James Martin – Home Comforts

I have been watching a lot of telly this week as I have been laid up with a cold.

Thanks to modern technology I can watch what I want and when I want – and having recorded Home Comforts, Saturday Kitchen and Operation Hospital Food, I have been able to see a lot of James Martin. And that is not a bad thing.

Feeling better today, I actually cooked for the first time in five days. Inspired by James, this was breakfast in bed.  DSCN0668

And this was Sunday supper.DSCN0671 DSCN0672

The Best Crackling EVER.

The recipes can be found here. Yes, even for the bacon buttie. 🙂

And don’t you just love my vintage plates?

And if you are a regular reader you will know that I have cooked with James Martin.

Have you ever cooked with a TV chef?

Spendy Sunday redeemed by a thrifty Monday

Short post today (and a bit of a rant)

The flu bug or whatever I have has decided to come back with new nasties. Week 4 and I am now really fed up of being ill. If I had to add in the cost of all the medication, prescription and over the counter I had bought, I would be struggling to live on the IDS £53 let alone on £1 for the Live Below the challenge. As it was all these costs were in March and now I am just powering through it with the help of Diagnosis Murder re runs. So no drugs denting the budget in April so far.

I don’t think this governement factored in the cost of being sick if you are on a low income, because even if you get free prescriptions, the cost of over the counter drugs can be very expensive. The form you have to complete to apply for reduced medical costs such as prescriptions is so very long and complicated, it is quite frankly off putting. The threshold for eligibility is relatively low, so I suspect a lot of people don’t bother to apply. Another benefit that potentially thousands of people are not claiming.

Back to the subject of a month of monitoring spending

I am living on water which is keeping my food bill down today. Which is just as well as we did spend rather a lot on Saturday. Then on Sunday the OH announced that he needs a new satnav. His old one (I am guessing it is about 7 years old) finally stopped working. He does a lot of driving in his job and claims he would be lost without one. As he is on a temporary contract and working for a cash strapped library service, this cost has to come out of his own money. We did some cost comparisons and Argos was the best price at £80. It is a local shop within walking distance of home so at least we kept to shopping locally. Yet is was another big chunk out of our limited budget.

We treated ourselves to brunch too

On Sunday we had the not very pleasant task of sorting out the bedroom of my mom who passed away in January. She was, it would be fair to say, a bit of a hoarder. To brace ourselves we went to Warley Woods cafe for a small breakfast each. At £3.99 each including a mug of tea (and the small breakfast is actually quite a big one), so we were working on a full stomach. This cafe is owned by a local person, so not only were we spending our money locally, we were spending it at an independent. There is free wifi there and views of the golf course and the park. A very pleasant place to visit, at any time of the year.

No other spending though

All other food shopping had been completed on Saturday our total spend was £88 on Sunday, which for us is a lot for one day. No shopping today (Monday) as we will have left overs from Sunday Lunch for supper tonight. Lunch today for the rest of the family has been leftovers from Saturday. While the spend on Saturday was well over budget, the food is stretching over a few days. I am hoping this will balance out the budget over the next three weeks. Time will tell.

Budgeting for unexpected purchases

If we were having to live on a restricted budget, we would never have had the spare cash to buy a satnav and the other luxuries such as new clothes and a bottle of wine with supper. And what if a major appliance or the central heating boiler broke down? Where do people who earn the minimum wage or live on benefits find money for such emergencies? They can’t afford to save for a rainy day or a holiday.

Being grateful 

I am lucky as I have a small amount of savings and my husband works so we can, for now, find the money for a sat nav and the occasional brunch. Yet there have been times when we have not been so fortunate. A few years back we lived on what was then Income Support for over a year. We had no car and no holidays. What saved us then was the generosity of our parents. And not everyone has parents who can or would help like that. It was horrible being dependent on hand outs and worrying if we would lose the house. Every day I count my blessings. I am grateful that we can afford to eat well, treat ourselves to a brunch, but I never forget what it was like to have to have no money in the bank and pay for my gas and electric on a pre pay meter. 

And on taking a gamble

On Saturday we frittered away a tenner on some horses. We had some wine with supper. If I was on benefits I am sure someone, somewhere would accuse me of being a typical product of the welfare state, wasting money on booze and bookies. Well, I will let you in on a guilty secret. Many years ago, while being totally dependent on the Welfare State I spent my last pound on a lotto scratch card.

I won £50 and have never bought another scratch card again.