Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Self-catering? Self-catering? I've seen it. I've tasted it--it's the future.

We just got back from a 4-day weekend in Kent. The weather wasn't great (England in January seldom is) but we enjoyed our stay. We saw lots of great stuff and had a relaxing time. It was so interesting to see the spot where Thomas a Becket was martyred, to walk the Roman wall of Canterbury, to see Leeds Castle and enjoy the exotic species of birds in is aviary, and then travel to the coast to see the North Sea from Whitstable and then on to St Albans to see the beautiful cathedral and some of the best Roman antiquities I've ever seen. Best of all, the whole trip cost us well under £400!

We stayed in 4-star, self-catering accommodation in Canterbury and so I was able to prepare all our meals and snacks myself, thus avoiding the aspect of travel that I hate so much--eating out. The source of all my holiday stress is the tedious search for places to eat that 1)can accommodate our dietary requirements without undue fuss, and 2)that I don't consider outrageously overpriced. I'm sorry, but £20 for two bowls of noodles with tofu and a few strands of green onion (for example) is just way out of line. We managed to eat very well indeed and still bring home a bag of leftover groceries (which I likened to Jesus feeding the multitudes) for a total of £53.00. (Yes, I kept receipts). That means 12 meals for 2 came to only £2.21 per meal, with a bag of groceries thrown in for free! We couldn't have done that even if we'd had crappy pub meals and McDonald's every day. How else could 2 people possibly eat for for £4.42 total. A glass wine will cost you more. Which is what I find so outrageous about the whole 'eating out' thing. I figure we've saved at least £65 on food costs, even if we'd eaten the cheapest possible restaurant meals.

We also saved so much money by taking the car that it's unbelievable. If we'd had to use public transport, it would have cost us £168.80 just for the returns to Canterbury. (If we'd traveled off-peak, £115. However that would mean precious hours of daylight shaved off our first day as we'd arrive so late). BUT we also went to Leeds Castle, Whitstable and St. Albans, and to do that by public transport would be most inconvenient. To get to Leeds Castle off-peak would be £23.60, plus £10.00 for the shuttle to the castle. To get to Whitstable and St. Albans would have meant taking interminable busses, and that would probably mean we would not have been able to see both before catching our train back home to Nuneaton. All totaled, to try to do what we did by public transport (not even taking into account being a slave to the timetables) we would have spent about £225. But guess how much we spent in fuel: £39.50. And we've arrived home with just over half a tank. So in transport we've saved £185, roughly.

The money we saved on food and transport was enough to pay for the holiday apartment, all admission fees, and the souvenirs and other items we bought. (Derek got a hat and I found some new exercise clothes in a fitness/dancewear shop!)

I was most pleased with the whole journey. It makes me happy to save money, so I was better able to enjoy what we saw and did while there. All in all, a wonderful trip! We saw:

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Castle
Canterbury Roman Museum
Canterbury Roman walls
all of the old part of Canterbury
Leeds Castle and Aviary
Whitstable town centre
Whitstable Harbour
Whitstable Castle
St Albans town centre
St Albans Cathedral
St Albans Roman Museum and Mosaics


flurogoddess said...

Hi, I stumbled onto your blog from Lynn's Weigh. Conincidentally, we're also going self-catering in Canterbury next week! I'm really looking forward to some chill-out time. We are going by public transport though, £5 on the coack!

Jeni Treehugger said...

Sounds like you had a FAB break.
I can never get over how expensive public transport is in the UK. I thought "they" were meant to make public transport more appealing to the masses???

Morandia said...

I'm jealous.... 'nuff said

Anna Down Under said...

Sounds like a lovely (and frugal) way to travel. I'm also jealous - one of the places I've always wanted to visit is England, to see the lovely sights you mentioned and more. I've been that fascinated with England all my life that I swear I must have had a past life there. LOL. Glad you had a good time.

Katherine said...

Hi Carla,

Thanks for the explanation. After reading Derek's blog I guessed at what "self catering" might mean and this post tells the story. Sounds like a great way to go.