Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Nostalgic Christmas

I always think Christmas is a really nostalgic time of the year. A time to remember people and happy memories.  This was my first Christmas in Liverpool in 1960. I can't remember it but it still looks happy!

Christmas 1960

I can however. remember this Christmas even though I was only 3 years old.


I keep telling myself that these are the Christmases that we and particularly our children will be feeling nostalgic for in the future, They won't remember the over cooked sprouts (I hope) or the parts of the day that aren't perfect, They will just remember the love, the happiness and the laughter as I do. 
I really hope everyone has a very happy Christmas and makes the most of the good bits and doesn't get too worried about the stressful bits.




Saturday, 19 December 2015

Thoughts On Presents And A Christmas Rescue!

I have never been an organised Christmas shopper and often spend more than I should in the few days before Christmas in a panic that I haven't bought enough for people and I will appear mean. I'm trying very hard this year not to fall into that last minute run to the shops for extras.
    I keep reminding myself about my piece of volcanic rock. My eldest daughter is very generous and when she is away she is always buying presents for people, which I keep telling her she needn't do.
     Last year she went to Italy and found it very expensive, spending more money than intended and had none left to buy presents. When she came home she very apologetically gave me a piece of volcanic rock she found lying on the beach that she thought was very pretty. I was genuinely thrilled. I have put it on my bathroom shelf and every time I dust it I think of her walking on the beach in Italy picking it up and bringing it home for me. I couldn't love it more if she had spent £100.
    While I am not naive enough to think every one would be thrilled with a lump of rock at Christmas, I keep telling myself that the people who really matter won't mind if I give them a plant grown from a cutting, a little cross stitch picture or a jig-saw bought at a jumble sale (I counted all the pieces!) as they are all given with love. So no last minute rush to the shops for me this year buying expensive extras with money I don't have but I will make a point of writing a card with each present telling people how grateful I am for all their support and how much I love them.
    I did spend a few spare pounds today though that I just couldn't stop myself from doing. Every day I walk past our local charity shop and admire their Christmas window with a display of penguins in the snow and there is one I just couldn't resist. There is a sign that says penguins are not for sale until 22nd December and I think to myself I will be there at 9.30 on the 22nd for him. Today when I walked by the sign had been removed. Could this mean they weren't for sale any more. I dashed in and asked if they were still for sale on the 22nd. "Oh you can have one today" the assistant said "I'm sick of them." So here he is, ready to be centre of our Christmas mantelpiece. Just £3 spent and he has brightened my whole day. I am so easily pleased!

The Christmas Penguin Chick




   

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Planning Ahead To Save Money

I have always been very thrifty. We were married at 21 and had four children so really we have had no choice. Most of the time I have quite enjoyed the getting through and I see it as a challenge to be overcome. I even thought I was quite good at it and after 34 years of practice, didn't really need to learn any more. However a few set backs this year have made me try even harder and I have been searching online for ideas.
Well I am amazed. I have discovered so many blogs out there from like minded people who are so incredibly clever and have read so many brilliant ideas. I really admire these thrifty people. The main change I need to make I think, is forward planning and organisation. No matter how hard I work to save money I really only plan for week to week and  think I need to look ahead. The other problem is organisation, every year my new years resolution is get organised which is of course far to vague and never seems to happen.  I need to keep records and stick to the plan.
A few years ago I bought Elizabeth Craig's 1000 Household Hints published in the 1940s from our local second hand book shop which has a marvelous 10p box outside.

Elizabeth Craig's 1000 Household Hints 1940s


In some ways it is more helpful than modern books as it was written in a time before people expected to enjoy luxuries. There are lots of tips on cleaning stains and even how to skin a rabbit. (I think I better hide that chapter from our rabbit Louis!) There is also a section on money management which gives a real insight to the time. It divides household income after tax into tenths
Two Tenths : Housing
Five Tenths : Food And Operating Expenses (Including Utility Bills)
One Tenth :  Clothing
One Tenth : Personal
One Tenth : Health Insurance And Savings.

Straight away I can see our proportions are different to those set in the 1940s as our mortgage is four tenths of our income but I am definitely going to study this over the next few days and work out a long term plan as there are lots more tips in this book I'm sure will be helpful. That with all the clever tips I have read on blogs will make for a much more organised life. I'll will share how I get on. I'm off to Wilkinson's today to buy a new cash book, and it's not even New Year!


Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Last Rose Of Summer

Although summer seems a long time ago now we do have a few roses still blooming in our garden. I will be pruning all the rose bushes down in the next few weeks so I took this photo to remind me of the beautiful blooms we have enjoyed this year and look forward to them again next year. Gardening is so much about looking forward and planning for the next year it's hard not to have hope when you think about the future.

The Last Rose Of Summer

I just had to add this photo of our five Indian Runner ducks as they sat and watched me from their house. Even though they are ducks they don't really seem to like cold wet days that much and spend much of their time sitting in their house watching the world go by. At least they laid two nice big eggs whilst they were in there so I can have an omlette for my tea. Thank you runner ducks!

Pet Indian Runner Ducks

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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

A 1950's Wedding

I have a small business buying and selling old photographs and many of these photographs I copy and sell reproductions and enlargements. I have happily run this business for 15 years and although never make a fortune I just love it. Nothing can beat the fun of being your own boss and on the plus side I don't have to put up with any of the workplace politics which used to get me down so much.
I search everywhere for old photographs and love to find old family albums at car boot sales. My favourite photos to buy are wedding photos and photos of the interiors of old houses. They are definitely not the best sellers though and I don't really sell that many of these types of photos but I can't resist buying them all the same!
One thing I have noticed in the last couple of years is the amount of 1950's wedding albums cast aside in old boxes at car boot sales. It almost breaks my heart to see them lying in a box in the middle of a muddy field. The people in the albums must have died recently and there is no family to treasure these items for the future. I keep these albums carefully in the hope that one day I can reunite them with someone who cares. Aren't this family just lovely?



This is the wedding of Gladys Irene Brenchley to Geoffrey Brazill at Norbiton in Surrey on the 23rd October 1954. What a lovely couple. I really hope they had a long happy life together. There must be family out there somewhere.





Sunday, 22 November 2015

Bantam Ducks

Another cold day today but at least the sun came out for a few hours and that cold northerly wind has dropped. Our house faces north and we are raised up above the road on a high bank. Although it means we have a nice view looking over the houses into the distance, when the wind blows from the north it is absolutely freezing as we have nothing to break it.
There were lots of jobs to do around the garden today looking after our chickens and ducks and I took this photo of Scoot and Carue our bantam ducks as I was out there. Scoot is a Minitature Silver Appleyard duck we hatched from an egg and is adorable.  Carue is a call duck we rescued from a farm at two weeks old. The farmer had hatched too many male ducklings and was going to wring his neck. We drove a 120 mile round trip to pick him us as a friend for Scoot and I'm afraid to say he is decidedly ungrateful. Even though he looks very cute he can be a proper little demon and spends most of the time when I am in there hanging off my trousers and pecking at any bit of me he can make contact with. It's not too bad in the winter when I am wrapped up but in the summer, when he can make contact with bare skin,  it is slightly less amusing.
There is something about his little round face and waddly walk though that I just love and even though I regularly threaten him with the same fate the farmer had in store for him I can't help but like him.!

Scoot And Carue The Miniature Silver Appleyard And Call Duck.

 Scoot And Carue The Bantam Ducks

Saturday, 21 November 2015

A Cold November Morning

It was very cold when I got up this morning and for only the second time this winter we had to put our fire on. Our electric fire is one of my favourite frugal finds in our house. My Mum and Dad bought this Belling fire in a department store in Yorkshire in 1956 the year after they got married. When I was very little it was in our best living room we only used on Sundays so it had very little use! Then in 1967 when we moved down to Surrey and had central heating in our new house, the electric fire disappeared. I thought it had gone completely but apparently it had been put in the loft. 
I left home to start nursing when I was 18 and two years later my parents moved house again. The fire went with them and was again put in the loft. 
Then last year, nearly 50 years after it was first put away, my Mum and Dad who are now well in their 80's had a wasps nest in the loft. When the man who came to kill the wasps nest went up into the loft he commented on the fire which they had forgotten about. So when last winter, our central heating completely died they asked us if we would like it. Tom went into the loft to retrieve it and we carefully carried it downstairs. I couldn't believe it was still there and we were all so excited when we plugged it in and it burst into life. (You thought I was going to say flames didn't you!) 
So here it is in it's full glory in our living room.


It is so cosy and nostalgic for me. I could be 5 years old again sitting eating my tea by it on a Sunday afternoon. It is such a perfect match to our old fashioned looking living room. After all these forgotten years the fire is back in the centre of a family.



Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Nostaligic Look At Life

I have  always nostalgically looked back at a time when life seemed so simple. For a living I buy and sell old photos and collectables and surround myself in old items with a story to tell. After a year of enormous change I realised we seem to have lost the meaning of a simpler life. I am determined to return to those values and recover what really matters in life. We have a lot of work that needs doing in our house, garden and allotment and I am going to find as many frugal ways as I can to do the work needed, but more than that we have work to do in our outlook to life and hopefully remember the things that really matter. 
This was the moment in my life, as a four year old, when I decided I wanted a life in the country with a donkey and ideally that is the life I would still like, However whether I get to that moment or not I'm going to make every attempt to live a simpler life.