As no trip home is complete without a mother/daughter shopping expedition, my mother and I have been to Bicester Village, the Woodbury Commons or the Desert Premium Outlets of rural Oxfordshire -- a shopper's paradise filled with yummy mummys in skinny jeans and long boots.
My mother, a native Norwegian who becomes more fearless with age, true to her Viking roots (and without the aid of fly agaric), drove directly to the handicapped parking, right in front of Pret-A-Manger (more on the crayfish & rocket sandwiches later), threw her sticker onto the dashboard, rolled down the windows a crack for the dog and declared, rubbing her hands together in glee "Right then, where shall we start?" Where better to start than the ever-giving LK Bennett, where I tried on several pairs of shoes that would make Cheryl Cole envious. "We really should go to Rafe Lauren" said my Ma, "they have excellent bargains on shirts." "It's Ralph, Mamma" I say, "He's American." Somehow we dodged Rafe in favour of Cath Kidston, Aquascutum and the absolutely divine Luella (her designs are completely charming & exquisitely made). We swerved into Marni where I fell in love with a navy blue dropped-waist dress, were completely turned off by the crap inside Gucci ("It's only footballers wives and stockbrokers who can really afford that stuff" said my Ma, "so they have to cater to their audience") and dropped into TSE where my mother picked up a sweater and declared "I could knit this myself in about an hour." Jimmy Choo was much the same although I don't think my mother thought she could actually last her own shoes. But I wouldn't put it past her.
Exhausted, we sat down for soup & sandwiches at Pret. Tell me please why something as wonderful doesn't exist in LA? Could anything be more delicious than an egg and cress sandwich, some homemade tomato soup & lashings of ginger beer?
To wash away the detritus of our capitalist shopping frenzy we drove back to Waddesdon and did a quick Benny Hill-type drive (minus naked ladies) around Waddesdon Manor -- supremely gorgeous, bathed in Autumn light. My mother is a very good driver ("Advanced Driving Test, you know" she told me as we whooshed around the tiny roads near Quainton, hydro-planing on the corners and accelerating past the articulated lorries with only an inch between us and the hedgerows) and, as I may have mentioned, she is quite courageous. With walking stick, handicapped sticker & Norske bravura we zoomed around the gardens on illegal roads (the English are so polite that no-one stopped us, and who on earth would stop an attractive-looking elderly woman in a blue convertible Saab with a silver Jack Russell on the front?) As we drove, I managed to snap a few pictures, right before I snapped my neck from whiplash.