Just ( NOT ) Popping To The Shops

One of my earliest memories is of being seen across the busy road we lived on and walking by myself to the corner shop. I was well known by the two ladies who worked there. One of them was called Dolly, which seemed a very strange name for an old lady. Among the sweets they sold were Dolly Mixtures which I assumed were named after her. Mum could watch my progress and return ready to signal when it was safe to cross back. What I actually bought on these solo expeditions I have no recollection and I assume it was because my baby brother was asleep indoors, but it was the beginning of a lifetime of popping to the shops – until now…

Unless you are subsistence farmers or have a team of servants, someone in the household has to go shopping. Whether you live in a beautiful Mediterranean town and gaze down from your geranium filled balcony to the daily market selling freshly caught fish and newly picked vegetables or do a huge weekly supermarket shop with no idea where the food has come from, shopping is an activity or chore that never ends – until now…

assorted vegetable lot
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

When my parents bought their first house, on a new housing estate, there were no shops nearby, but we were not likely to starve. The milkman brought a boxful of groceries, there was a greengrocer’s van and the butcher’s boy came on his bike. It was a long walk to the new shopping centre for my mother with a baby and toddler as well as me. Her friend from round the corner had six children, so it was quite an expedition with the added excitement of a route through a large cemetery. Mum used to be amused by another neighbour who would dart back and forth between Fine Fare and Tesco checking the prices. Even in these small shops our mothers would be complaining that they were ‘always moving things around’. Needless to say there was often some vital item forgotten and I would be sent on my bike to another housing estate where they boasted a parade of shops.

When we emigrated to Western Australia in 1964 all three of us were sent up a sandy track, the unmade section of our road, to the corner shop and later Tom The Cheap Grocer. The shops closed for the weekend at noon on Saturday, so on Saturday morning Mum and Dad would make a frantic dash in the car to stock up at the bigger shops in an older suburb. A far cry from today’s 24 hour shopping.

Things have come full circle; having your shopping delivered is popular again, especially with busy working families. When someone says they are off to do their Tesco shop they probably mean they are going upstairs to the computer. With the advent of The Virus and isolation, Grandparents are being smugly told by their offspring that they should have learnt how to do on line shopping.

Our local shops are so good that we had no need for on line shopping and a typical Saturday morning would be a walk along the cliff top, coffee at the Ludo Lounge, then stroll over to the greengrocers – until now…
Anyone with a 12 week sentence ( the medically very vulnerable told by the Prime Minister and the NHS to stay indoors ) or those shielding them, is dependent on supermarket deliveries or family, neighbours and volunteers. But with the sudden popularity of on line shopping you have to log on at one minute past midnight to try and get a slot.
The fun of bargain hunting has been replaced by the excitement of not knowing for sure what you will get in your delivery. Six weeks into our lock down and I think I have cracked it. The poplar local greengrocers which only takes cash, has engineered a major delivery operation using only the phone and Facebook. The free range, outdoor reared and expensive butcher up the road takes orders and payment on the phone. My latest discovery is a website for deliveries from local Co op shops. They seem to have plenty of slots, but this might be because you have to spend a minimum of £15 with a limit of 20 items and an eclectic limited choice of what is available. Type in cheese and you will find cheese. Type in baked beans and up come green beans, jelly beans and coffee beans. Put in peanut butter and up comes butter. With some outside the box thinking I did find Whole Earth Organic peanut butter and it appeared on the shopping list, but the next day showed up as unavailable in the polite e-mail update. The deliveries come by motorbike.
How have your shopping habits changed recently?

35 thoughts on “Just ( NOT ) Popping To The Shops

  1. My dad does our weekly grocery shop and the monthly big shop for cleaning products, etc. We are still anticipating a big increase in infections here in SA (this is what all the actuaries, doctors and big business are telling us) so we have stocked up on essential items and top them up weekly. We have started a veggie garden in case their are delivery issues later in the year of fresh items. On-line shopping here is a disaster so my dad still goes every week wearing gloves and a mask. He can go during pensioner hour and that makes it easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve cracked the code, Janet. Who knew shopping for groceries could be so exciting? It’s remarkable all the things we take for granted in life. We don’t notice that until they’re suddenly not there. Electricity and the Internet are right up there on my take for granted items.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We still do a weekly shop in pensioners’ hour at Tesco’s. There’s a long queue. We have had to stop using cash there but the local butcher still takes it. I bought something from the chemist last week and had to pay by contactless card! I’m off today to see if we can get the dog’s coat cut as he looks like a ball of fluff. I may even have to start curling mine as it is growing lank. I’ve sent off for a mask just in case we have to use one in shops.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All the childhood memories are the same for me. I can even still remember our co-op number for the delivery van [E3344]. We lived in a remote part of Norfolk, on the fens with only one [school] bus per day to Wisbech, 6 miles away and a lot of people in the village had never been there! We take turns to do be-masked weekly shopping at Waitrose with the car. So far so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The DH has been doing our weekly shop but comes back stressed out by people who ignore the two metre rule and get too close to him, and by people who stand two metres apart chatting so completely blocking the aisle. Anyway, I said I’d do it so I will be off to Tesco this evening – he has decided after weeks of trial and error Thursday evenings are the quietest and the shelves are fairly well stocked.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. we’ve been lucky using online delivery. We found a grocery store that seems to open up delivery slots every day for six days from the present. While we never know if we will get what we ordered, we seem to get about 90% of our order. We’ve loved the convenience. We may try it once or twice when the crisis is all over to see how well it works under normal conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve done my main shopping online for nearly ten years now, and since my mobility has become limited it has been essential for me. All these Johnny-come-latelies blocking up the delivery slots are a pain in the derrière 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Janet. As problems go in the current situation it’s a pretty small one, I’ll readily admit. I regularly use Tesco, better prices and quality of fruit and veg than Waitrose, who I used to be with.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I still go grocery shopping here in the Southern US, but wear a mask and keep my distance. I’m lucky to live in an area where Covid-19 is not very active. If it was like New York City in my neck of the woods, I’d probably shop online and have it delivered.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great piece.. God it’s ages since I had dolly mixtures.. we live with my 95 year
    Old mother in law and rarely venture out but lucky to have a nearby mini market- so we can pop to the shops once we’re careful… who’d have thought I’d ever enjoy popping to the shops 🤔😂☘️🎈

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m one of Clive’s pain-in-the-derriere shoppers. Due to a now permanently reduced airway I have no intention of visiting supermarkets in the near future, and so do my shopping online. I get up at 05:30 every Saturday morning, make a cup of tea and log in. Usually by 06:10 I am the proud owner of a Morrisons delivery slot for the following Friday, but I can’t wait to do my own shopping again as you don’t always end up with what you’ve ordered.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Grocery shopping is no problem here in Spain. Lots of items in stock and everyone follows the distancing rules. But all the other shops are closed. As luck would have it, our kettle broke about a week into lockdown. So I was boiling water in a saucepan until a dog walking friend brought a kettle from his motorhome over (since he´s not going anywhere!) Hubby needs a new pair of sandals but has to manage. We are getting low on printer ink and I´d love to buy a few new plants for my garden. We just have to grin and bear it. As my old dad would say, It could be worse!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Here in Massachusetts, we are shopping with masks and gloves and stand a distance apart. Every food item has gone up in prices. Today was good. We found napkins and toilet tissue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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