May 18, 2016
I’m knackered. Our local cycle campaign is running a ‘Bike Message* Challenge‘ starting next week, encouraging people to cycle to the local shops, bank, hairdresser, library, museum or wherever, instead of defaulting to the car. We were hoping that, with luck and a following wind, we might manage to sign up around 40 places to take – some of the more enlightened shops and cafes, the local libraries, the museums. What we weren’t expecting was that half of all the town centre shops would jump at the chance – it turns out that shopkeepers are keen to be involved in something that encourages customers to beat a path to their door, whatever their mode of travel. Who knew?
The downside (filed under ‘nice problem to have’) is that I’ve just spent the last two days tromping round the centre of Bigtown delivering the packs they need to take part to over a hundred shops. Which is a lot of talking to people – something I do find quite exhausting, especially a lot of strangers, and this being Bigtown the shopkeepers were mostly friendly and wanted a chat – and a lot of walking (the bike is more of a help than a hindrance when you’re going door to door). And as a result I’m absolutely shattered. It turns out that regularly cycling 16 miles a day – and being able to cycle all day if I’m going slow enough – is no training for effectively a day spent standing around chatting. I pedalled home with heavy legs and then spent a good hour collapsed next to the Rayburn until I could summon the energy to move.
It reminds me that I’ll miss the Rayburn when we move. It’s already beginning to make the odd chugging sound which means it will be fading out soon, and then we’ll switch it off for the summer. And by the time September comes around, we’ll be gone, and the new tenants will have the pleasure of its company in the kitchen. There’s absolutely no excuse really for running an oil-fired Rayburn in a well-regulated eco-conscious household, and we certainly won’t be getting one of our own. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be sorry when we turn it off for the last time.
And the picture? No reason, except that you cannot have too much spring greenery in your life.
* this makes more sense if you know that in Scotland your ‘messages’ means your shopping (or general errands)
February 8, 2012
Ice yesterday morning prevented me from enjoying my usual ride down to the papershop (what can I say, I’m a wimp and my front teeth were very expensively straightened by my parents so I like to keep them intact) but we made up for it in the afternoon by both cycling down to one of Bigtown’s big box electronics shops to do a little light laptop shopping. I’d meant to go down on Monday but it was just too bloody nice and I spent the afternoon gardening instead but yesterday the ground was frozen and I decided that if there was at least a bike ride thrown in I could handle the strain.*
Now, I would love this to be one of those posts where I prove that cyclists contribute just as much to the economy as car drivers but sad to say we were mainly going down to the big box shop to try out the laptop we’d chosen prior to actually ordering the thing on Amazon. There’s a lot of things you can find out about a laptop online but you can’t find out if it’s got an annoyingly clicky keyboard or an over-sensitive pad that mistakes you reaching for the shift key for you wanting it to highlight acres of carefully crafted prose and then overwriting it in an instant. It’s also hard to tell whether that nice shiny thing in the picture actually translates into something sleek and strokeable or whether you’re going to end up with something that looks like it was designed by a barrel full of drunk monkeys who’d spent too long watching Strictly Come Dancing. I’d never do such a thing to a small independent retailer and I don’t exactly feel that good about doing it to a big one, even if it is one who employs all the monkeys that were rejected from the inebriated laptop design squad on the grounds of taste and decency. I do feel sorry for them though. It must be soul destroying working for a retailer whose business model is fundamentally broken, like realising you’ve signed up for a carriage-building apprenticeship in around 1907, but I simply can’t bring myself to spend £300 more on an identical model laptop just because they’ve employed someone to ‘help’ me do so, especially when by ‘help’ I mean ‘get all the facts wrong and try and sell me an extended warranty’ so we go on with our keyboard testing and stroking while fending off the sales staff and then we pedalled home.
It struck me on the ride back (I have plenty of time to think while the other half disappears over the horizon ahead of me) that we’ll be sorry when the big box is gone and we’ll have to put up with whatever the drunk monkey design teams throw at us. There’s got to be a role somewhere for a showroom for expensive items like laptops where the physical object still counts as much as the specification (see also, trousers). Maybe staffed with actual helpful knowledgeable people who aren’t hampered by the need to flog a useless insurance policy to make up for the fact that the internet has stolen their employer’s business. And maybe (C*met take note) with actual bike racks outside it rather than acres of car parking space.
Oh all right, I’m fantasising now.
*Am I the only female on the planet who considers ‘retail therapy’ to be ‘therapy needed to recover from an afternoon spent shopping’?
August 27, 2008
So I was down at Papershop Village having been beaten to the shop counter by a little girl. She was about six or seven, the age when, if you believe what you read in the papers, kids spend their entire lives strapped into 4x4s being ferried from one social engagement to another, so it was kind of nice to see her out on her own, excited to be going to the shop and spending her own money*. And so I didn’t really fret as she rushed about choosing her selection of goodies and counting her change, nor when she hovered in a delicious agony of indecision over which flavour of Fruitellas to buy, nor even when she darted off at the last minute to rummage around for the last of the 20p bag of sweeties. Nor, indeed did I fret, much – although perhaps the indulgent smile was wearing thin a little at the edges – when she realised she didn’t have enough money for her purchases and had to select which ones to put back, with much humming and hawing at the thought.
‘You’re very patient,’ the shopkeeper said when she had skipped out and I finally plunked down my 80p for my paper. In London, of course, I’d just have gone over her head, in the unlikely event that a six-year-old could have beaten me to the counter in the first place. But you know what? I didn’t have a train to catch, and haven’t had one for a very long time. ‘No rush,’ I said, and it was true. I only need to know the time these days when I’ve got something in the oven. And even then, with a Rayburn, a few minutes extra here or there don’t hurt. No rush, no rush.
I think I may have to go to London soon, just to re-stress a bit. Becuase if I get any more relaxed here, you’ll have to scrape me off the floor with a spoon.
*At least I hope it was her own.