We lived on cabbage soup to fund a yacht holiday

It was worth it

When my flatmate Lara announced “We should go on holiday next weekend” in my bedroom at 2am, I wasn’t convinced.

In my sleep-deprived state I agreed with her, despite the fact that the sorry state of my student loan meant I’d barely be able to afford a day-trip to Butlin’s Skegness.

I was half-hoping she’d forget about it, but the next morning she was looking up flights to Barcelona and ignoring my tentative – “Wow look! We could go to Dortmund for £17 return.”

After some discussion with my travel partners-to-be it became clear that none of us could really afford the holiday, and it was unlikely we’d be able to make up the cash by the next weekend. We couldn’t really imagine ourselves making particularly successful hoodlums or ladies of the night.

And if we couldn’t earn the money, we’d have to save it. After some quick calculations and extra shifts at our respective part time jobs it became clear that only a pauper’s diet and a fortnight as recluses would allow us the £200 each we needed to burn.

That meant watery cabbage soup, and not leaving the house for the forseeable future.

My travelling companions

My travelling companions

We started the cabbage soup fortnight as we meant to go on, with cabbage soup.

We basically took our budget down to a paltry £20 a week on food and drink. £10 of that was spent on cheap fruit and vegetables from the market and the rest we blew on cheap vodka, feeling sorry for ourselves.


Mmm… cabbage soup

The first bowl of cabbagey creation was quite delicious, but we didn’t feel wholly satisfied. We quickly got used to this sensation.

But our diet wasn’t just restricted to grim cabbage soup. We also had boiled cabbage, sprouts with tobasco, pea puree, and when fridge scrapings were really getting limited we made some bizarre concoction with pasta, tinned tuna, gone-off cream and barlotti beans.

The last was a recipe I don’t plan on repeating. Needless to say we spent most of the ensuing days doubled up with gas pains.

We picked up a few free meals around campus, including a bowl of muesli from some hopeful employer in the cloisters and some delicacies from the Hare Krishnas.

Free muesli

Free muesli

But the terrible living conditions meant we could at least book our flights. The only problem was we could barely scrape accommodation – there wasn’t enough cabbage soup in the world to even afford an Air B’n’B.

That’s when we discovered the yacht. For £18 each a night we could stay on a swanky boat in the upmarket Port Olímpic. It even had Louis Vuitton sheets.

We hastily booked it, not believing our luck – we were such jammy bastards.

Port Olímpic

Port Olímpic

Friday arrived and, half starved but extremely excited, we boarded a train to Gatwick.

And our holiday commenced. We became those shrieking-hen-weekend-women on the plane with tiny bottles of Prosecco. It felt glorious.

Laydeez on tour

Laydeez on tour

We landed in Spain and got a taxi direct to our boat. It was alright. We were greeted by a big old bottle of beer on deck, and the smell of chemical toilets.

The Louis Vuitton sheets turned out to be made of the same material as fake football shirts. It wasn’t as glamorous as the photos had suggested, but it was cheap and totally Instagrammable.

The yacht

The yacht

After dumping our bags we headed to shore and entered a haze of cheap Cava and tapas that continued until Monday.


Our attempts to be cultural were short lived. La Sagrada Familia demanded a whopping 15 euros for entry, so we contented ourselves with drinking a bottle of Rioja in a neighbouring cafe, the next best alternative.

The Picasso Museum was sold out, so we just perused the gift shop. It was very overpriced. My housemate spend 5 euros on a fridge magnet.

We beat the entire Belgium national field hockey team in a competition to deep throat a chorizo.

I had bought it as a gift for my mum, but my sausagey sacrifice, teamed with Laura’s lack of gag reflex, won us a free taxi to the airport.

An unidentified member of Belgium's national hockey squad

An unidentified member of Belgium’s national hockey squad.

Laura and the winning chorizo

The winning chorizo

Needless to say, when we eventually stumbled out of King’s Cross onto the Euston Road, we decided to give lectures a miss.

We hadn’t slept in 40 hours.