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?