Staycation Day Five – more birdlife

Today we went to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Just as we arrived the heavens opened and so we thought that we would be dodging the showers, but that was the last of the rain and we actually had some sunny spells. As we are members entrance was free. Unfortunately we don’t go that often so I’m not sure if membership does actually save us money.

We spent money on lunch in the café. After yesterday’s experience I just had a jacket potato. It came to just under £20 between us, which included a cake for Mr Simple. If we really wanted to be frugal we could of course have taken our own sandwiches, which we usually would have done if we weren’t on a staycation with an allowance for the week.

The great thing about today was the wildlife we saw, which included cranes, water rail and two kingfishers. We sat for over half an hour waiting for the kingfishers to appear. The reserve has created a bank which is perfect for kingfishers to nest in. They have been regular visitors recently, but we thought that we were going to be out of luck and Mr Simple was getting restless. At 2.15pm I persuaded to wait fifteen more minutes and then we were going to call it a day, but at 2.25pm a pair turned up and took it in turns to dig out their burrow. We had fantastic views, even with the naked eye. I am sure for some of you this all sounds very boring, but I believe that some of the best free activities involve enjoying the world around us and they are they can form the basis of a fabulous staycation.

Back home it was pizza and salad and then the rest of the apple and blackberry crumble and a bit of TV.

Staycation Day Four – twelve miles, local history and a plucky pony

We walked over twelve miles yesterday and that is my excuse for not having written this last night. Initially the plan was to do a walk in the national park, but as the weather was overcast we decided to stick to something local.

We walked from the village where we live to a small market town about five kilometres north. We then treated ourselves to lunch in a café, although it was somewhat disappointing, particularly as I could only manage about half of it. I think now that we don’t eat out very much I have forgotten how large portion sizes can be. I ordered a halloumi wrap with chips and after eating one half of the wrap and a few chips I was feeling rather full. I nibbled a bit of the second half of the wrap and a few more chips, but in the end had to admit defeat – such a waste. Mr Simple also struggled to finish his burger and chips. We managed to spend nearly £30 and must have left at least £10 on the plate. I realised how easily one is parted with one’s hard-earned cash when you eat out. The mistake was maybe choosing a café that we haven’t eaten at before and therefore we didn’t know the amount of food that we would get. If we went there again I think we could have one wrap/burger and chips between the two of us.

Excited to see us and rewarded with an apple

I think at this point Mr Simple would have chosen just to walk back home, but we have never explored the area north of the market town and I was eager to do so. I think that he was glad that he agreed as we discovered a manor house, a small castle (unfortunately both privately owned so we couldn’t go in) and also encountered this plucky pony. He tore across the field, past all his friends, in the hope that we may have some food. Fortunately Mr Simple had a couple of apples in his bag and so his enthusiasm was rewarded.

So that was it really. A very long walk, some local history and then we flopped on the sofa and watched a film, eating homemade curry and then apple and blackberry crumble – berries picked from the local hedgerows last autumn and kept in the freezer.

Staycation Day Three – culture and lunch

A morning at the museum

Finally got around to spending some money today. The weather was absolutely horrendous this morning. We caught the train again today, but this time we went all the way into the city. It was then a rather wet and windswept walk up to the museum. Like many museums entrance is free. There was a temporary exhibition which one had to pay to view, but we just stuck to the free stuff, which was art and natural history. Half way through Mr Simple suggested a coffee and cake, so we indulged.

The rain had eased slightly once we left the museum and walked over to a small Italian restaurant which we have eaten at on a couple of occasions. We had a lovely lunch – two courses for me, three courses for Mr Simple and a glass of wine each.

Back home we stretched our legs around town with a quick walk and then it was home for a cup of tea in front of a Skandi thriller for an hour. Tomorrow the weather is better and so we plan to go walking again.

Spending: Train £12.40, Coffee and cake £9.00, Lunch £48.60

Staycation – Day Two – hidden delights and unexpected feathered friends

Today definitely felt more like being on holiday. As I said yesterday we walked down to the railway station and caught the train one stop along the line and took a circuitous route back to the house through some surprisingly delightful countryside. We have only lived in this area for just over three years and although we used to visit before we moved here, there are still many corners that we have never visited. When driving we tend to avoid the narrow lanes and stick to the main roads, so a walk is a chance to discover those hidden corners.

Elevenses stop

We were lucky with the weather as it was better than predicted. We managed to find a sunny bank for elevenses and had our coffee looking over this lovely field. Surprisingly there is a main road at the top of the ridge behind the hedge.

Lunch was a sandwich taken on a bench in a sunny churchyard. As it was sheltered it was surprisingly warm. After lunch we crossed a wide flat-bottomed valley which was flooded in places and there were geese and swans grazing. Then Mr Simple spotted something else through the binoculars, which at first he thought was a heron, but it was too big for that, and turned out to be a crane. It must have come across from Slimbridge or the Somerset levels. A real treat to see – if you’re a birdwatcher that is.

An unexpected sighting

Unfortunately the weather closed in as we got close to home, but we rewarded ourselves with a cup of tea and the rest of that lemon drizzle cake once we got back!

Total spent: £1.45 each for the train fare.

Staycation Day One – armchair shopping and a windswept walk

Technically it is day two, as if we were going on holiday we would go on a Saturday. That day would mainly be taken up with travelling and shopping for groceries. Recently I have given up shopping en route and we have left with the car full of food, including the cool box and stopped on the way for a leisurely lunch.

The great thing about a staycation is that you don’t have to travel anywhere and so can spend each day of your holiday enjoying yourself. Unfortunately yesterday was a wash out in terms of the weather so we defaulted to our usual routine of chores and DIY.

The weather forecast for today looked much better – sunny spells, but during breakfast we had sideways rain. In light of this Mr Simple decided that he wanted to go out and look for an armchair for his study, so that is what we spent the first morning of our ‘holiday’ doing. Part way through browsing in the first shop I was rather glad that I didn’t persuade him to go for a walk when I saw the hail coming down outside.  

After a frugal lunch back home whilst watching Ronnie O’Sullivan clear the table several times (snooker for those of you who aren’t a fan), I managed to drag Mr Simple out for a short walk for a couple of hours. It was still blowing a gale, but the sun came out and it kept dry. There’s a lovely area of woodland a few miles from here which has wild daffodils – smaller and more delicate than the usual garden variety. It was then back home for dinner and more snooker.

Despite looking forward to some meals out this week, something which only happens occasionally since we started cutting back, we may not feel like taking advantage of the permission that we have given ourselves to indulge. Unfortunately we have both been struck by a strange stomach bug which has lingered for over a week, reducing our appetites. It hardly seems worth spending our hard-earned cash on a good meal when we aren’t that hungry. Hopefully we’ll start feeling better as the week goes on. The only treats so far have been a slice each of a lemon drizzle cake that I bought for £2 from the Coop yesterday – last of the big spenders!

Tomorrow the weather forecast is better, so we plan to take the train one stop and then walk back through the villages. I’ll let you know how we get on.  

Staycation budget spent so far: £0 or £2 if you count the cake, but that will probably come out of the food budget.