Friday, 22 July 2016

The Bostin' Life Episode 3.

Hello, Here is my audio blog, which I'm calling The Bostin Life. I made a much cleaner version than this with a cool musical intro and outro, but the file size was too big for my host. More's the pity.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Delicious Things That Can Poison or Sting!**

Hello everybody! I'm feeling pretty cheery today as I've managed to get a lot of creative bits and bobs done this weekend: some writing, rehearsals for a show I'm in this month... and these foodie lovelies.

We've been feeling the pinch a bit  as we've launched OH's new career and had to pay out a fair whack for that, just as we've also had to do a lot of travelling to see a family member in hospital. So hey ho, it's June, the sun is shining (oh heck, that's a lie, it's been stormy all day) and we've not got much spare.

Never mind... we've been making the most of what we've got.

In the picture, you see rhubarb liqueur. Made from homegrown rhubarb, stewed and syruped in a slow cooker. We used the stewed fruit used for desserts, and bottled the liquor with about half vodka. This means it's sweeter and a bit less potent than regular rhubarb vodka, so you could have it neat over ice or with a tonic. I think with all the booze and sugar it should keep well, but I've got it in the fridge. Yummy!

And the green stuff is my ever awesome nettle pesto. I gather my nettles from a patch at the nature reserve fringed by triffid-tall thistles and nettles that I think most dog walkers would be scared of. My peasant's pesto is made of  about three fists of mixed blanched nettles, one garlic clove, one slice of wholemeal bread, French-toasted, a lump of leftover French cheese, and whizzed together with rapeseed oil - or regular vegetable oil as it tends to be these days. I stirred it into some veggie spaghetti the other night - the spaghetti was cooked in the nettle stock from blanching the leaves for extra flavour. If you've never eaten nettles, they are more spinach than spinach. Awesome free things!

Talking of free, I'm not really one for dumpster diving, but I procured some overripe bananas by someone who couldn't contemplate using them, as I said it was such a waste to throw good food away. Some went into smoothies, some went into a cake*, but my favourite thing to do with overripe bananas is to make super-healthy ice cream.

How do you do that? Well, chop up the banana into pieces and freeze it. Just before you want to eat the ice cream, take it out of the freezer so it thaws a bit. For 3 medium bananas, I added a dessert spoon of smooth peanut butter for a nice texture and flavour (you can do without if you don't have/don't like/can't eat peanuts). Then whizz it  in the food processor until it looks like soft ice cream! Simple, lovely.

Anyway, thought I'd share those with you.

*the cake was a Hairy Dieters recipe. Got the book from the library. We're still eating said cake, but the recipe calls for waaaay too many bananas, I think. Took ages to cook. Probably the worst cake I've ever made. Will just make the one from my Good Housekeeping book in future.

**Yes, nettles are the stingers. Rhubarb is lovely, but you know never to eat the leaves, right?

Monday, 2 May 2016

A Traditional Walk in the Drizzle

 I just thought I'd share my photos from today's Mayday walk. IT'S TRADITION!

We could have taken the car and explored the Northamptonshire countryside, but we decided to use pure foot power and walked to Abington Park.

Well, one tradition you have to follow when you go to Abington Park is go and see the birdies. There's an aviary there full of lovebirds, budgerigars, canaries, quails, bantams, zebra finches and other things that go "meep meep" (not Roadrunner). And of course, the fabulous peacocks. Just a couple of the blue fellas there today. There's usually a white one as well. Don't know where he's gone.

The park is a fantastic arboretum. Just look at all these trees.

 And this one is awesome. There's OH, waving.

 Abington Park sits on the site of a medieval village. Some of the structures on the park date back to those times, but there's also this fantastic house which was built in the fifteenth century and is now a museum. There are plays held in the courtyard every summer - I've even been in one of them!
Shakespeare's granddaughter Elizabeth Barnard lived there, and is buried at St Paul's, also on the park site.

There being lots of trees, there are also millions of squirrels. How many can you spot?

 And some of them are very bold and will come right up to you.

There are some really good play parks for the kids, and lots of gym stuff for, erm, adults, too. This one makes you think that gravity has stopped working.

When we got down to the boating lake, it started to pitter patter.

 All these photos were taken in the rain. Very nice lake though. We got chatting to the bailiff who was fishing and had been landing some small tench and perch before the rain. We learned that there are some 20lb carp in this lake. A good fishing lake that OH can walk to with only £15 license fee per year! I think I know what to get him for his birthday now.

Finally, a drizzly picture of "The Pigeonry". More than a simple dovecot, this was originally built as a water tower to pump water for the manor house.
We put up with the rain for a bit before deciding to duck inside for a hot chocolate. No ice creams from the van today. When the rain showed no sign of abating, we braved it again and I think a suggestion of popping into another pub on the way home was briefly considered. Luckily, just as we neared said pub, the rain stopped and we sensibly decided to go home for a nice cuppa instead. Temptation avoided!

Well, we may have been soggy, but it was a nice, energizing walk. Think we did about 5 miles. My knee might need a bit of Voltarol, mind.

We settled in, and watched Being John Malkovitch which we recorded yesterday. Bloody hell, why have we not seen this film before? It is extremely weird and just a bit brilliant. I like weird, me.

Friday, 29 April 2016

The Return of the Wench

Hello everyone. It's been a while, but I've been properly missing the art of oversharing that is keeping a blog.

For a long time, I've not felt like writing, and I thought I might become an audio blogger instead. However, whilst writing things can lead to whimsical musings, tangents and even accidental poignancy, I felt that there was something about the medium of voice-based broadcasting that compelled me to tart up and slick down my personal life musings. Not quite me...That said it was jolly fun to do, so I am feeling tempted to do this and a podcast. Yes, podcast - not audio-blog. And if I'm going to do one of those I might as well make it something worth listening to. Useful and entertaining! (Hopefully.) So look out soon for Confessions of a Frugal Wench. Or another name. I can't think of anything better right now. Froogy McFrugalface?  We'll see.

So since my last update, my life has been more fraught than a soap opera.  Last year I must have angered the Piggy Bank Gods as I had to take on more debt to help OH buy his house and make urgent repairs. As a lifelong careful person, it was a horrible feeling taking on such a large and long-term responsibility. I've worked hard though, and have been able to chip away at it and overpay occasionally, too. It's still huge and scary and will be for some time, but I'm doing all right.

Secondly, it's been a tough year for OH. His health and happiness are my main focus(es), so everything I do is to make sure he is happy and healthy. One of the other big things I have done is to support him in a new career as the old one was a bit pants and driving him crazy. He is a market trader now, and it's early days but just look at that big grin. Job done. It does mean our income is greatly reduced for now while I support him as a business start up, but again, we're fine. Fine, I tell thee!

I've had another huge crisis in my life this year concerning a family member nearly dying and subsequently being very poorly. I don't want to share any more about that, just to say it's had me thinking more about what is precious to me and my life priorities.

I've had to make a bit of space in my life for all these huge issues, and have eased off on the work a bit while I gather my wits. I think giving myself that space has enabled me to start thinking a bit more creatively and recently I've been wrestling with novel plot points and scratching at stories. Makes a change from just working on other people's, and I do believe I like it.

So, low-cost living is newly in focus. Whilst this is proving slightly incompatible with the delights of the pub, I still wanna have a good time. Well, I'm back into reading - big time - and I'm currently reading 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, with an eye on Chris Beckett's Mother of Eden and Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time next.

I'm trying to grow my Aldi seeds. Think the potatoes are going okay, but nothing is happening at all with the French beans, cauliflower and cabbage. Oh garden, woe is me!

I've been knitting too. I gave up on that fiddly collar, but I'm now working on a jumper made with this gorgeous rainbow Aran - again, from Aldi. The pattern is a vintage one I was given as a present. I swore a lot at this one when I started too, but it looks great now. Aldi wool is awesome. I'm going to have a proper Aran jumper for under £15!!

I am also massively into my true crime podcasts.  Serial, Undisclosed, Truth and Justice, Real Crime Profile and Breakdown. All free, and highly addictive.

Anyway, they say the best things in life are free. What are the free things you do that make you happy? (Keep it clean!)

Monday, 25 April 2016

Staying Out for the Summer

Eeeee-oop chuffers. It's  me, likkle old Anne Hathaway what plays Emma dooin' me t'Yorkshire accent for David Nicholls Day, t'new incumber... encumber... version of St Swithin's Day. You know, when July 15th comes about and me and t'other actor what plays Dexter from One Day 'as to be seen doin' what we's doin' on account of it being an anniversary of when we didn't properly get together, like... for 40 year. 'Cept David Nicholls got fed up after 20 and ended the booook.

Hang on, it's actually July 16th today... phew! I couldn't keep that up for long. I was in serious danger of sounding less than authentic.

Love, love, love the book One Day... the film's, erm... okay.
But with yesterday's weather being romantically sunny and lovely, if the proverb is correct, we should have glorious sunshine for the next 40 days. What to do with all that sunshine if you're watching the pennies?

Well, I think once I've finished Thinner (borrowed - 0 cost), and Adam Neville's  The Last Days (99p),  I may find time to sit in the park or garden and read One Day again.

But if you fancy doing something a bit more organized, try your local what's on pages and you might find something that will either be low-cost, or won't cost a bean. I'm all for no beans.

I'm aware that the frustrating thing about me is that I let people know about stuff after it's too late for them to join in, so I thought I'd give you my pick of what's going on in Northants and Bucks. This list is not exhaustive, and there is no guarantee that you won't be tempted to part with money at these events (guard against temptation where possible!!!), but access is entirely free.

Bands in the Park: Every Sunday until 21st September in Abington Park from 2-5pm. Free.
Lots of exhibitions, craft sessions, writing sessions at the various Northampton museums. The guide is here. Quite a lot of the activities listed are free.
19th and 20th July Cosgrove Canal Festival & Craft Fair with trade boats, craft stalls, cake stall. children’s games plus Milton Keynes Play boat. All funds go towards the restoration of the disused Buckingham Canal. Saturday 10am - 6pm Sunday 10am - 4pm. Free event Cosgrove Lock, Grand Union Canal, Lock Lane, Cosgrove, Northamptonshire MK19 7JA
25th July Thurning Feast Mini Fair with Archery hosted by Robins Reach Archery Games & Stalls. Hog Roast. Food Stalls. Real Ale Tent (Digfield Ales).
Free Entry. Start time 5.00pm with live music starting at 6.00pm till Midnight
Thurning Northants ( 6 miles South East of Oundle) Northamptonshire PE8 5RB
2nd and 3rd AugustNNestival at Midsummer Meadow – bands, stalls, spoken word, lots of lovely stuff.
We are Most Amused – free comedy at the Victoria Inn, 8.30 for 9, 2 Poole Street NN1 3EX, on the 2nd Thursday of every month, so next one is 14th August. Got to plug it really!

Saturday 19th JulyProperstock in the grounds of Bradwell Abbey, Milton Keynes.
Features several stages of up-and-coming musicians, DJs and spoken word, with 50 stalls, a graffiti art showcase, food and refreshments to buy, an inflatable obstacle course, jousting and castle and a circus skills workshop. Headlining is Heart of a Coward.
Saturday 19th The Librarians by Pestiferous perform two free 20 minute sets of physical comedy at Milton Keynes Central library. Performance times 2pm and 4pm. This is part of the festival fringe. Tickets are free, but they would like you to register attendance here.
Sunday 27th July. World Picnic, Campbell Park, Milton Keynes. This takes place between 1 and 6 and features music, dance and the Scribal Gathering spoken word tent. Go see the fantastic Danni Antagonist and The Antipoet.

Also in Milton Keynes, a number of different arts events between 18th and 27th July as part of IF Festival. Here’s a link, filter by free stuff.

All summer, nationwide… Change4Life and Spogo have arranged a load of low-cost and free fitness sessions. Check here to find one near you.

What about you? How are you planning to make the most of your summer in a frugal fashion?