June was AMAZING. We just got back from our big adventures last night and I’m excited to catch up on all the comments today! We flew to Seattle on June 2nd, spent five days with Mr. T’s family on the Puget Sound, and then Mr. T and I ditched the kids with them and headed to the United Kingdom. We flew into London where we spent a week, then we drove through Stonehenge, Avebury, Stourhead, Bath, and over to Cardiff for a few days. From there, we zig-zagged up through Wales to the Lake District, drove over through Yorkshire, over to Whitby on the coast, up to Northumberland, and finished up in Edinburgh. From there we flew to Paris for the last 3 days and then back to Portland (my family) where we met up with our children and enjoyed a family reunion on the coast.
There will be more on the trip coming up in a few lessons we learned on the UK and London on a budget, but for those who care, I’ll mention a few things here.
First off, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! (That’s right! We saw the SECOND EVER preview of the show! If you don’t care about that, skip this whole long paragraph.) I will follow J. K. Rowling’s request to #KeepTheSecrets, but here are the things I feel I can say: The play opens at the train station with the same scene where the last book ends. And the moment they all run through the barricade, everyone on stage spun once and were immediately in their Hogwarts robes. And the play continued to amaze. The staging of the magic was fantastic. The Crowd was hot and gasped, clapped, and cackled appropriately. Everyone is amazing, though I’m not a huge fan on the guy who plays Draco. He seems too confident, large, and gruff for the little whiny character we’re used to. Harry is just as brash as always and so is his son. The story is really about Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter. Lupin’s son is never mentioned, which I found surprising. The magic was great, as mentioned, but the actual wizarding duals ended up a bit hokey, which was actually really surprising because none of the other effects seemed hokey at all. I also cannot imagine only getting tickets to Part 1. It obviously ended on a big cliff hanger and there wasn’t even a curtain call. The lights just went up. And even though you sort of knew where the story was headed and you were totally interested in it getting there, when it did, it was kind of disappointing. The play is staged on a giant rotating stage which helped with the amazing choreography of scenes. It really was magical. We saw Part 2 the following week and it was less magical than the first, though the wizarding duels were much more convincing than the first one and the story itself was better. Rowling said if you didn’t cry, she questioned your humanity. I didn’t cry because we felt like the finale could have gone further. I really expected it to get to the point of tears, but it ended before then. The story itself was satisfying. It redeemed itself after Part 1 being somewhat predictable. Obviously, I’m really ready to discuss it with everyone once you read it! So please message me when you do! Everyone went crazy at curtain call. The cast came out three times to bow. Overall, my favorite characters/actors were Harry and Scorpius. And I’m so glad I was able to go to such a historic production!
Other Trip Highlights:
- Seeing the Queen at Trooping of the Colour (plus the whole royal family!)
- Meeting up with Brandon from Mad Fientist and his wife in Edinburgh – This community is so fabulous! We had a fabulous brunch and, though we’ve never spoken, it was like seeing an old friend.
- Having a traditional Sunday roast with a large, extended Welsh family I stayed with over ten years ago during my study abroad to London.
- Going to the Fan Zone right by the Eiffel Tower during Euro 2016 (go Wales!).
- Whitby, Brimham Rocks, Malham Cove, Caerphilly Castle, Orrest Head (lake district), Durham Cathedral, Cardiff Castle, (too much to name! It was all fabulous!)
Blunders of the Trip:
- We were charged $13.86 from an ATM in the Edinburgh airport that didn’t even give us the cash! (We avoided all other ATM fees by using any bank ATMs with our Capital One 360 Checking Account Debit Card.)
- Our Bed and Breakfast in the Lake District closed check-ins at 8:30pm (which we did not know). They completely left and when we arrived at 8:45pm, we no longer had a place to stay. Luckily, the kind lady that worked at the B&B next door (who said they were horrible and did this to lots of their guests) found us a room down the road at a lovely hotel her friend worked at. She even talked the rate down by $50. We were just grateful to have a place to stay! The B&B refused to refund our money (for the record, this was the only one we booked NOT on AirBNB… all of our AirBNB experiences were awesome!), so I’ll try claiming it with the travel insurance benefit of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Otherwise, we’re eating the $130 we spent to NOT sleep there!
- Brexit happened the last few days of our trip, so we really didn’t get to take advantage of the awesome exchange rate. Grrr!
- $519.59 – The total amount we spent on food this month! We ate at some really nice places in expensive cities, but since we don’t drink, that helps with cost tremendously when traveling. We also had breakfast at most of our accommodations, so we went out for an early dinner and usually only ate two meals a day.
- $38.41 – Books we bought the kids for souvenirs to bring home.
- $5.98 – A Golden Snitch necklace and a time-turner Harry Potter necklace shipped from China to my children “from the Harry Potter studios” (you can find anything on eBay!).
- $407.69 – Transportation costs (not counting the rental car which was prepaid a few months ago). This includes all public transportation in London and Paris (underground, bikes, buses, trains), petrol for our rental car in the UK, parking charges, and the toll to cross the Severn River in Wales.
WE DID IT! We broke $100,000 in investments! And guess what? We weren’t even paying attention! THIS is how I want my finances to be all the time. Mr. T and I were gallivanting around Europe while our finances did their thing without us and they treated us to our FIRST BIG NUMBER! As of market close yesterday, our investments were at $101,100. Our mortgage now has a remaining balance of $70,218. Momentum is building! Here’s to rolling faster! Happy summer, friends!
Financial Phrases will return next month. I heard lots of interesting things whilst on vacation, but failed to write them down at the time and don’t want to misquote anyone. I’ll get back into my groove this month.