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Life and times of Duquesagirl

Life of a 30 something singing accountant in Southern Spain and the things she gets up to and observes.

Mercadona Madness
02 January 2014 @ 23:52

I love my life in Spain, however there are some things I miss. One of those things being 24 hour Tecscos, shopping in peace at midnight when most of the normal people (and their children) are tucked up in bed. Bliss! However, here in Spain I shop at Mercadona, and always, it seems, when entire 3 generation families decide to have a catch up in the aisles.

Now, I hate food shopping and I approach it with military precision. On a good day I can be in and out in 10 minutes flat but sometimes it feels like I am a contestant in the Krypton Factor obstacle course. I know what I want and I know where it is, but there are some challenges in the way. 

The most important thing to remember when attempting a Mercadona Madness shop, is that everything has it's place in the cart. Milk cartons should be stacked at the front end, followed by cans and other heavy items. The rear of the trolley softer, lighter items like bread and yoghurts. (There is a method to this madness which I will explain later.)

So here goes, a run through of my typical weekly shop........

First obstacle is the fish counter. I slalom with my trolley through all the people waiting to be served. Fresh produce aisle, normally quite clear, where I stack my fresh skimmed milk high in a way that would make Dale Winton proud. (Although I would have been disqualified for more than 3 of the same item).  

Next is bread section, I lunge for the french sticks over the heads of little old ladies deciding which stick feels the best. Then I race to the cereal aisle snag myself some All Bran, emergency brake as I reach the Manilva coffee morning meeting taking up the cake section of that aisle. Clock is ticking so I make an executive decision and swing the  trolley round 180 and nip down the cleaning products aisle grabbing the multi pack kitchen rolls as I speed past. 

I make it to the drinks aisle, this always holds me up. I know I want the Heineken 8 pack, but the shelf is above my head and whenever I pull one end if the pack, only 7 are still in the plastic, or 6 or 5. Never the full 8 cans! Why do people do this??? Just buy 8!!!!! Anyway, I finally find one that hasn't been violated and continue on my quest down the crisp aisle.  Cheesy puffs, check.

Screeching round the corner I ready myself for the fresh meat section. Another slalom and I'm through with my chicken breasts. I give the pink mince meat a miss and that buys me some time. (I always thought mince meat was brown, but not in Mercadona)

I'm making good time, a bottle of Dove shower gel flys into my cart. Drat, cosmetics next, I am a sucker for them and sometimes I am wooed into stopping for a good few minutes trying out the latest stay-on lipstick. (Which when you are a singer is invaluable if you don't want to be scraping old dried on lipstick off your microphone, it's such a glamorous job, not!)

I whizz through the washing power aisle, past the pasta, home stretch now. Fruit and veg. Yes! Now, I used to buy lots of vegetables but after a few times finding plastic bags of unidentifiable mulch in the bottom draw of my fridge, I came to the conclusion that I am not healthy and never will be and gave up. Cheaper and less nasty.  I spend a few seconds trying to get those bloody plastic bags out of the dispenser without ripping them, bag up my fruit, which I do eat before it shrivels and dies, mostly. Run to the weighing machine. Bugger, I don't know the code, run back to the shelf, get the code. Wait for someone else at the machine to realise they have done the same thing and leave the queue, weigh it, grab the sticker, and I'm finished!

Now time for the final hurdle, the checkouts! The Krypton Factor obstacle course complete and time for the puzzle round. This is where my trolley organisation skills come in. In UK supermarkets the conveyer belt is usually pretty long, not so in Spain! This is a challenge anyone who shops alone like me will recognise. How to get all the contents of your trolley onto the conveyer belt before the demon checkout girl from Hell starts bleeping your items through to the packing area like she's on speed? Well people I have the answer! As explained it's all about where you put your items in the trolley. The milk goes first and lines your Mercadona bag for life, then the cans and heavier items line a second bag. The items fly through in the order you will pack them! Simple. Also, always pay by card, that gives you a few extra seconds to pack the remaining items whilst you are waiting for the payment to process and stops the checkout girl from starting off on the next unsuspecting customer and burying your yoghurts under a pile of somebody else's shopping.

Woohoo, 10 minutes flat. Food shopping done for another week. Just enough time to get that jingle out of my head! Mercadona, Mercadona. (You just hummed it, right?) wink

Like 5


tony said:
03 January 2014 @ 09:31

if you want horrible tescos, comeback and live here in the uk.
leave the Spanish to live their way of life, bu the way I shop in mercadona and they are a joy to shop in, always empty.

Daniela said:
03 January 2014 @ 09:38

Hi Tony, thanks for your comment. These blogs are only meant to be amusing anecdotes though. I am a Spanish national but grew up in the UK so even though I miss some things in England I would still much rather live here. ;)

Sharon Caballero36 said:
03 January 2014 @ 19:54

Haha...took the trip with you....although I'm not usually in a hurry like you are, as I'm not spending big chunks of my spare time raising money for charity. You were right.... I did hum the tune at the there no limit to your talents????

heléna jones said:
03 January 2014 @ 23:52

Loved it especially the bit about scraping your lippy off an Sm58. Lol :-)

Life in Vejer said:
04 January 2014 @ 07:42

Omg this could be me shopping in mercadona even down to the tricks to stop the lunatic check out girls throwing your goods down the aisle. Trying telling them mas despacio if you really want to annoy them.

Finally it has to be said good value and ditto quality but I give mercadona 1out of 10 for the shopping experience and even Tesco gets a 2.

PJ said:
04 January 2014 @ 07:47

Oh my - the hum. It really sticks ! Imagine working there ! Otherwise by far my preferred supermarket. I read somewhere they treat their employees very well too.

sue said:
04 January 2014 @ 08:49

Brilliant, really enjoyed that, made me smile, and yes I did hum the bit at the end. Thanks

sharona said:
04 January 2014 @ 09:00

Awesome loved the coffee morning bit x

rubencito said:
04 January 2014 @ 09:21

... Do you have your NIE card? Thats Naive, Ignorant, English card.

madinmex said:
04 January 2014 @ 10:18

Thought you were rather generous giving Mercadona a 1 rating .

As far as paying is concerned, I have spent some time in Mexico where the young kiddos are employed to pack your goods and (if required) take them to your car. They receive no wages but are smartly kitted and polite. They receive tips as a wage, and believe me they frequently earn more than those employed ! Shopping is a pain but queuing can be much worse.

Daniela said:
04 January 2014 @ 10:44

Rubencito, I don't have a "native, ignorant, English" card as you put it because I am Spanish and therefore I have a "Do Not Infer" card. (Ok, I was struggling to find a word that started with "I" that meant assume. ;) Please forgive that)

I chose Mercadona, because that's where I shop the most. I could have chosen Morrisons in Gib because it's exactly the same there. It's exactly the same in a Uk Tescos on a Saturday day time. (Although I still stand by my longer conveyer belt comment.)

This article is not meant to discredit Mercadona, the staff or the customers. It's just my observations on how I like to get my shopping done. IE in the quickest possible time as I hate food shopping. If I offended, I am sorry.

Thanks to everyone else who left nice comments. I'm new to this blogging malarkey so I'm still trying to find my feet. Next article will be Lidl Looniness...(joke!)

Janprendergast said:
04 January 2014 @ 10:47

I always shop between two and three oclock, when most Spaniards are either eating or sleeping... and the shops are almost empty x

Caroline said:
04 January 2014 @ 11:18

I do the same as you loading up the belt with heavy items first and in an order of where they get put away at home. Checkout girls throws it all down at great speed and then I make her wait for me to finish packing before I pay. I hate the next persons shopping being thrown on top of mine....

fazeress said:
04 January 2014 @ 12:20

Lol! I enjoyed reading that! Ignore the ignorant people who can't take a joke and see things for what they are. I follow many blogs where people have horrible comments but you can block them and or delete! I'm looking forward to reading the next episode and also to start my own blog in a couple of weeks! :)

pedrolittle said:
04 January 2014 @ 13:02

I really enjoyed this article. Mercadona is definitely my favourite supermarket in Spain. But I agree the checkout girls can be too fast. Why don´t they have a fast checkout for people with only a few items? Why do you often have to borrow a divider from the next checkout(being British I´m keen on dividers!)? Could they also do cashback? I´ve never seen that in Spain.
More than a branch of Tesco, I would love a branch of Boots.

Knowledgeseeker said:
04 January 2014 @ 14:35

Hi Daniela,
Enjoyable read, well done.

Take no notice of the idiots who cannot see past their prejudices and realise the tone in which your blog was written. I am particularly sensitive to Ex. Pats denigrating the Spanish and Spain generally, I really hate it, but even to me (!) it was obvious this was not what you were doing in any way whatsoever.

Keep up the good work!

Stuart said:
04 January 2014 @ 18:23

Hi all,

I often shop at mercadona, I have always found it a good supermarket. (Aguilas)

madinmex said:
05 January 2014 @ 00:43

I'm a bit surprised at the vehemence shown by knowledgeseeker. I can only see one post that might be construed with a smidgeon of sarcasm, most have answered in a friendly way and in fact encouraged Daniela to add to her blog. BTW I thought it was an excellent article and reflects my feelings exactly.

Brian said:
05 January 2014 @ 09:29

When in Rome.
I dislike Telcos but actually enjoy Mercadona for variety but i do eat a Spanish med diet.

Sylvia said:
05 January 2014 @ 23:44

Tesco's? give me MD any time. At Tescos, loads of checkouts, all full or two deep waiting and it's a lottery as to which one you end up in after scanning as to which one will be the quickest. ~Thats after driving round and round looking for a parking space

Whereas at MD do as we do - go during siesta time when they a re practically deserted, it's a pleasure. Straight into a covered carpark where we don't even get wet when it's raining.

Daniela said:
06 January 2014 @ 09:14

Actually I have to agree. I never have a problem parking at Mercadona. Also the flip side to having the checkout guys bleep your items at the speed of lightning is that you never have to queue for very long! ;)

Barbara said:
06 January 2014 @ 10:39

Consum is my favourite supermarket when in Spain and they are often like my own private shop! I also have had nightmares trying to find a parking space in Tescos. At the moment I am in Malabo Equatorial Guinea so shops of any sort are a bit scarce! The few supermarkets they do have also have the unpaid packers who live on tips and carry your purchases to the car for you. Otherwise I could not possibly manage as there is no car park at all and you cannot take a trolley along the street!

wodger said:
06 January 2014 @ 12:10

There is always free entertainment at the Merc. Just go to the fresh fish area & watch the assistants preparing the fish, they are all so skillful

wodger said:
06 January 2014 @ 12:14

There is always free entertainment at the Merc. Just go to the fresh fish area & watch the assistants preparing the fish, they are all so skillful

kevin12 said:
06 January 2014 @ 19:05

I really like the road kill chicken him!

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