On Bored Shopping…

Over the past year I have broadened my travel horizons to include several domestic flights in the USA and thus have discovered the delights of SkyMall. SkyMall is a quarterly magazine that can be found in the seat pockets on the majority of US domestic flights and allows passengers to shop online for a wide variety of items.

Having spent some time in airline retail during my career, I decided to have a flick through to see how things worked on the other side of the pond. Not for American passengers the high notes of the latest fragrances, the glittering array of designer watches and jewellery and the select range of premium travel accessories that I am used to considering in flight. No, you can buy a whole lot of other stuff on SkyMall

Where do I start?  

There’s furniture, lots of furniture – lamps, shelves, couches, tables, collapsible beds, bedroom suites and even a bidet sprayer for your bathroom (although I am not sure that this qualifies so much as furniture). 

There are various brands of shape wear to help you hold your ‘bits’ in a more preferred position. There are items designed to remedy everything from bad breath and skin tags to plantar fasciitis and sleep apnea. And there’s even a whole swag of stuff for your pets – 291 items in fact.

I had a bit of time on my hands while they were de-icing the various planes I sat on a few weeks back so I got to know this chaotic catalogue quite well and thought I’d share a few of my favourites with you.

Mounted Squirrel Head – $24.95.

Yes I know. It’s a rather random choice to begin with. But it did remind me of all of us sitting around waiting, waiting, waiting for flights to arrive and depart. There were a few faces in the boarding queues that looked a lot like this.

Write On Travel Map – $149.95

I love this. It combines my two of my great passions – scribbling and dreaming. Dreaming about where I might like to go next in the world and scribbling stuff down so I don’t forget that I thought about it in the first place. However it does seem that the little people of this world may be consigned to exploring the Southern hemisphere only.

Talking Dog Collar – $29.95

You record a message on the dog collar and activate it remotely – and you can change the message as often as you like. A day at the park suddenly took on a whole new lustre and I had a little chortle at the prospect of unsettling passers-by with a little pooch chatter, a bit like the old Candid Camera shows. I could see myself enjoying this for hours and hours…if I had a dog.

Hawaiian JellysTM – $39.95

There were a few offerings throughout the catalogue that claimed to ease a range of foot ailments (a particular bug bear of mine) but the range of Hawaiian JellysTM got my vote for sheer inventiveness. You could start with the tropical – Papaya, Mango, Lychee, Dragon Fruit or Coconut – branch out into a little Mysore Raspberry or Chuo Ume Plum or even scale new heights with Kilauea Volcano or Aouli Sky. America, land of the free and home of the endless choice.

40″ Foldable Photo Studio – $199.95

We actually have something similar in the office and it saves a whole lot of bother when it comes to getting product shots done. Might be a little more difficult to do head shots though.

Speaking of head shots I just had to show you this one.

The Zombie of Montclaire Moors – $99.95

Why? Just why would anyone buy this?

Or this for that matter.

SPAM Costume – $70.76

(Although after a few more hours sitting on planes I may have done just about anything to relieve the boredom!)

And last but not least there was a myriad of t-shirts on offer – these were just a few that made me laugh out loud.

(Seattle-A please note the pink box top right, my new mantra for life.)

So this is how I spend my time travelling…marvelling at the weird and wonderful and generally just keeping myself amused. 

After all, there’s only so much ‘cultural exploration’ a girl can take.

Image Source: all images are taken directly from the SkyMall.com website.

Composers, Canalboats And Christmas Cheer…

What with lots of changes, challenges and general excitement over the last few months I’ve been a little lax in my pottering about London (note I do not include my recent tourist-ing with Lil Chicky in this – that was by no stretch ‘pottering’) and today it was a combination of music and markets that had my full attention. Having been in Chicago for work this week (and slept the morning away yesterday ‘in recovery’), today saw me up, about and out the door for a little culture and some festive cheer. 

First stop (well after the tube ride and the large soy cappuccino purchase at Caffe Nero) was Kings Place for Bach Unwrapped, a one hour concert featuring the work of JS Bach, his protege JG Goldberg, and his son, CPE Bach. For those of you in the know about these things, today’s Trio Sonatas programme consisted of:

Trio in G for flute and violin
Trio in C for two violins (collaboration with Goldberg)
Trio in D Minor for two violins (collaboration with his son)
Trio Sonata from Musical Offering

(For those of you who know nothing about these things, the violin, cello and harpsichord were joined by another violin for the second and third pieces and a flute for the first and the fourth.)

Apparently the last piece, Musical Offering was borne of the composer’s meeting with Frederick The Great in 1747 – the King challenged Bach to improvise over a theme he had written and while Bach rose to the immediate challenge, on returning home he composed Musical Offering and despatched it to King Frederick. The programme note claimed that Musical Offering has been dazzling musicians with its brilliance ever since.

While I don’t know very much about classical music, I find it incredibly moving and very easy to lose myself in the ebb and flow of the music so after an enjoyable hour, I wandered out and headed back to Kings Cross Station in a leisurely snap-happy stroll. 

Despite my having been there several times, I had never actually walked out the back of Kings Place before today – lo and behold there’s a rather lovely deck which overlooks Regent’s Canal…

…and the stroll back to the station along the canal was quite pretty too.

The area around Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations has been undergoing a major redevelopment since 2008 and in the midst of the construction site, there’s quite a pleasant walkway – dotted with titbits about the area’s history – which connects the stations to Regent’s Canal. This is the view coming back from the canal, the spire of the Grade I listed St Pancras International station building standing tall above the ‘debris’.

The forecourt between Kings Cross and St Pancras stations.

The second half of my Sunday foray was spent wandering along the Southbank Christmas Market. There is something deliciously festive about this market. The decorated stalls stretched along the riverside path from The London Eye to the National Theatre with stallholders plugging their wares (hand made gifts and eclectic arts and crafts feature heavily), tempting passersby with a fresh waffle, a little glühwein or perhaps some kind of German sausage concoction.

Nearly there – this glimpse of Big Ben framed by the railway bridge caught my eye from Concert Hall Walk on the way to Southbank.
This ‘urban’ paint job decorated the entrance at the back of Royal Festival Hall. 
Traditional festive cheer above one stall…
…faced off against Scrooge on another.
German sausage concoction? Enough said…

The twinkling lights, the smell of roasted chestnuts…I just love it. Even the nip in the air as I snuggled deeper into my coat, hat and scarf was a reminder of the merriment to come…in just 31 sleeps.

Needless to say I’ve started my Christmas shopping…

Leopard Flats

Well I was set to post about all sorts of trivial things this week. The new Pope. The new head dude up in the space station. New revelations in the horse meat scandal. A visit to Sadler’s Wells. The anticipated shape of Sunday night telly now that Dancing on Ice and the wonderful Mr Selfridge have taken their final bows.

And then these arrived.

They are my very first own-design Shoes of Prey shoes. Made especially for me.

I was beyond excited. Opening them was an experience in itself with layers of bows and paper lovingly swaddling my luscious leopard-print flats.

There was even a photo.

(Shoe afficionados – like Lil Chicky, who I hold entirely responsible for this new addiction after a small shoe showcase over Christmas – will know that this is to put on the outside of the shoe box so when all of your lovely leather, scrumptious suede and general foot-ish fabulousness are stacked up in your cupboard, you know exactly where to find the perfect pair.)

But I digress.

I love them. Really LOVE them.

I’ve always wanted a pair of leopard-print shoes. There’s something immensely frivolous about animal print and the Shoes of Prey website is a veritable treasure trove of imagination and creativity and just plain desire.

They arrived on Tuesday. It’s Friday night and I’ve worn them twice already.

Super comfy as they are, they come with a little bag of tricks – heel grips, gel inserts and the like – to ensure that you can create the perfect fit for your fetish feet. And a super lush shoe bag has helped my little leopard friends make the commute to the office this week in what has been some rather inclement (and unseasonably chilly) weather.

Not for them the travails of the chill and damp. Oh no.

Oh and by the way, if you are wondering about the potential perils of buying made-for-me shoes online, the Shoes of Prey returns policy is awesome. If your new arrivals don’t make your soles sing and your heart beat a little faster, you can return them – up to 365 days later.  Yes that’s right. A whole year. I couldn’t believe it when I first placed my order.

But I don’t think that will be necessary.

Because I love them.

Really love them.

A lot.

The Ghost of Christmas (Sales) Past…

Well, it’s week 2 of my great Southern Odyssey, custody of my good self has been successfully transferred to the sprawling abode of Lil Chicky and Husband (and I do mean sprawling – my entire flat would fit in their garage!) and it was time to get out those Christmas vouchers and hit the sales.

5 and half hours later (noted with some amazement as we paid for our parking), voucherless (me) and footsore (both), we heaved ourselves into the car, agreed we’d had an excellent day…and groaned.

What is it about post Christmas sales that convince us to keep pushing on well beyond the comfort of our shoes and the confines of our finances? 

I mean, it happens every year so it’s not like this is a completely new experience…but it does not seem to matter how comfortable the footwear (although I have not yet stooped to shopping in my slippers) or how often we stop to fortify our shopping lust (with lunch, cake, coffee etc), we always arrive back home completely spent in more ways than one.

And as I sit here with my aching feet propped up on the chair in front of me, I can’t help but think about my fabulous purchases and smile with complete and unmitigated satisfaction…

…and wonder where we’ll shop tomorrow.

Life In The UK…Neighbours

For the first time in 5 years, I am back to the car-less status I held when I first arrived in the UK..and I had to do my first sans car grocery shop.  The trouble is that now I have to plan my shop and stick to the list with considerable rigor as there are 3 important things to manage:  My items fitting in the 2 shopping bags I take, the even distribution of their weight between the 2 bags and actually carrying said weight to the bus stop and then from the bus stop to home.

You see, the bus back up Kingston Hill is fine but that walk up the hill, down the hill and up the hill again to home is a killer at the best of times and if the shop has gone awry, well, it ain’t pretty!  So today, I was ready with my small-ish, well-planned list and on the way, I knocked on J’s door to do the neighbourly thing and find out whether there was anything he wanted me to pick up for him.
Well…his few items grew and grew until his list WAS bigger than mine.  But it still all looked do-able so off I set, list in hand…but milk, orange juice, pasta sauce and soup (just to name a few) are not exactly light so let’s just say there was a bit of mental f-ing and blinding going on as I walked from Sainsbury’s to the bus stop and from the bus stop to home.

Next time, I might stop being so bloody independent and ‘I can do it’ and get him to take me.  We could have a date night at the supermarket!  Or not…

We’ll see…