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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Musical Memories

Listening to Lauren Laverne on 6 this morning (whilst ‘attempting’ to write up a client report) she was asking listeners to send in their memory music tape lists.  Anyone remember making tapes?  Sitting there trying to hit record at the right moment during the Top 40 on a Sunday night – and cursing the DJ’s that talked over the beginning and end of songs!!

I had STACKS of cassettes, and a very precious double tape recorder that went back and forth between school and home in Dar es Salaam, over the years they’ve disappeared, and I no longer even own a machine to play them, I don’t even own a CD player anymore.  Apple has taken over my life 😦

I going to spend this evening plotting my life via the music I loved over the years – should be interesting, not to mention probably embarrassing – I’ve loved some dodgy songs in my time.  I’ll put them up on the blog in the next few days.

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Growing up

Maggies death got me thinking, or more remembering.  Remembering my teens and twenties mostly.

We as a family landed in the UK  in 1980 after 5 years living in Malawi, my parents and brother fairly swiftly headed back to Africa leaving me in a boarding school in Wiltshire, a horsey school founded for ‘ladies’ – the daughters of the landed gentry.  They couldn’t really have picked a worse school if they tried, anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t do ladylike, at all!  Mind you the antics of my peers weren’t exactly ladylike either (boys, alcohol, drugs yes, being ladylike didn’t figure) but most were sloaney ponies and would eventually revert to type.  Me? Bolshy, mouthy, scruffy lefty would be closer to a good description!  I made good friends there, many of whom are still friends now, but all are at the opposite end of the political spectrum to me, Daily Mail readers to a (wo)man.

The parentals did better with their next choice, my boarding school for the sixth form, although still an all girls school this was an independent school aimed at the daughters of those in the Forces or Diplomatic Service – most of my closest and dearest friends today were there with me, and we share the same ideals if not always the same politics.

Thing is I fall in between stools – my darling Dad was from a career army family (he joined the Foreign Office as his asthma meant he failed to get into the forces), Public school-boy,  addicted to playing rock and roll guitar.  My mother was third generation Seychellois – of french descent and therefore a ‘colonial’, my brother and I grew up mainly overseas and at boarding schools in the UK, I’m not sure whether I’m a colonial like my mum, or a services brat, maybe a third culture kid or an expat brat?

Or maybe I’m not a ‘type’ at all, maybe I’m just me, original, no?

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