My first class went on a long walk today through all the Bloomsbury squares. Now we've been here for six weeks; a person would think they might have discovered them before? They're a two-minute walk away. But it was fun to show them where Virginia Woolf lived, and Yeats, and Dickens, and a host of others.
My other class also went well, and I had been a bit grumbly about students who have been a little lax. Yet when I left, my most trying student said, "Don't leave. We like your classes best." I went home with a big smile on my face.
I spent nothing until I went grocery shopping this evening, when I spent 20 GBP. I had a voucher for double loyalty points, so stocked up on things I'll need soon like more coffee, bottled water for upcoming trips, and laundry soap. I'm a bit pleased as I've managed to wean myself off half and half in my coffee and switch to whole milk. Perhaps I'll get it down to 2 percent someday, but think I must be saving some fat and calories.
I have a huge pile of grading since last night was theatre night. "Once," the musical we saw was very good, and my colleague bought me a drink which you could have on the stage! Very fun.
Viewing the 'hit the road, jack' Category
My first class went on a long walk today through all the Bloomsbury squares. Now we've been here for six weeks; a person would think they might have discovered them before? They're a two-minute walk away. But it was fun to show them where Virginia Woolf lived, and Yeats, and Dickens, and a host of others.
Since I doubt I will be back in London with this much time in front of me for years, I spent much of Friday rambling in Hampstead Heath. It was sunny and glorious. There was even some hardy soul swimming in one of the ponds.
I bought a couple of cheap travel guides in the Oxfam shop, walked all the way down to Swiss Cottage tube station, then did some grocery shopping. I fell seriously short of my goal of funding three weeks shopping with my Nectar (loyalty card) points. But I did have enough for a single week's shopping, which I will cash in on soon.
After endless hours comparing travel sites and deciding against Ryanair flights, I've pushed back my Sweden jaunt for a couple weeks. I can get a decent timed flight on a decent airline, two nights in a downtown Stockholm hotel with airport transfers for under $400. The hotel includes breakfast. I've been a little worried about Swedish prices, but have been doing some serious reading on where to eat well and cheap(ish). I grew up with a Swedish grandmother and really feel drawn there. I'm very excited.
And the next month is full of many other joys--I'm trying to pence pinch a bit to help justify all these joys. I brought my own coffee today which is a rarity in London. Although travel mugs are for sale, you never see someone transporting coffee. And decent coffee is over $3 with even the university machine-made swill at $2. The fancy-pants grocery offers free coffee with their loyalty card so in the four-hour gap between my second and third class, I went over there for a cup. This coupled with my packed lunch maybe saved me 8-10 GBP today. Well, maybe as I usually bring my own lunch.
Tomorrow my office buddy is taking me out to lunch as I took her to dinner in November when she came to talk to our students. I also have a free theatre ticket to "Once,"so that should be fab. Another day in paradise.
It's been a couple of flurried weeks between the weekend trip to Minneapolis for my nephew's wedding, three weeks of the new semester, my department chair deserting us for the loftier climes of the Deans' offices, and all the usual household and child raising issues. Plus the London recruiting.
I won't even rehash my many administrative issues with the university; let's just say they have a very hard time leaving well enough alone. I'm over my justifiable outrage about a couple of things, but not a couple others.
It was my birthday last weekend, and two years ago I started a new tradition which I really like. With some of the money inherited from my mom, I invite a number of my lovely women colleagues to go out for dinner. We order decent wine, good food, and two weeks before any one gets their first paycheck for the academic year, we relax, talk, and laugh a lot. It's pure pleasure for me, and a break from all the headaches and austerity we often face together. My mom would certainly approve. Her women friends meant the world to her. That was last Saturday. Sunday DH and DD presented me with a cake and some little gifties. All in all, a very nice weekend.
I'm still slogging away at a freelance textbook editing project. I don't have much nice to say about how so much of this work is outsourced and the result on the quality of the work. But I am looking forward to the cash.
Staying true to my pledge to sell some of the mounting piles of stuff, I've sold a textbook for $49 and a pair of DD's outgrown rainboots for $4.
Lots of work ahead this weekend--both prep and household duties but have decided to play trivia with a colleague this afternoon. I hardly ever get to see him, so this should be fun. We are founts of useless knowledge.
Wow. We had a great hassle-free time in Minnesota. It was great to see relatives, and our trip to the Minnesota North Shore was fabulous. My DH had never been, and I was a bit concerned he wouldn't like it as much as I do, but he loved it. We did lots of hiking, gazing at Lake Superior, and visiting state parks and the National Monument at Grand Portage. There was plenty of history, plenty of great food, and lots of fun.
We went over on the food budget, but not much. I used up the gas cards from CVS, we had a couple meals in the condo, and everything went well.
I'm especially glad DH enjoyed himself as I'm trying to sort out options for an eventual return to MN as well as part of our future plans.
While we were gone I made a swift $9.00 on ebay which I'll add to the totals. I need to hunt around for more possible listings.
Post-vacation retrenchment means clean up, schedule review, and other fun. Happy weekends to all of you!
Excitement doubles here as I got another ebay item listed and it has plenty of bids.
In further accomplishments, I got lots of laundry done, we're almost packed for our getaway, and I opened a Vanguard Roth last night which will be the home for some of my older mutual funds. The fees on those older funds are just too high, and I really like the way Vanguard does business.
We're excited to see my MN family,especially my SIL--and the bride-to-be. Great to get out of here for a bit too. I'm getting stale. My daughter put it best last night, "Every couple of months, I like to go on a trip." I've been home since April. Gotta go.
I wonder if anyone except Midwesterners use that phrase, Up North" to designate a particular place. In MN it meant places north of the Twin Cities--Brainerd, Alex, Duluth, and everywhere in between. Here in Cheeseland it means Rhinelander, Minoqua, and all of those parts of the state.
I spent a big chunk of yesterday searching for a getaway spot for us now that we're not heading to "our" lake. I found three that would take the dog too, and quickly narrowed it to the mid-range option. They've also knocked 10 percent off because we'll be staying midweek. Now I'm trying to budget meals. It has a kitchen, but we won't want to eat every meal in. I guess I'm figuring between $50 and $75 a day for the three of us. That will give us the opportunity to have some great local food, but not blow the budget further. Does that sound reasonable?
Frugality abounded (sort of) yesterday. I'm on the waiting list for the new Robert Galbraith mystery (aka JK Rowling)at the library, but I think I'm #367. I saw it yesterday marked down at Half Price Books, and had another 40% off coupon, so relented. I'll sell it back when I'm done. DD escaped without purchasing anything, but got a $5 reward in their summer reading program. She'll save that for later.
We spent nothing else, ate from the fridge and freezer, and started gathering trip essentials. I mailed my ebay sale, transferred money from checking to savings, and found a few more potential ebay sales.
In larger news, the university seems to have money available for online course development. My boss offered me a chunk of change to work on converting a class I already teach into a more viable online offering. Things are never done there until they're done, so we're cautiously optimistic.
We had some bad news about my wonderful S-I-L who has been diagnosed with uterine cancer. She and my brother have been married almost 35 years, so she's very dear to me. That news has also changed our plans for a week at my parents' lake place in MN that my brother bought from us.
So, I'm trying to decide whether we should be super cheap and stay home (ugh), go to nearby Door County (nice, but been there lots), or go from Minneapolis to the North Shore of MN. That would be my top choice, but we'll have to take the dog since our dog sitter is not available.
My DH has never been there, and if we can do it affordably we will. Now--on to hours of web site searches for prices and pet-friendly accommodations.
MY DH says I'm a travel-planning geek, so I have a lot to do!
Today's frugal missions will include transferring some money from checking to savings, depositing my U-Promise check of $14.46 and mailing my ebay sale.
I have ten days left in my London semester. I haven't started kicking and screaming about leaving yet, but I will. My students are becoming very sad about leaving too, but many of them are traveling for a while later.
I've done moderately well with my spending. Because of last year's super cold weather, I have lots of sweaters with me, but we've had some lovely warm weather, and really, I'm very tired of those grey and black cardigans. I did a little shopping over the weekend at a charity shop near where I live. They vary in quality, but I really like this one, run for the benefit of the air ambulance. The staff has painted it to look like a beach shack, and the fitting rooms are very cute. I bought three summery tops and two books for a whooping total of 10.15pds
If I didn't have to eat here, I could go home with money from my stipend, but I do spend a fair amount on food. Yet compared to my spendthrift students, I'm Scrooge. I never eat more than one meal a week out, even lunch, unless I was with guests.
Last night I saw the X Factor musical. X Factor is the Brit version of American Idol with Simon Cowell. As part of the faculty package, I get free tickets, and I enjoyed it very much. It was silly, but cute. Unfortunately one of my colleagues dropped her Oyster (transportation) card with a pre-loaded cash card. We searched for quite some time, but she'll need to cancel everything. We had a stand-up Chinese meal in the street that set me back 6 pds and a beer later for another 3.50, but it was a great evening.
We have a few more things going on, Stonehenge on Friday, curry night on Monday, and a farewell party the following Wednesday, but these are all paid.
Here's one for the morbid amongst us. Tomorrow, I'm going over to have a peek at the Plague Pits recently unearthed by the Barbican. What free fun!
I'm still here in Londontown. Since I've last checked in DH and DD have been here and gone, I've been to Prague with students and to (glorious) Nice with a friend. I will never ever complain again. It's been grand and glorious and wonderful.
And the weather this spring has been glorious. I've been very very busy, trying to juggle four classes, four preps, and my freelance project evaluation.
So, I'm off to do some grocery shopping.
London prices are still just staggering, and truth be told, I've sort of abandoned the idea of living in London itself. Even diehard Londoners are cringing at the price of property. But a smaller city might still work for us.
I've got a friend joining me here for a week starting tomorrow, so I expect my expenses will go up a bit this week. Except for France, I've been very frugal, packing lunches and bringing coffee most days. DH and DD will be back in four weeks. They are faring well as is his job. But I miss them a lot.
But it's been glorious--so much art, so much walking, some many quirky wonderful things. More later on interesting and depressing shows on food insecurity (not mine!) here in the land of London billionaires.
Hooray! DH's interview went well, and they offered him the contract. He's happy to be going downtown again as it's a shorter commute, and he loves to take the bus. Good all around.
I headed out early, scoping out a route from my flat to the Eurostar Station at St Pancras. A friend is coming over the end of the month and we're going to France, so I wanted to see the most direct route. No problem at all, a very easy bus ride to a tube station on the Picadilly Line. I'll also go that way next week to get DH and DD at Heathrow.
It was fun being at St Pancras. It's a beautiful station, and I enjoyed seeing people rushing off to catch their train to France and watching folks come in. It was so much fun, I bought a coffee and just sat for a while.
Then off to the Tate Britain. Last year many of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings I like were down as the Tate was being remodeled, but I spent a lovely day there and also saw a great photography exhibit.
This may seem silly, but I'm missing my bird feeder at home. We have magnificent backyard birds, frequently 4 or 5 cardinals at once, and sometimes even hawks. So today I bought a small bird feeder and some seed. I have a small patio out the back and thought it might be fun. I can always bring the feeder home if I want. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of birds might appear.
Some quick grocery shopping on the way home, then back here for dinner. This will be a very busy week, so I need to get some work done tonight.
I'm happily snuggled up here on my Friday off, but will go out and about later if the rain holds off. But things are not so hot (both literally and metaphorically) back at home.
DH's contract was extended, then amidst all sorts of flurries and apologies, was not. So his last day is February 7. He does have an interview this morning, so we're hopeful. That job would be at his current company's downtown location rather than the suburban one which, because of the shorter commute, would be much nicer. I'm a little worried, especially since I'm on 3/4 pay while here. But we have no debt, so only our regular expenses, but still.
There isn't much I can do from here (or there, actually), so I'm just holding down expenses, teaching my classes here and my online class, enjoying all the lovely free things I can do.
Hello my friends,
I'm back in London and it's been (aargh) two months since I've posted. But it's time to start up. It's been a very busy two months, partly for some sad reasons. I think I posted back in November that a dear friend had been diagnosed with cancer. Indeed, she was my best friend for many many years. Less than six weeks after diagnosis, she lost the fight, and it's been a very hard emotional coming to terms with it for me. My DH says I'm worse than when I lost my mom, but my mom was 91, and my friend was 49. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely knowing this friend, I'm convinced she's haunting me, or at least hanging out with me. But that's a story for another time.
So, here I am back in one of the world's most expensive cities, but it's glorious to be back. It's getting late, but I'll post again tomorrow about the trials and tribulations of the academic budget in the Big Smoke.
Hi to you all; I'm glad to be back.
I feel like the worst of the semester is behind me. All my students are working on big projects, and only need feedback from me. Nothing new or too major to assign, and only three weeks to go.
Tomorrow my London contact arrives to do the meeting with this year's students. Unbelievably, there are three I still haven't met, so finally I'll see everyone tomorrow.
I've been pretty frugal, and I've also been trying to diet a bit. I've kept up with Swagbucks up to now, but imagine if we're traveling over Thanksgiving, I'll abandon the monthly goal. My Nectar Adpoints are very slowly adding up to help with my London grocery bill. I've done some Pinecone surveys and some Christmas shopping at the church bazaar. Now I just need a few days to tie up loose ends and do an analysis of things that need to be done for the semester, the London trip, home, and Christmas.
My dear friend with cancer is home, but the prognosis is not good. She's a very stubborn soul, so I'm hoping she'll let me help while I can.
It's going to get very cold here, and I've made yet another pot of turkey broth from the turkeys I roasted for the shelter. It smells heavenly here. Nothing like a big pot of homemade soup.
I'm finally thinking I'm over the worst of the semester. I have the rest of it planned out, and the best part is now that my evening class is over, I have some more time.
I went to New Orleans from Wednesday-Saturday to do a conference presentation. It went well, and the best part was New Orleans itself. I haven't been there in years, and I had such fun. The university will pay for about half my trip, but I heard great presentations, ate fabulous (and free!) food, and had at least a couple of hours for a wander around. A bunch of folks I was in grad school with were there, and some other former colleagues, so it was fun to go out with them. I didn't spend too much, tried to economize where I could, and got some work done at the airports, on the planes, and in odd snatches of time. So, I'm caught up enough and feel refreshed.
I came home to a registered letter from my adjunct employer which made me a bit anxious. But it turned out to be good news. Their IRS audit revealed they owed me a 403b contribution. Because I work there only sporadically, I don't have a retirement account with them, but apparently I worked enough in the previous year to open an account with an initial $800 deposit made by them. Isn't that peachy?
I hope to clear things up around here this week, completely catch up on work, and clean the house. Maybe I can even turn into Tinkerbell or lose that dread 20 lbs.?
Hooray! It looks like I have my numbers for London. I needed 8-10, and we should have 11 or 12, plus me! My iffy one is waiting on a recommendation from a TA. Don't get me started on TAs; I've had several run-ins with one that I'm mentoring. Ah, to be 25 and so damn sure of yourself. But wrong.
I couldn't sleep much last night; way behind in my own work, the house, and now London events. But I don't have to do much for the next couple of weeks except hold a couple of meetings. Still, my head is spinning.
Our chimney rebuild started today, but it's raining so hard, they gave up and went home. It'll be a busy busy weekend here. And hopefully a cheap one too.
I have loads to do. Paper grading is looming, and I've just finished commenting on 27 pretty awful assignments.
Maybe it's the thought of DH's job instability, the upcoming conference talk, or even (yeah!) London that makes me want to hunker down, clean the house, make soup, and prepare. Maybe it's fall?
I'll know by next week whether I'll have enough London students to go this year. But I'm cautiously optimistic. We took quite a financial hit last year as I was on half salary while there, ironically working at least as hard as at home. But I've volunteered to do an online version of one of my regular offerings in addition to the London classes. Since I'm teaching that class now, I've been trying to compose the online class for spring term at the same time. I'll regret not having the luxury of just focusing on London, but if I get everything up and operating, it should be less painful.
So, the dishwasher is humming as is the washer. Next step might be the slow cooker.
An off topic addendum: I hate banks. The $10K that I moved to Chase for their $150 bonus has earned me a whooping 14 cents in 90 days. And reading about their trading scandals and executive pay have not further endeared them to me. As soon as the bonus hits, the cash is going into the credit union.
Wow, we're almost at the end of Week 4 of the semester. That's 1/4 of the way through. I'm thrilled to report I have managed again to learn everyone's names. I live in fear of the term when I won't be able to learn 100 new names.
London recruiting seems to be going well, but is keeping me plenty busy. DD seems to be handling middle school much better this year, and although my house looks a tornado hit it, I feel on top of most other things.
Our only potentially bad news is word of another end of project for DH. He may be out of work as soon as October 1. He's put the word out all over the company, so we're hoping for the best.
I'm giving a conference talk in New Orleans at the end of the month with a colleague. I was hoping the three of us could go, but with the job issues and a few other complications, it looks like I might have the time to myself.
We had a great time at the Study Abroad Fair today, and there was indeed lunch. Four of my former students stopped by, and we filled a sheet up with folks who are interested in this spring's trip.
I was on my feet from 8-2 and boy, am I tired. Hoping to find some great down time this weekend. Not much financial news, but we are successfully eating through most of the fridge and freezer.
Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a spoiled brat and am bored being home. I'd rather be in Minnesota with family and friends, denying the imminent onset of the semester, a passel of new students, and the early morning start times.
But here we are. We spoiled ourselves with a massive dinner tonight with fabulous vegetables from the farmers' market. The corn and tomatoes were so good. And I sort of invented a new cocktail with orange San Pellegrino, white rum, mint, and a squeeze of lime. The patio was beautiful even if the house is filled with laundry, stacks of mail, and piles of school supplies to be delivered and new school clothes to be put away. If the mosquitoes hadn't been so hungry and yet another Kate Atkinson novel waiting inside, I might've slept out there instead.
Tomorrow is the closing day of the municipal pool. Reality can wait until Monday, yes?
Oh my, DD and I had such a lovely trip to Duluth then the North Shore. And I'm happy to report it was at least moderately thrifty. We left Thursday after my tutoring, spending $71 on a motel room, but getting a $50 gas card back from them. We had breakfast there the next morning and drove to Duluth where I cashed in some hotel points that were about to expire for a room for DD, my good friend, and I to all share.
I got dining points on our dinner choice in beautiful Canal Park in Duluth. We walked along the lake and had a splendid evening. Then on up the North Shore, stopping for groceries for snacks and breakfast, but treating ourselves to a great couple meals out, and later wine overlooking the lake from our rental balcony. We hiked during the day, enjoyed the pool and hot tub, and just got caught up. I've never had such spectacular weather there.
Home and back to reality. More on that tomorrow, but letting the pleasure linger a bit first.
Yep, next week I'm going to focus on money again, but last week and this week, DD and I have hit the road. We're just back from five days in MN staying with my brother and his wife at my mom's lake place.
Long-suffering readers may remember that it's been a year since I sold my half of the house to them. They've been there almost the whole summer and are really enjoying it. I feel like I have the best of both worlds--time there when we can find it and the house proceeds. The drive was tough on both DD and me, but we're home for another 36 hours before we head to the North Shore of Lake Superior.
We haven't overspent; we've just been less focused than we usually are. You know, boxes of Dilly Bars, mini golf, more expensive bottles of wine. But I did come home to teach tonight, tutor tomorrow, do some laundry, and water my containers. DH seems to be hanging in there.
Hope to come home with a very mild sunburn, a few mosquito bites, a state park stamp in our state park passport, and two wet swimsuits.
There are about a dozen things that all need doing at the same time time, so some decisions had to be made. First, some sad news. One of my old high-school friends who always struggled with depression had died. They suspect suicide, but we're broken up about this.
The funeral is tomorrow in Minneapolis, but I don't think I can do an overnight trip and another 12-hour drive by myself only three weeks after returning.
I investigated airfares (staggering) and even the megabus, but the time is the major factor.
I also have a departmental meeting today that I should attend,but the dog's pre-surgical consult is at that time, and I'm trying to spend extra time with DD as she is really struggling with her math.
I will go in to the university today and start putting up flyers for next year's study abroad session as I promised.
But today is family and dog first.
Teaching begins again with my evening Mysteries class tonight. I'd rather be home dejunking, but especially with my summer class in jeopardy, I'm glad to have the work. I only have 11 students, but I suspect I'm a bit spoiled with all the English majors I had in England. These evening classes contain lots of folks who take lit classes only because they need the credits and spend a lot of time complaining about having to read.
Speaking of having to read, I came home from the library with another big pile of books yesterday. I read three books last week. How fun is that?
I also took a very long walk this afternoon. I've sort of decided that I need to tackle two things that never seem to get done. I need to lose about 20 lbs, and I need to get my house consistently clean and clutter free. Thus the long walk and the continuing piles of things I'm finding to get rid of.
Last night I cleaned some files as I was searching for a short story copy I'm using tonight. I tend to keep multiple copies of teaching materials, but recycled a pile a foot tall.
Did I report I finally did the taxes this weekend? We filed for an extension as we were still in the UK when the deadline rolled around. We're getting a refund, but think I probably need to adjust withholding as this will be our last year claiming a mortgage interest deduction. I'm glad to have that done!
I spent half the weekend on the road, driving to Minneapolis to pick up the dog at my brother's home. They've been dog sitting since DD and DH came to England. I spent some $ on gas (much cheaper in MN), a small lunch each way, and dinner with friends on Friday night. Yesterday DD and I were invited to a tea party, and I bought a cute rose planted in a tea cup for the hostess. I think that was our only spending.
The more expensive news is the dog's impending medical treatment. She jumped off something at my brother's and tore her ACL. We're headed to the vet in an hour to find out that news. Ugh.
So, I have ongoing tasks for the week that need prioritization. They include pulling together class materials for my summer classes, starting our delayed taxes, picking up around here, finding a cleaner, hiring a painter for the house exterior, and starting a massive dejunking. I guess I did start the dejunking yesterday by giving a friend a big bag of DD's outgrown clothes. But much more to come. And I need to sell some things on ebay.
Also to be done is the drawdown of all the food DH bought while I was gone. He buys far too much food and the freezer and cupboards are bursting. So menu planning must be done.
I'm giving myself a grocery budget of $50/week until we can get through this food, and an ebay target of $150. I want ten bags/boxes of stuff out of this house by the end of the week. I'm still working on capstone projects and have to show up at the university with my spending report sometime this week, but first, an hour of purging.
There's more England news on the horizon, but I'll wait until tomorrow to elaborate.
Well, I'll admit, I did come back kicking and screaming, but I'm back. Back to piles of mail, piles of laundry, a house that clearly my DH didn't clean for months, but we're safe and sound.
However, I suspect it will be quite a while before I "really" come back.
A friend asked me about highlights and low times, and except for one especially awful student and my DH throwing his back out last week, I can't think of a low point. I missed my family, but Skype was great. Don't tell anyone, but I really like the peace and serenity and cleanness of living alone. Especially in London. Always.
On to cleaning, buying Turbotax, and trying to stay off Facebook and quit looking at photos.
Only a week until DD and DH arrive, so I'm doing all the London things that I love, but that he's less than enthusiastic about--antique shopping, theatre, etc. and saving all the things we all love like museums and history for after their arrival.
I'm still rather amazed at how expensive groceries have been. On Tuesday I spent 25pds on groceries, and all I have left is tangerines. I do eat almost every meal here or pack lunches, but still, it's expensive.
My new pleasure? Chili beet(root) for on top of salads.
But the good news for us is the exchange rate. The pound has fallen 8.5% against the dollar since January. I'm going to start putting almost everything on the American credit card (which we always pay off) to help take advantage of that.
The British economy seems a bit worse than the American at this point with a new budget coming out next week. Several friends are facing layoffs, and there are plenty of cuts in benefits.
Off to the British library!
Two trips since last I blogged, and I'm about to go out the door in a minute.
I spent five days in Barcelona with an English friend and my MN girlfriends. I'd never been to Spain before, and may I just say, this is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen. On the thrifty front, we rented a flat, ate some breakfasts there, but really spent very little time there. We went out exploring every day, ate great food, drank wonderful wonderful cheap wine, saw fabulous art, and took public transportation everywhere we didn't walk. I even braved the Tube and bus home from Heathrow with a very big suitcase so no unnecessary transportation costs.
Then a busy week teaching with double lectures one day, replenishing my skimpy larder, then off to Stratford upon Avon yesterday with a student group. I've done the Shakespeare/Anne Hathaway deal twice before, but enjoyed it again. It's been VERY cold here with a nasty wind, but I walked the High Street in Stratford and found a wonderful cookware shop, and at another shop bought a fleece for 70 percent off. That, a nice lunch, and a long conversation with another faculty couple finished off a very pleasant day. Now off to a lecture and to a bunch of used bookstores.
Very "chuffed," as the Brits say, that while waiting for the bus yesterday, three different folks asked me about bus routes. I must look like I know what I'm doing--and could actually answer their questions.
I miss my family, but they'll be here in a month!
First, a caveat. I'm not feeling very frugal. I've been wallowing in art, roaming all over, and I'm not used to cooking for one. My DH eats every scraping of leftovers I can excavate from the fridge. But I'm also feeling the pinch of this expensive glorious place.
I'm off to Spain on Tuesday and have a work drinks (will they have snacks?) do tomorrow night, so I'm trying to use up all the bits and pieces in my fridge.
While I was grading yesterday, I roasted the half bulb of fennel and the lump of butternut squash that's been rolling around since last Sunday's lunch. They'll be the anchor of tonight's dinner. It's very rainy and nasty today, so I cut my walk short and am spending the day class planning.
One of my constant issues is the extreme slowness of the bus. It can take 45 minutes for me to get to the university. But my transit pass only covers zones 1-2 on the tube, and Highgate is Zone 3. I haven't yet been able to rationalize the extra couple pounds this would cost, so I bring a book, look out the window, memorize the bus stops, and sometimes sigh a little. But on Tuesday, I need to get to Heathrow for my flight so will have to top up my Oyster card. The TFL (Transport for London) site is very good, so will spend some time later figuring out how much that will cost or if it's possible to get a regular London bus all the way out there. I sort of doubt it.
I also need to figure out the best place to change money. I usually just use the ATM, but we're getting into Barcelona late-ish, and I want some cash in hand. My suspicion is that the PO offers good rates, but I'll check.
Scottish girl mentioned this site that is very much talked about. It's all about food waste and is pretty darn interesting. http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/content/love-food-hate-waste-london
My promised post on the charity shops will follow later. Must dry off and work a bit.
I've done some thinking about how folks spend and save around here.
Because energy is more expensive, there is a lot of emphasis on energy awareness. My homestay students tell me they're always urged to turn down heat, turn off lights, duplex print, etc. None of these are new to anyone, but they are certainly more emphasized.
I've also noticed the increasing emphasis to pay attention to food waste. Because food is a bigger part of people's budget, there are lots of articles and supermarket tips on how to stretch things, particularly meat. Many supermarkets charge for bags. I've also seen lots of articles on how to use up things like the last bit of mustard, dabs of vegetables, etc. As with the energy savings, none of this is new, but it's much more stressed.
That said, the lunch places are jammed and I hardly ever see anyone bringing in a lunch--well, except me.
The student office here, cognizant of the cost for students, has installed a microwave. I'm refilling my travel cup with water regularly. Everyone also seems very aware of the cost of transportation, especially with the huge rise in train fares. It would save me 20 minutes to take the bus to the tube, then the tube the rest of the way. I've discussed this with folks in the office, and virtually everyone moans about it, but takes the bus.
There also seems to be increasing stratification, just like in the US.
Tomorrow's topic? Charity shops!
Now what made me feel like I'd have a relaxing time in London? I'm prepping assignments for three classes, grading three, lecturing two, and squeezing in lots of fun. Wednesday we had our first British Life and Culture class, followed by an absolutely fabulous production of War Horse at the National Theatre. I walked back to my bus stop with a colleague since it was such a gorgeous evening, but didn't get in until after midnight, skyped with family, and finally to bed at 2. And up again at 6:30 to teach two classes that next morning. Brilliant and exciting, but I got some groceries on the way home, admired the fabulous view over London from Muswell Hill, came home and fell asleep on the sofa. Horrible to say, but I spent the gloomy day inside today to get caught up with grading and prep.
Good news? I AM caught up and have assignments ready for the next week. Tomorrow some more exploring and then shopping for my Sunday lunch with friends.
I'm aiming for a better job prepping because the next three Fridays I'll be off on day trips or in Spain. Fabulous? Yep. Busy? Yep!
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