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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your support, hope that this blog will be a practical and useful extension to my published document on preparing your stockpile for potential hardship. We really are living in very scary times, but my aim is to create a resource that will dissuade panic, and reassure people in the coming years.

As always I’m available on Twitter at @IncorrectEn and through my email. Let me know what you would like to see from this blog. I’ll be charting my own journey through prepping, but would be very happy to try and feature some discussions from you guys.

Once again, thank you!!

Samantha

Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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Earning My Green Fingers (by getting them brown with mud) – Part 2

Dear Friends!

Tiny update, but I’m feeling pretty proud of my garden progress. Here are some recent pictures of the new additions to my growing garden and how I’m hoping they will be helpful in times to come.

First I’ll start with some welcome signs that spring is on its way: my Chinese cherry blossom (a gift from my grandparents) and dwarf apple are getting ready to explode in the coming weeks, and the new camelia I nabbed for £8 from Tesco is starting to show its late winter blooms.

 

I also raided the sales for cheap herbs, since they’re worth more than their weight in culinary gold. If we’re going to be relying on stockpiled food for many weeks then some free herbs will liven things up. I have parsley, mint, sorrel, marjoram and thyme. I’ve also planted some basil, chive and oregano seeds. Cheap and cheerful. Also my tiny £1 Mexican orange blossom is looking pretty sweet in one of the old wicker containers.

 

Speaking of sales, I also nabbed a cheap raspberry tree and strawberry hanging basket from Asda, and some planting shallots from the local garden centre since it’s getting close to spring and it’s a good time to plant out underground veg. When the next warm spell comes I’ll get my potatoes going too.

 

Containers are definitely the way to go when you’re very limited for space, or if you have poor quality shallow soil in your garden (like most modern build houses sadly). Look for the cheap sales at supermarkets or buy seeds for the cheapest option, though prepare to put the work in getting the seeds going.

Samantha

Earning My Green Fingers (by getting them brown with mud) – Part 1

Dear Friends,

Dig for victory? That’s not very realistic if we’re honest with ourselves. For the vast majority of people growing lots of food in the garden is near impossible. Few people have access to an allotment, and fruit trees and ready grown plants can be very expensive. But can we do anything at all with our gardens.

So far at the very least tidying and weeding have proved to be great stress busters. I’ve had a terrible couple of months, so taking it out on dandelions and random grasses has been great to help with the stress, as well as getting fresh air and a good spate of unexpected but welcome February sunshine.

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The borders are tidy now, the pots are ready for potatoes, onions and garlic, and we have more space for extra planters when we have the money. Cheap buckets work just as well as expensive garden centre planters, so long as you remember to bash some holes into the bottom. Our fire bin is full of ash, and we’re going to look into starting a compost bin. Buckets can also be left out to catch rainwater, saving on bills.

I also picked up some cheap stuff while I was shopping-  a strawberry hanging basket and a bucket full of plants to attract bees and butterflies. Here’s hoping!

I’ll be updating here regularly, hope it inspires some of you to at least enjoy taking your stress out on the garden!

Tin Can Treasure Trove?

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your support so far, it’s been absolutely lovely. I’ll continue to be there for each and every one of you whenever I can, don’t be afraid to email me or find me over on Twitter.

Today I got started on my own stockpile (caution: lots of pictures). It’s a rainy Wednesday and I’m stuck in with a mild throat infection, but trying to get the house in shape for Christmas. Trying being the operative word- hunting for bags of random tin cans that I’ve been slowly squirrelling away since early summer; clearing a space under the stairs for the tins to go in crates; starting some kind of logging system, knowing I have the executive skills of a pre-teen.

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Yep, my house is a complete tip, and that’s not even in the “being modest about my palace” kind of way. It’s bad. But eventually bags of tins began to merge and lots of recycling and a bit of trashing gave me a space under the stairs. So what better way to start than randomly piling all the tins into the new clean space?

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Yeah. Smart.

Luckily I have a husband with a practical head, who had a box of cheap crates ordered from the internet. Cardboard boxes would work just fine for this if you’re strapped for cash, but there’s a radiator in this space so we needed something that wasn’t going to set on fire and get us in trouble with the local council.

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Ta-dah!!

So at the back of the space went all of our camping equipment, butane canisters, the big bags of pasta and cat food, and a bag of packet food.

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Then finally I started trying to figure out a system for my crates of tinned food. Waving goodbye to the Playstation 2 games in the large box (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Dutch, noooo) I set some crates up, using the dog cage as a barrier against the radiator. These I have labelled from bottom to top- 1A, 1B, 1C etc. Each crate has a list in my book of what kinds of food are in there, every can with a Best Before date and the weight of the food inside for calorie counting.

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Still a long way to go, but after a quick coffee and mince pie I’ll try and have this done before lunch.

Would love to see pictures of your stockpiles, and hear which systems you use to log everything, if any. It’s hard to be organised with this sort of thing without feeling like it’s a step too far into Hystericalsville, but knowing the dates of each tin will hopefully make it easier to know what can potentially be donated to a local food bank at a later date.

Thanks for bearing with me!

Samantha

Tesco Christmas food collection

Dear friends,

Just found some useful information from Tesco about their Christmas food bank drive. I’m really pleased that they’ve decided to repeat this after the success of last year, and hope that it’ll be even bigger this time around. Here’s a scan from their free magazine with the information:

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It would be amazing if they could roll out Express collections to last all year round, not just at Christmas. I live near an Extra store (one of the large ones) which have a year-round basket, and would love to see that as a permanent feature at the Express stores.

Here’s more information about Tesco’s co-operation with the Trussell Trust and FareShare, and some handy lists of what they need to collect the most: https://www.tesco.com/food-collection/

Samantha

Families can be diverse, and that’s beautiful.

Dear friends,

Thank you for your support! It’s been lovely to see some people taking an interest, and I truly hope that my guide Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst will be of some use to you all. Please continue to give feedback and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to expand on in this blog.

I thought I’d talk a little bit about my current situation, and what lead me to write my guide. Mine is a bit of a strange story so please bear with me.

So far I have been a stay-at-home carer for 10 years, since my eldest son got his diagnosis of autism in 2009. Our family has a lot of autism, so we’ve always tried to be a very flexible and inclusive family, free of stigma and free of judgement. We muck in. We try and make allowances for each other so everyone feels safe and free to be themselves. Often we’ve had to go against society’s grain- often I’m found on Twitter screaming about the injustices facing Special Needs children, autistic adults, my own choice to stay at home and be available literally 24/7. I’ve been called a “benefits scrounger”, “workshy”, an “attention seeker”. But I will never regret being immediately available when someone in the family needs my help.

I’m also one of the people who found love across the border. My husband is Dutch, and exercised his right to Freedom Of Movement, coming to the UK to study and then work. Shortly after my younger son got his diagnosis he also made the tough decision to give up work and stay at home to help me care for him. It’s been shocking and saddening to see him face even worse stigma for a loving choice. But we muck in. We try to do it with a smile too.

Families can be very diverse, and that’s beautiful.

Sadly society doesn’t always value diverse. It is expected that people will slot neatly into the 2x parents working for a middle class income to feed their 2x children ideal. No more no less. But life has a way of blasting these small parameters wide open. More children may come into their lives. Someone might lose a job. Someone might take a massive pay cut. There might be someone who needs extra care. Someone might be from another country, even another continent. Poverty can strike when it’s least expected. The welfare state isn’t being adequately cared for, so that it can care for us when we need it.

Lately my husband has started looking for a job in his home country, with the hope that we can move there and escape the worst of what is to come in the UK. He imagines a life away from the xenophobia he has endured, and away from the DWP as it becomes crueller and less tolerant of our differences. So it seems odd that we would want to help people prepare for the worst when we might potentially go somewhere else. But I have a couple of reasons why I continue:

  • As much as I would love to move my wider family with me, that’s not going to be possible. I would be leaving behind some very vulnerable people, and my stockpile can be passed on to them.
  • The best laid plans can always fall through, and we may end up staying put for longer than we hope. The security of extra food and water makes the idea of waiting a bit longer more bearable.
  • My stock can also be donated in part to the food banks in my local area. They are always crying out for supplies and I would be more than happy to donate mine if they aren’t needed.

I’ve been through hardship already. I’ve suffered stigma, lack of food, lack of heating, waiting for housing, and screaming for resources when they are thin. I’ve been very lucky that our need was never so dire that we needed to use a food bank, but I see families around me getting very close to the edge already, before the worst has even happened. I want my children to continue to grow up not knowing discrimination, stigma, or hardship of any kind, and to help anyone who struggles. We’ve had to rely on a lot of help, and we always want to find ways to give back.

And I can’t forget my kitten Mae of course:

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I would love to hear your stories about your own families or individual lives, and what drives you to want to prepare for any difficulties that may arise. My inbox is always open, and I would love to read any comments too!

Samantha