Hull – A mini staycation!

I go into Hull 4 times a week for work, yet, I hardly ever go in for leisure purposes. This Easter I was lucky enough to win an overnight stay in a new serviced apartment in Hull’s Fruit Market area – which gave me the perfect chance to take Henry into town and visit some of the places I’ve always intended to take him to! A staycation, if you will… as always, I tried to keep expenses to a minimum, and I think I did a pretty good job of that!

Firstly we checked into the apartment – it was wonderful! Lots of attention to detail, great decor and uber comfy double beds! These apartments are available to rent out from We Love HU and would be wonderful for people visiting the new Hull Venue (which opens soon) or Hull New Theatre, and who want to enjoy the local bars and restaurants, for example. We had a two bed apartment – and very nice it was too! Secure parking is included as well, so even that saved me some money! It’s definitely highly recommended from us if ever you want to stay in Hull and they charge reasonable prices – especially if you compare it against local hotels like the Holiday Inn at the Marina or the Hilton, who often charge around £140 a night. They left us some white chocolate from local chocolatier Cocoa and a bottle of fizz in the fridge too – such a lovely touch!

Henry and I went to the Museum Quarter and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The Streetlife Museum was the highlight for us – Henry really enjoyed walking through the 1940’s style high street, with a quick jump on a train and a tram! It was really interesting to see the collection of carriages and bikes and all the links to the local area. Certainly a place I’d recommend a visit to whether you’re by yourself or looking for somewhere to take the kids! All the museums in Hull have free entry so we managed to fill out a fair few hours visiting the Wilberforce Museum, The Hull & East Riding Museum and the Streetlife without spending a penny.

We then went onto St. Stephen’s Shopping Centre and sampled the delights from the new Frizza Cafe Gelato parlour. We had the ice cream rolls and watched them make it in front of us using frozen pans. They’ve been popular in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia and the Philippines etc for years, but this is the first time I’ve come across them in the UK. It was great fun to watch! It took the server about 3 mins to make. They pour a cup of cream onto an extremely cold metal circle that looks like a big pizza pan and add whichever ingredients you choose. Henry went for Oreo & Maltesers and I went for Strawberry. As the elements freeze, it’s manipulated with spatulas, and then spread out – Then they push the spatula across it and turn it into rolls which are then placed into a cup. Delicious! At £3 a pop I didn’t think it was bad value for money and it’s a large portion!

Darren came to join us after work and we went to eat at the new Zizzi restaurant in St. Stephens. We chose that place because they are on the Tastecard – which a great way to save money when eating out. It’s a 2 for 1 offering on food – but make sure you read the terms before you go because some venue’s don’t allow you to use the discount on a Saturday, for example. We spent £32 for the three of us to eat 2 courses each and have drinks – not bad value at all! Of course, if I had wanted to save even more money, I could have cooked back at the apartment because it had a lovely kitchen with all the appliances I would have needed…

The following day, Henry and I had a wander around town before we went to the cinema. We chose the Odeon partly because the tickets there are only £4.75 each. We watched Ready Player One which was much better than I was expecting! I normally fall asleep at the movies, so when I manage to stay awake then that’s high praise indeed! Another great Steven Spielberg film with lots of references to his other films to spot throughout!

We had a wonderful couple of days visiting a city I know well, but seeing it through different eyes. I managed to spend less than £50 too, which I was very pleased with! Hull has a lot to offer these days and there is still a whole load of places we could have visited if we’d had more time.

Anna x

Easter Sunday = Online Bargains!

If you’re looking to make a big-ish purchase sometime in the near future – my advice is to hold off for a few days – until Easter Sunday! Due to the UK trading laws, large stores aren’t allowed to trade on Easter Sunday, but they ARE allowed to trade online… so they tend to send out discounts, special offers and codes so that they don’t lose out on a day’s takings.

“Rules for large shops in England and Wales.

Shops over 280 square metres:

  • can open on Sundays but only for 6 consecutive hours between 10am and 6pm
  • must close on Easter Sunday
  • must close on Christmas Day”

My advice is to do all the research you need to on the lead up to Easter Sunday; decide what you want to buy, sign up for mailing lists for the online shops which sell the item/s you’re interested in and then wait for the discounts to come calling!

If you’re super, super, savvy check out Zeek for extra discounts too – I previously wrote a blog about this app which explains it all in more detail. If you use the code 2P64B9 you’ll get an extra £5 off, and I’ll get a discount on my next purchase too. There are loads of shops on Zeek so you may find this a great way to double up on your discount, whether you’re buying electronics, household items or stuff for the garden etc. Make sure any gift cards you buy via Zeek are online codes though… the point of this is so you can combine special Easter discounts and pay with your discounted gift card on Easter Sunday to double up on your savings.

I can remember a few years ago we needed to buy a new mattress – We’d been over to the local retail park and had decided which one we wanted to buy, but we had seen it in a couple of stores and I hadn’t yet worked out which one offered the best value for money when we factored in delivery costs etc. We went home and realised that the stores would be closed the following day, due to it being Easter. In the morning I went online to finish my research and soon realised that both stores were offering a one day 20% discount for Easter. When I also was able to use a discount code I already had, we managed to save around £200 and got free delivery! No small change, eh??!!

Let me know if you bag any amazing bargains!

Anna x

 

Slimboost Injections, Hull

I have recently had a couple of Slimboost injections at Chill, in Hull, and have seen such good results, I thought I’d write a blog about it. Everyone I’ve spoken to about it so far seems genuinely interested in it – and I thought you might be too.

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Slimboost Injections at Chill in Hull

I stumbled across this new business called Chill on Facebook and after doing some research online, I thought that I’d go for the Slimboost injection. I was a bit sceptical at first, I’m not going to lie, but I’m so pleased that I had it! I hadn’t seen this type of treatment available in a location near to me before, but I had seen them in America and I was vaguely aware of how they could help, so I felt open-minded enough to give it a go.

Genuinely – A couple of days after the injection I felt the best I had for years.

I have Coeliac Disease and I have been told by the doctors over the years that I tend to be low in vitamin B12, amongst other things. A consequence of this is that I have low energy levels, extreme tiredness, mouth ulcers and occasionally a very sore tongue. The Slimboost injection has high levels of vitamin B12, a mix of amino acids, fat burners and other vitamins which was specifically put together to help boost energy levels, speed metabolism – and for some people, it can even help you lose weight when it’s combined with a healthy diet and exercise plan. I didn’t take it to help me shift the lbs, so I can’t comment on this aspect as I’m not currently following this type of regime and it, therefore, wouldn’t be fair to comment. What I can tell you is how it helped me – I felt fab! I no longer had mouth ulcers and I had far more energy than normal…

I had previously been falling asleep on the sofa around 9pm and feeling very lethargic. After I’d had the jab, I was easily able to stay awake till around 10.30pm and when I did go to bed I was sleeping far more soundly. I realise that for most people this would be the norm, but for me, it was a revelation!

The injection itself is like a nurse giving you a flu jab. After filling out a brief medical form, the jab takes only a few seconds to administer. My arm felt a bit achy for a few hours afterwards, and I had a tiny bruise for a couple of days, but it really was no big deal. I felt no big changes for the first couple of days, but then I slowly realised how much better I was feeling. It lasted for around a month before I could feel that the tiredness was starting to creep in again – so I went back for another one! I think it’s the best £39 I can spend on myself. I plan on going back every month or so for more, and this is the best recommendation I can give, really…

Chill is based in the Warner’s Gym on Pickering Road in Hull. If you’re interested in one of their treatments – they have quite a range – check out their website or give them a call on (01482) 291 500.

Let me know if you give it a try! I’d love to hear what effects you noticed!

Anna x

 

 

 

 

Chili Cinema Subscription free movies

Chili Cinema has finally arrived in the UK! It’s an Italian company which launched in the UK in Aug ’17. It offers a new concept, which allows you to rent a movie at a reasonable price via credits, rather than subscription. There are tens of thousands of films and TV shows available to rent – you simply download the app and watch it on whichever device you want. What I really like about it is that there are many films on there which have only recently ended at the cinema, and you’re not committing yourself to more than one purchase at a time. There are no hidden costs, no monthly fees nor activation costs – Literally a pay and play system.

We are lucky that our local cinema is relatively cheap in comparison to the rest of the country, but even so, 3 tickets and snacks can easily set us back £20-£25 at a time. By using this new service, we can settle down in front of the TV at home with snacks and blankets on our laps, and it would cost us only a fraction of the price we’d have spent at the flicks. A great example to give is Dunkirk – you know, the recent Tom Hardy and Harry Styles blockbuster, is only £3.49 to rent.

 

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Chili Cinema

 

You can buy Chili Cinema credits and gift them too, so it’s a great way to introduce someone else to the service or even a cheap way to cheer up a friend who’s off work with a bug etc.

Right then – I’m off to watch the Emoji Movie with Henry – so you’ll have to excuse me… but if you’d like a free code to try out the service yourself, I’ve got 10 to give away to the first 10 people who comment on my blog!

Website: Chili Cinema 

FB: ChiliCinemaUK

Twitter: @ChiliCinemaUK

#ChiliCinema #nosubscription #liveyourmovie #ad #sponsored

Gift-wrapping

Are you fed up of wrapping up your Christmas presents yet? I know I am… but, did you know that in many shopping centres up and down the country – you can take your gifts to the customer service desk and let them do all the hard work for you!

My local shopping centre does it for a donation to charity – I simply leave the items there for a short while and when I return they’ve all been nicely wrapped with a tag on so I can write who they are for! Simple!

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I just wish I’d remembered this little nugget of information earlier on – I could have saved myself loads of time!

Of course, the idea is that you take things that you’ve bought in their shopping centre to be wrapped – however, if you’re making a donation to charity I’m sure they’d still be happy to wrap things bought elsewhere. Last year I took 18 things to be wrapped – I dropped them off in the morning, went to work, and then collected them on my way home making my charitable donation. They made a really good job of them too!

Anna x

Gluten-free​ Christmas goodies

It’s that time of year when Christmassy treats have hit the shelves, and gluten-free options are no exception. I’ve been gluten-free for 14 years now, and whilst the ranges have become a lot better over the years, there is still a long way to go in my opinion…

Having said that, Tesco & Marks & Spencer each have a great Christmas range, which is making big strides in improving the range of gluten-free items available. It’s mainly the larger stores which have the biggest range, but I have noticed more and more that even the smaller stores stock some items.

For me, M&S is the king of all gluten-free options. I can even eat their bread without the need to toast it – and that’s one of the biggest improvements there has been over the years. They do a lunchtime meal deal, and for the first time, they’ve recently added a couple of gluten-free sandwiches in the offer. Anyone who follows a gluten-free diet knows how expensive it can be, so to come across an offer like this is very welcome!

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Another big offering M&S have made this year was to change their “Dine In For Two – £10” offerings, making sure they have gluten-free options too! #happydays

So, now all retailers have to do to keep me happy is work on reducing the extortionate prices on gluten-free foods!

Anna x

My ‘Strictly’ Experience

It seems rather apt to post this blog today, since it’s the grand final of the current series of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on BBC One tomorrow (Sat 16th Dec 2017) night. I was lucky enough to get audience tickets when it was ‘Musicals’ week this series, so I thought I’d share my experience with you.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/strictly

Every year, I apply for tickets in the online ballot that the BBC runs on its Shows, Tours & Tickets page. I normally get an email as each week passes, telling me that I wasn’t successful this time – when on one occasion, the email I got actually had tickets attached! I was so excited! This year, they had around 5.5 million people applying for tickets – so it really was a money can’t buy experience.

A friend and I drove down to Elstree the night before because we knew that they oversubscribe the free tickets. We certainly didn’t want to drive all that way, and then be told that we couldn’t get in, so we planned to get there at 6am and queue. Actually, there was already quite a large queue when we arrived! We were 136 in line. The people at the very front had been there from 2am – hardy souls! In all honesty, it was really very cold and it felt like we had waited longer than we actually had.

Once our tickets had been validated, around 9.30am, we were then free to go until 3pm. When we had put our glad rags on and returned, we were let into a holding area, where we had our phones confiscated and our bags checked etc. After around an hour of waiting, we were finally allowed into the studio – it was just as glitzy and sparkly as I’d anticipated!

There is a warm-up man, who strikes a great balance between cracking jokes and giving interesting information about how the recording of the show will go. One of the best things was when I was one of 4 people picked out of the audience to sit at the judges’ desk – I pretended to be Darcey Bussell, whilst the others assumed the persona’s of Craig, Shirley and Bruno. We had to judge a poor 5th person plucked from the audience who was asked to do a funny dance in the middle of the dance floor. Sadly, because we’d had our phones taken from us at the entrance, I was unable to take any pictures – which was such a shame.

The show started with some pre-recorded dances, which was wonderful to see – there is so much going on! Whenever something went wrong or there was a technical issue, we were lucky enough to see them perform it again, giving us a chance to focus on another section of the stage. The pro dancers really are a cut above – So professional, and they really give it everything they’ve got on each and every take. Musicals week was spectacular! The costumes, props, hair and make-up really were special.

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Debbie and Giovanni (c) BBC One

When the show went live, it was seamless. The production team have clearly got it down to a fine art. At the end of the show, there is a pause whilst they wait for the telephone results to come in – and then they recorded the Sunday night programme.

It was great to be able to see all of the behind the scenes action – there are so many crew members running around!

If you’re a fan of the show, I’d certainly recommend that you apply for tickets – You never know, you might be lucky with them one day!

So, who you do think will win the famous glitterball this weekend? Personally, I’m torn between Alexandra and Debbie…

Anna x

Food shopping expenses

I’ve recently been keeping close tabs on my expenses, and one rather shocking outcome has been just how much money I’ve been spending on food for the family – In all honesty, it’s been a real wake-up call, and so I’ve been making this October half-term a bit of a personal challenge to get back into some food shopping habits which will save me some dosh! I clearly had slipped into some bad habits, so I thought I’d share a few tips which may help you save some money too…
Buy frozen
I think that frozen fruits & veg are totally underrated! They normally come pre-chopped and ready to use, which is a great time saver. The fact is that frozen vegetables are just as good for you because they are picked at their peak and frozen, which retains nutrients. It’s often far cheaper than buying fresh, and I like that I can use just what I need and put the rest back into the freezer. My favourite is to make a smoothie with frozen fruit and mix it with some milk – it’s super quick to do, healthy and a far cheaper alternative than buying bottled smoothies.
Planning
I’m writing a meal plan for the week – this enables me to use up what we’ve already got in the fridge, freezer and cupboards and write a shopping list for the things I need to complete the dishes. Of course, by doing this, it means that cupboard staples get used, rather than sitting there for months on end, and items in the freezer also get taken out and defrosted in plenty of time to be used.
I’ve been using my slow cooker a lot more too – it’s great to throw everything in and leave it cooking whilst we’re out of the house, and coming home to a lovely smelling meal is very welcoming on these cold, dark nights!
I’m loathed to admit it, but I had been known to throw away rather a lot of out of date items due to just not getting round to using them in time. I read somewhere that the average family in the UK throw away £60 of perfectly good food EACH MONTH!! Now, I certainly don’t fall into that category, but any waste like that can be avoided and that’s what I aim to do. I plan to do this by purchasing items I intend to use, and by freezing things that don’t get used before they go off – including things I wouldn’t have normally have frozen like vegetables, milk, cheese, fruit etc.
I’ve also been cooking bigger portions so that we can eat the excess the following day. It saves time and works out cheaper too. A great example of this was the spaghetti bolognaise I made this week. I bought a larger pack of mince than I would have normally done and filled it with loads of vegetables – It made 6 generous portions for us which covered my family of 3 for two days and worked out at around £1.60 a portion.
The biggest saving for us will be when I’ve planned a meal, it means I’ll be far less likely to pick up the phone and dial a takeaway. I’m embarrassed to admit, but we had fallen into the pattern of having this type of food twice a week or so and easily spending up to £50 in doing so.
Cutting down on ‘luxuries’
I’ll admit, we like to snack – a lot! I would have normally bought a lot of cans of pop, crisps, snack bars, biscuits etc. Whilst I try to keep to the low cal, low-fat options, I can’t get away from the fact that they aren’t actually necessary purchases. I have been drinking more water and adding a bit of squash in, instead of opening a tin, because this is far, far cheaper and better for us. Fruit as a snack is healthier and just as quick to eat – so we’ll all be doing this more too!
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Healthy snacks!
Bargains
I’m often found in the supermarket in the evening hoping to find some items which have been reduced – I particularly like to find packaged meat so that I can freeze it and use it another day. There is nothing wrong with it at all – it’s just that the shop needs to sell it due to the sell by date on the packaging. It’s great because it saves quite a lot money, and often they can be frozen for months.
Beware of ‘Special Offers’
I was in Tesco yesterday – I had picked up a pack of KitKats which were on offer for 99p. As I rounded the corner, I was presented with a display which was 2 packs of KitKats and a ‘free’ mug for £3 all packaged up. I must admit, it was an attractive enough display for me to pay attention to it – but I soon realised it wasn’t a free mug at all! The KitKats themselves were only worth £1.98 so in fact, I’d have been paying £1.02 for the mug, had I have bought it. I decided I wasn’t going to buy it – but it made me smile that I had been canny enough to notice the promotion, and I wondered how many others would have done.
Have you got any tips for me? I’d be happy to hear them! Feel free to comment below!
Anna x

Cash Point(s)

Within my circle of friends and family, I’m quite well known for being able to save some money when making purchases, and finding a bargain or two, so here are a few of my tips… I hope it may save you a few bob too!

I’ve been using an app called “Money Lover” which is basically a way of keeping tabs on your expenses. I’ve knowingly overspent in the past few months, due to special occasions which deserved a bit of extra money throwing at them, but now it’s time to claw it all back and get back on track with my finances! It’s a free app which allows you to put in how much you’ve spent (and where) so that you can assess what you’re really spending on and therefore what wasn’t actually necessary and where you can cut back. *Note to self – park in the other car park, it saves you £1 a day*.

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(c) Money Lover app

Do you really need it? This is an obvious, but mandatory, question to ask yourself – Are you actually just buying it because it’s in the sale, or it’s an impulse buy? Take a few seconds to really think about it before you take it to the till. Certainly, if it’s an expensive purchase, take even longer to think about it. Once you’ve left the shop, often the urge dissipates! If after a day or so you’re still thinking about it, then reconsider, and have a look around to see if you can find it on offer.
Do you really need it now? Very often you can find the exact same item online a lot cheaper. If you’re prepared to wait a day or two for delivery, or can click and collect, you can really save some big money. If you haven’t already seen it, check out a previous blog post I wrote about Zeek which is where you can buy gift cards at a discount and save even more. Who doesn’t love a double discount!

I have loads of money-saving tips for household bills, which I’ll pop onto another blog one day, but in the meantime check out the Home Energy Check website which can help you to find out how you can get lower energy bills.

We also have a loose change bottle at home, which we collectively put our coins in at the end of the day. It saves us carrying shrapnel around with us, but actually, it starts to add up! Whenever the bottle is getting full, I’ll tip it all out and pay it straight in at the bank – our local branch has a coin sorter so I don’t even need to spend the time counting it or putting them into bags.

That’ll do for now, but I’ll write up some more money saving tips for you soon. Let me know if you save yourself some money! I’ll always be interested to know what bargains you got!

Anna x

 

 

 

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