From Costa Coffee to Homebrew

So the town of Totnes appear to have convinced Costa not to open a branch in a town that already boasts 41 other independent coffee shops; it is impressive both that the townsfolk stood up and objected so strongly to this and also that Costa themselves made the decision not to open the store, despite having the building and planning permission all in place – well done all!

It brings to mind the recent disputed decision to allow Tesco to open a store in our town, the supermarket choice where we live may be limited at best but the more we think about this challenge the more it seems the town would benefit from more effort at regeneration and more independent food shops opening to remove the need for Tescos to start building!

A mid-week day off meant we all went for a little potter to Cheltenham. Breakfast revealed just how little food we had in the house, so we headed off with the idea of seeing what we could find to eat not purchased in a supermarket. The only things on the list were fruit, vegetables, nappies and cleaning products, with the plan to use up some meat out of the freezer and pantry stock over the coming week. It is interesting to note that starting to think about this challenge we have made our regular weekly shop stretch to nearly 3 weeks, which proves that we are being seduced by the supermarket trap.

Chicken keepers buying eggs….. we must get Paul and Barry Chicken some younger more productive friends

A very successful trip to a lovely (if a little narrow for pushchairs) grocers resulted in a wonderful bounty of fresh produce, all for less than £12. The particular highlights were a bag full of red sweetdew peppers for just £1 and a bag full of large mushrooms for just £1.50. now these are items that we regularly purchase with our weekly shop, but we are used to paying £1.50ish for 2 peppers and £1.00ish for 3 mushrooms, we may have paid the same price today, but have come home with 4 times as much of the said items. Now the challenge with these is to make sure we do not waste any of them (even though Paul and Barry Chicken would love them), however we’ve got an idea for some relish with the peppers, and who doesn’t love mushroom soup!

Needing a number of cleaning products we ventured to wilko’s (a bit too chain-like for our new found sense of independence, but it is definitely not a supermarket, and this research phase is a good chance to check how workable the rules are). Now getting into the spirit of things we went around scoffing at the cost of big brand cleaners, but as there was no own-brand surface cleaner (a must for a household with 3 cats who do not understand the phrase “the kitchen table is not your bed”), a brainwave/moment of inspiration/moment of idiocy struck a certain male member of the family who decided that he was not paying the extortionate prices for Dettol/Flash/Mr Muscle and would instead make his own. A 50p bottle of antibacterial disinfectant was purchased, (which upon inspection smelt rather nice) and a plan was hatched to mix a few capfuls with water and create our own spray time after time for about 5p a bottle. Only slight flaw in the plan is that we need to finish the spray we have in order to use the spray bottle, so that little experiment will need to wait, feedback on the homebrew to follow!

Try before you buy (the 23p bottle was rejected for having a rather suspicious smell!)