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 🙂

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 Three, June 2018

 

 

 

 

Last week we celebrated the end of my daughter’s GCSE exams with a camping trip 🙂 We meet up once a year with my school friends and, what has grown from five of us plus partners, is now a total of 20! It’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up, eat lots of food and enjoy the outdoors. The children all get along really well and it’s lovely to see them away from screens and climbing trees and having adventures.

  1. For camping food I took a lot of what we already at home: in the store cupboard and the freezer. I made some hummus from scratch using some chickpeas I’d had for a while. I also managed to buy some unwrapped fruit and veg (for the carrot saga take a look at my Instagram posts!)

2. We also borrowed a camping table from a friend, rather than buy a new one for the trip.

3. While camping we browsed the local charity shops (charity shops in Marlborough, Wiltshire, are packed with some real goodies – post to come soon!). I picked up three books from the Oxfam shop – one of which had been on my wishlist for a while:

 

4. My youngest daughter also picked up a book for 10p from the Dog’s Trust shop.

5. I was also proud that we managed to use just our glass milk bottles on the camping trip. I had searched for a screw top lid for the milk bottle as the foil one doesn’t stop the milk from spilling once opened. But no luck. Then I remembered I had a glass bottle left over from a free sample of orange juice, that did have a screw top lid. So I was able to take two pints and just decant an opened pint into the glass bottle with the lid. Problem solved and no need to buy any new gadget!

Do you have any thrifty camping tips to share? Or any ideas for camping with less plastic? I’d love to hear them!

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

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In last week’s post I mentioned that Tuesday 5 June was World Environment Day. This year’s theme was  #BeatPlasticPollution  and I thought I’d post how I got on my trip to London:

  1. I took my new Stojo cup which had mixed results. It folds away beautifully and, as long as you have the sleeve securely attached, is fine to handle. Each time I handed it to a Barista I emphasised about holding it by the sleeve, as the rest of the cup is quite flimsy. However I couldn’t secure the lid without some of the hot liquid spilling out 😦 Thankfully I didn’t get burnt but my trousers did smell of coffee for the whole day! I was glad I’d packed my cotton hanky which meant I could mop up spillages. I’m going to work on tightening that lid and practising drinking out of the Stojo cup at home.                                        The trip to London was pretty waste free, though, and I avoided all single use plastic. I took my parents to an exhibition at the V&A and, while the Exhibition Road café only served out of disposable cups, the main café used proper plates and cutlery. Oh, and the exhibition was good too!
Ocean Liners: Speed & Style ay V&A Museum June 2018

Ocean Liners: Speed and Style Exhibition, V&A Museum, London

2. I was able to get half price entry to the exhibition as I had previously purchased an Art Fund Pass. By buying it through my work (we are members of the Art Fund) I was able to get it for nearly a quarter of the full price! I’m going to make good use of the pass by planned trips to the Ashmolean in Oxford and a return trip to the V&A to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition in August.

3. On more plastic free news I managed to refill my BioD washing up liquid at the health food store in Bath. I also asked the assistant if I could bring any bottle to refill there and she enthusiastically said ‘yes’! I don’t know why the store in Corsham won’t accept any plastic bottle: surely it’s better to reuse what you’ve got instead of buying more plastic just so it matches the brand?

refilling at Harvest Natural Health, Walcot St, Bath

4. On Saturday we went to see the Degree Show at University of West of England (where my husband works). I did have a coffee cup fail as I picked up a free tea in a disposable cup (my Stojo was in my bag in another location) 😦 On a positive note I was pleased to see this bin offering up unused items from the Fabrication Dept:

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5. On a final note, my middle daughter and I are still really suffering with hay fever (my daughter in particular). I’ve bought loads of medication and herbal drops for us and been following lots of advice. So, counter to my ‘green’ credentials, I’ve had to keep every window closed during this warm weather and am no longer hanging clothes out to dry on the line. It breaks my heart but the misery that this pollen is causing means I have to take these precautions 😦

Is anyone else suffering from hay fever? Any advice/cures would be greatly appreciated!

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (12-18 March 2018)

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We had an unexpected snowfall at the weekend which meant that, once again, the village was cut off.

Here are my Thrifty Finds from last week (before it snowed!):

  1. I did a job that I’d been putting off for ages and registered the warranties for the new appliances we had bought for the kitchen. For some reason I’ve never done this before.
  2. We went shopping to Bristol (before the snow came) and took advantage of a free parking space that my husband gets with his job.
  3. My youngest daughter is studying Greek myths at school and really enjoying it. My dad bought her a couple of second hand Usborne books on Greek and Norse myths:

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4. I had a lovely surprise from a friend who went to see the musician, Brett Anderson, in conversation. She bought me a copy of his new autobiography which was such a generous thing to do 🙂

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I’m also reading a book that a work colleague bought for me because she enjoyed it so much: ‘A Boy Made of Blocks’.

5. Finally, I bought a Friends and Family Railcard to save money off our train fare to London in the summer.

Don’t forget to let me know what your recent Thrifty Finds are. Have a good week 🙂

 

 

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (29 January – 4 February 2018)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

 

At the weekend I had a trip away with my university friends. This meant a little bit of planning and plastic-free packing – and a second-hand purchase to keep me warm on our city break.

  1. I was in need of a second winter coat. Although I have my gorgeous second-hand orange coat it is not waterproof or really, really warm. I do have a waterproof Seasalt coat (once again bought from a charity shop) but it is now too small for me 😦    So this past week I have been trawling Bath’s shops on the hunt for a second-hand winter coat. I found the perfect one in the Dorothy House charity shop for £15. It’s really, really warm, has a detachable hood and is a longer length than my other coats. Despite being one size too big for me, it fits well over bulky jumpers and layers. It proved the perfect coat for our trip to Birmingham.
  2. I also got my warm, fur lined boots re-soled. I have had these boots for years and they are so warm and cosy. However they were worn and starting to leak. I paid a fairly hefty sum to get them re-soled but feel pleased because a) I wouldn’t find a replacement for the cost of the repair and b) I’ve extended their life a little.
  3. While packing for my trip away I made sure to add my reusable straw, spork and reusable coffee cup. However I forgot my water bottle and had to buy a single use one. I also forgot to ask for a no straw when I ordered a drink (why do all drinks have to come with straws?) but did manage to ask for ‘no straw’ when I ordered a cocktail.

4. We are now without a kitchen for the next three weeks while we have building work done. So I have cancelled our veg box delivery as there is no room to store the veg. I’m afraid we will be living off pub meals, toasted sandwiches, microwave meals and some slow cooker meals  – however a friend has offered to feed us on Saturday night and another friend has offered the use of their house next week during the school hols if the building work gets too much!!

 

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (31 July – 7 August)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Hello! While I try to post my Thrifty Finds on a Monday when the kids are on holiday I find time runs away with me. We’re also off on hols next week so there is lots of packing and shopping to do too. I did manage to stick to some budgets, last week, though, as preparing for a holiday can prove pricey…

1. I went through the holiday packing list with the kids and worked out what they needed. We then stuck to the list when we went shopping to Bath. Sadly none of it was second hand (as my kids get older I find it harder to buy second hand clothing for them; on the plus side they get a lot of hand me downs). I also picked up a  couple of items from my list which weren’t purchased second hand 🙁. For the first time ever I bought myself a couple of things from Primark. But I stuck rigidly to my list:

 

2. Having done a lot of holiday planning by buying insurance, travel money, breakdown cover etc has earned me £76.38  from the Quidco cash back site that I signed up to last year. I was going to buy all these items anyway, but purchasing via the Quidco website meant I earned money back as well 😀

3. Apart from holiday prep, we had two birthdays last week. I made two out of three of the birthday cakes (due to lack of time I did buy a supermarket cake for my daughter’s party for the first time ever!) I had budgeted for both birthdays and had enough money to buy gifts and pay for a small scale party.

4. I also sold my daughter’s old bike which helped to pay for the new one for her birthday.

5, While we had planned to go for a family pub lunch for the other birthday last week, a quick budget check showed this wasn’t possible. Instead we stayed at home and I made lunch. We also held impromptu drinks in the garden for friends, using wine and beer we already had and spending a little money on nibbles.

I will now spend the rest of the week washing, packing (and working) and finalising budgets for hols. As we are heading to France and the euro is very nearly worth £1 we are going to have to reign in our spending a little..

If you want to follow our holiday travels follow me on instagram

I’m also going to try to keep to some zero waste/plastic free habits from previous holidays (see here and here). Watch this space and see you at the end of the month!

A bientot….