End of March 2012
We had a few things to talk about this week. The weather was unusually mild for the end of March. In England we usually have our heating on until the 1st of May and it’s not always warm enough in May to turn off the heating. My ‘death or glory’ investment in Premier Foods was doing well on Monday and Tuesday briefly touching 18p a share before dropping back to just over 16p. I bought at 4p and so I’m happy. They doubled in January and made more ground this week and I expect they will do well again before the year is out. You have to try to make a quid. (more…)
A Nice Meal
It’s nice to have a meal out and it saves cooking, but how long does it take to do a gourmet meal like a salad using king prawns; a few minutes! You can add a handful of chips if you need to. All you need is a few king prawns, pink salmon out of a tin, ice berg lettuce, fresh tomatoes and a choice of pickle and maybe salad cream. The great thing is, it’s cold and so ideal to take on a picnic! Now all you need is someone to share it with! (more…)
It has gone quite warm in England this week with temperatures over 15C. This means I can eat salads and save on fuel bills! I did this sardine salad with chips and peas. The sardines were 38p a tin from Aldi, I bought 5 tins to stock up. My young friend said they would be no good because they weren’t a famous name; he also prefers the more expensive Tesco to Aldi. Just because a product has a famous name or comes from a supermarket that has built an image by spending our money in advertising doesn’t mean the product is any better. This particularly applies to things like eggs and bananas!
I’ve been with Zopa (Zone Of Possible Agreement) for two years now and have been getting a better interest rate than with any bank. The interest is taxable, but at over 6% is still better than the so called tax free ISA’s offered by banks. I have had late payers, but because I lend only £10 to each of my borrowers the risks are limited and I have had no one default. I mainly lend to people with good credit ratings of A* or A, but get more interest when I lend to the B market. The return is above inflation and so a real return.
When I took this photo, I wasn’t exactly shooting into the sun, but it was over to the left and has given me some strange effects. You can see a pink circle in the middle right of the picture; you also get that effect when using a flash. The light isn’t reflecting off the trees very well either. (more…)
I remember my first computer in the 1980’s it was a Commodore. I could program it, it had a book that told me how to do it! Can I program my new Samsung? Can I hell as like! They are now made for using programs and playing silly games; keeping in touch with friends using social media and tweeting what you get up to on a night out. Could all this trivial behaviour have something to do with why the Western world is experiencing it’s worst depression for 80 years and countries are going bankrupt? (more…)
The Vernal Equinox
It was the Vernal Equinox this week which heralds the start of Spring in the Northern hemisphere. It’s time to start thinking about the garden. My readers in Australia will also have an equinox but theirs will herald the start of Autumn. I have two apple trees in my garden and I bought a ladder last year so I can pick the apples. I’m getting more an more apples, I think it’s because I buried the dog under the one tree. If I tweet something about the body under the apple tree, the police come around in Spring and dig all my garden for me…
Using your assets
If you own a car that’s one asset that you might be able to use to start your own business. Starting a business can be risky, but starting one part time is much less of a risk. You can always give up your day job when it becomes really successful. A business either has to provide goods or a service of some kind. The more sought after your product is, the better and higher the price can be. (more…)
We had the budget speech yesterday in the UK. There wasn’t much to get excited about; I was more interested in what he left out, than what he actually said. We still have to be thrifty and watch out for the bargains. I read that some people buy the essentials like food and invest any money left over and some people invest their money and if there is any left over; buy food! That’s a bit extreme, but I am still watching out for more shares to buy. (more…)
George Osborne makes his budget speech tomorrow and I think he should introduce a special tax allowance for men who have just had vasectomies. It makes sense! It would be a long term investment. Do you remember when people in the UK queued up to get married at this time of year so they would get a tax rebate? We could have men queuing to get vasectomies in March if there was a decent tax rebate as an incentive. Then a couple of years down the line there would be less demand for nursery school places, then less infant school places and it goes on and on! In 18 years would we need less universities? (more…)
Last week, I described apertures as being like a doorway. The wider the door is open the more light gets in. The settings on my camera are between F3.2 and F8 and these are called stops. Imagine a stop behind a door that stops it opening too far; the bigger the stop, the less it opens. So a stop of F8 is a small aperture and lets in less light and a stop of 3.2 is a large aperture and lets in lots of light. In this picture I had a aperture of 3.2 to let in lots of light being reflected off the berries and if you look carefully you will also so it was reflected off the spider’s web behind the berries. The depth of field is short though and so the background is out of focus. (more…)
Herbs and spices
I made a chicken stew over the weekend and put in extra herbs for flavour. This can reduce the cost, because you don’t need so much chicken and is particularly good if you’re using a more expensive meat. I used 2 chicken legs and cooked those in water until I was able to remove the bones easily. I added lots of veggies that included swede, carrots and onion that were in a stew pack, then added seasoning. The herbs gave it a great flavour and I used 1/2 a teaspoon of oregano, sage, thyme, basic and herb d’ Provence. I got all the dried herbs for about 50p a jar from Aldi and Lidl. The basil was in fact fresh and made a difference this week. I made 1.5 litres for less than 2 pounds and it was not only frugal but yummy! You can cut the meat down even more if you add vegetable protein in the form of pulses. Try a cup full dried split peas but soak them overnight first. If you are adding split peas the amount of chicken can be halved. You can also add a chicken stock cube for extra flavour. You can also add an extra onion for even more flavour.
How God made the English
I watched a programme called ‘How God made the English’ on the BBC last night, it was interesting, but I didn’t agree with the presenter, Professor MacCulloch, entirely. I think perhaps people at Oxford University and those in politics who were educated at Oxford, do think they are the ‘chosen people’. Certainly, Christianity has influenced England as a nation but many people rejected not only the Catholic religion, but the Church of England too.
Last week I wrote about keeping accounts and I write a lot about saving money, being thrifty and being frugal. How about making more money? Starting a part time business or doing a part time job can make a huge difference to the amount of money that we have available to spend on luxuries and therefore improve quality of life. So too can improving your resume (CV), getting promotion or a better job.
I went to Aldi again this week in search of few bargains! They sell Bank’s beer in my local Aldi which is a popular beer around this neck of the woods. I see the guys buy a few bottles which is very different from years ago when they would go to the pub for a few pints. Pubs keep closing down or going up market and serving meals. Some are showing sport as people go to sporting events less and prefer to watch them on TV. Men certainly seem to spend more time at home rather than in the pub.
Imagine for a moment that you have been invited to a birthday party and when you turn up someone has already eaten half the birthday cake! The greedy and overweight perpetrator excuses his behaviour, by saying that he invested in the farm, that grew the wheat, that made the flour, that the baker used to make the cake! He was entitled to a bigger slice! This is the sort of excuse the greedy always come out with. Those who believe in the religion of avarice seem to know no shame!
I’ve started today with a photo of the lake that I took on Sunday; the light was good and you can see it reflects well off the lighter colours. This isn’t just photography, making a visual record of a scene, but art. This is editing the picture to try to make something aesthetically pleasing. A picture that you would like hanging on the wall of your art gallery or living room. My local arts gallery cost $100 million and they have an open arts exhibition in April. They want action shots and the entries are restricted to the West Midlands. This means they will get entries from the arty types with expensive cameras from across the West Midlands, shooting action with their cameras set on fast. They would have been better not specifying a subject and having the local restriction just people in the town rather than the region. Art tends to be politicised though. You can enter competitions and exhibitions even with photographs like this one.
The picture above was taken near my home in Wednesbury, which is part of Sandwell. Six towns make up Sandwell as part of local government reorganisation that made large Metropolitan Areas governed by Metropolitan councils. These were formed in 1974 and many people think it made things worse. Local government certainly became more ‘politically correct’.
I watched Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture and he seemed to be suggesting that the class barriers have been broken down. Like hell they have! He did feature Sue Townsend, who wrote the Adrian Mole books. I don’t think she has betrayed her working class culture, even though she has become a little middle class; she has made some money.
I learned this morning how many people read my blog and in which countries; I was surprised to learn in how many different countries. I have to be honest there were a few, that were unfamiliar! In the UK, later this month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will present his budget for the coming year. We too have to budget and be careful with our money wherever we live in the world. This is a matter of understanding money and setting priorities; essentials are more important that luxuries and then keeping proper accounts.
Saving for emergencies
We try to be thrifty and frugal and then when an unexpected expense comes along it’s not a disaster. I’ve had a little trouble with my car and the EMU, Electronic Management Unit appears to have a fault. This could be expensive! The light is coming on intermittently and so it could be a little damp getting into the unit or wiring, no need to panic!
Looking for depth
I set the camera on landscape for this shot which gives a narrow aperture and some depth of field. The shot in is focus and there are a lot of interesting colours. I couldn’t get anything in the foreground though to give the shot depth. I have edited and made the photograph darker to get the colours right.