In anticipation of our forthcoming house purchase, H and I are attempting something of an economy drive at present and trying to reduce our monthly grocery spend by at least 50%, if not more. This essentially involves many meals of economy pasta/sauce and/or beans on toast; not having several bags of rocket languishing in the bottom of the fridge at any given time; drastically curtailing my Rioja habit and H’s sun-dried tomato addiction; feeding the Dog and the cat mafia own brand supermarket pet food instead of the grossly overpriced nutritionally engineered titbits they’ve enjoyed in recent years; and so on.
No, we’re not exactly living below the breadline, and are only doing what most sensible families do, i.e. budget our way out of our ingrained consumerist bad habits from our previous double-income/child-free existence. Truth be told, I’m quite enjoying it: what’s not to like about cheesy beans on a jacket potato? It is also incredible to think how much money we have wasted buying bland food we don’t particularly like out of nutritional guilt, having had it drilled into us by doctors, friends, gyms, magazines, infertility books and complementary medical practitioners that we ought to be eating only organic lean meat and green vegetables, which has its place, but is expensive, can rapidly become bland, bland, bland, and has a completely inadequate shelf life if, like me, you prefer to do your grocery shopping once a week from the comfort of your sofa.
Having said that, there is definitely a stodgy trend to our economy drive diet (can I take this opportunity to plug Tesco’s value chocolate at 33p for a massive bar? 33p!!!), and this in turn has generated a fairly uncharacteristic urge to get out of the house at around 5pm with the Nipper and counter some of the carbs with a bit of light exertion.
So, yesterday, H and I packed the Nipper and the Dog in the car, and went to take a turn along Toddbrook Reservoir. The reservoir feeds the Peak Forest Canal from above Whaley Bridge, and has a pretty setting and nice views, and a pleasant path along the north shore at the foot of Slatersbank wood, good for a gentle amble. It’s not exactly buggy friendly; you definitely need two of you to access the path, via the little footbridge, and it’s quite bramble and nettle heavy. I’d also recommend a fly net for your babby, as midges and horseflies abound. However, the views are very pleasant, and there are birds, fishes, plants and wild flowers a-plenty. It’s dog-friendly too, as it is usually fairly quiet, cyclist-free, and there are side streams where an errant spaniel can and will cool its paws along the way.
For a slightly more strenuous and structured walk, you can carry on up pass the head of the reservoir and do a circuit via Pennant End, Kishfield Bridge, Scar Wood, Gap House and the housing estate and either walk back down into Whaley or cut along the dam back to the northern shores. This is a round trip of about 3-4 miles and takes about 60-90 minutes, and is pretty easy going.
Afterwards we planned to stop off at the Old Hall Inn in Chinley for a little pre-prandial refreshment, but it was heaving, so we called in at the Lamb instead, where we sat outside quite happily as the clouds drew in, and the Nipper enjoyed his first pub experience, although I’m embarrassed to say he did so without any trousers on. I fear this may have been poor parenting.
Anyway, times being what they are, one drink was enough, and we came home and had fish and chips and Tunnocks tea cakes for dinner, washed down with a bottle of champagne leftover from when the Nipper arrived. Anyway, about this budgeting…