Category Archives: Holidays

Cheapskate Tuesday 

My Approved Food order arrived yesterday, just in the nick of time as I had run out of cat food. I ordered quite a lot of Felix but also some posh stuff called Encore, which apparently would have cost £8 for 10 sachets. £8!! I find that hard to believe. Anyway it is a treat for the cats and they loved it 😀. I also purchased a huge 1kg tub of Marigold bouillon for a fiver. I make a lot of soup so this will come in very handy. The smaller one in the picture also cost me a fiver from the health food shop so quite a saving.

I love a bargain! Am I very sad to get excited over this stuff?

The caravan in Wales for our summer holiday is booked so I am excited to go again and must give them a plug. If you want a cheap holiday in an amazingly peaceful, environmentally sustainable situation you can’t beat this place. They have a lovely old caravan with a compost toilet and a tiny little campsite if you are hardy enough. Check it out here. Tom and Liza are lovely hosts. Tell them I recommended them 😀.

If you are interested in buying from Approved Food and use my link, I earn a teensy but welcome commission.
https://store.approvedfood.co.uk/?afid=aab8d8

 

Moroccan rice with chicken and sausage

What to cook when you have just returned from holiday and don’t have much food in? A search of the freezer found a couple of small chicken breasts and 4 sausages. In the fridge we had onions, peppers and a few slightly wrinkled mushrooms. I thought I would make a kind of poor man’s paella, but only had normal rice, so came up with this! It serves 3-4, depending on how hungry you are.

10 oz rice
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bell pepper, any colour, chopped
100g chopped mushrooms
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
Vegetable or chicken stock cube
4tsp Moroccan seasoning (I used the Asda one)
2 chicken breasts, sliced
4 sausages, chopped into chunks
Olive or vegetable oil
2tsp dried mixed herbs

Cook the rice in boiling water with the stock cube. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the chicken, sausage and onions, frying gently until the meat is almost cooked through. Put the garlic, mushrooms, pepper and Moroccan seasoning in the pan and fry for another five minutes or so. Add the canned tomatoes, mixed herbs and some salt and pepper to taste. Cook through. Drain the rice and add to the pan. Stir well and serve with a green vegetable and maybe some crusty bread. 

We were tired when we got back from Devon yesterday, so it was great to find my eldest daughter, who had been looking after the cats, had kept the house tidy and made us all dinner. I still had a ton of laundry to do today though! Luckily the forecast rain didn’t materialise so at least some is dry. Work tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to the 100’s of emails I will find in my inbox, but that’s the price to be paid for my holiday! Have a good week. 

Glorious sunshine in Devon 


The weather has been getting better and better here in Devon and today it is glorious – sunshine and blue skies. We could be in the Mediterranean. We have come back to Ilfracombe as it was rather grey and wet when we came on Monday. What a difference! 

I am writing this on the sand at Tunnels Beaches, a private Victorian beach accessed by a series of hand carved tunnels. There are two tidal swimming pools, but the sea is too cold for me to do more than paddle. It is very quaint and interesting, especially the etiquette guides on the way in which made us giggle.

We have been packing up picnics and flasks and mainly eating at home. Tonight, however, we will push the boat out and have a restaurant meal. We walked past a little place called Starters, a kind of English version of a tapas bar. The food smelled so delicious we immediately booked a table. Let’s hope it tastes as good. There are few things that annoy me more than a poor restaurant meal when I have stretched my budget to eat out as a treat.

We had another quick look around the town centre – it is a lovely little place full of independent shops. We even found a couple more charity shops. I have found two pairs of almost new flat pumps for work for £2 each, an M&S cardigan in immaculate condition (£5 but I reckon it would have cost £25 new) and a lovely black dress, again M&S, for £3.50. The girls have also found a few bargains 😀. I think we are a funny bunch as we head straight for the charity shops wherever we go!

I must try to finish my frugal recipes page as it seems to be popular and my stats have increased dramatically. Frugal food is clearly a popular subject for many of us.

I hope the weather is fine where you are. I shall pop on again tomorrow. 

Beach walks and charity shops in Devon

We are in North Devon! I wish I could say we are bathed in sunshine but that’s not quite the picture. It drizzled most of the day yesterday. We made the best if it and donned our raincoats to visit the historic pannier market in Barnstaple. It was rather disappointing. I suppose they don’t have the most interesting stalls there in a Monday morning and there was little of interest to any of us. We cheered ourselves up with a delicious cream tea with local clotted cream and then drove up to Ilfracombe. 

We particularly wanted to see Damian Hurst’s statue, Verity. Even in the gloom it looked magnificent on the harbour but is rather disturbing – a huge naked and pregnant woman, holding her sword proudly above her head but with the scales of justice behind her. Most disconcertingly, the skin and muscles on one side are stripped back to reveal her skull and the baby curled up in her womb. Opinion is apparently divided locally but we liked her. We liked Ilfracombe altogether actually and will go back on a nicer day. We had a walk through the town centre in the rain dodging from charity shop to charity shop and picked up a few bargains on the way. This is typical of us – the girls love a bargain just as we do!

It has been quite bright today and this evening the sun has been shining. We spent the day at Croyde Bay just up the road from our little wooden chalet. It was lovely. We had a good hike up to Baggy Point and a picnic on the beach, then drove to Braunton and hit the charity shops again. More bargains!

The chalet itself is perfect, on a very quiet and well maintained site. It is cosy but large enough for the four of us for the week and much better than a tent on those rainy days! I love not having to get up early for work, taking each day as it comes and spending a bit of time with the family. Tomorrow the plan is to visit RHS Rosemoor. We are members so will only have to pay for the girls to get in. We are hoping for a little more sun but will plan for all eventualities, as ever!

Holiday preparations: brollies or sun cream?

What is going on with this great British weather? One day we have a heat wave and the next it is torrential rain and floods! As I sit here the sky is grey and threatening and it is blowing a gale. This is a shame as tomorrow we are driving en famille down to Devon to stay in a little chalet near the coast. I hope we don’t get this weather all week!

We shall make the best of it anyway, and take raincoats and boots as well as our swimming stuff and sun cream in case the sun returns.

I feel like I need a rest – I have been so tired this week. Work is relentlessly busy , which keeps it interesting (and I would hate to be bored) but there isn’t much time to pause and reflect. I plan to have lots of sleep,read some books,  get outside to walk as much as possible and do a bit of yoga, although I’m not sure how much space we will have with four of us in a chalet!

Lola is pretty relaxed about the whole thing

The cats will be taken care of by DD1, who is coming to stay with her boyfriend for a week. We prefer this. I don’t like leaving them in a cattery – they would hate it and it would be expensive for the three of them.

Our Italian student leaves today. She may be the last we have if we manage to find a suitable lodger. We have a few bits to finish such as the curtains going up in the lodger’s sitting room and a bit of painting in the bedroom and it will be ready. I will get it on www.spareroom.com in the next month.

Today I need to get up, get the cleaning and packing done and tidy up the greenhouse. We still have cucumbers but the tomatoes are finishing. On the veg patch the runner beans have finished but the chard looks fabulous and there are still a couple of courgettes. I have quite a few beetroots as well which need to be made into soup for the freezer, but that will have to wait until we get home now.

My next blog post should be from the beautiful Devon countryside somewhere near Ilfracombe. I can’t wait!

I take Aldi when I  go on holiday

When we went to Wales recently Mr S sighed and said, ‘Don’t take too much food. They do sell it there.’ Of course they do! However the village we were going to did not have an Aldi or a Lidl, just a small, expensive Coop. They have a lovely weekly market but this tends towards luxury foods like cheeses, speciality cake and bread. 

We always take a flask!

 Because we are holidaying on a tight budget we go self catering and we hardly eat out, apart from the occasional fish and chip supper. We make dinner each night and take a flask of coffee, our water bottles and a picnic lunch each day. So I take lots of basics. Usually a meal ready for when we arrive; perhaps a curry, chilli or bolognese in a Tupperware. Some onions, tinned tomatoes, dried herbs, bread, cheese, eggs, bacon, wine, juice, milk, teabags, coffee and snacks. We then top up locally as we need it. It saves loads of money!

We have another cheap week booked in Devon in September and will do the same, although there will be less room in the car because there are four of us, so we might get settled and then go in search of a supermarket.

I feel a bit guilty not to support local businesses more when we are away, but the truth is if we didn’t self cater and buy in advance we wouldn’t be able to afford to go away at all. 

Anyone else have any holiday money saving tips?

Heading home

We woke up to a torrential downpour this morning, which made packing up the car a bit soggy. I was sorry to leave Wales as I always am, but we had a decent run back. 

Last evening at Aberdovey beach

We have talked a lot this holiday about saving up for a camper van, something not too huge-maybe a Bongo. I think we would use it very often and it would be a worthwhile investment. We have always said we will buy one ‘one day’. Hopefully ‘one day’ will be within the next couple of years. I can see us on long weekends, travelling to Europe to explore, heading off the the odd festival…so many cheap holidays! I am starting the savings fund straight away!

I have a clear week and then we have a student coming for a fortnight. An Italian boy of 16. I will have to think of some good menu choices other than pasta and burgers.

The garden has gone crazy whilst we have been away. The grass is so long and the weeds are doing well! I wish I could say the same of the veg patch. Something has eaten most of the runner beans, the slugs have decimated the brassicas and the courgettes just aren’t growing. The plants are flowering but tiny. I will be surprised if we get many courgettes. The red and blackcurrants are looking good, as are the broad beans and tomatoes, so at least we have those. It all helps! 

Off to do the laundry and write a shopping list. Back to reality!

Designer labels? Only if they are in the charity shop

We have had a lovely last morning in Wales going round the RSPB Dyfi Osprey project just outside Machynlleth. There were cameras trained on the osprey chicks as they were fed sea bass by their parents. They are six weeks old now and will be flying soon. You can see them on camera at http://www.dyfiospreyproject.com


We also saw a few common lizards looking for some sunshine as we walked along the boardwalks over the wetland areas and lots of tiny finches. There was even what looked like a red squirrel, although one of the staff said it was a young grey. It looks red to me!

Next stop was the charity shop in Machynlleth where I picked up some real bargains, including a Karen Millen top with the label on (saying £99) for £4! Who spends that much on a top and then doesn’t bother to wear it? Someone with more money than sense I guess. I also bought two Phase Eight dresses, a Monsoon skirt, an M&S sequinned dress and navy work skirt and a lovely wool blanket. Everything bar the Karen Millen top cost £2 each. If anything doesn’t fit or I don’t like it I will put it on eBay and make a profit. I don’t feel bad if I do this – a girl has got to make ends meet and I do give the charity shops a lot of my spare cash.

We will have a meander this evening and get the car packed and head back to England tomorrow. I could stay here forever! We will be back 😀.

A piece of paradise

The veranda by night


We slept in again today. It is so easy to relax with just the sound of  the river and the birds for company. 

…and by day

Our caravan isn’t remotely glamorous or luxurious. It is ancient and a bit tatty, but it’s comfy and has everything we need. Mr S was very dubious about the compost toilet the first time we came but truly it is excellent – much larger and less smelly than your average caravan toilet I am sure! 

Cooking in the van

Tom, the owner, has built a kind of cabin on top of the caravan to protect it from the harsh Welsh winters and also a veranda at the front. When they were renovating their cottage twenty odd years ago they actually lived in the caravan for five years!

I am not sure I would like to do that but for a short stay it couldn’t be nicer. So, another plug for Y Felin: http://www.yfelin.plus.com/.

Cheap lunch and doing nothing

Blogging every day? I must be on holiday!

Besutiful Aberdovey


We popped into Morrison’s on our way home from Anglesey Island the day before yesterday for a few provisions. We bought a completely seasonal and almost local meal of Welsh lamb chops, new potatoes and corn on the cob. Delicious! 

I rarely buy lamb as it is expensive, but we always have some when we are in Wales. It’s not as if we eat in fancy restaurants so it is a holiday treat. We also spotted some pasties reduced to 19p each and scotch eggs at 25p for the two. We picked those up for our picnic yesterday and ate them with a flask of coffee on the beach at Aberdovey, my favourite little seaside town in the area. The sun came out and we lay on our towels and snoozed for a bit.
Anglesey was interesting but it was raining quite hard for a lot of the time we were there. We will go back but give ourselves more time to explore. Not this trip though as it was a 2 hour drive. We are trying to unwind so don’t want to rush around too much. 

We have gone further afield in this trip than previously as we have visited most of the nearby attractions several times during our visits. I think maybe we will find accommodation further south next time and explore Pembrokeshire and see some new sites.

Last night we had a trip to the cinema at Tywyn. It is a tiny old fashioned place and cost just £5 a ticket, half what our local Odeon charges! However, it also has a licenced bar so I spent what I saved on the ticket on a glass of prosecco – well I was watching Ab Fab darling so it should really have been a glass of Bolly 😀😀.

I am enjoying having the time and space to do these things but also to do absolutely nothing if the fancy takes me. We are sleeping in late as well – 9 am this morning, which we never do at home. I am a human being this week, not just a human doing!