I must say I am feeling pretty smug this month. There are 12 days left until payday and I have managed to hold on to some money, despite getting my January wages on the 18th December, instead of the 28th.
I did a big shop at my local market (fruit and veg) and at Lidl (everything else), spent £30 and bought enough food to last me for three weeks. Admittedly I have bought a few extras along the way, and I'm aware there are four weeks in a month and not three, but I still have some food in the fridge and freezer.
My main coup has been making 15 portions of soup and freezing them - that's lunch every day for three weeks. The downside is that I have to eat soup every day at work, and people in the office like to marvel aloud how I can eat so much and not get bored.
I am slightly bored, but I'd rather go out for drinks after work, than spend £8 on a fucking burrito to eat on my own at my desk.
I didn't spend that much money on Christmas presents, as we decided to do a Secret Santa with my family. I still did a stocking for mum, and bought presents for my gran and for my boyfriend (that makes it sound like I bought them joint presents - I did not), but the Secret Santa was only £20.
I spent most of my money on train tickets! Over Christmas I got the train A LOT. I went to Manchester and saw my mum, then the next day I went to Liverpool and saw my nana. She was in hospital again. Remember last year when she was in because they fucked up her bowels while carrying out a test for ovarian cancer? Then they sewed her up badly and she got septicemia, and after that she couldn't eat or drink for six months. She was well enough to leave by March and went to live in her new flat, but then a few months ago she was rushed into hospital again, and now she's in a hospice.
It's a bit weird as nobody really told me what was wrong at first, I just knew it was serious so I took the next day off work, which happened to be a Friday, and went to see her. I'm so glad I did, as she was still herself then.
I took Phil to see her and she liked that. On the first day he didn't come to the hospital with me, as I wasn't sure what she would be like. But then as I was leaving she said to nobody in particular, "Ok bye bye now. She's brought her boyfriend but I don't get to meet him, so there you go. Anyway bye bye, he's with her in Liverpool but I won't meet him, ta-rah now anyway."
So the next day I brought him along and he got to meet Nana when she was still very lively and herself. Occasionally she got confused, but that's to be expected. She told me her mechanic came to see her and said he was going to fix her heart with his key, then she frowned as if that wasn't right.
"Are you sure that wasn't a dream, Nana?" I said.
"Yeah... yeah it was I think." she said.
Sometimes I wake up and think my dreams have really happened, especially if I've dreamt about something happening in my bedroom at night. It's easy to see how you could get confused, being in a hospital on drugs.
But that was a couple of months ago. I went to see her just before Christmas in the hospice. When I walked in, she said "Ian's on the sewing machine, making his jeans tight."
Ian is my dad. When he was younger he used to adjust his jeans to make them skinny. I guess now bits of her life are coming in and out of focus. She kept asking about my dad in hospital. He is the one she always worried about, I think. He went to see her once, but I'm not sure if he's been to the hospice.
I don't know that side of the family very well, I'm not sure what I should be doing. I asked my auntie if I could go at the end of this month, because I'll be up north for my mum's birthday, and she said it is difficult to plan. Should I be trying to go every weekend? Is it bad that I planned to go because I would be up north anyway?
I don't know anything.
Anyway. I didn't plan on talking about my nana, I was going to talk about soup. My nana loves soup, maybe that's why. The good thing about her being in the hospital this time is that she could eat and drink. She showed me all the menus and read them out to me.
"Everybody asks me why I keep these," she said, "I say I've got me own very good reasons for keeping them."
My aunty said Nana just liked to read about what food she'd eaten and what she might've been eating next. She liked the food at the hospital, and when she was moved to the hospice she said she'd missed out on a fish and chip supper, so they went out to the local chippy and got her one.
Anyway. Nana would be very pleased with my soup-making escapades, I think. I've had tomato and basil, parsnip and ginger and pea and mint on rotation. They are so cheap to make. Sometimes I walk to the big Sainsbury's and get a bread roll for 25p, and I've bought the odd avocado as well if I've been hungry.
I think people at work think I am on some sort of crazy diet, but I don't care. I'm one of the only girls who says yes to every slice of birthday cake and has biscuits with my tea, precisely because I'm eating fucking soup every day. It's like when I worked in a bar and I ate everything in sight because I had such a physical job. Now I sit on my arse every day so I don't need to eat as much, but at least I know I've had a good intake of vegetables.
It's more about the money anyway. I think even when I get paid I will carry on trying to spend next to nothing on food, as then I can go out for more meals and go on more holidays.
Soup is the answer, my friends! Buy a hand blender and change your life.