Monday, 28 December 2015

Annual Spending Review - 2015

It's that time of the year, yet again....  I know there's still a few days to go until the end of the year, but I'm highly unlikely to spend anything further unless the ground dries up sufficiently to get a game of golf in on Wednesday afternoon...

Here's a breakdown of where all the money went in 2015, and compared to the previous two years' spending ... click for a larger image.



The columns are ranked highest-to-lowest from left-to-right, based on the 2015 spend.   Basic ground rules are generally as last year's post, and a few points of note are listed below :-

Saturday, 14 November 2015

An idiot's guide to planning next year's veg plot ...


After you've read this short post, you might consider that it's simply an exercise in the bleedin' obvious, but we've been thinking about which vegetables and, more importantly, how many of each we should grow next year.

It came about because we recently planted some overwintering garlic for next year, and since the seed cloves were sold in batches of ten we had to decide how many to buy.

In the end, we used some very simple reasoning and arithmetic.  We probably use a whole garlic bulb every two or three weeks, so if we could grow and store enough for a year then we'd need around 20.  So this is the quantity we bought and planted....


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Investment Review - September 2015


Here's an update of the combined portfolio as of the penultimate day of September (we're on holiday in sunnier climes at the minute, as from the thirtieth, and I knew there'd be no opportunity to refresh the spreadsheets on that last day of the month).




Thursday, 24 September 2015

Garden Review in pictures...

The garden so far this year, in pictures....


Fruit & Vegetables....

strawberries in June....

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Antique Paraffin Heater...

In late May and early June this year, we lost more than a dozen cucumber plants in the greenhouse because of late frosts.  

So I decided to buy a heater, which may hopefully take the chill off the air if it happens again next year, and I picked up this large old Valor 525-R paraffin heater on eBay for £20.  




Sunday, 5 July 2015

Investment Review - June 2015


Here's an update of the combined portfolio as of the penultimate day of June (we were away on the thirtieth and I knew there'd be no opportunity to refresh the spreadsheets).




Saturday, 27 June 2015

Can ye' ride tandem ?


Older readers may recognise the title from a 1971 television advertisement for PG Tips tea,  one of a series featuring chimpanzees.  Although animals are still anthropomorphised more than ever on TV and cinema, it's usually done through animations and no doubt the use of live animals dressed in clothing and appearing in comic situations wouldn't be acceptable these days...  

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few pictures of our folding tandem, a wonderful piece of Italian engineering from the late 1960s.



Midnight Rendezvous....



Sunday, 21 June 2015

Shed Electrics and low-Voltage Lighting ...


Firstly, a little quiz.    Take a look at this photo of these brand new light fittings I've bought, and the sealed boxes they came in, and see if you can identify what's wrong here....

can you see it ?

I only posted this photo because I thought it was so bleedin' obvious, and I just shook my head while muttering about the decline in educational standards, but then I showed it to a couple of other people.   

The first, like me, spotted it immediately but the second, after ten minutes of staring at it, still couldn't see anything wrong until it was pointed out to them....

Just in case, the answer's at the end of the post !


Monday, 15 June 2015

First harvest of the year...


Well, not strictly true, since we've already eaten a few radishes...

This year we did something we'd often read about, but never tried before, i.e. growing potatoes in containers.

We'd planted up eleven 30 litre buckets filled with multipurpose compost, each with only two or three small seed potatoes, the first five batches of which were started off in the greenhouse towards the end of February before being transferred outside in April.

We'd bought twenty of these large white buckets, which had once held ice-cream, for a fiver in an eBay auction.   The seed stock was procured from Wilkinsons, for £1 per packet with each containing around five or six small tubers.  They were of different varieties; Casablanca, International Kidney, Charlotte, Nicola and Red Duke of York.

Each container was initially filled to around a third of its depth, and was topped up in two further stages as the tops grew.

And today we harvested all the potatoes from the first five containers, around 110 days after planting.


first two containers were a mixture of red and white varieties....

Monday, 8 June 2015

Building a (big !) Shed


Ever since we bought the piece of land a few years ago to extend our garden, we'd been thinking about building something at the south end under the tree canopy.


the area in question, in a photo from 2013....

We'd considered a summerhouse, or a half-shed half-decked area, but in the end decided to go for a full length shed.  


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Investment Review - March 2015


It's been two months since I lasted shared the combined portfolio, mainly because most of the immediately preceding posts were all very much on the same theme and I don't want the blog to become a strictly personal finance offering.

However, for the record, here's the data at the end of March compared to the last posting at the end of January ....




Thursday, 2 April 2015

Building a Cold Frame....


I thought I'd use some of our remaining static caravan windows, originally procured as a joblot a few years ago to make solar panels, to construct a cold frame to increase the amount of space we have to grow stuff under glass - as if two greenhouses weren't enough.... 

For the main framework, I'd previously found a source of used 6-foot scaffold boards from a depot a few miles away, who sell them off at a fiver apiece.  They had boards for sale of up to 13 feet long, which would have worked out a little cheaper on a per-unit-length basis, but then I couldn't have carried them home in the car.

So, after knocking up an outline design, I collected fifteen of these boards.  


the raw materials....


Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Financial Planning - 2015 Review


It's now two full years since the implementation of my '...Grand Plan...' (for an explanation and last year's end-March review, see this link), and the latest annual results are in ....


Saturday, 21 March 2015

More Landscaping Works...


It was time to tackle the one remaining corner of the garden we'd hardly touched since we moved in here four years ago, i.e. the southern boundary of the original back garden.

The old fence had been in a sorry state for a long while, and was leaning over even further after the winter winds.   Inside the boundary was planted with a mishmash of old trees and shrubs which weren't flourishing at all.  It was quite a dark and forbidding place, even in the summer months.


before we started.....

As a related project, earlier in the week we'd bought around twenty used paving slabs in an eBay auction, and these would be used to finally cover over the old pond we'd drained and half-filled-in during the autumn of 2013, which can be seen behind the apple tree.


Friday, 30 January 2015

Investment Review - January 2015


A lot more activity this month, including my first disposals of any holdings since October 2013....

Firstly, here's the current spreadsheet as updated today, the last working day of the month :-


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Investment Review - December 2014


This is a belated post of the end-December position, since I'm currently on holiday and enjoying some warmth and sunshine...

So without further ado, here's the investment pot spreadsheet for December 2014.  See previous similar posts for descriptions etc...