Confessions of a Yellow Sticker Shopper

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Sweet and Crunchy Stir Fry tonight, reduced from £1.27 to just 9 pence. © Southampton Old Lady
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Supermarket own brand essentials are cheap. Many products these days taste almost as good and sometimes even better than high-brand labelled foods.

I am a yellow sticker shopper. I haven’t always been. I have been almost rich; I have been almost poor. When I am on a limited budget, I become a strict Budgetarian, surviving on very little money, but eating quite well on a mixture of in-season vegetables and supermarket brand basics, coupled with reduced-price meal packs with yellow stickers because they are at the sell-by or best-before date.

When I was a student, I worked as a waitress for Southampton’s Top Rank Bannister Ballroom in the evenings which included a free burger each shift and weekly cinema tickets.

My College provided cheap lunches during the week; On Saturdays, I would take it turns with five other students to cook a meal for all six of us. I would always look for these yellow-stickerred food packs on the day to decide what we were having and shop late at the vegetable market (Kingsland Square), buying bruised fruit and veg. The menu each weekend was interesting.

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Chicken, chargrilled peppers with Moroccan Style Cous Cous. A healthy take-away Snack Pot reduced from £1.60 to 15 pence. And you don’t even need to do the washing up after.

 

One pot stews and curries were common because they were easy, and anything could be put it them. There was an Italian student who cooked delicious pasta sauces, and once someone made a pie using a tin of dog food (Pedigree Chum) as the filling – which was awful – but I could taste the beneficial added vitamins!

Those were very happy, memorable times and very different to today whereby students seem to live on expensive take-aways delivered to the door.

I hope that with these days of student loans, I can offer this article as advice – “Throw away those pizza delivery leaflets, that bombard your letter-boxes, immediately”.

Once I had a full-time job, I ate whatever I wanted and ate out at restaurants quite often, sometimes three times a week.

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A year after my chemo I went back to work, but after a year or two, chemo brain (which is slang for a cognitive problem following certain types of Cancer and its treatment) came knocking and I was forced to give up working. So I currently have no income. My husband is paying off a £12,000 debt due to a mistake made by the DWP (pensions department) in 2007. So we are currently back to living a thrifty lifestyle.

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My husband often makes our own bread, but we often take advantage of reduced priced bread when we need extra.
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One pint of beer each at The Cowherds pub on Southampton Common – a treat not taken for granted.

We are back to yellow stickers, shopping coupons and free entertainments other than television. By free entertainments, I mean free festivals and walks – local seniors were allowed in free to Southampton Boat Show.  So we went to that last week.

Because we are careful, we are able to treat ourselves to little luxuries, such one pint of beer in a pub or perhaps a discount meal at a restaurant once a month.

My husband was brought up on war rationing, which was really difficult, so he learned many budget cooking skills and how to grow our own vegetables.

Do you have any food shopping confessions?

Fun 2: Seniors

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Second from the right is my husband
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Yes that’s him with Emily – their boots in the air

About an hour drive from Southampton towards London on the M3 is the giant funfair Thorpe Park, making it the nearest one to London.

My husband, sporting a blue cardigan, will be 80 this year (much older than me).  He spent a joyous day on location at this attraction last week, shooting its latest commercial with Emily Barker – a character who visits on a regular basis.

Seniors have campaigned against age-discrimination with regard to special offers at funfairs. So in an effort to correct this, Thorpe Park have just launched an Old Age Coasters (OAC) Pass which provides multiple discounts for the over-65s.

My husband is a retired helicopter pilot and loves the rush. He is a bit of a dare-devil – last year he went paragliding with my daughter – she takes after him.

Are you an adrenaline junkie?  (No I am not getting paid for this)

 

Click on the links:

The actual TV commercial on YouTube

News item about the OAC Pass in London’s Evening Standard
Article from my Art So Provident  site about Derren Brown‘s macabre theme rides at Thorpe Park
Thorpe Park  website
Official Thorpe Park photographer photos first used in Evening Standard

Fun Arcade

When I saw these vintage penny arcade machines at Portsmouth’s  Historical Dockyard, it brought back so many happy childhood memories of going to the Southsea funfair with my parents. I loved the puppets so much and could remember exactly what would happen before I put my coin in. I am so happy to find that they still exist in a museum.

In response to the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Fun

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A coin in this machine has this “Laughing Sailor” belly-laughing so infectiously that the most grumpy person ends up chuckling to it.
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The machine reveals funny things that happen to “The Drunkard” (from erotic to nightmarish) in  his dream as he crashes out in the beer cellar
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Ghosts galore in “The Haunted Churchyard”
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An art nuevo machine with crane to attempt to catch sweets.
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“The Burglar” finds himself distracted by the fire cracking, the radio pipping, the victim snoring while he tries hard to listen to the clicks of the dial of the safe.

Admiration: 101-year-old Abseiler

Amazing People N˚ 5: Doris Long

'Daring Doris' Long, 101-year-old abseils down Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower on her birthday.
‘Daring Doris’ Long, 101-year-old abseils down Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

This weeks WordPress photo challenge: Admiration. 

Brief: Show us someone or something you admire (and tell us about them, too)!

The world’s oldest abseiler, Doris Long, increased her record after descending almost 100m (328ft) at the grand age of 101 years, last Summer on her birthday and hopes to beat her own record this month when she will be 102.

The senior citizen, who received an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) from The Queen for her services to her community, started abseiling when she was aged 85 and for her birthday in May each year, climbs down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, England.

Spinnaker Tower viewed from Gosport, Hampshire © Southampton Old Lady
Spinnaker Tower viewed from Gosport, Hampshire © Southampton Old Lady

This Solent landmark in Hampshire, is half as high as Nelson’s Column, making it one of the tallest accessible structures in the United Kingdom outside London.

The admirable stunts from “Daring Doris” as she is affectionately named locally, raises much need money for the nearby Rowans Hospice. This local charity is dedicated to improving the lives of people with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.

To see others or take part in this WordPress challenge click on: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/admiration/

 

 

Future: Museum Photos

I imagined that I was a person from the future, taking photos in a museum about the history of this decade (2010-2020 The Shrinking Age). Here are 12 photos I might have taken of relics in cabinets.

2010-2020 The World Shrinking Age.
2010-2020 The Shrinking Age. Attempts to leave earth to live on other planets.
Vacuum packed travel food known as 'Space Food'
Vacuum-packed travel food known as ‘Space Food’ with ‘bar codes’
Glass bottles of wine with corks and labels from around the World
Glass bottles of wine with corks and labels from countries around Earth
chef's utensils
A chef’s utensils circa 2015
This decade saw dawning of 3D printing
This decade saw the dawning of 3D printing
British police uniform - 'rapid response'
British police uniform – ‘rapid response’
homeless deterrent spikes as the numbers living on the streets increase
Homeless deterrent spikes as the numbers living on streets in cities increased
Robotic arm
Robotic arm for warehouse workers employed by ‘online shopping’ sites on Earth. Companies later set up off-world finance accounts to avoid paying taxes and minimum wages.
ATMs
ATMs for collecting bank notes that were exchanged for goods. These were used from the 1980s until near the end of this decade
Same sex marriages - bridal fashion
Same sex marriages – bridal fashion mixed traditional with new
handbags
Handbags were only carried by women, as a fashion statement. It was their most expensive status symbol.
garden sheds/pods originally offered a private place to potter but became living spaces due to home shortages.
Garden sheds/pods originally offered a private place to “potter about in the garden”, but became living spaces when homes were in short supply.  The ‘Green-space Uprising” brought about vast changes in architecture following this.

This project is in response the WordPress Photo ChallengeFuture

All taken in 2015 © Southampton Old Lady. They were snapped at various exhibitions in England as well on streets and in auction houses.

To see others or submit your own click here: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/future/

Let me know what relics you think you might find at in a future museum…

Amazing People Nº4: Julia Hilling (1925-ish – 2015)

Julia Hilling, one of my most charming friends died last August.

Her stage name was Julia Bretton. She began her career at the age of 17 as a Windmill Girl at London’s Windmill Theatre.

The Windmill was known worldwide as the theatre that “never closed” or should that be “never clothed”?  Scantily-clad beauties performed in this basement theatre throughout WWII to keep up the morale of allies and locals alike. It was seen as an important beacon to keep spirits alight during a frightening time and always remained open while bombs dropped.

It was the subject of the award winning film “Mrs Henderson Presents” starring Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, and is currently being staged as a musical at the Nöel Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

Promotional photo for "Mrs Henderson Presents" at the Noel Coward Theatre, London
Promotional photo for “Mrs Henderson Presents” at the Noel Coward Theatre, London

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Julia explained to me how, with the other ‘girls’ she slept at the theatre in their dressing room while performing in revues alongside people like Sir Bruce Forsyth. “We were well looked after and any men backstage behaved very gentlemanly”.

As well as starring in other staged musicals as Julia Bretton, she had minor roles in films (talkies) in the1940s.

She outlived five husbands – all of whom were, “absolutely wonderful! – “I loved them all!”  One of whom is buried in a cemetery in the New Forest, Hampshire, but she could never remember whether it was in Lymington or Lyndhurst.

Julia 4I first met her when I called auditions in the mid-90s. She had retired to live in Spain and I was directing The Sleeping Beauty, a pantomime I had drafted for the Salon Variétes theatre in Fuengirola. Julia was having problems remembering lines and moving around the stage by that time, but she had such audience charisma and was so regal that I gave her the part as the Queen, sat her on a throne and taped her lines to props. She was marvellous and even brought her own little Spanish hairdresser to tidy up her locks while she was off-stage.

Although much older than me, we remained friends as we both had a love of opera and Cole Porter. She did a wonderful rendition of “Mad About the Boy” and she belly-danced at my 50th birthday party. When theatre crowds are renowned to be bitchy, no-one I know has ever heard Julia utter a bad word about anyone.

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In 2005 she, along with other colleagues on the Costa del Sol, was sold a dodgy, equity-release investment package by fraudulent financial advisors. After handing over the deeds to her home in return for living expenses until death, she was only given living expenses by the Rothschild bank for the first two years, then was expected to hand over her apartment. She took all this in her stride and refused to move.

This enigmatic woman deserves to be on the amazing-people-I-have-known list. She had charm, class and even well into her 80s, had sex-appeal.

 

Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014
Julia talking to Sid at the Manilla Bar, Costa del Sol 2014

Before I left to return to England she started dating another ‘amazing’ friend of mine called Sid – a famous Talk of the Town pianist who accompanied 1960s divas from Shirley Bassey to Julie Andrews.

Julia had a big sexual appetite apparently, and despite both being in their 80s then, Sid complained about the amount of viagra he was having to take to keep up. Sadly he also died. So she outlived him too.

My biggest memory is bumping into her in a Lidl supermarket one morning. She was wafting around with a trolley, just after opening time, wearing a cocktail dress and full make-up including false eyelashes. “Julia! Look at you –  always so glamorous”  I remarked.

“Oh! I haven’t been home yet, Darling!” She explained: “I’ve been to a party. It lasted all night!”

RIP Julia. Life is a cabaret old chum!

Photo Challenge: One Love

Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Locks on a bridge, Salzburg © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
© 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady
Two hearts, one lock. © 2016 Southampton Old Lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Weekly WordPress Challenge: “One Love:

If you would like to see others or take part, click here: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/one-love/