Monday, 10 October 2016


I read a statistic this week that I won't forget in a hurry. The world is $152 trillion in debt.

As kids we are taught that banks are places where people keep their savings and the bank then lends that money out to people who want to borrow money. If money is based on gold or silver then this idea works. The amount of gold available doesn't change much. A little more is mined each year but the total amount of gold on the planet is finite. This means that the banks would only have money (gold) to lend to people, if they had deposits from people who have savings or excess gold.

Paper money has no physical limits. It literally grows on trees. We can chop down more trees, make more paper and print more money. But the government has put in strict controls to limit who can print money and how much is printed.

There are no controls at all over digital money.

Digital money represents 97% of the money supply according to positive money (who have lots of simple videos to help people understand how money really works). The banks create digital money by typing the numbers into a computer every time a loan is made, then they charge interest on it. No wonder bankers get such big bonuses and have no concern about gambling millions on stock markets and currency speculation, because they can just create more money at the tap of a key.

If you are still struggling to believe this, then ask yourself how the world can be $152 trillion in debt otherwise? Where did all this money come from to lend to people, businesses and countries?

How are we going to pay back all this debt? Create more money of course. But the banks charge interest on all the money they create so in effect you need more money than has been created to be able to repay the debt and interest. The debt can only continue to grow.

If you are personally in debt, which most people in the UK are if they have been to university or have a mortgage, there is a certain amount of stigma and guilt attached to it, along with pressure to pay it back. Partly this comes from the general feeling that we have borrowed someone else's savings, when in reality this money is created by the banks from thin air (not requiring savings or even trees to grow it).

It is important to understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE for everyone to pay back that debt in the current system, because of the interest attached, which means there will always be more money owed than money created. Not unless we change the system so that money creation is controlled and created without any interest attached. Until then people are debt slaves, working all their lives in the hope of paying off their debts so that they can enjoy their old age. Just know that when you pay off your debts they are just getting passed on to the next generation of debt slaves and their burden will always be heavier.

Please don’t get stressed or beat yourself up if you are in debt. Money in its current form is a trap and even most countries with all their financial advisors are in debt. See how fast the UK’s debt is growing here. That is currently equivalent to £48,000 for every tax payer, with an average salary of £27,000, which may put your personal debt into proportion. Some point soon there will need to be a reset – governments going bankrupt and wiping the slate clean. (Only we had best hope that we are out of the EU before then, otherwise they will force the UK to take on more debt, whilst expecting a ‘bail-in’ payment from anyone with savings over £200,000, followed by a sell-off of all assets, such as ports, monuments, and the NHS, whilst simultaneously cutting pensions and welfare payments. Just saying!)

If you want to reduce your personal debt TheMoney Saving Expert website can provide helpful tips to help you budget and save money.

The way I see it is that money no longer represents any kind of barter or exchange. It is purely used as a tool to create debt to the banks (debt slavery). On the flip side barter and exchange rates are not linked to money. Think about it. Anything you want can be bartered or exchanged without money. Money was originally created to make it easier to collect tax. The government struggles to tax 20% of the runner beans that I gave my neighbour or 20% of the jar of jam she gave me in return.
You would be surprised how many exchanges are used every day. For instance, instead of me paying for a taxi or train, my friend gave my son a lift when I wasn’t able to, knowing that I will return the favour (or complete my side of the exchange) for her daughter in the future. If you want to free yourself from debt then increase your exchange, barter, favours and gifts with family, friends and neighbours. From grouping together to provide childcare, carpooling, to couch surfing, hitch-hiking, house swapping and various other ways of cutting money out of your everyday transactions.  Focus on developing new and existing skills such as growing vegetables, carpentry, playing music, hairdressing or anything that gives you something to trade with others for the things you need.
This kind of currency promotes trust and respect – something lost from our banking system.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016


Blue sky makes all the difference
The sky was blue today after yet another storm hit the UK. This was the 9th storm this winter which is more than the average.

Rain approaching
Storms in the UK are certainly not international news, no twisters or snowmaggedons. Just rather dull and continuous rain, accompanied by howling winds. There hasn't even been thunder and lightening to add some excitement. Some areas have experienced flooding or downed power lines, yet it is theunusual pattern of weather that makes it news-worthy for me.

Very wet and muddy dog walks
It is an El Nino year, which has spread a mixed bag of extreme weather across the world. Even so, I can't just shrug it off and expect next year to be 'normal' again. Have we had a 'normal' year in the last decade? A year when rainfall or temperature  records haven't been broken?

I wish rainbows were the only thing coming from this coal-fired power station.
The climate change predictions for the UK (that I read a good few years ago now), indicated that winters would be milder and wetter, with much less frequency of snow. Summers would also be milder and wetter, except for in the Southeast. This describes 2015 pretty well. Last summer was warm, but can anybody remember a day that was actually hot, like sunbathing-on-the-beach hot? We kept wondering when summer would start. And this winter has been exceptionally mild so far, though very wet and stormy.

Are we moving to a 'season-less' climate in the UK, with far less definition between spring and summer or autumn and winter? That is not to say that every year will be like that, just that a trend may be emerging. I mean we can't expect to ignore all the danger signs about climate change and not have to face the consequences.

Lovely traditional stone terraced housing
The good news is that buildings in the UK are built to withstand this kind of weather, at least most of the dwellings are. The majority of dwellings are built of brick or stone, and feel solid and secure whilst the wind is howling round them. The style is for low-rise, compact and often terraced dwellings. Even hurricane strength winds only result in a few chimney pots being toppled, trees falling and power lines being damaged. Watch the scenes in other areas of the world and whole streets of homes get reduced to matchsticks.
Old brick built factory still looking amazing
This is also why we have some of the oldest housing stock - brick houses are expensive and slow to build (compared to timber) and as they last well and are expensive to replace, we keep them. Even more so with stone dwellings. My friend's cottage is over 300 years old, and the thick stone walls would have taken an enormous amount of energy to demolish.

Any excuse for more nice photos
Now I know that old houses get a bad name for not being energy efficient, but that is not entirely true. They tend to be small, so have less volume to heat, and if they are terraced they reduce heat loss by having less external wall area. Houses were built with good natural light in all rooms, before we had electricity and had a cellar and a pantry instead of a fridge or freezer.

That is not to say that older buildings don't feel cold and draughty, but it is worth bearing in mind that a new efficient double-glazed window provides no more insulation than an old solid brick wall. Modern buildings with vast glazed areas are really not a great idea if you wish to reduce your heating bills. You will find that there is more focus on building houses airtight these days, to reduce unwanted draughts, and adding additional insulation to any building will always improve the thermal comfort and efficiency.
Survived since 1483
Other bloggers have noticed changes in their weather patterns too, sometimes major scary events like the forest fires and drought in Tasmania that Jo mentioned, or even small signs of change such as still picking raspberries in November as Mrs Thrift noted. I would love to hear of any changes that you may have noticed, wherever you are. It may be plants flowering earlier or areas flooding that have never been flooded before. It all helps to build up a picture of how the climate is changing and prepare us for what might come next.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Night walk discoveries

One of the changes with going to work each day, is that I can no longer walk the dog whenever I feel like it. Popping out at lunchtime or in between rain showers has been replaced with a walk after dinner, in the dark, whatever the weather. This seems like a bit of a disadvantage in winter, when it is mainly cold, wet and very muddy.

Where daytime walks offer the opportunity for foraging, photos, ball throwing and chatting with other dog walkers, dark evening walks are....well dark....though somehow still very lovely.

To start with I tried my normal walk through the muddy woods, but slipping and sliding through the mud and tripping over roots that I couldn't see was downright dangerous. I could have taken a torch, but it only lights a short distance and spoils my night vision. After a spectacular fall off a wet slippery stile, I headed for more open spaces, where on a cloudy night or with the moon out, visibility is fair.

And now the cold crisp evenings are wonderful, and blissfully quiet with all the people tucked up in their cosy warm houses. Even rainy evenings are really not that bad, but the best are when the stars come out.

The bright stars at Orion's belt are easy to spot
My knowledge of stars is rubbish, but I really wanted to know if what I thought was Orion's belt really was. So I got a stargazing app, and I'm loving it. Yes, if you ever see the silhouette of a woman stood out in the dark staring up at her mobile held above her head - it's me :-) Of course it is easier to just lay in bed and aim it at the ceiling and the app still shows you the stars, but I like standing alone on the hill overlooking all the twinkly lights from the town and feeling like a speck in this vast universe.

I could always find the saucepan shape but didn't know it was Ursa Major, the Great Bear

Another night-walk discovery is that all the trees have dog tags. On a windy night they jingle at you as you walk past. It did take me a while to realise that we were not being followed everywhere by a cat with a bell on its collar.

I have known for a while that the bigger, older trees, that maybe need protecting have numbered tags, and I am sure this must help to keep track of which tree is which, and find them when they get lost. But all the trees? Right down to the scrawny little things, that are more of a large shrub? Surely not!

If anyone knows the purpose then please do share it, as I am sure there must be some good intentions somewhere behind this madness? Is someone watching and recording all the trees being wiped out by climate change? Or maybe it is just part of the council's maintenance program? It just seems a waste to me. The time and money spent hammering tags into trees and recording them all, could surely have been better spent on planting new trees, to help our degraded landscape heal.

Next time you listen to the wind whispering through the trees, don't be surprised to find that they jingle now instead!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Almond croissants

Yesterday I made almond croissants! Yes the kitchen smelled delicious and I do love the whole anticipation of cooking, especially when it is a bit of an unplanned adventure.

I popped out to the supermarket at 8pm, and found lots of lovely reduced items, including croissants for 40p. Croissants always remind me of holidays in France, though these would be but a pale comparison of the freshly baked croissants from the boulangerie.

This summer my cousin had told me how delicious almond croissants were - they are truly divine. To use up leftover croissants, they are filled with frangipane and baked again to make more of a sweet Danish.

I used a simple frangipane recipe shown below, but it used vanilla essence, whereas I will be using almond essence in future for a stronger almond flavour. This is my first attempt, but next time I will also spread more mixture on top to stop the croissants getting too dark. And maybe a sprinkle of sliced almonds to top them off.

100g ground almonds
100g butter
80g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or almond)

Mix all the ingredients together. Stuff and spread your croissants, then bake them for 18 mins at around 180 deg C. This made enough mixture to generously stuff 4 croissants and would have stretched to 6.

I also bought 3 packets of dill reduced to 10p each. I have hung them in the kitchen to dry out, so that I can chop and store them for sprinkling on salmon. It is nice to feel that I have got a bargain and saved some food from being wasted.

I should probably mention that I have started a new job and I am back working the 9 to 5 again. 2015 was so busy for my little consultancy, that I had been working days and nights to try and keep up. Now that I am starting to get my evenings back I can enjoy cooking and blogging again.

I am not sure how things will work out with my allotment. Spring is fast approaching and I have barely started the gardening jobs that were due back in the Autumn! I am not ready to give up on it yet though. I just love that I still have a supply of my home grown potatoes and squash in the garage, and raspberries and runner beans in the freezer. It is so nice to announce at each meal that I have grown the cabbage, or the tomatoes in the sauce.

What began as a journey to be more green, by eating organic, locally grown food and reducing waste, seemed like hard work from the outset. Yet it has turned out to be rather enjoyable. Food makes me happy. I enjoy growing it, shopping for it, cooking it and sharing the end result with family and friends. I love that I substituted a handful of weeds for parsley in my stuffing at Christmas and no one was the wiser. But most of all I love..... almond Croissants ;-)

What do you love about food?

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Feels like Autumn

It has been very quiet at Ration The Future for 2 months! Sorry to my regular readers. I would love to be disciplined enough to commit to a weekly blog, but that isn't how my life is right now. I have worked long hours on a large project all summer - it feels like I have skipped straight to Autumn. The mornings are cold, evenings are shorter and the bounty of courgettes, cucumbers and beans is tailing off now.

Produce from my garden, including chickpeas.

This week I went to the car boot sale with my eldest daughter, who has just returned from finishing Uni. She was delighted to find several nearly new tops, a dress and a skirt all with labels from her favorite shops. Her little sister liked the dress too and has commandeered it!

In addition we bought some unopened gift sets with body lotions and shower gels, some from the body shop, which were all small travel size bottles, so very handy.

I only bought 2 items for me, but I love them both. One was an egg run, that I had seen for £17 in the Organic Gardening Catalogue and had decided it was too expensive for me to buy when a cardboard egg box does the trick for nothing. But when I spotted it at the car boot and the lady only wanted £1....well it seemed like fate.

I have always kept my eggs in the fridge, but as my fridge is in need of replacing and I am hoping to downsize it, to save money and energy, it is time to keep the eggs out. And don't you love my multi-coloured eggs too? I buy them from a friend each week and love that they are green and white as well as brown :-)

Then I spotted a purse. Not just any purse, but a Ness purse and it was brand new, complete with label for £24.95. Aren't the materials gorgeous? It was mine for just £2.50, so how could I pass that up?

When my husband and I visited the Isle of Skye for his birthday many years ago, I found a lovely little Ness shop and bought myself a purse. You may think that the lovely tartan material might not be as hard wearing as leather, but it lasted me 5 years! I like that the company is based in Scotland, aims to source materials from the UK where it can, and centers its designs on traditional Scottish tartan. Buying local twice over, so no consumer guilt about this purchase. I haven't decided whether to keep it, as it is a larger design than I normally go for, but it would make a lovely gift if not.

As well as all the goodies already mentioned, I bought some books and toys for my cousin's children. We spent a total of £15 and made it home with no packaging, not even a carrier bag! Ethical shopping is bliss :-)

But as Jo at All the blue day has pointed out, a 'one in, one out' policy is required, as buying is only one side of the story.

We had already had a big clearout of clothes. I gave some to friends, sold some at the car boot sale, donated some to charity and took less sale-able clothes to the '£5 a bag' shop. I felt like I had cleared out so much stuff.......but then my daughter arrived home from Uni with all her cooking utensils, clothes and furnishings and we had to have an even bigger sort out to make some space. this time it was the shoe drawers, coat rack, teddies, craft stuff and kitchen equipment that was under the spotlight.

It is a great idea to have a clear out and get rid of all the items that are not used regularly, but on the other hand there is an element of being prepared that seems to oppose this idea. For instance I have a stock of old woollen blankets. Some of them get used when we go camping, but most haven't been touched for years. Yet a few years before we moved to Loughborough there was a cold snowy winter where they had a powercut, and many homes had no alternative heating source. So in the interest of preparedness, the blankets are staying.

It is funny how many things about living lightly on the planet clash. Such as being frugal and supporting local organic producers. Or being prepared for the climate change future we face and living a minimalist lifestyle. Or even just storing all your home-grown produce and trying to reduce disposable plastic bags and containers. How else can I store my fresh lettuce or frozen blackberries? It is all a choice between what means the most to you.

Lovely homegrown veg stored for PLASTIC!!!!
Well, we have 4 bags for selling at the carboot sale and a couple of boxes of kitchen equipment to donate to refugees. I am just loving how organised and clutter free the house is starting to feel, lets see if I can keep it up :-)