London is expensive! (not news really)


Having pre-bought coach tickets to London did battle with still feeling a touch rough yesterday morning, and thriftyness won; I strolled over to the coach station and took the trip in order to redeem my free entry to the Grand Designs show (courtesy of the Money Saving Expert website, which have offers to these kinds of home-improvement exhibitions fairly often, if you like that kind of thing).

First expense: had to top my Oyster card up by £10. It was fun to go on the Docklands Light Railway though. Yesterday was a bit cloudy and the amount to building work along the route to the show at ExCel, and (to my eyes) modern-looking buildings contrasted nicely with the few picturesque derelict blocks and ominous skies. In general, I do find zipping about on public transport in big cities stimulating. What if the stop gets missed? Ooh, mild peril!

The ExCel centre seemed huge, and the Grand Designs show was somewhat difficult to navigate. I kept getting disorientated. I’d been hoping there would be lots of freebies but the end tally is fairly modest:

– a tiny cup of Fever Tree elderflower tonic water (and I ended up spending a fiver on their show offer for four bottles as it was really quite nice)

– a small cup of smoothie from the VitaMix demo stall

– a wickedly strong espresso from the Brita water filter stall. This was meant to demonstrate the difference filtered water can make to your brew but since I’m normally a filter coffee or americano drinker I was none the wiser. I could feel the caffeine though!

I could also have had several samples of alcohol, but since I’m having a teetotal year I declined these.

So far, the day was well within my budget. At three pounds a day, and having only spent 18p so far this month, I had £20.82 available before going into arrears. However, it seemed a waste not to get a few things I’d been hankering after. I justify going to Wholefoods at Piccardilly Circus and spending £8.37 on Mexican food ingredients by reasoning that at least I’m saving on postage, as otherwise I’d have to mail order the stuff, and I’ve been unable to try many of the recipes in Viva Vegan until now.

I also splurged £2.50 on a cronut-type pastry at Vx. Not sure if it was the recent sickness, but I found this far too sweet and fatty to enjoy more than a couple of bites. A shame.

Along similar lines, I needed to eat something by 7 o’clock as I’d ingested nothing but theaforementioned samples since my breakfast porridge, and Moaz falafel seemed like a good idea. I got the meal deal of falafel, salad bar, chips and a drink. The chips had a good texture, and the minty lemonade was great, but something about the rest of it just lacked something and I could only eat half of it. This was £8.50 (I think. By this time I was really tired!) so not too bad for London but in hindsight I should have stuck with the almonds and dried apricots I was carrying or maybe tried to get something lighter like a soup from somewhere.

In total yesterday, I spent £34.37. Add the 18p and my month’s spend is £34.55. That means I’m halfway into my allowance up to 12th May so far. I enjoyed my day, and on the whole I’m glad I went, but I wish I had taken a sandwich with me!


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