The Gallery – Joy – Shopping!

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The Gallery theme of Joy should really bring to mind our lovely children, their little cherubic faces which make our hearts swell with pure happiness. So what do I choose? Something totally frivolous and indulgent. SHOPPING! WITHOUT CHILDREN!

I sometimes think shopping with a teenage boy is a hundred times worse than shopping with a toddler. At least when he was little I could strap him into his buggy, ply him with raisins and breadsticks and hope he fell asleep. Now he grumbles and sulks in every shop and makes the whole experience so miserable, we always end up squabbling. Shopping as a family when we’re on holiday is not even worth trying.

This week, however, our son has been away skiing with the school so my Hubby and I have had a romantic three days away in the Cotswolds (more in a separate post in a day or two). On the way there we spent a few hours in Bicester Shopping Village. Familiar with outlet centres full of mountain clothing shops and discount book stores, Bicester was a revelation: cheapy versions of Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Armani, Gucci…. 

The day didn’t start particularly well as we drove in, tried to find a parking space then took a wrong turn, ending up driving all the way out again. We managed it on our second run, waving to the same marshal again as we negotiated the mini multi-storey car park.

Once in, we shopped with miltary precision: in and out of every shop, quick scan, locate the extra 50% off sale rails and hone in. I seemed to be drawn to white shirts and things coloured yellow, despite the fact that I have enough of the former and look positively ill in the latter. Dougie has a great eye for spotting things for me, in fact I really should hire him out to friends who complain their menfolk are useless in shops. Though as a man he has a knack for entering a shop, declaring there’s nothing in it and leaving. As a woman I do have to touch and fiddle about with clothes and dither.

A successful day, I came away with a gorgeous black top, sandals and handbag. Dougie had to be content with a long-sleeved T-shirt for £9.99.

The second day of the holiday we visited the villages of Bourton on the Water and Stow on the Wold. Bourton was beautiful but the shops more suited for souvenir-hunting. Stow was better: we hunted out a Scottish cashmere shop where I picked up a gorgeous long grey sweater on the bargain floor. Dougie got nothing.

Third day: Cheltenham. Dougie’s Day! At last my personal shopper came home with bags of his own – shirt, T-shirt, sweater and sleeveless pullover. I did manage to sneak in a sweatshirt too, but, like everything else, it was in the sale so just think of the money I’ve saved….


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  1. The Dotterel

    April 14, 2010 7:34 pm

    PS (and apropos nothing relevant) Sarah's second day in Iceland fell foul of recent volcanic activity – the south coast road was closed so she had to take them to the Blue Lagoon instead… the hardship!)

  2. JulieB

    April 14, 2010 8:17 pm

    Oh, I absolutely LOVE Bicester – it's only an hour or so from where I live and I do try and get a couple of visits a year if I possibly can. However, it's definitely something to be enjoyed without small children – am v. jealous of your mini break.

  3. Modern Dilemma

    April 14, 2010 10:03 pm

    Sounds like you enjoyed your trip to my neck of the woods. Isn't The Shire beautiful? I love Bicester for shopping but Cheltenham (a mere 6 miles from here) makes me come out in hives. I know not why….

    MD xx

  4. libby

    April 15, 2010 6:02 am

    Oh how lovely for you…and quite a good haul by the look of things. We used to take the kids to Bourton such a lot when they were small…paddling in the streams with ice cream…happy days.

  5. Victoria

    April 15, 2010 1:31 pm

    I love shopping without the children, but I also like leaving my husband at home too! There's something so decadent about sneaking off for an afternoon without someone moaning two steps behind you. It's so peaceful, I don't even care if I come home with nothing.

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone to...

    April 15, 2010 4:02 pm

    @JulieB – you're so lucky having Bicester so close!
    @Kath and @Claire – shopping and children just don't mix do they?
    @MD – Cheltenham seemed ok to me: we did the park and ride to avoid getting stressed with car parks!
    @Libby – Bourton is such a pretty place. There were some kids paddling on Monday – they must have been frozen!
    @Victoria – I'm okay on my own but I'm lucky that Hubby is great to go shopping with and his credit card has a bigger limit!

  7. deer baby

    April 15, 2010 6:57 pm

    Shopping without children – that is pure joy. Although shopping with a reluctant husband (mine not yours) is comparable. I have fond memories of Bourton on the Water. Only been to Bicester once (I'm a West country girl)and spent most of the time in Clarks I think. We go to Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth now or….Westfield!

    I think I may owe you a giant hug and drink at Cybermummy don't I? Say you'll be there?


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