19 July 2012

England: So How Much Did It Cost? (20th England Post!)

Steve, the landlord at the
Angarrack Inn, pulling my last
pint of Cornish Rattler Cyder.

A LOT!!! Hahahaha...yeah, the whole trip cost a pretty penny, and quite a few more pence. But I managed to save money for almost a year to pay for it. And while I don't think I wasted money while I was away, I know I could have cut costs to some degree though that would have changed the whole tenor of the trip. I arrived home with $88 and 92 pence in my pocket. Of course, as a backup, I had my checking account debit card, and two credit cards. One credit card was intended for larger expenses while in the UK to preserve cash, and the other was for emergencies. Thankfully, that one wasn't used at all.

I ate in pubs a lot, and bought a few meals for others (it was the least I could do when folks are putting me up for days at a time). Of course, there was an upward bump in the consumption of ale and cyder all over the country while I was there. I am sure that 80% of my fluid intake over the three weeks was alcoholic in nature.

I didn't buy a lot of souvenirs, save a Cornwall Pirates jersey for £50 ($78.54). I collected "beer mats" - known as coasters in this country. Of course, I spent £22 ($35) to mail home two glasses that were given to me, rather than deal with them in luggage, and I tossed in the jersey, too. It took exactly 7 days to make it across the pond, and it looks like they used the "dropkick" method of propulsion. Here's the pics:
I blurred the address, but you can clearly see where the top
was smashed in.
But my well-packed glasses survived unscathed! YAY!
So anyway, here's how the money went...(amounts may be off a bit due to exchange rates and fees that might be included but not itemized)

Item/StoreCost ($USD)Cost (£GBP)Notes
Purchased in  February, 2012
3 nights @ Murcott Mill Farmhouse B&B


Paid for when booked in Feb. 2012
SIM card and phone time$24.99 (card)
$40.00 (time)

Having a phone is essential. You'll need a GSM capable mobile. I bought a SIM card that would give me both a US and a UK phone number, so if there was a
reason someone in the US needed me, it
wasn't an international call, and I could
easily and cheaply call/text/data in the UK and my friends in the UK could
communicate with me without incurring
costs. It's a price I was more than willing
to pay.*
Converted cash at
$600.00 turned into £339.79 so I
would have walking around money.
Cash Point (ATM)
A £200.00 withdrawal was $311.52, plus
the $8.14 fee from my bank, so using an
ATM is MUCH cheaper than converting
at the airport!
A few of the
itemized cash

I used almost all of this £539.79, coming
home with about £0.93 in my pocket!
Most of this was spent on food, ale, small incidentals and admission fees. I also made a few charitable donations to the RNLI, the Wayside Museum, and a few others. I figure that £539 divided by 3 weeks is pretty cheap at £180/week!
Taxi in Cambridge
£6.00(these are included in the £539 above)
Bus from Cambridge
to Milton Keynes

£8.00OMG this travel is cheap!
Train from Milton
Keynes to Long

£10.90Did I mention that this travel is cheap!
Petrol (we drove a lot while wandering
around Crick and
the surrounding
area, and back to and in/around Cornwall)

£134.78And we in the US bitch about paying
$3.50/gallon for gas...the prices in the UK work out to about $7.92/gallon @ £1.34/Litre which seems to be near the
average price in the UK while I was there.
Souvenir #1$86.25£55.17A Bletchley Park Stamp Cover Set...very cool. I sent postcards to friends from the BletchleyPark Post Office. The cover set is neato!
Souvenir #2$78.54£50.00One of the few souvenirs I purchased was atWhirlwind Sports...a Cornwall Pirates jersey.
Food and Ale from Grocers like Tesco, Asda, Co-Operative$175.06£111.95Once again, a cheap way to have plenty ofbeer/ale and snacks available, plus I helped buy food for my hosts.
Admission to Warwick Castle
£28.20Yes, a tourist attraction, but one of the best preserved
old castles in the country. Very, very neat!
Foxton Locks$29.97
Food and a couple of souvenirs (hmm, where is that
Lock Badge?)
Train from Penzance$105.73

Overnight train back to Heathrow. Should have spent
a little more and gotten a sleeper berth.
Royal Mail (Post
$35.24£22.00I could not believe how much it cost to send this light box (like a couple of kilograms).
Half-Wave Breakfast
at Sunset Surf Shop
Fried egg (over easy), Cornwall sausage, Cornish pudding, rasher of bacon, grilled tomato, hash brown potato, and baked beans.
Final Dinner at The White Hart in Ludgvan, Cornwall$63.33

I had Roast Rump of Lamb, with Potatoes Au Gratin and Lima Beans with Spinach, and 3 pints...Derek had ham and eggs with chips, and a pint, then a small red house wine.

The total is $3483, plus or minus a bit. I know that sounds like a lot, but it was worth every penny. I am sure I could have saved a lot if we had eaten in more (self-catered), or drank a lot less.
Zennor Head

The view from the front window in Gwithian Towans,
the front garden, the car park is across the lane, then the
ocean, St. Ives Bay, and that is St. Ives on the peninsula
opposite side of the bay (top left).
* When I went to the UK for the first time in 2007, it was a comedy of travel errors. Late out of Richmond, later still into JFK. Missed connections, so flight was hours late. No ride at Heathrow. Noon bus to Cornwall was full. Next one was in 5.25 hours, arriving at 12:30AM. Late leaving, now arriving at 2:30AM. This is all communicated by pay phone to friend in Cornwall. Except the bus driver makes up 2 hours, and we arrive at 12:30AM. The only pay phone that accepts credit cards is broken (and I am out of change). The bus driver kindly sees me and allows me to use his mobile and my 2.5 hour wait turned into 30 minutes. I should have brought a phone. 
     Here's reason #2: I had a friend in Russia at the same time I was in the UK this year. He is 19 and was traveling abroad for the first time. When he got back to JFK airport in New York his connecting flight had been cancelled. He had change in his pocket, no credit card, and NO PHONE! Nate didn't take it because it wouldn't work in Russia. He managed to call home with the remaining change he had, and his dad had to arrange a hotel room, the shuttle, and figure out his new connecting flight to Washington, DC, then wait for Nate to call him back. It all worked out, but it was a pain. JUST TAKE A PHONE!!! You can even rent an international phone from your carrier, and pay less than buying a new phone, though the next time you upgrade, look for a phone that can do CDMA and GSM, it won't cost you any more. (Here's a parenting tip: teach your totally connected kid how to make COLLECT phone calls - this is still possible, believe it or not! Yes, I just dated myself, but I remember making collect calls when I was 14 and stranded in SC and home was WV. Saved my a$$!)
A regular at Tinner's Arms
     Getting a third party SIM card is easy, and the way to go. The SIM card is the "brain" of the phone. In my case, Verizon would have been happy to let me use my phone and my plan to make and receive calls. At $1.29 a minute, $0.29/text, plus I retain my US phone number. My 3rd party SIM card cost me a total of $65, but when I looked back at my usage, it worked out to about $0.40/minute or text, including the data usage which turned out to be important since the alleged Internet access in many places was poor or non-existent. This is a lot less than Verizon charges, and I had a UK phone number which made it so easy for my friends to get in touch with me without international charges to their plans. Note that typically you have to call your carrier's International Support number to get a special PIN to unlock your phone to use 3rd party SIM cards, but at least with Verizon, this was a 10 minute call with no hassles at all. Thank you, Verizon.

Somewhat different condiments in English pubs!
Narrowboat design


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