Five Ways I’m Saving for a House

I’ve done a few posts on five ways I’m going green, zero waste, healthy etc before but I thought to make it a little more different that this time I would do a post on five ways I’m saving up for a mortgage down payment. I don’t know how many of you guys are like me, you’re in your mid twenties, have a decent full time job and you’re thinking about your future because let’s be honest, we’re getting older. I’ve been living with my boyfriend of almost six years for almost two years now and we’ve been talking about houses for a while. What’s the point of renting when you can buy and pay off a mortgage right? Here’s the thing, it’s a lot of money to put down a deposit on a house and it’s hard to save that money when you still want to have a life and you’ve already got rent to pay, a car, food etc. So I thought it might be an idea to show you a few way in which I’m making little adjustments that mean I can put more money away for a mortgage and hopefully you guys can give me more tips on how to save more money.

  1. Drink water – I’ve stopped buying juice/tea/coffee when I’m out and about and instead have been putting the equivalent money into a money jar when getting home. Now a couple of pound here and there might not sound like a lot but it adds up quite quickly and it’s a very simple way of saving. Ask for tap water when in restaurants, it’s more eco friendly (no plastic waste) and it’s better for your health than fizzy juice.
  2. Cash Only – I have a weekly budget and I withdraw the money on the same day each week (normally a Thursday depending on when I get paid) and it has to last me until the end of the week. If I run out of money then that’s tough, I have to live out of the freezer for the rest of the week and my other half knows that this is the way that my money works. I don’t include bills and petrol in this, the cash is only for food and any other products that I might need, but I allow myself normally £50 a week, which is more than enough and anything that is left over at the end of the week goes straight into my mortgage fund.
  3.  I’m only including this because it was my birthday last week and we’re all looking towards Christmas at the moment. I’ve been asking for practical (and maybe boring) presents for my birthday and Christmas. I really needed a new holdall as mine was falling apart, so that’s what I asked for from my boyfriend for my birthday. Mum and Dad gave me a voucher for the cinema and dinner so I can go to see Thor when it comes out and I don’t have to pay for that out of my weekly budget. My brother got me enough smellies that means I won’t have to buy shower gel for the foreseeable future. Might not be as exciting as a fancy handbag or the latest phone but it saves me money in the long run.
  4. Borrowing Books – This is more apt to me because I am a book blogger, but I’ve stopped buying books (or should I say new books because I still buy from the charity shop). I’ve taken to borrowing books from my family and friends, or swapping them locally for ones in my collection that I’ve read but don’t want to keep. I’m also looking at joining the library as that means an even bigger selection for me to read without having to spend money. I should also point out I have 200 books on my TBR list that I currently own but haven’t read so that should keep me going! I might start putting away a couple of pound each time I acquire a new book and it will still be cheaper than buying them new!
  5. Nights In with Friends – instead of having nights out and wasting lots of money on transport and drink, we’ve been having nights in with friends who each bring a bottle of wine (cheaper than going out for drinks) and having a games night in with dinner and drinks. Equally as fun if not more, it’s quieter so you can actually hold conversation and it means that anyone who has kids doesn’t have to miss out either, they can bring them along or they can host. You have as much fun for about a quarter of the price of going out to eat and drink.

I might make this a regular thing as there are so many other ways that I save money each month to try and squirrel away as much money for a house as possible. Have you guys got any tips on how else I can save?

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A History of Britain in 21 Women – Jenni Murray

Where do I even begin with reviewing this book? It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time and I’ve learned so much from reading it (well listening to the audiobook). I am actually ashamed to say that I knew very little about some of the women in the book, but I do know now!

A History of Britain in 21 Women is Jenni Murray telling the stories about the women that she sees as having the most impact on Britain and British society to what it is today. It ranges from Boudicca to Nicola Sturgeon, covers the Suffragettes and the Suffragists and tells of many influential women in science and their contributions that went both recognised and unrecognised.

What I liked so much about this book is that it’s feminist in it’s agenda, it’s about celebrating the success of the women who helped to shape Britain, it’s not pushily (is this even a word?) feminist. Murray celebrates all the wonderful things that women have contributed to today’s world, and even though she talks about the Suffragettes and the Suffragists, she doesn’t force the feminist agenda down your throat as you read.

I would happily like to encourage anyone and everyone to pick up this book. I would particularly like to encourage the generation currently in their twenties to read this book, as I certainly learned a lot which is unfortunately not taught in schools. Or at least it wasn’t taught to me. I shared the facts that I learned throughout this book with my sixty year old mother as I went through the book and she was amazed that I had never heard/been taught about Elizabeth Garret Anderson (the first female physician and a Suffragist) and Ada Lovelace (the first computer programmer).

Mellerstain House 

On one of my days off recently, I headed along to Mellerstain House in the Scottish Borders to spend the afternoon wandering about their lastest exhibition. It was amazing, I mean the house and the grounds themselves are incredibly beautiful on their own without adding in the works of art!


Despite living in the Scottish Borders for almost my entire 24 years on this planet, I’d never set foot in Mellerstain House before. It is outstanding, the grounds are incredibly well maintained, although I didn’t go into the house during my visit. 


The exhibit was a Steve Massam exhibit as part of the Borders Sculpture park and it runs through till September so there is still time to go and see it! There are three works scattered around the grounds, and they are placed so that you have to see the entire grounds of Mellerstain House to see all three of the pieces. 


My only problem with the whole thing was that they were not well signed at all, I had to rely on asking other people if I was going in the right direction. The upside to this is you know when you’ve found them, they’re huge and you definitely can’t miss them once you’ve stumbled upon them! 


I would highly recommend you take yourself along to go and see the exhibit and the lovely grounds of Mellerstain House! Even if you don’t enjoy the art work (cause it is an acquired taste), the grounds are beautiful and there are lots of beautiful flowers and wildlife to enjoy

June 2017 TBR

It’s been a while since I’ve done a TBR post so I thought I would share with you what I want to read this month. I’ve been marathoning the Harry Potter books of late, but with only two left to read, I think I’ll be back to reading and reviewing again in the next couple of weeks!

  1. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – I’m loving rereading the Harry Potter series, there are so many details that I’ve forgotten over the years! I’m already halfway through this book, so it won’t take long to finish!
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – I can’t not read this next! I’m almost done the series and then I’ll have to start rereading them more often
  3. A Court of Wings and Ruin – Sarah J Maas: I’ve been waiting so long to pick this up, but I wanted to finish off Harry Potter before I dove head first into this little beauty. For those of you who don’t know, this is the third instalment in Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series. She’s a brilliant fantasy writer and I highly recommend the series to anyone who wants to delve into YA fantasy!
  4. The Lost Continent – Bill Bryson: I’ve been listening to the audiobook of this for a while, so I should probably finish it this month. I normally listen to audiobooks on my commutes, but I’ve not been in the mood lately. I’ll get back on it though, don’t worry.

What are you guys reading this month? Sorry about the hiatus, but life caught up with me and blogging went out of the window completely!

 

(This post contains affiliate links which if used, I receive a small amount of commission which is used to purchase books!)

Weekend Wanders – Southern Upland Way

On Sunday just passed, Boyfriend and I headed out to walk part of the Southern Upland Way. Quite a large section of the walking trail comes through the Scottish Borders and we love to go out walking so we laced up our boots and headed out.


We parked the car in Melrose and headed off through the square and up onto the old railway line. It’s a popular path for walkers, cyclists, runners, mothers pushing buggies and I can now see why. It’s beautiful, lined with trees on both sides and most importantly, flat!


We turned onto the road beside the Borders General Hospital, a wrong turning chosen by boyfriend and headed in the wrong direction for about a mile until coming to Upper Faldonside and realising that something wasn’t quite right. But hey, isn’t that what adventuring is all about? Getting lost and discovering new places because of it?

Anyway, we turned back and headed along the right path towards Darnick and then onto Tweedbank. Had a quick stop at the railway station in Tweedbank because Boyfriend hadn’t seen in before and then headed back along towards Melrose. We were meant to be going on a nine mile walk, but the weather turned whilst we were only about a quarter of the way through the walk, so we made the smart move of turning back and going a slightly different, but equally scenic route back along part of the Southern Upland Way.


This part of the trail takes you along the river to Melrose, along a particularly beautiful stretch of the Scottish Borders countryside. You get a great view of the Tweed river and all it’s fisherman, canoeists and kayakers as they make their way down the river and over the Cauld. 


We left the trail shortly before arriving at the chain bridge, but next time (hopefully in better weather) we’re going to walk the route abit further and see more of the beauty that the trail holds…although it will be a while until I attempt the full 212 miles of the Southern Upland Way!

Five Ways I’m Going Green – May 2017

Since the popularity of the last Five Ways I’m Going Green blog post, I thought I would update you all with how I’m progressing with my mission to go green. I’ve continued to make small changes throughout both my house and my lifestyle to try and reduce my carbon footprint and to try and spread the word of overconsumption and plastic pollution.

  1. Use Less Plastic – after reading up on plastic pollution, I’m making a conscious effort to use less plastic in my daily life (or if unavoidable, trying to reuse it!). I’ve stopped buying single use bottles of juice, solely relying on my reusable water bottles and I’ve stopped buying lunch at work and packing my lunches to take with me. I’m trying to source a reusable travel mug that is ‘non-spillable’ as I can’t have one at work that if it gets knocked over it won’t spill hot liquid onto the computers or paperwork.
  2. More Home Cooking – I’m trying to make more food from scratch at home, from soup to pasta sauces. Generally speaking, I do make a lot from scratch normally, but I’ve been trying to increase the amount I’m making fresh and in batches so I can freeze it and defrost when needed.
  3. Shop Locally – alongside the buying loose vegetables from my last update, I’m trying to shop more locally as well. I’ve found a lovely local fruit and veg shop that is great for finding loose fruit and veg as well as bulk beans and pulses. I’ve also scouted out another local shop that has bulk herbs and spices, as well as coffee and loose leaf teas.
  4. Reducing Waste – In general, I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste that me and boyfriend are responsible for producing. One thing I’m struggling with is that we live in a flat without a garden, so we can’t compost. It’s a slow process but I feel like we’re working towards the same goal.
  5. Instagram inspiration – okay, so this isn’t specifically related to going green, but I’m finding that whenever I’m struggling along the way turning to Instagram is really helpful at getting my inspiration and motivation back. #zerowaste and #ecoliving are my favourite, but there are plenty more that are very inspirational. Go on, check them out.

Let me know if you’re already on a green living or zero waste lifestyle and what you find helps to keep going on your environmental mission. have you got any tips for newbie eco warrior and ways to help me on my green path?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I was in a bit of a reading slump that had been ongoing for a little while and I wanted something that I knew would get me back on the reading bandwagon, so I picked up Harry Potter. I’ve not read any of the Harry Potter books in years, since before I joined Goodreads back in 2012 so I thought it was about time that I revisited my old favourite!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone may classed as a children’s novel, but it is still as enjoyable as an adult. I’m not going to go into details about the book because I find it very hard to believe that due to the popularity of the books and the film series that there is a single human being reading this blog post that doesn’t know the basic premise of the books.

What I will say is that when reading the first instalment of Harry Potter again, I noticed a few little bits and bobs that hint at things to come in future books and I also noticed bits of the story that I hadn’t noticed the first few times of reading. I was a child when the Harry Potter books came out and my Dad used to read me the books at bedtime,  so all of the books hold a very special place in my heart. The amount of influence that J.K Rowling’s books had on me is immense, and it’s all most fully down to the Harry Potter series that I am a fully fledged fantasy lover.

If for some bizarre reason you’ve never read Harry Potter, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. If you’ve not read Harry Potter for a long time, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. If you’ve read Harry Potter recently but you love it, then I urge you to go and pick up this book. You can’t go wrong with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (even if it’s not the best book in the series!).

Perfect – Cecelia Ahern

Everyone knows how I much I love Cecelia Ahern and her writing. So every time I get the opportunity to read her books, of course I jump at the chance to pick them up. I loved Flawed, and as soon as I realised the Ahern was writing a sequel, I got exceptionally excited about it.

Flawed follows Celestine North as she lives in a society where going against what is deemed ‘acceptable’ results in being branded Flawed. After standing up for an elderly Flawed man on the bus, Celestine faces being branded Flawed herself and along the way she begins to see just how flawed the society she lives in actually is.

As this is the sequel in the duology, I’m not going to go into details because I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone. What I will say is that this book could not have come at a more appropriate time. With the current political climate in both Britain (with us leaving the EU) and in America (with Donald Trump as President) and all the hate it’s stirring up, this book helps to remind it’s readers about the power that the public and each individual has in the greater good of society.

As always, Cecelia Ahern’s writing is powerful and moving. Her writing is inspiring, and will instil a motivation to be a better version of yourself as you read the novel. Her writing will make you question your own views of the world around you and any prejudices that you may or may not hold. And I will say that she writes a damn good lead male, because I fell a little bit in love with Carrick throughout both of the books.

The Flawed series is one of the best Young Adult that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time, and although the plot is quite political, the books are very easy to read and almost impossible to put down. I would highly recommend both books.

Five out of Five stars.

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

I love walking and hiking, so this book has been on my radar for a while and I finally decided to purchase the audiobook from audible. I’ve read so many mixed reviews about the book, so I was unsure about what to expect when I started listening to the book on my commutes to work.

First thing first, can I just say how lovely the narrator of this audiobook’s voice is? She has one of the most soothing, relaxing and easy-to-listen to voices that I’ve ever heard and that alone made listening to the book good. I often find that the narrators voice can distract from the storyline (some of the voices are downright annoying), but her voice suited this book to a tee.

Now on to the actual book. I understand why some people rate this book so poorly, it’s definitely not a classic, but that’s not what the book is about. The book tells the story of Cheryl as she hikes her way along the Pacific Crest Trail and the moments that led her to the trek. Yeah, she slept around and cheated on her husband (which I don’t condone) and yes she did heroin (again, not condoning) but without talking about them, her book wouldn’t the real story. Again, she moans about the task at hand and also about what led her to doing to trail, but realistically who wouldn’t reflect and moan as they hiked through hundreds of miles of American countryside, especially when doing it on there own?

What I liked about this book was that it inspired me. It made me want to spend time outdoors and to go on a walking and camping holiday, which I think is one of the main points of this book. We live in a society where we’ve become so wrapped up in everyday life and often we turn to Drs and medicines to seek help, when the outdoors and some time away from normality can do all the wonders in the world.

I don’t think that the point of this book was to be ground breaking, or to be something that is taught in schools. The point of this book was for Cheryl to share her story of the Pacific Crest Trail and to pass on the knowledge that she learned as she went. And this it does very well. It’s her story to tell, and tell it she did.

Four out of Five stars.

A Day Walking – Kelso to Roxburgh Old Circular

Boyfriend and I don’t get very many days off together, so when we do, we like to spend as much time together doing what we love. Which tends to mean that we spend the majority of our time off outside walking, biking, exploring or hiking. However, we run into problems with what to do with our time during winter, because we live in Scotland and the weather is cold and miserable and snowy. So when it gets back to nice, sunny and warm weather, we come alive again and start going outdoors to enjoy the end of our hibernation.

DSC_0043

So on our last day off, I forced Boyfriend to come for a nice 10km walk along to riverside at Kelso and along the old railway line to Roxburgh and back again, and of course, I had to bring my camera with me for some photos!

LambsIt’s a lovely circular walk that’s relatively flat, and takes you along the riverside, up onto the old railway line towards Roxburgh and then back along the other side of the river. It’s so serene and peaceful, you come across very few people the majority of whom are either fisherman or dog walkers.

Bridge

Honestly, the amount of beauty that surrounds you on this walk is astounding. I love being surrounded by nature, and the Scottish Borders is an incredibly beautiful place. I am blessed to live in such a lovely part of the world and it’s not something that I take for granted. But I think a lot of people do take where they live for granted more often than not, and I really think that’s a shame. Go and explore where you live, find all the beautiful spots, and explore all the wonderful nature that’s on your doorstep!

Railway

I am so excited for getting out and exploring more now that the weather is getting nicer and sunnier! Who else is excited about summer?