From Where I Sit – Cheap Thrills, Part II

As a follow-up to a recent column, here’s part deux in the Cheap Thrills series. It is my attempt to help stretch your dollars this summer as our belt-cinching continues. So for your consideration:

1. How about packing a picnic for the park just like they do in the movies? It would surely be cheaper than a takeout meal and far more nutritious if done mindfully. Every community, regardless of size, has public spaces with ideal locations to lay out a blanket or commandeer a picnic table. In Andrew for instance, population 485, there’s the Lions? Mallard Park that offers a built-in photo op with the world’s largest mallard, wing span 28 feet. There’s also playground equipment for the kids. Adjoining this park is a gazebo and memorial rose garden, all occupying what used to be the Canadian Pacific Railway right-of-way before the line was decommissioned.

2. One Canada Day, Hilary and two carloads of friends including foreign students from places like Mexico, China, and Columbia did a day trip visiting all the ?world’s largest? monuments in the area. They saw Redwater’s oil derrick, Smoky Lake’s pumpkins, Vilna’s mushrooms, Glendon’s perogies, St. Paul’s UFO landing pad, Vegreville’s pysanka (Easter egg), Mundare’s sausage, and finally, Andrew’s mallard. They also sang Celine Dion’s ?It’s All Coming Back to Me Now? endlessly for miles. You just can’t put a price on that. Fuel and some food: a few bucks. Memories: priceless.

3. All beauty and aesthetics schools offer discounted rates of up to 50 per cent on all services including haircuts, colours, massages, manicures, pedicures, facials, etcetera. Be prepared to be patient and allow more time to have the procedure done. In some cases you can be added to a call list and have the service done for next to nothing because you are the guinea pig . . . er, model on a student’s test day. For a slight twist on this, look for a regular salon in its client-building phase that offers loyalty cards. It may be something like get seven cuts at the regular price and the eighth is free, which brings the overall average price down.

4. Aspiring gardeners or people who just love beauty can check out public gardens. Quite often they are free or request only a small donation. While attending a conference several years ago I visited the Halifax Public Gardens. I still remember the statuary, the ducks in the ponds, and wishing I could grow hydrangeas in my zone 2-3 garden in Alberta. It was a lush, tranquil retreat from the sights and sounds of the city. More recently I visited the Camrose Railway Station and Park. It included a children’s Secret Garden, the Morgan Garden Railroad, unique flowerbeds with heritage and native flowers, and areas to simply sit and enjoy the setting. For a few dollars you can enjoy tea, homemade baking or the ?world’s best large hot dog? in the museum tearoom.

What more could anyone ask for, from where I sit?