Wednesday, 16 January 2013
The Financial Situation Seems to be Getting Worse
After hearing the devastating news of our favourite online grocery supplier ceasing trading, contingency plans have had to be made here in Frugaldom. The loss of ROSSPA struck us a mighty blow in the wake of giving up on owning a car, as the online fresh produce supplier was the ONLY only who would deliver to our door - no need for cars, buses, taxis...
Alongside ROSSPA, it looks like we could be losing our only shoe store from the town - DE Shoes - and then there's the recent losses of Comet and now Jessops and HMV. Our high streets are being decimated and there's not a thing we can do about it.
Recently, I learned that our village lifeboat is under threat - changes in legislation mean they must replace the lifeboat or else risk being sunk by red tape. Perhaps this is something we CAN hep save!
Port William Lifeboat (PIRSAC) is an independant lifeboat operating in Luce Bay and Wigtown Bay. It is registered as a charity (Port William Inshore Rescue Service, SC027347) and the lifeboat is crewed by volunteer's 365 days a year, tasked to service by Liverpool Coastguard. It receives no funding other than what the group can raise locally, so our trip to Ben Nevis with the McGonks is being used to help raise some of the £65,000 that's needed to help replace the boat. Please join us on McGonks' Facebook Events Page to follow our progress.
Thanks to the MSMSecretSanta challenge partnering Frugaldom with Frugal Queen, many of you on here will know that the subsequent 'love bomb' and secret Santa gift brought me a mountain of crafting materials for my 2013 McGonks project. Thanks to this, I have been able to make several McGonks and have now listed them in a charity auction to kickstart the fundraising for the lifeboat. You can access the charity auction at http://frugaldom.ebid.net/. (We're still waiting to hear the outcome of the Moneysupermarket.com Secret Santa Challenge.)
How will the loss of my lifeline to groceries affect the Frugaldom household budget? With no car and no supermarket within 20 miles, there are no other delivery options. ROSSPA had been a God-send for us ruralites, offering reasonable prices and overnight delivery. I'm guessing that it was the delivery that killed it - charge backs, refunds, lost or damaged items... they all add up and can kill a small business stone dead in no time if the cash flow hits a problem. So, how are we going to redress the balance of losing our only delivery service that brought fresh butcher meat and veggies to Frugaldom?
First, I'll focus on further costcutting, while getting fit enough to climb a mountain and trying to raise much-needed funds for our local lifeboat. Main item on the home front is the grocery challenge. With £912.50 to last a full year for two of us plus any guests or visiting family, things are going to be pretty impossible if I need to rely on a local corner store that's 7 miles round trip and where bread costs £1.80 per loaf!
The above is going to be the salvation of the Frugaldom grocery budget challenge and I have just received my latest order, thanks to al of you guys who read my witterings onlone. The 'refer a friend' links have been brilliant, paying up to £5 in store credit for each friend who registered and ordered. My credit, over the past year, has amounted to £98 and that buys an awful lot of groceries in a clearance outlet.
We have the garden. OK, so we bought the house with almost a quarter of an acre of garden and then found out only half of it was suitable for growing anything, on accounts of the flood levels from the burn that runs through the bottom of it but, with luck, the little orchard we planted will survive the occasional saturation. The ducks don't seem to mind and the hens, so far, have been wise enough to stay up higher than the winter water levels, so we can still have eggs when our feathered friends are laying.
Vegetable-wise, the top half of the garden will be devoted to things like carrots, onions, brassicas and peas, as these are the things we use most. Potatoes I can buy locally by the sack at around 40p/kilo and I have patio tubs for things like salad leaves, radishes and spring onions. The recycled plastic greenhouse will be used mainly for peppers and tomatoes, plus I have plenty of strawberry plants, herbs and soft fruit bushes.
For the past few years I have been trying to get some sort of growers and producers co-operative formed so we can trade fresh produce. I got as far as arranging landshare and the owner registered a few acres as a smallholding so we could rear a few pigs: I needed people to join the group but, although they were all happy to trade for fresh produce, no one was prepared to travel to cultivate said land.
At the weekend, we dragged out the bikes and cycled to the above to see the owner and to estimate the distance from here to there. It's 4.5 miles, so not all that long by bike even when you pedal as slowly as me. It means we're within fairly easy reach of a rather well established orchard, land for cultivating and woodland that can produce fuel. All we need to do is work out numbers of hours we can dedicate to the project and how best to proceed. Houseshare, of course, will not agree to rearing 'meat' of any description, so there still lies the problem of sourcing that. All I can think of for now is the little Co-op store about 10 miles from here but I'll need to be fit to cycle there and back with a box of groceries. I do have a small cool bag, so I'll also need to devise a way of securing it to the back of the bike.
Toiletries - I have stacks of these, probably enough to keep me going for another year. Toilet rolls, however, aren't the easiest things to juggle on a bike, so I've been thinking about where to store a bulk pack, if I can buy them online and have them delivered at a decent price. Suggestions for cheap loo rolls appreciated.
Bread & milk - I have 3kg of milk powder and always try to have a few litres of UHT milk in stock. The local store currently charges £1.43 for 2 litres, which shouldn't be too difficult to carry home on the bike inside the cool bag. I also have a friend who visits most weekends who is happy to pick up milk from the shop on the way past. Bread... that will be homemade or nothing, as will cakes and biscuits. I have quite a plentiful supply of assorted flours in stock, thanks to Approved Food and the similarly trading Food Bargains.
My latest 'Approved' order arrived this afternoon, so I'm now stocked up on really cheap ham stock cubes and more cappuccino. Having been expecting the delivery, I soaked a bowl of split peas overnight and now have a big batch of pea & ham soup in the slow cooker. (I need to source an affordabe supply of red lentils.)
Sorry it's such a lengthy and wordy post. Once I start, I can forget to stop - I'm the same out walking or cycling, hence the reason my 10 mile bike ride at the weekend ended up being just over 20 miles. Oops! :)