So anyways, we’re into that part of the trip where we’re ticking boxes, seeing things that we’ve missed, making sure that we’ve been around the Monopoly board…although for the life of me I still can’t remember that final purple one- other than Old Kent Rd and Whitechapel. As for Angel Islington, it was a bar and it no longer exists. So there.
This morning we braved Regent Street and Piccadilly, and trust me, it took every little bit of courage that this shopaphobic has. We were in Fortnum’s soon after opening and it was dire. Dire, I say. As for the queue to pay. Let’s not go there.
Suffice to say if the person I bought these yummy things for is reading this, you know how much I hate crowds and shops and crowded shops, so you know how much I love you.
Then we bought an extra bag- mainly for Sarah’s Christmas sweaters, and absolutely not for my journals…Moleskine has an entire shop in Covent Garden- how could I resist?
Anyways, given that today was shopping and packing, I figured I’d give you a few hints, tips and fearless forecasts. You heard them here first, folks.
Aussie retailers- I have just one thing to say to you: lift your game.
This is an amazing system- although possibly not such an amazing system if you’re catching it to or from work. Then it’s claustrophobic. But, I digress.
Essentially it’s as easy as knowing East and West, being right and left (respectively) on the map; and North and South (being up and down on the map). That’s it. The rest is about the colours of the lines and where they intersect. I got so good at it, I could give tourists advice. ‘Marble Arch? Take the Circle Line West to Notting Hill Gate and then Eastbound on the Central line to Marble Arch. You could take the district west to Notting Hill Gate- just make sure that it’s an Edgware Rd train.’ Or things like it. Too easy.
With an oyster card in your pocket, London is, well, your oyster.
Some of the escalators are coming up to the surface from deep underground. Duh. The walls are lined with posters for shows, events, books, music etc. We giggled every time we saw the Mamma Mia one: Snowing Me, Snowing You…ahaaaa…
The seasonal ads on telly are so much better than what we get at home. Our faves were the You Don’t Own Me one for House of Fraser, and the few of my my favourite things one for Aldi.
On the tube, one packaged food company was advertising copy designed to be sung. Things like: Deck the bowls with thai green curry, and All I Want for Christmas…katsu. Get it?
Speaking of which, we’ve never seen so much packaged food. There’s a Marks & Spencer or Sainsburys or Tesco in most city blocks and all train stations. And they all stock everything you need for dinner- in a package. It’s either a sign of how busy Londoners are, or how small most kitchens are…or a combination of the two.
The really daggy ones- like the one that Colin Firth wore in Bridget Jones’s Diary- are available in most High Street shops and are seen out in public.
Sares and I had a discussion on the tube the other day about when is an acceptable time to wear the Christmas sweater. Weekends only? The week before Christmas? Earlier? From December 1? After Thanksgiving? After Melbourne Cup? #tooearly?
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, December 18 is the national wear your Christmas sweater to work day. Mark your diaries.
The sweaters aren’t just confined to humans. Especially in Chelsea and Kensington, plenty of dogs are sporting seasonal sweaters, bells and whatever. It’s very cute.
Fashion Trend No.1
The red and black checked flannel shirt. They’ve made it out of the AC/DC concerts and into the High Street this winter. These ones are fitted and designed to either fit over the top of jeans, or tucked into high-waisted flat-fronted flare jeans. They absolutely should not be worn open over a black rock t-shirt. Ever. Even brands like Tom Wills (Fabulously British) have a very this minute version.
Fashion Trend No. 2
The trucker jacket. The big jeans stores are doing this in various colours of denim (of course), but other High Street brands are doing it in a lighter fabric. Short, relatively narrow cut, double pocketed and with those sturdy jeans style buttons, it’s very now.
For the Boys…
Laces that start navy and finish brown, or start navy and finish red, are in all good stores. Ted Baker does this look particularly well. I also saw lots of slick city types on the tube in classic grey suits with brown shoes instead of the classic black. It’s fresh and, on the right guy, quite hot in a business suited sort of way.
For the Foodies…
The Scotch Egg is making a comeback. No longer 1980’s daggy picnic food, it’s upped its game. The key- and the challenge- is to have a soft boiled egg in the centre. We’ve seen them done with wild board and quail egg, Black pudding (a very popular one), smoked haddock, and the standard spiced sausage meat. There was a stall at Borough devoted to the Scotch Egg- or Scottish egg as we heard one tourist refer to it: ‘do all Scottish eggs taste like this?’
Oh, and Mac…mac cheese is back- if, indeed, it was ever really gone. We’re mad about the mac.
For the wheels…
Rollerskating. Yep, just like in that old Cliff Richard Wired For Sound video. Proper skates, not blades. Scary, I know.