On my mind · travel

3 Nights in Edinburgh (spending little money)

If you read my blog post from last week, it will be no surprise to you that I spent 3 nights in Edinburgh over the New Year period. Since I spent last week focusing on Hogmanay and ticking something off my Bucket List, I thought this week I would talk about the rest of the time I spent in Edinburgh – and how we managed to spend our days there being busy, but without spending much money.

I’ve thought of a few tips for you if you want to do the same and get a feel for a city without shelling out, because I always want to travel to more places and I simply don’t have the budget for it!

Walk

First up is a relatively simple tip, as it is pretty much common sense that you can save money by walking everywhere rather that taking public transport. I know it’s not always possible to walk to everything you want to visit, but if you just make the conscious effort to walk to as many places as possible you’ll no doubt end up saving money!

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One thing to look out for in Edinburgh: endless steep steps!

We were staying out of the city centre and so it simply wasn’t possible for us to walk in every day, but we tried to walk one way and get the bus the other way. I hadn’t been on a bus for absolutely ages so I don’t know what a standard fare is, but it was only £1.60 for a single which I would say is pretty reasonable. An occasional £1.60 is far better than shelling out on taxis all the time at any rate!

Free Entertainment

This is another plus side for walking everywhere – you stumble across all sorts of free entertainment that you would miss if you were on the bus/in a taxi. We managed to find a free comedy improvisation show in a tiny little bar on a Sunday afternoon which turned out to be really funny. Like hold your face to stop your cheeks from hurting so much funny! We definitely wouldn’t have found it if we were going past in a vehicle so our free method of transport led to a free afternoons worth of entertainment… The following day we found another pub with free live music all evening just by walking past it – and that was another evening of free entertainment sorted.

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Churches, Architecture and Art Galleries – the Holy Trinity of free things to do!

Not wanting to seem too low-brow in our choice of entertainment we did spend a particularly rainy afternoon looking around the Scottish National Gallery. Believe it or not it was my first time looking around an art gallery, and despite it not being my usual type of fun I did quite enjoy it! I wasn’t a big fan of many of the paintings (I’m not really someone who appreciates art all that much!) but there were a couple that I absolutely loved. I really enjoyed people watching in there as well – it was clear that some people simply didn’t want to be in an art gallery, for example the mother and daughter snoozing on the seats in the middle whilst waiting for the rest of their family!

Edinburgh Castle

Now, I’m not sure if I can claim to have actually ‘done’ Edinburgh Castle as we didn’t go inside but I have pictures of it so it definitely counts right?! That in itself is another tip for spending less money though – only go in to places if you know you really want to. We walked (surprise surprise) up to Edinburgh Castle on our last morning before catching our train home because we felt like it was something we should see before leaving.

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I wish it could have been a clearer day, but it rained every day that we were up in Edinburgh!

It is a pretty impressive castle to look at and the views over the city are really impressive. If we had more time and the weather was better (or just not constantly raining!) it would have been nice to go up Arthur’s Seat to get more views but those from the castle are lovely all the same. Rightly or wrongly we decided not to pay to go in to the castle because many castles seem to be the same (or at least very similar!) inside so we were happy with admiring from outside.

Christmas Markets

Obviously this is a very seasonal specific thing to do, but if you find yourself in Edinburgh whilst the Christmas markets are happening, I would definitely recommend going to them. It’s another free afternoons worth of entertainment and you can spend as little or as much as you want on souvenirs to take home. It always seems so much nicer taking home something small from a market rather than the standard touristy stuff that they have in other shops!

xmas-markets
Getting there as the sun was setting made them all the more picturesque…

We didn’t really buy that much in Edinburgh but the Christmas markets was where the majority of our purchases were made. I think going after Christmas was a good time to visit as well because the stall holders kept adding in more freebies just to get rid of their stock!

Meals

Finally, if you can manage to I would say try and limit the number of meals you have out in cafes or restaurants. I know it can be difficult if you aren’t staying at a proper house with a kitchen etc and that it is nice to not have to cook meals but the money quickly adds up when you’re eating out for multiple meals in a day. I suppose I am kind of lucky in that front because when I am in an unfamiliar place I don’t get hungry so I never really mind where I eat! What we found worked for us quite well was eating brunch out somewhere, picking up a snack somewhere in the afternoon (such as churros at the Christmas markets) and making any more food we wanted in the flat when we returned in the evening.

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The most stereotypical brunch I have ever eaten!

I know that won’t work for everyone (we did end up making quesadillas 2 days in a row!) but there are ways of finding cheaper options for meals out. Even if you just go a couple of streets away from the main touristy areas there are cheaper options. One night we ended up in a student area and went to an Indian place that had massive plates of good curry for about £6 so it is possible!

And that brings this post to an end. All in all I had a lovely few days in Edinburgh and it was so lovely being able to see a different city without feeling like we were spending too much money. Hopefully it means I’ll be able to afford to explore some other places this year!

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? If so, what was your favourite thing that you did whilst you were there? If not, where do you want to visit this year? I love being nosy and adding to my travel ideas list! Let me know in the comments down below.

Oh, and if you have any more tips for travelling cheaply please comment them down below as well, I’d love to hear more ideas!

Until next time,

Claire x

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Bucket List · On my mind · travel

Something from my Bucket List: Hogmanay!

I have said before that my Bucket List isn’t full of really exciting death-defying stunts like bungee jumping or sky diving – in fact my last Bucket List post was about going to a beach! However, I think this time I have ticked off something slightly more exciting…

I tend not to include travel destinations onto my Bucket List, as there are so many places I want to visit both inside the UK and abroad that it would make my list ridiculously long. I do keep a record of everywhere I want to explore but I keep my Bucket List for specific experiences or activities I want to do rather than just visiting specific places. One of these such experiences on my list was welcoming the new year in Edinburgh, and this year I ticked it off! I spent a few days in Edinburgh with my friends over the new year, so I thought I would share my experiences of Hogmanay with you, with some tips for anyone else who wants to go!

Get Your Tickets In Advance

We hadn’t really decided what we wanted to do on New Years Eve before we went to Edinburgh, as we just didn’t know what was on offer. When we saw that there was the massive street party we decided to go along as it seemed like a good way to get involved and see all the sights for the first time. Tickets were pretty reasonable (I think they were £26) and despite only deciding we wanted them on the 30th December, there still seemed to be plenty left. What we hadn’t realised was just how long picking them up would take! Clearly most other people had left the picking up of their tickets to the last day as well (or wanted to buy them from the ticket office rather than online & pick them up) so despite there being multiple locations open there was a 2 hour queue. I can confidently say that is the longest I have ever queued for something, and I don’t want to do it again! So if you’re wanting to go to the street party – which I do thoroughly recommend – make sure to buy your tickets far enough in advance to either have them posted to you, or pick them up a few days prior to actually needing them. 80,000 people is a lot of people needing to get their tickets at once!

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We spent so long queueing that all my pictures of Edinburgh are in the dark…

Wear All Your Clothes

This definitely sounds like an exaggeration but we really did wear practically all the clothes we bought for the 4 day trip on New Years Eve. I’m sure if you’re used to the cold then this isn’t necessary but for soft southerners like my friends and I layering up was essential. We were outside from about 8pm to 1ish at the street party – and 5 hours at night time gets rather cold rather quickly. I was wearing 3 layers on my legs (fleece lined tights, leggings and jeans) and 6 layers on my top half (vest top, long sleeved t shirt, thin jumper, cardigan, jumper, coat) as well as my hat, scarf and gloves. It does sound excessive I know but I didn’t get cold so I don’t care! I was wearing my heeled Chelsea boots as they are super comfortable but they also had the added advantage of giving me an extra couple of inches to see over people’s heads! Even my feet didn’t get cold, which I like to think was due to the fact that I was further away from the cold ground (I know that’s not a scientifically sound theory but I like to think it anyhow!). New Look still have the exact boots that I wore and as an added bonus, they’re in the sale! You can find them here if you’re interested.

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Wearing so many clothes made it quite hard to take decent pictures – hence the great blob of someone else’s shoulder in this otherwise picturesque view!

Drinks

Again this is more of a ‘be more generally organised’ point rather than anything else because we were nearly caught out with taking our own drinks in. There was understandably a no glass bottles rule, and in theory every drink had to be in a 500ml plastic bottle. “No problem!” we thought, as we were going to pick up a couple of bottles of water on the way back to my friend’s flat as we were going to get ready. But nope! All shops shut early on Hogmanay – even the ones that advertise as being open 24/7. We only had one bottle of the correct size, so decided to risk taking a couple of litre plastic bottles as well – luckily they were allowed which was a great relief as we didn’t want to lose all the gin we had put in them! In the end the bigger bottles were actually better as we didn’t take any bags with us and carrying one bottle each is way easier than juggling multiple smaller ones.

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I love a firework display, and this one went on forever!

Try and see everything!

Lastly, I would say try and see everything. It did get extremely busy (with around 80,000 people there what do you expect?!) but it wasn’t so busy that you couldn’t move. There were a couple of different stages with things going on all evening as well as fireworks from the castle every hour and the Christmas markets being open so there was absolutely tonnes to see. But wherever you are and whatever you are doing, keep one eye on the time! We knew that the fireworks at midnight would be coming from the castle so were able to position ourselves to see them without trees blocking our view. It just so happened that we picked the spot where the ‘presenter’ of the evening led the countdown so I would say we were perfectly placed. This just rounded up a wonderful evening with a great view of the fireworks welcoming the new year. A pretty perfect evening!

All in all, I would thoroughly recommend spending Hogmanay in Edinburgh. I’m so glad I was able to start 2018 by ticking something off my Bucket List – here’s hoping I can do some more from it this year! We’re already making plans to see in the new year next year back up in Scotland, and as we’ll have half an idea of how things work I can only see it being even better.

How did you spend your New Years Eve – did you go to a big party or have a quiet one in at home instead? Let me know down below! Also, if you have any more ideas for things I can add to my Bucket List I’d really appreciate some more inspiration… 😉

Until next time,

Claire x

 

 

On my mind

What A Year!

As it is New Years Eve tonight I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the year coming to an end. 2017 has been a bit of an odd year for me and in many ways I am happy it is coming to an end. I have never really set any proper New Years Resolutions, but in January I thought of a few goals to work towards throughout the year and I haven’t really managed to complete any of them so I’m bringing them forward into 2018!

Firstly, I wanted to move out of my parents’ home. I graduated from university in July 2016 and moved back home for what I hoped would be a few months. Fast forward a year and a half and I’m still here which I’m not too happy about. I feel like I’ve put my life sort of on hold as I find it so difficult to not have the same level of freedom that I got used to at university. I want to be living like someone in their early twenties – having parties and eating whatever I want and making a home to my own taste – rather than fitting back into my old childhood bedroom and having to fit in with my parents routine. I know this probably sounds ridiculously spoilt but I feel like I’m being smothered at the moment, so this will definitely be one of my 2018 goals.

Another of my unsuccessful goals this year was to get a ‘proper’ full time, permanent job. Don’t get me wrong I really do like my place of work (well the people I work with at least!) but as I work for a charity most of their jobs are part time and on short term contracts, meaning I’ve not had that much job security. This is partly why I haven’t been able to move out! My original contract ended in February and I’ve managed to stay on for longer which I am really grateful for, but my current role expires at the end of April. As hard as it would be for me to leave as I do really love my colleagues, I won’t realistically be able to stay there for my whole working life so I may as well try and find something more permanent if it comes up. Hopefully 2018 is my year!

I would say I have been partially successful in my final goal for 2017 as I kept it quite vague – I wanted to say yes to more things. I don’t really think I’ve mentioned it much on here but I get really anxious in social situations, to the extent where I sort of retreat in on myself/don’t have anything to say. Because of this, I find it all too tempting to turn things down just so I don’t have to put myself through it. I was determined that this year I would push myself to say yes to more things, and I think I have. I’ve hung out with some people from work a few times, even on days when we haven’t all just gone on to the pub together. I know this really doesn’t sound like a big deal but I find it near on impossible to arrive to places on my own so I’m really proud of myself for finding ways around it!  I also went on holiday with a couple of friends including someone I had never met before which I would say was relatively successful. I didn’t manage to go on any dates this year (boo 😦 ) as I would always panic and cancel last minute so I’m really wanting to push myself further and actually go through with them next year.

One last thing that I really wanted to talk about was this blog as I started it this year. I’ve had various other blogs before – in fact they’re all probably still in existence somewhere – but I’ve never had one that I stuck at publishing a post regularly on. I have grown to love this little space on the internet that is all mine, where I can ramble on about anything or nothing in particular as I think it’s nice to get things off your chest. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses – deciding to take part in blogmas on the last day of November with no planned content definitely wasn’t my best decision this year, but I got through it and I am super proud of myself for doing so. Lets see if I can keep to my regular posting in 2018!

I’m actually writing this post in advance because I’ll be spending the New Year in Edinburgh with a couple of my friends. It will be the first time I’ve ever been to Scotland so I’m really looking forward to it! Who knows, if I manage to take any pictures whilst I’m there you may get a blog post or two about it in the coming months…

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New Years is all about the pink/red and sparkles!

How are you spending your New Years Eve – are you having a party or having a quiet night in? I’d love to hear about it down in the comments below!

Thank you if you have followed/liked/ read any of my posts this year I really do appreciate it – and 2018, let’s see what you have in store!

Until next time,

Claire x

2017 · Blogmas · christmas · On my mind

Merry Christmas!

It’s Christmas Day, so I want to keep this short and sweet, but I just wanted to say thank you to anyone who has read any of my blogmas posts this year. I started the month with zero preparation and half expected to give up halfway through, but I made it to the end relatively unscathed! I was stressed and busy and nearly packed it all in several times but I managed to push through and actually complete something for once.

So, to anyone who has supported me along the way here’s a massive thank you. I couldn’t have done this without you. My normal weekly blogposts will commence this coming Sunday, but until then I need a rest!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Day and I will see you on New Years Eve.

Until next time,

Claire x

2017 · Blogmas · christmas · On my mind

My Christmas Eve Routine

As it’s Christmas Eve, I thought I would use today’s post to give you an idea of what my day today will be looking like. Extremely busy this year, I think!

My Day

9am-11am: Wake up, shower, wash and blow dry my hair etc. I like to try and have a lie in, but if I stir in my sleep earlier on my brain will ping me awake by listing all the things I have to do

11am – 3pm: Try and cram in all the tasks I haven’t yet completed. This year these include: baking gingerbread (the dough is made, I just need to shape it & bake it), making the filling to my chocolate brownie tart, making 2 Christmas cards, putting the finishing touches to my Grandma’s present (just one row of stitching) and tidying my room

3pm – 4pm: Carry on with above tasks, but with the Kings College Carol service playing in the background

3.30pm – 4pm: At some point around here Grandma will arrive. Oh, so we need to have sorted her room out by then as the spare room becomes a bit of a dumping ground for the rest of the year!

4pm – 6pm: This is when I usually get around to wrapping my presents. I leave it until last because I want to be fully focused on it rather than squeezing it in between several other tasks! (I wrote about my love for wrapping presents earlier on in blogmas, you can check it out here if you like!)

6pm – 8pm: Sometimes we will go to the Carol Service at our village church if it is on Christmas Eve. I like to go because it makes me feel really festive but I’m not really religious – it is the only time in the year I will usually step foot in a church!

8pm – 9.45pm: Collapse on the sofa, worn out from the busy day! If it’s cold we’ll light our fire and we’ll either watch TV together as a family or make a start on the board games

fireplace
Spoiler alert: this picture is actually from last year or the year before – our walls are a much nicer colour now!

9.45pm – 10pm: Everyone retrieves all their wrapped presents from various hiding places and puts them all around the tree. We could never do it any earlier than this because I would always look for the ones with my name on and try and guess what they were!

10pm: We read The Night Before Christmas. We’ve been reading this on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember – it started out as our special bedtime story but now me and my brother are in our 20s it’s turned in to me reading it to our parents and grandma!

10.15pm: We all have a relatively early night so we’re not tired the next day. Of course for me that means scrolling through social media for an hour or so before sleeping!

I know some people always go out on Christmas Eve, but I don’t think I could ever do that. Doing Christmas Day with a hangover would be simply awful – I think it would ruin the entire day, and since Christmas is the thing I look forward to to get me through winter I don’t want to do anything to ruin it! I suppose some people have their own sort of traditions though.

What is your Christmas Eve like? Is it a festive homey day or are you preparing for a big night out? I’d love to hear what you do down in the comments!

Until next time,

Claire x

2017 · Blogmas · Cards · christmas · handmade

It’s Christmas Eve Eve!

Here’s the current situation: it’s Christmas Eve Eve, which means it’s our annual Christmas baking day (read my post all about it here). It’s also Day 1 of me trying to fit a weeks worth of jobs into two days, so I’m afraid today’s post is going to have to be short and sweet!

To get a flavour of the things I have to do by tomorrow evening, I thought I’d share my to do list here:

  • Bake 1 dessert, a lot of mince pies, lemon curd tarts, gingerbread biscuits, and decorate a cake
  • Finish making 4 Christmas cards for my family (2 have already been started, the others are still a vague plan)
  • Wrap all presents – including making a gift tag for the present I made for my Grandma (I wrote all about making it here! 😉 )
  • Soak off gel nails and redo them with gold glitter polish
  • Try and finish blogmas!
  • Tidy up the mess that has appeared from being so busy this week

I think that may be it, no guarantees I haven’t forgotten anything though… What also doesn’t help is the fact that I keep doing things that aren’t even on my list!

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What I like to call Productive Procrastination…

I really don’t need any more gift tags as I already have a whole box of them from previous years, but as I was trying to make my Christmas cards I just thought why not?! Because I have enough to do already that’s why not!

I do think I may have finished one of my cards though, so I thought I would share a picture before signing off for the day.

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I think it may be finished, there’s still time for me to change my mind though!

Each year my cards for my family have a sort of theme – and this year they’re all coming with a battery tealight to pop inside to make them glow which I think is really unique. I’m having a few problems coming up with 4 completely different designs though, so I better get back to it!

How are you spending your Christmas Eve Eve? Are you going out tonight to party, or are you staying snug at home getting prepared? Let me know in the comments below!

Until tomorrow,

Claire x

 

2017 · Blogmas · christmas · On my mind

So Nearly There…

It’s Friday so it’s time for my final weekly roundup of blogmas! I’ve got mixed feelings about this, as I’ve really enjoyed answering these questions each week to keep track of how I’m feeling and what I’m doing in the run up to Christmas, but I would also like a bit of a rest from publishing a new post every day! Christmas is nearly upon us, and with today being my last day at work before a couple of weeks off I feel like I can finally relax.

The end of blogmas is in sight, and I’m so proud of myself that I have actually made it this far. I don’t want to speak too soon and put a jinx on myself but I think I may actually be successful in completing it! Fingers crossed nothing major happens in these last few days…

High point of the last week: I don’t have a specific moment in mind this week, more of a general feeling of everything coming together (finally!). I finished decorating the house which was a great feeling and although I still have quite a lot to do in preparation for Monday I feel like it is actually do-able. It’s been a very busy but good week! I found all my Christmas soft toys this week – when I was a child this was always a very exciting time because they only really came out the week before Christmas. All my old toys live in a big drawer now but I like to see them now and again, especially my festive ones. They remind me of how excited for Christmas I used to get and that helps me to get excited about it now!

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They all look so happy at being released!

Low point of the last week: A couple of days ago I realised that this is the closest to Christmas that I have ever been working. Last year I was off for the 10 days beforehand, and in previous years I had school and university holidays. I thought working up until the 22nd would be easy – just like any other week with the added buzz of Christmas in the air but I have found it tough to get everything sorted when I’m coming home super tired every evening. It’s not as if my days at work are particularly fun or festive either – one day this week my boss had to clean up some vomit (I decided I wasn’t paid enough to do that!) and on the same day we had to call an ambulance for someone who split their head open. I think next year I will have to take some more holiday in the week before Christmas!

How Christmassy am I feeling? (Out of 10): I am feeling pretty festive now. I’ve received quite a few Christmas cards and there are even a few parcels under the tree which always helps. As I mentioned earlier, my house is now fully decorated so wherever I go I’m reminded that Christmas is just around the corner. As part of decorating my bedroom I printed off a few festive pictures from Pinterest that I just placed in some cheap white frames (I think I got the pack of 3 for less than £2 from B&M!) and I have dotted them around to make myself feel more festive. I’m not quite in full on Christmas mode yet as I’m actually writing this on Thursday evening so I’ve still got a day of work to get through, so I’d say my score this week is an 8. Nearly there!

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I know the pictures are slightly the wrong size for the frames, but measuring has never been my strong point…

How prepared for Christmas am I? (Out of 10): I believe this week I have finally finished my Christmas shopping! I hope I have anyway as there’s not really a lot of time to do anything about it… I just need to triple check that all the things I ordered online have arrived but I think I’m good to go. I’ve also made a start at making my Christmas cards for my family. I’m hoping to finish them tomorrow, then all I have to do is wrap my presents. I’m feeling good about it – so I’d say I’m an 8 here as well.

Oh, and if anyone read my post last Friday – my Secret Santa present didn’t come on time so I had to use a backup gift. All was good though as Amazon gave me my money back which I think was decent of them!

Are any of you completely 100% ready for Christmas yet? Or are you more work until the very last minute people? Let me know in the comments down below!

Until tomorrow,

Claire x