Light Bulb Moment

This week I was reminded of the value of proper shopping. You know, not the pressing a button and getting it delivered kind, but proper, driving into town and walking all the way to a particular specialist shop, choosing something then bringing it home, sort of shopping.

I’m a geeky type, albeit an old ‘un. I was all grown up with a house and a family before t’internet was born. And let me tell you this now, and in no uncertain terms, I think the internet is GREAT. Ok, there are definitely some caveats to that, but life is so much easier these days. We have on hand, in our own homes, without actually moving from the sofa – a source of information, friendship, jolly silly stuff, and of course shopping opportunities its just, well, GREAT. But saying that, it does have its limitations. Apparently, it seems, almost infinite choice is one of them.

We wanted a new lamp for the sitting room, and wasted hours looking through endless pages of them on various websites (Wayfair has thousands!) but were still not able to find the ‘ideal’ one, that being a mother and child type, you know the sort, the ones with the little reading lamp and the uplighter. Trouble is, they all looked the same and pretty uninspiring.

‘We could go to the lamp shop’ I said

‘What lamp shop?’

‘You know, the one at the outlet’

‘Ugh, that’s a bit of a drive and it’ll be packed on a Saturday morning’

‘Yeah, but you never know..’

So off we trotted. It’s only a little lamp shop, but it glittered with bling so brightly you could probably see it from space.  We had to blink quite a bit to acclimatise but managed to resist the temptation to don our sunglasses. 

We’re not blingy people. Don’t like sparkly stuff and doubted that we’d be able to find anything amongst the chandeliers and ‘diamond’ encrusted fixtures that covered pretty much the whole shop.  Still it was fun, icking, yucking and ‘definitely not’- ing our way around. Then we found it. The one. Standing quietly in a corner. Understated without a bit of bling it was an upper class piece of totty amongst the chavs.  Just tripod stainless steel legs and a white pleated shade. Smart, modern and understated, and of course, nothing like what we’d come to find.

Readers, we bought it.

On the way home we agreed that we’d probably ruled out many of its sisters while we were browsing, but online you can’t see proportions properly, or the soft glow of the light (enough to read in, but not too bright) so we would never have gone for it.

I think I’ve learned a lesson from this, yep the light has come on. It is, of course, ok to buy stuff on-line (though I still hate my self every time I use Amazon… which I do… frequently), but when it comes to aesthetic requirements, it’s got to be better to see the choices in the flesh, as it were, before you purchase, because sometimes, a picture just doesn’t speak to you the way the real thing will. 🙂

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The curse of on-line shopping

IMG_0232I am waiting for a parcel to be delivered.  Thoughtfully, the courier has sent a message to say it will be ‘delivered today between 7:00 and 20:00 – Just the thirteen hour window for me to spend waiting then. Thanks.

I didn’t get this message until about 7:30 this morning, so just got up at my normal time 6:50.  I didn’t rush to get showered and dressed. Then I saw the text.

I am now afraid that the doorbell will ring as soon as I:

  • step under the shower.
  • settle on the loo for my morning poo.
  • Give in to the dog’s pleading looks and go and play in the garden with her (she’s not getting her morning walk, that’s just asking for trouble)
  • I get on the phone to any of the people that I promised I would get around to ringing today
  • Try and do anything that requires more than a minute of concentration – it’s a wonder that I’m typing this.

I guess you’ve got the picture.  Much as I love on-line shopping an’ all, the waiting for parcels bit is a such a bore.  Why can’t they give you at least a morning or afternoon slot? Or better still, an hour or two time slot?

My daughter was telling me that in Cardiff Amazon have set up lockers in some shops where you can pick up your parcel whenever you like. This seems a step in the right direction.

But hey, we’re trying not to shop at Amazon – remember the tax stuff? Well, I’m not succeeding anyway, let’s face it they’re cheaper than anywhere else, AND they’ve given me a free trial of Prime, that’s free delivery over the Christmas period, can’t go wrong. I’ll stop using them after my three months honest (except for kindle stuff) (oh, and other things I can’t get cheaper anywhere else…) Oh god, I’m Kaye and I’m addicted to Amazon….

However, I’ve not heard of any scheme like that ‘round these parts, some of the villages around here haven’t even got broadband yet for goodness sake.

What happens in your part of the world?  I hope it’s easier.

Anyhoo, I think for today, I’ll sit and do quiet things, and treat it as time out from the world until the nice man turns up. Lovely.

But boy, do I need that poo…

Tell Father Christmas not to bother

October, and already the shops are filling with Christmas ‘cheer’.  For the first time this year though, for us, Christmas is cancelled.

Now, I’ve often thought about cancelling it before. For a start, there’s the hassle of Christmas shopping.  Fighting through hoards of harassed people to find gifts that you know will be gratefully received, but will probably be stuck at the back of the recipients cupboard for all eternity. The queuing to pay, only to eventually be served by thoroughly cheesed off staff who have had their brains fried by the constant loop of ‘Jingle Bells’, and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Frankly, you’ve only been in the shop for ten minutes and you would willing smash the damn tannoy yourself.

Then there’s the long heated discussions about who is going where, and when.  Which mum is coming to us this year? When are we going to see brothers/ sisters/nieces/nephews… ?? Are they coming to us or should we go to them?  Who’s staying over? Will they want lunch the next day as well??

Once decided, there is the happy task of food/drink shopping.  You park in the one spot left in the supermarket car park. The little one.  Next to the bollard that you scrape as you pull in.

You get a trolley with wonky wheels that insist on going in the opposite direction that you want to, which makes you swear loudly, turning heads and forcing mothers to cover their children’s ears. The supermarket is packed with people all standing chatting in front of the aisles that you want to go down. The shop has run out of just about everything you’d planned to buy, and you know you’ll have to repeat the visit again before the big day. Yet still you end up paying over a hundred quid and having a trolley load big enough to feed an army, and somehow you’re going to have to find room for it all in the cupboards when you get home.

You’ll guess I’ve never been a big fan of the run-up, but I do love Christmas eve, when the wrapping is finished, the turkey is ready for popping in the oven the next day, and we sit down to watch ‘Carols from Kings’ with a glass of sherry.

I love the morning itself often dragging everyone else out of bed early.  Even when my daughters were young, they were never ones for getting up at the crack of dawn it was always me waking them

‘lets go and see if Father Christmas has been!’

He always had.

The smell of Christmas dinner cooking while we ate mince pies and drank Bucks Fizz. Playing with the daft games.  Eating chocolates.  Lighting the Christmas pudding with Brandy.  Falling asleep in the afternoon.  Eating some more.  Drinking some more. Playing raucous board games ‘til two in the morning.

Yes, overall, I pretty much enjoy the actual event.

But as I said, this year, for the very first time, Christmas is cancelled.

Our doctor daughters have so far been lucky with their shifts and have always managed to come home for Christmas.  This year though, it’s their turn to work, one has to do a long shift on Christmas day and the other on Boxing day (though they live and work at opposite ends of the country – just an unfortunate coincidence!).  So me and my husband will be on our own.  For one reason or another, we won’t be seeing any other family either.  It will be very weird.

Of course, we’ll try and get together at some time, either before or after the ‘big day’, and I’m determined that ‘our christmas’ will be exactly the same as everyone else’s whether it fall on the  1st December or the 1st January.   I’ll still have to do the shopping and the wrapping. We’ll still have the tree, and the presents and the turkey, and it will still be brilliant.  And I keep telling myself it won’t matter when we do it, as long as we’re all together at some point.

But secretly, whilst being really, really proud of my hardworking daughters, I’m still very sad that I’m having to write to Father Christmas and tell him not to bother to come on the 24th!

Written as part of the Writing 101 challenge – ‘think about an event you have attended and loved and you’re told it will be cancelled – your voice will find you’.

No Ho Ho

Now I promised myself I wouldn’t write a post about Christmas.  Too obvious.  It’s all been said before. It’ll only be yet another tick in the ‘are you a scrooge’ box.  Bah humbug…

But this is relevant.  Honest it is.  It’s about how not working is even more brill at Christmas time.

I’ll be frank, like many others, I dread Christmas, and the overlong run-up to it.  Good grief, even back in September people were asking me if I’d started my Christmas shopping. No I bloomin’ haven’t.  It’s wrong. Starting that early is wrong.  Suppose I see something better nearer the time? Suppose someone asks for something in particular and I’ve already gone out in mid-summer and bought early? And besides, buying presents should get you in that jolly ol’ Christmas spirit just at the right time.  Should.

In reality,  I’ve always left it to the last minute.  We live in a small market town, which is nice, but not especially good for full-on Christmas shopping sessions, so I’ve always had to take a day off work to go to the nearest shopping mall, and a day is never enough. I’m not one to pick up the first thing I see and buy it.  Oh no.  Instead, I’ll make a mental note and go back to it if I can’t find anything else, which I invariably can’t.  It doubles…triples, the time and stress involved.  Then, of course, you ‘re trying to manouevre through crowded aisles with huge heavy bags that are cutting into your fingers and turning them as blue as the air is from the cursing.

‘why don’t you shop on-line?’ you may ask.  Well, this would be a very sensible option, but of course, working full-time, I have never been home to take in the parcels when they arrive.  I don’t know which I hate more, those cards through the letterbox asking me to ring to arrange another time (I’m always at frigging work don’cha know), or ‘we’ve returned your parcel to the depot.’  Which means a trek across town to queue up while a surly post office bloke searches through a mountain of other peoples parcels before asking me for identification which I more often than not have forgotten to take.

Anyhoo, this year it’s different.  This year I have shopped on-line at my leisure, and been at home to accept my post from the smiley delivery folk, all of whom, to a man/woman, are relieved that for once, someone is home and they haven’t entirely wasted their day.

I’ve also ferreted about in the corners of our town which remain untouched by the pound shops and bargain stores, and managed to find some lovely privately owned shops selling unusual and delightful bits and pieces.  It was actually fun.  You actually get to chat to the shop owners, who actually care.

So despite not having so much dosh to spend (perhaps partly because of that too) this year my Christmas shopping has been, so far, happily, relatively stress-free. Now just need to face the supermarket to stock up on a mountain of seasonal food….ho, bloomin’, hoho…