Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stretching a Dollar to a Pound

Living in England is a bit of a fiscal stretch: while we're here, I'm still just being paid my Calvin salary (which isn't exactly lavish to begin with), in American dollars, whilst trying to maintain a home of six in the British economy (it doesn't help that walking everywhere seems to make our 4 kids absolutely ravenous). While the exchange is a touch better than it's been over the past 8 months, it's still basically 2:1; that is, something that costs £1 = $2USD. So as we're walking through the supermarket, we double what we see.

However, some things are remarkably inexpensive here. For instance, Stilton cheese--a veritable luxury at home--is ridiculously cheap. A wedge that would be $12 at home can be had for 75 pence here! We've already had chips (80p) drenched in Stilton and farmhouse cheddar one night!

We've also learned some tricks. For instance, Deanna noticed that if we get to the supermarket about 40 minutes before it closes, all sorts of fresh things get drastically reduced--including baguette, scones and "baps" (buns for lunches). We've also found all the no-name products available. And once I even got 3 bottles of Stella Artois from a broken case for 50 pence/bottle!

Plus, the challenge of stretching a dollar to a pound constitutes its own kind of free entertainment: the supermarket becomes a hunt, a puzzle, a contest. Even the kids join in the game, trying to find ways to squeeze some luxury--like a bottle of Coke--from an American paycheck.


Marty Michelson said...

I'm enjoying reading your family's life's journeys! ~ marty m.

Aunt Linda said...

HI reading your postings. very to all....Aunt Linda

Greg said...

We just had five students from Calvin with us (one who stayed on) Someone mentioned you were in York.
Fantastic! Sounds like fun.

Supermarketing as free entertainment may be worth a book.

Anyway way of getting you over into the Alpine air while your on this side of the ocean?



James K.A. Smith said...

Hi Greg: Yes, I was very jealous of those students getting to spend a few weeks with you at L'abri! And I'll be in touch about coming there ourselves: I've been invited to give some lectures in the Netherlands, and if the timing's right, we were thinking of extending that to a bit of a continental tour and would love to spend some time with you all in Huemoz. I'd be happy to give a talk or two.