Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Every Lidl helps

Lidl has been the talk of my fellow mums for some time now. They enthuse about the fruit and veg you can get there, all of it tasty but cheap. Their shopping bills have never been so low, they tell me. Even my dad has begun venturing in, returning with cut price dishwasher tablets and great slabs of chocolate like it's Christmas all over again.
So when my weekly shopping bill from Tesco hit a staggering £160, I decided it was time to take a look myself.
With the little man asleep in the car, and his daddy quite happy to keep him company and grab a nap himself, I took hold of my enormous trolley and ventured into the store. It's much smaller than Tesco and there are a lot of packets and boxes with obscure names and unreadable recipe information on the side but there are some old familiars there too - HP sauce, Branston pickle, Weetabix. I thread my way down the aisles stocking up the trolley.
Most of the cereal is unfamiliar but I take a chance (it is actually all very good). The seeded batch loaf I usually get is about 70p cheaper and delicious. Hot cross buns are in stock ready for Easter and are reasonable in price and taste. I even find some 100% fruit smoothies for kids at about half the price of their Innocent equivalent, although they are watered down so I don't think I will be getting them again. Crumpets, Heinz chicken soup, chorizo, wholewheat pasta all go in. The fruit and veg is indeed very good. A whole cucumber for 79p, a large pineapple for £1, a large ripe mango for half the price of Tesco but has yet to be tried and tested. There are organic carrots and onions and A LOT of cider on sale, if that's your thing.
So you can't get everything. There are no Pampers. I couldn't get hold of cream of tartare (for playdough which is the activity of the moment but I realise that is obscure) or parmesan or risotto rice. The miniscule packing area at the till suggests this is a supermarket not designed for big shops in mind (so why the enormous trolleys?) and most of the other customers I note are buying fairly small amounts of groceries, or a job lot of extra strength beer like the two retired men in front of me. With the tight squeeze and a growing queue behind me, I struggled to keep up with the urgent processing of the friendly man scanning my shop and did feel a bit hot and bothered by the end. Oh, and they don't take credit cards.
My final bill came to £89. I hadn't bought any meat or cleaning products or nappies but still it was a vast improvement and in the future I will certainly be using a combination of Lidl and Tesco, with the local butcher for meat and Jo the Fish in the town centre for, well, fish.
If you are feeding a growing family and trying to balance the books, I recommend discovering Lidl, if you haven't already. Good food, small bills, but even smaller packing areas.
One last tip - go armed with bags as they charge for them and you don't want a house full of Lidl bags for life - or is that the snob in me?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Unleashed and out of control

Maybe it is just because I am always sprinting full pelt trying to stop my little pocket rocket from running off the ends of the earth - or into a road - but it does seem my toddler has at least twice as much energy than others his age.
Boy he can move, as demonstrated at my in laws recently when, upset at the thought that I was downstairs and he was upstairs, he launched himself at the stairs and tumbled head over heels to the bottom. No one could have stopped him at the rate he was going. Thankfully, everything was carpeted and it wasn't a big flight of steps but rather unpleasant non-the-less.
But it was at our local soft play, housed in a garden centre, that I admitted defeat and concluded that sometimes I simply cannot keep up with this little one. I paid for a one-hour session, and he trotted off, shoeless, to roll around and let off some steam among the oversized sponge shapes, ladders and slides. This was all fine for ten minutes at the most but pretty soon, having seen me sipping my decaf latte through the glass just outside, he decided that he didn't want to be in there, he wanted to be out in the shop, running around in between the rows of displayed china and climbing on the sacks of compost.
Fair enough, I thought at first, he wants to explore, but after fifteen minutes of me running after him, herding him away from breakables and giving every impression of a mother who was out of control to all the customers, which I am afraid to say I was, I admitted defeat.
Hot, sweating, red-faced (in both senses), we put our coats on and left my poor friend and her altogether much calmer boy alone to finish her coffee in peace. I could almost feel the sighs of relief from those around as we made our exit, particularly from the woman on the next table who rather unkindly I thought put her fingers in her ears while the little man protested at his break for freedom being cut short. Okay he was loud but she could have hidden her discomfort a bit more for the short time I took a rest to get togged up and ready to leave - or not sit right by a children's play area?
I got home feeling rung out and filled with different emotions. Frustration at what the afternoon had turned into. Wonder at why he felt the need to escape when all the other kiddies played nicely in the soft play. Guilt at having got angry with him. And admiration, for while his energy levels can at times be difficult, it is a part of him that I love. He knows his own mind, he is confident, he is not afraid to go off and explore. Exhausting as that can be, it is a side of his personality I would run a mile to crush. And the other day, I reckon I covered a fairly good distance doing just that.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Any cures for a cough?

The little man has been a bit under the weather recently. It came on just before the weekend, cancelling a visit to the grandparents and a rare Friday night out. At its worst, his temperature shot up which was the most worrying although Calpol and Nurofen did the trick and he was soon back from the firey brink. I must add at this point how relieved I was that I had paid that bit more and invested in one of those digital in-the-ear thermometers the doctors use rather than perservering with the forehead sticks that I never seemed to get the hang of. If you are in any doubt as to what to get, I recommend the Braun ThermoScan. Totally worth the extra pennies.
He has been left with a runny nose and a horrible cough that just heaves his little body constantly. He has always suffered from coughs, an inevitable after-product of any cold - and they go on for an age. Having dropped his daytime nap, he is back to having a two-hour sleep, as he is so exhausted by constantly coughing.
It can be so frustrating as there seems to be very little you can do about a cough.I am adminstering Calpol and cough medicine periodically and I have invested in some Manuka honey that an assistant at the local health shop said worked with her children although he doesn't seem to like the taste (and a drop of that ain't cheap I tell you). I am going to try sitting him in a steamy bathroom later this evening to see if that eases it. In the meantime, if anyone has any top tips on eleviating a bad cough, they would be most welcome.