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Resourcefulness. A transferable skill that poverty stricken people hone to a high level. I recently spent a lovely weekend learning how to make Homesteaders Cheese and I came home ready to race into it. A round of the cupboards fished out most of what I needed but a cheese press floored me. The lady I had learnt from had beautifully handmade, highly glazed pottery moulds with matching 'followers' and she had several polished stainless steel weights for the pressing process. $$$ signs everywhere! Once her cheeses had been pressed, they were placed to cure in a very large hanging Camping Safe which I'm sure would have set me back at least three weeks worth of groceries. So ... thinks...

Into the back storeroom I went. This is the room where "nothing gets thrown out" is stored and, with a bit of a scratch around, I found a small plastic bucket. A quick trip to the workshop, where the soldering iron lives, and I had a very pretty pattern of holes in the bottom and around the sides. Back to the kitchen to find a 'follower'. Eventually a perfectly fitting, heavy crystal bowl (which I think was meant to be an ice-bucket) was found at the back of the dining room sideboard. A large tin of pears fitted inside nicely making the right weight for the first twelve hour press. Ice-cream containers filled with water became the extra weights needed later and they stacked happily on the top of the crystal bowl. I'm in business.

For a cheese cloth (which, naturally, I didn't have) I used a brand new Chux. For a curing cabinet, some old net curtains were stitched up, suspended with fencing wire and a piece of melamine left over from when I did the bathroom up became the base. So easy – I made three of them. Two cheeses are now swinging gently in the breeze and one is nearly ready to go. I'm really in business!

Last week I talked about the cost of Xmas and the other night I saw, with horror, an easy loan to match your budget – you can get the money you need for Xmas now – come one come all anyone can apply – make Xmas happen for you advertisement on the tele. WHAT! Go into debt with a loan shark to ensure your family can have the Xmas you can't afford. Unbelievable!

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