Week eleven: tantrums and tiaras

London 2012, Polskie Delikatesy, Roman Road, Bethnal Green


Wake up with: £50

Go to bed with: £40.50

It’s my beautiful older sister’s birthday this week, so the budget is accordingly reduced; it’s also time to start scaling down in anticipation of a couple of events later in the month.

The latter half of the afternoon at work is torture; Murray’s playing in the Wimbledon semi-final and I am itching to watch it. When the clock strikes 5.30, I leap on my bike and pedal home as quickly as my legs will take me. The husband’s return signals the start of the Great Clear Out: this weekend we’re going to dismantle his beloved playroom study and turn it into a spare bedroom. Poor boy! To cheer him up (and to satisfy my craving once and for all) I offer to nip out and get us a curry goat from the local Caribbean. Two curry goat with rice and peas and a side of plantain = £9.50. Yum.


Wake up with: £40.50

Go to bed with: £30.08

The husband goes to work and I seize the opportunity to escape the DIY for the day: I cycle over to Roman Road to meet the girls for some marvellous market action. We fill our bags with bounty from the fruit and veg stall and the Polish delicatessen, then nip into a salon to have our eyebrows threaded for the bargain price of £3, before retiring to the sporty one’s house around the corner for a lunch of halal rotisserie chicken, salad and olives, followed by lebkuchen all from the market. Heaven.

Meanwhile, the husband has been hard at work ripping out his desk unit and the old boiler cupboard. We spend the rest of the afternoon daubing polyfilla about indiscriminately until we declare it time for tea. The husband declares he wants a fish and chip supper and I’m not about to stop him (as long as he pays). There’s something about spending Friday and Saturday night doing DIY that makes us crave junk food: perhaps it harks back to the early days when we didn’t have any furniture and we just ate pizza (not even the good pizza) off a cardboard box, while staring dismally at the nicotine-stained wood-chip waiting to be stripped off by our own fair hands…


Wake up with: £30.08

Go to bed with: £15.73

It’s Wimbledon final day, the fridge is full with yesterday’s haul and the husband is going out. I spend a glorious day pottering about, with every TV and radio in the house tuned in to the tennis. The husband gets home in time for a tea of homemade gnocchi and pesto.


Wake up with: £15.73

Go to bed with: £5.06

Home via Sainsbury’s to cook this evening’s supper club meal: braised pork belly and stuffed marrow. I decide to use a few of my loyalty points to bulk up the store cupboard: I’m going to require a lot of pasta to get through the rest of the month. The boys aren’t interested in my gooseberry and elderflower sorbet, which I’m thrilled about: all the more for me!


Wake up with: £5.06

Go to bed with: £0.06

Woohoo! I have the day off today. I also have ten million errands to run, so it’s up at 9.30 (that is VERY early in my book), and straight into town to work through the to-do list. Unfortunately, I do not have any credit on my Oyster card, so my last fiver for the week is sacrificed at the Transport for London altar. Still, cycling is not feasible: it has not stopped raining for about three months and I have emergency supplies to buy for my stepmother, a bridesmaid’s dress to find and purchase, essential wedding accoutrements to track down as part of my matron-of-honour-ly duties, a carpet to choose and two wedding presents to buy. The former three do not involve my own money, so I will be paying by card for those but I will have to be extremely careful not to get carried away as per the last time the magic plastic came out.

In fact, one of the reasons I am buying wedding presents in an actual shop rather than on a computer is because I am trying to stick to my no-card rule. Human interaction it is. It feels ridiculously old-fashioned and I get some really funny looks from the customer services desk when I ask if I can look up the relevant wedding lists and pay in cash. I haven’t yet accounted for these in the budget so technically it is cheating but it would be foolish to pay the tube fare twice; as my Gran always says “never waste a journey”.

By the end of the day, I can’t bloody wait to get back to work. This day-off lark is exhausting!


Wake up with: £0.06

Go to bed with: £0.06

The day does not start well. The builder of kitchen-fame is due to pop round and give us a quote for fixing the hole in our bathroom wall (a product of the exploding shower debacle), and to fix the hallway ceiling following the water-tank leak. My hackles are up from the off: I am not a morning person and can’t really stomach any interaction before 10am or three coffees, whichever comes first. When I try to pin him down on a start date and his reply is ‘maybe sometime next week’, I have to leave the house before I say something I regret. I just cannot live on a building site any longer. I cycle to work furiously but, by the time I get there, I’m beginning to feel guilty and sheepish for snapping at the husband and being rude to the builder. Luckily, the husband emails to say he has found someone else who is available to start on Friday. Thank the lord and bless the husband!

My guilt over my brat-like behaviour only increases when the husband gets home and announces that he has cashed in his collection of coppers and is taking me out to dinner with the proceeds. Is he trying for some sort of award or what?

This coin collection has been building for 10 years: every single night he empties his pockets when he gets home from work. And every night, I pick up the pile of screwed-up receipts, change, cufflinks and other man detritus from wherever he has left it and dump it on his desk. Well, sometimes I keep the change, but most the time it filters through to one of the carrier bags that he’s been filling with coppers ever since I’ve known him. Why? I do not know. But I am very glad to see the back of it and even more glad to go on a date with the love of my life. It’s been five long weeks since we went out for dinner together. We share two starters and a main, and buy a Magnum on the way home for pudding.


Wake up with: £0.06

Go to bed with: £1.52

The builder is due tomorrow, and the husband has resolved to repaint the house this weekend, so every last thing must be cleared from the study, hallway and sitting room and into the kitchen. I pick up a box and find yet another pile of change underneath. Finders, keepers!


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