After what seems like ages away, I’m back on Canadian home soil (mud at the moment actually, as the snow is starting to melt)!
It probably goes without saying that my trip to England was pretty excellent and indeed full of lots of interesting sites, exceptional food, and good times. I had a great time, dispute a few minor setbacks.
Although there was no major rain for the duration of my stay in either London or Bath, the weather was lousy. According to both newspapers and everyone that I spoke with, my visit fell within the coldest March England had experienced in 50 years! I’d packed rather optimistically, with only a light wool coat and a few pairs of ballerina flats (and those open toed wedges that I had mentioned earlier–more about those later!). I am so happy that I brought my hat and gloves as they really allowed me to make the most of the weather and do some exploration by my preferred means–my feet!
So here is my first entry about my travels:
HARROD’S….Despite the ground floor crowds and the hoopla surrounding it as a major tourist destination, I felt a strangely deep connection to Harrod’s Department Store. I’d seen those olive green reusable Harrod’s tote bags carried with pride for many years throughout my travels on the Toronto Subway and never understood it until now.
Located in an upscale shopping district, the almost 200 year old business now occupies over one million square feet of high-end retail heaven. Frankly, it sounds hideous, but it is in fact marvellous, and rather reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter. A tidy uniformed doorman opened the door for me and I found myself in a vast jewellery and accessories department. I do mean vast. As the largest shopping centre in Europe and as a purveyor of luxury goods, this was definitely the largest and most impressive selection of accessories and jewellery that I have ever seen. Anyone with a healthy interest could spend days mulling about just these departments. I’m obviously interested in jewellery design and gems so I did spend quite a bit of time just admiring the fantastic array of jewels that Harrod’s has to offer. Household luxury names like Cartier, DeBeer’s and Tiffany’s occupy a relatively small section of the jewellery department and quite significant sections are dedicated to less well known, yet highly impressive luxury designers from around the world. One could easily find multiple jewellery pieces with £500,000 price tags. Exquistite rubies and emeralds look like sumptuous candies in both unique and classic designs that are likely destined for some sort of Red Carpet.
A jewellery affectionato can of course also find more casual, but none-the-less lovely and equally unique designs in silver and semi precious gems by an array of up and coming and established designers as well, not to mention some fabulous finds that lean more towards high quality costume jewellery. Thomas Sabo, well-known for producing whimsical and highly detailed charms even created a Harrod’s charm which depicts a mini sterling silver and olive green enamelled Harrod’s bag!
That all said, the jewellery department at Harrod’s is amazing, and I found the staff to be very pleasant and happy to answer my questions.
I treated myself to an afternoon tea at the Harrod’s Laduree, which is adjacent to the jewellery department. Laduree is classically parisian, but it is found in many cosmopolitan cities around the world. They’re famous for their delectable macaroon cookies, but also feature a decadent lunch menu as well as an unparalleled selection of beautiful and delicious desserts. I had a rose scented tea along with a raspberry tart in their dramatically elegant lunchroom, which beautifully contrasts the store’s pastel scheme and other dining areas. Delectable and pretty, my tea at Laduree was a feast for all of the senses and I found their staff of predominantly young fit men with French accents to be so graceful to watch and a pleasure to be served by.
Like in many other European restaurants and cafes, I found the service and atmosphere to be quite formal, Laduree being even more so than usual. This sounds snobby, but it is in fact quite the opposite and I really appreciated it! Formalities express consideration for fellow patrons and frankly, the lovely and tranquil atmosphere of relaxation and rejuvenation would have been spoiled by a single noisy or impolite patron. And let’s face it, we’ve all had our cages rattled a little by someone else’s priority to be overly noticeable in a public place.
My tea at Laduree was a wonderful little interlude and retreat from the hustle and bustle of both Harrod’s and everyday life going on around me. It really energized me!
Through the jewellery and accessories department lies Harrod’s world renowned Food Halls. My visit to Harrod’s fell just before Easter so beautiful displays of appealing candies and chocolates were especially prevalent. It’s really a foodies delight–gorgeous arrangements of tempting confections, impeccable fruits and the finest meats and seafood welcome and beckon visitors.
I bought myself a bag of Turkish Delight from the delectable candy counter as well as some other delicious looking tidbits before venturing upstairs to check out the rest of Harrod’s. I joined the club and purchased a reusable Harrod’s tote bag–other Britophiles smile knowingly at me. It’s practically a right of passage
More about my adventures in England are to follow!