Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Vernal Equinox Updates

When Day Equals Night

Well folks, that's us passed the worst of the winter months where daylight hours were outnumbered by those of darkness. With any luck, the weather will decide to shift in a more sunny direction and allow us to make a proper start on gardening. To date, it has either been too wet or too cold to do anything, not to mentin the place being frozen solid or, in many places, covered in snow. For many, there is the luxury of heated greenhouses but that's not so for the frugal living among us - we have trouble enough heating our homes without trying to heat glass (or plastic) houses.
 
The Frugaldom greenhouse has stood the test of winter this far but to be fair, we get very little snow in comparison to elsewhere and the garden here is far more shetered than previous ones. Nonetheless, the lack of sunshine means there's not a lot happening out there at the moment. I had sown some spring onions and salad leaves into tubs - the spring onions are coming along slowly but the salad leaves are no further along than they were a month ago! The wormery, on the other hand, seems to have thrived in there for shelter. Each time I check, the worms seem to be more and more active. Let's hope the £2 coin savings pot proves to have been invested wisely.
 
The frugal fitness is something I'm still not entirely coninced about, despite having been wthout a car snce the end of November. The trip to the shop is now far less daunting, even on a grey day, and I must be getting fitter, as I can now manage to go for a 10-mile cycle over and above the 7 to 10 miles (depending on route taken) round trip to the village store.
 
Prices are getting to be horrendous. This morning, I cycled down to the store and bought spreading cheese (£1.19), a small block of cheddar (250g), a small pack of oatcakes, 4 bananas and a very extravagant loaf of bread, as a special treat for sandwiches. That little lot set me back almost £8!
 
As followers of a frugal living lifestyle, free from the constraints of the nine to five, the biggest pleasure we have is our ability to get out and about whenever the weather permits. I love exploring, seeking out unusual locations or ones that are a little off the beaten track, while building up a collection of associated photographs and articles relating to these places. Perhaps, one day in the future, you will visit and experience Frugaldon for yourself, and you'll already know which of these places you would like to visit for free.
This area of Scotland in littered with cairns, old forts, ruins, caves, church and chapel remains and, of course, we also have hilltops with trig points for 'bagging' - another free hobby. Yesterday, we visited the old site of Chapel Finian, where we ate a frugal packed lunch before stashing the bikes and then setting off to hike up a nearby hill in search of some cairns, ruined homesteads and ancient hut circles. The above photo shows the ruined chapel by the roadside. The trig point number to the left shows the first one we have found at ground level rather than summit - I'm guessing that's why this one has a 'G' number instead of an 'S' number.
 
We didn't have much of a climb before reaching what looked like a ruined homestead with walled fields. I haven't been able to find out any information about this particular location and we didn't have time to exploe it more fully, but its in the diary for future visits (with picnics) and further investigation.
 
A bit more climbing up a very wet and muddy trail that zigzagged up the hill through dead bracken, gorse and brambles soon led us to the biggest cairn we have visited in this area to date. It has to be over 3m high, but felt even bigger than that when I stood next to it and looked out across the bay - what a viewpoint! This particular cairn even had an extra wide base that could have been built for sitting on while keeping watch. (Over or for what, is a mystery.)
 
At this point, we'd to turn and head for home without exploring any further as a shower of sleet began to fall and we could see the cattle on the move. My fear of the bovine beasts means I give them as wide a berth as possible and avoid them completely whenever I can.
 
Back home and the frugaling continues - no further renovation work has been done to the house but I now have the dining bench set moved into the sittingroom where the pot belly stove is almost constantly on the go. The wee stove just ticks over, not quite blazing enough to boil the kettle, but warm enough that the cat is happy to sprawl in front of it for most of the day when the weather is bad. The dried pine cones are fast disappearing, so we really need a few completely dry days to get out and collect some more of those - they burn well.
 
Since giving up the car, our household carbon emissions must surely have dropped and the savings have certainly grown a little quicker. There's very little to spend on nowadays, what with no car running costs or petrol to pay. I may, however, need to invest in some new brake pads for the bike. Switching the worn back brakes for the not-so-worn front brakes will suffice until such times as I have gained sufficient Amazon gift vouchers from my Topcashback account. Since joining a few years ago, I have earned £728.35 cashback! That's a huge amount of free money for a frugaler! The other added bonus for this month is the cashback accrued from the credit card. Where some people hate credit cards, I love mine! It gets used for anything and everthing, paid off in full each month and it also pays 1% cashback on all transactions - fee free! I should manage to recoup about £50+ from that, as things like building materials and poultry feeding got paid with it, as do any online transactions.
 
Now I need to take stock of how the winter has gone and prepare for spring organising and summer fun, including getting some serious crafting done. The McGonks project needs to be cranked up a notch, there's some fndraising to be done for the Ben Nevis hostelling holiday and I'm wanting to make a nice, multi-cloured wooly blanket for over the back of the sofa bed so that there's a cosy, multi-purpose bedsit available for guests brave enough to sample real frugal living.

5 comments:

  1. We too use our credit card wherever we can in order to gain the cashback. Like you, we pay off in full each month so there is no interest charge and the aim, as always, is to spend as little as we can anyway, but get something back - every little helps.

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  2. You really have to lovely places near you to visit, a little on the wild side! Its a shame you can't get a walking book deal. The pine cones are really falling now, we recently gathered enough (on 3 walks) to fill up to grow bag trays.

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  3. you are doing well without the car. You do live in a very pretty place.

    Everything is frozen over and covered in snow, very winter like. I do hope Spring will arrive one day!!!

    I must ask permission to go into my neighbours woods to pick up their pine cones for the fire. Great idea.

    Gill in Canada

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  4. Credit cards are wonderful - it is the abuse of them which is not. I use mine for everything I possibly can. I dont have debit card; if is used fraudulently it is your money that is gone whereas with a credit card is it not. I payed my water-bill on my credit card recently - all adds to air-miles that I can use towards my trips back to the u.k. every year.
    It seems that winter is hanging on in the whole of western hemisphere. It is 20 degrees colder here in Illinois than normal and we are still getting snow.
    Yes, food prices have gone up and will continue to. Global market, supply and demand.
    For me, it is always those trips to the store for three or four things that end up costing the most. We have Aldi s here - so inexpensive, fresh and wonderful.
    Hope you get your garden up and running soon, I m all set to go here - I just need one nice day........

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  5. Hope everyone is faring well. It's only another week until the end of this financial year, so here's hoping it also sees the end of winter! Official British SummerTime arrives next week but I'm not counting on it bringing any actual summer weather, so will stick with the term 'daylight savings'. Anything with 'savings' in the name sounds better to me. :)

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