Charity Shop Chic.

As some of you may know, alongside my role as a full-time CSV, I also volunteer once a week at the new Red Cross Charity shop on Byres Road in the West End of Glasgow. I absolutely love being back in a charity shop and, dare I say it, back in retail once more. Although I moaned about it a lot (especially when I spent most of my summer holidays stuck on the shopfloor being moaned at by irate customers), I am essentially a people person and I d enjoy having a wee blether with the nice customers that come up to my till.

Anyway, the other evening our shop held a special late-night shopping event complete with cupcakes, cava, competitions and some excellent new stock straight from the high street. The Red Cross is lucky enough to receive left-over stock etc. straight from the factories of several high street brands – unfortunately I’m not a liberty to say which but they are good ones, I promise!  As I’d been at work all day I was unable to actually help out on the evening but I did make sure to pop down so I could grab myself a wee bargain.

The evening itself was great – the shop was really busy and staff were constantly having to put out new stock to fill the ever increasing gaps in the rails. It was also good to have a chat and catch-up with a few of the other volunteers that I don’t get to see as regularly so that was nice. Plus I got myself a gorgeous new jumper for only £8 which is always a bonus! I also had an armful of dresses which I tried on but thankfully none of them were quite right, otherwise it would have been a very dangerous trip.

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Nibbles!

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The Shop

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New Jumper

Fingers crossed now this night has been such a success they’ll be a few more similar events to come. I might volunteer next time though, just to try and save my bank balance a bit more!

Me, Myself and I.

Yesterday I decided that it was finally time to spoilt myself a bit, be pampered and indulge in some much-needed retail therapy. My day of treats started brilliantly with a lovely 30 minute Swedish Massage at The Residence, Park Circus which is a nice wee spa in the West End of Glasgow. The best part of this, apart from the luxury of being pampered, was that it was actually complimentary – I found an offer in a free local magazine (i-on), filled in my details and ta-da! I can never usually be bothered with such things but, being slightly poorer nowadays, I decided to give it a go and I’m so glad I did! I’ve never actually had a massage before but by the end of it I was feeling so relaxed it was untrue.

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The Residence

After my massage I decided to have a mosey round the West End, do some window shopping and grab a wee bit to eat. I ended up in ‘Little Italy’, which is a small place on Byres Road. Although fairly basic, the food was nice (I indulged in a focaccia to remind me of my trip to Italy) and the opportunities for people-watching were ample – always a fun way to pass a quick half hour or so!

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Parma Ham, Tomato and Mozzarella Focaccia

Unbelievably I still had some gift vouchers from Christmas to spend so my next port of call was Buchanan St. to treat myself to a new outfit (or two) for my upcoming trip to Lancaster. I managed to get a gorgeous grey dress in the Miss Selfridge Sale for only £20 (I only paid £10 myself because of my vouchers, bargain!) and a nice black and white number from H&M – I’m sure you’ll all see pictures in future posts!

All in all, I had a really good day. It’s been a while since I’ve actually taken the time to have a day purely to myself and just spend some time on my own wandering around and taking in the city and I really enjoyed having that “me time” again. Also it has been far too long since I’ve treated myself to some new clothes and things and that always puts the smile on my face – definitely the best way to celebrate my recent good news!

Money Money Money.

After starting my Christmas shopping today I’ve realised just how awful I am at controlling my finances. Admittedly for once I didn’t blow my budget (well not really) but I did spend more than I probably should have done on my little nephew and that side of the family. I got a ridiculously cute teddy/rattle from Hamleys, a ‘my first Christmas’ keepsake box complete with some imprint clay (so they capture a handprint on the day!) and a tree decoration and then some Starbucks Christmas Coffee for my stepsister and her husband. All in all it only came to £20 which is pretty good going really. However, I probably could have stopped at the Keepsake gift set and everyone would have been more than happy. I could have then been nice and organised and put my remaining money to buying some other poor soul a present next week. But, as I always do, I felt compelled to spend the remaining £10 in my pocket there and then and so ended up getting extra presents for the family instead. I’ve always been like this and, even as a child, I remember making sure I’d spent all my pocket money down to the last penny – money literally does burn a hole in my pocket. Overspending by £10 probably seems quite trivial to most people but, when you live on a fairly limited budget and have an overdraft that has pretty much reached its maximum level, that one note can make quite a big difference.

I will happily admit that any issues I have with money are completely my own fault. I enjoy eating out frequently in nice (rather pricey) restaurants, I have an inability to say ‘no’ if someone invites me somewhere or suggests doing something that sounds even vaguely exciting and I also like to spend a lot on gifts, especially for my close family and friends. As you can imagine, with these three things combined, Christmas is a particularly disastrous time for my bank account. I admit I have actually got better with money – I think about my spending a lot more now than I ever did at university. Also I’ve stopped using my debit card unless absolutely necessary (i.e. to buy presents online) and even then I make sure I transfer my wages into my account before spending.

Becoming a CSV and being on quite a tight budget means that money is often at the forefront of my mind – whether I have any or not! If I do have some I’m thinking of how best to spend it and if I don’t have any I’m already planning how to spend next week’s wages. In fact, I could probably sit here now and tell you exactly how I’ll spend my money up until the end of the month. It’s strange – for someone that struggles with overspending I’m actually not that spontaneous with money and will allocate a certain amount of my budget to cover any unknown events. My biggest problem is probably my inability to save more than anything.

Realistically though I don’t actually imagine I’ll ever get any better with regards to my spending – I think my carefree attitude towards money is far too deeply-embedded to ever drastically change. I’m very much of the attitude that I may well die tomorrow (morbid but true) so I might as well enjoy myself why I can. I suppose that explains why I find it particularly hard to save money in the long-term – something always comes along in the short-term that I’d rather blown my savings/overdraft on, just in case I miss out on the opportunity again. Indeed, most of my spending isn’t actually on tangible, materialistic things (although I do love clothes!), it’s more likely to be on things like holidays, visiting friends, eating out, gig tickets, socialising and anything that involves me getting out and just doing something. Obviously, I could easily cut all these things out my spending and be a lot more financially secure – but where would be the fun in that?!

The Italian Adventure pt.3 – Farewell Milan!

Although my friend unfortunately had morning lectures the day of my departure, I decided not to waste my final few hours in Milan and have a little wander round the city by myself.

My main aim for the day was to do lots of window shopping in the golden quadrangle, which is where all the best designer shops are located. Obviously, I could not afford a single thing in any of them but it was still fun to look at all the rather snazzy window displays and pretend I was a lot richer than I actually am! The majority of shops in this area are obviously clothes shops or jewellers However, as part of the gigantic Armani megastore, there is actually an amazing bookshop full of some really interesting books on fashion, art and culture in general. If I did have any money, it would definitely have been spent there!

 

Amazing cakes always catch my eye!

Designer bookshop

I ended up spending a lot more time shopping than planned (as always!) so I had to dash across the city for one final look at the Duomo before heading for lunch at a cute little restaurant, recommended to me by my friend. I’d already decided to have the Risotto Alla Milanese, another signature dish of Milan, which is basically risotto with saffron rice. Although it wasn’t my favourite meal of the trip, it was good to try a local speciality and something a little different. I can’t fault the restaurant at all though – they have a great selection of food at really reasonable places, plus its lovely inside!

 

Risotto Alla Milanese

Passerini Restaurant

After lunch it was finally time to head over to Bergamo Airport ready for my flight. However, I couldn’t leave Italy without having one final gelato (white chocolate, hazelnut and coconut – divine!) from Central Station. Likewise, to fully complete my gastronomical journey, I picked up a cheeky focaccia from the airport – it would have been rude not to really!

Overall I had a really great weekend and it was an absolutely brilliant early birthday present J This will, however, be my last holiday abroad for quite a while now due to the whole living on a budget thing which is a bit of a shame. However, there are lots of things I want to see in both Glasgow and Scotland as a whole, so I’m sure I’ll be kept more than entertained over the next year!

Food, Glorious Food!

Probably one of the reasons I get on so well with my house mate is that we are both massive foodies, who love eating out and trying new and exciting restaurants. We’ve even gone as far as compiling a list of our favourite restaurants/places we want to try and plan to work on one a week if possible!

This evening, however, we decided to return to an old favourite of both of ours and headed to Yo! Sushi for some take-out. Prior to this we had a really nice afternoon window shopping and wandering around this cute market we found (which was predominately food stalls as luck would have it!)

Chocolate Waffles 

Treats in Costa

Trying on hats in Cath Kidston

Bag of treats! 

It was lovely afternoon but, after a long day which involved me getting up 6.15 am, I was absolutely knackered by this evening. Work went really well today though – I finally got the chance to do some stuff unassisted and actually felt like I made a real contribution to things today, instead of just hanging around looking a bit lost and confused which made a nice change! I have yet another ridiculously early start in the morning but I don’t really care because I’m off to Milan tomorrow night!! AHHH. I am so excited to visit Italy for the first time, be reunited with one of  my favourite people in the world and have some early birthday celebrations. I also plan to eat my body weight in gorgeous Italian cuisine (obviously) so expect lots more pictures of food in my next few blog posts – sorry folks!

Content.

Tonight has been lovely 🙂 Me and Eujin had a good old fashioned girly night in and ate lots of crap food, drank wine and moaned about the male population. It’s been a fair while since I’ve done that properly and I really really enjoyed it. Although we clicked and became instant friends when we met, this is the first time we’ve sat down for a whole evening and just chatted, the two of us, about everything and anything! She’s such a genuinely lovely person and I just feel so lucky to have a flatmate that I get on with so well. We’ve even made plans to go for a posh meal and then for lots of drinks to celebrate my birthday which I cannot wait for – I was massively worried I end up sat alone crying because I’m no longer 21 but I’m thankfully feeling a lot more excited about the whole thing now! She even said she’d make sure that I’ll consume plenty of vodka – definitely my kinda gal!

The past two weeks at work have also been pretty good so far. I completed my first aid training yesterday and food hygiene today so I’m due a couple of certificates in the post and I’ve got on with yet more reading and things that I needed to do. Tomorrow looks like it should be pretty alright – I’m getting training on infection control and also being shown how to administer a feed through a PEG (a tube through the stomach basically) which is pretty interesting. I feel a little bit like I’m back at university what with all these courses and everything but I’m enjoying it thus far and I definitely feel more accomplished and just that bit more useful around the centre.

To round off the week me and Eujin are planning an afternoon in Glasgow on Thursday, once I finish my wee 7am-1pm shift. We’re planning on grabbing coffee and a cake in Princes Square, then doing some window shopping in Cath Kidston and some other beautiful yet expensive shops, before treating ourselves to take-out food from Yo Sushi and yet more cake and wine! We won’t see each other properly for just over a week after that as we’re both on holiday so it’ll be great to have an afternoon out together before we head our separate ways.

Also I have Milan on Friday night which I am absolutely buzzin’ for,genuinely cannot wait to step on that plane 🙂 All in all this week looks fantastic – now I all I have to do is get through a couple of pesky shifts at work :p