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Sunday 24 July 2022

Free fun day

 There have been lots of events in town this year as it is 75 years since the new town started. It has changed a lot even since we moved here 34 years ago. We have some beautiful places here though. The museum is one and has beautiful walled gardens. Originally there was a big house which was demolished in 1950 but the stables still stand and house the museum. It used to be a cycle museum started by John Collins who had a huge collection and used to ride his penny farthing sometimes.

The general museum was in another big house across town but was a bit run down so it was decided to move the exhibits to the cycle museum and have that as the town museum. DS worked there doing archiving in the transition.  Some of the cycles are still there. Also in the grounds is the copper still from Gilbey's Gin distillery which was near our house but the site is now Sainsbury's. 

So today there was a free event as part of the town celebrations. DS, DDIL, GD, DB and I all went and had a great time especially little granddaughter. Music was provided by the steel band and later the ukelele group. The Brass band was later but we had gone by then. A man always brings some interesting games to these events and GD loves them. Her favourites were the rocket launcher with DS leaping about to catch it and another game which involved pulling two strings to guide a large marble to the top of the board without it going into a hole. She was very determined to do this and kept trying until she could and then had to keep repeating the feat. 

We collected several leaflets of more free events over the next month so lots more to look forward to. 

The last picture is the medlar tree in the orchard where we took shelter from the sun. It is lovely to have these events open again after the last two years.

Saturday 16 July 2022

Missing again

After a long abscence I was going to try to post every week but its been months. I haven't really got an excuse. I just didn't feel like it. I have joined several facebook groups about frugal living and have put posts on those. Also I have started following some youtube channels. 

I had shingles earlier on in the year in spite of being vaccinated. This month I finally caught covid and had a couple of quite bad days. I seem to be ok now two and a half weeks after succumbing. 

DD came for a week when it was very hot and as she has ME and suffers in the heat we couldn't do much especially as it was too hot for the dog. We did have a group greyhound walk when it was cooler the day before I took her home. 

I stayed for five days and we did have a nice time although she is limited. The day after we got back to hers she had to rest so I drove to Brightlingsea and had a walk along the estuary and looked around the village including buying some shorts in the charity shop. 

 We also went to the Beth Chatto gardens where I have intended to go for ages. 

I didn't manage a swim in the sea as we had to go in the morning when DD is up to it but we did have a paddle. In my case up to my chest. The tide was going out and it was rougher than I like. We still enjoyed it and managed to go for a carvery later. 

Everything came to a standstill the next week when I was home due to covid. Thankfully DD didn't get it. This week I took little GD for her first train journey. 5 stops and 20 minutes to a village to visit a farm which she loved and ran around with the baby goats. It was so peaceful. 

Today I had lots of frugal wins. Found a beautiful Monsoon top in the charity shop for £5 and a hand puppet craft kit for GD for 99p. Tesco had lots of yellow sticker meat at half price so I bought beef for family dinner tomorrow, sausages and pork steak. On the walk back I saw somebody having a declutter putting things by the bins in a carpark so I took two scooters for GD as she's outgrown her first one. She can keep one here and take one home. Then I went back in the car and collected a kids kitchen for GD to play with in the garden during the summer. The man throwing them out even helped me put it into the car. I really feel pleased when I save things from landfill and get something for nothing.

Monday 18 April 2022

A lovely frugal day

 I took DIL and little GD 5 miles to a beautiful bluebell wood and apart from the petrol spent nothing. It was so peaceful.

I received some free goodies from the Olio food waste hero across the road:- chocolate hot x buns, blueberries and a packet of swoodles (sweet potato noodles) which are new to me but I'm happy to try. Then later before Sainsburys closed I did the 5 minute walk there and spent 90pence on 9 yellow sticker items which would have cost £15.20. I also tried a new recipe from Jack at Bootstrapcooking. It was pesto made by blitzing a 10 pence packet of salad leaves with some wild garlic gathered locally along with a couple of bits from the cupboard. I mixed it with some pasta and a few other left overs and it was delicious. I'm stepping up the frugality with all the rising prices. 

Friday 8 April 2022

Budgets past and present

I decided as everything was going up to write out all the new outgoings. I have 19 expenses including regular bills and extras. I keep a spending diary so everything is written down and then at the end of each month I can see what I have spent on each category. 

It started me thinking about my parents' much simpler budget. Everything came in and went out in cash. I don't think they even had a bank account. Dad got paid from Ford motor company every Thursday in coins of the realm. He and mum would sit in the bedroom away from the noise of 6 children and count it all out. I think dad got about 10 shillings back for fares and papers etc. That's only 50 pence so doesn't sound right so I may be wrong. 

First mum would put the rent with the rent card in the envelope ready for the man to collect on Monday. It seems incredible that one man would walk the streets safely carrying all that cash. I think that system stopped in the mid 60's when the poor man was attacked and robbed while he was collecting in the new tower block which was very lonely. Also I think it was harder to find people at home. 

The next bill would be the insurance put in another envelope for when the United Friendly lady called. It seemed to be only pennies for each of us but second only to the rent. Money would also be put aside for the gas and electric meters. Shillings for the gas and I think it was sixpences for the electric. We had very few electric appliances. The cooker and the copper boiler were the only gas appliances. Our heating was an open fire in the living room. I.m not sure if coal was paid for weekly or saved up for. Now and then mum would get a provident check to buy us shoes. Then that had to be budgeted for but that was the only debt and not very often. 

What was left we lived on. Dad was never out of work but he had low pay and there were no top ups or help with rent in those days. Rates and water were paid for with the rent. I looked at my list and thought of all the things I pay for that did not exist in our home in thee 50's. We had no car like most of our neighbours. We did have a radio and we had to pay a licence for that and then later when we had a tv, that also had a licence. No telephone, mobile phone, or internet. 

Later on things did get a bit better. Once we had a holiday in a caravan by the sea in the next county. Then when I was about 15 we went by coach to Scotland to see my dad's friends where he grew up. 

We were much poorer than I am now although I only live on a pension. Everybody else was in the same boat. The lessons in those early years have stayed with me. I don't have debt and although I do have luxuries, I can quite happily live without them. We wore lots of clothes indoors to keep warm and that is now gaining in popularity with all the energy prices going up. I never waste food and can be happy with simple things. Sometimes it is good to look back and appreciate what we have now. 

Wednesday 30 March 2022

I'm back

 Its been ages since I last posted probably because I've had a lot going on during the day so very tired in the evening and not felt like writing a post. 

So what have I been doing? Some of it is just family things. We didn't get back to the swimming pool again for a while but we have been every week since the end of February except for last week when I was at our daughter's. Little GD was quite nervous at first but says its not scarey now which is good. I've been looking for adult and child lessons but nowhere will take a 4 year old. Three years is the upper limit so after that the child has to go in on their own. I can't really see the logic in this. All children have different needs and gd is quite shy and for a lot of her life we have been in lockdown. Anyway we are enjoying the mostly empty pool one afternoon a week. 

I had her all day and overnight a couple of weeks ago and she asked for the lego for the first time. Some of this lego belonged to my nephews who are now 60 and 61. The rest was gd's daddy's. Lots of friends children have played with it over the years. They are grown up as well. These are her first attempts which I thought were very good.

I have been twice to DD's. In February I drove  there as her car was still not repaired. She was actually without it for 6 weeks and got it back the day before I came home. She is near shops and a country park but due to suffering with ME she is very restricted without the car. I had the frugal trip last week using my bus pass and taking my own water and food. It's quite a long journey but I enjoy it. I have to take 3 buses but its a very smooth connections. I load stuff on my tablet and also enjoy the views passing through all the villages. The last bus stops right outside dd's. I also enjoy the fact I save about £20 worth of petrol.

During the last visit, one afternoon while DD was resting, I took the bus to Walton on Naze then walked along the cliff top to Frinton. This is the only bit of this coast I hadn't walked and it was beautiful especially as the weather was so wonderful the whole week. I've walked from Frinton to Clacton so this time I went back by bus. 

I haven't walked a lot locally lately but I do have a couple of walks I would like to do soon. 

Thursday 16 December 2021


 Apart from the pool at the holiday park DB and I stayed on a few times, I haven't been in a swimming pool for years. I have swum in the sea, rivers and the serpentine but I don't like swimming pools apart from the little outdoor lido in a nearby town. I haven't even been to that for a few years. We always took our two children to the pools from when they were babies and they could swim from an early age. Once they were older they went with their friends although we all used to swim together in the sea. 

However now little GD is 4 and never been to a swimming pool. I said I would pay for her to have swimming lessons but wanted to make sure she was ok in the water first. She does love her  paddling pool in the garden but a big pool is a bit different. Anyhow we went today and although she was frightened at first and said it was scarey, she soon loved it and cried when I said we had to get out because they were getting the pool ready for swimming lessons. She said it's not scarey any more.

I was horrified at the cost though as it was £6 for me and £4.20 for her. How on earth do families of several children afford to go. We didn't have a lot of money when our children were small but we went a couple of times a week as a family. It couldn't have been very expensive or we wouldn't have been able to afford it. When we moved to this town the pool was council run and very cheap for residents and free for those on benefits or a low income. That pool was demolished and replaced with expensive houses. The new leisure centre is privately run. I think if we go regularly there is a card we can buy to make each visit a little bit cheaper. 

On the subject of costs of children's activities, my sister paid for her great gd who is nearly 4 to have dancing lessons. They put on a show at the end of term and little E's mum had to buy 3 costumes and special makeup from a particular shop. It cost her £100! No homemade dresses there. Without help from family it wouldn't have been possible. These prices must exclude lots of children from fun activities. I feel swimming is essential for little children to learn as it might save their life one day. 

Anyway we had fun even if I am absolutely exhausted now with an aching back. 

Sunday 28 November 2021

Final leg of the Chelmer

 I started to write this post but didn't finish it so thought it was about time I did. I started this walk along the river Chelmer from Chelmsford to Maldon October last year. I did the second leg earlier this year then finally the last bit from Papermill lock to Maldon in September. 

I must say I prefer the river near my home as there is more going on but there are stretches that are interesting on the Chelmer. Papermill lock is very pretty and has a lovely tearoom. I have a short bus ride from Chelmsford to Boreham then a walk across the fields with good views down to the river. A lot of it was overgrown and hard to see the river. What surprises me is the fact I saw no boats traveling but there are plenty at a couple of the locks so they must move to get there unless they just stay put. 

The photos loaded in the wrong order for some reason but the one below is the walk from the bus to the river.

It was worth it when I reached Maldon which is such a beautiful place. I rewarded myself with a calorie laden waffle and pot of tea. 

I probably wont be doing day trips by bus now until next year as it gets dark so early but its good to plan new excursions to look forward to.