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  • FIRST POST
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 11th Nov 18, 11:14 AM
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    lessonlearned
    Champagne Lifestyle on a Lemonade Budget.
    • #1
    • 11th Nov 18, 11:14 AM
    Champagne Lifestyle on a Lemonade Budget. 11th Nov 18 at 11:14 AM
    Can it be done.

    Well I have decided I am going to give it a jolly good try.

    And I invite you to join me....Please share your tips, experiences, deals, bargains.

    For those who don't know me.....a little background.

    I am a widow, aged 67. My husband died four years ago after a long illness which wrecked our finances and which changed my financial landscape, hopefully not forever. I am working on it.

    At one point I thought I would have to go bankrupt but with the help of Martin Lewis (All Hail) and the collective knowledge, wisdom and support of the lovely people on these boards I pulled myself back from the abyss and am now financially stable.

    Not rich but I have "enough".

    Now a confession ........although I am very content to live a simple and now thankfully stress free life I do have a penchant for a little luxury.....and .........before I get too old and decrepit, its time for some fun. Time to finally reap the benefit of all my hard work.

    I have just moved house. It's a money pit and I love it. Doing up old houses is my idea of fun. I love rescuing old wrecks and turning them into elegant, comfortable homes and then when I sell ........hopefully they end up a profitable investment.

    I did well on the last one, which I bankrolled and project managed.i gave all the profits to my son who put in all the sweat equity and hours of back breaking work. I was happy just to break even on that one and give him a leg up.

    However .......as we all know "all work and no play makes Jill a very dull girl". So, whilst I am fully committed to making this new house a stunner And hopefully make a nice little profit I want to

    a) do it on a tight budget and
    b) not put my life on hold in the process this time.

    So......my plan is to live off my income of £12,000 and use some of my capital as my war chest for the renovations and hopefully at some point start up a small sideline business. No idea what yet.

    So how to streeeeeetch that £12k, until, in the words of one of our dear chancellors, I think it was Nigel Lawson ....."the pips squeak". How to extract every ounce of luxury and fun.

    I am in the process of reviewing my budget. This is always an ongoing process for me. I am constantly refining my budget to make the most of what I have. Sounds a bit anal but I do it at least once a month.

    This week I had to change my mobile phone but although I now have to pay an additional £5 per month I am happy with the deal. I also have to take my car in for what I hope will be a minor repair.

    My car is getting on a bit and so far has cost me peanuts to run but it's on notice. If it starts getting too expensive then its days are numbered. I can live without a car if I have to, at least as a short term measure. We have good transport links here. I have a free bus pass and a senior railcard. A taxi into the city centre is reasonable.

    I have good practical skills, love charity shops, and make most of my own lotions and potions.

    What I really need to do is learn now is how to get the fabulous entertainment, hotel and travel deals that I know are out there. As a solo there is often a premium to pay for the privilege of travelling alone......

    So now it begins......my quest for a champagne lifestyle......

    I am sooooooo worth it. Lol.
    Last edited by lessonlearned; 11-11-2018 at 11:35 AM.
Page 2
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 11th Nov 18, 6:10 PM
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    lessonlearned
    Thanks for the tip about the Sparks card. I was given one I don't think I've even registered it.

    How daft is that. Clearly I still have a lot to learn.
    • jackieblack
    • By jackieblack 11th Nov 18, 6:13 PM
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    jackieblack
    I don't actually like champagne!...I do however love a good cup of coffee, so I will join in here as someone who aspires to Blue Mountain on a budget own label income!
    Originally posted by Prinzessilein
    I'm with you on the not liking champagne thing. Actually I don't like any alcoholic or fizzy drinks at all!

    But a cup of really good coffee...
    My daily treat is a small cafetière of my favourite coffee every morning
    I stock up when it's on offer.
    I do this for a lot of things actually, I don't believe in paying full price on things that are regularly on offer!
    The main exception is gifts I'm buying for other people (although if I can get them at a discount that's a bonus )
    Last edited by jackieblack; 11-11-2018 at 6:22 PM.
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    • jackieblack
    • By jackieblack 11th Nov 18, 6:19 PM
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    jackieblack
    Oh yes. Good coffee is an absolute must......

    I have just had dinner and my coffee is now sat in the cafetière.i shall enjoy with just a small square of dark chocolate as my after dinner treat. .

    Speculoos biscuits are fab. I too have stopped buying them except for high days and holidays because I just can't resist them......
    Originally posted by lessonlearned
    I might have to try these biscuits

    I'm not a big biscuit eater, but can't resist a Border's Lemon Drizzle Melt
    As for chocolate, I have decided that Bendicks Bittermints are the only thing worth the calories
    (But I only buy either of these when they are on offer )
    Last edited by jackieblack; 11-11-2018 at 6:21 PM.
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    • DundeeDoll
    • By DundeeDoll 11th Nov 18, 8:38 PM
    • 3,425 Posts
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    DundeeDoll
    Don't know where you live. Just finished reading Kathy Kelly 'how I lived on a pound a day' (for the 3rd time!) she lived in a university town which she found very good for free lectures, sometimes with drinks and nibbles afterwards. Have a good trawl of the what's ons at your library for more free events. go to your more salubrious areas to visit charity shops. book train tickets well in advance (I've got 1st class cheaper than 2nd!) (wrt the biscuits my fave are borders dark chocolate covered ginger biscuits) if you have a nearby theatre see if they do last minute prices. call in your local department store for free a free make-over and a squirt of your favourite perfume though only if you won't succumb to the sales chatter. make a list of what you consider champagne lifestyle and we'll put our mse heads together to come up with suggestions :-)
    Be like a postage stamp—stick to one thing until you get there.
    • pollypenny
    • By pollypenny 11th Nov 18, 9:08 PM
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    pollypenny
    We are great users of vouchers for meals and are very grateful to the Meerkats for our cinema trips. We haven't yet used the meal offer, as we've had other offers to use.

    Registering with chain restaurants often gives you offers. We have a free bottle of wine at Carluccio's to use by 13th.
    Member #14 of SKI-ers club

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    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 11th Nov 18, 9:35 PM
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    suki1964
    Well after being slated for saying look at free entertainment in another thread, Ill not mention that on this one

    Im another that does lunchtime or early bird menus when eating out, Around here you can get the same menu during the day as the expensive al a carte evening menu, for £10 for 2 course plus a glass of wine or a beer

    I also do the cinema on half price Tuesday. If your cinemas don't offer it, then I think that one of the comparison sites offer it if you buy something from them. A days travel insurance usually fits the qualifying criteria

    Not living on the mainland the theatre is a no no, but the cinemas usually cover the big shows. So its nearly as good as going to the National , without the travel etc. You get good seats as well

    I save my Tesco points for ferry travel to get me over to Scotland a few times a year, every £5 point gives me £15 quid off - every little helps

    Don't know who your mobile provider is, but 02 have some fantastic deals available which I used all the time when living on the mainland ( not much choice here)

    And yes, lidl wines are very good for the price and their chocolate is also fantastic What better to spoil yourself with
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • DundeeDoll
    • By DundeeDoll 12th Nov 18, 7:49 AM
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    DundeeDoll
    Well after being slated for saying look at free entertainment in another thread, Ill not mention that on this one
    Originally posted by suki1964
    well hoping this thread is a more positively constructive one. I enjoyed two wonderful evenings last month, courtesy of the University of Dundee. Fascinating subjects, wine and nibbles after. Also good to support our Universities as they continue to offer these public outreach events. As they say about the libraries 'use it or lose it'


    Mr T vouchers are excellent yes, especially if you can use them for your champagne lifestyle e.g. if one of the restaurants doesn't cost too much in travel. My friend has M&S the yellow sticker window down to a t. I like Mr L for shopping though. my bills are much less, and I like to go with the theme of the week for added fun. I save my Boots points for luxuries.
    Last edited by DundeeDoll; 12-11-2018 at 7:51 AM.
    Be like a postage stamp—stick to one thing until you get there.
    • JackieO
    • By JackieO 12th Nov 18, 8:28 AM
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    JackieO
    My local cinemas do 'silver screenings where you get the movie and a cuppa and a biscuit usually on Tuesday or Thursday mornings for £3.00 and its films that aren't maybe more than a month older than the general release.

    I am a great believer in getting out and about and if its free or low cost so much the better When you live on a fixed income as most pensioners do then the better you can make your cash work for you the better it is .

    I figure I have done my bit for society and brought up to hard working productive daughters and worked hard for most of my life so now I am older, then it's time to enjoy what there is, and enjoy life I jolly well will so go for it and use the facilities available
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    • pinknsparkly
    • By pinknsparkly 12th Nov 18, 8:44 AM
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    pinknsparkly
    lessonlearned - I'm also a big theatre fan and have recently discovered National Theatre Live (http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/), where theatre productions are screened live into cinemas. They cost around £15ish a ticket and also the views are so much better than you'll get from being in the theatre as the cameras are right up close to the actors. I was very very impressed. Keep an eye on your local cinema screenings (and look at different brands too - Vue and Odeon are the major ones, sometimes the productions are only screened in one of these, not both!) as it seems to becoming a bigger thing, with more organisations joining in. So far I've seen Hamlet, Warhorse and Frankenstein's Monster (all National Theatre productions) and they were all incredible. I've recently seen the King and I advertised (https://www.kingandimusicalcinema.com/) and the next one I'd like to go and see is the Nutcracker as I've never seen a live ballet (https://www.roh.org.uk/showings/the-nutcracker-live-2018).
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    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 12th Nov 18, 11:06 AM
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    lessonlearned
    Good morning everyone.....

    What a glorious day. I am going to wrap up and take a stroll to my local shops then come back and plant up some pots for some spring colour.

    Pinknsparkly.....what a fun name. thanks for the advice about special theatre presentations at the cinema. Sounds good. We do have a couple of local theatres but obviously they don't offer the "big events". The Nutracker looks fab.

    Dundee Doll And Suki. Don't worry you won't receive any negativity about any of your ideas on here. Free fun.......bring it on.

    I am usually an extremely upbeat and positive person......I just am. A blessing or a curse. I'm not entirely sure.

    I know my relentless enthusiasm and positivity annoys some people. It drove my late MIL crazy but then she was one of life's born pessimists, bless her. I know I can be a Marmite at times........I can be a bit "Tigger". Like an over enthusiastic puppy.

    Having said all that I am still coming to terms with widowhood.....will I ever, I doubt it. So Yes I do have my down days, when I need to take a step back and be solitary, when I just shut the door and have an "at home" day. After all I'm only human.

    All I know is we only get one life and I believe we need to make the most of it. In my case I am living for my husband as well as myself. He died at 57. He didn't want to, he wasn't ready, he was desperate to live. But, as the old saying goes, we can't always get what we want.

    Sometimes I do find it hard to mingle when I'm feeling low and missing my husband but I know when to push myself and make an effort and when to lie low and just be alone and quiet and lick my wounds.

    But on the whole I am ok with it all and I am determined to have some adventures and fun, and I am determined to have luxury and glamour.

    Luxury on a budget.....and that champagne lifestyle. I am sooooo ready. .

    My Mantra......

    "Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake".

    I have very little money but I'm not going to let that stop me.

    I read the Kathy Kelly book, £1 a day. Brilliant.
    • buildersdaughter
    • By buildersdaughter 12th Nov 18, 1:01 PM
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    buildersdaughter
    Totally agree about the tech college.
    Suki, not sure if I saw that thread about free entertainment - I do remember posting on one thread about it, where people were saying sadly, there was very little around now. Still worth watching out for. The only 'free' show we now get in the firework display, but Xmas light switch on is fun,and usually the mince pie money goes to charity.
    'Entertainment' is so variable. I know someone who will spend hundreds once every year or two on travel, hotels and a huge concert, but won't give our local £12 concert (includes wine & cake!) a go - even though I pointed out that he could walk out if it lived down to his expectations!
    I am a huge fan of the live, beamed shows. You get interviews with director & cast as well.
    You may not feel able to do any of these whilst doing up your house, but I'll include them anyway:
    Volunteering at your local theatre or concert venue will get you free shows, and volunteering at the National Trust gets you free membership.
    House sitting is a fantastic way to get a 'free' holiday but terms & conditions vary enormously, so look carefully.

    And if you are very lucky, you will live in a village like mine, where every year, the Village Hall committee do a Xmas dinner for £15 (includes 1 drink) with the same, traditional entertainment & singing and we all have a wonderful time!
    • Working Mum
    • By Working Mum 12th Nov 18, 3:17 PM
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    Working Mum
    An interior designer friend once told me that you should have the most expensive things closest to your skin - so high cotton count bed linen, throws etc and cheaper curtains!! I follow this mantra!

    Following an awful divorce I chose to live a life where I'd have no regrets, a gift for my "future self" so whilst I don't splash the cash wildly I do not scrimp in certain areas i.e coffee and butter!!

    I have built a really good social life on pennies really, by scouring the local websites, newspapers etc for events I see what is on and I plan well enough in advance to budget for it. I love going to the cinema and the Odeon local to me has recently been refurbished and recliner seats are £5 per film!!

    I pared down my wardrobes to something resembling a "capsule" and I buy in the sales and after I have saved up for it!! This means my clothes are nice quality and last a while, I have finally worked out what suits and what doesn't!!!

    I live in an old house which is up for sale but I have found myself being creative and updating it on a budget by checking out Pinterst etc for inspiration and then scouring eBay for bargains. I've then been brave with my style - I dyed a sofa which bought for £200 (£4k if new) and it looks wonderfully expensive (accessorised with throws and faux fur from TK Maxx etc). You certainly sound creative enough to do this kind of thing. Since I divorced I have found a freedom in exploring what the "mid century" me really wants her place to look like!!

    I think the biggest thing is planning ahead and having a clear idea of what "luxury" means because you can waste a lot of money trying to find it!!


    Oh and the Japanese have the word "irusu" for when you want to be home alone and pretend not to be in when people call!!

    .
    • Towser
    • By Towser 12th Nov 18, 3:34 PM
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    Towser
    lessonlearned I am interested in what you are doing to make your house more luxurious as I have tried to make every aspect of my life?

    I have been freecycling for furniture. Painting and changing the carpets.

    Anybody else what do you do to make your house more luxurious on a lemonade budget? As OP is doing up her house.
    • cherryblossomzel
    • By cherryblossomzel 12th Nov 18, 4:06 PM
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    cherryblossomzel
    This thread sounds like the place to be. I'm not retired, but I am in the process of buying a flat that will require quite a bit of renovating so will have to start paying attention to my spends to save money. I've gotten a bit...lazy with it recently. Not wasteful, just not putting much thought into saving the pennies. That said, like you I don't want to have to live a miserly life to get it done.

    I might pick your brain on the renovating from - how do you go about buying things like bathrooms etc - do you have any secret to saving money there?

    I am also sorry about your husband. I lost my dad recently and though it didn't affect me financially, it does leave a hole in your heart.
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 12th Nov 18, 4:45 PM
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    lessonlearned
    Hello everyone....so many nice friendly faces. I think this thread is going to be fun......

    So many great ideas too.

    Buildersdaughter ...back in the day I used to volunteer at our local assembly rooms. I used to do 2 or 3 nights a week. I got to see all the big names of the day, comedians, bands, orchestras. It was fab. Unfortunately it has closed down now but you have given me a great idea. I am going to keep a look out for something similar.

    Workingmum and Cherryblossom. Yes I will be happy to share my renovation and decorating tips with you. Many years ago, I decided to go back to school as a mature student to get a degree. I was 40. I studied something called Visual Cultures.....art, design, fashion, architecture. I loved it. I also worked for years for various property developers and builders so I have learned a few tricks.

    Later I fancied a change so when I got a nice tax refund I invested in myself and trained as a beauty therapist so I learned a few things there. I still have a keen interest in complimentary therapies, skin care etc.

    So without wishing to appear too conceited I do have a bit of knowledge and some practical skills I can use to "cheat" and appear more wealthy than I actually am.

    Anyway. About a year ago I set myself a challenge. "A Year to change My Life" In that year I have lost 1 stone....still need to lose more. I did a second course in Complimentary Therapies (Level 2) and I moved house. Phew!! No wonder I'm tired and need a holiday. Lol.

    So now I'm ready for the fun stuff, to,take it up a notch or two. I am ready for some gloss and glamour, some luxury and a champagne lifestyle. Ha, ha.

    But I'm skint.......so I need to be inventive and canny.
    Last edited by lessonlearned; 12-11-2018 at 4:48 PM.
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 12th Nov 18, 5:10 PM
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    lessonlearned
    Anyway.....I have a Project Book. It's divided into sections so tonight I am going to go back over the ideas and links you have all so kindly provided so far and jot them down.

    Then after Christmas I shall get down to business. .

    This afternoon I have been having a paperwork sort out and getting all my holiday stuff together. I need to have a trying on session and decide what clothes to take. I would imagine the Canaries and Morroco will be around the 20 mark and northern Spain and Lisbon could be quite chilly. So no real searing heat and a bit of a mix of temperatures. That's fine by me I don't really like it too hot. As I expected the Amazon was hot sticky and uncomfortable. I'm glad I went. It Was fun and a once in a lifetime thing but I did struggle with the heat.

    Re the bathroom. I am going for very simple white sanitary ware. I decided against fancy fitted units and anything that smacked "statement". It's just too expensive. I shall bling it up by adding nice fancy taps. I think of the sanitary ware as a LBD (little black dress) and the taps as the jewellery. you can easily change taps if they get a bit shabby or dated.

    I am also going to choose a nice mirrored cabinet with lights and shaver/toothbrush charger pint. I did this in the last house and buyers were blown away by it and yet it didn't cost much. It made a real statement way beyond its actual cost.

    The money I save on the sanitary ware will be spent on underfloor heating.......now that will be luxury.

    So my advice on luxury bathrooms on a small budget is to save on the sanitary ware, keep the tiles fairly neutral and add the bling with the accessories. Taps, mirrors, nice towels etc. and if you have enough in the budget do consider underfloor heating.

    Ask your plumber to recommend suppliers. Mine orders it all for me and lets me have the trade discount. Only use fancy showrooms for ideas. If you buy from the big retailers you will pay a premium for their overheads.

    We need the money more than they do.......

    Right time for dinner. A nice piece of salmon, mediteranean style roast vegetables and asparagus. Healthy and delicious, followed later by strawberries.....in November, how decadent.
    • mhagster
    • By mhagster 12th Nov 18, 5:37 PM
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    mhagster
    All sounds familiar. I was widowed last year aged 47. Moved back across the world from Australia to Scotland and have spent the past year living very simply whilst spending money on renovating my house. It's now (so nearly almost) exactly how I want it and I see it as future proofing ( in as much as I can). It's how I want it but also designed to be saleable if needs be.

    I buy all my clothes ( bar undies) in charity shops. And have some good ones in our town. My favourite is the £1/ an item one and they get nice things in.

    I'm currently doing my main shop in lidl as I have £5 off vouchers but find we haven't liked everything so have to do a top up elsewhere. But I can get a lot more there for £25 than elsewhere! I'm trying not to do the pop in for milk come back out with £30 worth of stuff.

    I've taken the past year off as my 'gap year' but have just returned to work part time. And have an interview for a job tomorrow. I don't want full time just now. If I continue to live simply and reasonably quietly I can continue to have a nice balance of life / work.

    I would like my own business but after spending what I have on the house I've decided now is not the time and to continue working for someone else just now.

    I don't drink alcohol so champagnes not an issue...but I do like a nice candle or three!
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 12th Nov 18, 7:07 PM
    • 11,744 Posts
    • 31,692 Thanks
    suki1964
    Anyway.....I have a Project Book. It's divided into sections so tonight I am going to go back over the ideas and links you have all so kindly provided so far and jot them down.

    Then after Christmas I shall get down to business. .

    This afternoon I have been having a paperwork sort out and getting all my holiday stuff together. I need to have a trying on session and decide what clothes to take. I would imagine the Canaries and Morroco will be around the 20 mark and northern Spain and Lisbon could be quite chilly. So no real searing heat and a bit of a mix of temperatures. That's fine by me I don't really like it too hot. As I expected the Amazon was hot sticky and uncomfortable. I'm glad I went. It Was fun and a once in a lifetime thing but I did struggle with the heat.

    Re the bathroom. I am going for very simple white sanitary ware. I decided against fancy fitted units and anything that smacked "statement". It's just too expensive. I shall bling it up by adding nice fancy taps. I think of the sanitary ware as a LBD (little black dress) and the taps as the jewellery. you can easily change taps if they get a bit shabby or dated.

    I am also going to choose a nice mirrored cabinet with lights and shaver/toothbrush charger pint. I did this in the last house and buyers were blown away by it and yet it didn't cost much. It made a real statement way beyond its actual cost.

    The money I save on the sanitary ware will be spent on underfloor heating.......now that will be luxury.

    So my advice on luxury bathrooms on a small budget is to save on the sanitary ware, keep the tiles fairly neutral and add the bling with the accessories. Taps, mirrors, nice towels etc. and if you have enough in the budget do consider underfloor heating.

    Ask your plumber to recommend suppliers. Mine orders it all for me and lets me have the trade discount. Only use fancy showrooms for ideas. If you buy from the big retailers you will pay a premium for their overheads.

    We need the money more than they do.......

    Right time for dinner. A nice piece of salmon, mediteranean style roast vegetables and asparagus. Healthy and delicious, followed later by strawberries.....in November, how decadent.
    Originally posted by lessonlearned
    Definitely go small on the budget when it comes to bathrooms

    We done the upstairs bathroom a couple of years back and we bought sink, loo, shower from a plumbers merchants which cut the cost by at least half of a showroom. added to that we bought end of line tiles and Lino for the floor. My bathroom looks as good as any showhouse for a fraction of the cost


    Right now we are putting in a kitchen extension. Its costing more in groundwork then we envisaged as we have back filled land so we have no option but to Pile the extension. But what we spend underground will be clawed back in finishing as the auction rooms will get hit for the furniture

    Already one major decoration which should cost £500 has only cost me £10 as I found it in a charity shop

    I know I am very fortunate that I do have a husband that is a builder and there is very little he cant turn his hand too. Im not as good hand wise, but I can hunt a bargain down, And whilst we are at it, another evenings entertainment for next to nothing ( auction houses are great fun )
    if you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it
    • cherryblossomzel
    • By cherryblossomzel 13th Nov 18, 9:29 AM
    • 497 Posts
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    cherryblossomzel
    "A Year to change My Life"
    Originally posted by lessonlearned

    I like the idea of that. Maybe I should do that for 2019. I'm buying this place and it'll be a bit of a project, moving to a new area, try some new stuff, meet some new people. Probably a good time to shake things up a little.
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 13th Nov 18, 9:48 AM
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    lessonlearned
    I like the idea of that. Maybe I should do that for 2019. I'm buying this place and it'll be a bit of a project, moving to a new area, try some new stuff, meet some new people. Probably a good time to shake things up a little.
    Originally posted by cherryblossomzel
    Definitely. Go for it.

    Sometimes we just have to step out of our comfort zone and shake things up a bit.

    I did lose my confidence a bit after losing my husband but I think that's quite common for the newly bereaved. But I think change can be a positive force, if we approach it with an open mind and a brave heart.

    It's very easy to fall into a rut and then bemoan our fate because we are bored, unhappy or dissatisfied with our lives. Sometimes I have to give myself a stern talking to and remind myself that if I want things to be different then I am the only one that can make the necessary changes.

    No one is going to do it for me.

    Mhagster. Australia to Scotland.....that's what I call a change.

    Well done you. And for taking a gap year. Sorry to hear that you too are widowed but well done for picking up the pieces and making a fresh start. Its tough but sometimes it's the only way, just grasping the nettle and getting on with it. Good luck with the new job.

    A nice day here. I am off for acupuncture in a minute. Dodgy knee. hopefully the car behaves itself. I'm taking it in on Thursday so not driving too far at the moment, dont want to push my luck.

    Also been getting a bit of a twinge in a tooth. Have made an apt for Monday.

    See you all later. Have a great day.
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