Fun Times; Day Trip

It’s been quite a while since my last day trip. So long in fact, that I can’t remember it. A very good friend and I decided to take a day to ourselves and went off to explore an area a little northeast of here. There is a purpose in the jaunts we take. We scout out the various shops in small towns and villages and if we like what we see, we’ll come back, a little closer to Christmas, to shop more seriously.

wide angle photo of road
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We decided, on this particular day, to head up to Alderville, through there to some smaller villages and then over to Campbellford, our ultimate destination. I decided to forego the Tom-Tom mapping thingy for our car but I did google the directions the night before. Found out that google does not have complete directions. It missed a road and added another. But the route makes for a beautiful drive, in spite of a heavy mist and we could still appreciate the autumn colours. Still in full display, I think they’re just hitting their peak. Beautiful golds and vibrant reds but guess what? I forgot to bring my camera and I realize blogging is not like riding a bike, sometimes you forget things that are important for making a blog more interesting, like a camera.

Since between google and I, the route was fairly easy, we only got lost twice. I am not averse to asking for directions and we stopped at a small auto repair place and the second time at the post office. People in small towns are so helpful and friendly that we couldn’t go wrong. Alderville is a native reserve, there are some gift shops that warrant a second look but also a number of natural “medicine” shops. We passed through many little villages, Roseneath, Hastings, we accidentally went through Warkworth. But we made it to our final destination without major issues.

brown chocolate bar
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Campbellford itself is a fantastic small town! There are many interesting, attractive  small shops in the downtown. We didn’t have time to stop at them but for sure we will on our next visit. We headed directly to our first planned shopping excursion at the World’s Finest Chocolate Store. Who could resist such a place? They sell factory seconds, chocolate that may come out a little misshapen but tastes just fine as well as beautifully finished product. I of course picked up a few samples, as well as a few things for stocking stuffers. Tasty Christmas indeed!

selective focus photo of cheese and grater on plate
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Next on the list of go-to’s is the Empire Cheese Factory, about ten kilometres south of town. Wow, just wow. We love cheese and this is all locally produced. They have many different types, many with chilis or jalopenos added, some with a boost of garlic even.  I got extra old cheddar, medium marble and some caramelized onion cheese. As well I picked up some special jelly, also locally produced, for the hubby’s Christmas stocking. My friend picked her cheese types and she included curds. With so many types of cheese, jams, jellies and syrup to choose from, I can say that we will be visiting again before Christmas!

Exploring the surrounding countryside is just so much fun when you do it with a friend who doesn’t mind getting lost, or having a very late lunch. We just have a ton of fun together and these little side trips are just a part of our friendship.

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How Prices Have Changed – Or Not

 

 

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Now retired, the hubby and I are on a fixed income and I, as the grocery shopper, am much more aware of our day to day spending. No longer do I pop into the nearest grocery store on the way home and pick up whatever I decide, on the spur of the moment, will be our supper that day. Now I go in fully armed with coupons and flyers; I know how to price match and am relentless at hunting for bargains. My lists are legendary! But there is a difference in grocery shopping now, the money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to. I may have been a bit ‘laissez-faire’ about spending before I retired but I know that over the last five years or so, prices have gone up – a lot.

To give you even more to ponder, here in Canada, our measurements are in metric. Instead of pounds and ounces, we have kilograms and grams. I think my generation are the last to be able to convert fairly easily having lived with both systems, But although our weight measurement is metric, grocers still advertise price per pound instead of per four hundred fifty four grams or per kilogram. Why? Well it appears cheaper that’s why. After all $5.99 per pound seems a better deal than $13.18 per kilogram doesn’t it?

There are some good reasons for price increases. Fuel prices have soared, wages go up, farmers need more for those same reasons but I’d bet the main reason is to satisfy the company shareholders who expect larger returns on their stock prices year over year. All this aside, the makers of the goods as well as the grocery chains themselves, use some interesting ways to increase profit without consumers even noticing.

A few years ago, before social media was a big influence, the producers of canned tuna reduced the size of the can from 7 ounces to 6.5 but kept the price the same. It came out on the television news but was only a small blurb and most of us were outraged for about two minutes. There was no boycott, no rally against the big companies, just a shrug and acceptance. Then a couple of years later, I saw a commercial for a certain brand of pickle in which an employee was saving his company money by removing one pickle from each jar. This one caught my attention but again no one boycotted or sent petitions to the company and I was busy with other things going on in my life.

 

 

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But I’m retired now, on a fixed income, and watching my pennies so I have a reason to find out all I can about the prices I’m paying and how companies are sneaking prices up with out us even knowing about it. The biggest price hike happens when companies decrease the size just slightly and charge the same price. Or they may even drop the price a bit but the trick is that the price per gram (or ounce) is still up on average of nine percent. I mean do you always read the price per gram and remember it from month to month? Hmm there’s a good project for someone, keeping track of per gram changes. But because consumers are more sensitive to price changes than size changes, we make it easy for them. Have you noticed, for instance, your peanut butter looks to be the same as ever, but now there’s a scoop (indentation) on the bottom so the jar actually has less in it. Many company’s will actually brag about their great, new packaging that’s ergonomically designed and blah, blah, blah but they won’t tell you it actually holds less than it used to.

Best things you can do to fight these changes is to be aware of what’s happening and start shopping smarter. There is a long list of things we can change to better manage our grocery costs, probably worthy of another blog but I do believe in being an informed shopper and in telling others. I also am a letter writer and I will write to various companies to let them know I’m on to their ways and am very aware of their price manipulation. It might not make a difference but I always feel better after I send off those emails.