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Sunday, 20 November 2016

Holiday Jobs

There are so many things I want to and need to do it's hard to know where to start.  As I've said before I am a great procrastinator or as my mum called me a "gonna" gonna do this and gonna do that but actually end up not doing anything.  As a child my school reports use to say I'm easily distracted, even the nurses in hospital when I was born told my mum that if they were feeding me and someone came in the room I moved my head round to see what was going on. (I was ill when I was born and my parents had to leave me in hospital and visit me daily but the nurses obviously fed me when my mum wasn't there).

I have all next week off work and hope that I can achieve some of the things I need to. We have a few maintenance issues with our home that need sorting and I want to give the place a good clean and sort out.  I hope to make a start on our spare room as it needs new floor boards.  It has been used as a dumping ground and I want to be able to use it more as an office/snug.  I want to decorate it with an Indian theme in mind with orange and purple walls but my husband isn't so keen so we shall see... ;)

When we bought our house the furniture was given to us to go with the few bits we had as we couldn't afford new or even second hand.  Now we have been able to put some money aside to replace items of furniture, some of which are well past it and as we haven't had to think of what we would like in terms of style we are struggling, there is so much choice out there.  We are starting with upstairs first, hence doing the spare room.  Our room has blue walls which we are sticking with just going to re-decorate to brighten it up and are going to buy white wardrobes.  We have ordered a new bed as after 20 plus years the old one has finally given up and so has our backs!


 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

My Birthday

It was my birthday at the end of February and I was very spoilt.  Flowers and quality time with my husband.

I went out for lunch with a friend who gave me my favourite chocolates.




Had sushi with another friend.






















It's my best friends birthday a few days before mine and there has been a restuarnt we have both wanted to try so treated ourselves and we not disappointed. The whole experience was great, from the moment we walked in to the end.  The staff friendly and professional and the owner took time out to talk to us about cooking the perfect Scotch egg, even checking with the chef the correct temperature.


Roses on the table for our arrival
Melt in your mouth steak








The meat platter
Runny Scotch egg
Refreshers instead of mints



 
 
Then a light supper at my friends.
 
 
 



Plus a little gift from another friend...



 

Friday, 13 May 2016

Barcelona

I have wanted to go to Barcelona for a few years now and we haven't been able to justify the cost until this year we got the best deal we have found.

Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce
The city lived up to my expectations in all but one area - the food.











One of the entrances to Sagrada Familia
I loved the buildings which was my main reason for wanting to visit.  The mind of Antoni Gaudi who designed a lot of buildings there amazes me. We pre-booked online to avoid the queues to go to the Sagrada Familia, a large cathedral still in the process of being built. I wouldn't class myself as religious but as soon as I walked in I felt emotional for some reason. I thought it was such a beautiful building and reading about his reasoning behind the design, taking inspiration from nature and transferring his ideas into bricks and mortar was incredible. The story of Jesus's birth is told at once of the entrances with the three wise men and King Herod. It made me realise I had taken more in at primary school than I thought about the story of Christ as I was able to explain it to my husband.

View of the city from Sagrada Familia

We walked round the city on a evening and enjoyed seeing families out having food and drinks without the need to get completely plastered something that in the city were we live happens every weekend.

On our last day we were fortunate with the weather so walked down the main street and explored the little streets and shops off it, ending up at the harbour and sat to soak up some sun.

The Harbour
We used the metro and got a pass for 10 euros.  It cost 1 euro a journey and you can both use the same ticket. It is also transferrable to the buses so we found it cheap and easy to get around.

Our hotel was good too. The room was clean and comfortable and the breakfast very good plus the staff friendly and helpful.

With regards to the food I think we were just in the wrong areas (very touristy) to find the types of restaurant I had visualised eating in. My Spanish friend was horrified when I said the best meal I had there was pizza.  I will defiantly research the food side of things more. I also think my taste and standards have changed as I've been cooking a lot more and hope I have improved as a cook.

We are hoping to go back as it is one of our favourite cities we have visited, the overall vibe of the place was great, very chilled back and relaxed. Ideal for a short break.










 

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been ages since I've blogged. I really admire and appreciate bloggers who manage it every day.

Things have been busy with the new house, work and a few days away.  Also my mother in law who has a stroke just before Christmas has been diagnosed with cancer and we have been caring for her.

Things that are in the pipe line are more work on the new house (it needs more specialist work than expected), a self reliant weekend away and training for to do the Race for Life.

 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Keys....

We have the keys



 
 
 
Now the work begins..
 

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Managing Finances

As part of getting the buy to let mortgage we had to show our expenses to the mortgage broker.  Even though I have said in a previous post we budget since our holiday in October we've taken our eye off the ball a bit.  Not that we have gone overdrawn but just not been as careful as usual.  We had a form to complete with all our monthly outgoings and it has just made us re-focus. I have started using our credit card for shopping and fuel as we get points which we can convert into vouchers for different things. I pay the balance off each month.

I have dug out a spreadsheet that I used years ago when we were first starting to save and will start to complete that again. It shows how much we spend on what, things like food, toiletries etc.  It also shows our balances which when you see it go up makes everything worthwhile.

Each Monday I am going to check our balances just to keep an eye on them.  I still menu plan and at the moment have a fully stocked freezer with a meat delivery I got just before Christmas.

I use more fuel than before as I work a lot further from home but am going to make a real effort to do errands while I am out. For example I drive past the gym on my way to and from work so rather than coming home then go back out take my gym clothes with me and call in on the way home.

We have opened a separate account for the new house so we can clearly the expenses and profit for it.

I think that for now all this will keep us on track.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Feeling Out of Sorts and a Bit of a Catch Up

I've been ill for a while, coughing, aching and no energy. I actually had to take a day off work which isn't like me to try and recover.  When I do get a cough it does linger and can go on for months, its just something I am prone too. Hopefully I am over the worse. Also I had an injection more or less 12 months ago for carpel tunnel syndrome and have been lucky it has lasted all this time however the pain as come back so I have started wearing the splint the hospital gave me and hope that will put off another injection. I don't mind them but know I can only have another two before they will have to operate so am trying to drag is out as long as possible.

Unfortunately things have slowed down with the buy to let house. We are all good to go but the mortgage company are being awkward and keep asking for more info which is frustrating as I wish they had asked for everything to start with not keep coming back say "can we just have this or this".

Other than that I have a few plans for February. My hubby is taking his mum away for a week and hopefully in that time I can get the floor replaced in our spare room. We had a leak from the bathroom and it had rotted the floor so it all needs taking up and redoing. It will then need decorating and I have plans for an Indian/Moroccan themed room. The plans for the rest of the home is for a more neutral look. Money for this has already been saved up, if our figures are correct!

Using the credit card for shopping has worked well and is something I am going to keep up.  We don't seem to have spent much in January which I am pleased of, hopefully this will keep going during the rest of the year.  I had to buy some new jeans for work (a size smaller!) which was an expense I hadn't planned for but due to the nature of my work I have to wash my clothes more regularly than I normally would which I think makes them wear quicker than usual. This month I need a pair of trainers again for work mainly but that is the only non food spend.

So onwards and upwards into February.  Fingers crossed we get the set of keys for the new house!

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Catching up with the bestie

I met my best friend just over 10 years ago.  We didn't like each other at first but had to work together in a little portakabin and soon discovered even though there is a 13 year age gap between us (I'm the older one) we both had the same sense of humour.  Over the 10 years we have seen each other though the ups' and downs of life such as domestic abuse, engagement, miscarriage, birth of her daughter (I was privilege to cut the cord) and deaths of parents. 

We use see each other every day at work and then sometimes out of work and with me changing jobs and she had her gorgeous little girl just over a year ago we have both had to adjust not seeing each other as much. So when we catch up it is so nice and comfortable. We try and see each other once a week and I can see how fast her little girl is growing which is incredible to see.

She spoils me when I go, making me breakfast and sharing her dinner too this time with a recipe I am going to try, beef with pasta and olives, simple and tasty.

 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Starting as I mean to go on

I've done this weeks menu plan and made a shopping list of what we haven't got in. Lunches are homemade soup. salads or sandwiches. The soups are already made and in the freezer. After this week I think I will need to stock it up again.  I will get the shopping tomorrow as I am visiting a friend and drive past the supermarket. 

Mon - Meat balls and pasta
Tue - Lemon and Herb chicken, potatoes and vegetables
Wed - Pulled Pork, sweet potato mash and roasted vegetables
Thur - Leftover pork and Chicken
Fri - Homemade chicken goujons, wedges and salad
Sat - Thai chicken curry and rice
Sun - tbc

I need to get some moisturiser as it has completely run out and another mattress protector so I am called in to Wilcos before I went to work today. Strangely there is no protectors in Wilco or either of the Tescos in town.

I made a goats cheese and beetroot tart this morning. I've not made it before but it smells good. This will be to have with salad for lunches.







 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Financial Planning for our Future

My changing jobs nearly twelve months ago had to be given a lot of thought due to the massive drop in my salary.  Not only am I being paid a lot less but chose to work less hours. I wouldn't be able to have done it had we not been frugal. However it has worked out that with the bit of overtime I occasionally do, the extra for doing nights which I do a least once a week, the fact I only earn just over the tax limit and only pay a small amount into the work base pension I'm coming home with just slightly less than I did before. Plus I am a lot happier and feel we have a better work/life balance which is worth more than money.

It is all to do with priorities I think.  Many years ago when we first went for a mortgage my husband was working for an agency, although he had been there for about 2 years his wage was discounted. We also wanted to be able to manage our monthly payments on one of our salary just incase one of us lost our job or if we had a family.  Sadly the family never came but we were able to overpay our mortgage and pay it off early making us mortgage and debt free in our late 30's/early 40's. 

Having no debt was a priority for us.  I see friends and family who having a loan or having a credit card payment each month is just the norm. Other than our mortgage we haven't borrowed money.  We save up for things we need and look after the things we have.  We monitor our outgoings, shop at a discount supermarket, cook from scratch, take a pack up to work and my husband cycles the 11 mile round trip to his work.  We could do more to save money but we feel that we have a good balance in saving some but also enjoying our hard earned money.

As we are both in our 40's now we have turned our attention to retirement.  As we have both earned a lot less than the national average and tbh enjoyed our disposable income we haven't put aside much in a pension pot.  I have a couple of pensions from previous job. So we have decided to invest in a buy to let property.  Getting a mortgage again in a way feels like a backward step and one my husband especially has struggled with. However it is something we have thought about for a few years and felt it was a case of now or never.  A buy to let mortgage is different to the mortgage we had in the past and there has been a lot of reading and understanding to do.  We have put an offer in of a terrace house which has been accepted and in the process of it going through fingers crossed.  It's exciting and nerve-racking.  Decisions still to be made like to we manage it ourselves or pay an agency and there is a bit of work to be done to the property. We have spoken to lots of people who have done it and taken their advice on board.  At the moment we are looking at it being just for two years incase we find it too much as I know not everyone is cut out to be landlords but I am hoping we are.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

What a Difference a Time Makes

A lot has changed in 12 months, there have been a lot of up and downs but I now feel happy and content with most things.

I have heard that when things get rough you find out who your friends are and this has been true.  Certain bonds have been made stronger and other broken,  I feel I have grown up, which I guess as a 40 something is about time!

Work now is so rewarding, although challenging.  I have a lot to learn but my colleagues are very supportive and I feel we are a good team.

I feel that things are coming together, work, home and relationships.  I have lots I want to do with our home (hopefully a new one too) and personal goals but feel positive that this year will see some of these achieved.


 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Some Things Change...

...and some never do.

Things that have changed = I love my job. I'm a lot more chilled. We have more time together. I've made new friends. We (hopefully) are going to be landlords.

Things that haven't = The clutter. My weight. My lack of motivation. These are things I hope will move into the changed section during 2016.