Thursday, 7 February 2013

February's Frugal Fun and Fitness

First Week of February Almost Gone

Sun setting over Luce Bay and the Mull of Galloway
I thought I would do something a little different for today's post and show you a bit more of the area in which I live. Apologies now for this post being image heavy, I hope it doesn't pose problems for anyone.
Often, people find it difficult to comprehend frugal living in a rural environment, so this should let you see how rural Frugaldom is. It is in no way remote, yet some see it as exactly that, especially those who live in towns or cities where everything is available right on their doorstep.
This year we got some snow - an unusual occurance for here.

This is where I live. It's not a village, nor is it really a hamlet, it's whats known as a clachan - a little row of about 20+ houses that came about when the estate owners needed staff and those staff needed accommodation. A few new houses have crept in along the way but on the whole, it's a fairly quiet neighbourhood, being set a mile off the main road and about 4 miles from the village. These photos were taken in full colour, but there was no colour to be seen, owing to the snow and clouds.

Walking to the top of the hill behind the house, this is the view in the snow. The little red arrow marks the approximate location of our nearest village store, about 4 miles from here.
We've had a really mixed bag of weather here since 2013 began. January brought high winds, high tides, torrential rain, hail, sleet, snow and even some sunshine. Having no car during all of this mixed weather doesn't encourage many trips to the village, either walking or by bike.
When walking, it's about 7.5 miles from house to shop and back but cycling is closer to 10, by the time I detour to miss the main stretch of 'A' road, which terrifies me when the lorries go hurtling by at up to 60mph.
Regardless of which route is chosen, arriving in the village at high tide pretty much guarantees you a soaking, whether it's raining or not. Last week, the sun was shining here when we left but it was blowing a gale and battering down with hail by the time we made it to the shop and, once again, I'd forgotten to ceck the tide times! This is the main road running into the village - timing is everything when cycling and on this occasion, I got my timing wrong. I was spitting salt for the next quarter mile.
Choice in the shops is very limited and everything is much more expensive than in supermarkets. Keeping to a very frugal grocery budget is very difficult, so the loss of ROSSPA has been a huge blow to this frugal household. This is what I managed to fit into the bike pack last week and it cost me £8.85 Those small blocks of cheese at the front weigh only 180g each and the peppers were and absolute luxury!
February, of course, is Frugaldom fitness month, when I make the most of the shortest month of the year in preparation for spring, hopefully shedding the extra pounds gained over winter and getting fit enough to tackle the garden.
I'm using a website called to record the various workouts and have set myself a challenge to complete a minimum of 100 completely free workouts before going for the frugal, fun, fitness weekend to Fort William, when we're climbing Ben Nevis. During January, I managed to fit in 16 hours of fitness training and clocked up 75 miles of outdoor walking and cycling. This past week, excluding today, I've managed 6 workouts covering a total of 32 miles already.
My enthusiasm for this year's fitness challenge is being helped along by a friend who has decided to join me on the Ben Nevis trip. It's great having company for training, as this is the one thing that normally lets me down... hating doing anything alone! So, this is her first experience of the February challenge and we're making it as much fun as possible. It's frugal and it's free, but we still afford a few luxuries! Like tiny digestives (Approved Food multi buy) and some soft garlic cheese as part of our picnic lunch sat atop the nearby iron age fort during our weekend walk. (I need to make plenty of frugal gourmet soft garlic & herb cheese to deter 'Woo' from buying extravagant 'Roule' while in town!)
Having my frugal entrepreneur project on the go is also helping to add an extra element of fun into the 'get fitter, not fatter' stakes, as including a McGonk in the photos is quite entertaining. I sewed a keychain onto the back of 'Beag' McGonk, who I take almost everywhere with me, and he now gets hooked onto the front of the bike when I'm out cycling. He gets hooked onto my back pack when I'm out walking and, for shorter trips, he can clip onto the zipper of my jacket. Here he is clipped to the front of the secondhand mountain bike that I treated myself to after giving up the car.
The roads around here are great for walking and cycling in that they are fairly quiet, other than occasional farm traffic. Most are fairly narrow lanes and seldom used by 'normal' traffic and in places, it can be more like cycling off road than on.
This is the lane I have been using as part of a training circuit. It would be fabulous for running but, as stated previously, running just isn't my 'thing'. For starters, I make far too many stops to take photographs, so timing my laps is a bit of a joke. As you can see, there's plenty of snow lying on the Galloway Hills in the distance but not a sign of any here. We often walk this road but on this occasion, I was cycling.
These photos suitably reflect the area in which I live - there's nothing commercial about the place: no shops, no cinemas, no gyms, no buses... spending money within the immediate vicinity isn't always an option. But there's always online shopping, as we are lucky enough to have Internet and even broadband - to a certain extent.

The Garden

Things are beginning to grow!
The heathers in the tubs have done really well, some staying in bloom for most of the winter, but now there are many signs that spring should be on its way very soon.
We have flowers! The miniature irises are all blooming and several of the other spring bulbs are beginning to put in an appearance. 'Beag' McGonk seems suitably impressed by the added splash of colour. Elsewhere, there are snowdrops springing up, even out in the wildest corners of the landscape.

The New Phones Arrived!

The new handsets have arrived and will be ready to be put into use as soon as they are charged, so I should be able to make my first 'comfy' call tomorrow evening, when calls are free after 7pm. I'll then have the rest of the weekend to catch up with everyone, spreading the news of the new arrivals, But I mustn't forget to hang up and then redial if it looks like going over the 60 minutes. Running up anything extra on the phonebill is a no no, especially after going to the expense of paying the year's line rental in a lumo sum to help save extra pounds.
Finally, friend and I have one more week of walking preparation before our first big adventure up a hill. Next weekend, come rain, hail or shine, friend and I are filling our backpacks and taking a trip up Cairnsmore of Fleet. At 711 m (2,333 ft), it is the highest of the Solway hills and I'm told that on a clear day the views are spectacular. There's certainly plenty to see up there, but I'll save the information for next weekend, when I hope to have enough photographs to make up a dedicated blog post. Very excited about this as it will be a first visit for us and the McGonks.


  1. you live in a lovely area of the country. Our side roads are all gravel which make for uncomfortable walking and biking, but once the better weather comes along I am determined to start walking again.

    Meanwhile I'll still be hibernating as we are forecast for around another 8 inches of snow over the next 24 hours. Seeing anything grow in the garden will have to wait for a least another six weeks or so.

    Gill in Canada

  2. Clachan ..... what an absolutely fabulous word :D

    I love your blog and I'm a new follower and I have also joined your forum. I have found it utterly inspirational.

    Kind Regards

  3. Love your blog also - so much solid achievement and practical advice. You live in a most beautiful area. I dont know if I could give up my car but you do seem to have some transportation somewhat nearby whereas there are no buses here and the nearest train station is eight miles away.
    Look forward to hearing about your climb !

    1. Our nearest bus stop is over 3 miles away but if I walk to the main road about a mile and a quarter from here at the right time then I could flag down the bus. Nearest train station is over 20 miles, so public transport is very limited.

      Where abouts are you, Lizzie?

  4. I live in a small town about thirty miles south of Chicago in Will County, Illinois. There are no buses here that is the problem. The city of Chicago has a decent system but it does nt extend out here.
    It is very flat so biking is an option for about half the year. I dont use the car much though as I spend most of my time at home, I hyper-mile and usually use a tank of gas every two months. I would love to be able to not replace the car when it eventually dies.

    Maybe there are some kindred spirits in the clachan with whom you could barter for some travel !

  5. Ooh, that sounds all glamourous 'Calamity Jane' and the 'Windy City' ish to a wee Scot like me - the vastness of America is something I cannot even bgin to comprehend, so it always sounds exciting. :) I'm not totally cut off here and next door neighbour will gladly give me a life into the village anytime I ask - I just don't like to ask, I think it will be easier once I know she's here full time, as this is still her second home. Quite a few of the houses about here are either second homes, holiday homes or retirement homes - I didn't know this when we moved here, should have done more homework. :)

    Several people suggested I invest in an electric bike - perhaps smething with potential for yourself - but to be honest, I'd prefer to cycle locally and save whatever extra towards car rentals in the future, if there are any events I need to attend that I'm unable to lift share to get there. The local ferry port, about 25 miles from here, does very reasonable car hire.

  6. - I lived in Kirkcaldy, Fife for five years before I moved here thirty years ago. I loved Scotland; the air, the light, and the people were wonderful to us.
    I have thought about an electric bike but think it would be just something else to store and maintain etc. and I have a very nice manual bike. Can you keep bees where you are? My friend in the IOM collects seaweed for her gardens.
    I have very productive veggie and flower gardens; all raised beds so I dont do any digging and it only takes a day to clear them all in November. I just top them up with anything I have got whenever I ve got it. Swiss Chard is a favorite to grow better than spinach here as it does nt bolt and I got 27 butternut squash last year. I have two very good compost heaps( a three foot high roll of fencing wire that I make into a circle, so easy to remove to turn thecompost) and a friend who gives me horse manure a couple of times a year.
    We have a drought problem here so I mulch a lot. My summers are spent checking the weather for rain ! I do have two water barrels but need more...............

    1. I could keep bees but would choose not to, thanks. :) (I'm a coward when it comes to buzzy things and the remotest possibility for being stung.) Hopefully, as time progresses, I'll can get a few more raised beds on the go - I have several makeshift ones for now plus a couple of 'posh' ones where I have sown some all year round cauliflower seeds. The other one is home to my saffron crocus bed. No drought fears here, but I do have a water barrel attached to the guttering of the outbuilding. This saves having to wander far when watering the contents of the greenhouse. :)


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