Yesterday I went Christmas shopping in my local town, Petersfield. I know I am a bit late in the day but I recently have to switch from being an editor to an elf: our own Green Shopping has been busy this year and our customers always come first. I couldn’t face driving to our nearest city on a Saturday, sitting in queues and then paying an extortionate parking fee. There isn’t a huge amount of choice in town but the Harlands don’t do lavish consumerism. Anyway, we have made some nice homemade presents to give (like strawberry and golden gage jam by the ton from the summer glut) and we have sent away for a few gifts too but not many. Local is the key.
Getting to town was challenging. Five inches of snow had fallen in three hours but Seb (daughter Hayley’s man) is a seasoned Alpine driver so Tim and I bundled into his car and slid our way there. Petersfield was lovely in the snow. It’s a friendly market town with lots of independent shops and a few chains. I felt happy supporting my local traders, bought a few items at way beyond Amazon or eBay prices, but I know they need the business and I picked up a few bargains too.
I even bought a big hardback specialist book in the local bookshop. I don't do that very often. Consequently, I worry about the demise of bookshops and independents. I love browsing in them and picking up titles I’d never consider reading normally. I also like the idiosyncratic nature of local shops. I realise the irony of what I am saying as an online retailer. But then we do have a little shop that lots of people visit and we talk to our customers on the phone. We are not the faceless profiteers either. Green Shopping helps fund all our publishing projects like Permaculture Magazine and our series of Permanent Publications (plus the DVDs and all the free work on websites, YouTube and so on). And God knows we really need the funds. It is not an easy life being a small independent green publisher.
Tim and I bumped into lots of friends in town, some we hadn’t seen for ages, so amid the shopping there was some good catching up to do. That for me is the best part of going to town beside the market – it’s all about meeting people and appreciating being part of the community. The snow fell, the streets were busy but not heaving, and the shopkeepers were all friendly. There was a general air of happiness and good cheer. I have struggled to tell my family what I want for Christmas because I don’t really want anything except good cheer. That’s what it’s all about for me: taking some time out, having some good feasts with family and friends and enjoying the goodwill. Simple.
To learn more about permaculture go to the hub at www.permaculture.co.uk or contact Permanent Publications, The Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hampshire GU32 1HR. 01730 823311 and talk to an elf!