Advent 14: Silly Jumpers

Christmas jumper party at the Southampton Christmas Market © SOL

As children we wore our Christmas sweaters all winter – They were more like the tasteful Nordic ones then only not as good crafting.

Scene from Bridget Jones Diary (2001) 
Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield wearing Christmas jumpers

For anyone that has read or seen the Bridget Jones Diary (2001) movie, they will know that in the UK we wear silly pullovers at Christmas. Knitwear presents are popular and if your aunt has spent the year knitting that embarrassing sweater for you, then the least you can do is wear it to family gatherings over Christmas.

But since that film these jumpers have taken off in a big way. Sixteen years later, we now even import cheap acrylic ones from China. We have a Christmas jumper at work day to raise money for charity and Presenters even wear them on television! There are nights out and pub-crawls where it is compulsory to wear your Christmas jumper.

Here are more photos I took from the Christmas jumper night out at Southampton’s Christmas market – click on to enlarge:

Some of my favourites:

Take a look at these Cheesy Jumpers on WordPress

What do you wear at Christmas?



Advent 1: Charity

Charity shop gifts and cards © Southampton Old Lady
Christmas cards in aid of Cancer Research UK © Southampton Old Lady
Charity Donations © Southampton Old Lady

Buy Nothing Friday  


Upstairs in the Art House

Black Friday is a recent consumer sales hype adapted from North America which takes place after Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November) despite the fact that the UK does not even celebrate Thanksgiving.

Buy Nothing Day is an annual event in Britain to highlight the issues around consumerism, especially in the lead-up to the festive season.  It’s a day where you challenge yourself, your family and friends to switch off from shopping and tune into life!

Curb giving away food at a recent festival

To mark Buy Nothing Day in the City of Southampton, this Black Friday, the Art House Café is partnering with Curb, The Real Junk Food Project, Clothes Swap and Books for Free!

They will be taking over The Art House until 6pm on the 25 November, offering food on a pay-as-you-feel basis, clothes to swap or pay-as-you-feel and books by donation!

P1130006Food will be available until it runs out – a big part of waste reduction is challenging the notion that there is always ‘plenty’.  Be sure you get a plateful of delicious nosh made from food diverted from landfill.

Drop in any time to enjoy some nosh, swap your clothes, pick up a book and have a chat about the ways you can reduce waste in your own home.

178 Above Bar Street, Southampton, Hampshire, UK SO14 7DW

Copyright © 2016 The Art House Southampton CIC, All rights reserved.




The Shopping Lists Addict

Shopping List found at Aldi, Southampton

Bread, milk eggs, meat for stew, steaks, double cream, blue eggs (trendy tinted ones?), cauliflower and/or broccoli, pointed peppers,  bottle of Merlot wine, 5-6 pots of heather (lovingly doodled).

Further to my Confessions of a yellow-sticker shopper (two posts back – or click here) – I have become addicted to a wonderful new blog called The Shopping Lists (click to visit if you dare – you may become addicted too!)

The site records scribbled, shopping lists, mostly those left behind in supermarket trolleys.

The Shopping Lists tries to piece together what these people are like via their eating habits and lifestyles. Comments are encouraged offering answers to clues about the shopper’s circumstance.  What’s the meal and how many are they cooking for?  What age, gender, time of year ? – Is it a party?

I have spent the last few evenings playing detective with every list posted. And before I send in this one – perhaps we can guess that this list is for a posh, romantic dinner at home for two, then a bit of gardening at the weekend. The ‘meat for stew’ has been crossed off – so perhaps at the last minute they have been informed that they will be on their own for the weekend and suddenly changed the menu?

You can also submit your own found shopping list by tweeting to @tshoppinglists or send an email to



Confessions of a Yellow Sticker Shopper

Sweet and Crunchy Stir Fry tonight, reduced from £1.27 to just 9 pence. © Southampton Old Lady
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.

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.


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.

My husband often makes our own bread, but we often take advantage of reduced priced bread when we need extra.
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?


Challenge: What’s in your Shopping Basket?

March 2016 © Southampton Old Lady
March 2016 © Southampton Old Lady

My deep freezer broke down a few weeks ago and although I had to throw some away, we managed to give away lots and live off the rest. We are currently doing some serious de-junking as we will need to move somewhere smaller, so the freezer will not be replaced and we have to get used to shopping on a smaller scale. I am always intrigued when I go into a supermarket what people put in their baskets. Some do their whole weekly shop and others just get a few special offers, including gadgets, that brand has to offer.

I have been inspired by a few other wordpress blogs as to what foods people buy. Firstly Frankie Bean showed us what a corner shop sold in Halifax, Nova Scotia, then Third Time Lucky showed what was in her fridge in Hampshire, England.

So here’s a photo of my most recent shop at Aldi – basics really. I am not a loyal customer. I shop at all the stores near when passing. I live with a family of good cooks, so we hardly ever  buy ready-meals unless they are ridiculously cheap after reaching their sell-by date.

Shopping: Corn Flakes (bargain 33% extra free), Weetabix, plain poppodoms (ready to eat, though we often fry our own. Although of Indian origin, these are officially part of a British diet these days just as Italian spaghetti is), malted bloomer sliced loaf of bread (my husband usually makes ours in a bread-maker but we sometimes buy a loaf too if we have guests), one dozen free range eggs (I really miss my chickens), cat food pouches and a box of dried cat food (our semi-wild cat came from The Alhambra in Spain after quarantine and is 13 years old), half a dozen hot cross buns (well this was just before Easter), British Cos lettuce (2 in a bag), tin (English for can) of baked beans, bunch of fair trade bananas, punnet of cherry tomatoes (I try to support British but the Spanish ones taste so much better), 2 litre bottle of semi-skimmed milk.

So what’s in your shopping basket?

Let me know or post a photo or/and a list and perhaps leave a pingback: ‎