Eating Well For Less

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the BBC’s “Eat Well For Less” series.  It’s an interesting concept, helping people with their eating habits (and more accurately, their spending on food) by removing all the labelling and branding from food in people’s houses, removing all the prejudices etc. around their food spending.  They replace expensive branded stuff with ‘own-brand’ or cheaper alternatives (and in some cases with more expensive, but better/healthier options) and also leaving some things alone.  Additionally, they help people with recipes for their favourite meals, rather than buying pre-packaged and so on.

A lot of it is insanely annoying, but the core information is (in my opinion) worth it, for both the families on the programme, and people watching it.

But oh Dear God, those families are fucking pathetic. There’s lots of preconceptions about brands being preferred “because they wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t the best” and so on, which drives me crackers.

The most recent one tonight, though, drove me crackers. One family member had been diagnosed as coeliac, and had spent six years eating salads he hated. Six. Fucking. Years.  How does anyone end up eating stuff they don’t like for six bloody years? There’s no logic in it that I can see – unless they haven’t done any enquiries or research about what’s got gluten in and so on?

In this case they were buying loads of pre-packaged food – and I get that more, because they were so worried about cross-contaminating from their foods to his, and making him ill – but with no thoughts or understanding. I think the peak point for me was buying pre-packaged “gluten-free” rice, not understanding that all rice is gluten-free, in the name of Jesus H Pant-shitting Christ.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting series, but Holy DogEggs, some people are fucking lazy/stupid/pathetic*.

(* Delete as applicable)

An Organised Christmas

ScroogeIt’s well-known that I’m not the greatest fan of the Festering Season. I do observe it and sort things out for family and closest friends, but still tend to avoid the overboard hysteria of the entire season. There’s a whole number of reasons for being this way, and I can’t be arsed with going into them on this. It’s a subject that’s been pretty much done to death anyway.

This year,the run-up to the Festering Season has all been remarkably organised and gone very smoothly, which is a thing of joy.

Everything possible was done, bought, organised, and (where necessary) posted or delivered a couple of weeks ago. The only thing that remained – albeit in two stages – was food-based, getting the week’s food order in, and then today collecting the final pre-ordered bits, which was all done at Antisocial O’clock this morning, when the roads and shops were still blissfully empty.

I hate food shopping in the week before Christmas – the shops are just full of tosspots going mad because the shops are going to be closed for a whole 30 hours.  I never understood why there always seem to be more people at Christmas, all of whom are buying more. Surely if it’s all about entertaining and having guests, there’d be half the number of people but buying twice as much? Only it doesn’t work out that way.

Internet-based shopping (and delivery thereof) has made this whole process as painless as possible. So long as you’re organised, you can book a slot in the week up to Christmas, order everything you know you want, and that’s it. Yes, there’s the slight roulette of out-of-stock items and so on, but that’s more about luck and timing than anything else.  In my case, I got the delivery on Monday and everything I’d ordered was in stock and all was easy and fine.  Indeed, the worst thing about it was that I had to lock the cats out of the living room while everything was delivered, which disturbed them quite a lot – I don’t think they’d actually realised the door could be closed, let alone be closed with them on The Other Side.

Collecting the final pre-ordered bits today was also painless – in and out, no hassles.

It really is a most civilised way to do things.

A Bag For Life

Over the weekend, while I was out shopping, the person in front of me’s “bag for life” split open.

What really surprised me though, was the attitude of the person on the till, and (by inference) that of the store.

You see, the ‘bag for life’ was from a different store – so the till person (quoting store/company rules) wouldn’t change it for one from that store.

Oh, you can only change that at those shops, we won’t take them

Which begs the question – why?  If it were me in charge of doing that, then I’d be happy to take a competitor’s bag and give my customer a branded bag advertising my own store/company instead. But no, it seems that each supermarket/store brand will only exchange bags of their own brand, rather than taking those from other stores.

Seems bizarre to me.

Milton Keynes

ScroogeOn Friday, I realised I needed to do some stuff in Milton Keynes that couldn’t be done/sorted anywhere else. On the penultimate weekend before Christmas. Oh tits.

As it worked out, everything went really well. I was in, parked, and ready to do everything I needed to by 8am. One thing was a look round the M&S to see if there was anything that appealed – and a bit of web-checking had shown that they were open from 7am. (God knows why they felt the need to be open for 13 hours when the rest of the shops weren’t open ’til 9, but I digress)

So – a quick belt round an almost-deserted M&S proved there was nothing I actually wanted – excellent. Back to the car to wait for 9am when everything else opened.

From 9am, I got everything done within 30 minutes, and was completely out of Milton Keynes by 10am. By that time there were already queues of cars to come in to the car parking, but my deeds were done.

Surprisingly organised, and surprisingly easy.

Even better, I think I’m now done and dusted for the entire Festering Season stuff. Next weekend should be spent avoiding retail environments completely, all being well with the world…


Over the years, one thing I’ve said many times is that in some ways I’m lazy. (And it’s true – plus I’m almost certainly lazy in many, many ways)  However, in some circumstances my laziness actually results in extra effort/work.

Technically and pedantically I know it’s not laziness per se, it’s more a “can’t be arsed to wait” aspect which probably also matches up to something else I’ll be writing this week.

Anyway, as an example of this, I say I’m lazy when I can’t be bothered to wait for a bus or a tram/train (particularly when I lived in Manchester) on short journeys, so I’d rather walk. I simply don’t get why people would wait for a tram from Piccadilly station down to Piccadilly Gardens (or indeed really any tram stop in Manchester) when you can walk it in the time it takes for the bus/tram to arrive.

When I go shopping, I can’t be arsed to wait for a parking space right next to the shops. I’ll park further away in the car park, walk in, get what I need, and leave. If it’s been a quick shop, I’m sometimes in and out while the same damn car waits for a space right next to the store.

Indeed in general I can’t be arsed with hunting for parking spaces right next to where I’m going. I’m just as happy parking further away where there’s plenty of spaces and just, you know, walking a bit further.

But then, I’m lazy like that.


ScroogeThis year I’m trying hard to not get ranty about the Festering Season – which is no mean feat, I can assure you.  (I’ve also just discovered that I’ve not used that Scrooge image for nearly three years in a Festering Season post, so welcome back owd fella)

After all, my local Tesco Tosspots had Christmas Cards on sale at the end of September, for fuck’s sake. They’ve had mince pies since August, but I didn’t even bother getting any photos of those.

Since then, it’s just been going on and on. Their tree went up (fully decorated) before Hallowe’en was done.  The foodstuffs have been in since November 1st.

I know shops need to have the time to sell all their festive shit. I suspect that they’re also stretching out the season ‘because of the financial climate’, allowing their customers to spread the cost of the Festering Season over greater time, rather than being crippled in December. I get that, and I don’t mind. (Too much)

It still narks me that everything is so obsessed with materialism, gifts, and the social-status inferred therein. I can’t help it. I don’t like seeing it in the shops for three damn months, or hearing poxy bastard carols on shop sound systems for two months. But it’s pretty much unavoidable – I try to limit my exposure to it all, but there still has to be some, sadly.

But I’m trying hard to not be too ranty about it. For now.  That may change over the next few weeks – after all, there’s still a month to go…

Approaching Year-End (Part 2)

At the end of August, I wrote about the signs that we were coming to the end of the year, and the Festering Season. Obviously X-Factor and Strictly being back on TV are the two primary harbingers mentioned in that one.

Now though, I’m seeing more signs – and they seem to be earlier than ever.

  1. On TV, we’re starting to see the adverts for perfumes/fragrances (for both men and women) and also the music compilation CDs that only ever seem to be on the shelves for the Festering Season.  It’s always the “Oh god, I don’t know – get something” gift of last resort.
  2. In the supermarkets, hard though it is to believe, there’s already Christmas confectionary and mince pies on the shelves.
  3. And then there was this, spotted yesterday…

Christmas Cards on the shelves

Yep, Christmas Cards are already on the shelves. I despair.

I’m surprised at how early all this tat is hitting the shops- I assume it’s retail’s way of handling people having less money than usual, so making the items available ever earlier.  Personally I think that’s bollocks, and they’re just hoping for as many sales as possible – but as you can see from the picture above, people are actually buying the damn cards already…