What Saving for a Mortgage Has Taught Me So Far

Image credit -  Christoper Harris on Unsplash

I have always been one of those 'live for the moment' kind of people who has never given too much thought into the future and impulsively spends like the shops are all going to suddenly close tomorrow.  Looking for a mortgage was the last thing on my mind this time a few months ago, but overnight everything changed. 

My landlord came over to fix our faulty boiler and suddenly blurted out:"I'm thinking of selling this house." My husband and I have been happily living in our rented house for nearly five years and naively never thought about what would happen if our landlord tried to sell. This house we are living in is far from perfect, but we have made it our home. In those few moments while we talked hypothetically about the house being sold it felt like my security blanket had been whipped away from me and like gravity had pulled me straight down to earth with a thud. If my mind wasn't in overdrive enough, my landlord then said asked us how we would feel about buying the house as he isn't looking to sell it until the mortgage finishes which is in just over a year. It was the first time I had ever thought about owning a house - in my own little dream world I was thinking that somehow I would go travelling and ending up renting somewhere on a beach and drinking cocktails all day, which in reality would probably never happen. 

Once he had left, my husband and I had serious talks, going around in circles and thinking about every possible outcome before finally deciding, let's do this. We're not getting any younger and being sprung into that situation has made us realise that we want stability - we can travel the world, but it would be nice to have somewhere to call home to come back to. Topping up our savings enough for a house deposit in one year is going to be difficult, but the reality shock we had a few months ago has given us the drive we finally needed to get something in place. In the few months I have been saving, here's what I have learnt so far:

Quitting shopping isn't actually that hard

I admit, I've always been a shopaholic and at one point I couldn't go a week without buying new clothes, sometimes spending up to £100 or more within a 7 day period. I was living way beyond my means and I had more clothes than I needed - many of which until recently were still in my wardrobe with tags on, but thanks to eBay I have managed to recoup some of the money back. At first it was hard to curb my clothes spending, but after awhile I realised that once you get yourself into the mindset that you don't actually need surplus items, you can very easily stop with a little bit of willpower. Stopping buying new clothes and makeup has made me look deeper into my wardrobe and wear things that I have been neglecting for no reason and my beauty products are going down rather than being hoarded in the corner of my bedroom, much to my husbands delight.

Looking for bargains can be fun

Since cutting down on spending, I have actually realised that looking for bargains can be fun. I used to always pay full price and never shop around, but now that money is tighter I'm spending a lot more time researching things on the internet, going into charity shops and using shopping apps to save me money. I now get a thrill of finding something at less than 50% RRP or going into a charity shop and coming away with a designer label jumper for a fraction of the price. I have also hit eBay quite hard and bought a beautiful 1970s tea dress for £3.50.

It's fun taking on new side hustles

To help my husband and I get nearer our deposit target, I've been spending a lot of time trying to think of more ways to make more money on the side and I'm really enjoying my new side hustles. I'm already registered as self employed for my blog, so I'm now in the process of opening up my own eBay store as well as taking on more freelance writing. I have also spent time filling in surveys, and signing up to mystery shopping and dining websites.

Friends will understand if you need to save

I always suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and I hate saying no to my friends or colleagues when it comes to going out for meals, but when I have told them that I am saving up for a mortgage they have been really understanding. Just be honest with your friends and if you can't afford a meal, think of other creative ways to spend time with them whether it is going for a walk or inviting them around for a home cooked meal which would be a lot cheaper than dining out.

Watching your savings going up is a good feeling

I always enjoyed spending money much more than saving, but seeing my savings account looking healthier day by day is a rewarding feeling. It's great to see all my hard work pay off and see the cash in the bank rather than in my wardrobe. 

Have you ever saved for a mortgage?

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Dinner at Hudsons at The Grand Hotel York

As a vegetarian I love trying to find new places to eat, especially restaurants for special occasions where I can order something a little bit more extravagant than the standard mushroom risotto or vegetarian lasagna. A la Carte menus in the past haven't been known to spend much effort on their vegetarian courses, but recently I've noticed a lot more chefs being more experimental with the herbivore offering. I believe it takes a culinary master to bring a heightened foodie experience to a fresh bowl of vegetables and very little chefs do them justice as they are usually an after thought. However, this was not the case when I was invited to review the Hudsons restaurant at the Grand Hotel York a few days ago. Every part of their vegetarian menu complemented each other and I was presented with new flavour combinations that tickled my tastebuds. For a vegetarian, this is a rarity - after all, there's only so much you can do a bowl of vegetables. To say that I was impressed is an understatement.

Hudson's is a three AA Rosette restaurant situated in The Grand Hotel, York. The kitchen is led by head chef Craig Atchinson who has 12 years experience working throughout the UK with some of the country's top chefs. The restaurant is quite small with only one room and a handful of tables, the decorations are minimal and the lighting is dimly lit to give the illusion of intimacy. Hudson's focus is all about the food and the service - not show-stopping interiors and it does both exceedingly well.

The menu at Hudsons is primarily British and pays homage to some of fruit, vegetables and herbs that are grown locally. Unfortunately there's only one vegetarian course on the menu and if you didn't like cheese it would be troublesome, but I let that slide and ordered the Winter vegetables to start and the Barbecued Jerusalem Artichoke for main course. My husband who is not vegetarian ordered Duke of York potatoes followed by the North Atlantic Stone Bass. While the chef prepared our starter, the waitress brought out some bread rolls to help whet our appetite. These bread rolls had a baked salt crust and tasted mouth wateringly good (we could have eaten several of these with little hesitation), it was a great sign of things to come. Timed to perfection, as soon as we had finished the last bite of our bread rolls, the starters arrived. My 'Winter Vegetable' dish which was a medley Goat’s crabley, preserved roots and woodland mushrooms looked like a piece of art, I could hardly bring myself to eat it. It took me a good few minutes of looking at the dish in awe to finally delve in. Once I did tuck in, I was really impressed. The dish had an abundance of textures and while the ingredients were simple, it tasted rather complex with lots of different things going on as I worked my through it. 

Once I had finished my starter, I couldn't wait to see what the main course. After another top up of wine, my Barbecued Jerusalem artichokes arrived. At first I was a little bit disheartened with how it looked - the first dish I had was out of this world, while this looked like a pile of spinach leaves, however what it lacked in presentation, it definitely made up with taste. This dish ticked all the boxes I look for when I go out for a meal - it was light, full of flavour and it was made up of some of my favourite ingredients which are mushrooms, leeks and spinach. The barbecuing of the artichoke added another dimension of flavour to this dish and the sheep curd added a soft backdrop to all the other textures of vegetables. I would happily eat this dish again - in fact, I'd love to have the recipe.

Last, but definitely not least was the desserts. My mind was split into two over ordering the light Poached Yorkshire Rhubarb or the rich and indulgent option of the Michel Cluizel 72% chocolate. In the end I ordered the first option and my husband ordered the second, giving us both the chance to sample each dish. My rhubarb dessert was a combination of Buttermilk custard, elderflower and toasted oats, while my husbands dish was made up of Mascarpone, coffee caramel and crisp chocolate mousse made with 72% chocolate. Both dishes were presented beautifully and tasted exceptional, it was a great end to a remarkable meal.

Overall my experience at Hudsons at The Grand Hotel was pleasant and it went above and beyond my expectations.  There's very little I could fault with this meal, both service and food were great and I had a wonderful time. Altogether the meal would have come to £84 minus drinks, which I understand is a little bit steep for some pockets, but this restaurant is somewhere you would come for a more special occasion and with the level of service that we received that night and saw other diners receiving, I do think it is worth it. It is also worth noting that if you have a gourmet society card you can get 25% off your meal Sunday-Thursday evenings.

Have you dined at Hudsons?

*This meal was complimentary in exchange for this review. All views are my own.

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What I have Learnt From Six Years of Blogging

Photo source: Unsplash

This week marks my sixth year of blogging. Six whole years of uploading content on a weekly basis, thinking of new ideas, maintaining my social channels and heading to events and I wouldn't change a thing. I still love blogging as much, if not more than the day I started even though the industry has rapidly changed over those years. I never used to stick at things when I was younger - I started ballet and gave up within a few weeks,  had guitar lessons for a year and then got bored and attempted Italian lessons for a month. Blogging is the first thing in my life that I took an interest to and never gave up and I don't intend on giving it up anytime soon.

When I first started blogging it wasn't as mainstream as it is today. I would tell people that I was a blogger and they had no understanding of what a blogger actually is. These days blogging is all over the magazines and the TV.  For those looking to start a blog, blogging can be a minefield to get into and it can be quite confusing. Today I thought I would share with you a few things that I have learnt during my six years.

Quality over quantity

As a newbie blogger it is easy to get carried away with writing lots of posts and not focusing on the quality of what is being written. There's a rush to get content out so you look established. I've found through my professional career in PR and through blogging that quality is always better than quantity and it is better to have three engaging posts a week rather than seven which are poorly written and do not inspire the reader.

It's okay not to immediately have a niche

Sometimes you have to dip your hands into several pots to discover what is right for you and it is the same with blogging. Over the last six years I have experimented with my writing styles and delved into many different topics before I found where my passion lies, which is travel and lifestyle.

It's okay to have a break

Unless you rely solely on blogging for your income, it's okay to have a little break once in awhile. Having a break can help you think about content ideas without rushing into them and can give you the energy boost that you need to write quality posts. I used to panic about having a week off blogging, but now I see it as a chance to think about the direction of my blog without needing to immediately having to write my thoughts down.

Don't compare yourself to others

I used to spend hours reading other peoples blogs and comparing myself to them and instead of feeling inspired, it made me feel pretty awful. Bloggers need to remember that we are all unique, we all have different interests and we need to remember that our blog isn't rubbish because it looks different or sounds different, it is just that we have a slightly different take on life to the other blogger.  

Love what you do

Finally, love what you do. I wouldn't have lasted six years if I didn't love writing. It takes up a large part of my life, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Blogging has enabled me to experience so many different things that I wouldn't have had the opportunity do otherwise and I'm really grateful.

What have you learnt from blogging?

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How to Style Vintage Clothing

My favourite memories growing up were raiding my grandmas wardrobe. She had impeccable fashion taste and dressed everyday as though she was going to the theatre. She rarely left the house without her faux fur jacket and pearl earrings and her dresses always looked tailored. As a child, I would spend hours looking through the rails and donning myself with all her costume jewellery.  It was those precious memories combined with my parents listening to non-stop 60s music that made me fall in love with vintage clothing. I love how clothes were much more vibrant fifty years ago, they had a lot of personality and these days these outfits hold memories that we can only dream about it.

I own quite a few pieces of vintage clothing, but it's not that obvious that I do. I style them very well so that they look rather modern and can still fit in with today's trends. I'm also very selective about the items I do buy as I'm working on building a capsule wardrobe that can stand the test of time and not get outdated really quickly. There's nothing worse than sending a piece of vintage clothing back to the depths of the wardrobe - these clothes should be celebrated. If you have pondered over buying vintage and have no idea where to start, I thought I would put together my own little guide below on how to incorporate vintage clothing into your wardrobe without looking drab and dowdy.

Less is more

When it comes to vintage clothing, less is definitely more. Purchase clothes that give a nod to the past without being blatantly obvious. There's a lot of trends that have developed from previous fashion lines, but there's also one or two fashion faux pas that could do with being stuck in the past. If you're just starting out with vintage, don't leap straight into the shoulder pads and frills.

Opt for timeless pieces

These days we live in such a throwaway culture where clothes are readily available on the high street and can easily be replaced once we get bored.  In the past clothes were made to last as people didn't have as much disposable income, therefore many of the designs are rather classic and timeless. To keep your wardrobe stylish, but not have it bursting at the seams, invest in key pieces from the decades that you know fashion will always copy. For example, the 80s peplum which keeps coming back into fashion and the 40s utility dress which is always popular in the autumn months.

Mix old with new

If you're not quite ready to leap straight into another decade,  try mixing vintage pieces with brand new pieces from the high street. Consider buying vintage jackets that would look good with jeans and some ankle boots or adopt for a patterned shirt that can be tucked into a high waisted skirt.

Style with designer accessorises

To add a bit more luxe to your new outfit, style your vintage finds with designer accessorises.  If I'm wearing vintage I always accessorise with a statement watch, handbag or necklace and if you're feeling brave, try adding some statement earrings. Websites such as Xupes specialise in preloved designer items, you can purse anything from pre owned Rolex to second hand vintage watches. They also sell a large variety of pre loved handbags and jewellery.

Do you own any vintage clothing?

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Discovering Brighton

Brighton has always been on my UK bucket list and although I would have preferred to go in the summer when I could eat ice-cream on the beach and dip my toes in the sea while the sun is shining, I finally got to visit last week due to unforeseen circumstances. It was a 10 hour combined journey travelling just over 5 hours each way, but it was worth it to walk along the pebbled beach and breathe in the sea air. Brighton looked slightly abandoned in the winter, like the city has lost a bit of it's spark, but the buildings, the shops and the wonderful street art still retained some of its charm.

For those who are unfamiliar with the city, Brighton is a seaside resort on the south coast of England and it is just an hour away from London by train making it extremely popular with tourists during the summer. It is known as one of the foodie cities in Britain and has many accolades such as being dubbed 'Vegetarian Capital of the UK'.  Brighton also has a lot of history dating back to the bronze age and the famous Brighton Pier is over 100 years old. One of my favourite buildings in Brighton is the Royal Pavilion pictured above, which is nicknamed the English Taj Mahal for its Indian inspired architecture.

We only had a few hours in Brighton so our visit was rather brief. To begin with we headed straight to the sea front for a walk on the beach and then worked our way inwards towards to Royal Pavilion and shopping areas. What impressed me about Brighton was its diverse collection of shops, it had pretty much everything from high-end to high-street. If you love vintage and antique stores and browsing independent boutiques, you must head to the Lanes. There's one of many wonderful 1940s inspired vintage cafes called 'That Little Tea Shop' where you can grab a decent sized scone and a lovely cup of tea for an affordable price.

Brighton is definitely a city I want to explore more and hopefully I will be able to return during the summer. For those looking for somewhere with character that has all the traditional aspects of a British seaside resort, yet caters for the modern city goer who goes out of the way for a weekend of shopping, then look no further.

Have you been to Brighton before?
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