Silly Saturday – Cyber Shopping

If you have recently come out of isolation, albeit briefly before we’re all in lockdown again, you will have noticed that shopping is now very different. Perhaps you will look back nostalgically to those months of cyber shopping. I got an email yesterday from the Co Op ‘We have missed you, please come back.’

https://www.coop.co.uk/coronavirus/updates-on-our-delivery-service

I have been back, but they didn’t recognise me in real life; even with a mask on I am not quite the anonymous self who ordered twice a week. On line shopping with our local Co Op was fun, not at all like the big supermarket chains, more like a game. At the start you had to spend £15 to get free delivery, but could not have more than 20 items, this gradually increased to 30 items, but still delivered by scooter. There were always plenty of delivery slots and I though smugly of all those people staying up till Sunday midnight, desperate to get any slot with Tesco or Sainsbury in the coming week. Of course, with the limit on number of items the cosy Co Op was not likely to suit those needing a big family shop. The website was a challenging computer game; you could always get chocolate, but not necessarily what you needed for dinner. It was vital to think outside the box. Type in baked beans, no luck. It was weeks before I discovered that typing in Heinz revealed beans and such Covid comfort food as tomato soup. The website did improve over the months, with the layout involving less scrolling down, but keeping the fun of guessing whether you should tap onto ‘Get Inspired’ ‘Food Cupboard’ or ‘Bakery and Cakes’. If you forgot to check your emails with updates on how your order was progressing, there was the fun of not knowing if you would get everything on your list, or perhaps an unwanted substitute.

So what is it like at real shops now? Don’t forget the mask… the rest of the rules seem to vary from shop to shop; another game to play, with arrows to follow and circles with footprints to stand on. Don’t mix up the bottle for sanitizing your basket handles with the hand gel. Move out of the way once you have swiped you card  ( cash is out, except at the greengrocers ) to make safe space for the next person. But that little row of chairs where you used to sort out your bags and make sure your purse was put away has gone; don’t have a medical incident, that was where shoppers who had a funny turn were seated as they waited for the ambulance!

How will you get on at shopping centres? Those benches where husbands were parked while waiting for wives to finish in the shop or come out of the Ladies are gone. There is nowhere to rest your heavy bags and meet up at the arranged time. In town will department stores ever be the same again? Restaurants and toilets closed, no meeting friends or relaxing with coffee and scones while you check you phone, or if you are a writer, do some people watching and scribbling.

It is nice to once again see what you are buying, but will you be going on line or out to the shops in the near future?

Sense of Direction

DSCN0516The first time we went to the cathedral city of Salisbury, Wiltshire we couldn’t find the cathedral. The spire, at 123m from ground level, is the tallest in Britain, visible for miles around and we couldn’t see it from the main square. After wandering around we finally found the signs. We often go to Salisbury, but it is one of many places where I can easily lose my sense of direction. There are five park and ride sites, all completely free at present, to encourage visitors back to Salisbury after the novichok poisoning. We usually go to the one on our route into Salisbury, but one time, against my better judgement, Cyberspouse suggested we go to the main car park near the supermarket. On arrival I was quick to point out how expensive our visit was going to be. We have a purse in the glove box that my Australian sister-in-law gave us, which is made from a kangaroo’s testical; we can get a lot of coins in it and I always put my silver change in. I poured ten, twenty and fifty pence pieces into the machine, but just before we had clocked up the right amount it stopped working. Money gone and no ticket, but at that moment, as if by magic, a car park attendant appeared at my shoulder. We had put so much money in we had blocked up his machine. He unlocked it and the money poured into our hands – we then put pound coins in and got our ticket. Setting off from that car park I had no idea where we were in relation to the Salisbury I knew.

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On our most recent visit we arrived from a different direction and used a different park and ride. The pleasant bus ride brought us to a bus stop in a road where I couldn’t get my bearings. Luckily Cyberspouse has an excellent sense of direction – I did read recently that men have better spatial awareness, so that might explain it. I then worried what would happen if we got on the wrong park and ride bus, the buses all look the same and the park and ride sites probably look similar. Imagine searching for your car, not realising you were at the wrong place and with no hope of getting to the right park and ride because you had caught the last bus of the day.

Read more about Salisbury in last year’s blog.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2018/09/19/secret-salisbury-september-staycation-part-one

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There are more ways of arriving in Southampton than most cities; by ocean liner from abroad, by ferry across Southampton Water, by train, by bus and by car and each arrival presents a completely different view of the city. In my mind I can never put the parts together. The first time we drove there we went into the West Quay shopping centre car park at ground level and somehow walked out onto the seventh floor of the shops.

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Big shopping centres always present a challenge to those lacking a sense of direction; how to find the way out to the bus station, which level takes you to the high street, will you ever find your way out of John Lewis and where on earth did you leave your car. In Southampton my best landmark is the towering blue and yellowness of Ikea. The restaurant provides an excellent view of the ships and if you came by ferry it is a short walk away. Of course Ikea itself is famous for leaving customers feeling they will never see their own home again, as they wend their way through endless happy home room lay outs.

Take the ferry to Southampton here…

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/02/09/silly-saturday-how-to-cheat-at-travel

Have you got a good sense of direction?

The third novel in my trilogy is partly set in Wiltshire and Salisbury.