“Are you free next Tuesday?” “Why?” “Well, we’d like to take you out for a special surprise. Meet us at one thirty underneath the clock at Liberties. Oh yes, please dress nicely.”
Whatever were two of my dearest friends planning? This was intriguing and exciting. I reached Liberty’s in time to hear the clock strike one. But where was it? I stood by the flower display at the entrance looking up? What had they done with the clock? Oops! Was searching in the wrong place. The clock is actually over the corner entrance – my memory of flowers + clock are clearly mistaken. I distinctly remember the clock as being over the flower entrance. Anyway, we met and went inside to revel in the luxuries of Liberty’s and marvel at the prices. With Christmas looming we spent some time browsing in the Xmas shop.
It was bright. colourful and spectacular but there was too much bling for my taste. I prefer plain and simple, not over ornate shapes. My friends are planning an “owl” theme this year but none of the owl ornaments was quite right. Too big! Too small! Too tacky! Too expensive! My friends did find one small item that took their fancy, which they bought. Then we left the store and and my friend hailed a taxi to take us to “a little place that I know.“ The driver whizzed us through the back streets to pull up outside – an hotel. I could see the doorman in his livery. Hang on! What did the lettering say? C – L – A – R . . . .. OMG! It was! It was! It was Claridges! I was so excited and overwhelmed. My surprise treat was tea at Claridges. Thank goodness I had taken the advice to wear a ‘nice dress’.
One attendant relieved us of our coats while a second guided us to our table. Then the waitress explained about the tea and we selected a brew. In order for the tea to remain fresh and not taste stewed the waitress emptied the liquid out into our cups each time, then only topped up the pot with fresh boiling water when were ready for our second cuppas.
We had two platefuls of dainty sandwiches – all crusts removed, of course. “Will you be having another plateful?” “Yes please.” Then came the scones with cream and jam. Proper English scones, small in size and beautifully light. By the time the cakes arrived I was beginning to feel full. “Do you do ‘doggy bags?” Of course they did. When we had savoured every biteful, relaxed to the background music played by a pianist and a cellist and exhausted our conversation it was time to leave, carrying leftover cakes carefully boxed up in proper cake boxes and tied with ribbon. And we were each given a bonus box containing two truffles!
Now what? Ahah! New Bond Street. As we wandered past the shops I was approached by a salesman from a makeup shop.
My two friends melted away but I was hooked and enticed into the shop to try their amazing face cream . . . There is no doubt about it, the cream did make my face look smoother – tightening the skin and filling out the creases. I naively enquired the price. “Well if you buy it today we are throwing in a small jar this incredible . . .” “Yes, yes. But how much?” “Well, today you can have both of these jars for only two hundred and thirty five pounds“. How much? My head was reeling. Thank goodness I had left my bankcards behind. I escaped from the shop muttering something about putting it on my Xmas wish list.
Before catching our trains home we went into Selfridges. “They don’t just sell fridges, you know!” Suddenly the penny dropped. Oh of course! Ha! Ha!
What a lovely surprise! And what a great day!