Saturday, 31 March 2018

Have A Very Happy Easter

 We went to visit my Dad today and took him to the garden centre as he wanted to buy some new plants for his garden. I had intended to buy Scarlett an Easter bunny as she is too young for an egg. There were Easter bunnies everywhere, it was totally overwhelming, and they were ever so expensive. So considering she may not even be that bothered about one I bought her a board book instead. Look at all these Easter bunnies,

and more.

   It did make me think that Easter has now become just as commercialised as Christmas. As a child I loved Easter, spring was just beginning , the concept of new life symbolised by eggs seemed so exciting and as an animal lover I couldn't wait for the tiny little toy yellow chick I got each year. I remember one year getting a little plastic lamb for my toy farm and spent the whole Easter holiday making it gambol around the field. I'm not sure if today's children would be so easily pleased!
   When I got back home I popped down to the shops and the charity shop was just about to close. The lady who works in there was clearing out the Easter display in the window and the bunnies were being taken out. I popped my head in and asked "How much is this bunny?" "£1" she replied. Just look at her, she is so cute! I have checked her carefully and she is safe for little ones so will be perfect for Scarlett. A nice frugal end to the day.

   I hope everyone has a lovely restful Easter and remember, even though it never seems to stop pouring with rain, spring really is is just around the corner.

Friday, 30 March 2018

An Organising Kind Of Day

What a rainy day! I was stuck in on my own today so decided I would make the most of it and get things done. There are lots of jobs I needed to catch up with so I thought I would just work through them all day. My first job was listing the items I bought this week on ebay, which without any distractions I got through quite quickly. I could have listed more but I needed to photograph them and the light was too bad on such a rainy day to do that. The problem is, the more stock I add the harder it is to find places to store them safely. I added todays items, carefully wrapped in paper to plastic stacking boxes but as time goes on it gets harder as only a percentage of the stock sells each month and this has to be taken into consideration when deciding how big to become as a seller. I am keeping meticulous records for my ebay and etsy selling, which brings me to the next task of the day.
   End of tax year books. I'm very old fashioned, all my book keeping is written down, then I feel happy. All new books need to be started next week and I put a lot of work into getting them just right. I am starting a new household budget book at the same time. Every month I write a list of bills and direct debits due and put the money aside for them first, then I can work out how much we have left to spend each week and any excess goes into our savings. Then weekly money is broken down again into food, petrol and other essentials during the week. This is the figure I am always trying to reduce. New books always give me motivation to try and get the outgoings down and incomings up even more. It's a bit like that feeling you had with new school books in September when you started writing on the first page. I always thought I would do my very best in this book. I hope it lasts a bit longer than in my school days! Even though I am sick of this rain it has certainly helped me get through some work today.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Trying To Dodge The Rain

  Our eldest daughter came over today and we decided to take Scarlett out for a walk, regardless of the rain, as it's so nice to get out and about. When the rain was at it's heaviest we popped into a tearoom for a cup of tea which dragged on and on as the rain got heavier and heavier. It gave us time to put the world to rights which we always do when we are together! With Scarlett happily wrapped up under her rain cover we set off to the park. Under the trees watching the waterfall it was quite peaceful with only a few hardened dog walkers about.

Even the ducks were trying to get away from the rain!

    It was only a couple of hours away from working but we still enjoyed the change of scenery. Of course as soon as I got back and settled down to start work the sun came out. Never mind.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Found In The Loft

Before I went into hospital Tom and I started sorting out our loft. There is so much stuff in there we were starting to fear for our safety at night! I had visions of the ceiling giving way under the weight and us all being crushed to death in our beds. Years of "put it in the loft" when we don't know what to do with something was starting to catch up with us. After a few weeks it was starting to look much better and while we are not getting rid of very much it is all neatly stacked in easily accessable boxes. At the back of the loft we found a box that was not ours the contents covered in old paper. Tom was all for just chucking it out but I brought it down and carefully looked through it. To my delight it was full of off cuts of fabric from Liberty of London. In with the fabrics were two really retro looking handmade shirts. "It looks like something Sam Tyler would wear in Life On Mars!" said our youngest son looking at the long sleeved one. I was so pleased, the tops fit me (just) and all this fabric I can make pretty scarves from has come just at a time when my poor neck needs hiding for a while. They were heaven sent!

  Now I'm feeling much better I thought I would start to think about making the scarves and hemming the edges. In the late 1980s when we first started to go to car boot sales I bought a lovely old Singer sewing machine for £1. I had intended to fix it up but without the internet in those days I couldn't find the replacement parts for it and no one knew how to thread the old fashioned bobbin so I gave up and put it in the loft. We have dragged it around with us through two house moves and it has gone in the loft each time with much complaining from Tom as he struggles with it up the ladder.
  So today down it came (more complaining) and I have studied it for the first time in 30 years. It has a serial number on and you can date singer sewing machines from this number. Incredibly this machine dates to 1897. My grandmother was a seamstress as a young woman in the 1890s, I wonder if she used a sewing machine just like this.

     There are videos on youtube with instructions of how to thread these old bobbins and parts seem to be available on ebay. So now in a world with the internet, this machine seems no longer unusable. I owe it to the Victorian lady who sat and sewed with it to try and get it working again. Then when it is fixed I can hem my new scarves. Today seems to have been a very successful day.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Holding Back The Years

  There is a programme on in the morning on BBC called Holding Back The Years. It is about dealing with old age and retirement and it is a subject for so many reasons that has been in my mind a lot recently. Obviously we all want to live as long as we can and be as healthy as we can, both of these suddenly have looked in jeopardy for me. I'm trying to use this feeling as a positive and not a negative and it has made me reassess a bit.
   Tom and I are lucky as our leisure time costs very little money. On this TV programme they were talking about cruises for retired people and to be honest sitting around on a cruise ship, not being able to go anywhere fills me with horror. Our idea of a nice day is to take the dogs and a picnic somewhere pretty and spend our day exploring. Other days we will leave the dogs at home go to one of the market towns in Sussex and search around the charity and second hand book shops. This programme talked about a "two tier system" as if the pensioners who shopped in charity shops were the poor ones but what they seemed to miss the point of, and the lovely pensioner they spoke to quite clearly didn't, it can be a lot of fun!
   One of the nicest days we have had is when I bought a large lot of second hand books on ebay for collection only.  "They are in Gillingham" I said. "Lovely" said Tom "Kent, we can make a day out of it and take some lunch." It was only when I had bought the items I realised there is a Gillingham in Dorset! We set off at the crack of dawn with my youngest daughter who has a spirit of adventure too and drove to pick up the books. After we had collected the books, we looked on the map and just chose a place to explore nearby. It was a place called Shaftesbury and I was completely overwhelmed by it. We sat on the hill eating our packed lunch looking at the view. "I think I have found my Spiritual home! " I said. It is the town they made the Hovis advert that was so popular on the TV in the 1970s and it was as if we had stepped back in time. After lunch we explored the church and all the little back streets at the bottom of the hill before walking all the way back up for an ice cream to recover. We still talk about that day often. Look how beautiful it is there. Much nicer than any old cruise!

   I know you have to make an effort to live healthily and take plenty of exercise but I still think as you get older taking the time to do the things you enjoy, no matter how small they may seem, is the key to a long life and I'm certain it is the key to a happy one.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Let's Put Pressure On The Big Guys

There has been so much in the news lately about excessive use of plastics. This week we saw a family trying to live without plastic for a week. Whilst I admire enormously the people who make this effort I'm not sure if it is really possible to live completely without plastic at the moment. It also puts the onus on us the consumer rather than on where it should lie with the big guys, the supermarkets. God forbid Tesco, Asda and the like should change anything that may eat into their massive profits! But maybe if all of us changed our buying just a little bit, rather than a few people changing it a lot, they may have to.
   There are the obvious things that so many people try to do such as buying loose vegetables in the supermarket rather than the prepacked variety, shopping from a butcher if possible ( I know that is not easy these days) or taking a reusable metal water container around with us rather than a plastic bottle. Though maybe we should be asking ourselves do we really need the water bottle at all. Before the 1990s nobody took water around and I don't remember anyone dying of dehydration in the street!
   I bought this little thermos flask at a jumble sale for 20p and we always take it on picnics and days out. I loved it as it was just like the one I used to take to school with me with hot drinks or soup in. (Wouldn't it be nice to get back to those days). No take away coffee drinking for us!

   Lovely though it is it is a bit big to carry about all the time so I have decided I am on the look out for something smaller. Something old so I feel I am recycling and something with a bit of character. I shall enjoy the search.
   But back to the serious issue. I am going to change my shopping habits by one or two items a week. I intend each week to change something I normally buy in a plastic bottle or container with something in a glass or card one in a gradual change away from plastic. I don't mind paying a little bit extra to help the environment but can't afford to pay a lot more so it will be a challenge. When I popped down to the Co Op this evening I thought I would buy the olive oil we needed in a glass bottle rather than the usual plastic one. All the Olive Oil in the Co op was in plastic bottles so I bought this bottle of Rapeseed Oil in a glass bottle instead. I had been meaning to swap to support British farmers who produce it, so now seemed like a good time.

However it was £4.19 for a 500ml bottle compared with the usual £2.25 I pay in Asda for the same amount of  Olive Oil in a plastic bottle so already the price is higher. I think I'll have a look in Lidl this week for some items. I searched around for some fruit juice my youngest daughter likes but even the very expensive makes were in plastic bottles. In the end I gave up and bought a bottle of wine. Oh well at least it was in a glass bottle!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Buying And Selling On Ebay And Etsy

I have decided in the last couple of weeks to start selling on ebay again. I have mixed feelings about ebay but it does give me a really nice extra income. The problem is the fees are very high now and also the percentage of items that sell has really dropped over the years. When I started selling in 1999 about 90% of the items I put on sold now over a month only about 25% of items sell. The other problem is the "ebay community". The sections I sell in for vintage and toys are not too bad just the occasional very strange encounter but when I sold some designer sunglasses for my eldest daughter I strayed into a whole different world! Some of the rudest and frankly most stupid people you could imagine emailed me constantly. It was a soul destroying experience.
   So as well as re opening my ebay shop I have started an Etsy one to try this out and stock it with a few extra vintage items. So far the few people I have sold to have been very nice and the fees are not so high. I shall give them both a go and have opened them up with stock I had left over from selling before. I wonder if anyone else has had experience selling with Etsy?
  As Tom was working today I thought I would go on a walk around the local area checking out all the charity shops. There is a brilliant one opened near us which is an overspill of small items from our local charity saleroom which I thought I would visit first and I wasn't disappointed. The first thing I found was a tatty little book filled with poems, paintings and pressed wildflowers compiled by a young girl called Marjorie who received the book as a birthday present in 1913.

   There are messages from First World War soldiers and lines from songs at the time. Her full name and address is recorded on the first page and I can't wait to find out more about her. I know by the time I have researched her I won't be able to sell this as I will feel like she is an old friend!  For £5 it was my find of the day even though it is quite tatty I am thrilled.

    I found other little items which I will put straight up for sale like this silver plated children's rabbit mug.

   A box of four charming 1930s or 40s table mats. I love the roses on these and I'm going to have to be very firm with myself part with them. 

    I also found a selection of soft toys around the other charity shops which always sell over time. I spend ages photographing them to try and make them look as cute as possible. Like this ...

Or this .....

to try and get the best chance of them being bought. With an estimated 40% of toys ending up in landfill within three months of purchase I hope I'm playing a small part in encouraging reusing and recycling. These toys have been barely played with. It seems such a shame.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

The New Normal

I have got into the habit lately of saying "We''ll do that when everything is back to normal." "We'll go there when all this is behind us." I had my first appointment at The Royal Marsden Hospital this week and was thinking it when I was on the way there. I was quite nervous about the appointment but I shouldn't have been it was a really nice place and everyone was so friendly and kind. I was sitting in the consulting room waiting for the consultant and staring at a print that was on the wall. It was of a wildflower meadow with a stile leading through to a field. It was such a pretty picture I imagined myself running through the meadow, jumping over the stile and walking across the field with my dogs. I'll do that when all this treatment is over I thought.
   I had a long chat with the consultant who explained all the treatment I would have. None of it sounded too terrible but what shocked me was the length of time it was all going to take. I would be having regular blood tests and scans after the treatment and if my blood levels change I may need more treatment. After five years I will not be monitored so often. Five years! That was a long time to wait to run through a wildflower meadow and jump over a stile!
   It has made me realise you can't wait for life to get back to normal, what ever that is. This is my normal now, my new normal. You can't waste any time in life by not doing the things you want to do. I have decided I am not waiting for a date in the future to do the things I want to do. I'm going to do them now in between the scans and the treatment and enjoy every minute. Well I'm off now to look for a meadow to run through and a stile to jump over!

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