Monday, 26 May 2014


Lately, I’ve been reading about the first followers of Jesus. You can learn about them in the book of Acts, towards the end of the bible.

This is a period that I often see as the honeymoon period of Christianity. I’ve formed that view from passages like this:

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
(Acts, end of chapter 2)

Imagine living at that time. Wouldn't it be great? Imagine that sense of community. Imagine having such focus and devotion.

As I re-read Acts again, I've realised my error. In between the miracles I discover discontent. I now remember that the early church experienced harassment. Several of their leaders and friends were even executed for speaking about Jesus.

That must have been an incredible contrast for those Christians - to remember the great healings you've seen God perform while you’re terrified and living in fear of your life.

Perhaps that’s a more realistic view of the Christian life. We follow a king whose great act was death.  We serve a God who refuses to prioritise our comfort. We are surrounded by sorrow and hope, by failure and grace.

Friday, 2 May 2014

The road back

Today it ends. I feel rather uncomfortable about this.

My old food habits seem absurd. An average week was peppered with chocolate, cake and cake - items now exposed as expensive luxuries.

I’ve learnt that I was hooked on sugar and caffeine. In some way that mocks me.

It seems foolhardy to switch back, to pick up everything that was discarded. Yet I fear I lack the self-restraint to do otherwise.

This is a rather a bitter-sweet finish to a week rich with adventure and generosity.

Some memorable moments:

  • The first taste of pasta sauce after a day of bland food.
  • The discovery of custard creams for 1p a biscuit
  • Ransacking the local petrol station for something cheaper than 35p. 
  • Learning to poach an egg. And saving 5p on oil in the process.

Thank you for your interest and support. People around the world are suffering and dying because they lack the funds to feed themselves. Your generosity has made a difference there. You should be proud.

Day 5

The final day of the challenge. I've succeeded - the total for today is £1.


Porridge - 6p


Egg friend rice and veg - 61p


Toast (no butter) - 24p
2 custard creams - 2p


½ carrot - 6p
1 custard cream - 1p


Hot water - 0p
Cold water - 0p


Muscle ache is everywhere. Concentration problems..

Why am I doing this? Let me explain.

New flavours

Here are a few of my favourite flavours:

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Bacon
  • French mustard
  • Stilton
  • Fresh Coffee
  • Chorizo

I like flavours that grab your attention and linger in the memory.

It turns out that flavour is expensive. When you live on £1 a day, as one-sixth of the world do, items as mundane as salt and pepper are off the menu.

As I look back over the past 5 days, a few items had a discernible tang. Here they are:

  • Co-op pasta sauce 

That’s it.

I’d love for more. But, in the quest for fuel, flavour is forgotten.

For 5 days I’m living on £1 a day in support of the poorest people on the planet. Please sponsor me

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Day 4

I spent 96p of food and drink today


Baked beans (shudders...) - 12p
Toast (no butter) - 12p
1/2 banana - 6p


Porridge - 6p


Tomato pasta sauce - 15p
Pasta - 7p


3 custard creams - 3p
Curlywurly - 35p*


Hot water - 0p
Cold water - 0p


Fatigue. Distraction. Aching legs.

Why am I doing this? Let me explain.

*Officially the second-cheapest item sold by the local M&S garage.


It’s surprising how time-consuming it is to be poor. Some of the most convenient foods are too expensive.

I’m not talking about Waitrose ready meals. Rather, consider the humble sandwich. A sandwich is convenient, isn’t it? You can prepare it at home, take it to work, and eat it in a jiffy.

A sandwich, however, has hidden costs. I like a ham and mustard (french, or dijon, preferred) sandwich. Here’s how that would add up using my rules for the Below The Line Challenge:

  • Bread - 12p
  • Ham - 20p (based on Sainsbury's Essential Ham spread over 3 lunches)
  • Butter - 20p 
  • Mustard - 13p (based on Sainsbury's Dark French Mustard spread over 3 lunches)

That’s 65p for a sandwich. Two-thirds of my daily budget spent on a sandwich [whistles softly]. So, I’ve chosen beans on toast (24p) or egg on toast (26p). These cheaper options involve rather more time in preparation and clean-up.

Can you see a snag? My office has neglected to fit a hob in the kitchen. Or a toaster. The tinkers. So, in a stroke of creative brilliance, I’ve moved lunch to breakfast and breakfast to lunch. I should be on The Apprentice.

Spare a thought for people like Nakasirye, a thirteen-year-old living in Uganda. Every day she walks an hour each day to collect water. Water from a dirty well that makes her ill. You can help people like her by sponsoring me. Every pound helps. Sponsor James.