Online food shopping – first time for everything in Swindon

I’ve been challenged to write a blog a day for the month of June by the business club I Am Woman – as I’m an enthusiastic member.


. As a huge advocate of blogging, I do try to write a new blog at least twice a month but sometimes life takes over.

So this idea of keeping a month-long diary seems like a tall order. But that’s just it – surely a blog can be like an online diary, just bearing in mind that it literally is an open book – anyone can read it. Therefore, like all social media, you have to think twice about putting everything ‘out there.


As June starts on a weekend, I did have a little lesson on something new today. For the first time, I ordered groceries from an online shopping site. In spite of being a lover of social media, I’d not done this before. The first lesson came very quickly – when asking your child to call up the site for the supermarket – with very orange branding – don’t assume the first site is the correct one.


It must have taken ten minutes before we realised that we weren’t on the right site. Another one, which you can use to get to any major store, comes first. As I had a money-off voucher, it had to be the right one.


Next lesson, it’s quite hard to navigate round this orange site, the pages are larger than the screen, so we had to have a lot of frustration around trying to see all the images on the page. Then there was the confusion over delivery, on an early page the delivery slot clearly said £3.99 but when shopping, it was over £6 and only came down to the  lower price when you’d spent more than £40 – that was not made clear at the beginning.


One good thing though is that I find myself less tempted to buy as much. I was much more focussed on what was needed rather than what I  saw to whet the appetite. It was actually a struggle to spend my £60 limit. So for me, that was a bonus.


It now remains to be seen if the delivery comes on time, is accurate with not too many substitutes. Who knows, I might even do it again.



Giving to charity? Cash doesn’t seem to be welcome now…..

Surely any donation is worth having?......

I’m really intrigued to know what strategies the third sector are using to keep donations flooding in – are you?

The reason? In the last few months I’ve been heavily targeted by charities in order to get me to sign up, sign on or donate regularly – which is something I don’t want to do.

Recently I had a telephone call from someone claiming to be carrying out some research for a charity which has a shop in Swindon and they wanted my feedback on my experience of that establishment. Like an idiot, I answered the questions and then, hardly taking a breath, the young woman asked if I would sign up to £6 a month. When I challenged her that she had misled me initially, she denied this. I refused her offer, only for it to change to £3 a month for a longer period. She then launched into a really long spiel about being a private company which had pledged to raise blah, blah, blah for the charity and this company would be paid a fee of £75,000. That was some time ago and I blogged angrily about it at the time – I hate being cold-called, lied to and then when I say no, completely ignored.

But another local charity was collecting outside my local supermarket over the weekend. I do hate being accosted when I’m shopping and I get fed up when Sainsbury’s and others allowing customers to be hassled when doing a shop. But I can see it’s a legitimate way of fund raising. However, it is a matter of choice whether you give or not and I refuse to feel guilty for choosing not to give. On this occasion I was willing as it was Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

This organisation does fantastic, life-saving work and is deserving of our support. So I got out my purse and asked where I should put my donation of £5. I was then presented with a form and told that they couldn’t take any money today but I could only choose to sign up for a year or for a single donation of about £26.


How many people coming into or out of the supermarket that day would willing sign up to paying £26 minimum rather than give 50p or £1 or £5? Do they really find enough people who are willing to enter into a long-term commitment to give money to this charity? Is that better than getting people to ‘pay as you go’?

I know the air ambulance is losing a lot of funding shortly and that’s very worrying. But we are all in the same boat here and I believe the third sector should give people every single option when it comes to giving.

For me – I hate this ‘I’m going to make you commit’ approach. I don’t like to feel I’m being managed in this way, especially when it comes to money. As a business person, I ensure that clients or potential clients engage me in a way that suits their budget and cash flow. So some want long-term or medium-term support, others want to pay as you go.

So why didn’t this charity do the same? Many people who are out shopping are doing so on a restricted budget. Food bills have soared in the last couple of years. So I suspect that many shoppers would spare a pound or two, but will flatly refuse to give a much higher sum. Or they will take the paperwork and bin it at the earliest opportunity.

I’d be fascinated to know if this fund raising approach is working – maybe it is and I’m just being churlish. But experience of the third sector has taught me that people give the most when they have had a need, or someone they know has used an important service. That way people then do specific fund-raising events, sign up to a monthly commitment or leave something in a will.

What do you think?


Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda or M&S? Which one gets your vote at Christmas?

The fridge is full for Christmas - at last

Today we did a mega-shopping day visiting four supermarkets in a single day to get all the things on my ridiculous Christmas shopping list.

I think that puts me in a good position to assess the supermarkets’ readiness for December 23 – probably the busiest shopping day of the year – in Swindon at least.

First stop, by 9.30am was a town centre Marks & Spencer. Already very, very busy and (is it me?) full of people who think it’s okay to push you out of the way, tut in your ear and be generally grumpy. Nevertheless, the choice was reasonable, there was plenty of stock and we were able to buy the basketful of items we like the M&S way (pudding type things mainly, plus their version of Walnut Whips!).

Then on to Tesco – probably  my most hated supermarket in Swindon – as it seems to attract the most aggressive, anti-social shopper on earth. We just wanted a single item here – a prawn cocktail pot with a chilli flavour that they did about three years ago and which we have searched for ever since with no luck. Still, they did have a toilet so that made up for a lot! But no prawn cocktail, so a quick exit was in order.

Third Sainsbury’s – the venue for the main shop as we’d saved more than £100 in vouchers for the Christmas shop. However, I’ll think twice next year. We arrived here at about 11am, maybe a bit earlier, and the shelves were so empty it was almost unbelievable. I had the last few loose parsnips and carrots. We had to divide our efforts in the fruit & veg sections or we wouldn’t have been able to purchase anything. There were no sprouts (apart from those on a big stalk), no loose red onions, no Maris Pipers (my favourite for roasters). It was staggeringly busy with people in trolley jams all around but I couldn’t work out if it was phenomenal sales or really, really poor planning on the shop’s part. Around every corner as well as a zillion trolley-pushers, there were at least two large carts with frantic staff trying to fill up shelves.  I couldn’t get any dips like potato salad, humus or Waldorf salad – the kind of stuff I love on Boxing Day. And the only fresh herbs available were parsley, probably the only one I didn’t want!

Hence a quick trip to Asda – where there was so much food it was spilling out of the front door. No worries about sprouts here. In fact, I’d be worried about what’s going to be left as it was 5.30pm when we got there and there was stacks and stacks of food. I also picked up my herbs and nutmeg and was able to tick off the final things on my daft list.

I do now feel like I can relax – the food is in, the turkey is fresh and free range (ought to be gold-plated for what it cost) and the gammon looks like it could feed an army – but four kids should make light work of it!

Tomorrow it’s a pantomime of another kind – shorter, more entertaining and a lot cheaper – bring it on Keith Chegwin!


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