Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Improving your student house in Nottingham on a budget, written by my daughter

I have lived in my current student house in Nottingham for the last year. Being creative, I was keen to improve my student room from the mish-mash of bland furniture that my room contained. I am not one for lots of posters and wanted to make my room feel home like home and add some of my own style. However, being a student there was one obvious barrier to this – Money! I could easily find lots of things I wanted in my bedroom in my student home, but unfortunately most of my tastes didn’t meet my budget. This is where my creative side came in!
My student home in Nottingham was located very near the city centre. Luckily, Nottingham has a large city centre and a wide range of shops from expensive designer shops to pound and charity shops. I actually started my search for bits and pieces for my room in some of the more pricey shops, the ones I would have gone to at home with my parents. It was then I realised that paying £15 plus for a cushion was not going to suit my student budget. This is when I realised I needed to be creative in order not to compromise on the final effect.
The first thing I desperately needed was a full length mirror, essential when getting ready for those nights out. I had a look around some charity shops located near my student home and came across a full length mirror with a plain wooden frame for £3.50. It was in good condition but did not quite have the style I wanted. My room was currently quite bare and dull looking apart from a purple duvet my parents had bought me. I decided that I wanted a purple frame to match. I went to Wilkinson’s and picked up a tester pot of purple paint, a cheap brush and some masking tape for £5. I then masked off the edge of the mirror and painted the frame purple. One dried I peeled off the tape and had a great, unique mirror.
The next thing I wanted was some pictures. I love flowers and butterflies but couldn’t afford expensive pictures or canvases. I had a look around some DIY shops and found some wallpaper I liked. Although you are not allowed to decorate in most student homes, especially not with wallpaper, I love the designs and cut some rectangles of wallpaper out and placed them in cheap frames to make some stylish pictures. If you don’t know, most DIY stores let you tear of samples of wallpaper rolls to take home so you can easily get enough for a few pictures from free samples. There is nothing better than things which are free!
Another issue I had was storage. I have loads of clothes and trying to fit them into the limited storage in my room in my student accommodation wasn’t very successful. I found a small bookcase for £5 in a charity shop. I then discovered cheap vacuum bags in a pound shop – great for storing thick jumpers in the summer months. I also had some paint left over from the mirror and used this to paint some old shoe boxes which were great to place on top of a chest of drawers for storing cosmetics. I also found boxes which I received jewellery in for presents were usually quite attractive and useful for storing hair bobbles and clips.
I also found trawling round cheap shops was rewarding and I picked up some real bargains. My favourite was a purple lampshade with black flowers on from The Range for £1.99! Some of my other favourites include Pound Shops (it is surprising what you can get for a pound!), Wilkinsons, Supermarkets, Ikea (if you have someone who can drive it is just of Junction 26 of the M1), Argos, Home bargains, B&M bargains and Dunhelm Mill.
Now I am in my third year at University, my second in my student house in Nottingham and think I have finally got my room just how it! Though I always have an eye out for a bargain…I can’t resist!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Throwing a Student Party in Nottingham

One great thing I have found about living in a Student House in Nottingham, is the ability to throw a great party. Although we have needed to ensure that we don’t disturb the neighbours too much and made sure they relatively small affairs, they have been a great part of student life and one big advantage of choosing to live in student accommodation rather than living at home. I have found that the best parties we have thrown or been to have been ones that have had a theme and have involved some type of dressing up. Having a theme for a party definitely gets everyone in the right mood. I am going to share with you some of my top themes for parties and also where you can get hold of the things you need. This is based on what is available in Nottingham, although I am sure similar things are available in different cities.

The first theme we ever had was a cowboy/girl theme. The idea for this came out of a trip round the 99p shop at the top of the Broadmarsh shopping centre where we stumbled across cowgirl hats for 99p. We were thinking about having a party for one of our housemates birthday and saw the hats and thought they would be great to wear for her birthday. This was an easy theme to do as apart from the hat the rest of the outfit was easy to put together. We all has denim skirts, shorts or jeans and but the time we has plaited our hair and added a few freckles with some brown eyeliner the look was complete. We downloaded a few well known tracks to fit the them such as ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ and ‘5,6,7,8’ to get the party started. The party was well received by all those who attended, who all really went for it with dressing up. One person even turned up on a singing hobby horse! This was the start of themed parties amongst our student friends.
The next party we decided to go for a glam red carpet theme. We created some cheap cocktails (search for cheap student cocktails for ideas) and found some plastic martini and champagne glasses in the pound shop on Lister Gate, Nottingham. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford Champagne so cheap sparkling wine did the trick. We also found some feather boas and plastic tiaras in pound shops too. The cocktails were very popular and we asked people coming to bring spirits and mixers to add to the collection. We had a great night making cocktails, although I would not recommended throwing bottles like you see the professionals do! Apparently, it is very easy to drop them!
Another popular party we held at our student house was an eighties theme. For this shops like Primark and H&M were great for clothes and pound shops and EBay were good for accessories. A great place to get cheap old CD’s we found is ‘That’s entertainment’ which is located near Tesco’s on Nottingham’s Victoria Centre, This shop sells preowned CD’s and DVD’s starting from about 99p each. We spent about £6 on a few 80’s compilation albums which meant that we could just put them on and not worry about finding suitable songs. We also set up sing star with 80’s tracks which was fantastic entertainment for the night.
Another great excuse for a party is Halloween. We found lots of shops in town and supermarkets stock lots of stuff to decorate your house cheaply. As budget our budget was tight, we focus on decorating one room in the house to make more of an impact, rather than spreading the decorations we had throughout our house. A friend of ours had an apple tree in the garden of their student house, which provided lots of apples for apple bobbing, which was quite interesting after a few drinks.
We are currently looking forward to our next party and are toying with either a ‘uniform’ or ‘school days’ theme. Hopefully we will find some more bargains in town.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

WOW! My sons accommodation needs

Ok, it seems I have failed to teach my son anything about money! We are trying to find some appropriate student accommodation in Nottingham for when he moves there at the beginning of next term. I’m not being tight, and I genuinely want him to be comfortable and happy wherever he ends up living but I refuse to be suckered in by those charging a premium for shiny new televisions and leather suites! My son may be house hunting for the first time but I have been there, done that and got the tshirt and I’m just not falling for it no way…!

As I mentioned before we travelled down to Nottingham the other week to view a few student properties we had found on line. Well in general we were pretty impressed with the standard of accommodation on offer and we shor tlisted about 3 that we both agreed were reasonably priced and within the right area. At least that's what I thought anyway, turns out my beloved little boy had different ideas and he is now trying to persuade me to part with a bit more cash for a swanky new build which is granted, built specifically for students and very nice but nowhere near where he needs to be and by no means cheap!

We set up a savings account for Liam years ago to help him out when he was ready to go to uni, buy a house or a car, whatever….just a bit of a leg up for when he left school. There is a couple of grand in there so not a fortune and I don’t expect it to last long but now it seems it will be swallowed up in no time in rent alone. I’m sure the student accommodation in Nottingham is pretty much the same as anywhere else in the country. But as Nottingham has such a high proportion of students there seems to be quite a bit of competition between various letting agencies and landlords to offer the best deals and fill as many properties as they can. In my opinion a bit of competition is usually a good thing but it can sometimes cloud your judgement, particularly if you are an excited 19 year old leaving home for the first time.

The new builds are great I have to agree. Secure, modern, and well placed around shops, bars and takeaways. Liams excited because one of them has an onsite gym that is free to use. I don’t know why, he hates sport and has never set foot in a gym in his life!! Anyway i’m not convinced they offer the same value for money as some of the older properties that have been well maintained and kitted out to accommodate half a dozen students under one roof. For me, when I was at uni,  thats what being a student was all about. Ruffing it a bit and making some really good friends through sharing some quite dodgy experiences!!

Kids these days!! They just expect so much more than we ever did. I never thought finding student properties would be so complicated.  I’m sure we will find a compromise somewhere along the line but I am standing firm on this one.It is my responsibility to help him make the right decision and to make him realise that Mother is always right!!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Fleeing The Nest

New blogger alert!! My name is Mary and I am a 42 year old mother of two. My eldest son Liam has just finished his A levels and will soon be heading off to his new student accommodation in Nottingham to continue his education. I am absolutely bursting with pride, he has worked really hard to get to this point and I know he will go on to be really successful in whatever he chooses to do. But along with the excitement I am also feeling a little sad, worried and nervous about how he will cope so far from home.  I am sure there will be thousands of anxious parents out there who are feeling exactly the same as me right now, so I just thought I would share my thoughts with you as our little angels prepare to head out into the big bad world all alone.

It seems like only yesterday I was holding him in my arms nursing him to sleep. When they say ‘cherish every moment, they grow-up so fast’ I now know exactly what they mean. When I look at him now I just can’t believe how fast he has grown and in a few short weeks he will be leaving home to live in Nottingham...miles away!! We live in Scarborough so it is quite a trek down to Nottingham. we will probably only see Liam in the holidays once he has moved.

Last week we spent a few days looking at student properties in Nottingham wit the help of shields student homes. I have to say things have improved somewhat since I was at university. Students used to make do with a cramped bedsit and it was almost a competition to find the grottiest hovel you could.
Seriously….! Some students would actually take some kind of sick, twisted pride in the fact they had never cleaned the loo! We had already found several student properties we were interested in viewing online. Rent seems to vary depending on the size, location and standard of accommodation but it all seems fairly reasonable. Nottingham has a huge student population and certain areas are virtually overtaken by students. This has put my mind at rest a little bit, at least I know he won’t be walking around alone in an unfamiliar city.

Liam would go nutty if he knew I was writing about him in this way so I am hoping he does not find out!  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how easy it is to completely destroy the street cred of a 19 year old boy. But this blog is not intended to embarrass him in any way, it is simply my way of dealing with the fact my little boy is fleeing the nest to live in student accommodation in Nottingham.  Hopefully by sharing my thoughts and experiences I can  help other Mummys (can’t remember the last time he called me that!) through this difficult but incredibly proud and happy time.