Sunday, 27 March 2016

A Cosy Sunday in Bolton

Last Sunday, Tom and I were at his lovely grandparents' house, which is a typical weekend activity for us. They have a spare room with a comfy double bed, full cupboards (a rarity when you're a student) and live two minutes walk away from the local pub... it's pretty great. I'm very lucky to have somewhere to go to escape university life for a little while and get a bit spoiled! They're lovely and are so kind to me. :) 

I started the day off with a cup of tea on the sofa and enjoyed the spring sunshine streaming in through the windows. The weather is temperamental at the moment... one minute the sun is shining, and the next there's a heavy downpour... perhaps a sign that April showers are on their way. Tom's grandpa makes the best bacon butties, and I have to admit that I do miss them now that I'm a vegetarian, but an equally tasty egg butty was rustled up for me... so I can't complain! 

I found myself in a bit of a pickle when I (finally) decided to have a shower. After a few minutes the water just stopped and a beeping noise began... my heart sunk - I thought I'd broken the bloody thing! I'm that person who accidentally breaks things at other people's house and it's just soooo embarrassing. But it turned out that I hadn't broken anything (thank God) and it was something to do with water pressure and technical-plumbing-watery-stuff. Tom's grandpa prepared for a week of being water-less. He collected bottles of water from the garage and scolded Tom for using it to have a glass of squash... But luckily everything was working again in a couple of hours. 

Tom's grandparents have a gorgeous cat named Bonnie. I'm a massive cat person and miss my own cats so much when I'm at uni. When we stay with them, I make sure to take full advantage of being around a feline and give Bonnie lots of attention. She likes being brushed and so has the softest fur. And she's one of those fab cats who loves to perch on your knee... she's a sweetheart. 

When you're about fifty yards from the pub, it would just be wrong not to go, and so off we went. I wore a typical outfit for me - black jeans, stripy top, waxed jacket and boots. And I put my hair in some hair down/half bun thingy-ma-bob that I've been likin' lately. Please excuse the scribble on my hand... it was from a club the night before! Tom and I can always guarantee that someone we know will be in the pub on a Sunday and sure enough, plenty of his pals were there. The football was on, but I busied myself with munching on some chips and was glad when Tom's sister popped by later and gave me a break from football-and-beer based chats... Not that I mind talking about those things, but it's nice to have girly chats too! 

The hours zoom by when you're casually conversing over a pint of cider, and before we knew it... it was tea time. Tom's grandma kindly made us tea, which saved Tom and me sleepily struggling to put together a meal of some kind when we got back to Manchester later that evening. After demolishing tea, we hopped on the train back to the big city, bought some chocolate, and went to bed. 

I love these chilled out Sundays. I'm so lucky to be able to get away from student living and have a cosy day with Tom in Bolton. 


Sunday, 20 March 2016

5 Tips for Saving Money at University

I've been actively trying to save money this academic year. I got a bit loan/grant happy in first year and flitted way too much money on pretty dresses and pints. My time at university is ticking away... I cannot believe that I'm over half way through my entire degree. I really don't want to be absolutely skint when I graduate next year, so I'm doing a few little things to keep my bank balance happy, and I've written five tips that will hopefully help you be a bit more thrifty too!

Resist those meal deals
I know what it's like... you've rushed like crazy to make it to your morning lecture and didn't even have time to grab a cereal bar, let alone make an Instagram-able rocket, avocado and halloumi salad for your packed lunch. You stumble out of your lecture... bloody ravenous... and head straight for Union, itching to get your hands on a £3 meal deal... But stop right there! The thought of how much money I must have spent on meal deals over the past few years make me feel slightly nauseous. I used to justify it to myself as it wasn't money I was spending on clothes or makeup, but it's still an unnecessary expense. Get your hands on some cheap Tupperware boxes, and take five minutes in the evening to whip up a packed lunch. My fave thing to make is a quick salad of leaves, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes with a dollop of hummus on top... it takes no time and saves me lots of moneyzz. And it's a lot healthier too, because although I kid myself that a cheese ploughman's butty is healthy 'cuz it's got salad in it, anything shop-bought is always gonna be worse for you that homemade.

Buy a water bottle 
Following on from the previous tip... I used buy bottles of water at uni a few times a week, flitting away pounds without even thinking. I popped into Home Sense the other week and found a really nice glass water bottle which I now use everyday. I'm not a big fan of drinking out of plastic reusable bottles, and I find that they get kind of smelly after a while. Although I have to be a bit more careful with my glass one and remember not to just dump my bag on the lecture hall floor, it's much nicer to drink out of :) Buying a proper bottle is better for the environment too! 

Try out a weekly bus ticket 
I'm lucky - my bus in Manchester is £1! One measly bloody quid! So cheap compared to the £2.40 singles in Birmingham... that's just robbery. But I often hop on the bus up to four times a day... so I've been getting the weekly ticket which is fab value at £7.50. I don't get it every week, as some weeks I go home for a couple of days or I'm just not as busy, but when I am busy, £7.50 for unlimited (I think...) bus travel defo saves me some pounds! Have a look and see what the buses in your area offer... you could end up with lots more money in your pocket.

Avoid browsing online 
I enjoy a good ol' Asos browsing session just like the next gal, but I find the more I browse, the more I buy. And to be honest, the constant scrolling through thousands of clothes, shoes and bags, didn't particularly make me happy, it just made me long for more stuff (that I defo don't need), and end up spending money that I should be saving. These days, I try and cut down my browsing to times when I know I actually can treat myself to something without feeling guilty - so when I've done an extra shift, or now for example - 'cuz it's my birthday soon! 

Take the Megabus 
Although I do enjoy a good train journey, I hardly ever take long ones nowadays because the Megabus is just so cheap in comparison! It may not have the best reputation, but it's honestly not that bad... I've never found the coaches to be dirty or uncomfortable. I went home a lot during the beginning of the academic year, and would have been so skint if I'd got the train each time. A mid-week Megabus ticket from Manchester from Birmingham is often only £4! Four pounds! I mean, how do they even make a profit?! It's fab to know I can afford to get myself home whenever I'm pining for my kitty cats (... and mommy). 

I hope you find these pointers helpful, and I'd love to hear your own tips!


Friday, 18 March 2016

5 Things I'm Looking Forward to this Summer

Following on from my last post, today I'm bringing to you five things I'm looking forward to this summer! Screw you guilt... I'm bloody excited. 

Tom and I are going on our first proper holiday together this year! We've been on little trips but nothing as exciting as this. We're jetting off to Corfu at the end of June and we're both soooo happy to finally be going away together and be guaranteed some sun! I haven't been on a hot holiday for a couple of years, and so shopping is basically compulsory (not complaining at all). I just couldn't help myself and have already got my hands on a few bikinis... from Primark of course... why spend all my moneyzz on garments that us English gals only get out a couple of times a year?! 

My friend Laura and I both really want to go to a festival this year. I've never been to a proper one... although when I was seven my parents took me to some strange festival in London where I saw Bob Dylan, so that's pretty cool. Laura and I both adore music and there are some brilliant line ups this year. I've actually been pretty naughty and keep on saying to Laura we should book tickets... and then I get cold feet. I'm a little bit worried about money - and the whole festival toilet situation... We will defo be paying the extra thirty quid to  have access to actual flushing toilets! I need to be decisive and brave and just go... I know I'll love it. 

During the summer, I get time to read books that I actually want to read! It can be hard to find the time to get through novels of my own choice when my lecturers demand that I read three (often rather dense) books a week!! Okay, I did sign up for an English Literature degree, but still... that's a lotta books. I love Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books, and I'm planning on getting my teeth into Babycakes when June rolls around (not literally...). 

There's just something about being in the city on a warm, still summer's evening, and strolling bare-legged to the pub for a nice cold pint that's soooo fab. With the weather being nice and sunny lately, I keep on getting little waves of memories from last spring/summer in Manchester, and people-watching outside busy bars with cider in hand. 

Along with having more time to read over the summer, I have more time to blog - yay! I would love to be more consistent when it comes to blogging and approach the whole thing more professionally overall. Although I hope to do some part-time work over the warmer months and get a bit of money in my pocket, I will defo have lots more time to blog without the pressure of uni deadlines. 

What have you got planned for this summer?


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Why I felt guilty for looking forward to the future...

I sat across a table from my good friend Kat last week, telling her how much I am looking forward to the summer...  how I'm excited about sunshine, holidays, no essays or exams... ahhhh, how lovely. But immediately after my little outburst of excitement, I felt guilty. I felt guilty for saying "I can't wait for summer"... as if I was somehow wishing time away and therefore wasting my precious time on this Earth. 

When I was little, I used to feel like something or someone was listening to every little thing I said or wished for, and that if this mysterious presence overheard me exclaiming how excited I am for the summer months, they would make the time in-between go by in a flash, cut my life short and punish me for being so unappreciative. As I sat across from Kat, one hand curled round my mug of hot chocolate, I was taken back to that angst-ridden time, and felt the urge to correct myself by adding,"but I don't mean to wish the time away of course!" as if to deter this powerful, invisible listener. 

I'm sure many of you will relate to this kind of thinking - I explained it to Kat and she said she was exactly the same growing up. I'm a bit older and wiser now, and have a better handle on mindset. What a shame it would be to not allow myself to look forward to summer! There's a difference between not appreciating time and being excited about the future. And nothing bad is going to happen if I admit to myself that I am looking forward to jetting off the Greece in June and donning a bikini for the first time in yonks! Part of the fun of big events such as holidays, festivals or parties is looking forward to them... I suppose it's kind of like how the build-up to Christmas Day is often the best bit... although having said that I hope my holiday reaches (or surpasses!) my expectations... but anyway you get the gist. 

I feel sorry for past me, feeling bad for looking forward to a school trip to the theatre or a house party - and I don't want present me to feel the same way - guilty for no good reason. Being excited for a future happening doesn't mean I sacrifice all the time in-between and condemn it as time I don't appreciate. So I am looking forward to summer, I am looking forward to going to the beach, I am looking forward to not having to do uni work...  and the list goes on and on! :)