Renew your energy deals

                                 
Hello Dear Reader,
Most energy companies run their best offers, special offers or deal from April to April, usually for a period of one to three years. The better deals, usually with even better price being offered for dual gas and electric deals have similar time frames. This time of year is when they’ll quietly send you an email or letter, that’ll just look like mail shot or an info type of email and you can easily miss that you should look for a better contract right now.
So, check your deal as you can easily slip onto their ‘standard tariff’ which is an anomaly as it’s their highest price tariff. The suppliers seem to work on the basis that some people will forget and accept increases in their direct debit.
Here’s what you can do, contact your supplier, who you may be happy with as you’re currently on a tariff you’re happy with. Speak to them and ask for their ‘lowest priced tariff’. You can leave it there if you’re happy with that but don’t stop there.
Check all the price comparison websites simply by using your postcode to find who offers the best tariffs in your area. You can get really good prices even if you just use electricity. I would advise everyone to do this before you renew your energy deal. 
Most importantly, check when you’re price deal comes to an end and make sure you switch to the cheapest available tariff in your area as rest assured, your energy company won’t move you to a cheap deal but to their most expensive if you don’t stop them. You might be thinking, it’s not worth it, there really isn’t much difference but you can save a few hundred a year.
I almost ignored my email and I’m truly glad that I checked it, compared prices and tariffs and then found the best deal and signed up for two years.
It’s easy to overlook things when we’re busy.
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxxx

Don’t feed the Valentine money monster!

                  
Hello Dear Reader,
I avoided the shizzle of Christmas commercialism and I’m sure as heck not falling for the twaddle of Valentines either! I went to the supermarket for laundry liquid and had to fight my way through walls of hard sell. Here’s why we feel no need whatsoever to celebrate love on the 14th of February.
We love each other every day, all the time and do everything to take care of and support each other.
We’re on the same team, play by the same rules and do our very best when we’re side by side.
We’re evenly yoked, we both work as hard as each other.
We’re polite to each other and always respectful.
We forgive each other.
We are attentive, we listen, we push each other on.
We are best friends.
We both know we are the most desirable human on earth as the other one tells us.
We both know that we are utterly loved and wanted as the other tells us so.
We prioritise time for us every day and both put the other first.
We celebrate love every day and both of us feel safe and secure in the knowledge that we’ll celebrate that love again tomorrow.
We might work hard at it but there’s no charge.
Until tomorrow,
Froogs and DB xxxxx

Just a chicken picking minute!

                           
Hello Dear Reader,
I thought I’d share my skinflint’s method of getting as much as possible out of a chicken. My chicken comes from the Co-op’s reduced section and it was a ‘cook in the bag’ chicken. It didn’t shrink and stayed moist and £3.50 was great for FR.
Here’s how to pick a chicken. I start by pulling off the leg and thigh from the hip socket. A quick twist and it comes away.
                           
                           
I then pull the wings off in much the same way.
                           
I then run my thumb under each breast piece of meat and pull it away from the rib cage. It comes away in one piece if it’s cooked properly.
                           
There’s all the main cuts from chicken.
                           
I then take the rest of the carcass and pull off all the smaller pieces of meat until I can’t get any more off. 
                           
I remove all the skin as we don’t eat that but I’ve got a team of kitchen helpers who lie to eat it. 
                           
The glass on the left is the chicken stock and I simply just poured it out of the bag. There’s a whole heap of meat from one little bird.
                           
The stock and chicken have been stored in clean airtight containers in the fridge and will be eaten within three days. To make gravy, I pour the chicken stock into a pan, blend with GF gravy powder, add the cooking water from vegetables, blend, bring to the boil and thicken. I will then heat the chicken through in the gravy by simmering on the stove top for thirty minutes so it’s heated all the way through. 
                           
Today, I cooked just about everything I bought reduced so that’s why the oven was filled and the chicken was cooked. 
I usually cook meat, cool it and slice it as I can slice it really thinly and it goes a whole lot further. Over to you, share and food stretching hacks that make everything go that bit further.
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxxx

Why a weekly menu plan?


Hello Dear Reader,

Not my wood pile but it’ll make sense as I go on.

 Here’s my thought for tonight. None of us should wait until we’re skint to be thrifty. In the future, as a pensioner, I’m going to be skint. I’ll have a limited income, no immediate or easy possibility to earn money and I’ll have to watch every penny. If you are facing retirement in ten years or more, you’ll be in the same position. You won’t be able to get your old age pension, which is currently available at 68 as by then, the goal posts will move and we’ll all be in our 70’s before we’ll be able to have it. So, we will have less money and we’ll have to get on with it. We have workplace pensions and don’t intend working until 68 and hopefully, fingers crossed will retire early at 60 and take reduced pensions if that’s still an option. Who knows where the goal posts will be by then? That might not be an option and we’ll have to reconsider our plans.

Now, whilst we are earning is the time to be thrifty, watch the pennies, save everything we can and live on less. We’re young and fit so can do with less heating, I can find bargains and we can make our own entertainment. Who knows what my health will be, if I need the heating on more or if the cold drives me to the Costa del cheap for a month each winter to stave off the cold. Who knows? Now is the time for me to be a cheapo, skint flint tightwad whilst I have the choice. 

We’ve just paid out the last lot of money for the house in France!!! We’ve paid for the: rewiring, new back doors, furniture, tree surgery, electrical goods, hired a trailer to go over, paid for the ferry and gite as the house isn’t fit to live in yet and of course paid for the house, the estate agent fee and all legal fees. No more money going to France until we have to pay for utilities and council tax. After Christmas, when we sign for the house, we won’t go back until Easter. So, thrifty it is until then. The plan is to rein in any spending for the next four months. Please, will nothing break, need fixing or replacing!

Family members are being bought passports as Christmas gifts, we won’t be here for Christmas and will have a sandwich whilst working on the house! Christmas sorted and budgeted for.

It means, I can keep my purse shut, build up savings and hunker down for the winter.

I don’t have to buy much food this week as I’ve already cooked. Here’s my menu plan for the week.

Today – Chicken casserole, potatoes and steamed kale – this will also make two lunches for me this week.

Monday – Vegetable chilli and brown rice – this will also make two lunches for me.
Tuesday. – Fidgit pie – bacon, leeks, onions, potatoes baked with a cheese and mustard sauce on top.
Wednesday – Baked potato with cheese and beans – standard, we always have something either on toast or in a baked spud.
Thursday – Fish cakes, beans (from the freezer) and carrots.
Friday –  Pasta with bacon, veggies and chilli (I bought a pack of cooking bacon from Aldi and I need to use it up)

Breakfast, yogurt, muesli, cereals, toast or variants there of.
Lunch, leftovers and sandwiches, apples for snacks.


My shopping list for the week.

Fresh veg
12 pink lady apples
Yogurt
Sliced cold meat for sandwiches
Pickle
Bread/GF bread
plastic bags and foil.
SF orange squash
Butter
Teabags
Loo rolls

Now, back to the wood pile. I’m fascinated by wood piles in France. Some properties have ten metre long piles, ranged down one side of their homes. Neatly stacked a metre high, kept water proof and there for the future. We all need a bit of that French mindset. I’m sure they didn’t buy all the wood in one go. They will have bought another cubic metre when they can afford it and stored it away. They didn’t wait until they were skint and then start worrying about where the money is coming from to heat the house! As the saying goes, the time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining, not to think, it’s not raining so I won’t spend money on roof tiles. We’ll all have to face being skint one day whether through retirement or the insecurity of modern work where nothing is certain. Whilst we’ve got jobs and can work, in ‘these times’ we all need to thrift up! Not spending is the new spending, not staying in is the new going out and cliche after cliche but it’s the world we live in.

You might think, what’s the point of veggie meals and saving money on food and keeping the heating off? We rarely eat out or go out, we keep our spending low on utilities and over heads and keep to a budget. The little savings all add up, no nipping to the supermarket in the week, not unplanned spending and keep an eye on our increasing not depleting saving accounts. So, I’m pulling on the jumpers, eating plenty of veggie meals, amusing ourselves and as I said before, hunkering down for the winter.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Ready in time for Christmas!!!

                       
Hello Dear Reader,
It’s flippin’ well started. Buy a sofa, oak furniture, new cooker or what ever in time for Christmas. You know how it goes, the world will stop revolving if your furniture doesn’t match, if you’re lunch doesn’t come from Marks’n’spensive and you haven’t got a that little black dress for the party season. It’s all a total load of sell it now, leave people in scraping debt for years to come and it will fall apart before it’s paid for anyway! 
Enough! I’m going to record everything I want to watch on TV and fast forward through all the adverts between now and the new year to avoid the blatant buy masses more than you need to keep up with the Jones.
I found the chair in a local second hand shop for £10, I had the fabric anyway that I bought for £1 in a jumble sale a few years ago and had in the cupboard. It’s basically a cloth envelope with the cushion pad inside and the chair put back together. It’s coming to France with us as we’ll try to furnish the house, just like this house, with as many second hand items as possible. We looked around second hand shops in France and they wanted far too much so we didn’t buy there. 
I know I’m ‘preachin’ to the choir’ here so how about you share something that you up cycled instead of buying new. 
Until tomorrow, 
Love Froogs xxxx

Chickpea, carrot and courgette fritters

                        
Hello Dear Reader,
We’ve been so good recently and stuck to our healthy eating habits and tonight it as time to have something snacky and fried. Normally, we stick to a spray of fry light, a non stick pan or cook things in the oven. Fritters are best fried in a couple of millimetres of sunflower oil. Here’s the recipe
1 tin of chickpea slow gently crushed with a potato masher,
3 carrots grated
1 courgette grated
4 heaped tablespoons of gram flour – I can’t eat gluten, so I use this flour a lot.
2 beaten eggs 
Half a mug of ready cooked quinoa
2 heaped tablespoons of Ras el hanout – a Middle eastern spice combination, commonly found in supermarkets
Combine the lot and get your frying pan with oil really hot. Use a dessert spoon to drop a heaped spoonful at a time into the pan. You can fry five fritters at a time. Don’t turn them too soon and allow one side to crisp up before you use a spatula to turn it. Cook for around five minutes per side.
If we were being good then we’d have eaten these with salad but we just had a few spoons of sweet chilli sauce. These are great cold in a picnic or for a packed lunch. They can also form the main part of a veggie supper with a tomato sauce and some greens. I love the fluffiness of the grated veggies against the chunks of chickpeas and the gentle spice of the Ras El hanout. They could take more spice  and you could add chopped fresh chilli. 
We’ve spent the day painting and working on the house, what’s a few extra calories!
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxxxx

Our last day in France



Hello Dear Reader.

We visited Huelgoat on the last day of our holiday and I thought you’d like the photos. Brittany is full of beautiful small towns like this. The last photo is a memorial to the American soldiers who liberated Huelgoat.


Town square 


French towns are full of flowers 


There is a weekly market in this square 


I love nooks 


We had lunch in a cafe by the lake 


DB’s dessert, crepe, apple, jam, cream and ice cream


It’s a lovely place 


The weir


Another view


Old house 


Entrance to the forest full of boulders bigger than us 


Walking through the boulders made me feel tiny


We climbed down into the grotto, pitch black down steep narrow ladders. When my eyes adjusted, I could just about see


There’s an amphitheatre in the woods 


Families having picnics 


It was great to have shade 



DB dwarfed 


Back into the light 


More old houses 


The memorial to the American soldiers who liberated Huelgoat 


I’ve wanted to visit for years, I will be back soon 

Love Froogs xxxxx


























The best holiday ever



                




Hello Dear Reader,


We’ve packed most of the flat.

We’ll load the car and give the place a quick clean in the morning and we’ll be off by 9.30.

We’re staying in a cheap hotel in Roscoff tomorrow night and catching the ferry to Plymouth in the morning.

This our sixth trip to Carnac in southern Brittany and it won’t be our last. We’ll be back in Brittany, although another area for a mini break at the end of the school holiday.

We’ve had ten of the fourteen days of sunshine and have relaxed on the beach. We’ve cycled everywhere and not used the car. We’ve eaten easy meals back at the flat.

All in all, it’s been back to back relaxation, gentle exercise and sleeping in the sun.

I’m determined to put money aside every month so we can do this more often.

As they say, you can’t take money with you when you’re gone.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit a village called Huelgoat and stop for a walk and some sight seeing. By all accounts, it’s a very pretty place.

It’ll be back to normal on Monday and thrifty meals, moneysaving and budgets but it was great to get away from all that for a couple of weeks.

Until tomorrow,  

Love Froogs xxx

Casino, the plumber and a small one

                      

Hello Dear Reader,

We discovered after getting up at rude o’clock and checking my email that Monsoir le plombier wasn’t coming until after lunch. We thought we’d kill some time and nip to the supermarket and get DB some bread. The supermarket, called Casino is close by via St Colomban beach and the back road into town.

Food has been a very simple affair of fruit, salad, vegetables, cold cooked meat and yogurt. It’s been warm enough that we’ve eaten every meal outside.

The plumber arrived exactly when he said he would and repaired the shower by replacing all the parts I’d broken. Including tax €75, which is £57. In the UK, you wouldn’t get a plumber off Candy Crush and in his van for that amount! I’ll photograph the receipt and email it to the owner and should get me €250 accidental damage fee back.

                       

The afternoon was spent on Legenese beach which is opposite the flat and as it was almost three we were not bothered to go anywhere else.

                             

We read and moved in and out of the shade. DB now worried about burning after he did get burned even when doused in Factor 50!

                       

Obligatory knee photo and view of the sea.

                         

Usual- full up.

                               

Though not uncomfortable.

                          

I love the culture of cycling here. It’s flat, cars give way to bikes, children ride everwhere and babies get seats on the back of their parents’ bikes.

Tomorrow is our last day in Carnac and we’re off on Saturday although not getting the ferry until Sunday. There’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit on our way back to Roscoff.

I promise to take loads of touristy photos.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx







Stones and shower vandalism

                

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ll start with the shower! French showers do not have an adjustable height or water flow like at home. It’s either hand held or cascading from above at a force to remove the hair from your head.

I was shaving my legs so had shower on some kind of holder reminiscent of the cradle that held a 1940s telephone receiver. I didn’t know whether to wash or to ask for Poirot! So, I’m hovering on one leg, the resting other on aforementioned telephone holder, covered in soap.

Next, a crash and like they say, it came off in my hand. The water, with force enough to blow a hole in the ceiling is forcing its way out of the shower and down the street. 

Naughty DB suggested some super glue, keep quiet and wash when we get home.  He was only joking and we did the right thing and called the management company about ‘la douche’ which was well and truly ‘en panne’! 

Two very nice ladies turned up and with bad French and bad English called a plumber and I’m sure they think I had my leg up the wall tidying my lady garden. Whatever, we don’t want these sophisticated  little French ladies thinking we English have tatty minges so I didn’t disagree.

Never fear, ablutions were taken care of with buckets, sponges and leg at a time in the sink.

                  

This afternoon we took a slow and humid bike ride to ‘les alignments’. I could go into detail but look up megaliths at Carnac in Brittany and you’ll get far more details than I could give you.

                    

If you look at my Instagram page, there’s a small video. 

Tomorrow the plumber arrives. That’ll be expensive. Yes, I broke it so I have to pay for it. Wonder if I can get a plumber selfie for the scrapbook?

Should I have listened to DB? 

What’s a bit of sweat any way?

Until tomorrow,

Froogs xxxxx