Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'I'm trying to make my free time exactly that – free'

In The Red
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The Independent Online

Guess what? I'm on holiday. Yes, again. I know, I know: it's only been a couple of months since the last one – but then that was the first I'd taken in God knows how long, so I feel like I'm entitled to a cheeky autumn break just this once. And, of course, I'm still here, occupying the money pages, so clearly I'm not entirely missing-in-action.

This time, though, I've decided not to go away. Well, I say decided, but it isn't as though I had much of a choice: lovely as my summertime stay in Cornwall may have been, it hasn't left much money for further travel arrangements.

So not only am I "staycationing" in the UK – but I'm taking in to the extreme: I'm "staycationing" in Bethnal Green, trying to sort out all those things that I haven't had time for, not least getting my house market-ready (that wall in the bathroom still has its hole, and my spare room still its untidy inhabitant).

Still, as budget as my break might be, I can't help but feel that I'll probably end up spending more money than if I was still in the office.

True, I won't be popping down to M&S or (worse) Whole Foods for lunches regularly – but at least being bound to a desk exercises some kind of forcible control over your wallet, with the only things I have time to spend money on being lunch and maybe the odd cup of tea.

Free time (because I'm hoping that I will get some of it, despite the copious amounts of life admin that need be accomplished first) necessitates entertainment, and there are only so many episodes of Come Dine With Me that I can contemplate watching. There are several films I want to see, for instance (particularly The September Issue (pictured below), which everyone else in the world appears to have already taken in).

And it's getting cold which, inevitably, necessitates a little wardrobe re-stocking (just a little!). None of which should occupy me for much longer than a grand total of... er, three days. Either I'm going to have to do a lot of cleaning, or I'm going to have to find a way to have fun for free. And fast.

So here's my plan: to find as much to do for as little as possible. This shouldn't be too difficult. London, after all, is renowned around the world for its free amenities: parks, museums, galleries. It's just a question of how long this can keep me entertained. I'll let you know how it goes next week.

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