Trying new things


Daughters have become somewhat enamoured with Macarons recently, well pretty colours, sweet and did I mention the pretty colours?  Have you seen the price of those things???? So, I decided to try making them.  Whoop!! Look at those babies, and voted by the kids as ‘better than shop bought’ (damn sight cheaper too)

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Cheap Food

I’ve wittered on about saving money on food shopping, prices going up out of the blue but in an about face I now need to talk about what should cost.  Cheap food is generally cheap for a reason, I don’t buy value or basics meat and fish, ever.  If I can’t afford quality meat and fish, we go without.  Thankfully my children aren’t fussy about eating vegetables!!  To put it simply, we eat less but better meat.  We eat a lot of veggie bakes, pasta dishes, risottos, homemade veggie burgers, sandwiches for school packed lunches are tuna mayo or good cheddar grated and mixed with onion, herbs and mayo (and yes, I make my own mayo, from good eggs).  I’m not perfect, sometimes we give in and have that takeaway with meat/fish of unknown provenance – but we try not to, and actually eating this way is cheaper, and you really appreciate the meat or fish when you do have it

Are we happy to buy poor quality meat? As long as it’s cheap, the public doesn’t  complain. But how much water is in that mince? And the addition of brine and meat extracts to chicken and other meats — is that okay with you?  That fish stocks are low and yet the demand for fish rapidly disappearing from our oceans is growing, should we not be trying to eat lesser known but plentiful fish, or sustainably farmed fish?

One of my big dreams is to organise food raves – remember raves? 90s ‘parties’, but with amazing locally, sustainably sourced and produced food,  served up at source, so on farms, beaches, in fish markets, village halls and the like with lots of dancing and laughter thrown in – I think it could be fab.

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Someone said to me, ‘that post of yours yesterday, it really smacked of self pity’  she thought that as there are people going without real basics, my losing a bottle of wine and a packet of pate (amongst other things) weren’t really important.  They aren’t, not really, but, I work hard, I rarely go out, or buy clothes or anything ‘normal’ because there isn’t the money to spare, a bottle of wine and some pate at less than a fiver are treats – treats however small make life worth living.  I can go to the library for books and DVDs, someone else might regard 2 pints a week in the pub as their treat.  Some people may go without any treats in order to save for something bigger.

Think on this, I work, I claim no benefits and yet I shouldn’t spend less than a fiver a week on a treat?  Really?  Is this what we have come to, if you complain about big supermarkets raising prices when they pay little or no taxes, have their staff on zero hour contracts and yet pay top executives massive bonus’s then it is you in the wrong, not them, or the system.  The current government has managed to pit neighbour against neighbour in the belief that it is families that have brought the country to it’s knees, not banks, or companies not paying their taxes, but hard working families – beggars belief doesn’t it?

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We all have to budget (or goodbye Tescos, hello Aldi and Lidl)

Tescos are you listening?  To your customers I mean.  In the last week I’ve noticed some real hikes in prices, now 10p here and 20p there might not seem like much, but when they are on most of my staples something has to give.  You see when you add 21p to a bottle of The Vineyards South African Red, I will no longer buy 2 bottles a week, I’ll buy one, so instead of you making an extra 42p from me, you’re actually losing £3.69, when you add 10p to your Ardennes Pate, again I won’t buy the 2 I usually do, I’ll buy one, so instead of making an extra 20p you’re losing £1.10 of my money.  Shrink the packet of mince and add 30p, I’ve moved down to value mince (well I haven’t cos i won’t eat it, but in theory).   Take that across the board and yesterday you lost £21, or to look at it another way, I’ve gone without things and saved £21.  I don’t particularly like going without mine and the families treat items, but I will, because I don’t like being ripped off, I’d rather go without.  Going forward, I won’t be shopping with you any longer, after over 20 years as a loyal customer (and my clubcard account bears witness to this) I’m voting with my wallet, hello Aldi, Lidl and my local butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer, I’ll be seeing you next week.  My £60 a week shop (£3120 a year – plus big christmas shop of ££150+) might not be a big loss to you, but let’s hope everyone else starts voting with their wallets too.

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Food Bargains

Once in a while you hit a true bargain – the yellow sticker bargain.  I popped into our local Tesco express last night for milk, I came out with 2 full bags of shopping, and we’d only done our food shop that morning.  But when you get the posh £4.95 stonebaked ricotta and spinach pizza for 9p, halloumi for 20p, feta for 7p, it’s hard to turn away, and I do have a freezer.

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I’ve never in the past had a problem making friends, I tend to put other people first which generally helps, but, after 6 years running a hospitality business returning to the UK has been hard for many reasons, but mainly for finding it hard to make friends in a new area.  Why?  Because in the past I regarded every new person I met as a potential new friend, now? Now I am suspicious of motives, one thing you learn working in hospitality especially if you own the business is, human beings are basically pretty nasty.  Lots of threats if they don’t get their own way (you will give us x, y or z for free or we will give bad reviews on TripAdvisor was quite a regular threat – in the early days we did as they said from fear, after a while I told them to go ahead, the response from the hotel is the final word and I’ll be happy to tell the truth).

I do have a lot of friends spread all over the UK (and the world), but not close by, when I came back to the UK I settled in an area relatively unknown to us as a family, for the schools, my best friend (the lovely Cheryl) has lived here for over 10 years, and it’s equidistant from both sets of parents.

Happily, it’s getting easier to make friends, having a young child at pre-school has helped and I now have a small group of mummy friends, one of whom is a like minded soul.

Not to be forgotten is my lovely Cheryl, we’ve been friends for over 20 years, have children of similar ages and have so much in common, I just didn’t want her to ever feel I was piggy backing on her life, the one she has built over 10 years of living here, happily now i’ve made ‘other’ friends things feel more balanced and I don’t feel I have to be so watchful of how much of her time I take up.

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Exile – Jakob Ejersbo

I downloaded this book onto my Kindle when staying in Nairobi for the 3rd E-Tourism Conference on the recommendation of the organiser Damien Cook.  Quite scary to read another persons view of what was essentially my way of life in the 80′s.  I recognised many of the characters – and to be honest the book didn’t go far enough!

Those people did exist – due to very protective parents I wasn’t involved directly in a lot of the escapades my peers were, now, I’m glad.  So many are alcoholics, drug addicts, some are dead due to one or other of the aforementioned.  Many are still living that way of life, out every night drinking (and more), and partying as though they are still teenagers, these are people in their 40′s and 50′s.  We were in Dar es Salaam not up-country, but if you’ve heard of Happy Valley or Kenya Cowboys – welcome to what many of us call the ‘In-Dars’ a group of incredibly privileged peter pan types – that’s not to say there aren’t some lovely people amongst the group – there’s always an exception to any rule.

The average ‘In-Dars’ life consists of the Yacht Club bar, eating out at the many restaurants that have popped up (there were none in the 80′s) the English Pub, taking coke, having sex with as many partners as possible, sailing and drinking, driving and drinking with the occasional hour at work – there are many who work hard and play hard, but they aren’t the type I’m talking about.  What consistently amazes me is the amount of right-on NGO ‘girlies’ who aspire to catching one of these men

For the vagabond pack of ex-pat Europeans, Indian Tanzanians and wealthy Africans at Moshi’s International School, it’s all about getting high, getting drunk and getting laid. Their parents – drug dealers, mercenaries and farmers gone to seed – are too dead inside to give a damn.

Outwardly free but empty at heart, privileged but out of place, these kids are lost, trapped in a land without hope. They can try to get out, but something will always drag them back – where can you go when you believe in nothing and belong to nowhere?

Exile is the first of three powerful novels about growing up as an ex-pat in Tanzania. Ejersbo’s first novel, Nordkraft, the Danish Trainspotting, was a phenomenal bestseller. Ejersbo’s trilogy, only published after his death in 2008, has proved to be another cult and critical sensation.

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Pop Culture

 We’ve had a lovely day – in order to explain eurovision, i showed them youtube vids of Abba etc – that moved on to a crash course in late 20th century early 21st century pop culture – they are now big spice girl and transvision vamp fans : also loving, bowie, the clash, blondie and so much more, was a really fun day.


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I’m not actually sure I have the words to describe the shame I feel right now, the shame of being British and living in a country where a woman with mental health issues was driven to thrown herself under a lorry.  Why?  Because she was pushed over the edge at the thought of leaving her home as she couldn’t find an extra £20 a week for the so-called ‘Bedroom Tax’.  Shame that a young woman had to leave her job as her employer (the government) was unwilling to offer child-care friendly shifts, that she had to feed herself and her child on £10 a week, sell everything she owned just to keep a roof over her head, that she has dragged herself from penury without any help fills me with so much admiration.  Read really, she is amazing.

Both the above cases reflect the problems that Conservative Policy has wrought upon Britain, Right to Buy and the lack of foresight shown when NONE of the money raised was used to build new social housing, the ‘Bedroom Tax’ when there aren’t the smaller properties available for people to move to.  IDS and his rampant stupidity, his belief that it’s ok that people have to rely on the charity of food banks and kindly volunteers so that people can feed themselves.  That they allow Amazon, Starbucks, Tescos et al to pay minimum wage, not pay taxes and generally wreck the country.

I am not for one minute advocating that the able should not look after themselves, that people shouldn’t work, that they shouldn’t make do and mend.  BUT, the lack of jobs, the looking after the boys, the tax dodging, the banks that we bailed out as a country still paying massive bonuses, the zero hour contracts, all of these add up to a country that has collapsed.  They add up to people not being able to look after themselves, no matter what the bigoted, ignorant ranters might say  read the comments, I felt quite ill reading some.

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Quiet day

Middle child is out with friends, the house is VERY quiet – there are still 2 children in the house………………..  With the egg hater out of the way we’ve had marsala omelette wraps for lunch, and intend to settle down with the St Trinians Collection and popcorn – tis very grey and mis out there today.  Tomorrow we have a lovely day planned with friends attending this.

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