the skinflint philosopher

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

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Slip sliding away….

…the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.

That’s how it’s been feeling around here the last few weeks. We now have our final days on the island decided, as the ferry crossings are all booked. There is the 1st August return sailing for Digger and hired van to take our (somewhat minimalised, but I fear there is still work that needs to be done!) possessions down to the Westcountry to store at my parents, and the 14th August for car + two adult + one infant, what will be a one way sailing. Laughably, we have actually booked a return for the 14th, as in the infinite wisdom of the ferry company pricing procedures, a return is actually cheaper than the single. I can’t understand the logic, but the skinflinter in me had no hesitation deciding which option to click.

Digger and Tiddler had some quality time last Saturday while I loaded up the car and did a final car boot sale. Digger has been grumbling for weeks that the boxes where cluttering up ‘his’ sheds, and preventing him finding things. For a not very busy day, we made £92 which I was pretty pleased with given that most of the things were rejects from the previous car boot, and I was selling most items in large rummage boxes for 25p or 50p each. I also made £15 for a neighbour who had given me a couple of items of clothing to sell for her, and she gave me £5 back for my trouble. Tiddler and Digger turned up halfway through to man (and toddle) the stall so I could nip off to spend a proverbial penny, and found in the meantime Tiddler had conned the next door stallholder into giving her a freebie. This was a rubbery stretchy orange dragon that makes me feel slightly queasy when I touch it. Tiddler of course thinks it is fantastical and her new ‘best-favourite’. All in all then, a financially successful (and making Digger happy) kind of day, only marred slightly by the new reptilian addition to the family.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time online, investigating further details with tax and residency and car insurance issues. Our island’s slightly unclear categorisation of status for such things makes this all a bit complicated. There never seems to be a drop down menu that applies to us, yet as we are not actually part of the UK, and herein lies the problem, as trying to get a straight answer as to whether this policy or that law is valid for where we are now, where we will be, and facilitating the transition between the two, is simply making my head spin. We’re workin’ our jobs, collectin’ our pay, believe we’re gliding down the highway.

Digger has taken a hit as his own van has some ‘computer says no’  (UK TV reference, sorry to everyone else. Maybe think a little bit like Marvin if that helps?) issues going on. He bemoans the days when he could poke around with a screwdriver, or hit things with a hammer to fix them.  Now some unspecified electrical self diagnosis means his van has been in the garage twice and a mate’s-rates mechanic has been out to the house to look at it too. This is all a few weeks before he was planning on putting it up for sale. Cost to fix as yet unidentified, as is the actual problem.  You know the nearer your destination the more your slip slidin’ away.

Tiddler herself has being accidentally thrifty. In getting out all her old clothes to pass on to a friend for future use, we discovered that a lot of old leggings and trousers that I had deemed too small are now getting a bit of a frugal revival. As she no longer wears a nappy there is more room in the bum department, and she continues to slim down from her previous roly-poly baby status, so what were once full length trousers can now be worn as pedal pushers. A few that were tight around the calves, or had worn thin in the knees I have simply cut off and made legging shorts, as the material doesn’t fray.

On my part-time hours, I now only have nine working days left. It is a very surreal situation to be in, attending meetings to discuss plans of actions for everyone else for the next academic year, or to be preparing students for classes I won’t be taking. I have a gifted bottle of Prosecco that I have been saving for Digger and I to share after that last day. Digger’s business should in theory be handed over officially this week, but he doubts that it will smoothly transition.
This means of course that I shall have three clear weeks after finishing work before we finally leave. In that time we have to pack everything up, try and sell some large pieces of furniture we cannot take, clear the house, attend a wedding, trick Tiddler in wanting to dress like a flower girl for the day when she’d much rather race down the aisle as a viking, or a pirate, or a dragon.

And a hundred and one other things to fit in and sort out too.  Seven weeks and counting.



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Sleep doesn’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired

Ah, that wistful, dreamy Land of Nod. So how much sleep do we actually need? By mine and Digger’s reckoning it’s usually ‘just another five minutes please’ in a bleary pleading tone as Tiddler decides resting is all far too boring and it is actually high time she brought all her teddies in for approval, then sits on our heads, then pulls the warm duvet off us to giggles of laughter (from her) and steadfast resistance from us. It is a bed-ridden tug-of war.

This week, like a child possessed with an imaginary alarm clock, she has timed my week off work to coincide with a phase of  her circadian rhythms going haywire. Never fear, we haven’t had bedtime trauma and tears, but rather she has lain in bed for around two hours after normal goodnight, chuntering to herself and the motley crew of cuddly animals, and if you dare to poke you head around her bedroom door she then expects another five minutes of hand holding and telling me I am her ‘best-favourite’ (not yet three and already canny to a spot of currying favour) before I can escape again. Despite this, she is then up with the proverbial larks. My other mumsy friends are still enjoying toddlers who not only sleep for a good twelve hours at night but still nap off for two hours in the afternoon. Tiddler clearly hasn’t taken that memo on board, and seems perfectly fine on her reduced sleep.

Meanwhile, Digger and I are crossing swords over who is snoring, who stole the duvet, who pinned the duvet down and nearly garrotted the other one, who is sticking their leg out over on the other side, who is too hot, who is still using a hot water bottle even though it is June (#islandlife), who is flapping the duvet too much when they turn over and letting the cold air in. Imagine this going on for a few hours until we finally succumb to utter fatigue and fall into a deep dreamless state of nothingness that lasts for approximately thirty minutes until Tiddler decides our heads are the comfiest pillow to bounce up and down on. There were three in the bed and the little one said, roll over, roll over! You get the picture I’m sure. I finally understand the concept of rugby player’s cauliflower ears.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying ‘sleep is the best meditation’,  and I like this one too by E. Joseph Cossman, ‘The best bridge between hope and despair is a good night’s sleep’.
There is so much research into sleep, from the effects of deprivation and how that influences cognitive skills and memory let alone the physical toll on cell regeneration and the like, and also positive gain such as firing up brain activity by forming pathways in neurones while you dream away. So much more is yet unknown. The classical philosophical takes include Decartes, he of ‘I think therefore I am’ sort of concluding that each sleep is like a little death, and far more other things to consider can be found here.

To cut our long story short, as part of our minimalist/let’s-get-rid -of stuff-because-we- can’t-take-it-to-Bulgaria-with-us-anyway drive, we have mutually reached a decision to sell our double bed. And when we purchase again in future, we are going to throw thrifty skinflintery to the wind and get a king size instead. You can’t put a value on a good night’s sleep.







Calling all travellers….

Digger and I have tried to sit down recently and come up with ‘some sort of plan’ for our overland travel – we are thinking France, Italy, Greece- to take us and our paired-down possessions to Bulgaria this September. We definitely don’t want to travel for more than a couple of hours a day, as Tiddler will go on strike if we keep her in the car seat too long. She is after all used to #islandlife, where nowhere is really more than a thirty minute drive, and anywhere further than that, well those are the back of beyond parts of the island just for the ‘locals’. Even we only go there on special occasions and then usually under duress, and possibly wishing you had a phrasebook.

Not being experienced European travellers we don’t really know where to start,  so I’m here doing a shout out for some suggestions please. We will probably be starting off by waving goodbye to Blighty and driving off the ferry in Le Harve or St. Malo.
From there- where shall we go? What shouldn’t we miss? What should we miss? Any advice, or things we should know? Travel ideas on a shoestring? All ideas/suggestions/travel horror stories welcome! Thank you!