Tuesday, 16 December 2014

One teacher to another

My dearest colleague,

You went to work today and so did I.

We both work with children.

Neither you or I do this for the money.

I, and my immediate colleagues, took children to the cinema and had Christmas lunch.

You went to work, as I did for the benefit of young people.

You did all you could but died I front of your children.  

I went safely home and so did the children I teach.

Neither you or many of your children will ever go home again.

My heart aches for the loss of innocent lives.

We are both teachers and I've never met you.

God bless my darling.

Monday, 15 December 2014

What is life like without debt or credit?

Hello Dear Reader,

We became debt free in 2011 and have stayed that way ever since. We've not used a credit card since 2009 and we've just learned to live beneath our means. As Mr Micawber would say "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure £19 and 9 shillings, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure £20, result misery"

So, how is our life a bit different from other people. We certainly spend and have what we need but it's always done with some planning and budgeting. We know what we will spend on Birthdays, Christmas, holidays and anything else that we buy. We save up for everything we need. 

Neither DB or I have expensive work do's. His work doesn't have one at all and mine, which I'm going to, is £4. I think we can work those two costs into the budget. Previously, we've both turned down the £25 a head Christmas, end of term celebrations as just beyond our budgets. It's often difficult to say no, or do something different around our peers. 

It's somewhat easy for us now, we don't really do a conventional consumerist Christmas and haven't done so for years. It's a lovely time off, a few homemade treats (isn't everyone looking forward to a mince pie?) and time for each other and our nearest and dearest.

What though if you are new to this? What was it like when it was new to us? Well, there's no easy way to say this but it was really hard. We said no to everything when we were in debt and paying off debts. Now, we say no to anything that we personally feel is a waste of our own money. People used to challenge us, saying we could afford something and we used to kindly explain that we were paying off debts, or saving up for something important and were being careful with what we did with our incomes. 

It's certainly easier now, these are hard times for everyone and we're no longer the thrifty minority but part of the growing majority of people for whom every pound has to do the work of a fiver! Maybe us frugals led the way? Who knows?

Life now is very different. The fire is lit, we can afford plenty of firewood. The freezer and pantry is stocked. The bank accounts are managed to work for us and we regularly pay in savings for: our holiday in France next year, long term saving fund for a new roof and medium term savings for a new boiler. It's all in the plan. What's the same? We don't eat out more than on the most rarest of occasions (we had fish and chips in Looe in the summer and again in the autumn when we visited Whitby) I still shop the sales, charity shops and look out for household items in the freeads and ebay. If we continue to be careful then we will continue to be solvent. 

We used to be skint and now we're comfortable.

Our past did not define us.

Life without debt or credit is now our normal.

Froogs xxxxxx

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Ham bone Soup

Hello Dear Reader,

I've just about got my breath back after yesterday. You see, I'm one of those people for whom 'ok' won't do. I either get it right or I sink into a self deprecating pit of self criticism that takes me an age to work my self out of. I had prepared to cook Christmas lunch for 24 and by the time several other people rocked up, the number was 32. There was enough but only just. I felt dreadful, if I had known there were a greater number then I would have prepared more food. 

I'm like that at home, I always like to make sure there is enough food to see us through the week. I can't imagine not being prepared. I've always got money set aside to pay for fuel to get us to work, the money is budgeted for the heating wood, the utility bills, insurances and just about any cost I can possibly think I will need or even might need. 

I know the last week of term is going to be hard work, any teacher reading will testify to the week before Christmas being really hard. Some children have the best of time to look forward to whilst others have nothing at all to look forward to, not to mention the tension in families at this time of year. So, fellow teachers, my advice is to make soup and take a flask of it to work to keep yourself going.

My soup is Ham Bone Soup.

You will need:

A gammon/ham hock

Water to cook the hock in.

Place the ham hock in a large saucepan with plenty of water and the chopped vegetables.

Cover and cook for one and a half hours until the meat starts to come away from the bone.

The ham hock cooks along with the vegetables and flavours the soup. The ham hock is removed and the meat is eaten cold once stripped from the bone. We'll probably eat it with home made chips and and egg. (Ham, egg and chips).

Ham hock, taken out and roasted for twenty minutes with some honey and mustard.

Veggie soup in a delicious ham stock, really warming.

I will portion up the soup and take it into work with me each day.

I'm sure any parents of school age children, especially primary school children will recognise how busy and sometimes fraught this time of year can be. There's also a lot of pressure.

Over to you Dear Reader, who thinks that this time of year can be just too busy for families?

Until tomorrow

Love Froogs xxxx


12th - more books have been boxed up

13th - spare clothes horse that we don't need
14th - more clothes, this time some of my son's that are still here.