Tuesday 2nd February

It’s the beginning of the second month of the year and I am empty for the next two and a half weeks. I have never known it to be so quiet in all the years I have been doing this! It’s quite worrying as I have spoken to several other colleagues and we are all in the same boat, is this becoming the norm?  Is the market flooded with accommodation or are people’s habits changing and they just want cheap??

I admit I have lost work to the Premier Inns and Travel Lodges that have sprung up over the last few years as they are in a better location – literally on top of Balham station, Colliers Wood and very close to Tooting Broadway. It makes me wonder, as we only differentiate by £10 per night and yet people seem to prefer a generic room to a home from home.   Food for thought and some concern. 

However no work has freed up my time so I decided to look at whether I could save any money on my bills – the utilities, telephone and mobile, and I wish I had been more diligent in the past, it did take an entire morning to sort out but I made a good amount of monthly savings all in all.  

Gas and Electric: I made the switch from Utility Warehouse via USwitch to Southern Electric and saved myself £133.08 each month! This was by far the longest and most frustrating out of the three calls, as I have been with them for 10 years and they kept saying that they would not give me a better deal unless I moved my telephone and mobile accounts thereby becoming a “Gold Member”! I hate being strong armed like this and in the end, I decided I was going to move my custom elsewhere. It’s a shame really as I like to think of myself as a loyal customer.

Mobile: I managed to reduce my monthly mobile phone bill by £21.52. I changed to a sim only contract, as I don’t need a new phone having finally gotten used to the one I have! They were a bit cheeky at EE, they quoted me a higher price to begin with, so I kept haggling with them and they eventually offered me 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and data for £22.99 a month which Chris said was a good deal! 

Telephone: I wanted to cut my nuisance calls down by a third, so I decided to get rid of one of my telephone lines, now I’m down to two and have saved over £200 annually. I made them feel a bit guilty about all the calls I was getting during the day and night, plus I was paying a lot of money for a static IP address and caller display. So I got rid of all of it as it was not needed. 

As you can see I have made a whopping saving in 2016. The annoying thing is, that they never tell you how to make savings, you have to get in touch with them and start to ask questions about everything, leaving no stone unturned.  As my grandmother would say to me as a child, if you save the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves. 

As I mentioned last week, I am going through my freezer – I took out some filo pastry and made custard parcels.  I also had a glut of milk as it’s on standing order from a farm in Folkestone (I have deferred that now for three weeks).  They are puffs of deliciousness and quick to do.  I was made this many years ago by a host that I went to interview, whose roots originated in Cyprus.  They are made for a festival in the Spring. 

As I am writing my blog, Zuzana has just gone to the kitchen to set up the marmalade making that we will be doing throughout the week, we are doing it in small batches of 2kgs of oranges each day with different flavours.  I am using my best-looking jam pots that I have saved in the cellar for the last few months.  Look forward to updating you at the weekend.