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Sabbatical, Day 72: Easter Is A Time For Spending

Bank Holidays can be full of energy, frustration or inertia in my experience. Today has fallen into the last of those three categories. Eschewing the idea of going somewhere big after a bad experience trying to get to Colchester Zoo one previous BH, the children suggested a return visit to Wat Tyler Country Park. However, this morning’s rain put paid to such plans and we ended up taking our picnic into Chelmsford town centre – not quite so picturesque. Some of that same picnic ended up with the pigeons and ducks courtesy of the children. OK, only the bread – nothing else.

Becky got a chance to spend some more birthday money. Like her mum, she adores that well-known craft shop, Poundland. She picked up some arty things there. She also bought an adaptation of Heidi in Waterstone’s. She loves that story. Meanwhile, Mark and I had boys’ time, heading for Camera World. I bought some camera cleaning gear and began a conversation about a first camera for His Nibs’ fifth birthday in August. Sounds like we’re heading for a Praktica.

Other than that, it’s time for things to break at present in our home. Over the weekend we had to buy a replacement DVD player and today it was the turn of our inkjet printer. The local Tesco Home Plus had a great deal on end of line stock and I picked up a Canon Pixma iP4600 for £44. No box or other packaging, with mains lead, ink cartridges, CD of software and manual all stuffed in a scruffy broken envelope. But who cares? That’s half price.

Everything goes in threes, Debbie says. The third item after the high-tech of the DVD player and the printer was, the, er, pepper mill. However much I like gadgets, I resisted the idea of a battery-powered model. Having been let down quickly by one from a supposedly reliable make, Cole and Mason, bought from Debenham’s in a sale, we went down market for a Tesco own brand.

So we seem to have spent the Easter weekend spending money. It doesn’t quite feel like an appropriate way to mark the death and resurrection of the Lord of life whose kingdom is countercultural, but we haven’t gone looking to do any of it and will have to balance the bank account later. Or seek divine assistance to that end!

Famous Last Words

Yesterday was the day Debbie and I had been waiting for since we moved to Chelmsford in August 2005. We had worked out when both of our children would finally be full-time at school, and it would be January 2009. Hence, with Rebekah having been at school since September 2007, Mark would step up from mornings only (which he’d done for the Autumn Term) to a whole day this last week. We had promised ourselves lunch out together, just the two of us.

And so it came to pass that yesterday we found ourselves in the first place we had earmarked for a lunch date: the local branch of La Tasca. Yes, it’s a restaurant chain but rather nicer than any chains we ever had in Medway and neither of us had ever eaten Tapas. We arrived with a voucher for fifty per cent off our meal and discovered they had a better deal: lunch for two for ten pounds (drinks and gratuity excluded).

So it was that we enjoyed chorizo sausage, squid (well I did, Debbie doesn’t like seafood), vegetarian paella, Spanish omelette and a beautifully dressed salad. Hungry, anyone?

Afterwards, knowing that we needed a new salt and pepper set, we headed for Debenham’s, trying to score a bargain in their sale, if any were left. Our old salt mill fools everyone because it has a plastic cover on the bottom to avoid a mess. Many of our guests don’t notice this if we forget to tell them and then wonder why they aren’t getting any salt. The pepper mill had – shall we say, ground to a halt. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.)

Having taken the escalator from outside the back of the store to the first floor, we discovered that the ‘home’ section of the store was on the second floor. As we climbed a flight of stairs, we were assaulted by lurid (if they can be in monochrome) posters bragging about all the designer labels the shop sells. I expressed my disdain about people who pay out just to be seen with a particular name on their clothing, and on we went.

Then the inevitable happened. Debbie reminded me my dressing gown was tatty and I needed a new one. She saw some in the sale. Twelve pounds. Excellent. Except they were a designer label. John Rocha.

So much for eschewing designers. At that price I caved in and dragged it around the store while continuing to look for salt and pepper mills. My big anti-designer words went out of the window at the sight of the price. I guess Naomi Klein won’t be signing me up that quickly. At least I won’t be inviting you around to see me wearing the dressing gown. You wouldn’t want to see me first thing in the morning. So I’m not buying it to show off. And doubtless there are those who would consider it inappropriate for me to own such a garment: perhaps the church is paying me too much.

The cruet set? Well, there was nothing in the sale. We settled on a cheap (by Debenham’s standards) set for ten pounds, passing on the sets that retailed for twenty or even thirty-six. That’s more like it.