Thursday, 27 February 2014

Weekly Round-up

It's been a crazy couple of weeks so this week's post is a quick round-up of what's been going on in my world recently. We've had a two week break from normal proceedings due to half term and then an extra week off from school so ongoing building work can be completed. But at least the weather has (kind of) improved. In between dodging showers, trying to fit in the odd bit of freelance work and keeping the kids entertained, here's what else been happening chez Bristol Bargainista.

1. Having a nose around Old Trafford

Got a Man U supporter in your household? Then I wholeheartedly recommend an official tour of Old Trafford. They might not be doing so well right now, but steadfast, loyal fans will love the opportunity to get close to the hallowed grounds of the 'Theatre of Dreams'. We bought our eldest son a ticket for his 10th birthday and decided to make a family day out of it. I have to say, I did actually enjoy it; our two boys LOVED it. You're escorted by a friendly, informative guide and you get to see the pitch, the stands, the press room, VIP areas, players lounges and - the highlight for our two - the changing rooms, complete with players shirts. You can also take a look at the museum and trophy room, stacked with memorabilia young footy fans will be fascinated by. 

A family ticket for the tour and museum costs a relatively reasonable £54, a justifiable expense for a special birthday and the opportunity to park your bum on the very same seats as the likes of Becks and Giggs (a highlight for me!)You can find out more here.

2. Discovering new free museums

We tagged an extra day on to our visit to Old Trafford to visit family and took the boys to Manchester's excellent Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), located in the centre of town in the Castlefield area. It's free to visit and there's loads to do for all ages, including a hands-on science area where kids can get to grips with basic scientific principles through fun experiments and activities. Over the road is a more traditional exhibition hall stuffed with the aeroplanes, fighter jets, vintage cars and other retro vehicles including a Sinclair C5. There's also a steam hall filled with pistons, trains and engines. For those of you who live in Bristol it's like At-Bristol. But bigger(perhaps better), and free. 

Find out more about MOSI here

3. Loving Twitter competitions

Before I discovered Twitter I had won precisely two things in my life - a Swatch Watch when I was about 10 and a Philadelphia Cheese cookbook. While the watch was pretty cool at the time, and I have actually used the cookbook quite a lot (who knew you could do so much with cream cheese?) I have entered quite a few competitions over the years and never won a thing. Then, within a few weeks, and thanks to Twitter, I have won a posh afternoon tea for two and a gorgeous necklace. Free nice stuff is just so lovely! Here's a pic of the gorgeous initial necklace I won courtesy of blogger Anneli Willis of What I Bought Today.

4. Enjoying the great outdoors in Devon

I picked up an unbelievably cheap deal on Secret Escapes a few weeks back so we made the most of our extended half-term holiday with a long weekend at the Woodford Bridge Country Club in Holsworthy, Devon. I'll be blogging in more detail about our trip soon, but if you're not familiar with Secret Escapes it's well worth a look. While most offers have couples rather than families in mind, there are frequent deals for family-friendly breaks, both in the UK and abroad. You might find a cottage in the Cotswolds, for example, or a holiday apartment in Cornwall, or if you're travelling without little ones in tow there are some amazing deals on luxury country houses and stylish city hotels. I stayed at the Apex Hotel on Fleet Street a couple of years back through Secret Escapes, enjoying a taste of 5-star luxury for the fraction of the normal room rate. Our trip to Woodford Bridge, where we stayed in a very nice self-catering apartment, cost just £68 for four for two nights. 

You need to register with Secret Escapes to access the full website - take a look here.

5. Continuing on the health kick

By making cakes with sugar substitute Xylitol, a 100% natural sugar substitute made from birch wood. It can be used in exactly the same way as sugar but has 40% less calories than sugar and is low GI. It's not prohibitively expensive and is available from Holland & Barrett. I've also converted the whole family to chia seeds and am liberally sprinkling them on all sorts of things, from pancakes to yoghurt. The kids are (surprisingly) happy to eat them and they deliver a good dose of Omega 3 and fibre.

6. Swapping heavy winter boots for something a little more spring like

I feel like I've been wearing my Gap biker boots forever. While they were an amazing buy - I bought them in the sale last year and they've seen me through two harsh winters - they've seen better days and I'm just a bit bored of them. I was in the market for a 'transitional' shoe to see me through the last dregs of winter and into Spring when I stumbled on these beauties from New Look. Made from what feels like good quality suede, they feel and look a lot more expensive than they are. And I'm enjoying stepping away from black into something that feels just a bit more spring like and not the sort of thing I'd usually wear. These boots are currently in the sale for just £30 - bargain.

You can buy these boots online here.



  1. I'll definitely be trying that Xylitol. And those boots are really cute! #thriftythursday

    1. Hi Californian Mum in London! Thanks for your comment. Yes, do give the Xylitol a try - it's fab in cakes but so much healthier than processed sugar! The boots are great - really comfy, a bit different (but not too different!) and very well made for the price.

  2. I have never won anything, ever really, until I started entering blog giveaways! In a year I have won a book, and two lots of fabric. It's great:) #thriftythursday

    1. Well done you! Always nice to win something unexpected!

  3. Those Chelsea boots are just gorgeous!!! I will have to look into the sugar substitute, OH does insist on putting it on his cereal. #thriftythursday

    1. The sugar substitute is great and particularly useful if you can't quite shrug off your sweet tooth!


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