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.
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.