“Well apparell’d April on the heel of limping winter treads…” – William Shakespeare
“You better come home with something cute!!”
These are magical words, and when coupled with a cheerfully surrender piece of plastic, a joyous song to the ever devoted shopper. With an unrepentant enthusiasm for fashion and a weakness for shoes, I can hardly claim to be anything but patently female. So who am I to argue (or disappoint) when my boyfriend hands over his credit card and shoos me out the door for a day of shopping with a new friend in downtown London, his only stipulation being that I must come home with something?
With the promise of pleasant weather, a colleague from work and I arranged to meet up Saturday for a day of self-indulgent shopping. Katharine may well be the first significant “friend” I’ve made in London thus far. A four feet something Trinidadian native, she moved to London some four years ago with her Irish, rugby-playing boyfriend when he moved back from Trinidad, and while she definitely enjoys it here she sympathizes with me about missing certain things from home (like tumble dryers) and the ups and downs of adjusting to a new place and culture away from family and friends. Though 9 years separate us in age, Katharine and I discovered by the end of Saturday that we nonetheless share a surprising amount in common by way of personality, interests, and personal tastes ( both in terms of shopping and men apparently).
I met up with Katharine at Borough Market near London Bridge around 2:00pm. We didn’t spend a great deal of time here since she had already been at the market for several hours with some friends of her uncle’s visiting from Trinidad, but we did wander around a bit after she showed me a vendor that makes fabulous mochas. Borough Market deserves a full day of exploration, as well as a full blog post about it, so I won’t expound on the details until later. Suffice to say it’s an amazing and fascinating place stuffed cheek to jowl with people by midday on the weekend.
After escaping the shuffling stream of people wending its zigzag path through the aisles and alleys of the market, we caught a train up to Westminster where Katharine lives and from there cut through St. James Park (which is lovely by the way) to start our shopping trip by fanning our fashion frenzy with a stroll down the infamous Bond Street where we dutifully left plenty of nose prints on the windows of such shops as Cartier, Prada, Tiffany’s, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen, etc. Aside from lovingly fondling a few gorgeous handbags and pairs of shoes, however, we didn’t do much but window shop here, though Bond Street did, by happy coincidence, provide us with the highlight of our day in the form of a blown glass and kinetic sculpture exhibition at a small art gallery we happened to stumble upon.
I don’t recall who was responsible for the large sculptures like this one,
but the blown glass belonged to a small, round artist from Seattle with frizzy, fly-away hair and a black eye patch by the name of Dale Chihuly who has garnered quite the reputation for himself worldwide for his enormous and exquisite blown glass sculptures, chandeliers, and gardens.
Bond Street conveniently dumps out onto the high end of Oxford Circus, which by virtue of vicinity remained significantly out of our price range. So, instead of spending any time there, we headed down toward stores more our speed. By this point it was grown dark and the threat of early-closing shops meant that we had to sacrifice leisure browsing for efficiency since Katharine had a handful of stores she wanted me to see in particular.
Our current, mutual, favourites include:
Though strongly tempted to take this jacket home with me…
…I resisted and instead ended up with both of these tops as my souvenirs for the day:
- London doesn’t exactly have a “style”. Unlike cities in the States where certain things become a trend and spread en masse, style is a personal choice in London…and everything goes. Literally.
- Pastels seem to be the choice colors for spring – pale blue/greens, blush pinks, mauvey lavenders, and creamy yellows are everywhere.
- Though at first skeptical, I have discovered that there is actually affordable shopping in London.
- Shops in London close at the weirdest times. On Saturday night Warehouse closed at 6:00pm while Zara and Mango were open until 10:00 at least.
- I vaguely suspect that women born and raised in London actually have no feeling at all in their feet. There is no other possible explanation for how they can walk about all day in heels of any kind.
Don’t forget, you can keep up with all the places we go here!