Last week: Varied.

Last week was a really mixed bag for us.

Husband was accepted onto the Work Health Programme and he has his appointment this week to start this off. It is the new initiative from the government to get more people with disabilities into work. The Jobcentre have sold this to us as something different as it means Husband will get personalised support. Perhaps I am cynical but I am personally doubtful this will be different to anything else we have tried – but still. Must give things a go.

Remploy also contacted us and asked if we needed support; so we will have a phone conversation with them this week.

We saw these on our way to the Jobcentre on Tuesday. It really brightened my day up and I hope it’s a sure sign spring is on its way. We need it!


Husband has gone to another session and they have now signed the confidentiality contract for six sessions of counselling. I’m so pleased he has agreed to go, just for his own sake as 2017 was so rubbish for us. It was done on the proviso that I will go as well when my mother passes away, which I have promised I will do.

Silver continues to squirrel away. Not bad going, considering we are only in January!

Since Christmas I have continued to squirrel things away for this coming Christmas (and also Husband’s birthday). I was very sad to read before Christmas that will no longer pay people to write reviews (even though it says in the FAQ they do, cheeky devils). I may migrate my content to a new site if it even exists, so I have been busy copying down my reviews and the images for them. I have had to do this once before as a website I used to use, dooyoo, had an update and became impossible to use afterwards. I did not expect to have to do this again for

Thursday I had en email from East Midlands Trains, stating they would be refunding us our ticket to Barnsley as we were delayed over an hour going there. Score! We got there on time to find our train being listed on the board as cancelled. I asked at the counter to double check this was the case, and they said to wait for the next train which was leaving an hour later. As the station was very cold Husband and I went for a bite to eat and then came back an hour later – to find the train had not in fact been cancelled but had been and left without us! Thank goodness the conductor saw the funny side and let us use our tickets on the next service. And we’ll be getting a cheque in the post sometime next week for our train fare as well.

Thursday I also came home from work to find two thick brown A4 sized envelopes, both about an inch thick, addressed to Husband and myself from the DWP. I had a look through its contents and while the papers within were interesting to read as they contained all the notes on Husband including what they had recorded during his assessment. I was unsure why they had sent it to us as there was no letter at the front of the first pack, and the second pack had a letter that stated that if we wanted to discuss the appeal we had to contact the court directly.

So I assume we are still going ahead with the tribunal then?

I wonder if it is because the DWP are legally obligated to send us copies of what they send the court in preparation for the appeal. Within the pack was a letter the DWP had sent to the court stating they strongly objected to the appeal and asked them to throw the case out.

With a cup of tea I had a look through the papers and what they had written about Husband. Nothing too inspiring or surprising, bar that I was not mentioned in the report at all. Surprising as we detailed how much support I give Husband and how much I work. Until I got to the last section of the assessor’s notes. Where, under Other factors concerning ability, the assessor had written ‘Redacted owns a pet cat’.

I just felt like headbutting something and crying in frustration. Ended up ordering a pizza for dinner and going to bed at 9pm as feeling very tired and flat. Not great for moneysaving but at least I got cashback on my order – just didn’t have the energy to do anything let alone cook dinner that night as I was feeling so upset.

We have spent a considerable amount of time filling in the form and answering questions at the assessment, and explained what Husband needs support with. First of all, you do know Husband is married right, and lives with yours truly? Yes? No? Maybe? And that we do things together? Like, say, looking after the Cat?

….In fact, do I even exist in PIP land?

And secondly, how in the world is having a pet an indicator of someone’s ability to negotiate dealing with other people and travelling independently?

The Cat, being a kitty loaf on her box. Who knew she would be so influential?

Friday I just about managed to visit Foodprint before they closed at 5pm. Got myself some lovely bargains and donated £5 to their Paying it Forward Fund so someone else can have a shop if they are struggling.

My lovely food from Foodprint, being saved from the bin. Cartons of juice, 30p each, loaves of bread, 10p each, jar of pesto, 50p, jar of sweet and sour sauce, 40p. Two packs of Kettle chips, 70p each.

At the weekend I  worked as normal. We were given some books by my lovely in-laws so need to see what I’d like to read and what can go on FleaBay.

Jobs for Tuesday include: Writing and creating listings, taking photographs if I have the will to live. Accompanying Husband to appointment. Taking call from Remploy. Investigating why my life insurance payments haven’t gone out of my bank account, and shopping around for home insurance and broadband as both contracts expire in February.





This week: Back with a bang!

Whew, back to the grind this week!

This first week back at work full-time has been really odd. I have been feeling quite off all week, all tired and spaced out, even though we’ve had time off since the 22nd of December.

Part of this is because I’ve had quite a bit to do on the self-employed side this week. CES which is a tech event has been on and brands use this event to showcase their new products. I do media analysis for a few brands (read articles in Norwegian about the clients, write a short summary, flag products/events/features/spokespeople/campaigns/etc/) and there has been a lot of coverage generated by this event. But what the client then does is that rather than sending out one large email they keep sending several smaller ones throughout the week, adding to the list of what products and messages to look out for, spokespeople, and so forth.

Add to this that they have reduced the turnaround time to the next day rather than 48 hours for this week, and the threat of that any analysis that doesn’t meet their demands will be returned to the analyst, it has made for a quite stressful week as I have come home from work, had dinner, and then carried on with my self-employed work before going to bed, every night.

And it wouldn’t make me so miserable if it was something that I was interested in reading. But when I had to analyse articles about, for example, TVs and nits (apparently a unit for measuring light, who knew!), then I just lost the will to live a little. Thank goodness the event ends on the 13th. Mergh. Mustn’t grumble, it’s a valuable side gig and we need the money now.

Husband had his first session of counselling this week. I waited for him at the office as it was his first time. Husband came out being very quiet. I asked him if it had been ok, and he nodded, and when I asked if he would like to go again, he also nodded. So this will be a thing now. Husband was very quiet after his appointment and I think it’s given him a lot to think about.

We have not yet heard back from Husband’s workplace about our appeal and what we discussed during the meeting at his workplace about the behaviour of the staff. While I was doing an online jobsearch today, I did come across two vacancies at the workplace – one of which is the kind of position Husband had! Very odd that they are hiring two new staff there, when they have said the reason why they have not given Husband any hours since the end of July is because they are underwater financially and cannot afford it.

Husband’s parents are coming by this evening after I finish work which will be very nice.

I did get these lovely things at Foodprint on Friday, which really made me happy:

My delicious bargains! Clockwise from noon, two bags of carrots, 5p each, two bags of potatoes, 10p each,  garlic, 15p, crumpets, 10p, six bags of sundried tomatoes, 5p each, bread, 5p, shortbread, 15p (disappeared now, no surprise there!), tea, 10p, onions, 20p, two cartons of juice, 30p each.


They have added a fund option now as well – if you can they ask if you will donate money to it. If someone then comes by and is struggling for money or can’t afford stuff, then their food shop is already paid for by the fund. So I donated money and will go again and donate next week. The gent who served me said that the Post had been by that day to write an article about them and that business is picking up. I do hope they stay as it’s a brilliant idea.

Here’s to next week hopefully being a bit less manic and doing more work – the other firm I do self-employed work for asked if I could do two hours of voice prompts, so that means more money in the pot.

Our frugal quest continues: How did we do this Christmas?

I worked hard on stashing away vouchers, loyalty points and Paypal payments in 2017, as it is the chief way for us to put away something for Christmas. Last year we did well but I was endeavouring to get even more presents paid for with points etc. this year. I have been keeping a log of things and this is what how we did this year:

  • Husband. We did not buy ourselves anything this year, as we feel we have enough ‘stuff’. What we will do is go out for dinner and treat ourselves sometime. Experiences, rather than things, are definitely the way forward.
  • Mother: Part share in a set of advent candle sticks set she wanted, £25, paid in cash.
  • Father: Another Game of Thrones book plus postage, £10, paid in cash.
  • Sister: Two books she wanted, £7.79 and £4.93, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew: Robot Wars book, £7.43, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Best friend: Catering sized bag of PG Tips Tea with 1150 tea bags in it, £18.98, paid for by Amazon gift card.
  • Father in-law: Wireless weather station, £17.89, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Niece: Now 98 CD, £12.60, paid for with Amazon gift card, So…? body spray, £1.99, paid in cash.
  • Friend: Tea pot and cup set, £15.94, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Friend’s fiance: Irn-Bru cufflinks, £7.95, paid for with Amazon gift card, Irn-Bru sweets, £4.99, paid for with Paypal.
  • Brother in-law: Four cans of Lacerated Sky beer, £24, paid for in cash.
  • Nephew: Deadpool Munchkin set and Munchkin expansion pack, £13.25 and £15.50, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew: Cowboy Bebop season 1, £22.99, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Nephew (yes, we have a lot of those!): Pathfinder core rulebook, £22.99, paid for with Amazon gift card.
  • Neighbour who cat sits for us: Hotel Chocolat Dark Selection box, £12.50. £10 paid with Compliments voucher, £2.50 in cash.
  • Sister in-laws boyfriend: Harvester voucher for 2 through Groupon, £20, paid for in cash.
  • Friend, £5 note, paid in cash.

Looking at the list we had fewer people to buy for this year as we did Secret Santa with Husband’s family. Everyone drew two names and those were the people we bought for – that way everyone got a present, but you did not have to buy for everyone. So that helped a lot with the Christmas budget. I am very pleased I managed to get the great majority of our presents using our vouchers and will continue to earn these in 2018!

I also tidied away Christmas yesterday and made the greeting cards I could into gift tags for next year before recycling the rest.

The survey earns and everything I do to squirrel away is a chapter in itself, something I will write about later this year. I keep a tally of everything I get, and it does add up over the whole year.

To finish, here is my Catch of the Day. I went by a Tesco Express yesterday after work as I know they reduce stuff there after 7pm, and got these lovely babies:

My reduced babies! 4 packs of black pudding (Husband LOVES this but we can’t afford it often so this is a treat for him) 31p each, a head of lettuce, 16p, dip, 39p, two packs of puff pastry, 49p, a pack of potatoes, 41p, three packs of baby mushrooms, 33p each and a load of bread, 33p. Score!



A Numb November and Dauntless December.

With me preparing for and doing my Living Below the Line challenge, I suddenly realized today I had not summarized not only November, but December also.

I got some good bargains in November, but for the most part, November was blergh. Very blergh.

  • I got some good reduced food bargains from Sainsbury’s. Food bargains makes Silver happy, especially the kind she can squirrel away in the freezer for later.
  • November was spent agonizing over PIP. Husband was assessed in September, awarded 0 points, so we asked for the decision to be reconsidered. The reply from the DWP, again awarding Husband 0 points, was dated the same day we sent our mandatory reconsideration letter. I resisted the urge to imagine the people processing our application doing time. I dusted myself off, and we wrote to the court asking for their decision to be challenged at tribunal. Family and friends tell me not to take it personally, and that the DWP treat everyone who applies for anything with the same disdain. But I can’t help shake the feeling that this IS personal. What are you saying, exactly, DWP? The PIP form is 40, 4-0 pages long, and we gave examples and evidence both on the form and at the assessment for all the categories on there. Are you saying we are fibbing? What other reason would you have to award Husband 0 points, despite everything we’d written and said?
    All of this has naturally helped Husband’s mood and self-worth nosedive.


December. Oh, ho, December. December was a very different month, for a variety of reasons.

  • Not sure if it is classed as a good point or point that could be improved…wait, I chose to do this. I managed to complete it, no cheating. And I learnt a lot from it and feel I grew as a person. Ok, doing my Living Below the Challenge. One of the hardest things I have ever done, no contest. It made me value everything we have and everything I can do and the choices I have, and everything. It made me appreciate just how precarious and fragile people’s existence is on that kind of budget. To not have any breathing space. To always have to count everything to ensure you don’t go over your budget. To be on the lookout for food, and food being on the lookout for you, all the time. Even food I don’t even like, such as mince pies and Christmas pudding, looked tempting. We managed to raise a total of £405.82 for the Trussell Trust!
    I feel so empowered having done this challenge, and feel like I can conquer anything. At the same time I know this feeling will not last, so will keep it in my heart like a treasure and bring it out to remind myself I can do it, when the world strikes against us again.
  • I got some lovely bargains at Foodprint, and I intend to go again next week, if I can swing it.
  • The court has written to us to let us know they have received our paperwork for the PIP appeal. We will just have to wait and see when we get a date. I have tried to prepare Husband for the fact that a. he needs to be aware they may well ask intrusive questions about daily living and b. it is him who has to answer these questions when we are in court.
  • I was nominated for an award!img_20171221_161734_0661390046363
  • Christmas! We spent a few days with my family in Norway, stuffing our faces and playing games. We had some lovely presents and my sister and her family sent with us a load of food again when we left. She sent with us three packs of thin cured ham, two packs with eight sausages in each, a pack of wiener dogs, a pack of diced pork, a pack of pork chops and a huge cooked piece of beef. We had English Christmas with Husband’s family once we got back, and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was spent at a friends house playing World of Warcraft Trivial Pursuit and eating junk. The remainder of the Christmas vacation has been spent eating things, lounging around and not doing very much at all.
The Cat seems pleased to have us back, at least ❤

Back to the grind tomorrow. I am also working Sunday for some extra money before going back to my weekday job again on Monday.

We even had two extra Christmas wishes fulfilled!

The first one:


It was almost bare when we got to Norway but on the day of our departure we had snow! So I got a Christmas wish fulfilled: A white Christmas!

And the second one, we received once back in the UK. CPS have decided that the person who deceived Husband’s sister into sending her savings in July IS going to be prosecuted for theft. As she has already admitted she manipulated her into sending the money, it’s an open and closed case – unless she now changes her plea.

Merry Christmas to us!





My goodness – I’ve been nominated!

Yours truly is feeling all fuzzy – I have been nominated for the Britain Blog Award for Mix-Niche Blogs by Little Sea Bear.

Thank you so much! I had not thought something like this would happen as a result of me pouring the good, the bad and the weird about our lives into this blog. I feel all delighted and pleased now!

Originally started by Amber Britain over at Basically Britain, the rules are as set out below:

OFFICIAL Britain Blog Award- The RULES for NOMINATION:

  • Blog must have 500 or less followers. 
  • Blog must have at least 5 posts before the award. 
  • Blog must have posts in varying niches. At least 2. 

OFFICIAL Britain Blog Award- The RULES for ACCEPTANCE:

  • Blogger must make a post of acceptance- thanking their nominator for the nomination.
  • In the post blogger must answer 5 questions about his/her self- questions chosen by nominating blogger. 
  • Blogger must ask five questions of the bloggers they are nominating. 
  • Blogger must nominate at least 5, no more than 10 mix-niche blogs for the award (and let them know they were nominated in a comment on their blog!) 
  • The accepting post must contain a link back to this post in the information about the award. 
  • In the accepting post, the blogger must link 2-4 of their favorite posts they have made (in varying niches).
  • In accepting post, blogger must also link 1 favorite post by the blogger that nominated you.
  • Go like & comment on the favorite posts linked by nominating blogger. 
  • Remember to accept this nomination, you must follow the rules of acceptance.

    In your acceptance post, link back here. If you’d like, leave a comment on this post, and have your readers leave a comment about your blog or nominees leave a comment about their nomination to be entered into a drawing for a $100 gift card of their choice! Drawing will happen every 6 months in June and January!

It’s hard to pick a favorite out of the blog posts I have written as it’s just me rambling a lot of the time.

I must admit though, that I am very proud of my Living Below the Line posts documenting my journey of living on £1 a day for the Trussell Trust. It was such a hard challenge to do. I feel immensely empowered by the fact that I was not only able to complete the challenge, but that I was able to resist all treats and attempts to derail/support me. You can read about day 1 to 3 here, 4 to 6 here, 7 to 9 here, 10 to 12 here, and day 13 and 14 here.

When I have the will to live, I write posts about our lives and how things are going, such as the one about Husband’s experience with PIP and where we are in the process with that.

I also like my Catch of the Day posts about my bargains and reduced price treasures, such as this one about visiting Foodprint.

What I like about Little Sea Bear is the insight the blog gives into disability and dealing with daily living when your mobility is impaired. I like the posts where doing activities such as cooking dinner and food preparation is shown being done with one hand. One post that really made me think as well was the one about driving and accessibility – it had genuinely not occurred to me that a car barrier and having to reach out to touch the card to the sensor to open the gate is a barrier for many people. We have these kinds of barriers at the uni and college where I work and I have suggested to Estates that we get rid of them and replace them with an AutoPass system (you have a chip on the windshield of your car) for ease of access.

Little Sea Bear posted the following questions to the nominees they chose:

How did you start blogging?

I had wanted to blog about our life and everything within it for a while but had just been so busy with life I never seemed to get around getting it going. I had lots of plans and ideas written down that I’d come up with for a while, and I was making sure to write them down as I thought of them for material. Last Christmas I picked myself up by the scruff and decided to just do it! *Insert Shia Lebouf here*

Why are you writing in a niche?

My blog is about living with/supporting Husband as he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as an adult two years ago, and the Cat. I also write about my frugal endeavors as we have a mortgage and student loan we are working to clear.

I wanted to write about my experiences in particular because when Husband was diagnosed, I started doing a lot of research to work out how best to support Husband with everything going on.

While I found there was a lot of material on children who have Asperger’s Syndrome and their families, and their lives, I felt there was not a lot about the experience of adults who have Asperger’s Syndrome. Or a lot of information about people who are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome as adults and what their experience was of this. Or a lot about the experience a ‘neurotypical’ person who is in a relationship or married to someone with Asperger’s Syndrome might have.

While I understand that everyone’s experience is different, I started writing this in the hope that it could perhaps be helpful for someone who was like me: Just out on the Internet looking for information about this topic.

What are your targets?

My initial target was just to start writing and to keep it up, rather than it being a comet or firefly that is bright and has a flurry of activity, before suddenly going out…eh, so now that I’ve done that, I would like to keep it up and write content that’s interesting and engaging. I am approaching 1000 views, and I will be super chuffed if I manage to hit this!

What do you enjoy most about your blog?

I like that it’s an outlet where I can write honestly about our lives in all its facets – it’s quite satisfying to do. This year in particular has brought out feelings in me I did not even know I possessed, and it’s good to have an outlet to explain to the world that this is what it’s like, and why it is the way it is.

Is there a specific aim or style you are hoping for?

I guess what I am trying to do is write about our experiences but not over-share, which is a fine line to thread. I always check with Husband before posting anything as I do write about him and what he experiences a lot, as I want to write but also retain his dignity in all of this.

I’d like to nominate the following blogs:

Herding Chickens and other adventures in foster and adoptive care: A blog about a family and their experience of fostering and adoption. Also writes a lot about mental health and mental health provision.

Hip Roof Barn: Writes about frugality, self-sufficiency, and life on a homestead in British Columbia. Hip Roof Barn does a lot of crafting, sewing and preserving food, something I wish I even had a slightest idea of how to do.

Poor as Folk: One of my biggest inspirations, and what made me decide I too could blog and had perhaps something of worth to contribute. Poor as Folk writes about poverty, feeding yourself on very little money, and also writes about advocacy and politics regarding food and living in poverty.

It Starts With Me: A blog written by a survivor – the writer’s parents are both alcoholics and she writes about her upbringing and coming to terms to this as an adult. This blog also deals with mental health and the issue of forgiveness.

Broke and Millennial: I searched ‘Millennial’ in the WordPress search engine and this blog appeared. It has a bit of everything in it  – which is why I like it.

Your questions, should you choose to accept them:

  • What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you have discovered through your blogging?
  • How long have you blogged for?
  • Is there anything you will NOT write about, and why?
  • Where do you get your inspiration to write your posts?
  • And how do you stay motivated?

Good luck! And may the odds be ever in your favor!






Catch of the Day: Food from Foodprint.

While I was doing my Living Below the Line challenge for charity, I saw on Facebook that a shop I’d been eagerly waiting for, was now open for business.

Foodprint is part of the Enactus society at University of Nottingham. In a bid to reduce food waste, they have opened their social supermarket where they sell food that would otherwise have been binned due to it being short dated or out of date, at very reduced rates. All income is then ploughed into the business to keep it open and to fund projects in the community.

When doing my challenge, Foodprint were heaven sent and provided a lot of food for very little money on day 10 of my challenge. Those naan breads I managed to buy just added some desperately needed flavor and variety to my diet.
And if the shop hadn’t snapped the food up it could very well have gone in the bin. I got two lovely bags of sweet, juicy pears for example, 7 in each bag, for 10p each at Foodprint. Looking at the label it said these were from Portugal. So a farmer had grown these pears in Portugal and they had been shipped to England – and all that labor and resources would have just gone in the bin if Foodprint hasn’t rescued them.

I decided then that I would make an effort when I had time to visit again.

This was my catch today. The gent staffing the shop bless him apologized for the lack of fruit and veg but explained it is hard to collect and distribute during Christmas.

Lovely food, all rescued from the bin. Two cartons of diet cranberry drink, 30p each, two tins of tuna, 50p and 70p each (where were you when I was doing my challenge?), two jars of salsa, 10p each, two tins of baked beans, 20p each. six bags of sun-dried tomatoes, 5p each (!), two loads of onions, 20p each.

I couldn’t believe the bags of sun-dried tomatoes! I can see a lot of pasta dishes with these stirred in, in our future. I can also see myself having jacket potatoes with natural yogurt and salsa for dinner. I was so chuffed with this and it only cost us £3.10 so a great help to the food budget.

Foodprint is on the other side of town so getting there is a bit of a trek, but I will endeavor to go again when we need to shop again. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt really, you don’t know what you’ll find there, and you just have to work around what you can buy there.

I’m so pleased this is a thing – great for the environment and great for people who can shop there.



Living Below the Line 2017 – Day 13, Day 14 and closing thoughts.

Wednesday, Day 13 of my challenge.

The finish line is getting closer. I’m finding that the closer I get to the finish line, the more tempting food seems to be.

Christmas food adverts especially just speak to me now, and the food they advertise suddenly seem that much more tempting and delectable.

Breakfast: Two poached eggs, two pieces of toast, half a tin of beans, 27.5p.
Lunch: Two pears, a free banana, 1/5 of the vegetable soup and a naan bread, 23p.
Dinner: Jacket potato, half a blob of mozzarelly, a third of my cucumber, 18p.
Snack to keep me going: Two pieces of toast and lemon curd, 8p.

I had my last potato and the last of the mozzarella today for my dinner. We were going to Husband’s appeal meeting for his workplace and I wanted to be as full and switched on as possible.

It is still very cold and to not have any hot drinks in the morning when I get up and when I am sitting doing my self-employed work at night is really tough. When I was doing my self-employed work on Wednesday I had to give up and go to bed at 11pm as I was struggling to stay awake.

Thursday the 14th, final day of my challenge!

One of the students brought me and my colleague these that she had made:

I had two of these. They were like scones, with shredded coconut as the beard and icing for the face details.

Not quite sure way but Thursday afternoon was quite hard for me. I felt full so that was ok, but towards the end of my shift I started feeling weak and dizzy, just felt very ‘off’. Struggled through the afternoon sitting mostly very quietly at my desk with my eyes closed and walked very slowly to the bus.

Husband and I went to see the new Star Wars film today so needed to have something quick before we went to the cinema.

Breakfast: Two poached eggs, half a tin of beans, two pieces of toast, 31p.
Lunch. Gettin’ REAL tired of vegetable soup, but don’t want to throw it out. Must ruddy well finish it. 22p.
Snack before cinema: Two pieces of toast with lemon curd, 7p
A snack to take to the cinema so I didn’t feel so deprived while being there. Three pears, 4p. So naturally the guy sitting next us had a jumbo drink and the mother of all popcorn bags with him. ARRRRRRGH.

I still had money leftover on Thursday when my challenge ended. I had £3.57 left, which I will also donate to the Trussell Trust.

Bang on at midnight, we went and fetched this Christmas miracle from the pizza place around the corner:

12″ pizza, thin base with mozzarella, tandoori chicken, prawns and garlic, £7.

I realized as we ordered it that this pizza cost me £7. This one meal alone would have covered a week’s worth of food for me when I was on my challenge.

Husband had also gone out bless him and bought me chocolates. I had one, just savoring the taste of it.

Ferrero Rocher. Just heavenly.

This challenge has given me a lot of food for thought, and it has also made others think about food and living in poverty.

In the 14 days I have been doing this challenge, I have lost four and a half kilograms, that’s over half a stone in 14 days. While I have been trying to keep my weight down anyway, I can imagine that if I had to live like this rather than having it as a challenge, I would eventually become malnourished. It’s called the Living Below the Line challenge, but on a budget like this, I think you would just be existing. I can’t even begin to imagine what a challenge it would be to raise children on this kind of budget.

The best day of my challenge was on the second Monday, day 11 – the day I felt the fullest. I had a dinner which made me feel satisfied and full and gave me energy to do my chores around the house. It’s amazing how just some wholesome food, and the right kind of food, can make all the difference to your energy levels and your mood.

I tried to get protein, carbohydrates and fiber in me, but if I had to do this long term I would have had to have had a very long hard think about how to get some more fats and calcium in me. I did have my natural yogurt which was lovely, and my mozzarella piece, but I do feel I should have had more, especially calcium as I’m female and need it to support my bone density. The sardines in oil were delicious and really added to my diet, so I can imagine I would have eaten more tinned food and more fish to get some different kinds of protein in me.

I also had to ensure that I ate properly for the two Mondays in my challenge and for my meeting with Husband’s employer – it does highlight how access to food affects your emotional resilience and mood, and that you need good food and enough food to be able to cope with stuff in your life.

The worst day was probably the first day and a half of the challenge. On the evening of Day 1 I fell asleep while watching videos with Husband as I was just so exhausted. On the morning of day 2 I felt really sluggish and had to walk to my bus for work as I did not have the strength to run. The last day of my challenge towards the end of the afternoon at work I felt dizzy and weak, so that wasn’t great either.

It has taught me that on a limited budget like mine, you can’t just go to the shop and buy everything you need. You have to really be eagle-eyed and keep your eyes out for where food is cheap and be aware of where you just can’t go as it’s out of your price range. I ended up buying some food from Sainsbury’s, some food from Tesco, some food from Aldi, some food from Lidl and some food from Foodprint. I also got some food at Sharing Sherwood.

I also learnt that on this challenge, your freedom to choose what you eat is greatly reduced. And you can’t have whatever you want, whenever you want. Or as much as you want. Everything you eat has to be planned and weighed carefully so you stay within your means. So I stood there with my calculator every time I wanted to eat something or had to prepare something, working out how much my food was in pence for each meal. If I wanted a snack after dinner just to keep me going, I would then have to tally up how much I had eaten for that day, to then work out if having a snack was within my budget.

People have been asking me if I intend to do this again, to which Husband very firmly said ‘No!’ so we will see about that.

I will keep the campaign open until I have paid in the money I have been given as cash on Friday the 22nd of December, as some of my colleagues have said they will sponsor me in cash when we all meet up for a training day next week. If you want to sponsor me you can do so here. All proceeds, plus my leftover money from the challenge and what I would have spent on food for myself normally these two weeks will be donated to the Trussell Trust.

You can read about how I prepared for my Living Below the Line challenge here, and about days 1 to 3 here, days 4 to 6 here, days 7 to 9 here and days 10 to 12 here.