the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!

Leave a comment

My fondant brings all the bees to the yard

I tell you, it’s all getting serious down at the beekeeping course this week. There was a flurry of pens out, jotting down fondant and sugar syrup cocktail recipes. One part this to two parts that. Shaken, but not stirred. If bees ever went on, I think the quality of the fondant might be one of the essential criteria.

Truthfully, the latest bit of learning was regarding a typical beekeeping year. When and how to extract honey, without leaving insufficient food for the wintering. How to decide if the colony has honey reserves, (by intuitive feeling of the hives heaviness apparently), and when to dose them up with fondant to eke out the famine months. When to not collect heather honey (viscous jelly mess) and let them sup on ivy instead. When to not disturb the bees for months, and when to check every 10 days. How to keep a mouse out, or deter a determined woodpecker. How to stop wasps stealing your honey. How to stop the bees swarming, and how to get them back if they do.

Here was me thinking I was pretty up to speed with caring for a small, vulnerable, slightly fuzzy little creature (Tiddler). Bee husbandry is looking increasingly like a whole new ball game. I may be beginning to loosen the old apron strings from Tiddler, but think I might be stepping, nay jumping, into a ‘baby replacement’ situation if I am to nurture a successful hive once we get settled in Bulgaria. I wonder if you can ring up an Apis version of a health visitor to come and offer advice and fill in a little red book. Yes, weight, length, head size, ability to latch on etc., but for the bees. Sounds good to me.




1 Comment

Crocodile hunting

Tiddler and I peered out the window this morning. Tiddler looked very glum. “It’s rainy Mama. And foggy! Naughty fog!”
“Why is the fog naughty?”
“It’s got crocodiles in it” ( bearing in mind we are in a temperate climate in the British Isles, the likelihood of finding crocodiles wandering around in this particular section of modest back gardens is most definitely on the slim side).
“Has it?”
“Oh yeah, big ones with sharp teeth that go RRRRAAAAHHHH”

And so, given that Digger took an unexpected Saturday away from work, the three of us got down to a frugal morning’s entertainment of crocodile craft. Tiddler, in between wearing a crown on her head and dictating to Digger that he had to wear a pair of fairy wings, set to with the green paint. Thrifter planned and cut up the egg boxes. Digger supervised the teeth and the pond.

2 egg boxes (from our friendly honesty box egg shed down the road)
1 piece green card
green paint/red paint/blue paint
green ribbon,to hinge it all together, salvaged from a chocolate box at Christmas
Black and white card
Googly eyes, again re-purposed from a different craft activity from a playgroup

Cost:  Apart from the glue that had been bought previously, £0 and 0p.

Verdict. I’m not sure who was happier in their work – Tiddler or Digger. Creative play, art therapy, craft, imagination….. and all for free.
Apparently she wants us to make a Tiger tomorrow. I certainly hope I’m not going to bump into one of them prowling across the lawn in the morning.


Waiting for the teeth to dry


Aerial photography of the lake


Get in my belly!


Any suggestions please of other animals (and materials for them)  that would be easy to add to our menagerie?






20 penny pinching purchases

As you know, our general policy is one of ‘not spending’ (on our crusade to both stop working this summer for a year or two for our grown up ‘gap year’), so I don’t often get to celebrate the frugal purchases I’ve made, as on the whole, I haven’t actually brought anything new into the house.

I spend regularly (I’ve checked my bank statement to be sure I’m not missing anything) on rent, electricity, gas, wifi, phone credit, childcare, car and petrol, union membership, food/drink, and swimming, and anything else is a bit of a treat. A few pound here and there for activities out for Tiddler, this month a posh tea and cake out with the other mums for some ‘me-time’, a couple of birthday gifts and the rest goes into the savings pot.

So sorry if the title of this post is a little misleading, as I’ve not bought 20 things, but rather I bought some things this week for 20p (or less). For my dear readers across the pond, that’s roughly 33 cents.

Here goes:


I’m pretty sure this is my first item of clothing I have purchased for myself since I was buying maternity clothes (approx 3 years ago). This photo doesn’t do it justice- it is the most beautiful vivid peacock blue. I feel I’ve jumped into some surreal Mediterranean alternative life when I put it on. Second hand and a cost to me of 20p, as it was purchased at a ‘pop-up’ shop in our village raising funds for a cancer charity.


Also from the pop-up shop and so 20p each, the beginnings of Tiddler’s rock star lifestyle- an inflatable chair and guitar. Ironically I was hoping the guitar was broken and for my 20p it wouldn’t actually work and she could just use it for dressing up, but turns out with a couple of batteries it is as good as new and we have now been introduced to all manner of random rhythm and beat tracks while she waltzes around the front room.  This has therefore been added to her rather eclectic basket of musical toys that have found their way to us.


Neither Digger or I can claim to be particularly musical, but the benefits of song and sound, music and rhythm on children is well documented,whether you believe in the specific ‘ Mozart effect’ or not, and therefore definitely money well spent (or not spent very much at all in our case). Be it relaxation, social skills, or even balance, agility and the fine wirings of the brain, I’ll be sure to remember that as I listen to the high volume dulcet tones being hammered out from that pink plastic guitar. Those little old-ladies at the pop-up shop saw me coming that was for sure. They looked so innocent.


On the ‘free’ list of new things this week is a changeable calendar for Tiddler, to start thinking about weeks, months, weather (basically rain and wind every day so far- not sure quite when I’m going to be able to use the sunshine logo) which was a free print off  from the internet. We then put together some yesterday/today/tomorrow cards for points relevant to us. Again, I’m not so great in the ‘crafting’ area, so please look away if you are easily shocked all you real art and crafters out there, but it does the trick for us.

Photo on 09-02-2017 at 15.20 #3.jpg

Tiddler themed again I’m afraid, but an old sheet and a clothes stand have become a major asset in the sense of general well-being for the entire family. Let me introduce you to Tiddler’s fantastically floral toilet tent. A little bit of privacy, the ability to sit and read a book with the ‘door’ pegged closed if she wishes, her selection of marbles to drop into her ‘rattle’ tin every time she is successful- this freebie creation has done wonders.

Anyone else had some real bargain or free things this month?

Leave a comment

The parking ticket fairy and other mythical creatures

Something a bit weird is going on. I think I have bonafide proof (note to self, must contact The Onion) that frugal fairies are popping up all over the place.

Tiddler and I regularly swim, and we make a point of parking on the prom (free parking) and walking the short distance to the swimming pool. It means, as any parent of a small child will know carrying my stuff (swimming costume, purse, phone) and Tiddler’s stuff (swimming costume, swim nappy, spare swim nappy, arm bands, plastic teapot and cups, floaty balls, a water thingy play thing, pint-sized towel, spare hairband, lunch box, water, change of clothes, wet wipes, spare fleece, hat….) up the hill and back, but we save a pound each time so we do it.

The weather has been against us throughout the month of January, with regular Irish Sea squalls and gale force horizontal rain whipping in at us from the bay, and seeing as walking on the prom in those conditions is a little bit akin to George Clooney hanging on to the mast in The Perfect Storm,  last week I decided to ‘cast caution to the wind’ and park at the pool itself. Dutifully, I battled the elements to the pay and display machine, pound coin clutched in my miserly grip and poised over the slot, to suddenly spot a white flapping thing in the dispenser. Is this a dagger I see before me? No, it’s a parking ticket. For that day. Paid about a half hour previously, so still valid for the length of time I need for the swim. Dear reader, what would you do?

Following my bonus free parking, imagine my surprise today when I find exactly the same scenario. Is this a wetter version of Groundhog day? So the two times I have parked in the carpark, I get free tickets. Again, no-one around, ticket in slot, ample time for my swim. Digger suggests someone has forgotten to pick it up. Twice? He also suggests on the mainland (UK) car parking is ticketless, leading to the baffling need to recall your number plate to tap into the machine. But this doesn’t sound right either, as the machine here doesn’t ask for that info, and clearly states with a big green arrow, ‘collect ticket here’. No, I think this is indisputable evidence that the Oh God of Skinflintedness has seen fit to create a parking ticket fairy.

I’m hoping that the Buy one get one free Bogeyman, the Car tax Centaur and the Phone bill Pegasus are on their way soon.


Image taken straight off the internet: really for car sales but suited this blog post I think:)