Shopping in London? Choose your battle.
Shopping in London? Don’t!
Not unless you know exactly where to go, or unless you love being pushed around, jostled, ignored, exhausted and poor.
I hate shopping at the best of times, and on familiar territory. To even consider shopping in London is the worst of times – it makes me put my travel agent’s number deep down in my desk.
Why shop, when you can use your precious time in London to explore Dickens, or Wind in the Willows or Jack the Ripper. Why shop, just to see what is there? Why shop, unless there are treasures and delights you simply cannot find anywhere else in the known world. And that might be the key to this Pandora’s box.
What could there be in London which I cannot find at home? What could this ancient city with a huge population in a very small space have in its tiny streets and crowded malls? What do I love, and want more of?
This is one of the reasons for travel- to search for what you love and can’t get enough of. But sometimes the answer does not lie in places far away, but in your own heart. You travel far away from home, when really you are seeking to be at home with yourself.
When I am away in distant parts, I feel more myself than ever at home. And when I return I want to retain that clarity and simplicity, that mind -open to the new, that heart touched by human achievement and natural beauty. A mind stretched by what it has seen, heard and marvelled over.
So how does shopping fit into this metaphysical analysis? How can the purchase of some item add to the treasures brought back through Customs? When there are objects to acquire which take my interests and expand them, or deepen my knowledge , or make me smile for a whole day.
What if I am given the chance to shop in London. What would I do? What would I seek out in London to fit my strange requirements?
Here is my slightly quirky list – silk, music,and silver
SILK I love fabric and especially love silk, heavy Thai silk, fine Japanese silk, any silk. So off to The Silk Society at 44 Berwick Street, London W1F 8SE. Just to stand , to touch and to let the fabric drift against my skin, is usually enough, but I may buy some soft silk for a dress , to join the other dream fabric in my camphorwood chest at home.
MUSIC I love early music, by Handel , Vivaldi, Telemann, Bach, as well as the more obscure Corelli and Purcell.I play the baroque recorder with its warm earthy wooden tones, and I would search for more exquisite sheet music, The Early Music Shop – London, 11 Denmark Street, London email@example.com Just across the road from the Tottenham Court Tube Station. I see they have some new instruments as well, so that could be a little extra hand baggage. My last German recorder was stolen in Kuala Lumpur along with my whole suitcase, so I will hold on to this one tightly.
SILVER My other craving is for chunky silver jewellery, preferably with large medieval stones. I have a design in my head, so it would be exciting to visit The Victoria and Albert Museum in Cromwell Rd London SW7 2RL, United Kingdom +44 20 7942 2000 www.vam.ac.uk…
Then take my ideas down to Hatton Garden, London’s jewellery quarter..Here I could wander the ancient streets, and maybe find some artist who can make my vague ideas a shining reality.
COFFEE All this shopping would necessitate stops for caffeine, and here is another commitment of mine- to excellent coffee. As New Zealander,I will search out a cafe beloved by Kiwis – the Flat White at 17 Berwick St London, Greater London W1F 0PT, United Kingdom +44 20 7734 0370
Their promise is to bring the refined artisan style coffee prevalent in Australian and New Zealand cafes to London. I will be so glad to see the beautiful little fern design on my crema, as I contemplate the enduring pleasure of my shopping forays.
If I want to know more about the rest of London shopping, here are some useful websites:
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