This week has gone by in a whirl. It all got off to an unusual start, when I headed up to Manchester for the JD Williams and Time Inc event as part of the mentoring week I won. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to write a longer post about the #DontTellMeICant event – I’m just hanging on to get hold of a video clip.
Before I left, we had a family outing to Kentwell Hall. This was not remotely frugal, due to the entry cost and substantial tea, featuring great slabs of Victoria sponge and coffee & walnut cake. But the kids had a great time running round the story trail, trying out the stocks and spotting assorted animals. I particularly liked the snowdrops, ice house and dovecote, and luckily we managed to divert the children from commandeering a boat on the moat. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon before I disappeared for a couple of days. Saving money isn’t an end in itself – it helps us splash out in other areas.
Elsewhere, here’s my round up of our five frugal things this week.
Vinegar to the rescue
Ever have issues you put up with, and only really notice when other people point them out?
It took weekend visitors for me to realise that yes, our kettle is a bit of pain to fill up via the spout. Easy to discover the cause – the plastic filter in the kettle spout was coated in limescale (#housekeepingfail).
I was about to add Viakal to our shopping list, when I thought I’d give it a whirl with vinegar, instead of spending money on yet more chemicals in yet another plastic bottle. I just used apple vinegar from the back of the storecupboard, as the vinegar I’m least likely to use for cooking. I left the filter soaking for a while (an hour?) and now it’s clear of limescale! I even gave the chrome kettle a surreptitious wipe, so it’s back on sparkling form.
Using up fruit and veg
Before disappearing off to Manchester, I vetted both fridges for food that might be about to go over.
I chopped up the wrinkled peppers with butternut squash and red onions, to make pasta with mozzarella and roasted veg for dinner. There were enough roasted veg for me to eat some with cous cous, as a packed lunch on the train the next day.
Bendy carrots, onions, broccoli stalks, fading celery, the last of a savoy cabbage, a couple of potatoes and a stock cube all went into a winter veg soup in the slow cooker.
Recipe for leftover stalks and leaves soup, if you’re keen to cut food waste
Finally, I retrieved apple slices rejected by my daughter, peeled them, and stewed them with a bit of water and sugar, to eat with porridge the next morning.
Throwing food away always feels like putting money in the bin, so I was glad we could eat the fruit and veg instead.
Swiped some shampoo and shower gel
Confession time. In hotels, I regard toiletries like shampoo, conditioner and shower gel as fair game. I figure if I’ve already used some of the contents, the hotel will only throw them away rather than leaving them out for the next guest. Sadly, I’ve now run out of the Aromatherapy Associates products from my hotel stay thanks to a fab competition win.
Reckon the Malmaison in Manchester had seen me coming, when I stayed there on Monday night for work. I was most amused to see “The Best Shampoo You Will Ever Steal” sitting by the sink. With that prompt, I figured it would be rude not to sweep them into my toiletries bag. All helps delay stocking on up new supplies of shampoo and shower gel!
Where do you stand on hotel toiletries? Thrift or theft?
Took the tram not a taxi
Tuesday’s work event was held in The Lowry Theatre, an amazing building by the waterside, with views over to the skyscrapers of Media City. I’d shared a cab there, so when the sessions finished I had no clue where I was relative to the train home or even a taxi rank.
Luckily the nice man at the ticket desk was able to direct me to the nearest tram stop, on a direct line to Piccadilly station. So for £3 I got a tram straight to my train, far cheaper than a taxi.
Got a couple of quotes for our garden fence
Turns out our garden fence wasn’t sturdy enough to stand up to recent storms, and a couple of panels collapsed. Thankfully we didn’t lose another tree. I looked online for recommendations for local fencers.
One guy quoted to replace the whole lot for £400, which I’m sure would look really smart.
The second fencer clocked that we can’t see the fence from the house, as it’s hidden behind a yew hedge. He suggested just buying a new fence post, and reusing the old panels with a kickboard along the bottom next to the soil. That way, it would be easier to replace the kickboard if it rotted in future.
At £150 to £190, I’m happy to repair the fence rather than replace it, and glad I got more than one quote.
Now over to you – any thrifty tips to share? What’s been your biggest saving this week? Do let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear.
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