Not having a car has provided us many bonuses. Among them, the kids get great exercise walking to and from the Underground station several times per week. We get to see the variety of shops and parks in our neighborhood. Finally, Matt and I get the chance to appreciate the beautiful architecture of the houses in our neighborhood (a post to come!).
Not having a car has provided a few inconveniences.
- Whatever we buy we have to carry home.
- We have no choice but to walk everywhere. Even if it is raining (and it has been raining a lot).
- Not everywhere we want to go is easily travelled to by bus or train.
I solved the first problem shortly after moving in. I bought a granny grocery trolley. Yes, the grannies use them, but so does everyone else. It's hard to carry milk and grocery bags home, especially when the kids can't carry anything very heavy. This beauty can hold two jugs of milk and 5-6 grocery bags. I shopped for all of our Christmas groceries, knowing that the stores would be closed or highly picked over but the time I returned, and only the bag I could not fit inside was bread and eggs. Not too shabby.
When we want to go somewhere not close to the Underground, it takes quite a bit of planning. Before Christmas we needed to go to IKEA. Back at the 407 we had an IKEA within 10 minutes of our house. This trip took around an hour. It was a fun combination of walking, Overground train, Underground train, and more walking just to get there.
What do you do when you need large goods but have no way to transport them to your house? Sometimes you need a new couch or dining table, but it won't fit through the Underground's turnstile.
Let me introduce you to the amazing concept of Click & Collect.
Click & Collect is a service that most of our common retailers participate. Think of if like Peapod grocery delivery on steroids. There are typically two ways to do the Collect. Once you Click (order), the goods can either be Collected at a specific location for free the next day or delivered to your house for a low fee or even free at a time you schedule.
John Lewis is the department store we've spent a lot of money at to furnish our home. Click & Collect here provides the option of home delivery for a small fee or free pick up the next day at it's partner grocery store, Waitrose. We had John Lewis deliver our television to the house, but I chose to pick up Christmas presents at the Waitrose since I needed to grocery shop anyway.
To solve the bed debacle from a week ago, we took the convoluted trip to IKEA and successfully found what we needed. They so kindly offered to deliver the heavy as heck furniture the next day for £30. That price was a deal to us since we had no car and a rental would be way more than that. Plus they carried all the way to the top floor!
I tried to Click & Collect for Christmas groceries, but the Brits are such planners that all of the delivery slots were booked a week in advance. For now, I don't mind doing my own grocery shopping. As long as I have my trusty granny grocery trolley I have no worries.
Just think if Click & Collect was widely used in the US. My Target budget would go way down. Maybe they'd let you click on a category called "Add something I didn't know I needed."