Northern Girl’s Money Diaries – Week 1 with Me!

Hi, I’m Chloe and this is my blog! I’m 22 (23 on Wednesday) and work as a Facilities Administrator for a government organisation in London. I decided to kick off my new series of money diary posts where I get you guys to talk about money! Don’t worry, I’m not grilling you on your monthly spends like a scary bank manager, this is a fun series about where you spend some of your money and what you’d spend more of it on if you could as well as spreading some money advice. The posts will all go out on a Saturday morning as something light and fun to read with your morning coffee/tea/breakfast. So let’s begin!

Monthly Spend:
  • Rent/Mortgage – £750
  • Bills – Phone Bill £49
  • Mobile phone insurance £8.99
  • Car insurance £13.99 (my utilities are covered in my rent split, we have a joint account so we pay a set amount into that and the utilities come out of that).
  • Credit Cards £150 (split across 2 cards)
  • Savings £250
  • Subscriptions £0
  • Socialising/Leisure £100 on average throughout the month
  • Food £100
What does a typical week look like for you?

I work through the week Mon-Fri in central London but as my boyfriend works for TFL we get free travel, it’s a huge cost saving and I think we’d struggle to live in London if it weren’t for that. We shop at Lidl for our groceries so we try and do a big weekend shop with food that we can take to work for our lunches. In the evenings I’m either at yoga/running/catching up on some blog chats. Weekends vary, this weekend we’ll be joining the TFL walking weekends with organised walking tours around London that are completely free to join so our spending will be very low. Last weekend we were socialising with friends as we went to see The Kooks at Ally Pally so our spending was quite high by our standards. We feel so lucky to live in such an amazing place but we’re realistic and know it can be expensive so we just try and find lots of different things to do on the cheap so we’re not stuck at home just because of money!

What are your usual guilty spends, what can’t you resist buying over and over?

I’m a sucker for work out clothes/accessories. I always want more! Just yesterday I was looking at some new nike running trainers because they were in the sale even though I’ve only had my own since christmas! I’m relatively new to running so I must admit i’m not acclimatised to running in the heat (yes it has been 19+ degrees in London) and I certainly don’t have the attire for it so I will be treating myself to some Nike running shorts this month with some birthday spending money.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

Definitely my car. I consider myself fortunate as I didn’t go to University and started in a good job at 18 – I’ve progressed in the same company ever since. I didn’t rush out to learn to drive straight away at 17 as I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t enjoy it but at 18/19 after a brief period of working abroad I picked it straight back up. Working meant that I was able to save for it from day one so the second I passed my test, my mum took me straight out to get a car. We went halves and in 2013 I got my little Toyota Aygo called Terry. He served me well and when we moved to London he went back to my mum for her to have constantly and to hopefully one day pass on to my sister.

Me with Terry the day we bought him!

Are you saving for anything at the moment?

I do have a savings account that I pay into every month. Before we moved to London we were saving for a deposit for a house, we know that at the minute that seems unlikely living in London but the payments are automated and we can afford to live where we are comfortably whilst keeping up with the payments so it’s easy at the moment. Our tenancy is up in October and we are thinking of trying to find somewhere a little bit cheaper just so we have more flexibility so we may start a separate savings account for holidays too. I’m also trying to be strict on myself and save an extra £50 a month so I have some spending money when I go on a hen party to Spain in July.

If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d go out and buy?

Probably a house somewhere relaxing. We went on a 2 week driving tour of Italy a couple of years ago for my 21st and it was stunning so maybe a nice tranquil lake house that I could escape to whenever I wanted? We also visited relatives in Scotland as our summer holiday last year and it was beautiful, we were told a story about a friend of my family’s who lives in Fraserburgh, Aberdeen but travels and commutes to London through the week which really intrigued me. I love seeing family up there and I must admit I’ve never felt so relaxed as taking an evening stroll along the beach so I’d maybe like to do something similar.

It was beautifully relaxing being by the coast and away from the hustle & bustle of life and I have so many happy childhood memories in Fraserburgh

If money was no object, where would be your dream travel destination?

Do I have to pick one?! My single destination would probably somewhere like Mykonos or Santorini it just seems like the perfect place but ideally i’d just travel everywhere! There are so many different places I’d love to see at some point in my lifetime and I do fear that I won’t get the opportunity to see them all. Even though I lived in Spain, I do wish I’d have travelled a bit more when I was younger rather than getting straight into a good job with a career progression path that I want. Hindsight is a wonderful thing eh!

What’s the best money advice/tip you’ve received

I got given a wish pot for my 18th by my Grandma’s work colleagues. If you haven’t seen them then they’re a ceramic money pot which when filled with only £2 coins will store over £1000. You can’t open them whenever you feel like as they have to be broken in to. They’re not a quick way to save money, it took me over 3 years to save £530 but they are quite fun. The excitement I used to get when a £2 coin dropped out of the self-checkout was quite laughable! I only saved every time I had a spare £2 coin but you could be quite savvy about it and swap a spare £10 note to £2 coins every week.

NG x

I am constantly on the look-out for new people to provide me with their money diaries! If you’re interested please email me and I will sent you the template and schedule. You don’t have to be a blogger and there are no age restrictions so get in touch.

 

Northern Girl on… paddle board yoga

You may have seen my earlier post on community yoga – if not it’s here. At the start of this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a free trial of SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga). This is a new concept run by the same instructor and organisational team as community yoga.

Feeling like I was having my flash dance moment! – photo credit Neha Kadiyala

What is SUP yoga?

Exactly as it sounds you are doing yoga on a paddle board! The board replaces the traditional yoga mats and you’re on the water.

Is it safe?

It’s perfectly safe, even though you’re on the paddle board on the water, the boards are docked and connected to each other. Our trial group were a whole host of individuals with varying experience levels and not one of us fell in .

Team photo once we all got up on the board! Photo credit Neha Kadiyala

Do you have to wear a wetsuit?

You don’t have to. It’s all about personal choice, I chose to because if I were to fall in I didn’t want to be in soggy clothes all day but others didn’t and stayed completely dry.

Is the yoga difficult?

It isn’t.  The teacher will be on the dock rather than a board to make it easier for everyone to see but she has done it on a board so she knows which poses work and which don’t.  She will give you options to make it easier/difficult but it’s all about how confident you feel and how much you want to push yourself.

Is it fun?

It’s great fun. I really enjoyed it and I was impressed and just how much I was able to push myself into the more difficult poses. I was doing shoulder stands that I didn’t even know I could do on land – let alone on the water!

Where do I sign up?

All information can be found on the DSWC Facebook page or by contacting the centre direct. There will be 2 sessions on Saturday mornings starting May 27th 10-11am and 11-12. Each session is  £25 (£20 for members) with special offers available. Full details and dates below.

Photo credit courtesy of the DSWC

Places are very limited so get booking! Ng x 

REVIEW: Northern Girl on… Sh*t Faced Shakespeare

Me and Tom decided to have a date last Friday after securing ourselves tickets to the Leicester Square Theatre to see Sh*t Faced Shakespeare. We got our tickets on Time Out Offers so they were discounted to £14. Bargain.

We’ve been to  LST a few times already since moving here and I have to say we really like it. It’s incredibly tiny and intimate with stalls only seating for 400 (there’s also a second 70 seater lounge theatre) and the room itself has two bars at either side of the seats. They tend to hold a lot of comedy shows here but due to it’s limited seating you really have to keep an eye on the listings!

When we arrived at the theatre we simply had to swap our Time Out Vouchers for actual physical tickets at the box office which was a breeze and the box office staff are always extremely friendly and helpful. Once collected it was time to head in and enjoy the show.

We took our seats and had a quick view of the programme provided – great touch. Sat back and waited for the show to start. From that moment on, I don’t think I stopped laughing once. From the build up video right through to the final dance sequence was constant laughter.

 

For background info, Sh*t Faced Shakespeare are covering Much Ado About Nothing this summer with various shows throughout the year. There is a rotating cast of 10 classically trained, shakespearean actors playing 7 roles in each performance with one catch, one actor has been drinking for approximately 4 hours before the show. It is never the same actor on consecutive nights and they will never drink on more than 3 occasions in any given month (that is when they’re performing, I have no idea what they do in their spare time or after the show).


The show starts with the actor who is playing the compere/safety warden role warming up the crowd. Musical instruments and a bucket are handed out to members of the front row with the rules explained. If at any point the audience member with a musical instrument thinks the drunk actor is getting too sober; they sound their instrument, the compere comes back on stage and hands the drunk actor another drink. This can only happen on 3 occasions during the show so picking the right moment is key. The audience member with the bucket is told that if anyone shouts bucket at any moment they have to be alert and present said bucket – I think you can figure out why. The compere/safety warden then goes on to show the audience how much the actor has had to drink “ooooooh”. It’s fair to say our actor was truly shit faced. From memory I think he had consumed a can of lager, a bottle of cider and 2/3 of a bottle of Gordon’s gin; top effort. From there, the show starts.

One thing I think they did exceptionally well is they don’t actually tell you which actor is drunk and who they’re playing. Given that the opening scene starts with 3 out of the 6 characters you spend the first scene trying to work out which one of them is actually drunk. That was until the appearance of the other 3 characters where the safety warden/compere quickly appeared back on stage to replace a sword with a swimming noodle – safety first and all that. That moment in itself was just perfect hilarity and you now knew who the drunk was and what to watch out for in the show.

From the moments of confusing the characters in Much Ado to Macbeth, to calling the actors by their real name and discussing the actor’s watch which he forgot to remove – the actors are all in full shakespearean dress after all – the drunk Benedick provided some absolutely hilarious moments but what also blew me away was how incredible the other actors were to adapt to his drunken ramblings.

I don’t want to give too much away but I cannot recommend this show enough. It’s one of THE funnest nights in theatre I have ever had and I can’t wait to take literally every family member/friend who visits throughout the summer because the beauty of it is no two shows will ever be the same!

Just don’t sit on the front row if you don’t fancy making a spontaneous guest appearance… #otter

Have you seen Sh*t Faced Shake before? Let me know.

Ng x

Tickets available here: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873562224 The show is on until the 16th September 2017.

Northern Girl on… Walking Tours

It’s no secret that the London Underground is a quickest and most convenient way to get around the city. However t also means that it is far too easy to spend most of our time looking at tunnels under ground and missing everything that there is to see above it.

This weekend Transport for London teamed up with Walk London for their first weekend of free walking tours throughout the City in 2017. Me and Tom were fortunate enough to get ourselves booked on 2 of the 40 walks they were running this weekend.

What happened on the day?

The first walk saw us gather outside Bank station to follow a walk based on the Central tube line, ending at Chancery Lane. The tour guide Mark was excellent at providing us with interesting information throughout the walk. We stopped at various points of interest (including the story behind the golden pineapples at St Paul’s!) and it was great for me to see a part of central London I had never even been to before. I also found out why the logo at work is what it is and came away with some excellent quiz trivia. At the end of the walk Mark even signed a copy of his book “Walk the Lines” which we picked up for a tenner (bargain!)

Our signed copy of “Walk the Lines” following our Central Line Walk


After a quick coffee break near Chancery Lane, we hopped on the tube and made our way to Westminster for our second walk of the day. Starting just outside Westminster station we took in New Scotland Yard, the remains of Whitehall Palace and the beautiful Somerset house. The trivia took us through Harry Potter, Paddington Bear and The Savoy Hotel before finishing at one of our already favourite wine bars in the city (it’s also rumoured to be the inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron).

Want to get involved?

TfL and Walk London organise these weekends of free walks 3 times a year. The next one is scheduled for the 20th/21st May, the one after that will be in September.

Can’t wait that long?

There are various other walking tours which offer different tours to suit different interests. http://freelondonwalkingtours.com/ have seven different tours from Royal London to Jack the Ripper and Soho and the West End and they are just one of many tour operators throughout the City.

Not one for mixing with a group/want to find your own way around?

The TfL website has loads of maps to cover everything there is to see in London in the walking section. They also provide a “walking tube map” an alternative to the conventional map which gives you the walking distances between stations. You might be surprised at just how short some of the distances are. If you want a bit more direction whilst exploring on your own there are loads of walking books available on Amazon or in stores such as Oliver Bonas.

We can’t wait to get out with our new book and explore what else we can find above the underground!