Friday, 10 January 2020

Frugal Friday

Well it IS a long while since we've had one of these posts, isn't it now! Lots of reasons - I think I've said before that when you are doing pretty frugal stuff ALL the time it just becomes a way of life, so you notice it less, so it becomes harder to write about. There is also a limited amount of things to discuss on the subject - and I absolutely don't want this blog to be one of those where the same thing gets endlessly rolled out time after time - just "posting for the sake of it" either - that's boring for me to write and for you to read!

As you know I have always enjoyed a bit of a frugal challenge - and that is something that hasn't changed. Prior to Christmas we did quite a lot of eating from the freezer to run down the stocks in there, but it now seems to be reasonably full again - not a bad thing of course, and especially as quite a lot of what it is full off is stuff that has been bought at bargain prices!  I had nothing specific in mind as a challenge until I was making a stew last weekend - I went to automatically reach for a "stock pot" to throw into it for some added flavour and then remembered that in the larder were some sachets of "sausage casserole mix" that we'd been given free at the Good Food show a coup....few.....SEVERAL years ago. Now you don't want to know about the best before date, but it WAS "best before" so I opened a sachet, gave it a sniff - all smelt fine, so into the stew went the contents! However, while sorting through for the casserole flavouring, I realised that there were quite a lot of other oddments in the larder that really ought to be used, and as I KNOW that there are quite a lot of bits in the storecupboard, also, that have been lingering about for a long while, I decided that it was time for a "use it up" challenge!

This one is going to have only one aim - and that will be to use up as many of the random items that have been in the cupboards, fridge etc for a while as we can, which makes good use of the things that we have, and also should save us some money on shopping, too. I've already done a bit of thinking about the sort of things I have in mind, and have a starter list that looks a bit like this:
- the remaining sausage casserole mix sachets
- some sachets of stir fry sauce
- fajita seasoning
- Beetroot - bought yellow stickered for pennies
- a large red cabbage - bought in Aldi pre-christmas for a bargainous 19p
- garlic - I bought another pack of 4 heads without realising that I still had one in the larder
- Part used jars of various things in the fridge
- tubs of home grown gooseberries in the freezer
- individual portions of home grown redcurrants - in the freezer

There's lots more too - this is just - I suspect - the tip of a large iceberg! Although it was under three years ago we had the kitchen redone, because we ended up moving forward with the upheaval of that rather sooner than we had planned, we also ended up just boxing up quite a bit of stuff for the duration - telling ourselves that we would sort through it all when it came to unpacking again. However, by the time the job was finally completed, we were so fed up with the whole situation that what actually happened was that everything just got put back into the larder again, meaning we STILL have lots of old stuff. Then there were the bits that we did look at, but decided we couldn't justify throwing away because food waste blah blah blah... now though, it's time. I need to actively sort out what we have, and make a plan for using it.

Stir fries are never a chore, so those sauces will be a pleasure to use. The gooseberries and redcurrants can become the sweet element to go with rice pudding, or even ice cream or plain yogurt. And half the red cabbage and beetroot I have a fancy for finely slicing, combining with a red onion, also finely sliced, and turning into a winter coleslaw.The remainder of those will probably be roasted as a veggie side with a dinner at some stage.

I'm also going to continue this idea outside of the kitchen too - so focusing on reading books I already have, and that have been waiting to be read, and using the lovely array of toiletries I have as well. Books were already on my "2020 goals list" as I have accumulated a number that are now making me feel guilty - I have them because I feel I *should* read them - either they were given to me by someone who said "you must read this!" (Always a kiss of death for me!) or I have made a start on reading but failed to get engrossed - either way those are now making me feel guilty for not reading them, so they either get read, and then passed on, or simply passed on.

If you are feeling the pinch a bit after the financial excesses that often come with Christmas, this can be the perfect time of year to get stuck into a "use what we have" challenge - and let's face it, most of us have more than we realise, so taking the time to step back, evaluate, and make decisions around the things we've gathered can be really positive on more levels than the pure financial, too. If you've not done it for a while, why not have a quick check through your fridge, freezer and cupboards, and see what you might be able to use up - and maybe save a few pennies doing it?


Monday, 6 January 2020

Small objects of desire...

The lovely MrEH uses the phrase "desire path" to describe those wavering lines through patches of grass - the paths that are not really quite meant to be there, but are, simply because enough people want there to be a track there, and walk that way as a result, that gradually the line appears anyway.  It's a phrase which has chimed with me on another level too - when thinking about the things that you want to achieve, but you will only get there by forming habits, so things that you actually "want" to do, rather than things that you feel you "should do".

RSPB Rye Meads. Hertfordshire
Recently I decided to hijack the concept a little - so I wrote my first "Desire List" - quite simply a list of a few things that I wanted to achieve in the next week - to exercise a certain number of times, to drink plenty of water, to be conscious around the use of social media rather than habitual, aimless scrolling without really thinking about it...there are 8 things in total on there (including, as a point of interest "Write something for my blog" - although at the time I added that to the list I had NO idea that this would be the "something"!) In fact, for this week the full list looks like this:

This week I want to:
- Run 12 miles total
- Gym twice
- Drink enough water 
- Do plenty of stretching
- Be conscious about social media use
- write something for my blog
- read at lunchtimes more than using my phone/iPad

- Get out somewhere with my camera

The common theme through all the items is that they are all items that will make me feel good. Running (exercise generally) is great for my mental health, and I'm also a few days in to a challenge to cover 100km running in January - that is the reason for the prescribed distance there, also. Drinking lots of water and stretching makes my body feel better, more flexible and more comfortable. Social media is something that can so easily become a mindless habit - and while I have no wish to step aside from it (it's a huge part of my social life, for a start) I would like to make sure that when I am choosing to look at Instagram or Twitter, I'm doing it for a specific reason rather than just to kill time. Reading is something that I love to do, but I do less of now than I used to in part because of that mindless scrolling thing - there is a book in the bag I bring to work that has been there for probably over 6 months with barely a few chapters read, and that is ludicrous, especially allowing that it's a book I really want to read! Similarly I love writing, but this blog is sadly neglected and I would really like to make better use of it again. Reading back on posts I wrote a few years ago makes me slightly  sad because I feel that to an extent I've lost some of the ability to write that I had then - possibly partly because so much of what I write now is the "bite size" chunks that go to make up Instagram or twitter posts. Finally using the camera - something which I love, but which often takes a back seat during the colder, darker months of the year. By the end of September most year's I'm actively looking forward to a bit of a step back from it, but I would like to get back into the habit of picking it up regularly again after than initial month or so's break.

That last was inspired by a visit to our local RSPB reserve at the weekend. I did actually take the camera out with me, but realised too late that the battery charge was very low, so left it in the car. Fore general landscape shots I'm happy enough with the phone anyway as a rule, but in two different locations around the reserve we found ourselves watching Goldcrests at fairly close quarters, and it would have been fantastic to have had the camera and long lens to hand to have a go at photographing those beautiful little birds. As a result I now have a plan in mind to return and see if I can track them down again.

These lists probably won't be something I do every week, but I think I would like them to feature occasionally at least - just as a reminder that sometimes it can be good to do things for no other reason than we want to, and because they will bring us joy or simply make us feel better in our own skin. And also because - in a world oft "should" and "must" - there can still be a place for "want" too!


Friday, 3 January 2020

Body* Positivity...

* but only if you have the "right" body...

A few months ago I was told in a comment on social media that I had no place taking part in a conversation about body positivity. This is apparently because a) I don't appear overweight and b) because I used to be, and made a conscious and deliberate decision to lose weight, and then maintain that loss. (No effort was made to find out my reasons for point 2.) Apparently this meant that I could not make a comment in support of someone else who had made similar choices, and for similar reasons, to mine.

The body positivity movement is often seen as a "fits any size" inclusive environment, where people -  mainly women, but open to people regardless of gender - are supportive of others choices around their bodies and appearances, and also are united in decrying fat shaming, fat phobia and negativity around those of a different size and shape to the "perceived ideal". I put that in quotes because to some extent I think that is the first issue - what is "ideal" for one person will be very different to someone else. The size and shape of body that is comfortable for an individual is probably close to unique from person to person - and by comfortable I mean both mentally AND physically. In reality though it seems to be evolving into a movement that champions only those with "larger than average" bodies, and is perfectly content to shame those who for their own reasons are seeking to change their appearance. Weight loss is seen as "letting the side down" and "giving in" and those who mention the idea of losing weight for health reasons are regularly told that they don't have to lose weight to be healthy - usually without ANY effort to ascertain WHY they feel that being lighter might also - for them - be healthier.

Regular readers here (well - as regularly as I give you anything to read, anyway!) will perhaps recall that my own weightloss was almost accidental at first - I decided that I wanted to get fitter, a decision that was purely prompted by health concerns. My size had never bothered me particularly in real terms - other than when I encountered negativity for example when visiting the GP when whatever I went in for, weight got mentioned whether it was relevant or not. Shopping for clothes could be a bit of an issue - the difference in shaping of garments between a size 10 or 12, and a size 16 is ludicrous. If any clothes designers are reading this please take note - most larger women have no desire to, nor should their only option be to wear something that resembles a sack. Fitted garments are far more flattering than "tents" regardless of the body size they are being worn by! If you're of average height then you can perhaps get away with a bit more - but at just a fraction over 5', the tendency for clothes with no shape to them to swamp my frame often made clothes shopping an truly unpleasant experience. So in the first instance I simply started making an effort to move a bit more, and the side effect of that was that my shape started changing, purely because a lot of the time, all of a sudden, I was burning more calories than I was consuming in a day. It was quite a few months before I even noticed - because it was a gradual loss things weren't suddenly looser - and when I did first notice the first thing that stood out was that I was physically more comfortable. My knees hurt less (I have arthritis in both), and the movement I was doing was easier, more natural. I had more energy. It was at around that time when I also started thinking more about what sort of food I was eating, and how much of it. I did some research about portion sizes - not the ludicrous portion sizes that food manufacturers recommend to fit in with the "traffic light" system (30g of cereal, or half a tin of soup etc are NOT realistic!) and which are so often what restrictive diets steer you towards, but what is really recommended by those who are actually qualified to make suggestions on such things. I took the decision to start eating more complex carbs, less saturated fats, and more fruit and veg. I began to understand that for a lot of years I'd had a disordered relationship with food in a number of ways - and also for the first time ever realised that there was a path out of that relationship. The activity was hindered somewhat by what turned out to be critical level anaemia - already written about previously on here - but once that was sorted I took to running with gusto and now take great delight to think of myself as a runner.

The key thing for me is that I didn't diet. I eat a wider range of foods, with a lower range of guilt, than I EVER have before. Through the reading and research that I was doing I learned why diets don't work in the longer term (because they invariably have an "end point" after which habits revert to previous), and why a balanced lifestyle does (because it is sustainable, and just something that you continue with as a result).

Naturally, the result of all of the above was that yes, I lost weight and my body changed. Technically I still  show on the utterly ridiculous BMI charts as being "overweight" - but then so would an awful lot of super-fit professional sportsmen & women, so I'm none too worried about that. More importantly though, my mind changed too. The size I am at now feels far more natural to me - I started feeling as though I'd reclaimed my own body after temporarily living inside someone elses, that was a far from good fit. I have more energy because I'm eating better. I am - without question - healthier. So allowing for all of the above, why on earth would someone else - someone who claims to be a "champion" for acceptance of all body shapes - decide that the choices I had made make me "less valid"? Maybe it's time to reclaim Body Positivity as a movement for those us us who actually want to be accepting of everyone's choices - regardless of whether they are the same as ours, or not?

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Healthy is not a number.

If you use Social Media at all then it's likely you will be aware of the storm that has blown up around the Daily Telegraph article about Nike's use of a plus size mannequin in their London store. Nike say that their intention is to celebrate the diversity & inclusivity of sport - acknowledging that people of all body sizes exercise and need appropriate clothing for that.

In case you've not seen the article, then below is the first section...

This article is, perhaps surprisingly, written by a woman - one Tanya Gold, according to the byline. Now read that second paragraph again, and ask yourself exactly what level of hatred is needed to make someone use language like that. I'm actually unsure what label is best applied to it - misogynistic? Almost certainly. Judgemental? Hell, yes. Spiteful, vindictive, hateful? All of the above. She humanizes the mannequin from the start, and then proceeds to talk about "her" in such vicious terms that it is almost breathtaking - what sort of person would even contemplate describing another woman (or indeed an entire group of women!) in those terms? For the avoidance of doubt, if you've not seen the picture of the mannequin in question and are now imagining some kind of grotesque caricature of a plus-size lady in plastic form, this is the (copyright Nike I believe) publicity shot that was put out:

Now go back and read the final sentence above again. "Heaves with fat"? Seriously? Gold is not done here though - having thoroughly offended any women of size 12 and above with her first comments, she continues...

Perhaps the first question here is what the "measure" that Gold might be using with her sweeping statement might be. BMI perhaps? That "measure" that has been proved already to be a terrible indicator for health, and that has been ditched by pretty much all forward thinking medics? (It makes most of the England Rugby team obese, for a start, because it makes no allowance for muscle -v- fat - so somebody with a lot of muscle mass and a very low body-fat percentage will still show as "too heavy" according to its very rigid structure.) "She cannot run" well, no Tanya, she's a plastic model, but a woman of that size and shape might very well be able to run....after you with a big stick, quite possibly, following those comments. A hoard of women of ALL shapes and sizes have fired up Twitter with an attack on this statement - triathletes, long distance swimmers, marathon runners and indeed ultra marathon runners too, all saying "Oh yes we bloody well can!" in incensed tones.

Prior to this Gold was most noted for an article whining about people judging her for being a heavy smoker, it seems, however a little dig back through her archives lead me to an interesting Daily Mail (sorry - I'd never normally do this and I'm certainly not linking to it!) item from 2008 in which she says, among other things "Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am fat. You want to know how fat? OK, I am a size 16 and I weigh 14 stone."  and "Here's a thought: what if the only barrier between me and my future happiness is not my tsunami of flesh but your giant prejudice? " Interesting use of the phrase "tsunami of flesh" there - not dissimilar to "heaves with fat" in some ways, it strikes me. She goes on perhaps to shed a little light on where things may have gone wrong "I have been overweight since about the age of ten, so I was bullied at school, naturally. 'You're fat!' the other (mostly female) children would say, 'and we won't play with you.' " Ahhh....OK, now bullying, as is well documented now, can leave mental scars far beyond the school playground, and it is also reckoned that some who were themselves bullied go on to bully others, so are we perhaps a little nearer to getting to the bottom of Miss Gold's vindictive comments in her more recent Telegraph article? 

As someone else said on Twitter, only the lady herself can truly know why she is so angry about this issue, and perhaps even she might not be able to put a finger on what has happened over the past 11 years to take her from hotly defending people who look not unlike that mannequin, to instead trying to undermine and destroy them in truly cruel terms, but is there just a chance that perhaps the person she is really lambasting here is herself? Could it perhaps be that it is she who is unable to run, and possibly struggling with health problems that may (whether truthfully or otherwise) have been linked by others to her perceived "unhealthy" appearance, and that a result she feels so utterly removed from ever being able to wear clothes like those produced by Nike, and modelled by their gloriously confident looking store display, that she has allowed her own resentment to flow out onto the page? Back in 2008 her entire Daily Mail article is littered with clues that even then, she didn't like herself very much - self-deprecating humour presides throughout and you firmly get the impression that she was taking swipes at herself before anyone else could - 11 years on though and she's turned that on others, and particularly those who she fears may be happier with their lot than she is, maybe? If so then she needs to address her own issues, and not take them out on those she resents for their abilities and contentment with their lot.

Ladies - no matter what shape and size you are, remember - Healthy is NOT the number on the label of your knickers. Fit is not whether you fit a societal visual "ideal". It is not for anyone - male or female, larger or smaller, to judge and criticise you, or to make a call that you are "unhealthy" because of the size of clothes you wear. Nobody can tell your state of health simply from looking at you. The Telegraph should be ashamed of itself for giving an article that potentially damaging page-room - and especially so soon after a Mental Health Awareness week which this year focused on Body Image. No subsequent apology can right the wrong that they have done to 50% of the UK population. 


Thursday, 6 June 2019

Flying High...

A couple of years ago, for my birthday, MrEH bought me a flight in the same type of vintage aircraft I have flown in before - the DeHavilland Dragon Rapide. I looked into booking it that first summer - only to find there were no available dates that suited me. Then I looked into booking it again last year, only to find that the company running the flights did not, at that stage, have a secure website for taking card payments for bookings....sigh! I suddenly thought about it again a few weeks ago and decided to take another look, and to my delight firstly the website is now secured and secondly there were LOTS of dates to choose from - including to my delight one in just a couple of weeks time, on a Friday where I had nothing in the diary!

Last Friday I travelled to Duxford where I was admitted to the Imperial War Museum free of charge on production of the voucher I received when I made my booking, given a map of the site and dispatched off towards the "Classic Wings" enclosure on the flightline in order to register my arrival, get given my ticket for the flight and hop on the scales - everyone gets weighed so that Classic Wings know how to distribute people through the aircraft - apparently she prefers lighter people at the front, which was wonderful for me as that meant I got given one of the front seats, and being directed to board first meant that I got the one directly behind the pilot's doorway - meaning I could see directly ahead of me throughout as well as off to the side - wonderful! 7 of the 8 seats were occupied in the end - including the one behind me which was taken by the loadmaster from one of the American Douglas Dakota's that had arrived at Duxford ahead of the D Day commemorations which were shortly to be taking place - they weren't going to have time to do any sightseeing so when he'd seen the flight advertised on arrival he thought it would be a great way of seeing London!

Our pilot - Brian - had a quick word with us before popping on his headset and getting ready for engine start - basically explaining that the exact route we took on the way down would depend on how we got routed by ATC for the three busy airspaces we'd be travelling through - Stansted, London City and Heathrow Airports - but that essentially we'd be going roughly through the Lea Valley before reaching central London, over the Olympic Park and then on to the river, before doing some manoeuvering over some of the main sights to make sure everyone stood a good chance of seeing them. Then it was engine start, taxi to the runway and before we knew it we were airborne and turning gently to the south to start our trip. I was looking out for Harlow on the way down needless to say, but the best I spotted was Hoddesdon, not all that far from us, and at that point I switched my attention to the front to see the Lea Valley appearing ahead of me, and Wembley visible way off to the West shortly followed by the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.  It seemed hardly any time after that before the "Stadium hat-trick" was completed by the Olympic Park appearing, again off the starboard wing - amazing to see the whole park laid out below us like this!

On to the river, then, and a sweep over Greenwich and past the Isle of Dogs and the Millenium Dome - or the O2 as we're now meant to call it of course!  Amazing to see the iconic shape of the "bulge" in the Thames formed by the IoD & the Greenwich Peninsular clearly visible 

Look carefully in the one below and you can see the Cutty Sark (click on the picture and it will enlarge) as well as the Royal Naval College at Greenwich - this was a favourite section when we did the Themes path walk through this area.

Brian wasn't kidding when he said he'd make sure everyone got a good view either - we flew around the Shard several times from all angles getting great views - at times it felt as though we were almost on a level with it! 

These are a mix of pictures from my phone and some taken with the camera that yes, I inevitably had with me too! There are a LOT more photos to go through yet too and I may well do another post at some stage with some more - I've had a quick look at a few and it's fascinating spotting places that I'd not recognised from the air. Apparently we had a quite wide divert around Stansted airspace both ways which meant we got a slightly longer flight than sometimes happens - I think the only person even slightly complaining was the lady in the other front seat who did need to make use of a little white bag at one stage, poor thing! You get a lot of turbulence from an aircraft that size, and combined with the "vintage" smell of fuel that tends to linger, it can make you feel ever so slightly queasy - I found that making sure I fixed my eyes out at a distance if I started feeling even vaguely uneasy did the trick for me, thankfully. 

It was a fantastic experience and one I'd certainly be interested to repeat at some stage - Classic Wings are efficient and friendly and if anyone fancies a similar experience I'd strongly recommend them - there are also other companies doing the same thing on the same aircraft type elsewhere in the country, I believe. For a Londoner, the trip I did would really be hard to beat, however! 


Monday, 3 June 2019

Planning and eating!

After another weekend where my feet didn't touch the ground (literally, where Friday is concerned - keep your eyes peeled for a post later in the week with photos from my epic flight in a 1940's biplane over central London!)  I'm reminded that hectic though things have been for the past few months, they are set to get busier for a while as airshow season is now underway, just to add to everything else I have going on! I have made a conscious decision that with a lot of work to get done for the beer festival this year I will need to step back a little with the aviation stuff - a few shows I'd usually attend I've made the decision to drop for this year - the show at RAF Cosford this coming weekend is an example - I've enjoyed the last few years from a social perspective - it's great to meet up with and spend time with some fantastic folk - but not so much from a flying point of view as I've felt that for the amount of effort involved it hasn't quite delivered as much as I'd have liked. Many of the same people I would usually see there have made the decision to travel to Yeovilton this year so my decision to drop Cosford was an easier one. Sometimes when life is really busy it pays just to take a step back and analyse how time is best spent.

In the interest again of good use of time I've meal-planned this week to keep some of our tea time meals to needing minimal prep. I really need to do a full freezer audit at some stage and plan using up some of the stuff from there - the lamb shoulder I bought at last month's farmer's market will get cooked this weekend coming so I'm already looking forward to leftovers last week in the form of Moroccan coucous salad, but beyond that I confess to not only having a sketchy grasp of what is currently lurking in there. As I didn't have the time to do the audit this weekend we have shopped minimally for just the bones of our meals this week - there will be a degree of inventiveness by the time Thursday comes along I suspect!

The best way of keeping in track of what you have and saving on food waste as I have regularly said before is to check what you have in store already before you shop for more. I try to always start my meal planning each week with a quick look at the fridge and the larder - currently I know I have sweet potatoes and parsnips that need using up so chicken portions went on my list to buy this week (bought by MrEH while I was out yesterday, in fact, in the interests of full transparency!) - those will get thrown into a big roasting tin tonight with all sorts of veggies that will happily roast alongside them and can then form the basis of meals for the week. I couldn't resist a little bag of Jersey Royal potatoes so those will go in the pan with everything else, take on a little of the chickeney flavour and will then be used in a frittata along with the final couple of rashers of bacon from a pack in the freezer. (Frittata is a truly fabulous way of using up small amounts of things - if needed it can also make less eggs than ideally needed to serve the number of folk you are feeding stretch further, too). The second half of the chicken pieces will get used as the protein component to a couscous salad later in the week - essentially just soaked couscous with whatever we fancy thrown in. (It also keeps well for a couple of days in the fridge, if needed) MrEH also found mangoes on sale for 39p this week and knowing how much I LOVE a mango he unleashed his hunter-gatherer instincts to grab me one - some of that will definitely find its way into the couscous this week for a lovely summery hit of flavour. (The rest will likely get eaten by me, as it is. Nom!) Add some chickpeas, spinach leaves and halved cherry tomatoes and hey presto, one quick, easy, colourful meal which will deliver several of our 5 a day in one go.

With the "busy-ness" of the past few weeks I'm conscious that my activity levels and exercise have dropped a bit - not surprising really but I am starting to feel the effects both mentally and physically so this month I'm aiming to up the ante again. I've been off running for a few weeks with a sore knee but frankly it doesn't seem to be any better for not running on it so I'm going to ease myself back in gently and see how it reacts, I think. My habit in the past has been to just throw myself back into it at the level I was at before any injury-related break but of course that's pretty stupid really, isn't it (Yes, I can tell even the non runners reading this are shaking their heads in disbelief!) so this time I'll be starting with a 1km treadmill run tonight to see how things feel - if all OK that will be followed up by a couple of road miles tomorrow evening at a steady pace and then looking to increase that just a tiny bit each time I go out for a while. Hopefully if all goes well that will also gently get me used to running in the substantially warmer temperatures we now seem to have which while lovely I DO find a bit of a challenge to run in!

I'm also aiming to do a bit more towards my challenge this week by making some time on Friday to do the next stage of clothes sorting, and also hopefully get some stuff to the charity shop as well. I know there is a bag of stuff ready to go already - I'll be aiming to get together enough odds and ends to make up a second one also to take at the same time.  watch this space for updates on that one!


Thursday, 30 May 2019

Plastic -v- the World - part 2!

Last time I did one of these posts I was talking about beeswax wraps, and wanting to find alternatives to some of the more "disposable" sorts of plastic bags that we use. Shopping bags are easy - both cars always have a stash of re-useable shopping bags, and there is always a pile of them at home as well, plus folding ones in my usual handbag - dead easy to grab one of several when needed and we just don't even think about taking a carrier bag in a shop, these days. Once actually IN the shop though, and wanting to buy loose fruit and veg, things get a bit less simple. Things like onions are easy enough - I tend to usually buy just a few at a time, so I just leave them loose. Mostly now I don't even have to stop the assistant at the checkout trying to put them into a bag for me, either! There are other things though that either I buy in greater quantity, or that are a little bit more likely to get damaged during handling or even just in the trolley or on the way home, plus things like loose potatoes which might well have mud or dust on them that the poor checkout operator doesn't want to be dealing with, so I have been on the hunt for some reuseable produce bags.

Last week, as if by magic, I spotted that Sue over at her Smaller & Simpler Life blog had posted about buying some that looked ideal from Lakeland (well, where else?!) - and so when we found ourselves near to the H-U-G-E Lakeland store at Windermere at the weekend, I couldn't resist popping in.

Here you go - a couple of pictures to give you an idea about them - Sue has a good shot of them all laid out showing the comparative sizes over on her post so I've not bothered recreating that here also, but I love that they come with minimum of packaging, and all pack neatly away into the smallest of the bags for safekeeping too. I've stashed mine into my work bag as that means that they will at least be somewhere "known" and readily available - the challenge will be remembering to grab them when I go shopping! 

The other challenge of course will be finding the things I can actually justify buying loose over pre-packaged. Tomatoes are a great case in point here - I can generally buy nasty tasteless watery Dutch or Spanish ones loose, or British ones pre-packaged. Frankly the British ones are always going to win as I prefer my tomatoes to actually taste of something (preferably tomato!) Mushrooms, too - often the loose ones are Polish, but I can easily get British pre-packaged ones (less bothered about that as we do at least re-use the punnets they come in!). I was deeply narked yesterday to find that Tesco value carrots, in a plastic bag and hailing all the way from Spain, are cheaper to buy per kilo than the British ones, sold loose - so we are paying MORE for a product that has travelled less distance, and had less done to it. Come on Tesco - time to sort this nonsense out. Had I wanted to buy my British Braeburn apples loose, rather than pre-packed I would also have paid substantially more for them. Courgettes are from the same place of origination but it costs 11p more per kilo to NOT have someone pre pack them for you. If anyone can explain the logic of this then I'd love to hear it! In the event last night I used just one of my new bags for my (loose, British) carrots, and for the other things I purchased I either couldn't justify the price difference, or chose British & pre-packaged over foreign and loose. 

Let me know if you've found any other ludicrous pricing in supermarkets - I'm sure it can't just be Tesco doing this!