Friday, 22 January 2021

A Super Reading Haul!!


Man Wonderful picked up this wonderful, free stash of books locally on his way to the Post Office.  Socially Distanced - I messaged the lady and she left a bag on her doorstep for us to collect.
After wiping with anti-bac wipes and leaving them to dry they look right at home in this corner of the lounge.

I've already started this quick read, and it helped a rainy, cold afternoon pass beautifully.

I finished this little treasure last week: 

Such a beautiful book.  Poignant and very well-written.

And then had a real giggle with this one:

Once I have read a pile of books I offer them on the local page again, and they can give someone else some pleasure.

What are you reading right now, and would you recommend it?

Take care,

Tracey xx

Monday, 18 January 2021

Weight loss diets review from someone who has actually followed them...

It may come as a surprise to you that I am a little over the recommended weight for someone my age, breadth and height. 

I am trying to lose my 'baby' weight (ahem! my baby was 27 in December), and have tried several "diets" over the last three decades:

These are my opinions so far:-

  • Weight Watchers - far too technical, and writing everything down that I ate was too much of a temptation to sneak food without admitting to it.  Weight loss over two weeks = 0lbs
  • The Dukan Diet - made my stomach feel very greasy/oily and crave vegetables..managed most of the first week. Weight loss over 5 days = 2lbs
  • The Paleo Diet - for someone who does not eat animal products, this was a hard diet to follow, nevertheless I undertook it last year for a four week period.  We bought only grass-fed meat which was expensive, and having researched how animals are slaughtered for food I only ate pork as in my opinion it is the kindest way for an animal to die. Weight loss over four weeks = 8lbs
  • Vegan-only diet.  To me this is the normal way to eat. Weight loss = usually 0, however, my weight is easily maintained eating this way.
  • Low-carb diet.  This diet is very difficult to follow as a vegan diet.  Eating mostly veg with added fish and eggs works well for me, and is very similar to the Slimming World diet, on which I lost 1 stone 11lbs. 
  • The Dukan Diet felt a little like eating on Star Trek (although I wouldn't know that...) as eating just lean protein with oat bran added messed with my head (and my bottom) and made me feel 'out of it'.  I followed it for two weeks, and the weight loss was not worth feeling so poor.  Weight loss = 5lbs
  • The FODMAP diet was one plan that was worth following for feeling healthier.  It works by eliminating things that your gut may find difficulty processing, and is sensible in saying that it is your gut not your stomach that is where your mind should be focussing.  Not something I could follow long-term while living with another person not on the same diet, but worth the effort to find out what to eliminate from my foods (I'll give you a clue to mine: begins with p and ends with reservatives...)  Weight loss over 4 weeks:  6lbs
  • Very low-fat diet.  I attended a weight-loss class to be taught like a cretin to avoid all 'reds' on food packaging and that 'all fat is bad for you'.  I'm not, you shouldn't and it isn't.  Yes I'm overweight, but it's not from eating butter, lard and dripping three times a day... Weight loss: 0.  Interest: 0. Funny stories to relate from the course: oodles.... (One woman asked if potatoes were vegetarian...I wanted to say, 'What did you think they were, Bull's Bo**ocks??)
  • Noom.  I subscribed to Noom, and the psychology that is taught is very, very good.  You weigh yourself every morning and record your weight then have that number in your head all day long.  You are trained to make healthier choices not cut out certain foods, and no food is labelled as 'bad or naughty'.  Well worth the time and effort to learn about food as nutrition.  Bit expensive to purchase, but the coaching does last 12 months.  Weight loss: 1st 6lbs
  • Shakes diet e.g. Slimfast.  This, along with many others - Nutriseed** being very popular right now - is a plan that uses meal replacement drinks/shakes and a low-calorie weight loss plan.  The human body is not designed to cope on lower calories.  This causes the metabolism to slow and the body to retain calories as fat.. It can also be incredibly expensive (Nutriseed is currently £150 for four weeks, of two days a week product; therefore £150 for forty shakes/blends.  It works well if used on a 5:2 approach.  
  • 5:2 diet.  This works well as long as you don't have your '2' as days next door to each other, and as long as other people in your house are gits who eat chocolate, McDonalds or crisps in full sight/sound/smell of you on your '2' days.  The premise is eating very low calorie on 2 days a week and healthily on the other 5.  The metabolism is confused and 'kicks in', speeding up due to the 2 lower cal days.  Very successful method - a bugger to stick to due to other people in the general population/adverts/news items about food/Great British Bakeoff...I won't go on. Weight loss in two weeks:  6lbs
  • The baby food diet:  Used by lots of celebrities to slim down for TV work, etc.  This diet is just as it says - you eat jars of mushed-up baby food instead of 'real' meals.  It is a short-term diet, and is certainly a fad.  It does work, but as with all*** low-calorie diets, it slows down the metabolism which is why weight is easily regained, and more weight gain than weight loss is usual.  Weight loss = a minus number!
  • Gastric surgery.  I have had this.  A gastric band. Back in the day, before life kicked me into touch and reality, I had stupid spare cash and paid for private surgery.  It worked well.  Then after almost two years, the gastric band began to erode and I had severe pain followed by emergency surgery to remove it. A waste of money.  Not worth the weight loss for the amount of money wasted and the trauma it caused not just me but my family.  Weight loss = 3+stones, but weight put back on over the years after.  And some. The Gastric Band works by making the stomach pouch smaller, and there are foods that you can no longer eat as they 'get stuck'. Like bread, pasta and meat.  You are eating smaller amounts over a longer time.  Metabolism kicks in once you start eating properly, and there are no limitations as to what you can eat, so you eat things you have 'missed' hence weight gain...
  • Curves complete.  This is the most successful weight loss plan I have followed to date.  I am currently following this plan.  It is not like any weight loss plan I have used before, but there are some good aspects of others as in; recording food input, weighing every day, eating proper portion sizes, not banning any foods, but choosing healthier things to eat most of the time.  The one thing this diet plan has over every other one I have tried  is that you are shown exactly how to exercise to build your strength.  The plan that is used is exercising full-on for 30 minutes three days a week and walking as much as you can on the other days.  You are encouraged to use a step counter. 
  Despite Lockdowns, Christmas, Birthday, 'I need chocolate' times and 'Oh God I don't WANT TO' days, since last September I have lost just under 2 stones and it's still coming off.  
My target is to lose weight slowly - 1lb a week - and to exercise in some way every day.
No limits on the amounts I eat, just healthier choices as to what I eat (e.g. carrot and celery with 1tbsp peanut butter rather than three rounds of toast with spread and marmite..)

Are there diet plans I have missed?
What has worked for you/someone you know?

Take care,

Tracey xx

** N.B. I have never used this weight-loss system, but a friend is currently on it and has lost over 2 stones in 5 months of: two days a week smoothies and 5 days a week eating sensibly.
*** please tell me if this is not the case with a very low calorie diet you are aware of and I will happily amend this blogpost.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Being tight or living simply?

 Squeak, squeak, squeak.

That is either the sound of someone being tighter than a badger's butt, or the sound of their mouth 'downturning' at the thought of breathing and using up any of the earth's valuable resources.


Lighten up just a little frugal folk.

Yes, it's wonderful that you can get 14 meals out of a tin of beans, and that you have no wardrobe because you simply have no clothes except the ones on your back.

But please, don't forget to live life.

If it gives you pleasure to eat very little unless it is being thrown away by the local supermarket, then fill your boots - but additionally feel no guilt buying organic food for your meals too.

Yes, plan your meals as it avoids waste - but do feel free to swap those meals around or add in extra whatevers so you are eating well and having choice.

Personally I get a bit cheesed off with directors:

"Do what I say or you won't be doing it right!"

Living simply for us is cutting out lots of things we don't want or need. 

But we do have things we like or want.  We try to buy the cheapest where it is sensible to do so.  For example, we could buy washing powder and loo paper cheaper, or wash our clothes in cold water and wipe our bums on nettles - but we buy both branded as the powder doesn't irritate the skin; and cheap loo paper is for people who like wiping their bums with their hands...

Living simply is having a small income and a small outgoing with some savings.

We are lucky to have no debt. This means our small income covers our essentials and I can save for important things. To me, Birthdays and Christmas are really important, as is being able to buy essential things for our Grandchildren. We have one pot that gets paid into each payday, and a savings pot for big purchases (like our recent sofas). We also have an emergency fund that does not get touched (we have yet to find out what kind of emergency would necessitate dipping into this).

Living simply is having alone time, couple time and family time, with simple activities that don't cost very much - reading, watching tv, board games.

We don't belong to clubs or do activities that cost us money.  Where we live there is so much outdoor space to enjoy and the wee dog loves to walk and run.  Today we took a walk for an hour and went one route out using pavements (to help keep her nails short) then came home through woodland (and mud!).  When we both worked we would always say. 'If we had the time...' Now we do!  There are very few days when we can't find an hour to go out in the fresh air.

Living simply is not being extravagant.

We buy food we can afford but it is good food. We have a fresh veg and fruit box delivered weekly.  We could save money by buying fruit and veg from the cheapest supermarket, but our veg box is sourced from local producers (except bananas and oranges).  We are able to pay a little more for this.  We could save money by buying fresh fish from the supermarket, but we buy fish that has been caught that day.  (We do know this to be true as we are friends with the fisherman himself, and buy whatever he has in that day's haul.)  When we do buy meat, we could save money by buying value meat, or tinned meat.  Instead we buy from the local farm shop where it tells you the name of the farm the meat was raised on, and the date it was butchered. In order to afford these things, we don't buy loads. Better quality, smaller quantity.

So live as you wish, save where you want to; buy please, please enjoy the living aspect.

Take care,

Tracey xx

Friday, 15 January 2021

Well worth saving for!

While my health continues to be tricky but manageable, this week has been the week our little house has had it's updates.

Firstly a new carpet - this cost us a £50 excess as the carpet was replaced under our home insurance following an accident with a steam iron. (I have been banned from ironing in the lounge for life!)  The accident was in October, but the company were great and delayed the refit while we settled Muttley - rearranged to this week at our behest.  We chose a darker shade with a thicker underlay.  It's lush!!

Secondly, this week our NEW sofas were delivered!  We saved up tp buy new sofas in cash (we don't do credit), and had been saving since we moved in here 3 1/2 years ago.  We had second hand sofas, one cost us £30 and the other was free.  They were fine until about a year ago when one had springy issues that we couldn't fix and the other was getting more threadbare.  It is lovely to save and pay something outright.  I hate buy now/pay later.  Unless something is life or death, I wouldn't spend out of my money bubble.  


The sofas don't match (deliberately); one is lime green, the other is a dark Airforce blue.  I'm in love with them!

Well worth saving up for - I knew how much I wanted to save each month, but separated that out weekly as it felt better to see on my chart the amount growing week by week.  I drew out the chart and had boxes to colour in for each £5 saved towards the amount we wanted to spend on our sofas. 

Sofa saving:

£5 x 52 weeks x 3 years = £780

£5 x 26 weeks = £130

3 1/2 years x £5 a week = £910

We wanted to spend around £900 on two sofas, so this was an easy way for us to save up.

And I feel very spoiled this week in a lovely new carpet/new sofas lounge!

Do you save up for big purchases?

How do you do this?

Take care,

Tracey xx

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Hospital Bag - an update:

 Firstly thank you for your comments on the last post: I'm fine darlings!

Also - important points about only taking essentials. Thank you for these additions. Xx

So an update on me:

Day 1- emailed GP surgery to ask for a call back next day. Inserted symptoms on internet form and was told to phone surgery straightaway.  

GP wanted me admitted to hospital. OK.  

Went to the assessment unit, had blood and wee tests, and a Covid test.  

Told to go home and return next day at 7am as no beds available. 

No problem.

Day 2 - phone call at home at 5am; don't come in as my Covid test was "a weak positive". 


I had to attend at 2pm for a second Covid test and isolate in the meantime. OK. 

Scary stuff. 

I told MW, GD and her hubby.  The six of us (includes the two grandkids) are the only people I've seen since 21st December.

They also isolated and awaited news.

Second Covid test was done, then I went home to await the results. I asked to be phoned as soon as they knew.

Midnight: this Covid test was negative - PHEW!

Day 3 (today)

I attended the assessment unit again, and had an Ultrasound scan (no I'm not pregnant - as I'm 51 and have no womb..etc., etc..) was done and I had to then wait to see the consultant.  Ok.  No worries.

I spent the day dozing on and off in an upright chair in a corner of the triage unit. I had my kindle and read my current reading book All The Light We Cannot See.  It draws you in and is the perfect book to get through what would have been a long and dull day.

At just after 4pm I saw the consultant who said I seemed to have a blocked bile duct (sounds really nice!  What should one wear to accessorise a bile duct?!!) and need to return to have a MRI scan.

In the meantime I have a morphine solution to use when the pain is pretty bad.

So Covid - nil; Bile duct - 1

And the game continues!!

Take care,

Tracey xx

Monday, 11 January 2021

Hospital Bag Packing

 I'm blogging from a hospital ward tonight.

Yes, an emergency admission - no, nothing related to Coronavirus (thank goodness!).

I'm ok (well, obviously not ok, but I'm in the right place, so y'know; could be worse!) but this was not planned.

We had our new carpet laid today - that's what had been planned...but I digress. 

The blog I'm writing is a fairly simple one - what to pop in the bag to take into hospital

(I'm not having a baby, otherwise the bag woukd have wildly different contents..)


Your GP phones you and says you have to go to hospital. Now.

What do you pack?

With Covid 19 in full force, your loved ones won't be able to just drop things in to you. You have to take it all with you now..and quickly!

This is what I packed:

Overnight bag:

. Pyjamas x 2 pairs

. A long nightie

. Slippers

. Comfy dressing gown

. Socks 

. Knickers x 4

. Soft bra x 2

. Laptop and charger

. Washbag containing: toothbrush, paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, flannels

Large hand bag:

. Phone and kindle with chargers 

. Small amount of cash

. Notebook 

. Wordsearch book

. Diary

. Headphones 

. Earplugs 

. Crochet and pattern

.  Pens, pencils, scissors 

. Prescription list and current daily meds for the week 

. Drink bottle

I think I am prepared for most eventualities with this lot!!

So far I've read my book on the kindle,  messaged MW and GD on my phone, and solved some wordsearches.

I'm in my own pj's with earplugs in and ready to sleep.

What would you take into hospital where you live?

Do you think I've forgotten anything essential?

Take care,

Tracey xx

P.S. they know what it is and I'll be fine...xx

Sunday, 10 January 2021

Donate what you can..

Each Saturday we buy a newspaper.  

I do love a weekly Guardian. (Other newspapers are available; by subscribing we get a considerable discount....)

We* visit the little local shop and combine this with a walk-the-dog to look at the sea. (*one of us goes into the shop these Covid days)

Each week we pick up a packet of sweets, some biscuits and some pads to pop straight into the homeless collection box - this is what we save by subscribing to the newspaper.

I didn't feel a great need to tell you this until I read about this charity on another blog:

Give and Makeup

A UK initiative that helps women who have escaped domestic abuse and arrived at refuge shelters with next to nothing and needed to start their life again.

If you have products languishing in cupboards, consider sending them to:

Give and Makeup

PO BOX 855


W4 4AW

If it's good enough to give to your friend, they will accept it.

This prompted me to go and have a tidy-up in my bathroom cupboard, and tell you about it here.

Take care,

Tracey xx