Saving Water to Save Money

So, for all of you that were previously unaware (i.e no-one) and thought the world to be a wonderfully fair place, water actually costs money. It is part of the Earth but someone must obviously own it for us to have to pay for it at the end of every month. London is an extremely wet and rainy city but that has no effect on the price of water and according to my father who is all doom and despair, our water bill (and usage) has doubled, leaving him astounded as to how that could have possibly happened and pointing his accusing finger at those who bathe too frequently or drink too much.

Being the creative and resourceful person that I am, I have come up with some ingenious plans for the conservation of water, to aid my family in their present austerity. If you are in a similar situation, or you are just extremely environmentally friendly, you might find a few of these useful:

1) If it’s yellow, let it mellow- This one I do not recommend but my mother insisted on its effectiveness. It just sounds like a World War II campaign slogan that little village schoolchildren would recite in class. Don’t flush the toilet or Hitler will hear it!

2) Borrow water-  Contrary to what my sister may say, this initiative is completely my own and is the one I most proud of. It involves going to school/work with empty bottles and returning home with water for domestic use. No need to guess where the water comes from. My mother thought it to be a fabulous idea and was mighty impressed by my resourcefulness; my father, not so much. In his own words, it is a “ridiculous” idea, but I know that the real reason he objects is that it is too risqué for him. Oh, and apparently it’s stealing. Who knew?

3) Use 2-in-1-  When I tried to explain this less risky, more legal, money-saving scheme to my father, he came blank. The man just didn’t get it. Instead of having to use shampoo and then conditioner, you save yourself a wash by using them both in one go. I started off explaining this simple concept and ended up explaining what conditioner was!

4) Boycott the bath- everyone’s heard that a shower uses about three times less water than a bath and I can now testify to that. Put the plug in the tub whilst you have a shower and you’ll be surprised by how little water you use in comparison.

5) Don’t cry. Don’t sweat- Crying and sweating wastes water that your body needs to keep hydrated. The water that you release from your eyes and your pores needs to be replenished by more water that you have to pay for.

6) Use the washing machine less- This does not mean live as slob, and dress yourself in grease and grime. Simply, be reasonable when it comes to judging if a piece of clothing is dirty. Take my lazy, little sister as an example. She can not be bothered to fold and put her clothes away and so will throw them in the laundry basket even if they are cleaner than when she put them on, a few hours earlier.

7) Do not take pictures of running water for blogging purposes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does any one have any other water saving ideas to contribute?

Indian Summer to the Max

Mid October, and the news reporters are calling it an Indian summer and because we are not easily influenced by the media, us girls headed off to the beach. With winter jackets and my father’s best wishes we were off. Always the optimist, he shook his head in disapproval and announced that he would not be buying anybody medicine when we all came back nursing dreadful colds.

With that in mind we cozied up into the car and enjoyed the lengthy 2 hour view, sleeping against each other and cringing at my mothers version of Queens’ Bohemian Rhapsody. She made for a terrible singer and a most interesting travel companion. She takes the prize for quote of the ride, which surprisingly was not are we there yet, but “I miss the London pollution.”

Once we had passed the motorway, we drove through the New Forest, and saw wild horses in their dozens; black, brown and white; bathing in the rays of sunlight peeking through small clearings in dense forest. We hurried a few snaps as we passed the brave mares at the roadside, inches away from the open windows.

Then, we drove through a quaint little village, complete with thatch roof cottages and funnily named pubs. We exclaimed at all the village sights that one does not see on the London High Streets. Oh look, it’s an apothecary. Oh look it’s an old sweet shop. Oh look it’s a tea room. Oh look it’s a Costa coffee?

Oh look it’s the sea! My mother spotted it first and we all squealed in excitement, anticipating the waves crashing against our bodies as we jumped up and down, getting ready to the build the tallest sand castles.

Well, not me. I didn’t even touch the sand.  I lay my pink snuggly blanket down on the rocks, and slipped into a book. Yes, I could have done that in my garden but the fresh breeze, salty smell and symphony of waves created a better reading atmosphere. I entertained the thought of dipping into the freezing October sea for the duration of an entire page but rid myself of it as soon as I imagined the sand sticking to my wet skin as I tried to get changed under a flying towel. Not worth it.

I was content to just to watch my sisters splash about in the water and return not shortly after, teeth chattering and jumping into their dry clothes. Anyway, I got up to my own fifteen minute adventure, looking for fossils in the cliffs with the only tool available, a fork. No luck, except for a few pin sized shells, but I couldn’t really expect to find the ancient remains of an extinct species on my first go. Maybe on my next.

There’s a jungle growing in my garden

Three months after I posted about my home-made vegetable garden, I was given the great honour of being Freshly Pressed. It was my first time and although I had always (less than a year) wished for it to happen I never actually believed it would. So, when the comments came rushing in and readers I had never come across before started to congratulate me I was completely baffled; pleased but baffled. Did everybody else know something I didn’t? Why was I not privy to this piece of top-secret information?

Fortunately, I was soon clued in and the reason for my bombardment of supportive and congratulating comments became clear, relieving me of my earlier confusion. Confusion that turned into absolute joy and excitement at the arrival of each comment. Each comment like the harvest of my labour’s fruit and veg, received with much appreciation and a fair amount of positive annoyance at the clogging up of my inbox. Thank you :)

Many of my commenters were extremely enthusiastic about growing their own produce and I’m glad I supposedly inspired some people. I guess that is something that I can proudly add to my repertoire and use in a college application if I ever feel lacking in any areas, not that it will get taken too seriously. However, one reader made a very unusual point which I feel compelled to clarify in order to keep a clean record and avoid any problems in my future political career (and eventual world domination). Although I mentioned immigration in a negative light, I would like to make it absolutely clear that this is only applicable to fruits and vegetables and mainly because of the impact it has on the environment. So, if I ever run in an election and you happen to be involved in a smear campaign against me, look elsewhere for dirty secrets and irrelevant information that can be twisted and mis-interpreted to destroy my public image and mislead my voters.

Moving away from my slight paranoia and on a more positive note, it seems there is a lot of curiosity about what happened to my garden following my Freshly Pressed post and as a few months have past there has been a lot of change. Gone are the neatly kept rows of tomatoes supported by straight standing bamboo sticks; replaced by an overgrown wilderness of green leaves and fruits fighting for space and sunlight. It seems that when planting the seeds, in an effort to economise and make the most of every single millimetre of land, not enough space for was left between the plants resulting in the appearance of the world’s first city jungle. Yet, despite the conditions the tomatoes have managed to grow and if you dare to venture deep enough, into the darkness of the bushes, you can spot the juicy glow of the first few reddened tomatoes.

The sweetcorn has also greatly flourished, but in a much less chaotic way. Each plant has produced a few cobs and they all look ready to hit the barbecue, if only it would stop raining. Without a single hint of bias, I can honestly say that the sweetcorn from my garden is the best I have ever tasted; sweet and juicy even when eaten plain and raw.

As for the strawberries in the hanging basket… At first they produced a few tiny sweet strawberries but as time went by and the weather grew worse they withered and died, only to mysteriously start growing what appears to be green tomatoes! I am not yet sure as to the origins of these magical fruits and will need to do some further investigation to ascertain the cause but I have a small inkling that my father may be behind it.

Let’s hope that everything continues to go well and perhaps next year we can learn from our mistakes and avoid any unfortunate repeats. Everyone starts off with black thumbs to begin with; they just get greener and greener with practise.

 

 

I grow my own vegetables. I live 5 minutes away from the nearest supermarket.

I grow my own vegetables.  I live 5 minutes away from the nearest supermarket.

Two sentences that really don’t belong together if you are a typical consumer in the big city. For many people the very idea of planting a seed in some soil and waiting for your dinner to grow seems ridiculous, especially when it is so much easier to just take it out of the freezer and pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Why waste so much time, space and even money to grow a vegetable that you can buy quicker and cheaper in your local supermarket? Does it even make a difference if that carrot came from your garden or the fifth aisle on your right, next to the potatoes, opposite the cabbage?

To me it does make a difference and I find that growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great thing to do regardless of the fact that it may not be the most convenient. According to various professionals, surveys and studies it is definitely the healthiest, most eco-friendly thing to do. But, I’m not going to bore my readers with facts and statistics. Instead here are my non-scientific, not necessarily correct but none the less important reasons for growing your own fruits and vegetables:

1) It’s cool/wicked/sick…(whatever the kids are calling it these days)

I’m not an expert on the latest trends as they move too fast for me to follow but I’m sure that if I were to chase them they would lead me all the way to the vegetable plot in my garden. Growing your own food is cool. It’s not just something that loopy tree-hugging hippies do as a pastime. According to who? Well, that’s not important. According to me, our polluted planet and maybe even God, it’s cool. And if that’s not enough then I certainly wouldn’t mind being a tree-hugging hippie anyway.

2) Your celery stick doesn’t need a VISA

Our fridges are full of immigrants. The tomatoes are Spaniards, the green beans come from Egypt and the cucumber has lost its passport. It may sound like a kid’s nursery rhyme but it’s true.  When we go shopping, my sister and I like to play this game called “guess the origin”  and it’s really interesting to see just how few products were actually grown locally. Most of the fruits and vegetables that we put in our trolley have travelled hundreds of miles, using up lots of the Earth’s resources and emitting plenty of Carbon Dioxide.

3) They taste better (to you)

All men were created equal. All tomatoes on the other hand, weren’t. Freshly picked tomatoes, straight off the plant, taste a million times better than anything you can get off the shelves. They may not look as perfect or be all the same size but when it comes to taste, they win hands down. Some people may argue that it is not true; that there is no difference in taste but they are wrong. The difference between the shop tomatoes and your tomatoes is that you grew them yourself. It is the taste of satisfaction and pride that makes your tomatoes juicier and sweeter than anyone elses.

4) Something you can boast about

Yes, that’s one thing we all love to do; show off. When guests come over for dinner you can tell them of all the lovely fresh ingredients that are in their delicious soup before asking them smugly  “do you grow your own?” . When their reply is negative you can then go on and on about the benefits of growing your own fruits and vegetables, annoying them with your holier-than-thou attitude. However, if they answer affirmative then “GAME ON!”.  There’s nothing like a healthy bit of competition to bring people together. Who’s got the biggest turnips? Who’s got the tallest sweet corn? Have your strawberries ripened yet?

Of course I can appreciate that not everybody may be able to grow their own fruits and vegetables but if you can why not give it a go? It’s easy and requires very little skill. My mum started my family off last year with absolutely no clue of what she was doing  and apart from maybe one or two mutant carrots it proved to be a success. Here are a few pictures of this year’s  home-made vegetable garden if anyone needs a little inspiration.

My Personal Favourite- Sweetcorn!

Strawberries in a hanging basket

peppers and sweetcorn in bright and cheerful home-made pots

 At the moment they are all looking a little green, with not much variation but I can not wait until the coming Summer months when they will all be bright with colour and fresh with taste. Just the feeling of joy when you see the very first tomato gleaming in the sunlight or the very first strawberry peeking out from under the soil is enough reason to grow your own fruits and vegetables.