I have been making a real effort recently to try to coordinate it so that the groceries run out on a weekend to take advantage of the local markets and farms that we are so lucky to live near by.
It doesn’t always work out but when it does it means I am able to make the most of cheap and very good quality fruit, vegetables and meat, and support my local retailers. In supporting local retailers apparently an extra 23p per £1 spent stays within the local economy, supporting local families and councils so it all comes round and helps you again too!
Last Saturday after I took my car in for the dreaded MOT instead of sitting around nervously waiting we went to Nuneaton market. Nuneaton has got to have one of the best and biggest markets in the West Midlands.
It meanders all throughout the city centre with meat vans, vegetable stalls, cake, fish, plant, book, pet, wool and even cloth stalls to keep you busy. Mix in with that the vast amount of charity shops selling clothes and books at a crazy discount price and coffee shops galore and Nuneaton is a really lovely half a day out.
This time I came away with 4 soup recipe books for £1, a fantasy book for 29p and Richard got a pare of jeans for £1! I told you crazy discounts!
We shared a tasty nibble in a cafe before we stocked up on fresh veg.
There are about 4 vegetable stalls all selling a bowl of fruit/veg for £1 and loose items too. I try not to go to those ones first though, instead I head for the allotment stall. The veg may be a fraction more expensive than the other stalls but they are all home grown, freshly dug and delicious.
We had a great morning stocking up and then headed home to pick up the excitable puppy Seymour before heading back out again to Harthill Hayes County Park for a walk in the chilly hills.
Hartshill Hayes is one of North Warwickshire’s County Parks.
What a gift that we are so local to 3 of them!
Kingsbury Water Park is literally on our doorstep and with its many small lakes is a hot spot for fishing and boating.
Pooley Park is one of my favourites just further north by Tamworth. Along a canal and with a wooded area and hill, when ever we have been we have found something in abundance in nature there. Last time it was oak apples, the time before lichen.
But Hartshill Hayes is only 20 minutes away and is another charm on the top of a huge hill you can see for miles and explore the many marked routes. All of the county parks have car parks though they do charge a fee (£2-3.5).
Kingsbury and Pooley have an inside tea room, Hartshill Hayes has a tea hut and outside seating, whilst they all have a fantastic children’s play area and plenty of facilities for Children and Dogs (poo bins a plenty).
At Hartshill Hayes we had a short walk slipping and sliding on the ice as we went through the woods, saw fast flowing steams and one heck of a beautiful view over Nuneaton. And when we returned to the car we had a slice of home-made apple loaf. It was pretty chilly so a flask of hot tea would have been a good idea, next time I think.
We headed home but took a slight detour to our favourite farm shop, 19Gales.
19Gales is currently having a revamp which involves a small play area, outdoor picnic benches and an indoor seating area (though it is very cold).
Basically it is a working farm which means you can see the bunnies, and guinea pigs (they work really hard to look cute and are not for consumption!). Chickens and ducks are around the farm shop and I believe you can venture down the path to see their cows and pigs, though it is normally too wet and muddy for me.
The actual farm shop sells a selection of cakes, eggs, chutneys, ice cream, fresh fruit and veg and a good selection of tasty home made pies. But we always go for their meat. With a butcher on site you can watch him preparing the meat which has just come from their farm!
In the past I have bought from them Ox heart and Ox tongue but nothing that adventurous this time just mince and stewing steak. I have to rave on about the stewing steak, so lean, pre-sliced into chunks its ready for the casserole and as 19Gales aren’t having to pay the supermarkets fees they can sell it for a great price too.
One of the nicest things about 19Gales is that whilst it is bitterly cold in there they always ask if you would like a cup of tea to drink as you wonder around the shop.
Back home after a busy day in the local area for rest and home cooked fish jambalaya (as a fish pie was unacceptable to 50% of the voters).
Staying local this weekend not only were we able to save money on petrol, we were able to hunt for bargains, explore the local environment and support our local community. More of it I say.
Oh and by the way it passed the MOT!