremely wet weather.

Jaywick is approximately 4.5 miles from the village I live in and you couldn't get more of a contrast if you tried. The landscape is unlike anywhere else in the country.

According to  research it was initially part of the plotlands craze of the early 20th Century. With its magnificent miles of golden sands it soon became a popular destination for factory workers from Dagenham and EastEnders who bought up strips of cheap agricultural land for a country retreat. Ford plant workers even built their chalets from the company's packing cases and named the streets, Hillman, Wolsey and Bentley.  

During the war bombed out EastEnders moved to their holiday homes permanently despite the chalets structures being classed as temporary.  They had no planning, no roads, drainage or electricity but I suppose it was better than the city conditions during the war.
Prom properties (sorry about finger)
It is written that most plotland settlements were swept away by the 50's but when you look around Jaywick and its tiny little dwellings, many no bigger than a garage,  it hard to believe. Yes there is mains electricity now, drainage and tarmacked roads but you still get the sense that you are looking at a very temporary landscape. Of course there are some beautiful properties which have been lovingly extended and take advantage of the sea views.
A small one bedroomed renovated bungalow in Jaywick will set you back £52K whereas as beach hut in Holland on Sea 5 miles along the prom will cost in excess of £30k. CRAZY!

Jaywick is classed as one of the most deprived areas in the UK. Unfortunately, the small unrenovated homes have lent themselves to some unscrupulous landlords buying up these cheap properties to rent them out to Londoners,  who want to make their benefit money go further. And of course it has become the subject of a popular series of documentaries on Channel 5 : Benefits by the Sea. The Council have ploughed some money into the area but its well known that they would prefer to demolish it and allow developers in. Many locals feel they have been forgotten. A Jaywick cyclist who regularly uses the Council cycle path to get to the shops in Clacton stopped me as I walked. The route from Jaywick to Clacton floods regularly. He said he had complained  numerous times but Tendring Council had  told him it wasn't their responsibility and to ring the Environmental  Agency. The Agency were responsible as they had undertaken thousands of pounds worth of work along the east coast over the last 5-7 years both at Jaywick, Clacton  and Holland, in order to stop beach erosion. He wasn't a happy chappy. 
Towards Clacton

The Environmental Agency work  has meant some of the beaches at Jaywick have turned grassy and are very popular with dog walkers. I found the walk from Jaywick to Clacton  very pleasant and I'll definitely be doing it again. 
Towards Jaywick, cycle path to right of prom. 
You can see puddles.

Bultins came to Clacton in 1938 after Billy Butlin gained the support of the local council in 1936. It was an extremely popular camp frequented by Londoners and I can remember my dad taking me there  on a 'day pass' when we moved to Essex from Liverpool in the late 60's. It had a great funfair, swimming pool  and large restaurant whereby you could see underwater views of occupants of the pool through glass windows, something that probably wouldn't be allowed now for one reason or another today! But like so many camps it closed in 1983 when alternative types of holidays became more popular. 
Properties at the former Butlins site

Right:One of the many Martello towers on the East coast 

The land was sold quickly to developers and housing of one sort or another now exists on the site. Did you visit a Butlins as a child? I went to Butlins Skegness a few years back with my daughters family and its still as good as I remember as a child. The entertainment was first class and so were the facilities but of course you are at the mercy of the English weather. Back a bit sooner. Tx

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Crikey its the 9th already!

Crikey where has the first 9 days of October gone,  I've been so busy with one thing and another that I lost track of the days. I should also confess to relaxing a little more which has included more Downton Abbey binge watching. I absolutely love the dynamics of the characters Violet Crawley (Dame Maggie Smith) and Isobel Crawley (Dame Penelope Wilton), I have laughed out loud many times. I have been knitting while watching to so not entirely unproductive. 

Marlene over at the Everyday Life blog touched on the subject of sleep (or lack of it) in her post the other day.  My sleep pattern since I retired from shift work has been dreadful and I found it hard to function some weeks. But I have to admit its getting better, so when I find myself tired and needing to stay in bed that's exactly what I do. Most days I'm up at 7 but today it was 9 o'clock before I ventured out of bed having only got up once in the night. Uninterrupted sleep is the best medicine you can give yourself.  

Monday morning I rose thinking I'd  catch up on the washing and prepare a couple of meals for the week. However, I decided to get my crafting bits and pieces out and set about making some cards. The cards produced were quite varied, Christmas, birthday, thank you, New Home and Anniversary. Well it was our 41st Wedding Anniversary on Monday. The cards flowed quite quickly thank to a great range of old card toppers I've cut up over the last 6 months. Now I've started the creative juices I've got lots of ideas for more. I will need to make a couple of envelopes as some of the cards produced are odd sizes. My crafting stuff is quite old so I'm thinking of asking for some crafting bits for my birthday in a couple of weeks time.   

There was still had time to get some washing/ironing and meal preparation in too. Hubby was quite thoughtful and bought me some flowers, skinny popcorn and low fat desserts knowing I'm back at Weight Watchers. There was a large bar of whole nut which is calling to me from the fridge but after staying the same last week I really want a loss tomorrow. I might have a piece tomorrow. 

Yesterday I took advantage of the cauliflower offer (59p) in Tesco and prepped two lots for the freezer, one lot ready to be steamed  and the rest as cauliflower cheese.  I still have another large whole cauliflower in the fridge to use between now and Sunday when I hope to get more before they go back up to over a pound. It was also my youngest daughters birthday (35) so we paid her a visit and I enjoyed a very thin slice of cake!

Ready for cheese sauce

My exercise is important to me so I always make time allowances to get a good walk in or a trip to the gym or both on occasions. While the sun is shinning I'll probably head for Jaywick as I haven't been there in years.  You've probably heard of the place as its classed a the most poverty stricken town in Essex.  Its approximately 4.5 miles from my village and there is a great promenade to walk along into Clacton. In all fairness the range of property there various enormously and numerous  documentaries produced about the place don't do it justice.  Yes there is a very good community spirit in the place, there is a lot of poverty but there is also lot of people who are making money from buying the cheap property and renting it out to Social Cases. They take the money but they don't clear up the mess some of the tenants make. 

I'll be taking lots of photos to show you how beautiful it can be and the juxtaposed situation between the properties that can be found there. Of course having a Jaywick postcode can be quite damaging but there are some local business men trying to invest in the area and get some good housing built taking advantage of the  beautiful views of the shoreline.  Back soon. Tx

Thursday, 3 October 2019

October Spending

Thank you for all your lovely comments on my last post.  You are such a great bunch of people. 

Three days into October already, my oh my how quickly time goes.  I weighed in today and stayed the same having lost another half pound last week, so 3lb in 3 weeks.  But in my defence I have had a MacMillan Coffee morning which made it compulsory to try the cakes and I did wear winter clothes which are heavier than the summer ones I've weighed in previously.  The temperatures in the morning and evening are definitely lower and we need to keep warm. 

I was sent an email from Iceland with a coupon for £5 off £20 and I obtained another from my daughter who had 3 from various newspapers. So I prepared 2 lists carefully and shopped consecutively to get the best deal £15.05 (£20.05) & £15.28 (£20.28). 240 PG tea bags, 10 pints milk, 9 toilet rolls 2 jars coffee (400g), 1 ltr Fairy , 8 tins tuna, 15 mixed eggs, 1 pack ham, 8 Birds Eye fishcakes, 8 Greggs sausage rolls, 2 x 12 Richmond chicken sausages, 1 Bisto gravy granules, 2 packs easy peel oranges, 1 pack pears.

I also picked up some great vegetable offers at Tesco. They have onions @ 45p kilo, carrots @ 59p, plums @ 45p. cauliflowers @ 59p, so I grabbed 2 of the largest as its my favourite vegetable. Leeks @ 45p x 2  just in time for me to make Jamie Oliver's leek carbonara and some hearty leek and potato soup. The carbonara was delicious albeit a little dry because I cut back on the butter as I find Jamie heavy handed with the fats/oils. Next time I'll add a spoon of half fat crème fraiche. I'm hoping to try  a Weightwatchers recipe for cauliflower & chickpea curry.  I think this little lot will last a fair while, good job as I'm nearly at £85 already so far this month. So I'm hoping that I only need to spend out for milk, bread and some fruit and veg. I checked the price tag in Tesco and it looks like the plums, cauli's and leeks are at the low price until 14 October. I'll be doing another Brexit shop once I receive this months pension. My close friend is stockpiling, tinned tomatoes, baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and tuna. I'll be buying pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes, passata, chickpeas and cocoa. 

I've decided  not to purchase meat throughout the rest of October and use up what I have in the freezer. I really want to try my hand at 'yellow sticker' shopping from November.  I've never really bothered before but I think if I can make some room in the freezer in anticipation it would prove useful (fingers crossed).  Brrrrr, I think I'll have to don another pair of socks as I'm feeling chilly,  I know if my feet are warm I'm warm all over. I'll own up,  I'm binge watching Downton Abbey as I've never seen it and I'm loving it. What have you binge watched recently? Bye for now. Tx 

Monday, 30 September 2019


CONSENSUS...a general agreement.

The consensus amongst the bloggers who commented on my last post 'Money Saving Expert' was that being Frugal for Frugals sake is definitely a no, no.  The vast majority of people owned up to being frugal at times to achieve goals.  Being frugal generally means your yearly spend is below the average. Most people spend those savings on extra holiday, treats, paying off their mortgage etc. Being frugal and being mean are not the same thing. However,  to some people the two are the same thing and this can lead to a misconception.  Frugal people search out the best prices, they hate waste and are generally very resourceful. 

Kirrie who commented on the last blog mentioned how she had been frugal to pay off  her mortgage 11 years early and was just about to retire at 55. All the frugal tweaks she made to her life has meant she will soon fulfil a dream of working in Kefalonia as a volunteer helping baby turtles and rescuing  eggs. WOW....Incredible, wishing you all the best. 
She also mentions being asked for financial advice but the person was unwilling to make the changes necessary, finding life impossible without regular beauty treatments,  expensive TV packages or grocery shopping at M&S or Waitrose.  

Earlier this year and for the very first time in my life I was called a penny pinching so and so by a 'friend'. They were really nasty and I believe this was because I wasn't agreeing with their every word about what I should be doing with my life but more importantly my money! I'm not mean, I always pay my way when I'm out with friends and we've treated our children and their families to thousands of pounds worth of holidays and treats. I have financial security whereas the 'friend' wastes money every day and will need to work until they are 66. But I wouldn't dream of commenting on their lifestyle  because I understand  its personal choice.  

Talking of consensus,  hubby and I have spoken at length  since his return from holiday. He doesn't want to move abroad or  separate. We aren't out of the water yet but the consensus is moving slowly in the right direction. Bye for now. Tx

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Money Saving Expert

Do you watch the 'live' program Money Saving Expert (MSE) AKA Martin Lewis? Its back on our TV and I try to catch it most weeks.  Last weeks was quite interesting because he spoke to the  'Yellow Sticker Queen'. Apparently she has been on his program numerous times doing challenges to bring home virtually a weeks shopping for a few pound.  She was very savvy getting to work on her haul as soon as she gets home. Straight away she's cooking things that needed using up quickly, chopping and freezing other things and generally making sure none of it was wasted. She sort of does a quick meal plan according to what she has managed to purchase.   This process is undertaken week in week out and it has saved her a considerable sum. Being frugal had become a habit but it was now impacting on her life. I suppose you could say she was hooked on the money saving and had become anxious about spending money. Let's face it 'all work(frugality) and no play (spending) can make Jack a dull boy'. 

I thought Martin was really good in his explanation, he said he applauded anyone who saved money on everyday things, but saving money should enable you to spend money on what you choose. And I couldn't agree more. The money I save week in week out turning of lights, turning down the thermostat, checking the internet for the best grocery prices, not wasting water etc gives me extra coffers to spend on the things I like doing. Going on holiday, going out with my friends, running a car etc. I have the ability to choose, I'm not frugal for frugal's sake, I simply hate waste. My grocery spend last month was £95.19 and we ate very well with no compromisng. I would like to introduce more meat free days, we currently have 2 a week. 

Over the weekend I visited a Food Warehouse a new outlet backed by Iceland foods. They do a lot of bulk items but I wasn't impressed. I  purchased some Christmas cards for 79p from the Cancer Research shop and I got 2 large punnets of berries for £1 simply by waiting half an hour.  I knew the market stall aims to close at 3:30 so by 3 they normally double up on what they are selling rather than put it back on the lorry. There was rather a lot so I've frozen a bag. I've been buying extra  39p broccoli heads from Tesco and freezing them once prepped. I've also put an extra  2.5kg bag of white potatoes (£1 Tesco) in a cool dark place to use next month. I'm hoping to pick up some apples from my daughters tree and make some apple and blackberry pie filling for those cooler autumn evenings. All those little savings and tweaks week in week out add up.  Have you been to a Food Warehouse near you? Bye for now. Tx