the skinflint philosopher

Thrifting your way to a better life


2 Comments

Moving day….

It’s all been a little bit hectic here the last week as you can imagine. Not only packing up and getting ready to go, but fond farewells to good friends, and last visits to favourite places on the island.
All the furniture has gone so we have been camping out in the bedrooms. Tiddler tells everyone she meets we are going on an adventure, and rolls up to sleep on her cushion makeshift bed as if she was a many seasoned backswoodsman.
Many, many things to post- but no time.  I’ll try and catch up once we get down to the Westcountry, which is our stop gap for a few weeks while we visit my parents before we head off on the road trip to Bulgaria. Cutting close to the line, today on our way to the ferry I’m calling in to hand back this laptop to my former place of work, so please bear with me if it takes a little while to get back up and running with posts. Bon voyage Thrifter, Digger and Tiddler!


3 Comments

Wedding Belle

Despite all my apprehension, Tiddler was an absolute star on Saturday at our friends marriage ceremony and celebrations. She wore the dress. She wore the shoes. She carried the little wandy thing and the flowers. She allowed people who didn’t know she was clearly dressed up in a king’s costume, to describe her a flower girl without any ill effect. She danced with the bride and groom, and made friends with the other little children. She held hands with the bride and groom while they said their vows.  She ‘might’ have looked a bit stroppy in a few of the photos, but it was beautifully sunny and the atrium space where many of the photos were taken was indeed making most of us a little hot and bothered. We can’t be perfect all of the time, but she certainly made her very best attempt.

.20638905_10159101311680207_5113790107267010165_n.jpg

This skinflinting post is not really about the wedding, but about one of the gifts we gave. The bride and groom chose not to have a set gift list, which means far more flexibility, but also far greater dilemmas over what would be suitable to give them to commemorate the day. We knew that hedgehogs are a sort of theme for our bride and groom, so we decided to create a thrifty, personal, and hopefully significant token from us to them.
This is how it pans out.

<text message> Digger, have you packed all the super glue off to my parent’s house or is there still some here?
<text reply> There should be some in that black tool box in the shed I think
<second text to me> What do you need superglue for? (I can ‘hear’ the suspicion in his text)
<text message> Just got a brilliant idea for a wedding present. Is it the red one?
<reply> no that’s araldite. It’s little tubes probably underneath. Remember what happened last time?  (uh-oh, here it comes)
<reply> I don’t want you sticking your fingers together like last time. Wait till I come home.

Now that makes me sound completely incapable. Which is most definitely not true. Just perhaps with superglue. He is right I do have a poor record on that front.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, and having rummaged around the craft junk box I had held on to for the last few days thinking it would keep Tiddler occupied, and then waited till Mr Superglue was home to supervise, we came up with the following.

Photo on 04-08-2017 at 20.42 #2

Photo on 04-08-2017 at 22.31 #2.jpgPhoto on 04-08-2017 at 22.31 #3.jpg

Note the superglue in the backdrop of this picture- safely away from me I hasten to add. I still felt it needed a last finish touch, just so we know which one is the bride.

Photo on 04-08-2017 at 22.41.jpg

Cost to me on the day- the tube of glue. All the rest were scrap and bits we had around the house anyway.

Verdict from the bride and groom? Thumbs up.

 


2 Comments

Tidy house, tidy mind?

Seven days left until we leave the island- myself, Digger, Tiddler and a loaded up car of our final possessions. The house is currently deceptively full of things, because we have no cupboards, chests of drawers or storage units to put things in any more, and so our personal effects are like a shifting mass of tumbleweed that Tiddler moves from one room to another as the whim takes her. In reality, there is not much left here at all. The house is pleasantly empty.
‘Tidy house; tidy mind’ I tell Digger. ‘Do you feel an sort of unburdening because we don’t have stuff any more?’
‘We have stuff in abundance’ he says ‘it’s just all at your parent’s house’.
‘True’ I muse, ‘but this little taste of minimalism may be a good thing. To get us thinking about what we “actually” need? To get used to living with less before actually jettisoning off everything?’.
‘Maybe “empty house; empty mind” is also true then?’ he chuckles. ‘let me look in your earhole and see if I can see out the other side’.

ed3a17407698c590171b55e78959d2cf--empty-quotes-feeling-quotes-empty

Once Digger had recovered from the withering look I sent him, we talked about how even with the worry and fraught feelings of this move, in reality we felt so much more stress free than a few weeks before. The removal of ourselves from the working environments in recent weeks (though Digger is still eking out every hour this week to bring in the last pennies either of us my earn for a while- but this time working for someone else so the responsibility and organisation is no longer his) has made a remarkable difference. I felt I had been a bit like Atlas, labouring under a heavy load for so long, it was only once it was gone I realised what it felt like to be without it.

MR8e5370

bb448b07fa3171fc8d0c23be538d670d--decorating-small-houses-home-decor-quotes
On top of that, despite my initial worries, we have sold over the last few days most of the remaining bits of furniture we own. I may even have to ask the village church if they can lend me a few chairs so we can sit round the 1930’s oak table (the one thing that steadfastly will not sell) in order that we are not eating off the floor.
My little desk has gone to a lady who wants to use it for a sewing machine, and keep all her threads and buttons in the little secret compartments.
The tumble dryer has been picked up by two Sri Lankan brothers who have just moved to the island.
The swivel chair is being picked up by someone who gets out of hospital tomorrow, and thinks it will help her with her movements.
The storage units, a wicker basket and a christmas cactus I gave away for free to an ex-student of mine who has just moving into her own little flat and starts her first accounting job the day we leave the island.

All of our little items, that we either didn’t need or couldn’t take with us, are going on to be part of someone else’s story.
I kind of like that feeling.

2ec5d80b27e190de49117bbb5897f1ae--foot-quotes-place-quotes

 


Leave a comment

Sails, gales and sales

So turns out Digger had a very bumpy sea crossing yesterday, and then after arriving at my parent’s at ten minutes before 1am after driving all evening, couldn’t get my mother to hear her mobile which she had taken up to bed (and actually switched on for a change) in order to come down and let him in. Problem eventually resolved once she’d worked out how to answer it. My mother and technology is a bit water and oil-  she would likely be thrown off a ‘silver surfer’ course as bringing it a bad name.
All of which meant Digger was quite happy to have a lie in this morning and no rush with the unloading. It was raining heavily anyway. Then the rain continued. Then continued a bit more. He started twiddling his thumbs. He started to worry that he wouldn’t be able to get it unloaded in the torrential downpours, that were gushing down my parent’s steep driveway. He started calculating the silly-o’clock time he would have to get up tomorrow morning to unload before setting off on the journey back up to the ferry. Thankfully, matter all now resolved, weather cleared, boxes and behemoths unloaded and stored, and now down the pub for a well earned pint with my dad.

I have been busy too- Tiddler and I swam and then went to play with her best friend E. He had a whole houseful of toys to share after the very sparse conditions in our house at the moment on the toy front.
In between this gadding about, I managed to sell online today the following items that didn’t meet the grade to fit on the van yesterday (i.e. were not a power tool or an unidentified metal item), and the first set of pictures below have already been paid for and collected! Not their real monetary value mind you, but enough to buy the roof bars for Digger’s ladders.

 

Also in the pipeline are sales on these, which are due to be collected at the weekend.

 

No interest as yet in these below though 😦

So what is value? The financial value of an item is surely in the eye of the beholder, whether for a artwork masterpiece or a second hand furniture-selling Thrifter. Better a pound or two in my pocket right now is my logic, than me having to dump these at the tip and get nothing for them at all. Things I love, and have put up for a crazily low price for what it is, such as my desk and the leather chair, and the 1930’s oak dining table, simply have not garnered any comment. Other items of tat, such as the used kitchen red plastic dustbin, have sold for not much less than their price brand new.
Each to their own I suppose.

 


3 Comments

Movin’ on up

The proverbial ‘they’ do say that the three most stressful things are weddings, a new baby and moving house. We are nearly-sort-of-not-quite hitting all three this week- so you can see why it has taken me a bit of jiggery pokery to get sat down in front of this keyboard at all recently.
Let me clarify- no new baby, though Tiddler still requires oodles of attention that means it is quite hard to pack up and move off an island while simultaneously playing ‘the monster game’ (don’t ask, please!) and taking back all the pet snails out of the house. Again.
Wedding bells are also on the horizon this weekend, when Tiddler will make her flower girl debut, and Digger and I are to be the witnesses for the signing of the register. Tiddler of course thinks she is dressing up as a King for the ceremony, as it is the only way we could persuade her to don the outfit. Well, purple is a regal colour I tell myself to dispel the guilt. And some of them did wear some glittery flowery footwear too you know- I did take in a little bit of Versailles on the good old BBC. I’m just hoping Tiddler doesn’t think her snails need to accompany this particular flower girl outing.

20504010_10159183222300370_1748386633_n.jpg
But all this clearly pales into comparison in the stress stakes with the ‘van pack’.  Our long convoluted getting-of-the-island has been going on so long with a box packed here, a car boot there, another long telephone call with a government worker who can’t understand why our island doesn’t have the same rules as the rest of the UK (or heaven forbid, hasn’t actually heard of us! Quelle horreur). However, D-day for us today, in terms of decision day. Turns out Digger has far more ‘essential’ tools, boxes of small metal items, and general mahoosive machinery than I could shake a stick at. What is this monstrosity that appeared like a behemoth on my lawn last night and is apparently coming with us?

Photo on 31-07-2017 at 19.37 #2
Hang on wait, there’s another part to it?

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 09.14 #2
Folks, I’m not going to lie, there have been a few tears today. The self drive option- while cost-efficient compared to the extortionate charge that the ferry and freight were wanting to stitch us up with- sounds good in thrifty principle, but has it’s own stresses. All three of us were at the hire place at 8am, to drop off Digger. Digger returns with van. Digger loads said behemoth. Digger fits everything around it like a precarious wedged balancing act. I have seen more air space in a Jenga game. My mother telephones to advise us she has cleared out a shed but doesn’t have much storage room at the moment so she hopes we are packing light. I don’t tell her about what he is putting in there, though observe a fully fledged petrol lawn mower and what must be a tonne of metal toolage if the suspension on the van is anything to go by. I ponder where the tumble drier will go. And the bookcases that Digger made. And the quirky wooden desk I’m in the middle of restoring. And some other things…..

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 09.15.jpg

We double check the ticket for the last check-in time for the ferry. We take some things out and attempt to repack, but as aforementioned, he has things rammed in there tighter than a gnat’s proverbial. There is a grim realisation that not everything will fit. It is too late to unload and take out the few things I could do without. Instead I am going to have to leave behind the furniture that I wanted.

Because of our friend’s wedding, we had always intended to stay another fortnight on the island. We had been advertising- and successfully sold- the beds and some other large pieces of furniture in advance, and folks were kind enough to pay in advance and then pick them up a couple of days before we go. Now I have a fortnight to try and sell everything else too. If it doesn’t sell, I have to dump it. Hence the tears. Not a bawling lamentation on the driveway, but rather a sorrow that these things that have been a part of our home will soon be gone, and possibly gone for nothing or just a tiny fraction that is their true and useful value to us. Digger as is his want, philosophises that with his tools he can make replacement furniture for us when we need it. That is not helpful when I’ve just seen him load up another crate of undistinguishable wiring and pointy bits while my desk stands forlornly in the yard.

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 15.46.jpg

So now, by the time I sit down to write this, Digger has done his three hour ferry crossing, and faced the crazy rush hour docks, and hopefully is halfway down to the Westcountry where I am crossing my fingers my mother has underestimated how much storage space she has (she hasn’t seen his van packing skills after all). Digger’s aluminium ladders sit just as forlornly behind the shed as they too were jettisoned in the final cull. I am under instructions to google roof bars to see if we can bring the ladders down on the car when we all travel on the 15th. I’m also posting pictures and descriptions of my furniture on facebook selling sites. It is mostly old and battered, well-loved pieces. I’m not holding out much hope.

Tiddler has not yet noticed the absence of toys, and has enjoying playing with empty cardboard boxes and bubble wrap. She sleeps now, tired out by the different rhythms of the day. The house without Digger, and all those boxes we have lived cheek by jowl with for weeks, is echoing. There is a lonely melancholy here tonight.

So I am searching for some meaningful quotes and this pops up courtesy of pinterest.
da29ca0a8b272e108775dd015573295e

Digger, Tiddler and I are very fortunate, in that we could be the little green bubble ourselves. It would, and no doubt will be hard, as we venture off into unchartered territories for us, but as I shed a small tear over my tumble drier, I have to take the bigger picture into account.
Digger has worked hard to amass his tools of the trade, and there is of course comfort and security in that, but he can take his skills in his hands and his brain wherever he goes. My profession is my knowledge and interaction with students.
Right now we are healthy, with savings, and family in three countries who will support us if needed wherever we choose as a permanent base in the future. We have a lot to grateful for.

And if I’m feeling really miserable, I know for sure one thing I definitely don’t need any more to cheer myself up. Snails.

19989516_10158971638590207_5026997935013320470_n.jpeg


2 Comments

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.
Die-fünf-Kleshas.jpg

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.

communication_smoke_signals__vasco_gargalo.jpg

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!

 


Leave a comment

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.