On Saturday, I headed over to Freeport, a local outlet shopping village in Braintree, for some shopping and a spot of lunch. Normally she. When we go to Freeport we end up having lunch at either Prezzo or Pizza Express but Wildwood has recently opened at the village.

It was Wildwood’s huge selection that appealed to us as well as the warm feeling that the restaurant gave us when we walked past. We decided to go in and we were greeted by a friendly waitress who showed us to a booth.

The staff were quick to see to us and we ordered our soft drinks and a jug of water. Unfortunately, the glasses were warm which is always something that bugs me but as it was a Saturday lunchtime I put this down to it being busy.

With a range of grills, pizzas and pasta as well as specials, making a decision on what to order wasn’t easy. We all shared some garlic bread for starters and ordered one rosemary and garlic bread and one mozzarella and garlic bread (without caramelised onions)…it was amazing. I’m a huge fan of garlic bread anyway but this garlic bread was on another level and the portions were huge. The garlic and rosemary bread was £4.40 and the mozzarella and garlic bread was £5.55 so fantastic value for money.


For mains, I ordered a cheese burger (completely plain because I’m super fussy) with fries. I regularly order a burger when out for lunch/dinner so I had plenty to compare to and this burger definitely didn’t disappoint. With loads of Monterey Jack cheese and a well cooked beef burger, it was delicious. The bun was a bit too soft for my liking but I know that this is just a personal preference as some people like a soft bun. The chips were lovely too with a hint of rosemary for extra taste, the only downside is that they weren’t particularly warm but because they tasted so good, I didn’t mind too much. This burger was £11.65 which for the size I do think is a lot but the quality was good and I expect that if I went during a quieter time for the restaurant, this meal would be even better.


Overall, we had an amazing meal and I would definitely go back to Wildwood next time I’m at Freeport especially as with such a great selection of food, I know there’s something for everybody to enjoy.

2016 for me, was amazing. It was full of travels to places included Dominican Republic, Brussels, Dublin and Marbella which I think both myself and Liam needed to get out of our systems before we become real adults and have to start paying for bills and being sensible with our money. Although, I have no doubt we’ll still fit in a cheeky holiday or two this year!

Out of all of our 2016 adventures, one sticks out the most…Dublin. On the August bank holiday weekend, a group of eight of us headed to Stansted airport early on Saturday morning to catch a flight to Dublin.

I’d done no research on Dublin prior to visiting (unless you count watching P.S I Love You 1027264 times!) but I’d had recommendations from friends and family to visit two places, Temple Bar and the Guinness Factory.

After arriving at the hotel and leaving our suitcases we headed into the centre for a bit of breakfast and stumbled across a traditional Irish pub full of a group of Irish men all drinking Guinness…I kid you not, it was like something from a film. After a couple of drinks in this quieter pub, we headed on to another local pub before deciding it was time to head over to Temple Bar to see what all of the fuss was about. By this time, it was about 1.pm and we were already all rather drunk. Temple Bar is basically a strip of traditional Irish pubs that attract tourists with traditional Irish museums and a constantly buzzing atmosphere. We found one particular pub that we all loved, the music and atmosphere were amazing and we ended up staying there for a few hours before heading home to get changed and come back for the evening.

What I loved most about Dublin was how friendly everybody was; whether this was the barman, the taxi driver or the local on the dancefloor with you. All of us agreed that it was the best weekend of our lives and I am now waiting for the perfect excuse to head back there. It’s something that I never thought I’d say but I’d choose going back to Dublin over a week in the sun.

Food and drink at Temple Bar are expensive and are a similar price to a night out in London but as long as you save in advance and prepare yourself I think it’s worth it and accommodation can be found very cheap. Additionally, to save some money you can eat and have pre-drinks outside of Temple Bar but for me, it was this atmosphere that completed the weekend.

After a weekend of drinking, eating and exploring I think it’s fair to say that Dublin has well and truly stolen my heart!

 

It’s a real bugbear of mine that in school we’re taught about the periodic table, algebra and what causes an earthquake but we’re not taught valuable life lessons such as how to get a job or a mortgage. When it came to buying a house, I knew nothing, my parents haven’t bought a house in 19 years and a lot has changed since then so we had a lot to figure out.

Here are 5 things I wish I’d known before I started looking at houses:

1.There’s no limit on how many houses you can view – If there’s 10 or even 15 houses on the market that you love then view them all because even if you don’t like any of them, you’ll begin to get an idea on what you do/don’t like and can start limiting your search down.

2. Do your research – An estate agent’s job is to sell you a house so as much as they’ll enjoy telling you all of the perks of the property, they won’t be so keen to tell you anything else so it’s down to you to do your own research. Whether this be to find out if the road is noisy, parking’s a nightmare or if your neighbour has a loud dog that barks all night; this is all things that you need to find out for yourself.

3. Register your interest – If like I was, you find yourself scrolling through Rightmove everyday waiting for new properties to be uploaded then make sure you’ve registered your interest with your local estate agents. You can specify to an estate agent exactly what you’re looking for and your budget and they’ll send you properties that fit this criteria 48 hours before they are uploaded to Rightmove so that you can have the first chance to organise a viewing/put an offer in.

4. Pictures don’t tell the full story – Life would be easy if all was as it first seemed and house buying is the same. The pictures uploaded to Rightmove have been done to paint the house in the best light possible so don’t be disheartened if the house doesn’t look as it did in the pictures when you go to view it.

5. Stay positive – It’s really rubbish when you feel like you’ve looked at loads of properties and not loved any of them but stay positive, your perfect house will come along.

* Image taken from Google

Saving has never been a strong point for me. However, to buy our first home we’ve had to be strict with ourselves which isn’t easy when you have a borderline addiction when it comes to shopping and spending money on random rubbish you don’t truly need.

At the end of 2016, financial experts recently released results from a study that 2017 is going to the be the year of ‘spending less and saving more’ when it comes to new year resolutions. For most of us, this is easier said than done so I’ve pulled together my top tips for saving this year.

1 – Open a help to buy ISA  This one is only relevant if it’s a house that you’re saving for but help to buy ISA’s are brilliant. For every £1 you put in, the government will give you 25p for free towards your first home. You can put a maximum of £1,200 in the account during the first month of opening it and then £200 a month moving forward. I set up a direct debit so that the £200 came out every month but if you can’t afford to put this much away every month then start with a smaller amount as it quickly adds up.

2 – Save your coins and small notes – Make a promise to yourself to never spend any coins or £5 notes. Every time you get a coin or £5 put it into a pot that can not be opened without being broken. Once the pot is full, open it up; you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve saved without even realising.

3 – Be strict on pay day – As fun as it is to head straight into town on payday, be strict with yourself and take away the temptation by transferring a big chunk of your wages straight into your saving account and only leaving yourself enough money to pay the bills and how much you’d have left to spend if you moved out. E.g if you get paid £1,000 a month and your bills would come to £700 then only leave £300 for ‘fun stuff’.

4 – Swap nights out for nights in – Nights out are great but nights in don’t have to be boring. Get all of your friends together and have a night in with some drinks and a takeaway at the fraction of the price of a night out.

5 – Be realistic – You’re never going to be able to save every single penny that you earn and that’s totally okay. Be realistic with yourself about how much you can save every month and stick to it. If you start beating yourself up that you haven’t saved enough then you’ll become down heartened quickly and lose motivation.

Are you looking at houses? Take a look at five things I wish I had known before I started looking…

*Image taken from Google.