Seasonal grocery shopping

December 23, 2017 at 13:06 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Ahhh. Seasonal shopping. It seems that no-one really enjoys it much. One thing that strikes me, though, is how much of the stress seems be be centered around parking. Any discussion of it inevitably seems to lead to a moan about parking. So much so it even spills onto the national news. Of course, the option of not taking the car shopping seems to not occur to most people.

Last weekend, I did my present shopping. A quick ride out to my nearest mall, easy parking right outside the door. Shopped, loaded up and out in under an hour.

Today I needed to get the Xmas groceries. So it was off to the shops again. Straight past the queue of cars waiting to get in and a free park right outside the entrance where the food bit is. Here’s my shopping list:

That was a pretty packed trolley…! I did have a minor panic about getting it all on the bike, but in the end it was all fine, with the zip-up cold bag tied on top.

Easy peasy.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Convenience and inconvenience

December 4, 2013 at 18:03 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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shoppingA big part of why I ride my bike is because it’s so convenient. It’s often the quickest way to get around, it’s easier than driving or catching a bus, and I can pretty much guarantee parking right outside my destination.

I’ve written several times about my cargo bike, and how it opens up a range of new possibilities for bicycle usage. It was brought home to me again the other day, when I needed to do the weekly shop, visit the library – oh, and I was also in sole charge of two toddlers. I guess to many people the car would be the only option, but we all jumped on the bike, and pedalled away. It was quicker setting up than getting them strapped into the car, an I could chat to them better as we went along. The actual journey (about 2-3 km) was certainly no slower then driving, and when I got to the shops I could lock up the bike right outside, rather than having to drive around and around a subterranean car-park, and then shepherd two small children to a lift. (That whole ‘parking the car’ thing just takes ages, although strangely it’s time that people rarely seem to factor into their journey when estimating travel times. I guess if you’ve never experienced an alternative you just accept it as part of life). We popped to the library, and then the supermarket for a full week’s shop, including six litres of milk, veges, groceries and cleaning things. Then it was back on the bike home again. For sure, the bike was quite loaded up, but it all fitted on fine.

cabbyOf course, there are options if you need to haul even more than that. Mrs Chillikebab spotted this bike at a park recently and took a picture – it’s a Gazelle Cabby, and yes, I do want one!

Some people, however, seem unprepared to accept the inherent inconvenience that driving entails, and so selfishly impose additional inconvenience on others as the price of their transport choice. People like the driver of this Audi, carbikelaneCJV01T. Clearly driving along the bike lane in order to park in front of the kebab shop is perfectly acceptable, despite the problems it causes for passing cyclists. I might suggest to the driver that in future he rides a bike – this way he can experience all of the convenience of door-to-door transportation, but without having to negatively impact others.

(And yes, I was tempted to pour a small amount of water onto the drivers seat – not enough to do any damage, but enough to give the owner a rather inconvenient wet bottom. I did, of course, resist the temptation. On this occasion…)

Christmas Eve at the Fish Markets

December 26, 2010 at 20:57 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Christmas. A time of good cheer, families, gifts, food and unbelievable traffic congestion. Or at least, this last item was evident this on Christmas Eve morning when I went to the fish market to pick up our Christmas seafood. Cars everywhere, cops directing traffic, chaos in the car park. Really, why do people put themselves through it?

I felt suitably smug wending my way through the traffic into the fish markets; no need to queue, no need to sit in a traffic jam, no need to pay to park. On the way in, I met a friend, also on his bike.
‘I said to my sister that I was going to the fish markets this morning,’ he said, ‘and she said I was mad. I told her I wasn’t driving…’

The queues, though, were not just in the traffic lanes. People were queuing outside the retailers to get in. Having successfully avoided the queues to get into the place, how could I avoid these ones too? My friend wanted to go to a particular shop, so joined the queue winding out of the door and across the car park.

Trying to be clever, I checked out the various retailers, and chose the one that seemed least busy in terms of people inside – Nicholas Seafood. Walked in the back door, found an assistant, and picked up what I needed. Result! Got served in under five minutes. Had to queue up at the till to pay, but that was only another five minutes or so, so everything was looking great. At this rate, I’d be in and out in the time it was taking those poor car-bound motorists just to get into the car park.

Paid for my fish, and then queued up at the collection counter. It quickly became clear why Nicholas Seafood was serving customers quickly at the front end; their process clearly was designed to maximise the number of people they took money from, rather than the number of people who actually walked out with seafood.

The system worked like this. Each receipt had a number written on it (mine was ‘L20’). As each order was completed it was put in a bag with a matching number on the receipt inside. Those bags were then haphazardly piled up on the counter. An small army of cheerful girls then attempted to match the numbers on the receipts clutched by the (increasingly unhappy) punters with the ones inside the bags.

The pile of bags just grew and grew. There was no way of knowing whether my bag was actually in the pile. Nonetheless, an assistant gamely checked dozens and dozens of bags, opening them all to look at the number inside. They couldn’t find my number. There must have been fifty people in the queue waiting; perhaps fifty identical plastic bags piled up on the counter; seafood spilling out of them as they were checked over and over again; the poor assistants swarming around them vainly looking for specific numbers buried in the mountain. And still more and more bags were being piled on top.

It was an amazing sight. I wish I had taken a photograph; the absurdity of the system was hilarious. Myself and the guy next to me just got a major attack of hysterics about it.

‘This is freaking hilarious’, he said, wiping tears from his eyes. ‘This has absolutely made my Christmas!’.

Eventually, after about 30 minutes, a miracle. My bag had been found! I made my way out, and loaded up the panniers for the ride home. I checked the queue at the place my friend had been to. Much reduced. And his bike was also gone. Seems like I didn’t avoid the queues after all…

Riding the Radish in the Rain

June 9, 2010 at 12:45 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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On Sunday, the Radish came into it’s own. Indeed, up until Sunday I had failed to fully appreciate the fun there is to be had on this machine; however I am now a confirmed Xtracycle fan.

It came about because we had to go and get groceries. Mrs Chillikebab initially wanted to go, as sending me with a list wasn’t god enough, as  ‘I wouldn’t buy the things that she didn’t know we needed‘. Hmmmm. Mrs Chillikebab and I have very different ideas about shopping. In my world, you take a list, and the objective is to get in and out of the store with the items on the list in the least possible time. Aisles that do not contain things on the list are shunned. Speed is of the essence; collecting things from the shelf without reducing the speed of the trolley is to be encouraged. In Mrs Chillikebab’s world, you browse all the aisles, just in case there is something lurking that you didn’t know you needed. And each item should be carefully selected, the price of alternatives weighed up, and carefully placed in the trolley to avoid damage.

Anyway, Mrs Chillikebab ended up not being able to go because of Baby Chillikebab’s  feeding schedule. So I had to go with the list. And of course, I had to go on a bike. This was it! The moment I had been waiting for – a fairly big shop was needed, and the Radish was waiting.

An additional complication was that it was pouring with rain. This was about 5pm on Sunday, and it was lashing down. Still, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes, so I dug out the full waterproofs, and armed with waterproof over-trousers and a cagoule I set off.

I actually really like riding in the rain. However, given the weather and the rather ponderous bike, I took the Victoria Road ‘bike path ‘ (aka street-furniture-strewn pavement). Normally I hate doing this; I’ve had pinch flats from the potholes and weaving around the bus shelters is a pain. However, on the Radish, it all seemed fine – cruisy, in fact. There really is something in this sitting up thing…

I arrived at Birkenhead Point, and got the shopping. Lots of vegetables, milk, cans etc. Four of those green re-usable bags worth. I wheeled the trolley out to the bike, and loaded up.

From this:

To this:

Now, there is something supremely satisfying about wheeling a shopping trolley to your bike to load it up. I don’t know why, it’s just a great feeling. Like you are doing something deeply subversive.

Then, the ride home. Uphill. How was this going to go? Well, the answer is like a dream. This bike handles magnificently when loaded. If anything, it rides better with all that stuff on the back. Just so stable and easy. Even the weight didn’t seem noticeable; I just cruised up the hills. In fact, I was so pleased I thought I’d get a bottle of wine to celebrate, so rode into the drive-through bottle shop at the Sackville Hotel. I pulled up behind a car, propped up the bike on its stand and went to get wine. That pleased me too; it just looked very cool seeing the bike there in the middle of the queue of cars. The wine (a nice Pinot Noir, to go with some bonito we bought earlier in the day) was stowed along with the rest of the shopping, and I rode home feeling very satisfied.

Now I can’t wait for the next shopping trip; I reckon I can get a much bigger load than that on the bike. Those green bags were not much more than half full, and I think the Radish will swallow them just as easily when they are filled to the brim.

Not that the trip was a total success. Mrs Chillikebab had asked me to pick up some chocolate for her as I went out the door. But it wasn’t on the list, so I forgot. Unfortunately this fact rather overshadowed my excited recounting of my adventure; ‘Yes, yes, that’s all very well dear, but did you get my chocolate?….’

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