Friday, 19 February 2010

It's all a matter of taste

Usually for me these days London means champagne, Abby Green, Natalie Rivers, posh frocks and late nights. That last little bit of the journey, when the train slows down and you can look into the bedroom windows of the black-bricked houses that back onto the line, I’m always excitedly texting either or both of the above to find out their whereabouts and putting away my laptop; but yesterday, as we passed the huge sign that says ‘Euston station 1 mile’ I was frantically collecting up coats and putting away the Travel Chess set.

As it’s half term we went down just for the day to Be Tourists. We’ve done the sights before, but I thought it was high time the daughters - who have lived all their lives in a small market town in the heart of dairy farming Cheshire where everything closes for half a day on Wednesdays - were taken to the temple of overpriced metropolitan tourist consumerism that is Harrods. It was just supposed to be a starting point and a place to meet up with friends: Daughter #1 – who was 15 this week (! How can that be right?) – gets shopping, but the other two are a bit bewildered by too much choice so I wasn’t sure they’d like it.

However, one glimpse of the giant gold Tutankhamen statue in the designer handbag department and they were hooked. We spent the next few hours travelling up and down the Egyptian escalators, wandering around the foodhalls, necks craned upwards to look at the carved and painted ceilings, sniggering at the kids’ frou-frou designer clothes (and squealing over the price tags) sighing wistfully over a pen of Siamese kittens (£900 each) in Pet Kingdom, and wondering whether Ruby the Airhead Cat would prefer a pink Swarovski-encrusted collar or a tiny cashmere poncho and set of matching legwarmers.

As we walked around I realized that nothing much has changed since my mum used to take me there when I was little. Back in those days Harrods seemed like the height of sophistication and exquisite taste and we used to have lunch in the uber-refined Georgian restaurant, with its tinkly piano music and peach-upholstered chairs (both still in evidence, of course.) These days – and maybe it’s as much to do with passports and conspiracy theories as uniformed doormen and No Shorts Allowed rules – Selfridges and Harvey Nicks have become much more synonymous with posh shopping (posh, cool shopping, anyway). Yesterday we weren’t looking to shop. We wanted entertainment and theatre and eccentricity, and Harrods provided them all in spades.

Favourite find for me was the Laduree department, tucked away in a corner of the food hall and accessed through a narrow doorway like Narnia...

I’d wanted to go to Laduree when we were in Paris, but what with daughter #1’s tonsillitis and Daughter #3’s aversion to the metro we didn’t quite get there. Made up for it yesterday, and went round for the rest of the day clutching a pistachio-green bag far prettier than most of the lurid offerings in the handbag department next door, and at £9.50, including macaroons, definitely better value for money.

(Feel this attitude may encapsulate some of the many and varied reasons why I'd make the world's least successful WAG.)

What's everyone else been up to this half term?


abby Green said...

Can't believe you were in London without me (sniff), but guess a birthday is justifiable. Very jealous of your Harrods visit, I've been wading through rubble and dust as my new kitchen takes beautiful form, which will hopefully be a lot more beautiful in a few days!
xx Abby

Rachel said...

Dear India,

Half term was mainly spent coughing violently and braving the rain to get Them off their DSs. Glad it's over !

Your trip looked wonderful!

Now tell me, what do you do with your posh macaroon/Jo Malone etc bags? They're too gorgeous and covetable to chuck away obviously but my cupboards are now getting very full and spring cleaning ruthlessness is not an option. Goddess tips required!

Lots of love,


Kaz19 said...

We haven't been to Harrod's for ages. Me and mum practically went there every Christmas, if we could possible manage it. The Christmas department is to die for, we bought the most gorgeous german nut-cracker one year, it still takes pride of place every Christmas on our mantle-piece.
Sadly, half-term to me, means less traffic on the road every rush-hour.
xx Karen

Sharon said...

Oooh, spooky! I didn't get to Laduree in Paris either = and was slightly miffed when my French host informed me that I could buy them in London. (Now I've seen the bag - I'm not miffed at all, of course!).
I spent part of half-term by a raging, swirling pewter-coloured Oxfordshire river with a heartbreakingly handsome man.....

India said...

Abby - I know! It didn't feel right, so you'll just have to come over very soon and we'll get things back to how they should be. Am going to make you post pictures here of your new kitchen you know. We're all dying to see it!

Oh Rach, don't mention the curse of the DS. I swear mine are going to evolve so that they also have eyes in the tops of their heads and can keep playing while walking around the supermarket, and watching television. Because, yes, apparently one screen-based form of entertainment at a time is not enough.

As for the bags, I mainly hoard them like the sad, obsessive kleptomaniac that I am, but occasionally I find good use for them. Our extensive hair bobble collection is in a Jo Malone bag on my bedroom windowsill (classy) and some have receipts stuffed into them on shelves in my office. Am thinking of putting cotton wool pads in the lovely Laudree one and hanging it on the back of the daughters' bathroom door, but feel they wouldn't appreciate its beauty. (They might think it's just a carrier bag!)

KAREN!! So lovely to see you here! I bet Harrods is an absolute feast for the eyes at Christmas - I could definitely spend some money in the food halls on festive calories...

Right now, listen up Ms Kendrick... there is absolutely NO WAY you are going to be allowed to leave that story there, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?? So, whenever you're ready...