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28th. January - 10th. February 2004
A couple of weeks with mixed fortunes. On Sunday I was stirred by commotion in the neighbours front garden. A young lad was struggling on the ground trying to get his Staffordshire dog away from one of my Black Rock chickens which he had literally savaged to death.
After my last entry, I found that the Landlord of the Golden Ball up the end of our Lane, slipped on the ice. He fell on his head and is in a critical condition at a London Hospital.
As it happens, Sunday was going to be the last day of letting the chickens out for a while and yesterday was 'big tidy up day' in readiness for Spring. Next weekend I shall sow the broad beans and make a bit more space for extra potatoes this year.
I finally had one letter too many from the Tax Office and yesterday went to see them. I took everything with me - no fiddles etc., and we sat for one hour sorting it out. It would appear that from them saying I owe them a four figure amount - they owe me !! So it shows that questioning and challenging does do some good. It's not a case of 'too many indians', as they all seem to be in different places.
I've made some good sales on eBay over the last two weeks. Some items have been my own, but others brought from the Boot Fairs over the past 3 Sundays.
I found an old cycle mileomiter in the shed and attached it to my bike exactly one week ago today - I've done 48 miles ! I know it's accurate because I once measured the distance to town. I haven't done any extra trips, so since last October I reckon I've achieved (positive word !) 800 miles. So; Road Tax saving of £40, Insurance saving of £100 plus petrol (I would say treble that mileage because of 3 trips to Southamnpton by 'free' train) etc., I would guess at a figure of £350 saved thus far.
At least last weeks storm force winds have brought down a few more healthy fire wood branches and I've been busy picking these up from wherever I go. I managed (I measured it) a piece 16' long on my bicycle last week !! I didn't cycle on the road, I can assure you ! Just half a mile from up the Lane.
Besides conquering the World Rally Championship on the PC, my other big quest for the rest of February will be to 're-arrange' the two sheds outside the back door. This will mean precision engineering with a Sledge Hammer, Pick Axe and 16 cups of Coffee.
14th - 28th January 2004
Well, if I had a brass monkey, it would have it thermals on today ! The snow has settles overnight and with a 20 mph wind, it's horrible.
After much thought, I've changed my savings plan. I've taken all the 1p's, 2p's. 5p's and 10p's out of the jar and have moved it into a new Chicken Money Box. The theory is that this should bring more interest. That's in so far as the chicken is more interesting to look at than the jar was. There must be £7 in there now, maybe an idea to step up security around the property.
One thing which is nice during this weather is the opening of the home made jams, pickles, chutneys etc. It seems that every jar opened has a memory of summer and autumn. Someone gave us a pheasant this week and last night we sat down and ate it with various vegetables stored in the freezer and followed up with blackberry and apple crumble - an almost free meal and what a meal !
Hopefully the cold snap will be short lived, the Rayburn fuel is getting low and I'm determined to get through winter on only 12 bags. I just use the 'coal' as a base, the rest of the fire is made up with wood from surrounding areas.
In fact, last week was a pretty good week work wise and some items was selling on ebay came to an end fetching more than I had hoped for. The Bank Clerk nearly passed out as I paid in cheques totalling a three figure amount (although cash would have been better !)..
It seems a lot of people are giving up on this country and moving to France either for retirement or starting up a smallholding. I think this is a great pity, but understanding when you see the price of rural properties now. Gone are the days of a cheap 5 acres in South Wales.
I received an interesting email from a TV Production company asking if I knew any "very frugal people" who may be interested in appearing in 'Wife Swap'. So, there's a chance for fame and fortune for you !! If you're interested, send me an email and I'll pass the info on.
Only 7 weeks before I start again at cricket. Last year we had splendid March weather for pre-season training. It would be nice if it's the same this year, but I doubt this country can support two good Spring and Summers in a row. Either way, it'll be great to be back there again even though most of the cricketers will be over tanned from a winter in Oz, South Africa or simply somewhere else which was hot.
1st - 14th.January 2004
Yesterday was the 13th !! I had two main tasks for yesterday, one to do a mystery shop and second to visit Leo.
Work is thin on the ground at present but I have been able to offset some of this by selling a number of items on eBay. It would have been nice if these had been a bonus, but such is life and you accept that everything is a bonus. The sales of items left over from my recent PC purchase have at least paid for that.
In the garden I've managed to get out and dug some extra space for this year. I plan to grow more potato's than last year. They were a great success and tasted amazing but we only ate them for about 5 weeks. I shall try some sort of continuation system to avoid storing and have ample supply from May / June onwards.
Speaking of chickens, STILL no eggs ! I've cleaned the shed countless times, made it more cosy, bunged up a few holes etc. Seems they just need one to lay and the rest will follow suit.
Last weekend we had a family gathering at my sister Sarah's house in London which was good. Not everyone turned up, but it was good to see one and all, especially the kids. Not seeing them a lot, you notice them getting older more. In the boys rooms, gone are the pictures of cars on the wall, suitably replaced with pictures of 'ladies who are obviously feeling the heat and have had to de-robe themselves'. I guess it's all good healthy stuff and part of growing up. In a few years time they'll be parents with a mortgage and umpteen other overheads to contend with.
Over the other side of the Lane work continues on renovating the Mill Cottage. Last year I got an email from a chap who's Mother used to live there. It's quite fascinating how you learn of these thing's. He also has a web site and taken to 'the country life'. The address is Stoneridge Southdowns.
One useful present I got for Christmas was a Metal Detector. I don't see this as selling my soul to the devil with dowsing. I use dowsing nowadays mainly for food, planting and energy lines etc. It will be good to use the two in conjunction with each other. I can dowse to an area where they may be thing's and continue from there with the detector.
Please keep searching a link through the Ask Jeeves box below. I get 2p a hit for this and 200 hits is a bag of chicken food ! Thanks.
3rd - 17th. December 2003
Cold frosty nights and early mornings with windless sunny days. This has been the order for the past week. The garden appears to be loving it; under the carpets on the vegetable patch, the worms and creepy crawlies are on overtime and the sprouts are getting their flavour with the frosts.
Last week I went to the Kent Cricket Staff Meal at the Shepherd Neame Brewery. It was great seeing all the faces again albeit strange on a cold damp day. All these good friends of mine are usually seen in the heat of summer with tans !
I've finally got all my old programmes re-installed on the new PC and it appears to be in good working order. Luckily I saved all my emails before the old one died and I have records of all those registration numbers you need for installation.
I can't believe I still haven't had one egg from the chickens. I look every day to no avail. Most have all their feathers back now, the shed is clean and fairly warm - so it's a mystery. I've never had such a long period without any. If there's anyone reading this who has some idea, or experiencing a similar problem, please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
As last year, there's a flurry of work pre-Christmas at the Mill House. This week it's cleaning all the downstairs windows inside and out. Sounds straightforward, but 18 windows, average of 16 panes in each one, times two....is 576 window panes ! Plus builders have been in yet again causing a lot of extra housework - it's all work !
Builders are also well into things at the Mill Cottage over the Lane. Authority has now been given to them to repair an exterior wall (Grade 11 listed Building) so that's started. They are also building a bridge accross the stream and a double garage down in the woods (I managed to persuade them to leave the Walnut Tree).
I had the CT scan last week. Bit like being slid into a Tumble Drier a few times. At least it's done and I hope to get the results within the next week. Every time the phone goes though, I think it's them saying there's a Surgeon waiting, pack your pyjama's and get a taxi !!!
Many thanks to those who have ordered books and otheritems through my Amazon links. This is a great help, the
18th.November - 3rd.December 2003
Don't worry, I'm still alive !!!! My PC finally came to a grinding halt the other day. I looked at the repair costs, looked at want I'd spent on it during the last year and decided a new one was the only 'sensible' thing. It's a lot more powerful, but does tend to make a bit of a racket. Tomorrow I shall cunningly devise a way of hiding it a bit.
There comes the occasional moment in this downshifting where you think 'what the hell have I done' ! (besides the obvious of money !). I had this thought the other day. I was cycling back from Leo's; it was throwing it down and the wind was that strong again where I had to peddle hard downhill ! I arrived back home absolutely soaked through.
On the cycling, I can hand on heart say I haven't felt physically better for years.
The cricket season now seems a long, distant memory, but I still keep in contact by email with one or two people there (again, if I had the car, I'd be going up there once a week). Next Friday though is the Staff Christmas Meal - and - it's being held at the Shepherd Neame Brewery ! So it's a good job I'm not driving.
After 6 weeks, no egg's whatsoever. I know they aren't laying because on a couple of days I've looked at them every half an hour. 21 chickens !! I know they're moulting, but this is getting ridiculous !
The one good reminder of summer is all the vegetables we are eating; carrots, beetroot, beans, tomatoes plus of course all the chutney's.
For the first time in umpteen years we're not having 'a Cannon family' Christmas. Normally my 4 brother's, sister's attend with their kids and my Mum of course. This amounts to about 30. So this year Leo and myself will go to Southampton on Boxing Day and stay til the Wednesday (Southampton play Arsenal on the 29th !!). I hope to get tickets as the Christmas treat as the Charlton game is a "no" due to extra expenses of late.
Leo has already had a bit (or most !) of his present. With the 'no car' project of mine, it means he has to cycle as well ! I found a site (sterlinghouse.co.uk) and they have brand new bikes at £39 !! I ordered it in fear of it either not being good or not 'street cred' for Leo. He loves it and you wouldn't think it a lower end of the market bike atall. Proud of myself there - got a good deal.
With all the problems on the PC lately, I'm a little behind in my site renovation, so I hope to find a bit more time soon (but I don't think so !!!). I have however been reading up on other downshifting experiences and hope to extend those pages soon.
Finally, I have found a way of getting good deals at Boot Fairs. You go on a bike wearing your older Charity Shops clothes and
Many thanks for those who have ordered items through myAmazon links and to those who do a little search through the Ask Jeeves search box (2p a time - I'm earning on average 38p a week now !! But 38p per week is £19.76 per year -
4th - 18th. November 2003
I'm afraid to say my time with the 'well known Computer Retailer' came to an end after only 9 days.
I was very tempted the other day. I went to purchase a few bits to make good my second bike and they had a brand new Cycle there; gleaming Red / Blue' all the gears, etc., and reduced from £119 to £79 !! I nearly put 'my bits' back on the shelf 3 times before I forced myself to say 'No' !
However, I made a pretty good job installing the hard-drive. I've done most up-grades, but not that before. So a saving of £30 for them to put it in. What I don't know about Primary, Secondary, Slave, Jumpers, Partition, NTFS and FAT 32 is no ones business now !! Mind you, this entry nearly wasn't made as I seemed to lose the programme on transfer and only found it again by chance !!
The garden is still giving us some work. On Sunday I dug up the last of the carrots and beetroots, also picked the last tomato's.
I've covered most of the veggie patch with carpet. Our Winter Salad for cold Greenhouse seems to be growing OK. I haven't a clue 'what is which' etc., but they look like being big enough in two or three weeks. Good for a nice side salad with some home made Chutney I feel.
I shall let the chickens out soon. I have some plastic fencing, which looks amazingly similar to that used by Railtrack a few years ago, and will surround the Sprouts - and gate !
Mimi and Ginger are extremely busy wearing out the Sofa material by spending about 23 hours a day sleeping on it !
This week brings about 2 Auctions; tomorrow the Poultry and on Friday, the Farmyard Dispersal. I shall go, but won't buy anything - just pose around trying to look as if I know something about it all.
Next time I write, it will be December - doesn't seem possible that only 6 weeks ago we were basking in sun, watching cricket and wearing shorts.
I can't harp on too much here though - bit like a reformed smoker isn't it !!