Thursday 29 August 2019

Money diary // travel savings and PewDiePie's wedding at Kew Gardens

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it in your back pocket” —Will Rogers


We have the next three days off work and were originally planning on taking the Eurostar somewhere, but potentially spending 400-and-something-pounds (and that didn't even include food) irritated the hell out of me from a value for money perspective. And that was only for one night. Add on a night or two and it racked up further. Same with airlines. Find a nice cheap European city break which sounds too good to be true and the reality is that it IS too good to be true because it all ramps up (hello sneaky airline extras).

So instead we are realistic and reach a compromise. We sit down and recognise that we don't really need to go away away to a hotel. We don't yet have children we need a break from.We don't still live at home with family / with flatmates, so don't need alone time. And neither of us are in particularly nasty jobs we need to escape from.

Instead we decide to do three days of day trips. First stop: Strawberry Hill House where I wear my bargain Oliver Bonas dress I found in the sale (£70 down to £18!).

We manage to get buy-one-get-one-free on admission with a South West trains offer so it ends up costing us £6.25 each rather than £12.50 each. RESULT. My travel into London is already included with my annual season ticket, however the extra stint to Strawberry Hill costs me an extra £10 return.

To save on food costs, I prepare a picnic for the next few days. For this I use ingredients I already have in the house. On this occasion it's wholewheat pasta, pesto and extra pine-nuts which sounds simple, but really hits the spot.

Strawberry Hill House closes fairly early so we get there early and return home before rush hour hits. We already have food at home which saves any further spending that day.


SHH - £12.50 for 2 people
Train fare - £10.00



Today we head to one of our all-time favourite places - Kew Gardens. Again our train tickets allow us 2-for-1 on admission, meaning we get a day out for just £8.25 each rather than the usual £16.50.

We learn that PewDiePie's wedding is at Kew gardens and worry that some of the houses and areas will be closed off, but it turns out his wedding was yesterday and everything seems to be open. We spot a couple of people vlogging, but as it's school holidays, it's mainly families and children there that day.

We have come prepared with a picnic (see MONDAY) and it's a beautiful day to sit outside with it. We get to Kew just after 10am and stay until 5pm, walking a staggering total of 10 miles that day. We already have food at home which saves any further spending that day.

Kew Gardens - £16.50 for 2 people
Trains - £6.60



My phone is dying a slow death (the screen is literally hanging off and beyond repair) and I'm conscious that I need to start sussing up on phones for when it inevitably happens. I'm already dreading the prospect given that I''m probably going to end up with some huge, expensive thing as phones don't come cheap (or small) any more.

We go to look at phones and as predicted, they are all huge. I am tempted to move to Huawei as it will give me a staggering 128GB of storage compared to the mere 16GB I currently have, as well as a 48MB camera (plus a Leica lens!) for two fifths of the price of an iPhone. Plus I can potentially save a little extra if I act soon as there is a limited time cash back offer on Huawei phones. WATCH THIS SPACE.

We stop for lunch in town and go to one of our favourites, Cote Brasserie. We opt for their lunch offer (2 courses for £11.50) which has a great selection on at the moment. Mr Curiouser and Curiouser very kindly foots the entire bill despite my protests (I always like things to be 50/50 but it turns out my partner is as deaf as he is lovely!)

To avoid extortionate hourly parking charges, we decide to take the bus / train. I figure the bus will take longer but be cheaper - how wrong was I?! The train is both faster and cheaper so it's a no brainer.

We head home before rush hour and curl up together watching films. Our Tesco shop arrives an hour earlier than it should, but no harm done. We have been given a voucher which we use to stock up on higher ticket items and larder essentials which essentially gives us £10 of our shopping gratis.

Train - £5.60
Tesco shop - £50.63



I'm back at work today so Thursday is essentially my Monday and you know what means... CHOCOLATE RUN. I really, really want a hot chocolate but I resist and get my weekly Waitrose chocolate stash instead which will stretch out into next week too (little victories)

Waitrose chocolate - £3.40



TGIF! I have a work event on tonight and all booze and food has been provided by the company. RESULT. I was only going to stay for a few, but end up staying to the end. Oops. 



We contemplate going to B&Q to return the spare MDF and No More Nails left over from our recent DIY project, but don't fancy the Bank Holiday crowds. Fortunately there is a 40-something day returns period so there's no rush.

We instead head to Aldi to pick up this week's special buys (which are all sold out by the time we get  there - boo!). Feeling inspired, I pick up a few bits and pieces including a genius £1-something fajitas pack in the frozen section. It literally contains everything (chicken, vegetables, spices) so you just cook from frozen and pile it into wraps (79p).

I also pick up a bargain box of wonky mushrooms which will be great for homemade pizzas (tonight), an Asian salmon dish (Monday) and a pea and mushroom pilaf (Tuesday).

We pick up some biscuits which are somehow not in their system. Since they are an end of line product they are not selling any more, which are not marked on the shelf or ringing up in their system, the lovely Aldi team say we can have them gratis #FindOfTheWeek

Our total spend comes to £14 which is more than I anticipated, however some savvy choices here and there means we no longer require a Tesco shop next week, saving us roughly £26 in the process.


Aldi - £13.72



We get out nice and early to beat the heat and head into town. Card Factory is my go to for birthday cards. SO much cheaper than Central London (anything would be) and their designs are so much nicer. You can easily find cards for 75p or 99p (every little helps when postage is SO expensive these days) and I often take advantage of their 10 cards for £1 offer (I kid you not!). I pick up 3 cards for the grand total of £2.77.

Card Factory - £2.77



Whilst a bigger spend compared to last week, we saved costs by not going abroad or booking a hotel (a trip away would have cost £300+ so this isn't bad considering!) meaning we had money left in the pot to treat ourselves to some days out whilst still having money left over at the end of it (always nice).

If you decide to give this money diary a go yourself - or have any money saving tips  - do let me know in the comments below!


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