Since a branch of Lidl opened in Newhaven earlier this year, our lives have been transformed. We are genuinely spending less on food and household shopping, partly because it encourages us to shop around, and partly because sometimes things are very cheap. Good things too, not the second or third class stuff that passes for most supermarkets' economy ranges.
But there are other good things about it too. Firstly, there is not masses of choice. One brand of tinned tomatoes, one brand of beans, one brand of cat food. Take it or leave it. It saves time as well as money, and is strangely liberating. There's no piped music and no pseudo TV and radio stations pumping out adverts. It's light and bright and clean and the staff are efficient, whilst not wasting their energy on pretending to be my friend.
They sell all sorts of mad stuff. Waders, diving suits, sticky backed plastic. Our first ever Lidl purchase was a shower hose costing £2.99 in the branch at Langley Mill. We despaired of getting any hose - and they were costing up to fifteen quid - to last more than a few months before springing a leak. The Lidl one is still going strong three years later.
The last thing that makes Lidl fun - and this must be their secret weapon - is that you never know what's going to be a real bargain from day to day. Prices go up and down from one day to the next. Naturally that keeps you coming through the doors; fortunately we don't live too far away. And today Jim has just been back to stock up on the current beer offer: Shepherd Neame Masterbrew (a very nice bitter) and 'Summer Sizzler', at 99p a bottle. I tried a Summer Sizzler yesterday despite the rather pathetic name and its name belies it, suggesting a light summer beer when it's actually a rather lovely (4%) IPA, so there are now a dozen bottles of it in the beer cupboard.