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Archive for February, 2016

Two No-Spend Days

February 15th, 2016 at 11:35 am

I walked down to Camden Town yesterday and mingled with crowds of people and hundreds of shops and stalls selling all sorts of things and food. I didn't buy a thing and decided there is just way too much junk in the world. I estimate I saw 5000 tee shirts for sale in all those stalls. There was so much stuff it really put me off buying anything. My original plan was to walk down there and take the bus back, but I felt up to even more walking so cut through Primrose Hill and walked all the way back home--and miracle of miracles, without getting lost. No spending!

I taught one class this morning, but came home for lunch and work, then out for another stroll. I see a trip to Hampstead charity shops happening perhaps tomorrow--maybe after classes and my meetings? Two no-spend days? I didn't think it was possible.

Lovely Purchases

February 14th, 2016 at 06:18 am

I set out yesterday to buy a birthday gift. It's been cold, and of course, it started to rain minutes from the flat. I'm SO happy I put on my quilted vest under my raincoat. Folks here are always saying, "You're used to cold weather," but I never spend five or six hours outside in my daily routine. Here I'm always walking, walking to the tube, or walking and waiting for the bus. My fitbit is happy, but my feet get cold.

I haven't been to that great tourist trap Portobello Road for a while, so thought perhaps I'd find a small piece of jewelry for my BFF's birthday. I almost bought a small amber necklace, but wasn't completely sold. So I decided to head off to my old haunts in Muswell Hill as I've always had fun at their many charity shops. Two of my favorite tops were from one of them, so I headed there first. By this time, I'd been on the bus seemingly forever as there's no tube service there. And it started to sleet the moment I exited the bus. But my Air Ambulance Charity shop did it again. I bought the BFF a very pretty heart amulet for (wait for it) 2GBP, then found a gorgeous purplely grey shirt for 3.95GBP (less than $6). It was a great brand, Marks and Spencer's Per Una line, and I love love love it. You know, one of those things you put on and go "Yes!"

Fueled by my success I hit all the other charity shops there and even a couple (gasp) full retail. I bought another really cute shirt for 3.75GBP that I also love, then tried to figure the best way home. I think I was dizzied by my retail success, and I didn't pay much attention to the bus route. I'd read the numbered route, but got on the bus going the wrong way. I can't believe I did that, but blame the rain and cold. At least it wasn't going somewhere awful, so I got off again in Central London, grabbed a tube, bought some lovely food, got another bus home within minutes.

Refueled by tea and a cherry tart, I bought DD and DH's airfare. Everything that worked with their dates was in the high $1200s, but I found one with a stop in Manchester for under $1000. So--a lovely $600+ savings there. Skyped with them both, and we're all looking forward to us being together. All in all, horrible weather but great shopping. I'm going out for a stroll, but then will be home to prep for the week's teaching.

Not Very Successful

February 13th, 2016 at 03:49 am

But nonetheless, fun. I've been to the theatre two nights this week and had a snack and a glass of wine at both. Did I "need" those? Nope. But no regrets. It seems a shame to be at the magnificent National Theatre and Branagh's new rep company and not have a glass of wine, doesn't it? I did nab my free cappuccinos at Waitrose before both shows.

The plays weren't cheap--20 GBP last night, but oh so wonderful. But I didn't spend much else. I bought a book I needed for class, but managed to find a super cheap copy at a off-price shop in Camden. And I bought some fill able travel bottles for going to France. Both of those cost 5GBP together. And now the shopping has begun for DH and DD to come back at Easter.

I need to buy a birthday gift today so intend to slip out to some markets and maybe a charity shop or two.And since I'm spending Valentine's weekend alone, I'm buying some nicer-than-usual groceries. I used Target.com through SB to send small gifts to DH and DD. Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!

Minor Spending

February 8th, 2016 at 02:00 pm

My spending today was all about necessity. My new phone was dead as dead can be, and although I tried to charge it for hours last night with the computer, it was still dead this morning.

I took my class to the Imperial War Museum today for a little lesson on WWI. My doctoral research was done there years ago, so it was sort of like coming home. After class I bought a wall plug with a USB slot as I'd read it charges about five times faster. And indeed, in an hour, my phone was up and working.

I got a free cup of coffee from a lovely lady in front of Le Pain Quotidien on Tottenham Court Road and headed home to work. Normally I'd go to the galleries or museums on these short days, but the wind has been awful, and I have a lot of prep for my new class. Horrible gales and slanty rain tonight; I'm happy to be inside.

But now that I have the photos going, how about one from the sunny day of our Parliament tour?


A few photos

February 6th, 2016 at 04:43 pm

Hoping to get a photo from Bath to upload.

Did You Hear the Clunk?

February 6th, 2016 at 03:01 am

That would be me falling off the NS wagon with a loud clunk. I knew Bath would pose some temptations, and I knew exactly what they would be, Three years ago I bought my favorite ankle boots at a shoe store; they're hands down the cutest most comfortable boots ever. And Bath is full of lovely shops as it's such a luxury area. I guess, in retrospect, it wasn't all that bad. The day trip was paid for, the baths were fabulous even though it was sixth time through them, I had planned for 11GBP for lunch and spent 9 and ended up taking half my lunch home for dinner. But the clunk was the boots.

They're so cute, less than half price, super soft and so comfortable. They were 65GBP which is about $95. Today I've got the rugby match which will require topping my Oyster transport card. After rugby I'm going to stay in and work and have plenty of groceries for the weekend--although I could use some muesli and fruit. Who knows? Maybe I can shave expenditures down the next few weeks to make up for it. But I love them.




No Spending Today Either

February 4th, 2016 at 11:24 am

And man, am I tired. I don't teach Thursdays, but needed to check out the show at the Victoria and Albert before I take students over. Then I had to go with students to the Museum of London. I enjoy the Museum of London, but this must be my sixth or seventh trip there. Some of my colleagues opted out as this is a field trip for their British Life and Culture class, but I feel strongly student take the cue from us, and it's helpful to have me there.

So two huge museums today with no stops for coffee or sweets despite my almost caving to temptation several times. I came home with over 22,000 steps on my Fitbit, sore feet, and an aching back. But spaghetti, salad, and a large coffee later, I feel somewhat better. And glad of the no spending--and I really enjoyed the Julia Margaret Cameron show at the V and A.

Tomorrow we're off to Bath. I do need to buy a birthday present for a friend and lunch too.

Hooray for a NS Day!

February 3rd, 2016 at 10:45 am

Some solid planning helped my NS Day. I met students in a coffee shop first thing, but had made a travel cup of coffee and a thermos. They ate snacks and drank coffee; I had oatmeal before I left and coffee from my travel mug. The shop doesn't care as all the students were drinking and eating.

I had three classes and managed to eat my ham sandwich, crisps, and clementine between the first and second. The coffee in the thermos helped propel me into the final class. And I was proud of students who packed their lunches.

Things are pretty dire at my home university--another reason to save where I can.

Two Days London Spending

February 2nd, 2016 at 01:33 pm

Yesterday's spending =0!
I taught all morning, came home for lunch, and then went for the faculty wine evening. Plenty of good food and plenty of wine, so I spent nothing.

Today was a bit different: I spent 6GBP on two candles and a travel mug for coffee. I hadn't planned on eating lunch at school, but had a 2:30 meeting, and I hadn't packed a lunch. I bought a roasted vegetable salad, but got a free coffee for 2.36GBP. I needed a connector cable for my laptop, and the computer store sold me something for (eeek!) 50GBP. I about freaked out. I went back to school, conferred with more people, and returned it, bought a different one on ebay for under 4GBP. Phewww.

More meetings then off to the grocery store. For 28 GBP I bought easy things to prep. That's important as I have limited kitchen space and not a lot of pots and pans or time. I need no-fuss healthy meals that I can make when I come home late after a full day of teaching and field trips. And I need fast and easy packable lunches. Here's what I got to add to my veggies and fruit at home. Coffee, new potatoes, breaded cod, hamburger patties, meatballs, mustard, milk, beetroot for salad,6 large rolls for sandwiches, two packages tortellini, ketchup, two packages of biscuits (cookies) for class treats, tomatoes, spinach, onions, lettuce, 6 pack of crisps, ham for lunches. I think I have more than enough for the week--especially since I have butter, oil, eggs, and fruit and some veggies and oatmeal. With all my cords, candles, and the mug, I'm at 39GBP. That should be 11 GBP left for lunch in Bath on Friday. Hoping for a no-spend tomorrow!

Sticking My Toe In from London

February 1st, 2016 at 06:44 am

I've been in London just over a week now;mostly things have gone very well. A student lost her passport and other minor calamities too, but all is well and I've been in the classroom for a week. DH and DD came over for his dad's birthday and left yesterday. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. They stayed in five places in six nights, and the hotel stays and meals out have added up as has the transportation.

They flew Aer Lingus to London via Dublin while I flew with students. We ended up in a London hotel the first night as my flat had tenants, then we were off to his hometown for the birthday. The coach fares were half the price of the train fares, but the ferry was pricey. And DH has a habit of treating his whole family to meals as a gesture of his affection, which I would not, but I figure that's not my business. His dad has moved to a care facility, so we thought we could stay at his house, but because the family was there from all corners of Europe, we stayed in a hotel two nights, had the party and various celebrations, then I returned to London while they stayed with DH's brother.

They came back to London midweek, and we toured Parliament with the students, had various meals with friends, and went to the George, a pub in Southwark because we'd read a book (Shakespeare's Local) on it over the summer, and I'd had fun times with colleagues before at the same pub. So, although we ate in a couple of nights, it's gotten bit expensive. This leads to my budget decisions. I'm trying to sort out how much an ordinary weekly expenditure would be for me. Meals out are very expensive as there's that nasty 20% VAT, so I've bought food for breakfasts and some lunch supplies, and have leftovers. We had a lovely proper tea at the British Museum with students, and I ended up taking mini quiches and some scones home--all of which are in my freezer now. So I'm thinking with most meals in, I can probably get by with 50 GBP a week. Although I can hear Scotish Girl laughing at my indulgent budget, I' hoping to fit theatre tickets and all meals out of that.

I have a few more things to buy: another pillow, a wall poster, computer cable, and some sofa pillows, The flat is lovely, but it's all black and white, and I need some color. It's eleven more weeks after all! This week has a day trip to Bath which is paid for, but I'll need to buy lunch that day. And it's too busy for the theatre this week, so if I can find some nice cheap seats either at Leicester Square or day tickets at the National, I'll spring for that next week.

I've also had to buy a phone as our UK old phone is pretty knackered and we find we need two. In previous years the university and our partners here have lent us phones, but that's not happened. I spent 65 GBP (about 90$) on a cheap pay as you go smart phone. It has some frugal apps, so I'll be trying those, especially the special offers on free coffee and 1 pd Monday lunches. Today I came home for lunch after classes, but am headed out tonight for faculty wine evening--my favorite night at a fancy wine bar with free nibbles for dinner. It looks like a no-spend day in London. How's that for a good start? I'll post photos on Thursday when things settle down. Happy February to all of you!