The past few months have been busy here at Thrift Cottage. Slowly, I have managed to tick a couple of more items off my bucket list and 'to do' list, mainly in getting the kitchen into some sort of order and, most importantly, making my Will! Not wanting to dwell on the inevitable, but it is a simple precaution so I am prepared for the one guaranteed event in life. November, of course, is national Will Aid month, so if you feel loath to hand over your cash to a solicitor for the privilege of their writing up your last Will and testament, then select one who is donating the month's proceeds from such transactions to charity.
I have tried my best to follow a good eating plan and maintain a healthy lifestyle in an effort to curb weight gain over the winter months and to at least retain an element of fitness, especially for those occasional days that may be deemed suitable for a cycling trip to the field.
The costs of my frugal fitness plan haven't really impacted on my overall spending. In fact, it has probably contributed to a reduction in overall grocery spending, as I am simply reducing the amounts of everything I eat... even when forum members choose to send anonymous gifts in a vain attempt to lead me astray. I had to cycle twice as far, twice as quickly to work off this lot, and do without pudding more than once over the last few months after giving in to temptation more than once and with more than just these crisps!
I feel that retribution has been sufficiently served by way of the crock pot in my slow cooker having cracked, rendering it useless for frugal soup and stew making. It now needs replacing, so I'm watching for all the offers and hoping I can find a 6.5L replacement via Amazon, so I can part pay using free vouchers accrued through Topcashback.
Savings on the grocery spending have been many, especially since the start of the Asda home delivery trial in our rural corner of the country, but it also means that a few extras seem to find their way onto the orders - like 30p chocolate bars, family packs of biscuits and even the occasional cakes. These costs, however, are minimal in comparison to switching on the oven and spending an hour in the kitchen baking, when the time can be spent elsewhere, like at the computer typing up my 50,000 words in my first attempt at NaNoWriMo. Having spent the weekend out on site planting trees and with a visitor staying at the house, I have fallen behind with my word count, so this needs to be remedied as soon as possible. I made my $10 donation, pledging to write 50,000 so now I must complete that pledge.
The cost of feeding the electricity meter has increased by around 10% recently, counter-balanced a little by the odd power cuts that have affected us during the worst of the weather. A nice little rebate of £12.00 has helped prepare us for colder weather, as it equates to between 60 and 70kwh of 'free' electricity, in a round about sort of way.
Water rates don't affect us here in Scotland, as any water charges are incorporated into our Council Tax, but it did make me wonder how much was wasted when hundreds, possibly thousands of gallons of the stuff were flooding our street a few weeks ago after the water main suddenly burst. We were very lucky in that the torrent reached the front door but was repaired before it came over the threshold.
Over at the field, or Frugaldom, as it is now known by all, the month of near persistent rain has considerably raised the levels of the burns that flow around the land. We went along the roadside boundary and also walked across the main grassland, which is mostly marshland, and could clearly see the flood lines, so this should be useful information for future developments involving such things as live art structures and wildlife hides. I didn't venture down to the pond, as there just wasn't enough time to do everything that needed to be done during our weekend trip there.
Despite several weeks of rain, the marshland is not as treacherous as I was expecting. It would be an interesting project to clear out some of the old drainage ditches to create a network of mini ponds, interconnected by duck board walkways!
I was pleasantly surprised to discover several areas showing potential for cultivating into grassland, with one spot, known as bracken hill or bluebell hill, depending on the time of year, proving to be particularly dry, owing to its elevation above the rest of the surrounding land. Curious! The friend who accompanied me on my walkabout agreed that it could be an interesting research project to try discovering why this little land anomaly exists.
On top of bluebell / bracken hill looks like an ideal spot for a wildlife station, the slightly raised area providing an excellent viewpoint for a vast swathe of the project. Exciting times ahead, I feel.
Elsewhere around the field, there were several new fungi and moss species spotted. There were quite a few of this little fellow about the place - not sure what type of fungi it is but am hoping one of you reading this can let us know. :)
Tree planting as part of the Woodland Trust World War I Centenary Woodland Project
Despite having sent out over 100 invites, publicising the event online, notifying both of our local newspapers and alerting the nearby holiday park, the turnout for our event failed to entice anyone new on such a wet Saturday. By the Sunday, however, our core group had packed picnic lunches to make the most of the sunshine and spent the day planting trees, chatting and enjoying being outdoors.
The early morning sunshine was blurred by low clouds of fog rolling a blanket of dew over everything, including the little spider's web on the Frugaldom trading post. It really was a fine day for planting trees and getting the hedgerow in around the garden of gratitude.
The hedging around the area reserved as a gratitude garden has now been planted up with crab apples, elder and sloes with a few hazels and space remaining for other fruits and berries. I have plenty of cuttings from blackcurrants, raspberries, gooseberries and blackberries to go in between these to form a thick, edible hedge that will also, hopefully, entice wild birds and insects, not to mention happy foragers picking fruit and berries for jelly and cordial making in years to come.
I'm really pleased with the progress made over the space of just one weekend of planting and extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity for Frugaldom to become part of the World War I Centenary Woodland project. It will bring immense pleasure to many in the future, I am sure, as our gratitude garden develops and the new seating and picnic areas are created.
My problem now is working out how best to be there to actually get any of these great plans implemented. A small financial miracle is probably what most would wish for, but where is the challenge in that? I will start number crunching the list of possibilities now that they have been whittled down to just a few with real potential, then concentrate on how to take this plan forward. As my frugal living motto goes,