What Happened When I Went Shopping

I had so much fun when I went shopping for the Pyjama Party Giveaway, and I thought you’d like to see some of the highlights. After a week of rain, we were lucky enough to be blessed with a sunny day.

Things started well at Fortnum and Mason for the buying of chocolate:

I even managed to snap a few of the lovely objects in this greengrocer – yes, greengrocer – until I was sternly told to stop:

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Fortnum & Mason, you MUST walk around to the rear of the building. Across the road, you will discover a wonderful and extremely hidden away cheese shop of wondrousness:

Then it was a hop, skip and a jump through Burlington Arcade, where an old fella was having his shoes shined:

After that, I got a bit lost and ended up turning into Savile Row to get back to where I needed to be. Getting lost was one of the best things I could have done all day.

If you ever visit Savile Row, prepare to be underwhelmed. It’s all so terribly British. So discreet. So hidden. There’s nothing much to see. The upper classes don’t like to draw attention to themselves.

Then I walked past an unassuming frontage and happened to glance down. I stopped in my tracks and backed up. Peered. Was that…

I hope you can make this out. (Click on the image and it will go much bigger.) It’s a livery. That’s a tailor down there, and those look like uniforms of the Queen’s Guards. This man was working for royalty! Right there in front of my nose and behind the iron rails that were locked with a bike chain. (I know this because I tried to open the gate to go down and talk to him.)

I was utterly blown away – breathless. Now, you know there’s nothing I won’t do for this blog. So I climbed the stone steps to the grand front door and rang the bell. Waited. A much younger, terribly posh man in TWEED HALF JODHPURS came to speak to me. Can you guess how the story ended? I wasn’t allowed in, because they weren’t ‘technically open’. Yes! I wanted to scream. I know you’re not technically open, because you’re repairing uniforms for the Queen’s Guards, and the Queen doesn’t technically like people to know her business, but technically I have seen this wondrous sight and technically I want to share it with my readers. I didn’t say any of this. I tugged my forelock. I may have bobbed in a curtsey. And then I left. (You don’t argue with posh people. Or I don’t, at any rate. I’m too aware of my family heritage of Derbyshire mines and factories.)

For any readers who might at this stage be thinking, I don’t really understand the British class system, I have this to say: Don’t worry! We don’t understand it either! It’s a crazy, subtle, many layered mystery and nonsense that scores itself deep on our soul without any of us properly understanding it.

So, with that little adventure over, off I popped to Liberty of London for the handkerchief and lavender.

By this stage, carrying several bags, I knew my work here was done. What a happy day’s shopping for other people. Who knew I had this unselfish streak in me? Hey, guys! Buying stuff for strangers can be the best possible adventure.

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28 Responses to What Happened When I Went Shopping

  1. Ahh this sounds like such a lovely day.
    It makes me want to hop on a train and go round exploring the ‘hidden’ london again.
    I will have to check out the cheese shop at some time I think. thank you for adding that to my radar…

  2. wow – definitely the Queen’s Guards uniforms – how cool! Such a shame you couldn’t go in to have a proper look – I’d have tried the same thing as you if i’d been there that’s for sure.

  3. I love walking this part of london…

  4. Karen, you’re wonderful! What an adventure! I do envy everybody (including my aunt and cousin) who live in London.

  5. Miriana says:

    Your work for the London tourist board is going well!

  6. Carolyn says:

    I love reading these wonderful escapades on your blog. They make London so alive! Thanks for sharing about your sighting of the Livery and the Queen’s guards uniforms!

  7. nothy lane says:

    London is so wonderful, isn’t it? I need to go back there again soon. Not this summer though – noth with the Olympics going on- maybe in the fall…

  8. Stop it right now! Your out-and-about-London posts just make me ache, yearn, long to be there. How am I supposed to get any work done? (OK, maybe by not looking at blogs in the office. Carry on.)

  9. Anne W says:

    Best shopping day ever! So cool to see the tailor working on the uniforms…. I do love your photos, you must have a fab camera!

  10. Bold Sewist says:

    Lovely post – and made me very nostalgic – this is where I used to wander every lunch hour!

  11. Amy says:

    This post is full of adorable and awesome. Big smile on my face.

  12. Hey, I’m going to London in June and I’m very looking forward to it! Can you maybe tell me what I really, really need to see? Or maybe a few hidden gems in cause of fabric and patternshopping?;-) Thanks in advance!

  13. Far says:

    Such a treat just looking at the pictures šŸ™‚

  14. Sewing Princess says:

    Whoa! That’s great… What a lucky find. I’m reading Watching the English… Great fun book by a social scientist…

  15. oonaballoona says:

    i LOVE going shopping with you.

  16. liza jane says:

    I want to visit London.

  17. eumoronorio says:

    That sounds like a lovely day. Just curious, what are jophers?

  18. Jacqui says:

    Oh Karen a little blog love here, Btwn you tilly and handmade Jane I get to visit London all the time and relive the days of my youth whence I frollicked in london town, Thankyou for your sharing, and sewing.

  19. prttynpnk says:

    How cool was your outing!!!! I so appreciate you taking one for the team and getting covert tailor pics…

  20. Can I go shopping with you next time!?!?? How wonderful of you to share your discovery on Saville Row and your willingness to pry for some more information! Even though you couldn’t get any (information), that one picture does enough justice!

  21. Marie says:

    This is one of my favourite blog posts ever, you really managed to capture that posher side of London and I love your discovery on Saville Row!!!

  22. Great day out! I think working in Central London I get seriously jaded about how great it is – you don’t really look around properly. Maybe I need to take more time to smell the flowers! Love love love Paxton and Whitfield!

  23. Roobeedoo says:

    What – they let you shop at Liberty? A mere pleb like you?!
    You are fearless, Mrs!

  24. Tessa says:

    That was fun! You know it’s a good day out when you’re meeting men in half tweed jodhpurs!

  25. grenouille78 says:

    I love that you stumbled upon something so fantastic! A few more strolls down Savile Row are in order, methinks. Thanks for sharing your story and the great photos! I’m going to go back up and look at it some more to see what all the tailor had in his shop!

  26. I’m sure that an organised tour would be acceptable – don’t you think? What a fantastic discovery.

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