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Annual Retail Therapy

The year has gone by so quickly that last weekend was time once again for my now-annual gluttonous girls’ weekend away at the Pudding Club with a group of friends who are all loosely associated with work. Val, who organises it, has been going for 17 years so has the schedule tightly tied down so that it all runs like clockwork.

I was picked up at 0915 on Saturday morning, and five of us in two cars met up in the usual car park in Stratford. Even though the two groups had set off separately, from different parts of Malvern, the timings by now are so precise that we arrived in the car park within two minutes of each other! We then went to the usual coffee shop for a sustaining cup of tea/ coffee/ hot chocolate and toast / croissants, before starting on the shops. We met another of our party there, who had travelled up from Hampshire. The remaining two would meet us for lunch at the usual restaurant, where – rather annoyingly – we weren’t on our usual table! Val said she’d have “words” with the restaurant staff for next year, as that was just not good enough!

It is part of the tradition to go round the sales in Stratford, which has a lot of interesting stores, both chains and small independent shops. The others in the group all seem to be much better at shopping as a leisure activity than I am, but I know the ropes now and had come prepared with a list of things that I really wanted to buy, but which are difficult to get in Malvern. Top of the list was a new cashmere jumper to wear to work. I’ve bought one every year that I’ve gone on the Pudding Club weekend, and right on cue just last week I put my elbow through the sleeve of the rather nice blue jumper that I bought a few years back. So I clearly needed a new one. The winter sales were still on, but coming to an end, so there was very little available in my size. There was plenty  of choice in extra-small, but I’ve not fitted into that size for several years! At this late in the season, you have to be prepared to put up with whatever selection of colours are left over and clearly weren’t selling well at full price. But I did managed to find a very acceptable jumper in my size, in a shade of blue very similar to the holey jumper. Even better, it was reduced from £130 to just £49, so I felt very pleased with myself. 

I then absolutely shocked myself by spending the same amount again on handcream! I hadn’t thought it was possible to spend nearly fifty quid on handcream, but this was very strong stuff and my hands are in an absolutely shocking state at the moment. It wasn’t all on one pot, I hasten to add, but on three different concoctions which together are promised to deal with the chapping, dry skin and general ill-effects of central heating and air conditioning at work. I’ll see what I think when I’ve used them for a few weeks. 

There’s a big M&S in Stratford, so I also managed to buy a range of essentials to replenish my underwear drawer, and a White Company store which has a range of rather comfy nightshirts. I’d had to throw away several nightshirts this year when they started fraying round the seams, so I was able to convince myself that was a necessary purchase. I was quite pleased though that Val had decided to bring forward our departure time from Stratford by half an hour compared to usual, as that meant I didn’t have the time to go around Lakeland and impulse-buy a whole load of cookware that I quite definitely do not need! 

So all in all it was a very successful outing to the shops – though it’s probably just as well that it’s only once a year!