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I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Monday, 7 October 2013

The best things in life...

....are often free. From heartfelt gestures to the simplest sights and sounds --all of them can make your day.

For me: love, family, friends, good health, a clear blue sky or the sun on my skin are the kind of `free` things that prove life`s worth living.The sound of Shropshire church bells ringing out on a still, cold, wintry night, or the view from one of the county`s beautiful hills on a clear day are pretty special, too.

So too, are kindness, smiles, laughing about nothing in particular with friends or loved ones until my jaws ache, feeling sand between my toes during a day at the beach, or sinking into a warm, candlelit bubble bath when I get home.

And more recently for me, that sense of achievement and surge of energy after finishing a four or five mile walk or run..makes me feel a million dollars, even if I look like a panting wreck. And no gym fees!

Anyway,back to kind gestures-- we just got home to find in our porch a little jar of crab apple jelly, and a bag of courgettes.

They were from Mary-down-the-lane.

She`d popped a bag of runner beans and a couple of courgettes round last week. In return, we picked her some cooking apples, along with some damsons and crab apples, and left them by her door. Today`s beautifully labelled jar was our reward.

We`re now turning some of her veg, and leftovers in the fridge, into home made soup for tonight, and more for the freezer. All `free`, but more than that, a lovely gesture of neighbourly friendship. Juliet (pictured below picking some cooking apples) has reminded me that we need to check out Jack Monroe`s website again--top recipes, for not much outlay.

It makes you wonder though, how much more we could do for each other, trading the fruit and vegetables in our gardens or allotments, baking a cake in return for mowing a lawn; swapping our skills. I know these schemes already exist in many communities. No money changes hands. Does that happen where you live?

The Freecycle and Freegle movement works along similar lines. Not only do they provide a fantastic way to keep your unwanted goods out of landfill, they provide subscribers with all kinds of home items that they`d otherwise have to pay for. We`ve passed on beds, tables, a Hostess trolley, shelves, magazines,clothes, children`s bikes and toys and a couple of sofas in recent years.And we`ve bid for, and received some useful rugs, a cupboard, a couple of dining chairs and some deckchairs in return. What a brilliant scheme!

I`m going to London soon... travelling on £6 tickets (available to all ages)--a fraction of how much they`d normally cost me-- and some of my accommodation is going to be completely free. While I`m there, I`m going to be finding out just whether it`s possible to do London `on the cheap`. From food, to family attractions, to transport, to sampling the capital`s culture.

If you have any ideas, let me know, and I`ll tell you how I get on.

In the meantime....the soup smells delicious. Thanks Mary, and Juliet, and Jack. I`ll go and give it a stir......


in this materialistic world we live in often overlooked :)

the skills bank idea never took off in ; but we does has a Games Bank where kids can borrow outdoor games for free

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