Welcome!

welcome

Sign from Rubha Phoil campsite, Skye

Welcome to my second-hand tales blog where I chronicle my adventures in second-hand shopping, and other greenish ventures.

I also post a weekly list of all my Thrifty Finds (see here) ,  The idea is not to just share any secondhand purchases I may have made, but also list those things I have repaired, recycled, donated, re-used – or just decided not to buy. I would love to hear from you as well so please share your Thrifty Finds every Monday

I hope you enjoy reading my random(ish) posts: please leave a comment on any post that interests you – or you could  follow me on instagram

 

This Week’s ThriftyFinds: September 2018 Week Two

This week it has been back to normal with our newish school routine.

1. With three of us having to leave the house at the same time now, and with just one bathroom for a family of five, I’ve had to write out a rota so that everyone can use it! Not quite a ‘Thrifty Find’, but it does highlight the challenge of living in a small house…

2. I picked some ripe tomatoes from the garden, and roasted and puréed some green ones. I haven’t grown veg for years and am really excited about this crop!

3. A neighbour gave me a tub of blackberries she had picked and I turned them into a blackberry crumble cake, and froze the rest 🙂

3. I had a clearout of summer clothes and donated a couple of bags.

4. Having watched the very inspiring film from The Minimalists on Netflix I decided to start tackling the ‘stuff’ in our loft. I went through lots of old photos and discarded many of them; adding only a few precious ones to an album. I don’t know why I’d kept onto them for so long, especially as many of them were duplicates or just plain awful!

If you haven’t come across The Minimalists before I really recommend their film, blog, books or podcasts. They do make you think differently about what you really need to make you happy 😊

This week’s Thrifty Finds: August 2018

 

 

Today (4 September) is the beginning of the school year and it’s time for me to get back into routine and post my recent Thrifty Finds. This is what we’ve been up to since our trip to London at the beginning of August (was it really a month ago?!):

1. We went on a short break to West Wales to visit friends who moved there last year. They have enough land for us to camp on BUT we forgot to bring our tent poles!! Thankfully they had a tent which we borrowed! We had a lovely break exploring the beautiful scenery of Cardigan Bay: an area that is completely new to us.

 

2. While there we did the obligatory scouring of charity shops (charity shops prices in Wales are a mere fraction of the ones we explored in London!). I picked up a dress for £3 and three champagne glasses for a grand total of 30p!!

 

3. For the first time I downloaded an audio book for free from our local library. When camping I find it uncomfortable to read at night so an audiobook is a good compromise. I ‘borrowed’ the latest Philip Pullman novel: ‘La Belle Sauvage’.

 

4. One thing I didn’t buy last month – despite trawling the charity shops – was a summer sun dress. I really thought I’d need it in the heatwave in London, and after we returned. However by the time we went to Wales the temperature had dropped and I’m glad I got by without.

5. However it can’t be said that I made ANY savings purchasing the girls’ school uniforms. At a total of £333 this was NOT a Thrifty Find! Most of this was spent on kitting out my middle daughter for her new secondary  school (despite getting some things for free from a friend). This means I have used up our clothing budget for the next couple of months, partly due to bad planning on my part 😦

Thankfully I have been able to pay for a termly bus pass for two of my daughters as I had been saving for the past year.

 

Have you had to spend a small fortune buying back to school equipment an uniform?

This Week’s Thrifty Finds: London Trip August 2018

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Hello! We’ve just come back from a short family break in London – where we sweltered in the 30plus heat but had a brilliant time! As with all holidays, there were some things we made savings on, and others that we splurged on. We also had to change some of our plans because of the heat – which led to some savings and some expenses:

  1. The most useful thing I found for the trip was a holiday budgeting app called Trailwallet. This allows you to set a budget for your trip and then input everything you spend, using different categories. It gives you a running total and warns you if you are going over your budget. At the end of the trip you can see how much you have spent on items like eating out, entertainment and transport. It cost £4.99 but was well worth the spend and really helped with daily budgeting.

2. Before leaving for our trip I applied for Zip Oyster cards for my 16 year old and 11 year old. You have to allow time to do this as you need to apply for a photo card (and pay an admin fee). But it meant my 11 year old got free/child rate travel at a cheaper price than a daily travelcard. My 16 year old also received a reduced rate, rather than having to pay adult rates with a regular visitor Oyster card. Our 10 year old was still young enough to travel with us for free.

 

3. I also made good use of my Art Fund pass with free visits to Kensington Palace (including the Diana Dresses exhibition) and The Courthauld Gallery.

 

4. We celebrated two family birthdays while in London – including a birthday trip to see ‘School of Rock’ for our youngest 🙂 We were also able to make use of a couple of birthday vouchers to receive three free Krispy Kreme doughnuts and 1/3 off a family meal at Yo Sushi.

5. As I mentioned earlier the unusually high temperatures meant we had to adjust some of our sightseeing plans. On one day we spend about four hours at Somerset House with the kids playing in the water fountains and picnicking in the courtyard. We also got to see an amazing juggling show – and all for free!

6. On another day we swam in the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park. This was such an amazing experience: to be swimming open-air in central London! And it only cost £13 for four children and two adults 🙂

7. We drank a lot of water while we were exploring London. Every evening I put our reusable water bottles in the freezer so that they were partly frozen before we set out in the morning. We also made use of free water fountains to refill. I also made a couple of home made water spritzer bottles (using water and essential oils).

7. My husband and I went charity shop browsing in wealthy Fulham and Chelsea. As much as I was tempted to buy half price items from Orla Kiely and Cos I realised I didn’t really need them – so came away empty handed.

 

Not all of our expenditure was thrifty, though, and I’m sorry to say I didn’t do so well on the waste-free side of things. We did discover the amazing Whole Foods store near to where we were staying so I was able to buy some unpackaged items. But our use of takeaways and convenience food meant we created more plastic waste than I would have liked to. We also end up with some food waste too 😦

And, on a final note: although not technically a ‘Thrifty Find’ we did experience the amazing care and professionalism of the NHS when we had to call an ambulance out for our daughter who was having a bad asthma attack. The paramedics and the A&E staff at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital were wonderful and, after a few hours, she was discharged and able to enjoy the rest of her holiday without any problems. Once again I feel so privileged and thankful to live in a country where care is so good and we don’t have to fill in complicated forms, or pay a hefty fee, for it 🙂

Summer Break

 


Apologies! I had meant to write TWO Thrifty Finds posts over the last couple of weeks but end of school and holiday preparations seemed to dominate all my time. Plus a look at the end of month finances showed I hadn’t been as frugal as I thought…..:(

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we are about to embark on two mini breaks: to London and Wales. So I won’t be posting for a couple of weeks – but will put the occasional pic on Instagram if you do use it.

Hope you have a good summer, and don’t get too hot!

Catch up in a couple of weeks’ time, when I will post all things Thrifty and green about our breaks.

Take care xx

This Week’s Thrifty Finds: Week Two, July 2018

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I can’t believe we are still on countdown for the end of term here! My daughters don’t break up until 25 July and already they are tired, hot and bothered!

1. Last week I got round to ordering some Thank You cards for their teachers and assistants. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may know that I struggle with the expense and waste of the industry that is Teacher thank you gifts. The shops are crammed with mugs, photo frames and other trinkets for teachers and I do wonder how much of this ends up in a bottom drawer somewhere!

It’s not that I don’t appreciate what their teachers and TAs do. We are lucky to have such a caring and talented teaching staff at our village  school. To this end, I have ordered some personalised thank you cards for the girls to write their own messages of thanks. I also received a half price voucher as I was ordering from the website for the first time.

 

 

2. I got some money off using a supermarket voucher.

3. Despite my ‘no new clothing’ ban I did buy myself a much needed pair of very comfy sandals from the Clarks sale (reduced from £49 to £19).

4. However we went to a party on Saturday night and I wore my faithful black jumpsuit and accessorised with some new nail varnish.

5. I’m continuing with our ‘eat the store cupboard’ mission and made a lovely Greek salad using a jar of olives and a can of butter beans that we’d had for a few months (plus fresh tomatoes and cucumber). I also used up a half empty jar of Thai Curry Paste and a can of coconut milk for an easy Thai Curry, although I did need to buy some meat for that.

 

This Week’s Thrifty Finds: Week One July 2018

As I briefly mentioned in last week’s post we took a short break to Dorset, which is one of my Thriftiest Finds ever….

1. With the weather being sooo hot and my eldest now out of school as her exams are finished, we decided to take a last minute break to Poole in Dorset.

Poole, Dorset as viewed from Ham CommonThis isn’t something we’ve done before as we had to take the younger two out of school for three days (they are in years 5 & 6, aged nine and ten). They don’t break up until 25 July and the heat is really getting to them and they are really tired.

Anyway we booked a static caravan via Air BnB in a holiday park in Poole and spent three days swimming in the pools and playing at the beach. It was one of the best family holidays we have ever had! And as we took the girls out of school the accommodation was a fraction of the price 🙂 They have now gone back to school refreshed and ready for the  last few weeks of term.

2. On our way home from Poole we stopped in Shaftesbury (famous for Gold Hill and that Hovis advert). My husband and I used to live in Shaftesbury before we were married and we enjoyed showing the kids around. My youngest spotted the free to enter Gold Hill Museum and all five of us really enjoyed it. The girls particularly enjoyed the 20th Century artefacts including the rotary dial telephone and the manual typewriter:

Gold Hill Museum in Shaftesbury

3. While in Shastesbury we HAD to browse the charity shops and, despite my pledge to not buy any more clothes, I did pick up this top and dress for £10 in total from the Naomi Hospice Shop.

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4. My daughter also picked up a pair of dungaree shorts from another charity shop.

5. Since coming home I’ve made a conscious effort to reduce our food waste. As we are away again at the beginning of August I’ve decided to ‘shop the cupboards’ ie see what we already have in the cupboards and freezer and cook from that. I took an inventory of everything we had and am now trying to create some meals so I only have to do one small food shop before the end of the month.

Hope your July is going well. I’d love to hear some of your Thrifty Finds 🙂

 

 

This Week’s Thrifty Finds: Week Five June 2018

 

 

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Apologies for the late posting. We’re actually away on a mini break in Dorset (I’ll reveal more next week….)

In the meantime last week’s Thrifty Finds were:

1. I got another free coffee with my loyalty card and was given a couple of extra stamps for my reusable cup 🙂

Is Free Coffee worth it? via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

2. Having looked at our budgets for July I’m going to have to reduce our clothing allowance for the month. So instead of buying a couple of new things for the summer (and this current heat) I’ll have to be inventive and ‘shop my wardrobe’.

3. I was given a PE kit for the secondary school that my daughter will be starting at in September.

4. World Cup fever has reached our village! The local pub was doing a fiver barbecue on Thursday. I couldn’t finish my side salads so I took the leftovers home and had them for lunch the next day. (I never normally take leftovers home: is this more of an American tradition? I need to start doing this more often).

5. We received free ice creams at work from our head of service 🍦🍦🍦🍦

How are you coping in this heat? Any tips for keeping cool?