Did you cope? Or, was it like the Truman show when the producer shut off the live feed? We've had a really busy couple of days. I've been cutting and slicing through a whole pile of donated shirts; I've also been making charm squares out of the most luxurious donated fabric.
I've mainly been preparing for a trip away. You might be intrigued as to why I am packing my home up. We're off to a rented mobile home in Brittany. Firstly, we go at half term as it is only £200 for the caravan for the week, in the school summer holiday it would cost £548 - so we go for a cheap week. British holiday firms such as Eurocamp or Keycamp, will charge as much for the summer half term as for the summer holiday. We save money again, by booking direct with a French family run campsite. If you email me direct, I can give you Internet links to the area. Sorry, I won't tell you much about the campsite as I don't want it over run with Brits.
We are paying a bit extra to extend our holiday by having overnight accommodation on the ferry, but it can be much cheaper if you travel on day crossings and travel on a Sunday. You can save money on the ferry by taking a picnic to eat on the ferry and most families with children seem to do that. As we travel at night, we don't eat anything on the ferry. We'll get a coffee and croissant each in the morning and that will do. I've seen families with children, feeding them with cereals and milk they've brought themselves and the ferry company don't mind at all. They make their money out of the ticket prices.
We'll have a four hour journey after the ferry, that we break up with frequent stops. If I see an old church of pretty town, then we'll stop and go for a walk. We'll detour in the middle of the day to the 'Zone d'activite' or shopping area and find some enormous hyper market and they usually have very reasonably priced restaurants and we'll eat the 'menu formule' which is something similar to the 'deal of the day' and eat really well (salad, bread, main course, dessert, drink) for about twelve euros each. We usually do the same on the way back.
I also save money by taking everything I need with me. You can hire towels, bedding etc, but we take it all with us. We even take our own folding camp chairs to sit on the beach and don't hire a chair! We really, really love French food, but we're on a tight budget so we take the basics with us. We take coffee filters, tea bags, toiletries, basics such as pasta or cous cous. No need to buy what we have in our own cupboards.
We do go out ever day, whilst in the UK if we did this, we'd take a flask and a snack, we don't do that there. We cook all of our meals ourselves, except for travel days when we buy food. We do go out each day and have a coffee, or an ice cream, however, restaurants are not in our budget.
We take a comprehensive pack of first aid items and basic meds. The box is the one from home and the zip lock bag is for travelling. We didn't in the past and the basics that we can buy for pennies or under £1 such as plasters or bandages, cost quite a lot and the supermarkets in the holiday resorts can be smaller and not stock everything you might need. The generic version of imodium is 99p here and paracetamol is 16p, so taking what you have at home can save a lot of money. I keep all of this in a plastic tub and just take it with me. Oh, the soap and flannel is for the ferry as the cabin has soap the size of a ladybird.Also, they only provide one towel! So take one of those onto the ferry too! Poor DB, had the damp towel after I finished with it last time!
We take all our entertainment with us. I've been stock piling books, some donated by friends and others are swaps from colleagues. We also take our lap top, some speakers and some DVDs - the weather can be similar to the UK and a couple of film nights can be quite cosy in a caravan. I take knitting, a puzzle book and we'll have wi-fi. We take binoculars for bird watching, hiking boots, our bikes for days out and as I mentioned earlier, our deck chairs for the beach. If you've not holidayed like this before, take entertainment for the ferry queues. You'll also need something small to drink or eat as you have to wait until you're on the ship to buy anything.
Border control are rightly vigilant and it can take two hours from the arrival at the ferry port to getting onto ship. Disembarkation is quicker as you've already been checked. I knit in the car and I'll have a book. I've noticed the seasoned travellers with children have a DVD player in the car, games, food, can change a nappy on the bonnet of the car and can keep their children happily occupied. If you think I'm taking a lot? I've seen families take their own sail boats, go carts, obviously their own caravan or tents, kayaks and cars will have a succession of bikes strapped to the back including the trike for the toddler. Generations of frugal savvy travellers have been taking everything they need.
Finally, most public loos, supermarket loos, cafe loos, petrol station loos don't provide tissue, or hand washing soap and they are basic to say the least (unmentionable on every surface if you're unfortunate) so take wet wipes for your hands, bum wipes and lots of loo paper. It's quite OK to walk about a French campsite with a newspaper under one arm, a bog roll under the other, cheerily wishing people good day with all and sundry knowing you're off for a poo! It's also normal, where ever you go, to have a bundle of loo roll in your pocket for when you need it. It's also quite OK to see a wee child sat on a potty outside a tent! or rows of children on potties if they're Dutch! They have huge lovely families.
I'll be letting you know more about my frugal holiday preparations as the week goes on. Laurent le lapin, our French resident, is getting quite excited after I told him that he was going home for a week!
Come back tomorrow for the results of the give away draw and it'll be posted straight away and with someone within a few days, so look at Friday's blog and leave a comment there, make sure you're following and good luck to who ever enters.