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Hello Dear Reader,
Take a look at yesterday’s post and you will see my giveaway of fabric so you can make your own quilt. I’m digging out lots of other goodies too that will be added to the giveaway over the week. Make sure you read the T&Cs and why not have a go and enter.
I thought I would share my frugal plans for the future.
We live in a cute cottage in Cornwall and in six years it will be all paid for. We plan to go away in the summer holiday and rent it out whilst we are away. Where will you live Froogs? Well, my plan is to have a caravan or motorhome and live in that and travel every summer with my rented house paying for my time away.
We took ourselves to a trade show today to do some research. We know little or nothing about caravans and even less about motorhomes. We have got lots of plans for our future and that’s what we’re working for. I know I would have to have a very small sewing machine! It’s just like ordinary life but in minature.
Here’s what we found out. You get a lot of caravan for your money and not a lot of motorhome for your money. Caravans depreciate really quickly but motorhomes keep their value for a lot longer than you’d think.
We looked at and got in older motorhomes; some as much as twelve years old but with very low miles. Even as low as 8000 miles and ten years old. However, the living quarters were worse for wear. For a fraction of the price you can buy a caravan and you can buy a used one for around £5000 that would last a few years.
We found out a lot about mobile home and caravan owners. They are a chatty friendly bunch who are happy to tell you about their travels. Also, they are a thrifty lot. They want a lot of holiday for their money and know the good value sites. They like to travel far and wide and see as much as possible on a tight budget.
That all sounds like us!
We now have another long term financial plan to save up for either a caravan or motor home. A caravan would require the car to have a tow hook and a driving course. We would also have to source storage and having it serviced every year.
Living in a caravan whilst your home is rented is more popular than you would think in Cornwall. It’s so popular that caravan sites rent out pitches for the entire summer so the family or couple can carry on normal life such as going to school or work and they can service their home on ‘change over day’.
Now, over to your Dear Reader. Is anyone out there a caravanner? Do you own a motor home? Do you go away with pets? Does anyone’s pets have a passport? What sort of caravan or motorhome do you have? Is it a thrifty and affordable way to travel and have holidays?
I’d love to hear your thought on this.
Hello Dear Reader,
We are very lucky that we do not have to put our dogs into kennels when we go on holidays as we hire the service of dog sitters who have our dogs in their homes. For two weeks, their house becomes home from home for our dogs. However, to secure this service, we have have to book a year in advance. We have now committed ourselves to going away on holiday for the first two weeks of the summer holiday next year. There are a million advantages to being a teacher and the most important are being entrusted with other people’s children and being part of bringing them up. There is only one disadvantage and that is the fact that we can never get a cheap holiday. We pay a premium or we don’t go.
I do have hints and tips from travelling at peak times that can save folk money and we will use ourselves. My main hint is France. If you live in the South of the UK then France is on our doorstep. If you live in the South East then the cheapest and quickest crossing. You can save your Tesco vouchers for ferry crossings. Every £10 worth of Tesco vouchers will buy you £30 worth of ferry tickets and you can save your Tesco vouchers all year. P&O Ferries will allow you to pay up to £210 with Tesco vouchers. You can also book your ferries through Quidco and get a 7% cashback on Brittany Ferries and 10% back on P&O Ferries. You can also select cheaper times and days to cross. It is sometimes cheaper to go a day before and stay in a very cheap hotel or put up a two man tent and squeeze in and get to your accommodation the next day to get a much cheaper holiday.
Next. The French school don’t have a summer half term break. If you book the last week in May, you can get some good weather BUT don’t book through a British company as they will charge you more. By all means, look in the Eurocamp brochures or websites and then look for French owned campsites in the same area. They will be much, much cheaper!!!! More advice on campsites………….don’t be fooled or over awed by star rating. The amount of stars relate to the leisure facilities. You will pay more for water slides, cafes and shops. If you are happy with a clean chalet, log cabin or mobile home then 2* or 3* are adequate. I like a pool but I wouldn’t be bothered if there wasn’t one. Likewise, I don’t need a launderette and the local towns are full of them and they are much cheaper than those on the campsites.
If you do have to go in the peak season then as will all things, set a budget and stick to it. We have a year to save the money to go on holiday. It will be more expensive than the low season version we had last year but it will still be a relatively cheap holiday. We spend the bulk of our budget on accommodation and we rent a mobile home. We know what we will get and there will be no surprises. You might be surprised what you don’t get in a French mobile home: a kettle, bedding, oven, teapot, and the kitchen equipment is basic. We take what we need with us and completely cater for ourselves when we are there. We take food with us and just buy bread, fruit and salad when we get there. We don’t drink much and buy one three litre box of wine and usually bring it home half used. We also take all of the cleaning products, first aid kit and medicines……you never know what is going to sting or bite you and rich food can play havoc with your digestion! We take antihistamines, anti-inflammatory gel and tablets, migraine tablets, and imodium…..we can all over do the oysters! We take lots to do as well. We take a laptop and DVDs for snuggly nights in, lots of books and I take some craft to keep my busy. We also take our own bikes to save on hiring them…..the ferry company charges us another £15 or so to do that but again, it keep the costs down and we travel everywhere by bike when we get there.
Wherever you choose to go on holiday, if you choose………….take a look at airbnb.co.uk – independent hoteliers, B&Bs and accommodation providers advertise their rooms. I even found a B&B enroute to use as an example with accommodation for £43 per night for two people including breakfast.
Now back to the old chestnut of holidays being more expensive in school holidays. When our children were young we didn’t take them out of school and consequently meant we couldn’t afford to take them anywhere on holiday. We used to take them camping (the trauma of which still haunts me that tents on the internet make me weepy with the miserable memories……………friggin’ unromantic too…………trying too hard to be quiet to not wake kids is more of a passion killer than big knickers and hairy legs!!) in Cornwall…………………I live here now and just go home every night, so NO I don’t camp! I digress, back to school holidays. The party line would be for me to say, I hope people can find a way of taking their children on a holiday and not miss school, personally I fully understand why families do it. Take a look at the article I found below and let me and the world know what you think.
Over to you, Would you take your children out of school for a cheaper holiday (classed on your child’s record as an unauthorised absence if you don’t get permission from the school) or would you go on a camping or caravan holiday to take them somewhere affordable. Also, feel free to have a rant and the disgusting mark up that holiday companies charge for holidays in the school breaks!!!
- British families spend an average of £1982.00 on their annual holiday
- Families taking some or all of their holiday during school term time estimate they save an average of £664.00
- 75% of families taking their children out of school would take the whole holiday in term time to get a better deal
- 65% say they can’t afford to have a holiday during the school holiday periods
- 73% would be happy for their children to miss 5 or more school days
- 23% would be happy for their children to miss 10 or more school days
- 74% ask the school’s permission to take their children out of school
- 70% take their children out of school anyway even if the school refuses permission
- 39% have lied to the school about their children’s absence in order to have a holiday during term time
Hello Dear Reader,
Yesterday’s blog disappeared so I’ve tried again. For a few years, whilst we were paying off debts and reducing our mortgage, we didn’t have any holidays at all. We had no weekends away, no days out, no meals in restaurants, no theatre trips, in fact, nothing at all until we were debt free. If you are not saving, not reducing your mortgage and not debt free, then you are spending money you don’t have. Over the last two years, we’ve had an off season holiday in Brittany and I’ve done so with savings. Each time I reduce my mortgage by ten thousand pounds, I save £100 a month in interest and it’s always the interest on any debt which keeps a debtor poor. Dearly Beloved will have another week off work in late July, when I will be on holiday. I will amuse myself at home for the rest of the summer break.
In the week holiday we have together, we always make sure we have at least three day trips. We don’t use these as an excuse to splurge as we see our selves very blessed to have jobs and have time off at all. So, the treat is always the time, our own company and to be able to relax. We never go far and don’t use any more diesel than we would if we were at work and this is what we get up to when we holiday at home. Firstly, we treat the week as if we were going on holiday and get ready for it. We tell people we’ll be on holiday and not around much, so we have time to be alone. Just as in France, we get some nice food in, we’ll have wine with dinner and we might save films we’d saved on the freesat box to watch in the evenings. We’ll plan a barbeque together, just as we would if we were away. We also plan day trips to get out and about.
We have two or three days out and about on our bikes and we’re investigating bike trails in Cornwall that we haven’t ridden yet. We’ll investigate walks and research car parking. There will be some we do regularly and some all day walks that we only have time for on holiday. We lived in Plymouth for thirteen years and love the Hoe, the Barbican and Devil’s Point and we’ll have a day down memory lane and treat our selves to an ice cream or a coffee (but never both on one day!) Remember, it’s the time that’s the treat.
We’ll plan for and visit a car boot sale and some charity shops in that week but, just as with any holiday, will have a set budget. It’s a week where I won’t spend in my sewing room or writing much, but give over to us. We’ll use sunny days to sit in our garden and read, just as we would if we were in France and we’ll have long leisurely lunches where we just sit and talk together.
Holidays are wonderful as families get to focus time on each other and have fun together. This can be done at home, with day trips or at the very least with picnics in the garden. Drag the dining table and chairs outside and eat like Italians! Get out your best table clothes and plates and treat yourself. Make nicer meals where you have time to prepare, lay a table and wash up together. Be tourists in your own neighbourhood and discover history, walks and the environment around you. Holidays were always a hard earned treat, such as a work’s do to the seaside for the day and now people see them as some kind of God given right and entitlement. See them as a treat, as a luxury and rediscover appreciation in what you have around you and mostly spending time together.
Hello Dear Reader,
In response to the requests; here’s my froogy guide to how to travel by car ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff in Brittany. First of all there is the booking. You can book almost a year in advance, usually November the year before, for let’s say July the following year. You’ll need to book well in advance if you want a family sized cabin, because most cabins are only two berth. If you have no children and a stronger constitution than DB and I , you can just book a reclining seat each. That’s the cheapest option. If you travel by day, you don’t need to book a cabin or seat and that is by far the cheapest option. Google the name of the ferry company and go to their website for prices and time tables.
Food – We travel by night so don’t take any thing and usually just buy a cup of tea on the way out. We bought something to eat on the return and it was highly priced, but not the rip off it could be with a captive audience. In the day, families take big picnics as it would be unaffordable for a family of six or more to buy food in the cafes and bars on the ferry. We’ve done this ourselves.
Arrival – We choose to arrive really early, then we watch a film or read. We would rather wait for two hours in advance to be one of the first ones off the ferry when we arrive home in Plymouth. We live thirty minutes from the port and were home 7.15 this morning. On arrival, you will go into a queue and go through passport control, who will then give you a boarding pass, which you hang on the rear view mirror and keys for your cabin, which look like thick card credit cards which you insert in and out of the cabin door to get in.
Getting onto the ferry.- You will be marshalled onto the ferry by the staff in smart airport like attire. They will tell you which lane to drive in, which deck to drive to and where to park – ‘exactement!’ – You will be parked bumper to bumper and at peak times, there is no gap between one car and the next, so jump out quickly before another can jams you in.
The cabins – Your cabin can be found by checking your ticket in advance. The first number tells you which floor it is on and the other numbers tell you which cabin number. You can adjust the temperature of your cabin. It has two bunks, one of which you will need to pull down and there is a ladder to the top bunk. The beds will be all made up waiting for you. Towels and toiletries are provided inside the ensuite shower room.
I’ll add more information tomorrow, I hope the short film helps – Please ignore the fire at the end……I was trying to take a photo.
Love Froogs xxxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
It’s incredibly windy here again. We watched, in awe, at the sailors in small racing boats and wind surfers airborne above the waves. Out of the wind has been incredibly warm and we’ve been out an about on our bikes again.
Now some people who’ve followed me on my tiny tour de Carnac, would not want to holiday like this. They would want meals in restaurants, room service, clean towels every day but that is not for me. We don’t eat out at home, we don’t go on mini breaks, we don’t stay in hotels and we don’t do ‘treats’. I set out to live a consciously simpler life, where I have and do less but appreciate more of what I do have.
What I have had the most of this week, and I’ve relished it, is time. I’ve sat on the steps of my caravan and watched a blackbird feed her babies. I’ve laid on my back on the picnic table outside at dusk and watched the bats coming out of their roosts. I’ve pulled over at the side of the road to watch windsurfers. I’ve lingered for ages over coffee, lunch and supper. I’ve sat ever so quietly with my head on DB’s chest and just listened to his heart beat. Life has gone so very slowly this week and I’ve loved it.
I’ve cycled in the wind, rain, heat and sunshine but have taken each journey slowly and gazed at the beauty as I’ve gone by. I’ve got off my bike on more than one occasions to stick my nose into roses, mimosa and got down to ground level to identify flowers.
I’ve walked on windswept and empty beaches, collecting shells and have conversed in clunky rusty French with an old gent who has made his living from oysters for all his life. I’ve shut my eyes and chewed and savoured on food that still had a pulse and the flavour embodied the sea itself. I’ve washed it down with wine so chilled that the condensation ran down my fingers.
I’ve stood and stared and wondered.
I’ve even managed a tiny chat with locals in the launderette – I was chuffed with that! My French improves by tiny steps each time I come here. I’m not worried if I make mistakes……someone will soon correct me!
I’ve bought no souvenirs, no tourist tatt. I’ve spent eight euros in total on one box of rose wine. We ate out on the day we arrived (ten euros between us), ate freshly prepared oysters for eight euros each (£6.40) and we’ve cooked for ourselves for the rest of the time.
We’ve eaten really well and eaten steaks, oysters, scallops, squid, salad, fresh bread and fruit. We changed £150 into 181 euros and we’ll have enough left at the end of our trip to stock up on wine.
Holidays should be rare, saved for, savoured and remembered. They should be special and longed for. They should be annual and once only per year………if they were frequent, then they wouldn’t be special. If we had weekends away, city breaks, restaurant outings nilly willy then what do you do for a treat? What do you look forward to if you do all those things any way? If you do all of those things, what makes a holiday special?
I never went on holiday anywhere until I met Dearly Beloved, it was certainly something I never did with my parents and unfortunately couldn’t afford to so with my own children. I now reflect on how incredibly wealthy I am that I have a week away every year. I reflect on the luxurious food I’ve eaten, that I’ve been warm and dry when the weather wasn’t so good.
I’ve reflected on my incredible loving relationship with DB and how lucky he and I are to have a week to ourselves. It’s amazing just to have hours of silence and just read together. I can cycle for miles, not discussing the route before hand, knowing he’s somewhere behind me.
Our week’s holiday including the ferry, insurance, diesel, mobile home rent and spending money has been just under £1000. That is an enormous amount of money, that in all honesty should have gone to pay off another K of my mortgage capital. We had to save hard for this holiday and if we hadn’t been as careful as we had been, then we would not have been able to afford it at all.
My souvenir of this holiday will be the blog pages I’ve written and the photographs we’ve taken. The greatest part of my week away will be those just before going to sleep conversations where we reminisce about our week in Carnac.
It’s just been a proper old fashioned ‘rent a caravan by the seaside’ kind of holiday but I wouldn’t have it any other way………..other than having my son and daughter with me, but they’ve long grown out of going any where with mum.
I’ve got a lot to thank DB for. Thanks for dismantling pallets so we saved money on kindling, thanks for chopping wood so we didn’t need to run any central heating, thanks for having the fire lit early so I could dry the washing on wet winter days, thanks for taking a flask and sandwiches to work every day, thanks for turning the lights out and taking short showers. Thanks for selling stuff on ebay so we had money for car tax and insurance. Thanks for being my very own money saving expert.
I’ll end with some un-frugal food, but still cheaper than eating out. Arm and a leg Auray strawberries from the market, with egg custard. Big plate of salad with a goat’s cheese pizza.
Every year, I think this is the best holiday ever! Again, this is the best holiday ever. A holiday is important, it’s worth saving for and gives us something to look forward to. There are ways to have a cheap holiday: go in low season, self cater, enjoy the simple pleasures of bike riding and walking, take books to read, craft to do, card games, free wi-fi. You don’t need much when you enjoy what you have, and on any holiday, the most precious thing you have in abundance, is time. This week will top up my ‘lucky to have what I have pot’ for another year. Thanks for sharing it with me.
a l’annee prochaine , merci d’etre avec moi pendant me vacance xxx
Love Froogs xxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
I’ve given up totally on the stupid ipad and I’m back on my rusty lumpy ageing laptop and it’s doing a much better job! We needed to get out and about to buy a bit of food today and we cycled up into the old town and went to Lidl. All the canny elderly French people are in there! They know a bargain. For anyone going to France, it’s half the price of SuperU. If I had a larger car, I would stock up on all the goods I buy at home at everything was the same price as in the UK but a Euro costs 80p. Effectively, everything is 20% cheaper. We bought what we needed and then went to the local markets. I took photos of this stunning building. The Cultural Centre. It holds classes, the library and community events. It’s been been built in the last year, in the middle of an economic down turn and says a lot about civic pride or that the French spend money in the way that sent Greece down the tube?
It’s a stunning building and I noticed children arriving on Saturday with musical instruments, obviously going to classes or clubs. I’m with the French on this one and think that civic amenities are vital for well being.
Here’s the market, selling amongst the tourist crap, good local food. We paid a kidney and a few pints of blood for some local honey, strawberries and bread. We purposefully seek out Bretagne goods and pay more for them, to compensate for the fact that we bring most of what we need with us. It’s guilt shopping which we appeased for about ten euros.
We parked the other side of the perfectly kept local cemetery and I had to stop and read the names of the children who lost their lives in WW1. Small people in my prayers xxx
Here’s the bread, strawberries and honey. I even managed the French to ask for the bread to be sliced – bread is cheap and the two loaves were one euro and seventy cents. They honey was 4.5 euros but it’s local and the strawberries are from Auray, which is just up the road.
Now onto the cheap food in Lidl – goats cheese pizza were one euro each, the salad 95c, creme caramel and creme aux oeufs were 1.29 each (£1ish) and Bretagne tomatoes were 1.35e and the bag of salad was 95c.
Finally, you will have noticed that I have been sporting a floral headscarf, it’s really windy and it keeps my hair out of my eyes when I’m on my bike. I don’t advertise but if I like something, then I’ll tell you about it. It’s from a French company called Papa pique et Maman coud. Like Boden, but much cheaper – had a whiff of Kidston too! Look out for their shops in France. Scarf was not cheap!!! 7 euros! but it’ll get good use.
We keep getting heavy showers here – Il pleut de cords and some of our tented neighbours have given up but we’re snug and dry in our mobil home! We’ll go off in the car later and take ourselves to the headland, even if it’s raining, we’ll get out and about for a walk and some sea air.
Love Froogs xxxx
Hello Dear Reader,
My apologies again, I can’t edit or see more than two lines of typing. Oh, and here’s a message to Apple……your iPad is the worst piece of IT apparatus I’ve ever used! The blogger app is rubbish and not user friendly.
Now, onto day four of my holiday. We drove down the Quiberon peninsula, along with most of the Armee de Terre who were on military manoeuvres! Cornwall used to be a fortified area with an Air Force base, and it was not unusual to see low flying fighter planes. Now, as the UK has about three fighter planes and they are probably on lease we don’t see any. Also, Plymouth has several Royal Marine bases, but most of the scant few we have left are deployed or the poor sods have been killed, so we don’t see them much either. It was strange then, to see the air thick with military helicopters, convoys of military vehicles, and in the land of short nondescript blokes, suddenly the area was surrounded by Calvin Klein underwear models…….head to Quiberon when they have day passes and take your diet coke!
We went for a walk and a coffee and a good laugh at the prices – Nine feckin’ Euros for Croque Monsoir and frites……that’s a ham and cheese toastie and chips! Oh please! The funniest thing I’ve ever seen? Not a cash point, but a pizza point! Insert cash card, type in your number, choose your pizza and it will come out of a hole in the wall. I thought it was hilarious.
We were in Quiberon over lunch time and our intention was to go out to eat but every where was stupidly expensive which had a wonderful effect on our appetites! Lots and lots of empty restaurants and cafes charging too much and plenty of people walking on by. We always laugh at the shops closing for lunch, when the place is buzzing. Maybe only the shop workers can afford the local eateries. It was mainly full of Brits on the half term break going hungry as they were too shocked by the prices to eat anything! Oh, here’s a message to Weatherspoons! Open one of your eateries in a tourist area and you’ll do well. I personally wouldn’t use one but I bet lots of people will.
It’s drizzly but we’ve had another lovely day and tonight we stayed in and watched ‘The Artist’ and a fight with this silly ipad!!!!!!
Love Froogs x x x
Hello Dear Reader,
It’s been dry and bright here today, reasonably warm but blowing a hooley here today; one of the consequences of being so close to the beach. Another consequence is the extremely high prices in the local supermarket. I’ve only popped in for minor items but, as I’m a price watcher, something’s caught my eye. For example, we pay around 60p for long life orange juice and here it was about £1.20. My advice to any families holidaying on a budget is get a box of long life goods from where you normally shop and take them with you. We’ve bought bread, butter, wine, salad and cheese; everything else came from home.
We’ve had a lazy day today, with the world’s longest lie in, followed by a slow lunch and then our feet up, listening to music (quietly, we are considerate campers) and reading. So far, I’ve read Cecelia Ahern’s – The time of my life and Erin Morgensterrn’s – The night circus. Both a nothing more than mindless fluff but good to switch off my brain.
I thought I would show you more of the French campsite. They are nothing like the Brit campsite I’ve stayed on. There are more Brits here than I’ve ever seen before but they are all retired couples, middles aged couples and families with pre-school children. The young families are in tents, the oldies in their touring caravans. Most of the people on the campsite are Dutch, retired older French folk and Swiss. Our campsite is very quiet and the owner keeps it that way. There is no entertainment, no shop, no water slide just a simple campsite. He charges more than similar campsites to keep people away. You make your own choice, but I prefer the quiet.
I’ve photographed all the facilities on the site, including the loos, laundry, showers, pool, what a mobile home looks like and their proximity to each other. Showers and toilets are neither male or female and each cubicle is individual. There are sinks for washing dishes and separate sinks for washing clothes. There is a baby bathroom with baby baths, although most people seems to just take their babies and toddlers into the showers with them.At this time of the evening, babies are being carried back to their tents in Jim jams and the site goes quiet in respect of the fact that little children and babies are all in bed by about seven in the evening.
I thought I would also share some more camp cooking with you. You get creative. We had tinned pears with some yogurt, but I also managed steak and chips, and that’s not bad in a bedsit sized kitchen.
The wind has died down and we’re off for a walk on the beach and a glass of wine when we return. Here’s the photos.
Love Froogs xxxx