Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Fabulous Edinburgh Castle - 3 Fantastic Frugal Days

Spending a few days in Edinburgh on a much needed break I booked into Edinburgh Metro Youth Hostel which was excellent. I had my own room in a flat with six bedrooms, shared kitchen and sitting area. I chose an all female flat and having two bathrooms there was no waiting for the shower. It was clean, had 24 hour reception and free internet access.

This cost £25 per night and was minutes away from the Royal Mile, right behind the Radisson Blu Hotel which would have cost so much more. All ages were staying in the hostel flats including families.

Edinburgh Youth Hostel
11 Robinson`s Close
Cowgate EH1 1LY

First stop then the Castle!

Overlooking the City of Edinburgh is the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, walk up the steep cobbled street to a piper playing the bagpipes and time itself slips.

The Castle is an imposing site, its dark brick walks add a air of menace and you think it would need a brave army to try and overrun this city.
Edinburgh Castle

The Castle has been added to over the centuries, so it is a jigsaw of styles and alleyways.

It houses an impressive collection of military history, from grand swords and flags to shaving cups and books.

Edinburgh Castle

The Scottish Crown Jewels are worth waiting to see as the Coronation Crown of Mary Queen of Scots gleams on its red cushion. The Sword of State is so grand it eclipses the one in the Tower of London and the Sceptre is stunning. The Stone of Destiny takes its worthy place next to the Crown.

Stop at the whiskey sampling shop to revive your windswept self or try the tea-rooms, afternoon tea £16 pp. I had vegetable soup there which to be honest was quite bland £5.50 and coffee for £2.50.

The famous one-o-clock gun, which, of courses, goes off at 1pm is very loud and has been fired  everyday since the 1920`s.

1pm Gun

The entrance fast track fee to the Castle is £16 but I bought my ticket as part of a two-day tour bus ticket which included the  Castle, Palace and Royal Yacht Britannia entrance. I paid £43 as a senior. Very good value as the tour buses are hop on hop off all day tickets.

Castle Entrance

Allow yourself a few hours to make the most of seeing the Castle you wont be disappointed and the views over the city are fabulous.

View of city from Castle

Military Museum in Castle

I  traveled to Edinburgh on a Virgin East Coast train from London Euston. I booked three months in advance and paid £29 each way. Excellent deal.

I paid £75 for my Hostel, £58 for travel

Total £133 

Budget University Rooms and Great Places to Stay on a budget 

I stayed in Fort William this year

Fort William Scotland on a Small Budget

Visit London

A Fabulous Frugal Day In London
#EdinburghCastle   #Universityrooms  #Edinburghtourbus #Scotland #eastcoasttrains #virgintrains

Friday, 5 June 2015

Supporting Katrina with her Mouth Cancer Battle - Update


Last June we celebrated Katrina, then 32 being given the all clear from mouth cancer. She had been through surgery, tongue reconstruction, losing all her teeth and having to be fed long term via a stomach tube . She had chemo and radiotherapy.

We went to Scotland, saw Whales and dolphins, and had a meal at the Shard. It was an amazing weekend. I am very thankful I enter competitions as that weekend was a win from Nutella. Katrina her  hubby Richard, brother Anthony and myself went.

Just one year later and Katrina now has secondary cancer in her left lung, kidney and ribs. We don`t know what her doctors will advise next but it is so sad to think her battle has to start again. She only got some false top teeth a few weeks ago.  
Teeth at last

I don`t know how to support her but I will as will her brothers and wider family. We like her have no choice.

Life is very strange, last week I was in Liverpool celebrating my sisters 75th birthday, this week I am howling like a banshee at the injustice of it all. I`m 60 why can`t it be me.

Why am I writing this in a blog post? I don`t know - maybe because its late and my legs are aching from all the walking I have done. Walking clears the head a bit doesn`t it. 

Maybe because I know that other people have to deal with so much more. Katrina is still here I am grateful for that. 

I am angry with myself because I didn`t make better financial decisions in my life. It would be nice now to have that security. Should I have stayed in a lousy marriage? would that have meant private health care ? would that really make a difference. Why didn`t I train harder, save better, etc.

My ex commands me to demand Katrina is put on `new drugs `. Katrina is 33 and has a hubby. She sees her father once or twice a year.

My eldest son Mark is researching `health food supplements that are excellent in the fight against cancer`. He spent £40 today in the health food shop. The need to do something, anything is all consuming.

I know I will lose her.

I wish everyone well who is fighting or supporting anyone with this insidious disease.


I am only just able to update this post and it is 10/3/2017.
Katrina died on 3 August 2015 surrounded by her close family, she drifted away when her poor body had had enough. She was 33.

My pinterest board for Katrina.

© Licensed to 28/10/2014 London, UK. British Dental Foundation Mouth Cancer Action Month launch at the House of Commons, Westminster. Photo credit : Simon Jacobs

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

A Fabulous Weekend in Liverpool 

As the Virgin train pulled into Liverpool Lime Street on Saturday 23rd May my sister Mary and I were as excited as children. We were going to spend two days in Liverpool and have dinner on the Queen Mary 2.

As guests of Cunard we stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Old Hall Street, which has river views. I was the lucky winner of this competition run by Visit Liverpool

We are scousers too, though we live down south now, so this was a coming home weekend for us.

View of Queen Mary 2 from restaurant window, Radisson Blu  Hotel

The 3 Cunard Queens, the Queen Mary 2,  Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Victoria were going to visit Liverpool and  `dance` on the famous river Mersey.

Fabulous modern hotel

 On Saturday we visited the magnificent Albert dock and Pier Head.

Albert Docks
Three Graces _ Liver birds, Cunard Building and Port of Liverpool Building

We then took a tour bus which was fantastic value at £10 per person. The tour takes you past the famous cavern walks were the Beatles played. Both the cities Cathedrals can be seen on the tour and the amazing buildings like St Georges Hall, the Art Gallery and Museum. A lively commentary gives you a history of the city, you can get off the bus at any of the sites and rejoin it later.

Hanover Street in the city was buzzing with people and seemed the perfect place to eat. We went to Tia Pan Chinese Buffet restaurant which was excellent and recommended by a local cabbie. Then on to the famous Adelphi Hotel to gaze at the grandeur of days gone by. We also sampled the wine at the Irish Bars.

Sunday and we were going to the magnificent Queen Mary 2 at 6pm. We spent a few hours in the Ark Fitness Centre next door to the hotel using the pool, sauna and steam room. All wonderfully relaxing and complementary if you are a guest in the hotel. 

 Welcome Aboard!

 The Queen Mary 2 in Ice

On board Spa - wow!

View from the deck

Luxury Aboard
Liverbirds from Queen Mary 2

I could easily get used to this life!

 Freedom of the City Award to Cunard

All this attention, Mary who is 75 in a few weeks thought the whole evening was brilliant.

One way to have fun on the Mersey!

A Mersey Ferry 

Wow that is some liner!

Queen Mary 2 at Pier Head Liverpool

We were able to watch the light show on the 3 Graces and the firework display from the front deck of the Queen Mary 2. How wonderful was that!

Hundreds of thousands of people came into Liverpool to see the 3 Queens on Monday 25th May. We managed only a glimpse of the 3 liners together but we had an amazing weekend.

Thank you to everyone involved in providing this memorable, fabulous prize. Cunard, Virgin trains and Visit Liverpool.

 Albert Dock Liverpool

This is the photo I won this fabulous prize with, it was taken in 1990 when Queen Elizabeth II sailed into Liverpool for the first time in many years. The photo shows me, my son Anthony and daughter Katrina and was taken by Tony Reid.

Tags, Liverpool, Visit Liverpool, Cunard, Albert dock, Pier head, Virgin Trains, Radisson Hotels 

Thursday, 30 April 2015

MagicSquares Playdate Challenge

Isabella  shares her Strawberry &Vanilla magic square with Freddie the Monkey

This one has two different colours inside.

 I like these and I can eat them myself, Mum says there good for me too.

Now I`m going to play 

I can have fun on the slide because I`m a big girl now!

Off to the the park to feed the ducks then we will have a picnic and I can have a Raspberry & Vanilla magic square.

This one is as big as me and he wants my dinner!

Where are his teeth Mum?

Time for a game of football

Then a play on the swings

Here`s my cousin Loui-Max and he will be eating magic squares very soon.

I am going to give him a kiss then go back to play in the garden'

Time for another yummy Strawberry & Vanilla  Petits Filous!

"This post is an entry for BritMums #MagicSquaresPlaydates Linky Challenge, sponsored by Petitis Filous"

Isabella is 18 months old and at this age all she wants to do is eat quickly and go off to play. She also insists on feeding herself so I need good quality, easy to eat food that she likes. Petits Filous new magic squares are ideal, she can see the two colours inside and wants to eat the four squares and mix up the magic!

She likes both the Strawberry&Vanilla and the Raspberry&Vanilla and both provide calcium and vitamin D.

Currently on offer at Tesco £1 for four. Petits Filous is the UK`s Number 1  kids yoghurt and fromage frais brand.

Monday, 16 February 2015

A Fabulous Frugal Day in London

My sister has been staying with me for a few weeks, she lives in Ireland and beautiful though it is, it is wild in winter.

She comes ever year and it breaks the winter up nicely for both of us.  We usually try to spend a day or two in London. I live in Hertfordshire so it`s not to far to travel. 

We always take a packed lunch and aim only to buy the odd tea or coffee. We try to get as much from the day as possible on a limited budget.

This year we headed to the amazing Victoria and Albert Museum,(Free) and wandered through part of the costume exhibition. Seen the silver collections and marveled at the marble statues.
Details of the Museum are here.

image from google

We sat in the beautiful cafe and drank tea under the massive circular lights, with sunshine pouring through the stained glass windows. The tiled walls date from the 1920`s, it is a beautiful place.

We had a day travel card which allowed travel on the tubes and buses this cost £18.80 and included our return train travel from Hemel Hempstead.

After a look around the shops in Knightsbridge and eating our lunch in Hyde park we headed for Harvey Nichols. Not to buy anything other than a coffee, this is a frugal day remember. We wanted to enjoy  the view from their roof terrace cafe. 

Harvey Nichols roof garden cafe

It is quite impressive to sit looking over the rooftops of Knightsbridge for the price of a coffee. The staff were very friendly and chatted to my sister Maggie about the 1970`s when the store was Bibba`s.

Next stop the highlight of the day off to see Warhorse! With our £15 each tickets. We traveled on the bus to Covent Garden  passing Regent Street, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square on the way.

I thought when buying our tickets that a Monday evening would not be too busy in winter. I bought the cheapest tickets available from

Image result for war horse play
google image

image from google

It is by far the best play I have seen, it is amazing!

Warhorse is showing at:
 New Theatre
166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B5PW
Drury Lane London
166 Drury Lane, London, WC2B5PW

The theatre is not enormous like some London theatres so you can see really well even in the cheapest seats. I have seen Warhorse on the cinema link up to the National theatre and that was impressive.
Seeing it going on a few feet away from you though is something else. Do go to see it you will love it.

Total spends for the day

Travel £18.80 per person
Theatre tickets £15 per person
Coffee in Harvey Nichols £4 per person
Tea in V@A £3 per person.