Tag Archives: shopping

Writing 101 – Death to Adverbs

It’s now Thursday Day 9 of the challenge but first I must write Day 8.  This is a day late because of an emergency yesterday that didn’t allow me to post a blog.

So Day 8 and the challenge is:

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

My partner has been having trouble seeing clearly.  He has complained about a shield coming down and almost covering his eye, therefore making reading very difficult.  So an appointment was made for the optometrist.

I dropped him off at the appointed time and then took a leisurely stroll around the city shops.  I had only 30 minutes to spare so this necessitated restricting my visit to two shops.

Kirks doorman

photo – wellingtonnz.com

The first shop was the top department store in the country.  When one enters through the front doors (opened I might add by a gentleman in a top hat and dark uniform coat) one is immediately assailed by the heady mix of perfumes, quietly playing music and beautiful (mainly) young things telling us of the wonders of their particular product.  “Would madam like to try this new perfume?”  Hence the many smells lingering in the air or “Would madam have time for a mini facial today?” or “Would madam care to try this new cream that will perform miracles for her skin?” and on and on.

Here we meet the stay at home Mums and wives with time on their hands willing and happy to spend a few hours browsing around the store.  Of course, during the browsing many do buy one or two or even more products.

A quick walk through the ladies wear department where the salesladies are all smiles while busily adjusting the racks of clothes and returning those that have been tried on and discarded to their rightful place.  Then shoes where the sales assistants have more time to chat and some even know my name.

Then having bought nothing, out the door, across the main street – busy with cars and buses, bikes and motorbikes – to another department store immediately opposite the first.

This is a middle of the road department store.  There’s a more hurried pace here.  Businesswomen and some men of course, on a lunch break with only 1 hour to eat and do any shopping they need.  Not for them the leisurely browsing through racks of clothes or stands of make up products or stacks of handbags and shoes.  They mostly know what they are looking for and in the limited amount of time they have they intend to find it.

While the perfume and make up counters are also sited at the front of the store, there doesn’t seem to be quite the need to assail one with products perfumes, make up etc.

I love the first store now that I am retired and can spend time seeking out a perfect product, a gift for a friend or something for me, but I understand the attraction of the second store to those people with limited time to spend shopping.

And the emergency that made it impossible to write a post yesterday?  We left the optometrists after an hour long appointment and had decided that we would now go on to pick up some picture framing, when the phone went asking my partner to go immediately to the surgeons for another consultation.

We went into a very busy waiting room.  We walked in and my partner gave his name – they were expecting him but we were told to take a seat. I looked around the waiting room which, apart from the phones ringing and the staff talking as they made decisions and small talk, was subdued. Here was a man in a motorised wheelchair talking on the phone, making arrangements to be picked up, a tearful woman just emerging from the examination room to speak with her friend/husband/partner.  Another couple were discussing an article in a magazine, yet another woman was paying the bill.  But it was a totally different atmosphere to either of the stores in which I had been earlier.

Eventually my partner was called and at the end of another hour was told that he would need an operation to rectify the problem. So what started out to be just another day in Paradise turned into a stressful day for him

Please note – I really don’t know if I have written an adverb free post and would appreciate any comments on this.

Easter Sunday

“The day that the rains came down
Mother Earth smiled again
Now the lilacs could bloom
Now the fields could grow greener”
Sung by Jane Morgan, American Sognstress

It has been a very unusual summer for those of us who live in Wellington.  Long,  hot sunny days with no rain.  In fact, it has been about 7 weeks since we had even a light drizzle.  But today was different.

Easter Sunday and the rain came down.  Good news for farmers and horticulturists; bad news for holiday makers.  It rained very heavily for a couple of hours and then passed, but I am sure we are all delighted to have had some rain today.

Easter Sunday is a strange day here in New Zealand.  The streets today were pretty much deserted.  Parking was freely available in the CBD (and yes as it is a Public Holiday parking is free). Trading laws allow some shops/retailers to open but not others.  Why we ask can dairies. pharmacies. Real Estate agencies. restaurants, takeaway bars and cafes and service stations trade but supermarkets, bakers and most other retailers have to close.  There are of course loud cries from retailers to amend these laws but as we have been hearing this for years, we don’t expect there to be any major changes in the near future.

But between the rain and the ludicrous trading laws here in NZ we found we had three very well attended Open Homes today.  So there is a bright side to this.

While I was at the Open Homes the beautiful Miss Bella stayed with a friend.  He really loves her almost as much as he loved Miss Lotte.  Apparently she takes some time to settle down when I leave her and when I return she is like a little wound up clockwork toy.  The excitement has to be seen to be believed.  I am amazed at how very quickly she has bonded with me.

And now as I type this she is fast asleep on the bed in the spare room.  I think she considers this her bed and I wonder how she will react when No 1 grandson comes to stay next week.

And please do take extra care on the roads this Easter wherever you are travelling to.  Last year we had a zero death road toll, but it’s not so good this year.  At 7.30 am today the road toll was 3 and the holiday period lasts until 6am on Tuesday 2 April.  Let’s hope the toll doesn’t increase.

Forgetful, Responsible er..

Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.
Colin Powell

I have blogged before about living in Scotland and some of the adventures (?) that befell me.  One that I have laughed about so often with friends and family is..

We were about to move to Scotland where we had selected a new house that would be completed just about the time the baby was due.  The baby was born in London while her father was in Glasgow – but that’s another story.  Anyway, my mother being a first-time grandmother was besotted with this baby of course and when the doctor advised against taking her into a new house that hadn’t had time to dry out, she was overjoyed at the thought of having the baby to herself for a couple of weeks.

At that time it was considered that a brick house needed to dry out after it was built.  Probably the thinking has changed some 50 years on.  So my husband moved into the house, lit fires and aired it ready for us to move in.

I did leave Cate with my mother for about two weeks while I got the house properly ready to welcome this little princess.  I made the journey to London a couple of times I think, during this period.

Prams then were so different to today’s models that fold up to fit into a car.  My parents bought me the Silver Cross pram like the one in the photo.  Very smart indeed!  We had a pram and a separate stroller that folded and could be taken in the car.

One day after mother and father had delivered my baby to us and returned home to London, I took her shopping.  No car at that time, and a big hill to climb up to the local village.  Baby was ensconced comfortably in her pram and I was gratified at all the admiring comments of the people whom we met.

Anyway, back to my confession.  There was no mall or supermarket in the village and shopping took a long time as we had to go to each individual shop for groceries, meat etc.  And at that time we left our prams with baby inside, outside the shops while we did our shopping.  I finished my shopping with the chemist being the last stop and then took the bus home.  Yes, I had forgotten that I had the baby.


Imagine my chagrin when the pharmacist called to ask had I forgotten anything.  My baby was still sleeping in her pram outside his shop.  Oh dear, it took a long time to live that down.  And it was only years later that I started to tell it as a funny story.

And Cate – well she used to say when she was a teenager and in a rebellious mood, that if I really loved her I wouldn’t have left her behind.


My rainbow

The South Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow and what will poor robin do then?  He’ll sit in a barn to keep himself warm and hide his head under his wing”  Children’s nursery rhyme

Southern Alps NZ

via Wikipedia

Except here in the southern hemisphere it is the south wind that blows and today it’s blowing straight off the Southern Alps.  The temperature hasn’t risen above 10 degrees Centigrade and tonight it is forecast to fall to 4.  Very cold.

Added to that it has rained solidly all day and non stop.  So eventually we had to go out.  Lotte and I both needed to get some fresh air.  She doesn’t like to get her feet wet so she was a pretty miserable little thing once she got outside and saw the rain.  But she needs her walk as do I.

Storm clouds

The only people we met during this walk were other dog owners out with their charges.  Our walk was of necessity, very short and Lotte decided that the place for her was in front of the fire.  She really looked like a drowned rat when we got home again.

Do you know and/or use the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs”?  This was a phrase commonly heard when I was growing up.  It always seemed strange to me and nobody appeared to know where the phrase originated.  Now with the internet and our trusty friend Wikipedia I have been looking for the origin.

Well it appears there are many.  One source World Wide Words tell us  – “The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs.”  and then – “The most favoured one in the references I have found is mythological. It seems that cats were at one time thought to have influence over storms, especially by sailors, and that dogs were symbols of storms, often accompanying images and descriptions of the Norse storm god Odin. So when some particularly violent tempest appeared, people suggested it was caused by cats (bringing the rain) and dogs (the wind).”

And from www.phrases.org – “The much more probable source of ‘raining cats and dogs’ is the prosaic fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and other debris. The animals didn’t fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have caused the coining of this colourful phrase.” and ” Jonathan Swift described such an event in his satirical poem ‘A Description of a City Shower‘, first published in the 1710 collection of the Tatler magazine.”

So which one do you prefer.  I lean towards the Jonathon Swift filthy streets.  I can imagine how filthy were the streets of London in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Cover Mayhew's London

Very tattered cover of book

And then I went off on another tangent.  I have another old book entitled “Mayhew’s London” first published in 1861.  I don’t know when my copy was published but it is hardback and cost 25 shillings.  As there were 20 shillings to a pound I guess in the early or even mid 20th century when this book would have been purchased, it was quite expensive.

There are illustrations of the time and descriptions of how many made their living or at least enough to survive.  It is a fascinating book and I propose to share parts of it in some other blogs.

But for now:

The Hurdy gurdy player

Old Sarah, the Hurdy Gurdy Player from "Mayhew's London"


London Costermonger from "Mayhew's London"

Costermonger, or simply Coster, is a street seller of fruit (apples, etc.) and vegetables, in London and other British towns. They were ubiquitous in mid-Victorian England, and some are still found in markets. As usual with street-sellers, they would use a loud sing-song cry or chant to attract attention. Their cart might be stationary at a market stall, or mobile (horse-drawn or wheelbarrow) – from Wikipedia

These costermongers are still to be found in the street markets of London.

And now I will stop these ramblings.  Lotte and I are off for a few days and I wont have access to the computer.  So I will have loads to report when I return in the middle of the week.


My rainbow

Today’s Specials

Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson:  you find the present tense, but the past perfect!  ~Owens Lee Pomeroy, 1929-2008  Co-founder of the Golden Radio Buffs of MD

“Judith, 3852 specials at Woolworths Churchill Dr” This was the subject of an email in my inbox today.  It made me think about the things we now buy and think we can’t live without.  So what are some of the 3852 specials for this week?

The specials include a whole range of grocery items, vegetables and fruits and some homeware items.  This made me think of how shopping used to be.

As you may know, I grew up in London during and after the Second World War.  There were no supermarkets and Mother shopped each day.  We didn’t have a refrigerator until I was into my teens.  We had several ‘things’ to keep milk and butter cold.  They were made of clay and shaped to go around either the milk bottle or the butter.  They were soaked in cold water prior to use and then as they dried out they kept the milk or butter fresh.

Milk bottles

photo – Dreamstime

Of course, milk was delivered each day and Mother shopped every day so there was little chance of either the milk or butter turning.

Meat and bread were also bought each day.  Our local butcher was Mr Ives and during the war, for a time Mother worked in the shop stamping the ration books.

Ration books

via Wikipedia

Obviously, all these years later I don’t have a photo of that butcher’s shop but it is very clear in my memory.  The meat was on show hanging on hooks suspended from the ceiling.  There was, of course, a cold room out back but as there was very little choice of meat at the time, it was mostly all out front on show.  I can still remember the smell of the shop.  It had sawdust on the floor and this is the smell that reminds me of the butcher.

The area in which we lived had a large percentage of Jewish people living there.  So we had some of their specialities to try.  The local deli had a large barrel of rollmops just inside the door.  What a lovely smell and what memories that smell evokes.  And the baker baked bread every day.  You could smell his shop from a distance.  Mmm ..lovely.  And not just the usual white bread.  He baked challah daily and as we were part of a Jewish family, we also bought our matzos there.

Hovis logo

Logo via Wikipedia

He baked wholemeal bread long before brown or other grain bread was readily available.  Mother though preferred Hovis.  This was (and I think it is still available) a brown bread loaf baked with high wheatgerm wholemeal flour.

But we girls, of course, preferred the daily baked, hot white, crusty bread that came from the baker.  I think he was Mr Smulevitch although that may well have been the name of the delicatessen owner.

The greengrocer also had to be visited most days because everything that was bought had to be carried home.  Mother, of course, didn’t have any means of transporting the shopping except by hand.  I didn’t particularly like this shop because the door was never closed and it was always cold in there.  And it was dirty and untidy.  Vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables were not even brushed before being put into the large crates from which they were sold.  Vegetables were weighed using large balance type scales and then put straight into mother’s shopping bag.  She, of course, had a bag for vegetables as they all went straight into it.  No plastic bags or even paper bags then.

scales for potatoes

And of course, only fruit and vegetables in season were available then.  How different are things today.

And we didn’t have dollars and cents then or even the current GBP.  We bought things using pounds, shillings and pence.  Twelve pennies made one shilling, twenty shillings made one pound.  Pennies were further broken down into half-pennies (hapenies) and farthings (quarter pennies).   The subject of this currency will make a great blog someday.

This blog is meandering on as usual.  I shall close here but oh, I have so many things I should like to share with you about growing up in London.

I found the following quote when looking through The Quote Garden – http://www.quotegarden.com/.  When I can’t find just what I want in my books I turn to this site.  And because I didn’t know of Doug Larson I looked him up on Wikipedia that other stalwart of researchers.

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.  ~
Doug Larson










New shoes, red and pink and blue shoes

Age shouldn’t affect you. It’s just like the size of your shoes – they don’t determine how you live your life! You’re either marvellous or you’re boring, regardless of your age.  Steven Morrissey, English singer and lyricist. 1959

When I read today’s post from Susan at Coming East I immediately was transported back in time to those far distant days when getting new summer sandals was a treat.


We had sandals rather than sneakers.  But we also had plimsolls.  These were canvas topped shoes on rubber soles and only came in white.  At our school, where the school colours were brown and yellow (really!) the plimsolls had to be dyed brown for PE.   I don’t remember how this feat was achieved, but I do know that Mother had to perform this miracle for all three of her daughters on a regular basis.

White plimsollIn addition to the brown plimsolls, we were required to have a white pair for tennis.  So six pairs of plimsolls were bought in our house on a fairly regular basis.

Plimsolls (or plimsoles) apparently were developed as beachwear in the 1830s by the Liverpool Rubber Company later to be known as Dunlop Rubber.

This then brought me to my party piece.  I have always had a penchant for performing (or showing off as my sisters used to say) and reciting poetry was my chosen form of showing off.  I also had the ability to remember long verses of poetry and many and often were our relatives bored (aka entranced and delighted) with my recitations.

So here now is my favourite, Choosing Shoes by Frida Wolfe :

Pink shoes

“New shoes, new shoes,
Red and pink and blue shoes.
Tell me, what would you choose,
If they’d let us buy?

ShoesBuckle shoes, bow shoes,
Pretty pointy-toe shoes,
Strappy, cappy low shoes;
Let’s have some to try.

Bright shoes, white shoes,
Dandy-dance-by-night shoes,
Perhaps-a-little-tight shoes,
Like some? So would I.

Processed by: Helicon Filter;

BUT Flat shoes, fat shoes,
Stump-along-like-that shoes,
Wipe-them-on-the-mat shoes,
That’s the sort they’ll buy.”

Of course, the more I performed the more I added movement and voice changes/modulation to this poem.  And I still can be called upon to recite it in the company of good friends, when we have all had a couple of drinks.

And “Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler

Red Shoes

“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world” Bette Midler


In the Supermarket

The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.  ~Erma Bombeck

Cartoon grocery cart

Grocery shopping is not one of my all time favorite sports.  When my husband was alive we used to shop together and as he was the cook, most of the decisions on what to buy were made by him.  Now there’s only me to make these important decisions.

But today when I used the last of the tea and the butter was down to a scrape, I just knew that this was going to be one of those days.

So armed with a list (and determined to buy only what was on the list) I sallied forth.   We have a couple of mini marts in our suburb but I had quite a long list and so I took myself of to one of those behemoths called supermarkets.

Pak-n-saveOne supermarket promises “the lowest grocery prices in New Zealand”.  And “everything we do we do to save you money”.

The stores are like big warehouses.  there are no packers – you bring your own bags and pack them yourself.

New World SupermarketThe second carries all manner of imported things and offers you great service. There is always somebody around to take you to where that item you wanted is located.

They pack your bags for you either in your recyclable bags or their plastic ones.

They also give you Fly Buys a loyalty program whereby you accumulate the points from a variety of sources and choose what you will redeem them for.

Countdown supermarketToday I opted for the third.  This chain positions itself between the other two.

It has packers and plastic bags if you need/want them but don’t look for any help on the floor.  It is non-existent.  It also has its own loyalty program.  Again you collect the points when shopping and every few months they reward you with a discount voucher for use in their stores.

Well really, none of this makes me jump with joy.  Both New World and Countdown offer the possibility of shopping on-line but I really like to see what I am buying.  Although, my daughter who used this service for some months, assures me it is very good.

So back to my story.  I appeared at my (local) Countdown store to be faced with a car-park absolutely filled to capacity.  As there is no mall in the area, and apart from parking on the street adjacent to the strip shopping, there is only the supermarket car-park to use.   So therefore, on a Saturday morning, parking spaces are at a premium.  I have already asked myself the question – “Why are you shopping on a Saturday when you can do so on any day in the week?”  There is no good answer to that question.

That was not a good start to my shopping expedition.  Remember that it is not one of my favorite occupations anyway.  A man pulled out of his park right in front of me.  Then, coming from behind, and at a great speed, another man slipped right into that space.  Bearing in mind that I am adding ‘gracious’ to my list of values, I smiled sweetly at him.  He got out of the car and apologized leaving me still without a parking place.  He walked off only to come back a few minutes later to say that his wife was holding a park for me.  That restored a lot of my faith in human nature.

To get into the store one had to navigate around various people who had been given the opportunity to sell their wares there by the supermarket owners.

There was a kid raising money for a school trip by selling chocolate bars.  All kids need to raise money so I bought a couple of bars.  Saturday night at home with Lotte and the TV for company.  Don’t I deserve chocolate and didn’t the kids deserve help with their fundraising?

Next there was a couple of women cooking sausages and wrapping them in bread to raise money for a soccer club.  Don’t ever succumb to this – can’t stand the smell of the sausages cooking. And

then there were three of four young, fit guys asking for a signature to support the All Blacks in the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

It was a mission just to get past them all.

My shopping was hassle free I am pleased to say and I only bought a few small items that were not on the list – apart that is from the chocolate.

While wandering around with my list I noticed several harassed mothers with grumpy and/or crying kids and I am glad that I have passed that stage.  I noticed another mother arguing with her teenage boy over which cereal to buy.  I am really glad that I am past that.  And I noticed an elderly couple shopping together.  She held the shopping list and he held the calculator.  Obviously they are on a tight budget.  I am grateful that I haven’t reached that stage yet.

So now the shopping is put away in the larder and refrigerator.  I can complement myself on a job well done and not need to worry for at least another week.

And oh yes, my favorite bread was on special so I have enough in the freezer for several weeks.

Am I the only one who hates grocery shopping?

Now if I had been shoe shopping that would have been quite a different matter.

As Bette Midler says

“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world”