The major excitement this time last week was the 178th Hadleigh Show, the annual agricultural show that takes place just across the fields from us.
I wrote last year about quite how much I love it, slipping through a 1950s time warp into a world where sheep win prizes, stewards wear top hats and tractors are objects of desire.
(Previous post: Tips for a village show winning Victoria Sponge)
The whole community gets involved and it really is a fun day out for all the family. It also provides a focus for our five frugal things this week.
Failed to fork out for a fidget spinner
I can’t quite work out whether to feel guilty as a neglectful mother, or proud of my daughter’s initiative.
Despite the craze sweeping the nation, I hadn’t bought my children fidget spinners. This wasn’t even a frugal decision, or an anti-fidget-spinner stand, or an environmental “no more plastic tat” crusade, I just hadn’t got round to it. Anyway, my daughter got so fed up she decided to create her own. An accidental thrifty win!
Negotiated with the children about all the fun of the fair
One of the major attractions of the Hadleigh Show for my children is the fun fair, which starts the night before and runs throughout the next day. It’s the usual whirlwind of glitzy, loud, flashing attractions with a strong smell of candy floss and engine oil. (Now there’s a opportunity for Yankee Candles).
They love it. I have a soft spot for all the fun of the fair, but also reckon they’re one of the easiest ways to haemorrhage lots of cash in a limited time.
My frugal tip is to set expectations before going. We nipped down for a quick trip to the fair on Friday night, and made it clear we’d pay for three rides each. If the children wanted to go on anything else, they’d need to pay with their own pocket money. Setting the bar low also means you have wiggle room if everyone has a passionate desire to go on the waltzer or whatever later…
Second tip if you try this one: insist on walking round the fairground first, to suss out what’s on offer. Otherwise the kids go straight for the first rides they see, then get frustrated when they spot their most-favourite-ride-ever later on.
This time it all worked out fine. My daughter is a sucker for Zorbing and those big bouncing trampolines, while my son likes dodgems and adventure trailer thingies. They are also keen on guaranteed prizes – and chose the “hook a duck” stall which paid out in fidget spinners! So now we’re a multi fidget spinner household after all.
Picked up free passes
I’d encouraged the children to get involved in the Hadleigh Show by entering a couple of the Flower Arranging classes – garden in a seed tray and decorated flower pot. As an added frugal benefit, both children then got a free ticket for the show.
It was fun having a go, but many of the other exhibits were really impressive, and neither of the kids came away with any prizes. Sadly, these classes are only open to under 11s, because after reining in all my suggestions I’d have loved to do my own. Even more gutted when I realised the “Beth Chatto Dry Garden” category was just an excuse for adults to slip in a seed tray entry. Next time!
Baked cake and flapjacks for fund raising
A quick trip to the fair meant that I was back in time to get baking for the Hadleigh Show. My children go to Beavers and Cubs, and Hadleigh Sea Scouts had put out an appeal for cakes to sell in their tea tent.
I’ve written in the past about quick cheap and cheerful contributions to cake stalls, and this time I went for marble cake and flapjack.
Previous post: From cakes to Quorn after my latest Mirror Online article
Marble cake is economical because you use cocoa powder to make the chocolately swirls and icing. This works out a lot cheaper than using chocolate as an ingredient! (Mary Berry recipe here) I also made some flapjack with value range oats, and tried to liven it up with some actual melted chocolate on top.
On a side note, a shout out to the Sainsbury’s Basics range for selling super cheap plastic storage boxes. They’re great for transporting stuff to cake stalls, when you’d rather not risk losing a treasured cake tin.
Repotted a tomato plant
Tomatoes can be a tad tricky to grow from seed (that’s my excuse anyway). Instead I spent 50p on a little tomato plant from the W.I. marquee at the Hadleigh Show. Then one of the plant sellers in the Flower Tent spotted me carrying it, and gave me top tips about transferring it to a much bigger pot, stripping off the lower leaves to plant it low in the compost, and keeping it indoors well after the frosts have passed.
Here’s hoping we get some kind of crop in our kitchen – reckon if it can grow three tomatoes, we’ll break even compared to splashing out on tomatoes in the supermarket.
Now I need to prepare for the Hadleigh Yard Sale on Sunday (May 28), when along with 39 other households we’ll be selling stuff from our front garden. I’ll be rushing around unearthing clutter, baking up a storm and running down the road to get spare change for a float from Sweet Memories (many thanks!). If you live locally, come on down! You can find a map of all the people taking part on Trev’s website.
Over to you – any frugal successes to share? Local events you love? Do let me know in the comments, would be great to get some top tips.
And if anyone would like a longer post on the Hadleigh Show, including pics of the cuddly cows, do say.