I took my new toy with me when I went to Site this week, so that I could surf the internet in the evenings. It is small enough that it fits into a large handbag. I did a bit of surfing, but mainly I downloaded some programs I'd missed on the BBC and watched those. I'm a big fan of the BBC, so I was very happy when the leader in my breakfast copy of The Times was a message to the TV regulator telling him to back off and leave the BBC (and its funding) alone.
Thank you Mr Editor; for once we are in total agreement.
When I was driving back today, it struck me that I never explained why I'm feeling so broke this month. I didn't really have an explanation ("Gone mad on wool" isn't strictly true - the Sanity Fund covers that). This afternoon, the penny dropped. I've fallen foul of No Pay Day. For seven years, December's salary was paid on the 31st December, but I changed jobs two years ago. And this company does its December payroll on the last Friday before Christmas; this time that was nearly two weeks before the end of the month.
In one respect, driving home was a bit of a white knuckle ride. The Toy is just a handful of miles off passing another milestone: 180,000 miles in just over 8 years. A milestone I'd like to record. I didn't take a camera with me when I went to Site. My nearly-seven-years-old mobile phone doesn't have one built in, either. Fortunately, I got home with 179,980 miles on the clock. We'll hit the milestone tomorrow.
I've mentioned before about the British media's latest obsession, the new frugality. Last night, I caught the last 10 minutes of a Dispatches program, The True Cost of Cheap Food. They had several axes to grind, but the bit that I picked up on was that they'd challenged two families in Leeds to change their shopping habits. Both were classic nuclear families: two parents, two school-aged children. One family had to buy only supermarket budget lines; the other family had to only shop at small, local stores: the green grocer, the butcher, the delicatessen, the street market.
The results were interesting: both families saved significant amounts of money. The Budget Lines family cut their spending to approximately £250; the Small Shops people cut theirs to £350-ish. God knows what they were living on before - they both regularly spent over £500 a month on groceries. How??? That's practically a mortgage payment!
Speaking of mortgage payments..... Thanks to the latest Bank of England base-rate cut to 1.5%, the tracker mortgage I have on the flat has fallen by two-thirds in less than a year.