Tag Archives: economy

Cars, Costs and Cameras

I got my car back tonight. Apart from servicing, they fixed the oil leak, replacing several pipes and a gasket. The pipes lead to a valve I can never remember the name of. I had the valve replaced a couple of years ago. It cost a fortune. The annoying thing is that I don’t remember having one before – I suspect it is a modern “improvement”.  I also suspect that the pipework wasn’t properly reconnected last time, leading to this problem. All in all it has cost me the equivalent of two computers or 250 days on the bus. And all for a valve that doesn’t seem to have been necessary on my previous (reliable) diesel cars.

It’s good to be back in a manual car with plenty of legroom.

Other news – my camera broke. The small one finally gave up the ghost a few months ago. The big one, after several days of making increasingly ominous noises on startup finally refused to start at all. It whirrs and grinds and squeaks and the lens moves but nothing else happens.

We tried using a phone, but it isn’t really good enough. I ended up using the shop camera, which is quite good, but it isn’t really practical to share a camera. We will have to see what happens. I’m not going to take my other camera down. I didn’t mind taking the old ones to work but it’s time for them to provide one now. I suspect that whatever happens will the cheapest option. It has become clear that this is the way we select computers and I can’t see cameras being any different.  Ah well, less than two years to retirement . . .

The picture? Peppermint creams. I was scrolling through pictures and they made my mouth water.

Two Parcels Arrive

It’s been a quiet day, just a blood test and a visit to the jewellers. The new computer has been delivered and is now charging. That’s it. It has not been a particularly active sort of day. To be honest, none of my days are. I was listening to Giles Brandreth on a podcast recently (I really am starting to embrace the 21st Century) and he said that he was once told by a successful businessman that the key to success was energy. I’m not very energetic, and this is reflected in my success rate.

There was one small wobble when the post arrived. There was a parcel for me, which should have been delivered to the shop. This would have covered up my delinquency in bidding in an auction last week when I am supposed to be economising. However, the vendor got this wrong and the parcel ended up in Julia’s hands. If you look in the dictionary under “caught bang to rights”, you will see a picture of Julia holding my parcel from the auction. Look under “shifty, guilty husband”, as she pointed out, and you will find a picture of me. She actually used a different word, but “husband” is accurate and politer.

We’ve agreed that I will now start my economy drive. It wasn’t a difficult decision as the car and lap top have emptied the reserve I keep to allow for this sort of thing.  It’s also not difficult to give up spending when the evidence is delivered to your wife.

Anyway, that’s enough for now, I want to go and test the new laptop.

The Ten Best Things About Lockdown

It’s not been all bad, by any means. I don’t know how it’s been for everyone else, but I’ve quite enjoyed some of the time.

One – being paid not to work. As far as I can see, there is no downside to this. I like my work, but I prefer being paid for nothing. This is different from my normal occupation where I have to go to the shop for six hours a day, where I am paid for doing very little work.

Two – spending more time with my wife. Again, what’s not to like? I know not everybody is as lucky as me in their choice of partner.  Julia, for instance, doesn’t seem as keen on this aspect of the lockdown.

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Bee in Cranesbill

Three – clean air. I have to take the Government’s word for this, but, unusually, they seem to be telling the truth. This has to be good.

Four – less traffic. I’ve been able to drive to hospital for blood tests and get a parking space. Luxury.

Five – free parking. I won’t lie to you, I am extremely mean and if I can save a couple of quid I will do. The hospital car park is free for the moment as they don’t want to handle all that dirty cash.

Six – I’m still on the same tank of fuel I had in March. I haven’t been able to go anywhere, but the money in the bank is handy. (See Five)

Seven – relaxation. The first couple of months made me feel years younger. After that, I have to admit, it began getting more stressful.

Eight – I did get some useful work done, though not enough. However, the bit that I did has been worth doing.

Pie, gravy and roasted veg

Pie, gravy and roasted veg

Nine – we ate lots of healthy vegetables and are feeling better as a result. Apart from one disastrous KFC we haven’t had a takeaway delivery all lockdown. We have been having fish and chips on Fridays since the shop reopened, but fish is good for you and I’ve been leaving half the batter and some of the chips, They give you too many chips. I’m pretty sure that complaining about having too many chips is a sign of age…

Ten – I haven’t needed to speak to anyone. Social interaction is, in my opinion, over-rated. I’ve texted a few people and been on WordPress to exchange a few views. That’s enough. Within that circle I have enough people and they are all sensible people. Mainly. One has been making films with Sooty, but there is always one. Talking to more people just involves me with being tactful to idiots. This isn’t at the top of my list of skills. That’s why I’m not often called to deal with customers these days.

That’s it. I’ve been lucky in lockdown and I intend to stay lucky by remaining in isolation for a while longer.

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A Cheap and Easy Meal

Take a bag of ready chopped stir-fry veg, a pack of noodles and some sauce. Put them in a wok, mix them together and let them heat through.

It takes ten minutes, is very simple and is safe for those of us with poor knife skills.

I ordered it from TESCO as a special offer package deal on our last Click & Collect order but they didn’t have any sauce so they just sent me the veg and noodles. I wasn’t happy and really, if they don’t have all three offer items, they shouldn’t just send you two. Fortunately I had suitable sauce so we were OK.

Cost about £2 for two large portions. It could have been cheaper if we’d cut our own veg into little strips but a few pence seems good value to avoid cutting my fingers. It’s healthy, though I’m sure the sauce has a lot of sugar in it.

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Stir Fry Vegetables

Note how I have avoided mentioning flavour. It’s quite bland, even with a good helping of plum sauce, and the bean sprouts can be overpowering. It would probably benefit from some prawns or meat, but as we are trying to cut down our meat consumption, we are trying to like the taste of vegetables.

That isn’t quite fair, as I do like the taste of carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, chickpeas, broccoli, cabbage and onions, to name just a few. It’s bean sprouts I’m not that keen on, they are watery and they somehow seem to kill the flavour of the meal. They aren’t just tasteless, they seem to drain flavour and make everything else seem less tasty. When we are doing our own stir fry we tend not to use them, though I suppose we really should start growing our own as they are cheap and easy.

Some New Challenges

Whilst shopping this afternoon I had a flick through the cookery magazines.

That’s two challenges in one. The first is to stop buying magazines. They are expensive and never as useful as you think they are going to be. I’ll only be buying magazines this year if they have enough free seeds with them to justify the price.

To reinforce the message I’m going to remind myself that it takes me half an hour to earn the money to buy an average magazine.

Second challenge is to find some new recipes.

It’s easy to get bogged down with the same old things. Traybake, pasta bake, vegetable curry, fish pie, cottage pie, stew, hash…

I could do with some new ideas.

Fortunately, I don’t need to get ideas from magazines as there are loads of new ideas on the internet. I will have to see what I can find. I also have a big stack of cookery books. They have all come from charity shops and the food looks lovely.

Time too, I think, to get the slow cooker out again.