Frugal Living: DIY Your Life

Apparently, frugal living is a huge thing, yes it is my friends, all that wartime spirit of Make-Do-And-Mend is back with a vengeance. On Pinterest you can discover lovely little pictures of attractive little books by people who have written on thrifty living, and links to bloggers who write on their favourite subject and more.

Image result for make do and mend

There’s information about how you can make money including such ‘gems’ as crafting your own candles or wreaths and selling them at an open-air fayre in summer. There are ideas for ‘up-cycling’ old furniture. Then there are the suggestions for making accessories from other things. TV and radio shows giving hints and tips for so-called ‘small gardens’.

But hold on there a moment. You know what my problem with all this is? It isn’t really frugal living. It’s a trend that seems to be perpetuated by, either, white middle-class folk or those on a not too bad income in the first place.

I look at the photos and the finished products, read the process for making said items and discover that 9 times out of 10, something had to be purchased beforehand to disassemble and reassemble into it’s new ‘frugally inspired’ form. (Not to mention, some of the so-called arts and crafts are shit)

Many sites, blogs and books are directed at American readers. Now I have to say this before I charge ahead – Americans are extremely appreciative of home-made stuff, whether it’s food, clothing or crafts. They are mad about collecting coupons, and therefore get some great bargains. My friend went to live there about 15 years ago, and one of the first things she did was join a glass crafting class – for free! She made me little Christmas tree ornaments! What I gather from watching American TV shows and my one visit, is that Americans love to go to craft fairs or markets – what is a Pottery Barn?! buy local produce, support small local town events – not so the Brits.

We are suspicious, cynical and reserved – generally speaking. “What, she made it? Couldn’t she just go and buy one, it’d look much nicer?!” Suspicious. “Oh really? That’s a lovely idea!”(Whilst catching the eye of another person who accidentally found themselves at a craft fayre) Cynical. “Maybe next time.” Reserved.

Also, we simply do not have the weather in the UK for any of those day long, outdoor, hippy-inspired, retro craft fairs. As soon as your table is up, it pisses down.

When I look for something to help with my frugal life, picture me sitting with my arms crossed, looking like Ron Swanson not being amused by a cheap, untalented clown. I’m going to present a suggestion list for real frugal living. I’m talking about an income of £15,000 p.a(or less) – that’s 19,547.93 United States Dollars my American friends – for a family of 3.

Rules for frugal living in the UK – from someone who lives it


2. Get a plot on an allotment. If you work at it, you can grow enough crops to supply your family with fruit and veg from spring to Christmas.

3. Keep an eye out for skips. Yes I mean those ugly, yellow dumpsters outside of people’s homes where they pile what they don’t want – you might find something you can really renovate and utilise.

4. Don’t buy expensive paint when redecorating – buy cheap and add test pot colours to alter the shade. Additionally, you might find that your walls just need a wash with sugar soap.

5. Use the Freecycle Network. Give stuff and get stuff for free!

6. Charity shops – use them. Stop whining that you don’t want to wear jeans someone else has worn. You drink water someone else has already drunk and peed out again. Over and over. Besides, all charity shops wash or steam their clothes.

7. Learn DIY. At least one person in every household should be able to drive a nail into wood or a screw into the wall. Preferably both.

8. Always make a list when you go shopping, and stick to it. Lookout for offers – and do not get fooled by promotional campaigns; Buy One Get One Free does not always work out cheaper; read the cost per weight on the shelf price. Stop buying ready meals and pre-processed food. Fresh is best for your purse and your family’s health.

9. Get over the idea of always having new things and make stuff for friends and family for special occasions. Accept hand-made items from friends and family.


I think that should do it.

Related image
The Master – Ron Swanson in his workshop.

“Oh yes, I’m the great Procrastinator.”

I was going to write about how English words mean something else in other languages – like ‘kiss’ in Swedish means ‘pee’. But I went and did some laundry instead.

Then, I was going to write about the current political climate re- America and Syria. But I went and had a cigarette instead.

I thought about writing about how words in the English language have changed their meaning – did you know ‘nice’ originally meant the opposite of today’s meaning. But I ended up reading and replying to e-mails.

You see, I’m a procrastinator, of the first order!

It isn’t that I don’t have an idea, I have plenty of ideas, I write little notes everywhere, my dining room is an homage to Post-It notes and notebooks. I will wander about the house looking for something to do, or I spend an hour (or two or three!) on the Playstation. or suddenly, there is a huge amount of laundry to be done! I have always been like this; seemingly directionless, a self-accused lazy person.

However, I have since realized that this is not the negative non-activity I first believed it to be. I watched a TED talk given by Tim Urban, in which he explains, with amusing visuals, what a dire procrastinator he was/is;

and recognised many elements within myself. I also discovered that I belong to a, pretty awesome, group of individuals who are cast as procrastinators.

Victor Hugo – French writer Victor Hugo was apparently familiar with the muse of procrastination; preferring to do any and everything rather than focusing on his work. So how, I hear you ask, did he get busy again?  Well apparently, he would strip naked, have his servant take away his clothes and lock him in his study until he resumed work! Well, at least he wasn’t distracted by doing the laundry!


“It may look to the untrained eye [like]I’m sitting on my arse all day” (I Spy, PULP)


Saint Augustine – Who’d have thunk it! A saint! (I feel so much holier than thou now) Apparently, Augustine was dreadful at getting things done and could relapse into bouts of distraction at the drop of a hat.  He struggled to maintain his pious status all of the time and often relapsed into sin. His desire for sex often led him astray and over the years he forgot his holy path on more than one occasion. I know how he feels!!


“Dum de dum, people watching, so I’ll pretend to write..tum te tum…”


Leonardo Da Vinci –  Da Vinci completed some of the most famous works of art ever to have been created, but it turns out that he was not very focused.  Mona Lisa took 16 years to complete! Da Vinci was so renowned for his procrastination that one benefactor had to threaten him with bankruptcy to get him to finish a commissioned piece.Many of Da Vinci’s works remain unfinished.


You think you grow a beard like this without procrastinating?!


Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood apparently suffers from serious bouts of procrastination. She has had 14 novels, 9 short stories and 16 poetry books published, but, according to the author herself, her success is down to allowing herself to procrastinate for a few hours in the morning, and by the time she sits down to work mid-afternoon, she is finally able to focus.


The evil genius that is the procrastinator, mwah-ha-ha!


Douglas Adams –  was as legendary for his procrastination as he was for his one-liners. “I love deadlines,” he once quipped. “I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by.” According to his friend, Steve Meretzky, “Douglas has raised procrastination to an art form. Hitchhikers Guide would never have gotten done if I hadn’t gone over to England and virtually camped out on his doorstep.” Adams struggled mightily with the writing of his final novel, The Salmon of Doubt, and would soak for hours in a bathtub instead of getting on with it. He had been working on it for ten years and still hadn’t completed a first draft when he died of a heart attack in 2001. The fragments were published posthumously, but they are far from forming a coherent novel.


42? Whatever!


The Dalai Lama – A great spiritual leader who travels the world teaching about compassion as the source of happiness in life. But before Dalai-hood, he was a student who found it hard to get motivated. “Only in the face of a difficult challenge or an urgent deadline would I study and work without laziness,”. And now?  “You must not procrastinate,” he now teaches. “Rather you should make preparations so that even if you die tonight, you would have no regrets.”

Dalai Lama

Ha ha ha ha! You fools who work non-stop!


The Dalai Lama! I know! (he went and ruined it at the end when he talked about making preparations though.)

So, if you feel the guilt of the procrastinator, fear not, you’re we’re in good company. So forward procrastinators of the world! Let us hold our heads high, unfurl the banner without sigil and sound the horn and feel proud of what we are! We are (not quite) mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore – 1st Meeting of The Procrastinators – meet at the park next Friday at 7 pm – if you can be bothered – or maybe you have some laundry to do? We could postpone it until next month…


Dashie XP procrastinates good style – 







N.B: there is swearing in the above video, so if you’re sensitive to that kind of thing…well, what can I say?!


P.S: I will be starting a series of interviews in the coming weeks; keep a lookout! And if there are any creative types out there who wish to be included, just drop me a line. Ta ta for now.





The Ever-Expanding Arse, OR, Don’t Read This If…

By ‘Ever-Expanding Arse’, I do not mean the straw-headed, venomous, bigot who currently resides in the White House (Though you feel free to apply this if you want).

I mean MY arse (Yes, in the UK, we call our backsides arse, not ass, as the American way. An ass is a kind of donkey to us). As a writer, I spend a lot of time, and I mean A LOT, sitting on my arse. Sitting for long periods is not good for us, apparently, humans were not designed to sit around all day, with our bodies bent at angles, drinking tea (or coffee, or gin) and eating carbohydrates like there is no tomorrow.

You see, in my head I look like this…



But in reality, I’m more like this…



So this morning, I decided to take up my routine that I have neglected for about a year; and went for a brisk walk in the local park. By brisk walk, I actually mean a pain-inducing hotness in my right knee. I have put on quite a bit of weight since taking up this writing malarkey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not huge, or obese, but things do wobble, even when I’m stationary. Writers take note – Sitting for long periods only expands the buttocks, not the mind. A walk in the outdoors, fresh air, mobilisation of the limbs, can assist with brain function – go on, try it and see.

Which brings me onto my ‘OR’. Don’t Read This If… you like dogs!

In the park, especially in the mornings, there are always LOTS of dog walkers and their fluffy companions. I like dogs, I do. I would like to own one, but, I am not, I repeat NOT, prepared to pick up its crap; and neither, it seems, are many dog owners. There was so much dog crap lying around, you could have made a poo monument to dog walkers.

So, there I was, minding my own business, when I see two small dogs on the path ahead. Their owner or owners were chatting in a faecal enveloped aura many metres away. One of the dogs was a poodle (If there is one breed of dog I do dislike, it is the poodle), it stared at me, it tried to stare me down, really; but I was having none of it, besides I was wearing my sunglasses. When I refused to pet or even acknowledge it, the creature began trotting alongside and barking at me – its tail was not wagging readers! I put my hands in my pockets for fear it would take a woolly leap and snap them off. I strode past the owner with a ‘look’ on my face, she apologised, I know she did this because even though I had earphones in and The Kinks were filling my ears, I saw her mouth form the word ‘sorry’. Firm in my smug belief that she was an idiot, I continued without acknowledgement.

Then I remembered what a friend said to me, many moons ago, about poodles. “Have you ever noticed,” he said, “How the space between the front paws and the back paws are just the right size to fit your foot?” Visions of sparsely-furred poodles flying through goalposts came to mind. It brought a smile to my face. I continued on my limping, burning, wobbling way.

The moral of the story folks is; writers should take daily exercise and…no, it isn’t. There is no moral, I’m just a writer with an ever-expanding arse who can’t bear poodles, or Chihuahuas, or terriers.


Now there’s a pooch worth having






Indexing by

Early Spring Clean…

…or, How I Made a Mess Of Redesigning My Blog !



I decided to give my blog a new look; apparently that’s what you’re meant to do every once in a while. I read about ‘designing my brand’, ‘speaking to my readers’, and so forth. To be honest, I didn’t get most of it, if you’ve been following me a while, you will know I am a terrible technophobe, I find it excruciating.

Last night, I decided to have a look, just a look mind, of other layouts available. Somehow, I clicked on one and couldn’t undo the change! Such an idiot!

Then I ‘lost’ sections of text/pages, only to discover they had been shoved into a little drop-down menu at the top – no sir, I didn’t like that.

Short circuit in businessman head

This morning, I have been working my way through the Themes to see if I could find my original one, I thought I had, but it was only pretending to be, the layout was different. So eventually, I bit the bullet and took on board some of what I had read – at this point I have to tell you, regardless of whether I read or hear about ‘how to…’ do something IT related, it will NOT stay in my mind.

I have fumbled my way through theme after theme, wondering where on earth some of the stuff goes when the layout changes. Some of it just isn’t there anymore! WTF!?

So, it has taken me three hours to get this, what you see today – and I still cannot find the headings I had set up on previous layout!!!! I just did a quick preview -no, no, no, that’s not what I wanted! You stupid machine! Stop putting things in a little menu! Why does there have to be choice?! Why can’t I just write books? Why am I so hopeless at this!

I don’t have time to make alterations…


FAST 24 – Raising Money For Unicef Children

I do not usually post none-writer items on here. But this is something I feel strongly about and I am posting on every social media site I possibly can.

Right now, millions of children are in danger. They face violence, disease, hunger and the chaos of war. Unicef ensures more children get life-saving food, vaccinations, education and protection than anyone else. Today, children in places like Syria, South Sudan and Yemen are caught up in violent conflict, with millions forced to flee their homes. In 2015, Unicef responded to 310 emergencies in 102 countries. Please donate what ever you can to my fundraiser for Unicef UK. With your help, we can build a safer world for children.

I am a parent. I have one child – a teenager now – but she will always be my child, no matter what age. The thought of anyone or anything harming her, makes me distraught (just thinking about it). I am a coward, I like the idea of being pro-active and getting out there and doing something – but I can’t. I’m scared. So, I am choosing to do a 24 hour fast to raise a bit of money for those children who are less safe than my child is.

Imagine, if you will if you are a parent, watching your child go without food today- no food AT ALL. Now imagine that there is no food tomorrow – AT ALL. Repeat ad nauseum…

If you can donate, please do, and thank you in advance. If you can’t afford to, tell someone who you know can. Visit:

And, Thank You.

Collective Ramblings Volume One

Rambunctious Ramblings have produced their first compilation. Very pleased that one of my short stories is included.



Collective Ramblings Volume One

Collective Ramblings Volume One 0.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  0 Ratings  ·  0 Reviews
Twenty stories, four genres. See where these talented and varied authors take your imagination. Travel to worlds with superheroes, mystical, time-warped islands, a world where criminals are tortured to death, and a city plagued by mosquitoes.

Collective Ramblings Volume One is the first in an annual short story compilation by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Inc.

Kindle Edition, 201 pages
Published March 2nd 2016 by Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Inc.

Love is in the Air

So, it’s almost that time of year again; when young love blossoms, older love strengthens and the singles either laugh and point, or cry on the side-lines.

RamRam Publishing February competition is evidently to do with Romance. I had a go and I must say, I really am not a romantic writer, hard to do without getting soppy. One mans romance is one woman’s vomit inducer! But if you fancy a go, pop along to:-

and see their 2016 Writing Contest Schedule.

Good Luck!