If you missed Part I, click here first…


Part II

          We weren’t going till the afternoon, mid-afternoon, which thankfully gave us plenty of time to get a bit of airing into the laundry. They’d been on the clotheshorse for two days now due to the rain and this morning didn’t surprise. Hardly a flood, by global standards, but just look at those shores The Mother said! Thankfully, we had the hot-press and managed to get everything draped around the tank with its boiler jacket looking like it was ready to head out to build a snowman, so at least the clothes managed to get a little hot air if not fresh air.
          We headed out for the bus at 12.30. The cousin was picking us up at 14.40, so that gave us a good hour and 50 minutes to do the shopping, provided the bus didn’t hit any floods. Remember those shores! Unfortunately, it gave us less than 3 good hours of leaving the windows open to get the fresh air into the house before we had to leave it! But we had to go and the air would have to wait.

          It’s 2 euro for a trolley she whispers to me as we are on the walk-up to The Main Event. 2 euro! The Mother said it with the implication that we were no longer in Dunnes Stores or Super Value. 2 euro! How bloody posh, though I imagined The Mother polishing the 2 euro last night with an old pair of knickers, after I went up to bed, till it sparkled or at least half its value was rubbed away.
          In through the double doors we went with the 2 euro trolley and less than 2 hours to navigate the 6 aisles and that all important Hardware Section and she kept saying it- The Hardware Section like it was an exclusive wing of a hotel or private insurance hospital like The Beacon or something.
          She stopped, took it in, looking to see if The Mary had given the right layout and then, looking satisfied though challenged, took of the coat and off we went on the best re-designated route.

          I started on the vegetables, for the up-coming detox, while she ran off to the cake section that The Mary didn’t even tell her about. There was a skip to her almost octogenarian step that a 16-year-old gymnast couldn’t keep up with. I knew we should have eaten before we left.
          She started off buying with a method I call ‘Pull and Fling’- pull everything off the shelves that looks nicely packaged or reminiscent of Dunnes and fling them into the trolley I was trying to steer. It’s not all 2 euro I roared at one point- maybe do a little price check before we need a second trolley for just the two of us and there was me, on the door stop of that food-fasting detox, codename: Starvation.
          However, then came the meat section and all hell broke loose. The Mary had told her about this split-chicken thing you just stuffed in the over, packaging and all, and she was off head-bent on finding one or at least finding a chicken and splitting it herself, right there in the store. Chicken found, she went darker; sausages, pork chops, rashers, duck breast, minced meat and a few filets mignon just to make sure we covered every animal in the store along with a family pack of salmon the like of which the River Shannon has never seen. But thankfully everything had A Good Date on them, I always go for the good date, she says. I know, I mutter under clenched teeth.
          We hit the toilet paper aisle and went for bumper pack; we could have diarrhoea for months and not have to worry. Joy! We didn’t buy the cheap ones, of course, The Mary had advised The Mother to go always for the middle price, not the cheap, not the expensive but The Middle Price so you’ll be safe and your bum will be grateful. They didn’t have her own brand of coffee or washing liquid and that was a bit of a set-back, I thought I was going to have to run and fling everything back onto the shelves and we’d leave empty hearted but thankfully the canned goods came next and there were literally fireworks shooting from her when she realized her precious man-child could now stock up on every pulse possible and all for barely 30 cents a can as she reminded me- I know how much you like your pulses. I began to pray The Hardware Section had a deal in extra cupboard spaces.
          When we realised we didn’t need 2 hours for the 6 aisles we did The Hardware Section twice and picked up every object, inspected it, turned it upside down and over, put it back, took it up and then down again and moved on to the next. I’d love to get some eggs-cups for the microwave, for doing the poached eggs she tells me. Do you think they’ll have them? I looked at her all wide-eyed and moved on as she contemplated a chainsaw that was only 45 euro!

        We reached the wine section and low and behold, don’t tell The Mary, but I was allowed to pick myself, me, the one from the wine bar and France and not The Mary from Thurles, County Tipperary. Although I could already hear the reports that would come back after the tasting; Oh that’s different, yes, different, isn’t it, hmmm, interesting, which really meant- well thanks anyway, but we’ll go back to what we’re used to.

          As we neared the till I had to put my back into pushing the trolley which now felt like a lorry I was forcing uphill with the brakes on. I began to stack our items and noticed how everyone around us took different tills when they saw what I was putting up and what I had still left to unload. Mum was at the other end with bags ready, her bank card in hand and a trickle of perspiration on her forehead. I won’t say what we paid, but that advert on television, in between the ad breaks for Fair City, the one with the shiny family all smarmy about their savings, well the hundreds they were saving felt more like the amount of money we had to hand over. Maybe in Cavan you get a bit more for your money, she says as we struggle out the door with three quarters of the shop.

          I got nothing The Mother says to me as we wait for the cousin, talking about The Hardware Section and I gave her the sad-eye look and blushed slightly when I remembered the mini dumbbells and arm weights I bought myself in The Hardware Section that I already knew I’d never use. Now who’s the edjit!
          And then, just as the cousin pulls up in the car, I’m asked- did we get anything to eat tonight?
          Oh dear! Aldi- we will be back, but hopefully not for another month. And we’d like a microwaveable poached egg cup for next time that maybe we can pay for with the dumbbells.


All words by Damien B. Donnelly, with grateful inspiration from the two other members of the Holy Trinity- The Mother and The Mary.



  1. Ah, the joy of spending money in order to save money. I loved your narrative, Damien, and you had me laughing multiple times as you described the dilemma of conflicting impulses, of navigating between practicality and extravagance, between reality and hope. Detox and dumbbells, are they the symbols of the next stage of your journey? We have an Aldi store only a few miles from where I live and I am always intrigued by the curious mix of goods on sale each week–the prices are lower than in other stores, but the brand names are often unfamiliar. As for pulses, I confess that I had to ask Google to learn that pulses are a subset of legumes. Thanks for adding to my knowledge. 🙂

    • Well I am glad to have introduced you to the delights of pulses and you now know, if you grow to love them, they are very good value in your local Aldi!!! Dumbbells and detoxes won’t be life-long pals but but they have been fine compassions these last few weeks. I am so glad to have added a little laughter, makes such a change and light relief from my normal ramblings 🤭🤗☘️

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