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Meet a UK Reader | Allison

Hello, everyone!

Today we are meeting a London reader; she owns a horse, who also lives in London (which is a bit surprising!)

Here’s Allison: 

1. Tell us a little about yourself

I grew up in western Canada, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, but have spent most of my adult life in London in the UK.

I moved here in 2005 to go to graduate school, expecting to stay for nine months…and 17 years later I am somehow still here!

A bridge in London.

My walk home from work, along the River Thames

I sort of stumbled into a big career – I did a favour for a boss many years ago, turned out to be rather good at it, and now lead a team of 12 doing this very niche thing for a Very Big Company, which is a lot of fun.

But it is also lots of hours (especially as I work with colleagues all over the world…it’s not unusual for my day to start with a virtual meeting with Hong Kong or Australia and finish with a catch up with San Francisco).

Balancing the stress of a big career and helping me stay in shape is Willow, my four-legged dance partner.

A woman riding a horse over a jump.

A young and crazy me show jumping with Willow the pony

I grew up around horses, and while urban London seems like a strange place to keep a horse, she lives in a little patch of green in the city and she helps keep me grounded and sane – it’s hard to be stressed out or hurried when a horse is munching away next to you.

Teaching her dressage keeps me nicely focused on being present in the now, and hauling hay (and, um, formerly-known-as-hay) is a much better workout than the gym.

I’d always wanted to be a parent, but my career got in the way (it’s hard to date when you work a 70 hour week!)…and then covid hit, my baby sister had her first baby, and suddenly I knew exactly what I wanted.

Thanks to a very generous man I’ll never meet in California who went to the time and effort to become a sperm donor, and the good offices of some lovely doctors, and a healthy dose of good fortune, I welcomed my little man into the world in June last year. 

A baby in a highchair

My son watching the laundry (we don’t have a tv, but he thinks the laundry is just fascinating)

I won’t lie – juggling a baby and a horse and a more-than-full-time job in the midst of a pandemic has been a challenge, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

A woman with a horse and a baby.

2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?

I think since about 2010?

You’re not that much older than I am, but our lives have taken very different paths, and I love getting a window into what life might have been like if I’d married my high school sweetheart instead of moving to Europe!

Kristen interrupting here: when Allison emailed to volunteer for our Meet a Reader series, she included this tidbit, which I loved:

“In the nicest possible way, you remind me of my maternal grandmother – warm, upbeat, always interested in others, and always with a frugal solution to any problem, and your blog makes me feel like I always did settling in at her kitchen table to hear how things are going (we lost her many years ago).”
As you all know, I have such lovely memories of my own grandmother, who we lost many years ago, so I was very touched to hear that my blog reminds Allison of her own grandma! 

3. How did you get interested in saving money?

My mom’s family were farmers during the Great Depression, and my dad’s parents lived through World War II in England, so I grew up in a house that was steeped in “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”. My mom was also a stay at home mom with three kids in five years while my dad built his law practice from scratch, so there was never much money when we were little.

Mom made most of our clothes and all of our bread growing up, and my grandmothers knit and canned and pickled and preserved and gardened.

I paid my own way through two university degrees and after I graduated with my masters, the first job I had didn’t pay enough to cover my living expenses, so I got frugal fast!

4. What’s the “why” behind your money-saving efforts?

I save money because I never want to be in a position where I have to say no to doing something that will be a unique or unforgettable experience because I can’t afford it.

A London living room.

Which is how I bought a home in London on a single salary, joined my sister for a wedding in Iceland when her date bailed, flew to Canada for a weekend to go camping with my nephew, bought Willow the pony when she came up for sale (I really wasn’t shopping for a horse!), and ultimately had a baby on my own.

5. What’s your best frugal win?

Learning to bake from scratch.

I have lovely scones for breakfast most mornings, despite being gluten, dairy, and soy free, because I mastered baking to the point I no longer need a recipe to knock something together out of whatever is in the fridge that week.

Leftover cranberries? Mushy pears? Underripe plums? I’ve got a scone for that!

6. What’s a dumb money mistake you’ve made?

Self-directed online classes.

I always think they’ll be interesting and I’ll learn so much, and isn’t it great that I can do it on my own time?

No. I buy them and I never do them. I’m someone who needs the class to be happening at a particular time, live and in person and I will show up.

Something that can be done at any time is never done (in this house at least!)

7. What’s one thing you splurge on?


I have to leave my credit cards at home if I’m going into a bookstore or I will spend All My Money on books. If anything it’s worse now I have a son, because I now have two people to buy books for!

8. What’s one thing you aren’t remotely tempted to splurge on?

Beauty products.

I never wear makeup and my toiletries consist of a bar of soap, a pot of shampoo, some deodorant and toothpaste. Whole aisles of the supermarket are a mystery to me.

9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it?

I’d put half of it towards savings, and use the other half to treat the family – a pedicure and a new book for me, a fun outing and a new book for the little man, and a bag of parsnips and horsebox rental so Willow can have a day out and visit some of her pony friends in the countryside.

A baby holding a book.

That’s a bit more extravagant than I would have been a year ago because some good fortune at work has left my little family in a much better financial position than we expected to be.

10. Share a frugal tip with other Frugal Girl readers

Mastering frittata, stir fry, and fritters makes short work of food waste – very little that’s in your fridge can’t be folded into one of those three things, and they’re great for using up little bits leftover from other recipes.

11. Is there anything unique about frugal living in your area?

London has a reputation as an expensive city, but culture is surprisingly accessible – most of the big museums are free, and if you know where to look you can often see big-name actors live on stage for the same price as a movie ticket.


Allison, I love that you included a photo of a Sandra Boynton book! We had that particular one and I read it so many times. “But NOOOOOOTTTT the hippopotamus!” 

I just loved her books; they are one of the few baby/toddler items I kept when my kids grew up. I have so many memories wrapped up in reading those books to my kids, I couldn’t bear to give them away. 

About your scones: do you have a basic recipe that you just modify for whatever you need to use up? Or do you have a big collection of different scone recipes?

And one more question: have you picked up a British accent after having lived in London for so long? 

Readers, the floor is yours! 

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Val C.

Wednesday 9th of March 2022

You seem like such an interesting person, Allison. Thank you for sharing your unique story!


Tuesday 8th of March 2022

Great to know you! My brother moved to London for post-grad school in the early 90s and is still there. It became home, as it did for you. Finally I have the time and money to visit - now waiting for the pandemic and his schedule to allow for it. For everyone who enjoys Sandra Boynton, check out Roz Chast! Most of her books are cartoon and humor for adults, but her kids’ stuff is adorable. Thanks, Kristen, for facilitating this world-wide get-together of friends!

Sarah K

Tuesday 8th of March 2022

About accents- my story is similar to this, moved to Norway from the USA as a young adult and stayed. It is really hard to NOT acquire an accent. My English has been (negatively) affected by speaking Norwegian all the time. When I am in my American hometown people ask where I am from haha.


Monday 7th of March 2022

No to the accent, but very much yes to British vocabulary.

(Allison, if you answered that yourself I missed it in the comments.)

So I just realized that a long-standing and dear friend has been reading this blog as long as I have. (I also grew up in Western Canada, at the foot of the Rockies.) Thank you for the delightful post. And Kristen, thank you for writing such and interesting and enjoyable blog for so many years, and fostering such a warm and interesting community. :) I’m going to go back to laughing quietly now (don’t want to wake the kids…)


Monday 7th of March 2022

@Kristin Sorry! I just realized autocorrect gave me “Kristen” in my post. :S


Monday 7th of March 2022

LOVE Sandra B! Moo, Baa, LA, LA, LA was a shower gift from an English teacher at thr high school where I worked as an interpreter when I got pregnant. I've gifted it several times in the last 18 years. Hubby's partial to Barnyard Dance.

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