Thursday, as I mentioned in a previous post, I spent the afternoon in Central London doing a spot of last minute Christmas shopping. The main reason for going in was to avoid a £6 delivery fee on my Fortnum and Mason order, but I did need to pick up a few presents too, so made an afternoon of it.
I caught the bus in, which takes a while, about an hour from where I live, but longer coming home, (90 minutes) as it is much busier and the bus much fuller. For £1.50 per journey though, it is super inexpensive, if you have the time and patience for it.
Anyway, I digress. The bus took me straight to Oxford Street itself, so I hopped off at Oxford Circus and wandered down, stopping in a couple of stores that I needed to go to. I managed to get one present, but my second stop was unsuccessful, another attempt to avoid delivery costs. I wanted a particular CD from HMV, but unfortunately they didn't stock it, so it was back to ordering it online when I got home.
I then reached John Lewis and took in their Christmas Window displays. I have to say, in my humble opinion, these were the best of the ones I saw this year. They were so cute, tying in as they did with their Christmas advertising campaign. I didn't take any photos, as I only had my phone and can't download photos from it, so apologies for no pictures.
Selfridges next, and although their windows were glitzy and glamorous as always, they didn't quite do it for me quite so much. I went into the store though, but was unsuccessful getting what I wanted, as when I saw it in person, I wasn't too impressed.
Anyway, I took myself down South Moulton Street and most of the length of Bond Street to find my way to Fortnums. I enjoyed looking in all the expensive store windows, but wasn't overly impressed by much of the merchandise, far too ostentatious for my liking. I guess some people live a lifestyle that requires such trappings, I don't.
I popped into Fenwick's for the first time ever and found it quite interesting in there. I am sometimes a bit put off going into some of the more expensive designer stores, as they tend to have security men on the doors and sometimes they even follow you around the shop. Not my idea of a pleasant shopping experience.
Unfortunately, in this day and age anyone who doesn't appear to be wearing blatantly expensive designer labels, seems to be viewed as a potential shop lifter. Very sad and depressing, but I know from experience in the CS, that people do go out with the intention of stealing, in charity shops or high end stores, it makes no difference.
I was reminded as I passed the Royal Academy, that there's an exhibition on that we wanted to visit on Abstract Expressionism. I made a mental note to ask OH to try to book us tickets to visit on Christmas Eve, as we always like to go into town for the day when we stay in London for Christmas, as it makes us feel particularly festive.
Eventually I got to Fortnums and it was super busy. As I was picking up an online order, I thought it would be very quick, which it would have been if I'd gone to the right place. I ended up queuing for 15 minutes in a line to order a hamper and you can only imagine how long each customer was taking. It's bad enough deciding what to buy at home on your computer without sitting down with an advisor in store to make up a hamper.
When I finally realised my error, once redirected, I had my order and I was out of the store within a few minutes. I have to say I found the service was impeccable, unlike some stores I visited during the afternoon.
Having collected my order, I made my way along Regent Street and popped in a couple of stores on my way back to John Lewis on Oxford Street, where I bought a couple more presents and used the ladies before getting the bus home. My bus leaves from the street down the side of the store, making it a super convenient last stop.
It was a good afternoon out, but by the time I got home at nearly 7pm I was pretty exhausted and not really fit to do much else but collapse in front of my computer and order the one present that I couldn't get in person.
Maybe next year I'll get it all delivered, but then again, I might not, as it just wouldn't be the same and it wouldn't allow me to see the Christmas windows and lights and soak up the pre-Christmas atmosphere on one of the London's most infamous streets. A crazy place, but you've got to love it just a little bit.