the skinflint philosopher

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


So long, and thanks for all the pish

In a rather self generated anti-climax, I have just finished my last day of work. Having tallied up the numbers, it turns out I have spent over a quarter of my life working there. It also means that I have spent three quarters of my life attending school- either as a teacher or as a student myself. Given that I am not yet forty, that should be, by bonafide socially-aware folk, either a little bit inspirational, or emotional, or at the very least duly noted.
However, I managed to cunningly avoid most of the folderol through a combination of techniques including ‘hiding’ in my office during breaks, actually continuing to do my job during the day rather than dithering about in the staffroom, and finally scarpering off home promptly on the final bell rather than go to the drinks and speeches at the official ‘do’ for fellow leavers and retirees.
Am I an immensely ungrateful person I wondered to myself? Or am I just anti ‘fuss’? I found the thought of it all a little overwhelming, and felt happier making my own arrangements for the next few weeks with the colleagues and friends I know more personally, and fully intend to keep in touch with.  I googled Atelophobia and Katagelophobia, and while those are the extreme, I think I felt a little bit on the weak end of that spectrum about this.

Dear readers will know of my visit to Iceland in the spring, see the post here,  which resulted in a thank you gift of a bottle of Prosecco from a student. I had been storing this away as had decided this was going to be my treat to myself on my last day. Digger however, had clearly forgotten that memo and took himself off moonlighting as a night-time office cleaner to help out a short-staffed friend (every penny counts in this run up to cessation of paid employment), so having shunned the staff party in the end I had a quiet night in with Tiddler tucked up in bed, a mug of hot chocolate, and a good book. Not necessarily everyone’s idea of painting the town red, but I felt quietly content in my own little way. (Digger and I shared the bottle of Prosecco the following night by the way with a home-cooked ‘date night’ meal, so it wasn’t all bad!)

This led me to spending a bit of time thinking and philosophising about goodbyes. Who are the goodbyes for? The one who is leaving, or the ones staying behind? Ancient yogis following Sanskrit texts uphold the notion of abhinivesah, or ‘clinging to life’, which also looks at the concept that holding on to things- people, places, the status quo- can actually cause more pain and sorrow than the short, sharp sadness of a goodbye. After all, with a goodbye, or closure, it means also the opening up to fresh, new things. A rejuvenation of sorts.

I also thought about JD Salinger’s words in Catcher in the Rye-“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”  A similar sort of idea I suppose, in a ‘West’ meets ‘East’ kind of way.


That being said of course, as a result of the great technological advancement of our world, things are different. It is not the pilgrim fathers sailing of in the Mayflower, doubting whether they would ever see, or even hear news of their families again. It is not the loaf-stealing convict children heading off to Bot’ny Bay.  I won’t need to be sending rolled up message on the feet of pigeons, or messages in bottles, or signal tower clacks and semaphore messages to keep in touch. I won’t need to be looking out for smoke signals to translate the news from back home.  It will simply make me more distant, and ties more loose. Some friendships will no doubt fall by the wayside, through nothing more that passivity and thwarted intentions from either my side or theirs. Others will endure, wherever we go and whatever we do.
Is it adieu, or au revoir? Hopefully a simple case of Mañana Hakuna Matata!


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Arrr me hearties (part 2)

Progress on the pirate/viking boat was nearly abandoned after Tiddler and friends spent an afternoon playing in it and I thought it was going to simply be salvage. However we did manage to heave to and get it all back (semi) shipshape. Still needs more work but is turning out to be a very entertaining,long term, and most of all free project, that has provided a lot of creative play and ingenuity! We are not claiming for this to be up there with the finer arts and crafts of pinterest projects- just us having fun.

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A rose by any other name, would smell so cheap

Digger, a man who takes after my own skinflinting heart is, to be brutally honest, not very great in the romance stakes. He quite rightly knows if he turned up with the somewhat ‘traditional’ gifts of chocolates, perfume or lingerie, I would quite probably ask him how much it was and whether he still had the receipt. If asked to say something deep and meaningful he always wrangles his way out of it by using the excuse “my English isn’t good enough for that” which is a complete fib and were he Pinocchio then his nose would almost reach to Bulgaria by now on it’s own accord.

What Digger is pretty good at however, is a little bit of thrifty relocation-ing . At this time of year, many of his customers are away for long periods, and he sees the literal and metaphorical fruits of his and their labour fall dead and rotting to the ground. Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if there is no one to hear it? Does a rose bloom and delight if there is no one there to smell it’s scent? Of course not, which is why it makes perfect sense to relocate those poor unloved blooms with absentees owners to me. No garage forecourt cellophane wrapped inconsequentials for me, oh no. I arrive home today to these.

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Romance is dead? Long live romance!

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“Arrrr, me hearties!” (part 1)

Ok so that may very well be a pirate catchphrase, but I not really sure what Vikings stereotypically shouted to each other. “Valhalla or bust?” perhaps? Another rainy afternoon sees Tiddler and I throwing caution to the wind and chopping up one of our large boxes we had collected for packing to create a viking longboat.

Tiddler had spent the morning pond dipping with a ginormous green net at a lovely glen to the south of the island, managing to dredge up some mayfly nymphs, larvae, and quite a few little shrimp-like creatures. Possibly shrimps.


The glen also boasts a play park, including a Victorian water powered carousel, and after Tiddler had spun around on the horses and the boats for a time, was quite adamant we had to make a boat when we got home. And as you dear readers know, Vikings and other such slightly vicious creatures are way higher than fairies and princesses in Tiddler’s pecking order of preferential role models.

So,  the first stages of the boat build begin. Obviously this suits our thrifty/ not buying anything new status at the moment before the big upheaval in a few weeks time.
Equipment so far: large box, tape, old broom handle, pillow case, silver foil (for viking shields).

We need to wait for a better day to take it outside to paint. Any preferences on a colour scheme or other things we should include on our model? Any thoughts on how we can improve it?

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