Friday, 31 August 2018

Frugal Friday

Quite a few frugal jobs completed this week including chopping wood for the winter and washing all 40 of the outside windows. This is a big job which usually takes a long time, this time I was astounded to find I had completed it in less than an hour because I didn't have to change the bucket of water. Earlier in the week I bought a big bottle of Fairy liquid, not what I usually buy and it would seem that the claim that it lasts longer than other detergents is really true !

As well as wood chopping and window washing MrShoestring got around to staining all the woodwork and farm gate which closes off the front entrance, doing it ourselves saved quite a bit of money as the quote to do it was over £100. MrShoestring also cut the large front hedge and that was £85 saved as well !

I mended a quilt and a cardigan and made some soft cheese with milk that had gone sour. I then used the cheese in a pasta bake so that was a 'win' from something that otherwise might have been thrown away. I also made pasta sauce, bread, vegetable curry , chapattis, soup and tortillas. We picked lettuce, raspberries and loads of apples. I repurposed a plastic container instead of buying a new bread bin and so far it has worked very well.

We planned a roof repair and are just waiting for the roof repair stuff to come before we get on with it. We washed out plastic bags for re-use and went to the cinema with vouchers that I had earned from the Nielsen shopping survey. We bought clothes for MasterShoestring for going into 6th Form at a discount and got free delivery !

Phew ! A busy week !

Thursday, 30 August 2018

NHS Sight Tests

Every year before I go to the consultant to check that I still do not quite have glaucoma I go for a sight test to check that the prescription for my glasses is correct, as this makes doing the visual field tests easier !

I made an appointment as usual and turned up yesterday to be told that they did not think the NHS would pay for the test anymore. I quoted chapter and verse at them as this has happened before when they said I have come in slightly too early so it hadn't been exactly a year since the previous test. They seemed very confused and so I said never mind I'll just pay the £20 for the test.

After much waiting around and several unnecessary tests including having a video of my face made so they could show what I would like in various pairs of horrible, very expensive glasses I finally saw the optician !

He explained that since I was being seen annually at the hospital the NHS doesn't like to double up so now I'm only entitled to a free sight test every 2 years. This change does not seem to be widely known so in case you were on the verge of booking your own free sight test do find out what the policy is in your area before booking. 

In the end the optician just checked my glasses and got me to read some fine print with them and we agreed that they would be fine for another year and he did not charge me, which was very nice of him !

Do check what you are entitled to before booking a sight test as I didn't know that I was entitled to free tests until a couple of years ago!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Apples !

Yesterday I saw a woodpecker in amongst the apples so we got out there and picked a washing basket full to make sure that we got some too !

Now what to do with them all ?

1) Wrap perfect ones in newspaper and store in a cool place for eating.

2) Stew some for the freezer.

3) Make apple pie.

4) Make apple crumble.

5) Make apple cake.

6) Make apple doughnuts.

7) Make apple sauce for eating with roast pork.

8) Make apple juice.

9) Make dried apple rings.

10) Make apple butter.

Looks like we are going to be busy, as we left some of the less ripe apples on the trees !

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Keeping Homemade Bread Fresh

We've had a bread bin like the one above for over 10 years. It was airtight and large enough to keep a couple of loaves of homemade bread. However, this year we noticed that some of the enamel was starting to wear off, it was getting a bit rusty and some of the breadcrumbs in the bottom were going mouldy instead  staying dry.

In the hot weather we started keeping the bread in a plastic bag in the fridge.  This was better than seeing half a loaf go mouldy the day after it had been baked but did tend to dry out the bread and make it rather hard, so not really any good for sandwiches.

Now the hot weather has gone we went back to using the bread bin, but all the reasons we had started not to like it then became really apparent, especially the mouldy breadcrumbs at the bottom, yuk ! So I started to research the best way to keep homemade bread besides slicing it when cold and keeping the sliced loaf in the freezer. The freezer is too full of produce at present to make that a realistic option ! Well, you can use a wooden roll top bin, an enamel one, a ceramic one, a roll top metal bin, a paper bag, a plastic bag and a cotton bag and apparently all will work well. We've had roll top bread bins in the past, both wooden and metal and eventually they all suffer from the same problems as our current enamel one. I was quite tempted by the idea of a ceramic crock but they are expensive and MrShoestring pointed out that they are very heavy and easy to break !

Finally, I decided on a plastic box with an air-tight lid that can easily go in the dishwasher. I counted out my Love2Shop vouchers from the postal survey and got ready to go to Robert Dyas to buy one in the right size. However, before I left, my eye was caught by my portable sand tray for counselling, it has an air-tight lid, is made of plastic and was exactly the right size. I'm not going counselling in schools again this year and haven't been using the box so decide to re-purpose it ! A quick wash in the dishwasher and it was transformed into the new bread bin at zero cost ! This was even better than using the Love2Shop vouchers to buy a new one for free, as now I am using something that was lying around being clutter. If I ever need a sand tray again I have the ideal seed potting tray sitting in MrShoestring's workshop !

Repurposing beats purchasing every time !

Monday, 27 August 2018

A Night Out !

Last night we went to see the film  "Mission Impossible:Fallout" as part of our anniversary celebrations! It was a frugal cinema visit as I used vouchers that I got free from the Nielsen shopping survey. Just as well, as otherwise the visit would have cost over £20 as it was a weekend evening ! 

The film was full of amazing stunts and scenery and was an enjoyable bit of hokum but we didn't feel that the story was particularly strong ! We did not buy drinks or snacks and had a nice cup of tea at home afterwards. I do wish some people would do the same as the film was spoiled a bit by the constant 'in and out' of people needing the bathroom having consumed a litre of so of fizzy drink !

Still, we had an enjoyable evening and if you want a predictable evening out and haven't seen it yet and can go at a discount, then I would recommend it ! However, it is not a 'must see' !

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Happy Anniversary !

In 1985 MrShoestring and I got married on a beautiful late Summer day in the Highlands of Scotland, hard to imagine that was 33 years ago today !

He puts up with home haircuts !

Doesn't mind having snow balls thrown at him !
Rolls a great tortilla !

 Has accompanied me on 6 moves !

And is a great photographer !

Happy Anniversary darling and here's to many more years !

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Renewing Your Driving License

I had just received a letter in the post to say that my driving license will expire in October. I had made a note of this already but it was good to get a reminder.

If you forget to renew it then you can be fined up to £1000 ! It only costs £14 to renew online and they can even use the same picture as you have for a passport, which saves having to take another one ! I'd rather pay £14 than the £1000 fine ! 

My only dilemma, is do I pay now to do it and let the government have my money early or do I wait until October and risk forgetting ? Perhaps a good compromise could be to do it in September !!

Friday, 24 August 2018

Frugal Living

Our young student left on Tuesday night so now we have a bit more time for frugal living ! The freezer still has lots of produce in it and we are adding to it with the windfall apples, so there has been lots of home cooking going on. I made chocolate cupcakes, homemade popcorn, homemade tortillas, homemade chapattis, bread and pizza. We also stewed windfall apples, picked and ate plums and picked and ate lettuce and cucumber.

We got a year round pass for the Open Air Museum along with our entry fee and took along our own food and drink to avoid the expensive cafe prices. MissShoestring gifted us her chicken and roasted vegetables leftovers when she came home one night and I used them to make chicken fried rice for an evening meal.

MasterShoestring passed 9 GCSEs and to celebrate requested takeaway pizza,  that was much cheaper than taking him out to eat so his Dad treated him to 2 Mars Bars for dessert as well !

Thursday, 23 August 2018

End of Summer List

With the Bank Holiday approaching it's time to think about all the things you promised you would do over the Summer and have yet to get around to, like having a paddle perhaps ? The sea is warmer at the end of the Summer than at the start so now is the time to take the plunge !

Our list is fill of practical things we need to do before school starts again, big jobs like wood splitting and mending leaks in the porch and utility room. Also smaller jobs such as sorting out the freezer and cleaning the carpets.

I was pleased to knock off two jobs yesterday, completing some assignments for my course and altering one that had been returned for some changes. One less thing to do before studying gears up again !

MrShoestring went into school to sort Science equipment and the GCSE results are published today, so the new school year is about to start again, what do you need to do to get prepared ?

We also need to re-jig the budget as the gas direct debit has gone up and I was unable to find a cheaper supplier, so we are stuck with the increase.  Several companies are raising their prices above inflation and ours is one of them. We are going to be paying over £13 a month more as although we are more than £170 in credit with them they don't think this is enough of a credit for the approaching Winter months ! Sometimes I do wonder about just going back to paying a quarterly bill but you get a discount for monthly direct debit, so I guess I'm still saving money !

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Slow Cooker Apples

I think I have mentioned this before but it's a tip that is saving me so much time at present that I thought I would share it again, try making your apple pie filling in the slow cooker !

Every day this week when I've finished breakfast and I'm waiting for our young student to finish theirs, I cut the bad bits out of the windfall apples chop them straight into the slow cooker, peel and all and set it on HIGH for a couple of hours. Depending on the type of apple you might need to put a bit of water in the bottom of the slow cooker to stop the apple sticking.

On your return the apples will have cooked down into perfect apple filling to which you can add sugar and/or cinnamon to taste. Just cool and freeze ! Really quick and really easy !

GCSE Results Day

No, it's not today but it will be on Thursday and if you know someone who is getting their results it can be helpful to prepare yourself for various scenarios.

Schools will already have sent out details about how, when and where to get the results so make sure you have a plan to get your youngster to the results venue. Are they going to arrive early and run into lots of friends or are they going to go in a bit later when the crush might not be so bad ?

Do you know how to request a re-mark or a marks check ? What about how to contact subject teachers to ask if this is a worthwhile idea ? Subject teachers will have access to the raw mark and so can tell you how close your youngster was to their desired grade !

If your youngster does much better than unexpected will they want to change their plans for next year ? If so do you have details of places and courses they might be interested in ?

Similarly if the results are a disappointment is there a Plan B? Are you looking at your youngster going somewhere else for a year of retakes ? (Yes, I know that you are not supposed to be able to do this, but there are colleges who can offer a second chance, particularly at English and Maths ) Will they accept a place on a different course ? Try for an apprenticeship ?

Lots to think about and it is easier to do the research now rather than in the panic, euphoria and sheer relief that might be around on Thursday ! Do a bit of gentle exploration now and you might be able to answer a few of their questions on Thursday.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Chiltern Open Air Museum

Another great trip with our young student, we went to the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

A beautiful day, a beautiful site, lovely helpful people and a playground ! The best thing is that you can go inside all the buildings and see how people would have lived and worked in bygone days. The oldest building is this Iron Age Roundhouse and the youngest a pre-fab. The pre-fab was our favourite as you could play with the toys in the room, see the school uniforms and read the books on the shelves, just like children from those times would have done !

Best of all the ticket for entry allows us to go back for free for the rest of the year and there was a great playground !!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Into the Woods

Into the forestry commission site nearby with our young student so that he can try out all the activities available and all for the cost of a car parking ticket. The activities include:-

1) Playing on the adventure playground;

2) Building a den;

3) Looking for mini-beasts;

4) Reading a map;

5) Doing a scavenger hunt;

6) Going on a tree identification walk;

7) Playing " Hide and Seek"

8) Having a picnic;

9) Finding a special stone;

and finally 10) Going orienteering !

Phew ! Someone should be tired tonight !

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Going to the Circus !

Our young guest has never been to the circus so when we discovered that the Charles Chipperfield Circus was coming to a park within walking distance of the house we decided to get tickets.

It is much cheaper to go to the circus on a weekday, this circus was £8 a ticket on a weekday but weekend prices vary from £14 for the cheapest child ticket to £50 for the most expensive adult ticket. That means a weekend ticket for an adult and a child can cost £30 or more.

The cost of our tickets was built in to the costs of hosting our student so we did not feel too bad about paying weekend prices. The show is just long enough to feel like an event and not so long that he will be fading, so an ideal weekend outing.

The skills in the show have all been updated for modern times, so there is skateboarding and hulu hooping as well as clowns and all the traditional things, so I think he will have a real feeling for what an outing to the circus is like.

Would we go if we didn't have a guest, no, far too expensive !

Friday, 17 August 2018

Frugal Friday

We are still very busy with our young student, so once again a lot of the frugal living is happening on automatic pilot !

Our young guest has never seen blackberries, so going out to pick them with the family was the highlight of the day for a couple of days, he told his Mum all about it. However, he didn't like the seeds, so they have all been put in the freezer.

We have had a set menu plan whilst our guest is here, which means chicken every Sunday , so plenty of chicken stock has been made and placed in the freezer for use later on. We have also picked cucumber and lettuce from the garden and made hummus, pizza, vegetable curry and tortillas from scratch. We also made stewed apple from windfall apples and that has gone in the freezer to join all the apple from last year ! I foresee plenty of apple based puddings in the next few months !

I downloaded lots of free maps to use on outings with our guest and also got 3 free tickets to Bletchley Park for the Heritage Open Days in September. Our small guest was taught how to play "Snakes and Ladders" using a free printable game and we also played "Snap" and "Connect 4" with him, as a night in with new games is more fun than a trip to the cinema for him.

Finally, I sent MrShoestring off to do the grocery shopping this week and he remembered to use the £4 off a £40 spend voucher, so that was good.

Fingers crossed we can continue to stick to the budget in August !

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Heritage Open Days

It won't be long until the annual Heritage Open Days are here. It used to be just 1 weekend in September but now it seems it has spread to 2 weekends and some days in between. There are lots of historic buildings opening for free on the weekends of 8th/9th September and 15th/16th September and some properties are open throughout the intervening week or on the Thursday and Friday before those weekends. Almost all the properties participating are not usually open to the public or not usually open for free, so it is well worth checking what is going on in your area.

If you go to the website and click on the VISIT button you can do a search to find out what is on in your area based on postcode and dates you are interested in. I was delighted to discover that Bletchley Park (in the picture above), the World War II code breaking centre is included in the days this year. Instead of paying nearly £20 each to get in I was able to order 3 free tickets for Sunday 9th September and we are really looking forward to going. MasterShoestring is very interested in code breaking and has just finished writing a code computer programme for fun, so it was a great find.

Do check what is on as free tickets for properties like Bletchley Park are likely to go quickly !

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Little Chalfont Nature Park

One of the good things about having a young guest is the necessity of finding child-friendly places to visit nearby. The Little Chalfont Nature Park is just such a gem. It is very close to a car park and public toilets and yet well hidden away so that you have to look for the entrance !

It is free to visit and once inside has lots of helpful boards about what to look for when you visit and distinct areas for different activities such as having a picnic or a story. There are lovely wood sculptures to admire and buggy friendly pathways. The meadow is very old so there are lots of rare plant species to watch out for.

We were impressed on our visit and together with a visit to the playground in a different part of the village whiled away another happy afternoon !

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Blackberries !

So we did go blackberry picking but the rain interrupted us and we didn't get so many so I couldn't use my usual blackberry jam recipe. Instead I made a fresh blackberry jam with a smaller amount of sugar which can be kept in the fridge to put on toast for breakfast !

4 cups blackberries
1 cup sugar
2 tbsps cornflour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Put all the ingredients apart from the corn starch into a large pan and warm slowly to dissolve the sugar. As the juice from the blackberries starts to flow take a little out to mix to a smooth paste with the cornflour and then return the mixture to the pan, this will help to thicken the jam. Heat the mixture to boiling point and boil for around 15 minutes. leave to cool and then place in a container in the fridge.

As this does not contain the usual amount of sugar you have to keep it in the fridge and eat it up quite quickly, I don't think that will be a problem in our house !

Monday, 13 August 2018

Rain !

At last, we have had enough rain for the lettuce to start growing again ! We were really missing it and the few leaves we did pick were rather disappointing as they wilted very quickly. Now we have had 2 days of quite wet conditions they have really perked up and have become lovely and crisp again.

The other thing we noticed after the rain fall is that lots of crops seem to be further on than we were expecting. We have been picking up apples off the ground and they seem ready to eat, judging by the tasting we have done so far. So, I made an apple crumble with the windfalls yesterday and added the usual amount of sugar for early apples and it was a bit too sweet, so I think some of the apples must really be ready. Now we are in a race to start eating them before the local wildlife takes the lot !

We're also noticed that there are a lot of blackberries ready and I'm in two minds whether to go and pick them or not, as we still have quite a few packets in the freezer from last year and the berries don't look that plump. However, with a big article in the newspaper yesterday about how supermarket prices may rise by 12% after next March I'm wondering if I should pick at least some just in case fruit prices rise a lot ? Hmm, perhaps blackberry picking could be described as a leisure activity and I could weave it into a family picnic next weekend ?

Right, off to see if the sweetcorn has started to produce anything as for the first time ever it is well over 6ft tall !

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Waddesdon Manor

Lovely trip to Waddesdon Manor yesterday and our guest took full advantage of the Woodland Playground. This is a great place nearly an hour's journey away but you can easily spend the whole day there. It is administered by the National Trust but still owned by the Rothschild Foundation so there are a few quirks compared to other National Trust properties.

The day begins well away from the main house and grounds and a strange Welcome pavilion which appears to be a new attempt to control access to the house to ensure that not too many visitors get in at any one time. You still have to have a timed ticket to get into the house, even if you are a National Trust member and as there are only 35 of these for every 10 minute slot you are quite likely not to get one if you turn up after 11am on a busy Summer weekend.

I'd been in the house before so my guest and I just concentrated on the grounds and still had a wonderful time ! The gardens looked great, inspite of the recent hot weather and there were lots of picnic spots and a great aviary. So all in all the National Trust membership is proving its worth !

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A Local Shopping Trip

Mmm ! Delicious bacon bits and one of the things that was on the list which formed part of our young student's shopping list when we took him out to practise his English. All the people in the local shops were very friendly to him and it was good to see that the greengrocer's and baker's were prepared to sell small quantities. However, it was striking that it was more expensive than if we had gone to the supermarket. But as a learning opportunity and chance to have a cultural experience it was priceless !

Friday, 10 August 2018

Frugal Friday

So we haven't really been concentrating on frugality this week as we have a small student guest to occupy but as all of our systems have been on autopilot for a while, we still ended up saving quite a bit!

We discovered that the attention span of our small guest is not up to visiting major attractions and so took out a membership to the National Trust where he can run around and play to his heart's content. To save money we took out membership to the National Trust for Scotland and only bought a membership for 1 adult and children rather than 2. We had a lovely afternoon at Hughenden Manor and are planning an all day trip to Waddesdon Manor tomorrow, I hope the weather holds up !

MrShoestring went to visit his Mum in Scotland on Monday and the price we were quoted for 1 day's parking at the airport was more than the cost of the flight, so I drove him both ways and we still saved money !

Lots of busy days mean that the leftovers stashed in the freezer have been well used, as has the meal plan. By only cooking and buying food according to the plan, we have managed to keep our grocery spending down to less than £50 so far this month in spite of having a guest !

We have used well water for the garden and have used quite a bit of produce from there as well, especially cucumbers which have loved the hot weather !

Have  a good weekend !

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Outdoor Swimming

Yesterday we visited our amazing local outdoor pool. Since the weather was not as fine as it has been over the past few weeks it was almost deserted and we had the place to ourselves. I haven't been in a local swimming pool for years as I am allergic to the chlorine which is used to keep them hygienic. This one however, uses mineral copper and silver and local water from a chalk stream, so I was delighted to discover that my skin stayed normal. It was a great treat to be able to swim locally again and at a reasonable rate ! They do season tickets and I think that will be something to consider for the future as they are open in the Winter and up to 10.30pm at night. Just in case you are wondering how they stay open in the winter, the pool water is heated to a high temperature and apparently staring at the stars whilst in  the pool is a magical experience !

If you would like to try your own local outdoor pool do have a look at the list at:-

Happy swimming !

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Ten Things to enjoy while it's still Summer

1) Lazing by some water.

2) The feeling that there is still a long way to go before you have to think about Christmas !

3) Eating a meal outside.

4) Wild swimming.

5) Saying out until late.

6) Watching the moon come up.

7) Spending the day in the garden.

8) Only serving cold meals.

9) Chatting to friends you meet on the street.

10) Listening to festival music from far away !

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

On the Road

Having just returned from a long road trip and driving to the airport today it got me thinking of ways to pass the time. Our young guest will have a scavenger hunt checklist in the back of the car with him today to prevent him from falling asleep on the way to the airport. If we don't do that, he won't sleep tonight ! So here are 10 easy activities to try in the car :-

1) Listen to an audio book

2) Sing along to a favourite set of songs

3) Play 'I Spy'

4) Play number plate bingo, where everyone has a bingo sheet and you cross off the numbers when you see them on a number plate.

5) Listen to a podcast

6) Complete a scavenger list eg) 10 things you can see in the country, like a tractor, field of cows etc. You can find some good ones on Pinterest.

7) Organise the spare change before you head into another country.

8) Play advert bingo where everyone has a sheet of adverts to spot e.g.) with a child, with a car etc.

9) Play car make bingo with makes of car e.g.) Ford, Nissan etc.

10 ) Have a nap.

Of course none of these ideas apply to the driver, who will just be driving !!

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Hughenden Manor

Off to Hughenden Manor, the home of Disraeli, yesterday. We decided that our young guest is too young to take into London and he doesn't manage large attractions well so we thought a National Trust property might be more his scale.

Fortunately, Hughenden Manor is well set up for small children and he had fun in the dressing up room in the house. There was an 'I Spy' trail for children around the house and a great map with different places to find, great for his English practice.

We also enjoyed collecting windfall apples in a children's wheelbarrow, watering the plants in the walled garden using a children's watering can and walking down to an area on the river where you could go paddling.

I was also impressed by all the log structures to climb on and through between the car park and the main house.

Well worth a visit if you get the chance and yes, we did discount our visit !

Whipsnade Zoo

We took our young student to Whipsnade Zoo yesterday and there was lots going on. We saved 10% on the ticket price by booking in advance online and then made the most of the day by attending just about all the extra events. The events were all great, especially the Sea Lion Talk and the Birds of the World display.

The penguins were looking rather hot and we were glad of some shady trees and a large playground to have a break around lunch time.

This is not a frugal trip but there was a budget of £50 for an all day outing with the student and an adult admission and a child admission booked in advance came in under that. There was plenty to see and do for a whole day and plenty of bathrooms, which is very important when you have a young guest, so we thought that it was well worth it !

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Leftover Currency

Well I am pleased to be able to report that my transaction with was a complete success. I only sent them the coins on Wednesday and already I have had an email telling me what the coins are worth and promising to have the amount in my bank account by next week.

I am impressed by the speed and the fact that they will exchange coins, which no-one else appears to want. The rate is not too bad either ! So well worth trying if you have some loose currency from various holidays knocking around at home. They also take out of date coins, but not UK ones.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Frugal Friday

It is so good to get back to thinking frugally, rather than frantically wondering how much a few bits of shopping have cost us in a Scandinavian supermarket !

So I did send off some spare foreign currency but have yet to hear how much it is worth. I also corrected the dentist's error about which plan we were on and got them to refund the money. Finally I spoke to the postal survey people and I am going to be kept on for a bit longer than usual as lots of people are away on holiday !

This week I also used the menu plan for our new student guest, made my own cheesecake after calculating that it was cheaper than buying one and only bought what we needed at the supermarket. I also froze leftovers from every meal so I have something quick on hand if I need it over the next few weeks.

I spent my Tesco vouchers on a free 'Prima' magazine subscription as they often have good ideas in the run up to Christmas, I have a whole folder full of cut out pages from old 'Prima ' magazines.

A gentle start to getting back into the frugal groove !

Thursday, 2 August 2018

A Few Pictures

I could not post pictures whilst I was away so thought that you might enjoy a few of the sights today !

Behind the waterfall, it's not often that you can actually get behind one and see the spray !

You don't see churches like this anywhere but Norway !

Getting weather like this all the time is as unusual in Scandinavia as it is at home !

The Cistercians were in Norway and we stayed with a lady who has written a book about them, something I never knew !

We enjoyed wandering the famous wooden alleyways of the Brygge in Bergen. To think all of those buildings used to hold dried salt cod !

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Home Again Home Again !

Well, I'm home again having driven about as far as Moscow and back ! I've learned that you can exchange coins leftover from foreign travel using a service at leftover, so I'm going to try it and let you know how I get on. 

I also learned that whilst I was away I earned £5.46 credit with but that they now take an annual cut of £5, so I only got 46p ! I'm not sure there service is worth it if you have to pay for it !

I also learned that the dental plan we use to cut the price of hygienist visits has gone up but they are billing us for complete private dental treatment, so I shall have to get on to that straight away !

The final thing I learned was that even if you let people know your holiday dates they still send you stuff to do, so the postal survey sent me an envelope which they wanted to be posted on Monday, when I was in Denmark !

Quite a few things to sort out now I'm back !