Driving Fail

So on Thursday I decided to not go out in the car for the next few days. Well, Friday morning dawned and it was pouring with rain. I popped on my raincoat, put up my brolly and went on a brisk walk to the gym. My gym buddy offered to drive me home, and I let her drive me as far as her house, then walked home. It was still pouring when it came time to go to the optometrist with Rosy, so I caved in and we drove, and then went to the vegie shop on the way home. The rain had cleared up by the time we came out of our appointment. We could very well have walked - we have plenty of umbrellas. What did occur to me though, is that neither of the girls have a really rain-proof coat. I know, here in rainy Tasmania. It's because we are always in the car, and only go out 'for a walk' if it's fine. For school camps the girls take my Goretex raincoat. But, if I am going to make them walk to the school bus and to town in the rain, I will have to think about buying them proper raincoats (don't worry, they do have warm coats - they are those down jackets though, which are not in the least bit rainproof).

Then, Saturday morning there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth - apparently, there was 'no food in the house'. Nonsense of course. There are plenty of ingredients in the house, and between the huge reserves of dried beans in the cupboard and what's in the garden I am pretty sure we could withstand a two-month siege at least, but I was ground down by the whining, so I made a list of everything we normally buy from the supermarket and drove (well, The Girl drove, killing two birds with one stone) to our local independent supermarket (local, but not walking distance. It is opposite a retirement village and full of little old ladies with walkers), where I stocked up with what is hopefully about two months' worth of groceries.

What I buy at the supermarket is just dry goods - toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste etc, plus cans (coconut milk, tuna, stock powder) plus things like dog and cat food, tomato passata, crackers, mayonnaise, big blocks of cheese, butter, frozen peas and frozen corn. All the other dry goods like flour, sugar, beans, dried fruit, nuts, vinegar, honey, oils, dishwashing liquid, laundry liquid etc I buy in bulk at the whole foods shop once a month.

Everything else - vegies and fruit, meat, dairy, bread - I can buy from local shops just a couple of blocks down the hill. And then up the hill on the way home. All that weight bearing exercise is so good for me.

So maybe, just maybe, I can stop driving to the shops every couple of days for food now. Well, except that of course, I forgot several things at the supermarket. I didn't buy any sanitary products or coffee and The Girl certainly didn't buy a month's worth of soy and oat milk. But I am sure I will be visiting my parents soon, and on the way to their house is another independent supermarket, so I can pop in there to top up with those extras.

I remember reading Agatha Christie's autobiography, and as a small child she would accompany her grandmother to the Army and Navy Stores in London, where her grandmother would order a year's supply of household goods. A year! She must have had an excellent list, and kept meticulous records. She also had a large and rambling English country house to store it all in. I only have a small three bedroom cottage but I am rather surprised to be able to report that all that extra food fitted right into my kitchen and bathroom cupboards, with the toilet paper stuffed under a table next to the bathroom.

I am now going to go and compile a master shopping list, and keep some records so I know how much toilet paper we use in a year. I am sure you are all waiting with baited breath to find out:)

I wrote this yesterday, and today it is Monday and Posy and I walked into town to buy school stationery, school shoes and zinc oxide powder. The zinc is to make more sunscreen. The Girl has continuing and unresolved eczema and my home-made sunscreen is the only one that doesn't make her eczema worse. We bought the stationery at an independent book and art supplies shop, the zinc oxide at a compounding chemist, and tried to buy shoes at a local school outfitters - but Posy had forgotten to bring her orthotics. Aaargh! In the end, we drove back to town this afternoon to buy her shoes. Well, again The Girl drove and we did parking practice. It is a delicate line I am treading to give The Girl enough practice for her driving test, and not just driving all over the place for the sake of it.

It's ok, we're trying, we're learning. Sometimes it doesn't all go to plan, but what ever does? The great thing about failure is what you learn from it. On a positive note I haven't been into a supermarket chain or department store for weeks. Local all the way..


Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Be cool, it is all good. Little steps and what dis they used to say about two steps forward, one back, so it goes? An old Chinese herbalist advised me many years ago about eczema which has been a minor curse for me and varies with stress levels. Fish oils are good and can be found in some vegetable sources I believe plus lots of fresh leafy greens from the garden. And also sorbolene is very good for the skin too. Have you tried growing wild perennial rocket? It is good stuff for the summer garden.

Jo said…
Chris, I have wild rocket growing crazy in my garden! Wonderful peppery stuff:) It is just maybe possible that a new, very restricted diet that The Girl is trying may be giving her some relief, the idea being that later she adds back in foods one by one to see what is triggering the eczema. In a few weeks I will report back... but yes, stress always a big trigger..
My dad was in the Army, but there were times we lived far from an Army commissary (a couple of hours at one point), and my mom would do monthly bulk shopping trips (the prices at the commissary being so much lower than at the local grocery stores). In retrospect I'm very impressed at how organized she was--I don't recall her going to the nearby grocery store for much other than milk and bread.

Your efforts at reducing your time in the car are inspiring, even if things don't always go as you plan. I wish there a grocery store in walking distance from me. Eventually the Man and I will move into a smaller home and having shops in walking distance is one of my top criteria in choosing a new place.

GretchenJoanna said…
My daughter and her husband are going to India soon for a 2-yr work assignment, and they have been strongly advised to bring a supply of all the paper products, toiletries, cosmetics and some foods (olive oil!) that they will want, because what is available there is not usually what Americans are used to.

Some supplies she thinks she can order as needed from Amazon, but to mail-order toilet paper does seem very wasteful, so they have been making a note every time they change the roll of TP, because they have no idea how much to take with them for such a long period. She's assuming that if she runs out of something, the local substitute will suffice. India is hardly an undeveloped country.
Tracy said…
I wouldn't call that a driving fail. I would call that a learning experience, and perhaps thoughtful use of the car.

I think you're amazing for even trying. Where I live and work it's not possible to go without a car. Literally, there is no public transport past my school, and there is nowhere to walk, even if you were silly enough to think you should try (big hill - only for the insane). Having said that, I live close to the Main Street and I COULD walk there more often.
Angus Wallace said…
Hi Jo,

We have eczema in the family too, and I think another thing that exacerbates it is overuse of soaps and shampoos (dries the skin).

In regard to your last post,

You might be able to reduce your hot water energy use by:
1. better insulation on your tank. Anywhere that's hot should be covered. But beware of the safety valve, which you shouldn't block. You can get special plastic insulating covers for it that saves a significant amount of energy. You can also get a jacket. However, it sounds like yours is inside the house, which means this is less of a problem.
2. Install a water saver shower rose, which can easily 1/2 the rate of water coming out of the shower. If you cover the shower with a lid, you will find it much warmer.

Hot water is amazing in its energy consumption. When we had our electric storage water heater, it was using 6 kWh per day before we used any hot water! If you want to find out what it uses just to keep warm, take a 2 day holiday somewhere and turn off all except the HWS. Take a meter reading before you leave, and upon your return. Presto! ;-)

Cheers, Angus
Anonymous said…
Half way through, I was saying "Shopping list. Do a proper shopping list." But then you said the same thing. We spend about as much time writing our list as we do shopping. Looking in our cupboards, menu planning, checking out state of supplies. But it makes it easier in the stupidmarket. And we rarely leave anything off.

But then I couldn't tell you how many toilet rolls we go through. Could you swap to wee wipes? (Ie cut up towels or sheets or any soft cloth which get thrown in wash. It would cut down on toilet paper use and is more environmental. Just for record, I haven't but I do think about it.)

As to driving, you have to get Girl'a hours up, so you have to drive so trips to town are not a waste but a necessity. However, annoying.
Anonymous said…
I get my toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap. They send me an email every roughly 5-6 weeks, and I decide if I'm ready for another box (24 rolls - depends who's home how long that lasts. Weirdly, we don't use as much now the bloke of the house doesn't work shift work) or not quite yet (we were away during the week they sent the message this time, so I am going to have a surfeit of toilet paper for the next little while, although... if I stock up the man cave dunny... eh, it'll be ok). They also have rather splendid paper towels. And a largeish chunk of their profits go to toilet facilities for people who don't have them.

I have had a lesson reinforced this last shop - I shop weekly, because despite living in a nice big house - it's only big in comparison to the *last* house I lived in, and is actually not that big at all. I don't have the storage space for more than two weeks of supplies. Anyway, I did the groceries on Sunday, with a list, didn't go tooooo off piste on the list, came home and decided to tidy the pantry before I put everything away.

Memo to self - tidy pantry, then write list based on what you actually need. Written on the top of next week's list is DO NOT BUY chips, sauce, baked beans...
Anonymous said…

I never like setting myself up to not succeed (sounds so much better than *fail*). So my suggestion is to go easy on yourself until this round of licence getting is over. Or, would it not be reasonable to simply deduct any trips made purely for learning purposes??
Just thinkin'...

Hazel said…
I was going to suggest wee wipes :)

I do use them, but I'm the only person in the house that does- my daughters 'forget'. It's no trouble. They're in a little basket (with the cleaning spray and spare loo roll) along with a waterproof bag leftover from washable nappies that I put the used ones in). I also encourage the use of hankies and cloths instead of loo roll for blowing noses and wiping.

Also, whilst I'm oversharing, sanitary products... I'd highly recommend a diva cup/moon cup/whatever. It's saved me a fortune, but I am having trouble persuading my eldest daughter to try it.

I think you're doing so well. I know lots of my good habits have slipped because it's hard to keep the rest of the family on board. You've inspired me to try again!
Jo said…
Aargh, spent half an hour replying to all your comments only to have it all disappear.. somewhere. Try again tomorrow!
Jo said…
Ok, let's try again. I'll do a few comments so I don't lose a half hour of my life again this time:)

Frances, your mum sounds impressively organised. When I was growing up on the mission field there was one vehicle, and the mums took it in turn to drive all the kids into school one day a week. They had the minibus all day, then they drove the kids home again in the afternoon. There was no popping back into town for anything.. and I can't even be that organised. But I am trying..

Gretchen Joanna, I am pretty sure any kid you raised would be very adventurous and flexible, and willing and humble enough to try new things. Although toilet paper is pretty wonderful. I didn't know India didn't have toilet paper?? Anyway, as to olive oil, I have found that cooking with ghee is much better than olive oil. I am sure there is some kind of other oil available in India that you could use as a salad oil. Plus, I can't think of anything better than eating Indian for two years. But that is one amazing big shopping list if she is taking stuff with her!
Jo said…
Tracy, isn't it ironic that we live in such a progressive and developed country, yet we can't organise our streets such that our kids can walk to school? Sigh. Anyway, even if we can't do everything (and most of us can't) we can mostly do something, and you have identified a great something that you can do - walk to the Main Street. Hope you find some useful local shops there:)

Angus, yes I thought about insulating the tank - but I might soon install solar, which would mean removing the tank, so that would be a bit of a wasted effort.

The shower rose! Thank you, I hadn't even thought of that! We have one of those giant faux-Victorian roses that probably uses a ton of water. Can't believe that didn't occur to me!

Jo said…
Lucinda, I try to be organised, but I am one of those people who writes a detailed list then leaves it at home. I think that half my trouble is the constant zipping in and out to the shops. If I shop once a month I will be way more organised.. I hope..

PS You are full of good ideas for me to try, aren't you??:)

Miss Maudy, I did try WGAC toilet paper - it was great - love their wrappers - but freight to Tas, even with a bulk order with friends, was punishingly expensive. Our IGA supermarkets sell recycled toilet paper wrapped in brown paper and sometimes offer it half price. Next time they do I will grab a couple of months' worth and stash it under the bed or something.

Ha ha, I am hearing you on the buying stuff I already have trick. Yes, tidy then list. There is so much to remember before even heading out the door - it is really not my forte. I feel like I should have mastered grocery shopping after about 25 years'experience, but alas..
Jo said…
Specks, I hear you, and appreciate your point - but, teaching a teenager to drive is part and parcel of the driving hours of your average Australian family over time, so I'll add them in. I really do hope though, that I am the last generation of parents teaching their kids to drive. Surely our kids will be more sensible than to continue this silliness of individual motoring?

Hazel, I promise to consider wee wipes. It is an awful name though.. although I concede its sustainable practicality..

I do have a mooncup, but I only use it on home days. I can't imagine my daughters being excited about it either:)

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