Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cold Fingers, Hot food

I had quite a shock on Monday morning. I don't know what made me do it, I had no real reason to, but as we were coming back in from Hubby's latest visit to the doctor I checked our meters. I'd already looked on Friday and was a little concerned about how fast the electric was going down so I'd topped it up with the last few pounds in my purse; the gas meter had been pretty much where I'd expected it to be and we'd continued to be careful since then. I had no reason to think that either one of them was in any danger of running out, and yet I checked. Something made me hesitate as we hurried to get back indoors and out of the bitter January chill. Something made me spend that extra minute fighting with the swollen door of the outside cupboard that houses meters and recycling box and gardening tools. Something made me press the little button that lights up the digital screen on the gas meter instead of following hubby eagerly up the stairs towards kitchen, kettle and coffee.
Arrrggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How could it possibly be that low? I'd put the emergency on on Saturday evening, which gives us £5 credit. I'd fully expected that to last through until Wednesday; pension day. Last week I'd used the emergency on the Friday and it'd run out Tuesday evening, so it stood to reason that we could make it from Saturday to Wednesday surely? and yet there we were, Monday morning with only £1.12 on the meter. Oh heck!
This cold snap will be the death of me. On a normal week we don't use the emergency at all. At the moment we are putting extra on the meter, using the emergency, and still running out. I'm not sure how though, we aren't exactly being extravagant with the heating :(
 So our home is a little chilly at the moment! I never put the central heating on first thing in the morning, no matter how cold it is, if I get dressed fast enough I don't notice the shock ;)  besides, it's invigorating, gets the blood pumping! So the last time our heating was on was Sunday evening. We did give in last night and put the little electric fan heater on in the bedroom for ten minutes before we went to bed, but other than that it's been hot water bottles and piling on the layers. We're saving that little bit of gas left on the meter for cooking. We can put up with a bit of cold for a while but not without a hot meal inside us. I'm using the slow cooker as much as I can and saving the gas cooker for making porridge for breakfast, or heating soup for lunch. It may may be that I'm being a bit over cautious as far as that's concerned, but rather that than find we have nothing hot to eat.
Last night was particularly cold, we've had no snow but we did have a hail storm come rolling in about 11pm last night coating everywhere with crunchy white. It looked very pretty. It must be a little milder now though as it rained this afternoon so the white is all gone and we're back to the grey.
The aroma from the kitchen is making me hungry. There are a few sausages, the last couple of potatoes and onions in the slow cooker. I'll add the last of a bag of frozen veg to it soon. Have you ever noticed that the less food you have in your cupboards the hungrier you are? I'm starting to really notice the bite now from this weeks bill paying. I know we did the right thing, paying it off in one go, but I hate to see my cupboards so bare. I'm very glad of course that they were well stocked enough to see us through, but I also know it's going to take me a while to build up those stocks again. It's not like I can afford to just go out and do one big shop and replace it all. Hubby's pension comes in tomorrow but there won't be much of that left for food, there are too many other things that need to be paid out of it.
I had thought we were in for a difficult week, and it has been, but the reality of it is, we're in for several difficult weeks. Especially if the weather stays this cold.


  1. Hi, I dont remember how I found your blog but I am glad I did. I have read from the beginning and feel quite an affinity with what you are going through. I am sitting here freezing cold too but hey I have my broadband. I dont have central heating and manage with one electric fire in my living room and a portable heater if I really need heat somewhere else. My electric key meter is running away with my money at the moment. I am lucky emough to have a very big stock of food built up over many months. I can use grocery money for the electric meter and eat out of my storecupboards. I love to cook and am quite inventive. I should write a book, 'a thousand things to do with bacon bits' ha ha. That would make my fortune maybe.
    Lets hope the weather warms up a bit and that your situation improves.

    1. Hi Eileen, arrrhhh 'bacon bits' the saviour of the hard up cook :)

  2. Do you have a microwave? I make my porridge in the microwave each morning - 40gms of oats, approx 4ozs cold water, stir then into the microwave (mine's an 800 watt) for 2 minutes . . stir and give it another swift blitz if necessary. Sprinkle Demerara sugar on top for a real treat! I actually had to go and make myself some porridge just now, because I have no idea of quantities - I just put 'some' oats and add 'some' water!!!
    Are you absolutely certain that you are getting all the benefits that you are entitled to? Seems to me that if you have a sick husband, he might be entitled to Attendance Allowance; you might be entitled to a Carer's Allowance and who knows what else. You shouldn't be having such a struggle to make ends meet; you need good advice, maybe Citizen's Advice Bureau if you can get an appointment.
    The key meters are horrendous! They are the most expensive methods of obtaining gas and electricity. I know because I've been there. Living in rented accommodation, they were standard fitments. If you are repaying arrears, the meter will still tick round to cover that, even if you're not using any gas; if you don't have arrears, try to get changed to a quarterly bill.
    Hopefully, temperatures will rise again now - the SUN is streaming in my windows today . . . I MUST clean my windows!!!!

    1. Sadly my microwave gave up the ghost a couple of months ago. I bought it three years ago from the Heart Foundation for £15 so I had my money's worth out of it. I must get around to getting another one. I always thought I didn't really use it much, it wasn't until it was gone that I realised just what a hard little worker it was!

      We've recently had a 'benefit check' so I know we're getting everything we can at the moment. I can't get carer's allowence as hubby was refused the care component of DLA... not quite sick enough aparently!

      Things aren't usually this bad, normally we tick along ok. Most of the time the bills get paid and there's food in the cupboards, just nothing extra for those one off problems we all get from time to time and that's what's thrown us out of whack. That and the cold snap combined. We've just got to ride this through and we should be back on the level in a week or two. Fortunately there arent any arrears on the meters so at least we're only paying for the energy we're using. Most of the time I don't mind having key meters, at least we don't get any big bills dropping through the letter box, and usually I build up a reserve in the summer to cover us if things turn nasty in the winter months but we had a few things to pay out for last year and that 'reserve' just didn't happen.

      Yes it was sunny here too. I love a sunny day...all that free heat! :)