Friday, June 27, 2014

The Universe Buys Us a Bottle of Wine

Dave was walking home from the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon, carrying several plastic bags, when the bottom of one of the bags burst and a bottle of white wine crashed to the pavement. "Our clearer bags are just as strong as our old bags but use less plastic," proclaimed a message in a variety of creative fonts on the side of the Tesco bag. Clearly that's not always very strong.

Fortunately, the wine was the only casualty. But we both lamented its loss.

Fast forward to yesterday morning, when -- with real estate brokers preparing to descend on our apartment with prospective buyers -- Dave and I decided to take Olga to the park. We set out, planning to eat lunch at The Lido Cafe on the Serpentine. The sky was sunny and Olga, as usual, was amped.

We walked past a concrete wall near Bayswater Road and there, at the level of Olga's nose, someone had left a plastic bag full of pennies. It was about the size of two fists. Clearly someone was cleaning out their coin jar or junk drawer and didn't want to be bothered counting small change.

Now, my rule in life is to never pass up a penny -- much less a whole bag of them. You never know when you'll need one and they do add up. So I picked them up and put them in my camera bag, and lugged them through the park for the next couple of hours. (Surprisingly heavy!)

After we had lunch and exhausted the dog, I brought the pennies home, making a trip to the bank to pick up some coin rolls. (Turns out in the UK the banks don't use rolls but small plastic bags. So I got some of those.) I sat down at the dining room table with my hoard and sorted, counted and bagged the coins.

Our take: £6.61, or about $11.25. Not too shabby, and just about the price of our broken bottle of wine. I told Dave the Universe was repaying us for that injustice!

As a side bonus, I also got a couple of Euro pennies, an American penny and a few odd coins from Turkey, Georgia and the Czech Republic. Pennies are silly -- in the USA, in the UK and in Europe -- and should be abolished on all fronts. But as long as they're legal tender, I say put them to use. It makes no sense to throw them out.

(Photo: Carey Street, behind the Royal Courts of Justice, on June 13.)


  1. There is an old saying - "See a penny, pick it up. All the day you'll have good luck". So you should have enough good luck to last you eighteen months. In Australia we pour our coins into a machine in the bank which counts it for you and prints out a slip of paper with the amount on it to hand to the teller. Very efficient!

  2. A bag of pennies! Somehow, that seems like a treasure. It would have been for me when I was a child and the idea still lingers.

  3. I save all my change in my pocket at the end of the day and put it into a jar and when the jar fills up, I divide it up between the four grandkids. The grandboy disdains the pennies though but I'm like you. I see a penny and I pick it up. free money, right?

    re the broken bottle of wine...shame on you! why aren't you taking your own cloth bags and refusing plastic altogether? that would never have happened if you had a sturdy reusable bag. and I mean this in the nicest possible way.

  4. The other night, when burglars went through my car, they took all the quarters that I had but left the hundred or so pennies that were in a cup holder! That perhaps says it all --

  5. I was thinking what Ellen said :) When we lived in the apartment the cloth bags were SO much easier to lug up the stairs.

  6. since our town has banned plastic bags I have a grand assortment of cloth bags, I have several in my car, two in my purse, and about seven on the counter. It has been a very good idea!
    Pennies...I read a craft trick one day about putting pennies in vinegar to make a beautiful green patina on paper...I gathered all of the pennies which amounted to a huge jar full, covered them with vinegar and waited, and waited, and waited, It never did work but did leave the pennies thin, half eaten un-usable. Still I am reluctant to toss them...they may come in handy for some artsy thing...(said the hoarder of potentials)