Friday, 10 December 2021

Hiking weather? In praise of certain supermarkets.

Some time at the start of last week my brother-on-law raised the question of whether we can manage a Chippy Hike before Christmas. Between our going off to Portugal and Spain and then the weather turning foul and stormy we haven’t manage to stop over to Diggle Chippy for quite a while. Friday of that week, he suggested, looked possible but unfortunately he wasn’t available. He didn’t think today looked likely as then weather forecast a week and a half ago looked poor. We left it at that and never made any concrete arrangements.

As it turned out today began quite well around here. It was a bit crisp and cold but mostly the sky was clear. I went for an early morning run in watery sunshine. Just after I got back my daughter phoned to suggest we should meet after her smallest child had finished Boomting, a musical get together for toddlers, and go and do a bit of shopping. So after I had showered and had some breakfast I set off to meet her in Uppermill and we drove to the retail park in Ashton. Hence my late blog posting today. 

As we left IKEA later I commented on what a nice day it had turned onto, perfect for a Chippy Hike, if we had got around to arranging one. That probably explains why it rained on us about half an hour later as we left the Aldi supermarket. I’ve not been in Aldi since lockdown started. I’v just not had occasion to go there. But they do a very nice malted bloomer in their bakery section and since the bakery in Uppermill stopped baking rye loaves I have felt the lack of good bread. Of course we bought various other things as well. 

It has to be said that Aldi is good value. It has come a long way since I first visited one of their early stores in our neck of the woods. 

Some 35 years ago I was working in a community centre in Shaw, teaching Spanish to adults. One day we noticed a building going up opposite the community centre. It turned out to be an Aldi supermarket, possible the first in our town. They had a seriously limited range of goods on sale. I used to bulk-buy orange juice and a few other things. There was no way you could do a full grocery shop but what you could get was good value. Payment had to be in cash. And the staff on the tills, I discovered, had to remember the codes and prices for all the good on sale. If they could not process purchases through tills at a fast enough rate during their trial employment period they did not get a permanent contract. Bar codes were a thing of the future. 

There was a certain amount of social stigma. It was for people who couldn’t afford the main supermarkets. I knew a number of people who didn’t like to admit that they shopped there. They sort of sneaked in and out, hoping no one they knew would see them there. Nowadays I know people who normally like to shop at Waitrose but who recommend going to Aldi to buy things like a whole “jamón serrano” at Christmas time. Changing times!

After we had completed our shopping it was just about time to go and collect the smallest granddaughter from school. You have to arrive early in order to be able to park in the school carpark. So we sat in the car putting the world to rights for a while and then collected the aforementioned small girl and headed to my house for coffee and mince pies. There the small girl demonstrated her skill at making paper chains - not using a pre-prepared set of paper strips but selecting coloured paper from my craft collection, cutting strips and glueing them into interconnected loops. At five years old she is a very competent crafter. 

What impressed us most of all, however, was watching her explain to her grandfather exactly how to go about making paper chains. Five years old, articulate and organised. What will she be like when she’s a teenager?

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

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