UNITED KINGDOM

Southport 

Southport is a coastal tourist town in the north west of England about 50 minutes out of Liverpool. Around the corner from the apartment where we are staying is Lord Street which is the one mile shopping main street which dates back to the early 19th century, local legend states that Napoleon stayed here and it became an inspiration for the tree-lined boulevards of Paris.

Southport also has the oldest pier in the country, dating back as far as 1860. You very rarely see the tide come in too often here so it can look out of place a times, ironically the tide came in for a day a week or so after we arrived, this was the first time we had ever seen this event.

Travel from here to the local cities is very simple due to the proximity of the train station, we have purchased a couple’s railcard for a discount rate of 27 GBP which offers us a discount on all rail travel around the country.
The only real issue has been grocery purchases, this has been nowhere near as straightforward as it has been in Europe, finding low priced food here involves a rotation between multiple different store locations since prices vary so much. Close to the apartment we have a B&M bargains store, this has been useful for some items such as nuts, olive oil and toiletries but is somewhat limited in most healthy options. We are also close to Morrisons but this can be relatively expensive for some items versus the cost from Aldi. The Aldi store is about a two mile walk away from the apartment though so we only tend to go there bi-monthly for their authentic non-fat authentic greek yoghurt and hummus. As you can see it is tending to be a little complicated to figure out because we are meeting our shopping needs through multiple outlets.

As far as eating out and happy hours are concerned we basically stick to the Wetherspoons franchise as our standard go to location. We have found their menu to be the most cost efficient of all the places locally even though it is slightly more expensive at their Southport than Liverpool locations due to this being a tourist location.

So without further ado here is the monthly budget for Southport:-

  • Rent: $732
  • Groceries: $515
  • Eating out: $126
  • Transportation: $105
  • Utilities: $76
  • Council Tax (Band B): $160
  • Internet: $35
  • Gym: $14
  • Cellphones: $45 (2 phones)
  • Total = $1808

The passive income that could be used to cover this is $1035 rental income, $250 interest income, $173 peer to peer, $105 travel rewards and $245 dividend income.

London

Our first excursion while spending time in the UK was to London this past
weekend. The visit coincided with the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan
Markle so it was pretty much impossible to book a hotel without blowing up our entire budget for the month so we decided to turn it into a day trip instead.

Luckily the Virgin train from Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston really seemed to lend itself pretty well to the day trip plan. It only took just over 2 hours making 4 stops all the way down the country, which was very impressive and not the least what we were expecting since the UK is famous for it’s complaints about rail system efficiency. Since it was only an extra 15 GBP each we decided to opt for 1st class on the outward journey, but as it turned out we were just as happy in the standard coach compartment on return since the only difference seemed to be a free muffin each and the seating arrangements. Probably don’t ever need to do it again.

On arrival into Euston we made our way straight to the underground railway station where we boarded a train headed for Green Park and walked a short distance to reach Buckingham Palace. From there we walked most of the rest of the day firstly to visit Covent Garden with its many street entertainers and outdoor markets, then on to the upmarket Harrods store where we bought some cookies. Then on to Nelsons Column at Trafalgar Square and finally on to the UK’s own version of Time Square – Leicester Square.
In between we had a stop off for lunch at Byron Wardour Street burger joint in Soho where we treated our American guest to….a burger and alcoholic Ginger beer, not very original of us but since he’d really already done the whole English breakfast and Fish and Chips thing throughout the week he didn’t mind one bit.

We then slowly made our way back to Euston for the 6pm train back up to Liverpool which per our outward journey went very fast. All in all taking the train option down to London worked out pretty well, here are the total costs:-

  • Southport to Liverpool Lime Street (Two return tickets) = 9 GBP on Merseyrail.
  • Virgin train – Liverpool Lime Street to London Euston (Two return ticket) = 80 GBP for 2 people, 1st class for outward journey.
  • London Underground tickets = 25.40 GBP for two tickets.
  • Two meals at Byron Wardour Street = 28 GBP
Total = 142.40 GBP or $190.77

On reflection the London Underground tickets were a bit of waste of money considering we walked everywhere after the initial journey, for our next visit they should not be necessary.

We can definitely recommend booking the train well in advance rather than renting a car and driving to London, our experience was very positive as was the visit in general.

Chester

While spending this time in the UK we’ve had a few good opportunities to see towns and artifacts from how life used to be back when it was ruled by the Roman Empire from 43 to 410AD. For the Stoic followers keeping score this is the same era as the likes of Musonius Rufus, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Seneca and Epictetus.

We’ve been very fortunate that for the princely sum of $6.60 we can board a train from Southport to Liverpool Central and from there to the town of Chester to immerse ourselves in one of the many sites of Roman Britain. This aids our escape from such local modern nuances as high decibel screaming infants ignored by passive Facebook phone scrolling parents, tabloid sensationalist headlines and witnessing the usual consumption culture that is part and parcel of western society.

Chester itself was founded as a Roman fort during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in 79AD with the original name being Deva Victrix and a lot of the features from back then are still evident today so it is well worth a visit. As you leave the train station and walk through the town to make your way down to the Amphitheater the first sighting is the iconic victorian Eastgate clock which marks the original entrance to the fort. Beyond here you immediately notice the 13th century influence in the way that the shops are located in “rows”, these rows are basically the galleries that run in front of each of the shops on the first floor that add to the unique character of the city.

As you stand in the Amphitheater itself you immediately have the chance to allow your imagination to escape from modern consumer culture back to the 1st century when this area was used by the Romans for cockfighting and various types of combat sports. As you take it all in, including the original wooden seating base we find there’s nothing better than to envision yourself in those times in the same era as some of the great Greek and Roman philosophers.

The only sad part to remove you from this romanticizing is when your mind begins to wonder about the remainder of the amphitheater since you are only stood in half of it. This is where modern UK high level decision making stands squarely in the way of doing the right thing and you notice some of the remainder is covered by the new parking lot of the county courthouse. No excavation, no embracing of valuable heritage instead a parking lot takes priority, containing cars of all things. The very anti-thesis of the path to Financial Independence takes away your full enjoyment of what should be a national treasure.

Even for the remaining southern part of the Amphitheater where Dee House currently sits derelict the lack of judgement continues and a financially unrealistic refurbishment has been given precedence over what would be the more common sense excavation process. A very sad indictment which we’re pretty confident would not be allowed to prevail in cities like Rome or Athens.

To get your mind back on it’s historical track though you only need to walk around the corner to the Roman gardens which is basically a display of all the artifacts that have been excavated from the city over the years. These include many columns from the exercise hall and bath house as well as a hypocaust which would have heated the bath house, you can get a good overview of these gardens by climbing the steps up to the top of the city walls.

 

From here you can either cross the river to the quarry at Edgars Field to see the carved statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom or follow the walls the short route back into the center of town. In town there are further artifacts and locations of interest scattered in various parts including a Roman strongroom where the army’s pay chests were stored as well as columns on display under Pret-a-Manger and the address of 12 Northgate Street which houses a heating system possibly for the Legionary Commanders quarters.

In conclusion if you’ve ever in the UK for a time period it’s worth taking a look at this historic town, it may not have the sheer size and anywhere near the number of artifacts as Rome or Athens but it will still give you a good insight into how Britain played it’s part in this interesting period of world history.

It truly is a shame that a project for the full excavation of the amphitheater cannot be carried out, we would definitely be interested in volunteering as part of our FIRE chapter. We can only hope that at some future point more intelligent heads will replace the current council to give this more of a chance to become a reality.