Great things for fam­i­lies – all for the price of a gold-plated pub beer

$17 for two glasses of beer? Gob-smacked by the price of a cold one, Kapi-mana News ed­i­tor MATTHEW DAL­LAS searches for value in a 10 dol­lar note.

Kapi-Mana News - - FEATURE -

Math has never been my strong sub­ject, but when I looked down at the two gold coins in my hand – the same hand that had 10 sec­onds ear­lier held $20 – I won­dered what the hell just hap­pened.

Ap­par­ently, in the two and a bit years since I’d be­come a par­ent, and largely for­saken the fre­quent­ing of Welling­ton bars, some­one thought it was ac­cept­able to charge $8.50 for a lager. Now, I’m not talk­ing about the nec­tar of the gods, just Stella Ar­tois – from the tap no less.

The beer came be­fore a trip to West­pac Sta­dium to catch a footy game, so the wal­let plun­der­ing had only just be­gun, but it was the thought of a beer at a Kiwi bar cost­ing al­most $ 10 that I’ve strug­gled to get over. I’ve paid US$9 for a beer at a casino, but Ve­gas is Ve­gas – Welling­ton is home.

Maybe I’m cheap, have changed too many nap­pies or had too many Satur­day nights in a row at home, but how can any­one drink an $8.50 beer and still think it tastes good? And friends now tell me $9 for a long neck is not out of the or­di­nary.

Enough whing­ing. Let’s see if we can find 10 things where value for money can still be gleaned from $ 10, and no easy cop- outs like the ‘‘ emo­tional’’ value of buy­ing a goat for a fam­ily in Kenya, or the price­less value of a smile. Goes with­out say­ing that 12 beers for a tenner is bet­ter than one – you just can’t, you know, walk into the pub with them.

This Dan­ish brew isn’t the most full-bod­ied pil­sner on the mar­ket, but it’s one of the few to be found on spe­cial for un­der $10 for six bot­tles at the su­per­mar­ket, al­beit more rarely of late.

Of course, there are a few brews cheaper still, but one can only sac­ri­fice taste for value so far.

Okay, you have to have Sky al­ready, but I’d hap­pily pay twice the $9.99 monthly rental for SoHo – it’s that good.

What you get is a mix of new and old qual­ity TV drama and com­edy – with no ad­ver­tise­ments dur­ing the shows, and not a re­al­ity TV show or tal­ent quest in sight, thank the heav­ens. Cob­webs will grow over the ‘‘1’’, ‘‘2’’ and ‘‘3’’ but­tons on your TV re­mote.

Un­for­tu­nately, Sky’s last new chan­nel, Com­edy Cen­tral, went from bril­liant to bol­locks within 12 months, but given Soho war­rants its own sub­scrip­tion, signs are that the qual­ity should stay way up. Case in point, the re­cently com­menced News­room is bril­liant, and new sea­sons of Boss and Hell On Wheels are on the way. Only re­cently did I make the pil­grim­age to Wai­tan­girua’s mecca of pre-loved gar­ments to sift through the racks.

This is the way thrifty shop­ping should be, old clothes for old prices – no hip­ster sur­charge like you get on Cuba St.

Most of the men’s shirts are marked at $10, when they’d be at least $30 in Welling­ton, though it’s fair to say you have to sift through plenty of dross to find a thread of polyester gold.

But isn’t that half the fun of a bar­gain hunt? Un­like ac­tion fig­ures, which have be­come ridicu­lously ex­pen­sive, you can still eas­ily pick up finely de­tailed toy cars for un­der $3 – so three for $10 is sweet value.

I would have pre­ferred to not be brand-spe­cific, but un­less your kids favour die-cast peo­ple-movers and mini-vans over mus­cle cars and speed ma­chines, Hot Wheels in the only way to go.

My two-year-old is al­ready a keen bean and chances are he’ll love them till he’s 12. And there’s some­thing about those old Amer­i­can tanks and hot rods that dads can’t re­sist.

I’ll prob­a­bly get mur­dered on the play­set ac­ces­sories in years to come, but for now Hot Wheels make vis­its to the toy store a pretty cheap date. By most ac­counts he’s a grumpy old fart, but there’s a rea­son ev­ery sec­ond movie mines the back cat­a­logue of Van Mor­ri­son.

For those par­tial to Van but haven’t delved deeper than ‘‘best of’’ com­pi­la­tions and Moon­dance, you are in luck. As­tral Weeks, from 1968, is his finest al­bum by a coun­try mile and has been in the bar­gain bin for more than 30 years. Its com­plex yet highly en­gag­ing mesh of jazz, blues and folk is a thing of rare, time­less beauty. Why is such a mas­ter­piece so cheap you ask? Well, it has no ‘‘hits’’, but don’t let that stop you.

While you’re at the bar­gain bin, do also fish out Bruce Spring­steen’s sem­i­nal, stripped­back mag­num opus Ne­braska. It’s prob­a­bly $5 – an ab­so­lute crime. In terms of fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties, adding kids to wa­ter is the eas­i­est recipe for suc­cess I know.

When you can fac­tor out the weather and of­ten have to fac­tor in early morn­ing wake- ups, the aquatic cen­tre is a big win­ner. Even bet­ter, if the kids are lit­tle, par­ents swim for free, so you can all make a splash for just a few bucks.

Big slide, lit­tle slide, wave pool, lazy river or ‘‘quiet time’’ in the spas, there’s plenty to do – and I’ve yet to come

across a child bored from too much slid­ing. The only draw­back is when it comes time to go. There’s usu­ally more than $10 worth of tears. In the era of movie down­loads, the good ol’ video store has be­come some­thing of a di­nosaur.

Des­per­ate to stay rel­e­vant, most of them will of­fer crazy deals on mul­ti­ple movie rentals – like $10 for 10 DVDs. Lord knows who can get through that many discs in eight days, but even five for $10 would be couch potato heaven over a cold, wet week­end.

Ob­vi­ously ‘‘new re­leases’’ don’t fac­tor into these deals, so a level of pa­tience is re­quired. If your child­hood was any­thing like mine, it just wasn’t sum­mer if a box of Fla- Vour- Ices weren’t in the freezer.

Since hav­ing kids I’ve hunted for them, but to no avail. But al­most as good – and al­ready frozen on a stick – are Pam’s Icies.

Un­der $6 for a bag of 20 ice-blocks – bar­gain. The small size is more ap­pro­pri­ate for lit­tle kids and in win­ter they’re a great way to get sick chil­dren to keep flu­ids up.

There’s three flavours; le­mon­ade, lime and rasp­berry – though I’d only dare of­fer le­mon­ade if a tummy bug has been in play. Most chil­dren’s books are $18-$30, but for some time now book stores have been ped­dling many of the weird, wacky and won­der­ful tales of Theodor Seuss Geisel for about $7 a pop.

Not only do they out-imag­ine most other pic­ture books, but they are a great learn-to-read tool for kids – did you know Green Eggs and Ham only uses 50 words? – and a tongue-twist­ing chal­lenge for chil­dren and par­ents alike.

Though a bed­time es­sen­tial, do try read­ing them in a box, or with a fox. To be hon­est, very lit­tle ex­cites me about veg­eta­bles, but I can’t ig­nore the value of fresh pro­duce from Satur­day mar­ket against su­per­mar­ket prices.

An early start to the day may be re­quired, but think of the sav­ings – money you can squir­rel away for the next time you find your­self thirsty and at the mercy of a Welling­ton bar.

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