My name is Lesley and I live in a small market town in East Sussex, a lovely area of south east England. We have a market on Saturday and Tuesday. There is an auction house at the market and they sell proper antiques on one day and everyday household items on another. All kinds of eclectic things turn up there, you never know what will be there.
The market has a fishmonger, a meat van and a greengrocer stall. I find the latter rather expensive tho, and don’t tend to buy anything there.
The High Street has the usual clutch of charity shops. They are a good hunting ground, but I have noticed recently that prices are now such that I think twice about things, they are significant amounts of money.
We have two very good butchers. At least one of them sources his meat from local farms, including one just a few hundred yards from where I live, which has an abattoir on site, so good animal care, no long journeys.
We also have a good greengrocer, and they have a cheapy box which has the overripe stuff etc at cheap prices, I have had many a bargain from there.
Several shops have closed down this year (2015) which is a shame. One of them was our local book shop. I didn’t buy many books there as they were so much more expensive than online, but they did beautiful stationery. Another closure was the main stationer. I was always popping in there for one thing or another, I shall really miss that. And then there was the big furniture shop. We are all agog as to what that will become – rumour has it that it will be an Aldi, but I’ve heard that before.
There is a development of another substantial site, flats above and shops underneath. Hope we get something more interesting than more charity shops, estate agents or eateries
There are also not one, but several places very local where I can get free range eggs at the gate from chickens I can see running around in a big field doing chickeny things. The farmer at one of these had me in stitches as he described a young chicken laying her first egg. She was dragging huge bits of twig around and laying them down again in random places, she kept hiding in the bottom of the hedge and popping out again looking confused and rumpled and finally made a big squawky fuss and when the egg finally emerged, she jumped up and looked round in surprise as to who had put that there! They are all great eggs, and at £1.20 a box, have been for a quite a few years now, quite a bargain.
I love gardening, cooking, walking, getting involved in my local WI and generally creating something out of nothing. I make greetings cards, clothes, I love to knit, but not many people want knitted things nowadays. I have recently been adapting charity shop finds into clothes for my 7 year old granddaughter who is currently a pink princess. Wish I could do it for myself, but it’s much harder to make something bigger than it is to make it smaller.
I have recently joined a 2nd WI in Heathfield itself (the one I go to is in Waldron, which is about 4 miles from where I live) as I wanted to meet more local women. It’s turning into a really good group. I managed to sit on my hands long enough not to get co-opted onto the Committee, although I didn’t manage to do the same with the equally new U3A group. I volunteered to do some database update work as someone had let them down and found myself on the Committee, how did that happen! Still, I’m enjoying it, and I’ve started a group for them too – on budget cookery- hahaha, what else would you expect!!
I worked in IT for many years, going from programmer to project manager, so I’m quite techy, and love a good spreadsheet. Blogging was very new to me when I started this, but I think I’ve got to grips with it alright now, although of course, there’s always something new to learn.
DP and I work from home now. We look after and rent out a few properties. DP is very clever and has taught himself to do many and various things over the years. He can build and make most things, do electrical work, plumb, carpenter, paint and decorate. We make a good team in life, and in business. We’ve been together 38 years now and got married in August.
On an (even more) personal note, when I was a young teenager, I met someone 10 years older than me. I was very young and naïve and ended up getting pregnant which was a much bigger deal for a single girl in 1968 than it is now, so I was quickly married off to the chap. When I was 5 months pregnant with our second child, I realised I was never going to have a good life with this person and ran off back to Mum’s. That house was so crowded there was nowhere for us to be, I had to sleep under the table and my eldest, who was still only 18 months old, was stuffed in a corner. The next 4 years was a nightmare of trying to find somewhere to live. We never actually slept rough, but it got horrifyingly close sometimes. The ‘social’ were as unhelpful, obstructive and obnoxious as they still can be. Telling me that I would be co-habiting if I rented somewhere with my brother. We had thought we would probably be able to manage between us. Telling me that ‘we can’t have young women running off and leaving their husbands willy nilly, your Father can keep you’. There were long periods where I had no money. At all.
The council would laugh when I pleaded with them for somewhere to live, ‘we haven’t got anything’ they said. Another part of the council said ‘don’t make too much fuss, our only option is to take the children into care, then you’ll never get anywhere from the council’.
There was so much stress at Mum’s, I simply had to find somewhere. We tried staying at friends, advertising in the local paper, scouring all the ads, sharing etc etc etc. It didn’t help that no-one at ‘home’ knew anything about the benefit system, so we didn’t know our way around their labrynthine ways. DD1 went to 7 different schools in her first term we moved around so often. Finally, finally, after 4 of the worst years of my life (bear in mind I was still only in my early 20’s at this point) someone suggested making it personal with a councillor. So I found out the name of one of them, went to see him at his house, and within 2 weeks he had found me somewhere to live. Bless him, I was so, so grateful. I was a single parent there for another 4 years, struggling away on benefits, and then I met DP, and we have been together ever since. That was in 1977, a lifetime in more than one way.
I tell you this, not to share a tale of woe, but to say that I understand what it is to have so little that desperation lives with you. Fear a daily companion and dreams of an ordinary, normal life seemingly beyond your grasp.
I don’t live that way now, and haven’t for a long time, but there is an indelible mark, times like that never leave you completely. It has left me with a deep interest in all things frugal.
So when Weezl sent out a call for recipe testers for frugal food, it was right up my street. I was involved with the site at Cheap Family Recipes, now sadly defunct, but still available on Wayback, and learned a lot while we were setting that up. I have always cooked, even when I was working long hours and have learned a few things over the years on how to get food on the table without taking too long or spending too much.
I have been broke many times in my life and a resource like this would have helped me then (even tho the internet hadn’t been invented when I was broke, yes I’m that old!). I enjoyed the CFR time so much, I thought I would start this blog, and see how it went.