Learning to drive at 30

I can’t quite believe it but soon I will be taking a driving test for the very first time, at the grand old age of 30. I’m doing something that most people would’ve done in their late teens and early twenties. So, why now? Why has it taken me until 30-years-old to learn to drive?

For many years I lived in a big city, public transportation was adequate and so I never really had any desire to spend what little money I had on driving lessons. It would be fair to say that driving didn’t interest me at all.

Years went by and, at 25, I had my first driving lesson. My boyfriend (now my husband) had badgered me so much about how it would change my life to be able to drive that I eventually caved in and booked some lessons with a local driving instructor. Unfortunately, we were not a good match, I was a very nervous driver and my instructor seemed to be more accustomed to teaching cocky teenage boys. For example, whilst I drove down a bendy road, he asked me if I liked “hospital food” because that’s what I’d end up having if I continued driving the way I was. That was on my second lesson. He was probably joking, I know that now but I was terrified and I needed an instructor who was supportive, not one who only served to increase my nervousness. I promptly stopped my lessons and that was that.

Fast forward another 5 years, I’d turned 30 and had two young children. I now live on the outskirts of a city. Anybody who has had squeeze a pushchair onto a tiny, rammed-full-of-people bus will know what a pain in the backside it is to use public transport with kids in toe. It’s never fun (well, the toddler thinks bus rides are awesome but I definitely do not).

I finally felt like it was time to put my fears aside and try to learn to drive, again. I asked around on my local Facebook page for instructor recommendations and after the same name popped up a few times, I got in touch with Steve – who is now my instructor and has been since the end of last August. He is firm but fair and most of all, very encouraging.

In January, I took my theory test after spending many hours online, learning the highway code and taking mock hazard perception tests. I passed with flying colours and was relieved to have it done and dusted so I could then focus on the practical skills.

I still, even now, get incredibly nervous before a driving lesson. And it’s not a skill that has come easily to me but I am so excited to be in a position where I have a test booked (I won’t be disclosing when exactly, but it’s soon). But do you know what? Whether I pass or fail that test, I’m proud of myself for getting this far.

I’ve also bought my own car which I’m driving (accompanied by husband) on a daily basis – a visit to the garden centre at the weekend and pre-school runs during the week. Those little journeys are all adding to my experience and confidence. I’m determined to do this!

If you too are learning to drive and feel you’re now ready to take either your theory or practical tests then you can contact the DVLA for more information on how to arrange them.

Lots of luck and happy driving! :)

Jenna xx

This is a collaborative post.

Our garden plans for Spring/Summer 2018

This time last year, almost to the day, we had just moved into our house. Spring and Summer 2017 was all about getting settled in our new home, doing the the essential decorating (there was some feature wallpaper that we could NOT live with) and we also had a new kitchen fitted. It was a busy and expensive time for us.

Fortunately, we now had a sizable back garden which the girls could enjoy when we had good weather. It’s a garden that’s mostly laid to lawn and relatively low maintenance (certainly compared to our previous back garden which required far more gardening skills than I possess). It was great to be able to fill up the paddling pool and watch the girls play happily. We are all so much happier when we’re outside.

The girls enjoying being out in our garden last year.

Whilst we’ve been able to enjoy our garden without having to really do much to it (except mow the lawn every other ruddy day – or so it seems), this year I want to focus on making it ours. There’s a few areas of the garden that definitely could do with a bit of TLC.

I thought I’d share some before photos and, hopefully, in a month or so from now I can share an update of what we’ve managed to do to get our garden looking it’s best.

Here’s the list of things we want to do:

Deck ‘The Ugly Corner’ – the previous owners of our house had a wooden playhouse in the back left-hand corner of the garden, they wanted to sell it to us but we didn’t think it was worth what they were asking for it so we declined. Unfortunately, the area where the playhouse stood is a bit of a mess and is by far my least favourite thing about our garden as it currently stands. We’re planning to have a small area of decking built there before the summer, so we can enjoy it as place to sit. I’m not very keen on the brick wall either and would like to paint it in order to brighten that corner of the garden up a little.

Buy a parasol – our garden is south facing which is LUSH! But there really is no escape from the sun which isn’t ideal when the littles are playing out in the paddling pool. We’d really like to invest in a large parasol in order to give the girls some shade when they’re playing outside.

Repaint the planter – we inherited this planter from the previous home owners (they didn’t try to make us buy it separately!) But it’s looking a little tired and the paint is flaking off. I’m not sure if it can be saved but I’ll give it a good go. I’m sure it’s nothing a lick of paint can’t fix!

Add some colour – we have a few hanging baskets which are all looking a little lacklustre and could do with some new flowers. I want to add lots of bright and pretty flowers around the rest of the garden too. Although, with two young children and a dog (who will eat anything) I need to be careful as to which plants I choose. If you have any child/pet safe plant suggestions, throw them my way!

Add garden lights – I am obsessed with fairy lights. My husband jokes that it takes him half an hour to go to bed at night because he has to turn off all of the fairy lights around the house. Obviously I’m gonna want to add some nice solar lights in the garden. At least hubby won’t have to turn these ones off! ;)

Grow our own strawberries – we planted some strawberry plants in our Vegtrug last year but as it was their first season, we didn’t get a lot of fruit from them. I tried to take care of them throughout the year and hopefully I’ll be rewarded with lots of yummy homegrown strawbs this summer.

I think that’ll be enough to keep us busy for now. I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Groupon’s deals as they regularly have some fab offers on garden items including; parasols, outdoor lights, plants and garden toys.

Do you have any garden plans for 2018?

Jenna xxx

This is a collaborative post.

My ‘No Spend Month’ Diary: Week three

Oh dear, I did so well in my first two weeks of my ‘no spend month’ and then, well, Week 3 happened. This last week has not been very good at all, my willpower buckled (damn you, cute baby clothes) and I also had to pay out for other things that couldn’t be helped – more on that in the minute.

Despite having a disappointing week, I’m prepared to draw a line under it and get back on track for the last week of the month. There’s still money to be saved and scrimping to be done.

If you want to know why I’m doing my ‘No spend month’ then check out my original post here.

You can read my Week One diary here and my Week Two diary here.

Day 15.

Today our local shopping centre had a Paw Patrol characters meet and greet (they often do things like this during half term). Jasmine was excited to see Rubble  and Skye so after she finished pre-school we headed into town to meet them! The queue was massive and Jasmine was excited the entire time that we waited in line. She then decided, when it was finally our turn to meet Rubble, that he was terrifying. Typical!

We popped into some charity shops afterwards because I needed to find an outfit for a funeral (I own very little in the way of clothing and had nothing appropriate for funeral in my wardrobe). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything suitable in the charity shops. It was a mistake taking the kids in with me as I ended up leaving with a ride-on-toy and a (brand new) Play Doh set.

Oh and I also bought hair dye from Poundland (it’s actually surprisingly good).

Total spent: £6.45

Day 16.

I totally forgot to cancel our window clean for this month and so the window cleaner turned up this morning. That was £15 spent before I even got to lunchtime! I then got an e-mail from the lady who runs our Hartbeeps toddler class reminding me that I needed to pay for the next term if I wanted to keep my space. D’oh!

Total spent: £45.00

Day 17.

I had a study day at home today and didn’t leave the house. I didn’t spend anything. We did use up the rest of our Pancake Day ingredients to make breakfast though so that was nice. :)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 18.

I had a mummy/daughter day with J today so I took her swimming. That only cost us about £5.00. Afterwards, however, I got drawn into the M&Co sale like a moth to a flame and spent over £30.00 on clothes for the girls. *hangs head in shame*

Total spent: £40.00ish

Day 19.

I didn’t spend anything today.

Total spent: £0.00

Day 20. 

I had to buy a funeral outfit as I’m attending it tomorrow! I went to Tesco and managed to get my entire outfit (dress, belt, tights and boots) from F&F. I used my Clubcard vouchers (I had about fifteen pounds worth) to save on the total amount.

Total spent: about £40.00

Day 21. 

I attended a funeral today. I had to pay for a day travel ticket for the bus and I spent some money on alcohol at the wake. (#noregrets)

I spent £30 of kids’ waterproofs from Lidl whilst waiting for the bus. I’m totally blaming my friend Kirsty for that, though. She’s an enabler!

Total spent: £48.30

Total spent this week: £179.75

Guys, I’m really embarrassed about that weekly total and almost didn’t bother sharing this post as I felt deflated. But I want to be honest. This challenge was never going to be easy for me and there’s no point pretending it is, when it isn’t. All I can do is try and do better going forwards.

I’m going to try my hardest to steer clear of shops next week as they are definitely my downfall. Once I’m in them I struggle to not spend money.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagram and Twitter }

My ‘No Spend Month’ Diary: Week two

If your interested in why I’m having a ‘no spend month’ then check out my original post here.

If you want to see how I did in Week One then click here.

I’m posting this weekly diary a bit later than planned but here’s how my second ‘no spend’ week went…

Day 8. 

I had a study day at home today so was mostly focused on doing my coursework. However, my sweet tooth got the better of me because when I picked J up from pre-school, I nipped into the corner shop to buy a packet of Cadbury Mini Eggs!

Total spent: £1.00

Day 9.

We had the craft box out today (J’s really into crafting at the moment) so I took the opportunity to make a Valentine’s card for my husband. I used a toilet roll tube to make a heart stamper and embellished the card with cut out letters from magazines. I’m quite pleased with it and I’m sure Stephen will appreciate the effort I went to. ;)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 10. 

I’ve been trying to hold off buying these, but I just couldn’t wait any longer… I needed to get replacement batteries for Ewan the Dream Sheep. We’re trying to get E into a better sleep routine and we always have a little more success when we use white noise. We tried using an app on our phone but it just wasn’t cutting it. Today, I bought the damn batteries and E went to bed much easier. No regrets.

Total spent: £4.20

Day 11.

Stephen and J wanted to go to the zoo today and I was almost tempted to go with it. Tickets would’ve cost us about £40 so I looked for an alternative day out. I suggested we go to Ashton Court – a large estate/grounds that is free to visit. We made a packed lunch and bundled the kids and dog into the car. It was SUCH a cold morning but it was nice to be out of the house. It wasn’t an entirely free day out as J asked for an ice cream(!) and we had to pay for parking. But still considerably cheaper than a day at the zoo. I’ve told J we can go to the zoo for her birthday in April.

Total spent: £2.70 (Parking and a Nobbly Bobbly Ice Cream)

Day 12.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day today which makes not spending money so much easier. I went out for a long walk with the girls, letting Jasmine decide where we went. We ended up saying ‘hi’ to some nearby horses and mooching through our local woods. Happy days. :)

Total spent: £0.00

Day 13.

Today was pancake day and we did pop out to Tesco to get some additional ingredients *cough* Nutella *cough*! I’m generally not counting groceries as money spent but in this case these were things we could’ve gone without but didn’t. I mean, you gotta have pancakes on pancake day, right?

Total spent: £3.70

Day 14.

It’s been a while since Stephen and I have been out on a date anywhere and this Valentine’s day was no different. Instead we made do with a (homemade) curry by candlelight and exchanged our (homemade) cards. It was a really lovely, romantic evening. :)

Total Spent: £0.00

Total spent this week: £11.60

 

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

{ Find me on: BloglovinInstagram and Twitter }

My ‘No Spend Month’ Diary: Week one

If your interested in why I’m having a ‘no spend month’ then check out my original post here.

Here’s how the first 7 days went…

Day 1. 

Today I kicked off my no spend month by:

Taking the girls to the library. On the way we pretended to have magic wands (sticks) and were ‘turning each other into frogs’. Then we stopped off at the river to play pooh sticks. Plenty of free fun right there!

We spent an hour playing and reading books in the library and picked out 6 to bring home with us.

Bought E’s nappies with my Boots points.

Nappies are essentials so obviously I won’t be able to avoid buying them for the whole of February but I really wanted a great start to my ‘no spend month’. By using the points I had on my Boots Advantage Card I could avoid spending cash.

Signed up for Netflix free trial. 

I love watching a good box set or film in the evening but I can end up spending a fair bit of money downloading films from Google Play or Sky Store. Netflix offer a one month free trial to new subscribers and I’m excited to binge-watch some new shows for free! Any recommendations?

Total spent: £0.00

Day 2.

We didn’t do a lot today so not much opportunity to spend money. We had a chilled day at home and watched some shows on Netflix. (Jasmine is a big fan of the Beat Bugs episodes!) Then we tackled J’s messy bedroom as it looked like there had been an explosion in a toy factory in there.

In the evening I found out that a blogger friend has sadly suffered a bereavement so I contributed some cash, along with my other blogger mama pals, for a donation to her chosen charity.

Total spent: £3.00

Day 3. 

This morning we were all up and out of the house early as I had to go into Bristol city centre to do my driving theory test (which I booked and paid for a few weeks back). I passed – yay!

I’d looked for free things we could do afterwards so as to make the most of our trip and discovered that Windmill Hill City Farm was a short drive away from the test centre. Despite the weather being a bit crummy, we donned wellies and popped over for a visit. I’m so glad we did because the girls really enjoyed themselves.

Total spent: £0.00

Day 4.

Today I treated Jasmine to a trip to the cinema to see ‘Early Man’, the new Aardman film. Fortunately, I had a cinema gift voucher so the tickets (which would’ve cost over £20) didn’t cost me anything. I even remembered to buy treats from the supermarket rather than at the cinema, saving me a small fortune.

Total spent: £2.75 (on popcorn, drinks and sweeties)

Day 5.

A friend of mine brought over a child bike seat today which I agreed to buy from her before my NSM (no spend month) began but as I paid for it today, it counts! I want to be able to take E out on my bike when the weather gets better and was looking at buying a new child seat. My friend mentioned that she had one that had never been used and that I could buy it from her. So I’m still saving money, just in a different way! ;)

Total spent: £20.00

Day 6.

Today, instead of spending E’s nap time time wandering around the shops, I had a bit of clear out around the house. I managed to fill a big bag with stuff to donate to charity. A bit of de-cluttering and a spend-free day: woohoo!

Total spent: £0.00

Day 7.

Today, when J got home from pre-school, we decided to do some Valentine’s crafts. Normally I’d go out and buy new bits for specific craft activities but this time opted to use whatever we could find in our already-full craft box. I was quite pleased with the results!

Total Spent: 0.00

Total spent this week: £25.75

Overall, not a bad start to my challenge – obviously I spent more than I was hoping to but I think I can do even better next week. I haven’t really been tempted to buy much due to not going in ANY shops all week. (I had my groceries delivered and I’m not counting money spent on essentials such as food).

Onwards and upwards…

Have you ever attempted a ‘no spend’ challenge?

Jenna xx

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