Feeling Fancy

Today I was in Windsor, with Ed, his sister and his mum. Originally the plan was to go to Oxford and do a bit of pre-holiday shopping just to get the final bits and pieces and look at the universities for Ed as he is thinking of applying, but they got stuck in traffic and decided that going to Windsor would give us more time to do things. 

Originally we started off near Windsor castle although we did not go in. There’s never really much appeal in standing in a long queue to hand over £18 of your own money (if I was being given £18 it might be a different story). But all is well, if we had gone in the castle we may have been sidetracked for a long time, as that’s what you get for being involved with a family of history enthusiasts) and we wouldn’t have done half the things that we did. Silver Linings. 

Instead we walked past the guild hall (or something like that) and found ourselves in a little museum. It was smaller, even, than the local museum back home which is saying something. But what was interesting to find was that around Windsor there had been finds of mammoth tusks, as DNA analysis has managed to identify and date to the pre-historic era, and also a tooth of an Indian Elephant a while later. Not only were there mammoths in England, which is astonishing in itself as all of what I studied in university made me think they were only on mainland Europe, but there were elephants too! That being said, it could have just been another Hannibal episode (he led elephants through Italy to try and attack Rome during the Carthage wars). Altogether we were done in about half an hour, us historians have a tendency to drag these things out for a long time as we discuss samian pottery. 

And then we did a spot of shopping, there was an expensive shop and I really liked one of the shirts in the window. 

“If I tell them my last name is the same as the shop name, will they give me the shirt for free?” I asked. It’s a joke that is old and I say it every time I pass one, but psychologically I think I say it in the hope that one day it will come true. We can’t get answers if we don’t ask the questions. Windsor altogether mainly consisted of these expensive shops and, as a student, I was not emotionally ready to part with much cash. Never the less there is never any harm in pretending you’re a millionaire and looking at the clothes, even if it then depresses you that you aren’t a millionaire. 

Because the shops were too expensive (for me) too old (for the sister) and too much for women (for Ed) we decided that we would take a walk and either go to the castle after-all, go to the gardens or take a walk a down the river and we ended up by the river. Jem was originally looking for row boats to take out on the river, but she couldn’t find them. I’m sort of glad that she couldn’t find them. The last time I stepped foot in a row boat the oar snapped and myself and Vie were stranded in the middle of the lake. We did however end up on a 40 minute river cruise tour thing which told you about the area. I am therefore even more glad we didn’t get the row boats. I probably would have crashed the thing and subsequently drowned. 

On the boat we could see Eton college, the castle, lots of fields and very nice houses that I wished I could own (maybe my estate agent mum could help me out, pleeeeeeeaaaaassse) and some little ducklings. There was also a lot of swans. We reached a bridge and the man on the boat told us the roof needed to be lowered to fit underneath it. We thought it was going to be much like a convertible where the roof splits and folds and gets tucked away, but what actually happened is that the roof literally got lowered, to the point where we were panicking that we would get squashed underneath the roof. Luckily it stopped just as it grazed the top of my head, like it would in some James Bond or Indiana Jones film, and was raised again. I don’t know what the tour man said, his voice was extremely muffled over the speaker.

On board the boat I also decided to test out a new instant polaroid camera thing that I had treated myself to after nearly a year of lusting after one. It was a nice picture of Ed his sister and his mum, and we all found it really exciting to watch it develop in front of our eyes. It quickly became the topic of conversation.

“are you even as old as that thing?” a man in the row behind us asked and jokes were shared among us about technology and whatnot.

We got off the boat after being told that some tall chimneys in the distance were the chimneys from an industrial state (that was all I heard of the tour) and we headed off to get some dinner, however on the way we passed a traditional fudge shop called the Fudge Kitchen and we had a look inside. The person in the shop was extremely friendly and kind and offered us all sorts of tasters and even brought out a fresh batch (close to closing) so that we could try it. It turns out that the man in the shop also comes from Norfolk but moved to Windsor as a kid, and we were in there for a very long time trying all of the fudges and talking about stuff (it turns out that some work on Windsor castle means that the man’s house was flooded with 8 feet of water a while back) and eventually I decided that I would get some fudge for us all. I decided on a strawberries and cream slice and the specially brought out one called “Loretta”, it was chocolate and orange. Ed decided on an Eton mess one (the sweetest fudge they sold, and very befitting for where we were) and a toffee one while Jem chose a canadian maple and walnut and Pookie (the sister) chose vanilla, and we walked away feeling very happy with ourselves. 

Afterwards we ended up at Nando’s for dinner where most of the time was spent eating in silent appreciation of the food, since most of us had not eaten since breakfast but we had good conversation. The only problem was that Ed started to worry about some exams he had coming up and the only person that could seemingly calm him down was me. 

“maybe you should come back with us for a couple of days, he’s been like this the entire time” Ed’s mum said, worried. So I checked my timetables to find that I had no exams, lectures or events for almost a week and so I agreed that I probably should, if it was going to be a help to everyone. Which is how I suddenly found myself packing a suitcase with a few pieces of clothing and my laptop and have managed to somehow make my way back to Norfolk for three or four days. Don’t worry. I bought all of my necessary books and revision with me, and once I return it is going to be a very intense search for a place to live in second year. 


Food for Thought

I hate food shopping. Being at university makes it extremely difficult to do. Where I live I have two options: Go into the town centre and go to the large Sainsbury’s and get the bus back or walk to the local co-op and lug home bags. I used to have a third option of online orders, but I never like shopping online anyway. You can’t personally choose the best looking bunch of bananas or select the sell by date that is more fitting to your routine of culinary activity. Besides, to hear the door ring at my flat you have to be in the living room, and I am rarely there. Though the most niggling thing is “what if they deliver while I’m at a lecture?” So I do all my shopping for myself, even if it is hell.

Today I went to the local Co-op. I only needed a few bits and pieces to cook up some Oriental Lemon Chicken. I can, however, never go shopping without buying more than I need. Which is why I left the shop with not only the ingredients I needed but also tiramisu, prosciutto ham and TWO bottles of apple juice and then hated the walk back home. I should have gone to Sainsbury’s.

But the problem is Sainsbury’s is a forty five minute walk away. I don’t catch the bus into town so when I went out for these ingredients at half past seven in the evening it wasn’t the first choice. I didn’t even want to make the twenty minute walk to the Co-op, but then I would have eaten frozen pizza for the third time in four days (although Vie probably would see no problem in that). It was raining when I left and I own no umbrella, since a heavy gust of wind bent mine to a ninety degree angle and I haven’t repurchased, and I don’t own any hoods. I got soaked.

I entered the shop with damp jeans and dripping hair and picked up my basket. The one thing I like about the co-op is that there is an option of having your basket like a wheeling suitcase so that I don’t have to carry it. I am a very weak person and can’t hold a basket without feeling like my arms are going to drop off like twigs. That’s one down side to Sainsbury’s. I walked around the supermarket with the tiny aisles trying to manouvre myself around people who blocked the path as they chose whether to have the packet of biscuits or the big chocolate bar. Some people, no matter how much you make it obvious that you’re there just don’t move.

Finally when I managed to get my items I went to pay. Some gentleman let me go in front of him even though I had a whole basket of things and he only had a box of Persil (so some nice people do exist!) and I went up to the cashier. The up side of having the cashier is that they pack your bags for you. The downside of having a cashier is that they try to make small talk. I’m a very awkward person, and can’t seem to form sentences out loud, so I stood silently trying not to make eye contact as the person said “That’ll be £27.85 please”. Oh. I only came in for some chicken and rice. Oops.

When I take the bags I only just get to see how heavy my shopping is. I have a twenty minute walk back in the rain. The shop is too close to catch the bus without the £1.90, which is why I like the Sainsbury’s, there i don’t have to carry the shopping back as the bus stops coincidentally are right outside the doors- both to the shop and to my flat. Not only did I have to carry heavy bags that ached my arms, I got splashed by cars who don’t seem to car if you get wet when they’re safe and sound in their Renault.

I probably wouldn’t mind if I only had to do the shopping once a week, but because ingredients run out of date so quickly (often being just one person things go out of date before you’ve even used them. Even the half-sized loaves of bread are too much for me) I can only buy food for one or two days in a row, so as not to overbuy and waste cash.

I guess I shouldn’t count myself too unlucky, I know some people in the world have it a lot worse.

A Very Successful Day Indeed

I like quirky things, and pretty things and things no one else has. It’s why Vie and I are such a fan of vintage stores and independent boutiques. There used to be a cute little boutique in my university town but one day when I was out shopping, not caring whether I had to eat Sainsbury’s Basics fish fingers for two weeks, I saw that it had closed down. I could take a trip to London to look down the seven dials but money is never in my favour for that option. There is also an inherent lack of individuality back home, the local public was elated that a Primark was opening and the only “boutiques” we have our chavvy shops run by women with fake-tan and all they sell is neon green and leopard print. All hope for fashion dies at home.

I am therefore very grateful for the trip I got to take to Norwich with my boyfriend and his family today to hunt down pretty boutiques and cafes and book shops, and perhaps go to the Roman Britain exhibition if we had enough time at the end, and although we didn’t go the exhibition it was still a very successful trip. We loaded into the car at 09:00 am…approximately…and off we were. Norwich is only an hour away by car, if I was to go last week it would have taken two by bus, but I would have had more money to spend. When we got there with minimal rowing we were hungry so first we found a kitschy cafe. Objective number one was fulfilled.



Every Pinterest users dream

The cafe was the best I had ever seen. Pastel furniture sat primly all over and bunting  hung from the walls. Fresh flowers were put onto the table in little glass vases and the menus were messages in bottles. I was in love with the place and stealing ideas for my house (when I ever own one). This was all before the dark chocolate mocha and the salted-caramel brownie, and the rose lemonade that tasted like Turkish delight.

Objective two was met when we found a little bookshop that only sold one copy of what they had. They even told us that Magaret Atwood had came to the shop specially to buy something and a picture of her was pinned proudly to the display near the door. I was chuffed with it, though was torn between an essay on dystopias (by Margaret Atwood) or a book on Rome that covered everything I had just studied. In the end I didn’t get any, with the idea that I could come back if one plagued my mind. But the shop was almost as cute as the restaurant with letters tacked to the ceiling as if the books had been whispering.



And then we found cobbled streets with more independent little shops and each one we entered was mesmerising. One sold vast numbers of unique and rare bears that looked beautiful but not appropriate for children with grubby hands. The most expensive one I found was marked over three hundred pounds! Another sold vintage books no longer printed and one sold games though we didn’t go in, especially not when a horrified Pookie came out squealing over a spiders nest.

“They were really big as well!” I shuddered. I imagine it is home to the spawn of Aragog from Harry Potter.

What was great was that in each of these shops the vendors were passionate about their trade and could chat to you about it until the subject was exhausted or the person fell asleep (though I doubt it, their excitement would have kept them running longer than my Mocha). You don’t get that passion in Primark.



Upon further exploration my boyfriend found a custom 1950’s bass guitar, with paint chipping off to expose the wood and dog eared edges that could only suggest it was bashed around a stage a couple of times.

“You don’t have a spare £1250 do you?” he asked his mum..and his father..and me. If only I didn’t have to use my student loan to pay my next rent. Then I would have said yes. We went to the quirky boutique and after trying on eight dresses I found two that I adored, and am even being made a ring specially because they didn’t have it in stock. Again, you don’t get that in Primark. It was also successful because I got fabulous new shoes. They don’t go with my dresses but my fashion sense does spring from girly to rock star with a blink of an eye. Jem even managed to nab a green parrot lamp on sale.


The oldest street in Norwich built in the 13th century

“My husband will hate it” she gleefully said as she was paying. “But I don’t care.” After eating at Ed’s diner and having peanut milkshakes and glorious burgers that only the OK! Diner on a motorway to Manchester cold surpass it was joyful. And on the drive home we even had a good laugh, the good ole self-deprecating British way. I am very happy.

I return to Norwich on Monday for rollerskating. Perhaps we might be able to squeeze the exhibition in then.