This morning when I got up the weather station was reading minus five degrees outside, and nine degrees in the sitting room. The cold snap is intensifying. The chickens came bouncing out of their house happily enough despite the plummeting night time temperatures. They look good running around on the straw, and it makes me feel better to think that they are not now getting damp feet, though in this weather the ground is frozen anyway. I had to defrost their drinking water when I let them out, and again later in the morning.
The Systems Administrator was very determined about volunteering to go to Tesco. I was quite willing to go myself, since I need ingredients to make post-concert nibbles tomorrow, assuming I make it to the concert. There are now forecasts of blizzards on Friday evening, and dire warnings not to travel after dark. Blizzards in this context means winds up to 25 mph and up to five inches of snow. Goodness knows what they make of us in parts of the world where it really does snow.
The SA went out and was some time, returning with the news that there seemed to be panic buying in Tesco and they had run out of packets of rye bread. That is a nuisance, since I was going to make miniature open sandwiches with (ready made) mackerel pate. The SA bought two packets of pate anyway, and an un-sliced rye loaf, so if I don't manage to get to the concert then that's my lunch sorted out for several days. We have got adequate supplies of cat food, fire lighters and loo roll, which are the main things. Everything else one can improvise.
Since it was most definitely not gardening weather I thought that after breakfast I'd do my tax return. I hate completing my self-assessment form, which is why it always gets left until January, though logging on to the government website I saw that this year I am two days earlier than in 2012. I hate the scrabbling around for the one unit trust tax voucher that always seems to be missing, and the way that on-line savings accounts don't even seem to send tax vouchers. In the end this year's form wasn't too bad, as I had managed to save all the key documents, and lied on the form at the end when I ticked the box saying there were no provisional or estimated figures. Actually, I did estimate the interest on one pathetic account that was paying approximately £5.48 per month in interest, deciding I couldn't face spending the time to discover exactly how much it had paid in the twelve months to April of last year, and that twelve times £5.50 would be an acceptable figure to use. If ever challenged, which I won't be, I shall invoke the accounting concept of materiality. I'm not a higher rate tax payer, and the account is taxed at source, so it doesn't matter exactly how much it was.
I gave up with the charitable giving section as well. I do give to charity, in a modest way as befits my income. The National Trust, the Barn Owl Trust, the Essex Beekeepers, the Art Fund, the Tate, the RHS, the Woodland trust, and the RSPB are all registered charities. The RSPB membership is held jointly with the SA, just to complicate things. Whenever asked by a charity I tick the Gift Aid box, since I am a tax payer, but I really can't be bothered to go through my bank statements and try and work out how much I've paid them in total in a given tax year. And I have not kept a record of all the entry fees to museums where I've made a Gift Aid declaration while buying a ticket. I don't know why HMRC even wants to know how much I gave to charity, since it's not as though I can claim tax relief on it.
In the end I owed them a small amount of money. I thought I would. I passed on the opportunity to set up a direct debit and paid by card, since I don't fancy the idea of giving the Inland Revenue carte blanche to remove money from my account. According to the cheery adverts on Classic FM, once I'd sorted out my 2011-12 tax before the deadline I should have experienced a sense of euphoric relief, but I didn't, I just felt as though I'd had a really tedious morning.