Marian Keyes: My first visit to Aldi and its magical Middle Aisle
Sudden Wild Enthusiasms: Aldi
Neighbour: Have you been anywhere nice lately?
Me: Sintra in Portugal.
Neighbour: (In raptures) Oh, Sintra! I hear it’s lovely. They’ve a Moorish castle, right? And a 19th century palace. And beautiful forests, and –
Me: Yes! And an Aldi! Oh, my God, I had probably the happiest half-hour of my life in there!
Neighbour: (Backing away) . . . Grand, so.
Look, I know I’m very late to the game, but I’ve fallen in love with Aldi. See, I was on a long weekend in Portugal, with many, many Keyesez.
We were staying in a lovely hotel, but one of the side-effects of lovely hotels is that they tend to attach hefty charges to bottled water, beer, wine etc.
So – yes, we’ve no shame – Himself and I decided we’d nip out to the nearest supermarket and buy our essentials there. And it so happened that the nearest supermarket was an Aldi.
It’s something I’m not proud of, but this was my first visit to one. I had been to a Lidl a few years earlier, but I must have got it on a bad day because it felt like I was in a shop in Albania in 1972. The merchandise seemed sparse and strange.
Sintra Aldi, by contrast, was a thrilling wonderland! I’m mortified to admit that I didn’t know about the Middle Aisle, but I’m a fast learner. As is Himself, who had to be talked out of buying a CCTV system.
My focus was on toiletries – on the breeze, I’d heard rumours of fabaliss skincare and ‘homage to Jo Malone’ diffusers, but there were none to be had.
Disappointed but unbowed, we bought approximately 300 bottles of criminally cheap beer and seven crates of shockingly reasonable wine and clinked our red-faced way back into the hotel.
A week later I happened to be in Wales and, lo and behold, in the Aldi in Porthmadog, didn’t they have the ‘homage’ candles and diffusers!
I effected immediate, adrenaline-shaky purchase of three diffusers (Pomegranate, Freesia & Pear and Lime, Basil & Mandarin).
As I write, my house is filled with the Pomegranate smell. It’s maybe a tiny bit sharper than I’d prefer, but it’s still very pleasant, especially considering it cost half-nothing.
Aldi aficionados tell me that availability of such hero items is slightly hit and miss: if I see something I like, I should buy it immediately.
AND I’ve signed up for the email newsletter. Oh, I’m entirely on top of this Aldi situation, so I am lads.