Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'It's summer – no heating bills, thanks goodness'

In The Red

Okay, I should probably warn you: for the extent of this column there's going to be an elephant in the room. Or, rather, a rhino. Because I am not going to talk about the (whisper it) London Marathon. Nor am I going to talk about my fund-raising. Because the Big Day (aka the marathon, for which I have spend the past six months fund-raising) is tomorrow and, frankly, I'm too nervous to be reminded of it. Also, I've hurt my knee so it's all a bit of a sore point, so to speak.

Instead, I'm going to talk about the weather. Yes, that's right, the weather. And no, not in the sense of "Oh my gosh, isn't it hot? I'm not sure I can run in this weather." As in, "It's summer! Wahey! No more heating bills. Thank goodness. And much, much lower electricity. And days spent in the park instead of sitting in some overpriced café/cinema/restaurant." Summer, as well as being generally better for one's mental state, is infinitely superior to its colder cousin when it comes to saving money.

The one exception to this, of course, is the Summer Holiday. These rarely come cheap – as I learned to my (or my bank balance's) detriment last year when I attempted, folly of follies, a staycation. How naïve I was! Cornwall, it turned out, was lovely. But also, very, very expensive. Accommodation was considerably dearer than it would be abroad, and the cost of driving down made easyJet look like Primark. True, I didn't need to go away at all, but I'd saved up and thought my funds would go further. By day five, my boyfriend had reached the end of his overdraft and by day seven, I was getting there.

This year, however, I'm planning something else entirely: a week on a farm in Spain. It's ideal. Firstly, the nearest town is quite a way away – meaning that if I want to go and spend money, I'll have to make an effort. Also, Spain being the UK's favourite destination, the flights are numerous and cheap. I've managed to find a cottage to rent which, when divided between two people, works out at little more than a hostel but still has its own swimming pool.

It should be a delightful, well-earned break after ... well, I said I'm not going to mention it so I won't. Except to say this: if anyone fancies donating lastminute cash to Save The Rhino, you can do so at www.justgiving.com/alicerunsthemarathon. I'll let you know the outcome next weekend. Wish me luck!

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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