Hey guys! I have just returned from an epic week-long trip around the UK where I hit up Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, London and Sussex, saw one of my favourite bands, caught up with a whole bunch of friends, and acted like a tourist in places I’ve been a million times. It was a really great trip, even though a lot of things didn’t go to plan, and I’ll blog all about it over the next few days!
Because of that, my February challenge update comes to you a little late, although I have to say the update isn’t going to be as ferociously successful as I had hoped.
Between officially moving into town, having our first couchsurfer to stay, and rushing around the UK for a quarter of February, it’s been a challenge just to… well, work on any of my challenges! Let’s have a look, though.
Make £50 on side hustles
I have to admit, I haven’t got much this month. I’ve barely even been on my laptop! In fact, the best thing I’ve done was clean a lady’s house for a couple of hours and made £20. The good news?
I have a new full-time job!!
I had an interview the day I left on my trip, and although I can’t say too much at the moment because I’ve only had an informal job offer, I’m excited to say it’s travel-related and I start in a couple of weeks! It’s also ideal because it works in with my current job so I should still be able to do a few hours here and there to boost my income.
I’m also signing up to do some market research jobs at Orkney’s entry ports (ie. ferry terminals and airports), which I’m actually looking forward to as it’s all based on tourism and although it’s on a totally casual basis (I can do as many or as few assignments as I like, perfect as I have no idea how much time I’m realistically going to have!), it’s £30 for two hours work which is great.
Ooh, and I won a £25 premium bond! That was a nice little bonus.
Total: actually, if you include the premium bond then it’s probably around the £50 mark!
Move into a house as cheaply as possible
We’ve bought a few new bits for the house this month as we moved in and realised what we still need. The good news? There’s a fantastic second hand furniture shop in town, and all of this month they’ve had 25% off everything. This led to some unbelievable bargains, although I wish we had utilised it more before I went away!
Some of my best bargains included:
– dressing table with mirror and drawers, was £5, reduced to £3.75!!
– divan bed, £15 (it’s not amazing but it does the job)
– lots of bits (plates, chopping board, fruit bowl, baking trays etc), free!
– 3 bowls for £1 in a charity shop (because even with 3 lots of free kitchen stuff, we still only had one bowl!)
– 6 photo frames for under £3 in a charity shop, I plan to put some travel photos in these
I also started cleaning for a lady who wanted to get rid of a load of her stuff. This led to her giving us a whole host of totally random (mostly) kitchen bits, including a really nice entire knife set, a pancake maker, a fondue set, a chair, a chopping board, lots of spice bottles and a ton more.
We did have to concede and get a few things for full price, like a mattress (£110, eeeeek) laundry basket (£6.99, annoying when I used to sell them for £2.99!!) and a can opener that broke within a week. Oops. We also bought a fold-away table for the kitchen that I thought was quite pricey at £22 (reduced from £30 at the second hand place) but I suppose we balanced that out with a side table for the living room for £3.75 (reduced from £5).
We don’t really have anything left to get except we still need to furnish the spare room so that we can put ourselves on airbnb. We’ve picked up another mattress for £30, and I have a chest of drawers from my old bedroom that I’m going to decorate with maps, but that’s as far as we’ve got. I guess all we really need is a bed frame and bedside tables, but I’m hoping we’ll get another cheap dresser too.
Total spent: roughly £200 (around £350 altogether – our mattress was literally a third of what we’ve spent on this house!! How crazy is that?)
Get my weight down to 8.5 stone / get fitter
Oh! Now this is something I’ve worked on, although I’m not convinced I’ve actually lost any weight. I’ve done a few coastal walks this month, albeit some of them have been pretty short because of the weather. We’ve found some fantastic walks and can’t wait to discover more.
While I was away, I did so much walking it bordered on ridiculous. In Edinburgh, I walked the length of Princes Street twice, and that was after walking the Royal Mile… twice. And a wander around the gargantuan National Museum of Scotland. And walking another length of the Royal Mile. And exploring Dean Village. And walking to a friend’s house two miles away… and walking back. And walking back to the Royal Mile from Princes Street and then back to Princes Street (my favourite part of that was I only walked back to the Royal Mile was because I was convinced I’d left my El Camino bracelet at my hostel and it turned out I hadn’t).
That was just the first day.
I didn’t get to climb Arthur’s Seat which was annoying as that was one of my aims, but there was plenty more walking to be done at the zoo, another day of traipsing the entire Royal Mile and Grassmarket… I think it’s safe to say I was pretty knackered by the time I left Edinburgh!!
But within 12 hours of leaving, I was back at it. I walked from Victoria coach station in London down to south bank, back over Waterloo Bridge to Trafalgar Square, and then along the Mall to Buckingham Palace and back to Charing Cross station. Two days later, I spent the day in London with a friend where we walked from London Bridge to Fleet Street/Blackfriars, and then all around Camden, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. I haven’t exerted myself physically, but it’s been a pretty active trip and my legs are feeling it now!!
Write for other publications / read 50 books
Why am I lumping these two together? Oh, you know, because I pretty much haven’t achieved anything! Any free time I had on my trip was while I was on a bus… and I can’t read on buses. And writing? Don’t even! I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity, but as I said in my last post, I equally don’t want to chase an opportunity and then struggle to commit to it. I like to put my all into anything I do for other people.
Learn something new
I’ve been keeping up with Duolingo reasonably well right up until I went away. I barely got any learning done in that whole week, but I am on 32% on my German course so that’s pretty good!
Other than that, I visited quite a few museums on my trip which I suppose does count as learning! I went to the surprisingly good McManus Galleries in Dundee, the Maritime Museum in Aberdeen, the Clink prison museum in London and my favourite: the National Museum Of Scotland in Edinburgh! There was so much interactive stuff there, from “flying” hot air balloons (you can see them in the background of the above photo!) to building things and solving problems. It’s a huge museum and really, really well organised and interesting.
To be honest, I think anything interesting to report that hasn’t been mentioned above will be coming up in my blog posts!
We had a couple of days off while our couchsurfer was here so we showed her around Orkney. It actually ended up being a great way to explore places we don’t really visit otherwise – like the second main town, Stromness! We took the road beyond that town for some unexpectedly phenomenal views of the Hoy hills, unfortunately the weather had turned bad by that point but we are finding a few places to go back to.
Because we went to places like Skara Brae, Ash and I actually ended up becoming joint members of Historic Scotland so we could get in for free. I was even more keen because it allows free entry to the normally pricey Edinburgh Castle!! You’ll have to wait for my Edinburgh post to find out why that, along with a few other things, ended up being a complete fail…
Speaking of couchsurfing, I am actually amazed at how many requests we’ve had so far, with it not even being close to tourist season! We had five requests within a week! What I found most interesting is they’ve almost all been solo female travellers. Kudos to you, ladies!
So my questions this month: Would you ever stay with someone on couchsurfing as a solo female traveller? And would you ever host on couchsurfing?
Hope you all had a good February! Stay tuned for some posts on my UK adventures!