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Recreational Shopping Trip

The year seems to have gone very quickly, as it was time again for my annual Girls’ Outing to the Pudding Club. I was horribly busy at work all last week, with a day at my customer’s site in Wiltshire and two nights in London manning the company’s stand at a major industry conference and exhibition. So the Pudding Club Trip really sneaked up on me unobserved.

The others have been going for so long (19 years I think for some of them!) that they really have the agenda perfected. I was picked up from home at 09:15, we rendezvoused with the rest of the Malvern contingent at 09:30, and drove to Stratford where we parked in the usual car park, and had the usual polite argument about who really wanted most to pay for the parking.

Then it was time for coffee and toast/croissant at the usual café, where we met up with one of the others from our party who used to work with us all but now lives elsewhere. The final member of our party always has to get her daughters’ various sports and social arrangements sorted out before she can get away, so she doesn’t meet us until lunch time.

After the reviving caffeine hit, it was time to hit the shops, right at the tail end of the January sales, with some final reductions on offer. I made a beeline to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill to see if they had any cashmere jumpers my size left in the sale. Most of what they had left was size XS, which I’ve not been able to fit into for years. But I did find a very snuggly round neck cashmere jumper in my size in a deep dusky pink at a heavily reduced price. It’ll do very nicely for work, and none of the engineers there will know or care that it’s last year’s colour!

I was surprised to find that the shop was holding a “closing down – everything must go” sale, as it’s always been busy when I’ve been there. I spoke to the staff, and apparently the lease is coming up for renewal and the landlord is being greedy. If they can come to acceptable terms with him, they’ll renew and stay. If not, I may struggle to find myself a decent cashmere jumper next year!

I hardly ever go in for recreational shopping, so this annual trip really is the only time I spend a whole day going round the shops. I stocked up on some hideously expensive hand cream (at my age the cheap stuff doesn’t do anything useful), a bulk load of new underwear from Marks and Spencers, and some useful storage bags from Lakeland. At that point my bank clearly noticed the unusual, indeed virtually unprecedented, pattern of spending on my credit card, as I got a text from them saying that they suspected fraud and had blocked my card! I had to take some time out over lunch (just a bowl of soup or a sandwich – no point in filling ourselves up before the Pudding Club) to contact the bank and reassure them that yes it was indeed me acting entirely out of character and not a fraudster! Annoying though it is to get one’s card blocked, I suppose it’s actually quite reassuring that their algorithms are on the alert for unusual patterns of behaviour to counter fraud.