Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Map Geek – Make it personal with romantic maps

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll already know what a geek I am when it comes to maps. Old, new and anything inbetween – maps are intriguing, enticing and informative. I’m the kind of person who wanders over to information maps on footpaths or in city centres and looks like a total tourist, but really I’m just interested in the map itself. Why is it here? What’s nearby? Any special information? Someone has taken the time to make that map and put it there, so surely there’s a reason that’s worth investigating. So it probably comes as no surprise that I also love to have maps in my own home too, and that’s where Mapify comes in. Read on to find out more about my Valentine’s map and how you can win your very own personalised map created just for you by Mapify in my giveaway – and there’s THREE prizes to be won!Thankfully, my husband is equally interested in maps, so when there’s an museum exhibit of old relief maps in the Lake District, or an exhibition of Max Gill’s famous street maps at The Lettering Arts Centre we are first in the queue to see it. I guess we’re well suited to each other, eh? So what better gift could I get for my husband this Valentine’s Day than a personalised map? Well, I’m pleased to say that it IS possible to create your own map of any location throughout the whole world, and have a fantastic quality print on your wall in a matter of days. Mapify is the serviceI used to make this special gift, and here’s how I did it.

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Why catching the bus is the thrifty travel option

Did you know that 4th-10th July is “Catch The Bus Week”? As a thrifty gal who likes to save money on travel this really interested me. Other than using park-and-ride services to travel into big cities like Cambridge and Norwich (which is a really thrifty way to park in cities like this, not to mention avoid sitting for hours in traffic!) I’ve not really been on a bus for quite a few years. But I remember it being a fun thing to set off on a trip by bus – especially when we were students – so ‘Catch The Bus Week’ (and the twitter hashtag #CTBW) really caught my attention and I wanted to investigate further.catch the bus weekWhen you consider the cost of owning a car (yes, those payments for insurance, car tax, MOTs and maintenance all add up!), combined with the fuel needed to make the trip, parking costs and the time it takes to sit in slow-moving traffic as busses zip past in the bus lane (time is money, my friend), I can’t believe that I hadn’t realised the thrifty nature of bus travel until now. It’s like having a pay-as-you-go vehicle, which totally makes sense to me – you only pay when you actually use it! And when I looked up bus fares this week I actually think that the price is less than I remember.biobusAnd I’ve not even mentioned the ecological benefits of only one vehicle travelling with numerous passengers. It would mean that roads are less congested, fewer emissions will be polluting the air in cities AND it rush hour will become a thing of the past. Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away here but travelling by bus is definitely something worth considering. I know that some regions have less-than-reliable bus services (we’re very rural here and catching a bus would be difficult) but there are lots of places you can easily travel by bus. Check out this interactive map to see some of the areas Stagecoach operate in.addenbrookes

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Map geek + Tips for adding personality to your rented home

Even though we all like our homes to reflect a little of our own style and personality, it can be difficult to make your house feel like a ‘home’ when you’re renting. Of course you can add your own furniture, pop some photos on the mantlepiece and throw down some colourful cushions, but the bare bones of the property – the walls – generally need to remain untouched. So how can you make a room feel cosy, comfortable and ‘yours’ when you’re restricted to magnolia paint and prohibited from wallpapering? Well, my solution is wall-art – and I’m talking some pretty large pieces too!map poster in loft apartment

A beautiful map makes a great focal point

When you can’t repaint a room or add a feature wall, investing in artwork is a great way to add personality and colour to an otherwise bland, rented apartment. Landlords tend to allow framed images to be hung on walls, as long as they are correctly fitted with picture-hooks etc – but don’t quote me on this, always be sure to check your tenancy agreement before you start to drill! If your landlord is happy for pictures to be hung on walls, you can make a big difference to your living space with some wall art and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune either..!abstract map posters in living room interior design ideasI’m a huge advocate of using posters to change the feeling of a room, to add colour and pattern to a bare wall, or to define a space for a specific use. And we all know that posters are one of the most thrifty pieces of wall art that money can buy – that’s why we plastered our teenage bedroom walls with low-cost posters! But I’m going one step smarter than simply blu-tacking a poster to the wall, I’m suggesting that you frame your posters and even group them together to create a gallery wall of coordinating (or contrasting, for that matter) images.

Create a gallery wall of curated images – isn’t this Mexico-inspired room fab?

And seeing as I love maps so much (remember my Map Geek articles last year??) I decided that a map would be the ideal solution for my living room. No more wallpapering for me; I can make a big impact with just a 120 x 100cm poster and it fills the space above my sofa perfectly. A huge poster of this size certainly gives the room a focal point and ties together all of the colours in the room. World maps are easy – and relatively cheap – to find, and always tend to be the largest prints around. But I don’t only want to stick to traditional world maps – I love something a little more arty and abstract and that’s where the collection at Posterlounge comes in.country and city map posters images

Wall-art makes a great gift too – how about framing a map of somewhere you’ve travelled with your friend as a birthday present? Continue reading “Map geek + Tips for adding personality to your rented home” »


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Map geek – Wear your map on your sleeve

I’ve got that map-Monday feeling and I want to show you all something I got for my husband this week; a map on a t-shirt. Not just any map – I could actually choose the location of the map and have it custom-printed. Cool, huh?maponshirt pillow and tshirts printing map geekThe company I went to for this personalised top is MapOnShirt.com. I could choose any spot on earth and the map would be recreated on the clothing product of my choice – or even a pillow! Fabric is sublimation printed with the graphics of the map chosen (and any text or markers you wish to add) and then stitched up into a classic t-shirt silhouette. I didn’t want any graphics or text on the t-shirt so I went ahead and ordered a simple map of the Suffolk coast.map geek maponshirt tshirt menswear fashion reviewmap geek maponshirt tshirt menswear fashion review-9map geek maponshirt tshirt menswear fashion review-7 Continue reading “Map geek – Wear your map on your sleeve” »


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Map Geek – Land by Anthony Gormley

I can’t believe it, we’re nearly at the school half-term holidays again! Where did the last 7 weeks go? If you’ve got children of school age you probably base your life around the academic calendar too and are looking forward to, or dreading (!), the impending half-term break. I thought I’d share with you a recent trip that we took to the Suffolk coast to give you a little inspiration for a day out during the holidays and, if you read on, there’s also a chance to nominate someone special to win a holiday to Majorca, but more about that later on!Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trustAntony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-9The reason for my recent trip to the seaside was to visit an art installation. To mark their 50th anniversary The Landmark Trust commissioned five art installations by Anthony Gormley as part of its LAND sculpture series. Each sculpture was created in response to the location and was installed on five different Landmark sites across the country. The sculpture that I visited was on the Suffolk coast so it was a fun visit to the seaside and an ideal day out for the school holidays.Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-15 Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-10 Continue reading “Map Geek – Land by Anthony Gormley” »


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Map geek – My guide to Southwold Pier

This week I took a trip to the Suffolk coast to enjoy a day of traditional seaside fun and, more importantly, to hunt out Southwold Pier. This hidden gem is a classic seaside attraction and I really can’t think of anywhere better to spend the day when the weather is as glorious as it has been over the past week. In fact, the pier itself is like a little micro-climate with the sea breezes keeping us cool on the hottest day of the year so it’s ideal for a summer trip. southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-4 Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-21 southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-5 southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-18southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-11Let’s start off by saying that I really, really like a good attraction map. I actually enjoy being handed a visitor’s guide when I arrive at a theme park, event, museum or visitor attraction. They are usually hand-drawn and often feature cute little comic characters and in-jokes that make me giggle.  I picked up the map of Southwold pier at a tourist information centre and immediately knew that I would enjoy visiting the attraction – it looked like lots of fun, with traditional penny arcades, tearooms and even a micro bandstand!

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Map Geek – Max Gill

MacDonald Gill, known as Max, was a major figure in the graphic art world in the first half of the 20th century. Back in November I visited an exhibition of his work at The Lettering Arts Centre completely by accident and I was fascinated by the maps on display. The exhibits were a recent discovery, found in a cottage in Sussex which had been Max Gill’s last home, and until then his work has gone largely neglected. I’d never heard of the designer until I stumbled upon this exhibition and I am so pleased that I stuck around to listen to the talk about his life and work.Max Gill map cartography exhibition_-7Max Gill map cartography exhibition_-12The one thing that you may know Max Gill for is his famous lettering work. The Imperial War Graves Commission appointed him to design the lettering alphabet and regimental badges for the standard military headstone after the first world war. This standard script is still used today and can be found on military memorials all around the country – a small yet very visible success for this little-known cartographer.Max Gill map cartography exhibition_-3It was his maps rather than his lettering that really sparked my imagination and I spent hours browsing the posters he’d designed. The muted colour palette was beautiful; each map was a gorgeous combination of mustard, denim blue and burnt red – all my favourite tones – so I was immediately drawn into the work and was compelled to take a closer look.

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Map Geek – Campus map of Huddersfield

Huddersfield is a very beautiful town in West Yorkshire, England. The special atmosphere of the city and architectural refinement attract thousands of tourists from around the world so today I’m focusing my map research on the town and its university. Its location – one hour from Liverpool, York, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and Birmingham and only three hours from London – makes the city an ideal place to explore different parts of the UK.  Huddersfield is a thriving and friendly regional centre in the north of the country. (c) Ms Carol Ann Lowry/DACS; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Huddersfield by L S Lowry

The lively city centre with its Victorian architecture is characterized by a magnificent combination of traditional and modern styles. It has the third tallest building in the United Kingdom – Victoria Tower on Castle Hill. Every year the city hosts many different festivals that attract a considerable number of tourists. One of these festivals is the festival of fire. It is usually held in November near the famous railway station in the city center. The beauty of landscapes surrounding Huddersfield is breathtaking. Local features provide plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor recreation.map-huddersfield-university

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Map Mondays – The Grandest Views exhibition, Keswick

Welcome back to my new weekly ‘map geek’ feature. Yes, I’m launching ‘Map Mondays’ here on the Cassiefairy blog because it turns out that I’m a huge map nerd and I’m sure I can’t be the only out there who really enjoys studying travel guides and decorating with maps. I kicked off my first Map Monday with a look at fun guides by Herb Lester to the most famous cities on earth; London and New York – check out the first post here.  And today I’m going to continue the story of how I came to discover that I am a secret fan of maps. the grandest views map exhibition keswick-3I was such a secret fan that I didn’t even know it myself. I thought that my husband was the geeky ex-scout who collected maps and practiced knots. However, it turns out that I too am a secret explorer, which I discovered when we took a holiday up north during the February half term. We tricked ourselves into believing that we were just taking a leisurely trip from the West to East coast but here’s what we never admitted to each other: the main reason we’d travelled north was to visit a map exhibition in the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.the grandest views map exhibition keswickWe’d watched a feature about this upcoming exhibition on Countryfile a few weeks before, and it was one of those stop-talking-and-stare-intently-at-the-TV moments. The presenters were looking at a scale model of the Lake District landscape and I was mesmerised by the animated maps and plaster-cast models. At the end of the TV show we found out that the exhibition was due to open just before our half-term holiday so we decided to incorporate a visit into our trip.

As we drove away from Blackpool (after our romantic day out at the tower ballroom for Valentine’s weekend), we casually decided to head up to the Lake District for a night in Shap. Shall we drive on to Keswick? We shrugged our shoulders as if it didn’t really matter, and headed towards the town. Having programmed the exact location of the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery into my phone satnav we ended up parking right outside the building, so ‘we might as well go in’.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-2Honestly, you’ve never seen a grown-up couple skip so excitedly towards a museum, nor has my husband’s wallet been opened so quickly as we paid the entrance fee. Just one door was between us and the whole reason we’d made the trip from East Anglia to the Lake District. As we entered the ‘The Grandest Views’ exhibition, my husband squeezed my hand and I knew it was okay to be a map geek that day.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-4I don’t remember if I squealed, but I definitely did a little jump as we rushed into the exhibition and saw the massive map for the first time. The gallery floor was covered with a huge Ordinance Survey map and squares had been lifted on plinths, showing the landscape relief maps that we’d come to see – the Mayson’s Model.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-8After spending time researching the project online it was really exciting to see it in ‘real life’. The project was initiated by Dr Gary Priestnall from the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham after the recent discovery of the original Mayson’s Lake District landscape moulds in 2013.  Back in 1875 these negative moulds were cast with plaster to create 210 relief tiles, which together made up a 14ft by 15ft map of the Lake District.

Mayson’s Ordnance Model was a popular tourist attraction at the time and commanded a viewing fee of one shilling, which is equivalent to £5-10 in modern money, but it was one of the most innovative visitor experiences of the era, mathematically replicating the first ever Ordnance Survey map of the Lake District, published in 1867.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-12As part of the new exhibition at Keswick Museum and Art Gallery a number of the original moulds of the Mayson’s model on display, as well as a couple of ‘new’ relief casts of the original Mayson’s landscape. A modern Ordnance Survey map at the same scale of the original model had been laid on the floor of the exhibition and sections of the map had been elevated to show how the landscape model would have looked back in 1875. One of the relief squares had been painted to replicate the original Mayson’s model, and another was a blank white plaster cast.

This relief cast excited me the most, as it’s corresponding map was projected onto the landscape block and merged the original 1967 Ordnance Survey map, into the current modern day version and through to a satellite image map, complete with a boat animation travelling across the lake. It was completely mesmerising and seeing the maps dissolve into each other was really relaxing so I spent a long time watching (and filming) the animation.

Even though the complete model hadn’t been cast yet, each of Mayson’s negative moulds had been photographed and the exhibition allowed visitors to take these negative images and attempt to find them on the Ordnance Survey map. Most of the landscape tiles had not yet been found on the modern day map, so if a visitor found a corresponding tile on the map, they would be credited as part of the University of Nottingham research project. Of course, my husband and I took on the challenge and spent hours trying to find the corresponding map for the landscape tiles. This was much harder than we initially thought –in fact it was impossible, we didn’t find any – which explains why researchers haven’t yet allocated each tile to a map square.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-3I am so pleased that we made the detour to Keswick to see this map exhibition as it really was a rather breath-taking to see the relief landscape and corresponding projection. Plus, I want that map flooring in my home!  The restoration project continues at the University of Nottingham will hopefully result in complete the model of Mayson’s landscape so I look forward to attending that exhibition in years to come. If you would like to visit this exhibition, there’s still time – ‘The Grandest Views’ runs until the 17th May at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery and I think it’s well worth the visit. Although I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a map geek 😉


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New ‘Map Geek’ feature every Monday

I’m a map geek. There, I said it. I love ’em and can’t get enough of them, hence my new ‘Map Mondays’ feature. And it’s not just maps that get me going – globes, travel guides and landscape installations all have me whipping my camera out quicker than you can say ‘tourist information centre’. Yes, I have a whole list of map-related articles in store for you over the coming months and I’m kicking this new feature off with a fantastic £25 gift voucher giveaway for TooWrappedUp.com! how_to_find_old_new_york5I never really realised just how ‘into’ maps I have been until this year. I always thought it was my husband’s hobby and, as an ex-scout, he was really good at understanding maps, taking me off the beaten track with nothing more than an Ordinance Survey fold-out and a compass in his backpack. Over the years, I’ve bought him countless books, globes and even a shower-curtain printed with the underground map, thinking that he was a massive map geek. It turns out that I was being much more self-serving than I imagined, choosing map-related homewares that I too liked the look of and spending hours pouring over the travel guides myself. a_pub_for_all_reasons2_1024x1024 Continue reading “New ‘Map Geek’ feature every Monday” »

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