I hope you are all well.
Wales leaves its lockdown on Monday 9th November morning, but England goes into their lockdown on Thursday 5th November so things still aren’t easing in the UK.
As we get nearer to Christmas I become less and less sure that I will be able to spend it with my family. I guess we will have to see what the last few weeks of 2020 bring.
I hope we all get through it safely.
Onto my week.
I had the day off today because I was due to rewrite my will in the afternoon. Last year I wrote my first ever will through the Will Aid scheme. This runs every November, but the appointments open up in late September and fill up fast. Will Aid is where legal teams give up their time for free to create a will for you. There is a catch, you are encouraged to donate the equivalent fee to charity. The suggested donation is £100, though if you really can’t afford this you don’t have to pay for it. Last year I had budgeted the full £100 and that’s what I paid. I plan to do the same this year.
I am rewriting my will because now that my mum has passed away my will needs to be updated, and I also plan to add named benefactors to my will. So, it is an important life admin skill.
I walked to the legal office and then found out that the receptionist (who happens to be a friend of mine, as I discovered last year) had been trying to get hold of me. At the last minute, the lawyer had to go home ill. I wasn’t too upset about this as it was good to see my friend. She is five months pregnant with her first child and it was nice to catch up with someone I know without breaking lockdown rules, technically.
As I had the day off, I was able to do some food shopping. The flatmate and I were going to make a vegetable curry in the evening, so I stopped off at Tesco and bought some naan bread, as well as milk, bread, and more non-alcoholic beers. That came to £7.95. At home, I checked my bank account transactions and saw that some fabric conditioner I had ordered through Smol at the weekend had come out today. It was £10 and it is for two bottles of super-concentrated fabric conditioner that comes in recycled bottles. Once I use up four of these bottles, I can send them back to Smol and they will reuse them. As it is super concentrated you only need four pumps of it in your wash load and Smol estimates my bottles will last me six months. I rarely use fabric conditioner, especially during the pandemic, as I tend to use an anti-bacterial laundry cleanser in addition to my wash capsule and that takes up the fabric conditioner drawer space. The flatmate however loves fabric conditioner, so I am willing to try out these more sustainable options.
My subscription to Naked Wines also came out today, which is £20. I add £20 a month and every six months or so I buy a twelve-pack crate of wine. They had recently sent me an email about their Christmas bundle soon to be ready to pre-order and I did some research into the previous year’s offerings and it is really tempting. But they are about £180 and I don’t have that to spare, no matter how fantastic the deal is.
I finally caught up with some emails in my personal account I had been putting off and saw through the Zero Waste Weekly email I get from OLIO that they were offering 20% off any order at Rubies in the Rubble. I had heard of them for a while, they make relishes and sauces out of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. In case you hadn’t gathered from other things in today’s entry or previous posts I am really into sustainability, saving the planet, being environmentally conscious, and so on. I went on the Rubies in the Rubble website and bought banana ketchup, pear and fig relish, chilli onion relish, and apple relish all for £14.79 which is generally more than I would ever spend on condiments, but I am really excited about trying these things. I reckon the pear and fig relish would go lovely with some blue cheese. A favourite autumn/winter dish for me is toast with sliced figs and blue cheese. Give it a whirl sometime!
The curry I made in the evening wasn’t too successful. It was too watery. I was trying to use up vegetable stock I had in the freezer and that was the end result. It was edible still; it was just more of a soup than a curry. The flatmate still wolfed it down though.
Back to work. I decided to change my strategy for work this week. I have been working through a big spreadsheet of things to get through and I had previously been doing smaller items as they would help me achieve my target stats for the week. This week I decided to tackle the bigger projects. They would all need to get done eventually, and it is good to work out how to speed up the process with the bigger jobs. This does mean my stats for the week are likely to be much lower than desired, but my line managers are incredible and I know they will still feel this is a good work effort.
I went for a run at lunchtime. I did two laps of two parks near me, which is about 4.5km so about half an hour of running at my speed. I absolutely loved it! It made me feel really great.
The reason why I had decided to run at lunchtime this week is that yesterday I was planning my week as a whole and I saw that because I had a lot of evening events which would prevent me from running. Plus, I don’t like running in the dark on my own (and later this week there was a report on one of my local running group pages that a runner was assaulted by two people whilst running in my area).
The flatmate and I had a stir fry for tea. I had made it too spicy. My spice tolerance rate is higher than my flatmate’s, but it is still rather low so if I found it a bit spicy that meant it was almost inedible for my flatmate. Poor thing.
In the evening I had my first counselling session with my former counsellor. I stopped seeing her in March for a few reasons, but obviously, my mental health has dipped since then not just because of my mum’s death but also just from lockdown in general. I had some counselling sessions with another counsellor through my employee benefits scheme at work. I didn’t really take to those sessions, but it did make me think I could benefit from some more counselling with someone I know and trust. So, I contacted my former counsellor last week and she was able to give me sessions on a Tuesday evening. My sessions now cost £35 for a 50-minute Skype session. I mention this here, but I won’t generally be including it in my personal spending categories after this month as I will set it up as a bill on my spreadsheets.
It felt good to talk things over with her. She is unavailable next week, so I will be able to save £35 on that session, but these sessions are going to heavily eat into my budgets this month. I consider them essential though at this moment in time.
Today I did another lunchtime run, the same distance as yesterday. It was 30 seconds quicker though which is a great result.
The flatmate popped to the shops which turned out to be great for me as we had slightly too little macaroni for tonight’s dinner – macaroni cheese. He bought Pepsi max and orange juice as well as the macaroni for £2.90.
In the evening I went on a zoom session organised by my local Good Gym with a Welsh ultra-runner called Lowri Morgan. I had heard of her because she has recently released a book that was a big talking point this summer with various friends in the running groups I go to. After the session was over, I sent her a message on Instagram through my running Instagram account to ask her if I could buy a copy of her book. She replied and said she would absolutely send one to me, her rate for them is £14.50. I was awaiting her bank details when I went to sleep that night.
I was feeling a bit grumpy today, so at lunchtime, I only ran half the distance I had done on Tuesday and Wednesday. I suppose it is better than nothing.
I had to work late and was going to be calling my Dad and Step mum in the evening, so I didn’t have the time to make the falafel and houmous for tonight’s dinner from scratch as I had planned to. So that involved another trip to the shops. Both of us went to Tesco and bought Brew Dog 0% beers, Heineken 0% beers, prosecco, coffee, gravy granules, pickled beetroot, eggs, courgettes, felafel, tortilla wraps, vegan ham, and houmous. The total was £32.45. The flatmate and I split all the household shopping. We’re like a very dysfunctional unit.
As I mentioned, I was feeling grumpy and in a low mood. I was feeling grumpy as my sleep hasn’t significantly improved, my body has a high amount of the stress hormone prolactin so I have been referred to the endocrinology department of my local hospital. Plus, I have mouth ulcers and seborrheic dermatitis, and I get both of these when I’m stressed.
So, to cheer me up and to do something proactive, I indulged in self-care retail therapy. I bought a copy of ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, as I had been listening to his podcast and his appearances on other podcast series and he seemed like a good place to start. The book was £2.65 after my £10 Amazon voucher had been deducted.
I then bought four second-hand books for £12.50. The four books were ‘Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives’ by Anna Kessel, ‘Too Good to Waste’ by Victoria Glass, ‘The Leftovers Handbook: A-Z of Every Ingredient in Your Kitchen with Inspirational Ideas for Using Them’ by Suzy Bowler and ‘Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity’ by David Allen. I actually used to own the David Allen book and had gotten rid of it in a book purge years ago but really feel I need help with my time management now.
Finally, I bought a Kindle copy of a book I read from the library years ago called ‘Mad Diet: Easy Steps to Lose Weight and Cure Depression’ by Suzanne Lockhart. I remember really enjoying it at the time and am willing to try anything to get my health back on track.
I felt a lot better after having a falafel wrap with all of my five a day on the dish. I precisely measure out 80g of vegetables so that I know I am eating a portion. I was able to try the banana ketchup as well!
I also felt better after speaking to my Dad and Step mum. My Dad’s speech still isn’t the same nearly a year after his stroke, but we just keep holding on and enjoying each improvement and development.
Friday! I was in a bit of a bind over my work in the morning but had a pep talk from my flatmate and was able to get more work done in the afternoon.
At lunchtime, I wrote my Grandpa a quick card and then also went and posted a card with £20 in it for my niece who turns 11 on Monday. I was quite lucky in that I thought I was going to have to go to the cash machine first but my flatmate had £20 in his wallet which he was eager to get rid of as he never uses cash. I took that and transferred him the money from my bank account into his. I also added 69p for the card as I used the one, he bought in Home Bargains last Saturday before he found a better one for his mum. I went to post them on a little walk in the lovely November sunshine.
I had a leftover portion of the vegetable curry from Monday for lunch. I always feel good when I don’t end up wasting any food. It was getting pretty close with that curry. Any later and I probably would have had to have thrown it away.
I paid Lowri Morgan for her book today as well. £14.50.
The flatmate and I were having wedges and vegetables for dinner. I was having mine with salmon and he was having vegetable fingers.
Friday is a drinking day for me so I had my first drink of the week. I had gin and tonic. My football team Bristol City were on TV playing a game on Sky Sports which my flatmate had bought a week’s pass for so that was rather enjoyable. All in all, a good end of the week.
I woke up late as I had to get ready for a Good Gym mission on the other side of town. I had planned to run there, then chickened out as my knee was hurting in the morning, but in the end, I ran the last 2km of the distance as otherwise, I would be late. I arrived just on time but was the last Good Gym person to arrive. I am usually fanatical about being early for things but getting up early has become bad for me so I am often the last to arrive for a Good Gym mission and I’m really eager to tackle this as I don’t want to get a reputation!
On this occasion, we ended up having to wait for the mission set up to be ready. We were dishing up food that the charity donates to vulnerable residents and then helped with the clean up afterward. I used to be a kitchen porter so have great experience in cleaning huge pots and pans. You never know when your early life skills are going to come in handy.
The organisers gifted us with some leftover food, so I came away with four portions of pasta meals. This did mean I couldn’t run back as I had wanted to, but that is a small price to pay for free pasta.
Back at home, it was really hard for me to say where the day went. I read some of a kindle book, I completed a level on Duolingo, I tidied up, I changed my bedsheets, put on a wash load, hoovered my room, and put away the dry clothes so it wasn’t like I was totally unproductive. It just felt like I could have achieved more.
The flatmate and I then ran to the shops, though the distance was less than 1km so nothing to get excited about. We bought a vegan BBQ pizza, milk, Actimel drinks, green tea, another pizza, a fun-size Twix multipack bag, a fun-size Mars bar multipack bag, two multipacks of Double Decker’s, Oreo cookies, bread, cucumber, two cauliflowers, avocados, broccoli, parsnip, bananas, and strawberries. The shopping came to £25.55. As with most of the food shopping we do at Tesco we had a bit of a discount for using our club card and getting ‘club card prices’ on certain products. We really fancied pizza for dinner, hence the trip to the shops.
I had a zoom drinking session in the evening with four friends from work and I had been chilling a bottle of prosecco for a couple of days in anticipation. I was in a very celebratory mood, especially after recent events in the news today. I got very tipsy indeed. After the zoom drinks, I went downstairs to hang out with my flatmate for a little bit listening to some music. I went to bed very happy.
My flatmate said that in his family’s WhatsApp group for Christmas present ideas, his sister had requested a 24 pack of toilet paper from the same company we get ours from. This prompted me to check our supplies of toilet paper and facial tissues and I decided to spring for an order. I bought a 24 pack of the premium make of the company’s toilet paper as well as a 14 pack of the facial tissue. This came to £40.
I watched one of my favourite films ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’ and just pottered about the flat. I couldn’t really seem to settle down to anything and was getting frustrated about the day running away from me.
After much inner turmoil over the best way to spend my day, I eventually went for a short run after 3pm.
When I got back, I chatted with a couple of my brothers on WhatsApp whilst drinking a beer. I then did my Duolingo lessons and finally completed a really difficult section. I then watched ‘The Princess Bride’ whilst my flatmate made dinner.
I feel it is fair to declare that this week is over for spending. The wallet is closed!
FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £153.64 (MY HALF £76.82)
PERSONAL SHOPPING = £52.33
COUNSELLING SESSION = £35
TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £164.15