miscellanEA

sad news…

I have just heard the sad news about Colin on my return from Italy – so this is just a message for Sue at The Cottage at the end of the Lane to say –  I am thinking of you and your family along with so many other bloggers and readers x

I myself will be back blogging soon it has been a hectic few weeks recently – an amazing wedding and holiday and I need a few days to get back on track.

 

Back soon x

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drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…making plans

There was a lack of sunshine here today but it was mild and we did have a dry spell or two but mainly we had a light drizzle .  Not brilliant for gardening but we needed to get out there and plant some holly bushes where an old Escallonia hedge had died.  Escallonia is supposed to be reasonably tough but we have found that one by one over the years we lose a bit more in a bad winter.  I hope the holly fares better.

We will be on our way back home tomorrow ready for work on Monday.  Shame.

Next weekend I will have to get my summer clothes out and decide which items are going with me to Italy.  I have my wedding outfit and I am hoping I will have a parcel waiting for me at home containing the shoes, though I am thinking about getting the white ones after all but I will see better when I can try outfit and shoes on together.  DH is sorting out travel insurance and money so I only have to think about the luggage and packing, washing and ironing.  I will need to decant shampoo and toiletries into small travel containers and check the travel hairdryer and adaptors.

As my eldest daughter and her DH are now going to the wedding and they are going to hire a car for their two-week stay it will solve the travel problem to and from the wedding and reception.  This is actually more than good news as we had just been told by the bride’s mum that the mini bus taking guests from the wedding to the reception about 8 miles away might not materialise after all.  Of course the downside is that we were going to borrow their suitcases if they were not going so now we need to sort this out.

It is only 19 days until we go and I feel a bit in limbo – not able to start any major projects and knowing that when we get back both the garden at home and in Scotland will be needing major attention as everything will have suddenly taken off including the weeds.  I bought some courgette seeds but of course I will not be able to sow them if I am not home to water them.  We will be having a bit of an eBay break too as we cannot a list anything if we are not here to post the items.  We have done quite well so far and of all the items listed only the six white wedding brollies remain unsold and some bath taps.

As well as the eBay items I have been sending a lot of unwanted stuff to the charity shops.  I have tried to be quite ruthless both in what I keep and what I give away.  Much of the stuff is actually things I didn’t buy in the first place.  Some of the stuff belonged to my elder daughter and she has been taking a few boxes back to her house each week to sort through.

The old pile of papers has now been burned on our recent bonfire – old bank statements and paperwork of closed accounts – they have mounted up over the years but I am satisfied I will not need them.  There was far too much to shred so bringing the four boxes up to the cottage and burning it was a good option.

So my house is feeling a whole lot lighter and I feel better for the clear out it actually makes me want to do more and it certainly makes it easier to keep the place clean.  When we get back home I intend to go through a few more drawers and cupboards and look at the 80% of stuff we never use – I realised whilst doing the recent declutter that I actually prefer to have only those items that we use all the time and when I come across something I haven’t used for ages I am going to either start using it or pass it on.

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend.

Welcome to the two new followers.

Back soon x

 

beach cottage, bEAching, cottage garden

bEAching…an unexpected weekend break

It has been a grey dismal day here today at the cottage (caravan) – we decided to sneak away for a few days with the hope of better weather and yesterday it was pleasant enough to be in the garden but today we are back to cold and wet.

When we cleared some of the upper wood on our last visit at the end of February (if you can remember so far back) we ended up with stacks of rotting wood and trailing ivy and not a hope of burning it in the gales.  However, yesterday was mild and calm so perfect for a bonfire.  It won’t be long though before I generate another pile – it is an ongoing job here. So far I have made a pathway through the wood.  The old concrete bunker on the right makes a great log store.  It is a left over outbuilding from when the pub at the top of the lane was a Creamery and until the seventies this land was just a field with no trees.

In the afternoon DH found time to cut the lawns and I did a bit of weeding in the borders and pruned some of the Hydrangeas.  The ones by the conservatory had grown too big and so I have cut them back hard and will probably have to sacrifice some blooms later on although last time I did this they still flowered despite the gardening books saying they wouldn’t if cut back too far.

It is very noticeable that everything in the garden is very late compared to other years and so I was quite surprised when I came across the Delphinium bed and some of the plants are already a good foot high.  I can almost hear their tender shoots calling to the rabbits ‘eat me eat me’  – hence I have them well protected with chicken wire!

The grand fernery beside the pool with the majestic Royal ferns is a sorry sight at the moment – all the leaves have been burnt by the cold weather and salt spray and are shrivelled and brown and will have to be cut back to ground level and wait for the new growth.   I spent ages doing this last year and usually only need to do it every other year if the winter is milder.  The Fatsia is the same.  I will leave both for now just in case it remains cold and we have some heavy frosts.

We had a brisk walk into the village and back tonight just before the light went.  There had been talk of adding solar lights along the ‘low road’ which is the old road that runs alongside the beach and is just a pathway now, not accessible by car.  If you walk along here in the evening it is a real treat as you can hear all the hedgerow birds in full song.  I for one am glad that the solar lights have not materialised as I think it is not the place for light pollution it is a quiet place for the wildlife to live undisturbed.

It is only 20 days until we go to Italy eeek…I still have to resolve the footwear and handbag problem.  I still have to resolve transport to and from the wedding and reception.  I still have to resolve what exactly is the breakfast at the hotel when it is only 3 Euros?

Hoping for a sunny day tomorrow.

Back soon

 

fEAsible, monthly review

fEAsible…March review

Hi everyone – I hope you all had a lovely Easter despite the weather.

It is nearly a month since my last post  – apologies for that it was unintentional – time just flies by and before you know it a whole month has passed.  I have been reading and keeping up with my usual blogs – sorry for the lack of comments – and I know I have some new followers whilst I have been hibernating so welcome to my little blog.

We have had a number of deaths and funerals to attend since the beginning of the year – I have another funeral of a friend next Monday but we have had one very sad and unexpected death of a family member, a little boy – it is always dreadful when someone dies but far worse to cope with when it is a child.  So much sadness and together with this cold, dismal weather it has left me a little drained and feeling rather miserable and unfocused.

Work too has been a struggle – I don’t feel I fit in any more – I miss my colleague Helen more than ever – it would have been her birthday on 2nd March – I met her mum in town for lunch – we had a lovely chat and catch up which was nice and we could remember Helen together.  Many of my other friends and colleagues at work have left the firm one by one recently and each day I keep thinking it really is time for me to leave too.

It is only the beginning of April and already I feel like I need a fresh start. Hopefully a bit of sunshine will help – when it eventually arrives.

As I look out on my garden it is still very brown – I have evergreen shrubs that are now brown too and I am not sure they will recover – the cold temperatures certainly did a lot of damage.  The Cherry tree has no sign of life yet and only a few daffodils are in flower – everything seems so late.  I dare not prune in case we had more snow and cold weather and when I woke up to snow yesterday on Easter Monday I was thankful that I hadn’t dashed out with the secateurs on the one sunny day we had recently.

Anyway I ramble on when the point of the post is to review my progress for March before setting my new intentions for April.

I wrote a shorter list of intentions at the beginning of March – some of which I abandoned – partly because of a lack of motivation and partly because of time – here is a round-up of my successes and failures for the month –

  • crEAting –

I abandoned this category altogether – I bought a packet of Easter cards and some of the birthday cards.  I didn’t feel like making Sympathy cards so bought these as well.

  • trEAsury –

We attended the Pensionwise meeting – the guy was quite informative and helped us to see certain aspects in a different light – but the difficult bit is still to come, finding a genuine IFA, making the choice of what to do with the pension pot and when to do it.

The eBay selling has been really good we have sold all the large items we had listed and we have even put on a couple of items now for our daughter.  As we are going to Italy near the end of the month we will have to take a ‘listing’ break but when we return I have a whole new list of items to sell and I haven’t even started on the ‘stuff’ in the loft yet!  Surprisingly we have earned about £300 hundred pounds so far and this will help towards our holiday.

I bought mum a present for mother’s day from a lovely little shop in Stranraer called Baxters – a soft fur scarf in a muted pink with a scattering of gold sparkle – mum was delighted, she seems to be collecting scarves at the moment and the colour was just right and she loves a bit of sparkle.

I got a good deal on my new car insurance with LV by taking out their multi car policy and I was able to knock off the breakdown cover as that comes free from Hyundai.  I also used my Boots vouchers for a new mascara and face cream and took advantage of the Neal’s yard and Bodyshop offers on the frankincense serum and Vitamin E creams I use – a bit of an outlay but it will save me money in the long run.  I haven’t totted up my spending for March yet that will have to be another post another day.

  • homestEAding –

The garden tidy up didn’t happen mainly because of the bad weather but also once I had started on the office clear out I did not want to break off on the only sunny day we had.

The shed has gone now though but the guy who is doing the repointing has been rescheduled for better weather and after our Italy trip.

  • appEArance –

I had my hair cut shorter again, it is much easier to control in the mornings now and has a bit more bounce.

The fresh fruit in the morning continues – my favourite mix is oranges, pink grapefruit, kiwi and blueberries – the zingy colour combination looks quite healthy!

The exercise hasn’t happened – I have no excuse other than the usual such as time, inclination etc – I will endeavour to try again this month.

  • nEAtening –

I went a bit astray on the neatening this month – I should have been concentrating on my wardrobe – and although I have been making plans for decorating and fitting it out somehow I found myself clearing out the office instead.  I think this all started when I had to get the Pension papers down from the loft and one thing led to another.  And now I am on a mission.  It has been a big job as the office is all paperwork and craft stuff not to mention the man drawers full of unidentifiable cable and leads – but they are not unidentifiable anymore!  At the moment I feel I have exhausted my decision-making capability and I am hoping I haven’t got rid of anything I should have kept.  I will go into my clear out in more depth in another post.

So there we are not all of my intentions fulfilled last month but I have got through quite a lot in between funerals.  April will be a month on hold I fear as the trip to Italy is coming up at the end so it is pointless starting too many new projects as there is plenty to do to get ready.

I will leave you (not for quite as long next time) with a picture taken in 2015 on the journey home from Scotland.

April 2015 – Scotland – after a sudden snowfall on the hills.

drEAming, general chit chat

drEAming…back to normal

Back home, safe and sound now and back to work too this morning.

Tonight it felt like last week and the snow never happened – all melted away and everything quite calm.  Yesterday we journeyed 250 mile through parts of the country that had experienced heavy snow and the only road that wasn’t cleared was the one we live on – the forgotten cul-de-sac, forgotten by the council as they never send a gritter or snow plough down here.  As we live on a hill and can only get out by going uphill most residents have to park their cars on the road going down to the village when it snows – it is safer and usually more passable.

It wasn’t easy getting back into work today – I spent more than an hour alone reading the emails waiting in my inbox – most of them about the weather and who had struggled in and who was working at home and the offer of a free breakfast butty from our employers to the ones who had braved the snow.  I was very surprised to find the auditors had decided to call off their visit last Tuesday – they were put off by the threat of snow so after all that hard work preparing before my week away we have to wait now until after Easter.

After work we headed to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop – the vegetable aisle was quite bare in places, no cabbage, cauliflower or courgettes, the suppliers having difficulty providing the goods because of the snow.  I took advantage of a few grocery items on offer and stocked up on fresh eggs and bread – have you noticed toilet rolls are becoming much smaller, when I came to put them away tonight we had an old one at the back of the cupboard it was both taller and fatter than this more recent equivalent.

The second item we listed on eBay, the curved shower screen, has now been sold and waiting collection so on Thursday my first day off we will be listing a few more items – DH has already written the information ready for me to proof read and then we will have to decide on a price.   I don’t think this time round I will take that much notice of the eBay suggestions on price – I think we could have got a little bit more than we did for our goods given they were brand new and discontinued so very useful for the people who have bought them to be able to get hold of them – I know we have been in this position ourselves trying to find something that has been discontinued so I am more than pleased we have been able to help these buyers out.

We arrived home yesterday to only two letters after over a week away – that must be a first.  Usually we can’t open the door – though a lot of the mail waiting on the mat can often be junk.  We assumed that the postman probably hadn’t got round with the snow – we were probably right as today we had a flurry of mail.  Amongst the usual kind of business letters – my annual tax summary, annual pension statement, new terms and conditions for our banks etc (so plenty of bedtime reading) I had been sent a £5 reward voucher from Wyevale to use at their garden centres and a 20% off Neal’s Yard voucher code – so I can use this to buy my next lot of face cream and serum (one of my indulgences – I only hope it is working, but how would I know what my skin would be like if I used something else?  I can hardly compare unless I use different creams at the same time on the different halves of my face – but that sounds far too complicated for me!

Well my cosy bed beckons and I need my beauty sleep just in case the face cream needs a lot of help to rejuvenate my ageing skin.

Back soon x

 

 

fEAsible, intentions, my goals

fEAsible…plans for March

INTENTIONS

 

I had to improvise with my header for my March intentions as we are still at the caravan – so with the help of the front cover from my Country Living magazine I managed to cut out the letters using their picture of spring flowers!

After listing far too many intentions last month I have tried to cut down this month to give myself a chance of completing more of them.  March is always a busy month for me with Mother’s day coming up and this year Good Friday falls at the end of the month on 30th March.  We will need to fit in a trip up to North Yorkshire – weather permitting as well as another visit to the cottage.

Most of our additional spending this month will be on gifts for Mother’s day and Easter so this won’t be a huge outlay but the visits will take petrol money and probably a trip to a tea room.  On the bills side we will have my car insurance to renew and a quarterly water rates bill but we have a month free of Council Tax.

On the plus side I am looking to bring in more money – the extra overtime at work and more sales on eBay, but the biggest savings are of course on not being tempted to spend in the first place on items I really do not need.  So staying away from the shops will be key.  We need to save as much as we can now to put towards our Italian trip – the taxi alone to the wedding for 7 of us has been quoted as 120 euros for a 12 mile trip (mmm I think we are being taken for a ride!) – we are presently looking into the bus times but not speaking the lingo it is hard to know if there is even a bus that would get us there in time.

I intend to plan our menus for March again to limit the amount I spend on food.  Most of my overspend last month was taking advantage of the groceries on offer.  I am not keen on stockpiling as it goes against the simplistic / minimalistic lifestyle but I think having extra of what we do use is better than having cupboards stuffed with foods we never use and I try to avoid having hoards of stuff we will never eat. 

At this time of year the vegetables we have been enjoying are still around – Brussel Sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and leek but soon we will see Spring greens making an appearance and this is a good season for watercress. As the weather improves (I hope) I will need to search out my ‘lighter’ recipes to reflect the coming season and make meals using the same vegetables as the winter months but in recipes that are not quite so dense and heavy.  Instead of having a potato topping on my Shepherds Pie I will use cauliflower or broccoli rice, instead of a thick stew I will be doing a lighter casserole with less potato and swede.

Anyway enough of my rambling here is my list of intentions  for March –

 

crEAting

Birthday cards – make 2 cards for friends and one for sister’s wedding anniversary.

Easter cards – twelve to make

Hen tea cosy – make a pattern and cut out the pieces

Reflecting the season and spending a little on some bunches of daffs and tulips to brighten up the house

trEAsury

Pensions – attend free advice appointment and book further appointment with IFA.

More eBay selling – bathroom taps – wooden doors – my wedding outfit

Buy Mother’s day gift for mum

Buy Easter egg for little L

Grocery shopping target – £50 week

Use Boots coupon for face creams and new mascara

Savings – move matured savings in Flexsaver to e-savings to replenish account

Begin new Flexsaver account and set up standing order

Car insurance to research and renew

Pay water bill – look at more water saving ideas – try to shave another £10 quarter off this

homestEAding

Garden tidy up at home

Garden shed to dismantle

appEArance

Self care

Exercises – eyes

Make time to start some much needed fitness training using the plan from ‘Total Body Plan’ by Lucy Wyndham-Read (I have had this Magbook for a while now under my bed – it promises to deliver a toned body in 6 weeks for less than 15 minutes a day – we shall see!)

Continue with mixed fresh fruit in mornings

Take healthier snacks to work

 

nEAtening

Continue reorganising the wardrobe in the main bedroom and mending or decluttering any unused items of clothing.

 

Even though I carefully shortened my list it still seems like quite a lot but I find that setting some targets helps me to keep focused…what will you be doing in March?

Back soon x

fEAsible, intentions, monthly review

fEAsible…February review

I thought January went quickly but February was also a bit of a whirlwind.

I was a little disappointed with my accomplishments in February – I can see now that I set myself too many tasks for the time available partly due to not allowing enough time for the planning of and attending the funeral – but the main reason for my lack of action must be to do with the fact that we had a sudden notification of our Legal Aid audits at work and to cover all this additional work that an audit entails I had to do extra hours and also go in on one of my days off so we could meet the deadlines.  But I will not bore you anymore with the details – it is just enough to say I found February challenging.

So a quick round-up of how I performed with my February intentions –

  • appEArance –

I can only own up to the fact that I failed miserably on my appearance category and my attempts at self-care, such as booking an appointment with the optician and exercising after work, did not materialise in fact I have been so tired this month I have caught myself a few times asleep on the sofa supposedly watching TV but actually recovering from the day.

 

  • mEAndering –

Our meandering this month took us down memory lane as we doubled up our sad trip to the funeral in Cirencester with a visit to Cheltenham – a real treat and we plan to go back for a long weekend as soon as we can. So this intention was fulfilled and enjoyed.

Unfortunately we have run out of weekends to go up to North Yorkshire and with all this snow it won’t be any time soon.

  • crEAting –

Nothing exciting to show on the creating side – I was really disappointed not to have started my hen print tea cosy by now – this will have to roll over to March – but I did get to make a Valentines card (it was a bit of a cheat though – a heart stamp, a blank card and some red ink) still it is the thought that counts!

  • rEArranging –

My main decluttering and simplifying projects were to get rid of the accumulation of ‘stuff’ in the downstairs toilet that we are turning into a pantry and to make a start in our main bedroom prior to decorating.

The big news is (and I am very pleased with myself for this) that I actually, with the help of dear hubby and advice from a few bloggers, managed to get two items listed on eBay  – one has already sold (some bathroom fitments that we had for the cottage but no longer need) and the other (a brand new curved shower screen to fit the bath we no longer have since the flood) has an interested enquirer from Surrey –but I have no idea how we would get it to him – so may have to relist this one.  Anyway now I have gone through the procedure and understand it a bit more I just need to repeat!

In our bedroom I wanted to improve on the space and reduce the contents before giving it a good spring clean.  I have put all my hubby’s clothes into the new wardrobe in the spare room and he has taken all the natural wood hangers because I decided that DH finds things easier if everything is hung.  So now everything is hung – jumpers, t-shirts, shirts, suits and jackets.  His jeans are the only items of clothing that remain folded and these are in one of the pull out Muji  drawers within the wardrobe fitment, together with a drawer for his working clothes for gardening and DIY.

His underwear and socks are presently in the bedside drawers on his side but I have plans for these.

So now I can spread out and have the whole of the wardrobe in our bedroom for myself – but I had no hangers.  I know it is lavish to buy hangers when they come free with garments but I like nothing better than opening my wardrobe doors in a morning and having uniform hangers looks more orderly to me.

After debating with myself whether or not I should buy the space-saving skinny velvet hangers (and I can see the merit in these) I finally decided on the white wooden IKEA ones for two reasons (well maybe three)

  • The skinny velvet ones in TKMAX come in packs of different brands so might not be repeatable should I need more.
  • The packs I looked at all seemed to have a few  damaged hangers in them and some had missing hooks so I questioned how long they might last as I wanted this to be a once and forever purchase like my natural wooden hangers that I have had for donkey’s years.
  • They never seemed to have white ones and for some reason I just fancied white.
  • Although the white wooden ones take up more room the clothes keep their shape better on them and I just like them – so good enough reason to buy them.
  • They are wood and not plastic so environmentally friendly.
  • Having the wooden ones meant fewer hangers will fit in the space and therefore I will have to limit the number of clothes I can keep so I will always know when I need to stop buying.
  • They are cheap for the quantity I needed – I bought 7 packs of 8 hangers – so I can hang 56 garments.

Actually that is seven reasons!

I will post some pictures soon of my wardrobe rearrangements.

  • fEAsting –

    Valentines – with the unexpected audits at work I had to work on Valentines day so it didn’t happen for us – we did exchange cards and a small gift but no special meal. Pancake Day was the same but I am not going to stress about it we will just celebrate it another day instead – I can always eat pancakes anytime of the year!

 

  • trEAsury –

My intentions for February on financial matters was to start looking at our pensions and getting some advice, continue to limit the grocery weekly spend, save some money on cards and gifts and replace some of the money I used to buy the car.

Pensions –this has moved forward a bit – but only a teeny bit and it is vital that we get moving on it – we have now booked an appointment with the government ‘Pensionwise’ free advisor for some initial advice and are then also looking at a seeing another IFA that has been recommended –  if we can afford him!  We have always gone for ethical investments and they have, contrary to advice in the past, done better than the ordinary investments that have been imposed on us by various employers – so we are quite pleased but now it is a gamble when to start drawing on them and how to get the best from them.

Grocery shopping –this worked out at £57 a week for the month so £7 a week over the budget I have set but I did buy quite a few offer items and we now have enough coffee to open a coffee shop.  Prices in the shop are continuing to rise so it is a bit of a battle to keep the weekly spend down.

In general I have been making my birthday cards but whilst here at the caravan I actually bought 2 birthday cards from WH Smiths with the 25% off discount card – I find making birthday cards for men much more difficult and gave in and bought them!  I have done much better on the gifts side and managed to get a number of gifts in the sales at very reasonable prices.

The Flexclusive saver account has only just matured so as soon as the interest is added I can now move this into my long-term savings to build this up again after the hole the purchase of the new car made.

 

So that is everything for February accounted for – we didn’t manage much of a tidy up in the garden at home but a good start on the woodland garden in Scotland and only the weather being against us has now delayed this.  I have set my intentions for March and will be posting these in a day or two.

Kalo mina ~ Have a good month!  (An expression the Greek people use to wish each other well at the start of every new month – so my daughter tells me).