Thursday, March 30, 2006

BUDGETING and cutting down.

I have redone my budget and needless to say it still requires finetuning. A great tool from Martin the Money Saving Expert, provides you with a quick downloadable excell sheet to see how you are doing with your budget and whether you are in the green or the red. I still have to curb spending a bit more but it is a useful exercise to be doing at the end of our tax year and to focus the attention on what exactly we spend our money on.
As a result, I have cancelled magazine subscriptions by direct debit thinking that if I want the magazine I can buy it out of my monthly allowance. If I am honest I never read them these days, I like the pictures and then have to recycle them. Seems a lot of effort. I could read ezines which are free or just search the internet for information....why pay someone else to provide it. This should simplify my life and lighten my pockets and recycling bin minimizing also the amount of miles the magazines travelled and the amount of trees that were used in making them.
I also looked at the insurance policies I have and in particular to those I bought with appliances. I figured that actually if you pay those for 3 years you probably could replace your item. I have made the decision to cut out the vacuum insurance, fridge and freezer insurance which were setting me back £ 50 per month. Instead, I plan to save the money in my emergency fund and then if I need to replace an item or get it repaired hopefully the money will be there to sort it out. Working on it. That has saved me £ 75 per month today, and should make life simpler. The other £ 25 will help to balance the budget.

What are you paying for automatically that could be changed?


I asked my DH yesterday about peasticks, what could we possibly use for peasticks as the little plants are growing up and I want to soon settle them from their guttering home to a permanent home in the soil. What can you use for peasticks. We scoured around and found a few bushes that need pruning and I was quite happy about that. This afternoon however I spotted a sign in the shop window in our village

I have just coppiced the hazel wood so come and get some prunings for peasticks.

Is the universe talking to me or would you say that is some sort of coincidence? Whatever, its free and its just what I seem to need right now, so whatever your belief is, put out what you need and maybe the universe will provide it...then again, be careful what you ask for, you might just get it.

I think I was safe in my quest for peasticks. Must go and give that person a call.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Just to clarify what I see as being the difference here as the two go hand in hand in my opinion.
Simplicity to me is about having more free time to work towards my idea of a sustainable, simple life with less impact on the environment. Being frugal means spending very little and finding alternatives to the tempations of society to spend etc etc.
For me, to get to my goals of living a simpler life, I want to reduce some of the stresses and strains that past decisions have and are putting on me. A mobile phone monthly commitment and service contract for instance gives me little scope on how to control my spending on that, I pay and I use it, but changing it to a pay as you go contract, enables me still to use the mobile I have and make the call if I want to.
My goal is to reduce the expenses I am making as much as possible and to revert the trend of spending money needlessly and without thought to feering money towards attaining the goals that I have set.

The goals for 2006 are:

  1. to get a grip on where the money is going and to chart what comes in and what goes out every month.
  2. Setting a realistic budget.
  3. becoming my own greengrocer and reducing super market shopping.
  4. Eating slow food and more vegetarian meals.
  5. Get my family involved in the running of our home and share out expertise.
  6. Reduce the use of my car and evaluate our use of transport
  7. Create a plan with costs for future plans and timescale.

A great blog to check out is seattle simplicity, it has some great links to information and some great posts to get your thinking into gear.


Hmm, I wonder how they will get in in winter in Cornwall. Cannot wait to see the next episode next week. The waterwheel contstruction was great but my did they have a lot of mouths to feed with those students working away during the summer. I can see the allure of that, sea, time with your mates and free beer....I remember those days too well. Its in the diary to have a look at the next segment.

The programme had some useful information on alternative energy, on encouraging us to buy our electricity from companies that provide green energy, here are soem sources:
good energy
southern electricity

The last options offers me a £ 32 saving apparently and pays £ 10 to the RSPB, so that seems to be a good option to go for at the moment. And £ 32 is after all £ 32 in my pocket and changing to green electricity helps my conscience and the environment. I will continue my efforts to make changes.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


If you are in the UK, this programme on tonight on BBC at 8 pm might be worth a view.

It's Not Easy Being Green

Tue 28 Mar, 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm 60mins

The Strawbridge family are going green. Inventor and engineer Dick, his planet-loving wife Brigit and kids James and Charlotte take on a 300-year-old farmhouse in Cornwall - with three acres of land, a leaky roof and no plumbing, electricity or home comfort in sight.

Their aim is to live a 21st Century lifestyle and be self-sufficient in energy and food.

But says retired Lieutenant-Colonel Dick: "We're definitely not eco-warriors. We aren't prepared to give up our creature comforts for long. We want our coffee machine, dishwasher and washing machine."

On their three acre plot they plan to grow all their own fruit and vegetables, fatten pigs and keep chickens.

With hilarious and heart-warming results, in this first double bill episode, Dick and his band of helpers build a water wheel to power the house lights.

Monday, March 27, 2006


When I started blogging about personal finance I did ask my readers to go and check what money was just lying about and they were unaware of. It is all about taking stock of what you have and what you owe. Reduce what you owe with what you have and then build the what you have up to replace the income you have to earn to live. Hope you are still with me after that. It sounds a simple formula and if you apply it, you will get there.

I received an email today from a reader which I would like to share with you :

I have finally got round to hunting down the back of the financial sofa and checking if the accounts I still had cards for had been closed (as I've opened my ISA today and wanted to transfer all balances across).

Two were still open.

One had 74p in it, so it's hardly worth the price of a stamp to the bank requesting it be closed down.
The other had £4 according to the last entry in the pass book, but has grown to £18.

It's better than nothing - so I'm going down this afternoon to collect my balance!

Thats a least one person who benefitted from that post, yeah, happy about that.

If you took the sofa challenge and looked at the accounts you have lying about , let me know what you have found. Believe me it can be worth it to go and have a look at what there is. You might be surprised.

Now don't spend it all at once, take it to the bank and pay off your creditcard debt or whatever debt you have.


Where did the fun go? When did I stop having fun and join the ratrace. I have been reflecting on that question a lot lately and now that I have a little free time and life is slowing down, I am trying to remember what it is I am passionate about, what is it that gives me energy, that inspires me and that helps me feel a sense of achievement?
I am still thinking on that one. What is your creative side?

Friday, March 24, 2006


Dieting is hard, not buying anything much is harder but the intention is there. I have to admit, I have been brought up in a consumerism society and kicking that habit is going to be tough. And then there are wishlists. The good thing about a wishlist is that you get the buzz of adding to it, and think you will be buying it and then you can zap it in a few months when you really do not want to buy it. Thats the theory. The practice is harder.
Talking of books, this one is on my list, a book by Judith Levine, My Year without shopping. It sounds a good read but buying the book defeats the self imposed embargo. How did she manage it?
I have managed to eat my way through the freezer this month. It is nearly empty, well that is the chest freezer, the other one is still full. The idea being that I will be able to switch teh chest freezer off for a few weeks, clean it out thoroughly and then start a journal which tracks what is in and out of the freezer. Its not a sort of waste department but there seems little point in freezing things because you do not want to throw them away ( guilty of that too). So more discipline is needed.


The chart will be coming in soon and the boys are already having mixed reactions to chores, from ' yeah, cannot wait '( for which you have to be 7 years old and still gullable) and ' grunt' which fits the other 2. Some bargaining is already starting, showing that if you have pocketmoney saved you can pay your way out of it. ( Does that remind you of an accurate picture of society maybe?) Anyhow, I am looking forward to seeing whether it works. I do hope so, it would be a life saver. The boys asked why ever did I want them to do chores, and I said' simply because you need to know how to run the house should the grownups be out of action'. I probably did not do the best sales job on that one, but then sales was never my forte. I will fill you in next week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Its still very cold out there, but I have been pricking out petunia, geranium and trailing lobelia for my hanging baskets in the summer. I have a few flower baskets in my polytunnel to get the bees and insects to come and visit and aid pollination.

The peas are showing through in the guttering and when they are a little bigger they will go in the bed which is being dug over, and compost added.

Planted Tithonia Sunflower in jiffy cubes and hopefully that will give us a mexican show in the front garden which faces south.

Saladings doing Ok slow on the uptake as temperatures are still quite low.

Planted some french beans in root trainers, covered up with a plastic lid so it acts as a greenhouse in a greenhouse.

Looking out for rhubarb which is not yet to be seen. Seasonal in my garden is wild garlic and the last of the leeks which will be pulled up today.


If you are thinking of moving to the country, check out Uncle Ed's podcast, short sessions for towndwellers exploring a move to the country.

The Lilypad List - my all time favourite book, could read that over and over again, plenty of resources in it and a checklist to get you going. I recommend this one.

Simply Living - some more resources to explore.

Resurgence magazine

Harvest Homestead - a great bi monthly pdf magazine with lots of practical information.

Ethical Consumer buyers guides

Path to Freedom - a lovely all round resource of the Gervaes family actually living a sustainable life. Fascinating site.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

An interesting cartoon to cheer you on.

visit Dan's website


I am just going outside and may be some time.
Captain Lawrence Oates, last words
(1880 - 1912)

It is spring after all and I must make the most of some fresh air. DH has gone and got the straw for the chickens and we are set to go, although the man we get the chickens from has flu ( I did ask the same thing...not bird flu, just man flu!) Small delay then but worth waiting for.

Have lost some petunia seedlings that have gone well, shrunk out of sight but potatoes planted are showing through and everything else is promising.

Spent a few hours making plum freezer jam ( has about 8lbs of plums in the freezer and I was decluttering) and now, I have 10 jars of greengage jam. Last summer, my friend had a bumper crop of plums and I had no energy to deal with them so froze them. Seems that works quite well. So if you know someone with a plum tree, keep and eye on it and see whether you can get some next summer. Planning ahead

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Some of the comments I have received relate to getting organised to make your life simpler. Two resources that are interesting to browse on that front are organised home and flylady.
The first one uses schedules and lovely charts you can print off to get you going and offers a spring cleaning checklist should you need to have that. Flylady is one that tackles household chaos in a more structured way by using 10 to 15 mins per day on tasks that eventually make your home clean and tidy and your home organised. It can take months though beware. It took me 6 months to get the hang of these routines. Little emails get into your mailbox every day with some or other tasks I had not dreamt needed doing but they were worth it in the end.
Just in case you feel the nesting instinct to clear the decks before summer gets here.

Thanks to Remu chorebuster allows you to create a chart with the chores for family members or flatmates. I thought this was neat and had not come across it before. So thanks for that tip am working on it.


Why plan a menu at all? Why bother knowing in advance what you are going to be eating. Many of us do not have the time to do that and come back from work, rushed, in stress mode, delivering a quick meal ad hoc depending on what is available in the house. Sometimes we even do not know what is available in the house and rush to the shops before going home. Or pay for a take away. Stop, be still and regroup.

Weekly planning of your menu and shopping list will save you time, effort and stress.
Our shopping day is Tuesday because that makes sense from a transport point of view, we can share while DH does something else. Sunday nights, we sit down together and look at the calendar and what that means with regards to meals. No point cooking at length if you have to be out of the door at 6.30 pm to take the kids somewhere. Based on the busy schedule, I plan the meals and ask the children to put up menu suggestions on the fridge ( on a post it note) so I can take their preferences into account. I cannot always do this as it depends on what their choices are. This week they wanted to have a farmers breakfast, pizza, apples and grapes,profiteroles. Some things I can do, others I cannot. The reason for giving them a choice is simple, not only do they gain from planning a menu with us, they will then proceed to work on the menu with me, do the shopping and eventually learn to prepare the meals. Not all at once but gradually and age appropriate. My youngest is 7 and can prepare fruit for example. I know, I cringe too at the idea of the time it takes to help them evolve their skills. Kneejerk reaction is probably that it will take long but in the long term with compound interest principles, my time commitment now is going to pay dividends. Hopefully they will make sense of planning a menu, how to shop, where to shop, how to prepare a meal and how to clean up. That has to be worth some time investment versus the running about in a stress.

I sit down and make my shopping list based on what is in the house ( before it goes off and I need to deal with it as waste), what I need and also what needs replenishing. During the week, when I run out of things or nearly run out, I make a note on a post it pad on the fridge as I go along and then making the list saves time.

Spending some time organising your food menu and shopping list will save you time, money and waste. I have managed to cut my bill by 50% and am still working on it. I know I would rather save the money as earning it can be more difficult.

Cooking a larger amount of some meals can provide you with some convience meals when time really is short. Our standby is chili con carne ( just need to make rice), spaghetti bolognaise ( time to boil pasta) and soup with bread rolls. Give some thought to making time to create relaxed food, look at it as a pleasure and leisure activity and put some love in it. That has got to pay off in the long term.

I would frankly much rather relax than rush about these days.

Monday, March 20, 2006


The following seems to indicate that some beauty spots in the world could be threathened by floods as a result of sea level rises. I live on an island so I am aware of the effects of sea level rises but I had never imagined that London would be on the map. Or maybe I just played ignorant. How close will it get to you and what are you prepared to do about it?

If you are doing some of this today, have a look at this funny cartoon.
And there is this to set you cheap things are and where it is all leading.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

`veg and more veg. I am trying to grow seedlings using guttering which is working really great. The idea is that you can sow your seeds in the compost in the guttering. When they come up,you can easily space them by weeding some out. The process of planting out should be fun but you need 2 people. You make a small trench where the plants will end up, you carefully slide in sections of the plants in the guttering and they will be straight, have very little root disturbance. When you have planted them out, hou just start again.

the black plastic all around also gives them some heat.

I was missing some heat today so...if its good for the plants , it has to be good for me too. A bit of sun bathing in the polytunnel. I took my book, my seat and my cup of tea and basked in the free warmth. Ok, the kids were painting and I did help out but it was heavenly and very simple. This is the life.


Image hosting by Photobucket

I thought I would share some ideas with you which might be quite children like to work but to do that they need to see us having fun when we work. If we show our children that we hate our work, that we are stressed then we cannot really blame them for wanting to chill out and watch video games or watch TV. We should stop and remember how it is to play, play emptying the washing machine, lay the table, sweep the floor, plant and weed in the garden. What works for us is to add a little competition as that seems irresistible......lets see whether you can finish before me, give them a small task to do, have about 10 times more to do and be fair. I remember how my grandmother allowed me to peel and cut up carrots, how she shared her skills with me, how she told me stories about her childhood. Home, family, community, country, has to start with us. And if you think it is dangerous letting a small boy paint the chicken house...think again. How more scary is it to take him to nursery, where he is without you all day, and where he is exposed to lots of bugs. I sometimes think we do the same to chickens and children and I am sure that if they are left to play and do what comes naturally, they will thrive. They could also get hurt but they will learn from that. Spend time with your children because creating a relationship with them now is an investment for the future. I hope that I will be around to see my grandchildren play and what I will lack in energy I hopefully will make up in funny stories, patience and wisdom. At least thats my hope. So make a date with your kids, remember to have fun and play and then when you work together it will almost seem like the same thing. A bit of competition is fine.....

We did the spring cleaning in the chicken house, painted it green this time and are preparing it for our new flock. I intend to share this work/ play with my son and also share the proceeds of the eggs with him. We could have egg hunts, check the chickens and play mathematical games. We could learn about patience, being careful with things that break easily and we could talk about animals, their needs and how not much different they are from our basic needs. The most important lesson I seem to have to reinforce for the moment is that unlike characters in the video games, we only have one life so...we better look after it and make it count.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


A small article about the clothes line. What actually happens to the clothes people donate to second hand shops? Do you all buy some or if popularity is waning is this what we want to happen to clothes. Imagine them being made in China, coming to the UK and then travelling to Africa. I am not saying that we are not being generous but think about the clothes miles these articles cover and the damage done long term to the earth. What happened to us making our own clothes, our own cloth, our own household items and then recycling them into quilts like the pioneers. Most of the household items in catalogues show exactly that, home made items to adorn our homes with. The vital ingredient missing is an emotional connection. Imagine as a child you saw your Mum in a lovely floral plrint dress and that fabric is also in the quilt she gave you on your wedding day. You will remember your Mum every time you see that quilt and so carry her awareness with you in your daily life. How do we get that from the clothes we wear today?
As on the subject of miles, how about this on food miles. Any thoughts?


This is the best and funny quote I have found about hurrying up which sums up how my life was up to about 12 months ago
Hurry faster, faster, faster

(Do not try this at home until you have taken our expensive training course).

1. Learn our motto: Get outta my way!
2. Do not concentrate on any one thing: multitask constantly.
3. Rush everywhere.
4. Develop an inflated view of your self-importance.
5. Talk loudly on your cell phone in crowded places.
6. Fast conversation tip 1: Don’t listen and never ask questions.
7. Fast conversation tip 2: Always talk about you.
8. Find an opportunity to be rude. Politeness is for sissies.
9. Cultivate tension and exhaustion.
10. A headache is the sign of a hard worker. Hard workers are cool.
11. Tell others to hurry up.
12. Work very hard and never take time off. Only talk about work.
13. Hire someone to go on exotic vacations for you: you will not have time to go yourself.
14. Eat quickly.
15. If you have to have sex, get it over with quickly.
16. Watch more TV.
17. Talk fast.
18. Talk faster than the person you are talking to.
19. Avoid thinking about what you are going to do before doing it: Planning is useless.
20. Save valuable milliseconds: always use the speed dial.

Note: Eating and brushing your teeth at the same time is only for advanced practitioners. Got it?
(C) 2006 Hurry Faster: The cult of speed

you can find their website here

Check out the slow manifesto too and the other links on their site, food for thought, if you need any that is.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


A lack of energy has made us all sit down and look at the resources we have available within our household and look at the division of labour. I wish we had done this years ago, in fact before we got together because it would have simplified our lives, our expectations and cost us a lot less than it has over the years.
Ok so what was it about, it was about looking at what needs to be done in our household, what each person can do and likes to do, bearing in mind their age, their health, their stamina and their hopes, goals etc and comparing it to what are our family's joint goals. Be sure to ask your children as well and communicate.
Families used to work together from their homesteads, dads had small businesses, mum's stayed at home, kids had chores, the elderly were given jobs and what they made up in wisdom, they lacked in energy. We lack both in today's culture. Our elderly are in nursing homes because we are to busy to care for them, our babies go into nursing care because we are too busy earning money. What we earn in money, we lose in relationships, closeness and generally learning who we are, where we come from, what matters to us and how much we are loved by our families.
To simplify our lives, I urge you to listen to what your family says, what you all want together and start to create your vision. It might be a scary thought, but together you stand a better chance of creating that vision than fragmenting in different directions....its time.
If we all look at the resources we are using within our families, our homes and our communities, we might also get an understanding what the real cost is of chasing time, money etc and what we feel is missing in our life, it can be easily discovered when we stand still and try to ' be'. Try to schedule time.

Its time, make time and listen to the people around you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


A useful resource to see how you can create changes in your home and what the likely costs are. So for instance, if I thought I could install solar panels that would be great but the cost is in fact quite high to produce 850 units. I may do better by changing the lightbulbs, getting energy efficient appliances, changing to a green power supply, insulating my roof, changing my boiler to a a condensed boiler system and having double glazing. I think the energy house model provides an opportunity to assess costs versus saving and allows you to make decisions that fit in with your budget.
Give it a go here. There are a lot of resources on that link to follow through.

As an aside I did watch the programme on BBC2 last night about global warming, its cause and whether this might be just a historical energy balancing pattern by the earth. It was very obvious that although we have had temperature variations from warmer by a few degrees to mini ice ages that the reason the climate is hotting up is due to Co emissions which started at the beginning of the industrial age. So the message really is to reduce those emissions as much as possible. I still think there is not enough information out there on how this can be achieved by individuals ( the armchair activist in me can do that bit), and of course the majority of CO emissions is due to travel, transport and the way we move goods and people around the world. So shopping locally, growing your own veg, eating in season and generally reducing our needs in that area has to be a positive. To survive it appears also that a sense of community will be needed, so that we can not only be self sufficient for our families but also help others in our community. For instance, it could make sense to employ local contractors for the work even if the quote is a little higher because they will have less travel to do. Lots to think about and possibly adapt. Small steps needed here.

As it is fair trade week, I have received my energy bars from my kids ( because I am running low). My DH brought home a chart showing the personal energy being used up with activities and that has set me thinking. What I can do on a personal level with my energy by pacing it, also will have an effect on a global scale. Now that is a good incentive to get fit using what is around.

Bush might say that the USA will come up with technology and that is one possibility but not the only one, to be effective in my mind it needs us all to work together and reduce our energy needs while increasing technological energy that uses natural resources such as solar power, bikes etc. It is all out there, I personally have become just a little dependent on the easy life and simpifying it by less is more is my reaction.

The request from the programme is that they want to use computer models of global warming to come up with a likely outcome so that it will inform us what we can expect if we continue as we are doing. That sounds scary to me but if we do not know what is ahead we cannot adapt to making changes.

So over to you, are you in to make changes?


If you are a letter writer or you use mail to send off bills etc, you could save some money by buying your stamps in bulk before the 3rd April 2006. Postage prices will go up so stock up now because a first class stamp will still be valid. I also believe that if you are stuck about what to give to the older people in your life, you could not go wrong with a set of notecards and plenty of stams. They may have very few material needs, but they do know how to communicate by snail mail and you would be giving them an incentive to be sociable and catch up on news.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Low on energy here, so thought I would have some fun. The BBC runs a quiz to find out how energy efficient you are here. I scored 6 out of 10. The answers I got wrong were the scientific ones not the home solutions ones so that is good. hands up, I am human and I make mistakes but I am willing to learn. I am apparently an armchair activist and need to get in some more action. I would go along with that and there is nothing wrong with being at that stage. The way I see it, I have 40% more effort to go and accepting where I am right here in my thinking, is OK as long as I continue to learn, accept, and grow using little resources to do so.

Today, we are sharing tranport. My DH is driving me to an appointment while he goes and does a job in town, and then we will come back. In the past we would have taken 2 cars but we are thinking about how we can make different choices. A bus would be better but that is another story.

Another interesting thing is the global warming experiment. If you want to be part of it, click here. Now that really sounds something for an armchair activist.

Monday, March 13, 2006


How thrilling I hear you say. Well actually it is. The peas are popping through and the little heartshaped leaves of small red cabbages and green savoy cabbages are poking their life force up in the air hoping to grow, grow, grow. Suits me, hopefully I will end up with sufficient plants to make a meal from next winter. It all takes patience. If only you knew how long a cabbage is in the making, how long it needs to mature before we get it on our plate we might appreciate and respect the growing process a little more. As long as it does not meet with wet rot or anything similar we could be Ok for cabbage next winter.
The remaining goals are a bit on hold for the moment as my personal powercut continues, but the thinking process does not lack there either.
Interesting article in the paper today about the ton of packaging used by one family in one month. Water could be on ration next summer and electricity prices are going up.
Time for action seems now.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


I can tell you that the day they pull out the electricity plug, we will be in trouble...well for a while until people rally around and realise that there is a lot we can do together without electricity.

Apparently Einstein's theory of relativity says that you cannot make or lose energy it only gets shifted around, which makes complete sense. Continuing to use energy as if there is no tomorrow is therefore only robbing the future of possibilities.

Our personal energy is precious, people who do too much have a heart attack possibly and others end up with Chronic Fatigue, a sort of start stop malfunction in the body that enables energy to be available some of the time, then not.

Its bearable and the way through it is through pacing, something we can learn from in trying to pace our energy requirements. How are you doing?

I cannot recommend this route for personal development and learning but learn I pace, simplify and use energy wisely.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I have had a sewing machine for the past 25 years and it is in very good condition. Actually it is only in such good condition because it has not been used for a very long time...and yet....I could sew things in the past. When my Dd was little, I used to make her clothes. I was very hard up on the money side and fabric seemed expensive and I could get by by buying adult dresses and men's shirts ( in the charity shop) to make them into pretty pinafore dresses and blouses. Thus I spent my time, happily at home, sewing,homemaking and being a Mum. Today we went to lunch together ( she is now a woman) and we ended up in the fabric store and I guess we will be doing some sewing, together or individually. I know there does probably not seem to be a need to make your own clothes but if you have that skill, the sky is the limit. You can actually make them to fit, you can use the scraps of material to make a quilt...the possibilities are endless.
So try and have a look and see what skills you were taught as a child and what you are doing with them. Do you use them or have you lost patience and the art of doing things for yourself, very simply.

Thanks for your lovely comments so far, I do enjoy reading them and finding out about all of you who are on a similar path, it makes sharing or resources fun, even if you live on the other side of the world.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I feel the need to explain some of the struggles I have with living a simpler life. I did not set out to set myself apart from the world in an eccentric way but to take more responsibility for the choices I make on a daily basis. I have to put my hands up and say that my human nature does mean that I make mistakes, but I try and learn from them. I am not living a perfectly green life but I am trying to make choices that are in line with my values and beliefs, I do what is possible and yet also attempt to look at what seems impossible.
Can one person really make a difference...I think we can, make changes one step at a time and happiness for me lies in making those changes because I choose to make them and because somewhere in my mind they make sense. This is not for everyone I admit, but my aim is to get you to stop just one minute before you do something and ask yourself why you are doing it and how it contributes to what you think is important in your life.
It may not always make a profit, it may actually cost more money but the reward can be in different areas of your life.

Yesterday, I stepped into the wide world and observed some interesting changes around. The radio also talked on the news about Uk consumers becoming more savvy about what they buy. There is evidence everywhere, well nearly everywhere. The local coffee shop boasts fair trade coffee, the clothes shop is starting a line of ethical cotton clothes and complete traceability of its goods, there is evidence of people now asking me, do you want a bag ( must have a sign on my head saying no no no bag please), and there is more variety in the fast food chains. This is not a large town but there is a new addition of a juice and soup bar which is just fantastic. I spotted a gym asking the question are you a chocoholic or fit for fruit and I have to admit that I am neither of those. The most interesting conversation I could eavesdrop on ( simply because it was happening really next to my ears, was a group of adolescent boys rating girls in different categories. If my mind serves me correctly, girls have never actually been rated as homemakers, housewives, childbearers etc, I seem to recall some more physical comparisons in the past. Are the boys of today looking to return to some more traditional modes of support in their lives. It left me wondering how these girls rate those boys, and do they? ( Not an area to go )

Today here, it rains heavily and although that means I am to stay inside, I know we need the rain in this area. The weather men predict a drier than usual summer ahead. I could do nothing and just wait and see or I could try and plan how I can harvest a resource that is readily available, still free and not taxed.

Rain saving, is put on my list.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Although daytime temperatures stay light and cold, in the polytunnel there is sign of life. Rocket seedlings are appearing, the redcurrant and blackcurrant are beginning to bud and the peas sown are swollen and just waiting to appear.
In the house, the tomatoes are growing towards the light and pansy, bizzy lizzies and geraniums are popping up too. If this keeps going, there will be plenty of colour and goodness in the garden this year.
I have to admit that the seedlings in the polytunnel do get covered with fleece to keep them unharmed from frosts in the night.
There's not enough to change the diet yet, but tonight's menu is leek and potatoe soup which has a little wild garlic in it and blackberry and apple crumble which is made with berries picked last autumn. That also satisfies my start to a more vegetarian diet. My DS 1 tried tofu sausages at a healthy eating day tasting and so we bought some to try, they are very quick to prepare but take some getting used to. We can get used to them.


I have talked about tipping points on the subject of global warming and here is one with regards to fast food giants. The profits are dipping and it appears that parents in the UK are actually paying attention that chicken nuggets are not the best available for our children's health. It is reassuring that Britain's youth is looking towards healthier food and avoiding fast food joints or at least using a bigger variety of them. There is hope.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


It seems endless, the stuff we have accummulated over the years and the uncluttering is still going on. I took part in a food hygiene course and am currently decluttering the freezer. There are things in there that have been lurking for months ( dare I say years) and must be dealt with soon. I will then be defrosting the freezer and keep a journal of what goes in and the dates. This should help me have an organised larder. I really had no idea that I had so much stuff lurking about. I must have been a compulsive potatoe chips purchaser. How many bags does one need?

On a more positive note, the car is back, shining and all is forgiven. I think my only option now is to run it until it stops running. The temptation has been to replace it or do away with it alltogether and yet, that is not really in the spirit of downshifting.

I read somewhere today that to keep you car in tip top condition you should do the following:
  • check oil levels and tyre pressures regularly
  • have a service every 6 months
  • check tyres and make sure they are legal.
  • do not carry stuff in it, make it as light as possible.
  • wash it regularly
  • have it resprayed when it is 7 years old and it will look as new
  • hopefully it will keep going until 10 years old.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


What can be the answer to that. Carfree family have some good comments to make about cars and how they manage without it. The question has come up simply because my 4 year old car has come up with a problem that will take a lot of money to fix it. I have decided to go ahead and have it fixed but transport is on my mind. We live in the country and my DH argues that we 'need' 2 cars to get around and yet, I would be quite happy to share a car or do without one. The running costs of a car are quite high. How did we get to have 2 cars in a family anyhow? Is it simply a matter of choices we make. How much does a car cost to run? Calculating it using this table the cost of running my car for the last year have been about £ 92 per week ( that takes into account all taxes, depreciation etc). That is quite a bit I have to say for owning a car. What alternatives are available. You could register with liftshare to see what transport can be shared or how to get along using public transport. It also has a handy link for door to door planning and timetables. This could make an alternative work. A suggested trip could either be shared and would take 1 hour, but the cost of public transport could be about £ 15.00. Still I wonder how far you could go with the £ 92.00 running costs per week and how that could be saved. Any suggestions anyone?