Tax Credits →
I’ll get to the aquarium in a minute. Today started not brilliantly with a ‘lovely’ letter from the tax credit people. To recap, a few weeks ago we finally put this year’s tax credit form in, at which point we tell them about Boy Lacer now receiving the lower rate Disabled Living Allowance, we weren’t expecting it to change any of our tax credits as it’s not much money to start with really and Mr. Lacer ‘earns too much’ (she laughs) for us to qualify for extra tax credits, or so I thought . . . until a very large backdated sum of money appears in our bank account. A few days later another smaller, but still very healthy sum of money also appears, with no letter from the tax credits people I ring them up and basically say “Are you sure this is right?” and they go “Oh yes, certainly,” we get a letter a few days later confirming it and it’s oh, ok then, that’s nice! Basically we were getting an extra £200 a month, which for us makes the difference between ‘scrimping’ and being ‘comfortable’ and after years and years of scrimping, being comfortable was so nice, even though it was just an illusion for a few weeks. But of course, we get a letter today, yep, they’d overpaid us, by approximately paying us two years worth of tax credits at once, so now we’re not only getting that nice extra £200 a month, we’re down £40 a month as well (we’re basically getting no more tax credit until it gets repaid). I just wish that when I had originally queried it that they had checked and they had realised their mistake straight away, ok they’d still be taking our £40 a month off us for the next two years but at that point when I queried I really didn’t expect that that money was ours but them saying by phone and by letter that it was right, it gave hope and that’s what I’m missing more than that £40 right now. Still, I’ve got a figure now for what makes us ‘comfortable’, £200 a month, it was never going to be enough to go “Yes, lets sell the flat now and get a nice three bed house”, we’ll need considerably more than £200 a month for that but £200 like I say would have been far less scrimping, it would have been nice. So now I have a figure to aim for don’t I?
The London Aquarium →
So after that bomb shell it was off to London Aquarium for the day, the mother-in-law’s treat. We met the mother-in-law and one of my nephews there, was very glad we weren’t paying when I saw the ticket prices and my mother-in-law very quickly switching from her debit card to her credit card, £75.75 for three adults and three children, ouch! (To anyone interested, a family ticket (two adults and two children) is still an eye watering £50).
Now we’ve been to the London Aquarium a few times over the years but haven’t been recently (I wonder why?) so was looking forward to seeing the new refurbishment and I have to admit it is better than the old London Aquarium I remember. I was particularly impressed by their Atlantic tank, which didn’t used to be there; one of their two big tanks (think it used to be a different ocean or something) they’ve recreated a deep sea scene where a whale has died and sank to the bottom and created an oasis of life at the bottom of the sea, apparently whale carcases can support such areas for up to ten years. I thought it was really pretty (and no, it wasn’t a real whale carcass).
And of course there were the bigger sharks in the pacific.
(I’m going to put some more photos up on my photo blog (see top right hand corner for link) in an hour or two).
So, it was quite a nice exhibit to visit but I would not particularly recommend it on a weekend in peak season, particularly if you’ve got small children and a pushchair in tow, it’s far too crowded. Amazingly Boy Lacer did really well not using the pushchair and apart from being carried by daddy a little bit, walked the entire way from Waterloo station to the Aquarium, around the Aquarium and back to Waterloo, Girl Lacer being a lazy minny used the pushchair more but even she didn’t use the pushchair inside the Aquarium, so I spent the entire trip around the aquarium pushing an empty oversized pushchair around, having difficulty actually getting to see the tanks and generally getting in everyones way plus a giant bag (because the pushchair doesn’t have a basket underneath – and I’ve checked out how to get a basket, the only way I can see to get a basket would be to buy the full accessory pack for the pushchair – now the pushchair, and just the pushchair retails for £250, luckily we didn’t get it for that, we brought it second hand for a still hefty sum, anyway if you want such basic accessories as a hood, rain shield and a basket (plus a few other things, you know the sort of things you get in a normal pushchair as standard) the accessory pack costs another £250!, don’t get me started how any manufacturer can sell something as basic as what is really just a basic oversized simple pushchair for £500 to a market which by it’s very nature has in all likelihood, a reduced income (trust me, if it weren’t for Boy Lacer’s asd I’d be working again by now) so in the absence of a basket all the coats and stuff that we need to carry around at the moment due to this lousey summer, all have to go in a bag, which I have to carry round to), so I went round feeling like a not particularly happy pack horse. You could argue that we obviously didn’t need to take the pushchair with us then as it was empty and/or occupied by lazy 5 year olds, but we needed it for the long walk between the home and the station and there was never any guarantee that Boy Lacer could walk round the aquarium like that .
During Boy Lacer’s last paediatrician’s appointment, his paediatrician did actually ask how Boy Lacer’s asd was affecting family days out. Now I don’t think Boy Lacer’s asd particularly affects his enjoyment of a day out, although if it goes on too long he gets over tired and fretful but for me personally, a carer / pack horse /nappy changer in playgrounds of a nearly 4 year old after the max size nappy that is getting clearly too small for him leaks everywhere/ coaxer up and down stairs / personal security for a boy who really is in a world of his own half the time and is not looking where he’s going, I bloody hate days out. There is degrees of hating them though, the smaller the group of people on the day out the better, a solo day out with Boy Lacer the other day was wonderful, the less people there are the more the day can be catered at Boy Lacer’s pace and it’s hence less stressful for me.
Finally (with a nearly 3 year old boy dressed in just a nappy, Mickey Mouse T-shirt, socks and Piedro boots), we did get a chance to pop into I Knit, after hearing about it over on Being Frank, as we were in the area. For someone who just has the corporate – ness (nice as it is) of John Lewis for my knitting (and other crafting supplies), I Knit was refreshingly different with a lovely selection of wool which you wouldn’t necessarily find in JL. And it had a lovely knitting group in there mid-knit, full of characters that could quite easily pop up in a book . . . Unfortunately after this morning’s bomb shell I was in absolutely no position to buy any wool but it’s nice knowing it’s there.
It got me thinking (and I in no way think I Knit’s stock is over priced, I’m talking about the price of wool anywhere), is knitting an economical hobby? I don’t think it is, not like how sewing your own clothes can be economical. I’ll put in a proviso here; I think knitting your own nice hats, scarves and any other small item probably does count as economical, because you don’t need to buy many balls of wool to make something really nice and personal for probably cheaper than an equally nice scarf in a shop (yes I know you could probably go and get a scarf in Primark for a couple of quid, but that does not count), but you try and knit an adult jumper and it’s going to come up as a very expensive jumper when the shops are full of cheaper jumpers and not all of those cheaper jumpers are going to be produced unethically. And a proviso about sewing, yes, you too could spend a fortune on a pattern, which you use just once and then buy some very expensive fabric and the resulting item of clothing is not going to be cheap either but I think (or is it just my inexperience in knitting?) that it’s easier to be economical when sewing, for example I have just brought some not exactly cheap Oliver + S patterns (back from that brief burst of actually thinking I had money) but I made sure the Oliver + S patterns covered a range of ages and were for basic shapes that I will be able to go back to again and again, year after year, probably making more than once a year to, in a variety of different, not too expensive fabrics, so overall, as long as I use the patterns regularly and don’t splurge on stupidly expensive fabric, the items of clothes I make from the patterns will work out cheaper. I suppose though, in the defence of knitting, you can’t put a price on the pleasure of making the item, plus with the speed I knit, one project (if large enough) would last me months, whereas I can get through many sewing projects over the equivalent amount of time, hmmmm . . .