It was easy to be all gung ho and idealistic at the beginning, but how’s it really going now that the car has been immobile for a couple of weeks?
There has been a bit of daily friction already as the rubber fails to meet the road and deliver us from effort. However the tricky stuff hasn’t necessarily been those things that immediately sprang to mind as potential stumbling blocks.
One of the main reasons that we are trying to live without a car is to save money, and that’s looking increasingly like a good plan, following last week’s awesome budget from our fabulous government, which should have been subtitled “bend over working families of New Zealand as we shaft you roughly up the family budget while simultaneously insulting your intelligence”.
However the other main point of the exercise is to live better; to tread more lightly on our environment, and also maybe to slow down a bit, stop rushing about, find other ways to do things and get places, and hopefully to consume a bit less along the way. So this isn’t about cheating and borrowing cars from the legion of very kind friends who have offered them. Apart from the fact that, that would be like being the ex smoker who “only smokes when they are socialising” (your cigarettes, every fucking weekend), we’d actually like this small change to be a catalyst for living more mindfully overall.
So in the spirit of honesty and sharing, here’s a round-up of some of the things that have suddenly become issues, and some of the things that haven’t as well.
- Groceries? Not a problem. Online delivery is amazingly user friendly and straightforward, and we are already getting a weekly veggie box, so it’s just an extension of that. There is a delivery fee, but it’s reasonable, and we’re probably saving money overall, as we’re not buying any of those tasty treats that just happen to fall into your trolley enroute round the supermarket. Furthermore, I’m trying to do one big monthly order and on top of that make do with the veggie box, and get the rest locally or on Saturday at the Lyttelton Market. Partly that’s to save money, and partly it’s to cut down on the number of deliveries we get, as they are still car trips, just trips made by someone else.
- Taking the little beast to pre-school on foot is proving to be good exercise, as it’s an hour round trip to drop her off, and another hour round trip to pick her up. I’m not complaining yet, as it’s hardly a chore to walk across beautiful Lyttelton on the golden autumn mornings we’ve been having since she started going. Ask me again in a month’s time, when it’s three degrees colder, still dark when I leave the house and pissing down and see how perky I am about it then. The other issue I’m grappling with here is that two of the four rare and delightful child free hours I am purchasing myself are spent delivering and collecting my little bundle of joy from the nursery. However I’m aware that this issue is attitudinal and maybe I ought view the walking as precious time for peaceful reflection and movement, instead of feeling guilty that I’m not writing scintillating copy for clients/cooking nutritious delicious food/working on my back log of illustrations/cleaning the ever grubby house/doing my tummy exercises/crafting the great English novel/corresponding with my neglected friends and family etc etc.
- Filling our big gas bottles is probably not going to be a problem either if I can find a LPG delivery company that stays on the phone after I say the dread word Lyttelton to them.
- The cat needs her WOF as well. Haven’t solved this one yet, but she’s five months overdue and counting for a teeth clean, so I’d better solve this quickly before I have to make her chicken broth for the rest of her toothless existence. I can’t see her appreciating being taken to the vet on the bus. Nor indeed would the other passengers appreciate the agonized wailing. Stay tuned for our solution to this thrilling dilemma.
- More seriously, and this is a bit of a nail biting one this, what happens if the baby gets sick and needs urgent medical attention? In the middle of the night? I don’t really want to think about this one. I guess we’ll be phoning a taxi or an ambulance.
- Going out in the evening isn’t a problem as we rarely/never go into Christchurch anyway. In fact we rarely/never go out in the evening at all, so when we do, the pulsating flesh pots of Lyttelton are plenty exciting. However, what is a cause for some chagrin is the abrupt curtailment of our tasty take away habit. No car, no piping hot takeaway. Although we are only a ten minute fast vertical hike from the town centre, so maybe if we mounted our smallest chilly bin on wheels we could run back and forth with the goodies.
- Visiting Grilly, the Bobbin’s paternal grandmother. Bit of a tough one this as well. She doesn’t drive and lives two longish bus rides from us, which makes for a bit of a mission. We’re just going to have to adjust and make visiting Grilly the whole day’s activity at least one Saturday a month. On the very plus side here, she bakes a mean cake and increased effort expended in travel could definitely lead to increased reward in baked goods if negotiated correctly.
- Getting to somewhere beautiful that isn’t Lyttelton may be the big sticking point with this experiment. Going somewhere in the city without a car isn’t ever a problem, so long as you are prepared to spend a bit longer getting there and maybe do a bit of walking as well. But right out of our window is Banks Peninsula, a big beautiful piece of landscape just crying out to be explored, and beyond that is the rest of the South Island, which has one or two things worth seeing as well. But it isn’t well served by public transport. How are we going to show our daughter the myriad of riches on her doorstep and beyond? Don’t know the answer to this yet, but we’re only two weeks into this and I’m starting to get cabin fever, so it’s something I’m thinking about.
All that said, tomorrow’s going to be a big fat day of cheating from beginning to end as we use illicit four wheeled conveyances to further our own trivial lifestyle requirements. If we’re not too ashamed of ourselves we may tell you about it. Or maybe not.