The Living Below the Line Diaries

Wednesday (five days to go)

We’re live baby! I just set up the fundraising account. Our team name is The Cunning Astrolinguists, which neatly sums up what Phil and I devote our time to when we’re not jumping on charity campaign bandwagons.

The realisation of what we are about to embark on has finally sunk in- this is terrifying! How on earth can you survive on £1 per day? I think we’re going to have to spend a lot of time hanging around supermarkets at closing time.

 Saturday (two more days)

Today Phil and I spent pretty much the whole day in supermarkets- we’re absolutely knackered now. I’m actually surprised with the amount of food we bought; there I was thinking we were going to be hungry. Having said that, the reason we managed to buy so much was because we bought complete crap. Fruit and veg are expensive, so we’re not going to be having much of that this week.

Sunday (less than one day!)

Phil and I laid all our food out on the table and tried to come up with a vague game plan. I take it all back what I said about having too much food. We don’t! I think we’re going to get very hungry.

Our meals are going to be pretty boring too. We’re basically going to live off curry, pasta, rice and baked potatoes. All we could afford for flavouring was some vegetable stock. This is going to be a long week…

On the bright side, the fundraising is going really well. We’re on £330 now and we haven’t even started the actual challenge yet.

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The Challenge

Day one

IT HAS BEGUN! I’m already finding it a bit tricky. I woke up this morning and almost forgot that the challenge had started and went to make myself some coffee. We couldn’t afford coffee, so I’m going to be caffeine free this week. God help us all!

Instead I started on my lunch to take into uni, which consisted of three measly potatoes cut up into wedges and baked covered in vegetable stock, in a desperate attempt to give them a semblance of flavour. They’re not very nice potatoes either.

There was minor kitchen drama when I realised I didn’t know how to boil an egg. I cooked it for three minutes, which I was positive was the right amount of time. I mean, the ‘three minute boiled egg’ is a thing, right? Needless to say, the egg wasn’t done, so I had to boil more water, repeat the whole process etc. Then I forgot about it and the water boiled over. At least the egg was done! Serves me right for breaking veganhenge for this.

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Day one – evening

We’ve made it to the end of day one! And we’re not completely ravenous yet. I definitely wouldn’t say we’re full though. I’ve also felt much more tired than usual today; I noticed myself starting to lag in the late afternoon; I’m pretty sure the big cheese lecturer in my seminar saw me catching flies.

The meals we’ve been making are pretty horrific. We had curry for dinner, although the curry consisted of 22p curry sauce, carrots and two pieces of frozen broccoli each. Thankfully we’ve got loads of rice to bulk things up. It was quite harrowing preparing food knowing that if you drop or burn something then you’ll go hungry. Not a single grain of rice was wasted!

Day two

I’ve felt very tired today and I managed fell asleep in another lecture- I think the lack of food is starting to get to me.

Food today consisted of an egg on toast for brekkie, then a small portion of pasta with carrots and an egg for lunch, vile potato wedges for dinner and three digestive biscuits and half a pear for dessert. I miss fresh fruit and veg!

Day three

I’m surprisingly feeling much better today. I’ve got a bit more used to being hungry all the time, but I’m actually in luck today anyway because our lunch is huge. We’ve made loads of rice, but it’s probably not going to taste very nice, because we don’t really have anything to season it. Plain, mushy rice- delicious!

Day four

It’s over tomorrow! It’s over tomorrow! It’s over tomorrow!

I can’t wait! This week has been really hard. I feel so blah. All carbs, no veg makes Asia a dull girl. To make matters worse, I can’t concentrate to save my life and I’m beginning to get very nervous about essays looming in the distance.

Thankfully, we’ve made loads of pasta for lunch today and it actually tastes ok. We splashed out and bought a sauce with herbs that cost 5p more than the plain one. It was so worth it! It will make up for dinner tonight, which will be potato wedges again- bleugh.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. At midnight I’m eating a pack of salt and vinegar crisps. I don’t normally even eat crisps that much, but I haven’t stopped thinking about them all week. I think I’m just craving flavour!

Day five

IT’S THE LAST DAY! We’re nearly there. Friday’s menu is rice and beans for lunch and frozen vegetable curry for dinner. Gourmet!

Day five – dinner time

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Phil and I have just had our last meal. We’ve finished the challenge! Well, not quite. We have to hold out until midnight tonight, but that’s only five hours away.

It has been intense! At first, I thought I was holding up fairly well, but it has really taken it out of me the last few days. Phil and I actually did ok in terms of quantity of food, because we pooled our money, and the £10 stretched a lot better than two sets of £5, but the lack of vegetables has left us feeling totally flat. I’ve been like a zombie for the past couple of days.

Day five – midnight

Screw crisps, I’m drinking Bloody Marys!

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It’s two days later, and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m getting back to normal. I hadn’t realised over the course of the week, but the lack of decent food was really getting me down. It was a gradual process: first it was just little things like falling asleep in lectures (that happens a lot anyway) and spacing out in conversation (again, a frequent occurrence). But then there were a couple of incidents where I didn’t read emails properly, which culminated in me missing events, which made me even grumpier than before. Worst of all, my concentration was completely shot- I didn’t manage to do any work at all from Wednesday to Friday and I am still more than a little bit nervous about it. Physically, I noticed I kept getting winded walking up stairs and on the last day I found it so hard to pedal my bike that I thought it was in a gear higher than it actually was.

I think the challenge also affected us emotionally. We both were definitely a lot grouchier than normal and I got more stressed out than I should have done about relatively small things. Although, worrying about my looming finals perhaps merits a bit of freaking out. So yes, it turns out that living on £1 a day makes you more than just hungry- it makes you miserable! I can’t imagine living like this all the time and my heart goes out to people that do, especially if that £1 must also cover fresh water, cooking fuel, medicine and everything else life throws at you.

Still, it was a fascinating experience and we raised a whopping £707 without doing any “proper” fund-raising. Our friends and family have been very generous and I hope our donation will go a little way to eradicating poverty for the 1.4 billion who do actually live on £1 per day.