This week: Placid.

I am pleased to report this week has been much calmer – something I really needed.

Monday I went to work had we had a quiet day, so had the energy to do errands after work. What I wanted to do was ensure I did not have to go anywhere on Tuesday so got all my shopping, as many chores as possible, and the postal run done after work. Went to Sainsbury’s after work and was confused for a moment as I didn’t understand why the shelves were so bare – then it hit me. Of course. Winter. Or something.

Husband’s mother accompanied him to the JobCentre Tuesday morning, so I could potter around the house, but feeling stressed at having to go anywhere. Which was really nice – I got some overdue jobs done and feel very pleased with myself:

Getting leftover wax ready to make it into new candles.
New candles, cooling in the window sill. You are supposed to put them in the fridge but our kitchen is so cold the windowsill does the job.
… And after! All filed away ^_^ It didn’t take me long to to do either, so why am I so averse to doing it?
Something that I’ve put off for a long time. Cleaning the oven.
All done!

Wednesday was very cold here in the UK, with a strong wind and heavy snowfall. Sister gifted me a sheepskin vest so wore it to work and I am glad I did as it kept me warm at work.

After work I had the first of six free counselling sessions I have managed to get (eventually) through work. The counsellor is not too far away from home so I can get there, do the hour and then walk home from there. So we will see how that pans out.

Bless her, she could see why I am feeling overwhelmed – she said one of the things I discussed with her would be enough to crack someone, let alone the several things we have going on, all at the same time.

Thursday morning we woke up to this:

Our back yard. Funnily enough the Cat didn’t want to go outside, can’t imagine why?
The view from the office.

The college was closed Thursday and Friday due to the adverse weather so I had two days of rest at home. The uni also decided to close Thursday afternoon and was closed all day Friday. It’s been so cold so haven’t had much choice in keeping the heating on. Hopefully spring will come soon (?).

Thursday I didn’t go leave the house at all but Friday I braved the Hysteria from Siberia and went to Foodprint and also went to get some other bits and pieces from Wilko, Boots and Lidl. Lidl was so busy, with people buying milk and bread like the world was about to end.

My lovely bargains from Foodprint. This cost me £3.10, sadly the hummus had gone moldy so had to throw it out, but still pleased I went as we got some nice fruit and veg, and some treats.

Husband was especially pleased with the malt loaf and promptly had two slices of it with butter when I came home.

As the university was closed on Thursday afternoon until Saturday morning, we came in on Saturday to 67 missed calls on the renewals hotline and over 120 unanswered tickets, so as most of the day was quiet in terms of visitors we spent a lot of the day replying the enquiries we had missed while we had been closed and answering the phone.

Sunday we had a lovely brunch and a chat with our neighbours from our previous house and we got to meet their now 7 month old baby. Worked the Sunday afternoon as normal and went by Tesco on my way home to see if there were any bargains to be had.

My lovely bargains from Tesco; some littlegem lettuce and some carrots.

I’m glad this week has been more relaxed, here’s to hoping next week is more of the same.



Good riddance, January.

Thank goodness we’ve gotten past January – it seemed to just go on forever.

This last month has been really hard for both of us. It’s just so dark and miserable all the time, coupled with being in limbo, it really doesn’t help. Husband has stuck to his counselling which I am pleased about. We do have an employee support hotline you can ring for free through work so might do that on Tuesday. I am genuinely not quite sure how they can help though, but have promised Husband I will do it.

The Cat, accurately describing how this month has been.

Good things about January were:

  • We managed to stay under on the grocery budget again which is great. We are continuing to eat the food my sister’s family sent with us when we left at Christmas which is helping a lot. Foodprint and getting reduced bargains have also helped us keep costs down.
    Managed to get two packs of wraps at 24p each and a cauliflower at 24p from the Sainsbury’s Local in town. Score!

    Food from Foodprint last week. This cost us £5.95 and it weighed 10 kilos – that’s 10 kilos of food that has not gone in the bin!
  • Husband has stuck with the counselling and says he is feeling better in himself. I am so pleased he was brave enough to go.
  • Husband’s mother went to get some advice about our PIP tribunal at her church as they do a free advice service there and the adviser will see Husband and her next week and go through our application with them. They have also agreed to represent us at the tribunal which will help as they have experience dealing with tribunals.
  • We’ve made some sales on eBay and I got two focus group/food tasting gigs last week, so that £50 in the Travel Fund and £30 in Tesco vouchers I have squirreled away. I also got a train fare refunded due to delay and went and cashed that cheque on Friday.
  • Our mortgage was up for renewal. We wanted to go with Halifax as they give you £500 cashback when you switch your mortgage to them. Buuuut they would only agree to lend us half the sum we needed, so we decided to stay with NatWest. When we got our mortgage the interest rate was 3.19, fixed until March 2018. Our new rate is 2.79, fixed until April 2020. Oh and no product fee either, score!

At the same time, January hasn’t been great either.

  • Had a weird thick envelope from the DWP with all the paperwork they have on Husband and his assessment. Surprised and cross in equal measure that I wasn’t mentioned in their report at all even though I do the most of the support stuff. And that they felt that an indication of Husband’s ability is that he has a pet cat. Note the he. I  was again not mentioned at all.
  • While helping Husband look for work I discovered that his workplace (who told us they didn’t have any hours for him in the summer, because there was no money due to parents not paying their fees) were hiring for two positions. I emailed the UNISON rep and waited over two weeks for a response. I then decided to email the other address we have for the rep and got a response – ‘oh year that email address closed in December’. Really? You have been emailing us regularly from this address, why didn’t you set up a forward on it, or at the very least got messages to bounce back so we’d know they weren’t being read? Anyway what the union has said is that this is the end of the line now. We have exhausted the internal grievance process the employer has, and the UNISON solicitors say we are out of time to take the employer to court.
  • My mother’s health is continuing to decline. My sister has said we need to meet up as a family when I go back in February to discuss what we do now. It may be that we need to take power of attorney now to ensure she gets the care she needs.
  • At my one job we have had an email to say that because they have not enrolled as many students as they had forecast, they are accepting applications from anyone in any department to either reduce their hours or take voluntary redundancy to save money. At my other job HR has informed me I have been overpaid ever since I started my job there and so I now have to choose between staying at my current annual wage but work to make up for it, or work my current hours and lose £336 a year. I contacted my UNISON rep to ask if they had any advice for me but they have not replied and it has been over two weeks. What is even the point of paying our union dues if you aren’t going to respond?
  • Had to refund two eBay purchases as the buyers have stated the items never arrived. 😡

All of this stuff has caused my mood to really dive this month.
I know it takes a while but we started the PIP process in May last year and we are still waiting. I am also very indignant at how, frankly, they lie about Husband and what support he needs. One thing I have done though is read several pages of this web forum done by the UK government on PIP and ESA assessments. Just pages and pages and pages of people who are going to tribunal or who have been incorrectly assessed/had their statements ignored. It is reassuring to know that it’s not us. That it is in fact the DWP who do this to seemingly anyone who dares try to claim PIP. I was also interested to read that Capita, the firm who did Husband’s assessment and processed his PIP claim, have issued a profit warning this week.
We got the union involved with Husband’s workplace in February and after a year of chasing them for this behaviour it just fizzles out. They’ll get away with discriminating against him and bullying him at work.

It makes me wonder why anything is worth it. What’s the point of filling in forms, documenting, giving examples, writing things properly and spending time editing it so it makes sense, and sticking to deadlines, and challenging things, if the answer is just going to be no?

What’s the point in doing anything, ever?

I have got to try and stay positive for Husband’s sake as I can tell that he gets upset when I feel this way and show it. Trying to keep it together and to be calm but it is becoming harder and harder to do every day.

This is the loneliest I have felt in a long time.


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!





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 7 – Day 9.

The challenge marches on! With or without me, I guess.

Thursday – halfway point! Day 7.

Many are asking me how I am feeling and how the challenge is going. I think my stomach has shrunk as I don’t feel as ravenous and fed up as I did. This is down to me planning however as I can’t imagine I would be very pleased if I would have to wait for my food. Perhaps it’s even the idea that I know food will be available later that is keeping me going.

I weighed myself today. When I started the challenge, I weighed myself on the 1st of December and the scales showed 77.1 kilos (12.14 stone according to Google). Today I weighed myself and I clocked in at 74 kilos (11.65 stone). That’s three kilos or half a stone I have lost in 7 days.

Husband did not seem that impressed with this until I pointed out that the weight I have lost on this challenge equates to three bags of sugar.

I know the challenge is called Living Below the Line but I can imagine for people who have this as their reality, it’s not really living. It’s just existing.

Breakfast: Two pieces of toast, half a tin of beans, two poached eggs. Can afford two eggs as I bought the cheaper eggs this time. 31p
Lunch: Carrot sticks and two and a half apples. 16p.
Dinner: vegetable soup, two pieces of toast, 29p.

The end is in sight.

Friday, the 8th day of the challenge.

A group of students came by the library where I work and let us know they were doing free tea tastings as part of their Lifeskills cafe. I was asked if I wanted anything as they can deliver. I asked if I can have an Earl Grey with milk and sugar and a little while later a student came back with a mug of steaming, glorious gold. I savoured every drop of that tea!

Breakfast: two poached eggs and two pieces of toast, 20p.
Lunch: Half a tin of baked beans, three apples (the last ones!), 20.5p
Dinner: Time to break open the sardines! Two sardines in oil, two pieces of toast, 31p.
Snack: Four pieces of toast, lemon curd, 15p.

The beans, bread and eggs I bought Wednesday night are keeping me going. Having a proper breakfast is so important as I feel much better equipped to face the day if I’ve had something proper to eat.

I also didn’t expect to like the sardines so much. I have never had them before until this challenge but found them to taste similar to mackerel. It just had so much flavour in it, something I have really missed as I haven’t been able to season anything (sure, I could BUY seasoning, but food is more important). I used the toast to mop up the oil and have saved the other two sardines (there were four in a pack) for later. Might have them on Monday.

Saturday, day 9 of Living Below the Line.

Saturday I found it really hard to get going. I kept hitting the snooze button meaning I only had a little time once I’d gotten out of bed actually get something together. I think it’s the combination of feeling tired and it being so dark all the time that does it. I made toast and lemon curd and inhaled these while waiting for the shower to warm up (hey. don’t judge me!) .

Breakfast when Silver is in a hurry: Two pieces of toast, lemon curd, 7p.
Lunch when Silver can’t be bothered: half a tin of beans, 11.5p.
Dinner: I decided to have breakfast. Two poached eggs, half a tin of beans, two pieces of toast, 31p.

Earlier in the week I had read that a shop that was featured at Sharing Sherwood one night, Foodprint, was due to open. It sounded just right for me on my limited budget and so I decided to visit them on Sunday before work to see if there was anything I could use to save myself some of my limited budget. I’ll write about that in my next post. As it stands now I have £5.27 left to last me for food and drink until Thursday.

I am currently Living Below the Line for the Trussell Trust – I am living on £1 a day in food and drink for 14 days. If you wish you can sponsor me here.

You can read about my prep here, and days 1 to 3 and 4 to 6 as well, to see how I got on.



Living Below the Line 2017 – The prep.


It all kicks off tomorrow. I will be living on £1 a way in food and drink from the 1st to the 14th of December, to raise money for the Trussell Trust, by doing the Living Below the Line Challenge.

I have already had a think about what to buy and have bought things in batches this week to prepare myself for the following week. To ensure I minimize the risk of losing food through it, I have made the decision to buy the food in weekly batches. So I’ve spent £7 to cover me for the first week and will spend £7 for the next week.

I have bought the following:

  • 1 kilo of Tesco Everyday Value Rice, 40p.
  • 500g of Tesco Everyday Value Low Fat Natural Yogurt, 60p.
  • Sainsbury’s Fish Stock cubes, 45p.
  • 1 tin of Sainsbury’s Sardines in Oil, 45p.
  • 1 tin of Sainsbury’s Basics Peaches in Light Syrup, 40p.
  • 1 bag of Sainsbury’s Basics Frozen veg, 900G, 90p.
  • 1 Sainsbury’s Basics Lemon Curd, 411 grams, 35p.
  • 1 Loaf of Sainsbury’s Basics White Loaf, 40p.
  • 2 tins of baked beans from Aldi, 23p each.
  • 1 pack of large eggs from Aldi, 85p.
  • The mother of all Swedes, 39p.
  • The grandpappy of all potatoes, a bag of forlorn apples, and two bags of carrots from the greengrocers, £1.20.

This came to £6.99 (so have 1p left!).





As I was sitting down to work after dinner this evening, I suddenly thought about tomorrow.

Normally while we do shop frugally, when I go to work I just throw something together in the morning and take it with me. It could be a salad with leftover meat, it could be cereal and a small container of milk, and some fruit and yogurt. It could be thins with ham. It could be instant noodles.

Now however I will have to plan everything very carefully. I can’t just get up in the morning and take what I want. Food has to be prepared in advance for the next day’s lunch at work, especially if it’s something that has to be cooked if I am to stay on target. And tea I can quite frankly forget about.

So off I went to make tomorrow’s lunch (and maybe dinner? We’ll see if I have the will to live to make something with the rice and veg tomorrow) after some research. Yes, there are some nice swede soup recipes out there but they all need ingredients I don’t have like oil, salt, pepper and cream.

So I peeled and chopped the whole swede and half the potato into chunks and cooked them slowly in water barely covering them until they were tender, then added one stock cube and used the hand blender. I added some parsley and thyme from the garden.


Prep in progress.


The grandpappy of all potatoes. Look at the size of that thing! 


All diced and ready to cook.
The finished product. This will keep me going for days. The whole casserole full cost me 58.5p to make.

Finally I want to just say how humbled and grateful I am for everyone who has sponsored me, pledged to sponsor me, shared my posts or given me tips and/or encouragement. You make me all fuzzy. Thank you.

If you want to sponsor me, you can do so here:





Catch of the Day: Lovely reduced food.

Went to the train station to get Husband’s train tickets. Once done I decided to walk by the Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local in town while on my way to my bus stop.

Found these lovely babies:

My lovely bargains! Husband was delighted at the potato salads and the sausages have gone right in the freezer.