Welcome! Honest Lies is the personal site of a 26 year old graduate electrical engineer living in the UK. Covering every day life, books and various other randomness. Read more about me and the site here.

The One Without Any Spending

So I had this brilliant idea that October would be a “no spend” month, or at least a “spend less/stop impulse spending month”. So in September I sat down and wrote this:

Saturday 29th September

I mentioned before, that financially things aren’t going well right now. I am stuck in a horrible rut with my depression and anxiety right now (yep, my depression is back. Yay- lucky me!) I have been emotionally spending.

Although….

To be honest, I’ve never been the best with money. I went from living at home with no income to living by myself at university where money appeared in my account three times a year. (That’s how student loans work in the UK.) Those times would be like “Yay money again! Spend!” There wasn’t enough money to even consider saving – it was a struggle to get the money to stretch across the months. You’d stock up on everything you needed when there was money and scrimp and dig into your overdraft when there was none. I learned to be very scared of checking my bank account, of ignoring overdraft fees, and generally, nothing particularly healthy. At the same time I was anxious and binge eating and wasting money in small but frequent amounts on food to meet my endless appetite. And I compared myself to others, began to want things I couldn’t afford. Without money there wasn’t much I could do. Then came work, and an income. My bad habits had the source they needed. More food, now takeaways of junk food and more expensive binging foods, and I compared and I wanted and I bought. The other week after a particularly rough week and a rough doctors appointment I went to town and spent and I went online and I spent and I went and bought a takeaway and I spent. I wanted to make myself feel better, but in the end I returned half the stuff (that I could) and feel vaguely guilty about the rest. It’s too easy to convince yourself that you need something, rather than just wanting it. To compare yourself to the images you see on social media of women your age with their West Elm furniture and designer clothes/makeup and to want, to compare yourself to your family, your sister and cousin who have bought houses and filled them with nice things and want. (So many people my age seem so settled and so together and it leaves me feeling anxious and like I need to prove myself like them somehow.) Look, I’m not so bad. I resist massive purchases, but the relatively small bits again and again all add up. I realise belatedly that I could have some of the more expensive things I want if I could stop wasting so much money on smaller and more frequent purchases. I hate how meagre my savings are. I know that saving interest rates are a joke in this country and that’s demotivating, but it’s no excuse. I feel scared that I have no fuck off fund – if things go wrong I have nothing to fall back on. Every unexpected expense – like an upcoming car service – is enough to make me feel scared. How am I going to afford it? I have some debt. Nothing awful, but small and persistent. I just can’t seem to pay my credit card off, despite capping it at a low and reasonable value (I am at least not so stupid as to arm myself with some massive credit card when I have not yet learned how to manage the little one.) So this month I want to do two weeks without spending. During this time I will be allowed-

– £40 food allowance.
– to pay for my doctor’s appointment next Tuesday and buy my meds
– to buy petrol
– bills obviously won’t count
– if the fish need anything, that won’t count*

* As in food runs out, filter breaks and needs replacing, that kind of thing.

I am going to try and leave the credit card at home and rely on my debit card.

I want, actually want –

– A fuck off fund
– To buy new drawers for my room, a new bed and new mattress
– To be able to pay for my car repairs without any problems

I can do this – maybe?

So two weeks morphed into the whole month in my head; I started with the best intentions to ace the two weeks and then onwards! To the whole month, easy as. But then…

Monday 8th October

I was involved in a minor car crash.

And everything went to hell.

Now to-

Thursday 1st November

I have reviewed my bank account and October’s spendings are looking something like this:

– My car: aforementioned service, plus bonus! accident repairs (Also bought steering wheel lock to secure car when it was sitting on road side parking without a window….) Also petrol.

– Food: supermarket, takeaways, fast, food stalls, Starbucks, food delivery service, the works…

– Started Christmas shopping!

– Bought some makeup and cute accessories

– Bought a book. Ok, two books…Fine, three books.

– Also my Audible membership

– Bought a DVD.

– Typically, my moisturiser and cleanser chose this month to run out. So I replenished those.

– Bought a pajama tshirt with little fishes on it (it was on sale so I convinced myself it was meant to be. And I resisted buying the matching pants! )

– Therapy and doctors appointments and medication (I’m using private healthcare.)

– Rent and bills

– A couple of bus tickets.

After the accident my anxiety spiralled and I got into a weird headspace. I just kinda lost track of this thing, and there was also an element of it just seeming so pointless to scrimp and save over minor things like food when I was facing paying my insurance excess to repair my car, on top of its service, plus all my bills, my rent and medical costs. I felt and still feel rather overwhelmed by it all. Life is expensive and it’s very hard to begin forming good habits and saving when you are scrambling to cover necessary payments and unexpected little surprises like car crashes…

On the plus side, I have been restraining myself in some ways this month. I have done much less online shopping than normal – I only spent a little on clothes and makeup, compared to previous months, so I feel pleased with that. I forced myself to think through my purchases more, and I said no to myself more. The food situation is pretty bad – I need to stop being lazy and start cooking more and relying less on takeaways and fast food. (I refuse to give up my weekly Starbucks though; we all need something to look forward to.) (Let’s not discuss the binge eating.) I am also pleased that my Amazon usage was quite low this month, apart from the books. I failed to set aside my credit card which is annoying.

So some wins, some losses. I’d like to try again this month. I want to be less ambitious this month though. I think I should focus on continuing to say no to my impulsive online shopping, attempt to limit the amount I spend on food (perhaps this should be a no takeaway month?) and also be careful when Christmas shopping that I don’t start slipping too many things for myself into my basket! I want to keep my clothes/makeup and Amazon purchases low again. I am still reasonably determined to figure this out.

The One Without the P Plates

The Angel of the North

I don’t know how it came about, but I was talking to my coworkers about ideal places we would like to live. I mentioned my love of the countryside, somewhere quiet and remote and close to nature, and my coworker said that I would like Northumberland. I found myself returning to this conversation when I decided a couple of months ago that I really wanted a break. My birthday was coming up, it was summer, and the weather was beautiful. I was stressed and tired. I wanted to go chill out on a beach and go for long walks and enjoy the summer and just…be away from everything for a little bit. I didn’t want to fuss with flights or adjusting to another culture, I didn’t want to spend that kind of money. I wanted to stay in the UK. I wanted to get in my car and drive somewhere. At the same time I didn’t want to drive too far, still being a relatively inexperienced driver. So, remembering that conversation, I looked into Northumberland. Sandy beaches – check. Nature – check. Impressive castles – check. Me – sold. And it was under a three hour drive from me to boot. It was perfect. Everything was pretty expensive and booked out as I tried to find accommodation last minute in peak season but eventually I found myself a little cottage for a reasonable price. I booked it, booked my leave and counted down the weeks. Finally, it was July 21st. I packed up the car and I was off. One week in a little self-catered cottage in a tiny village in Northumberland, no responsibilities, and a list of things I wanted to see, but no itinerary.

Bamburgh Castle

First stop – the Angel of the North. The total journey time from home to the cottage in Budle Bay was around two hours 40 minutes so I had to stop, so why not make that stop touristy? Seeing so I was in the area I thought I may as well view an iconic British landmark. I pulled off the A1 and parked up and walked around the statue which…wasn’t as ugly as expected? I found it quite impressive? It’s bloody massive – I saw it well before the turn off. (It was very exciting. The drive was kinda boring so I got quite excited to realise I was near Newcastle, and thus finally in the county!) – and the engineering behind it seemed impressive. I took a bunch of pictures, had something to eat, and then carried on. I stopped at a supermarket, I got lost, I got hopelessly excited at my first glimpse of the sea, and finally I found my cottage. I admit, when I first saw it the location blew my mind – I was right next to the beach! But inside I wasn’t quite sure – the cottage was a little bland and there were a lot of bugs and I realised it didn’t have a shower. I started to fall for the cottage when I saw the beach views out of the window, and by nightfall I had definitely fallen for it – it was so damn cozy, I just had to adjust to all the bugs (which, is probably to be expected for such a remote location.) I did not do much that Saturday, or even Sunday. (On Sunday I literally lay on the beach and read for almost the entire day, that was it.) (It was perfect.)

On Monday I decided to venture out. I was going to go on a boat trip to the Farne Islands but I didn’t feel up to it, so instead I walked to Bamburgh to see the castle. The walk from Budle Bay to Bamburgh was unexpectedly long, and the weather was much hotter than I expected too, so I was hopelessly overdressed and feeling it. There were amazing coastal views though, and eventually pretty good views of the castle and the Farne Islands in the distance. Once I got to the castle I ate lunch (which was amazing – in particular the cake I had was to die for) and had a look around. The castle has been restored beautifully and it was really interesting. I took the bus back after, and chilled out back at my cottage (by this point I was really settling in. I had all my stuff out, my own bedding on the bed, and it was nice that. A real benefit of self-catering in your country is the amount of home comforts you can bring! I’m sad I forgot to bring my own pillow though…)

Dunstanburgh Castle

The next day I lazed away the morning then in the afternoon I drove down to visit Dunstanburgh Castle. I was expecting to park at the castle so got a bit lost before parking up and actually researching and finding I had to park at Craster and walk up to the castle. Oops. This did mean it was pretty late in the afternoon by the time I had parked up and started on my walk. I got to the castle about an hour before it closed. I think that was enough though. I had a look at the ruins, saw the kittiwakes on the cliffs by the castle, climbed up to the top floor of the gatehouse of the castle and admired the views, and then left. I had rushed the walk to the castle because I was aware I was pushing it for the opening times, so as I left I lingered, taking my time to walk back. The walk is right along the coast with rocky beaches with oyster catchers and gulls there. And, in a lucky moment, I turned back for some reason, caught sight of movement in the water a little way behind me. My first thought – whales!

I turned and ran pell-mell back the way I had come and paused on a high point and was amazed to see dolphins out in the bay. I ran a little more back, then set out to cross the rocks, trying to get closer to the water, trying not to trip and hurt myself, trying to watch the dolphins all the meanwhile. There were so many of them, they were moving northwards, and all I could really see was their fins, occasionally a dark sliver of their backs, but occasionally they would jump out the water and show themselves. It was the most incredible thing. I really couldn’t believe it. Real, wild dolphins. I knew they got them in the area but I never imagined I’d get to actually see them, not without taking a boat into deeper water. But there they were – a huge school, travelling together along the coast. I watched them and watched them and even when they had long disappeared I stayed there, desperate for another glance. Then I realised where I was – on a beach where I had no idea of the tide times and retreated reluctantly back to land. I kept on walking back towards Craster, even slower now. I kept watching the water, hoping to see the dolphins again, but they didn’t show up again.

Sunset, with Bamburgh castle to the left and the Farne Islands to the right

I got back to my car and then drove to Seahouses, where I bought some chips and a battered sausage – typical British chip shop fare! – and found a place where I could eat them near the coast. From my vantage point I could see the sun set over the Farne Islands directly in front of me, and to the left of me, Bamburgh castle, also backlit by the warm tones of the setting sun. There in the bay I saw those black shapes in the water and I like to think they were dolphins, though it was so far, they could have been seals, or even nothing at all but my hopeful imagination. It was very peaceful and absolutely beautiful. I drove back to the cottage, ready to take an early night as the next day would be the highlight of the trip – a boat trip out to the Farne Islands.

What are these Farne Islands? A series of rocky islands in the North Sea where hundreds of sea birds come to breed – including puffins and arctic terns – and which seals also use as a laydown area. :) I was not looking forward to the boat trip in the slightest, but I was very excited as to what I was going to see out there!

Random beach panorama. I like the shape of the clouds…

(Title explanation – I decided that for this road trip I would take off my P plates. These are a sticker you put on the front and back of your car which have a big green “P” on them, with the theory being that these will alert other drivers to the fact that you are a new driver and so hopefully give you some space/understanding/patience. Yes, it’s been like a year since I passed my test. But I never had the courage to take them off even as I knew I was pushing it, with these that are meant to only be used when you have recently passed your test. I decided that I wanted this trip to either be the first or last trip with them on though, that it was time to take the jump and get rid of the P signs once and for all. The last trip seemed like it would cast a sadness on my trip, so I decided that it should be the first. To add a bit of extra excitement. In the end, it wasn’t that big a deal. Taking them off, or driving with them. I mean the P plates didn’t want to come off they had been stuck on so long, I had to take a soapy solution and very carefully wash the residue off. But once I’d started taking them off it was easy and I didn’t miss them, it was no different driving without them than with even… It was all rather anti-climatic really :| )

The one with all the birds

Kites! First one is definitely a Red Kite, and the ones in the gallery are probably Black Kite(s). I can’t figure out the differences >_<

It’s my birthday today! Of course today has just been a normal working day, but I celebrated with my family over the weekend. I’ve been seeing a lot of birds of prey lately – I get red kites that fly over my apartment and around the local area. They are amazing to watch, but of course always so high up in the sky so that I can never see them up close, or appearing when I’m driving and thus unable to watch. So I requested for my birthday that we had a family trip to see some kites :) As luck would have it, there is a Bird of Prey center near where my parents live so, together with my sister, thats where we went. It turned out to be amazing – they had loads of different birds, the birds were well looked after and happy and the whole place had been put together nicely, with a cute little tuck shop, beds of flowers around the enclosures and friendly (and knowledgeable!) staff. We had a general look at the birds then there was a meet and greet where we could pet a ferret and a tiny owl <3 the highlight was then definitely watching them excercise the birds i.e a flying show!

Tiny Owl and some of the other birds. All I know is that No1 in the gallery is probably a Peregrine Falcon, and No2 is definitely a Kestrel.

They brought out a bald eagle, an owl, a raven, a secretary bird, a stork, two vultures and about twelve kites. Twelve! All at once! It was incredible. Hard to take in, but incredible to see them up so close. One flew right over my head! Seeing them up close in their enclosures and then in the flying show was really special. They are truly beautiful , elegant creatures. The other birds were also amazing – the secretary bird showed us how it kills snake using a fake snake which was hilarious (think of the way cats start viciously beating their toys with their back feet then return to cutely playing as if nothing happened), the raven was young and clumsy, and all of them riveting to watch. The keepers told us all their stories and their names which was really interesting too (and I loved their names – like Sharon the bald eagle, Scooby the raven, lady the secretary bird haha )

(Did you know Ravens have the intelligence of a 5 year old child? Isn’t that amazing? Scooby could fly off whenever he wants, but he knows he has the easy life at the center, so he willingly stays.)

Kite, Stork x2, Bald Eagle x2, Secretary bird inspecting the snake

Afterwards we gathered at a local ice cream farm for something delicious and cold then went back to chill at my parents house, sitting in the garden to soak up the beautiful summer weather.

The next day my sister couldn’t join in as she was busy :( but I went with my parents to a local National Trust property to eat cake (my mom very quietly sang me happy birthday before I tucked in haha) and look around the gardens. It was really pretty and sunny.

Then I just had to pack and slog home. Thankfully everyone was watching the football so my journey was quiet and uneventful.


As for turning a year older? Being 26? I honestly don’t feel at all different from last year….I don’t think I’ve really changed at all this past year. :/ It is a little scary how close I am now (and how quickly I am moving towards) the big 30 though.

The one with all the plants

I have a lot of plants. Arguably, too much. They are in every room in my house, apart from my landing which has no window. It started when I was 18 when my best friend gave me a hen and chick for my dorm room at university, and my dad followed suit by giving me a small schefflera cutting and a miniature cactus. I was not particularly good with plants when I received them, but I was determined to keep them alive…how embarrassing to tell someone that you killed their present right? So I learned how to look after them, watered them religiously, and re-potted as necessary. 8 years later, the schefflera cutting has turned into a tree which is taking over my living room, the hen and chick is going strong and has given many babies which I have in my flat, at my parents’ house, and I even gave one to my sister. The cactus I nearly killed when repotting it – half of it rotted away because I damaged the root and didn’t give it enough time to heal before watering – but I managed to salvage a scrap of it and plant it and it grew. Phew. And these three have been joined by many, many others. I like the color they infuse into the place, and I like having something alive in my space. (And I admit, I do have an emotional attachment to my eldest, my original trio, whom I kept alive even when I was struggling to keep myself alive. They make me feel weirdly proud, like look what I raised through my sadness and anxiety) (that’s probably weird…)

At the moment they may be a little *too* alive. I’ve been plagued by pests since moving into my new flat and particularly this summer. I never struggled at my previous residences and I don’t know what’s changed. Something came through the window, a dodgy batch of compost, simply the fact that my flat is so warm and sunny? My plants grow fantastically in these conditions, but I guess it follows that so will pests. I’ve struggled with tiny flies on my schefflera for a while now – they have never caused damage though, nor grown to ridiculous numbers, I rinse off my schefflera regularly with neem which seems to help keep it under control. And I could catch the flies and throw them into my Betta tanks and so convince myself I dunno, was growing my own fish food or something. A positive spin. I took some schefflera cuttings though and their soil is much more infested with the flies and I think it’s preventing them growing :( and this summer I have two more unwanted guests… two of my other plants have tiny little mites on them. And the other day I was putting on my facial moisturiser when I looked over to a nearby plant – this is in my bedroom – and saw worms crawling in the soil. D: After ten minutes of panicking I simply picked up the plant, took it outside and deposited it on the porch outside my door, where it will stay until it dies, because worms. Worms. 3cm long each. And who knows how long they’ve been there in my bedroom? It’s all very gross. I typically dislike fake plants but I can kinda understand it now. I was reading about the worms and there were instructions on how to get rid of them by picking them up and…no. I bought some houseplant insecticide and I’ve sprayed the mites. I don’t like using insecticide indoors, especially with fish tanks, but I feel I’ve reached that point. I’ve been spraying them with a soapy solution for weeks now and it’s not working and I just cannot anymore.

I need to stop buying plants and focus on the welfare of the ones I’ve got. It should not have taken me so long as it did to pick up on the mites and the worms – I should have caught on to it before it got that bad.

I feel like lately I’m doing a lot of random and useless shopping. Nonsensical things – makeup, clothes, PLANTS. I keep finding things to buy and bring into my house even though I don’t need them. It makes sense ultimately – I’m stressed, and unhappy, and shopping and new things makes me happy. I like having new and interesting plants, I like having the latest pretty highlighter or foundation that YouTube has raved about, a new cute outfit. Lately, it’s like I’ve lost the ability to say no to myself or to respect my bank account which ouch. And maybe I shouldn’t admit that here, I know. I’m sorry, I’m bad with money and I don’t have a budget. I fail as a blogger. But nonetheless I’ve never been terrible with money – I keep my bills paid and debt low. But yeah. I don’t have the capacity to really deal with it now- see being stressed and unhappy -but it’s on my mind.

At the very least, I need to stop buying more plants.

I should give some more love to the ones I already have I think. :)

Fear

Cotton Grass on the moors, Shutlingsloe from the distance, a resevoir, and sheep.
This lovely, sunny bank holiday weekend I am stuck at home recovering from a particularly annoying cold. So I thought I would share photos from last weekend; I went home to see my parents, and my father and I went for a walk on Sunday to Shutlingsloe, in the Peak District, and a nearby forest. As I had a bus to catch home in the afternoon, we made our walk a very early one – starting at around 9am in the morning. We first climbed Shutlingsloe, taking advantage of how quiet it was in the early morning, and how cool it still was. There were flowers out even on the moors- sloeberry bushes beginning to form their fruits, and rogue daisies, and fluffy cotton grass. I picked a stalk of those, running my fingers through the soft flower. We ascended and it was still up there, for once, and we sat and snacked as we gazed out onto the countryside and the hazy profiles of Cheshire and Greater Manchester in the distance. We then descended and went for a long meander, country roads, bare and gloomy pine forests, and then a grove of sycamore trees where, to our surprise, a huge amount of bluebells were carpeting the forest floor. It was stunning. We continued walking, exploring more mixed forests and another pine forest, and were quite tired by the end, as the sun got stronger and stronger, but it was very refreshing, and very pretty out there.

Bluebells. *_*
We have done that walk, or a walk like it, Shutlingsloe and the surrounding area, so many times now, so familiar now, there’s probably an entry on this blog with photos like this, but it’s still one of our favourites , and there is something to be said for the familiar. Even that can surprise sometimes, such as with the unexpected swath of bluebells. I was sorting through some old files the other day and stumbled upon a video of my father, my sister and I climbing Shutlingsloe several years ago, I was still small and chatting away to nobody, my sister was a teenager, whiny and annoyed, and my poor father meanwhile was just trying to film some scenery. It was snowing. And it surprised me to see us out in that weather, to see myself so confidently striding through the snow , ascending and descending what surely must have been a slippery path, surely, without concern. It’s amazing how fearless we are as children, and I wonder when fear and worry begins to set in? When do we become aware of danger? I wouldn’t go out on a walk like that in the snow now; I’d be scared of slipping and hurting myself, of getting stranded in freezing conditions. Younger me clearly wasn’t so concerned – even in simple trainers, she was happy to just walk. I guess that’s ultimately all there is to it, but it’s our minds that get in the way as we get older.

I recently went to see a new therapist and we were talking about my history and she asked me when it began – my anxiety- and I wonder too. It feels like it’s always been there, but when I look at pictures and videos of myself when I was younger I’m so bold and outspoken that clearly there was a time I was not? I must have just taken growing up a little too hard, or something. It’s puzzling how different I am as a child and as an adult. Something must have gone very wrong somewhere along the way.

Stack of fresh cut pine logs – my father and I counted the rings of the bigger ones and estimated them to between 50-60 years old. Forest scenery, an old road, and a small abandoned house in the forest. Someone had gone to the effort of researching the owner of that house, printing out and laminating a small information sheet and laying it at the base of the house. Very interesting.
Anyway, to go back to the topic of therapy – I decided to go private this time, sick of NHS waiting lists and the inflexibility of treatment options, and it’s very expensive, possibly too expensive to be feasible in the long run, but very thought provoking. I hope this time I can get a handle on my anxiety. Life is still not going well. I am grateful for the good moments – for forests full of bluebells and my family, and an hour with a therapist (an impartial voice) who understands. Life did not go the way I expected after graduating, and being an adult is hard.


I wish I could go out and explore this weekend – to another forest, another moor, to the seaside. It’s so nice to get out and breathe in some fresh air when your brain is all anxious and unhappy. Alas, stupid cold. I’m going to have to waste this weekend. :(