Stop the bus, I’m getting off! Especially if the next stop is at a massive supermarket that will meet my every need!!!
Tuesday morning is supermarket morning. This week however my children and I are going to do our shopping in Marchmont, a lovely area of Edinburgh where I used to live as a student. It boasts a great range of independent shops and has a view of the Meadows, a beautiful outdoor space within the city. A 25 minute car journey away, I’ve decided it’ll be nostalgic and pleasant and we’ll have a cup of tea in one of the quirky cafes. I suddenly feel guilty about all of those trips I’d forced the kids into at the supermarket when there are adventures to be had!
As we set foot out of the door, however, my enthusiasm wavered – yesterday’s snow had turned into two inches of treacherous ice. At the supermarket, I would have put my youngest child straight into a trolley and my eldest and I would only have had to negotiate three meters of car park before we would be on a cleared, safe path.
Arriving in Marchmont, I realised I’d forgotten to bring change for the parking meters, our only parking option close to the shops. I started to panic, which was exacerbated by the lack of empty spaces and a complicated road system. I very nearly knocked down a cyclist in the midst of my stress.
I found a parking space but the pay meter was further than I could go while leaving the children in the car. I set off again and found a space I could pay for on my mobile phone from the car. That’s the first time I’ve used that service smoothly so looking on the bright side, I’ve learned a new skill, right?
Fifteen minutes wasted, we went into a local shop whose slogan boasts that it brings customers ‘the best local food’ but I found the selection to be limited and inadequate for my weekly shop. Having a basket with a buggy (holding a disgruntled passenger) and a wee one on foot was a nightmare in a shop with small aisles. The vegetable quality and selection was mainly poor, probably due to the good veg shops nearby. The prices seemed generally more expensive than the supermarket and I just couldn’t bring myself to buy some of the things on the list being sure I could find them cheaper elsewhere. I got the ingredients for a veg sauce I wanted to cook but wasn’t inspired for other meal ideas. I ended up buying a vegetarian haggis and a huge turnip but there were no suitable potatoes. Unfortunately I was too flustered to check the Ingredients properly for nuts which I’m allergic to… The shopping bag was so heavy I had to take it to the car before continuing which was really difficult with the pavements being thick with icy snow and the bag threatening to tip the buggy.
Determined to visit a local fruit and veg shop, we went into one that I remember from 11 years ago. I was surprised to recognise the owner who has had the shop for 25 years. I picked from a reasonable selection of produce, while ignoring my distaste at the potatoes covered in earth, on the basis that I was having a new and exciting shopping experience. I went to pay only to find that the shop didn’t accept cards and I would have to go to the bank (there was one very close to the shop). The owner offered to look after the children while I got money out. I stress that I didn’t take him up on this but I appreciated the gesture! I asked him if he felt he was competing with the supermarket (there’s a surprisingly attractive Scotmid nearby) but he didn’t. What he offers, he said, is quite different to the supermarket. When I told him I was giving up supermarkets for a month he immediately (and correctly) assumed I had been motivated by the recent horsemeat scandal but said that soon no one will remember it and they’ll continue using supermarkets, his implication I think being that consumers are so reliant on the supermarket that nothing will stop us using them. Sadly I think he’s right – I hope my resolve is strong enough that I won’t become a typical consumer.
My final stop was a café. By the time I got the children indoors they were both crying because they were cold and no doubt were picking up on my high stress levels! Unlike the supermarket café, this place was original with a relaxing environment, however, it wasn’t totally child friendly. There were no cartons of juice or specific portions for children that I could see. It was draughty and the solution was found in stand-alone electric heaters, for which the temptation for little fingers to fiddle with proved a bit too much…It was a quick (and expensive) visit!
A shopping trip to Marchmont has the potential to provide a great morning out. There are lots of really attractive original shops with a good reputation for quality. Shopping there with small children in snow the unfortunately proved a step too far for me and I left without getting some essentials. I’m reasonably sure I won’t be doing that trip again in the next 28 days but if I find myself with a few hours alone I wouldn’t mind going to make peace with the area again!
I was however reminded by the Fruit Shop Owner of the reasons I’m doing this so Driver, keep going, I’ll stay on the bus a bit longer….