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 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!