I don't know if it was because we went on a Friday, when we've usually gone on a Thursday, but for some reason, this year it seemed busier than normal, with thousands of people jostling to look at all of the stalls.
We had a wander around trying to look for the set rooms which are designed by interior designers. We found them eventually in the far corner of the venue. Here's a picture of a couple of the rooms.
Are you putting a Christmas tree up in your bathroom this year? A nice idea though. (I had to edit myself out of the mirror in this picture)
To be honest, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful for our free tickets, there seems to be less and less content of interest to us every year that we attend. It becomes more and more about just buying stuff. In all fairness, maybe it always was or maybe it was because it was the Christmas edition of the event and they maximise the sales space. In other years I haven't minded too much, but this year I did.
I just can't seem to get enthusiastic at the moment about adding more stuff to our house, so as a consequence, very little was purchased by me at the event, save for a few of edibles (including sushi for lunch), some dog treats for the pup for Christmas and a small, inexpensive, but very practical item for me that I'd been thinking of buying for a while.
Even the stages didn't really have anything going on on them that held our interest. Maybe we picked a bad day. We started to watch one presentation on the main stage, but very soon lost interest. The foodie stage was more interesting, but we didn't hang out there long either.
I think this might actually be our last visit, free tickets or not, particularly to the Christmas show, as we'd rather just meet for lunch and a chat somewhere nearer home, rather than trek to the other side of London to be virtually solely encouraged to buy more stuff and little else.
The queue for the free goodie bag went around the building and we just couldn't face lining up for a bag of freebies that we probably didn't even really want.
I realised today that I've changed a lot over the last few years. Once I'd have been happy to wait to get something for free, whereas now I'm finding myself a little more selective how I spend my time and I'm not quite so easily persuaded to accept or even buy things I don't want or need. It's a good thing really.
After my friend and I went our separate ways home, I got off the bus and as I had some cash left in my purse, I decided to pop into a local charity shop on the way home, one that I used to frequent regularly just a few years ago and have bought lots of things from in the past. I haven't done this for a long time. In fact, I've deliberately avoided it to be honest, so bad was my CS shopping habit in the past. It felt a little strange going in, but also very comforting and familiar at the same time.
I had a good long look around the shop, as I always used to do. I tried on numerous items of winter/seasonal clothing, but none looked quite right on me. I had a good rummage in a box of leather offcuts, of which I was tempted to purchase a few and get a bit creative, but it was all a little too thick and would have been very hard to stitch.
After scouring the book shelves, I came away with just one book for 50p, this one by Ariana Huffington of The Huffington Post fame. It sounds like quite a good read and I can always pass it on when I've finished it.
I like CS shopping, I like that the proceeds go to help others and I like it that things have already had a life, but it scares me that I might go back to where I was previously, namely needlessly buying things I didn't need and filling up our house with stuff. I think I'll just stick to working in one for now and limit my exposure.
I'm not yet totally cured of my past shopping habits, they will always be part of my life and an ongoing struggle, but I am making good progress which is encouraging.
Maybe next Christmas a day out that doesn't include an opportunity to shop would be even better progress. A lot can happen in a year, so we'll just have to wait and see.