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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Life chez Phil

Life has slowed down at work with the new year and I have been very creative recently making short films with the actor Michael Caine as my focus of humour. If you go to Youtube and type in MrFenchyphil you will find them all. They come under the heading of 'Michael Caine's Brief Encounters'. I have filmed nine short films so far, each one different from the other in some quite inventive ways!

Food-wise I haven't been that adventurous lately as my funds are still scarce and I have been the grateful recipient of some lovely food parcels from the Hope Church in Beeston. These are tins and packet items and my thoughts are that they feed me and what I don't spend on food I save money on. I never thought I would be so grateful for a Fray Bentos pie in a tin. Actually it was nice and very easy to warm though in the oven. With the tins of tomatoes I can make up some nice meals with pasta and things from my freezer. I am being very frugal with my spending on meats and fish and veg too but still eating well. Each time eat or drink any of the food items I say a little 'thank you' to the unknown kind people who donated the food to someone struggling like me.

 I am still considering what to do with the above item however! The Monty Python Spam song seems to be permanently lodged in my head now! Bloody Vikings!

My hair style (if that's the word) has gone from trampy to shorty all in the name of art in order to get a different look for each of my short films.

Tonight I had the treat of a pork chop with sweet potato mash and green beans and I have raided my freezer to get some frozen lamb's liver out to make a chopped tomatoes and liver stew for my tea tomorrow night.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Catch your own haggis

It maybe slightly too late for Burns Night (January 25th) but you can still catch your own wild Haggis if you dare to venture up to the chilly moorlands of bonny Scotland when the wild Haggis are least expecting a culling session. Wild Haggis are as fast as and as temperamental as a snappy little dog, so beware. They do taste better however and have rarely been known to bother postmen.

First seek oot the best of Scottish moorlands where the grass and heather grow woozily above the secret underground  Scotch Whisky distilleries. This combination of man and nature gives the best whisky infused vegetation from which the Haggis feed.

The get yerself a medium sized net and sprinkle it with pepper from Aberdeen to disguise the human smells. Dress yerself oot in all green attire and practise crawling for miles and miles on all fours. Training in the SAS can help.

Eat only the best Shortbread biscuits and deep fried Mars Bars  for a year and you are ready to snare a yummy Haggis. Remember only to hunt at night,  all alone and ignore the braying of stags at bay or performance poets out in all weathers quoting Burns and ye will be successful. Other than that Sainsburys have a few left in aisle fifteen.

Monday, 21 January 2013

A simple and cheap meal

Last night I had some stir fried king tiger prawns with green beans and boiled rice and an Amoy black bean sauce. The king prawns were at a reduced price from work, the rice I had in my cupboard as did I the Amoy sauce. Altogether delicious combined and as I tend to do too much rice I have enough left for a couple of helpings of Egg Fried rice whenever the mood takes me.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

I won letter of the month

I recently wrote the France magazine about my Francophile passions and was thrilled to get letter of the month in the February 2013 edition. This cheered me up during a difficult time!


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Last Christmas.... I gave you my heart as it was all I had

Being on a very tight budget, as I am at the moment, I economised over my Christmas dinner which ended up costing me less than £5 this year. The posh salmon dish, a stuffed salmon portion with king prawns was purchased at work as a reduced item (originally £10 and reduced until £2.50) and the other ingredients were had for the remaining £2.50, including a bag of potatoes for 45p on the vegetable reductions sections. Two mince pies replaced the Christmas pudding. A bottle of red wine was given by a friend.

this lasted two days

On the run up to Christmas I was the humble and proud recipient of two free packages of tinned goods and other unexpected free treats from a Foodbank charity looking after people genuinely in need and I say a short prayer of gratitude each time I use any of the items I was given from people's generosity. I didn't actively request any of this help but I have found myself in dire circumstances since the government cut out my £120 per month Tax Credits. Only through a random conversation about struggling with travel costs to work did this salvation come about. When you are alone and have no  'other' person to help pay the bills then life can be very expensive and frankly, very difficult. I used the word 'humble' a little moment ago and this piece is truly humbling to write and to confess to.

I have severely cut down on casual beers and wines of late and have been keeping a personal booklet of expenditure to keep myself in check as I encounter each month and each month's spending challenges and have been actively avoiding withdrawing cash from the hole in the wall machines. Each tenner withdrawn becomes seen as a tenner heading towards being overdrawn on the bank account.

This run up to Christmas I felt terrible as I couldn't really justify buying and posting Christmas cards this year as each one would cost money.The additional burden of postage costs simply weren't there to be spent. When you have very little the thought of spending several times 70p on stamps can be very hard. The actual Christmas wishes however were heartfelt: the economical reality alas, not. Thankfully, I found some cards that I still had remaining from last year and economised by giving relatives a card to pass on to other relatives to save on postage. Some Christmas presents have been of a recycled nature dressed in a smart and cheaper charity shop Christmas paper. I have tried to take all these things as lessons to be learnt from and see the challenges as a positive step forward to controlling and improving my finances.

All in all, I have endeavoured to keep my attitude positive but sometimes it is hard as essential and practical  things break down and to replace them financially becomes ever more a big emotional and financial challenge. Being constantly stretched I have no savings to draw on to buy new and essential items. These unfortunately, disappeared in the two years I was out of work.

In the last three months my Dyson broke, my kettle broke, my laptop broke and my radio broke with the signal breaking up as radio signals went over to digital. I couldn't afford another Dyson so bought a cheaper model from Tesco; the laptop is vital in terms of communication and my writing so an interest free option was sought and found  but still a financial worry about keeping up repayments (then I had to get creative with various bits of software that would no longer work with the Windows 8 system.) Thank you to Rick and Janette for helping solve some of these problems.

Foodwise I am now being economical with what I have in the freezer and bargains that occur through thrift and  I am using what I have rather than buying more new stuff to add to the old stuff - except in real situations where I can grab a true bargain.

As 2013 starts I hope that my fortunes shall change and through fortitude and the monitoring of my monies I shall begin a slow improvement in my life. On the plus side I still have love and laughter to give and I still have food and I still have air to breathe. My deepest gratitude to my supportive friends and opportunities that occur through endeavour and chance. Plus hardship appears to encourage creativity and I would always encourage that in all. Myself included.