Sunday, 17 November 2013
The Weekly Routine
Once a week I take my gran shopping, and being a creature of routine the day goes thusly:
I will arrive at my grans, aiming to be there for 9.30am but inevitably being 5-10 minutes late. I got away with being late for a while because she'd managed to get all of her clocks and watches set 10 minutes slow, but since the "It's not eleven o'clock yet!" incident during the 11am Remembrance Sunday silence, they've all been put right.
We'll have a brief chat, I'll check her mail, put her rubbish and recycling in the appropriate bins, and get her coat.
When ready we'll go to the car. An issue often arises at this point, as my gran uses a mobility scooter. The issue is that when I'm moving the scooter into position (for example outside her front door), I'll have it on full speed, but my gran uses it on its lowest setting. What does happen from time to time is that I forget to turn the speed down after maneuvering it, leading to my gran speeding, out of control, off into the sunset.
We'll get in the car. My gran may attempt to put on her seatbelt, but more commonly will pull it across for me to do. I now understand what Peter Kay means about his grandmother just holding the belt across her lap rather than plugging it in.
The routine involves going to Lidl, Waitrose, and Poundstretcher. In that order. Every week.
As we're driving to Lidl, my gran will dig through her purse for any 1p, 2p, or 5p coins she may have, which are deposited in my drinks holder as a tip. This is very nice of her, but does make it awkward when you're trying to put a drink in there and it's balanced on a pile of copper.
We get to Lidl. We will park in one of the west facing spaces, looking into the windowed side of the shop, ideally with an empty space next to us to make it easier to get the scooter around.
We go around Lidl. This takes about half an hour, and despite my gran having a list, the list is generally only paid a minimal amount of attention as we go around the shop, following a well-rehearsed script honed over the years.
"How many cheese twists did you want?" I'll ask her (the answer will most likely be 3. If there are no cheese twists, she'll have cinnamon swirls.)
"Do you want any mini-Kit Kats?" she'll ask me. The answer will be no, because they come in bags of 20, she already has about 30 mini-Kit Kats at home, and I worry that if I say yes she'll buy another 20 and have something of a mini-Kit Kat mountain that, if my son spots them, will result in a small child meltdown when I have to explain to him that he can't actually eat 50 Kit Kats for lunch.
Biscuits are next - she will buy jaffa cakes, half of which I suspect she passes on to my mother, possibly rich teas and ginger nuts, and most likely some Penguins. Penguins are not referred to as Penguins, but as a variety of different names, just to make life interesting.
Then we get into the fruit and veg area. She may buy baby plum tomatoes from here, but doesn't do so very often. Satsumas are felt to see if they are sufficiently ripe - they should have a loose peel, but aren't too dry - if they pass the test she'll buy them, otherwise the purchase of these is saved for Waitrose.
Apple pies will be purchased, possibly with some jaffa cake bars alongside. My gran will offer to buy me mushrooms (which I'll accept) and grapes (which I'll usually decline).
I should note this week we got cherry bakewells instead of apple pies, because they'd sold out of apple pies. Don't think that we aren't flexible, not for a minute, no sir.
We will buy three sandwiches, a BLT, a Chicken Salad, and a Cheese Ploughmans. We may buy four mini pork pies.
We will head down the next aisle, my gran reminding me to "look at both sides". We may buy bananas (a small bunch) and two packs of apple juice cartons.
The third aisle is one that we may get away without buying anything, although options down here are Quavers (if Morrisons don't sell them cheaper) and tonic water. Sometimes at the end of the third aisle / start of the fourth Lidl will have unusual food items for sale, i.e. they'll declare "It's US week!" and have US beer and hot dogs and squeezy mustard sauce for sale. Whatever week it is, I'll pick a beer up. And fortune cookies if it's Chinese week.
Down the fourth aisle it's ibuprofen, possibly cat litter, and occasionally washing liquid if she wants me to do some washing.
And on the last aisle we'll purchase milk, and look at the refrigerated special offer items, which always includes big chunks of cheese. I suspect this is mainly for my benefit because I can't remember the last time my gran bought anything from here, but because I won't be getting home for 5 or 6 hours, I've never bought anything from here either.
We'll then circle around, and head for the tills. By the time we get to the tills I should worked out an estimate of how much the shopping will cost. The leeway for error on this estimate is around 7%. If I exceed this limit (by the final value being too cheap or too expensive) I will earn a well-deserved "You said it would be £XXX!" from my gran.
When it gets to being our turn to load goods onto the till belt, I'll put my grans items first, and then mine, with my grans sorted roughly in the order that I want to put them into the bags. Carrier bags will be removed from my grans bag and opened up, ready to accept the scanned goods.
Now, it's our turn to get our stuff scanned and pay for it.
I remember back when I was little, and going to Sainsburys with my parents. At that time scanning food seemed to take so long that it would have been quicker to type the prices in by hand.
Then Aldi opened opposite Sainsburys.
At Aldi the shopping was scanned in a flash, a bolt of lightning wouldn't move as fast as the till operators hands did over that scanner.
Now Lidl isn't quite as fast as that, but they don't hang about, and one of the staff in particular is fast as anything. If we get her, I'm most likely going to have to resort to dumping the shopping in the trolley and bagging it after paying - but that doesn't mean I won't try to keep up! So I do my best to scoop the scanned goods into my ready and prepared bags for life, with the aim of being able to go straight to the car and unload the bags without any packing beforehand.
At any rate, we finish at Lidl, and drive to Waitrose (to be precise, parking in the disabled bay immediately to the right of the entrance to Poundstretcher if at all possible). We'll go to Waitrose to the cafe and get my gran seated on the very edge of a chair - I'm convinced that she's going to fall off one day, I do try to get her to sit fully on a chair but she seems to prefer sitting on the edge - and purchase some combination of paninis, bacon/sausage sandwiches, cheese toastie (okay it's Waitrose so it's called Croque Monsieur, but that doesn't change the fact that it's cooked bread with cheese in), or if they are lacking in a number of the aforementioned items, a toasted teacake.
Because we have a MyWaitrose card, we get two drinks (a small coffee and some kind of tea - either herbal or regular depending on how I'm feeling) but only have to pay for one. I have registered for my own MyWaitrose card because I imagine it's going to help me feel middle class. And, more importantly, it'll get me a free drink in the cafe. My gran always comments that most of the people in the cafe aren't eating anything - I imagine it's probably because they're all enjoying a free drink. But my card hasn't arrived yet and so we currently pay for one drink.
When I return from buying food I must have a receipt with me so that my gran can see what we're having for lunch. The receipt is essential. It does not matter if we have the food and I can explain what each item is - we need the receipt! My gran will check that we still need to keep the MyWaitrose card, I have a feeling that it doesn't have a suitable place to live in her purse and she'd prefer to get rid of it if possible.
In the cafe we'll eat and drink, read whatever newspaper or magazine is available - my gran prefers the Mail or the Express, I prefer the Guardian or the Independent (or Sunday equivalents ie Observer).
We'll finish the day off by going to Poundstretcher for three books with nice stories and large print, one box of Whiskas cat food, some Walnut Whips, and possibly a bag of sweets for me - I'll try to resist the latter, but some times my will weakens. My gran will run over one of the feet of the revolving stand holding the books for children with her mobility scooter.
And in a nutshell, there is my weekly routine!