In my everyday life, living as I do in a small, rural market town, retail shopping is small scale, local and very modest. And in truth I am not a spendy sort of a person. I don't really indulge myself very much, live week by week on a modest cash budget, don't use credit cards and save up for bigger purchases. I buy 98% of my clothes from charity/thrift shops, and I wear those same few clothes week in week out, year in, year out. And I'm happy with that.
But twice a year, in March and November, I make the trip down to London by myself on a totally self-indulgent, inspirational shopping trip. I don't pretend it's anything else :: don't try and do Christmas shopping, don't do clothes, don't do food, don't shop for anyone else but me. On these trips, it's all about me, me, me. And boy does it feel good.
Well to be more accurate, it feels fan-bloody-tastic!
If you could've seen me sitting on the train during the three hours it took me to get to London on Saturday, you would've seen me fidgeting and squirming in my seat unable to sit still. I was SOoosoosososooo excited, it was almost unbearable. I had already purchased my Travelcard in advance, had my Shopping Route all planned out, knew exactly where I wanted to go, which shops would delight me the most. And I really, badly, desperately hoped to be delighted, hoped to be thrilled and amazed by the Big City shops I planned to visit.
Seven hours is what I had at my disposal, and if you'd like to come along with me, I'll give you a taste of my day.
First stop was the big flagship Paperchase store on Tottenham Court Road. Oh how I love this shop, fondly remembered from childhood visits. I love the stationary, the walls filled with coloured writing papers and envelopes, the beautifully designed notebooks, the cards, wrapping papers, ribbons, pens and (at this time of year) the Christmas decorations. Sadly I didn't think to take any photographs in this shop as I was too busy oohing and aahing, but it was a great start to my day.
After Paperchase, I walk very fast back down Tottenham Court Road, turning right onto Oxford Street and along to John Lewis. I love department stores, I love them very much. I browse my way through many lovely departments (including stationary, gifts and Christmas) before riding the escalators up to the 4th floor for haberdashery. I adore escalators, love the thrill of them every time, but especially at Christmas when the decorations are hung in abundance. It's glitzy and over the top and I am delighted by it all.
And Oh! Can you imagine me in the haberdashery department? Can you just picture me trying not to hyperventilate with excitement, giddily rushing around back and forth between the fabrics, the trimmings, the ribbons, the threads, the crafts, the beads, the yarns?!
I try to absorb everything, take it all in :: the colours, the textures, the complete desirability of everything the haberdashery department has to offer. Mind you, despite the total, near-to-yelping excitement factor, I was very restrained here. I bought glass beads, one solitary ball of yarn, a button tin. Some stick-on wiggly eyes and Hama beads for the Little People. But I love all I bought and am already excited for the next shop....
....onwards I go, down Regent Street to visit one of my all time favourite shops :: Liberty of London.
Stop to admire the flowers for sale at the front of Liberty's before rushing on in through the big heavy wooden doors to see inside.....
I do some idle browsing first, enjoy wandering aimlessly through the many wood paneled rooms, admiring the very shop itself as much as the contents within. Its so grand! So very utterly, extravagantly divine and expensive and grand!
But as much as I enjoy the oriental rugs, the expensive chocolates, the beautiful stationary, the luxurious bathing products, the silk scarves, the gorgeous tableware, the out-of-this-world furniture, I am really just saving myself for the fourth floor. The Floor of Temptation. The Floor of Liberty fabrics and the Rowan Department.
I am totally overwhelmed in the Rowan room. I have a major crush on Kaffe Fassett's/Rowan fabric and quilt designs and it's a long while since I've seen them in real life. In here, jostling for my attention are some real life, totally gorgeous quilts made up in Kaffe Fassett fabrics, a huge range of the fabrics themselves, books, threads, tapestry kits and a large selection of Rowan yarns. It is heaven. I had not intended to buy fabrics, but I am totally overcome with desire here and unable to stop myself. Before I can think too hard or do the maths, I yank eight bolts of fabric off the shelves and stand back to witness the fabric being expertly cut, folded, wraped and then the k-e-r-c-h-i-ng of the till. I manage to blow a quarter of my spending money in about ten and a half minutes flat. And it's so exciting that I nearly pee my pants. I can report that the Liberty Ladies Loos are very easy to find and conveniently also on the fourth floor.
After the excitement of Liberty, I make my way to my final destination which is the Country Living Fair in Islington. I have already had so much fun, and find I am beginning to wilt slightly, but I do my best and enter with spirit. It is humongously busy, absolutely heaving with shoppers here. And I am hot and tired and weary. But nevertheless I spend a good two or three hours visiting practically every stand in the show. Its very inspirational, very festive. Lots and lots of decorations. Lots and lots of Shabby Chic. Some nice individual stands amongst the usual suspects. All in all, yes I love it and find some nice things to buy.
And when I'm done with it all, I get myself a cup of tea and go in search of Kathy, to introduce myself and say hello. Kathy, it was LOveLy to meet you, it's wonderful when someones blog comes to life and the person behind the words and pictures becomes real. I'm sorry if I was a bit vacant and wilty, I was so desperately tired and totally shopped out!
train left London at 5.30pm, and although it left on time, it was
delayed by one hour en route. So it was 9.30pm by the time I staggered
through my front door, and I was pooped. All the way home on the train
I had been thinking of my bed. Had been looking through my purchases,
thinking of bed, reading a bit, thinking of bed, dozing a bit and
waking with a stiff neck, thinking of bed.
I could not get to my cosy, feathery, ripply, rosy, snuggly bed fast enough. I was asleep within minutes, dreaming of fabric and buttons and yarn and ribbons and decorations.
Yes, I had a wonderful day, and tomorrow I promise, I'll show you what I bought. Show you what came home in my stiffy, cordy-handled bags.
Hope you'll join me for a Lovely-Things Fest :: its gonna be so much fun sharing it with you!
Edited to add :: oh I meant to say that if you haven't already done so, please do go and read Hen's blog, she did a similar shopping trip last week and her photo's/descriptions of the Country Living fair and Liberty are super.